25 May 2014

User Manufacturer Collaboration: A Case Study of Development of Dhanush 155mm Gun


Indian Artillery’s modernisation programme has faced considerable delays leading to no worthwhile acquisition since Bofors guns were purchased in 1987. The three decade non-acquisition patch has led the outdated equipment and a diminished the edge over own adversaries. As the acquisition of guns continued to suffer from decision delays and blacklisting of firms for various reasons, variable options for development of an indigenous gun were explored with defence PSUs as well as the private sector. Even though the blueprint plans of Bofors guns were available with OFB, Jabalpur since 1980s as part of technology transfer, it seems that visible interest was not shown by the stake holders to manufacture an indigenous gun. As delays compounded, a number of private companies like L&T and TATAs envisaged interest in manufacture and supply of 155 mm guns with foreign collaborators and had showcased their efforts at the Defence Expo in February 2014.

One of the key components of Defence Procurement Policy (DPP) 2013 has been focused thrust towards higher degree of indigenisation. The make and Buy Indian Category is expected to provide a much needed emphatic push towards achieving a sound defence manufacturing base. Though the private firms are now actively participating in the provision of weapon systems, one of the reasons for their reluctance in injecting funds has been the perceived absence of a level playing field due to supposedly natural inclination by the Department of Defence Production towards Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs). Even after six decades, the DPSUs had not been able to create a high quality manufacturing hub due to lack of competition from the private sector as well as low levels of technology absorption capability. A limited interaction with the service HQs during the weapon development stage often resulted in longer gestation period, deviations from initial requirement as well as low quality finished product. The INSAS small arms system is one such example that even after numerous years of research and development, a high quality carbine and a light machine gun is yet to be successfully developed.

Hence, the first user-developer collaboration for development of an indigenous 155 mm gun is a welcome trend changer towards achieving self reliance. In a major departure from the existing norms, Directorate of Artillery was actively involved in development process from the inception stage with DRDO and OFB. A well thought out strategy by taking on board all stake holders resulted in a synergized effort between the user, designer, producer and quality control personnel. The capability of the private firms to provide requisite higher end technology complimented the overall effort. Thus, a detailed road map was drawn up for development of the indigenous 155 mm gun in March 2011. The first step was to upgrade two existing gun systems with manual and electronic upgrade modules by February 2012. The next step involved manufacture of two 155/39 prototype guns based on the available blueprints by December 2012 and the third step was to manufacture of two 155/45 prototypes by June 2013 incorporating the latest available technologies. Since blueprints of Bofors gun were available since 1980s, the updation and the manufacture of two 155/39 prototypes was completed within the stipulated time frame and the validation firing cleared the path for manufacture of 155/45 prototypes. The 155/45 prototype dubbed, Dhanush, has undergone under extensive user trails and its acceptance may pave the path for full scale production and availability of an indigenous 155 mm gun for modernisation.

Pakistan 2014: A Reality Check for India’s Foreign Policy

Paper No. 5708 Dated 23-May-2014

By Dr Subhash Kapila

Prime Minister Designate Narendra Modi’s political reachout to SAARC nations to attend his swearing-in ceremony is a bold and imaginative foreign policy initiative especially in relation to Pakistan.

Scheduled interaction between PM Modi is due to take place the day after the swearing-in ceremony. This would enable PM Modi and the SAARC heads to take a measure of each other. In the process of these interactions PM Modi would be able to dispel the negative images of him projected by India’s Opposition parties during the 2014 Election Campaign.

It would be a pity therefore that the Pakistan Prime Minister is unable to attend especially when no other external engagements stand scheduled for him. PM Sharif is reputed to have friendly inclinations towards and keen to enhance economic and trade ties with India. If he is dissuaded in declining PM Modi’s invitation when the new Indian Prime Minister is on the threshold of initiating foreign policy changes, Pakistan would have missed a significant opportunity towards moving Pakistani relations to a new footing.

PM Nawaz Sharif is now in office for a year now in what was the first democratic change of regimes in Pakistan. I had written last year and articulated on TV debates that PM Nawaz Sharif would require a year at least to bring about major changes as at that time Pakistani political dynamics were in a flux with impending changes of the Pakistan Army Chief and the Chief Justice of Pakistan. Indian establishment and media were advised not to be euphoric.

It needs to be noted that Pakistan’s India and Afghanistan foreign policies are controlled by the Pakistan Army and the new Pakistan Army Chief seems disinclined to let go of this hold to sustain the institutional significance of the Pakistan Army in Pakistani domestic political dynamics and also as leverage with the United States and China. 

While all SAARC nations have accepted the invitation, Pakistan is dithering for the last two days indicating the serious institutional divide within Pakistan over its approaches to India. 

A reality- check on Pakistan is therefore contextually relevant both for PM Designate Modi and the foreign policy establishment which would need to break-out of the earlier appeasement mode of the last ten years.

Who made the pivot to Asia? Putin.

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: May 23

On Wednesday, it finally happened — the pivot to Asia. No, not the United States. It was Russia that turned East.

In Shanghai, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed a spectacular energy deal — $400 billion of Siberian natural gas to be exported to China over 30 years.

This is huge. By indelibly linking producer and consumer — the pipeline alone is a $70 billion infrastructure project — it deflates the post-Ukraine Western threat (mostly empty, but still very loud) to cut European imports of Russian gas. Putin has just defiantly demonstrated that he has other places to go.

The Russia-China deal also makes a mockery of U.S. boasts to have isolated Russia because of Ukraine. Not even Germany wants to risk a serious rupture with Russia (hence the absence of significant sanctions). And now Putin has just ostentatiously unveiled a signal 30-year energy partnership with the world’s second-largest economy. Some isolation.

The contrast with President Obama’s own vaunted pivot to Asia is embarrassing (to say nothing of the Keystone pipeline with Canada). He went to Japan last month also seeking a major trade agreement that would symbolize and cement a pivotal strategic alliance. He came home empty-handed.

Does the Obama foreign policy team even understand what is happening? For them, the Russia-China alliance is simply more retrograde, 19th-century, balance-of-power maneuvering by men of the past oblivious to the reality of a 21st century governed by law and norms. A place where, for example, one simply doesn’t annex a neighbor’s territory. Indeed, Obama scolds Russia and China for not living up to their obligations as major stakeholders in this new interdependent world.

The Chinese and Russians can only roll their eyes. These norms and rules mean nothing to them. Sure, they’ll join the World Trade Organization for the commercial advantages – then cheat like hell with cyberespionage and intellectual piracy. They see these alleged norms as forms of velvet-glove imperialism, clever extensions of a Western hegemony meant to keep Russia in its reduced post-Soviet condition and China contained by a dominant U.S. military.

Obama cites modern rules; Russia and China, animated by resurgent nationalism, are governed by ancient maps. Putin refers to eastern and southern Ukraine by the old czarist term of “New Russia.” And China’s foreign minister justifies vast territorial claims that violate maritime law by citing traditional (“nine-dash”) maps that grant China dominion over the East and South China seas.

Which makes this alignment of the world’s two leading anti-Western powers all the more significant. It marks a major alteration in the global balance of power.

Putin to Shanghai reprises Nixon to China. To be sure, it’s not the surprise that Henry Kissinger pulled off in secret. But it is the capstone of a gradual — now accelerated — Russia-China rapprochement that essentially undoes the Kissinger-Nixon achievement.

Why China’s terrorism problem is getting worse

May 22

A gruesome terror attack Thursday morning led to at least 31 deaths in Urumqi, capital of the far western Chinese region of Xinjiang. The attack — in which assailants in two cars plowed over shoppers and set off explosives in a crowded market area — is the worst such incident in years, surpassing a horrific slaughter in March, when knife-wielding attackers hacked down 29 people at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.

As in Kunming, authorities suspect ethnic Uighur extremists. My colleague William Wanexplained in March who the Uighurs, a Turkic Muslim group, are and why Xinjiang, the region that comprises their homeland, is so restive. After the latest round of violence, it's worth unpacking further. Here are four underlying reasons why China's crisis in Xinjiang won't go away.

Ethnic politics

The Uighurs of Xinjiang are a distinct minority in China, a Silk Road people with a long, separate history centered around the oases and mud-brick towns of the Tarim Basin and the caravan routes toward Central Asia. The region's most storied city, Kashgar, was the birthplace, some argue, of the Turkish language — or at least of its first chronicler. For two spells in the 1930s and 1940s, Uighurs in Xinjiang declared independence under the banner of East Turkestan — a name and flag dissidents in exile still use to this day.

No matter the lip service to multiculturalism paid by Beijing, the Uighurs, not unlike the Tibetans next door, struggle with the hardship of being a minority group in an intensely centralized and authoritarian state. Uighurs face discrimination in major Chinese cities and, at home, look on as an influx of Han Chinese migrants radically reshape their homeland. Between 1949 and 2008, the proportion of the population of Xinjiang that is ethnic Han Chinese went from 6 to 40 percent. In Urumqi, Han Chinese now make up some three-quarters of the population. Ethnic riots there in 2o09 led to nearly 200 deaths.

Militant Islam

China is fighting its own war on terror, taking aim at Islamist separatists it views as part of a wider regional plague of extremism. The East Turkestan Islamic Movement(ETIM) is the group whose name is bandied about the most — though it's sometimes referred to as the Turkestan Islamic Party. ETIM is thought to have links with terror groups elsewhere, particularly in Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan. Chinese authorities say ETIM has ties to al-Qaeda and training camps in the tribal area along the Pakistani-Afghan border. Uighurs were among the hundreds of supposed foreign fighters swept up and detained by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay following the 2001 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.

China and Russia Best frenemies

Vladimir Putin pivots eastward. Should America be worried? May 24th 2014 | From the print edition

ON MAY 21st, after a nail-biting session of late-night brinkmanship, China and Russia signed an enormous gas deal worth, at a guess, around $400 billion. Their agreement calls for Russia’s government-controlled Gazprom to supply state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation with up to 38 billion cubic metres of gas a year between 2018 and 2048. The deal capped a two-day visit to China by the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, that included a regional-security summit and joint military exercises off the Chinese coast.

Mr Putin called the deal the biggest in the history of Russia’s gas industry. But it counts, too, for the geopolitics that underpin it. That an agreement should come now, after a decade of haggling, is no accident. The deal will help the Kremlin reduce Russia’s reliance on gas exports to Europe. It is proof that Mr Putin has allies when he seeks to blunt Western sanctions over Ukraine. Both Russia and China want to assert themselves as regional powers. Both have increasingly strained relations with America, which they accuse of holding them back. Just over 40 years ago Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger persuaded China to turn against the Soviet Union and ally with America. Does today’s collaboration between Russia and China amount to a renewal of the alliance against America?

That is surely the impression Mr Putin wants to create. Ahead of his visit he gushed to Chinese media, saying their country was “Russia’s reliable friend”. Co-operation, he said, is at its “highest level in all its centuries-long history”. From the Chinese side, Xi Jinping chose Russia as the first country he visited on becoming president in 2013.

Commercial ties are growing. China is Russia’s largest single trading partner, with bilateral flows of $90 billion in 2013. Even before the gas deal, the two sides hoped to double that by 2020. If Western banks become more reluctant to extend new loans, financing from China could help Russia fill the gap. China badly needs the natural resources which Russia has in abundance. The gas deal will ease China’s concerns that most of its fuel supplies come through the strategic chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca, and will also enable China to move away from burning so much of the coal that pollutes the air in Chinese cities.

Here’s What Chinese Hackers Actually Stole From U.S. Companies

May 20, 2014

A run-down of exactly what "trade secrets" Chinese hackers are accused of stealing from U.S. metals and solar power companies, and a labor union 

Five Chinese military hackers employed by the Chinese government were accused yesterday of infiltrating American companies and stealing trade secrets. By charging the men with economic espionage and identity theft, among other crimes, the Department of Justice has set the stage for a tense standoff with the Chinese government. 

If the allegations are true, the Chinese government has aimed at the very heart of American enterprise. The apparent victims of the hacking are American titans: U.S. Steel, the nation’s oldest and biggest steel manufacturer and the lovechild of tycoons Andrew Carnegie and J.P. Morgan; Alcoa, the world’s third-largest aluminum maker; Westinghouse Electrical Company, one of the world’s leading nuclear power developers; SolarWorld AG a leading solar technology company ; and the United Steelworkers, among America’s most iconic labor unions. 

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang called the claims baseless, “made-up” and hypocritical, but the Justice Department is adamant. 

But what exactly are the Chinese accused of stealing from these American corporations? And does it matter? Here’s exactly what the Department of Justice alleges the Chinese have actually taken: 

1. Solar power technology 

The hackers allegedly stole solar panel technological innovations and manufacturing metrics from Germany-based SolarWorld AG, enabling Chinese solar panel makers to hawk American- and German-developed research that had taken scientists years to bring to fruition. According to the Justice Department, the Chinese hacker Wen Xinyu stole thousands of emails and other files from three senior SolarWorld executives in 2012. Besides giving Chinese companies access to American technology, the information may have allowed the Chinese them to anticipate American regulators. “There were thousands of emails exfiltrated, many with sensitive data that would pose to serve all kinds of unfair advantages,” says Ben Santarris, director of strategic affairs at Solarworld AG. 

In the Russia-China Gas Deal, Did Putin Win?


137 MAY 21, 2014

So in striking a big new deal to supply natural gas to China, has Vladimir Putin outmaneuvered the U.S. and its European friends yet again? Much as Russia's president would like you to think so, not really.

Putin called today's accord an "epochal event." The governments'joint statement contained thinly veiled criticism of U.S. and European Union actions over Ukraine, inviting the world to view the deal in the context of that dispute. The timing is certainly no accident, and a closer relationship between Russia and China is hardly a matter of indifference to the rest of the world.

At the same time, this agreement to supply China with gas has been in the works for 10 years, and a deal had been widely expected this year. The two countries had been haggling mainly over price. The terms announced this week don't make the true price of the gas (including how much each will spend on the necessary pipeline infrastructure) explicit, but it appears that China will pay a bit less than Europe pays for Russian gas. If so, both sides have moved from their earlier positions in closing the deal.

If there's a winner, it's China. It used Russia's desire to send the U.S. and Europe a message as a lever to get both a better price and its preferred pipeline route for the gas. For his part, Putin has a big new customer for Russian exports, and can tell the U.S. and Europe that Russia is fine without the European market, thank you. China diversifies its energy supply -- among other things, it's keen to rely less on coal -- and does so on favorable terms. Expressions of solidarity about the drawbacks of democratic capitalism and the merits of other value systems are a bonus for both sides.

What the deal doesn't signify -- not yet, at least -- is a global realignment that puts the U.S. and Europe at a grave disadvantage. The tortuous history of Russia-China relations shows that their long-term interests are not complementary. Putin won't want Russia to depend on China any more than he wants it to depend on Europe. Anyway, the gas exports in the new pact, once onstream in 2018, will be about a quarter of what Russia sells to Europe. Even if the deal is enlarged later, the idea that Russia can now get along fine without the European market is nonsense.

Russia will have every reason to repair relations with Europe once the crisis in Ukraine has passed. In the meantime, Europe should use the leverage it has. So far as Ukraine is concerned, the new deal doesn't change Europe's calculation. For the longer term, Europe already knows it has to diversify its energy supplies. The new agreement only underlines the point.

Yes, it's always cause for concern when two tyrannical governments, presiding over such big and powerful countries, deepen their ties and find new ways of cooperating. In this case, however, the new alliance is unlikely to change the underlying logic of a longstanding rivalry.

And for as long as this partnership lasts, it's worth noting that there's even a global benefit: It's in everybody's interest that China, whose share of worldwide greenhouse-gas emissions is rising fast, use less coal and more gas. Thank you for that, President Putin.

To contact the senior editor responsible for Bloomberg View's editorials: David Shipley at davidshipley@bloomberg.net.

Looking for Ukraine

An effigy of the Kiev authorities hanging above a barricade, Sloviansk, eastern Ukraine, May 11, 2014

Sloviansk—Every now and then I can hear distant explosions and bursts of gunfire. But most of the time, here in the center of Sloviansk, which since early April has become eastern Ukraine’s separatist stronghold, everything is quiet. Since the small town is chopped up by barricades and many businesses and factories have closed down, there is not much going on, so that when the wind blows you can hear it shimmer the leaves of the silver birches that line the streets. If you were looking for war here, it would be hard to find.

Ice creams are still getting through the checkpoints around town and there is a steady stream of people buying them. As I chose a chocolate bear, Irina, aged fifty, who sells them, told me that she liked being here among people, because the worst thing in this situation was being at home, alone and anxious.

When we come to look back on the Ukrainian conflict, it will be hard, if it moves from its current low-level state to a full-blown war, to say that such-and-such a date marked its beginning. Was it the day that some forty people died, many after being trapped in a building that then caught fire in Odessa? Was it the day that seven people or was it more than twenty or perhaps more than one hundred died in Mariupol, another Black Sea town? For people here the numbers they believe depend on whether they follow the Russian or Ukrainian press and, since both are lying and distorting slivers of truth, it is not surprising that people are being dragged down into a vortex of war.

But while it will be hard to agree on a date, it is already easy to say what is happening in people’s heads. Six months ago everyone here just went about their normal business. They were worried about the things that everyone worries about, and here especially: low salaries, scraping by, collecting money for all the bribes one has to pay, and so on. And then something snapped. The rotting ship of the Ukrainian state sprung a leak and everything began to go down. In people’s heads a new reality has gradually begun to take shape and, in this way, everyone is being prepared for war.


This hit me on May 9. Across the countries of the former Soviet Union this is Victory Day, the day when the dead of World War II are remembered and elderly men and women, dressed in their uniforms and bedecked with medals, are honored. In Sloviansk the ceremonies began in front of the Lenin statue in the town square. The old men and one woman stood in a line while those antigovernment leaders who seized power here on April 12 stepped forward to make speeches to about a thousand people. Given that the Ukrainian army has surrounded the town I was surprised by the emptiness of what was being said.

Putting Ukraine in Its Place

From the current debates you’d never know what matters more: Russia’s land grab, Iran’s nuclear program, or China’s territorial claims. How America stopped thinking strategically.

MAY 21 2014
Matt Dorfman

Let’s briefly review the American foreign-policy debates of the past year. Last August, President Obama declared that he would bomb Syria for defying his call to not use chemical weapons. Then, in a sharp about-face, he decided instead to work with Russia to dismantle the weapons, and was denounced as weak by hawkish critics. Obama’s supporters said he had done as well as he could have under the circumstances. Two months later, America and its allies struck an interim nuclear deal with Iran. Hawks called it appeasement. Obama’s supporters said it was as good as one could expect under the circumstances. Within hours of the deal, China claimed the right to monitor and possibly take military action against aircraft crossing a disputed area of the East China Sea. Hawks denounced Obama’s response as weak. The president’s supporters said it was as strong as possible under the circumstances. Then, in February, Russia began menacing Ukraine. Hawks called Obama’s response weak. His supporters said the president was doing all he reasonably could.

Each debate resembles the others, but occurs in splendid isolation. Today’s foreign-policy disputes rarely consider the way America’s response to one crisis might affect another. Adopt a tough stance on China’s air-defense zone, for instance, and Beijing is less likely to join the West in condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Severely punish Russia for that aggression, and Moscow is less likely to help America enforce sanctions against Iran. Take an ultra-hard line on Iran’s nuclear program, and Tehran is less likely to help broker an end to Syria’s civil war that the U.S. can live with. Instead of discussing each threat in isolation, America’s politicians and pundits should be debating which ones matter most. They should be prioritizing.

*** Why Jeffrey Sachs Matters

Bill Gates, Founder and Technology Adviser of the Microsoft Corporation, is Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. 
MAY 21, 2014 6 

SEATTLE – Bono calls the economist Jeffrey Sachs “the squeaky wheel that roars.” To me, Sachs is the Bono of economics – a guy with impressive intelligence, passion, and powers of persuasion who is devoting his gifts to speaking up for the poorest people on the planet. So it was no surprise to me that a journalist would find Sachs to be a compelling central character for a book – and a good way to draw readers into the potentially dry subject of international development.

In The Idealist, Vanity Fair writer Nina Munk draws a nuanced portrait of Sachs and his Millennium Villages Project (MVP) – a $120 million demonstration project intended to show the world that it’s possible to lift African villages out of poverty through a massive infusion of targeted assistance. It would have been easy, and perhaps more marketable, for Munk to draw a caricature, overly accentuating Sachs’s negative qualities at the expense of his great gifts. But she doesn’t. Munk spent six years researching the book, getting to know Sachs well and living for extended periods in two of the 15 Millennium Villages. She clearly appreciates the importance and difficulty of what Sachs and his team are attempting to do.

Unlike most books about international development, Munk’s book is very readable and not long (260 pages). I’ve told everyone at our foundation that I think it is worth taking the time to read it. It’s a valuable – and, at times, heartbreaking – cautionary tale. While some of the Millennium Villages have succeeded in helping families improve their health and incomes, Munk concludes that the two villages she spent the most time studying­ – Dertu, Kenya and Ruhiira, Uganda – have so far not lived up to Sachs’s vision.

Sachs did come to the foundation, asking us to support the Millennium Villages. His pitch was intriguing. He was picking a small handful of villages to be the focus of intense interventions in health, education, and agriculture – all at once. His hypothesis was that these interventions would be so synergistic that they would start a virtuous upward cycle and lift the villages out of poverty for good. He felt that if you focus just on fertilizer without also addressing health, or if you just go in and provide vaccinations without doing anything to help improve education, then progress won’t be sustained without an endless supply of aid.

Globalism’s Failed Promise

The myth of a globalist future drowns off the coasts of Ukraine and Malaysia.

The crisis in Ukraine and the missing Malaysian Airlines Flight have done more than expose weaknesses in regional security and international air safety arrangements. They have exposed fundamental flaws in the bedrock assumptions underlying that secular faith known as globalization.

George Ball, liberal State Department and Wall Street apparatchik, stated the first axiom of globalism in his famous 1967 testimony to a congressional Joint Economic Committee when he declared nation states “obsolete.” This has been unquestioningly accepted as an article of faith by the smart set. Western elites have come to believe nations will wither away in a brave new economically integrated world.

As a corollary, we are to believe flags are simply vestiges of a bygone era rather than touchstones of pride and identity. Individuals’ self-identity will be tied not so much to country of birth as to their smart phones, whose parts have crossed more borders than five generations of Mexican migrants. “iPhone or Android” will mean more to homo modernicus than “American or Brazilian.”

We were promised deracination would lead inevitably to world peace. The original Cobdenite told us nations that trade with each other don’t go to war with each other. Free trade apologists have been repeating this utopianism ever since, facts notwithstanding. (Germany and France were major trading partners before World War I.) No rational head of state would upset the harmonious workings of the global economy; nationalist passions would be tempered by “market realities.”

It’s clear they didn’t get the memo in Russia and Ukraine. They have been significant trading partners, yet economic realities did not trump nationalism. To be sure, many of the Maidan protestors coveted their own flag more than designer goods from the EU. It is a modern Western conceit to view human aspirations strictly through a materialistic lens. Alexander Solzhenitsyn decried Western society’s tendency to focus on the accumulation of material goods to the exclusion of all other human characteristics.

4 reasons you should care about the EU elections (even though most Europeans don't)

May 21, 2014
As voters select a new European Parliament this week, here's why it matters.

BRUSSELS, Belgium — This week, 380 million voters in 28 countries get to select the 751 lawmakers who sit in the European Parliament.

The latest polls show a narrow victory for the center-right European People's Party, which includes national parties led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The EPP is expected to get 28 percent.

The center-left Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats of French President Francois Hollande and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is likely to finish second with 26 percent.

Behind them will come Liberals, Greens, a group led by the British Conservatives and a growing assortment of radicals on the left and right who share a common dislike for the European Union.

But the overall winner could well be voter apathy.

Since elections to the EU's assembly were first held in 1979, turnout has fallen from 62 to 43 percent even as the parliament's power has increased.

Fewer still are predicted to show up for the current elections, which will be held from Thursday to Sunday, depending on the country. Less than 30 percent are expected to vote in some countries.

Although millions of Europeans don't care, the election does matter — including for people far beyond Europe's borders. Here's why:

1. The EU is huge.

View taken on May 21,2014 of flags of European countries above the entrance of the European Council on May 21,2014 in Brussels. (Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

Taken as a whole, the EU rivals the United States as the world's largest economic power. Its $16.2 trillion annual output remains well ahead of China’s.

The EU is the world's biggest exporter and is the leading trading partner for more than 80 countries, including China, Brazil and Russia. When the euro currency tottered close to collapse in 2011, it threatened to bring the world economy down with it.

The EU is the world's largest donor of development aid, and takes a leading role in setting global climate change rules and in international negotiations on issues from sanctions on Russia toIran's nuclear program.

The European Parliament not only has a direct influence on EU policy but, in an innovation this year, the election should decide who will head the union's executive body.

In theory, the candidate of the winning party will become president of the European Commission — although the appointment will need to be agreed by national leaders from the 28 EU countries.

The frontrunners are Jean-Claude Juncker, a center-right former prime minister of Luxembourg, and German Social Democratic politician Martin Schultz.

The Less Things Change…

It's been a year since Obama’s big speech about reforming the U.S. targeted killing program. Here are 10 things about the forever war that have hardly budged at all.
MAY 22, 2014

Since one-year anniversaries are deemed appropriate occasions to revisit major policy initiatives, get ready for a glut of articles reviewing U.S. drone strike policies since President Barack Obama's May 23, 2013, counterterrorism speech at the National Defense University (NDU). This speech was the culmination of a series ofinteragency reviews into controversial U.S. targeted killings policies, which the Obama administration decided to give because it was concerned that its ability to conduct drone strikes -- like other controversial counterterrorism tactics -- could become unduly constrained by domestic and international political pressure, or the denial of basing and overflight rights. The speech may have been criticized for being a whole lot of nothing, but the cynic could argue that it's been effective. Indeed, there is little domestic or international pressure to change anything; the drone strike program continues apace and the United States is reportedly likely to retain access to Jalalabad Airfield in Afghanistan to continue drone strikes into northwest Pakistan.

Here are 10 things that show how little has changed over the past year regarding U.S. targeted killing policies.

1. The spin worked

The careful rollout of the speech, unclassified presidential policy guidance, accompanying comments by anonymous administration officials, and relatively compliant media reporting, collectively cemented the impression that U.S. drone strikes have been "reformed" and "reined-in." In reality, there are actually few new principles or standards than those that Obama administration officials had previously said. In fact, the most consequential impact of the NDU speech has been that whatever policy window existed for demonstrable reforms is now firmly shut. Based upon conversations with congressional members and staff, there is almost zero interest on Capitol Hill to revisit the policies, and there have been no public hearings since those held during the year that preceded Obama's speech.

2. Drone strikes are down ... a bit

The overall number of targeted killings generally remains in decline. In Yemen, there have been 28 airstrikes of various forms since Obama's speech. As has been the case for the past five years, there remains confusion regarding who -- Yemen, the United States, or Saudi Arabia -- might be responsible for which airstrikes. Interestingly, for the first time in three years, the State Department's annual human rights reportreleased in February 2014 did not mention civilian casualties caused by Yemeni Air Force bombings.

A Poor Chapter in the History Books

From Ukraine to Syria, is Barack Obama's foreign-policy legacy already doomed?
MAY 22, 2014

Hammered from the right and the left, U.S. President Barack Obama's foreign policy has begun to acquire quite a negative brand and reputation, however unfair that may appear to his acolytes and supporters. Bereft of vision, weak and directionless, some critics charge, the president has abdicated responsibility -- both moral and strategic. Others say that, at a minimum, he has corrected course too strongly in the wake of Afghanistan and Iraq and has emerged as a risk-averse president in a world that cries out for risk readiness and American leadership.

The president's predicament is made worse because he raised expectations early and often, allowing his rhetoric to go well beyond his capacity. There was the Cairo speech in 2009, with its uplifting rhetoric about how U.S. policy toward the Middle East was going to be fundamentally different. There was the transformational goal of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (led by Secretary of State John Kerry, with a "last chance" trope). There was the "red line" on Syria and the "let's get on the right side of history" idea in response to the Arab Spring. In short, Obama said many things that left a yawning gap between words and deeds into which U.S. credibility has now fallen. Most of his policies have turned out not to be transformational at all, but more or less business as usual: confusing, inconsistent, and hypocritical.

Unlike good scotch and wine, this poor image of Obama's foreign policy may not improve with time. Of course, much can happen to a president in the remaining nearly 1,000 days of a presidency. But even the optimists would have to admit that the trend lines don't look particularly good. The challenges the president confronts are not amenable to quick fixes, let alone American ones. And even the so-called opportunities could be messy and quite costly politically.

Assuming the current trend lines do indeed maintain their southward arc, what might Obama's foreign-policy legacy look like in 2016?
Assuming the current trend lines do indeed maintain their southward arc, what might Obama's foreign-policy legacy look like in 2016? Let's take a trip quick into the future and see.

Russia and Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin may end up losing the current war, but right now, it sure looks like he's winning an awful lot of battles. And with very few good options, the Obama administration seems hard-pressed to stop him. The broad outlines of how this will wind up two years down the road don't look good for the U.S. president. Geography and Ukraine's dysfunction seem invariably inclined to favor Putin's troublemaking, and at home, Putin's skillful manipulation of Russia's history and self-image and his formidable political skills would seem to leave him unchallenged. To be sure, Russia is bleeding economically and financially, but Russians have bled before in much worse circumstances. And European self-interest, combined with America's reluctance to use mega-sanctions against Russia, means it is unlikely Western powers can add enough pain to make much of a difference in Putin's calculations.

Right now, with regard to Russia and Ukraine, it looks like Obama will be remembered -- unfairly or not -- as an American president who presided over Moscow's successful effort to challenge, if not to rewrite, the rules of the post-Cold War era without much immediate cost or consequences. No dramatic Hollywood endings here: no Berlin airlifts, no missile crisis showdowns, and seemingly not much room for Reagan-like diplomacy. Just the grind of a geopolitical dynamic in which one guy asserted what he believed to be his vital interests, and the other guy couldn't do much about it. This tick-tock won't play well for Obama in the history books.

The U.S. Is Finally Making a Friend of Vietnam

A mother takes a picture of her daughter in front of the Golden Arches during the opening ceremony of Vietnam's first McDonald's restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City on Feb. 8, 2014

Washington's warm rapprochement with Hanoi is a reflection of the American desire to contain an increasingly bold and hawkish China. Some experts say relations have improved to the point where a lifting of the arms embargo on Vietnam is possible 

A few years ago I traveled from Hanoi to Saigon by train during Vietnam’s national holiday to commemorate the end of the “Anti-American Imperialism War.” Along the way, I stopped by numerous battlefields that many young American men from my father’s generation had hoped to avoid. Over the course of the first evening in the meal car, my fellow travelers — mostly former Vietnamese soldiers heading south to pay respects to their fallen comrades — shared rice wine with me to mark our new friendship. As we raised our glasses, my hosts made boisterous toasts to the improved relations between our countries. “To Ho Chi Minh!” “To Obama!” “To Forrest Gump!” The Vietnam War was not forgotten, but there was a sense that the bitterness of the past had long since subsided. 

When the U.S. first deployed combat advisers to Indochina in the early 1960s, the military buildup in southern Vietnam was largely predicated on bridling the expansion of communism in Southeast Asia, particularly that propagated by China. Today, while China has become a de facto capitalist nation, it remains authoritarian and is increasingly hawkish. So once again, Washington seeks to contain the Middle Kingdom. Though this time, it’s primarily through the Obama Administration’s “pivot” to Asia, and the U.S. may have a new and willing partner: former foe Vietnam. 

Shortly after its conflict with the U.S. ended, Vietnam fought a brief but bloody war with China in 1979 that killed some 50,000 people. Since then, relations between the two have been, if not friendly, at least courteous. As China has risen as a growing global power, the leaders in Hanoi have sought Beijing’s guidance on how to modernize and tried to model their country after China. 

But now Vietnam and China are again at loggerheads, this time over Beijing’s claim to vast swaths of the South China Sea, sparking maritime disputes not just with Hanoi but other Asian governments. What had been a slow burn flared earlier this month when China provocatively moved a massive state-owned oil platform well within Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone. Naval vessels from both sides engaged without firing and then withdrew. But back in Vietnam, the reaction was explosive. Hundreds of factories thought to be Chinese-owned were razed in the industrial parks north of Ho Chi Minh City and Ha Tinh. An unspecified number of Chinese nationals were reportedly killed, prompting Beijing to send a small armada to Vietnam on May 19 to evacuate any of its citizens wanting to leave. On Thursday, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said Hanoi was reviewing all its defense options, including legal recourse under international law. 

U.S. Case Offers Glimpse Into China’s Hacker Army


A poster at the Justice Department showing the five men charged this week with hacking the computers of American companies, presumably for the benefit of Chinese businesses.CreditJustice Department, via Associated Press

BEIJING — One man accused of being a hacker for the Chinese military, Wang Dong, better known as UglyGorilla, wrote in a social media profile that he did not “have much ambition” but wanted “to wander the world with a sword, an idiot.”

Another, Sun Kailiang, also known as Jack Sun, grew up in wealthy Pei County in eastern China, the home of a peasant who founded the ancient Han dynasty and was idolized by Mao.

They and three others were indicted by the United States Justice Department this week, charged with being part of a Chinese military unit that has hacked the computers of prominent American companies to steal commercial secrets, presumably for the benefit of Chinese companies.

Much about them remains murky. But Chinese websites, as well as interviews with cybersecurity experts and former hackers inside and outside China, reveal some common traits among those and other hackers, and show that China’s hacking culture is a complex mosaic of shifting motivations, employers and allegiances.

Many hackers working directly for the Chinese government are men in their 20s and 30s who have been trained at universities run by the People’s Liberation Army and are employed by the state in myriad ways. Those working directly for the military usually follow a 9-to-5 weekday schedule and are not well paid, experts and former hackers said. Some military and government employees moonlight as mercenaries and do more hacking on their own time, selling their skills to state-owned and private companies. Some belong to the same online social networking groups.

DARPA Unveils Hack-Proof Drone

by KRIS OSBORN on MAY 21, 2014

The Pentagon’s research arm unveiled a new drone built with secure software that prevents the control and navigation of the aircraft from being hacked.

The program, called High Assurance Cyber Military Systems, or HACMS, uses software designed to thwart cyber attacks. It has been underway with the Defense Advance Research Project Agency for several years after originating at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Washington, said Kathleen Fischer, HACMS program manager for DARPA.

“The software is designed to make sure a hacker cannot take over control of a UAS. The software is mathematically proven to be invulnerable to large classes of attack,” Fisher said.

The mini drone is engineered with mathematically assured software making it invulnerable to cyber attack. Citing the success of mock-enemy or “red-team” exercises wherein cyber experts tried to hack into the quadcopter and failed, Fisher indicated that DARPA experts have referred to the prototype quadcopter as the most secure UAS in the world.

“We started out with the observation that many vehicles are easy for malicious hackers to tamper with the software and take control remotely. We’ve replaced all the software with our high assurance software that was developed using the tools and techniques that were invented in the program,” Fisher said.

The drone prototype was among more than 100 projects and 29 advanced research programs on display in the Pentagon’s courtyard Wednesday in what was billed as DARPA Demo Day.

The HACMS program develops system architecture models, software components and operating system software, DARPA officials said.

Vulnerabilities or security issues can arise when drones or other military aircraft are “networked” to one another such that they can share information in real time. Security risks can emerge through network protocols, software bugs or unintended interactions between otherwise correct components, DARPA officials explained.

“Many things have computers inside and those computers are networked to talk to other things. Whenever you have that situation, you have the possibility for remote vulnerabilities where somebody can use the network connection to take over and get the device to do what the attacker wants instead of what the owner wants,” Fisher explained.

The software tools used for the HACMS program can be adjusted to larger platforms. In fact, DARPA plans to transition the secure software to Boeing’s Unmanned Little Bird helicopter, DARPA officials said.

“The software is foundational so it could be used for a large number of systems,” Fisher added.


DNI James Clapper Says US Intel Community About to Experience Technological Revolution With New Satellites and Advanced Sensors

May 23, 2014
DNI Clapper Teases ‘Revolutionary’ Intel Future; Big Cost Savings From Cutting Contractors
Colin Clark
Breaking Defense

COLORADO SPRINGS: The intelligence community is on the verge of “revolutionary” technical advances. Spy satellites and other systems will be able to watch a place or a person for long periods of time and warn intelligence analysts and operatives when target changes its behavior. Satellites and their sensors could be redirected automatically to ensure nothing is missed.

“We will have systems that are capable of persistence: staring at a place for an extended period of time to detect activity; to understand patterns of life; to warn us when a pattern is broken, when the abnormal happens; and even to use ABI [Activity Based Intelligence] methodologies to predict future actions,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said today in remarks here at the Space Foundation’s annual National Space Symposium.

Imagine a satellite has been tasked to watch a village with several high value targets in residence. The satellite, probably working with other assets such as Global Hawks and Predators, would track perform what is today known as change detection. For example, the three people under surveillance etch the same rough pattern in the village for several weeks, going to the mosque, visiting a tea house and sleeping in several different houses. One day, two of the men go outside, get on scooters and drive in opposite directions. The ground station receiving the data would automatically note the shift in behavior and alert analysts or even special operations troops on standby.

I built that scenario after speaking with several of the 9,000 people attending this year’s event.

Clapper said the new spy satellite architecture — comprised of the spy satellites and the ground systems that receive data from them — “will be a system of systems,” Clapper said. They will be “fully automated,” he said, which means the satellites and perhaps other assets can be automatically redirected to new targets or to use new sensors from the ground. For most of the space age, a highly classified committee has met to decide tasking, i.e., which satellites would be redirected to which targets. Raytheon has built the current ground portion — called MIND (Mission Integration and Development) – of the NRO’s spy satellite system. That program has repeatedly been cited in recent years as an on-time and on-budget example of what the Intelligence Community can do.

Clapper’s reference to the new architecture is freighted with meaning. The Intelligence Community is hammering out decisions as it tries to decide what kinds of sensors, ground stations and satellites it will build for the next generation of signals intelligence. A push is also clearly underway to build ground stations — without which a satellite is pretty useless — that can use receive and analyze data without regard to which agency built the system or operates the sensors.

Finally, during the Q and A session after his speech, Clapper conceded that the Intelligence Community will not save much money as it moves to the cloud and implements its Intelligence Community Information Technology Enterprise (basically, a cloud with different regions for different agencies within which they can all share if the user has the right permissions).

No IT system in the history of the world has ever produced all the savings that have been touted,” he said to appreciative chuckles from the crowd. “The big reduction will be in the marching army of IT contractors we have in the IT today.” Simply put, the huge crowds of green badged contractors who have been so important to so much of the IC since 2001 will dwindle as America finishes its withdrawals from its historic presences in Afghanistan and Iraq.