27 April 2019

Why the Belt and Road Fuels India's Fears of Encirclement

China will continue to expand its Belt and Road Initiative in South Asia because the peripheral nations of the subcontinent feel a need to counterbalance India's influence as they seek funding for development. India's opposition to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor will ensure that New Delhi remains the main holdout against the Belt and Road in Asia.
Relations between India and China are calmer since their standoff over the Doklam Plateau in 2017, but their rivalry will continue apace given their competing aims in the region.

India might be a large trading partner in its own right, but the designs of the even-larger power on its doorstep is fueling its fears of encirclement. The Belt and Road Initiative, the cornerstone of Chinese President Xi Jinping's foreign policy to blaze a trail of trade across Asia and Europe, includes five of India's neighbors: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Nepal. But worried that the initiative will grant Beijing undue political influence in neighboring capitals — and that new ports and highways could one day aid China in a military conflict — New Delhi is searching for ways to remain a step ahead of China's activities in South Asia. For one, India has sought to promote its influence by dangling the prospect of greater investment. In so doing, India has scored a few important victories, but its quest for unrivaled dominance in the subcontinent is ultimately a long shot given the allure of Chinese largesse for the subcontinent's smaller countries.

UN: Pro-government forces kill more Afghans than insurgents


United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) Human Rights Director Richard Bennett speaks during an interview with the Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, April. 24, 2019. Afghan and international forces have killed more civilians in the war with the Taliban and other militants in the first three months of this year, the first time deaths caused by government forces and their allies have exceeded those of their enemies, a new U.N. report said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan and international forces were responsible for more civilian deaths in the first three months of 2019 than the Taliban and other militants, a new U.N. report said Wednesday. It marks the first time in recent years that civilian deaths attributed to government forces and their allies exceeded those blamed on their enemies.

The statistics reflects what many say is a growing problem in Afghanistan’s brutal war, in which civilians die not only in suicide bombings and insurgent attacks but also in the cross-fire as Afghan forces and international allies pursue militants.

The Attacks in Sri Lanka and the Threat of Foreign Fighters

By Daniel Byman

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the horrific terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday on churches in Sri Lanka, which killed over 300 people. It appears that the group may have worked with a local radical Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama’ath, mixing the resources and capabilities of both. Initial reporting—still to be verified—indicates that many of those arrested in the follow-up sweep had fought in Syria. Early reports are often wrong or exaggerated, but if Sri Lankan foreign fighters played a significant role in the terrorist attacks, this would be the largest killing by foreign fighters linked to the Islamic State ever, and the largest foreign fighter-linked attack since 9/11. The attacks suggest both the danger posed by foreign fighters and the importance of government efforts in stopping them.

When individuals leave their homes and travel to a foreign war zone, they often change profoundly. The travelers usually train and fight, and they often emerge more skilled as a result. In some cases, as with those who went to Afghanistan in the 1990s, individuals may go through multiple training courses and learn highly specialized skills. In others, they often learn only the basics of combat, but that combat experience gives them greater skill and discipline—if they survive. Such experience may explain the jump in lethality for Sri Lankan jihadists, who before the Easter attacks had not carried out mass casualty terrorism. Coordinated attacks are more difficult than one-offs, and National Thowheeth Jama’ath’s track record had consisted of vandalism against Buddhist statues and low-level communal violence. In addition, the suicide vests used in the Sri Lankan attacks all worked—a rarity for many terrorist groups—and in general showed a high degree of sophistication according to Scott Stewart, a terrorism expert. This suggests that the individuals were well-trained and equipped.

Bangladesh: Political Polarization Makes Return of Terrorism Increasingly Likely

Brian M. Perkins

Incidents of terrorism have declined significantly in Bangladesh over the past several years following the devastating attack on the Holey Artisan Baker in Dhaka on July 1, 2016 that claimed the lives of 29 people, including 18 foreign nationals. The decline came as the Bangladeshi government and security forces adopted a brute force counterterrorism strategy spearheaded by the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit. The number of successful terrorist attacks are down, but there are questions as to the long-term efficacy of the government’s strategy as the counterterrorism operations are not taking place inside a vacuum. Instead, they are occurring amid a backdrop of increasing political polarization and Islamist radicalization.

Counterterrorism operations have led to the arrest of more than 1,000 individuals and the death of more than 100 suspects. The operations have managed to disrupt the networks and leadership of the main militant groups—Ansar al-Islam and Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB)—but both have remained resilient and appear to have been able to reorganize both within Bangladesh and in India. Recent arrests, including that of a regional JMB commander in March, have indicated that the group is still actively rebuilding and recruiting (Dhaka Tribune, March 30).

Sri Lanka Bombings: What We Know

Bruce Hoffman

A high level of coordination suggests the perpetrators had substantial expertise, possibly drawn from a foreign-based terrorist group.

More than three hundred people were killed in coordinated suicide bombings at Sri Lankan churches and hotels on Easter Sunday. Bruce Hoffman, CFR’s Shelby Cullom and Kathryn W. Davis senior fellow for counterterrorism and homeland security, gives his assessment.

Officials are blaming two local groups—National Thowheeth Jama’ath and Jammiyathul Millathu Ibrahim—for the bombings. What do we know about them?

Very little. National Thowheeth Jama’ath (NJT) is a previously little-known extremist Islamist group that appears to have surfaced over the past year or so in Sri Lanka, mainly in response to anti-Muslim rioting and other violence against Muslims inflicted by the island-state’s majority Sinhalese Buddhist population. The group had reportedly vandalized Buddhist statues. Sunday’s half-dozen coordinated suicide attacks would be a leap of an order of magnitude in organizational and logistical capabilities for any extremist group.

A Specter Is Haunting Xi’s China: ‘Mr. Democracy’

Ian Johnson

Pro-democracy protesters at Tiananmen Square, Beijing, 1989. China’s Communist authorities are wary about the approaching thirtieth anniversary on June 4

Beijing—Something strange is happening in Xi Jinping’s China. This is supposed to be the perfect dictatorship, the most sustained period of authoritarianism since the Cultural Revolution ended more than forty years ago, a period of such damning disappointment that all but the regime’s most acquiescent apologists have become cynics or critics. And yet the past few months have also seen something potentially more interesting: the most serious critique of the system in more than a decade, led by people inside China who are choosing to speak out now, during the most sensitive season of the most sensitive year in decades.

The movement started quietly enough, with several brilliant essays written by a Chinese academic that drew an attack from his university bosses, which in turn stirred a backlash among Chinese public intellectuals. None of this means that the Communist Party is getting ready to loosen its icy grip over the country, but it is a remarkable series of events that is challenging what was supposed to be possible in Xi’s China.

Conflict with China is Not Inevitable

by Nicholas Grandpre

Reaching a balance of power in East Asia does not necessitate extensive security guarantees, nuclear umbrellas, and bellicose rhetoric focused on containing China at every point.

As China rises and America’s interventions in the Middle East fade away, a stream of proclamations from the foreign policy commentariat has announced a return to great power competition. Short of a Soviet-like collapse, the most important international security question of the twenty-first century will be whether and how the United States and China might coexist in peace. The odds are good that they will if Washington stays focused on its strict national security interests.

Many of the brightest minds in international politics have already weighed in, and their conclusions are worth reviewing in brief. G. John Ikenberry has argued that the United States should work “to accommodate a rising China by offering it status and position within the regional order in return for Beijing accepting and accommodating Washington’s core strategic interests, which include remaining a dominant security provider within East Asia.”

China’s Second Belt and Road Forum

On April 25-27, President Xi Jinping will welcome leaders from 37 countries and delegates from over 150 countries at the second Belt and Road forum in Beijing. Chinese officials aim to use the gathering to help repair the Belt and Road Initiative’s (BRI) brand—which scandals have tarnished since the first forum in May 2017—but promises for reform will require further monitoring and scrutiny.

Q1: What is China’s BRI?

A1: China’s BRI is Xi’s signature foreign policy vision and consists of two main components: an overland Silk Road Economic Belt connecting China with Central Asia and beyond and an ocean-based 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to China’s south. Announced in 2013 and enshrined in the Communist Party Constitution in 2017, it aims to put China at the center of global economic affairs through improving hard infrastructure, soft infrastructure, and even cultural ties.

Halal Tourism on the Rise in Asia, Just Not in China

By Betsy Joles

Pei-Yu Wu first learned what halal meant while hosting delegates from Southeast Asia for the Ministry of Foreign of Affairs in Taiwan. Growing up in Taiwan where less than 2 percent of the population in Muslim, she wasn’t familiar with Islamic customs. She took her guests to a night market and accidentally bought them cong zhua bing, a popular street food that, she found out too late, was cooked with pork grease. She was so embarrassed by her halal faux pas that she decided to open her own travel agency, Halal Trip Guru, to make it easier for other Muslim tourists visiting Taiwan.

Wu’s company is part of a growing halal tourism sector in Taiwan, bolstered by a government initiative that’s focused on making the country Muslim-friendly. According to Crescent Rating, a research group that tracks halal travel trends, Taiwan received 80,000 more Muslims in 2018 than the previous year. In neighboring China, home to over 20 million Muslims, Crescent Rating’s CEO Fazal Bahardeen said numbers have remained unchanged, with little to no government investment in halal tourism. “We have not seen any sort of activity from mainland China in terms of targeting this Muslim market,” Bahardeen said. 

China Digs Deep in Landlocked Laos

By Eleanor Albert

Laos, a country of 6.8 million people roughly the size of China’s southern autonomous region of Guangxi, is often overlooked in China’s outreach to Southeast Asia. This year marks the 10-year anniversary of the upgrading of Chinese-Lao relations to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership and in that spirit, officials launched the Visit China-Laos 2019 initiative to promote tourism. Historically, China’s involvement in the country has been more contained to the northern provinces closest to the border, but investment projects in transportation infrastructure, a border economic zone, hydropower dams, schools, and military hospitals indicate an amplification of Chinese ties.

What does Laos bring to the table? The small landlocked nation is geographically important. Not only does the Mekong River run through Laos, making hydropower a potentially lucrative industry, but it is also endowed with underdeveloped resources, including minerals and rubber. From a more strategic standpoint, boosting connectivity via roadways and high-speed passenger and freight railways will be beneficial for distributing Chinese goods to Lao markets and injecting investments into tourism and real estate sectors, as well as creating a physical link via central Laos to Thai markets, ports, and ultimately the Andaman Sea.



China’s People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) celebrated its 70th anniversary on Tuesday, with President Xi Jinping overseeing an elaborate naval parade that included Beijing’s newest guided missile destroyer.

But as China once again displayed its growing military clout, the U.S. was nowhere to be seen. Though American warships have been sent to attend previous PLAN anniversary celebrations, this year their absence was conspicuous. And for Chinese state media, the slight was evidence that leaders in Washington are becoming a little too sensitive.

According to an op-ed published in the state-backed Global Times newspaper—titled “China’s security helps regional stability”—there were 18 foreign warships from 13 countries at the maritime parade held in Qingdao, in the eastern province of Shandong. Participants included major U.S. allies, the article said, demonstrating “friendly regional cooperation” in which “China plays a pivotal role.”

Islamic State’s Khorasan arm targets government ministry


The Islamic State says these four jihadists carried out the assault on the Ministry of Communications in Kabul.

On Apr. 20, a small team of jihadists attacked the Ministry of Communications building in Kabul, Afghanistan. Within hours, the Islamic State released a claim of responsibility along with a photo (seen above) of the young men who allegedly carried out the operation.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s spokesman denied responsibility on behalf of his organization.

Initial casualty reports say that a dozen people were killed in the assault. Afghan officials described a typical operation by the jihadis. According to VOA News, Police Chief General Sayed Mohammad Roshandil explained that one member of the team blew himself up outside of the ministry, allowing others to rush in.

Via Twitter, Afghanistan’s interior ministry reported that more than 2,000 civilians were evacuated from the ministry and nearby building. All of the terrorists were killed within several hours.

The United States Will Be Shocked by Its Future

By Stephen M. Walt

As a species, we seem to be in a period of considerable uncertainty, where familiar features of the political landscape are disappearing, and it is not clear what will replace them. Will NATO and the European Union be around in five or 10 years, and in anything like their present form? Will the United States still be fighting shadowy opponents in distant lands? Is China destined to dominate Asia, and maybe the world? Will artificial intelligence sweep away jobs in sector after sector of the economy? How much of the planet will be underwater or uninhabitable due to climate change, and how many millions of people will be seeking refuge from war, crime, oppression, corruption, or environmental degradation? Are the dysfunctions afflicting many wealthy democracies a momentary blip or the beginning of a slide into dictatorship?

Insurgency in 2030


Long before the military convoy arrived in the muggy town of Dara Lam, news of the meeting between the U.S. Army colonel and the unpopular governor of the Kirsham province had seeped into social media.1 Angry with the American presence and the governor’s corruption, local citizens organized for a demonstration. Their trending hashtag—#justice4all—soon drew the attention of international media and the online world, trending in popularity. It also drew the eyes of some less interested in justice: the notorious Fariq terror network. Using sockpuppet accounts and bots to steer the course of online and real world sentiment, the terrorists fanned the flames, calling for the protesters to confront the American occupiers.

But this wasn’t the full extent of Fariq’s plan. Knowing where a massive crowd of civilians would soon gather, the terrorists also set an ambush. Their plan was to fire on the U.S. soldiers as they exited the building, and, if the soldiers fired back, the demonstrators would be caught in the crossfire. Pre-positioned cameramen stood ready to record the bloody outcome: either dead Americans or dead civilians. A network of online proxies was then prepared to drive the event to virality and use it for future propaganda and recruiting. Whatever the physical outcome, the insurgents would win this battle.

After the “Caliphate” The Metrics of Daesh and the Ongoing Challenge of Extremism

The two additional parts that follow will include:

Part Two - The Changing Threat – will survey the broader trends in Islam, and in Islamic extremism. It then focuses on these trends in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and the scale of the continuing threat they pose to the stability of the MENA region.

Part Three – Key Factors that Seem Likely to Lead to Continuing Violent Extremism, and Conflicts in the MENA Region – will explore metrics that portray the broader causes of instability and possible future conflict in the region.

The Metrics of Daesh and the Ongoing Challenge of Extremism

Part One contains some 60 different metrics that cover the trends in war on Daesh in Syria and Iraq, the outcome of the fighting, and the remaining threat.

These metrics show that the Assad regime’s state terrorism has caused more casualties than the fight against Daesh, and that the breakup of the Daesh “state” left major areas where Daesh and other extremist fighters are still present. Other metrics show that Iraq was dependent on U.S. air power, and train and assist effort in defeating Daesh, and that Iraq will need substantial U.S. support in creating forces that can ensure that Daesh or some similar threat does not reemerge.

The Higher Road: Forging a U.S. Strategy for the Global Infrastructure Challenge

Over the next 15 years, more hard infrastructure is projected to be built around the world than currently exists. This global build-out is already underway, and the changes it brings will only accelerate. Infrastructure projects, especially in the transport, energy, information and communications technology (ICT), and water sectors, have long been recognized as the backbone of modern economies. Going forward, emerging digital infrastructure, including fifth-generation (5G) networks, remote sensing, and other advanced technologies, will be especially critical. As our infrastructure is transformed, so will be the economies it fuels, the regions it connects, and the global commons it underpins. These trends are too powerful and potentially beneficial for the United States to stop, and too consequential to ignore.

Advancing Democracy in the US Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy

By Prashanth Parameswaran

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has been translating the U.S. Free and Open Indo-Pacific strategy (FOIP) into more concrete initiatives over the past few months across what officials have termed as three pillars – security, economics, and governance. But at this point, the governance pillar, which is short for enhancing democracy, human rights, good governance, and civil society, remains by far least developed of the three. Though some efforts have begun to be advanced thus far, making further inroads will require managing ongoing challenges as well as furthering opportunities in concert with allies, partners, and other interested actors for the rest of 2019 and beyond.

The challenge of advancing governance as a pillar in U.S. Asia strategy is certainly not new. While advancing democracy and human rights is often mentioned alongside security and economics as a longstanding objective in post-World War II U.S. foreign policy, in reality there has been much change in that continuity. The balance between U.S. interests and ideals has varied across time in part due to disagreements within the United States about what that balance ought to be as well as the complexity of regime types that Washington has had to deal with in the region itself. That difficulty has been compounded in recent years due to a confluence of factors, including the overreaction to the Freedom Agenda advanced during the George W. Bush years and perception that China’s rise ought to further discipline Washington’s ideological impulses on this score.

Around the halls: How Trump’s latest Iran sanctions decision could affect markets and key countries

Samantha Gross

On April 22, the Trump administration announced that buyers of Iranian oil would need to stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions. The move is intended to reduce Tehran’s oil revenues to zero. What does the decision mean for oil markets, for key consumers like China and India, for U.S.-Iran relations, and beyond? Brookings experts explain.

Samantha Gross (@samanthaenergy), Fellow in the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate: President Trump clearly wants to have it both ways with respect to oil prices. He is using sanctions to reduce oil exports from Iran and Venezuela, tightening global oil markets. At the same time, he complains bitterly when U.S. gasoline prices rise.

This week brings a new chapter in this ongoing drama. Since November 2018, five countries— China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey—have taken advantage of waivers that allowed them to continue purchasing Iranian oil despite the U.S. sanctions regime. Secretary of State Pompeo announced on Monday that these waivers will expire on May 2 and that the United States aims to bring Iranian oil exports down to zero.

Trumpian storm clouds over Tripoli

Jeffrey Feltman

In a late-night statement on April 7, Secretary of State Pompeo, discussing the escalation of fighting around Tripoli, said: “We have made clear we oppose the military offensive by Khalifa Haftar’s forces and urge the immediate halt to these military operations against the Libyan capital.” Pompeo noted that there was no military solution to Libya’s woes and urged Libyan leaders to return to U.N.-brokered political negotiations. This statement suggested that the U.S. government had jumped off the fence on which it had been perceived to be perched, landing solidly on the side of talking, not fighting. With Haftar’s forces encountering greater resistance in Tripoli than anticipated, and given growing alarm about potential civilian casualties from indiscriminate attacks, Pompeo’s statement, met with relief in Tripoli, generated hope that a face-saving way to halt the fighting and resume preparations for a U.N.-facilitated national conference of Libya’s leaders might be possible.

Merely a week later, President Trump undermined Pompeo and flipped the United States over the fence onto the side of Haftar’s unilateral military assault. On April 19, 2019, the White House confirmed that Trump called Haftar days earlier, on Monday, April 15, and “recognized Field Marshall Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and security Libya’s oil resources, and the two discussed a shared vision for Libya’s transition to a stable, democratic political system.” Shamefully, on April 18, the United States joined Russia in blocking any U.N. Security Council action calling for ending the fighting or censoring Haftar’s attempt to pre-empt a political solution with military action. The Security Council, given Russian and American blocking, proved unable even to condemn the ominous amassing of weaponry by all sides, in violation of resolutions passed by the council with U.S. support.

THE LONG MARCH WESTWill China Drive a Wedge Between the US and Europe?


Beijing’s financial and military inroads into Europe are calling into question America’s traditional assumptions about Transatlantic cooperation.

Europe finally seems to be waking up to the fact that it has been the object of China’s extended “western strategy” for the past two decades. In Brussels, there is an emerging awareness that the flow of Chinese money into Europe has positioned Beijing to shape the Continent’s economic landscape and influence its politics. But one aspect of Beijing’s long march west that has yet to register fully is its determination to alter the military and security calculus in Europe and across the Atlantic. If unchecked, this push into Europe will turn the Continent into yet another battleground for

Around the halls: How Trump’s latest Iran sanctions decision could affect markets and key countries

Samantha Gross

On April 22, the Trump administration announced that buyers of Iranian oil would need to stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions. The move is intended to reduce Tehran’s oil revenues to zero. What does the decision mean for oil markets, for key consumers like China and India, for U.S.-Iran relations, and beyond? Brookings experts explain.

Samantha Gross (@samanthaenergy), Fellow in the Cross-Brookings Initiative on Energy and Climate: President Trump clearly wants to have it both ways with respect to oil prices. He is using sanctions to reduce oil exports from Iran and Venezuela, tightening global oil markets. At the same time, he complains bitterly when U.S. gasoline prices rise.

This week brings a new chapter in this ongoing drama. Since November 2018, five countries— China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Turkey—have taken advantage of waivers that allowed them to continue purchasing Iranian oil despite the U.S. sanctions regime. Secretary of State Pompeo announced on Monday that these waivers will expire on May 2 and that the United States aims to bring Iranian oil exports down to zero.

US Urges ‘Like-Minded’ Countries To Collaborate On Cyber Deterrence


WASHINGTON: The Trump administration is wooing a broad coalition of “like-minded” nations to join a US-led “deterrence initiative” that includes collective response to malicious cyber activities by China, Russia, Iran and North Korea, says Robert Strayer, deputy assistant secretary of state for cyber and international communications and information policy.

“If we don’t stand together to defend our vision and values online, they will continue to be undermined,” he told the Atlantic Council’s annual cyber engagement conference yesterday.

This may be harder to do than Washington thinks, however. While most of the so-called Five Eyes allies (those with which the US shares high-level intelligence) express support for the idea of cooperation on “norms enforcement,” other countries are more skeptical.

Threading the Needle Through the Suwalki Gap

Partner Perspectives are a collection of high-quality analyses and commentary produced by organizations around the world. Though Stratfor does not necessarily endorse the views expressed here — and may even disagree with them — we respect the rigorous and innovative thought that their unique points of view inspire.

By Michael A. Hunzeker and Alexander Lanoszka for the EastWest Institute

From new bases to better railroads, the United States and its NATO allies are actively looking for new ways to deter Russian aggression against Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The problem is that policymakers and defense planners do not yet agree on what Russia's intentions are towards the region in the first place. Intentions might seem academic, but deterrence policies must flow logically from an assessment of who and what one is actually trying to deter.

5G: To Ban or Not to Ban? It's Not Black or White

Reports that Prime Minister Theresa May will let Huawei supply antennas and other “noncore” infrastructure to the UK 5G networks but not to the telecommunications core may prompt an outpouring of muddled speculation. We can consider some of the more confusing issues.

This decision does not mean that the United States and its allies are "split" over Huawei. All major allies agree that using Huawei equipment is risky. Where there is disagreement, it is over how to manage that risk. The United Kingdom wants to take a middle position, not a full ban but also not ceding control or critical networks to Huawei and China. Many European countries already use Huawei for their 4G networks, and it is much cheaper and faster to simply overlay 5G onto this existing infrastructure.

The United Kingdom has argued that they can manage the risk created by Huawei by blocking the use of any Huawei equipment around sensitive facilities (like defense installations or Whitehall), restricting its use in other areas to the "edge" of the 5G network, and keeping it out of the "core." This reduces, but does not eliminate, the possibility of 5G service disruption or intelligence collection by the Chinese government. Other European countries are also considering this solution since it avoids irritating the Chinese government, which will retaliate for a complete ban (as it did by punishing Australia over its ban, and China's coercive behavior is one reason that people do not want to be dependent on Huawei).

Cybersecurity and the Mueller Report

By Paul Rosenzweig 

It isn't as sexy as the overall question of Russian information operations or the president's obstructive criminal behavior, but as someone focused on cybersecurity more generally, I thought it would be amusing to tease out a few of the issues in the Mueller report that bump up against my day job. To be clear, I am not talking about the blindingly obvious—namely, the fact that the thrust of Volume I of the report is on two Russian cyber operations, one a hacking operation by Russian military intelligence against Democratic operatives and the other an information operation by a Russian goverment-affliated group, the Internet Research Agency, targeting Western opinion via social media. There are also indications of unsuccessful efforts to directly intrude on the electoral databases of some election agencies. At the risk of overstating the case only a slight bit, the Russia portion of this criminal investigation is a cybercrime extravaganza and an indictment of the (lack of) cybersecurity in a wide range of institutions.

The Art of Digital Deception – Getting Left of Bang on Deep Fakes

Scott Padgett

The article explores how state actors are using advanced software development tools and artificial intelligence (AI) to invent and perfect new deception capabilities to fool both people and machines on the virtual battlefield. It examines intelligent computer vision systems and their capabilities to support state-sponsored hybrid warfare. We explore these capabilities in the context of two Russian disinformation campaigns, specifically Ukraine in 2014, and Venezuela in 2019. We then offer innovative concepts to mitigate these emerging enemy capabilities and threats.

The first adversarial threats are “Deepfakes.” Deepfakes include a technique for human image and audio synthesis based on AI. It is used to combine and superimpose existing images and videos onto source images, or videos using a machine learning technique called a “generative adversarial network” (GAN). Deepfakes are being weaponized to support hybrid warfare to deceive and fool people. The other adversarial threat uses AI to manipulate and distort audiovisual content before it analyzed, essentially using machines to fool machines.

Regulation in Cyberspace

Gabi Siboni, Ido Sivan Sevilla

The resilience of the private sector in the world of cyber has a decisive impact on national security. This sector is usually the weakest link through which cyberattacks develop and serves as a springboard for attackers who are interested in harming state targets. In addition, built-in market failures lead to a lack of sufficient organizational investment in proper cybersecurity. Negative externalization of cyber damage in organizations, the difficulty in quantifying the benefit of investing in cybersecurity, the lack of responsibility of software and hardware providers for their products’ security vulnerabilities, and a competitive market that rewards innovation and progress over proper cyber protection create a gap that requires state intervention. A review of cyber protection regulation regimes in the Western world reveals a lack of systematic solutions for the business sector and a gap in mapping out national security threats that could result from potential cyber damage in this sector. This memorandum, which is based on world events in the field of cyber and in other areas of regulation, offers a multi-layer regulatory model for cybersecurity in the private sector. The memorandum suggests an integrated model for a state regulatory alternative that includes mandatory regulations, the creation of monitoring mechanisms for supervising self-regulation, and providing incentives for encouraging organizations to protect themselves. In an era of widespread use of linked devices, the entry of artificial intelligence into all aspects of life, and the creation of an insurance market for cybersecurity, regulating the business sector is a vital national interest.Executive Summary

We’re Asking the Wrong Questions about Huawei

By Zachary Fillingham

Congratulations, Huawei. You’re now a household name in Western markets.

Such brand recognition would normally be cause for celebration for Huawai execs, if not for the fact that the company is trending for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t a novel feature or phone model that incepted Huawei into the minds of Western consumers, but the spectre of a pocket-sized Trojan horse vacuuming up your personal data and dumping it back to the Communist Party of China (CCP).

The threat of Huawei, or any other Chinese tech giant, allowing its technology to be used in espionage activities is now being carefully assessed by governments and intelligence agencies around the world. The United States is leading the charge on banning Huawei in its national 5G network. Countries like Australia and New Zealand have followed suit; Germany and the United Kingdom have veered from the US line, allowing Huawei to participate in national 5G networks; and Canada has yet to make its final decision.

For the most part, these national security debates have centered around the question of whether or not Huawei is compelled by Chinese law to help the CCP in its spying activities.

Air Force Launches Electronic Warfare Roadmap: EMS ECCT 2.0


A Navy electronic warfare technician. Most U.S. EW has been performed by Navy since mid-1990s.

PENTAGON: The Air Force is looking across the enterprise to build a comprehensive map of all electronic warfare capabilities for the second stage of its landmark service-wide probe of how to bolster the Air Force’s EW and cyber warfare capabilities.

Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has already been briefed on the high-level study. Brig. Gen. David Gaedecke, director of cyberspace operations and warfighter communications for the deputy Chief of Staff for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and cyber effects operations, told me in his first interview about the EW Enterprise Capability Collaboration Team’s results.

Why Military Leaders Should Study Human Nature

By Joe Byerly

Joe: You’ve spent decades researching and writing about power, mastery, and war. In your latest book, The Laws of Human Nature, you have written what you call the fundamental truths about human nature. How important is the understanding of these truths to military leaders?

Robert: It seems obvious, but today we live in a time of numbers and algorithms where, at least in business, leaders spend more much more time concerned with data. The element of human nature, the psychology of the people you are leading into battle, is absolutely the most critical factor. Knowledge of human nature is essential to do this well.

For a long time in military literature, authors have written about the role that the spirit of team plays in the army. They called it man management back in the day. Carl von Clausewitz called it the ultimate force multiplier. So, an Army that is motivated, that believes in its leader, that has a clear mission, and feels like it’s part of a team that’s moving forward, can operate with twice the force of the disengaged army that feels like they are automatons or robots being used by the general for whatever purpose. The spirit of the team in both war and business is a critical factor.