9 August 2016

The Man Who Isn’t There


August 05, 2016

A fine clear-eyed biography of a man whose seminal contribution to India’s trajectory has been erased from the history books.

In the new narrative resurrecting and venerating deceased Congress stalwarts ruthlessly cast aside by the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, P. V. Narasimha Rao was the great liberalising visionary who pulled India back from the brink of an economic abyss. According to this narrative, Rao’s Finance Minister Manmohan Singh was not a reformer at heart; Rao was and Singh only championed and implemented economic reforms because his boss believed in and pushed them.

Vinay Sitapati’s very authoritative biography of Rao provides a much-needed reality check. Rao, the author points out, was actually an orthodox socialist. His first mentor, Swami Ramananda Tirtha, was a Communist. As a minister in Andhra Pradesh in the late 1960s, Rao supported Indira Gandhi’s socialist bias and genuinely believed in economic controls. As Chief Minister in the early 1970s, he was very earnest in implementing land reforms. Sitapati quotes an incident from those days when Rao declared at a conference of backward classes: “We will not tolerate capitalists, even if he is a Harijan.” Twenty years later, he was not just tolerating but actually wooing capitalists. But was this an ideological transformation or a pragmatic one? Sitapati would like to believe it is the latter.

Rao, the book points out, was not unaware of the ills of State intervention in the economy. But that did not lead to his acceptance of capitalism and free markets. “While Narasimha Rao was appalled at how government policies were being manipulated thus, he did not learn the larger lesson of this story: that the entire system of controls needed to go.”

Is China Driving Vietnam’s Military Modernization?

By Bharat Lather
08 Aug , 2016

China is Vietnam’s largest trading partner, and the communist parties that lead both countries have historically been close. But the two neighbors are also locked in long-standing territorial disputes over parts of the South China Sea. Anti-China sentiment is strong among the Vietnamese population, and Beijing’s increasingly assertive actions in the South China Sea in recent years have sparked public anger and protests. In 2014, at least three Chinese nationals were killed when rioting broke out in Vietnam after Beijing sent an oil rig into contested waters.

Anti-China sentiment is strong among the Vietnamese population, and Beijing’s increasingly assertive actions in the South China Sea in recent years have sparked public anger and protests.

This February and April, the deployment of long range HQ-9 SAM’s (200km) and sixteen J-11Bs to Woody Island in the South China Sea has also evoked a diplomatic protest from Vietnam. Today, Sino-Vietnamese relations are again hitting a low point, particularly due to the South China Sea dispute. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s external threat has always been China.

China’s One Belt, One Road: Will it reshape global trade?

July 2016

One of the biggest stories in Asian business is China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, an economic and diplomatic program that could transform trade.

The future of trade in Asia could depend heavily on what becomes of China’s expansive One Belt, One Road initiative, which calls for massive investment in and development of trade routes in the region. In this episode of the McKinsey Podcast, recorded in May, McKinsey senior partners Joe Ngai and Kevin Sneader talk with Cecilia Ma Zecha about One Belt, One Road—what it really means, what it needs to become a reality, and why people should take it seriously.
Podcast transcript

Cecilia Ma Zecha: Hello, and welcome to this edition of the McKinsey Podcast. I’m Cecilia Ma Zecha, an editor with McKinsey Publishing, based in Singapore. Today we’re going to be talking about one of the biggest stories in Asian business, China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, arguably its most ambitious economic and diplomatic program since the founding of the People’s Republic.

AudioChina’s One Belt, One Road: Will it reshape global trade?

To explain One Belt, One Road and what it means to business, I’m joined today by Kevin Sneader, McKinsey’s chairman in Asia, and Joe Ngai, managing partner of McKinsey’s Hong Kong location. Kevin, let’s start from the very beginning, particularly for anyone listening outside of Asia. But frankly, for many of us who live and work in the region, behind the diplomatic language and the policy speak, what exactly is One Belt, One Road?

Snapshot: China's Southern Theater Command

July 22, 2016

Overview of the Southern Theater Command. Larger version available at the bottom of the page. Note that not all units are represented.

On December 31, 2015 China began a major overhaul of its structure military organizational structure. This included the abolition of the seven previous Military Regions (军区) and creation of five Theater Commands (战区) (See China Brief, February 4 and February 23). Many units previously under one Military Region have found themselves under a new command. The Southern Theater Command (STC) is one such structure, composed of parts of the former Chengdu and Guangzhou Military Regions. Covering an area almost double the size of Texas and a population (320 million) larger than that of the entire United States (318 million), the Southern Theater Command is responsible for China’s important borders with Myanmar and Vietnam and the vast area claimed by China in the South China Sea. [1] 

The South is one of China’s most important strategic directions (战略方向), as it is a major source of trade, fish resources, and potentially oil, gas and hydrate deposits. Two of China’s strongest economies, Guangdong Province and Hong Kong, sit at the center of the Theater Command. Xi Jinping visited the area shortly after becoming Chairman of the Central Military Commission (Beijing News, December 13, 2012; Gov.cn, December 12, 2012). In an interview, the STC’s commander, General Wang Jiaocheng (王教成), described the STC as “guarding the motherland’s Southern gate” and as having “shouldered the important mission of protecting [China’s] interests in the South China Sea” (Xinhua, February 29). Particularly in the aftermath of the ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, the STC, the organization directly responsible for enforcing China’s claims of sovereignty, demands closer scrutiny. This brief overview and the accompanying map are an attempt to highlight the key features of this important organization within the PLA. 

A Force for Cyber Anarchy or Cyber Order? —PLA Perspectives on ‘Cyber Rules’

July 6, 2016

General Hao Yeli, vice president of the China Institute for Innovation and Development Strategy and formerly deputy director of the Fourth Department (4PLA) of the General Staff Department, argues that “the formulation of rules for cyberspace is actually just a process of great powers playing a chess game of interests”

In early June, the Eighth Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) “welcomed” apparent progress on cyber security, an issue that has been among the most contentious aspects of this bilateral relationship in recent years (U.S. Department of State, June 7). As the official press release noted, the U.S.-China High-Level Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues occurred last December and recently reconvened in June, and the inaugural Senior Experts Group on International Norms in Cyberspace and Related Issues took place this May and will meet again this fall. Since the previous U.S.-China cyber security working group had been suspended after the indictment of 3PLA hackers in May 2014, this resumption of substantive bilateral engagement on these issues constitutes at least an initial step toward the search for common ground on cyber security that these dialogues seek to advance. 

This diplomatic progress on cyber issues, which builds upon other recent advances, raises the question of whether shared interests could enable future cooperation between the U.S. and China or strategic competition will persist in this new, anarchic domain. In 2015, Beijing agreed through the UN’s Group of Government Experts consensus report that certain norms and aspects of existing international law, including the UN Charter, do apply in cyberspace. [1] During his September 2015 state visit to the U.S., President Xi apparently agreed to restrain Chinese commercial cyber espionage activities and pledged, along with President Obama, to refrain from cyber attacks against civilian critical infrastructure during peacetime (White House Press Office, September 25, 2015). [2] 

Iran’s Delicate Stability

By Kamran Bokhari 
Aug. 4, 2016 

Though on opposing sides, the pragmatists and ideologues need each other. 

During the past couple of weeks, Turkey’s failed coup followed by a massive purge has consumed a great deal of my attention. But in our business we can’t afford to ignore the rest of the world every time one country has a crisis. Recently, we’ve noticed that Turkey’s main regional competitor was exhibiting some unusual signs as well. 

A combo of recent file pictures shows Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) addressing the faithful at the weekly Muslim Friday prayers at Tehran University and President Hassan Rouhani attending a press conference in the Iranian capital. BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images 

It is well known that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani are not on the same page regarding the nuclear deal. But for them to publicly contradict one another cannot be considered business as usual. On Aug. 1, Khamenei criticized the nuclear accord saying it had not made a difference in the life of the average citizen, which has been a key claim of the president and his allies. The same day, Rouhani praised the deal in a speech, saying it restored the glory of the nation and had given the country the choice to do business with many countries instead of only a few.

Iraq: Islamic State Targets KRG-Administered Oilfield

August 5, 2016

Brazilian Army troops outside of the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Source: Reuters)

Islamic State (IS) fighters attacked the Bai Hasan oil field in Kirkuk, northern Iraq on July 31, killing at least four people, including oil workers and security guards. Two coordinated attacks saw suicide bombers hit the oilfield and a nearby gas compressor station, causing a fire to break out (Iraq Oil Report, July 31). 

The attack temporarily closed the oil field, but the facility – despite the fire, which at that point was not yet fully extinguished – was reportedly back in operation less than 24 hours later (Rudaw, August, 1). In the following days, Kurdish security forces rounded up suspects of an alleged IS sleeper cell, arresting four people linked to the attack. Security forces tracked down the suspects using a mobile phone signal (Rudaw, August 4). 

The presence of IS agents in Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) territory is not a new phenomenon. Several radical Kurdish clerics with links to IS were arrested last year, and there are claims that as many as 500 Kurds joined the group in 2014 (Rudaw, February 27, 2015; see also Terrorism Monitor, March 20, 2015). These agents, however, have staged few significant operations in the past. 

The Bai Hasan attack was a serious blow, especially in the context of efforts against IS in Iraq. Even so, it was not as disruptive as it might have been. 

In Search of Defense Against Nuclear Weapons

By Dr (Mrs) Vishiesh Verma
07 Aug , 2016

“War is the work of man/war is destruction of human life/war is death. To remember the past is to commit oneself to the future/To remember Hiroshima is to abhor nuclear war/ Inscription on the monument commemorative Pope John Paul II’s appeal for peace.

August 6 is celebrated as Hiroshima Peace Day and August 9 as Nagasaki Peace Day to remind the world that never again in history should such horror be re-enacted.

In 1955, Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein issued their famous manifesto seeking the abolition of nuclear weapons and appealing to all inhabitants of planet Earth: “Remember your humanity and forget the rest. Mankind is faced with a clear-cut alternative: either we shall all perish, or we shall have to acquire some slight degree of common sense. A great deal of new political thinking will be necessary if utter disaster is to be averted.” In 1957, the Russell-Einstein Manifesto led to the birth of the Pugwash conference on science and world affairs an organization devoted to ending the nuclear peril and reminding scientists of their ethical responsibilities for the consequences of their discoveries particularly in the area of nuclear threat to human survival.

The movement for a total ban on testing of nuclear weapons was taken up in India by a group led by C.Rajagopalachari in 1962 he and his group was received by Khrushch in Moscow and by Kennedy in Washington DC. They also called on Secretary General U Thant at the UN headquarters in New York. All this propaganda against nuclear testing led to the formulation of the partial Test Ban Treaty, which was signed by the US the USSR and the UK.

The seventh Review Conference of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) held in 2005 in New York ended in a deadlock. The five original Nuclear weapon states (the United States, Russia, The United Kingdom, France and China) showed themselves unwilling to take decisive action to implement their obligations under Article VI of the NPT to move decisively towards the irreversible elimination of their nuclear arsenals.

Pumping More Subsidies Into Education Will, Predictably, Result In Student Debt


August 05, 2016

Subsidies in higher education build bureaucratic empires with ever-larger numbers of administrators— while money devoted to the classroom shrinks.

Normally, leftists get upset if there’s a big industry that charges high prices, engages in lots of featherbedding, and manipulates the political system for handouts.

But, for some reason, when the industry is higher education, folks like Hillary Clinton think the answer is to shower colleges and universities with ever-greater subsidies.

She says the subsidies are for students but I point out— in this interview— that the real beneficiaries are the schools that simply boost tuition and fees to capture any increase in student loans.

And I also pointed out that the colleges and universities don’t even use the money wisely.

Instead, they build bureaucratic empires with ever-larger numbers of administrators while money devoted to the classroom shrinks.

Sort of a pay-more-get-less business model.

Though that only works when there are government subsidies to enable the inefficiency and bloat.

Prosperity In Scandinavia Is Despite Welfare States, Not Because Of Them

August 02, 2016

The following excerpts are republished from Swedish author Dr Nima Sanandaji’s latest book, Debunking Utopia: Exposing The Myth Of Nordic Socialism

From Spain to the Baltics, Latin America and the United States, leftist ideologues and politicians hedge much of their political beliefs on the success of Nordic social democracy. However, in the Nordic countries themselves, this ideal image of democratic socialism has lost its shimmer. What the global Left also doesn’t understand is that a unique culture underlies the success in Nordic countries. 

In his latest book, Debunking Utopia – Exposing The Myth Of Nordic Socialism,scholar and author Nima Sanandaji, shows that the prosperity in Scandinavia predates social democracy in the region. He also proves that the reason for prosperity in the Scandinavian countries is not social democracy, as the Left would have you believe, but a culture based on hard work, healthy diets, social cohesion and high levels of trust. 

Given below are the first two chapters from the book. These have been published with the permission of WND books. You can buyDr Sanandaji’sbook here.

Part 1

The Nordic Shangri-La

Imp Papers

NATO’s New Force Posture in the Baltic Region: Pluses and Minuses

August 3, 2016

NATO's forces train during BALTOPS 2016 (Source: polska-zbrojna.pl)

It was a summit of modest expectations and modest results for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Warsaw on July 8–9. These results are of an interim nature: building-blocks for further decisions at upcoming ministerial meetings, not waiting until the next summit. The Warsaw results do not, as yet, correlate with the growth in Russia’s capacity to threaten, intimidate, or subvert the Alliance generally and its eastern—now “frontline”—member countries in particular. 

Political debates on NATO’s force posture in the Baltic region could have been better served by a higher degree of openness and candor in the run-up to the Warsaw Summit. Unnecessary constraints on those debates were partly responsible for delaying NATO’s arrival to the Baltic region in a military sense during the whole post-enlargement decade. Those political inhibitions also partly explain the insufficiency of the Warsaw Summit’s decisions on the Allied force posture in the three Baltic States vis-à-vis the potential threats from Russia. 

On the positive side, the summit’s decisions signify that the three Baltic States’ accession to NATO is not merely a political process, which is how NATO had essentially treated it since 2004. First, NATO has now taken the initial (albeit tentative) steps toward integrating Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the Alliance’s defense system. Second, the three Baltic States no longer face the possibility of becoming de facto a buffer zone devoid of Allied forces (a possibility that had been discussed apprehensively in the region long after NATO’s political enlargement there). And thirdly, the Alliance’s force posture is now shifting from symbolic reassurance of the Baltic States toward deterrence of Russia, at least in aspirational terms for the time being. 

Turkey-Russia Rapprochement and Prospects for ‘Turkish Stream’

August 2, 2016

President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan (Source: novinite.com)

On June 27, Russian President Vladimir Putin received a letter from President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, expressing Turkey’s willingness to restore ties with Russia (Kremlin.ru, June 27). Immediately, Gazprom spokesperson Sergey Kupriyanov announced his company’s openness to dialogue with Ankara on the construction of the “Turkish Stream” natural gas pipeline (RT, June 27). Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım also expressed Ankara’s support for the project (Sputnik News, July 15). Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said that Turkey confirmed its willingness to resume dialogue with Russia on the construction of Turkish Stream (News.az, July 26). Gazprom’s Deputy CEO Alexander Medvedev said that the establishment of a working group on project implementation was agreed and the intergovernmental agreement can be signed when Putin and Erdoğan meet in St. Petersburg later this August (TASS, July 26). 

The construction of Turkish Stream under the Black Sea to the Turkey-Greece border was announced during Putin’s visit to Turkey in 2014 and endorsed by a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Turkey’s BOTAŞ and Russian Gazprom (Kremlin.ru, Gazprom.com, December 1, 2014). However, the two sides failed to sign an intergovernmental agreement. No permission was granted for offshore construction in Turkey’s waters—only for engineering and surveying (Oxfordenergy.org, February 2016). 

Although Gazprom had earlier agreed to a 10.25 percent price discount for BOTAŞ, that agreement was not fulfilled. Therefore, BOTAŞ brought a suit against Gazprom at the International Arbitration Court. Russia wanted to link the “price discount” with “pipeline implementation” (as a prerequisite to Turkish Stream), but Turkey wanted to treat both separately (Hurriyet Daily News, September 11, 2015; Independent Turkey, March 20). In September 2015, Gazprom announced it agreed with the Turkish partners that they would only be working on the first line (between Russia and Turkey) of Turkish Stream, reducing the pipeline’s total capacity from 63 billion cubic meters (bcm) per year down to 32 bcm (Novinite, September 7, 2015; Interfax, October 8, 2015). After the November 24 “jet incident” (see EDM, December 3, 2015), Russia’s Energy Minister Alexander Novak announced the suspension of further negotiations over Turkish Stream (RT, December 2, 2015). 

NATO’s New Force Posture in the Baltic Region: Pluses and Minuses

August 3, 2016

NATO's forces train during BALTOPS 2016 (Source: polska-zbrojna.pl)

It was a summit of modest expectations and modest results for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Warsaw on July 8–9. These results are of an interim nature: building-blocks for further decisions at upcoming ministerial meetings, not waiting until the next summit. The Warsaw results do not, as yet, correlate with the growth in Russia’s capacity to threaten, intimidate, or subvert the Alliance generally and its eastern—now “frontline”—member countries in particular. 

Political debates on NATO’s force posture in the Baltic region could have been better served by a higher degree of openness and candor in the run-up to the Warsaw Summit. Unnecessary constraints on those debates were partly responsible for delaying NATO’s arrival to the Baltic region in a military sense during the whole post-enlargement decade. Those political inhibitions also partly explain the insufficiency of the Warsaw Summit’s decisions on the Allied force posture in the three Baltic States vis-à-vis the potential threats from Russia. 

On the positive side, the summit’s decisions signify that the three Baltic States’ accession to NATO is not merely a political process, which is how NATO had essentially treated it since 2004. First, NATO has now taken the initial (albeit tentative) steps toward integrating Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania into the Alliance’s defense system. Second, the three Baltic States no longer face the possibility of becoming de facto a buffer zone devoid of Allied forces (a possibility that had been discussed apprehensively in the region long after NATO’s political enlargement there). And thirdly, the Alliance’s force posture is now shifting from symbolic reassurance of the Baltic States toward deterrence of Russia, at least in aspirational terms for the time being. 

Brexit and Baltic Security—320,000 Balts May Have to Go Home

By Paul Goble
July 20, 2016

Many have speculated that the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union will have negative consequences for the countries of Eastern Europe in general and the Baltic States in particular because London—hitherto one of the most outspoken defenders of those countries—will no longer be a participant in European forums. That may ultimately be the most serious consequence of Brexit for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. But there is a more immediate danger, one that at least some in Moscow hope will harm the three, simultaneously isolating them from the West and making their governments more susceptible to Russian pressure.

At present, there are nearly a third of a million Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian citizens working in the UK. Negotiations on the terms of Britain’s exit from the EU have not yet started. But if the final deal compels the 200,000 Lithuanians, 100,000 Latvians and 20,000 Estonians in the UK to go home, their arrival en masse could create serious economic and thus political problems for Tallinn, Riga and Vilnius. Such a sudden wide-scale return of Balts to their home countries would directly raise the issue of finding work for the returnees and indirectly call into question how Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians will view Europe in the future. 

Russia’s Futuristic Military Plagued by Old Problems

July 29, 2016

As Russia’s military operations continue unabated in Syria, despite an earlier order to commence withdrawing deployed forces, the conflict has certainly succeeded in changing how the Russian Armed Forces are perceived both at home and abroad. Indeed, the intervention in Syria, marking Moscow’s first experience of expeditionary warfare beyond the former Soviet space since its withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, permitted the top brass to test and showcase some of the advances in modern military hardware and weapons systems. This has been by no means a cheap exercise in the use of hard power. And yet, Russia’s operation in Syria has promulgated a one-sided view of the transformation of its Armed Forces: that of Moscow making significant progress toward developing 21st century warfare capabilities. However, this oversimplified assertion is challenged by ongoing problems linked to military manpower (Voyennya Mysl, No. 1, 2016). 

President Vladimir Putin has revamped the assertion that Russia retains “one million” men under arms, despite evidence of undermanning in the Armed Forces. In December 2015, the Ministry of Defense confirmed that it is on schedule to achieve its aim to recruit sufficient numbers of contract personnel (kontraktniki) based on annual targets and boasted that it passed the milestone of possessing more contract personnel than conscripts. The defense ministry’s official figure for the number of kontraktniki serving in the Armed Forces was 352,000, noting that the target for 2016 was set at recruiting an additional 31,000 and proclaiming that its units were 92 percent manned (RIA Novosti, December 24, 2015). 

NATO Aspirant Georgia Still Defenseless After All These Years

July 29, 2016

It was a summit of modest expectations and modest results for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Warsaw on July 8–9. These results are of an interim nature: building-blocks for further decisions at upcoming ministerial meetings, not waiting until the next summit. The Warsaw results do not, as yet, correlate with the growth in Russia’s capacity to threaten, intimidate, or subvert the Alliance generally and its eastern—now “frontline”—member countries in particular. 

NATO’s political pronouncements and official documents recognize that Georgia has contributed to Allied operations far more than any of the countries that were invited to join the North Atlantic Alliance during the last ten years—and more indeed than most of the “old” NATO member countries. NATO’s recent summit in Warsaw again acknowledged Georgia’s contributions (see EDM, July 27). 

Georgia spends more than 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense, year after year—a NATO benchmark that only five NATO member countries (out of 28) actually meet. This effort places an additional burden on Georgia’s impoverished population. And much of this spending supports Georgia’s participation in NATO operations outside Georgia’s own territory (see above). Georgian public support for the goal of joining NATO stands at 68 percent, according to the most recent opinion survey (NDI press release, April 11, 2016)—a level of support that has persisted through the years, and actually exceeds the pro-NATO sentiment in many NATO member countries. Georgia has successfully protected itself and the neighboring countries from terrorist activities; it guarantees the security of international oil and gas pipelines that cross Georgia’s territory; and it has made its territory unconditionally available in the last 15 years for expeditionary operations led by the United States. 

Globalization and its New Discontents


AUG 5, 2016 23

Joseph E. Stiglitz, recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001 and the John Bates Clark Medal in 1979, is University Professor at Columbia University, Co-Chair of the High-Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress at the OECD, and Chief… READ MORE

NEW YORK – Fifteen years ago, I wrote a little book, entitled Globalization and its Discontents,describing growing opposition in the developing world to globalizing reforms. It seemed a mystery: people in developing countries had been told that globalization would increase overall wellbeing. So why had so many people become so hostile to it?

Now, globalization’s opponents in the emerging markets and developing countries have been joined by tens of millions in the advanced countries. Opinion polls, including a careful study by Stanley Greenberg and his associates for the Roosevelt Institute, show that trade is among the major sources of discontent for a large share of Americans. Similar views are apparent in Europe.

How can something that our political leaders – and many an economist – said would make everyone better off be so reviled?

One answer occasionally heard from the neoliberal economists who advocated for these policies is that people are better off. They just don’t know it. Their discontent is a matter for psychiatrists, not economists.

But income data suggest that it is the neoliberals who may benefit from therapy. Large segments of the population in advanced countries have not been doing well: in the US, the bottom 90% has endured income stagnation for a third of a century. Median income for full-time male workers is actually lower in real (inflation-adjusted) terms than it was 42 years ago. At the bottom, real wages are comparable to their level 60 years ago.

The Complex and Increasingly Dangerous Nuclear Weapons Geometry of Asia

July 27, 2016

While much of the world’s attention is focused on efforts to halt the nuclear and missile tests of North Korea, the nuclear arsenals and ambitions of India, Pakistan, and China also pose significant dangers and deserve more attention.

The complicated nuclear weapons geometry of Asia extends from the subcontinent to the other side of the world. While Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is designed to counter India’s conventional and nuclear forces, New Delhi measures its own nuclear weapons program against that of China. Beijing, in turn, judges the adequacy of its nuclear arsenal against the threat it perceives from the United States’ strategic offensive and defensive capabilities. And in its efforts to mitigate the ballistic missile threat from North Korea, the United States and it allies in the region are expanding their strategic and theater missile defense capabilities.

In order to fully understand how the pace and direction of nuclear proliferation can be influenced, the interconnections of these countries must be considered, along with the kinds of nuclear weapons they have at their disposal.

The full PDF of the Threat Assessment Brief is available here.

The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the dangers posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. 

Posted: July 27, 2016

Asia's nuclear stockpile is worryingly growing

August 02, 2016

China will be the nuclear threat of most concern to New Delhi for at least another decade, the latest report by the Arms Control Association says.

Greg Thielmann and David Logan -- authors of the report titled The complex and increasingly dangerous nuclear weapons geometry of Asia -- say that that the nuclear arsenals and ambitions of India, Pakistan, and China pose significant dangers and deserve more attention.

While Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is designed to counter India’s conventional and nuclear forces, New Delhi measures its own nuclear weapons programme against that of China.

Beijing, in turn, judges the adequacy of its nuclear arsenal against the threat it perceives from the United States' strategic offensive and defensive capabilities. And in its efforts to mitigate the ballistic missile threat from North Korea, the United States and its allies in the region are expanding their strategic and theater missile defense capabilities.

The complicated nuclear weapons geometry of Asia thus extends from the subcontinent to the other side of the world.

Here's what the report states about the three Asian nuclear powers:

India

Air Force Secretary: Enemies Could Target U.S. Electrical Grid

By Yasmin Tadjdeh 

8/4/2016

Deborah Lee James

Adversaries could target U.S. military energy sources as a means to disrupt cyber operations, the secretary of the Air Force said Aug. 4.

“If someone were to stop the electricity to a certain base it could very much affect our cyber activities and activities beyond cyber,” said Deborah Lee James during remarks at New America, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “That is why we are so focused on … energy assurance. We say, ‘Mission assurance through energy assurance.’”

Reliable sources of energy are critical to the success of cyber missions, she said. “Think of it in the case of aircraft — our aircraft can’t run without jet fuel. Well, jet fuel … [is to an aircraft what] electricity is to cyber.”

In March, James announced the establishment of the office of energy assurance within the Air Force that is tasked with researching alternative sources of energy that can be generated on bases.

“It’s really a recognition of the new world order, and it’s a recognition that several of our … core missions are really, really dependent on access to energy,” she said.

James recently traveled to Europe where she met with various nations’ leaders. Two countries, Ukraine and Estonia, encapsulated the criticality of robust cyber defenses, she said.

Cyber issues from the Aspen Security Forum


August 4, 2016 

This year's Aspen Security Forum that took place last week featured top government officials and experts who candidly talked about key security issues facing the United States and its international interests. In light of the recent Democratic National Committee hack and its effect on geopolitics, here is a roundup of critical cyber issues discussed during the forum:

The blame game

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said at last week's four-day forum that the United States is not ready to make a call on attribution regarding the DNC hack. Clapper noted there are some usual suspects out there — but in using the regular protocol and process, they aren’t ready to make a public call yet.

Patrick Walsh, senior vice president with iSight Partners, said: “When the malware is reviewed and looked at closely, the forensics associated with it follow patterns. These are advanced, persistent threat actors that are involved. They’re sophisticated in terms of what their capabilities are and the way they’re introduced into the environment.

“We’ve described this as APT 28 and 29 in terms of the actual malware involved, but that’s only a microscopic inspection of malware that doesn’t get to attribution because there’s no context associated with it. So we don’t know the broader sets of questions, which the audience is very interested in.”

MODERN GROUND ELECTRONIC WARFARE


In any modern conflict, the use of the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) is ubiquitous. All maneuver, fires and logistics elements in every modern force use RF-enabled capabilities in order to command and control their assets and to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance activities against enemy forces. Electronic Warfare (EW) is the use of EMS, that mostly invisible world around us, to conduct military action.

The RF technology to which these combatants have access, from sophisticated systems such as unmanned aerial system-enabled Electronic Attack capabilities, to commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) products such as cellular phones, has improved both communications reach and the ability for enemy signals to “hide in plain sight” and control access to the EMS use on the battlefield. 

All of these complexities and increasing EMS congestion make it more difficult for commanders to find and target specific enemy users of the EMS. The need for the right EW equipment on the ground, to sort through the clutter, is essential.

Just as enemy forces consider our C2 and ISR capabilities to be important targets, so must our forces be able to target the source of enemy signals and emissions - so that we can attack, exploit or deceive them. 

"Today's enemy is as sophisticated as we are - and in many cases, less tied to conventional means of warfare," said Aaron Hankins, Vice President of DRS Technologies EW Programs. "This means we must poise ourselves to both defend our use of the spectrum and also to be prepared to take the fight to the enemy,” he said.

Bridging the EW Gap Is the United States prepared for the emerging Electronic Warfare threat? Looking at solutions for the growing EW capabilities gap.


Both the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the Defense Science Board have recently called for action to close what they found to be gaps in our country’s Electronic Warfare (EW) capabilities. Spanning the gap that was identified and what is achievable to counter immediate and real threats to the Electromagnetic Spectrum (EMS) is not a bridge too far.

In fact, battalion-level, integrated EW systems are currently being provided by DRS Technologies to key foreign allies. These Electromagnetic Battle Management (EMBM) systems are performing successfully in very challenging conditions.

With cross-border conflicts increasing across the Middle East - including an armed rebellion in Yemen and ISIS on the move in Syria and Iraq - a number of nations are looking to the United States to provide an integrated EW capability that can allow their forces to disrupt, deny, degrade, destroy or deceive within the EMS battlespace.


An integrated EW system starts with state-of-the-art Electronic Support (ES) capabilities that receive, recognize, monitor, decode, direction find, and geo-locate signals of interest in all relevant radio frequency (RF) bands. This capability is enabled by advanced signal processing.

Pentagon Claims Russia Creating Bionic Superhuman Soldiers With Brain Implants

07.08.2016

Turns out that the Pentagon appears to be speaking about programs they have sanctioned under DARPA in addition to similar efforts by the British military which have pretty close to nothing to do with Russia.

Top American military officials claim that Moscow is working to create “enhanced human operations” technology they say "scares the crap" out of them with the specter of stronger, faster, and more deadly super soldiers on the horizon according to the latest musings from the Pentagon.

In the bid to develop a superior fighting force, most countries are looking to weapons based around robotics, lasers and exoskeletons to create a real-life Iron Man, but the US military officials, perhaps in a bout of propaganda, suggest that Russia is focused on also augmenting human biology – think more X-Men than Iron Man – in order to create the most deadly fighting force in the world.

"Our adversaries, quite frankly, are pursuing enhanced human operations and it scares the crap out of us," said US Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.

8 August 2016

A season of loss in Kashmir

August 8, 2016

Why is it that the deaths in Kashmir, and the blinding of more than 100 people are never referred to in the media or in drawing rooms as the death and injury of Indians?

For days after the killing of Burhan Wani, every TV channel rang with acrimonious debate. Wani was described by India as a terrorist and by Pakistan as a martyr. The media resounded to argument and indignation. The number of dead and injured continued to rise relentlessly. Among the earliest to be killed was Yasmina of a suburb of Kulgam in south Kashmir — her brother Amir Hussain serves in the Border Security Force in Tripura — as she fled from a street into a side lane with her teenage brother whom she was dragging away from joining the protesters. The 54th death on July 31 was of young Ishfaq Ahmed of Sopore in north Kashmir with a shattered skull, which although denied by the SP, himself a Kashmiri, the public believes was a result of beating by the police.

It was only in March this year that I had travelled to south Kashmir on the invitation of the then popular CPI(M) MLA, Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami. I was to address officials of Kulgam district on the right to information (RTI), under the District Development Commissioner, a dynamic young Kashmiri, Syed Abid Rasheed Shah, one of several young Kashmiri officers who have successfully qualified for the IAS to serve their people through governance. RTI has captured the imagination of many a young Kashmiri, within service and without. Abid is today the District Development Commissioner of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti’s home district of Anantnag.

July 8 and its aftermath

*** DPP 2016: A Missed Opportunity

By S.N. Misra
06 Aug , 2016

The Kargil Conflict had fortuitously brought to the centre-stage the need for an integrated approach towards intelligence gathering and joint operations. The 26//11 Mumbai attack has woken us to the reality of a unified approach between the states, the Coast Guard and the Indian Navy. The Defence Procurement Procedures over the years have tried to bring transparency into our procurement process and there have been some moves towards increasing private sector participation in defence manufacturing. However, unlike the automotives and telecom sector, the relationship between the DPSUs, the DRDO and the private sector remain uneasy and adversarial. The DPSUs still do not consider the private sector as partners but as contractors. The record of private sector players such as L&T in strategic programmes like that of Arihant is salutary. A defence capability improvement would need major structural change. Either we have a DGA-like structure or the COCO structure of the USA with the government providing oversight on strategic issues.

The Kargil War uncovered the fault lines in the coordination between different agencies which are engaged in containing external threats…

The Kargil War uncovered the fault lines in the coordination between different agencies which are engaged in containing external threats. The Group of Ministers Recommendations (2002) made wide-ranging recommendations to fill up this critical void by providing for an Integrated Defence Services (IDS) Structure, Joint Services operation and creation of an Acquisition Wing. The DPP 2002 was the first definitive document which dealt with the nuances of acquisition by categorising our defence requirements as ‘Buy’ (Import) and ‘Buy and Make’.

*The NAFTA Debate

Aug. 4, 2016

Those for and against free trade are often motivated by political agendas.

Summary

There is no definitive evidence illustrating NAFTA’s impact on the U.S. job market, though the debate over whether the agreement has helped or hurt the U.S. economy has been around since its implementation in the early 1990s. The lack of decisive evidence is due to the fact that both sides of the debate provide numbers to support their arguments that are at best estimates given the complexities of the economy and shortfalls in modeling.

The 2016 U.S. presidential campaign has brought renewed focus on the agreement and evolved the debate from whether it hurts jobs to what extent it should be changed to protect U.S. jobs. 

Introduction

U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have raised the possibility of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada, the United States and Mexico. While campaign speeches should often be considered political white noise, the core issues being addressed sometimes have geopolitical significance. The future of NAFTA is one of these core issues. It currently serves as the framework that dictates how the U.S., the world’s largest economy, carries out trade with two of its top three trading partners. It also encompasses the three major economies of theWestern Hemisphere, distinct for its stability while much of Eurasia is in crisis.




NAFTA’s impact on U.S. employment is the main point of contention inspiring calls for a renegotiation or even an end to the agreement. This debate over the cost of more open trade to U.S. jobs is nothing new. The balance between the benefits of trade and accompanying adjustments in the U.S. job market has been a divisive issue in U.S. domestic policy for decades. In a 1962 message to Congress, President John F. Kennedy noted: "The burden of economic adjustment should be borne in part by the federal government.... [T]here is an obligation to render assistance to those who suffer as a result of national trade policy."

Securing the Indus treaty


Pakistan’s move to institute new arbitration proceedings over the Indus waters goes against the spirit of the landmark agreement.

Water sharing, transparency and collaboration are the pillars on which the unique Indus Waters Treaty was erected in 1960. Islamabad’s recently unveiled intent to haul India again before an international arbitral tribunal is a testament to how water remains a source of discord for Pakistan despite a treaty that is a colossus among existing water-sharing pacts in the world.

In Asia, the vast majority of the 57 transnational river basins have no water-sharing arrangement or any other cooperative mechanism. India, however, has water-sharing treaties with both the countries located downstream to it, Pakistan and Bangladesh. These treaties govern the subcontinent’s two largest rivers, Indus and Ganges. By contrast, China, despite its unrivalled international status as the source of river flows to more than a dozen countries, stands out for not having a single water-sharing arrangement with any co-riparian state.

Significantly, India’s treaties with Pakistan and Bangladesh are the only pacts in Asia with specific water-sharing formulas on cross-border flows. They also set a new principle in international water law. The 1996 Ganges treaty set a new standard by guaranteeing delivery of specific water quantities in the critical dry season.

India’s Indus largesse