8 August 2019

India, the biggest open data market, has a chance to lead the world on data arbitration

Chinese vice-president Wang Qishan recently said that the “post-war international order” has “come to collapse”.

The vice-president was speaking at the World Peace Forum, organised by Tsinghua University in Beijing, on 8 July. His message to the world was simple – it’s time to “jointly build an international order that is fair and equitable”. Others at the forum echoed his sentiments.

Whether it was the former Belgian Prime Minister and president of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, or the former Russian minister of foreign affairs, Igor Ivanov, leaders underlined that the “multilateral order is under threat”. Ivanov went as far as suggesting that “the old world order” was “already over”. Little, however, was said about how a new world order could be created. What this architecture would look like was a question that went largely unaddressed.

There is no doubt that current order is under attack, however, it’s anything but ‘over’.

U.S. Envoy Ready To Sign 'Good Agreement' With Taliban As Qatar Talks Resume

The U.S. peace envoy seeking to negotiate an end to the nearly 18-year war in Afghanistan said Washington was ready to sign a "good agreement" with the Taliban.

Zalmay Khalilzad's remarks came as U.S. and Taliban negotiators met on August 3 in the Qatari capital Doha for an eighth round of peace talks.

A bilateral U.S.-Taliban agreement will cover the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for guarantees by the Taliban not to harbor terrorist groups.

That deal will be a prelude to intra-Afghan peace negotiations on a political settlement and a permanent cease-fire.

"The Taliban are signaling they would like to conclude an agreement," Khalilzad wrote on Twitter late August 2. "We are ready for a good agreement."

DOD Report on Afghanistan – June 2019

Every six months the Department of Defense provides to Congress a semiannual report entitled Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan. The report covers the events from the previous six months – in this case, from December to May 2019. The report states that the principal goal of the United States South Asia Strategy is to “. . . conclude the war in Afghanistan on terms favorable to Afghanistan and the United States.”

Currently the United States is engaging in a “fight and talk” approach with the Taliban. Negotiations have been ongoing for over a year and the report claims progress has been made. Apparently U.S. military leaders believe that increased military pressure, international calls for peace, and U.S. engagements with a multitude of governments and agencies are ” . . . driving the Taliban to negotiations.”

The IMF Repeats Old Mistakes in Its New Loan Program for Pakistan

By Shezad Lakhani

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent visit to Washington included a meeting with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), after the IMF Board formally approved a three-year $6 billion bailout program for Pakistan in mid-July. It was the country’s 13th loan in little more than 30 years. While repeated IMF conditional loans highlight inept economic management across successive governments in Islamabad, they also demonstrate how the IMF has largely failed at encouraging lasting reforms in Pakistan. The current program appears to once again be destined for failure.

The structural conditionalities the IMF sets out in the new loan agreement look eerily similar to the conditions set out when Pakistan’s last program began in 2013. The inclusion of the same policies less than three years after the “successful” completion of the previous program, underlines how little lasting impact the previous program had.

‘Peace’ in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Yemen

By Anthony H. Cordesman

In fairness, peace almost always consists of a pause in the fighting that becomes a prelude to war. Taking modern Europe as an example, the Napoleonic wars were punctuated by failed peace attempts, and then led to the rise of Germany and a whole new series of wars with Austria, Denmark, and France. The repressive peace settlements following Europe’s upheavals in 1848 set the stage for decades of new rounds of conflict and revolution. World War I led to World War II, and then led to the Cold War and now to the Ukraine.

Nevertheless, the current U.S. efforts to support peace negotiations in Afghanistan and the Middle East seem remarkably weak even by historical standards. In the case of Afghanistan, “peace” is being negotiated without even the same cosmetic level of local government participation that occurred in Vietnam. It is being negotiated when there is no political stability to build upon, and no apparent prospect that the coming election can bring real unity or effective leadership.

Taliban threatens Panjshir province


Afghan security forces scrambled to defend the relatively peaceful and secure province of Panjshir this week after the Taliban seized a district in neighboring Badakhshan. 

The narrative stemming from US military and diplomatic officials is that the Taliban has sought control of districts to boost its negotiating position in so-called peace talks, but the reality is that the Taliban has a long-term military plan to gain control of strategic areas in order to reestablish its Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

The Taliban indicated in the recent past that Panjshir is one of those strategic areas.

Just two weeks after the Taliban raised its flag over Keran wa Manjan district in Badakhshan, the Afghan military, police, “public uprising forces,” and “former Mujahideen fighters” in Panjshir organized to defend Paryan district, TOLONews reported

“We are deployed here precisely in the border between Panjshir and Badakhshan to defend our area,” Panjshir Police Chief Mohammad Ishaq Tamkin told the Afghan news agency.

UN Security Council continues to report on al Qaeda-Taliban alliance


Al Qaeda’s training camps in pre-9/11 Afghanistan. The group was never uprooted from the country and remains closely allied with the Taliban to this day.

Since July 2018, the UN Security Council has published at least four reports highlighting the ongoing and close relationship between the Taliban and al Qaeda.

The Trump administration is currently seeking an accord with the Taliban, under which the US will set a withdrawal schedule in exchange for unspecified “counterterrorism assurances.” But the UN’s reports illustrate why the Taliban is not a credible counterterrorism partner.

The latest report was submitted in mid-July by the monitoring team responsible for tracking al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Al Qaeda “considers Afghanistan a continuing safe haven for its leadership, relying on its long-standing and strong relationship with the Taliban leadership,” the monitoring group’s analysts reported. Al Qaeda “members continue to function routinely as military and religious instructors for the Taliban.”

How South Asia can continue as world’s fastest growing subregion

By Lei Lei Song

Since 2014, South Asia has been the fastest growing subregion in the world, with its eight economies collectively boasting average annual growth of 7.0%. This is higher even than East Asia (6.2%), which includes China; Southeast Asia (4.9%); and the Pacific (4.7%). To carry on this impressive performance beyond the next couple of years, though, will require reforms and investments.

Strong growth in South Asia has been largely driven by the performance of Bangladesh and India, with growth averaging above 7% in the past five years. Domestic demand in terms of consumption and investment has been strong. Major reforms such as the introduction of a goods and service tax in India and measures to make it easier to do business across the subregion have helped promote private investment. In next two years, India is expected to continue to grow above 7%, while Bangladesh’s growth is around 8%.

Revisiting U.S.- China Strategic Competition: Insights from 2018 NPR

By Zaeem Hassan Mehmood
Following the end of the Cold War, the global security situation has drastically become more complex and demanding to levels of almost unprecedented nature. Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) 2018 indicates that since 1991, US has been undergoing significant reductions in its nuclear arsenal. The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) has been put forward as an example, which set an upper limit of 6,000 nuclear warheads whereas shorter-range of nuclear weapons were almost eliminated during this time period. Furthermore, the 2002 Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty (SORT) and the 2010 New START Treaty, lowered the strategic force levels to 1,550 warheads, reducing US nuclear stockpiles to more than 85 percent from its Cold War high. National Security Strategy(NSS) 2017, another state document setting the vision of President Donald J. Trump, indicates conditions thought as ideal for the “unprecedented aspirations” of the Obama administration for a “nuclear zero” were seen as indications of “American weakness and decline”. International events in the form of alleged Russian resurgence in Ukraine and the Middle East, along with increasing Chinese boldness in the Asia-Pacific are stated to be evidence of a multi-polar world order where US is required to safeguard its interests. The return to the great power competition has brought China to modernizing and expanding its nuclear forces stresses the 2018 NPR. It is pursuing entirely new nuclear capabilities tailored to achieve particular national security objectives while also modernizing its conventional military that is allegedly challenging the traditional US military superiority in the Western Pacific. Elsewhere, the strategic picture brings similar concerns, NPR mentions North Korea’s nuclear provocations that are considered a threat to regional and global peace.

Will China Crush the Protests in Hong Kong?

By Michael C. Davis And Victoria Tin-Bor Hui 

For five months, Hong Kong has seen waves of massive protests and violence in the streets. And for five months, the local authorities, with the backing of Beijing, have responded in increasingly draconian ways—from wielding batons and firing lethal shots at protesters to jailing them on rioting charges—that have succeeded mostly in inflaming public sentiment. The situation has devolved into a stalemate, featuring escalating protests and brutal clashes between police and demonstrators. The question on everyone’s mind is if and when the Chinese government will resort to more aggressive means—including use of the military—to end the unrest for good.

The protests began in February in response to a proposed law that would allow Hong Kong to extradite residents of the territory to the Chinese mainland, tearing down the last firewall protecting Hong Kong from Beijing. Although Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam agreed to “suspend” the extradition bill on June 15, residents have continued to press their demands, calling for the formal withdrawal of the bill, an independent investigation into police abuses, the dropping of riot charges against protesters, and the introduction of democratic reforms.

Chinese Thinking about International Relations

by Benjamin Tze Ern Ho

Of late, Chinese scholars have argued for the need to incorporate traditional Chinese ideas into mainstream international relations (IR) theory, which is seen as privileging a Western-centric reading of international affairs. Given the global prominence of China, it behooves scholars and policymakers alike to consider how these ideas are being translated into contemporary Chinese conceptions of international order and influencing China’s foreign policy practices. The four essays in this roundtable attempt to do just that.

First, Feng Zhang adopts a historical perspective on the study of China’s engagement with the international order and examines the implications of the Xi Jinping doctrine for the country’s foreign policy. Second, Xiaoyu Pudiscusses China’s policies and actions in the Indo-Pacific, including its strategic calculations, its perceptions of the U.S. role in the region, and the sources of rising tensions between the United States and China. Using a “status dilemma” framework, Pu argues that Sino-U.S. competition is fueled by concerns in the United States and China that the other side seeks domination and regional hegemony, respectively. Third, Beverley Loke analyzes Chinese and U.S. discourses of great-power management. She examines how each country sees itself as a responsible stakeholder and assesses their respective approaches to a “new model of great-power relations.” Finally, Catherine Jones argues that, despite the use of grand political slogans, Beijing’s foreign policy practices reflect more modest objectives, not unlike the behavioral strategies of middle powers.

Why the China-Russia Alliance Won't Last

by James Jay Carafano
Source Link

So, now everybody wants to be Bismarck. They see themselves shaping history by artfully moving big pieces on the geostrategic chessboard. And one gambit they just can’t resist is moving to snip the growing bonds of Sino-Russian cooperation.

My advice to them: Just stop.

Fears of an allied China and Russia running amok around the world are overblown. Indeed, there is so much friction between these “friends,” any attempt to team up would likely give both countries heat rash.

Prometheus, a bristlecone pine and the world's oldest tree, is cut down.

Tim Berners-Lee releases files describing his idea for the World Wide Web. WWW debuts as a publicly available service on the Internet.

Siren’s Cat Call

Iran Owns the Persian Gulf Now

Source Link

It has long been an accepted fact within the U.S. foreign-policy community that if any country blocked or interfered with shipping in the Strait of Hormuz, the United States and its allies would use the awesome force at their disposal to defend freedom of navigation. Yet like so much else in this era, long-held truths and ironclad laws have turned out to be elaborate fictions.

The United States has invested great sums in the Middle East over many decades to undertake a few important tasks—notably protecting the sea lines—but this task does not seem to be something the current president believes to be a core American interest. After all, on June 24, President Donald Trump tweeted: “China gets 91% of its Oil from the Straight, Japan 62%, & many other countries likewise. So why are we protecting the shipping lanes for other countries (many years) for zero compensation. All of these countries should be protecting their own ships on what has always been a dangerous journey.”

Iran’s Threat to Saudi Critical Infrastructure: The Implications of U.S.-Iranian Escalation


Tensions between Iran and the United States have heightened concerns about the threat to critical infrastructure in the Persian Gulf, including in Saudi Arabia. This report argues that while Saudi Arabia has vulnerabilities in its oil, desalination, electricity, SCADA, shipping, and other systems, Iran has thus far adopted a calibrated approach. Tehran has conducted irregular attacks to infrastructure using offensive cyber weapons, naval ships to impede oil tankers, and partners like the Houthis in Yemen. The United States should focus on deterring further Iranian escalation, refraining from actions that threaten the regime’s survival, and providing a political “off ramp” for Iran to de-escalate.


There is growing concern about Iranian threats to Persian Gulf countries—particularly Saudi Arabia—as friction persists between Iran and the United States. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo condemned Iran’s missile program as “out of control” and a major threat to U.S. allies in the Persian Gulf.1 Senator Tom Cotton asked: “Can there be any doubt, any doubt that our partners in the Gulf are facing a genuine emergency as they fend off Iran? Oil tankers flying the flags of our allies and partners are ablaze in the Gulf of Oman.”2 And Saudi oil minister Khalid Al Falih lamented, “I am concerned though about the security of oil supplies from threats from state and non-state actors that we’ve seen. We’ve seen ships being attacked, we’ve seen pipelines being attacked, we’ve seen drones being launched from militias that are agents of Iran and that’s putting the global energy supply at risk.”3

Achilles’ Heel: Adding Resilience to NATO’s Fragile Missile Shield

Missile defense is a major part of the U.S./NATO strategy to counter Iranian aggression and limit damage in the event of conflict. The missile defense architecture currently protecting NATO from Iranian missile attack is fragile due to its heavy reliance on a single ground-based radar to track missiles headed towards Europe. This single point of failure makes the entire system susceptible to technical malfunction or concerted enemy action. A more diverse and modernized set of sensors would improve reliability and resilience against an Iranian ballistic missile attack.

Tensions with Iran are once again increasing. The slow implosion of the nuclear accord, Iran’s harassment of cargo ships, and the downing of a U.S. unmanned aircraft have made plain the risk of conflict between Iran and the United States. The dispute should also draw attention to the questionable preparedness of the United States and its allies to fight a war with Iran on short notice and deal with that war’s blowback across the Middle East and Europe. Regional missile defense architectures are an important part of that preparedness. Iran has the largest and most diverse supply of ballistic missiles in the Middle East region, and Tehran has shown an ability and willingness to use them in combat operations.1 Iran is also learning to employ other kinds of aerial threats, such as long-range cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In a conflict with Iran, U.S. and allied forces would likely face a wide spectrum of air and missile threats.

Speaking Truth to Power


Many partisans accused President George W. Bush of lying and pressuring the intelligence community to produce intelligence to justify a war that Bush had already chosen. But the situation was complicated, and to understand the problems of speaking truth to power, we must clear away the myths.

CAMBRIDGE – US President Donald Trump’s nomination of John Ratcliffe, a highly partisan Congressman with little international experience, to replace Dan Coats as Director of National Intelligence raised the red flag of the politicization of intelligence. Opposition to Ratcliffe among Democrats and Republicans alike forced Trump to withdraw the nomination, but the question remains: Will power corrupt truth? Presidents need an intelligence director they can trust, but can the rest of the government trust that director to speak truth to power, as Coats did when he contradicted the president on issues like Russia, Iran, and North Korea?

Why Trump Cares About the Pentagon’s Mega-Cloud — and Why That Terrifies Those Who Want It

Source Link

Breaking up the $10 billion JEDI network project will hurt the U.S. military’s effort to speed data to troops, its fans argue.

Why does President Trump suddenly care who wins the Pentagon’s $10 billion cloud-storage contract?

The president is not known for wading deep into information technology policy. But on July 22, Trump tweeted about a Fox News segment alleging that the Pentagon was involved in a crooked scheme to award Amazon the coveted Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Program, or JEDI. 

“It’s not just appropriate but vital that the president kills this contract” said Steve Hilton, a Fox News host.

The Pentagon was expected to choose between Amazon, the early favorite, and Microsoft. But on Thursday, a Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that new Defense Secretary Mark Esper put a hold on the contract award while he reviews the process. “No decision will be made on the program until he has completed his examination,” said Elissa Smith.

The Russian Sale of S-400 Missiles to Turkey May Change Power Equilibrium in the Middle East

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

For centuries, Russia has spent vast amounts of blood and treasure and fought multiple wars in the hopes to either directly annex the Turkish Straits—the Bosporus and the Dardanelles—or to establish a friendly vassal regime there that would control the strategic waterway and allow only Russian warships to pass. Moscow’s control over the Straits is vital to ensure secure Russian access to the Mediterranean region and to effectively move southern Russia’s line of defense from the littoral waters near Sochi and Taman all the way out to the Aegean Sea.

Since the 15th century, Russia has presented itself as the only true successor of the Byzantine Orthodox Roman Empire; indeed, the double-headed eagle on the coat of arms of the House of Palaiologos—the last Byzantine imperial dynasty—today makes up the national coat of arms of the Russian Federation. Capturing Istanbul (Constantinople), restoring the Orthodox cross on the Hagia Sophia (the Ottoman Turks turned it into a mosque; at present, it is a museum), taking the coveted Straits, and ultimately uniting the Balkan and Middle Eastern Orthodox people under Russian rule seemed close at hand several times in the last couple of centuries. But each time, as Russian forces invaded and marched to Constantinople or planned to land troops on the Bosporus, something went wrong. Nonetheless, in 1833, the Russian navy actually succeeded in landing some 30,000 troops on the Bosporus to stop the advancing forces of Egyptian ruler Mehmed Ali and saved the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II. The Russian forces withdrew only after the Turks signed a mutual defense compact—the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi—effectively turning Turkey into a Russian protectorate with a secret clause requiring the closure of the Dardanelles to all foreign warships at Russia’s command. The modern-day equivalent of such a treaty is arguably the ultimate goal of Moscow’s present Middle Eastern policy.

How Would Global Gas Cope with a Hormuz Closure?

The Strait of Hormuz is a well-known chokepoint in oil markets—much has been written over the years about its key role in oil markets and the severe effects a suspension of shipments would have on oil prices. But the strait is also a chokepoint for liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipments—and the implications of disruption are less widely understood.

First, a few facts (all data from this report). Qatar is surrendering its title as the top liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter in the world, but it was still the world’s number one exporter in 2018, accounting for 25 percent of global LNG supplies. Abu Dhabi, the first Middle Eastern LNG supplier, still exports a small amount too—5.5 million tons in 2018. Some of this trade stays within the Gulf with LNG going from Qatar to Kuwait (and, in previous years, the United Arab Emirates too). But mostly, these two countries send their LNG through the strait. There is also some incoming traffic: Kuwait and Dubai import LNG, Bahrain will start imports soon as well, and Sharjah might import LNG by 2020.

The impact of any disruption will depend on several factors: will the disruption take place in the summer or winter, and how extreme will temperatures be; how strong is demand generally at the time; how much gas exists in storage; are shipping markets tight or not; how prolonged is the disruption; and so on. The specifics will matter greatly—and will determine how the system will adjust.

Congress Is Gearing Up for a Bigger Fight With Trump Over Russia Policy

Neil Bhatiya 
After a long delay, the Trump administration finally took the first steps in a legally mandated effort to punish Russia for its use of chemical weapons in the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal, the former Russian spy living in the United Kingdom. On Aug. 1, the administration issued an executive order outlining the nature of sanctions it could impose on Russia, focused on restrictions on lending to Russian government or government-affiliated entities.

Up for Debate: Should U.S. Reduce Arms Sales Abroad?

Over the coming year, high school students around the country will debate whether the U.S. should reduce its arms sales to foreign countries.

Specifically, the national debate topic that was selected for the 2019-20 school year is: Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially reduce Direct Commercial Sales and/or Foreign Military Sales of arms from the United States.

As required by statute, the Congressional Research Service prepared a bibliography reflecting diverse points of view on U.S. arms sales to help inform student debaters on this topic.

“This selective bibliography, with brief annotations, is intended to assist debaters in identifying resources and references on the national debate topic,” the CRS document says. “It lists citations to journal articles, books, congressional publications, legal cases, and websites. The bibliography is divided into three broad sections: basic concepts and definitions, general overviews, and specific cases.”

GAO Blasts Cybersecurity Efforts of Federal Agencies

The GAO found that 22 of the 23 agencies it reviewed had designated an executive in charge of risk, but that most had failed in other key areas of risk management, such as developing a cybersecurity risk management plan; creating policies for assessing, monitoring and responding to risk; and establishing processes for coordinating their cybersecurity and enterprise risk management programs.

The government watchdog laid out 58 recommended steps the 23 agencies should take to shore up their cybersecurity defenses, saying that until they do, "agencies will face an increased risk of cyber-based incidents that threaten national security and personal privacy."

The top recommendation was for the Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Homeland Security to develop ways that agencies can share successful methods for addressing challenges in such areas as managing the competing priorities if cybersecurity and operations and implementing consistent cybersecurity risk management practices.

How to Create a Terrorism Designation Process Useful to Technology Companies

By Daniel Byman

On August 3, a shooter opened fire at a crowded Walmart in El Paso, Texas, killing 22 people. Shortly beforehand, it seems that he posted a screed on the online messageboard 8chan, framing the shooting as an act of terrorism against what he saw as the increasing Latino population of Texas. The El Paso shooting was the third act of mass violence this year with a link to 8chan—and by the end of the weekend, the network provider Cloudflare decided to pull its services from the website, making it more difficult for 8chan to stay on the web.

In justifying the decision, Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince wrote that 8chan had crossed a boundary: “[T]hey have proven themselves to be lawless and that lawlessness has caused multiple tragic deaths.” But, he indicated, he was uncomfortable with Cloudflare’s ability to unilaterally decide what websites should and should not have the protections necessary to remain online. “What’s hard,” he said, “is defining the policy that we can enforce transparently and consistently going forward.”

Is the Threat of ‘Fake Science’ Real?

By Alden Fletcher 

In the early 1980s, Soviet intelligence began Operation Infektion—a campaign to erode trust in the U.S. government by orchestrating a series of scientific papers and news articles arguing that the U.S. government created the HIV/AIDS virus. As part of the operation, Soviet intelligence services relied on retired biophysicists Lilli and Jakob Segal, who co-authored with university colleague a 47-page pamphlet attributing the origins of the disease to the U.S. government. The Segals’ report recounted numerous factually accurate aspects of the disease but veered away from reality by attributing the origins of HIV/AIDS to U.S. military experiments on prisoners at Fort Detrick, Maryland. Just two years after publication, the report had received coverage from news organizations in more than 80 countries and contributed to the persistent belief that the U.S. government manufactured HIV/AIDS.

Can federal agencies ever protect all their vital data?

By: Chloe Rogers  

Federal agencies and the Office of Management and Budget are not doing enough to safeguard the confidentiality of vital federal information from cyberattacks, according to a Government Accountability Office report released July 26.

Under the Federal Information Security Management Act, federal agencies are required to establish security programs to protect the systems and information crucial to their operations and assets. Highlighting the importance of these security programs, the act directed OMB to oversee governmentwide information security practices and policies.

However, GAO found that many federal agencies did not adequately and efficiently implement the information security programs during fiscal year 2018. Out of the 16 agencies GAO examined, the majority were deficient in implementing the eight elements of agencywide information security programs required by FISMA. They were also deficient in most of the core functions of the National Institute of Standards and Technology cybersecurity framework they were required to meet under a May 2017 executive order.



Since early June, an estimated 1 million people have taken to the streets of Hong Kong to protest a bill that would allow extraditions to China.

To avoid identification, many of the Hong Kong protesters cover their faces. But according to a new Washington Post story, some have also been shining high-powered lasers directly at surveillance cameras — a high-tech protest strategy intended to confuse facial recognition systems.

Hong Kong protestors are on another level. Here they’re using lasers to avoid facial recognition cameras. A cyber war against Chinese artificial intelligence. 

Mainland Takeover

British Army announces new cyberwarfare division

By Harry Lye

The British Army is to form a hybrid warfare division known as Division 6 to focus on intelligence, surveillance, cyber-warfare and digital propaganda was created as part of a wider rebalancing of the British Army.

Head of the Field Army Lieutenant-General Ivan Jones announced the new division, saying: “The character of warfare continues to change as the boundaries between conventional and unconventional warfare become increasingly blurred.”

Division 6 will receive no new funding or staff. Instead, it will be staffed with personnel from the 1st Signal Brigade, 11th Signal Brigade, 1st Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade, 77th Brigade and the Specialist Infantry Group.

It will be the UK Army’s first designated information warfare grouping and will help the army keep pace with an ever-diversifying range of threats.

Can federal agencies ever protect all their vital data?

By: Chloe Rogers   
Federal agencies and the Office of Management and Budget are not doing enough to safeguard the confidentiality of vital federal information from cyberattacks, according to a Government Accountability Office report released July 26.

Under the Federal Information Security Management Act, federal agencies are required to establish security programs to protect the systems and information crucial to their operations and assets. Highlighting the importance of these security programs, the act directed OMB to oversee governmentwide information security practices and policies.

However, GAO found that many federal agencies did not adequately and efficiently implement the information security programs during fiscal year 2018. Out of the 16 agencies GAO examined, the majority were deficient in implementing the eight elements of agencywide information security programs required by FISMA. They were also deficient in most of the core functions of the National Institute of Standards and Technology cybersecurity framework they were required to meet under a May 2017 executive order.

Trends in Armed Conflict, 1946–2018

By Håvard Strand, Siri Aas Rustad, Henrik Urdal and Håvard Mokleiv Nygård

The number of armed conflicts in 2018 was slightly higher than 2017 and much higher than ten years ago, but the number of fatalities occurring in these conflicts was below average for the post–Cold War period. A key issue remains internationalized conflicts – civil wars with external parties involved – where a majority of fatalities in 2018 has been recorded.

Brief Points

The number of state-based armed conflicts in the world increased slightly from 50 in 2017 to 52 in 2018, with the Islamic State active in 12 of them.

There was a significant decline in conflict casualties in 2018, with 23% fewer casualties compared with 2017, and 49% fewer than 2014.

Afghanistan is again the deadliest conflict region in the world; 48% of all casualties in state-based conflicts in 2018 were in Afghanistan.

Internationalized conflicts and nonstate conflicts continue to represent major threats to reductions in violence.

There were six wars in 2018, down from 10 in 2017.

Why Excluding Turkey From the F-35 Program Is the Right Call—and Sufficient

Richard Weitz 

On July 17, the U.S. announced that it had terminated Turkey’s participation in the F-35 fighter jet program, five days after Ankara took delivery of components for four batteries of Russian S-400 air defense systems that Turkey purchased in 2017. The systems will not be assembled and operational until the fall, but in receiving the first shipment, Turkey ignored repeated warnings from Washington that it considered the presence of the S-400 to be incompatible with operating the F-35. 

The Trump administration gave several reasons for the suspension: the intelligence risk posed by the presence of an advanced Russian data-collection platform in a NATO country; Turkey’s refusal to accept a Western air defense system as an alternative; and the damage to NATO interoperability resulting from the deployment of a non-Western weapon system by a member state.