27 August 2019


Alex Emmons

AFTER 18 YEARS of war, and months of direct talks, the United States appears to be on the brink of reaching an unprecedented peace agreement with the Taliban that would bring about U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

A draft agreement was reached in March, and negotiators in Qatar have reportedly been ironing out the details ahead of a September 1 deadline — including exactly when U.S. troops will withdraw and when a permanent ceasefire between the parties will take effect. The U.S. is reportedly also seeking assurances from the Taliban that it won’t harbor foreign terror groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda and will engage in dialogue with the Afghan government after the U.S. military leaves.

It’s the closest the U.S. has come to a diplomatic breakthrough with the Taliban, and foreign policy scholars are cautiously optimistic that it could facilitate a U.S. exit. But a new report from the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute argues that the agreement won’t lead to real peace unless it addresses the elephant in the room: the fate of regional Afghan militias paid and directed by the CIA.

“Militias that operate outside the control of the central state and the chain of command of its armed forces will undermine the process of state formation and the prospects for a sustainable peace,” the report reads.

China’s Hong Kong Dilemma

By Evan Osnos

Just before Hong Kong returned to Chinese control in 1997, a team of behavioral scientists conducted a fascinating experiment. Ying-yi Hong and some colleagues recruited local college students and showed them a set of iconic images either from America (Mickey Mouse, a cowboy) or from China (the Monkey King, a dragon). Then they posed questions intended to elicit their values and beliefs. The results revealed that, depending on which images were presented, the students readily switched between Chinese and Western world views.

Twenty-two years later, young people in Hong Kong describe themselves, overwhelmingly, as “Hong Kongers” rather than “Chinese.” Their resentment of the Communist Party’s growing involvement in their politics and culture has fuelled the crisis that has consumed the territory this summer. Protests that began, in June, in response to a proposed extradition law have expanded into a broad-based movement with the slogan “Retake Hong Kong, Revolution of Our Times.” A city that prides itself on high-toned rule of law has become the backdrop for a grinding standoff between police in riot gear and young men and women in gas masks, goggles, and yellow helmets, testing the resolve of one of the world’s economic centers and the dexterity of China’s President, Xi Jinping. A popular protest motto on banners and city walls evokes the stakes: “If we burn, you burn with us.”

The Biggest Winner Of the Japan-South Korea Dispute? China

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The Pentagon is on edge after Seoul ends an intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo.

South Korea’s decision to end an intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan, part of a widening rift between the two U.S. allies, has the Pentagon on edge — and not just because it arrives amid stalled efforts to persuade North Korea to denuclearize. 

“China is the biggest winner here,” said Rob Spalding, a former senior official on President Trump’s National Security Council. “The biggest challenge is the fact that the Chinese, who really want to break up the alliance structure—this just hands them a potent weapon to chip away at it.”

An apparently rattled Defense Department reacted with two statements on Thursday: one in the morning “encouraging” the two sides to work together, then an updated, much stronger missive in the afternoon professing “strong concern and disappointment that the Moon Administration has withheld its renewal” of the framework. 

Manufacturers Want to Quit China for Vietnam. They’re Finding It Impossible.

By Niharika Mandhana 

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam—With the U.S. and China tangled in a nasty trade fight, this should be Vietnam’s time to shine. Instead, it is becoming increasingly clear that it will be years, if ever, before this Southeast Asian nation and other aspiring manufacturing destinations areready to replace China as the world’s factory floor.

Solar now ‘cheaper than grid electricity’ in every Chinese city, study finds

Projects in every city analysed by the researchers could be built today without subsidy, at lower prices than those supplied by the grid, and around a fifth could also compete with the nation’s coal electricity prices.

They say grid parity – the “tipping point” at which solar generation costs the same as electricity from the grid – represents a key stage in the expansion of renewable energy sources.

While previous studies of nations such as Germany and the US have concluded that solar could achieve grid parity by 2020 in most developed countries, some have suggested China would have to wait decades.

However, the new paper published in Nature Energy concludes a combination of technological advances, cost declines and government support has helped make grid parity a reality in Chinese today.

How big is the Chinese misinformation machine? Facebook and Twitter decided to act against it

Daniela Flamini

Measuring the size and impact of the Chinese misinformation machine is no easy task. But the fact that Twitter and Facebook announced today they suspended almost 1,000 accounts for being part of a China-backed campaign to disrupt Hong Kong protests could give a sense of its amplitude.

Asians woke up this Tuesday to news that Twitter decided to shut down 936 accounts originating from within China for a number of violations of the company’s “platform manipulation policies,” including spam, coordinated activity, fake accounts and ban evasion. Twitter also suspended approximately 200,000 accounts its investigation found were illegitimate.

According to the South China Morning Post, Twitter said “intensive investigations” had found “reliable evidence to support that this is a coordinated state-backed operation” from the Chinese government.

China's military power may surpass the US's faster than you think, thanks to 6 shrewd strategies

2. China is breaking down US systems.

China also works to break down US battlefield defenses. The US high-technology battlefield system — the so-called "kill chain" — is comprised of four grids that, working in concert, "find, fix, and finish intended targets," according to the report.

The battlefield grids have to communicate with each other — and that's where China's strategy is focused on finding and exploiting vulnerabilities to jam the communication system, degrading an adversary's ability to strike in concert and, hopefully, make those strikes less effective.

Trump Asserts He Can Force U.S. Companies to Leave China

By Peter Baker and Keith Bradsher

BIARRITZ, France — President Trump asserted on Saturday that he has the authority to make good on his threat to force all American businesses to leave China, citing a national security law that has been used mainly to target terrorists, drug traffickers and pariah states like Iran, Syria and North Korea.

As he arrived in France for the annual meeting of the Group of 7 powers, Mr. Trump posted a message on Twitter citing the International Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977, a law originally meant to enable a president to isolate criminal regimes, not sever economic ties with a major trading partner over a tariff dispute.

“For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Case closed!”

Is China Blocking Vietnam’s Access To $2.5 Trillion In Oil & Gas?

The United States has accused China of interfering with oil and gas drilling operations off the coast of Vietnam in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. This is the latest indication that bilateral relations have a long way to go before they are mended.

“The United States is deeply concerned that China is continuing its interference with Vietnam’s longstanding oil and gas activities in Vietnam’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) claim. This calls into serious question China’s commitment, including in the ASEAN-China Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, to the peaceful resolution of maritime disputes,” State Department spokesman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

Earlier this month, China deployed a survey boat to the area in question, and it was accompanied by an armed escort—a move that, according to the State Department statement, constituted “an escalation by Beijing in its efforts to intimidate other claimants out of developing resources in the South China Sea.”

A lot of the South China Sea is the object of disputes between China and its neighbors, with a court in The Hague in 2016 ruling against China’s claims and in favor of the Philippines—one of the neighbors opposing China’s expansion in the basin. China however, has not acknowledged the ruling, which has heightened tensions in the area. Instead, it has continued with its agenda, according to which most of the sea is Chinese waters.

Trump’s trade war with China is all about national security

By Myron Magnet

Anyone who says that President Trump is unable to learn on the job hasn’t been paying attention to how much his insight into a host of key problems has deepened over three years. But the president would do us a favor if he would clearly explain, above all, just how his thinking about China has changed since he took office. That intellectual evolution lies at the heart of what might make him a more consequential president than even those who voted for him ever imagined.

He started out as a mossbacked mercantilist, fuming about the trade imbalance between the world’s two biggest economies. Why was China selling us so many pots and pans, lightbulbs, TVs and computers, while buying a much smaller dollar amount of pork bellies, cars and tractors? Surely improper currency manipulation and state subsidies must account for so large a trade deficit, and surely, he imagined it was sucking the wealth right out of our nation.

A Tale Of Two Systems

by John Furlan

Will Hong Kong step back from the brink of plunging itself, and hence possibly the world, into an escalating cycle of self-destruction? That is the question that must be asked and answered as early as this week by the leaders of HK's so-called "leaderless" protests, by its Chief Executive Carrie Lam, and by Presidents Xi and Trump of China and the U.S.

The next few weeks will be critical. Hopefully cooler heads will prevail, HK will have seen the last of its recent violence, and Lam, a career civil servant, will somehow become a more effective political leader and address the legitimate concerns of the majority of HK's people. Before it really is too late.

There should be be an immediate renunciation of violence by all parties, which is made difficult by HK's "leaderless" protests, and a commitment to peacefully immediately address the legitimate grievances of the Hong Kong people, which may not necessarily be the five non-negotiable "demands" of some of the protestors (see "Goals" in box of Wikipedia article), even though the fifth, "universal suffrage," seems clearly a non-starter.

The Sources of Chinese Conduct

By Odd Arne Westad

Are Washington and Beijing Fighting a New Cold War?

In February 1946, as the Cold War was coming into being, George Kennan, the chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Moscow, sent the State Department a 5,000-word cable in which he tried to explain Soviet behavior and outline a response to it. A year later, the text of his famous “Long Telegram” was expanded into a Foreign Affairs article, “The Sources of Soviet Conduct.” Writing under the byline “X,” Kennan argued that the Soviets’ Marxist-Leninist ideology was for real and that this worldview, plus a deep sense of insecurity, was what drove Soviet expansionism. But this didn’t mean that outright confrontation was inevitable, he pointed out, since “the Kremlin has no compunction about retreating in the face of superior force.” What the United States had to do to ensure its own long-term security, then, was contain the Soviet threat. If it did, then Soviet power would ultimately crumble. Containment, in other words, was both necessary and sufficient. 

Kennan’s message became the canonical text for those who tried to understand the conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union. Always controversial and often revised (not least by the author himself), the containment strategy that Kennan laid out would define U.S. policy until the end of the Cold War. And as Kennan predicted, when the end did come, it came not just because of the strength and steadfastness of the United States and its allies but even more because of weaknesses and contradictions in the Soviet system itself. 

Why Iraq Could Be the Next Regional Powder Keg

Israel could be following through on its threats to expand its anti-Iran operations to Iraq amid a number of factors that suggest the country was responsible for a series of explosions at Iran-linked sites in Iraq. If Israel does expand into Iraq, the government in Baghdad would strive to prevent their country from becoming another proxy battleground between Israel and Iran.  However, Iraq's nationalists, pro-Iranian factions, Sunni groups and ordinary citizens would struggle to agree whether to push back against the United States or Iran as a result of Israeli action. Israeli action in Iraq could also become yet another trigger for a general war between Iran and its regional enemies. But even if it doesn't ignite a war, it would embolden Israel to secure itself against Iran even further afield.

Recession, Synchronized and Desynchronized

By George Friedman
Three of the world's largest economies are showing signs of a downturn.

Global recessions tend to have a broad and powerful core. The recession in the 1970s was triggered by the Arab oil embargo. The one in 2008 was caused by the subprime mortgage crisis. Such events put simultaneous pressure on a wide range of countries and can trigger a global recession. Today, several economies are showing signs of an approaching recession. There’s no obvious trigger for a global recession at this time, but multiple countries appear to be headed toward a recession or a significant economic slowdown. Chief among them are the United States, China and Germany.

In the United States, many observers are focused on the inverted yield curve, which certainly has a strong track record of indicating recession. The more interesting light that has been flashing is the unemployment rate. It has been at what is considered full employment for a while. This is somewhat misleading, however, because a significant percentage of the population remains jobless – those who have stopped looking for work or those who are too ill to work are not counted in unemployment figures. In July, the labor force participation rate stood at only 63 percent. Even if we accept that the unemployment rate is currently at 3.7 percent, it is not necessarily a sign of a healthy economy. To grow an economy, a country must have fresh, qualified labor. With a relatively low unemployment rate, the U.S. doesn’t seem to have that in sufficient quantity. That, coupled with the normal inefficiencies that creep into an economy over a decade of economic expansion, indicates that a cyclical downturn seems likely.

Hostile ally: The Trump challenge and Europe’s inadequate response

Constanze Stelzenmüller

The trans-Atlantic strategy and policy of both the United States and Europe in the new paradigm of great power competition have been failures, with the Trump administration's hostility to Europe an act of self harm and Europe's responses to its challenges inadequate, argues Constanze Stelzenmüller in a report for the Brookings - Robert Bosch Foundation Transatlantic Initiative (BBTI).

Two and a half years into the Trump administration, an odd calm appears to have settled over the trans-Atlantic relationship. The United States has not started a war against Iran or North Korea. It has not left the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the World Trade Organization (WTO), nor has it taken its troops out of Syria or Afghanistan. Washington has not yet acted on its threat of a trade war with the European Union (EU). Various sanctions have been discussed, but not actually imposed. Almost any of these events, had they occurred, would have had a significant negative impact on Europe’s prosperity and security. The European Union, for its part, has not been engulfed by a tsunami of uncontrolled immigration, nor has it been torched by populists. It has not imploded or been abandoned by its member states. Even Britain is still in the EU — for now.

But that the absence of disasters should be cause for relief is no small measure of how bad the relationship has become. And beneath the surface, things are not well at all. The United States might act on its manifold threats. Europe might buckle under a new crisis. But even barring a cataclysmic event, global levels of friction and risk have undeniably risen. The U.S. president and his administration have made their distaste for the European Union and some European allies plain. The feeling appears to be reciprocated in many European quarters. The calm, in other words, is deceptive and unlikely to last.

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.

Russia Has Started to Train Its Entire Military to Fight Drones

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After Syrian insurgent groups attacked Russian forces in Syria, the Defense Ministry began laying plans for wide-scale response.

In 2014, Russian troops showed the world how to use small drones on Ukraine’s battlefields, where they guided attacks on tanks and other vehicles. But the world, it seems, has learned quickly. The Russian military, having themselves been bloodied by off-the-shelf drones in Syria, has announced that all of its services will now be trained to fight them off.

Izvestiya reports that new tactics developed by the Defense Ministry to counter UAVs were tested by Russian warships in October wargames off the Crimean coast. During the exercise, drones attacked the naval vessels in patterns modeled after the ways Syrian insurgent groups have been using them.

While the U.S. military and others have developed tactics, techniques, and procedures to fight off drones, Russia is the first country to implement such training on such a wide scale. The move follows a January attack by anti-Assad forces on a Russian military base in Syria, using ten small drones modified to carry explosives.

The Navy Is Assembling a Hacker Team to Fight Off Small Drones

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Engineers, researchers, and hackers will seek ways to protect warships and bases from hobby-type drones modified to kill.

Lifting an idea from the Army and a name from the Star Wars universe, the U.S. Navy is assembling a team of engineers, researchers, and even hackers to develop ways to fight off swarms of cheap commercial drones.

The so-called JYN effort is the latest in a series of steps the Pentagon has taken to speed up development of new systems that can defend against drones that are readily available for purchase and easily modified for war..

“This is necessary to enable the [Navy] to gain a competitive advantage over the commercial advancement of unmanned systems technology and potential for nefarious use against [Navy] facilities and assets,” James “Hondo” Geurts, who leads Navy acquisition, wrote in a March 28 memo.

Scientists Have Been Underestimating the Pace of Climate Change

By Naomi Oreskes, Michael Oppenheimer, Dale Jamieson

Recently, the U.K. Met Office announced a revision to the Hadley Center historical analysis of sea surface temperatures (SST), suggesting that the oceans have warmed about 0.1 degree Celsius more than previously thought. The need for revision arises from the long-recognized problem that in the past sea surface temperatures were measured using a variety of error-prone methods such as using open buckets, lamb’s wool–wrapped thermometers, and canvas bags. It was not until the 1990s that oceanographers developed a network of consistent and reliable measurement buoys.

Then, to develop a consistent picture of long-term trends, techniques had to be developed to compensate for the errors in the older measurements and reconcile them with the newer ones. The Hadley Centre has led this effort, and the new data set—dubbed HadSST4—is a welcome advance in our understanding of global climate change.

Can Zelensky, Riding High, Negotiate an End to the War in Eastern Ukraine?

Candace Rondeaux 

Ukraine’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, is on a roll. In April, he trounced incumbent Petro Poroshenko at the polls. Last month, Zelensky’s Servant of the People party won a majority mandate in a snap parliamentary election, so it can press ahead with much-needed reforms. But a bigger challenge looms: finding a path to negotiate an end to the war in eastern Ukraine. 

Zelensky’s winning streak could be tested when he meets with U.S. President Donald Trump in September. He is seeking more leverage over Russia in an attempt to resolve the conflict that has raged in eastern Ukraine since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. But to do so, Zelensky will need to square a circle over the question of Ukraine’s potential NATO membership bid. ...

The Info War of All Against All

Peter Pomerantsev

“The powerlessness of our enemies is they are still trying to describe and fight us as if we were the old right-wing fringe groups that they faced decades before,” Martin Sellner, a figurehead of the European Identitarian Movement, told me, speaking from his flat in Vienna, Austria. “Our job as the avant-garde from the right is to show the people that the normality of tomorrow doesn’t have to be what is considered normal today. Political normality is something very volatile, dynamic, and relative.”

He sent over his recorded answers for a BBC radio documentary I was making, which in turn drew on ideas from my new book about how propaganda is changing in the twenty-first century. My BBC producer and I fretted whether we risked abetting Sellner’s strategy of normalizing the far right by having him in the program. In the end, we decided to include him because we judged that the strategies he advocates need to be understood for what they reveal about certain pathologies in the formation of public opinion. And these have implications that reach well beyond his personal ambitions and those of the far right. 

Are We Witnessing the End of Multilateralism?

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The United Nations' ability to carry out its mission has been severely constrained in recent years by its member states. And many of its agencies are now facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work. In fact, multilateralism of all stripes is under strain, from the International Criminal Court to the World Trade Organization.

The United Nations is perhaps the most prominent manifestation of an international order built on balancing sovereign equality with great-power politics in a bid to maintain international peace. But its capacity to do that—and to meet its other objectives, which include protecting human rights and delivering aid—have been severely constrained in recent years by its member states.

The real power in the U.N. lies with the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council—the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain and France. And they have used their positions to limit the institution’s involvement in major recent conflicts, including civil wars in Syria and Yemen. Meanwhile, peacekeeping operations, one of the U.N.’s critical functions, are in need of significant reform. Blue helmets are ensnared in difficult, unwieldy missions in places like Mali and South Sudan. But Russia and the United States shut down attempts to act on initial reform discussions that began last year. 

Israel eases rules on cyber weapons exports despite criticism

Tova Cohen, Ari Rabinovitch

TEL AVIV (Reuters) - Israel is easing export rules on offensive cyber weapons, despite accusations by human rights and privacy groups that its technologies are used by some governments to spy on political foes and crush dissent.

A rule change by the defense ministry means companies can now obtain exemptions on marketing license for the sale of some products to specific countries, a source close to the cyber sector told Reuters.

Israel, like other big defense exporters, closely guards details of its weapons sales and its export rules are not widely known, but the defense ministry confirmed the change had gone into force about a year ago in response to Reuters’ questions.

Industry specialists say the change makes a speedier approval process possible for the sale of cyber weapons, or spyware, which are used to break into electronic devices and monitor online communications.

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.

That rosy scenario, of course, did not play out. The intervening years would bring about the calamitous Brexit referendum and its aftermath, Donald Trump’s American presidency, and surging anti-globalist and nativist sentiments across Europe. The resulting fissures and preoccupations have further reduced the diplomatic heft of a bloc that has seen its share of global GDP decline from 70 percent three decades ago to just under 50 percent today.

The Amazon Is on Fire

By Kathryn Salam

Who lit the match, and who can put out the blaze?

This week, Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research announced that fires were burning in the Amazon at the highest rate since it had started measuring in 2013. According to reports, Brazil has seen 72,843 blazes this year—half of them in the Amazon—amounting to an 80 percent increase over the same period in 2018. Many observers attribute the poor state of the rainforest to the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, who has relaxed environmental legislations and has argued that “there aren’t the resources” to fight the fires.

As the Amazon continues to burn, we’ve collected our top reads on how Brazil got here—and what to do about it.

The recent turn of events in Brazil is all the more surprising given the progress it has made on climate change in recent years. As Bard College’s Omar G. Encarnación writes, “it is hard to think of a progressive cause not championed by Brazil on the global stage in the last three decades, starting with the environment.” In fact, “in 1992, just a few years after leaving military rule, the country put the international environment movement on the map when it hosted the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. One of the largest and most ambitious events ever sponsored by the United Nations, the Earth Summit encouraged the world’s community to reconsider economic development and to find ways to slow down the stress that humans are putting on the planet. Thousands of environmental activists, business leaders, and politicians made their way to Rio de Janeiro, alongside some 10,000 journalists, ensuring unprecedented attention to the environment and setting the stage for the advent of a ‘global green regime.’”

Army Enters Cyber and Electronic Warfare Renaissanc

By George I. Seffers 

Three simultaneous acquisition programs offer interoperability opportunity.

The U.S. Army is enjoying a renaissance period for cyber and electronic warfare (EW) technologies and has a chance to lay a foundation of interoperability in cyber systems, says Col. Kevin Finch, USA, program manager for electronic warfare and cyber within the Program Executive Office-Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors.

Col. Finch made the comments on the final day of the AFCEA TechNet Augusta conference 2019 in Augusta, Georgia. AFCEA added an extra day to the annual conference to highlight procurement and acquisition.

The Army did not invest heavily in cutting-edge electronic warfare equipment while preoccupied with fighting counterinsurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. The primary focus at the time was on electronic warfare equipment to counter improvised explosive devices. But with the U.S. military now planning for a future war against a peer or near-peer adversary such as China or Russia, the Army, along with the rest of the military, is racing to get ahead of competitors.

Against the drones

Just a few months ago, a head of state was attacked with off-the-shelf consumer drones — an apparent first. It happened in broad daylight on August 4 in Venezuela. (There's video below). According to police, the drones exploded and missed their target, presumed to have been the embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

The Caracas episode is far from the first to illustrate the dangers of off-the-shelf drones. It’s not even the first time that a drone has come in close contact with a head of state. So why has it taken so long to develop countermeasures?

What’s more, the multidrone tactics on display in Venezuela show that it's insufficient to design and deploy defenses against single-drone attacks.

Experts today aren’t yet united on exactly what made the drones miss Maduro that Saturday afternoon in Caracas. His interior minister said the military diverted one electronically, but he did not elaborate on what that meant. The other C4-packing drone, he said, crashed on its own. It makes little difference whether those things he said are true; generals, diplomats and agency officials the world over are deeply concerned about this technology.

Blockchain is not a magic bullet for security. Can it be trusted?

Adrien Ogée
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Up to 10% of global GDP could be stored on blockchains by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum. From product identifiers, medical records to land registries, academic degrees and insurance contracts, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) are already functioning in many sectors.

What blockchain promises is no less than the technological backbone of the 21st century’s renaissance of the social commons, giving back power to the people. In this century more than ever, power comes from data. Blockchain promises to give control of data back to the people. But this requires one element: trust in the technology, trust that it does what it’s supposed to do.

The paradox here is that blockchain removes the need to trust the intermediary – i.e., notaries, insurers and bankers – by requiring us to trust the technology. But how likely are we to trust the technology if it is breached repeatedly?


BEING A RAINFOREST, the Amazon isn’t supposed to burn out of control, unlike California’s drier landscape, which is built to burn and burn explosively. Yet here we are, watching swaths of the Amazon go up in flames. And we can easily nail down the cause: humans. Deforestation is what’s driving these blazes, and there is some horrifying science behind that.

Since the 1970s, 20 percent of the Amazon has been deforested, totaling about twice the area of California. But deforestation isn’t an organized shrinking of the rainforest, paring it down from the edges in. Humans carve out farmlands, sometimes leaving a neat edge where the forest meets the fields, or even creating islands of forest surrounded by crops or grazing fields for cattle. Indeed, agriculture is far and away the primary driver of deforestation in Brazil.

You might think that well, things could be worse, at least these can operate like actual islands—self-contained spots of green in a sea of agriculture. And you wouldn't be alone.

Controlling Cognitive Domains

Joanne Patti Munisteri

What is now categorized as the “cognitive domain” includes areas of influence in all sectors of society. Cognitive domain(s) should not be restricted to influence and information operations, social engineering and ‘winning hearts and minds’ approaches, but expanded to include all areas where ideological attacks are possible. 

“The cognitive war is a mostly hidden war, because it rarely involves direct confrontation or kinetic action. It involves a war of ideologies. If we fail to not only counter punch in this domain but build a sustained and proactive foundation to advance in the cognitive domain, we will have no other option then an eventual kinetic conflict. Kinetic capabilities can dictate an outcome but sustained long-term outcomes will remain solely dependent upon the ability to influence, affect, change, or impact the cognitive domain.”