7 March 2019

The Afghanistan Conundrum

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

The location of Afghanistan is geostrategically critical. It is a land bridge that links China, Central Asia, South Asia and the Middle East. Geo-politically, Afghanistan is located conveniently close to “the soft underbelly” of Russia and China and its neighbor Iran. Will the Americans leave this geo-strategically important location? However the country is constantly at war for several decades. For the country to prosper Afghanistan must have some semblance of peace. For ending the 17 year old war the United States is pushing the Taliban to join peace talks with present Afghan Government. The problem is how to balance the Taliban's demand for a complete withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces with Kabul's desire for U.S. troops to stay.Download Pdf 

With Crown Prince's Visits, Saudi Arabia's Balancing Act in South Asia Continues

Devirupa Mitra

New Delhi: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s visits to India and Pakistan in the immediate aftermath of a deadly suicide attack on Indian security personnel in Kashmir have been a test of Riyadh’s policy to keep its relations with the two neighbours in strictly separate silos.

With Salman’s statements in Pakistan getting wide coverage, the Saudi visitor’s comments on terrorism in the Indian capital were minutely parsed and scrutinised. His travel itinerary for Asia had been decided months ahead, but finally took place under the shadow of the car bomb attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy which left over 40 dead on February 14.

Talking about terror

'Air strikes showed India will not tolerate terrorism'

'We could quibble with each other whether there were 25 terrorists killed or 250 killed.' 'The message is more that India undertook such an aerial attack and this attack has actually changed the paradigm.' 'The change in paradigm is that India has shown by the surgical strike in 2016 and the aerial strike of 2019 that we will not just sit back and tolerate terrorism which killed so many of our people.' 'We will hit back and by hitting back we will raise the costs of such activities.'

As India's high commissioner in Islamabad in 2016-2017, he dealt with Pakistan during three turbulent crises -- the aftermath of the Pathankot terror attack, Commander Kulbhushan Jadhav's arrest and after the Uri attack/surgical strike.

The ministry of external affairs then assigned the China specialist to Beijing where he served as our ambassador till he retired from the Indian Foreign Service last year.

What are India's diplomatic options after last week's air strikes?

Can India isolate Pakistan on the global stage?

Second track on Indo-Pacific and the Quad

The vast construct of the Indo-Pacific and the limited grouping of the Quad (the US, Japan, India and Australia) share a few significant traits.

Both are attempts to define and direct the emerging regional power system. Both suffer from the significant defect that key members aren’t sure about the meaning of the new club—or even whether they want to belong to it. And both cause intense arguments.

At the point where the arguments start, the huge differences between the Indo-Pacific and the Quad rear up and crash through those shared features.

The Indo-Pacific is supposed to include everyone, while the Quad—four democracies groping towards a grouping—has reconvened to push back at China. (See ASPI’s new paper on Quad 2.0.)

Jaish-e-Mohammed Leader’s ‘Global Terrorist’ Designation Is Overdue

By Ankit Panda

As the worst crisis between India and Pakistan since 2002 continues to play out, the world is watching for New Delhi’s reaction to Islamabad’s decision on Friday to release the Indian pilot captured after being shot down.

The origins of the crisis are not, of course, based in February 2019. Yes, India made the decision to strike Pakistani territory in retaliation for what was the worst terror attack against its security personnel in Kashmir in three decades, but what the current situation really represents is a boiling over of years of frustration in Delhi.

After the nuclear age began in South Asia, friction between the two neighbours took on a new character. Pakistan’s military and intelligence services recognised that a potent tool to bleed India with a thousand cuts would be proxy terror groups – impassioned fighters, with great anti-India animus, who could be trained and guided.

The Maldives: The New Kid on the Islamist Block

By Siddharthya Roy

A December 2015 report by the Soufan Group – a private intelligence agency run by former FBI agent-turned contractor Ali Soufan – put out a count of foreign fighters who’d volunteered to fight for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

Four South Asian countries featured in that list – Malaysia, Pakistan, India, and the Maldives — sending an estimated 393 fighters among them. It was the island nation in the Indian Ocean that sent analysts and headlines into a tizzy.

A total of 200 fighters from the Maldives had traveled to the frontlines of the war for a Caliphate, according to the Soufan report.

Malaysia – which has been on the radar for rising Salafist indoctrination for over the past two decades, had contributed 100, the report said. The usual suspect in the region, Pakistan, had contributed a mere 70. The other Muslim majority country in the region, Bangladesh, had zero.

China keeps lid on military spending for fourth year in a row

Minnie Chan

China is expected to announce single-digit growth in its defence budget for the coming year – the fourth year in a row of increases in single figures, the spokesman of the country’s top legislative body revealed on Monday.

Zhang Yesui, spokesman of the National People’s Congress, did not disclose the total figure, but added that the rise in China’s defence spending had slowed from its previous double-digit growth to a single-digit increase since 2016.

“Whether a country would pose a military threat to other countries depends on the country’s foreign and defence policies, rather than how much it will increase its defence spending,” Zhang said.

How Does China Really Think About WTO Reform?

By Junyang Hu and Dingding Chen

It has been roughly two decades since China was permitted to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. Prior to its accession, there was one economic metric on which it already ranked first. China, by multiple estimates, had the largest economy outside the WTO, ranging from foreign trade to the stock of foreign direct investment. Given the skyrocketing growth of the Chinese economy during that time, it takes very little imagination to foresee that China’s leadership came to appreciate membership in the WTO as a watershed for the country to embark on a more promising economic future.

The accession marked a new beginning for various fields in China, not only economic, but also legal, institutional, and conceptual reforms, as well as tighter integration with the rest of the world. At the cost of relaxing over 7,000 tariffs, quotas and other trade barriers, China has been witness to steady and remarkable achievements in various terms with, specifically, its domestic companies managing to survive in amid ferocious foreign competition. According to the latest values from World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS), the trade growth of China is 2.43 percent per year, getting an edge over the world growth of 1.50 percent, and the country’s GDP shows dramatic growth since accession to the WTO, jumping almost eightfold from $1.339 trillion to $12.24 trillion.

Can China Remake Its Image in the Middle East?

By Nicholas Lyall

This article is the third in a serious of four that will explore the nature of China’s growing presence in the Middle East and what China’s increasing leadership means for the region’s economic, humanitarian, and security situation. Part 1 can be found here; part 2 here.

While part 2 of this article series outlined the likely continuance of China’s slowly growing political-security involvement in the Middle East, the overwhelmingly dominant driver of China’s foothold in the region is, and will continue to be, its trade and investment ties. Indeed, the growing political-security involvement is largely geared to enable a regional environment conducive to the continuity and expansion of these ties, enabling Beijing to pursue energy security on the one hand while facilitating the expansion of its signature Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) on the other.


Tanking economy, Belt and Road unraveling and Huawei: Why China’s Xi Jinping faces his toughest year yet

by Sophia Yan

When China’s president Xi Jinping presided over the country’s rubber stamp parliament last year, he scrapped term limits to consolidate power and spouted rhetoric about the country’s juggernaut status. To the world, he looked an unstoppable strong man.

This year, Mr Xi will stride into the Great Hall of the People in far tougher times – the economy is seeing its poorest economic growth in nearly three decades, hampered by a protracted trade war with the US.

Beijing is also seeing the first signs of a backlash over its ‘Belt and Road’ plan – an infrastructure-led plan intended to boost its global clout – as partner countries cancel or reconsider previously agreed projects over debt concerns.

Foreign governments are meanwhile pressuring Beijing on everything from espionage to human rights.

He Needed a Job. China Gave Him One: Locking Up His Fellow Muslims.

By Austin Ramzy

ALMATY, Kazakhstan — The businesses he started had failed, and he had a wife and two children to support. So when the authorities in China’s far western Xinjiang region offered him a job with the auxiliary police, Baimurat welcomed the good pay and benefits.

For months, he stood at roadside checkpoints, looking for people on the government’s blacklist, usually from Muslim ethnic minorities. As a Kazakh Muslim himself, he sometimes felt uncomfortable about his work, but he needed the money.

Then he was asked to help bring 600 handcuffed people to a new facility — and was stunned by what he saw. Officials called it a job training center, but it was basically a prison, with toilets and beds behind bars. One detainee was an acquaintance he barely recognized because he had lost so much weight.

Mr. Baimurat, 39, suppressed his emotions.

“There are cameras everywhere,” he recalled, “and if they see you look unhappy, you will be in trouble.”

Democracy & Disorder: The struggle for influence in the new geopolitics

Bruce Jones and Torrey Taussig

At the heart of the new era of geopolitical competition is a struggle over the role and influence of democracy in the international order. This dynamic has unfolded rapidly since the 2008 global financial crisis. Recent years have witnessed regional and global power plays by Russia and China. Their international efforts are usually cast as moves to establish spheres of influence, but they are broader than that. Competition between great powers is over nothing less than the future democratic character of the international system. Both Russia and China, using different means and with different strength, seek to achieve three objectives: to develop military and economic spheres of influence in their regions; to weaken democratic institutions and norms that challenge their own internal legitimacy; and to diminish Western dominance of the international order. To date, the West’s response has been insufficient to the challenge.

2019 marks the third decade of a world that has been largely free of the risk of direct great power conflict. Thirty years ago, the fall of the Berlin Wall and democratic openings across Central and Eastern Europe not only heralded the fall of the Soviet Union, but also symbolized the widespread appeal among citizens for a democratic model of governance. The quarter-century that followed was unique in world history: For the first time, democratic states dominated the structure of world power with neither a peer military competitor nor a rival model of governance with which to contend. The United States, in particular, stood unrivaled on the world stage, exercising global unipolar reach.

The biggest loser from the summit collapse? China

By Ethan Epstein 

“Potential” is probably the wrong word to use. When President Trump tries to coax North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to trade nuclear arms for investment, he rhapsodizes often about the great “potential” that he sees in North Korea. (Ever a real estate guy, the president seems particularly fond of North Korea’s shoreline.) But to say someone has great “potential” is to imply they’re not living up to it. That almost certainly is perceived as an insult by the North Korean regime, whose propaganda bangs on incessantly about the inherent superiority of its system.

Is the “potential” insult the reason that talks between the president and Mr. Kim collapsed in Hanoi? Certainly not exclusively. Contrary to John F. Kennedy’s quote, failure has many, many fathers. But whatever the reasons behind the abrupt end to the Kim-Trump “beautiful friendship,” there will be widespread collateral damage beyond the two principals involved.

A China Wins Twice Proposition: The Belt And Road Initiative – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey

China’s dazzling infrastructure and energy-driven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a US$1 trillion investment across Eurasia and beyond, has lost its shine. Increasingly, China’s leveraging of the initiative is being perceived by a growing number of recipients and critics alike as a geopolitical power play, a tool to shape a new world order partly populated by autocrats and authoritarians, and progressively characterized by intrusive surveillance, potential debt traps, and perceived as a self-serving way to address domestic overcapacity.[i]

As a result, China’s most immediate problem is a growing perception that its principle of win-win economic cooperation often amounts to little more than China wins twice, both economically and geopolitically. It is forcing China to focus in the short-term less on the Great Game—the rivalry with the United States and its allies for dominance in a swath of land stretching from the China Sea to Europe’s Atlantic coast—and more on ensuring that it does not lose hard-won ground. Ironically, China’s immediate allies as well as rivals in efforts to maintain its status are not exclusively the United States, India or Japan, but also its newly assertive, geopolitically ambitious friends in the Gulf: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran.

The Russians, The Chinese – A Deep Dive

by George H. Wittman 

It must be a very difficult job to be a Russian or Chinese intelligence officer these days. It’s not the strength of the opposition – though of course that’s always a consideration. The main reason is the lack of clear purpose. The world – the secret world that they deal in – is much more complicated these days. Sometimes the old enemy for these well-practiced operators is viewed differently by the officers’ own political superiors. Frankly, it must be very hard to keep up with the changing perceptions of the leader-class who themselves seem to be playing “outside the lines” of historical perceptions. Of course, there is a difference between the two countries, so we will discuss them separately. First, the Russians –
The Russians

While the Western press and novelists (often indistinguishable) remain preoccupied with the Russian of previous decades, much has changed both in form and spirit in the Russian security apparat. To begin with, the international charter of what once was the KGB, now SVR-RF appears to have been shifted in the main to the previously military-targeted and structured GRU that is now more accurately referred to as GU. The complex world of cyber ops is now under the GU charter. This became clear publicly with the “discovery” of attempted Russian cyber activity during and before the 2016 US presidential election.

The future of China-US military relations

What should the agenda be for U.S.-China military relations, and what obstacles need to be overcome?

While the U.S. national security strategy has asserted for the first time that we are in a great power competition with China, our approach to military-to-military relations has seemingly not changed. On January 28, Admiral John M. Richardson commented positively about his recent visit to China, stating that he has “a good working relationship with [his] counterpart” and that he “had a very rich visit.” Our talking points remain the same: encouraging China to embrace professionalism in its military activities and to abide by international law. More specifically, the U.S. goal is to establish personal relationships to facilitate risk reduction.

But China has become more aggressive under Xi Jinping and is relying more and more on military tools to, for example, push its agenda in the South China Sea. The Chinese military’s number one objective is to “prepare for military struggle,” with its mostly likely opponent being the United States. This means we have to shift the focus of the military relationship accordingly.

The Hanoi Summit Failed Because the U.S. Doesn’t Understand How Kim Sees the World

Steven Metz 

The world was riveted this week by the meeting in Hanoi between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Last year’s initial summit between the two leaders in Singapore created nearly giddy hope for an end to the longstanding hostility between the United States and North Korea, particularly the resolution of the thorniest issue of all: North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. But a true breakthrough in Vietnam was always unlikely for one pressing reason: Americans persistently fail to understand how Kim sees the world, instead treating him as they want him to be, rather than as he really is.

So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that talks broke down and both sides abruptly walked away from the two-day summit, issuing contradictory explanations of how disagreements over sanctions relief derailed the negotiations. 

What Would a No-Deal Brexit Look Like?

by Andrew Chatzky

First off, some economists worry that the British economy would sharply contract. In November, the Bank of England predicted that the effects of a “hard Brexit” would rival those of the 2008 financial crisis. A no-deal Brexit could precipitate an 8 percent drop in gross domestic product (GDP), a 3.4 percent rise in unemployment, and a tripling of the inflation rate. Specific pain points include:

Trade. Leaving without a deal would mean immediately leaving the common market, which guarantees that all of the UK’s trade with the rest of the EU faces no tariffs or regulatory checks. British exports to the EU would face most-favored-nation-level tariffs, which average just under 6 percent but are much higher on certain goods, especially agricultural products.

A Better Populism


CHICAGO – The postwar economic success of liberal democracies was not simply the result of letting markets flourish. The United States and European countries also embedded markets in a structure that allowed people to take the fullest advantage of them. That structure is breaking down, energizing populist leaders of both the left and the right. While they pose the right questions, they rarely have the right answers. Perhaps, instead, they should make it easier for people to devise their own solutions.

Why is the postwar structure breaking down? In the immediate postwar era, a formidable system of secondary education in the US prepared students for work or further study at the world’s best universities. Students entered the workforce with the skills to land good jobs. Rapid economic growth and relatively light regulation encouraged many to start their own enterprises. Flexible labor-market policies allowed laid-off workers to find a job quickly somewhere else. Recessions, when they came, were shallow and brief.2

Russia’s Geopolitical Rivals Preparing for High-Tech Wars in Space – Gen Staff

Chief of the Russian General Staff and First Deputy Defence Minister, General Valery Gerasimov has stated that modern conflicts are characterised by attracting means of economic, political, diplomatic, informational pressure, as well as a demonstration of military power in the interests of enhancing the effectiveness of non-military measures.

Russia’s geopolitical rivals are preparing to wage wars against a “high-tech adversary”, using high-precision air- and space-based weapons and actively conducting information confrontation, Chief of the Russian General Staff and First Deputy Defence Minister, General Valery Gerasimov stated at a conference on developing a military strategy.

“Therefore, the search for rational strategies for waging war with a different adversary is of paramount importance for the development of the theory and practice of military strategy. We need to clarify the essence and content of military strategy, the principles of prevention, preparation for war and its conduct”, the Chief of the General Staff noted.

Russian General Pitches ‘Information Operations’ as a Form of War

by Andrew E. Kramer

MOSCOW — The chief of Russia’s armed forces endorsed on Saturday the kind of tactics used by his country to intervene abroad, repeating a philosophy of so-called hybrid war that has earned him notoriety in the West, especially among American officials who have accused Russia of election meddling in 2016.

At a conference on the future of Russian military strategy, Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, the chief of the general staff, said Russia should bring a blend of political, economic and military power to bear against its adversaries, including the United States.

The speech outlined what some Western analysts consider the signature strategy of Russia under President Vladimir V. Putin — and what other experts call a simple recognition of modern war and politics.

Europe Isn’t Realistic. It’s Weak.


In Europe’s relations with its Arab neighbors and former colonial possessions, it is not just fraught history that is at stake. The unprecedented summit between the Arab League and the European Union in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Feb. 24 and 25 was a clash of political regimes. The EU prides itself on a values-based foreign policy that affirms democracy, the rule of law, and human rights. Of the 30 Arab states it met in Egypt, only Tunisia comes close to meeting those criteria.

In the end, 20 European heads of government, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, attended, but only after two particular pariahs, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had agreed to stay away. That may have spared the Europeans’ blushes, but it only had the effect of highlighting the incongruity of the EU readily accepting the hospitality of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Venezuela’s Suicide Lessons From a Failed State

By Moisés Naím and Francisco Toro

Consider two Latin American countries. The first is one of the region’s oldest and strongest democracies. It boasts a stronger social safety net than any of its neighbors and is making progress on its promise to deliver free health care and higher education to all its citizens. It is a model of social mobility and a magnet for immigrants from across Latin America and Europe. The press is free, and the political system is open; opposing parties compete fiercely in elections and regularly alternate power peacefully. It sidestepped the wave of military juntas that mired some Latin American countries in dictatorship. Thanks to a long political alliance and deep trade and investment ties with the United States, it serves as the Latin American headquarters for a slew of multinational corporations. It has the best infrastructure in South America. It is still unmistakably a developing country, with its share of corruption, injustice, and dysfunction, but it is well ahead of other poor countries by almost any measure.

Are The Russians Coming?: Russia’s Military Buildup Near Ukraine – Analysis

By Felix K. Chang*

(FPRI) — Long before the Kerch Strait incident in October 2018, Russia had already begun to strengthen the forces in its Southern Military District, which spans from near Volgograd to Russia’s border with Georgia and Azerbaijan. Naturally, that has caused concern in Kiev, since the district also abuts the restive eastern Ukrainian region of Donbas and is responsible for Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. One of Ukraine’s biggest worries has been Russia’s reactivation of the 150th Motorized Rifle Division in late 2016. Posted only 50 km from the border between Russia and Ukraine, it is equipped with an unusually large number of tanks. Its force structure includes two tank regiments, rather than the standard one; and each of its two motorized rifle regiments has an attached tank battalion.[1] Russian media refers to the division as the “steel monster.”

The Hanoi Summit Failed Because the U.S. Doesn’t Understand How Kim Sees the World

Steven Metz 

The world was riveted this week by the meeting in Hanoi between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un. Last year’s initial summit between the two leaders in Singapore created nearly giddy hope for an end to the longstanding hostility between the United States and North Korea, particularly the resolution of the thorniest issue of all: North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. But a true breakthrough in Vietnam was always unlikely for one pressing reason: Americans persistently fail to understand how Kim sees the world, instead treating him as they want him to be, rather than as he really is.

So it shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise that talks broke down and both sides abruptly walked away from the two-day summit, issuing contradictory explanations of how disagreements over sanctions relief derailed the negotiations. 

Securing AI – Four Areas to Focus on Right Now

Matt Devost

This OODA Network Member Only content has been unlocked for unrestricted viewing by Cooley LLP through the OODA Unlockedprogram which lets community members promote thought leadership to a broader global audience.

An AI Call to Arms

Within the domain of technology we are often caught by surprise. A technological innovation captures our attention or provides such incredible value that it is rapidly adopted and becomes an essential component of your business or greatly impacts your business by influencing the values and behaviors of your customers.

For example, while the science fiction authors of decades-past might have predicted a pocket-computer, none could have accurately forecasted the impact that mobile phones and data networks have had on modern business and society and the rush to adopt “mobile first” and “BYOD” strategies in the enterprise.

Researchers obtain a command server used by North Korean hacker group

Zack Whittaker

In a rare move, government officials have handed security researchers a seized server believed to be used by North Korean hackers to launch dozens of targeted attacks last year.

Known as Operation Sharpshooter, the server was used to deliver a malware campaign targeting governments, telecoms, and defense contractors — first uncovered in December. The hackers sent malicious Word document by email that would when opened run macro-code to download a second-stage implant, dubbed Rising Sun, which the hackers used to conduct reconnaissance and steal user data.

The Lazarus Group, a hacker group linked to North Korea, was the prime suspect given the overlap with similar code previously used by hackers, but a connection was never confirmed.

Now, McAfee says it’s confident to make the link.


Michael Senft 

How do you turn an elephant into a mouse? Despite tremendous investments in personnel and resources, the cybersecurity elephant continues to grow larger. Network compromises, data breaches, and destructive attackscontinue to increase in size and frequency. Neither increased expenditures or cybersecurity research are making the information-technology ecosystem that sustains our digitally dependent way of life more secure. Deterrence and retaliation are not credible alternatives due to the anonymity of cyberattacks. A new approach is required to turn the cybersecurity elephant into a mouse.

The immense challenges of cybersecurity may seem unique to the complex ecosystem of cyberspace, but there are deep parallels with the counterterrorism fight. Counterterrorism and cybersecurity both combat asymmetric warfare, where clandestine activity is used as a means to achieve an end in a persistent-threat environment in which attackers are able to ignore geographic boundaries. Both are also characterized by disproportionate cost disparity, marked differences in rate of adaptability, and inequality in rules of engagement between attackers and defenders. Cyberattacks—in the form of Computer Network Exploitation that seeks to obtain information or Computer Network Attack that aims to cause damage—assail the elements of confidentiality, integrity, and availability, which underpin the security and function of digital systems, much like terrorist attacks assail elements central to state authority, such as the ability to protect a state’s citizens. Given these similarities, past failures in counterterrorism can offer hard-earned lessons for the field of cybersecurity.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2019

by Bill Gates

Iwas honored when MIT Technology Review invited me to be the first guest curator of its 10 Breakthrough Technologies. Narrowing down the list was difficult. I wanted to choose things that not only will create headlines in 2019 but captured this moment in technological history—which got me thinking about how innovation has evolved over time. 

My mind went to—of all things—the plow. Plows are an excellent embodiment of the history of innovation. Humans have been using them since 4000 BCE, when Mesopotamian farmers aerated soil with sharpened sticks. We’ve been slowly tinkering with and improving them ever since, and today’s plows are technological marvels.

The State of Gender Inequality Around the World

Despite progress in reducing gender inequality around the world, great challenges remain, perhaps none more alarming than the persistence of violence against women. When then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton asserted that “the subjugation of women is a threat to the common security of our world and to the national security of our country,” she was not just spouting some sort of politically correct mantra. The evidence is plain and overwhelming that societies supporting gender equality are better off on nearly every outcome imaginable—from health, wealth and governance to national security and stability. 

With the recognized link between insecurity and gender inequality, policymakers around the world have begun to address issues of women’s empowerment, both domestically and as a matter of foreign policy. In some cases, these issues have even reached the top of the policy agenda.

These advancements don’t go unimpeded, however. And perhaps no failure is as bitter as the seemingly impotent governmental response to staggering levels of violence against women. In many countries, violence against women is rising and may dwarf violence associated with war and armed conflict. Restructuring our world so that women may flourish will be a tough slog. But the fight against gender inequality around the world must be won—for the sake of men and women alike. No one comes out ahead when the two halves of humanity do not live in peace and equality with each other. 

Respect for Persons and the Ethics of Autonomous Weapons and Decision Support Systems

By C. Anthony Pfaff


Last Spring, Google announced it would not partner with the Department of Defense’s Project Maven, which sought to harness the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve intelligence collection and targeting. Google’s corporate culture, which one employee characterized as “don’t be evil,” attracted people who were opposed to any arrangement where their research would be applied to military and surveillance applications. As a result, Google had to choose between keeping these talented and skilled employees and losing potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in defense contracts. Google chose the former.[1] Later that fall, the European Union called for a complete ban on autonomous weapon systems.[2] In fact, several organizations and researchers working in artificial intelligence have signed a “Lethal Autonomous Weapons Pledge” that expressly prohibits development of machines that can decide to take a human life.

…if these systems can reduce some of the cruelty and pain war inevitably brings, then it is reasonable to question whether dehumanizing war is really a bad thing.