Conflict Resolution in the South China Sea

March 25, 2017 Posted by Patrick A. Berzinski COMMENTS (0)

By Harold J. Raveché, Ph.D.

March 2017

A shorter version of this essay appeared March 24, 2017, in

tillerson-rex-gettyDuring the past 20 years, I have traveled, multiple times a year, to Southeast Asia. As a conference and university speaker, innovation adviser and technological entrepreneur, I have witnessed regional economic growth and political change. I have come to appreciate the intensity of the various claimant nations over rights in the South China Sea (SCS). From these diverse perspectives, I am convinced of the global importance for conflict resolution now.

The current multilateral disputes in the SCS are complex and have deep historical roots, involving ancient civilizational and national conflicts.

More recently, as well, they have a basis in a host of unproven assumptions about the energy riches that lie beneath the waters of the vast areas stretching from China to Vietnam and the Philippines, from Taiwan to Malaysia and Brunei, with Singapore, Japan and South Korea joined in for good measure. Each of these national players has competing claims within the region.

Many of the latest conflicts involve maritime disputes with China over Chinese territorial claims and military expansion into the complex of SCS islands and atolls, including widely scattered geographical targets such as the Paracels, the Spratly Islands and the Scarborough Shoal near the Philippines.

The Beijing government lays claim to all of the above, pointing, with dubious justification, to the 18th century expansion of the imperial Qing (Manchu) Dynasty (a claim codified by the vaguely defined “nine-dash line” map, first put forth in 1947 by the pre-Communist Kuomintang government).

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Americans Must Become Better at Cybersecurity

March 25, 2017 Posted by Patrick A. Berzinski COMMENTS (0)


February 9, 2017


Making the U.S. “cyber safer” is a multidimensional, long-term challenge. Threats are varied, they are inexpensive to carry out and can originate from anywhere. The perpetrators can hide or camouflage their identities. Motivations vary from seeking classified military and intelligence data and intellectual property of businesses to theft of personal identities and executing illegal financial transactions or simple vandalism.

Prosecution of cyber criminals is difficult, as they are digitally elusive, often working their trade with near complete anonymity. Laws differ around the world, making a coherent effort against cyber criminals a complex problem. Hackers have proven to be increasingly successful in piercing current software-based security measures, with developing evidence pointing to the Advanced Persistent Threat. Some are state sponsored, while others operate alone and in rogue groups. WikiLeaks and the recent hacking of Secretary Clinton’s email serve as a reminder that hackers are also disruptively opportunistic.

The explosive global use of mobile apps, chat groups and social media offer hackers new gateways to obtain sensitive organizational as well as personal data. Suppliers of look-alike WiFi connections use their signals to gain entrance to mobile devices. Even technologically sophisticated companies such as Apple, Facebook and Twitter have been hacked. Last year, Yahoo announced that it had previously suffered attacks wherein one billion active user accounts were compromised. Also in 2016, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services reported to the US Navy that one of the company’s laptops was breached, revealing the personal identities of more than 134,000 current and previous sailors.

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A Strategy for Stronger Defense

March 25, 2017 Posted by Patrick A. Berzinski COMMENTS (0)

Harold J. Raveché, Ph.D.

Published via LinkedIn Pulse
25 March 2017


The US must now implement a defense strategy that is designed for immediate impact, given the resources needed for pressing domestic issues and the ever-rising global challenges to the free world.

Global challenges include: Massive troop, aircraft, naval and missile build-up in China and Russia; military encroachment in the vital shipping lane of the South China Sea; nation-building through invasion and occupation; nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea; rapid rise of global terrorism; and the ever-present cyber hacking that has yet to reach its destructive potential.

The US defense strategy should contain the following essential components: 1) unwavering political commitment from Congress and President Trump to overhaul defense procurement, with increased accountability of Pentagon officials; 2) redirecting available billions; and 3) breakthrough innovation in defense research and stepping up to the Grand Challenge.

Political ‎Commitment and Accountability. Chronic delays and cost overruns result in less money for our war fighters, along with weapons that may not surpass the sophistication of those developed by adversaries. As noted by Sen. McCain, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter’s price tag is nearly $400 billion for 2,457 planes – almost twice the initial estimate! The program had originally promised 1,013 fighters by fiscal year 2016 but had only delivered 179. By way of contrast, China’s Chengdu J-20 made its first flight on 11 January 2011, and entered service in November 2016; and, compared with the US’s F-35, the J-20 has longer range, more internal fuel capacity, and larger internal weapons capability, according to Justin Bronk, a research fellow specializing in combat airpower at the Royal United Services Institute.

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