11 June 2017

*** Midway: The Battle That Almost Lost the War

By George Friedman

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Midway. The books and movies about this battle have been legion. They focus on the long odds facing the Americans, the luck and breathtaking courage, and the brilliance of American codebreakers that led to victory. They assert that the American victory sealed Japan’s fate in World War II. But they rarely consider in detail the consequences if America had lost the battle, which it might easily have done. The Japanese were also extraordinarily courageous. Had they been luckier, and had they changed the Japanese code well before the battle as they should have, Midway could have ended in the destruction of three American carriers, with the Japanese navy intact. On this anniversary, I want to consider the war had the battle gone Japan’s way.

The Pacific

The immediate consequence of a defeat at Midway would, of course, have been in the Pacific. The Japanese plan appears to have been to follow Midway with an assault on strategic islands in the South Pacific. They would have faced light forces on the islands and no naval threat. They would have taken islands, built airfields and constructed overlapping areas of air power that would have prevented merchant shipping from entering. The flow of U.S. troops and materiel to Australia would have slowed to a trickle or dried up altogether. This would have meant that the U.S. would not have taken Guadalcanal and New Guinea until much later. It also would have given Japan much more time to consolidate a line, for example, from Samoa to Midway to the Aleutians, which was also part of Japan’s Midway strategy.

*** China's Military Looks to Future 'Intelligentized' Warfare

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Elsa Kania

What the definitive defeat of China's best human Go players by foreign AI might mean for future intelligentized warfare.

** What the Islamic State Wants in Attacking Iran


After years of waiting and wanting to strike Iran, the Islamic State claims to have finally done so. According to recent news reports, four militants went on a shooting spree in Iran’s parliament, while other operatives detonated a bomb inside the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, killing 12 people. If the Islamic State indeed ordered the attacks, it has struck at the temporal and spiritual heart of the Iranian revolutionary government.

The Islamic State has aimed to strike Iran since at least 2007, when it openly threatened to attack the country for supporting the Shiite-dominated government in Iraq. It regards Persian Shiites as apostate traitors who have sold out the Sunni Arabs to Israel and the United States. This determination to strike Iran marked a key difference with al Qaeda, which long held off attacking the Islamic Republic in order to use it as a rear base and financial hub.

In 2007, Osama bin Laden wrote a private letter to the leaders of the Islamic State urging them to cease and desist. “You did not consult with us on that serious issue that affects the general welfare of all of us,” the al Qaeda chief wrote. “Iran is our main artery for funds, personnel, and communication, as well as the matter of hostages,” bin Laden went on to explain. “There is no need to fight with Iran, unless you are forced to.”

* Strategic Planning in China’s Military

By Elsa B. Kania

Which organizations are responsible for the PLA’s high-level thinking on reform and innovation?

As the China’s next national defense white paper should be forthcoming this summer, the Central Military Commission’s Strategic Planning Office, an organization that may play a critical role in its development, merits closer consideration. Through the Strategic Planning Office and its predecessor organizations, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has intensified its focus on strategic planning in order to support its historic reform agenda and other high-level priorities, while attempting to improve and centralize high-level coordination and planning across existing bureaucratic boundaries. Looking forward, the Strategic Planning Office will remain an integral aspect of the PLA’s efforts to advance a long-term strategic agenda that includes the implementation of complex organizational reforms, military-civil integration, and defense innovation.

The Evolution of Strategic Planning in the PLA

The organizational elevation of the PLA’s capabilities for strategic planning has demonstrated the increased prioritization of its function and mission. Initially, the Strategic Planning Bureau was established as a third-level department under the aegis of the former General Staff Department second-level Operations Department, as of the mid to late 2000s. While there is limited information available about its activities during this timeframe, the bureau may have contributed to or consulted on the drafting of the national defense white papers starting within this timeframe.

India Gears Up to Enter the Eurasian Integration Path

P. Stobdan

World powers, including India, are making moves to counter China’s global thrust on infrastructure building under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). On May 23, weeks after the BRI Summit, India and Japan proposed a multi-billion dollar Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), which would focus on creating new sea corridors linking the African continent with India and other countries in South and South-East Asia. The AAGC is aimed at curtailing the increasing Chinese influence in Africa. It is expected to be a “low-cost” and “less carbon footprint” option compared to the land corridor floated by China as part of BRI.

On May 24, the US administration proposed two connectivity projects: a) reviving the New Silk Road (NSR) project to focus on Afghanistan and its neighbours, and b) the Indo-Pacific Economic Corridor (IPEC) linking South and Southeast Asia. Both projects are to be pushed through regional collaboration and financing by bilateral and multilateral donors along with private sector participation.

On May 25, the United Nations (UN) raised a red flag over the economic, financial, social and environmental risks of BRI in a number of countries including in South and Central Asia, where massive Chinese investment compared to the relatively small size of their economies could ultimately push them into a debt trap.

The Qatar Crisis: A Diplomatic Curveball for Pakistan

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

The rift between Qatar and its Gulf neighbors may pose difficult choices for Pakistan’s foreign policy. 

Following the ongoing row that has seen Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, and even the Maldives formally sever their ties with Qatar, Pakistan has found itself in an unlikely diplomatic fix.

It was only a couple of weeks ago that Pakistan was conspicuously shunned at the Riyadh summit, prompting rumors that former Army Chief Raheel Sharif would pull out of the Saudi-led Islamic military alliance that he commands. To address the growing criticism at home, Islamabad even suggested that its participation in the Saudi-led alliance wasn’t final yet, citing anti-Iran rhetoric and the ensuing sectarian tinges of the coalition, as the concern. But there’s little doubt that it was the humiliation jointly orchestrated by the United States and Saudi Arabia that pushed a rethink – or at least a façade thereof.

It is hard to imagine Islamabad not being cognizant that the Saudi coalition is, for all intents and purposes, is a Salafi NATO designed to counter the “Shia Crescent” spearheaded by Iran.” But after finally acquiescing to compromising ties with Tehran, in exchange for the Saudi petrodollars, Islamabad now faces another stiff question, at the most inopportune of moments.



Media headlines are stolen by talk of China’s island building in the South China Sea and whether Australia should join in freedom of navigation operations with the U.S. Navy. But in truth this is a sideshow to a much larger battle underway: not a clash of opposing armies but the gradual extension of China’s sphere of influence into Southeast Asia. Should Australia try to resist the Chinese thrust, take advantage of it, or seek to modify it in some manner?

In a “sphere of influence,” the dominant state can constrain and guide the foreign and domestic policy choices of other states within a particular region without using direct military coercion. For China, establishing a Southeast Asian sphere of influence would bring it several benefits. In making regional states more pliable, China could gain implicit veto power over any unfavorable actions they might take. Regional states would become less willing to provide long-term basing to American forces or short term support for transiting U.S. forces. The United States would progressively become less able to exert military pressure in the region as it became more difficult to operate there. America would be gradually pushed out of the region, and China would have excluded U.S. access without resort to armed force.

China would reap a number of domestic benefits as well. Its sphere of influence would help prevent regional countries acting as “color revolution” conduits through which counter-Chinese Communist Party activities might gain purchase. The party’s big fear is political instability, so there are advantages in ensuring adjoining states cannot export dangerous ideas into China. Moreover, the party’s standing in Chinese society would be enhanced by states in the region showing more and more deference towards Beijing. This is implicit in President Xi Jinping’s “China dream” of a restored and rejuvenated Chinese super-state.

AlphaGo and Beyond: The Chinese Military Looks to Future “Intelligentized” Warfare

By Elsa Kania

AlphaGo’s historic defeat of Lee Sedol in their 2016 match and its latest successes against world champion Go player Ke Jie during last month’s Future of Go Summit in Wuzhen, China have demonstrated the power and potential of artificial intelligence. Although the summit was presented as an opportunity for AlphaGo to “explore the mysteries of Go” with leading Go players, the contest was seen as a ‘battle of man and machine’ and the result a triumph of artificial over human intelligence. Ke Jie was “shocked” and “deeply impressed” by his opponent, including because certain of the AI’s moves “would never happen in a human to human match.”

AlphaGo, designed by a team of researchers at Alphabet Inc.’s Google DeepMind, utilizes deep neural networks trained through both supervised learning from the games of human experts and reinforcement learning from self-played games. While its ‘value networks’ evaluate the board positions, ‘policy networks’ select its moves. In the course of its career in Go, AlphaGo has displayed the capability to formulate unique, creative tactics undiscovered and unanticipated by human players. Although AlphaGo itself represents only “narrow AI” or “weak AI”—tailored to a specific task, rather than capable of generalized intelligence—the techniques used for its development will be applied to new contexts and challenges after its ‘retirement’ from the game. Ultimately, the strategic ramifications of AlphaGo’s successes extend far beyond Go itself.

How to Reform China’s SOEs

By Spencer Sheehan

The IMF has clear guidelines for SOE reform, but results will be a long time coming. 

China’s state-owned-enterprises (SOEs) need reform. Currently, they take a disproportionate share of bank loans at cheaper than market interest rates, are less productive than the private sector, carry high levels of debt, and crowd out the growth of private businesses.

To reform China’s SOEs, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has outlined four policy approaches. They break down as follows: 

Phase out loss-making SOEs: heavily indebted, loss-making SOEs should be closed and local government budgets should be increased to retrain and relocate laid-off workers

Reduce credit support: debt roll-overs and preferential access to credit for SOEs should be phased out to reduce support to loss-making, “zombie” companies and force them to operate more competitively. 

Reduce barriers to entry: SOEs shouldn’t be allowed to maintain monopolies in so-called “strategic” sectors, protected by government restrictions on private or foreign firms. 

Introduce supporting reforms: land market privatization would remove SOEs’ privileged access to land, while systems to manage SOE insolvency would speed up the phasing out of struggling companies. 

Israel’s Irrational Rationality

David Shulman

This June, Israel is marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day War. Some Israelis, including most members of the present government, are celebrating the country’s swift victory over Egypt, Jordan, and Syria as the beginning of the permanent annexation of the entire Palestinian West Bank; others, like me, mourn it as the start of a seemingly inexorable process of moral corruption and decline, the result of the continuing occupation of the West Bank, along with Israel’s now indirect but still-crippling control of Gaza. As it happens, my own life in Israel coincides exactly with the occupation. I arrived from the US in 1967, not as an ideological Zionist but as a young student who had fallen madly in love with the Hebrew language. Sometimes I think it is my passion for the language that has kept me here for five decades, although I would now want to add the strong feeling that it is my fate and my good fortune to be able to fight the good fight. 

The country I came to live in fifty years ago was utterly unlike the one I live in today. It was no utopia, but its society was broadly moderate and humane, a mildly Mediterranean version of a modern European social democracy. Despite what some would say, it was not a colonial settlers’ society. There was widespread fear and even hatred of Arabs, including Arab citizens of Israel, but it was nothing like the rampant racism one now hears every day on the radio or TV. Shame, sincere or not, had not yet disappeared from public life. 

Was the Rise of ISIS Inevitable?

A. Trevor Thrall, John Glaser

In the latest issue of Survival, Hal Brands and Peter Feaver address an important debate in American foreign policy circles. Was the rise of ISIS inevitable, or was it the result of misguided U.S. policies? Most agree it is the latter, but the dispute gets fraught on the question of whether it was U.S. military interventionism or inaction that deserves the blame. Some say it was the invasion of Iraq that led to the rise of ISIS. Others insist it was Obama’s decision to withdraw from Iraq in 2011.

Brands and Feaver use counterfactual analysis to assess whether different U.S. policy decisions at four “inflection points” could have nipped the rise of ISIS in the bud. The first of these points was the Bush administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The other three occurred during the Obama administration and include the decision not to press Iraq to allow the United States to leave behind a significant number of U.S. troops, the decision not to intervene aggressively early on in the Syrian civil war, and the decision not to intervene more forcefully to help the government of Iraq defeat ISIS before it took the city of Mosul.

The authors take a middle road, arguing that, “the rise of ISIS was indeed an avertable tragedy,” but that both restraint and activism share the blame. Had U.S. policymakers not invaded Iraq in 2003, or been more aggressive in Iraq and Syria from 2011-2014, they argue, “ISIS might not have emerged at all.”

*** Qatar's Feud With the Gulf States Reaches New Levels

Long-standing tensions among members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that intensified over the past two weeks have culminated in several Arab governments suspending relations with Qatar. The current crisis has roots in multiple areas in which GCC states do not see eye to eye, including in their attitudes toward Iran, their manifold perspectives on supporting political Islamists and the degree of economic and strategic rivalries among them.

On June 5, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced they would suspend diplomatic relations with Qatar, which has long bucked the Saudi line on condemnation of Iran and support for Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Their declarations were followed by those made by the Tobruk-based House of Representatives government in Libya, which has close ties to the United Arab Emirates and Egypt; the Saudi-backed government of Yemen led by President Abd Rabboh Mansour Hadi; and the Indian Ocean island nations of Mauritius and the Maldives, which have close ties to the Saudi and Emirati governments.

** Did Russian Hackers Create Qatar’s Diplomatic Disaster?


Russian hackers, who played such a prominent part last year in the U.S. election and this year in the French presidential race, may have helped blow up relations between Qatar and its neighbors in the Arab world.

The Qatari government claims that a May 23 news report — in which the Qatari ruler purportedly criticized the Saudis while praising Iran and Israel — was actually a fake story planted by Russian hackers. CNN reported Tuesday night that U.S. intelligence officials also believe Russian hackers planted the fake story; FBI investigators were recently on the ground in Doha.

The article is thought to have served as the catalyst for several Muslim-majority countries, including Saudi Arabia and most Persian Gulf states, to cut their economic and political ties with Qatar this week. They accuse Qatar of supporting extremist groups and cozying up to Iran, a regional rival to the Sunni nations.

President Donald Trump piled on Tuesday, blaming Qatar for funding extremism and implicitly taking credit for the Gulf countries’ hard-line approach.

North Korea Proves You Barely Need Computers to Win a Cyberwar


Evidence is mounting that the perpetrator of last month’s WannaCry cyberattack that paralyzed 300,000 computers in 150 countries was North Korea’s hacker army, a highly sophisticated network of hackers trained to compromise foreign militaries, corrupt network systems, and conduct cyberheists of financial institutions. It may seem strange that a country as underdeveloped as North Korea has decided to invest its meager resources in such high-tech capabilities. It shouldn’t. Cyberspace has long been North Korea’s preferred battlefield precisely because of its own developmental weaknesses.

For decades, North Korea’s overarching military strategy has focused on asymmetric attacks and limited provocations. Cyberwarfare is only the newest frontier for this doctrine. North Korea first began developing its cybercapabilities as early as 1986, when it hired 25 Russian instructors to train students at the Mirim Command Automation College. It then opened a research facility in 1990 called the Korea Computer Center, using a recruitment process borrowed from China called the “thousand grains of sand” technique. Under this system, promising students are identified as early as elementary school and then trained through university in coding and hacking. As a result of continued investment and focus from the regime, experts believe that the size of the country’s hacking units has ballooned, with a 2014 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimating them to be about 5,900 strong. North Korean hacking units are spread across a number of agencies such as Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) and the Korean People’s Army (KPA).

** In Praise of a Transatlantic Divorce


The foreign-policy establishment is in a dither this week over Donald Trump’s recent truculent, bumbling, and boorish conduct in Europe. Their concerns hit a new high when German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a speech back home declaring “the times in which we could rely fully on others” are “somewhat over” and suggesting Europe “really take our fate into our own hands.”

The reaction back in the United States was swift and bordered on hysterical. The Atlantic’s David Frum declared Trump’s trip a “catastrophe,” and Joe Scarborough said it had done more damage than any presidential meeting since Nikita Khrushchev bullied John F. Kennedy at their meeting in Vienna in 1961. Richard Haass at the Council on Foreign Relations tweeted that Merkel’s reaction was a “watershed” that the United States had sought to avoid since World War II. Vali Nasr of Johns Hopkins University lamented that Trump had managed “in less than 3 months … to undo 7 decades of Transatlantic relations.” Needless to say, most of these commentators see this as a dramatic setback for the United States and a sign that the post-World War II order is headed for the dustbin of history.

I’m no fan of Trump, whom I regard as having become the worst president in U.S. history after only four short but frantic months in office. He remains, in my view, a genuine long-term threat to America’s constitutional order. But the establishment’s somewhat apocalyptic reaction to the Trump trip strikes me as over the top and places too much blame on Trump himself. No matter how undiplomatic his behavior may have been, pinning it all on Trump ignores the larger factors at work.

The Trouble With How Liberals Talk About Terrorism


So what if falling objects kill more people? It's not just about the death toll.

Shortly after three men with knives and a van spent eight minutes murdering and maiming people at random on London Bridge, one of the Democratic Party’s leading voices on national security responded on Twitter. Chris Murphy began by criticizing Donald Trump for sounding the alarms. “My god,” he wrote. “@POTUS has no idea that the goal of terrorists is to instill a level of fear in the public disproportionate to the actual threat.” The Connecticut senator tried to put the threat in proper proportion. “Terrorism is a real threat,” he acknowledged, “but remember that since 9/11, you have a greater chance of being killed by a falling object than by terrorists.” Murphy then issued a five-point rebuttal to Trump’s approach to terrorism. He did not issue a five-point plan for defeating falling objects.

Maybe Murphy didn’t do this because falling objects are not equivalent to three men ramming and hacking people to death on London Bridge. Terrorists attack not just individuals but society, which makes mortality rates a poor measure of the danger terrorism poses. Falling objects “attack” neither. The men behind the carnage in London appearto have been inspired by ISIS, the same organization that has recently motivated young Muslim men to mow down civilians from Minya to Manchester, Berlin to Baghdad, Istanbul to Orlando, and beyond. Telling people not to be frightened by such acts—that fear is what the terrorists want—does not make those acts less frightening. Many people are scared by terrorism, despite the allegedly comforting statistics, because terrorism is scary. It’s designed to be. And most people recognize that while terrorism takes various forms, one of the most virulent strains these days is extremist violence committed in the name of Islam. They distinguish, in other words, between wobbly furniture and jihadist terror.



By now, most people have heard much about the implications of President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. They have heard critics denounce the dismissive message this sends about a global crisis and the implications for U.S. global leadership at international fora addressing the issue. They have heard Trump say it was a bad deal and that it was going to have a negative impact on American jobs (despite being non-binding).

But are there any implications of this move for the Department of Defense? Not directly, though there will be indirect consequences as it engages international partners.

Trump’s decision creates more tension across the international environment in which the United States must work. Our allies in militaries across the world are likely to be able to compartmentalize the fact that Washington isn’t the partner it could be in addressing this global crisis, but they will also be aware that Trump thumbed his nose at them. This snub may make America’s allies less willing to cooperate with or trust the United States, which in turn makes the Defense Department’s job harder than it needs to be. Trump’s decision will create a leadership void in the international community that could provide an opportunity for nations like China to gain more global influence. In sum, the strategic environment is now more challenging, and that will make the Defense Department’s mission more challenging as well.

Why Do They Hate Us?

by Frank Li

Another day, another terror attack (London attack: What we know so far)! While our hearts are with Londoners now, our brains should deeply reason, beginning with a simple question: "why do they hate us so much that they are willing to die to kill us?"

Here is a simple, but politically incorrect, answer: they hate us, because we, the U.S., are an evil empire, having committed numerous atrocities against humanity, from Iraq to Syria. Totally puzzled? Hear me out …
1. Why do they hate us?

2. Is the U.S. an evil empire?

3. Did the U.S. create ISIS?

4. When did the U.S. become an evil empire?

Shortly after WWII! We have been perpetually at war since then. Why is that? Blame democracy, as we practice it today, in general, and the MIC (Military-Industrial Complex) specifically!

Despite President Eisenhower's farewell address, warning us against the MIC, most American Presidents since then have not only refused to heed the warning, but also strongly supported the MIC.

Artificial Stupidity: Fumbling The Handoff From AI To Human Control


Science fiction taught us to fear smart machines we can’t control. But reality should teach us to fear smart machines that need us to take control when we’re not ready. From Patriot missiles to Tesla cars to Airbus jets, automated systems have killed human beings, not out of malice, but because the humans operating them couldn’t switch quickly enough from passively monitoring the computer to actively directing it.

“How do you establish vigilance at the proper time?” wrote Army Maj. Gen. Michael Vane after automated Patriots shot down two friendly aircraft in 2003. “(It’s) 23 hours and 59 minutes of boredom, followed by one minute of panic.”

That human-machine handoff is a major stumbling block for the Pentagon’s Third Offset Strategy, which bets America’s future military superiority on artificial intelligence. It’s a high-tech quest for the all-conquering software we’re calling the War Algorithm (click here to read our ongoing series). The Offset’s central thesis, what Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work calls “human-machine teaming,” is that the combination of human and artificial intelligence is more powerful than either alone. To date, however, human and AI sometimes reinforce each other’s failures. The solution lies in retraining the humans, and redesigning the artificial intelligences, so neither party fumbles the handoff.



Our world is awash in events that appear to be game changing. Russia stirs the pot in Ukraine and Syria. China expands economically through the One Belt One Road initiative and militarily in the South China Sea. North Korea rattles its nuclear saber. Iran arms proxies across the Gulf. Violent extremists seize territory in the Middle East and Africa, wielding machine guns mounted on pickup trucks, flying unmanned systems, and deploying hackers.

Yet, individual events do not define systems. Looking at a single clash or crisis misses how the larger struggle between political actors — from great powers and economic hubs to social movements and empires — creates an emergent system. For Thucydides, looking at events absent a systemic view tends to confuse symptoms for the disease. Diagnosing the cause of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides differentiated between the spark (the Affair at Epidamnus) and the larger, systemic condition that created a system ripe for conflict (the rising power of Athens). Cataloguing symptoms does not illuminate what is often causing the character of war to evolve: the structure of the international system. Therefore, the key question for strategists seeking to understand the next war should be: What is the international system and how will it change to shape the next war?

As we continue our “Next War” series, I explore how the international system, as an emergent political body, shapes the character of war. Explanations that look at major events or global trends absent an understanding of how the system evolves cannot explain the strategic logic of future. To paraphrase legendary sociologist Charles Tilly, how is why — to explain why something will occur chart how it came to be.

Pentagon revamps cyber weapons acquisition strategy


When Britain’s National Health Service was hit by a vicious malware attack this month, the Pentagon’s cyber warriors went on high alert. Much to the relief of Defense Department leaders, the U.S. military’s health and medical computer systems dodged that bullet.

“I was pleased at how well we weathered the recent cyber nastiness,” said James MacStravic, the Pentagon official now performing the duties of undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics.

The wave of ransomware onslaughts that crippled medical institutions around the world in May stirred fears at the Defense Department. Officials for some time have moved to protect medical records from cyberattacks as data moves from legacy networks to commercial health management systems. “And we did OK” in averting the malware attack, MacStravic said. “I’m encouraged by what we’ve been able to do on defensive cyber systems.”

The bad news on this front is that winning the battle doesn’t mean you’re winning the war. Cyber warfare is a never-ending game of catchup. In fact, this is an area where more spending doesn’t guarantee better outcomes, as MacStravic pointed out.

The New Era of Counterforce: Technological Change and the Future of Nuclear Deterrence

Keir A. Lieber 

For decades, nuclear deterrence has depended on the impossibility of a first strike destroying a country’s nuclear arsenal. Technological advances, however, are undermining states’ abilities to hide and protect their nuclear arsenals. These developments help explain why nuclear-armed states have continued to engage in security competition: nuclear deterrence is neither automatic nor permanent. Thus, the United States should enhance its counterforce capabilities and avoid reducing its nuclear arsenal.


For more information on this publication: Please contact International Security

For Academic Citation: 

Keir A. Lieber and Daryl G. Press, "The New Era of Counterforce: Technological Change and the Future of Nuclear Deterrence," International Security, Vol. 41, No. 4 (Spring 2017), pp. 9–49.

Cyber Attacks Go Beyond Espionage: The Strategic Logic of State-sponsored Cyber Operations in the Nordic-Baltic Region

Mika Aaltola

As the Nordic-Baltic region has digitized its critical infrastructures and decision-making processes, awareness of the resulting geopolitical vulnerabilities has lagged behind.

There is a need to understand that cyber operations have strategic aims that go beyond mere snooping and spying. They are effective at spreading mistrust, blackmail, and destabilization, and at showcasing the perpetrator’s capabilities and serving its deterrence purposes.

The harm scales used to evaluate the severity of a cyber attack usually focus on physical or economic damage, overlooking the real significance of politically-motivated cyber attacks. For example, the damage caused by rigging an election process goes far beyond some of the physical harm scenarios.

Cyber operations are particularly effective in combination with other political pressuring tools. The spectrum of these combinatorial tools is still relatively restricted. Yet the worrying aspect is that this synergic spectrum can widen and lead to cyber escalation, in which case the level of harm caused by the cyber operations will become higher and more prolonged, especially in the (geo)political sense.

It remains to be seen whether a higher state of cyber resilience can be achieved without active means for cyber deterrence such as stronger political shaming, economic sanctions, or active cyber deterrence-building.
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By Steve Walsh

In the remote southern California desert, Army soldiers are testing advanced new cyberweapons. The question is - are they too complicated to use on top of all the other equipment soldiers need in the field? Steve Walsh with member station KPBS spent a couple of days at Fort Irwin.

STEVE WALSH, BYLINE: Most soldiers spend some time at Fort Irwin. The National Training Center in the California desert is the size of Rhode Island. It's the only place large enough to train a brigade of 5,000 soldiers. It's where trainers can show troops the weapons they might face in combat.

GEORGE PURYEAR: Not only be able to say it - right? - be able to demonstrate those effects.

WALSH: Captain George Puryear is one of the trainers. They're the bad guys. It's their job to throw everything they can at the units training at Fort Irwin. He points to a map to show how that now includes cyberattacks and electronic warfare.

PURYEAR: About training day two, they attacked through the central corridor.

WALSH: He tells how the trainers used some of those new tools to stop a tank assault.

PURYEAR: And as those tanks came through, we had a jammer.

Searching for the Next Silicon Valley

By Sangeet Paul Choudary

Over the past five years, Domino's Pizza has grown faster than most technology firms. The company has worked extensively on revamping its ordering, logistics and customer relationship management, often operating more like a technology company than a food and beverage brand. In its quest for further growth, the firm has even begun testing a drone delivery service overseas, teaming up with another U.S.-based firm, Flirtey, to deliver pizzas via unmanned aerial vehicle in New Zealand. It plans to someday expand this service across Australia before heading to Europe. 

Why would two U.S.-based companies choose to launch a new service in multiple foreign markets before trying it at home? The answer might surprise you: regulation. It's not uncommon to hear the argument that innovation often leads the way as regulation struggles to keep up; platforms like Airbnb and Uber are a testament to that, blazing new trails amid their rapid expansion well before the laws were in place to regulate them. But now this well-established relationship has begun to reverse itself: Friendly regulatory practices have started to redraw the map of global innovation.