9 April 2019

No Country for Strongmen How India’s Democracy Constrains Modi

By Ruchir Sharma

Like most national elections in India, the one coming this spring will be decided in the mofussil. Originally a colonial term for any town outside the commercial capitals of the British Raj, mofussil now refers to the provincial areas beyond the burgeoning megacities of Mumbai and New Delhi, that is, to the rural and impoverished stretches where two out of three Indians live.

Come April or May, the inhabitants of these rural towns will vote in what is shaping up to be an unexpectedly tight race pitting the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi against the Indian National Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi. Until a year ago, Modi looked like the sure winner. He had sidelined all rivals in the BJP and overshadowed Gandhi and the rest of the opposition. He was running the most centralized administration India had seen in decades, with decisions large and small funneled through the prime minister’s office. The BJP and its allies went from governing six of India’s 29 states in 2014 to holding 21 by early 2018. So firm seemed Modi’s grip on power that many Indian liberals began drawing parallels to the slide toward one-man rule in Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey.

CPEC Emboldens China and Pakistan’s Joint Effort to Manage Militancy

By Saira H. Basit

Chinese General Zhang Youxia, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC), chose to describe military cooperation as the “backbone” of China-Pakistan relations in a meeting with the Pakistani Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa in September 2018. Security cooperation has become an increasingly important aspect of China’s some $62 billion investments in Pakistan, made under the umbrella of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Chinese workers and infrastructure face a continuous threat of attacks by militant groups on Pakistani territory. In just two years after the 2015 launch of CPEC, militants had killed 44 workers on related projects and injured more than 100. The Pakistanis have thus made vast efforts to secure the Chinese.

Countering militant groups has become a fundamental part of Sino-Pakistani security cooperation at the bilateral, regional, and international levels. Despite Chinese security reports deeming several projects under CPEC to be at serious risk of failure, and the continuous risk of militant attacks, both the Chinese and Pakistanis have been pushing forward wherever progress and cooperation is possible.

Pompeo urges NATO allies to adapt to new China, Russia threats

United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday said that NATO needs to change its focus in order to “confront emerging threats” including “Russian aggression, uncontrolled migration, cyberattacks, threats to energy security, Chinese strategic competition” and other issues. He specifically mentioned 5G technology in relation to the Chinese threat.

Pompeo’s statements are in line with a recent push by the Trump administration to get NATO to start focusing on threats coming from China, even though the alliance was primarily designed to deter Russia.

The US has boycotted Huawei over security concerns relating to the firm’s 5G networking technology. The Trump administration has been pushing its allies to do the same in order to prevent the tech firm from providing the Chinese government with access to the data and systems of foreign governments. However, the campaign has not been highly successful, with major NATO allies including the UK, Italy and Germany resisting an outright boycott.

Are Russia and China Really Forming an Alliance?

By Leon Aron

In March of 1969, Chinese troops ambushed and killed a Soviet border patrol on an island near the Chinese-Russian border. Fighting on and near the island lasted for months and ended with hundreds of casualties. Fifty years later, the ferocity of the skirmish between Mao Zedong’s China and Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union seems to belong to a very distant past—so distant, indeed, that many foreign-policy experts are convinced that an anti-U.S. alliance between the two countries is emerging. Yet even half a century on, such an assessment stretches the evidence beyond what it can bear. On closer inspection, Chinese-Russian economic, foreign policy, and military cooperation is less than impressive. The history of relations between the two countries is fraught, and they play vastly different roles in the world economy, making a divergence in their objectives all but unavoidable. In short, reports of a Russian-Chinese alliance have been greatly exaggerated.


Economic relations between Russia and China are rapidly expanding, and some experts have cited these ties as evidence of a growing closeness between the two countries. Indeed, just last year, bilateral trade increased by at least 15 percent compared to 2017 and reached a record $100 billion. Yet asymmetries in the scale and structure of bilateral commerce suggest caution: although China is Russia’s second-largest trading partner (after the EU) and Russia’s largest individual partner in both exports and imports, for China the Russian market is at best second-rate. Russia ranks tenth in Chinese exports and does not make it into the top ten in either imports or total trade.

The Malnutrition Paradox: Lessons From China – Analysis

By Shoba Suri

Malnutrition has been linked to poverty and food insecurity. However, it is also a paradox leading to under-nutrition and recurring hunger and over-nutrition. The Global Nutrition Report 2018 reveals that “malnutrition is unacceptably high and affects every country in the world, but there is also an unprecedented opportunity to end it.” Malnutrition costs 3.5$ trillion per year to the global economy and child and maternal malnutrition is the largest nutrition related health burden in the world.

Globally malnutrition rates are high with 150.8 million under five children being stunted, 50.5 million children are wasted and 20 million newborn babies are estimated to be low birth weight, and on the other hand 38.3 million children are overweight. It is alarming to note that India is the top most country with the largest number of children being stunted (46.6 million) and wasted (25.5 million). India and China are also home to 2% and 7% of overweight children respectively.

China Will Have Military Bases in Central Asia Within Five Years, Russian Expert Says

By: Paul Goble

Barring a radical destabilization of Xinjiang or fundamental shifts in Central Asian countries and their relations with major power centers abroad, Beijing will “very likely” establish a network of its own military bases in the region over the next five years, according to Dmitry Zhelobov, a China specialist at Russia’s Urals Federal University. He recently argued, in a widely reposted interview with the Moscow-based Regnumnews agency, that Chinese steps toward acquiring those bases are driven by a desire to expand its regional influence as well as to ensure that neither Russia nor the United States are able to limit China’s cross-continental trade with Europe (Regnum, March 28).

At one level, of course, this assertion simply echoes similar warnings that have lately appeared in Western media. But more importantly, Zhelobov’s specific statements to Regnum reflect Russian thinking about Chinese intentions and about the relationship between soft and “hard” or military power. His remarks appear intended both as a warning to the former Soviet republics of the dangers ahead and a wake-up call to Moscow about trends that are undermining Russian influence in central Eurasia. As a result, his argument merits closer analysis.

Taking the Long View on the Arab Spring, After Bouteflika’s Resignation in Algeria

Ellen Laipson 

The unexpected outburst of popular opposition to the regime long in power in Algeria has stimulated a renewed conversation about the dramatic tidal wave of change in the Middle East in 2011 known as the Arab Spring. The conventional view has been that cascading protests toppled autocrats in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, but then fizzled out. Egypt returned to its previous strongman system, only one that was even worse than before. Libya, along with Yemen, got stuck in incomplete transitions that led to state failures and armed conflict, exacerbated by outside interference. And Syria is only now, eight years later, slowly wrapping up its brutal civil war, with the wrong side—the entrenched regime of President Bashar al-Assad—coming out on top. 

But the surprise developments in Algeria in recent weeks have inspired many regional experts to take a fresh look. Is Algeria new evidence that the march continues for opening up political affairs in the Arab world? Or will angry crowds in the streets of Algiers meet the same fate of their Egyptian and Syrian counterparts—with the breakthroughs they facilitate only strengthening the hands of strongmen and their cliques? Already the momentum is stalling, with a clear impasse between demands for change by the public and offers of compromise by “le pouvoir,” what Algerians call the shadowy cabal of military and security leaders who have held power in their country for decades. 

The Arab Gulf's Tall Task to Transform the Populace

Much like the USSR's failure to create a New Soviet Man, the Arab Gulf states' attempts to cultivate transformed, economically productive citizens are likely to founder due to a lack of local support. As Gulf Arab states encounter public resistance to their policies of economic reform, they are likely to fall back upon traditional means of pacifying their populations, such as massive public subsidies. At the same time, growing nationalism that the Gulf's royals houses cannot control could create more conflict in the region.

Some blessings are also curses — or so the Gulf Arab states of the Persian Gulf have discovered. Though blessed with vast quantities of hydrocarbons, the countries are cursed with the looming knowledge that the world will not pay ever-higher prices for them. To meet the price of modernity and reform their economies, the Gulf states have embarked upon sweeping national identity projects to transform the tribes and sects of their countries into productive, globally competitive and loyal citizens of sustainable nation-states. But while such plans appear destined for success on paper (or PowerPoint), reality may be a different proposition altogether: A lack of local buy-in may scuttle these ambitious projects to coax citizens into becoming economically productive citizens, leaving a patchwork of half-implemented reforms — while rumbling nationalism threatens to foment conflict.

UK: Radical Muslims Welcome, Persecuted Christians Need Not Apply

by Raymond Ibrahim

In two unrelated cases, the United Kingdom denied asylum to persecuted Christians by bizarrely citing the Bible and Jesus. Both Christians, a man and a woman, are former Muslims who were separately seeking asylum from the Islamic Republic of Iran, the ninth-worst persecutor of Christians -- particularly of those who were Muslims and converted to Christianity.

UK asylum worker Nathan Stevens recently shared their stories. In his rejection letter from the UK's Home Office, which is in charge of immigration, the Iranian man was told that biblical passages were "inconsistent" with his claim to have converted to Christianity after discovering it was a "peaceful" faith. The letter citedseveral biblical excerpts, including from Exodus, Leviticus, and Matthew, presumably to show that the Bible is violent; it said Revelation was "filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence." The governmental letter then concluded:

Turkey Unsettled – OpEd

By Neville Teller

Turkey held nationwide local elections on 31 March. The ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) won more that 50 percent of votes overall, but lost control in the capital, Ankara, and in the nation’s commercial centre, Istanbul. They are contesting both sets of results.

Two conclusions can be drawn from these events. First, democracy in Turkey –weakened and impaired though it has been over the past few years – is not yet dead. Even with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s allies controlling the vast majority of mainstream media outlets, opposition parties are still able to function, to challenge the government, and to win.

Secondly the president, a past-master at winning votes and recently endowed with sweeping executive power, is still subject to the inexorable laws of economics. While Turkey’s economy flourished, as it did for years, Erdogan’s popularity soared; but with inflation currently running at around 20 percent and food prices at a 20-year high, public discontent has spread, even among the AKP’s conservative voter base.

Hot Issue – War Without End in Yemen: The Saudi-UAE Rivalry to Prolong the Conflict

By: Michael Horton

Executive Summary

March 26th marked the end of the fourth year of the Saudi led war in Yemen. Four years of devastating aerial bombing and tens of billions of dollars have borne few results. The Houthis retain control of the northwest and most of Yemen has devolved into warring fiefdoms controlled by an ever-growing number of armed factions. The presence of outside powers—namely Saudi Arabia and the UAE—and the money and arms they supply are fueling interlocking conflicts in Yemen. At the same time, Saudi Arabia and the UEA are increasingly in competition with one another in Yemen as the two countries support factions that oppose one another.


The Saudi and Emirati-led intervention in Yemen marks the end of its fourth year in March. The intervention, which was marketed as “Operation Decisive Storm,” was meant to last no more than a few weeks. The military campaign was ostensibly launched to check the advances made by Yemen’s Houthi rebels and to restore Yemen’s internationally recognized government to power. Four years on, and Operation Decisive Storm has achieved none of its overt aims despite the billions of dollars spent and thousands of bombs dropped. The Houthis retain control of most of northwest Yemen, including the capital of Sana’a and the internationally recognized—but largely powerless Yemeni government—remains in exile in Saudi Arabia. Yemen is more divided than it has been in decades and has devolved into warring fiefdoms that are variously backed by the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and, in the case of the Houthis, by Iran.

Comparing American and European perspectives on tech and privacy

Amalia Coyle and Ted Piccone

On March 29, 2019, the Brookings Foreign Policy program hosted the sixth annual Justice Stephen Breyer Lecture on International Law. This year’s event focused on the challenges of regulating digital technology, especially in the areas of privacy and data protection, through the comparative perspective of the United States and the European Union. Keynote remarks by Jeroen van den Hoven, professor of ethics and technology at Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands, explored the differences in how the United States, the European Union, and countries like China have approached the use of artificial intelligence. He emphasized the importance of the human and ethical principles that underlie the European model of digital governance and the need for “ethics by design” as a way of deliberately integrating shared values through innovative algorithmic, software, and hardware products and services. 

Kenya’s Political Truce Holds, Shifting the Political Landscape

Julian Hattem 

This time last year, Kenya was recovering from a bitter presidential election that descended into a constitutional crisis between two longtime political adversaries. After an initial ballot was annulled by the Supreme Court for irregularities, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta won a repeat election that opposition leader and perennial presidential candidate Raila Odinga boycotted. Amid rising tensions, Odinga rejected the outcome and subsequently proclaimed himself the “people’s president” in an unofficial swearing-in ceremony.

But with memories still fresh of violence that followed Kenya’s contested 2007 election, when more than 1,000 people died, Kenyatta and Odinga abruptly shifted course. In a meeting at Harambee House, the president’s office in Nairobi, the two shook hands and agreed to a truce that watchers anxiously hoped would lead to a new political realignment for East Africa’s largest economy. 

A Cold War Case of Russian Collusion

By David Shimer

In a matter of days, the U.S. Department of Justice will release a redacted version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. It is tempting to believe that, at long last, Mueller will deliver the definitive account of Russia’s operation. But even after 22 months, 2,800 subpoenas, nearly 500 search warrants, and 34 indictments, there is reason to expect that Mueller and his team of attorneys will not have uncovered the full story. When it comes to covert foreign electoral interference, probes are rarely conclusive: key witnesses live abroad, lies pass as truth, and unanswered questions can stay that way for decades, sometimes forever.

For the past two years, much of the U.S. news media has been drawing parallelsbetween the Russia investigation and the Watergate investigation, which produced damning evidence against President Richard Nixon and ultimately led to his resignation. But there is a far better historical precedent for Mueller’s investigation. In 1973, while the U.S. Congress was investigating Nixon, the West German parliament, the Bundestag, formed an investigative committee of its own. The committee’s purpose was to probe possible interference in a parliamentary vote of no confidence held in an attempt to oust Chancellor Willy Brandt.

The 2020 Election Marks a Global Inflection Point

By Reva Goujon, Reva Goujon

You may have noticed by now that there is a strong air of existentialism surrounding the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign. Environmental policy has vaulted from being a fringe electoral issue to prompting calls for a national emergency on climate change. The "socialist" label is being bandied left and right as a way of questioning the very survival and moral legitimacy of U.S. capitalism. And foreign policy debates are raging over China's attempt to unseat the United States in a tech-fueled battle for global supremacy — a global great power competition.

These are big, whopping issues. And while they're certainly not new, they're currently being debated with fresh and unusual levels of frankness and ferocity.

So, why is all this existential angst spilling over now?

The Rear View

Trade Disputes Are at the Heart of Washington's New Diplomacy

By Cameron Munter

As the United States and China close in on a trade deal, it will be interesting to see how far Beijing is willing to go to accommodate American demands, given that China has clear long-term goals and believes time is on its side. The U.S. trade wars are almost certain to continue, with a series of trade negotiations following an agreement with China. Among them: Japan, the European Union and the United Kingdom. Trade disputes are at the heart of the Trump administration's diplomacy, which seeks to rebuild U.S. competitiveness and dominance by rejecting previously accepted global rules.

Reports indicate that the United States and China are closing in on a trade deal that will block new tariffs on Chinese goods entering the United States. But, as we saw at the summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, in late February, nothing is finished until signatures are put to paper — in this case, a formal trade agreement. It is a self-conscious hallmark of Trump's diplomatic style that unpredictability is a key element of negotiation, and wrong-footing the adversary is just part of the way in which one wins the best possible deal.

‘Epic’ China Trade Deal Near Completion, Trump Says, but Haggling Continue

By Ana Swanson

President Trump stopped short of announcing a final trade deal with China on Thursday, saying in an Oval Office meeting with the Chinese delegation that it may take another four weeks or more to secure an “epic” trade agreement.

Negotiators had originally aimed to secure a deal this week during a visit from Liu He, the Chinese vice premier and special trade envoy, and announce a presidential summit meeting between Mr. Trump and Xi Jinping of China. But after more than a year of tit-for-tat tariffs, on-and-off negotiations and threats of additional punishment, the United States and China continue to haggle over some remaining issues, including how many of the American tariffs on Chinese goods will be removed, and when.

“We’re talking intellectual property protection and theft. We’re talking about certain tariffs,” Mr. Trump said, referring to issues that remain unresolved.

Trans-Atlantic Trade Is Headed Toward Disaster

Source Link

After an Oval Office meeting last month between U.S. President Donald Trump and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Trump took a hard line on trade with the European Union. “We’re going to tariff a lot of their products,” he said, unless Europe compromises on long-standing trade issues.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, responding to pressure from Congress, added that the trade agreement between Washington and Brussels would be a “dead letter” absent the inclusion of agricultural issues. On the European side, however, trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom reiterated the refusal to include any discussion of agriculture in these talks. Moreover, the European Parliament failed to endorse the proposed European Commission mandate for negotiations, and both institutions mulled banning all talks until the United States rejoined the Paris climate accord, a position that French President Emmanuel Macron has advanced. The French also blocked the adoption of a negotiating mandate in late March.

The End of Economics?


In 1998, as the Asian financial crisis was ravaging what had been some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, the New Yorker ran an article describing the international rescue efforts. It profiled the super-diplomat of the day, a big-idea man the Economist had recently likened to Henry Kissinger. The New Yorker went further, noting that when he arrived in Japan in June, this American official was treated “as if he were General [Douglas] MacArthur.” In retrospect, such reverence seems surprising, given that the man in question, Larry Summers, was a disheveled, somewhat awkward nerd then serving as the U.S. deputy treasury secretary. His extraordinary status owed, in part, to the fact that the United States was then (and still is) the world’s sole superpower and the fact that Summers was (and still is) extremely intelligent. But the biggest reason for Summers’s welcome was the widespread perception that he possessed a special knowledge that would save Asia from collapse. Summers was an economist.

During the Cold War, the tensions that defined the world were ideological and geopolitical. As a result, the superstar experts of that era were those with special expertise in those areas. And policymakers who could combine an understanding of both, such as Kissinger, George Kennan, and Zbigniew Brzezinski, ascended to the top of the heap, winning the admiration of both politicians and the public. Once the Cold War ended, however, geopolitical and ideological issues faded in significance, overshadowed by the rapidly expanding global market as formerly socialist countries joined the Western free trade system. All of a sudden, the most valuable intellectual training and practical experience became economics, which was seen as the secret sauce that could make and unmake nations. In 1999, after the Asian crisis abated, Time magazine ran a cover story with a photograph of Summers, U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, and U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and the headline “The Committee to Save the World.”

The Bizarre Story Of Japan’s Ailing Economy – OpEd

By Dean Baker

The New York Times ran one of its periodic pieces on how bad things are in Japan. The gist of this piece is that China’s economic slowdown is hurting Japan, so Japan may have been mistaken to rely on China as a major export market. As the subhead tells readers:

“A slump in exports raises questions about how effective Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies would have been without Chinese help.”

This is a truly a bizarre sort of argument. China has the largest economy in the world on a purchasing power parity basis. It is also very close to Japan geographically. It would be utterly nuts for Japan not to turn to China as a major market for its exports.

Furthermore, most projections show that China’s economy is slowing, not going into a recession. But, even if it does fall into a recession, it is unlikely that it will last forever. If China has a growth rate of 5.0 percent annually coming out of the recession (far below its recent pace), it will be by far the fastest growing market in the world in absolute size. Japan’s businesses would surely want access to this market.

The 21st Century: The Century Of Reforming The UN Security Council – Analysis

By Raiis Gassanly*

Reforming the UN SC with the veto power only of the UN Secretary General and a new article of the UN Charter “On the Rights of Nations to Self-Determination” will eliminate the aggressive fervor of the USA, Russia and China on inciting regional and world wars on our Planet.

On July 19, 2017, at the meeting of the UN General Assembly devoted to the reform of the UN SC, the Deputy Permanent Mission of Russia to the UN V. Safronov raised the issue of the reform of the UNSC. He proposes to expand the composition of the Security Council at the expense of only the countries of Asia and Africa, which is a formal attitude towards the UN, as the most important organ in the fate of the countries of the world in maintaining international peace and security on our planet.

In my opinion, the expansion of the UN SC should cover the most important countries from all continents of our Planet. At the same time, in the absence of members rights to the veto, which will allow discussing in the UN SC the most important problems of the countries of the world with relevant resolutions for the reality of their execution.

Pence Says Germany’s Dependence On Russian Energy ‘Unacceptable’

US Vice President Mike Pence has blasted as “unacceptable” Germany’s dependence on Russian energy and its failure to meet its military spending commitments as a key member of the NATO military alliance.

Pence told NATO’s 70th anniversary gathering in Washington, DC, on Wednesday that Berlin’s insistence on completing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to buy Russian gas was not acceptable and undermined Europe’s security.

“Germany must do more. And we cannot ensure the defense of the West if our allies grow dependent on Russia,” Pence told the two-day forum.

Washington has long taken issue with Germany’s plans to import Russian natural gas through the $11 billion pipeline project, which runs straight under the Baltic Sea.

The pipeline has also been criticized for depriving Ukraine, a staunch US ally, of lucrative gas transit fees.

Moscow Close To UN Recognition That Its Continental Shelf Extends Far Into Arctic – OpEd

By Paul Goble

After almost 20 years of Russian lobbying, a subgroup of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf has declared that much of the Arctic seabed is an extension of Russia’s continental shelf. If that is confirmed by the entire commission, Moscow’s claims to the Arctic will have gained significant international recognition.

Russian officials are jubilant. Yevgeny Kiselyev, who heads the Russian agency that oversees questions of natural resources and territorial arrangements about them, told TASS that the decision was “extraordinarily important for us” (tass.ru/mezhdunarodnaya-panorama/6290153).

If he is right that the full commission will soon follow suit, that will mean that the UN will have given new weight to Moscow’s argument that its continental shelf extends under an additional 1.2 million square kilometers in the Arctic. And that in turn will give it a much stronger claim for controlling access to natural resources and the passage of ships even far from its coastline.

The Proliferation of Tunnel Warfare

By GPF Staff

The Syrian civil war brought tunnel technologies to Bashar Assad’s forces. It’s something Israel may want to keep in mind as it pushes a “safe zone” farther into Syrian territory.

As foreign fighters poured into Syria over the course of the civil war, they brought with them the technologies and know-how to conduct tunnel warfare. Members of the Islamic Stateand various rebel militias became experts of the practice, but in doing so they also made experts out of the Syria army, which had to learn the trade to counter its enemies. Soldiers loyal to Bashar Assad can now dig high-quality tunnels at various depths and in various conditions.

It’s something Israel may want to keep in mind as it pushes a “safe zone” farther into Syrian territory. Assad has more or less come out on top in the Syrian civil war, but the war has exhausted his forces, and though he may not be looking for a fight, he at least has a new tactic at his disposal, one that Hamas and Hezbollah have shown to be effective. Here, we take a look at some key examples of tunnel warfare in the Middle East and North Africa.

U.S. conducted secret surveillance of China’s Huawei, prosecutors say

by Brendan Pierson, Karen Freifeld

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. authorities gathered information about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd through secret surveillance that they plan to use in a case accusing the Chinese telecom equipment maker of sanctions-busting and bank fraud, prosecutors said on Thursday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Alex Solomon said at a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn that the evidence, obtained under the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), would require classified handling.

The government notified Huawei in a court filing on Thursday of its intent to use the information, saying it was “obtained or derived from electronic surveillance and physical search,” but gave no details.

The United States has been pressuring other countries to drop Huawei from their cellular networks, worried its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying. The company says the concerns are unfounded.

7 Indicators Of The State-Of-Artificial Intelligence

Recent research and news on the state of artificial intelligence (AI) highlights seven important trends:

Chinese AI researchers are set to overtake their US counterparts in terms of the number of published scientific papers that have a significant impact on the field. The Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence predicts that by 2020, China will produce more top 10% AI papers than the US, and by 2025 it will also produce more top 1% studies.

The vast majority (over 70%) of companies want to invest more in AI and machine learning, also in the form of cybersecurity tools. However, few business leaders and cybersecurity experts seem to really understand these technologies (Celonis and Webroot).

A majority of people is still concerned about AI taking over most jobs, although a substantial minority wouldn’t mind putting AI in charge of making important governance-related decisions (IE University).

An AI tech bubble is forming, with investors ready to throw billions or even trillions of dollars at startups merely because they claim to work on AI.

Deep Learning has finally received official recognition as the central AI paradigm.

AI is still far from perfect, and may always remain flawed.

Major educational institutions are increasingly committed to advance human-centered AI research.

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

While there is plenty of news coverage on potentially dystopian consequences of artificial intelligence (AI) research, especially when it comes to autonomous weapons and the idea that conscious machines may pose a threat to humanity, little attention is being paid to research that aims to use AI to promote peace across the globe.

Researchers with the United Nations (UN) Secretariat are working on ways to apply AI for conflict prevention and mitigation. In this context, the main focus is on two areas of AI research, namely Machine Learning (ML) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). According to the researchers, ML and NLP can be used for the pursuit of peace in at least three ways.

First of all, AI can help decision makers from different countries overcome cultural differences and language barriers that often prevent them from being able to understand and relate to one another. Secondly, AI can expose underlying drivers for conflict that may not be properly understood by all parties involved. Finally, AI can help world leaders make more responsible and informed decisions. This is crucial, since major decisions are often still based on intuition.

Technological Innovation and the Geopolitics of Energy

By Severin Fischer 

In this article, Severin Fischer discusses three of the most important recent and upcoming technological advancements in energy – horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, photovoltaics and batteries – and their potential impact on international politics. Further, he outlines why China and the US will have the biggest impact on future discussions on the geopolitics of energy.

Technological change has a tremendous impact on societies in general, including international politics. This chapter discusses the most important recent and upcoming technological advancements in energy – horizontal drilling with hydraulic fracturing, photovoltaics, and batteries – and their possible influence on geopolitical dynamics. For different reasons, China and the US will have the biggest impact on the way we will discuss the geopolitics of energy in the future. 

Characteristics of Successful U.S. Military Interventions

by Jennifer Kavanagh

What types of political objectives has the United States historically pursued through military interventions?
How successful has the United States been historically at achieving political objectives during military operations?
What are the characteristics of U.S. military interventions that are most likely to achieve their political objectives?
How do such factors as the size of the intervention, the operating context, the local dynamics, and the international system influence the outcome of the intervention?

Using an original data set of 145 ground, air, and naval interventions from 1898 through 2016, this report identifies those factors that have made U.S. military interventions more or less successful at achieving their political objectives. While these objectives were often successfully achieved, about 63 percent of the time overall, levels of success have been declining over time as the United States has pursued increasingly ambitious objectives.

Robots To Autocomplete Soldier Tasks, New Study Suggests

By Eurasia Review

Smart phones autocorrect in texting, search engines autocomplete queries, and mapping applications redirect navigation in real-time to avoid slowed traffic. These ubiquitous AI-based technologies adapt to everyday needs and learn user habits by focusing on making the algorithm better, but Army researchers want to enhance AI by providing more information about the intent of the user.

New research published in Science Advances looks at Soldier brain activity during specific tasks for ways to incorporate AI teaming to dynamically complete tasks.

The Army envisions a future battlefield wrought with teams of Soldiers and autonomous systems, and as part of this future vision, the Army is looking to create technologies that can predict states and behaviors of the individual to create a more optimized team, said Dr. Jean Vettel, a senior neuroscientist at the Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory, the Army’s corporate research laboratory also known as ARL.