23 August 2019

Why interlinking of rivers is a dangerous idea

As the water crisis has deepened, so has our desperation and the extent we are prepared to go to violate the basic principles of both science and spirituality.

Instead of learning from our errors, we are tempted to go even further in the same mistaken direction.

The proposal for interlinking of India’s rivers (ILR) is based on a series of erroneous presumptions.

It is claimed that since some parts of India chronically have floods and others have droughts, the solution is to divert water from surplus river basins to deficit ones, so that everyone can live happily ever after!

Is it true that some areas in India have too much water?

Try telling the north-eastern states that!

Did you know that Sohra (previously known as Cherrapunjee), one of the highest rainfall hotspots on the planet, today suffers from an acute shortage of drinking water?

Overcoming Inertia: Why It’s Time to End the War in Afghanistan

By John Glaser and John Mueller

The war in Afghanistan has become America’s longest war not because U.S. security interests necessitate it, nor because the battlefield realities are insurmountable, but because of inertia. Policymakers have shied away from hard truths, fallen victim to specious cognitive biases, and allowed the mission to continue without clear intentions or realistic objectives.

Although the American people are substantially insulated from the sacrifices incurred by this distant war, the reality is that the United States can’t win against the Taliban at a remotely acceptable cost. Almost two decades in, the insurgency is as strong as ever, and the U.S.-backed Kabul regime is weak and mired in corruption. And while official assessments of the conflict have long acknowledged it as a stalemate, top military leaders have consistently misled the public and advised elected civilians to devote greater resources to achieve victory.

Can Trump Make a Deal for Afghanistan?

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What’s on tap: Afghans and U.S. national security aides have deep concerns about peace negotiations after new violence in Kabul, Trump’s idea for a naval blockade of Venezuela, and the Army’s challenges in staffing up new cyber and electronic warfare units. 

New Violence in Afghanistan

A wedding turned deadly. A suicide attacker linked to the Islamic State detonated a bomb on Saturday night in a crowded wedding hall in Kabul, killing at least 63 people and wounded more than 180. “It was like doomsday,” one wedding guest told the Washington Post. 

The attack, one of the worst assaults on Afghan civilians in years, comes at a perilous time, as U.S. and Taliban negotiators reach the final stages of talks to end America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan's Warlords Prepare for Civil War

By Scott DesMarais
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Key Takeaway: Key Afghan warlords have begun preparing for a potential civil war as the U.S. nears an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw from Afghanistan. The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has observed indicators that Tajik, Uzbek, and Hazara leaders are taking steps to mobilize their ethnic communities in preparation for a looming power struggle as the U.S. and NATO leave Afghanistan. Afghan Pashtuns will also soon likely mobilize, if they have not already begun. 

The U.S. is about to finalize a bilateral agreement with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan.[1] The Taliban in return is reportedly promising to prevent transnational jihadists (including Al Qaeda and ISIS) from conducting global attacks from Afghanistan. It has also ostensibly committed to subsequent negotiations with other Afghan political leaders over the future of Afghanistan. The exact terms of these negotiations remain unclear, but the U.S. has declined to explicitly support a leadership role in the talks for the current Afghan Government – implying that talks would focus on establishing a new Government of Afghanistan.[2] The apparent decision to sideline the current Afghan Government is a major concession by the U.S. and NATO. The existence and terms of this bilateral agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban, when finalized, will sideline and severely weaken the Afghan Government. It will remove the government’s core source of leverage over the Taliban – namely, the military forces and international aid money brought by the U.S. and NATO to Afghanistan. 

US Army: No Afghanistan Withdrawal Plans Yet


Amid heightened speculation the United States may be planning an imminent withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Donald Trump on Tuesday reiterated his desire to reduce the number of American forces there and suggested that ongoing talks with the Afghan government and the Taliban could lead to U.S. troops coming home. But he stopped short of confirming any such plans, and U.S. Army Acting Secretary Ryan McCarthy later told reporters he has been given no direction to halt or curtail troop deployments to the war. 

The Army announced on Friday that the 3rd Security Force Assistance Brigade, or SFAB, will be deploying to Afghanistan to continue to train Afghan Security Forces. The 10th Mountain Division Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Drum, New York, also has received orders to rotate in. 

“The direction we’ve given FORSCOM is head down to prepare [the SFAB] to get on a C-17 and deploy for the 9 months of the deployment,” McCarthy said. U.S. Army Forces Command, or FORSCOM, is the component of the Army that fields out land-based units to regional commanders. 

Is the Afghanistan deal a good one?

Michael E. O’Hanlon

According to teases leaked by the American negotiating team, it appears that an interim Afghanistan peace deal may be in the works between Washington and the Taliban. Details are far from clear to date. But the main contours of any agreement seem to be a renouncing of extremists by the Taliban, the withdrawal of several thousand American and NATO troops, together with an indefinite partial ceasefire, or at least a sustained reduction in violence by all parties. If that is indeed the deal — it’s not yet clear if the ceasefire would happen early on, as it must for the idea to make any sense from a U.S. and Afghan government perspective — there may be promise to the concept, provided that not only the Taliban but the Pakistani government support it as well. These initial steps would be followed by negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government over some future type of power-sharing, after which the preponderance of the remaining U.S. and other foreign forces would leave the country as well. It is crucial that the remaining U.S. forces not withdraw until a power-sharing arrangement has been well-established.

I have been highly skeptical of this year’s peace talks, even though they have been led by the wily and wise Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad (an Afghan-born American who was President George W. Bush’s envoy to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the United Nations). The Taliban’s abject unwillingness to meet with representatives of the elected and constitutionally-legitimated government of President Ashraf Ghani, together with the belief of the Taliban leadership that America wants out and will use the peace talks as a fig leaf to cover a retreat from the country, provided grounds for extreme caution. President Trump’s announcement last December that he would soon cut the U.S. troop presence in the country in half, unconditionally and abruptly, was one of the two issues that apparently sparked the resignation of Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis — and revealed the president’s apparent true intentions about a mission he never really supported in the first place.

It Matters Whether Americans Call Afghanistan a Defeat


The public’s judgment about whether the United States won or lost the war will affect civilian-military relations for years to come.

The Trump administration appears poised to announce, within days or weeks, a deal with the Taliban that will involve a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. If that happens, the administration may soon find itself in a new battle over public opinion. The question then would be: Did the United States win or lose?

The answer depends partly on the terms of a potential deal, but also on the public narrative that forms around it. A negotiated peace normally involves concessions by both sides, and can therefore be characterized in multiple ways; critics of the deal now taking shape are describing it as a U.S. surrender, while proponents will likely portray it as an honorable end to America’s longest war. Whether the deal comes to be seen as a victory or a defeat could influence relations between the military and civilian leadership for years to come.

Following the Vietnam War, a narrative developed among the U.S.-military officer corps that civilian leaders had stabbed military leaders in the back by cutting a deal to withdraw U.S. troops, rather than allowing them to win. A broader literature suggests that a “stabbed in the back” narrative is a common cultural response among militaries that have failed to achieve their wartime goals. Many of these frames have staying power. The Powell Doctrine—war should be a last resort, and exercised only with a commitment to using overwhelming military force—played a major role in national-security debates in the 1990s, but had its roots in Vietnam.

Competition and Cooperation in the South Pacific

by Jesse Barker Gale

This brief addresses the malign influence of Chinese investment in the South Pacific and the evolution of U.S. strategy to build trust and remain competitive. It also highlights the ongoing contributions of U.S. allies and security partners and opportunities for greater regional cooperation.

The phrasing of the Australia, New Zealand, and United States Security (ANZUS) Treaty is unambiguous: “The parties to this treaty…desiring to strengthen the fabric of peace in the Pacific Area…declare publicly and formally their sense of unity, so that no potential aggressor could be under the illusion that any of them stand alone.”[1] The South Pacific lies to the northeast of the Australian landmass, directly across the maritime approaches between Australia and its historical trade and security partners in Northeast Asia and North America. Similarly for the United States, access to Australia (its premier regional security ally) and long-standing trade and security partners in Southeast Asia relies on a stable and sovereign South Pacific. A historic objective of the U.S.-Australia alliance has been to prevent the rise of a strategic military competitor in the South Pacific.

‘Desperate Need For Speed’ As Army Takes On Chinese, Russian, ISIS Info Ops

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TECHNET AUGUSTA: The Army wants to expand its fledgling cyber branch into an information warfare force that can do everything from jamming insurgent radio stations to fighting Chinese cyber espionage and protecting US elections from online subversion.

It’s a tremendous task, even within the Army — and the implications of information operations go far beyond the military, touching sensitivities central to a democracy. At a minimum, the service’s new strategy requires:

Reorganizing Army Cyber Command into an Information Warfare Command, at the same time as it relocates its HQ from Fort Belvoir outside DC to Fort Gordon, South Carolina, just 10 miles from here.

Creating new units and staffs at a time when the Army is still struggling to train enough tech-savvy soldiers to man prototype cyber units it just created to blend digital and physical combat in what it calls Multi-Domain Operations.

Hong Kong’s Summer of Rage

Phil C.W. Chan
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The year of 2019 is no ordinary one for China. It marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, the 30th anniversary of the crackdown on Tiananmen Square protests, and the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement where Marxist ideas began to take hold in the country.

The year has turned out to be equally momentous for Hong Kong. A murder in Taiwan in 2018 allegedly by a young man of his pregnant girlfriend, both of whom Hong Kong permanent residents, has set off, in the words of Zhang Xiaoming, director of China’s State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, the city’s “worst crisis” since its return to China’s sovereignty in July 1997 after 155 years of British colonial rule.

The furor over the extradition Bill – which, if passed, would empower and compel Hong Kong authorities to transfer anyone in Hong Kong accused of a serious crime committed anywhere to any jurisdiction with which Hong Kong did not have an extradition agreement, including Mainland China – has metamorphosed into a generalized movement uniting Hong Kong people, of all ages and from all walks of life, into expressing their frustrations about Hong Kong’s unelected, unrepresentative, unresponsive and unaccountable government, Hong Kong police’s escalating brutality and questionable tactics and rationales in arresting activists and quelling protests, and alleged collusions on the part of the government and police with triad members in suppressing protests.

Israel-China Relations: Opportunities and Challenges

Both Israel and China are approximately 70 years old. Each is the homeland of an ancient nation, has a rich historical heritage, and embodies the immense national pride of its citizens. Since the establishment of official diplomatic relations between Israel and China, the bilateral connections have evolved and grown, and today are especially noteworthy in the realms of economy, culture, and tourism. The volume of trade between the countries has increased in the areas of agriculture, health, water, hi tech, and more. In the cultural realm, there are exchanges of knowledge, student exchanges, and deep mutual interest in the history, religions, and cultures of the two nations. In the field of tourism, in recent years the number of tourists and visitors has doubled in both directions, and continues to increase steadily.

Four years as Israel’s ambassador in China taught me that appearances do not always reflect reality, and that there is much more to China than meets the eye. We must remember that the gap between the cultures is substantial, and that the encounter between them is complicated. Often Israel does not understand the Chinese side well. The Chinese rely on trust, which takes time to develop. For Israelis who like “everything here and now,” it is not easy to sustain the considerable patience that is required with the Chinese. Our tendency as Israelis to speak openly and directly clashes with the Chinese tradition of indirect, implied, and veiled speech, as well as with the important Chinese value of maintaining the honor of others and refraining from disgracing them and causing them to lose face. Thus, often the true intention is not clear to the Israeli side, which has difficulty reading the situation and its implications correctly.

Selling to Huawei

The announcement by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross extending a license that allows Huawei to purchase from U.S. suppliers should not be that baffling nor does it reflect contradictions in U.S. policy. The items sold to Huawei do not pose a national security risk. In fact, banning these items would harm national security by unnecessarily damaging U.S. companies.

Most of the items that can continue to be sold are "end items," final products like semiconductors. Huawei cannot make modern mobile phones without these chips. But refusing to sell them does not mean that Huawei would go out of business. It will develop alternate sources of supply, and in the interim, the Chinese government is not going to let its favorite national champion collapse because of U.S. pressure. China will pay what it takes to keep Huawei going. At the same time, Huawei will find less advanced replacement technologies that will let it keep selling, at least to the lower end of the market. If there is any harm, it is will fall on U.S. companies.

This kind of self-destructive tendency has been a hallmark of U.S. export policies, whose history is littered with examples where an overly risk-averse approach or overly broad restrictions damaged or even destroyed strategic U.S. industries. In the late 1980s, two Western companies sold advanced machine tools to the Soviet Union that made their submarines quieter and thus harder to detect. In response, the Reagan administration restricted machine tool exports. This had the effect of driving the machine tool industry from the United States. China now produces more advanced machine tools than the United States.


By Jennifer Cafarella with Brandon Wallace and Jason Zhou
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The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) is not defeated despite the loss of the territory it claimed as its so-called ‘Caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. It is stronger today than its predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was in 2011, when the U.S. withdrew from Iraq. AQI had around 700-1000 fighters then. ISIS had as many as 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria in August 2018 according to a Defense Intelligence Agency estimate. ISIS built from the small remnant left in 2011 an army large enough to recapture Fallujah, Mosul, and other cities in Iraq and dominate much of eastern Syria in only three years. It will recover much faster and to a much more dangerous level from the far larger force it still has today.

[Download the full report here.]

Insurgents and the Flip Side of Special Operations

This article reflects the personal views of the authors and does not reflect the views of the U.S. Navy or the U.S. Government.

While the Islamic State’s physical caliphate is no more, it is clear that the group has successfully transitioned back to a uniform insurgency contesting for influence in areas of Syria and Iraq. Certainly, its far-flung affiliates in Asia and Africa believe in the sustainability of the brand, foregoing an opportunity to drop their allegiance to a “guerrilla caliph” and instead renewing their pledges. Efforts to gauge the possibility of an Islamic State comeback “After the Caliphate” would be wise to consult its previous rise to power before 2014, a period that is understudied and widely misunderstood—despite the fact that the Islamic State has regularly published on its insurgency doctrine and noted its pre-caliphate roots. As part of a larger investigation of how the group gained its caliphate, we recently published an article titled “Black Ops: Islamic State Innovation in Irregular Warfare” (Studies in Conflict and Terrorism) that investigates the evolution of a sophisticated style of insurgency that experimented with the use of special operations. Below, we summarize our results for the policy community and present the findings for those interested in how militant tactics and strategies are evolving.

Yemeni separatists extend control in south, Saudi-led forces strike capital

ADEN (Reuters) - Southern separatists seized most Yemeni government security and military bases near the port of Aden on Tuesday after clashes between nominal allies that have complicated U.N. peace efforts, residents and officials said.

The separatists and the Yemeni government are both part of a Saudi-led military coalition battling the Iran-aligned Houthi movement, which took over the capital Sanaa in the north and most major cities in 2014.

But the separatists broke with the government when they seized its temporary base of Aden on Aug. 10.

On Tuesday, they took over military police, special forces and military brigades camps in Zinjibar, around 60 km (40 miles) east of Aden in Abyan province, local officials said.

This effectively put control of the Abyan capital in the hands of the United Arab Emirates-backed separatists, who seek self-rule in the south, and further weakened the government of Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who resides in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

The Saudi-led military coalition, which backs Hadi, carried out air strikes on Zinjibar, two sources including a local official said.

The Geopolitical Implications of Future Oil Demand

Professor Paul Stevens
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The global energy economy is undergoing a rapid transition from ‘hydrocarbon molecules to electrons’: in other words, from fossil fuels to renewables and low-carbon electricity. Leading energy industry players and analysts – the energy-forecasting ‘establishment’ – are seriously underestimating the speed and depth of this transition. This in part reflects the vested interests that dominate that establishment. By contrast, the financial sector – which has little or no vested interest in fossil fuels –understands what is going on and is taking the transition on board.

The history of past energy transitions – including the US’s shift from wood to coal in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and the French adoption of nuclear power on a wide scale in the 1980s –provides useful context for analysis of this trend. Such transitions have been triggered by factors ranging from market upheaval to technological change, with the technological element typically reinforcing the transition.

U.S. Security Policy in the Trump Era Has Been Marked by Change—and Continuity

When President Donald Trump entered office under an “America First” banner, it seemed to herald a new era of U.S. isolationism. More than two years into his term, though, and the shifts in military strategy are minimal. Though their numbers are down, U.S. troops are still stationed in Afghanistan, and the Trump administration left unchanged the strategy against the Islamic State that it inherited from its predecessor.

Nevertheless, Trump’s isolationist instincts have come into regular tension with his closest advisers, many of whom espouse a more traditional view of American power projection. This was never clearer than in December 2018, when Trump ignored his aides and announced his decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, prompting then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to resign in protest. Trump subsequently softened his rhetoric, without definitively articulating a final policy, contributing to the sense of uncertainty over America’s security policymaking. 

U.S. Army soldiers salute as vehicles carry what are believed to be remains from American servicemen killed during the Korean War, Osan Air Base, Pyeongtaek, South Korea, July 27, 2018 (AP photo by Ahn Young-joon). 

Breaching Fortress Russia: The Uncertain Future of U.S. Expeditionary Warfare

By Madison Creery

Currently, the United States possesses unmatched military power projection capabilities, spending almost as much on its military as the next eight highest-spending countries combined, as well as possessing the greatest number of forward-deployed forces in the world.[I] However, as the U.S. pivots toward near-peer competition, its expeditionary capabilities are coming increasingly into doubt. Expeditionary warfare has been one of the defining characteristics of the U.S. military for the last 25 years when it enjoyed significant qualitative and quantitative advantages over regional aggressors. These assumptions no longer hold when facing future conflict with Russia, a markedly different challenge from the demands of fighting global terrorism, and one that requires a reevaluation of US policy. The costs and risks of defending allies in Eastern Europe have increased, with the U.S. now facing advanced anti-access, area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. These include long-range precision strike missiles (PrSM), sophisticated integrated air defense systems (IADS), an aggressive undersea domain, and a contested information environment all designed to push American forces outside of their effective combat ranges.[II]

The United States Will Miss China’s Money

By Zachary Karabell

The rattled stock market gets all the trade war attention, but it’s the sharp decline in China’s U.S. investments that should alarm Americans.

The cadence of the U.S.-China trade war has become all too familiar, with periods of amicable albeit tense negotiation punctuated by Washington’s escalation of tariffs followed by Beijing’s tit for tat. That latest salvo played out with U.S. President Donald Trump’s sudden announcement that as of Sept. 1, another $300 billion of imported goods from China would be subject to a 10 percent tariff, followed by an equally sudden delay along with an extensive list of products exempted.

The escalating tariff war, while it gets the attention, has masked a sharp decline not in U.S.- China trade (which, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, has remained relatively static) but in Chinese investment in the United States. The dollar amounts matter, but more significant is the lost leverage that those investments entail. Trump’s unilateral, preemptive trade war has rattled markets for sure, but early signs are that the domestic U.S. economy along with American soft power are the prime casualties. That surely was not the goal.

US Forms New Task Force to Combat ‘Russian Influence’

Even after Robert Mueller’s testimony fell apart and no real evidence of Russian meddling has been provided, Russiagate lives on. Director of the National Security Agency and head of US Cyber Command, General Paul Nakasone announced the formation of a new task force to combat supposed Russian interference in the upcoming 2020 elections. The Russia Small Group will be using techniques learned from fighting ISIS in cyberspace.

Cyber Command created Task Force Ares in 2016 to fight ISIS in cyberspace. It consisted of hackers from all branches of the military, working with intelligence officials to launch cyber-attacks. Ares didn’t just combat ISIS influence and propaganda on social media, they also hacked into ISIS servers and took down networks.

Nakasone told NPR in an interview last week, “A lot of that thinking came from what we were doing in 2016. It’s powerful to bring a number of different elements of a team together and be able to form something very rapidly to address a threat.”

“How do you impact your adversary? Do you take down their infrastructure? Do you work with a partner in a foreign nation to expose malware? When we talk about persistent engagement, it’s all of that plus this idea of enabling interagency partners,” Nakasone said.

How Russian cyber-attack ‘could kill as many as a nuclear bomb’ – starving, poisoning and freezing us to death

Jeremy Straub

PEOPLE around the world may be worried about nuclear tensions rising, but I think they’re missing the fact that a major cyberattack could be just as damaging – and hackers are already laying the groundwork.

With the U.S. and Russia pulling out of a key nuclear weapons pact – and beginning to develop new nuclear weapons – plus Iran tensions and North Korea again test-launching missiles, the global threat to civilisation is high. Some fear a new nuclear arms race.

Credit: The Sun

Silicon Valley’s Crisis of Conscience

By Andrew Marantz

There are two kinds of people: those who know nothing about Esalen and those who purport to know everything about it. To find out which kind of person you’re talking to, simply utter the three syllables (stress on the first, slant-rhyme with “mescaline”) and wait. In response, you’ll get either an uncomprehending stare or an effusion of tall tales. Have you heard the one about the poet and the astrophysicist who met in the Esalen hot springs and eloped the next week? How about the accountant who visited for the weekend, cured his depression with a single dose of ketamine, and became a Zen monk? The secret full-moon dance parties? The billionaire-C.E.O. sightings? “This isn’t a place,” a staffer told me while rolling a joint on a piece of rough-hewn garden furniture. “It’s a diaspora, a guiding light out of our collective darkness, an arrow pointing us toward the best way to be fully human.”

To be clear, it is also a place: twenty-seven acres of Big Sur coastline, laid out lengthwise between California Route 1 and the Pacific, a dazzling three-hour drive south of San Francisco. Its full name is the Esalen Institute—a tax-exempt nonprofit, founded in 1962. All visitors must announce themselves at the gatehouse, where a staffer wearing performance fleece is likely to dispense a Northern Californian bundle of mixed messages: Namaste, the light within me bows to the light within you, let me confirm that we’ve received your credit-card deposit and then I’ll point you to your cabin and/or Tesla Supercharger. There’s a redwood dining hall, appointed in the ascetic-chic style; there are pine groves and an organic vegetable farm; there are yoga studios and massage tables and a wrought-iron fire pit; there’s a warren of hot tubs fed by sulfurous underground springs, so when the wind shifts in a northerly direction, the ambient aroma of lavender and patchouli sometimes takes on a middle note of rotten eggs.

The G-7 Gathers in Biarritz for a Dysfunctional Family Reunion

Stewart M. Patrick 

This weekend, leaders from the G-7 will convene for their annual summit, this time in Biarritz, France. French President Emmanuel Macron, who is spearheading France’s G-7 presidency this year, bills the meeting as a chance to relaunch multilateralism, promote democracy and tame globalization to ensure it works for everyone. More likely, the gathering will expose the political, economic and ideological fault lines threatening Western solidarity and international cooperation. 

What a difference five years makes. Back in 2014, the G-7 gained a new and unexpected lease on life after Russia seized Crimea and earned itself an ejection from what was then the G-8. The rejuvenated G-7 seemed poised to resume its onetime role as an intimate forum for policy coordination among like-minded, advanced market democracies, as distinct from the more heterogeneous and unwieldy G-20.

From Plaything to Player: How Europe Can Stand Up for Itself in the Next Five Years

By Carl Bildt and Mark Leonard 

Carl Bildt and Mark Leonard contend that amid increasing geopolitical competition, Europeans are in danger of becoming the hapless playthings in a tussle for preeminence between China, Russia and the US. The authors suggest that there’s nothing inevitable about this scenario, but will Ursula von der Leyen and the EU’s other new leaders be able to turn things around? To provide answers, Bildt and Leonard assess the last five years of EU foreign policymaking and outline ways for Europe to fulfil its potential on the world stage over the next five years.

The EU’s foreign policy is inadequate to the task of keeping Europe safe in today’s world of great power politics and uncertainty.

Over the last five years, trust between Brussels and member states dwindled, and policy came to reflect the lowest common denominator of popular opinion.

Offensive Shifts, Offensive Policies: Cybersecurity Trends in the Government-Private Sector Relationship


Cyber-security is a key risk for decision-makers at both the state and corporate level. There is a relative lack of academic literature examining the impact of foreign cyber-attacks on business and the private sector. This paper examines foreign, state-sponsored threats facing the private sector, investigates the key shortcomings of recent Western government policies, and proposes a series of considerations for future policies that will help mitigate the impact of state-sponsored hostile activity toward the private sector.

Foreign Threats, Domestic Effects

States tend to use cyber-attacks against the private sector in equal or greater frequency as they do against governments. The Dyadic Cyber Incidents Dataset (version 1.5), a database created by several prominent cybersecurity scholars to record all publicly available cyber-incidents from 2000 through 2016, demonstrates this trend.1 This dataset lists 85 major cyber-attacks by foreign governments against the private sector. Of those, 43 were against the American private sector compared to a total of 96 cyber-attacks against the American government, military and the private sector combined. Thus, 45 per cent of cyber-attacks directed at America targeted the private sector, dramatically more than those suffered by any other state’s private sector. Only Ukraine and South Korea had near double-digit numbers of cyber-attacks against corporations; they are two countries under the near-constant threat of attack from a close neighbour. 

ICIT Bright Minds: Diversity in Cyber with Devon Bryan, CISO, Federal Reserve

In this Bright Minds Q&A, we speak with longtime ICIT partner and Federal Reserve System V.P. and CISO Devon Bryan about his views on diversity in the field of cybersecurity. ICIT and Mr. Bryan have a long history of action in this space, with Mr. Bryan co-founding the International Consortium for Minority Cybersecurity Professionals (ICMCP) and ICIT helping launch ICMCP with a Town Hall in Congress sponsored by Congresswomen Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) and Judy Chu (D-CA) in 2015. Mr. Bryan will share his views on how our community has progressed since this Town Hall, as well as on the benefits of diversity for cybersecurity and other pressing issues.

About ICIT’s Bright Mind Q&A Series: In continued support of our mission to cultivate a cybersecurity renaissance that will improve the resiliency of our Nation’s 16 critical infrastructure sectors, defend our democratic institutions, and empower generations of cybersecurity leaders, ICIT has embarked on a journey to hold candid interviews with some of the brightest minds in national security, cybersecurity and technology. Our goal is to share their knowledge and insights with our community to shed light on solutions to the technology, policy, and human challenges facing our community. Our hope is that their words will motivate, educate, and inspire you to take on the challenges facing your organizations.

Cyber threats to worsen with AI, IoT and other tech advances: Israeli expert

Gulveen Aulakh

New Delhi: Recently, you would have seen people around you wanting to see what they look like 30 years from now. Heck, you would be one of them, the people who have used the app which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to do the trick, making Face-App the No 1, or the most downloaded app in India, and the world.

The popularity of FaceApp features — that include making one appear older or younger in a picture, add a smile to your face, trying on different hair styles and even changing ones gender — has made it a viral phenomenon over the past two weeks or so, even though the app has been available for the past two years.“As of July 27, FaceApp ranked #1 by overall iPhone downloads in 154 countries, of which India is one,” said a spokesperson from App Annie, a San Fransicso-based mobile data and analytics firm.

“Global interest in FaceApp picked up in mid-July, which was mirrored in India. Year-to-date (July 27, 2019), Face-App has been downloaded over 90 million times globally across iOS and Google Play stores combined, with a bulk of the downloads coming in July,” he said, adding that India accounted for 10 million downloads, with òver 8 million coming in July so far.

Analysts and cyber security experts though warn of potential risks to user privacy and national security since personal data of millions of people could be vulnerable to threats of misuse later on. A clear red flag is a clause in the terms and conditions of FaceApp which says users give Face-App “a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable licence” to use photos they upload.

Cyber Command changed its approach. Is the difference noticeable?

By: Mark Pomerleau

Industry representatives in the threat intelligence space said it is too early to tell if Cyber Command's new assertive approach is having a direct effect on cyberspace.

U.S. Cyber Command has been vocal about its new, more assertive operating concept known as “persistent engagement” for the last year, implementing the 2018 Department of Defense Cyber Strategy’s guidance to “defend forward.” The concept is the command’s way to meet adversaries on the everyday battleground of cyberspace below the threshold of conflict and while being active in networks all over the world.

“In this dynamic environment, the United States must increase resiliency, defend forward as close as possible to the origin of adversary activity, and persistently contest malicious cyberspace actors to generate continuous tactical, operational, and strategic advantage," military leaders wrote in a 2018 vision statement.

But is the new philosophy visibly working? Representatives from the threat intelligence industry, who carefully track these behaviors, said it is still too early to tell if Cyber Command’s approach is changing the behavior of adversaries or even private companies in cyberspace.

DARPA Wants AI to Help Make Weapons More Hacker-Proof


Artificial intelligence might speed up the design of arms and other network-connected platforms — and suggest improvement that humans haven’t yet conceived.

The Pentagon is exploring how artificial intelligence can help build more digitally secure vehicles, weapons, and other network-connected platforms in a fraction of the time it takes today.

For years, cyber experts have urged agencies to make security a priority when building new systems, but that’s easier said than done, at least when it comes to military tech, according to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Virtually every piece of military hardware includes a digital component; understanding how adversaries might attack these so-called “cyber physical systems” before they’re constructed requires a lot of manpower and computer modeling. Because the Defense Department works under tight deadlines, officials often limit the number of designs they consider, potentially passing up more effective but out-of-the-box options, according to DARPA. 

Facebook’s New Tool Lets You See Which Apps and Websites Tracked You

By Mike Isaac

SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook has built an extensive network of tracking technology outside of its core social network to bolster its targeted advertising business. That has allowed the company to collect information about its users’ browsing habits, even when they were not using the social network.

On Tuesday, Facebook said it was changing its practices related to that data — kind of.

The company introduced a new tool that lets people better see and control the information that Facebook has gathered about their browsing habits outside the social network.

The tool, Off-Facebook Activity, allows users to view the hundreds of sites and apps that share data and customer information with Facebook. They can disconnect the data from their account if they want.

“This is another way to give people more transparency and control on Facebook,” the company said in a blog post. It added that people generally had more than 80 apps on their phones and used about half of them every month, making it difficult to know which ones had collected personal information and how the data was being used.