5 August 2019

The Need for Détente: Cyberwarfare in India/Pakistan Conflict

Jonathan Lancelot

Sometimes brutal honesty is the best form of diplomacy, and if there is a conflict that is in immediate need for some kind of resolution, it is the conflict over the region of Kashmir between Pakistan and India. As both nuclear nation-states are within instant reach of one another, the conflict has reached a new high beginning in early 2019, and the escalation includes use of cyberwarfare. “While countries like Russia, China, and North Korea have often dominated the international landscape for their cyberattack capabilities, both India and Pakistan also have formidable government hacking programs, as well as populations with strong technology skills and access to hacking tools” (Fazzini). Granted, the cyberwar between the two nations have been ongoing since the late 1990s. Recent escalations have led organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations or individuals like Alex Stamos, former chief security officer of Facebook to be deeply concerned. This concern should lead to diplomatic interventions from the United States, China, Russia, and Iran as three of these nations have a geopolitical interest in helping the cyber conflict from metastasizing into a full blow conventional war, and the United States interest in mitigating the conflict is within responsibility of the most powerful nuclear nation-state on Earth. 

India in the Era of Cyber Wars

By Alexey Kupriyanov
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India has a solid and well-deserved reputation as one of the leaders in the global IT industry. This makes it all the more surprising that, until recently, Indian authorities had paid relatively little attention to introducing cyber technologies in the country’s governance system and using them to combat cyber threats posed by hackers acting out of personal, economic, and political motives.

A lackadaisical cyberwar

There are several reasons for this. The main factor is that India’s leadership has underestimated the scale of confrontation in cyberspace, believing that other great powers limit themselves to negligible operations that aim to collect information at best.

Serious difficulties have emerged due to the specific features of Indian governance as such; it is characterized by an extreme abundance of red tape and inertia in areas that are not considered a priority. While India’s bureaucracy exhibits its best qualities in priority areas such as ensuring the rapid concentration of resources, personnel mobilization and motivation, minimizing expenses, and a high level of oversight, thus making it possible to achieve outstanding successes with minimal expenses (India’s space program is a prime example), areas believed to be of secondary importance are plagued by chronic problems.

Few options for India as Trump and Imran do the tango

'Imran Khan, or more accurately his army and ISI chiefs who accompanied him, have pulled off a coup. 

'With Afghanistan in the bag, they can now retreat far from the Line of Control: they have strategic depth. 

'Their terror camps do not have be in Balakot, within range of Indian warplanes. 

'India can expect a few long hot summers of violence,' says Rajeev Srinivasan. 

IMAGE: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan with US President Donald John Trump in the White House on July 22, 2019. Photograph: Jonathan Earnst / Reuters

It is hard to begrudge the Pakistani prime minister his claim that his interactions with the US president left him feeling he had won the (cricket) World Cup. 

3 things to know about India’s space programme

Douglas Broom
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India’s bid to join a select group of nations who have landed on the moon has taken off.

The country’s Chandrayaan 2 spacecraft has successfully launched from the Sriharikota space centre – a giant leap in its increasingly ambitious space programme.

If it succeeds, India will become the fourth nation to achieve what’s known as a “lunar soft landing”, following the former Soviet Union, the US and China.
Image: Statista

So as the country blasts into space, here are three key facts about its plans.

The Biggest Threat to the US Indo-Pacific Strategy? Washington Itself.

By Derek Grossman

It is an open secret that U.S. implementation of the Indo-Pacific Strategy has been rocky at best. Nagging questions about the strategy’s purpose, whether it can be sustained, if it even constitutes a strategy, and why allies and partners apparently must choose between Washington and Beijing hang a dark cloud over U.S. plans.

Nevertheless, U.S. allies and partners have generally supported Washington’s core security objectives of keeping the Indo-Pacific “free and open” from Chinese coercion. Their bottom line is that the maintenance of a rules-based order and international norms of behavior are critical to mitigating the challenges posed by Beijing’s growing economic and military power in the region and globally. These include the staunchest of allies in Australia, Japan, Taiwan, and, recently, South Korea, as well as those who are quieter on the benefits of the strategy but have likewise endorsed U.S. goals, such as India and Vietnam. American allies and partners that have strenuously sought to avoid picking the United States or China, namely the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, all seem to at least acknowledge the importance of maintaining great power balance in contested regions such as the South China Sea.

Populism Takes Asia


Despite the damage populists have done in the West, Asian voters are increasingly falling for the likes of India’s Narendra Modi, Indonesia’s Joko Widodo, and the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte. How can responsible Asian leaders take the wind out of populists’ sails?

SEOUL – The rise of populism across the West in recent years has been the subject of countless discussions, and for good reason: populists’ misguided policies often have severely adverse political and economic consequences. Now, those risks are coming to Asia.

With Boris Johnson’s improbable ascendance as Britain’s new prime minister, the absurdity of British politics in the age of Brexit has plumbed new depths.

In this special double issue of On Point, Edoardo Campanella seeks to uncover the deeper forces behind Johnson’s rise, and Nicholas Reed Langen anticipates the consequences of his victory.

There is no straightforward definition of populism. It may be ideological, economic, social, or cultural. It may reflect left-wing or right-wing views. And it is often interpreted in a country-specific context.

Asia’s Great Huawei Debate

The United States has been leading the charge against Huawei, a Chinese tech firm that not only has a popular smartphone brand but supplies internet and mobile technology around the world. Concerns about potential espionage, including hypothetical pre-installed “backdoors” allowing the Chinese state to access Huawei technology, linger, although no examples have ever been found and Huawei has always denied such allegations. Meanwhile, concerns about Huawei’s alleged theft of intellectual property and other shady business practices abound – including reportedly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, a charge that got Huawei’s chief financial officer arrested in Canada in late 2018.

Based on these overlapping concerns, the U.S. government banned Huawei from being used in U.S. government systems or by U.S. government contractors. In May 2019, as trade talks between China and the United States collapsed (again), the Trump administration went a step further and placed Huawei on an “entity list” – effectively banning U.S. companies from doing business with the firm. That meant, in essence, that Huawei would have no access to U.S. technology. While not a proverbial “death blow,” it was a huge setback; Huawei itself estimated the blacklisting would cost the company at least $30 billion.

China's Plan to Win Over Cambodia

By Phillip Orchard

Speculation has swirled for more than a year that Beijing plans to militarize a number of Chinese-funded port and airport projects in Cambodia. Last year, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence sent a letter to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen inquiring about Chinese intentions for Ream Naval Base, where U.S. funding had already paid for several facilities. Last month, reports surfaced that Phnom Penh had backtracked on a U.S. offer to refurbish additional buildings at the base. And last week, reports from the Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times threw fuel on the fire, citing claims from unnamed U.S. and allied sources that Beijing and Phnom Penh had signed a secret agreement giving Chinese warships exclusive access to the base, which is adjacent to the Chinese-operated Port of Sihanoukville. Nearby, another deepwater Chinese port project and a Chinese-funded airport are being carved out of the jungle, ostensibly to serve an empty Chinese-built beach resort and investment zone. (The airport, curiously, features a 3,600-meter runway, far longer than what’s needed for commercial traffic.)

Stratcom: China Rapidly Building Up Nuclear Forces

Bill Gertz 

OMAHA—China is aggressively building up nuclear warfighting forces as part of a larger effort to expand power over Asia and globally, according to senior officials of the U.S. Strategic Command.

Vice Admiral David Kriete, deputy commander of the command, said he is concerned by China's rapidly growing nuclear arsenal when combined with other alarming activities in the South China Sea and elsewhere.

"China is and has been for the last couple of decades on a very clear trajectory where they're increasing the numbers of nuclear weapons that they field, they're increasing the number of and diversity of the delivery systems," Kriete said in a press briefing.

"They are working on fielding a triad—ballistic missile submarines, strategic bombers, and land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles."

Dear China, We Have to Talk About Your Nukes


U.S. President Donald Trump recently called for ambitious new arms control accords that not only extend the New START agreement with Russia, but also bring China into trilateral nuclear diplomacy. Trump should be commended for his apparent desire to avoid an unnecessary and costly arms race, and for the foresight that China is an increasingly important part of nuclear calculus and U.S. grand strategy.

But Trump is half wrong. The president’s proposal might be intended as an honest effort to deal with the China factor in the nuclear equation, or, alternatively, as a subtle way to kill New START, which expires in 2021, by linking it to China. Either way, the plan is a nonstarter. Why? The United States and Russia have more than 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons. As part of a major military buildup, with China’s military budget rising 8 percent in 2018 to roughly $175 billion, Beijing has dramatically increased its nuclear capabilities over the past 20 years—however, more so in quality than quantity. It has built new nuclear submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to ensure it can respond to a nuclear attack in kind.

China's role in the Asian century of globalization

Wang Huiyao
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Next year, in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, Asian economies will become larger than the rest of the world combined for the first time since the 19th century. Not only is Asia growing richer; as it becomes more integrated, it is also coalescing as a constructive force for global governance.

This emergence is timely. From climate change and demographic crises to technological disruption and yawning inequality, the world faces myriad challenges that require multilateral solutions. However, a lack of global leadership and consensus has stalled reform of global institutions, leaving severe governance deficits.

While Asia has benefited enormously from globalization, it also encapsulates many of the world’s problems. Fortunately, there are growing signs that this vibrant, diverse continent can work together and rise to offer some of the solutions.

The Right Way to Deal With Huawei

By Adam Segal 

Over the past year and a half, the Trump administration has waged an extraordinary campaign against Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, involving criminal indictments, trade sanctions, and diplomatic pressure on U.S. friends and allies. In May, the administration raised the stakes even further. President Donald Trump signed an executive order blocking U.S. businesses from using equipment and services made by companies controlled by “adversary governments.” Although the order did not name Huawei or China, it was clearly aimed straight at them.

The same day that Trump signed the order, the Commerce Department placed Huawei and 68 of its affiliates on a list of firms to which U.S. companies may not sell components without government approval. Huawei will suffer even more serious consequences from its inclusion on this list than it will from the executive order. Four major U.S. technology companies—Broadcom, Intel, Qualcomm, and Xilinx—almost immediately stopped working with Huawei, and Google announced that it would no longer provide the Android mobile operating system to Huawei smartphones. Although the Commerce Department later suspended the ban for 90 days, Huawei’s future remains uncertain. At an event at the company’s headquarters in Shenzhen, Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, said he expected revenues to decline by $30 billion over the next two years because of U.S. actions, down from an annual $107 billion in 2018.

The U.S.-China-Israel Technology Triangle

Since the 1980s, Israel has had robust technological cooperation and trade with the U.S. while often, in deference to U.S. security concerns, limiting the sale of some technologies to China. This delicate strategy is becoming harder to maintain as China becomes more interested in Israeli tech and tensions between Washington and Beijing grow.

Danit Gal is a consultant and researcher focusing on technology ethics, governance, safety, security, and strategy.

Since the 1980s, Israel has carefully walked the U.S.-China technology tensions tightrope, trying to balance its commercial and security interests with the two great powers. The growing dual-use nature of technology threatens to overthrow Israel’s careful efforts to expand trade with Beijing, while avoiding the sales of security technologies that would increase Chinese military capabilities and anger Washington. With mounting political pressure from its American allies and promising Chinese trade prospects, Israel is caught between its two largest and technology-hungry trade partners.

U.S.-Dominated Security Technology Trade

CPEC is dead. Somebody tell Beijing.

Farooq Tirmizi

It’s over. If ever there was a thought within Pakistan’s leadership — political, military, and business — that Beijing could replace Washington as the foreign capital with the most influence in Islamabad, that idea is now firmly dead. We just have not gotten around to telling China yet.

Over the past few weeks, Profithas spoken to several sources in both Pakistan’s business elite circles as well as people who are familiar with the thought process of the military leadership and the picture emerging is not a favourable one of the relationship with China: the more Pakistanis learn about the true costs of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the less inclined they are to want to participate any further than we already have.

If anything, the signal coming from the country’s establishment appears to be that, far from pivoting Pakistan’s economic and political orientation towards China, Pakistan should retain its historical role as the country that is able to balance its relationship with both China and the United States.

Iran Across the Border:Israel's Pushback in Syria

Michael Herzog
Of all the threats in Israel’s strategic landscape, none have loomed larger in recent years than Iran’s ambitions and developing military capabilities in neighboring Syria and Lebanon. Exploiting regional turmoil as well as the 2015 nuclear agreement, the IRGC’s elite Qods Force has embarked on an ambitious plan to build in Syria a formidable military front facing Israel, joining Hezbollah’s huge arsenal of rockets in Lebanon. In response, Israel launched a military campaign that has succeeded in thwarting large portions of Tehran’s plans. While the direct Iran-Israel showdown definitely carries the potential for a major military collision, Israel believes its campaign has thus far enhanced its deterrence, thereby distancing war.

In this groundbreaking Policy Note, Brig. Gen. Michael Herzog (Ret.), IDF, evaluates Israeli achievements against Iran in Syria while outlining the spectrum of risks and challenges confronting Israel. Infusing the discussion are U.S.-Iran tensions, which have surged following the application of punishing American sanctions and a series of corresponding Iranian provocations in the Gulf and elsewhere. As the United States weighs its options for blocking and deterring Iran, Israel’s experience could well offer valid lessons.

The Hormuz Crisis Shows U.S. Alliances Are Weak

Leonid Bershidsky

The matter of a naval mission to the Persian Gulf is a test of whether the U.S. – or at least Donald Trump – has any serious allies in Europe other than, perhaps, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Germany, at least, isn’t on board.

The administration has formally asked Germany, France and the U.K. to join a naval mission to secure the Strait of Hormuz and combat Iranian aggression. In Berlin, U.S. embassy spokeswoman Tamara Sternberg-Greller added a taunt: “Members of the German government have been clear that freedom of navigation should be protected. Our question is, protected by whom?”

Germany wouldn’t take the bait. It has rejected the request. So the answer is: “Not by us.”

Economic Growth and the US Presidential Election


WASHINGTON, DC – Economic growth in the United States was just 2.5% in 2018 and, according to the latest “advance” estimate, may have slowed to only 2.1% in the second quarter of 2019. The economy is growing at roughly the same pace as it did during Barack Obama’s second term as president (GDP growth was 2.5% in 2014 and 2.9% in 2015, before slowing to 1.6% in 2016 – perhaps related to election-induced uncertainty).

With Boris Johnson’s improbable ascendance as Britain’s new prime minister, the absurdity of British politics in the age of Brexit has plumbed new depths.

In this special double issue of On Point, Edoardo Campanella seeks to uncover the deeper forces behind Johnson’s rise, and Nicholas Reed Langen anticipates the consequences of his victory.

The Inequality of Nations


MILAN – The eighteenth-century British economist Adam Smith has long been revered as the founder of modern economics, a thinker who, in his great works The Wealth of Nationsand The Theory of Moral Sentiments, discerned critical aspects of how market economies function. But the insights that earned Smith his exalted reputation are not nearly as unassailable as they once seemed.

With Boris Johnson’s improbable ascendance as Britain’s new prime minister, the absurdity of British politics in the age of Brexit has plumbed new depths.

In this special double issue of On Point, Edoardo Campanella seeks to uncover the deeper forces behind Johnson’s rise, and Nicholas Reed Langen anticipates the consequences of his victory.

Perhaps the best known of Smith’s insights is that, in the context of well-functioning and well-regulated markets, individuals acting according to their own self-interest produce a good overall result. “Good,” in this context, means what economists today call “Pareto-optimal” – a state of resource allocation in which no one can be made better off without making someone else worse off.1

Cyber Threats from the U.S. and Russia Are Now Focusing on Civilian Infrastructure

by Joe Cheravitch

Cyber confrontation between the United States and Russia is increasingly turning to critical civilian infrastructure, particularly power grids, judging from recent press reports. The typically furtive conflict went public last month, when the New York Times reported U.S. Cyber Command's shift to a more offensive and aggressive approach in targeting Russia's electric power grid.

The report drew skepticism from some experts and a denial from the administration, but the revelation led Moscow to warn that such activity presented a “direct challenge” that demanded a response. WIRED Magazine the same day published an article detailing growing cyber reconnaissance on U.S. grids by sophisticated malware emanating from a Russian research institution, the same malware that abruptly halted operations at a Saudi Arabian oil refinery in 2017 during what WIRED called “one of the most reckless cyberattacks in history.”

Although both sides have been targeting each other's infrastructure since at least 2012, according to the Times article, the aggression and scope of these operations now seems unprecedented.

Don’t Squander the Techno-Revolution


Like past waves of technological innovation, the new era of artificial intelligence and automation promises increased productivity, higher wages, and even longer lifespans for everyone. But realizing this potential will require governments and businesses to manage the development and diffusion of frontier technologies carefully.

LONDON – Public discussion of the effects of automation and artificial intelligence (AI) often focuses on the productivity benefits for companies and the economy, on the one hand, and on the potential downside for workers, on the other. Yet there is a critical third dimension that should not be overlooked: the impact of new technologies on wellbeing.

With Boris Johnson’s improbable ascendance as Britain’s new prime minister, the absurdity of British politics in the age of Brexit has plumbed new depths.

In this special double issue of On Point, Edoardo Campanella seeks to uncover the deeper forces behind Johnson’s rise, and Nicholas Reed Langen anticipates the consequences of his victory.

Post-American Networks


In an effort to bend the Iranian regime to its will, the Trump administration has fundamentally undermined one of America's primary sources of global power and influence. With the United States no longer trusted to oversee global financial flows, new networks are emerging to offer countries alternatives to the dollar.

WASHINGTON, DC – In today’s world, access to global networks is a critical source of power, but the resulting interdependence can also generate vulnerability. The power flows from centrality: being a hub that connects all (or most) other nodes. The threat of denying access to such hubs can be a powerful sanction against bad actors. But if that power is abused – if asymmetrical interdependence is weaponized – participants in a network may decide to create alternative networks of their own.1

With Boris Johnson’s improbable ascendance as Britain’s new prime minister, the absurdity of British politics in the age of Brexit has plumbed new depths.

How the Army will approach cyber 10 years from now

By: Mark Pomerleau  

The Army Cyber Institute (ACI) at West Point serves as the service’s think tank, helping the Army identify and address key cyber problems to come.

Balancing the priorities of the operational force and Army Cyber Command, the ACI uses a variety of research projects and even internships with cadets to push concepts out into the future.

One effort the ACI’s 70-person team is undertaking is called threat-casting — an attempt to calculate upcoming threats to the United States in the cyber and information environment.

“We take a look and we use a variety of people, diverse populations, diverse ideas, get into small groups, come up with threats of what might happen 10 years out and then we look and work backwards to identify the flags and the gates that might happen on the way to that particular future,” Col. Andrew Hall, director of ACI, told Fifth Domain during a July visit to West Point, explaining that a flag is something they can see, whereas a gate is something that can be controlled.

The Dying Art of Instruction in the Digital Classroom

Tim Parks
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Is it possible to lose a foundation stone of one’s culture without even having identified it as such? This year will be my last year teaching at the university; I’ve decided to throw in the towel three years before retirement age. There are a number of reasons behind this decision, but one is definitely the changed situation in the classroom. Even at post-graduate level, it is getting more and more difficult to feel that one has the attention of students or that something really useful is happening during the lessons.

Of course, teachers have been reporting a loss of control in school classrooms for decades. I remember in the early 1970s a high school teacher working in a poor area of Boston telling me she might as well simply turn the radio on as loud as possible and spend her lessons listening to music. Friends in Milan today, teaching at the so-called scuole professionali, report similar experiences: the near impossibility of making oneself heard, the need to resort to more and more aggressive tactics to focus the minds of the pupils, many of whom simply don’t want to be there and can’t see the point. Having youth unemployment at high levels for so long in Italy hardly helps.

Why quantum computing could make today's cybersecurity obsolete

Paige H. Adams
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Quantum computers are exponentially more powerful than even the most advanced digital machines. At the heart of this power are quantum bits, or “qubits”. While digital bits are binary – having a value of either 1 or 0 – qubits can exist in multiple states at once.

Quantum power presents great opportunities. IBM says it can lead to new breakthroughs in science, life-saving medical advances, and financial strategies to live well in retirement. Algorithms could even quickly direct emergency services such as ambulances. Little wonder that quantum computing has become a new front for both governments and businesses in the quest for competitive advantage. Both are spending billions on its advancement. As a result, what was the stuff of science fiction will soon become reality.

Quantum computing does not have a single status for society – it is at once both an opportunity and a threat. One of the biggest threats concerns encryption.

How A.I. Could Be Weaponized to Spread Disinformation


In 2017, an online disinformation campaign spread against the “White Helmets,” claiming that the group of aid volunteers was serving as an arm of Western governments to sow unrest in Syria.

This false information was convincing. But the Russian organization behind the campaign ultimately gave itself away because it repeated the same text across many different fake news sites.

Now, researchers at the world’s top artificial intelligence labs are honing technology that can mimic how humans write, which could potentially help disinformation campaigns go undetected by generating huge amounts of subtly different messages.

One of the statements below is an example from the disinformation campaign. A.I. technology created the other. Guess which one is A.I.:

The White Helmets alleged involvement in organ, child trafficking and staged events in Syria.

U.S. Offensive Cyber Operations against Economic Cyber Intrusions: An International Law Analysis – Part I

by Edwin Djabatey
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On June 11, 2019, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton announced that U.S. offensive cyber operations would be expanded beyond countering election interference to encompass economic cyber intrusions. He remarked that the United States is “now looking at — beyond the electoral context — a whole range of other activities to prevent this other kind of cyber interference … in the economic space, as well.” His comments were aimed squarely at China, who U.S. government officials have accused of engaging in cyber operations to remotely gather sensitive information from U.S. corporate entities and to steal or exfiltrate data, including intellectual property. These economic cyber intrusions have had the effect of “degrad[ing]… U.S. operational and technological advantages.” And China’s proficiency at and utilization of these techniques is stated to be increasing

Three Ways Cities and States Can Ward Off Ransomware Attacks

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A federal cybersecurity agency and state government associations issued guidance for city, county and state governments.

How Cyber Weapons Are Changing the Landscape of Modern Warfare

By Sue Halpern

In the weeks before two Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers were attacked, on June 13th, in the Gulf of Oman—acts which the United States attributes to Iran—American military strategists were planning a cyberattack on critical parts of that country’s digital infrastructure. According to an officer involved, who asked to remain anonymous, as Iran ramped up its attacks on ships carrying oil through the Persian Gulf—four tankers had been mined in May—and the rhetoric of the national-security adviser, John Bolton, became increasingly bellicose, there was a request from the Joint Chiefs of Staff to “spin up cyber teams.” On June 20th, hours after a Global Hawk surveillance drone, costing more than a hundred million dollars, was destroyed over the Strait of Hormuz by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, the United States launched a cyberattack aimed at disabling Iran’s maritime operations. Then, in a notable departure from previous Administrations’ policies, U.S. government officials, through leaks that appear to have been strategic, alerted the world, in broad terms, to what the Americans had done.

The Increasingly Dangerous Politicization of the U.S. Military

By David Barno, Nora Bensahel 

Bottom Line: Politicization of the U.S. military is a relatively recent, and increasingly common, phenomenon. If this trend continues, it could endanger the military's ability to give crucial, unbiased advice to presidents and other lawmakers.

Military leaders have traditionally stayed above the fray throughout U.S. history.

This changed when retired Commandant of the Marine Corps P.X. Kelley endorsed George H.W. Bush for president in 1988, and subsequently when former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Admiral William Crowe, endorsed Bill Clinton in 1992.

Since then, active and retired military leaders have followed suit in not only endorsing candidates, but also attending conventions and taking public political positions.

Is President Trump accelerating the politicization of the military?