23 November 2019

India and Japan Eye the Dragon in the Room

By Aman Thakker, Elliot Silverberg

India and Japan are set to hold their inaugural defense and foreign ministerial dialogue on Nov. 30. The new talks—referred to as the “2+2,” a diplomatic term for bilateral meetings between defense and foreign ministers—is expected to advance cooperation around a range of bilateral issues ahead of next month’s annual summit between Prime Ministers Shinzo Abe of Japan and Narendra Modi of India.

This will only be India’s second such 2+2, after a similar exchange with the United States last year, but it heralds the continuation of a new era of energy and potential in the special relationship forming between Tokyo and New Delhi. Relations between India and Japan provide a stabilizing anchor for rules-based norms and values at a time when the United States is increasingly preoccupied with domestic concerns and Asia is wracked by the unsettling rise of China and the sweeping winds of nationalism and authoritarianism. In a region where history often weighs heavily, the two countries remain singularly unencumbered by ideological or territorial disputes.

A fresh approach to peace in Afghanistan

An effective peace process is possible and desirable in Afghanistan. Success, however, will require a careful, step-by-step course to test bona fides, build confidence, reduce violence and encourage the difficult negotiations in which Afghans themselves determine the political future of Afghanistan.

U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad has been working to re-engage the peace process in visits to the region, in meetings with international players, and in fostering the just completed detainee swap — two kidnapped professors from American University of Afghanistan in exchange for three Taliban prisoners in Afghan government custody.

The detainee release is a welcome sign that the Afghan government and the Taliban are interested in continuing efforts toward peace, and it signals hope for a fresh approach to confidence-building. However, the complicated process to accomplish the swap and the finger-pointing along the way underscore the serious challenges to seeking an end to the 40-year war in Afghanistan and the 18 years of major U.S. engagement. 

America has spent $6.4 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says

Amanda Macias

The U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $6.4 trillion since they began in 2001.

That total is $2 trillion more than all federal government spending during the recently completed fiscal year.

The report, from Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University, also finds that more than 801,000 people have died as a direct result of fighting.

WASHINGTON — American taxpayers have spent $6.4 trillion on post-9/11 wars and military action in the Middle East and Asia, according to a new study.

That total is $2 trillion more than the entire federal government spending during the recently completed 2019 fiscal year. The U.S. government spent $4.4 trillion during the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, according to the Treasury Department.

What was Pak army chief doing in Iran?

'Tehran senses that the Modi government is inexorably gravitating toward the US-Israeli-Saudi axis, jettisoning India's traditional independent Gulf policies,' notes Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar.

The low-key coverage by the Pakistani media on the 2-day visit of army chief General Qamar Bajwa to Iran notwithstanding, the event signifies a surge in the tempo of 'mil-to-mil' exchanges between the two countries.

The Iranian side gave the event a distinct political colouring with the Pakistani army chief having meetings with President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and the secretary of the Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani, apart from talks with his host, Chief of Staff of the Iranian armed forces Major General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri.

Border security and counter-terrorism are key issues for Iran. But General Bajwa's talks extensively covered regional developments and even dwelt on the two countries's 'coordination on the major issues of the Muslim world'.

Why Hong Kong’s ‘Special Status’ in the U.S. Is Touchy Territory

By Iain Marlow and Daniel Flatley

The U.S. Congress is making a loud statement in support of Hong Kong democracy protesters, to the dismay of China’s leaders. Legislation passed by the House and Senate with only a single dissenting vote would amend the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992, under which the U.S. treats Hong Kong differently than the mainland in trade, commerce and other areas. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the bill into law. Rescinding Hong Kong’s “special status” would effectively mean treating the Asian financial hub no differently than any other Chinese city, a seismic shift.

1. Is the special status being rescinded?

Congress isn’t going that far, and Trump, who has always had the power to suspend it with an executive order, has said nothing to suggest that’s on the table. Instead, the measure adopted by Congress would require the U.S. secretary of state to certify -- as part of an annual report report to Congress -- whether Hong Kong remains “sufficiently autonomous” from Beijing to justify its unique treatment under U.S. law. That includes assessing the degree to which Hong Kong’s autonomy had been eroded by the government of China. (Hong Kong is part of China but has a different legal and economic system, a holdover from its time as a British colony.) The proposed law would also sanction officials deemed responsible for human rights abuses and undermining the city’s autonomy.

With an Eye Toward China, Pentagon Weighs Slashing Global Hawk Drone

By Lara Seligman

A U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawk drone lands at Misawa Air Base for a temporary intra-theater routine deployment in Japan on June 1, 2018. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Deana Heitzman

Just months after Iran shot down an expensive U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz, the Defense Department is weighing scrapping about two-thirds of the Air Force’s roughly three dozen Global Hawk unmanned aircraft as part of a shift toward building the new capabilities needed to counter China and Russia. 

The Air Force has proposed retiring as many as 21 of its 35 RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude drones, which currently collect intelligence across the Middle East and elsewhere, as part of a series of steep cuts to legacy programs, current and former U.S. defense officials told Foreign Policy. The proposal has been submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for review as part of annual budget negotiations.

“The Air Force continues to refine its budget submission,” Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said. “We don’t expect details to be available until the President’s Budget is submitted to Congress in February 2020.”

How Is Congress Trying to Support the Hong Kong Protesters?

By Lindsay Maizland

If passed, a new bill would signal U.S. support for the protesters and put pressure on China’s leaders.

As clashes between protesters and police in Hong Kong become increasingly violent, members of the U.S. Congress have pushed to pass legislation that would address human rights abuses, visas for protesters, and Hong Kong’s declining autonomy.

The House of Representatives passed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act in October, and lawmakers are working to get it quickly approved in the Senate. The bill’s passage would be the first substantive step taken by Congress to support Hong Kong since historic protests started in June against Beijing’s tightening grip on the city, including what protesters see as a clampdown on democratic freedoms they were promised in 1997.

“Adoption of this new law would be one of several peaceful steps that [Washington] can take to deter the People’s Republic of China from further oppression in Hong Kong,” says CFR’s Jerome A. Cohen.

Why has China become such a big political issue?

Ryan Hass

Formulating a strategy to deal with China will be an unavoidable responsibility of the next presidential administration, no matter who wins the election. In previous campaigns, candidates from both parties have promised to pursue tougher policies toward China, and there are signs that aggressive approaches have bipartisan support in Congress, but the level of public support for an adversarial relationship casts doubt on the likelihood that strategies for responding to China’s rise will become a major issue in the 2020 election.

The disillusionment within the American business community has arguably had the most impact on the politics of China in the United States.

While the Trump administration has cast the US-China relationship as a multi-domain strategic competition, the president himself has been more narrowly focused on resetting trade relations and improving the trade balance.

Based on Americans’ perceptions of China, it’s unlikely the 2020 presidential election generates an in-depth national conversation on the most effective strategy for responding to China’s rise. 

Can The Paris Agreement On Climate Change Succeed Without The US? 4 Questions Answered

Editor’s note: On Nov. 4, the Trump administration formally notified the United Nations that it planned to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change, which 196 countries adopted in 2015. The pact is designed to keep global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels in this century, and if possible, to limit the increase to 1.5°C. Boston University international relations scholar Henrik Selin explains how U.S. withdrawal will affect prospects for avoiding the worst effects of global warming.

1. What is the process for a country to leave the Paris Agreement?

President Trump announced in the summer of 2017 that he intended to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, as he had pledged during the 2016 campaign. The agreement was adopted in 2015 and entered into international legal force on Nov. 4, 2016.

Why Iranians Are Setting Their Own Banks on Fire


Since Friday, massive protests have spread to more than 100 cities across Iran, in response to a sudden rise in gas prices. An estimated 100 banks and 57 shops have burned down. Iranian security forces have arrested more than 1,000 people and killed at least 12, though activists put the number as high as 40, and over the weekend the government shut down internet access to thwart demonstrators from organizing on social media.

The usual explanation for such disaffection is to blame Iran’s financial distress on the economic sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after America’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal. But the reality is more complicated.

For the past several years, there has been a subtle debate inside the Islamic Republic’s corridors of power over competing economic visions. President Hassan Rouhani has stressed the need for access to the global economy, while Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has pressed his notion of the “economy of resistance”—relying on internal economic resources and eschewing foreign commerce. It now appears the hard-liners have won the debate and are implementing their vision: As part of his “economy of resistance,” Khamenei has pushed to cut government expenditures, which the regime did last week by slashing gasoline subsidies, prompting the price spike and the protests.

Iranian protesters strike at the heart of the regime’s revolutionary legitimacy

Suzanne Maloney

Protests erupted in more than 100 Iranian cities over the weekend, sparked by the government’s decision to triple gasoline prices in a bid to fill a budget deficit. Demonstrators blocked traffic on major highways, burned posters of Iranian leaders in effigy, and attacked banks, government buildings, and symbols of the revolutionary system. The regime responded immediately and with brute force, imposing a near-total blackout of the internet and mobile lines and deploying snipers and security forces to the streets of its own cities. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, denounced the demonstrators as “thugs” and its president, Hassan Rouhani, warned that government surveillance would empower reprisals against all who participated. If the unofficial reports of dead and wounded are anywhere near accurate, this might be the most deadly uprising since the 1979 revolution.

The demonstrations echo the unrest that convulsed Iran in late 2017 and early 2018, although this latest round appears to be more widespread and more violent. The Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” strategy has surely contributed to Tehran’s fiscal predicament. However, Iran’s turmoil is not driven by U.S. policies, nor is it merely some circumstantial spasm. The protests are the latest salvo in the Iranian struggle for accountable government that stretches back more than a century. And the fury and desperation of the Iranians on the streets this week strikes at the heart of the legitimacy of the revolutionary system.

Shrunken Aramco Listing Could Crimp Saudi Crown Prince’s Bigger Plans

By Keith Johnson

Over the weekend, Saudi Arabia finally announced the terms of its hugely anticipated stock market listing of the most profitable company in the world, the oil giant Saudi Aramco. But the final price and size of the Aramco listing will be less than what Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman long hoped for—and promised. On Sunday and Monday, Saudi officials canceled “roadshows”—pitch meetings with prospective investors—in Asia, Europe, and the United States. In the end, the vaunted coming-out party of Saudi Arabia’s crown jewel will be a local affair, with the shares sold almost exclusively to Saudi nationals and investment funds in Saudi Arabia, the Middle East, and countries like Russia and China.

That points toward a tough future for Mohammed bin Salman’s ambitious plans to wean the Saudi economy off oil—the basis for his Saudi Vision 2030 announced in 2016—and entice foreign investors to pour hundreds of billions of dollars into the kingdom.

Wait, this was supposed to be the mother of all initial public offerings. What happened?

When Mohammed bin Salman first broached the idea of listing Aramco in 2016, Saudi officials and some investment bankers got starry-eyed, talking of potential valuations of the oil giant of about $10 trillion. Over the years, the crown prince also talked up the prospect of listing a decent chunk of the company’s shares—about 5 percent—which would have raised some $100 billion for Saudi coffers, meant to underwrite all the ambitious economic diversification plans in the crown prince’s Saudi Vision 2030 plan.

Iran's Cyber War Adds Dangerous New Element to Its Civil Unrest

by Matthew Petti

Relatively few images have slipped through the government’s electronic filters, which appears to be blocking any communication between Iran and the outside world, while allowing internal traffic to continue.

Iranian protesters and factions within the government are fighting two parallel battles: one for control of the streets and another for domination over cyberspace.

A near-total Internet blockade has drawn a dark curtain over Iran as demonstrators clash with police over massive gas price hikes. But what little information is available suggests a dark situation is unfolding.

“The Trump administration's sanctions have wrought a desperate situation in the country and have helped impoverish the population,” said National Iranian American Council senior research analyst Sina Toossi. “Amid the country's heightened securitized atmosphere, the Iranian government is asserting a more ironfisted approach than has been seen in years.”

President Hassan Rouhani announced a plan to cut fuel consumption on Friday night—the Iranian equivalent of a Sunday night. His administration promised to offset the gas-price hikes with Andrew Yang-style cash payments to families, but it was not enough to quell the growing popular rage.

Understanding Russia's Intervention in Syria

PDF file 0.5 MB 

Russia's 2015 military intervention in Syria's civil war took many by surprise and raised questions about the potential for similar actions in other conflicts outside of post-Soviet Eurasia. The authors of this report assess where and under what conditions Moscow could intervene again by analyzing the factors that drive Russian decisionmaking on intervention. In addition to the 2015 intervention in Syria, they examine four smaller-scale interventions in conflicts outside of Russia's immediate neighborhood: Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Syria itself before 2015.

The analysis demonstrates that Moscow's decision to intervene in Syria in 2015 resulted from an extraordinary confluence of political drivers and military conditions. This set of circumstances is very unlikely to be replicated elsewhere. Indeed, the drivers for an intervention on a scale comparable to the 2015 action in Syria are absent in any of the other three countries examined in the report. However, the other cases that were considered in this report suggest that the conditions for intervention short of direct, overt use of the military, but greater than mere diplomacy, are more commonplace: The conflict in question presents a high level of threat to Russian security (as in Afghanistan), promises a high level of geopolitical benefit for Moscow (as in Libya), or demonstrates moderate levels of both (as in Syria pre-2015). That threshold could plausibly be met in a variety of country settings, which suggests that there are likely to be more of these smaller-scale interventions in the future.

How to End the War in Ukraine

By Steven Pifer 

For more than five years, Russian forces and their proxies have waged a bloody war against Ukrainian forces in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine. The conflict has claimed more than 13,000 lives, driven almost two million people from their homes, and caused immense material damage. France and Germany have together sought to broker peace but failed to produce a durable cease-fire—let alone a political settlement.

On December 9, French President Emmanuel Macron will host a summit with his Ukrainian, Russian, and German counterparts aimed at bringing the conflict to an end. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky appears committed to making peace, while Moscow appears committed to sustaining the war. Whether the summit will yield any progress toward closing that gap remains in doubt.

How to deal with Russia’s Hybrid Warfare?

The Georgian Institute for Security Policy (GISP) sat down with Eitvydas Bajarunas, Ambassador-at-Large for Hybrid Threats, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, to get his take on his country’s experience in dealing with hybrid warfare.

“This very term ‘hybrid’ is puzzling because if you ask the general public and even google yourself, you will find a ‘hybrid car’ mentioned yet this hybrid car analogy is not discouraging for us professionals; it’s actually a very good feature. A hybrid car means that you use an engine which might be on gasoline and then switch to electricity: you would not even notice,” Bajarunas told us. “This is what hybrid warfare entails too – disinformation operations might be continued with cyber-attacks and a cyber-attack with a green man invasion or all those in combination; so you don’t notice. This is what happened in Ukraine when we saw a coordinated Russian attack on disinformation, then the cyber-attack on the electricity network followed by Russian Spetsnaz occupying buildings in Lugansk and Donetsk. Afterwards it was called hybrid. The term is new, very much as a consequence of Russia’s operation in Ukraine, but the tactic of meddling with internal affairs to weaken, using lies, has always been there- the only difference is that it’s now a country, Russia, that’s doing this very much at the state level. And then of course globalization and technology are making it even easier. Now you do not need a big investment to send lies; you need just follow social media. The cyber field is far-reaching, global.”

How Cozy Is Russia and China’s Military Relationship?



The details of the arrangement are not publicly known, but it appears that there is no outright “purchase” of a complete system. From what is known, one may conclude that Russia will help China build new and upgrade existing system elements, such as land-based radars, space-based satellites, and data analysis centers. Presumably, China reached out to Russia about early warning systems because Beijing thinks that its existing early-warning capabilities are inadequate and that its rivalry with the United States is long-term, is fundamental, and will have a strategic military dimension.

The significance of Beijing upgrading its early warning system is that, once it is complete, no hypothetical missile attack against China would come as a surprise. Instead of waiting for enemy missiles to explode on its territory before ordering the launch of its surviving missiles, China could adopt a launch-on-warning posture (in which a retaliatory strike is launched as soon as a country learns of an incoming nuclear attack, while enemy missiles are still in the air). This would strengthen Beijing’s deterrence capabilities and complicate a potential adversary’s calculations.

Counterterrorism in an Era of Competing Priorities: Ten Key Considerations

Russell Travers

In this in-depth briefing, a leading CT official discusses how to address diverse challenges ranging from border security and document forgery to online radicalization and far-right copycat attacks.

On November 8, Russell Travers, the acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of his remarks. Download a PDF transcript of his speech.

As U.S. authorities consider how best to counter terrorism amid other policy imperatives, they need to answer several questions. What does the risk equation look like in a country with such a complex national security environment? How should the government optimize allocation of counterterrorism resources in the country’s best interests when departments and agencies have differing priorities? And how can America continue the successes of its CT posture without reversing the gains made since the 9/11 attacks?

After the End of the 'Pink Tide,' What’s Next for South America?

Earlier this year, it seemed as if the “pink tide” of leftist governments that swept across Latin America in the early 2000s had all but retreated. The wave of conservative governments that replaced them owed their rise in part to the region’s economic difficulties following the end of the commodities boom of the first decade of the 21st century. But they also took advantage of the failure by many of the leftist leaders to translate that economic boom into sustainable advances for the lower and middle classes. The election of Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil last year, after a campaign spent vilifying women as well as marginalized and indigenous communities, was a particular blow to the region’s progressives.

More recently, the South American left has shown signs of a revival. Argentina’s center-left Peronist candidate, Alberto Fernandez, ousted the market-friendly incumbent, Mauricio Macri, in that country’s October presidential election. Macri had won office in 2015 pledging to remedy the economic missteps of his Peronist predecessor, but his austerity measures and heavy borrowing triggered an economic crisis that cost him the presidency. And massive protests in Ecuador and Chile forced the governments in those countries to backtrack on austerity measures, calling into question in the case of Chile the country’s longstanding neoliberal economic model.

With economic interests at stake, the US and China can learn to be the best of frenemies

Chiu-Ti Jansen

No matter what the China bashers say, the US will continue to engage with China’s deep pockets. The best way to compete is with sportsmanship: there can be honour even in the most intense rivalry

Is China a friend or an enemy? This question drove debates between America’s panda huggers and China bashers in early June. Today, the debate rages on despite signs of a 

At the Sixth China Inbound-Outbound Forum organised by the Beijing-headquartered Centre for China and Globalisation, I heard jinghe (coopetition, or collaboration between business competitors) punctuating many conversations with former Chinese government officers.

One year ago at the same forum, which I also attended, discussions centred on the trade war and the repercussions of possible “confrontations on all fronts” (quanmian duikang). As the new reality settled in, the Chinese are coming to terms with the “red face, white face” approach of the Trump administration, a Chinese opera reference best translated as the “good cop, bad cop” dynamic.

The “engagement debate”, as it is known in Washington circles, is whether the United States should continue its engagement policy with respect to China. A Washington Post column on July 3 by the luminaries M. Taylor Fravel, J. Stapleton Roy, Michael D. Swaine, Susan A. Thornton and Ezra Vogel, and signed by 100 others, declares that “China is not an enemy”.

Water Security in the Middle East

The Dialogue Workshop “Water Security in the Middle East” was held on October 24th, 2019 in the Ambassador Hotel in Jerusalem as part of the EuroMeSCo ENI Project, co-funded by the European Union and the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed). It was organized by the Israel Palestine Center for Regional Initiatives (IPCRI), the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES) and the IEMed.

A total of 25 participants, including EuroMeSCo researchers directly involved in the project as well as other experts and scholars attended the workshop. This dialogue workshop aimed at discussing the initial research results ahead of the publication of a Joint Policy Study, and engaging the participants in analyzing and sharing their perspectives on current state of water, water diplomacy and the nexus between water and energy. In addition, this workshop discussed and analyzed relevant conceptual frameworks such as securitization and desecuritization which have important policy ramifications.

Military Review, November-December 2019, v. 99, no. 6

o The Geoeconomic Dimensions of Russian Private Military and Security Companies
o Order from Chaos: Inside U.S. Army Civil Affairs Activities
o Empathetic Leadership: Understanding the Human Domain
o Integration of Women and Gender Perspective into the Myanmar Armed Forces to Improve Civil-Military Relations in Myanmar
o Motivating and Educating Millennials
o Military Transformation: Effort and Institutional Commitment
o Trailblazers of Unmanned Ground Vehicles: Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Marine Corps Warfighting Lab
o A Last Moment Caught
o Mobilizing History to Promote Patriotism and a New Past
o Shadows of War: Violence along the Korean Demilitarized Zone
o Fighting Forward: Modernizing U.S. Army Reconnaissance and Security for Great Power Conflict
o Global Contingency Plans: A New Look at War Planning
o All Socialists Are Equal, but Some Are More Equal Than Others
o Bombs without Boots: The Limits of Airpower

US Electronic Warfare: You’re Doing It Wrong


CSBA says the US is investing in the wrong jammers to counter Russia and China’s powerful EW forces. There's another approach that would exploit our adversaries’ weaknesses.

Despite rising budgets and high-level attention to electronic warfare, the Pentagon’s “efforts have been unfocused and are likely to fail,” warns a congressionally mandated study out today. What the US needs, the Center for Strategic & Budgetary Assessments report says, is a radically new approach that can outfox Russia and China.

How far behind is the Pentagon in electronic warfare?

By: Mark Pomerleau

The current trajectory of the military’s electronic warfare modernization is too incremental and insufficient to regain the upper hand against top competitors, a new EW plans and programs assessment mandated by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act asserts.

In a report to be unveiled Nov. 21, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) finds that budgetary increases in the technologies are unlikely to yield significant improvements against Russia and China.

While the Department of Defense increased funding in fiscal year 2017 for EW, the sector will stagnate in budgets after fiscal year 2020 and the earlier funding increases were appropriated without a clear vision or strategy for how forces will operate in the electromagnetic spectrum, according to the report.

“DoD dramatically increased its spending on EW and EMSO [electromagnetic spectrum operations] during the last five years, but did not focus additional funding on the most important new technologies and programs needed to gain an advantage in the EMS,” the report finds. “The misapplication of funding continues into the Future Year’s Defense Plan, during which funding for development of new capabilities is planned to decrease while spending on procurement is projected to go mainly to upgraded versions of today’s EW and EMSO systems.”

Information sharing is critical. So will DHS fund it in 2020?

By: Andrew Eversden

Three Senate Democrats are concerned that the Department of Homeland Security’s cyber unit won’t provide adequate funding to an information sharing program with less than one year until the 2020 presidential election.

In a letter addressed to Chris Krebs, the director of DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the organization tasked with protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, the senators wrote that they were “dismayed” by a 70 percent cut in the DHS proposed budget to two information sharing and analysis centers or ISACs.

The cuts are directed at the Center of Internet Security, which runs the Multi-State ISAC and was asked to run the Election Infrastructure-ISAC. According to a press release from Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 would cut funding for the center to $10.4 million from $15 million.

The centers provide partners with threat intelligence, best practices and tools to help protect potentially vulnerable systems. They are made up of state, local and tribal officials, the front lines of election security defense. Top election officials in the federal government, especially Krebs, regularly emphasize the importance of information sharing in defending networks. That makes the proposed cuts to information sharing unexpected.

What jobs are affected by AI? Better-paid, better-educated workers face the most exposure

Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton, and Robert Maxim

Artificial intelligence (AI) has generated increasing interest in “future of work” discussions in recent years as the technology has achieved superhuman performance in a range of valuable tasks, ranging from manufacturing to radiology to legal contracts. With that said, though, it has been difficult to get a specific read on AI’s implications on the labor market.

In part because the technologies have not yet been widely adopted, previous analyses have had to rely either on case studies or subjective assessments by experts to determine which occupations might be susceptible to a takeover by AI algorithms. What’s more, most research has concentrated on an undifferentiated array of “automation” technologies including robotics, software, and AI all at once. The result has been a lot of discussion—but not a lot of clarity—about AI, with prognostications that range from the utopian to the apocalyptic.

Given that, the analysis presented here demonstrates a new way to identify the kinds of tasks and occupations likely to be affected by AI’s machine learning capabilities, rather than automation’s robotics and software impacts on the economy. By employing a novel technique developed by Stanford University Ph.D. candidate Michael Webb, the new report establishes job exposure levels by analyzing the overlap between AI-related patents and job descriptions. In this way, the following paper homes in on the impacts of AI specifically and does it by studying empirical statistical associations as opposed to expert forecasting.Report

AI Principles and the Challenge of Implementation

Morgan Dwyer

The Defense Innovation Board (DIB) recently advised the Department of Defense (DOD) to adopt ethics principles for artificial intelligence (AI): that AI should be responsible, equitable, traceable, reliable, and governable . These principles aim to keep humans in the loop during AI development and operations (responsible); avoid unintended bias (equitable); maintain sufficient understanding of AI capabilities (traceable); ensure safety, security, and robustness (reliable); and avoid unintended harm or disruption (governable). Overall, these principles are good . But as with all principles, implementation will be a challenge. This is especially the case today since, if adopted, the DIB’s proposed principles will be implemented during a tumultuous time for defense technology.

Presumably, the DIB’s principles will require meticulous development and careful oversight. In recent years, though, DOD’s standard technological processes and oversight mechanisms have been reimagined. For example, to prioritize innovation and the speed with which DOD fields new capabilities, Congress restructured the department’s primary technology oversight office and delegated most acquisition decisions to the military services. Congress also created new acquisition pathways that enable rapid prototyping and fielding by forgoing traditional oversight processes.

Benefits and Pitfalls of Data-Based Military Decisionmaking

Scott S. Haraburda

Sound and effective decisions, supported by reliable data, usually determines military operational success. Recent rapid advances in electronic instrumentation, equipment sensors, digital storage, and communication systems have generated large amounts of data. This deluge of digitized information provides military leaders innumerable data mining opportunities to extract hidden patterns in a wide diversity of situations.[1] From complex information contained in this varying data, visualization tools and other data science methods aid leaders, especially commanders and their staffs, in asking questions, developing solutions, and making decisions.

Recently, senior Army leaders demanded visualized access to massive amounts of data to enhance their decisionmaking, which quickly morphed into an ambition project called Army Leader Dashboard.[2] Nearly a thousand unique data sources from its initial efforts such as training databases, equipment inventories, and personnel records emerged. This proliferation of data appeared limitless and provided a staggering potential to enhance decisionmaking with valuable real-time information that crossed multiple functions throughout military organizations such as logistics, risks, and personnel. Notwithstanding, this soon revealed its data existed in silos, which were difficult to obtain and may not be reliable.

The Case for a National Security Budget

By Brett Rosenberg and Jake Sullivan 

In 2007, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a call that would, he predicted, strike many officials in his own department as “blasphemy”: the United States needed to spend more on diplomacy, foreign aid, and other nonmilitary tools of foreign policy. “Having a sitting secretary of defense . . . make a pitch to increase the budget of other agencies might,” Gates noted, “fit into the category of ‘man bites dog.’”

Not so today. It has become ordinary, even orthodoxy, for national security professionals to lament how the underfunding of civilian tools has fueled an overmilitarized foreign policy that is ill-equipped to take on today’s most pressing challenges. As James Mattis, then the commander of U.S. Central Command, put it in 2013: “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.”

Unfortunately, this rhetorical consensus has not produced the necessary rebalance in resources. If anything, the situation has gotten worse since Gates’s speech. When Mattis himself took over the Defense Department in 2017, his own words were frequently quoted back to him. Yet the administration he served promptly proposed boosting defense spending and tried to drastically cut funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Even with congressional pushback, this year’s defense budget of $738 billion is 13 times the international affairs budget (which funds State, USAID, and international programs administered by the Departments of Agriculture, the Treasury, and other agencies).

In Future Wars, the U.S. Military Will Have Nowhere to Hide

By Michael Beckley

For most of its history, the United States has had the luxury of fighting its wars from safe havens. No major international battles have taken place on the continental United States in more than two centuries, and its offshore territory has not suffered a serious attack since Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in World War II. For the past few decades, even U.S. bases on foreign soil have faced few conventional military threats.

The unprecedented immunity has enabled a particular American way of war that involves massive assaults launched from nearly invulnerable and geographically removed sanctuaries. In recent wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Serbia, for example, the U.S. military used secure bases and logistics networks stretching from the U.S. heartland to the enemy’s borders. From these vast safe spaces, the military was able to pick its battles strategically and churn out air and missile strikes with industrial efficiency. As a result, the outcomes of the immediate wars—if not their aftermaths—were never in doubt.

In future wars, however, new technologies may enable rival great powers, such as China and Russia, to carry out precise and devastating attacks on U.S. military bases and logistics networks, even including those located within the United States itself. Advances in the fields of aerospace, robotics, machine learning, 3D printing, and nanomaterials are creating new classes of missiles and lethal drones that can be launched discreetly, travel great distances, and hamstring massed forces—all for a fraction of the cost of traditional manned weapons.