24 May 2018

Commentary: India Should Be Innovative in the Challenging Times Ahead

Arvind Gupta

Prime Minister Modi has shown remarkable innovativeness in foreign policy arena recently. This shows that he is cognisant of the challenges for India that are looming ahead. The ‘informal summit’ with Xi Jinping in April 2018 was an attempt to arrest the slide in Sino-Indian relations which had manifested in the 2017 Doklam stand-off between the Indian Army and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Prime Minister Modi held yet another ‘informal summit’ with Russian President Putin in Sochi in May to keep the Indo-Russian relations on the positive trajectory. Russia has been concerned about India’s tilt towards the Americans particularly after the revival of the Quadrilateral Grouping, or the ‘QUAD’. He visited Nepal within a month of the visit of Nepalese Prime Minister Oli to India. The meeting between the two prime ministers was to put Indo-Nepal relations back on the rails after the knocks that they took during Prime Minister Oli’s earlier tenure.

The impact of rising oil prices on Indian economy

Nikhil Gupta

India, the world’s seventh-largest economy, was a key beneficiary of falling crude oil prices between 2013 and 2015. An analysis by this newspaper, more than a year ago, had indicated that almost the entire reduction of about 0.6% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in India’s fiscal deficit between FY14 and FY16 could be attributed to the sharp fall in crude prices. Lower crude prices also contributed to the narrower current account deficit. The biggest benefit of the fall in oil prices was evident in narrower twin deficits. Since the pass-through of the fall in crude prices to retail consumers was limited (the government retained a large part of the benefits by hiking excise duty on retail fuel products), the direct impact on inflation—measured by consumer price index (CPI)—was muted.

Could Pakistan’s Protests Undercut Taliban and Extremism?

BY: James Rupert

Tens of thousands of ethnic Pashtuns have held mass protests in Pakistan in the past three months, demanding justice and better governance for their communities. The largely youth-led protests forged an organization, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (“tahafuz” means “protection”), that has broadened its goals to include democracy and decentralization of power in Pakistan. The movement reflects demands for change among the roughly 30 million Pashtuns who form about 15 percent of Pakistan’s population, the country’s second-largest ethnic community. In March, hundreds of Pashtun men attended a protest at the North Waziristan town of Mir Ali, one of dozens of rallies since January. (Photo Courtesy: RFE-RL)

Beijing’s Building Boom

By Bushra Bataineh, Michael Bennon, and Francis Fukuyama

Scholars and pundits in the West have become increasingly alarmed that China’s planned Belt and Road Initiative (B&R) could further shift the global strategic landscape in Beijing’s favor, with infrastructure lending as its primary lever for global influence. The planned network of infrastructure project—financed by China’s bilateral lenders, the China Development Bank (CDB) and the Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM), along with the newly formed and multilateral Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank—is historically unprecedented in scope. But the B&R is only the natural progression of a global sea change in developing economy infrastructure finance that has already been under way for more than two decades.

Trump’s Charm and Threats May Not Be Working on China. Here’s Why.

By Keith Bradsher

Chinese negotiators left Washington this weekend with a significant win: a willingness by the Trump administration to hold off for now on imposing tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese imports. China gave up little in return, spurning the administration’s nudges for a concrete commitment to buy more goods from the United States, and avoiding limits on its efforts to build new high-tech Chinese industries. The trade fight is far from over. And large Chinese technology companies in particular could be vulnerable if the United States starts punching again, with administration officials appearing to back away from Mr. Trump’s pledges to help ZTE, a Chinese telecommunications company hit with severe American penalties.

China Has a Vast Influence Machine, and You Don’t Even Know It

By Yi-Zheng Lian

Amid all the hoopla about Russia’s covert attempts to manipulate the 2016 American presidential election, one state has been conspicuously quiet: China. Yet its leaders may well be sneering at the Russians’ heavy hand. Since the project masterminded from Moscow largely relied on social media in the United States, American techies were bound to find out about it soon enough. Likewise with the baldfaced poisoning of an ex-Russian spy and his daughter in Britain, which has also been pegged to Moscow. Too crude, too traceable, these operations could only generate a backlash. China, too, can be a bully, especially with Asian governments in its immediate sphere of influence — imposing economic sanctions on South Korea for deploying defensive missiles or orchestrating the kidnapping of book publishers from Hong Kong and Thailand. But it doesn’t usually set out to openly hurt or antagonize stronger opponents like the United States; instead, it tries to quietly gain an edge for the long haul.

How Chinese mining in the Himalayas may create a new military flashpoint with India

Stephen Chen

China has begun large-scale mining operations on its side of the disputed border with India in the Himalayas, where a huge trove of gold, silver and other precious minerals – valued at nearly US$60 billion by Chinese state geologists – has been found. Although mining has been going on in the world’s highest mountain range for thousands of years, the challenge of accessing the remote terrain and concerns about environmental damage had until now limited the extent of the activities. The unprecedented scale of the new mines follows years of heavy investment by the Chinese government in roads and other infrastructure in the area. People familiar with the project say the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet, a sizeable chunk of disputed territory currently under Indian control. 

How Taiwan Would Defend Itself from a Decapitation Strike (By China)

Robert Beckhusen

In military terms, a “decapitation” strike refers to the practice of targeting a country’s top leadership in the opening hours of a war — cutting off the head of an enemy army and its political system. Taiwan, situated close to China with its many ways of carrying out such an attack, is vulnerable. Remote though it may seem, Taiwan takes the possibility seriously enough to treat defending against decapitation to be among its top military priorities under its “resolute defense” doctrine. China also seems to prepare to do it, at least as a way of rattling Taiwan and putting it under pressure. In 2015, Chinese troops drilled in Inner Mongolia at a base built to resemble the Taiwanese Presidential Palace.

Israel vs. Iran: Who Holds the Advantage in an Increasingly Looming War?

By Carlo Muñoz - Washington Times

As two of the Middle East’s military heavyweights edge closer to a shooting war, Israelboasts one of the world’s most effective militaries backed by a nuclear arsenal, but Iranhas 10 times the population and an increasing number of ways to strike back asymmetrically. The Iran military’s total force is reported to be 934,000 active-duty and reserve troops, while the total number of Israeli troops comes in at 615,000, according to figures compiled by GlobalFirepower.com. Expanding the aperture to include all fighting-age citizens, Iran still holds the advantage with over half of the country’s population of 84 million eligible to fight, compared with 3.6 million in Israel  But the age of high-tech warfare and armed drones is where Iran ’s advantages end in terms of conventional warfare, military analysts say.

Changing Political Landscape in the Middle East

Amb D P Srivastava

President Trump’s announcement of US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal comes at a time, when the political landscape in the Middle East is changing fast. Hizbullah won the majority in Lebanon elections in early May. The Iraqi election results came within days of the US decision. Muqtada al-Sadr’s group emerged as the front-runner, while the sitting Prime Minister Haider-al-Abadi’s group finished third. Though government formation in Lebanon and Iraq will take time, these two developments will have a bearing on power equations within the respective countries, and the region.

What the North Koreans Told Me About Their Plans

JOEL S. WIT

Introducing Crazy/Genius, a new podcast from The Atlantic with Derek Thompson. Eight bold questions—and eight smart answers—about how tech is changing the world. Listen and subscribe to the podcast. What exactly do the North Koreans mean when they say they’re willing to denuclearize? And how exactly would they do so? These are the key mysteries at the heart of the upcoming Trump-Kim summit—and indeed they threatened to derail the whole thing this week when Kim Jong Un objected to National-Security Adviser John Bolton’s vision for it. In a statement attributed to Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye Gwan, North Korea chastised Bolton for his invocation of the “Libya model” of unilateral denuclearization as a template, noting that the “world knows too well that our country is neither Libya nor Iraq which have met miserable [fates].” The White House quickly walked back Bolton’s remarks.

Human Rights and the Fate of the Liberal Order

JOSEPH S. NYE

According to “realist” international-relations theorists, one cannot sustain a liberal world order when two of the three great powers – Russia and China – are anti-liberal. There are several problems with this argument. Many experts have proclaimed the death of the post-1945 liberal international order, including the human-rights regime set forth in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The cover of Foreign Policy recently displayed the white dove of human rights pierced by the bloody arrows of authoritarian reaction. 

Why Engage in Proxy War? A State’s Perspective

by Daniel Byman - Lawfare 

A proxy war occurs when a major power instigates or plays a major role in supporting and directing a party to a conflict but does only a small portion of the actual fighting itself. Proxy war stands in contrast not only to a traditional war—when a state shoulders the burden of its own defense (or offense)—but also an alliance, when major and minor powers work together with each making significant contributions according to their means. So the United States working with the Afghan government against what’s left of al-Qaeda and the Taliban is more of a traditional alliance because of the major U.S. role , with thousands of American troops and hundreds of airstrikes, while Iran working with Houthi rebels in Yemen is a proxy war because Iran primarily provides weapons and funding, not its own troops. How much direct military support is too much to count as a proxy war, of course, lies mostly in the eye of the beholder , but in general, think the lower end of the involvement-spectrum. Iran’s support for the Syrian regime , for example, involves relatively few Iranian forces but a lot of foreign Shiite fighters from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Lebanon as well as helping direct the Syrian regime—so more proxy than alliance.

Mattis on Strategy

by Bill Gertz

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the recently completed U.S. defense strategy, the first in 10 years, will be used to guide the revamping of the military during the Trump administration. “Without a sound strategy, the most brilliant generals, the most well-equipped troops, the most high-tech equipment, fine tactics — none of that works unless your strategy, your framework for what you’re doing, can actually tie ways and means together,” Mr. Mattis said in a recent speech. The retired Marine Corps general said the new strategy identifies China and Russiaas the major threats facing the country and will be used as a rationale for more stable defense funding after years of cutbacks. In formulating the strategy, Pentagon strategists categorized security threats and recognized the prime danger as coming from state actors like China and Russia , not from terrorist groups.

As AI Begins to Reshape Defense, Here’s How Europe Can Keep Up

BY WENDY R. ANDERSON JIM TOWNSEND

Change comes hard in much of Europe, particularly in the defense community. But no less than in the United States, European nations are wrestling with the implications of machine learning and artificial intelligence — in the military as well as civilian society. During several trips to Europe in the last six months, we have noted a significant uptick in the number of NATO political and military leaders discussing AI’s impact on the alliance’s military capability.

The global economy’s rising debt problem


I do not know if it is possible to have two epiphanies in a short period. Well, why not? I have had two now, on global risks. The US Federal Reserve is raising interest rates. There is political uncertainty in a few parts of the world, including the developed world. There are trade disputes. These are serious threats to the global economy and global financial assets. But which ones, in particular, are threatened the most? The identification of the vulnerable ones constitutes my epiphanies. I think there are two of them. One is debt in emerging markets. The second is US commercial debt. These will set off chain reactions in other assets, including in American and emerging stock markets.

Critical U.S. Military Sites Can’t Cope With A Prolonged Power Outage

Lorten Thompson
Source Link

The United States spends more money on military preparedness than any other country – nearly $2 billion per day. But some of the most obvious challenges get short shrift in the federal budget. A case in point is the inability of essential defense installations to function if the lights go out for more than a few days. Ten years ago, the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board issued a study warning that “military installations are almost completely dependent on a fragile and vulnerable commercial power grid, placing critical military and homeland defense missions at unacceptable risk of extended outage.” The study went on to assert that “backup power at military installations is based on assumptions of a more resilient grid than exists and much shorter outages than may occur.”

As AI Begins to Reshape Defense, Here’s How Europe Can Keep Up

BY WENDY R. ANDERSON JIM TOWNSEND
Source Link

It’s clear that the continent’s political and military leaders are wrestling with the implications of artificial intelligence. But debate needs to translate into action, and quickly. Change comes hard in much of Europe, particularly in the defense community. But no less than in the United States, European nations are wrestling with the implications of machine learning and artificial intelligence — in the military as well as civilian society. During several trips to Europe in the last six months, we have noted a significant uptick in the number of NATOpolitical and military leaders discussing AI’s impact on the alliance’s military capability.

MATTIS ON STRATEGY

“Without a sound strategy, the most brilliant generals, the most well-equipped troops, the most high-tech equipment, fine tactics — none of that works unless your strategy, your framework for what you’re doing, can actually tie ways and means together,” Mr. Mattis said in a recent speech. “We pull into one of the camps in the middle of nowhere, and I was reminded that next morning that America’s got two fundamental sources of power: the power of inspiration and the power of intimidation,” he said. “Many times, our military acts with the power of intimidation and sometimes the power of inspiration as well.” The man then asked if he would be allowed to immigrate to America if he proved to be a model prisoner.

Banks Adopt Military-Style Tactics to Fight Cybercrime

By Stacy Cowley

O’FALLON, Mo. — In a windowless bunker here, a wall of monitors tracked incoming attacks — 267,322 in the last 24 hours, according to one hovering dial, or about three every second — as a dozen analysts stared at screens filled with snippets of computer code. Pacing around, overseeing the stream of warnings, was a former Delta Force soldier who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan before shifting to a new enemy: cyberthieves. “This is not that different from terrorists and drug cartels,” Matt Nyman, the command center’s creator, said as he surveyed his squadron of Mastercard employees. “Fundamentally, threat networks operate in similar ways.” Cybercrime is one of the world’s fastest-growing and most lucrative industries. At least $445 billion was lost last year, up around 30 percent from just three years earlier, a global economic study found, and the Treasury Department recently designated cyberattacks as one of the greatest risks to the American financial sector. For banks and payment companies, the fight feels like a war — and they’re responding with an increasingly militarized approach.

U.S. ARMY CREATING A ‘SPECIAL FORCES’ UNIT OF CYBER WARRIORS


David Maxwell Comment: Is embedding a small team in each BCT the right way to go? Are we treating them just as do other “enablers?” Are we using old think here? Will that lead to treatment of cyber as an afterthought? Or will cyber be stove piped and only a handful of “cyber special forces” or “cyber special operators” will focus on cyber tasks. What happens when we need to conduct cyber as the main effort and the support from a BCT is not necessary? In the future we might be leading with cyber (offensively and defensively).

Excerpts:

According to the Army, the ultimate goal would be to send small teams or “cells” of cyber specialists to be embedded inside brigade combat teams. These teams will better help commanders face challenges in theater.

CYBER SECURITY PROFESSIONAL WARNS OF 5TH AND 6TH GENERATION MALWARE THREAT; POLYMORPHIC, ADAPTIVE, AND HARDER TO DETECT


Gil Shwed, CEO and Founder of the cyber security firm , CheckPoint Technologies, was interviewed on CNBC’s Squawk Box this morning/May 18, 2018, regarding his outlook on the cyber threat. Mr. Shwed said it was imperative that governments and the private sector “develop innovative, sixth generation defenses. Mr. Shwed added that “fifth-generation cyber attacks, excel at identification theft, as well as in targeting cloud services, and mobile devices.” 

Sweden distributes 'be prepared for war' leaflet to all 4.8m homes

Jon Henley

The Swedish government has begun sending all 4.8m of the country’s households a public information leaflet telling the population, for the first time in more than half a century, what to do in the event of a war. Om krisen eller kriget kommer (If crisis or war comes) explains how people can secure basic needs such as food, water and heat, what warning signals mean, where to find bomb shelters and how to contribute to Sweden’s “total defence”. The 20-page pamphlet, illustrated with pictures of sirens, warplanes and families fleeing their homes, also prepares the population for dangers such as cyber and terror attacks and climate change, and includes a page on identifying fake news.

Air Force secretary: China, Russia could shoot down new JSTARS on day one of a war

By: Stephen Losey 

Even a new version of the Air Force’s JSTARS battlefield management and control aircraft would be vulnerable to being shot out of the sky during the opening salvo of a conflict with Russia or China, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson told lawmakers Thursday. As part of its proposed fiscal 2019 budget, the Air Force wants to cancel the program to recap the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar Systemaircraft, which previously sought to buy 17 new Boeing 707-sized planes to replace its old inventory.

DESPITE RECENT PRICE DROP, BITCOIN GETS VOTE OF CONFIDENCE; HOW TO PLAY CHINA NOW


Avi Salzman had a full-page article in this weekend’s (May 21, 2018) Barron’s, “Despite Recent Price Drop, Bitcoin Gets Vote Of Confidence.” “Bitcoin has plunged 58 percent from its December highs, Warren Buffet has compared it to rat poison, and few people use it for everyday purposes. Other digital coins are stuck in legal limbo. In any other industry, this would be a death knell,” Mr. Salzman wrote. “And yet, at CoinDesk’s annual conference in Manhattan [last week], the premier event for bitcoin and blockchain enthusiasts, roared with optimism and money,” Mr. Salzman added. “Some of that roar came from the rented Lamborghini’s out front; and, the optimism may have been stocked by the blockchain powered, free-beer dispensing machines.” Mr. Salzman adds some more color to the gathering and I refer you to this weekend’s Barron’s for the full article. He does note that despite the price drop noted above, “suits follow the money,” and — “even after the price drop, the [digital] coin world has nearly $400 billion in assets, 20 times more than [it was] at the start of 2017.”

23 May 2018

In his 5th year, PM Modi needs to be a true pradhan sevak

Shashi Shekhar
Let me remind you of a moment four years ago, when Narendra Modi reached Parliament House for the first time as prime minister. He kneeled and touched his forehead to the ground before walking up the stairs to the highest decision-making institution in Indian democracy. The significance of the gesture wasn’t lost on anybody. The politician from Gujarat was reinventing for a new avatar. Now that his government is entering its fifth year, it won’t be out of place to ask: How successful has he been?

Romancing the West risks India’s regional influence

By KHALID IBN MUNEER

The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, that was launched in 2017 and became dormant, is moving toward resurrection. The complex restructuring of international relations and the arrival of Cold War 2.0 between Eurasian sovereignists and Atlantic integrationists has shifted to the Indo-Pacific region. New Delhi’s history of uneasy relations with Beijing, coupled with the sweeping and consolidating emergence of the pro-Western Hindutva Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has spurred the rebirth of the Quad concept, which links India with Japan, Australia, and the US. The Quad project is aimed at deterring the rising influence of Beijing and Moscow in the Indo-Pacific theater. The counterbalancing act of Moscow and Beijing is challenging Washington’s hegemony in the region.

Building a reliable database of the Indian economy

Sudipto Mundle
Source Link

The ministry of statistics and programme implementation (Mospi) is often in the news for all the wrong reasons. It is criticized for the poor quality of data, gaps in the data or delays in the release of data. However, several initiatives are progressively putting the database of the Indian economy on a much firmer footing than in the past. The results should begin to show by the end of this year. The data on employment and unemployment has been the subject of much controversy lately. Generating data on employment for a country like India, with its dualistic structure, is particularly challenging. Over half the labour force is still dependent on agriculture, where the rhythm of production follows the weather cycle with long periods of seasonal unemployment between crops. Further, thanks to the high pressure of population on land and continuing land fragmentation, the phenomenon of what economists call underemployment or “disguised unemployment” is widespread. To illustrate, a family of five people may be cultivating a tiny plot of land which actually requires only two people working full-time. Everyone is underemployed and the production may be no more than what two people could have produced, i.e., zero productivity for the three superfluous workers.

Pakistan’s military is waging a quiet war on journalists

By Kiran Nazish 

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — On December 2, 2017, 40-year-old Raza Khan, a Pakistani political activist, disappeared from his home. When Raza wouldn’t answer his phone, Khan’s brother went to his residence in Lahore. He found the lights on, the curtains drawn, and the doors locked — but no sign of Raza. It wasn’t until one of Raza’s activist colleagues visited the house that they found a clue to why he’d disappeared: Raza’s computer was missing. Diep Saeeda, Reza’s colleague, immediately thought that one of Pakistan’s notorious intelligence agencies had taken him. “It could be no one else,” she told me. Saeeda visited police stations, hospitals, restaurants, and the morgue, looking for any trace of Raza. But she turned up nothing, and the authorities had no information either.

Malaysia and the Improbable Win of an Unlikely Alliance


A video clip of the then jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim playing in the background at an anticorruption rally with Anwar’s wife, Wan Azizah, and Anwar’s one-time nemesis but now political ally, Malaysia’s former prime minister, Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, October 14, 2017 The flag of Malaysia’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat, or People’s Justice Party (PKR), is turquoise-blue with red stripes at both ends. At its center is a stylized white “O.” It symbolizes the black eye of Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia’s former deputy prime minister, who was a rising political star in the 1990s until he criticized the ruling National Front, a right-wing coalition led by Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, and was shipped off to jail for alleged sodomy. In September 1998, before a show trial, Anwar was beaten up by a police chief. Thereafter, a photo of Anwar’s bruised face became a symbol of opposition to the National Front, which had, in one form or another, been in power since Malaysia achieved full independence in the early 1960s.

China, Trade and Artificial Islands

By George Friedman

China and the United States have agreed to substantially reduce the massive trade imbalance between the two countries, according to a joint statement released over the weekend. Also over the weekend, China reportedly landed military aircraft on artificial islands it built in the South China Sea. Though these issues don’t appear connected, they are: Both have to do with the relative power of China and the United States, and both deal with perceptions more than reality. Since President Donald Trump’s election, the United States has been deeply concerned with the balance of trade with China. For the United States, trade is a social issue. Increased trade with China has helped the U.S. economy as a whole by shifting production of certain goods to China’s low-wage economy. But it has also created severe social stress among those left unemployed or underemployed, a significant part of U.S. society.

US and China halt imposing import tariffs


China and the US say they will halt imposing punitive import tariffs, putting a possible trade war "on hold". The deal came after talks in the US aimed at persuading China to buy $200bn (£148bn) of US goods and services and thereby reduce the trade imbalance. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not give figures, but said the US would impose tariffs worth $150bn if China did not implement the agreement. Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He described the deal as a "win-win choice"He said dialogue was the way to resolve such issues and "treat them calmly" in the future. How did the prospect of a trade war come so close?

DoD, White House Likely To Fight Chinese Monopoly on Rare Earth Minerals


The deep dive into the defense industrial base ordered by President Trump is complete, and after a final round of sign-offs from various cabinet secretaries it should hit the streets in the next several weeks, according to several people familiar with it’s progress.The review promises to be the most thorough look at the entirety of the manufacturing and production of defense materials ever attempted, involving several government agencies, surveys of large and small players in the supply chain, and a study of foreign materials used in the production of American weaponry. The effects of the study, coupled with a related executive order signed by Trump in December, could very well open a new front in the burgeoning trade war with China.

U.S.-China trade talks to sway world order



By Akihiko Tanaka / Special to The Yomiuri ShimbunOn May 3-4, a U.S. Cabinet-level trade delegation including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other senior officials visited Beijing to hold talks with their Chinese counterparts. Reports emerged that their meetings made no tangible progress, as the Americans demanded that China massively reduce its trade surplus with the United States while the Chinese remained adamant that their country was ready to take retaliatory action against U.S. exports to China. As a result, concerns have grown that U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration will tilt further toward protectionism and that a possible trade war between the United States and China could profoundly affect the world economy.

5G becomes the latest battlefield in US-China tech war

By GORDON WATTS 

One, two, three, four, five. Yes, five. China is powering ahead with its 5G program. The world’s second-largest economy has pumped billions of dollars into developing super-fast networks with the market expected to grow to 1.15 trillion yuan (US$180.5 billion) by 2026. Compared to the 4G sector, this would be a 50% growth ratio, a report by CCID Consulting, the country’s largest IT research firm and consultancy, highlighted. “China’s 5G industrial chain is relatively complete and it has developed certain advantages, [but] there are still some difficulties and bottlenecks,” Li Zhen, a senior analyst with CCID Consulting in Beijing,said.

Mahathir casts a cold, hard gaze at China

By RICHARD JAVAD HEYDARIAN
Source Link

Last week’s election of nonagenarian ex-leader Mahathir Mohamad in Malaysia, widely hailed as an important democratic milestone for the region, will also likely have wide-reaching strategic implications. Mahathir’s return to power promises to bring a more robust and assertive Malaysian foreign policy, particularly vis-à-vis China, and with it a possibly firmer collective regional position. As an undisputed strong leader who for decades played a central – and often controversial – role in regional affairs, Mahathir is expected to resume quickly his previous outsized role at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), a ten-member regional bloc.

New Iraqi Government Unlikely to Cozy up to Iran


The margins of victory among the competing electoral groups in Iraq's May 12 parliamentary elections were extremely narrow, which will make the formation of a new government a volatile process in the coming months. While the Shiite groups will have the most impact on government formation and policy, the Kurds and Sunnis will be critical allies as Shiite leaders try to build parliamentary blocs. Iran's influence in Iraq is likely to remain strong even though its closest political allies saw disappointing results in the elections.

Now or Never: Israel Makes Its Move Against Iran

By Reva Goujon
Source Link

An unusual set of circumstances is enabling Israel to scale up attacks against Iran in Syria and risk a broader confrontation in the process. As Israel raises the stakes in its conflict with Iran, it will look to lock in U.S. security commitments in the region for the long haul. The White House's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal is a long-shot bet on regime change at odds with U.S. attempts to reduce its military burden in the region.  Russia's bark is often worse than its bite, but it will retain the clout to narrow the scope of U.S. and Israeli ambitions against Iran.

Rocking the Qasbah

Rohan Joshi

On May 8, 2018, US President Donald J Trump announced that the US was withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and would reimpose sanctions on Iran had been in place prior to the deal. In doing so, Mr. Trump made good on his election campaign promises to either renegotiate or terminate the deal, which he had referred to as “an embarrassment” and the “worst deal negotiated” by the Obama administration. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA, known more commonly as the Iran nuclear deal) was signed in July 2015 by members of the P5+1 (The US, China, Russia, France, the UK and Germany) and the EU with Iran. The deal required Iran to take steps to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions that would allow Iran to return to the fold of mainstream global trade and commerce.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict, by the Numbers



Azerbaijan and Armenia both lay claim to the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. This disputed region is located entirely inside Azerbaijan – indeed, it is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani – but the government in Baku hasn’t exercised political authority over it in decades. That honor falls to the ethnic Armenians who populate it. In fact, Nagorno-Karabakh had been a semi-autonomous Armenian enclave ever since the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, of which Azerbaijan was a part, the ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh, backed by Armenia itself, fought a war with Azerbaijan to keep the territory. A truce was brokered in 1994, and though negotiations over its official resolution have continued ever since, they have been entirely unsuccessful.

Now Or Never: Israel Makes Its Move Against Iran


"Better now than never." These were the words of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a recent tweet affirming his country's resolve to block Iranian aggression at any cost. Perhaps no statement could better encapsulate the current Israeli mindset and resolve to block Iranian aggression at any cost. When else will Israel have the ear of a U.S. president willing to tear up a diplomatic deal and double down on Iran, the freedom to strike with impunity against targets in a state already ravaged by civil war, and a young Saudi prince willing to openly collaborate with the Jewish state against the Islamic republic?

Prevent, Deny, Defend: A Strategy For Dealing With Mass Public Attacks


Much of the time in this column, I write from the point of view of the individual victim and discuss ways that people can protect themselves and their families from attackers. But this week I want to flip the script a bit and focus on the steps that security managers, business owners and officials at schools and places of worship can take to help safeguard their facilities and the people inside them. To respond to active shooters, the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Program at Texas State University in San Marcos has developed the concept of "avoid, deny, defend." I prefer this terminology over the widely cited "run, hide, fight," because avoid and deny better describe the proper behavior in such a situation. But if we make "avoid, deny, defend" into "prevent, deny, defend," we create an excellent framework for thinking about how to create security programs to protect public spaces.

Macron's Foreign Policy Ambitions Meet France's Realities


The current global context gives France an opportunity to try to shape the European Union according to its needs, and to elevate its role in global affairs. But France still depends on key allies, such as the United States and Germany, to achieve many of its foreign policy goals. France will push to increase the European Union's military and economic autonomy, but its dependency on allies, and factors beyond its control, will limit its room for action. Since taking office a year ago, French President Emmanuel Macron has pursued a busy foreign policy agenda, pushing for greater European integration; visiting the United States, China and India, as well as more than two dozen other countries; authorizing airstrikes in Syria; intervening in a political crisis in Lebanon; and trying to preserve France's influence in its former African colonies. Macron's foreign policy goals — to reform the European Union according to France's views, while elevating France's influence on global affairs — follow France's strategic interests, which are simultaneously European and global.

Japan plans retaliatory tariffs against United States: NHK


Japan is considering tariffs on U.S. exports worth $409 million in retaliation against steel and aluminum import tariffs imposed by President Donald Trump, media reported on Thursday. Such a move would signal Tokyo is ready to go beyond backdoor talks and pleas for exemptions from the U.S. duties. It would also add to a growing rift that Trump’s “America First” trade policies is creating among major economies, which threatens to slow global trade and business activity. Japan is the only major U.S. ally that did not receive exemptions from Trump’s tariff decision. But it has refrained from following in the footsteps of China and the European Union, which responded to the U.S. decision with reciprocal threats.

The world's biggest economies in 2018

Rob Smith
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The United States has the largest economy in the world at $20.4 trillion, according to data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which shows the US economy increased from around $19.4 trillion last year. China follows, with $14 trillion, which is an increase of more than $2 trillion in comparison to 2017. Japan is in third place with an economy of $5.1 trillion, up from $4.87 trillion a year previously.

A study finds nearly half of jobs are vulnerable to automation


A WAVE of automation anxiety has hit the West. Just try typing “Will machines…” into Google. An algorithm offers to complete the sentence with differing degrees of disquiet: “...take my job?”; “...take all jobs?”; “...replace humans?”; “...take over the world?” 

From the moon’s far side, a radio receiver will listen for ancient clues to the universe’s origin

BY Echo Huang
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Neil Armstrong walked on the near side of our moon half a century ago. On Monday, China’s embarked on the first step of a mission to probe its far side, and even more ambitiously, search for glimpses of the universe’s origin. China launched the relay communication satellite Queqiao, or “bridge of magpies,” on May 21 at 5:28am Beijing time from its Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern Sichuan province, according to the country’s space agency. Named for the birds in a Chinese folktalethat help connect two parted lovers once a year, Queqiao will connect earth to the Chang’e-4 lander and rover that China plans to launch towards the end of this year. It’s an essential step for the lunar exploration mission because direct communication is impossiblebetween the moon’s far side and the earth. If all goes as planned, China will become the world’s first nation to land on the far side of the moon by the end of the year.

White House eliminates top cyber adviser post

By ERIC GELLER

The Trump administration has eliminated the White House’s top cyber policy role, jettisoning a key position created during the Obama presidency to harmonize the government's overall approach to cybersecurity policy and digital warfare. POLITICO first reported last week that John Bolton, President Donald Trump's new national security adviser, was maneuvering to cut the cyber coordinator role, in a move that many experts and former government officials criticized as a major step backward for federal cybersecurity policy. According to an email sent to National Security Council staffers Tuesday, the decision is part of an effort to “streamline authority” for the senior directors who lead most NSC teams. “The role of cyber coordinator will end,” Christine Samuelian, an aide to Bolton, wrote in the email to NSC employees, which POLITICO obtained from a former U.S. official.