24 February 2020

The Surprising Success of the U.S.-Indian Partnership

By Ashley J. Tellis

Three years ago, U.S.-Indian relations seemed destined to falter. U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America first” agenda, which asks what every American partner has done for the United States lately, had strained relations with many traditional U.S. allies. But his agenda seemed especially incompatible with India’s expectation that it would continue to benefit from American largesse—particularly in the form of diplomatic support and generous technology access—despite resisting the reciprocal obligations that come with a formal alliance.

Yet three years into Trump’s presidency, the strategic partnership with India that successive U.S. administrations have cultivated as a silent bulwark against China hasn’t just survived—it has flourished. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Trump have met on numerous occasions and even appeared together last September at a “Howdy Modi” rally in Houston, Texas, that drew 50,000 Indian Americans. Trump’s planned visit to India next week will feature a public extravaganza on an even grander scale, showcasing the leaders’ chummy personal relationship and the deepening ties between their respective nations.

How the Good War Went Bad

By Carter Malkasian 

The United States has been fighting a war in Afghanistan for over 18 years. More than 2,300 U.S. military personnel have lost their lives there; more than 20,000 others have been wounded. At least half a million Afghans—government forces, Taliban fighters, and civilians—have been killed or wounded. Washington has spent close to $1 trillion on the war. Although the al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is dead and no major attack on the U.S. homeland has been carried out by a terrorist group based in Afghanistan since 9/11, the United States has been unable to end the violence or hand off the war to the Afghan authorities, and the Afghan government cannot survive without U.S. military backing. 

At the end of 2019, The Washington Post published a series titled “The Afghanistan Papers,” a collection of U.S. government documents that included notes of interviews conducted by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction. In those interviews, numerous U.S. officials conceded that they had long seen the war as unwinnable. Polls have found that a majority of Americans now view the war as a failure. Every U.S. president since 2001 has sought to reach a point in Afghanistan when the violence would be sufficiently low or the Afghan government strong enough to allow U.S. military forces to withdraw without significantly increasing the risk of a resurgent terrorist threat. That day has not come. In that sense, whatever the future brings, for 18 years the United States has been unable to prevail. 

U.S.-Taliban Deal: The Beginning of the End of America’s Longest War?

Scott Smith

American officials announced on Friday that the United States and the Taliban agreed to a seven-day “reduction of violence” that, if adhered to, would be followed by a signed agreement. The deal would pave the way for intra-Afghan talks and a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops. American and Taliban negotiators were close to inking a deal in September that would have seen a Taliban commitment to not harbor terrorist groups and a U.S. troop withdrawal plan. But, President Trump scrapped that deal and froze talks after a Taliban attack killed a U.S. serviceman. In the intervening months, U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad brought the parties back to the table to get to this interim step. USIP’s Scott Smith examines the U.S.-Taliban deal and what comes next.

President Trump has conditionally agreed to a deal with the Taliban. What does that deal entail and what are the conditions that must be fulfilled?

The agreement in principle would commit the Taliban, the Afghan government, and international forces to a significant reduction of violence for a period of seven days. President Trump has insisted that this reduction be meaningful, lasting, and measurable. Our understanding is that it had to be vetted by the U.S. military to ensure these conditions were met. It is not clear yet when the seven-day clock begins, but Taliban officials have said that they expect to sign the agreement before the end of February, meaning the reduction in violence could begin as soon as this weekend.

Pakistan-Turkey-Malaysia Bloc to Challenge Arab domination of Islamic World:

Dr Subhash Kapila

Noticeable since last year is the emergence of a new Islamic bloc of Pakistan-Turkey-Malaysia which ostensibly asserts to bring about a renaissance in the Islamic World but essentially comprises three Non-Arab Sunni Muslim nations attempting to challenge the Arab domination of the Islamic World led by Saudi Arabia as the ‘Custodian of the Holy Places of Islam’.

Public assertions that this new Islamic Bloc would attempt to bring about an Islamic Renaissance and break the Islamo-phobia that grips the world leads one to the assumption that Pakistan-Turkey-Malaysia Bloc feels that the Arab-dominated Islamic World has failed to do so and that therefore a newer effort is required. No reactions currently are available from the Arab World led by Saudi Arabia on this development except that Saudi displeasure prompted Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s absence from the First Summit held recently in Malaysia.

Geopolitical, domestic political turbulent dynamics and economic factors portend in 2020 that this emerging Islamic Bloc to challenge Arab domination of Islamic World in terms of gaining substantive cohesiveness and longevity may at best emerge as a ‘Ginger Group’ in the Islamic World but does not have the potential to assume leadership of the Islamic World. 

What We, the Taliban, Want

By Sirajuddin Haqqani

When our representatives started negotiating with the United States in 2018, our confidence that the talks would yield results was close to zero. We did not trust American intentions after 18 years of war and several previous attempts at negotiation that had proved futile.

Nevertheless, we decided to try once more. The long war has exacted a terrible cost from everyone. We thought it unwise to dismiss any potential opportunity for peace no matter how meager the prospects of its success. For more than four decades, precious Afghan lives have been lost every day. Everyone has lost somebody they loved. Everyone is tired of war. I am convinced that the killing and the maiming must stop.

We did not choose our war with the foreign coalition led by the United States. We were forced to defend ourselves. The withdrawal of foreign forces has been our first and foremost demand. That we today stand at the threshold of a peace agreement with the United States is no small milestone.

After the US-Taliban deal, what might negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan side look like?

Vanda Felbab-Brown

The research reported here was funded in part by the Minerva Research Initiative (OUSD(R&E)) and the Army Research Office/Army Research Laboratory via grant #W911-NF-17-1-0569 to George Mason University. Any errors and opinions are not those of the Department of Defense and are attributable solely to the author(s).

Will the deal that the United States and the Taliban have apparently struck finally allow the United States to extricate itself from its longest war? Likely, if a seven-day violence reduction test can be passed, a requirement that allows the deal to be formally signed and to start being implemented. Will Afghanistan eventually find peace? Maybe, if the Taliban, the Afghan government, and Afghan people manage to find a compromise that works for all sides.

But that road to actual peace could turn out to be as long, steep, and winding as the Salang Pass road. Peace may only come to fruition long after U.S. troops have withdrawn and after much intra-Afghan fighting.

Although the exact deal has yet to be disclosed, its basic parameters are known: If incidents and spoiler sabotage are averted during the violence-reduction test, the U.S. will withdraw some 5,000 of its 12,500 soldiers within half a year. The rest will be pulled out gradually, perhaps over three years or less, though a limited U.S. counterterrorism force may remain.

At The Start Of World War III, Chinese Missiles Could Overwhelm the U.S. Military


Key point: The DF-26, which is now operational, has a range of 3,000-4,000 km and can carry a 1,200-1,800 kg nuclear or conventional warhead.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) commissioned the DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) into service back in April 2018. 

“The newly commissioned weaponry of the Rocket Force is Dongfeng-26 missile,” Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesman for China Ministry of National Defense, told reporters on April 26. “After the trial and operational test, this type of missiles are ready to be equipped to the full establishment of unit and have since then been officially commissioned to the Rocket Force.”

Wu broke down the four key features of the DF-26 missile and what it means for China’s capabilities. “As a new generation of medium-and-long range missile, DF-26 has the following four features,” Wu said. “First, it is researched, developed and manufactured by China independently and we have complete property right over it. Second, it can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads, capable of both rapid nuclear counter-strikes and conventional medium-and-long range precision strikes. Third, it is capable of launching precision strikes at both critical target on land and medium- and large-sized vessels at sea. Fourth, several new technologies have been applied to the missile, which helps increase the missile’s utilization and improve its integration and informationization.”

The Future of Chinese Foreign Economic Policy Will Challenge U.S. Interests, Part 2: Renminbi Internationalization and International Economic Institutions

By: Sagatom Saha

Editor’s Note: This is the second part of a two-part article that addresses the ways in which the evolution of China’s internationally-focused economic policies are likely to impact—and in many instances, to clash with—the economic policies and interests of the United States. The first part, which appeared in our previous issue (The Future of Chinese Foreign Economic Policy Will Challenge U.S. Interests, Part 1: The Belt-and-Road Initiative and the Middle Income Trap, January 29), discussed two primary issues: the policies surrounding the Belt and Road Initiative, China’s worldwide program of infrastructure construction; and the policies that Chinese leaders are likely to adopt as they seek to avoid the “middle-income trap” of stagnating economic growth. This second part examines China’s efforts to advance usage of the renminbi as an international currency, and to seek a greater role in economic institutions traditionally led by the United States and its European allies.

Introduction: China’s Economic Progress—and Lack of International Influence

Complications surrounding the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the dangers of the “middle-income trap,” are not the only factors impacting the international economic policies of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Furthermore, poor capital efficiency is not the only feature of the Chinese economy that frustrates the country’s policymakers. China’s gross domestic product (GDP) has roughly doubled in the last decade, but Beijing’s pull in the international monetary and financial system remains lackluster. This lack of progress stems in part from the dollar’s centrality around the world, as well as U.S. dominance in international economic institutions. Beijing’s economic planners have long advocated against the dollar while attempting to increase the global role of the PRC’s own renminbi (RMB) currency. While past efforts stumbled, RMB internationalization and increased Chinese influence will directly confront U.S. economic and geopolitical interests.

How the Wuhan Epidemic Has Dented Xi Jinping’s Authority and Prestige

By: Willy Wo-Lap Lam

Introduction

In his telephone conversation with President Trump on February 6, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping expressed confidence that Beijing can beat the coronavirus outbreak, and asserted that “the fact that China’s economy will be better in the long run will not change.” But at a meeting of the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) a few days earlier, Xi expressed fears about the adverse impact that the Wuhan pneumonia epidemic could have on China’s reform and open door policy (RTHK.hk, February 7; HK01.com, February 6; Ming Pao, February 4). Of even greater concern to the CCP leadership, however, is the sustainability of state power and Beijing’s ability to “uphold stability” (维稳, weiwen) in Chinese society. Much of this hinges on the performance of Xi—who is also state president, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the “life-long core” of the party leadership. That Beijing has failed to contain the alarming spread of the virus, however, demonstrates that Xi is facing the gravest crisis since he came to power in late 2012.

It is clear that Xi is still in solid control of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the People’s Armed Police (PAP), the regular police, and the police state surveillance apparatus. Both central CCP officials and supportive foreign dignitaries are projecting confidence. While visiting Beijing in late January, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus praised China’s efforts against the coronavirus disaster, saying that Chinese authorities had displayed “Chinese speed and Chinese efficiency” (People’s Daily, January 29). After an unusual period of public absence in late January and early February, Xi has reappeared to assert his leadership and to declare a “people’s war” against the epidemic (Xinhua, February 11).

Cracks in the CCP Governance Model

The Strange War Targeting WHO

by Dan Steinbock,
In the past few weeks, countries outside China did not send adequate case reports to the World Health Organization (WHO) in time, while media suffered an ‘infodemic.’ Instead of battling COVID-19, WHO and its chief were targeted.

Currently, the greatest virus outbreak concern is to avoid any possible emergence of secondary virus clusters.

Recently, this critical task has been complicated by misguided media coverage and attacks against WHO, China and people of Chinese descent rather than the virus.

Infodemic versus epidemic

Last Saturday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus urged global leaders to stop stigma and hate amid the virus outbreak. His comments in Munich followed reports that people of Asian descent have faced discrimination amid virus fears:

“We will all learn lessons from this outbreak, but now is not the time for reclamations or politicization."

At the end of January, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing virus outbreak a “public health emergency of international concern" (PHEIC). As WHO made clear, the PHEIC was not motivated by China, but the possible effects of the virus, if it would spread to countries with weaker healthcare systems.

UK, Huawei and 5G: six myths debunked


Throughout the debate over the last few months over the potential use of Huawei equipment in UK 5G networks, the significantly increased cyber security risk is regularly highlighted as being a potential game changer. Here, Marcus Willett challenges the thinking behind this notion.

There are plenty of reasons why a country might ban Huawei from its networks, but an increased cyber security risk is not in reality a major one. If you are the US, it is rather because you are competing with China for dominance of the future development of cyber space, with all the economic and geostrategic advantages that come with it. This is probably the real reason the US has threatened to withhold intelligence from the UK. It’s not for reasons of security, since it knows that all intelligence shared is under state-of-the-art encryption and not carried over public networks. If you are not the US, you might ban Huawei because you agree with the US on the strategic issue and want to lend your support, or because your alliance with the US overrides every other consideration.

The US has probably rightly identified the strategic issue – the future shape of cyberspace and the global economy that depends upon it are at stake. But trying to prevent everyone from using Huawei kit will do more harm than good. It will instead drive China further and quicker down the path of building and exporting its competing version of the internet, with all the state surveillance that would entail. Far better to keep China, its companies and its economy thoroughly dependent on today’s single, multi-stakeholder, ‘free’ version of cyberspace. 

Six common myths

Why Aren't Countries Buying This Powerful Chinese Drone?

by David Axe 

Key point: The CH-4 is roughly similar to the U.S.-made MQ-1 Predator.

China’s CH-4 killer drone appears to be falling out of favor with some of its major operators.

The Iraqi air force is down to just one operational CH-4 out of a fleet of around 10, according to an August 2019 report from the U.S. inspector-general.

Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led operation targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, told the inspector-general that maintenance problems have grounded most of the Iraqi CH-4s.

The CH-4 is roughly similar to the U.S.-made MQ-1 Predator. The Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle, which is remotely-controlled via satellite and can carry a variety of missiles, briefly was popular among Middle East militaries that balked at the cost, politics and paperwork associated with acquiring armed drones from the United States.

Will Turkey Drag America Into a ‘World War III Scenario’ With Russia?

by Matthew Petti 

Russia and Turkey are headed towards a Cold War nightmare scenario after fighting between the two major powers in Syria left two Turkish soldiers dead.

Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad is driving his forces into Idlib, the last rebel-held stronghold in Syria, with Russian support. Turkey faces a humanitarian crisis on its borders as up to two million Syrians fleeing Assad’s rule are left with nowhere else to go, and Turkish forces have entered Idlib to stop the offensive. Now, the United States is mulling over its response to the escalating tensions.

The fresh concerns about America’s role in the region come on the heels of an airstrike by either Russian or pro-Assad forces, which killed two Turkish soldiers during a rebel counter-offensive east of Idlib on Thursday. In response, the Turkish military has reportedly asked the United States to deploy anti-aircraft missiles and launch air patrols in Turkey in order to deter Russia.

“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] has never seen fighting of this intensity this close to the border of a member state,” said Amb. Robert Ford, the last U.S. ambassador to Syria, at a Thursday press conference at the U.S. Capitol.

ISIS’ New Leader and the Group’s Regeneration

Tom McCarthy
Source Link

Ever since the United States-led military coalition in Syria was ordered to withdraw the majority of its military assets from the Kurdish-dominated Rojava region in October 2019, the viability of the anti-ISIS coalition has been in doubt. At the time of the withdrawal, both the Kurds and outside observers asserted that this partial withdrawal would significantly hamper the coalition’s efforts to maintain a secure hold on the numerous prisons that hold ISIS fighters and their families. Furthermore, the withdrawal prompted a Turkish-supported invasion of northern Syria, diverting Kurdish troops from their primary task of hunting down ISIS remnants. Now that this U.S. support has largely been relegated to the protection of Syrian oil fields, ISIS has been given the breathing room to reassert itself in northeastern Syria, on both the Kurdish and Syrian government-controlled sides of the Euphrates River, as well as in northern Iraq. This newfound breathing room has emboldened ISIS to release the name of its new leader and increase the pace and audacity of insurgent attacks against Kurdish, Syrian government, and Iraqi targets, pointing to the conclusion that this aspect of the Syrian Civil War has merely transformed into a new phase.

On January 20, 2020, The Guardian reported that ISIS has confirmed its new leader to be Amir Mohammed Abdul Rahman al-Mawli al-Salbi, an Iraqi Turkmen raised in Tal Afar, Iraq who was one of the group’s founding members. During his time with the original iteration of ISIS, al-Salbi was the intellectual architect of the group’s enslavement of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, and also helped to plan several of the group’s global operations. Consequently, he possesses a deep understanding of the organization’s culture, its domestic and global operations, and is apparently a dedicated adherent to ISIS’s worldview and interpretation of Sharia law. Although the U.S. State Department has already placed a $5 million bounty on al-Salbi’s head, the coalition’s reduced on the ground footprint and the distraction of the Kurdish troops likely means that efforts to collect intelligence on his whereabouts has been hampered.

Israel rolls out new wartime plan to reform armed forces

By: Seth J. Frantzman

JERUSALEM — Israel has announced a new multiyear plan to restructure its armed forces to face existing and potential future adversaries for decades.

The plan, called “Tnufa” in Hebrew and “Momentum” in English, has been a priority for Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the Israel Defense Forces’ chief of the General Staff, over the last year. The plan envisions fighting a multi-front war and harnessing the latest technologies to bring the most effective firepower from the largest number of different units to the forefront of the battlefield.

Momentum also seeks to shorten the time of a conflict while achieving more success on the battlefield and lessening the impact of war on civilians. Forces will be streamlined with the goal of a “swift and massive use of force against enemy systems,” the IDF said during a briefing about the plan.

The Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University had noted in the summer of 2019 that political upheaval in Israel may “delay and limit the plan’s launch.” The country currently lacks a government after two elections failed to bring a majority for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

Macron’s One-Way Street to Russia

JUDY DEMPSEY
Source Link

French President Emmanuel Macron is leading the charge in Europe to set out a new strategy with Russia. His goal is to end Russia’s sense of isolation and alienation, as he explained during the 2020 Munich Security Conference, which took place on February 14–16.

Macron believes Russia is essential for Europe’s security. Without engaging its big neighbor, Europe will not be safe. This is why Europe must create some kind of security architecture that includes Russia.

This is something the Kremlin—and Germany—has long advocated only to be rebuffed by most EU and NATO countries. They simply perceive those calls as attempts by Moscow to create such a construction at the expense of the transatlantic alliance. Seeking to divide NATO and weaken Europe’s ties with the United States has been the Kremlin’s consistent policy.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy, in which the EU is repeatedly criticized by Washington for its trade and competition practices, could be exploited by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Will Turkey Drag America Into a ‘World War III Scenario’ With Russia?


by Matthew Petti
Source Link

Russia and Turkey are headed towards a Cold War nightmare scenario after fighting between the two major powers in Syria left two Turkish soldiers dead.

Syrian ruler Bashar al-Assad is driving his forces into Idlib, the last rebel-held stronghold in Syria, with Russian support. Turkey faces a humanitarian crisis on its borders as up to two million Syrians fleeing Assad’s rule are left with nowhere else to go, and Turkish forces have entered Idlib to stop the offensive. Now, the United States is mulling over its response to the escalating tensions.

The fresh concerns about America’s role in the region come on the heels of an airstrike by either Russian or pro-Assad forces, which killed two Turkish soldiers during a rebel counter-offensive east of Idlib on Thursday. In response, the Turkish military has reportedly asked the United States to deploy anti-aircraft missiles and launch air patrols in Turkey in order to deter Russia.

“The North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] has never seen fighting of this intensity this close to the border of a member state,” said Amb. Robert Ford, the last U.S. ambassador to Syria, at a Thursday press conference at the U.S. Capitol.

Facing the West’s Demons: The 2020 Munich Security Conference

Mark Leonard

The 2020 Munich Security Conference showed how the ties that bind global players together are being weaponised in a new great power competition. 

It is rare that an international conference perfectly captures the mood of the moment, but that is what this year’s Munich Security Conference (MSC) achieved with its concept of “Westlessness”.

This strange Germanic neologism denotes the state of anomie that has afflicted the geopolitical debate for several years. By forcing leaders to face up to the breakdown of their historical outlook, Wolfgang Ischinger and his team may have, over the course of a long weekend, encouraged German and other European leaders to escape their embrace of a status quo that no longer exists – and to begin to map a path towards a new idea of world order. Within such an order, a more sovereign Europe would become a better partner to a more socially equal United States on global problems, and the technological giants that have disrupted our economies, societies, and political systems would be regulated in the public interest.

This year’s MSC brought together many of the disruptors of the old order. Mark Zuckerberg talked about the way that Facebook’s digital empire has upended politics and unsettled established political parties. The Chinese foreign minister exuded confidence in spearheading the generational shift from a unipolar world to a bipolar one. Mike Pompeo talked about the American fightback through all available means – from trade and technology to diplomacy and efforts to undermine international institutions. Each of the thematic discussions – from climate change and the regulation of the digital world to the situation in regions such as the Middle East, (north) Africa, the Balkans, and eastern Europe – was coloured by the geopolitical posturing of these central actors. In each area, one could see how the ties that bind different players together – from trade and migration to energy and the internet – are being weaponised in a new great power competition.

Foreign Policy? What’s That?

DANIEL LARISON
Source Link

As Rod Dreher has already observed, Warren destroyed Bloomberg in the debate last night with her attacks on him. She has shown would-be Bloomberg voters what a terrible candidate he is, and that does everyone a great service. I have no idea if Warren’s passion and energy will be rewarded by voters, but it was refreshing to see some genuine righteous indignation from her instead of her making corny appeals to “unity.” That passion is what she built her political reputation on, and it is why many people respect her. Virtually everyone seems to think this was her best debate, and I agree with that.

Bloomberg wasn’t just out of practice at debating. He was unprepared to defend his record despite all the negative coverage it has received in the last few weeks, and he gave Democratic voters little reason to trust him or believe that he had learned anything from his past errors. Bloomberg was stiff and clumsy in his delivery, and he was so disengaged for long stretches of the debate that one could be forgiven for forgetting that he was there. Where Warren was bursting with energy and passion, he had none. It was a lifeless performance that was also light on substance.

The US Didn’t Just Wake Up to Central Asia’s Importance

By Catherine Putz

In a recent opinion piece published by The Hill, Frederick Starr and Svante Cornell of the American Foreign Policy Council’s Central Asia Caucasus Institute argue that with the release of the new U.S. Central Asia strategy Washington is finally paying attention to the region.

“In releasing this strategy, the Trump administration makes clear that it views Central Asia as a world region where the United States has intrinsic national security and economic interests,” they write. “This is an important departure from the past practice of allowing this region to slip between the cracks.”

In making their argument, Starr and Cornell make an astounding statement which, if not erroneous, is misleading. U.S. interest in Central Asia isn’t new, and its strategy isn’t either.

“[The release of the Central Asia strategy] marks the first time in more than two decades that the United States has come up with a serious approach to a region where vast economic, geopolitical, and civilizational stakes are at issue,” they state in their opening paragraph. 

This could not be further from the truth.

Twenty-five years of digitization: Ten insights into how to play it right

By Jacques Bughin, James Manyika, and Tanguy Catlin

Countries, sectors, and CEOs face an increasingly complex world characterized by the diffusion of new digital technologies, affecting productivity performance while causing disruption. In this world, the rewards for success—and the penalties for failure—are ever greater.

In this new briefing note (PDF–179KB), the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) draws on its extensive research on digitization that has looked at the importance of more inclusive infrastructure to broaden access to these technologies and at the emergence of new families of digital technologies including social media, enterprise 2.0, big data, and artificial intelligence (AI), and how these technologies are being diffused and affect economies, sectors, and firms.

We illustrate these insights with up-to-date 2018 data from an annual series of global market research surveys conducted since 2015 that explore corporate practices in light of digitization. We have chosen to focus on the business and management aspects of digitization, but acknowledge, as we have made clear in much of our research, that digitization has broader effects notably on the future of work and on societal welfare.

How new tech can help the UK’s creative industry flourish

Jamal Edwards
Source Link

Small businesses are a key part of the UK's economy. Of the country's almost six million businesses, 5.82 million of these are classed as small, according to official figures from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In total, 13.2 million people work for small UK companies – making them one of the biggest employers around.

But many of these small companies don't get the recognition they deserve, says Anne Sheehan, business director at Vodafone UK. Such firms are crucial in working with larger, incumbent businesses as well as governments to drive innovation, Sheehan adds. "They do so much and they drive so much value in the economy".

One small business sector that's burgeoning is the creative industries. These include advertising and marketing, design, software and computer services, film, TV, radio and much more. Statistics from the UK's Creative Industries Council, which acts as a forum between people from the sector and the government, says there are 2,040,000 jobs in the creative sector and that it's creating new roles faster than other areas.

Drones and the Legality and Ethics of War

Franklin C. Annis

The use of drones is a natural evolution in the science of war. On the tactical level, militaries often seek to damage their opponent’s forces while presenting the least amount of risk to their own soldiers. Armed drones seem to present a means of engaging in low risk tactical engagements. Early examples of the attempted use of drones occurred in WWII during Operation Aphrodite where B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers were outfitted with radio control systems flown towards harden Nazi targets while being controlled by pilots in an escorting “mothership.”[i] Unfortunately, the technology wasn’t sufficiently advanced at the time to achieve any hits on target. Through the latter half of the 20th century, this technology continued to be refined but was mostly restricted to reconnaissance missions. By the mid-1990s, General Atomics developed the famed RQ-1 “Predator” drone prized for its small size, reconnaissance capabilities, and later its ability to carry AGM-114 “Hellfire” missiles and other armaments.[ii] The use of Predator and other modern drones in the Long War fulfilled the promise of conducting offensive attacks against an enemy without any risk to those piloting these systems. But while tactical objectives can now be easily achieved with drones, their ability to advance strategic objectives and secure peace is still very much in question.

The technological advancements that has allowed for the use of drones, has largely sharpened the existing ethical concerns of military conflicts. As the longer loiter times of drones have allowed for more positive identification of targets, so has the demand to ensure targets are appropriately identified. As drones have allowed for minimizing collateral damage, so has the demand for less collateral damaged has increased. In this way, many of the legal and ethical concerns surrounding drones are simply a re-examination of the classical ethical concerns of armed conflict heightened by advanced technology.

Drones and the Legality and Ethics of War

Franklin C. Annis

The use of drones is a natural evolution in the science of war. On the tactical level, militaries often seek to damage their opponent’s forces while presenting the least amount of risk to their own soldiers. Armed drones seem to present a means of engaging in low risk tactical engagements. Early examples of the attempted use of drones occurred in WWII during Operation Aphrodite where B-17 “Flying Fortress” bombers were outfitted with radio control systems flown towards harden Nazi targets while being controlled by pilots in an escorting “mothership.”[i] Unfortunately, the technology wasn’t sufficiently advanced at the time to achieve any hits on target. Through the latter half of the 20th century, this technology continued to be refined but was mostly restricted to reconnaissance missions. By the mid-1990s, General Atomics developed the famed RQ-1 “Predator” drone prized for its small size, reconnaissance capabilities, and later its ability to carry AGM-114 “Hellfire” missiles and other armaments.[ii] The use of Predator and other modern drones in the Long War fulfilled the promise of conducting offensive attacks against an enemy without any risk to those piloting these systems. But while tactical objectives can now be easily achieved with drones, their ability to advance strategic objectives and secure peace is still very much in question.

The technological advancements that has allowed for the use of drones, has largely sharpened the existing ethical concerns of military conflicts. As the longer loiter times of drones have allowed for more positive identification of targets, so has the demand to ensure targets are appropriately identified. As drones have allowed for minimizing collateral damage, so has the demand for less collateral damaged has increased. In this way, many of the legal and ethical concerns surrounding drones are simply a re-examination of the classical ethical concerns of armed conflict heightened by advanced technology.

How the Army Plans to Counter and Destroy Enemy Drone Swarms

by Sebastien Roblin

Key point: Missile and drone swarms are a real threat because they overwhelm anti-air defenses. The military knows this and wants to find a way to shut them down.

A drone and cruise missile attack that occurred on Saudi oil facilities in August 2019 revealed just how important short-range air defenses are becoming for defense against cruise missiles and drones that are proliferating across the globe.

Existing air defense batteries like the Patriot missile or THAADs have been optimized to defeat high-flying jet fighters and ballistic missiles. 

Drones and cruise missiles are fairly small and can skim close to the ground. That makes them relatively difficult to detect on radar, meaning they may only be detected once they are fairly close to their targets. And that’s where short-range defense can provide protection and a final layer of defense, like a goalie in a soccer team.

In a recent article, I highlighted that the Army is moving rapidly to acquire Stryker mobile air defense vehicles, and Israeli Iron Dome batteries for more static defense roles to fill in this increasingly dangerous gap in its air defense capabilities.


23 February 2020

Ahead of Trump Visit: India Clears Procurement of 24 MH-60R Seahawk Helicopters

By Franz-Stefan Gady

India’s Cabinet Committee on Security headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved on February 19 the procurement of 24 Lockheed Martin-Sikorky MH-60R Seahawk Romeo multirole maritime helicopters worth $2.6 billion, according to local media reports.

“The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) cleared the procurement of 24 MH-60R multi-role helicopters for the navy,” an official was quoted as saying by The Economic Times on February 19.

The approval comes only days ahead of a much anticipated visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to the subcontinent. It marks the first official state visit of Trump to India since taking office in 2017. 

The MH-60Rs will be bought directly from the U.S. government under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to expedite the induction of the new helicopters into the Indian Navy. 

The Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) already approved in August 2018 the procurement of 111 armed light naval utility helicopters (NUH) and 24 naval multirole helicopters (NMRH) for the Indian Navy under the Indian Ministry of Defense’s (MoD) new strategic partnership policy.

Will China and India Collaborate or Feud Over Afghanistan?

by Zoe Leung 

India has enjoyed a long period of primacy in Afghanistan but a growing Chinese interest in the war-ridden country is poised to upset that delicate arrangement. China and India’s acrimonious border disputes epitomize their ongoing strategic rivalry but inadequately reflect the nature of their coexistence in a third country like Afghanistan. Investing in development projects on increased connectivity and trade to stabilize Afghanistan―also to fill the gap given the potential U.S. exit―makes economic and strategic sense for both countries, which have their respective objectives, and also provides opportunities for a deepened cooperation. As the China-India competitive dynamics play out elsewhere, Afghanistan presents an opportunity for those dynamics to fluidly and seamlessly switch between cooperation and competition.

The China-India competition has many of the smaller neighboring countries in the region concerned about getting caught between the two Asian giants. The 2017 Dolkam standoff exemplified the predicament for countries like Bhutan, which became the site of a conflict beyond its control. Even absent direct confrontation, India has been suspicious of any Chinese presence in its immediate vicinity, such as its presence in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and, likewise, Beijing has been intently watching the growing India-Japan rapprochement through joint projects and defense cooperation. However, there has been a recent effort from both sides to strike a more cooperative tone even amid mutual suspicion and rivalry, and Afghanistan is well-positioned to benefit from this sentiment.

Pakistan Test Launches Ra’ad II Nuclear-Capable Air-Launched Cruise Missile

By Franz-Stefan Gady

Pakistan test-launched a new variant of its Ra’ad II nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) on February 16, according to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistani military.

The new longer-range Ra’ad II “significantly enhances air delivered strategic standoff capability on land and at sea,” ISPR said in a February 18 statement. “The weapon system is equipped with state of the art guidance and navigation systems ensuring engagement of targets with high precision.”

A video of the launch released by ISPR shows the Ra’ad II being launched from a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Mirage III fighter aircraft. ISPR referred to the new weapon system as “a major step towards complementing Pakistan’s deterrence capability.”

The Ra’ad II was first publicly revealed as a mock-up in 2017 during Pakistan’s annual military parade in Islamabad. 

The 4.85 meter-long Ra’ad-II had a stated range of 550-600 kilometers. It is capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads.

Ghani’s Rivals Reject Election Result

By Catherine Putz

On Tuesday, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced incumbent President Ashraf Ghani as the winner of last September’s election. Ghani narrowly avoided a second round by capturing 50.64 percent of the vote. His victory came after nearly five months of recounting and squabbling, and the disagreements are far from settled.

Chief Executive Officer Abdullah Abdullah — who, the IEC says, captured 39.52 percent of the vote, finishing second — immediately protested the result. Abdullah declared victory and announced the formation of an “inclusive government.”

Abdullah was joined in protesting the results by the distant third-place finisher, with 3.85 percent of the vote according to the IEC, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. Hekmatyar reportedly challenged Ghani to a head-to-head contest in any province. “If you [Ghani] get 30 percent of the votes, I will accept you as president,” he reportedly said. Hekmatyar, TOLOnews reports, said at a press conference Wednesday in Kabul that he did not support a “parallel government,” but “an inclusive government where all see themselves represented, including the Taliban.”

In 2016, Hekmatyar — who leads Hezb-i-Islami — settled a peace deal with the Afghan government, received a pardon and was allowed into the political arena. 

China Is The World's Manufacturing Superpower

by Felix Richter

While the economic fallout of the coronavirus outbreak will undoubtedly be most severe in China, the negative effects of the pandemic won't be confined by the Great Wall. After all, China is the world's manufacturing hub and the ripple effect of shutdowns across the country is already leading to supply constraints in various industries all around the globe.

According to data published by the United Nations Statistics Division, China accounted for 28 percent of global manufacturing output in 2018. That puts the country more than 10 percentage points ahead of the United States, which used to have the world’s largest manufacturing sector until China overtook it in 2010.

With total value added by the Chinese manufacturing sector amounting to almost $4 trillion in 2018, manufacturing accounted for nearly 30 percent of the country’s total economic output. The U.S. economy is much less reliant on manufacturing these days: in 2018, the manufacturing sector accounted for just 11 percent of GDP in the world’s largest economy.

China Global Security Tracker, No.6


This China Global Security Tracker is part of the China Security Project, an innovative collaboration with the Mercator Institute for China Studies. The project explores China’s defence and security policy and initiatives to determine how and why China’s role in the international security arena is evolving.

The killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani by a US drone strike on January 3rd drew strong reactions from Beijing, which condemned the attack as an “abuse of military force” by the United States. However, China held back from supporting Tehran in any more active way. The PRC leadership’s response shows the pressures it faces, torn between supporting Iran and placating the United States. It wants to keep Iran onside as a source of oil, and a willing partner in the expansion of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) while limiting Iran’s own nuclear program. Yet China also needs US goodwill to end the damaging trade dispute. Despite Beijing’s rhetoric, the US-Iran crisis serves as a reminder of the limitations of China’s narrative and geopolitical ambitions. Beijing faced a choice between supporting its ally by getting more involved in an already tense region or preserving stability by staying out of the fray. It chose the status quo.

The state of China-Iran relations: Increasingly close ties