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The National Interest online seeks to provide a space for vigorous debate and exchange not only among Americans but between U.S. and overseas interlocutors. This is the new home for informed analysis and frank but reasoned exchanges on foreign policy and international affairs.
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14 декабря, 03:31

Get This: California to Consider Taxing Text Messages in 2019

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Joe Simonson Economics, Could it happen?  California regulators are currently contemplating whether residents would have to pay a fee on text messages from their cellphones. The proposed tax would help fund programs in the state that provides low-income Californians with phone service and will be discussed further during the January 2019 meeting by the California Public Utilities Commission. The rational from California regulators is this: Text messaging uses the same cell towers as phone calls, yet do not face similar fees—particularly in the era where voice calls have dropped precipitously over the last number of years. A number of business groups are already criticizing the bill, saying that Californians could start seeing taxes of over $44 million annually. Other wireless carriers, like Apple, might be immune from the charges because of apps like iMessage. The exact amount of the fee has not yet been decided. Read full article

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14 декабря, 03:26

Introducing China's QBZ-95-1 Assault Rifle: One of the Best on the Planet?

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Kyle Mizokami Security, The QBZ-95-1 is a powerful and reliable, although slightly dated, weapon that was emblematic of the military revolution that began in China in the early 1990s and continues to this day. One of the most widely issued—but least known—infantry small arms is the QBZ-95-1 assault rifle. The QBZ-95-1 is the official rifle of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its various sub-branches, including the People’s Liberation Army Navy Marine Corps. Unorthodox in appearance, the bullpup QBZ-95-1 also fires an unusual 5.8-millimeter cartridge. The result is a unique weapon symbolic of China’s attempt to go its own way in the world of military small arms. China was one of the largest land powers of the twentieth century—though not exactly the most powerful. The People’s Liberation Army, both before and after the end of the Chinese Civil War, was predominantly an infantry army with millions of trained ground troops. After the civil war, China’s “People’s War” military doctrine stressed defensive wars, in which invaders were lured deep into the Chinese interior and then destroyed by a combination of regular and guerrilla forces. The 1991 Gulf War, in which a rapidly moving U.S.-led coalition swiftly destroyed a larger Iraqi Army (often equipped with Chinese weapons) was a seismic event in Chinese defense thinking. The People’s Liberation Army was thoroughly revamped, and part of that revamping was the introduction of a new generation of infantry small arms. Older weapons, including the Type 68 and Type 56 assault rifles were retired. In their place arrived the new QBZ-95-1 series of assault rifles. The QBZ-95-1 is a uniquely Chinese rifle, with a futuristic look that was a clean break from older, Soviet-inspired weapons. The weapon is officially known as the QBZ-95-1 5.8-millimeter assault rifle, with the initials standing for “Light Infantry Weapon, Infantry, Automatic.” The basic ammunition load for PLA troops is 300 rounds, carried in ten 30-round magazines. The QBZ-95-1 is a bullpup weapon, meaning the action and magazine are all located behind the trigger group. This creates a more compact weapon: although the rifle is just under 30 inches long, it has a barrel with a length of 20 inches, as long as that on a M16A4 assault rifle. That’s 5.5 inches longer than that on the M4A1 carbine and should be good for a slight range increase over the American infantry carbine. Read full article

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14 декабря, 01:05

The Deadliest Naval Anti-Ship Weapon Of The Last 75 Years (And Other Fascinating Maritime Facts)

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Tom Ricks, Task and Purpose Security, Tom Ricks explains.  What has been the most effective naval anti-ship weapon over the last 75 years? Air to ship missiles? Bombs? Torpedoes? No no and no! It has been the good old anti-ship mine, reports Proceedings. - The U.S. Navy supply ships that tote oil, fuel, and water carry hoses that can stretch 8 miles inland. - The Navy has a SERE school in Maine, out in the hills near Rangeley. And a moron working there pulled a pistol on four instructors. (Tough place: They got 5 inches of snow in the third week of October this year.) - Naval Group, a French builder of warships, has designed a novel new attack submarine, the “SMX 31” (from “Sous-Marin Experimental”) that carries as many as 46 torpedoes but has a planned crew of only 15. It purports to do this by relaying on heavy use of AI and also having lithium batteries - Could the effort to create a Space Force lead to an uprising among Air Force generals akin to 1949’s “Revolt of the Admirals”? Mike Hennelly raises that possibility here. Not maritime but two more things I didn’t know: -What a battalion S-3 worries about. Read full article

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14 декабря, 00:09

What Does Growing U.S.-China Rivalry Mean for America’s Allies in Asia?

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John S. Van Oudenaren Security, Asia Could they end up having to choose sides? At the recent G-20 summit in Argentina, President Donald Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping reached a temporary truce, tapping the brakes on an escalating trade war, and opening a negotiating window to deal with major structural issues in the U.S.-China economic relationship. Despite this pause in tensions, an expert panel at the Center for the National Interest, which was comprised of Michael Green (Center for Strategic and International Studies), Scott Snyder (Council on Foreign Relations) and Robert Sutter (George Washington), described how America’s allies Japan and South Korea, are adjusting to Asia’s new normal. This new normal is a climate dominated by a more confrontational, perhaps even adversarial, U.S.-China relationship. Ret. USMC Lt. Gen. Wallace “Chip” Gregson, Jr., senior director for China and the Pacific at the Center for the National Interest and former assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, moderated the discussion. Read full article

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14 декабря, 00:00

VIDEO: Watch This Reporter Almost Get Run Over By A Russian Tu-160 Bomber

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Task and Purpose, Jeff Schogol Security, PROTIP: it is not a smart idea to walk on an active runway as planes are taking off or landing.  A Russian reporter nearly got her head taken off during a live shot of a Russian TU-160 bomber landing in Venezuela. Maria Finoshina of Russia’s RT cable news network was standing on the runway as one of the two bombers sent to Venezuela was about to touch down. As she walked toward the landing aircraft, one of the bomber’s wings narrowly passed above her head. “Wow! Spectacular,” Finoshina yelled ecstatically as she made a tactical withdrawal from the center of the runway. Although she maintained her composure throughout the landing, she is lucky to have escaped unscathed. “She was far too close considering her potential to be injured by turbulence from the landing jet,” said Mark Gunzinger, a retired B-52 instructor pilot who is now a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington, D.C. “I’m surprised she was allowed to do that,” Gunzinger told Task & Purpose. “Then again, the Venezuelan regime doesn’t seem to be too concerned with the welfare of its people, so perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised.” Generally, it is not a smart idea to walk on an active runway as planes are taking off or landing, said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, dean of The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. This article by originally appeared at Task & Purpose. Follow Task & Purpose on Twitter. More Articles from Task & Purpose: - 7 Veteran-Friendly Manufacturers That Are Hiring - The 6 Types Of Contractors You Encounter Overseas - Here’s How Marines Fared On The New Physical Fitness Test Read full article

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13 декабря, 23:59

Book Excerpt—On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the Threat of Nuclear War

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Van Jackson Security, Asia With a look into North Korean strategic thought. Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from the new book On the Brink: Trump, Kim, and the Threat of Nuclear War by Van Jackson. You can purchase the full version here. North Korean Strategic Thought: Before turning to the evolution of Obama-era strategy toward North Korea, this chapter offers an essential primer on how North Korea thinks about coercion and its nuclear weapons—to the extent that we know—and the kinds of dangers that arise therefrom. Some of what we know about North Korean strategic thinking and its intentions comes from defector testimonies after fleeing to China or South Korea, though we often cannot take their claims at face value. Some of it comes by fiat, from public statements by government officials privy to intelligence reports that the public never gets to see. If enough policymakers say the same thing enough times across enough presidential administrations, then there must be something to it. But much of what we know comes from inferences drawn either deductively, from the structure of the situation, or inductively, from “Pyongyangology,” that is, parsing North Korean words and deeds for hidden meaning. Either approach involves a certain amount of educated guessing. When it comes to claiming anything meaningful about North Korea, therefore, acknowledging a margin of uncertainty is healthy. US officials called on to make choices about Korea are faced with uncertainties and risks at every turn. This has always been the case with North Korea, but nuclear weapons have changed the character of those uncertainties and risks, largely for the worse. Read full article

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13 декабря, 23:52

How North Korea Would Wage War Against America (Think Underground Air Bases)

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Kyle Mizokami Security, Asia And much more.  Pyongyang’s eventual defeat in any wartime scenario is a given, but its underground headquarters, fortifications and troop depots have the potential to not only enhance the Korean People’s Army’s ability to mount a surprise attack, but also to prolong the war, confounding the high-tech armed forces of its adversaries. North Korea, one of the most secretive countries in the world, is no stranger to building underground military facilities. Whether a tunnel dug under the demilitarized zone designed to pass thousands of troops an hour, or bunkers to accommodate the regime’s leadership, North Korea has built extensive underground facilities designed to give it an edge in wartime. (This first appeared in May 2017.) Recommended: Stealth vs. North Korea’s Air Defenses: Who Wins? Recommended: America’s Battleships Went to War Against North Korea Recommended: 5 Places World War III Could Start in 2018 One of the earliest examples of North Korean underground engineering was the discovery of several tunnels leading from North Korea under the demilitarized zone to South Korea. The first tunnel was located in 1974, extending one kilometer south of the DMZ. The tunnel was large enough to move up to two thousand troops per hour under the DMZ. A U.S. Navy officer and South Korean Marine corporal were killed by a booby trap while investigating the tunnel. Thanks to a tip from a North Korean defector, an even larger tunnel was discovered in 1978, a mile long and nearly seven feet wide. Read full article

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13 декабря, 23:44

Meet North Korea's 200,000 'Commandos' (And Their Quite Dangerous)

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Kyle Mizokami Security, Asia We explain their evolution.  Of North Korea’s two hundred thousand “commandos,” approximately 150,000 belong to light infantry units. Foot mobile, their frontline mission is to infiltrate or flank enemy lines to envelop or mount rear attacks on enemy forces. North Korea’s hilly terrain lends itself to such tactics, as does the network of tunnels that the country has dug that cross the DMZ in a number of places. One of the most vital parts of North Korea’s war machine is one that relies the most on so-called “soldier power” skills. North Korea has likely the largest special-forces organization in the world, numbering two hundred thousand men—and women—trained in unconventional warfare. Pyongyang’s commandos are trained to operate throughout the Korean Peninsula, and possibly beyond, to present an asymmetric threat to its enemies. (This first appeared in April 2017.)  For decades North Korea maintained an impressive all-arms force of everything from tanks to mechanized infantry, artillery, airborne forces and special forces. The country’s conventional forces, facing a long slide after the end of the Cold War, have faced equipment obsolescence and supply shortages—for example, North Korea has very few tanks based on the 1970s Soviet T-72, and most are still derivatives of the 1960s-era T-62. The rest of Pyongyang’s armored corps are in a similar predicament, making them decidedly inferior to U.S. and South Korean forces. What a War Between America and China Would Look Like.  In response, North Korea has upped the importance of its special forces. The country maintains twenty-five special-forces and special-purpose brigades, and five special-forces battalions, designed to undertake missions from frontline DMZ assault to parachute and assassination missions. The Light Infantry Training Guidance Bureau, part of the Korean People’s Army, functions as a kind of analog to U.S. Special Operations Command, coordinating the special forces of the Army, Army Air Force and Korean People’s Navy. What a War Between NATO and Russia Would Look Like.  Read full article

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13 декабря, 18:51

Why Israel Doesn’t Crush Hamas

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Zaki Shalom, Jacob Aaron Collier Hamas, Israel Utilizing military means to bring about the downfall of Hamas might lead to a scenario that is highly dangerous to Israel’s national interests. In light of the escalating tensions between Israel and Hamas, many have speculated as to why Israel has not used its military superiority to simply crush the terror organization. After all, Israel boasts what is arguably the strongest and most technologically advanced military in the Middle East. On the other hand, while Hamas is heavily armed and clear in its hostility, it is in no way capable of directly taking on the overwhelming firepower of the Israel Defense Forces. It cannot even pose an existential threat to the Jewish state or its vital interests via military means alone. At best, Hamas can disrupt the daily lives of civilians, particularly in the southern part of Israel, elevating the issue of Gaza to the top of Israel’s political agenda. It is important to note that terrorist organizations like Hamas specifically attack civilians hoping that they can force governments into making political concessions. That is why Western-style democracies like Israel are particularly susceptible to the political effects of terrorism, as the resulting protests (often magnified by intensive media coverage) can create instability in democratic governments and societies. The controversy surrounding Israel’s response (or lack thereof) to the most recent escalation with Gaza has already brought about the resignation of Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and has even threatened to bring about the downfall of the current governing coalition. In this regard, there is no doubt that despite its limited capabilities, Hamas has succeeded in creating a strategic threat to Israel. This further enhances the question, why doesn’t Israel exhaust its abilities to bring about the downfall of Hamas and to bring an end to this threat? Read full article

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13 декабря, 18:44

Does the BJP’s Defeat Mean Victory for Secularism in India?

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Mohammed Ayoob Elections, India The Congress Party has demonstrated its rejuvenated political strength by defeating the BJP in three important state elections in the latter’s stronghold. In recent years India has assumed considerable strategic importance in American policy toward the Indo-Pacific (formerly Asia-Pacific) region. This is the result of its growing economic and military capabilities and the perception in Washington that it can act as a balancer to China’s rising power in the region. It is important, therefore, that the American policy community is cognizant of recent developments in India that are important for the future of the largest democracy in the world. Results of the latest state elections held in five states in November and December portend that the Modi juggernaut has been halted. Indications that this might happen were available in recent by-elections in a few states, including the largest, Uttar Pradesh. The most significant outcome of the most recent elections was the decisive defeat of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has ruled since 2014, in Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, two of the three states that went to the polls in the Hindi heartland, which forms the BJP’s stronghold. In the third, Madhya Pradesh, although the BJP lost a large number of seats it is just five seats behind the Congress Party, which has fallen short of a clear majority and is dependent on independents and smaller parties to form a government. These results are very significant as they can be viewed as indicators of what could happen in the national elections scheduled for the spring of 2019. They suggest above all that India’s grand old party, the Congress, which had gone into sharp decline in the past few years, is once again resurgent. Its young president Rahul Gandhi worked tirelessly during the campaign and deserves credit for the party’s rejuvenation. So does the Congress leadership at the state level, especially in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where the induction of young blood at the highest echelons of the party made a major difference to the mood of party workers and supporters and led to the BJP’s unexpected defeat in its bastion. Read full article

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13 декабря, 18:20

Book Excerpt - Red Star Over the Pacific: China's Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy.

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Toshi Yoshihara, James Holmes Security, Asia Toshi Yoshihara and James Holmes present the second edition of their important work on this timely topic. Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt of the second edition of Red Star Over the Pacific: China’s Rise and the Challenge to U.S. Maritime Strategy. You can purchase the full version here. China has a dream. Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials tell us so. President Xi Jinping, who ranks first among them, made “Chinese Dream” his credo soon after ascending to China’s top post in 2012. And this is no mere slogan; it encapsulates CCP officialdom’s vision of China’s purposes and aspirations, first and foremost of which is “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” President Xi proclaims that fulfilling this “great renewal” constitutes “the greatest dream for the Chinese nation in modern history.” This book investigates what the Chinese Dream means for Chinese maritime strategy, all the way from the lofty realm of high purpose down to the nitty-gritty of how seagoing Chinese forces may coerce, deter, and fight to carry forth national purposes What does rejuvenating China involve? It means making the nation prosperous and confident at home and influential abroad. There is a pronounced economic component to the Chinese Dream. In part the dream seeks to raise disposable incomes for urban and rural dwellers alike, reduce income inequality, improve access to medical care, enlarge physical living space for average citizens, and increase education levels by raising the proportion of the population holding college degrees. By the middle of the twenty-first century, when China will mark the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic, the CCP aims to rival the economies of other developed countries. Read full article

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13 декабря, 17:20

India has 140 Nuclear Warheads – And More Are Coming

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Michael Peck Security, Asia Should we worry?  India has 130 to 140 nuclear warheads—and more are coming, according to a new report. “India is estimated to have produced enough military plutonium for 150 to 200 nuclear warheads, but has likely produced only 130 to 140,” according to Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. “Nonetheless, additional plutonium will be required to produce warheads for missiles now under development, and India is reportedly building several new plutonium production facilities.” In addition, “India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal, with at least five new weapon systems now under development to complement or replace existing nuclear-capable aircraft, land-based delivery systems, and sea-based systems.” Unlike the missile-centric U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, India still heavily relies on bombers, perhaps not unexpected for a nation that fielded its first nuclear-capable ballistic missile in 2003. Kristensen and Korda estimate India maintains three or four nuclear strike squadrons of Cold War-vintage, French-made Mirage 2000H and Jaguar IS/IB aircraft targeted at Pakistan and China. “Despite the upgrades, the original nuclear bombers are getting old and India is probably searching for a modern fighter-bomber that could potentially take over the air-based nuclear strike role in the future,” the report notes. India is buying thirty-six French Rafale fighters that carry nuclear weapons in French service, and presumably could do for India. India’s nuclear missile force is only fifteen years old, but it already has four types of land-based ballistic missiles: the short-range Prithvi-II and Agni-I, the medium-range Agni-II and the intermediate-range Agni-III. “At least two other longer-range Agni missiles are under development: the Agni-IV and Agni-V,” says the report. “It remains to be seen how many of these missile types India plans to fully develop and keep in its arsenal. Some may serve as technology development programs toward longer-range missiles.” Read full article