20 May 2019

Will a GDPR-Style Data Protection Law Work For India?


The European Union’s (EU’s) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) took effect in May 2018, harmonizing data protection and privacy requirements across the EU.1 Many other countries have either implemented data protection requirements or are in the process of considering them. In the United States, for example, Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed a bill to expand criminal liability for the executives of companies that suffer data breaches.2

India, too, is taking steps to enact a data protection framework modeled along the lines of the GDPR. In July 2017, the government of India appointed a Committee of Experts on a Data Protection Framework for India, or Data Protection Committee (DPC), under the chairmanship of Justice B.N. Srikrishna, to study issues related to data protection in India.3Though the committee submitted its report—and proposed a comprehensive law on data protection—on July 27, 2018, it failed to weigh the economic costs and benefits of implementing a GDPR-style law in India.

Emerging economies—like India—that are considering such proposals need to carefully evaluate the direct and indirect costs of such laws vis-à-vis the benefits from a data protection framework. A survey of the existing literature that estimates these costs and benefits highlights the need for further research on data protection laws.

Pakistan’s Undeclared Censorship

By Tehreem Azeem

Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto, while addressing a ceremony on World Press Freedom Day in Karachi, said that Pakistani media is facing undeclared censorship. Sadly, the journalist community agrees with him.

Pakistan’s media houses are working under a climate of fear, which is affecting their coverage and operations. Journalists are increasingly practicing self-censorship to save both their jobs and lives; they are bullied on social media, abducted in broad daylight, and threatened for reporting facts.

The government is controlling advertisements for news channels in an attempt to silence them. It is a very sorry situation for media houses that heavily rely on government advertisements. The most recent example is the country’s most-read English language newspaper, Dawn, and its TV channel, whose advertisements were banned on Press Freedom Day. Mubashir Zaidi, a senior journalist affiliated with said channel, broke the news in one of his tweets.

Spies, Stealth and Threats: How Militants Infiltrated a Vital Army Bas

By Rod Nordland and Thomas Gibbons-Neff

KABUL, Afghanistan — Some Taliban fighters hid inside a sewage tanker truck, hoping the smelly interior would prevent a close inspection — as it did. They rode it into one of the most important military bases in Afghanistan and then hid in an empty warehouse.

Other insurgents used ladders to climb the fences, scaling two sets of them, to cross a no man’s land that had once been protected by motion detectors and infrared cameras but now had only sleepy guards in watchtowers.

The infiltrators had friends in high places, as well, according to Afghan and American military officials: an Afghan lieutenant colonel and a sergeant major who made sure they knew where to go, and where to hide on the sprawling base.

The ensuing attack on Camp Bastion in Helmand Province, on March 1, was not one of the country’s deadliest, but it may well have been its most embarrassing. It was the third time the Taliban had infiltrated that base, the headquarters for the Afghan Army’s 215th Corps.

China’s ‘self-destructive nuclear option’ in trade war: Selling US Treasury bonds

Included in China’s Twitter response to U.S. tariffs being increased on products originating in China, the threat of China selling U.S. Treasury bonds was explicitly called out a viable response option. Other responses included introducing tariffs on U.S. exports to China. Long considered a risk to the U.S. economy, this CNBC article takes a detailed look at what would happen in China engaged in this “nuclear” option.

“Consider it China’s nuclear option in the trade war with the U.S. — the ability to start dumping its massive pile of Treasury bonds that could trigger a surge in interest rates and substantially damage the American economy.”

US-China Trade Talks and American Strategy

By George Friedman

The United States is shifting from military to economic warfare. 

As the U.S. continues to negotiate a trade deal with China, a shift in American global strategy has emerged. The United States is reducing its use of direct military action and instead using economic pressure to drive countries like China, Russia, North Korea and Iran into conceding to U.S. demands. Even in places where the U.S. is still engaged militarily, such as Afghanistan, serious talks are underway for a withdrawal. It’s a shift that has been long in the making. In my book “The Next Decade,” published in 2011, six years before Donald Trump took office, I argued that the United States would reduce its military activity dramatically because it couldn’t maintain the tempo of engagement it had established over the years. I also discussed the topic in a 2018 article titled “The Trump Doctrine,” which argued that the United States would eventually be forced to scale back its foreign engagements. The use of economic power to shape behavior isn’t new; what is new is the focus on... 

Hong Kong and the US-China New Cold War

By Brian C.H. Fong

Over the past few months, Hong Kong, a former British colony and now a special administrative region under Chinese sovereignty, has emerged on the radar of the United States.

On February 27, 2019, the U.S. consul general in Hong Kong, Kurt Tong, delivered an unusual speech“cautioning” about the sustainability of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems” (OCTS) model. In his speech, Tong highlighted the importance of maintaining Hong Kong’s autonomy in the “free and open Indo-Pacific” (FOIP) region. On March 21, 2019, the U.S. State Department published its annual report on Hong Kong, which found that the region’s autonomy has been “diminished” in consequence of China’s interventions, though it was still “sufficient” to justify continued differential treatment from the United States. On April 25, 2019, the State Department issued a high-profile statement expressing its concerns on the proposed Extradition Bill, which, when passed, will authorize the Hong Kong government to extradite people to China and put an end to Hong Kong’s 178 year-long separate legal jurisdiction. On May 4, 2019, Tong issued a more direct warning in a media interview, saying that “the concern of the U.S. is if the distinctions between Hong Kong and the mainland are blurred and the OCTS framework is less clear, then may be there would need to be adjustments in U.S. policy.”

China and Japan’s Rapprochement Continues – For Now

By Eleanor Albert

Yang Jiechi is set to visit Japan at the end of this week. Yang, a top Chinese diplomat who previously served as state councilor for foreign affairs (2013-2018) and foreign minister (2007-2013), was elevated to the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee at the 19th Party Congress in late 2017. His three-day trip comes amid preparations for a possible visit by Xi Jinping to Japan for the G-20 Summit hosted in Osaka, slated for late June. If Xi goes through with the June trip, it will be the first by a Chinese leader to China’s northeastern neighbor since Hu Jintao visited Japan in 2010.

Preparations for Xi’s first visit to Japan as head of state provide added evidence that ties between Beijing and Tokyo are thawing. The two countries have an understandably fraught relationship, with a contentious history and ongoing territorial disputes. However, despite the frostiness that characterized the nature of Beijing-Tokyo exchanges in the first part of Xi’s tenure, a shift appears underway. Diplomatic ties have been on the mend, notably since the 40th anniversary of the China-Japan peace treaty in August 2018 and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s trip to China in October, during which he vowed to usher relations into a new, more conciliatory era.

China’s Effort to Silence the Sound of Uyghur

By Rustem Shir

Abduweli Ayup fled Xinjiang (also known as East Turkestan) in August 2015 to escape persecution from the Chinese Communist Party. His official crime was “abusing public money” in the operation of schools, but this fraudulent charge concealed his true affront to the Chinese government – resistance to the state plan to advance Mandarin language assimilation.

In 2011, Mr. Ayup founded a school in the southwestern city of Kashgar that used Uyghur, Mandarin, and English to implement a culturally relevant education. He and his associates were aware that, by offering instruction in Uyghur, they were at odds with the Chinese government’s objective to marginalize minority languages. They also knew that by affirming the status of Uyghur as valid for academic purposes, they were challenging the government’s language ideology, which depicts the Uyghur language as backward and unpatriotic.

Scholars recognize that mother tongue-based multilingual education has a positive impact on students’ cognitive and sociocultural development. For the ethnic minorities of Xinjiang, it also had popular appeal. At the request of Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz, and Mongol community members, Mr. Ayup was planning to open additional schools that provided minority language instruction in the regional capital of Urumqi.

China’s Brilliant, Insidious Strategy


Chinese President Xi Jinping reviews honor guards before boarding the destroyer Xining for the naval parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy in Qingdao, China, April 23, 2019. (Xinhua via Reuters)Slowly but steadily they build up their economic, military, and technological superiority at our expense

The Chinese Communist government does not have so much a strategy to translate its economic ascendance into global hegemony as several strategies. All of them are brilliantly insidious.

On matters of trade, China is always flexible in responding to critics of its asymmetrical, 30-year mercantilism. In the initial stages of Westernization, China was exempted from criticism over serial copyright and patent infringement, dumping, and espionage. Western elites assumed that these improprieties were just speed bumps on the eventual Chinese freeway to liberalism. Supposedly the richer China got, the more progressive it would become. Huge trade deficits or military technological appropriation were small prices to pay for an evolving billion-person Palo Alto or Upper West Side.

Seeing What You Want in Belt and Road

By Nick Bisley

China’s Xi Jinping recently completed a high-profile trip to Europe. In Italy, Xi and his Italian counterpart Giuseppe Conte last month signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding linking the struggling Italian economy to Belt and Road Initiative, the sprawling infrastructure program that is China’s signature international policy move, as well as a range of agreements worth a little short of €3 billion.

Yet it was the signature of the legally worthless Memorandum of Understanding that captured the headlines at the time. Based on some reactions one might have thought that Conte had sold Italy’s birthright to the Chinese Communist Party. From the White House, the twitter feed of the National Security Council snarled that Italy had given the green light to predatory Chinese deal-making and that Italy could not benefit from any BRI deals.

Xi then visited France. French President Emmanuel Macron in turn inked a slew of deals, including a major aircraft order with Airbus totalling nearly €40 billion. Yet while the two republics committed to work more closely in the future, Macron did not sign a BRI MOU. Never mind the substance of real economic interaction, France’s non-signature of BRI seemed as symbolically powerful.

War and PEACE on China’s Digital Silk Road

A version of this commentary was originally published at the Financial Times on May 15, 2019. It is reprinted here with permission.

Last week in London, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned against China’s global ambitions and suggested that Margaret Thatcher would not have allowed Huawei into Britain’s 5G networks. He could also point to Britain’s imperial past, which China is literallyretracing today.

Even as Huawei faces resistance in Western airwaves, it is racing ahead under the world’s seas. Underseas cables carry 95 percent of all international data, and Huawei is building or improving nearly 100 of them. One flagship project is the Pakistan East Africa Cable Express, or PEACE, which is slated to become the shortest route for high-speed internet traffic between Asia and Africa.

A century and a half ago, Britain was wrapping the world with telegraph cables, including one through Gwadar, the same port town in Pakistan where the PEACE cable begins. Today, China operates Gwadar’s port, which is part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Many expect it will become a Chinese naval facility in the coming years.

So, You Want to Invade Iran?


Recently, the Trump Administration announced that it was deploying both an American aircraft carrier as well as B-52 bombers to the Middle East as a show of force against the Iranians. According to National Security Adviser John Bolton, intelligence provided by Israel suggested that Iranian proxies were readying to strike against U.S. assets in war-torn Syria and against oil tankers passing through the vital oil transit chokepoints known as the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb and Hormuz. More ominously, the president is reportedly reviewing Pentagon war plans for an invasion of Iran. This plan calls for the buildup of 120,000 U.S. troops into the region in a strange replay of the Iraq War of 2003.

Washington Learned the Wrong Lessons From Iraq

Washington’s War Party undoubtedly believes that it has learned the hard lessons of the Iraq War. Many assume that the ill-advised American decision to de-Baathify Iraqi culture (thereby removing the educated technocrats who could have best rehabilitated postwar Iraq simply because they had joined Saddam’s Ba’ath Party) and to disband the Iraqi Army (which rendered tens of thousands of desperate, angry, and well-armed Arab men unemployed) were the main failures of the Iraq War. Certainly, these decisions did not help the American reconstruction effort in Iraq.

Iran’s Gulf Aggression Can Be Stopped Without War

James Stavridis

As summer approaches in the Arabian Gulf, geopolitical tensions are rising as fast as the temperature. Saudi Arabia says it has suffered drone attacks on land-based oil pumping stations, and that two of its oil tankers were sabotaged. Two other tankers, including one flagged to NATO ally Norway, were also reportedly damaged by small explosive devices. The seaborne incidents all occurred off the coast of the United Arab Emirates at a maritime oil-bunkering station. Each attack ripped a 5- to 10-foot hole in the hull of the tanker near or at the waterline, suggesting the saboteurs attached mines to ships’ sides.

In response, the U.S. military is exploring options to deter Iran, which is thought to be behind the tanker attacks. This has included increasing the level of operational readiness of U.S. troops throughout the region; deploying long-range B-52 Bombers and F-15 fighters to the U.S. base in Al Udeid, Qatar; sending a carrier strike group, led by the nuclear-powered Abraham Lincoln, into the waters of the Arabian Gulf; exploring options to deploy up to 120,000 new troops to the region; and issuing strong statements from the White House promising significant military retaliation if Iran provokes an incident. All of this comes as the U.S. further pressures the Iranian economy through harsh sanctions, which are having a significant effect.

Taking the U.S. and Iran Off Collision Course

A series of escalations in both word and deed have raised fears of U.S.-Iranian military confrontation, either direct or by proxy. It is urgent that cooler heads prevail – in European capitals as in Tehran and Washington – to head off the threat of a disastrous war.

For the past year, relations between the U.S. and Iran have brought to mind a slow-motion train wreck. Of late, the pace has dangerously accelerated, and tensions could soon lead to a catastrophic collision. A crash is not inevitable, but it could well occur – deliberately or as a product of miscalculation – unless both parties and outside actors take urgent steps to slow way down or switch to another track.

On 12 May, four oil tankers off the coast of Fujaira, a port in the United Arab Emirates on the Gulf of Oman, were hit by apparent sabotage. Two days later, drones attacked two oil pumping stations along the East-West pipeline in Saudi Arabia between the capital Riyadh and the port city of Yanbu. These two separate events may or may not be linked, may or may not involve Iran, and may or may not provoke a response. But, coming against a backdrop of significant escalation between Washington and Tehran, they represent ominous warning signs.

The Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign: A prelude to war with Iran?

By Dina Esfandiary

The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign on Iran has picked up pace. Last month, the administration designated the Revolutionary Guards as a terror organization. Last week, it cancelled waivers from US sanctions that allowed some countries to buy Iranian crude oil, aiming to force Iranian oil exports to zero, and only renewed some of the waivers that allowed foreign countries to engage in civil nuclear cooperation with Iran—key to the functioning of the Iran nuclear deal. This week, the White House stated that a routine deployment of and aircraft carrier strike group to the Persian Gulf was in fact intended to “send a clear and unmistakable message” to Iran.

To date, however, the maximum pressure campaign has failed to change Iranian behavior. In fact, it seems designed to push Iran to leave the deal and set the scene for military confrontation.

Huawei hits back after Trump declares national emergency on telecoms ‘threat’

As many analysts expected, US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed an executive order enabling it to forbid US firms from using Huawei telecommunications equipment. The order signed by Trump does not mention Huawei in particular, but effectively targets the Chinese tech giant by declaring a national economic emergency and allowing the government to ban technology solutions of “foreign adversaries” that pose “unacceptable risks” to national security. Those risks include cyber espionage and sabotage.

In response to the order, Huawei stated: “If the US restricts Huawei, it will not make the US safer, nor will it make the US stronger. It will only force the US to use inferior and expensive alternative equipment, lagging behind other countries … and ultimately harming US companies and consumers.” The Chinese government slammed the order as a “disgraceful and unjust” move that targets “specific Chinese companies.”

The US government has boycotted Huawei over security concerns and has been pushing its allies to do the same in order to prevent Huawei from providing the Chinese government with access to the data and systems of foreign governments. Both Huawei and the Chinese government have consistently denied these allegations.

The Suspected Sabotage of Oil Tankers Puts the Persian Gulf on High Alert

What Happened

There are more questions than answers following an incident in the Gulf of Oman that could raise the stakes in a battle pitting Iran against its regional adversaries and the United States. On May 12, four oil tankers off the coast of the Emirati port of Fujairah suffered damage in what the United Arab Emirates has described as sabotage. A day later, Saudi Arabia confirmed an attack against two of its tankers, Amjad and Al Marzoqah. The other tankers involved included the Norwegian-flagged Andre Victoria, as well as a small Emirati bunkering tanker that had been supplying the Andre Victoria. 

The Big Picture

The Persian Gulf has been on a heightened state of alert since the United States declined to extend sanctions waivers for Iran's oil customers. Tehran announced it would suspend two of its commitments to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and Washington announced it was sending a carrier group and more bombers to the region. We are watching closely for any incident that could provoke a conflict, up to and including a military strike by the United States and its regional allies against Iran — or vice versa. No evidence has yet emerged that Iran sabotaged four vessels in the United Arab Emirates on May 12, but given that it has threatened tankers traversing the Persian Gulf in response to U.S. actions, it is an incident worth watching closely.

What Putin and Pompeo did not talk about

by Pepe Escobar 

Russia is uneasy over the destabilization of Tehran, and on other hotspots the powers’ positions are clear.

Even veiled by thick layers of diplomatic fog, the overlapping meetings in Sochi between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov still offer tantalizing geopolitical nuggets.

Russian presidential aide Yury Ushakov did his best to smooth the utterly intractable, admitting there was “no breakthrough yet” during the talks but at least the US “demonstrated a constructive approach.”

Putin told Pompeo that after his 90-minute phone call with Trump, initiated by the White House, and described by Ushakov as “very good,” the Russian president “got the impression that the [US] president was inclined to re-establish Russian-American relations and contacts to resolve together the issues that are of mutual interest to us.”

What Are Europe’s Top Three Challenges? Not Brexit, Not Migration, Not Populism.



It’s not that these issues do not matter, but the attention devoted to them is all out of proportion. Meanwhile, three changes are going to upend the way we work and live and revolutionize the relationship between the state and the individual. These are climate change, aging populations, and digital revolutions—the “Big 3,” as we call them in a new Carnegie Europe report.

Their effects are going to require Europeans to adapt in ways that we are only beginning to understand. The Big 3 will also have a domino effect. For example, if climate change makes parts of Europe uninhabitable, or if automation causes upheaval in labor markets, migration both within and into Europe will likely go up. The EU needs to do all it can to manage the transitions, which have already begun.

The EU is devoting some attention to the Big 3, but arguably too little and too slowly, partly because its leaders’ attention is elsewhere. Most mainstream parties are also running out of ideas. Voters sense that, and are being lured away by populist narratives.


Britain divides but doesn’t rule


PARIS — Britain has finally managed to split France and Germany over Brexit after nearly three years in which the two continental powers marched in lockstep. The trouble for the U.K. is that it is too busy fighting itself over the future it wants with the European Union to take advantage of the rift.

Cracks between French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared last month, after British Prime Minister Theresa May requested a delay in the U.K.’s departure to break an impasse in parliament. At a special EU summit in Brussels, the French leader insisted any extension to the negotiating period be brief. The German chancellor, meanwhile, advocated giving Britain as long a breathing space as possible.

Officially, the disagreement was just about tactics. Paris wanted a short leash to force U.K. lawmakers to come to a decision and avoid the farce of British members in the new European Parliament having a say in July on the next Commission president, three years after their country voted to leave the EU.

If NATO Expansion Was a Mistake, Why Hasn’t Putin Invaded?

Hal Brands

The 20th anniversary of a landmark U.S. foreign policy initiative has slipped by virtually unnoticed. In 1999, NATO began its post-Cold War expansion into Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, taking on three new members: Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Last month, the alliance rather quietly marked that event — as well as the 70th anniversary of its founding — at a meeting of foreign ministers in Washington, rather than a heads-of-state gathering that the occasion seemed to merit.

This was no accident, given the near-certainty that President Donald Trump would have spoiled any NATO summit he attended. It was also a pity, because NATO expansion ranks as one of the great U.S. foreign policy successes of the post-Cold War era.

Yes, NATO Expansion Was a Mistake


As for the critique that it was NATO expansion that provoked Russian revisionism, this argument has always been flimsy. Yes, the expansion angered Russian officials, during Yeltsin’s time as well as Putin’s. It was undoubtedly humiliating for the fallen superpower. But the idea that NATO expansion caused Russian aggression rests on an implicit counterfactual argument that, absent NATO expansion, Russia would not have behaved in a domineering fashion toward countries on its border. There is simply nothing in Russian history — and nothing in Vladimir Putin’s personality — that supports this argument.

NATO expansion has been a mistake for the U.S. because the U.S. didn’t need to add any more security commitments in Europe or anywhere else after the end of the Cold War. The collapse of the USSR meant that the threat to European peace and security had substantially diminished. There was arguably no need for NATO at all, much less a larger one. The larger alliance has not found “new purpose” through expansion, but continues to cast about looking for some reason to exist now that its only real reason for being, the Soviet Union, has been dead for almost three decades. That first took the form of “humanitarian” intervention in Kosovo, an illegal war that set a precedent that Russia would subsequently exploit, and then it morphed into supporting the unending war in Afghanistan. In 2011, “humanitarian” intervention was once again back on the menu as the alliance was dragged into backing a U.S.-led attack on the Libyan government that destabilized the country and the surrounding region until today. The last twenty years have seen the continued growth of the alliance at the same time that the alliance has become increasingly divorced from its original purpose of defending Europe from attack. NATO’s expansion during that time has been a mistake, and so has NATO’s attempt to reinvent itself for a world where it is no longer needed.

Perceptions of American Decline

By Cameron Munter

The United States remains a critical force in the international order.

The new style of foreign policy practiced by the Trump administration has provoked a great amount of commentary on the waning of an international order created in America's image. But this style of commentary says more about the way experts debate trends in international affairs than about the substance of foreign policy itself. For a better perspective, let’s focus on America’s role and actions in the Middle East.

America historically has had two overriding interests in the Middle East: supporting the state of Israel and ensuring the free world's oil supply. It was generally believed that the United States did this by attempting to balance the interests of others in the region. The Suez Canal crisis of 1956 allowed Washington to supplant the British and French, while the emergence of Anwar Sadat allowed them to supplant the Russians in Egypt. The Americans now presented themselves as the region’s key arbiter. Despite severe challenges from Iran in 1979 and in Iraq in 2003, this was understood to be a region where the Americans called the shots, or at least prevented anyone else from doing so. 

In most cases, American diplomacy led the way. When needed, American force backed it up.

The United Nations and the future of warfare

By Ariel Conn

Lethal autonomous weapons.

When I mention this phrase to most people who are unfamiliar with this type of weapon, their immediate response is almost always repulsion. This is usually followed by the question: Like drones?

No. Drones are controlled remotely by a person, and they cannot launch an attack against a human target on their own–the person in control has to make that decision. Lethal autonomous weapons, as the name implies, are weapons that could kill people autonomously. These are weapons that could select and attack a target, without someone overseeing the decision-making process—ready to abort an attack if it looked like something had gone wrong.

These are also weapons that technically don’t exist. Yet.

Three 'New Rules' Worth Considering for the Internet

by Daniel M. Gerstein

In a recent commentary, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg argues for new internet regulation starting in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy, and data portability. He also advocates that government and regulators “need a more active role” in this process. This call to action should be welcome news as the importance of the internet to nearly all aspects of people's daily lives seems indisputable. However, Zuckerberg's new rules could be expanded, as part of the follow-on discussion he calls for, to include several other necessary areas: security-by-design, net worthiness and updated internet business models.

Security-by-design should be an equal priority with functionality for network connected devices, systems and services which comprise the Internet of Things (PDF) (IoT). One estimate suggests that the number of connected devices will reach 125 billion by 2030, and will increase 50% annually in the next 15 years. Each component on the IoT represents a possible insecurity and point of entry into the system. The Department of Homeland Security has developed strategic principles (PDF) for securing the IoT. The first principle is to “incorporate security at the design phase.” This seems highly prudent and very timely, given the anticipated growth of the internet.

Facts Versus Opinions

Over the past 30 years, the ways that Americans consume and share information have changed dramatically. No longer do people wait for the morning paper or the evening news. Instead, equipped with smartphones or other digital devices, the average person spends hours each day online, looking at news or entertainment websites or using social media and consuming many different types of information.

Although some of the changes in the way news and information are disseminated can be quantified, far less is known about how the presentation of news—that is, its style and linguistic characteristics—has changed over this period and differs across media platforms1.

The RAND Corporation in 2019 sought to fill that knowledge gap with a new report, News in a Digital Age: Comparing the Presentation of News Information over Time and Across Media Platforms. A team of researchers sought to identify and empirically measure how the presentation of news—particularly the use of, or references to, facts or authoritative information—in U.S. news sources has changed over time and how news presentations differ across media platforms.

Background: RAND’s 2018 Report—Truth Decay

How Pro-Iran Hackers Spoofed FP and the News Media


At first glance, the article appears to be a genuine contribution to this magazine, Foreign Policy.

Published in June 2017, it claims to report that former CIA Director Michael Hayden had criticized the expulsion of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas from Qatar under Saudi pressure, and that Hayden said the United States should not let an inexperienced princeling—Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—upset security arrangements in the Middle East.

But that article was a forgery, an impersonation created by an Iran-linked disinformation network aimed at discrediting Tehran’s rivals in an information operation that began in 2016 and continues to this day. During that sprawling, groundbreaking operation, Iran-linked operatives created more than 100 fake articles across dozens of different domains, many of which impersonated legitimate news outlets, pushing made-up stories that attacked Saudi Arabia, Israel, and Iran, according to a report released Tuesday by Citizen Lab, a research organization.

To promote their articles, the operation even relied on fake Twitter personas who communicated with journalists and researchers online and sent links to the faked pages. Citizen Lab identified 11 such personas. One of them, “Mona A. Rahman,” was highly active on Twitter, described herself as a “political analyst & writer,” and appeared to be an anti-Saudi activist.


Brandon Morgan

They are the crown jewels in the Army’s training and readiness program: the combat training centers. Every several weeks, a new brigade combat team arrives and prepares to go into “the box.” Soldiers, leaders, and equipment are tested, and units’ mission-essential tasks are validated in a challenging scenario that pits them against world-class opposing forces. While the exercise provides invaluable training with elements of joint cooperation, it is largely a ground-based, predictable fight, devoid of any political context—something that fails to reflect the way the Army envisions the future battlespace. The Army—and the joint force—must put the creative energy, collaboration, and funding into making scenarios at the combat training centers multi-domain and unpredictable—and introduce non-military dynamics like political contexts—in order to provide the most realistic battlefield operating environment for future conflict.


Managing the National Security Workforce Crisis

By Loren DeJonge Schulman

The federal national security workforce is entering a perfect storm shaped by workforce demographic trends, short-sighted leadership, slow adaptation to modern challenges, and inflexible talent acquisition and management. Government civilian human capital is typically relegated to an administrative function not demanding serious legislative or senior policymaker attention—despite intensive interest in military counterparts. But senior leaders should begin to imagine a future crisis or opportunity wherein the people required to manage such events on behalf of the nation will not be in the right place, and, more importantly, not be accessible in the time they are needed. This should not come as a surprise to any lawmakers—respected institutions such as the Partnership for Public Service have been highlighting these problems for years.1 And much of the challenge is not subject to a legislative fix as the dysfunction is due to a complex mix of law, regulation, leadership, and culture. But if the United States is entering an era of great power competition, doing so with a weakened intellectual roster inside its own public bureaucracy is foolhardy—and demands immediate focus.

If the United States is entering an era of great power competition, doing so with a weakened intellectual roster inside its own public bureaucracy is foolhardy—and demands immediate focus.

Getting to Know the Competition

By Cortez A. Cooper III

Americans are slowly but undeniably facing a new reality in global great power relations that will define the trajectory of U.S. foreign policy for the foreseeable future. The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy and 2018 National Defense Strategy mark an acknowledgment by not only the current administration but also a broad, bipartisan swath of government and private sector entities that China's increasing swagger as it emerges on the world stage warrants a more confrontational approach toward the country.

Although untested in battle for four decades, China’s military is one reason for the nation’s growing confidence. The People’s Liberation Army, or PLA, has modernized and could become an attractive tool for Chinese leaders weighing options to solve regional disagreements. As American policymakers and legislators consider responses—and commit taxpayer resources accordingly—perhaps it’s time for Americans to raise their PLA awareness. Enter the “Annual Report to Congress: Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019,” authored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and released Thursday.