28 October 2019

Rise of China, History, Technology, Policies: Implications for India

Since opening up to foreign trade and investment and implementing free market reforms in 1979, China has become the world’s fastest-growing economy. China has transformed itself from a predominantly agricultural economy into a manufacturing powerhouse. China has taken a leading role in several critical emerging technologies. ‘Made in China 2025’, laid out how and why China would need to move up the technology ladder and close the gap with developed countries.

China's $ 11 trillion economy is almost five times that of India. China is way ahead of India in terms of technology. The US-China trade war helped Indian exports to China. India has been taking notable steps forward in innovation, supported by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s reform agenda.

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership can derail India’s ‘Make in India’ programme. India has major concerns. India has to do some very tight rope walking. India manufacturing industry has no option but to be globally competitive to survive in today’s globalized world.

Despite the border tensions India has to engage China economically to reduce the trade deficit between the two countries, take advantage of the ongoing US China trade war, get FDI from China and collaborate in emerging technologies to take Indian economy forward.

Acting East: India in the Indo-Pacific

Dhruva Jaishankar

On January 26, 2018, the 68th anniversary of India becoming a republic, New Delhi hosted the leaders of all 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – from the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte to Indonesia’s Joko Widodo, Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi to Thailand’s Prayuth Chan-ocha. For India, Republic Day has begun to assume a diplomatic significance, featuring a foreign head of state or government as the chief guest for the commemorative festivities. Recent chief guests have reflected India’s foreign policy priorities: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015, and French President Francois Hollande in 2016. But the appearance in 2018 of not one but 10 leaders from Southeast Asia was a major demonstration of the growing importance that India accords its “Act East” Policy.

The Act East Policy remains the subject of considerable confusion both in India and overseas, for several reasons. First, it is not a doctrine spelled out in an official Indian government document, such as a white paper, although its contours are clearly discernible, including in speeches by senior officials. Second, the Act East Policy represents the rebranding of an earlier Look East Policy, which arose in the early 1990s. The differences between the two have not always been made clear. Third, the Act East Policy has often been lost amid a number of related, but distinct, strategic initiatives and concepts adopted not just by India but by other countries. There is particular confusion over India’s recent adoption of the Indo-Pacific strategic concept, its relationship with the separate “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategies of Japan and the United States, and conflation with the quadrilateral security dialogue (or “quad”) involving Australia, India, Japan, and the United States.

A reset in Japan-China relations?


Comparing the state of Japan-China relations in the wake of Shinzo Abe’s return to the prime ministership in December 2012 to today, the bilateral relationship has come back to a semblance of normality.

During this transition period, we had Japanese and Chinese ambassadors dueling on the BBC, comparing each other’s political leaders to the Harry Potter villain Voldemort in a farcical war of words. We had the Chinese government hold the 70th anniversary of the victory of the “Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression,” and Abe himself was vilified “a political villain, who was much like the terrorists and fascists on the commonly seen blacklists.”

During the same period according to the Defense Ministry, verbal jousting has been accompanied by Japanese jets being scrambled to intercept Chinese military aircraft approaching its airspace 638 times in fiscal year 2018, an increase of 27.6 percent compared to 2017. These incursions into Japanese airspace continue to occur alongside regular incursions by Chinese government and other vessels into Japan’s territorial sea and associated contiguous zone.

Inside Hong Kong’s Leaderless Uprising

By Magnus Ag

HONG KONG — The desperation and contempt of the authorities are rising after close to five months of mass demonstrations and escalating violence. 750 children have been arrested. Many young Hong Kongers face a terrifying choice: Continue a grotesquely uneven battle against a superior power or acknowledge that the rest of their lives are going to be without civil liberties, without democracy and under Beijing’s strict and brutal control.

“In 10 years, I hope Hong Kong is a place with freedom of democracy instead of more and more crackdowns. That is the reason for us to keep on our fight,” 23-year-old Joshua Wong, one of the pro-democracy movement’s most prominent young voices, told me over the phone on his way between meetings in another part of town

Wong started his political activism as a 15-year-old when his initiative brought 100,000 Hong Kongers to the streets. His defining role in the 2014 protests known as the Umbrella Movement is captured in the Netflix documentary Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower. 

The October Truce on U.S.-China Trade Failed to Address Subsidies

by Chad P. Bown and Jennifer Hillman

A U.S. dollar banknote featuring American founding father Benjamin Franklin and a China's yuan banknote featuring late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong are seen among U.S. and Chinese flags in this illustration picture taken May 20, 2019. Jason Lee/Reuters

This post is coauthored by Chad P. Bown, Reginald Jones senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE), and Jennifer Hillman, senior fellow for trade and international political economy at the Council on Foreign Relations. It first appeared on "Trade and Investment Policy Watch," published by PIIE.

The “Phase One” truce with China announced by President Donald Trump in October avoided a planned escalation of the US-China trade war. But the “agreement in principle” with Beijing left many issues untouched, most notably the administration’s top priority of ending Chinese subsidies. There is little hope of easing US-China tensions if that issue remains unresolved. Yet the failure to make progress stems not simply from Chinese intransigence but from the administration’s wrongheaded unilateral approach on this complex issue.

Iran Is Winning the Battle for the Middle East’s Future

By Sina Toossi

The combination of cruise missiles and drones that struck at the heart of Saudi Arabia’s oil industry on Sept. 14 also marked a precision strike at the prevailing global paradigm. The attacks underscore a world undergoing major change, as China, Russia, and regional powers such as Iran seek to supplant U.S. military hegemony. 

Nowhere is this shift more apparent than in the Middle East, where the incoherence of the Trump administration’s foreign policy has been on full display. However, these rapid changes also present a lesson on the overreach of past U.S. interventions and an opportunity for the United States to extricate itself from regional conflicts and push local powers toward cooperation.

The historic significance of developments in the Middle East was laid bare in a recent interview aired on Iranian state television with Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, an elite unit of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. 

In the rare interview, reportedly the first given by Suleimani in more than 20 years, the elusive commander outlined the regional landscape leading up to the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War. This was a daunting world for Suleimani, who has long been responsible for Iran’s regional policies, with hundreds of thousands of U.S. and Western troops encircling Iran and deep convergence between the interests of the United States, Israel, and leading European and Arab powers.

Policy Roundtable: The Future of Turkey’s Foreign Policy

Doyle Hodges

1. Security and Politics at the Center of the World: The Future of U.S.-Turkish-Russian Relations

In the third century, in what would become known as Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), the Roman emperor Septimius Severus designated the Milion marker as the milestone from which all distances in the empire would be measured.1 For more than 1,500 years, under both Roman and Ottoman rule, Istanbul was the center of the world for many in Europe and the modern Middle East. Since the fall of the Ottoman empire, Turkey has not played a central role in world affairs. Yet, recent tensions between the country and many of its powerful neighbors serve as a reminder that the security and politics of Turkey remain profoundly important to the rest of the world.

In early October 2019, American President Donald Trump announced that U.S. forces would not oppose or interfere with a Turkish military incursion into northeastern Syria. The goal of the Turkish operation is to battle Kurdish forces — erstwhile partners of the United States in the fight against the Islamic State — seen by Ankara as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has fought a decades-long insurgency against Ankara. The blowback from the American foreign policy community in response to the Turkish incursion was swift and vociferous, including speculation that Turkey should be removed or suspended from the NATO alliance.2 The crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations precipitated by Turkish military operations in Syria has returned Turkey to the center of foreign policy news coverage in America. But the ingredients for a breakdown in U.S.-Turkish relations, including tension over the increasingly close relationship between Turkey and Russia, were present long before the current crisis emerged and are likely to persist well after it is resolved.

How will the United States Respond to Turkey's Invasion of Syria?

The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization.

In the aftermath of Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria on October 4, 2019, leaders from both U.S. political parties have suggested responding with economic and financial sanctions. The threat of economic and financial sanctions to deter, coerce, or punish Turkey has been a recurring news item since President Donald Trump took office in 2017. There are pending sanctions for its purchase of Russian military equipment; the sanctions waivers that are in place for Iranian oil sales to Turkey could be withdrawn; and a long-expected fine for a Turkish bank that evaded U.S. sanctions on Iran is expected to be implemented. The most recent tendency towards sanctions on Turkey reflects the intra-governmental struggle between the U.S. executive and legislative branches for control over foreign policy as much as, if not more than, governmental responses to real international security conditions.

During the weeks prior to the Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring, the October 2019 operation to seize territory held by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Trump administration had been shielding Ankara from sanctions and fines that in simpler circumstances would have been levied without a second thought. The culmination of an incongruent U.S. security strategy in Syria, leading to the U.S. military’s ordered withdrawal from the northeast ahead of and during the Turkish offensive, orients the administration towards Trump’s preferred foreign policy tool as the principal way to respond to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s provocation. While threatening sanctions and tariffs may succeed in coercing Erdogan to adjust the Turkish approach in northern Syria, the overall outcome will be additional injury to the United States’ predominant global financial position and add yet another demerit to the growing list of abused economic foreign policy tools. Despite the long-term strategic implications of overusing or misusing sanctions, a more immediate and tangible impact on the United States will be the co-option of a serious foreign policy issue by continued intra-governmental competition between the executive and legislative branches.
The Invasion

The Coming ISIS Jailbreak

By Aki Peritz 

U.S. President Donald Trump just handed the Islamic State (ISIS) a literal get-out-of-jail free card. On October 6, he announced the withdrawal of U.S. forces from northeastern Syria in order to make way for a Turkish invasion. The Turks had in their sights the Kurdish forces with whom the United States partnered to topple ISIS’ territorial caliphate only seven months prior. Trump’s decision was a betrayal of these partners, whose ties to militants on the Turkish side of the border threatened Ankara. More ominously, the decision was a gift to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the biggest single boost to his organization since it captured a large swath of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Remarkably, ISIS won’t even have to adjust its strategy to seize this opportunity to rebuild. It can merely reuse the playbook that enabled its initial rise: a systematic campaign of jailbreaks that yielded the manpower and the leadership necessary to conquer physical territory.

Saudi Arabia’s War in Yemen Is About Oil

by Asher Orkaby
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Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen has been driven by concerns for oil supply and delivery. Regional tensions with Iran have made the Strait of Hormuz an unreliable route for 30 percent of the world’s oil supply and alternatives ports of transshipment and pipelines have emerged as a vital component of the monarchy’s future economic stability. The irony of Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen is that, rather than promote oil security, it has spawned a tenacious opponent in the Houthi movement. As September’s drone strike on Saudi oil fields is testament, Houthi tribal militias are capable of striking into Saudi territory and disrupting global oil supply, costing the monarchy billions of dollars in damage and lost revenue. While the government and media continue to point fingers and conjecture as to the ultimate culprit, the real question that remains is why the Saudi oil ministry was unprepared and surprised by such a brazen attack. Since 2009, Houthi tribesmen have constituted a threat along Saudi Arabia’s southern border, infiltrating with ground across a porous desert region and penetrating Saudi airspace with Scud missiles and pilotless drones. The attack on the Abqaiq oil facilities was not the first and certainly will not be the last demonstration of Saudi Arabia’s vulnerability.

Terrorism Boosts Military Involvement in Politics (And Why It Matters for Democracy)

By Vincenzo Bove, Mauricio Rivera and Chiara Ruffa
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Terrorism does more than kill people and spread fear. We already knew that terrorism damages economies and weakens human rights; now we also know that it boosts military involvement in politics. This occurs because, in protracted struggles against terrorism, military actors may exploit their informational advantage over civilian authorities to “push” their way into politics and policymaking; or the military may be “pulled” into politics by decision makers.

Of course, militaries have often played a critical role in counterterrorist strategies, but involvement in politics goes beyond traditional, behind-the-scenes counterterrorism. In the United States, for example, President Trump nominated a retired Marine Corps General, James Mattis, to be Secretary of Defense, in an example of what some experts suggest is a politization of the US military since 9/11. Mattis received an exception from Congress and was allowed to serve in a top civilian position. Additionally, “President-elect Donald Trump began to speak regularly about ‘my generals,’ placing a personal stamp of ownership,” on the military, write David Barno and Nora Bensahel.

How Turkey and Russia Carved Up Northern Syria

During a six-hour meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin effectively carved up northeastern Syria between themselves, after the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops paved the way for a bloody Turkish incursion across the border. The United States was not present at the meeting.

Just hours later, U.S. President Donald Trump announced in a White House address that Erdogan had agreed to halt his offensive and make the tentative cease-fire agreement that Vice President Mike Pence brokered last week permanent. But in terms of impact on the ground in northern Syria, Trump’s statement was merely a footnote to the Turkey-Russia pact.

In his comments, Trump seemed to wash his hands of not just Syria but all of America’s wars in the Middle East. “Let someone else fight over this long-bloodstained sand,” he said.

Putin and Erdogan appear to be agreeing not to fight but merely to take control. The 10-point memorandum signed by the two leaders on Oct. 22 essentially divides up the region, where the Syrian Kurds had built a fragile but peaceful democracy over the past four years as they fought and ultimately defeated the Islamic State’s physical caliphate.

How Brexit Will End

By Sam Knight

When does uncertainty become the worst condition of all? This fall, more than three years after Britain voted to leave the European Union, no one was sure what form Brexit would take, what kind of relationship we would have with our nearest neighbors, or whether the whole thing could still be called off. Theresa May, the first Conservative Prime Minister with the job of taking the United Kingdom out of the E.U., had been forced to step down at the end of July. The second, Boris Johnson, did not seem trustworthy. There was a departure time—11 p.m. on October 31st—which the government tried very hard to convince people was real. On September 1st, it launched a hundred-million-pound public-information campaign called “Get Ready for Brexit.” TV spots showed sparkling European vacation destinations and advised viewers to check their travel insurance. There was a six-second video on Snapchat. Signs flashed on highways in the rain, telling truck drivers, “Freight to EU, Papers May Change.”

But everyone knew that Brexit was unlikely to happen by Halloween. May had spent two years negotiating an exit deal with the other twenty-seven members of the E.U., only to fail to get it approved by Parliament. Johnson, a flamboyant Brexiteer, wanted to rip up May’s agreement, but there didn’t seem to be time to start over. He insisted that Britain would leave, regardless of how talks went with Brussels. “No ifs or buts,” Johnson said, outside No. 10 Downing Street. The gulf between what the government said was going to happen and what seemed possible, let alone sensible, grew wider by the day. You could scroll through an article on your phone, full of the reasons that Brexit would not occur on October 31st, and be interrupted by an ad from the government telling you to get ready.

Russia’s Unusual Role in the Global Order

Under President Vladimir Putin, Russia has demonstrated that it has the capacity to destablize the international order, but not the capacity to fill the vacuum it is creating. Learn more when you explore WPR's coverage of Russia.

Russia occupies an unusual position on the world stage. Under President Vladimir Putin, Moscow has repeatedly demonstrated that it has the capacity to destabilize the international order, but not the capacity to fill the vacuum it is creating. While Russia lacks the military strength to challenge U.S. supremacy, no one—particularly not the NATO alliance—is ignoring its capabilities. Moscow’s use of arms sales and military engagements to build ties to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America has also attracted attention. And its massive, and growing, exports of fossil fuels to Europe offers Russia additional leverage.

Even as Moscow maintains an outsized influence on the global stage, discontent is brewing at home. Putin has dominated the Russian political scene for more than two decades, but his popularity is waning amid a slowing economy and a deeply unpopular pension reform effort. That may open space for his long-suffering political opponents to call attention to the corruption and violence that have marked his tenure.

US foreign policy tools in the era of disinformation: Deficiencies prevent effective response to malign information operations

Russia, China, Iran and ISIS use information operations to undermine the national security objectives of the United States and its allies. However, the US’s international response has been weak. 

Internal constraints have limited more effective counter-measures. In particular, the lack of a coordinated White House-level strategy, dispersed authorities and little cooperation with private social media companies can be identified as causal factors.

Additional steps by the Trump Administration to counter foreign disinformation will aim to protect the 2020 presidential elections rather than to push back on efforts to undermine US leadership abroad.

Without the US, European Defense Will Fall to Pieces

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The Transatlantic relationship remains the bedrock of the European project. Pretending otherwise feeds into a dangerous and self-fulfilling prophecy.

Since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, there has been a rising chorus among Europe’s politicos that the Continent can no longer rely on the United States for its defense. This narrative had already begun to coalesce during the campaign, when European media interpreted then-candidate Trump’s calls for NATO countries to share more defense costs as the beginning of the end for America’s traditional role as security provider and defender of human rights. Some European commentators even questioned whether, in the event of Trump’s election, the United States might simply walk away from NATO altogether. Others sought to reassure themselves and their increasingly unsettled publics that, while President Trump might indeed be unpredictable, his cabinet would be staffed with consummate professionals who understood the “bigger picture.” So it came as perhaps a bit of a shock when U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, on his first official visit to Europe in February 2017, delivered a stern warning to the other 27 NATO members at a closed meeting in Brussels, telling them that the Allies must either meet their financial pledges on defense or America would “moderate” its commitment to the organization. Since then, the accusations of “Trumpian transactionalism” on defense have only gathered in speed, alongside renewed talk of a “European army,” “European defense,” and finally “strategic autonomy”—the latter presumably implying progressive independence from the United States on security issues.

Trust Your Eyes? Deepfakes Policy Brief

Deepfakes are nearly seamless video and audio forgeries produced by artificial intelligence programs that yield seemingly realistic but fabricated images and sounds that portray people doing and saying things that never happened. Deepfake technology produces forgeries that are very difficult to detect, using software tools to create forgeries using existing images and videos that mimic the target’s facial expressions, movements, and the intonation, tone, stress, and rhythm of their speech in ways that are indistinguishable from real images and recordings.

Deepfakes gained public attention in 2017 when a Reddit user transposed celebrities’ faces onto actresses in pornographic videos. The technology is rapidly improving. Machine learning techniques are automating what used to be a manual process, allowing videos to be edited at machine-speed. It is much cheaper and simpler to make a deepfake now than it was two years ago, and deepfakes now require less data, time, and computational power. The technology is also much more accessible; open source software allows untrained persons to make rudimentary deepfakes easily. However, high-quality deepfakes still require professional expertise and specialized software.1

Trust and Screens

Trump Prepares America for a Great-Power Competition

by James Jay Carafano
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Dueck, a former “Never Trumper,” starts and ends his book with an unexpected assertion about the Founding Fathers: that Washington, Jefferson, and the rest of the cast of “Hamilton” would have been perfectly content with the foreign policies of President Donald Trump. What’s more, he argues, Trump policies will help twenty-first-century America deal effectively with modern threats posed by the likes of China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

When America opened for business, Dueck argues, “conservative nationalism” basically was American foreign policy, a set of core beliefs that held in common. Back then, they just called it nationalism.

Nationalism included a shared civic creed. Our founding fathers had a belief in the rule of law, individual liberty, free enterprise, equality, and limited government. They believed in popular sovereignty. And they expected that foreign policy would foster the state’s national interests.

Thanks, North Korea: Iran's Submarine Fleet Could Do Some Damage in a War

by Mark Episkopos

Tensions continue to mount between Washington and Iran, with every week bringing forth a new round of diplomatic threats and accusations.

Most recently, Revolutionary Guards commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami gave a blistering speech in which he assured the Iranian parliament that the “vulnerability” of American aircraft carriers will prevent the U.S. military from challenging Iranian power in the Persian Gulf. Such rhetoric is par for the course for Iranian officials and state media, who project unwavering confidence in Iranian military capabilities.

But just how capable is Iran’s conventional military, and do they really have the means to effectively resist a U.S. offensive?

The National Interest previously looked at this nuanced question with overviews of Iran’s air force and surface navy. We now turn to what is arguably the core of Iran’s conventional military strength, and the reason why it boasts the fourth-strongest navy in the world: its submarine force.

Trying to Plant a Trillion Trees Won't Solve Anything

We’re not going to stop climate change with just seedlings and fancy agriculture. We also need to reduce emissions.

Only a monster would say no to this pitch: The best way to beat climate change—the warming of Earth caused by gases like carbon dioxide emitted by human industry, leading to rising sea levels, worsening fires and storms, drought, and disease—is simple. Plant a trillion trees. It’d be “one of the most effective carbon drawdowns to date,” said an article on the idea in the journal Science this past summer. And who doesn’t love trees, right?

Except the math turned out to be a little shady. Last month a bunch of climate scientists and ecologists piled onto that tree research in the same journal, calling out numerous errors in the first team’s calculations. At about the same time, a whole other bunch of ecologists started pushing back on the agriculture-tech startup Indigo for pitching a similar land-based carbon sequestration strategy, the “Terraton Initiative,” paying farmers to use new methods that could suck down a trillion metric tons (a teraton) of carbon. These goals are critical and the ideals are noble—who doesn’t want to stop climate change? Pretty much everyone except the US government agrees on that. It’s the numbers that are the problem.

The Sun Is Shining Bright On Solar Energy Growth

IEA estimates that by 2024 the global combined capacity of renewable sources of energy will add 1,200 GW of capacity, the equivalent of installed power capacity in the United States today. Power capacity refers to how much power each energy source would be able to supply under ideal conditions. As of last year, renewable capacity was just over 2,500 GW of power globally. Over the next five years, the newly released report anticipates renewable energy to grow by 50 percent.

Solar photovoltaic energy is expected to account for about 60 percent of the renewable growth over the next five years. The falling average cost of installation and implementation for solar will aid in its expansion. Back in 2010, SEIA reports that each watt produced by solar cost about $5.00. That price dropped to right around $1.00 per watt by the second quarter of this year. The increased focus on renewables by governments is expected to help continue the downward trend in costs.

Ten facts about the economics of climate change and climate policy

The world’s climate has already changed measurably in response to accumulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These changes as well as projected future disruptions have prompted intense research into the nature of the problem and potential policy solutions. This document aims to summarize much of what is known about both, adopting an economic lens focused on how ambitious climate objectives can be achieved at the lowest possible cost.

Considerable uncertainties surround both the extent of future climate change and the extent of the biophysical impacts of such change. Notwithstanding the uncertainties, climate scientists have reached a strong consensus that in the absence of measures to reduce GHG emissions significantly, the changes in climate will be substantial, with long-lasting effects on many of Earth’s physical and biological systems. The central or median estimates of these impacts are significant. Moreover, there are significant risks associated with low probability but potentially catastrophic outcomes. Although a focus on median outcomes alone warrants efforts to reduce emissions of GHGs, economists argue that the uncertainties and associated risks justify more aggressive policy action than otherwise would be warranted (Weitzman 2009; 2012).

Microsoft Wins Massive JEDI Cloud Contract

Amazon loses in a $10-billion upset decision after months of legal and Trump-fueled political controversy.

After months of speculation, intrigue, lawsuits, and presidential leaning-in, Microsoft has won the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI cloud storage contract, upsetting the presumed frontrunner Amazon Web Services. 

The outcome comes as a surprise to many observers who described Amazon as the almost-certain winner of the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI, program. Amazon was considered by many to be the only qualified bidder because it had the largest enterprise cloud infrastructure and already had reached the necessary highest security level, known as Impact Level 6. 

Controversy has dogged the program from the beginning. Several competitors, led by Oracle, protested the Pentagon’s original requirements for the program, arguing that the rules favored Amazon over other, smaller providers. They even took their concerns directly to President Donald Trump, who has a well-known dislike for Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. At one point, the president told then-Defense Secretary James Mattis to “screw” Amazon, according to a new book by a member of Mattis’s staff. In July, the president began to publicly question the competition; shortly thereafter, new Defense Secretary Mark Esper halted the program and launched a review. Just days ago, Esper unexpectedly announced he was recusing himself from the award decision because his son worked for IBM, a bidder that was eliminated in an early stage of the competition. 

Risk management, cyber operations, and the Westphalian system.

SecurityWeek's 2019 ICS Cyber Security Conference opened its second day with a fireside chat with retired Admiral Mike Rogers, formerly Director, US National Security Agency, and Commander, US Cyber Command. He offered a view of international conflict in cyberspace, and argued for taking the opposition's strategic objectives into account when one evaluates risk.

He reviewed the strategic motives of the opposition in cyberspace. Singling out North Korea, Russia, and China, he noted that these adversaries have different motives. North Korea seeks to circumvent the international sanctions that continue to strangle its economy. Russia’s goal is basically disruption, with Moscow strongly interested in eroding trust in Western, and especially in US, institutions. China works in the service of its economic development, and its characteristic activity is intellectual property theft. What they have in common, however, is an understanding of cyber as embodying new military and espionage capabilities, and they use those capabilities in the service of their strategic objectives.

Thus Admiral Rogers made a case for approaching cybersecurity, in the context of national security, as a risk management problem. And, he argued, sound risk management should begin with an appreciation of the opposition's strategic goals.

Don’t Trust Facebook

Annie Lowrey

A revolutionary technology innovator is tackling one of the best-known and least tractable problems in financial inclusion, for the benefit of the global poor. A rapacious business monopoly with a history of offering dangerous products is creating an exotic financial instrument that falls in a loosely regulated and systemically important space.

The former narrative is the one Mark Zuckerberg presented to members of the House Financial Services Committee during a hearing yesterday on Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency and remittance project. The world’s existing financial infrastructure is failing the country’s and the world’s poor, he argued. The tech giant, in concert with other companies and nonprofits, wants to make payments instant and free and borderless. But that latter narrative is a credible one, too.

Zuckerberg admitted as much during the hearing—or, at least, admitted that he understood the point that the many, many, many, many, many, many critics of the Libra project have made since its unveiling earlier this year. “I believe that this is something that needs to get built. I get I’m not the ideal messenger for this right now,” he said in his opening remarks. “I’m sure there are a lot of people that wish it were anyone but Facebook … There’s a reason we care about this. That’s because Facebook is about putting power in people’s hands.”


Scott Humr 

Changes in military technological paradigms have a way of sneaking up on us. Complacency, rooted in confirmation bias, can always encourage the belief that new technologies will not change the character or war. Yet, the ascent of artificial intelligence and machine-learning technologies have the potential to upend the current status quo character of war. This is particularly problematic for the United States military, since the status quo has meant American warfighting preeminence. To be sure, these two capabilities (AI and ML) will make the security challenges of the new millennium more nuanced and inscrutable, especially as these technologies become actors themselves on the battlefield. Yet even as we acknowledge this to be true, the problem will be compounded by the type of overconfidence that is perhaps an almost inevitable byproduct of decades of US military dominance—overconfidence, for instance, that eternally envisions Americans overcoming any and all obstacles by harkening back to past successes, but that fails to realize that the conditions that drove this recent historical primacy no longer hold true in the era of accelerating AI and ML progress. If we succumb to it, such overconfidence also risks underwriting a sort of complacency that glosses over the changing conditions of warfare, which will require more than just the indomitable human spirit (something Americans don’t hold a monopoly over) to fight effectively, let alone win. As it has with similar military miscalculations of the past, arrogance in US invincibility will deliver disastrous results.

How America's Cyber Strategy Could Create an International Crisis

by María Ellers
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The United States has adopted a new cyber warfare strategy focused on “persistent engagement” and “forward defense” in an attempt to thwart Chinese, Russian and other state-sponsored cyber attacks. While this unprecedented “defend forward” approach gives America many significant advantages in navigating cyber warfare, it also entails high-risks that could unintentionally escalate conflict. As a result, America must consider whether its traditional understanding of concepts like offense, defense and deterrence are applicable to the strategy of cyber warfare and whether they should continue to inform Washington’s cyber strategies.

This was the theme of a panel discussion held by the Center for the National Interest on September 10, 2019. The discussion featured prominent experts on cyber warfare: Jason Healey, a senior research Scholar at Columbia University’s School for International and Public Affairs and the editor of the first history of conflict in cyberspace, A Fierce Domain: Cyber Conflict, 1986 to 2012; and Ben Buchanan, assistant professor at Georgetown University and author of the book The Cyber Security Dilemma, which examines the intersection between cybersecurity and statecraft. The discussion focused on unpacking Washington’s new cyber strategy while raising questions on its effectiveness and subsequent implications on national security.

Cyber Security Meets Security Politics: Complex Technology, Fragmented Politics, and Networked Science

Author Myriam Dunn Cavelty, Andreas Wenger 
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Over the last decade, cyber incidents have become more expensive, disruptive and political. In this article, Myriam Dunn Cavelty and Andreas Wenger provide a historical overview of the academic literature that has accompanied this development. More specifically, they outline how technological possibilities, political choices and scientific practices have shaped cybersecurity politics and related research. They also identify empirical trends and thematic clusters in academic literature on the topic before discussing what the future may hold. 

U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate Change, Report Commissioned By Pentagon Says

By Nafeez Ahmed

According to a new U.S. Army report, Americans could face a horrifically grim future from climate change involving blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war. The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, the report notes.

The senior US government officials who wrote the report are from several key agencies including the Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA. The study called on the Pentagon to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power, water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of climate change as we near mid-century.

The report was commissioned by General Mark Milley, Trump's new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the highest-ranking military officer in the country (the report also puts him at odds with Trump, who does not take climate change seriously.)

The report, titled Implications of Climate Change for the U.S. Army, was launched by the U.S. Army War College in partnership with NASA in May at the Wilson Center in Washington DC. The report was commissioned by Gen. Milley during his previous role as the Army’s Chief of Staff. It was made publicly available in August via the Center for Climate and Security, but didn't get a lot of attention at the time.

"Burden-sharing" and the 2 percent of GDP Solution: A Study in Military Absurdity

By Anthony H. Cordesman

NATO remains the keystone of Western security. It provides the best possible real-world option for the West in every major aspect of collective security: dealing with Russia, countering extremism and terrorism, and finding functional approaches to out-of-area cooperation.

It also is making progress in spite of the differences between its members, their different interests and security policies, and the many challenges they face. As the Secretary General’s Annual Report for 2018 makes clear, NATO has many productive initiatives underway that do focus on its real security needs, and that will help deter Russia and deal with the key issues in its military readiness and force planning. In fact, some 90% of the Secretary General’s report focuses on such issues.

At the same time, NATO is now caught up at the ministerial level in meaningless burdensharing exercises that do not serve its security interests, and that are mathematically and functionally ridiculous. Its ministers focus far too much on abstract spending goals, rather than needed force improvement and mission capabilities. They do not properly examine the priorities that would emerge from net assessments of the balance or on improving NATO’s capability to deter and fight. They fail to focus effectively on its many individual national problems and issues in strength and readiness, and they have failed to create coherent force and modernization plans for the future.


Deepfake videos and ‘fake news’ are revolutionizing the denial and deception domain — an elegant warfare technique and operation that can be devastating to the enemy. But now, with the emergence and application of artificial intelligence (AI), deception is being taken to a whole new level of sophistication and use across a much wider spectrum than ever before.

Edward Geist and Marjory Blumenhthal posted an October 23, 2019 “Military Deception: AI’s Killer App?” to the national security and military website/blog, WarOnTheRocks. I refer you to that publication for the entire article. Mr. Geist and Ms. Blumenthal observe that “the combined use of AI and sensors to enhance situational awareness could make new kinds of military deception possible. AI systems will be fed data by a huge number of sensors — everything from space-based synthetic-aperture radar to cameras on drones to selfies posted on social media.”

The authors warn: “If technological progress boosts deception. it will have unpredictable effects. In some circumstances, improved deception benefits attackers; in others, it bolsters defenders. And, while effective deception can imperil an attacker to misdirect his blows, it does nothing to shield the defender from those that do land. Rather than shifting the offense-defense balance. AI might inaugurate something qualitatively different; a deception-dominant world in which countries can no longer gauge that balance.”