4 April 2019

Reviewing India’s Foreign Policy Toward Europe Under Narendra Modi

By Krzysztof Iwanek

Reduced to a tweet, Indian foreign policy could be defined as that of continuity above political differences, and of gradual changes without revolutions. Thus, it came as little surprise that when the Hindu nationalist party, the BJP, took power in India in 2014, and Narendra Modi became the prime minister, the general course of New Delhi’s foreign policy did not change. This also applied to its somewhat less-noted aspect: relations with European countries.

Main Partners

The lists of state visits do not entirely reflect India’s foreign policy priorities, but together with an array of other facts they help to paint the picture and list priorities. During the ten years (2004-2014) of previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited these European countries: Russia – 9 times (including for a BRICS summit), Germany – 4 times (including one G-8 summit), the United Kingdom – 3 times (including for a G-20 summit), France – 3 times (including for a G-20 summit), and one visit each to the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Finland (for an India-EU summit), and Italy (for a G-8 summit).

Perceptions of India’s Nuclear Capability Buildup: Ghost Hunting and a Reality Check

By Manpreet Sethi

Before India conducted its nuclear tests in 1998, its nuclear intentions were a matter of widespread speculation. Subsequent to the declaration of a doctrine (as a draft in 1999 and then through a press note on 2003) clearly spelling out attributes of its nuclear strategy, conjectures continue to be made on its capability trajectory. Will India stick to minimum deterrence? Is it moving beyond a strategy of deterrence by punishment premised on counter-value retaliation to developing capabilities that can allow counter-force targeting? Will India then give up its no first use (NFU) doctrine?

Culling out statements of a few prominent Indians, who once occupied important positions in nuclear decision making, some analysts question whether India remains committed to credible minimum deterrence and NFU. Two such recent articles have appeared. One of them is entitled “India’s Counterforce Temptations: Strategic Dilemmas, Doctrine and Capabilities.” Co-authored by Christopher Clary and Vipin Narang, it asserts that India is developing nuclear capability beyond what is required for retaliation and moving towards preemptive counterforce options, particularly against Pakistan. Another article that contends that India is developing nuclear counterforce options that extend beyond its commitment to credible minimum deterrence is co-authored by Frank O’Donnell and Debalina Ghoshal entitled “Managing Indian Deterrence: Pressures on Credible Minimum Deterrence and Nuclear Policy Options.”

SIGAR: Reintegration, economy among top risks after Taliban peace

Afghanistan will remain dependent on foreign donors and international help even after a peace deal with the Taliban is reached, a watchdog in the United States has said, warning that the prospect of a potential end to fighting raises its own risks to rebuilding efforts.

The comments on Thursday by the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, or SIGAR, which monitors billions of dollars in US aid to the country, came in a new report identifying main high-risk areas for Afghanistan.

"A peace agreement would be welcomed by the long-suffering Afghan people," John Sopko, the head of SIGAR, said in Washington, DC.

Bhutan New Government’s Performance In First 120 Days: A Good Beginning – Analysis

By S.Chandrasekharan

The Government led by Dr. Lotay Tshering of DNT had just completed 120 days and it came out frankly with the details of 25 pledges made in their election manifesto and how the Government had fared with the pledges it made.

The communique said that out of the 25 pledges made, the Government implemented 11 of them, another 11 were on track and another 3 not achieved.

Those not achieved included the promise for access to citizens 24/7 for downloading all data on the intra net as well as use of electric/hybrid cars by the Cabinet ministers.

The promises that were kept were doable and indeed the Government should be congratulated in doing what was doable immediately and put on track what would take time. Insurance schemes for the farmers, forming of the 4th pay commission, establishment of a Tourist Development Board, promoting vegetarian meals in official functions etc.were among those implemented.

China Should Not Repeat The Mistakes Of The West In Southeast Asia – Analysis

By Mark J. Valencia

As China’s power and influence grow, so does the depth and breadth of the spotlight on its behavior regarding other cultures and nations. The conduct of nations and of their citizens overseas is part of their soft power –the capability to use economic or cultural influence to shape the preferences of others. The integration of hard (military) and soft power and their management translates into political influence. China has achieved considerable success cultivating its soft power in Southeast Asia. But there are some early warning signs that it may eventually repeat some of the worst mistakes of Western countries there. Indeed, it must be careful that the goodwill it covets does not dissipate through neglect or mismanagement of its soft power.

When Western countries dominated Southeast Asia, they colonized entire cultures. They generally treated the indigenous peoples with cultural ignorance and arrogance. This attitude of cultural superiority came back to haunt these countries – the French in Vietnam; the Dutch in Indonesia; and the U.S. in the Philippines. This is just to name a few that cast off their physical and ideational colonial shackles. Some argue that those former colonies were made better because of it – through Western development of infrastructure and their administrative and educational systems. But it certainly did not sooth the sullied soul of patriots and cultural nationalists who retained their original cultural values and dignity. They revolted in spite — or maybe because of — it – and there are lingering sensitivities to this cultural subjugation to this day.

Thailand’s Elections Foreshadow a New Divide, Without Healing Old Ones

Joshua Kurlantzick

In Thailand’s elections on March 24, the military’s proxy party, Palang Pracharath, performed better than pre-election surveys had indicated, finishing with 8.4 million votes, the most of any party. Combined with its seats in the unelected upper house, which is stacked with pro-military allies, Palang Pracharath should control enough seats to ensure that Prayuth Chan-ocha, who has led a military junta governing the country since 2014, will become prime minister again. 

Pheu Thai, the populist party aligned with exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, finished second with 7.9 million votes, but won the greatest number of the 350 constituency-based seats in the lower house, with 137 to Palang Pracharath’s 97. Another strongly anti-junta party, Future Forward, also performed well in the constituency-based seats. The remaining 150 of the 500 lower house seats will be allocated later based on a complicated party list process, with the official results scheduled to be finalized May 9. 

Judy Asks: Is China Devouring Europe?


No, it is not—but it is taking bites, one mouthful at a time.

The United States labels China and Russia “strategic adversaries,” a designation many European nation states do not share. Absolved of security concerns (outsourced long ago to the United States), national leaders only see benefits of Chinese investments, loans, and trade. Costs—strengthening the adversary—do not figure in their calculations because these had been “socialized” through NATO.

In this light, it is little wonder that the Italian public only sees gains from Chinese investments in several of its ports while Hungary and Serbia welcome a joint venture largely financed by China to connect by fast rail Budapest with Athens (and with Piraeus, the Chinese-owned port nearby). These views are not very different from that espoused by the German government, which only counts advantages of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline while externalizing its collateral security costs to the country’s friends.

Winter Settles on Chinese Universities


Last week, Xu Zhangrun, a law professor at Beijing’s Tsinghua University who in recent months has written a series of essays critical of policies of the Chinese Communist Party and of its current leader, Xi Jinping, was banned from teaching, relieved of his academic duties, and put under investigation. While Xu has not technically been fired, many fear this week’s actions may be a prelude to more severe moves to silence a witty and prominent political critic and further chill an already wintry environment for scholarship and free expression in China. We asked contributors for their thoughts on the significance of Xu’s suspension and its possible consequences for political and intellectual life in China. —

The news of Xu Zhangrun’s suspension is paradoxically both shocking—there did not seem to be any immediate cause—and not shocking at all. Not only had Xu been a constant critic of China’s political institutions, but, perhaps most unforgivably, he had also personally mocked Xi Jinping, writing pointedly that “the speeches of officials, originally nothing more than some cliched officialese written by their secretaries, are now assembled into finely bound volumes and distributed for free all over the world, wasting vast amounts of paper. It’s enough to make you spit out your food with laughter.”

Bahrain to use Huawei in 5G rollout despite U.S. warnings

Alexander Cornwell

DUBAI, March 26 (Reuters) - Bahrain, headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, plans to roll out a commercial 5G mobile network by June, partly using Huawei technology despite the United States’ concerns the Chinese telecom giant’s equipment could be used for spying.

Washington has warned countries against using Chinese technology, saying Huawei could be used by Beijing to spy on the West. China has rejected the accusations.

VIVA Bahrain, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabian state-controlled telecom STC, last month signed an agreement to use Huawei products in its 5G network, one of several Gulf telecoms firms working with the Chinese company.

“We have no concern at this stage as long as this technology is meeting our standards,” Bahrain’s Telecommunications Minister Kamal bin Ahmed Mohammed told Reuters on Tuesday when asked about U.S. concerns over Huawei technology.

A U.S.-China War Scenario: How Would China's Military Attack a "Great Wall in Reverse"?

by James Holmes

Suppose the United States and its allies erect a “Great Wall in reverse,” deploying anti-ship, anti-aircraft, and anti-submarine armaments on and around the islands constituting the first island chain.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will not submit meekly while the allies curb its freedom of movement between its home waters and the Western Pacific. Instead, PLA soldiers, sailors, and aviators will try to puncture, outflank, or otherwise nullify the wall, regaining access to the wider world. They must—lest China forfeit the export and import trade that underwrites its “dream” of prosperity and national dignity, not to mention its capacity to project military might outside its immediate environs. But how?

ONE BELT ONE ROADDimensions, Detours, Fissures, and Fault Lines

President Xi Jinping’s signature initiative “One Belt One Road” (OBOR, 一带一路 or yidai yilu in Chinese), unveiled in 2013 and later renamed in English as the “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), aims to take China where it has never gone before. The initiative, which envisages linking China with Asia, Africa, and Europe through a vast network of railroads, highways, pipelines, ports, and industrial zones, signals not just the emergence of China as a great continental power but its desire to be a global maritime power as well. Elevated to the status of a “core interest” at the 18th Party Congress in October 2017 (much like Tibet, Taiwan and the South China Sea), OBOR has nevertheless come under increasing scrutiny.

While supporters see it as a Chinese “Marshall Plan” or a blueprint for a China-led “Community of Common Destiny” to spread growth and prosperity, critics see it as an example of China’s “imperial overreach” at best and as “debt-trap diplomacy” at worst that is intended more to assert Chinese dominance than to promote development. To date, states ranging from India, followed by Japan, the European Union, the United States, Australia, France, and Britain (in that order), have either criticized or expressed skepticism over Xi’s megaproject of the century.

As the U.S.-China Tech War Rages on, the Electronics Industry Braces for Impact

Chip manufacturers are finding that keeping up with Moore’s law by increasing the density of transistors to boost computing power is no longer worth the multibillion-dollar investment. The semiconductor industry is also entering a period of increased specialization as new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, require more tailored computer chips. Meanwhile, China's desire to increase its own chip manufacturing and design capabilities has led the United States to consider export controls and other constraints, which pose the most immediate threat to U.S. tech companies. However, the semiconductor industry has become deeply globalized over the past 30 years, and untangling that interconnected web risks slowing innovation and technological advancement in the long term.

In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore stated that the number of transistors on a single computer chip would steadily double every two years. This would, in turn, increase that processing power for computers, as new technology developed exponentially instead of incrementally. And for the past 50 decades, his prediction — known as "Moore's law" — has held up. But now that transistors are approaching the size of an atom, maintaining that pace is becoming an increasingly less feasible — and more expensive — option for chip manufacturers.

Erdogan loses Istanbul and Ankara

OVER THE past few years, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government have throttled dissent, taken control of the judiciary and defanged the press, confining what remains of Turkey’s democracy to the ballot box. In municipal elections on March 31st, the ballot box struck back. Despite taking a plurality of the national vote, Mr Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development (AK) party suffered defeats in five of Turkey’s six biggest cities, including Istanbul, the country’s economic engine, and the capital Ankara.

The loss of Istanbul, in particularly, stung Mr Erdogan, given that he began his political career there over two decades ago. The AK’s mayoral candidate, a former prime minister and parliamentary speaker, Binali Yildirim, had the support of a media controlled by pro-government tycoons, his party’s seemingly unstoppable electoral machine and the president, who stumped for his candidates as if his own political future were on the line. The opposition’s pick, Ekrem Imamoglu, had the backing of a hapless, squabbling party, a fraction of his opponent’s resources and only a few years of experience as district mayor under his belt. But in one of the biggest upsets in Turkey’s recent election history, it was Mr Imamoglu, the relative unknown, who seemed to have won, by the thinnest of margins.

The ‘Caliphate’ Is Gone. Where’s the ‘Caliph’?


As the last shred of Islamic State territory in Syria fell to Kurdish-backed forces this month, thousands of people, including fighters, fled the enclave or surrendered. Yet when the exodus was over and the “caliphate” was extinguished, a mystery lingered: Where was the “caliph”?

“We don’t know where he is,” James Jeffrey, the U.S. special envoy to the global coalition to defeat ISIS, told reporters on Monday. Asked whether finding him was a priority, Jeffrey responded: “Finding the top leadership of ISIS or other terrorist groups is always a priority.”

In the four and a half years since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi indulged in a rare public appearance, in Mosul, to declare a caliphate—the last part of that period spent with a $25 million U.S. bounty on his head—the titular chief of the Islamic State has eluded capture. He has more than once been rumored dead or incapacitated, only to be reported at large later. A voice that experts believed to be his appeared on a recording last summer, urging followers to wage attacks independently, and he hasn’t been heard from publicly since.

Mecca And Medina, Sacred Sites Or Development Engines? – Analysis

By Atef Alshehri*

The ongoing transformation of Mecca and Medina is a deeply contested issue. As Islam’s holiest sites, their spiritual significance implies a certain propriety of urban form prescribed by their history. Yet the current drastic changes engineered by private and state actors in Saudi Arabia represent a dangerously widening gap with their heritage with economics as the driving force. This rupture with the cities’ sacred nature is the outcome of such factors as state and private enterprise actions, permanent and transient population growth, economic competition, and development challenges in the desert kingdom. As a result, the urban heritage erosion has not only left fragmented cities behind but has also come at a high social cost.

The Imprint of History

The Global Language of Hatred Is French

By Marc Weitzmann

Since the terror attack that killed 49 Muslims and wounded dozens at Christchurch, New Zealand, on March 15, French authorities have been investigating what connections, if any, the killer, Brenton Tarrant, may have had in France.

We know that Tarrant visited the country during the presidential campaign of 2017, witnessing the defeat of what he called “the nationalist camp” (that is, Marine Le Pen). Tarrant traveled to several countries at the time, including Israel, but France impressed him the most—so much so that he made his final decision to “do something” to stop the Muslim invasion of the West on his way back from France. France is where he claims to have had the revelation that the West was “invaded” by the “nonwhites,” a problem to which French politicians offered only a “farce” in guise of a solution. In language disturbingly close to that emerging from the anti-Semitic corners of the “yellow vest” movement in recent months, Tarrant also meditates on French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he sees as “a globalist, capitalist, egalitarian, an ex-investment banker was [sic] no national beliefs other than the pursuit of profit.”

The Key to Countering Iran

Political and economic pressure from the United States will unite Iran's fractious political system behind the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which lies at the heart of Tehran's regional strategy. Washington's recent addition of the IRGC to the Treasury Department's list of terrorist groups probably won't have a substantial impact on the organization's ability to fund itself and allied militant groups across the Middle East. In response to the U.S. decision, Iran will boost its military and political support for the IRGC by expanding its budget for asymmetric operations, including the activities of the elite Quds Force and ballistic missile development.

Big Picture Update

As the U.S. campaign against Iran and its regional allies continues, measures to further sanction the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps could follow. But Iran's deep connections to many Middle Eastern governments create additional consequences for the United States if it follows through with that idea and sanctions an entity connected to the IRGC. Perhaps nowhere else is this truer than in Iraq.

NATO Is Dead. Long Live NATO.

Tobin Harshaw

NATO is celebrating its 70th birthday next week, but rather than blowing out 70 candles, the foreign-policy establishment is pondering whether it should still exist. In truth, we’ve been having this argument since 1992, after the Soviet collapse, and maybe since France pulled its military out of the alliance in 1966, a ruckus I followed closely from my crib.

The short answer is that of course it needs to exist, and even flourish. If only because it makes Vladimir Putin almost as mad as when the Kremlin runs out of pistachio ice cream. But I will concede that the alliance needs some serious tweaking, if not a total reboot - to deal not just with Russian belligerence, but also with other longstanding quandaries like keeping the Balkan states from sparking another world war, and new ones such as African refugees on the Mediterranean and Chinese icebreakers in the Arctic. (Not making that up.

As Africa Seeks Global Partners, It Will Ask: Who’s Helping with Climate Change?


If the United States hopes to outduel China for influence on the continent, it must consider Cyclone Idai and its turbocharged ilk to come.

As Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi continue struggling to cope with the aftermath of Cyclone Idai, it’s worth noting while the storm was exceptional in its destructive power, the risk of flooding in and around Beira is a chronic problem. As the climate warms, rising sea levels are likely to cause serious ongoing problems for important coastal hubs like Beira even without the increasing frequency of dramatic storms. Of course the immediate humanitarian crisis is where the international community must focus first. But the destruction of infrastructure that was built with climate change adaptation in mind is also worrying, and has implications not just for Mozambique, but also for landlocked states that rely on its ports. 

For Italy’s Ruling Nationalists, Energy Security More Important Than Putin’s Friendship

By: Emanuele Scimia

New natural gas discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean might be a boon for the European Union’s efforts to move away from dependence on Russian energy supplies. In the current complex energy game between Europe and Russia, Italy could play an important role as an entry point for gas deliveries from Egypt, Israel and Cyprus, despite the current Italian government’s largely sympathetic stance toward the Kremlin (see EDM, April 10, 2018; June 6, 2018).

On February 28, the United States energy giant ExxonMobil announced it discovered natural gas off the southwestern coast of Cyprus (Exxonmobil.com, February 28). The new find adds to other giant offshore gas fields discovered in the region such as Aphrodite and Calypso in Cypriot waters, Israel’s Leviathan and Tamar, and Egypt’s Zohr (Iai.it, February 23).

By the end of the year, the governments of Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Israel are expected to sign a multilateral agreement to build the EastMed pipeline, which promises to bring a natural gas bonanza to Europe (Edison.it, accessed on March 4). Russia is currently the largest single provider of gas to the EU, and supplies from the Eastern Mediterranean basin are seen as a viable alternative to state-owned Russian gas monopoly Gazprom. Currently, Russia accounts for around 40 percent of the European bloc’s natural gas imports (Ec.europa.eu, November 19, 2018).

The FY2020 Defense Budget Request and the Need for a Real "Strategy Driven" Budget

The proposed FY2020 defense budget is scarcely without merit. Meeting the request would fund many badly needed increases in readiness and major new programs within each service. At the same time, it is also a major failure. The Defense Budget Overview of the FY2020 budget issued by the Office of the Secretary of Defense calls it a "strategy driven budget," but neither the Overview – nor the hundreds of pages of supporting justification provided by the OSD Comptroller and military services – focus on strategy, key threats, net assessments of U.S. and threat forces, and the budget’s impact on key commands and missions.

These issues are explored in depth in a new Burke Chair analysis of the proposed FY2020 budget. This study is entitled The FY2020 Defense Budget and the Need for a Real Strategy Driven Budget. It is available on the CSIS web site at https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/190301_FY2020_Fiscal_Balance.Final_.pdf.

U.K.: All Bets Are Off as Parliament Rejects May's Brexit Deal Again

The European Union and the United Kingdom are trying to avoid a disorderly Brexit, but they are running out of time and ideas to do so. Last week, the bloc accepted a British request to delay Brexit and give the United Kingdom more time to approve an exit agreement, but London is still struggling to convince a deeply fragmented House of Commons to back a deal. A no-deal Brexit on April 12 is still the default legal outcome if the sides can't find a solution.

What Happened

As the United Kingdom's day of European reckoning draws inexorably closer, the country is still no nearer to approving a Brexit deal to avoid a disorderly exit from the European Union. On March 29, the House of Commons rejected the withdrawal agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom by a margin of 58 votes. This is the third time that British lawmakers have rejected the deal, after striking it down by a whopping 230 votes in January and 149 votes earlier this month.

Is Russia Throwing Its Lot in With Maduro?

What Happened

Russia is seemingly upping the stakes in Venezuela's standoff — for friend and foe alike to see. In a deliberately visible event, two Russian aircraft reportedly landed at Simon Bolivar International Airport in Caracas on March 22. One plane arrived with 100 Russian military personnel, including the chief of staff of the ground forces, Gen. Vasily Tonkonshkurov, while the other landed with 35 tons of unspecified military equipment. According to an unnamed Venezuelan military official, the Russian forces are there as part of an agreement to assist the South American country in military training and engage in cooperation.

The Big Picture

Its economy in tatters, Venezuela falls further into the abyss with each passing day. Because of the country's deep economic crisis and international pressure, President Nicolas Maduro could be forced to abandon his position, yet and he and his supporters — including key international backers like Russia — are trying to delay his departure for as long as possible. Now, Russia has reportedly upped the ante in the country by deploying more troops, possibly with the aim of prolonging Maduro's stay in power.

The Truth About the U.S. Military in Africa

The U.S. military has been expanding its presence and operations in Africa over the past decade. In doing so, it has obscured the nature of its actions through ambiguous language and outright secrecy. It limits the amount of information available about the objectives of its operations, how those operations are carried out, the facilities it uses, and how it partners with governments in the region. At times, this has involved subverting democratic processes in partner countries, an approach that runs counter to years of diplomatic engagement ostensibly designed to strengthen governance institutions. 

Nevertheless, interest in the U.S. military’s activities is on the rise and is set to increase further as incidents like the October 2017 Tongo Tongo ambush in Niger--which left four U.S. soldiers dead--make them more visible. In June, for example, militants from the al-Shabaab extremist group in Somalia ambushed a group of American special operations forces, African Union peacekeepers and Somali government soldiers, killing one American Green Beret.

The U.S. military’s gamble that the public, in both America and across Africa, won’t find out about questionable actions, and won’t have the means to challenge them if they do, is becoming increasingly risky. 

NIST’s Ron Ross on the state of cyber: ‘We literally are hemorrhaging critical information’

By: Jill Aitoro 

After Chinese hackers infiltrated a Navy subcontractor’s computer network and stole a trove of highly sensitive data on submarine warfare, it spurred the government to revise the standards that contractors must follow to ensure government data is properly protected data.

What the hackers took was “the equivalent of the stealth technology for the Air Force,” said Ron Ross, a fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology who focuses on computer security.

“We literally are hemorrhaging critical information about key programs,” Ross said during a fireside chat I moderated at the RSA Federal Summit Tuesday. “They’re coming after you every day. They’re either going to bring down your capability, they’re going to steal stuff from you, or they’re going to plant malicious code in your systems and they’re going to come back at some point under their timetable and bring you down.”

Solving One of the Hardest Problems of Military AI: Trust


The U.S. Department of Defense is making big bets on artificial intelligence – rolling out new strategies, partnerships, organizations, and budgets to develop the technology for military uses. But as DOD moves to harness this technology, its success may hinge in part on something that is not technical in nature: overcoming the massive gaps in trust around AI. That trust gap is actually many gaps – between humans and machines, the public and the government, the private sector and the government, and among governments – and undertaking the hard task of working through them will be key to integrating AI into national defense. 

The Revolution Need Not Be Automated


For centuries after the Industrial Revolution, automation did not hinder wage and employment growth, because it was accompanied by new technologies geared toward maintaining the role of human labor in value creation. But in the era of artificial intelligence, it will be up to policymakers to ensure that the pattern continues.

BOSTON – Artificial intelligence is transforming every aspect of our lives, not least the economy. As a general-purpose technology, AI’s applications are potentially endless. While it can be used to automate tasks previously performed by people, it can also make human labor more productive, thereby increasing labor demand.

Unfortunately, the current trend in commercial AI development is toward more and more automation, with potentially disastrous consequences for society. To be sure, automation has been an engine of productivity growth since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when, starting in the late eighteenth century, weaving and spinning were mechanized. But the tide of automation does not automatically lift all boats. By replacing labor with machines in production tasks, automation reduces labor’s share of value added (and national income), contributes to inequality, and may reduce employment and wages.

The complete guide to the battery revolution

by Akshat Rathi

German ministers aren’t known for making exaggerated statements. So when, this past January, Anja Karliczek, the German government’s minister for education and research, said battery technology was an “existential” matter, she wasn’t stoking unfounded fears. Instead, she was boiling down the reality of what the German car industry needs to stay relevant in the future.

In the home of Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz, the car industry makes Germany’s economic engine turn. It accounts for one-seventh of the country’s jobs, one-fifth of its exports, and one-third of its spending on research and development. But these giants of the internal-combustion engine era are facing a new challenge. As the world looks to clean up its cities and cut carbon emissions to fight climate change, it’s starting to pivot to battery-powered electric cars.

Welcome to Social Cyber Warfare

By Lydia Snider

Many people have written marketing off as frivolous, but it is a field of constant data-driven experimentation, and in the past decade social media sites such as Facebook have become state-of-the-art laboratories for honing influence messaging. In the information revolution marketplace, the organization with the most data and the ability to utilize it wins.

But collecting and using information is about more than persuading a customer to buy a car. Information warfare is now an integral part of military conflict and social media has been weaponized. Data that influences behavior penetrates conventional military front lines and lands on places like mom’s Facebook page and children’s Instagram accounts. Cyberspace—and particularly social media platforms—enables any adversary direct access to individual citizens. Unwittingly, social media companies have created the ultimate weapons of information warfare.

Future wars will be waged with robots. But so might future peace ǀ View

By Daanish Masood, Martin Waehlisch 

Artificial intelligence (AI) usually makes headlines for all the wrong reasons: AI is being used to empower mass surveillance; AI will create autonomous weapons to make war-fighting more efficient; AI will revolutionise manufacturing – and take our jobs; AI will digitalise everything into the cloud – making us more vulnerable to hacking. At worst, AI might lead to the emergence of non-human consciousness which, Terminator-style, looks at humans as inferior – and seeks to wipe them out with its superior robotic technology.

Though touted as a real possibility by the likes of Elon Musk, that particular idea has been dismissed in the field as far-fetched. In his 2018 book, Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Now, polymathic computer scientist and ‘founding father’ of virtual reality Jaron Lanier described AI as a decades-old lie that he and others in Silicon Valley invented just to get money from DARPA, the US Pentagon agency responsible for researching technological breakthroughs.

Lanier was being tongue-in-cheek. His point was that despite our dystopian fears, AI is still far too rudimentary to pose an existential threat to the human species.