28 June 2019

Digital India's response readiness against cyber attacks is frail, lack of online security awareness biggest weakness

News of USA mounting targeted cyber war against Iran was widely reported last week. While results of this attack are yet unknown, attack on systems of Riviera Beach, a suburb of PalmBeach County, in Florida, USA, has had a devastating effect. Almost all municipal systems of the city council and emergency response systems were rendered inoperative due to the attack. Ransom amount was demanded by the hackers. And the unfortunate news is, Riviera Beach city council, last week, agreed to pay almost $600,000 ransom to the cyber-criminals.

This incident follows a similar attack and subsequent pay-out of $400,000 by Jackson County, Georgia this March. Such payouts by cities of the world’s most technologically advanced country are indeed worrisome for any country making major use of digital resources. India can be no exception.

Digital India needs response readiness for cyber attacks

With a major push towards digital economy in India, its time our response readiness regarding cyber attacks is looked into. The real-world response to terrorist attacks is on familiar lines. Terrorists are confronted and in most cases eliminated by trained commandos.

Who is Masood Azhar?

A huge blast at a military hospital in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, has allegedly left 10 people injured, according to tweets by Pakistani citizens.

A human rights worker from the nearby area, Ahsan Ullah MiaKhail has subsequently made stunning claims that the hospital where the blasts occurred is housing UN-blacklisted terrorist and Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar. Mr. Ahsan maintained in his tweet that the army has asserted that the story remains unreported.

Huge at Military Hospital in , . 10 injured shifted to emergency.
Jaish-E-Mohammad Chief Maulana Masood Azahar is admitted here.Completely Media blackout by Army. Media asked Strictly not to cover this story@a_siab @nidkirm @GulBukhari @mazdaki

The G20 Comes to Japan: Making Sense of the Osaka Agenda

Wrenn Yennie Lindgren

How do the outcomes of the G-20’s eight engagement groups factor into this year’s Osaka Summit?

As the Group of 20 (G-20) Summit approaches this weekend, attention will shift to Osaka, Japan’s third largest city, to see how the leaders of the world’s largest economies will tackle a number of pressing global issues relating to trade, the environment, data, and demographics at a time of unsettling friction and frustration. While there will certainly be a lot to watch at the Osaka Summit — including hotly anticipated bilateral sideline meetings — the G-20 system is not solely about the state summitry that will unfold this coming weekend, but also the legwork and outcomes of a number of meetings around Japan that preceded (and will succeed) the Osaka Summit. Half of the eight ministerial-level meetings (Agriculture, Finance, Environment and Energy, and Trade and Digital Economy) took place in the lead-up to Osaka and the summits of the G-20’s eight engagement groups have resulted in a number of recommendations, policy briefs, and communiqués that offer business, science, research, local government, and civil society sector insight for tackling key issues on the Osaka agenda.

Will China Save Transatlantic Relations? – Analysis

By Michał Romanowski

Europe’s leaders, divided over China as opportunity or threat, must decide on benefiting from a US-China conflict or choosing sides.

The second decade of the 21st century is marked by the restoration of a concert of powers. The multilateral world order is slowly fading into the past with new alliances forming and established ones questioned by their founders. The United States seems to pursue an isolationist policy, Europe is internally undecided, and China and Russia have cemented their marriage of convenience. In this battle for hearts, minds and wallets the transatlantic relationship has never been weaker. But there is one actor that could bring the United States and Europe closer together again.

China’s rise is not a new phenomenon. Its economy is already as large as that of the United States, and over the next decade, Beijing will contribute three times more than Washington to global commerce. The Chinese challenge is multidimensional including trade, military, technology and values. A US rivalry with China is of civilizational and ideological nature, suggested Kiron Skinner, who heads policy planning for the US Department of State. The Trump administration has officially called Beijing a strategic competitor while the new strategy paper from the European Commission describes this Asian power as a “systemic rival” with the ambition to become a technological leader promoting alternative models of governance.

The Threat Huawei Poses

By Tom Ridge

U.S. allies are considering the risks for 5G security of using Huawei equipment. Earlier this month the British Parliament’s Science and Technology Committee held a hearing on the matter. It remains clear that the risks posed by Huawei are not limited to the insufficient technical expertise the company possesses, but more importantly it is the threat that Chinese technology companies pose to our national security, and the security of our allied nations.

Given what’s at stake with 5G, the concerns over Huawei as a potential security risk are more than justified. Over the next several years, the United States and much of the world will begin the transition to 5G networks. 5G will not only revolutionize our economy by enabling the Internet of Things, it will also deliver spectacular innovations in healthcare, transportation, and the power sector. 5G-powered smart grids, telemedicine, autonomous vehicles, and other advancements will dramatically improve productivity and energy efficiency, but we need to make sure that the network upon which these technologies are delivered is completely secure. On this score, Huawei provides little comfort. This is an issue I first raised in 2018 in regards to the vulnerability of our power grid due to solar inverters manufactured by Huawei.

Why a Cold War With China Would Be So Costly

Kimberly Ann Elliott

If the U.S.-China trade war develops into a broader cold war, as some observers fear, it will be nothing like the actual Cold War. Between civil war in Russia after World War I, the Great Depression in the United States and then the cataclysm of World War II, America and the Soviet Union never had a chance to develop a significant economic relationship before things hardened into a stark East-West divide. When Washington adopted a containment strategy that blocked most trade with the Soviets, including technology transfers, it had relatively little impact on either economy.

The situation with China today is radically different. After normalizing diplomatic relations in the 1970s, Washington gradually lifted most restrictions on trade and technology transfers. By the time President Bill Clinton came to office in the 1990s, many American policymakers viewed economic engagement as a tool to promote political as well as economic liberalization in China. In 2000, the Clinton administration used this argument to convince Congress to extend what is known as “normal trade relations” treatment to China, paving the way for freer trade between the U.S. and China and for Beijing to join the World Trade Organization. The thinking was that rising incomes, along with increased exposure to economically open and democratic societies, would create pressures on the Chinese Communist Party to loosen its grip. 

China's Secret Tunnel into the Heart of America's Defense Industry

Kathryn Waldron

The Defense Department and federal intelligence agencies need to be more transparent about which companies pose risks to national security and how much they rely on them.

Supply chain vulnerabilities have leapt to national attention thanks to concerns about Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE, the subsequent ban of their products from use by the federal government, and President Donald Trump’s adding Huawei to a list of entities with whom U.S. companies are prohibited from doing business.

While those actions address some of the supply chain risks from some companies, one-off bans of problematic companies will not be sufficient to protect the country. As Federal Chief Information Security Officer Grant Schneider notes, these are merely “whack-a-mole solutions to a challenge that we need a far more systemic approach to.”

The good news is that government officials are finally starting to pay attention to the vulnerability of their supply chains. Last year, the Department of Homeland Security formed an Information and Communications Technology supply chain task force filled with representatives from both the public and the private sectors. A law passed last December led to the creation of the new Federal Acquisition Security Council, which held its first meeting last month. And the White House recently released an executive order prohibiting the acquisition or use of any information and communications technology or service coming from a company deemed a national security threat.

Iran, the Strait of Hormuz, and Hard Power

Amy M. Jaffe

I woke up this morning thinking I would write a blog explaining just how challenging it would be for Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz for a prolonged period of time. This is not to say that there could not be a battle in the waterway: Iran has lots of conventional weapons, including mines, submarines, a large fleet of speed boats (think the USS Cole bombing), torpedoes, and missile batteries. But I thought to myself, why would Iran want to give the U.S. military the rationale to target Tehran’s largest military assets and destroy them?

Then I saw a news report that a short range Katyusha missile hit a site very close to ExxonMobil’s operations center in southern Iraq, near the Zubair oil field, where Italian oil firm ENI is helping restore production capacity. Royal Dutch Shell also has personnel in the area. That brought me back to my father-in-law’s favorite expression “Too clever by a half.” For those of you who don’t know that term, the internet defines it as meaning “annoyingly proud of one’s intelligence or skill and in danger of overreaching oneself.” I don’t think that definition, though accurate, does the phrase justice. The formal definition doesn’t fully convey the high level of arrogance and stupidity involved when someone makes an incredibly large mistake because they think they are outsmarting someone when in reality they are about to create a huge disaster for themselves.

Islamic State’s South Asia Pivot: Rhetoric or Reality?

Will Marshall

Despite dismissals by officials, so-called Islamic State’s proclamation last month of the establishment of its first ‘province’ in India, closely followed by the declaration of a parallel offshoot in Pakistan, serves to illustrate the broadening horizons of the militant group in the post-caliphate era – a shift which holds the potential for profound repercussions for the security environment across the subcontinent.

The announcement by the militant group’s Amaq news agency on May 10, 2019 of the creation of a ‘Wilayah al-Hind’ centered on the disputed region of Kashmir came following clashes with Indian security forces in the Shopian district of the province during which ISIS-linked militant Ishfaq Ahmed Sofi was killed. This pronouncement came just five days prior to the announcement of a parallel ‘Wilayah Pakistan’ after a spate of attacks near Quetta on May 15. In spite of dismissals by senior police officials that such claims were ‘pure propaganda’ on the part of ISIS as the group struggles to maintain its relevance following the implosion of its ‘caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria, recent flurries of activity across the subcontinent indicate that such moves should not be so easily dismissed as mere rhetoric. South Asia, a region with a long and complex history of religious extremism in which political rifts often correspond with communal fault lines, is likely to present an attractive proposition for those seeking the resurrection of the group as a globalized insurgency.

Iran: More War(s) In the Middle East? There Still May Be Options.

By Anthony H. Cordesman

The United States cannot ignore military challenges from Iran or the threat Iran may return to a serious nuclear weapons program. At the same time, President Trump’s decision to delay retaliatory strikes on Iran for shooting down a U.S. Navy RQ-4 surveillance drone is a wise one. The United States needs to think long and hard before it engages in any form of serious conflict with Iran or uses force in ways that can trigger a serious risk of major escalation on both sides.

The human and financial costs of war alone are reasons for caution. So is the fact that it is unclear that the United States can turn a favorable military outcome into a favorable grand strategic outcome and create lasting stability and peace. The United States is already fighting too many wars that have no clear end, and there are other options that the United States can still pursue instead of major military action.

Putting a War with Iran in the Proper Strategic Context: Losing by “Winning”

There is no specific term in game theory for a game in which every move by every player makes things worse for all the players and where the only way to win is not to play. In some ways, however, this is the kind of game the United States, Iran, and our Arab security partners are already playing in the Gulf.

The Gulf of Deniability


MAZAN, FRANCE – What will constitute yet another act of war in the Middle East? On May 12, four oil tankers in the Gulf – two of them Saudi Arabian, one from the United Arab Emirates, and the other Norwegian – were attacked with explosives as they lay at anchor near the Strait of Hormuz. Then, on June 13, in the Gulf of Oman, just beyond the Strait, two more tankers (one Japanese and the other Norwegian) were hit by mines. The US government regards Iran as the obvious culprit, whereas Iran claims it is a victim of what US President Donald Trump might call “fake news.”

Regardless of who is to blame, the risk of a dangerous escalation is obvious. Following Iran’s subsequent downing of a US surveillance drone, the mutual recrimination has intensified and the risk of all-out war has grown.

The Strait of Hormuz, leading from the Persian/Arabian Gulf (even the choice of adjective is politically sensitive) to the Gulf of Oman and then to the Indian Ocean, is a 21-mile-wide choke point through which one-fifth of the world’s crude oil passes. Economic logic says that closing, or even narrowing, the Strait will lead to higher oil prices and a global recession. Political logic says threatening the supply of the world’s economic lifeblood will lead to military intervention by the United States and other outside powers – thereby adding another regional conflict to those in Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan.

On the Brink of War with Iran?

by Paul R. Pillar

It is up to Congress, the editorial boards, and opinion leaders to cut through the Trump administration’s attempts to sell America on a war with Iran.

The “fog of war,” about which Carl von Clausewitz wrote, refers to confusion and lack of knowledge of what an adversary is up to on a chaotic battlefield. Currently, those promoting or welcoming a war with Iran are using a different kind of fog. It should be easier to see through the current war-selling fog than it was to see what was happening on smoke-filled battlefields of Clausewitz’s time. It only takes a little effort to do so. But that effort cuts against some common human tendencies, including inattention, fear and a desire for revenge.

Much of the current war-selling fog is remarkably similar to the selling of the Iraq War of 2003, in which the sales campaign depended on fear and an unthinking thirst for revenge after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The apparent failure to have learned lessons from that blunder reflects another common human tendency, which is to focus narrowly on events of the moment while losing sight of context, background, and history, even recent history. The recent sabotage of tankers in the Gulf of Oman has led to a preoccupation with the question of whether Iran was the perpetrator—as if the answer to that question would provide a ready-made prescription for a policy response, which it doesn’t—with less attention to the more important question of why Iran might do such a thing. The clear answer is that Iran is responding directly to the Trump administration’s unlimited economic warfare campaign, saber-rattling and other aspects of its “maximum pressure” policy.

Ethiopia Is at a ‘Very Critical Juncture’

By Jefcoate O'Donnell

Ethiopia marked a national day of mourning on Monday after four government officials, including the governor of the Amhara region and the chief of the army, were assassinated over the weekend in dual attacks in Addis Ababa and Amhara’s capital city, Bahir Dar. State forces shot and killed Brig. Gen. Asaminew Tsige, a former political prisoner, who is allegedly responsible for the attacks, in Amhara state on Monday. Tsige was said to be resentful of perceived maltreatment by the central government, butthere remains some confusion about the nature and precise planning of the attacks.

Amid an internet blackout that has forced many Ethiopians offline and restrictions on cell phone use, the country is still working to make sense of the consequences. Foreign Policy spoke to Felix Horne, an Ethiopia researcher at Human Rights Watch, about the country’s regional politics, the record of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and what to look out for as Ethiopia confronts a volatile moment. 

Foreign Policy: How do the events of the weekend fit into Ethiopia’s broader political landscape? 

Rare-Earths Mining Shows Exactly How China Cheats The United States Through ‘Free Trade’

By Kyle Sammin

A game where only one side plays by the rules is rigged. We have now locked ourselves in an embrace with a corrupt regime, and it has not been to our benefit economically or morally.

The United States and China have traded since the early days of our republic, but only recently has the scale of that trade become a political issue. More than any other point, Donald Trump’s rhetoric against outsourcing to China gave him the blue-collar Midwestern votes that made up his margin of victory in 2016. His election was a break with the generation-long bipartisan consensus that more and freer trade is better, whether the trading partner is a liberal democracy that respects the rule of law or a communist dictatorship where unfree people labor in unsafe conditions for government-suppressed wages.

Even to call trade with China “free” is a misnomer. Besides the minor tariffs still in place, there is also an uneven use of non-tariff trade barriers. Chinese goods enter our markets cheaply and freely because we agree to follow our agreements, our laws, and the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Our goods, on the other hand, are subject to arbitrary restrictions by the communist government, while Chinese companies and government routinely infringe our intellectual property rights. The high hopes of free trade have been replaced with humiliation and decline.

U.S. Adversaries and Allies Start the Countdown to 2020

Reva Goujon

With 17 months to go before voters either reject or reelect U.S. President Donald Trump, many countries are recalculating what to do with that window of time, while Trump himself is coming under pressure to show results from his multiple "maximum pressure" campaigns.

For Trump's chief targets, including Iran and possibly China, it may be better to hunker down and resist than incur the cost of negotiating a bad deal with a short-fuse White House.
Other targets, such as Mexico, the European Union and India, will try to drag out talks, avoid escalation and pray for a change in 2020.

Israel, Poland, Taiwan and North Korea fall in the basket of opportunists that will act swiftly to try and extract as many benefits as they can from Trump's administration while the window is still open.

Trump is approaching a reckoning in his foreign policy. For every challenge he has created, he will have to either significantly scope down his demands to clinch a deal before 2020 or stomach the consequences of prolonged confrontation.

US-Iran standoff: almost too worrisome for words

By John Mecklin

Pick your metaphor: Slo-mo video of imminent car crash. Two cats circling, back fur up and claws ready. A tail vigorously wagging its growling dog (to distract from possible impeachment). Given recent events, any reasonable response to the current state of US-Iranian relations almost has to include a good measure of foreboding.

The latest of those events is ominous, indeed, with Iran announcing on Monday that it would exceed the limits on its enriched uranium stockpile imposed by the landmark Iran nuclear deal—within a matter of days. In a press conference, a spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization indicated the country might also begin increasing the enrichment level of the uranium fuel it produces—from less than 4 percent up to 20 percent—a move that would help the country produce medical isotopes but would also move at least some of its uranium stocks closer to weapons-grade. (Uranium used in nuclear warheads would generally be enriched to contain more than 90 percent of the fissile isotope uranium 235.)

Ending America’s Endless War

Bernie Sanders

The United States has been at war for too long. Even today, we seem to be preparing for a new war with Iran, which would be the worst yet. Earlier this month, President Donald Trump ordered thousands of additional U.S. troops to the Middle East to confront Tehran and its proxies. And we recently learned that the Pentagon had presented the White House with plansto send tens of thousands more.

I am very concerned that, whether intentionally or unintentionally, the Trump administration’s moves against Iran, and Iran’s moves in response, could put us in direct conflict.

We should all understand that a war with Iran would be many times worse than the Iraq war. U.S. military leaders and security experts have repeatedly told us that. If the United States were to attack Iran, Tehran could use its proxies to retaliate against U.S. troops and partners in Iraq, Syria, Israel, and the Persian Gulf area. The result would be the further, unimaginable destabilization of the Middle East, with wars that go on year after year and likely cost trillions of dollars.

Dear President Trump, Let’s Talk About Iran

By Stephen M. Walt

Dear President Donald Trump:

We’ve never met, and given that you’re not much of a reader, I doubt you even know who I am. But maybe—just maybe—someone on your staff will bring this letter to your attention.

I’m writing because your Middle East policy, and especially your policy toward Iran, seems really confused at the moment, and I’d like to help you out. I’ll try to use small words—the best words!—the same way you do whenever you tweet or when you speak at those big rallies of yours.

Just between us, Mr. President, you made a mistake when you tore up the nuclear deal with Iran. I still wonder if you actually understood its provisions because you seem to get a lot of things wrong whenever you talk about it. But never mind that: I’m sure you thought it was the right move at the time, and you may even have believed it was a “terrible” deal. But here I’m afraid you listened to the wrong people. Instead of taking advice from Sheldon Adelson, Mohammed bin Salman, or Benjamin Netanyahu, you should have heeded the wise counsel of James Mattis, H.R. McMaster, all of the United States’ European allies, or your buddy Vladimir Putin. They understood that the Iran nuclear deal was pretty good and that it was achieving its main purpose: keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. And they would have been happy to work with you to build on that agreement and address other concerns about Iran.

Corporate America in the Crossfire


HONG KONG – American multinationals may like the idea of forcing China to alter the policies and practices – from subsidies for state-owned enterprises to the requirement that foreign firms share proprietary technology in exchange for access to the Chinese market – that place them at a competitive disadvantage. But, as US President Donald Trump’s trade war continues to escalate, it is worth asking: What price are these companies really willing to pay?

The post-World War II world order has been undergirded by three overlapping networks of global exchange – trade, investment and finance, and information – which US multinationals have played a leading role in developing. In 2017, global trade in goods and services was worth $46 trillion, or 57% of world GDP. Annual turnover in global foreign exchange was 22 times larger, partly owing to lower transaction costs.

Lately, however, it is flows of data and information that are skyrocketing. According to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, by 2016, digital flows were having a larger impact on GDP growth than trade in goods. Such flows include information and ideas in their own right, as well as digital components of cross-border transactions involving goods, services, or finance.

Is Iran Close to Collapse? Three Things You Need To Know about the U.S.-Iran Showdown.

by Michael Rubin

Washington must hold its red lines while not giving in to Tehran's wishes or escalating into a shooting conflict.

Iran and the United States are as close to direct conflict as they have been for three decades, since Operation Praying Mantis in 1988 which was, at the time, the largest surface naval engagement since World War II.

A lot of ink has been spilled and oxygen expended discussing the matter, some of it good and some of it simplistic. Here a few thoughts, informed by being lucky enough to spend close to seven months studying in the Islamic Republic while finishing a doctorate in philosophy on Iranian history. I worked on the Iran desk at the Pentagon during the George W. Bush administration, frequently visit the Persian Gulf, and have followed Iran almost continuously for a quarter century.

1) Pressure can work on Iran. There has been, for more than a decade, a curious line of argument that pressure upon Iran is counterproductive. The Century Foundation’s Dina Esfandiary, for example, tweeted that “#Iran won’t talk as pressure increases because it would be suicide for the government. They will talk when they can get something tangible in return for concessions.” And, using numbers of centrifuges as a metric, Wendy Sherman, an Obama administration negotiator, has repeatedly argued that conciliation trumps coercion on Iran.

Restoring Sanity

William Alan Reinsch

June 24, 2019Last week I wrote about multilateralism versus bilateralism. Subsequently, I was taken to task by one of my readers (it’s always nice to find out there are some) for criticizing the administration’s assault on the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body without offering any alternative. That was a fair point, as I was clearly guilty of something I complain about frequently: attacking someone else’s position without coming up with a better alternative. Today, I will attempt to make amends, which requires a short trip into the weeds.

First, we should be clear about what is going on. On one level, the administration is objecting to the way the WTO’s Appellate Body has been conducting its business. Some of its objections are procedural: ignoring time limits on finishing reports or allowing Appellate Body members whose terms have expired to continue working on cases. Other objections are philosophical, namely that the Appellate Body has not practiced judicial restraint, has overreached its Uruguay Round mandate, and has attempted to effectively make new law through its decisions rather than simply sticking to the text of the Uruguay Round agreement. I agree with these concerns as do many in the Washington legal community. The disagreement, as often occurs with this administration, is not over the diagnosis but over the prescription.

Could these 5 projects transform defense?

Kelsey Reichmann 

The Defense Innovation Unit — the Department of Defense’s emerging technology accelerator — is working on several projects aimed at improving national security by contracting with commercial providers:

According to the DIU annual report for 2018, using AI to predict maintenance on aircraft and vehicles could save DoD $3 billion to $5 billion annually. DIU determined maintenance on aircraft and vehicles was often done too early, removing parts that still had a working life ahead of schedule, so, using AI, DIU analysts found they could predict 28 percent of unscheduled maintenance on the E-3 Sentry across six subsystems and 32 percent of on the C-5 Galaxy across 10 subsystems.

DIU found deficiencies in the commercial drone industry, resulting in a lack of smaller options for war fighters. Through partnership with the Army’s Program Executive Office Aviation, it was able to build an inexpensive, rucksack-portable VTOL drone fit for short-range reconnaissance, according to the report.

Congress: New devices = new threats = new security?

Andrew Eversden

A bipartisan bill directed at enhancing cybersecurity on internet-connected devices bought by the United States government cleared another hurdle in Congress June 19, passing through the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The bill, titled the “Internet of Things (IoT) Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019,” directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop minimum security standards for federal IoT devices.

“While I’m excited about their life-changing potential, many IoT devices are being sold without appropriate safeguards and protections in place, with the device market prioritizing convenience and price over security,” said Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., in a statement.

Under the legislation, NIST would have to issue recommendations regarding secure development, patching, identity management and configuration of internet-connected devices. If the standards becomes law, the Office of Management and Budget will be required to issue guidelines to agencies that follow the NIST recommendations.

Facebook’s New Currency Has Big Claims and Bad Ideas

By David Gerard

On June 18, Facebook finally released details of Libra, its long-anticipated cryptocurrency. But the project, as well as having regulators up in arms, is fundamentally misconceived. Absolutely everything Facebook described in its press conference on Libra last Tuesday could have been done on a conventional financial computer network system — and better.

Facebook’s planned payment system had long been spoken of as a cryptocurrency, in the manner of bitcoin. This made no sense: Money transmission has strict regulatory requirements, and bitcoin and its many descendants explicitly aim for the precise opposite of these. Libra’s back-end software is “blockchain” in that some of the transaction processing is distributed. Libra is, however, very bitcoin in its aspirations: the anarcho-capitalist dream of private money without governance or outside regulation. And Libra has certainly demonstrated one of the main characteristics of blockchain projects—grandiose claims and egregious nonsense.

Facebook’s Libra Must Be Stopped


NEW YORK – Facebook has just unveiled its latest bid for world domination: Libra, a cryptocurrency designed to function as private money anywhere on the planet. In preparing the venture, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been in negotiations with central banks, regulators, and 27 partner companies, each of which will contribute at least $10 million. For fear of raising safety concerns, Facebook has avoided working directly with any commercial banks.

Zuckerberg seems to understand that technological innovation alone will not ensure Libra’s success. He also needs a commitment from governments to enforce the web of contractual relations underpinning the currency, and to endorse the use of their own currencies as collateral. Should Libra ever face a run, central banks would be obliged to provide liquidity.1

The question is whether governments understand the risks to financial stability that such a system would entail. The idea of a private, frictionless payment system with 2.6 billion active users may sound attractive. But as every banker and monetary policymaker knows, payment systems require a level of liquidity backstopping that no private entity can provide.

Huawei is national security issue, not trade football for our leaders

Put simply, Huawei is a national security and intelligence issue. It is not a football to be thrown around in trade discussions with China. However, there is a danger that this could become the narrative and undermine the progress made to date and weakening the arguments against Huawei.

President Trump recently said, “If we made a deal, I could imagine Huawei being possibly included in some form or some part of it.” This is precisely the wrong message and represents a gross misunderstanding of the real threat that Huawei poses to the United States and our European allies.

Over the last 18 months, we have seen significant progress, albeit with fits and starts, on educating Congress, the public, and our partners and allies of just how significant a threat Huawei is to our collective security. It is, for all intents and purposes, an arm of the Chinese Ministry of State Security. It is a tool of the stated goal of Beijing to achieve “digital dominance” by 2025 and aims to control the flow of data worldwide to benefit China.

With Cryptocurrency Launch, Facebook Sets Its Path Toward Becomings An Independent Nation

by Jennifer Grygiel

What makes a nation, a nation?

Facebook has announced a plan to launch a new cryptocurrency named the Libra, adding another layer to its efforts to dominate global communications and business. Backed by huge finance and technology companies including Visa, Spotify, eBay, PayPal and Uber – plus a ready-made user base of 2 billion people around the world – Facebook is positioned to pressure countries and central banks to cooperate with its reinvention of the global financial system.

In my view as a social media researcher and educator, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is clearly seeking to give his company even more political power on a global scale, despite the potential dangers to society at large. In a sense, he is declaring that he wants Facebook to become a virtual nation, populated by users, powered by a self-contained economy, and headed by a CEO – Zuckerberg himself – who is not even accountable to his shareholders.

Facebook hasn’t behaved responsibly in the past, and is still wrestling with significant public concerns – and investigations – about its privacy practices, information accuracyand targeted advertising. Therefore, it’s important to see through the hype. People must consider who is reshaping the world, and whether they are doing it in the best interests of humankind – or whether they are just seeking to benefit the new class of elite technology executives.

Aircraft Carriers Won't Help America in a Great-Power War?

by Matthew Reisener

Should the United States engage another great power in a full-on naval conflict, the winning side would likely be the one that could replace its missiles and ships more quickly.

Former President Bill Clinton remarked in 1993 that, “when word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it's no accident that the first question that comes to everyone's lips is: ‘where's the nearest carrier?’” President Clinton’s sentiment still rings true today. Not only did the United States recently dispatch the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier group near the Persian Gulf in an attempt to deter perceivedIranian aggression, but this spring President Donald Trump overruled the U.S. Department of Defense’s cost-saving proposal to forgo refueling the nuclear reactor of the USS Harry S. Truman. Washington has long viewed aircraft carriers are the crown jewel of American naval power and has shown little willingness to deviate from this position in recent years.

There are, however, some naval experts who would push back against the Washington establishment’s pro-carrier sentiments. One such expert is Dr. TX Hammes, a retired Marine Corps colonel and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies. The Center for the National Interest hosted Hammes for a private breakfast event on Wednesday, June 5, during which he outlined his innovative, if not controversial, proposal to shift the focus of the U.S. Navy from its aircraft carriers to a large armada of missile-armed merchant ships which are better equipped to handle the challenges of modern naval warfare.

How to Save the Internet


MANCHESTER – In a scene in the US sitcom Silicon Valley, digital startups compete for funding by presenting their ideas. In each presentation, company founders repeat the Silicon Valley mantra of “making the world a better place.” One founder pledges to make the world a better place through “software-defined data centers for cloud computing,” and another via “scalable, fault-tolerant distributed databases with asset transactions.”

Although the idea of the Internet “making the world a better place” is often ridiculed today, it’s easy to forget that this decade began amid optimism that new technologies would connect people, broaden access to information, and generate abundant new economic opportunities.

Coming from Syria, I experienced some of these potential benefits. In a country with limited space for debate, the Internet provided citizens with a forum to learn and discuss. And, following the 2011 Arab Spring protests, it played an important role in documenting events and sharing information. As millions of Syrians subsequently fled the country, the Internet became the only means of connecting them. A Syrian comedian joked that “Syrian society exists only on Facebook,” illustrating how the Internet became the only tool for people scattered around the world to maintain a sense of solidarity.

Control the Information Environment Narrative…or the Threat Will

Mario Hoffmann

“The advent of the internet, the expansion of information technology, the widespread availability of wireless communication, and the far-reaching impact of social media have dramatically impacted operations and changed the character of modern warfare”1

--James Mattis, Former Secretary of Defense

Strategic competitors like Russia and China are using old technologies in new ways while also employing new advanced technology to fight their enemies in all domains (space, cyber, air, sea, and land). This required the U.S. Army to evolve and adapt the way it wants to fight by publishing “Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) 2028” as the cornerstone for the Joint force to militarily compete, penetrate, dis-integrate, and exploit future adversaries.2 While air, land, and sea domains have been prevalent since World War II, the relative new-comers of Cyber and Space are still establishing their doctrinal foundation in modern warfare. 

US adversaries have demonstrated they will use offensive cyber and electronic warfare (EW) capabilities within cyberspace and the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) to complicate a commander’s decisions and mitigate his/her ability to employ the full range of warfighting capabilities to gain an advantage. Our adversaries can or will soon be able to: