25 November 2019

Indian employers are stubbornly obsessed with elite students—and it’s hurting them

By Diksha Madhok

In his 2016 book Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, author Duncan Clark wrote about how the founder of one of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies hires.

When building up his team Jack preferred hiring people a notch or two below the top performers in their schools. The college elite, Jack explained, would easily get frustrated when they encountered the difficulties of the real world.

Hiring strategies at Indian companies couldn’t be more different. Not only do they want to hire the top performers, they want to hire them from elite colleges such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) or the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). A top e-commerce firm in the country is even notorious for hiring its early team from a specific hostel at IIT Delhi.

The Jungle Prince of Delhi

By Ellen Barry

NEW DELHI — On a spring afternoon in 2016, when I was working in India, I received a telephone message from a recluse who lived in a forest in the middle of Delhi.

The message was passed on by our office manager through Gchat, and it thrilled me so much that I preserved it.

Office manager: Ellen have you been trying to get in touch with the royal family of Oudh?

Ellen: this has to be the best telephone message ever

Office manager: It was quite strange! The secretary left precise instructions for when you should call her — tomorrow between 11 am and 12 noon

Ellen: oh my god

I knew about the royal family of Oudh, of course. They were one of the city’s great mysteries. Their story was passed between tea sellers and rickshaw drivers and shopkeepers in Old Delhi: In a forest, they said, in a palace cut off from the city that surrounds it, lived a prince, a princess and a queen, said to be the last of a storied Shiite Muslim royal line.

Will a Prisoner Swap with the Taliban Push the Afghan Peace Process Forward?

Scott Worden

The Afghan government moves to starts direct negotiations, but a host of obstacles remain in the way.

It’s been over two months since President Trump announced a halt to U.S.-Taliban peace talks. In a move that could revive the moribund peace process, the Afghan government and Taliban completed a prisoner exchange that had been announced last week but then delayed. An American and Australian professor held by the Taliban were freed in return for three senior Taliban figures. Meanwhile, Afghanistan’s September 28 presidential election remains undecided, further complicating peace efforts. USIP’s Scott Worden looks at what impact the prisoner exchange could have on the peace process, how regional actors have sought to fill the vacuum in the absence of the U.S.-led talks and the connection between negotiations and the election.

What impact could the prisoner exchange have on the peace process and the U.S. role in it?

Biological Terrorism in Indonesia

By V. Arianti

Terrorists in West Java planned to use a biological toxic agent in a bomb attack. What does this signify for the bioterrorism threat in Indonesia?

In mid-October 2019, the Indonesian police discovered that a cell of Jamaah Ansharud Daulah (JAD) – the largest pro-Islamic State (IS) network in Indonesia – had plotted a suicide attack using a bomb that contained the abrin poison in Cirebon, West Java. The cell had targeted a local police station and a place of worship in Cirebon. Police seized 310 grams of rosary pea seeds, which is the main ingredient of abrin. The police’s forensic test revealed that around 0.7 micrograms of abrin could kill 100 people.

This was the first assembled bomb in Indonesia that used a biological substance as one of its ingredients. However, this was the second terror plot in eight years that used biological agents. The first plot was in 2011, when a militant group in Jakarta attempted to kill policemen by poisoning the latter’s food using ricin, another biological agent.

What does this latest plot imply regarding the current state of the threat of bioterrorism – “the intentional release of viruses, bacteria, or other germs that can sicken or kill people, livestock, or crops” – in Indonesia? The article will assess the threat from the perspectives of biological agents used in attack plots and methods of dissemination in past incidents as well as the intentions and capability of Indonesian terror groups in using biological agents as a mode of terror.

Climate Change and South Asia’s Pending Food Crisis

By Rabiya Jaffery

Are South Asian governments adapting to climate change’s impact on agriculture in the region?

Experts predict that ensuring food security for South Asia’s expanding population will be one of the chief problems the subregion faces in the coming years. Countries of the region will need to place addressing food insecurity among their top policy agendas to ensure stability.

South Asia is currently home to nearly 1.8 billion people — the majority living in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — and has been the fastest growing region for the past five years.The UN estimates that the population of the region will grow by 40 percent by 2050.

“The growing population will demand a higher supply of secure food, water, housing, and energy to maintain stability,” says George Stacey, an analyst working with Norvergence, an environmental advocacy NGO. “This is why countries in the region need to ensure they have the policies in place to adapt to the increasing number of people living there in coming years.”

And Stacey, among other climate experts, says that the challenge to secure food for South Asia’s growing population is exacerbated by the threats of climate change.

The End of the American International Order: What Comes Next?


China has made its decision. Beijing is building a separate system of Chinese technology—its own standards, infrastructure, and supply chains—to compete with the West.

Make no mistake: this is the single most consequential geopolitical decision taken in the last three decades. It’s also the greatest threat to globalization since the end of World War II.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Globalization has lifted billions of people from poverty around the world. We now live longer, healthier, and more productive lives than ever before. We are better educated and better informed than at any time in history. There has never been a better place and a better time to be alive than right here, right now.

So why are so many people so angry, and why is globalization under unprecedented threat?

Why are citizens in country after country bitterly casting aside both governing and opposition parties in favor of political disruptors?

At this moment in history, why is there so much alarm?

Four Theories of Modern China


What really drives China today—is it Xi Jinping himself, the Belt & Road Initiative, old habits of statecraft, or the regime’s authoritarian nature? Four recent books help us sort through the morass.

“There is no easy way to understand China,” the preeminent China historian Jonathan Spence wrote in 1990. Opening his comprehensive work, The Search for Modern China, Spence observed that “for a long time China was a completely unknown quantity to those living in the West.” That had changed, he suggested, but there were still enough questions to “keep us in a state of bewilderment as to China’s real nature.”

Thirty years later, the United States finds itself in the midst of a generational debate on China. Sitting at the heart of that debate are the same fundamental issues about China’s nature and direction that Spence raised three decades ago.

Seeking to answer these questions, three recent works of non-fiction and, surprisingly, one novel stand out in their ability to interpret modern China. Ranging in topic from Xi Jinping’s effect on Chinese society, to an examination of the Belt and Road Initiative, to an analysis of changes in Chinese grand strategy over the past hundred years, to the psychological effects of living under an increasingly authoritarian regime, these books were written by leading thinkers with deep knowledge of and experience in dealing with China. And while their focus and approaches vary considerably, they all seek to explain the nature of the modern Chinese state.

Xi Jinping Knows Who His Enemies Are

Xi Jinping is a Chinese renaissance man. Self-assured, self-possessed, and utterly unflappable, Xi is equally at home on the hearths of struggling farmers and in the greeting halls of foreign capitals. State media likes to juxtapose the years he spent in the caves of Shaanxi with the days he spent governing Shanghai’s glittering towers. Here is a man as men should be: a leader who can grasp both the plow and the bond market! So things go with Xi Jinping.

Though Xi studied chemical engineering, he presents himself as a littérateur. In Russia, he peppers his speeches with Dostoevsky and Gogol; when in France, Molière and Maupassant. To better grasp the meaning of The Old Man and the Sea, Xi traveled to Ernest Hemingway’s favorite bar in Havana. Xi has a hankering for historical sites like these, especially those associated with famous scenes from the stories of Chinese antiquity. He cultivates a reputation for taking history seriously; his speeches are filled with allusions to obscure sages and statesmen from China’s past.

But Xi is also eager to present himself as a man of the future. He revels in touring laboratories and centers of scientific innovation. He dabbles in complexity science and has tried to integrate its findings into Chinese Communist Party policies. There is a certain flexibility to China’s leader: To financiers, he adopts the argot of debts and derivatives. To Davos revelers, he drifts easily into the trendy buzzwords of the global business class. To soldiers, he speaks in military idiom (on many occasions happily attired in army greens), and to party members, the jargon of Marxist theory. For the common people of China, he consciously models an ideal of patriotic service and loving family life.

China and the UAE: Birds of a Feather?

By Bonnie Girard

The burgeoning relationship is driven by mutual self-interest and a shared embrace of the “noninterference” doctrine.

It is evident upon arrival at Dubai International Airport that the concerns many Western nations have about the Chinese telecommunications company Huawei are not shared by the United Arab Emirates. Advertisements for Huawei’s products are plastered throughout the airport, in English and in Arabic.

Indeed, the presence of China in Dubai, the most commercial of the seven Emirati states, is everywhere.

In Dubai one encounters a quickly growing Chinese involvement in investment, farming, trading, education, tourism, and finance.

The relationship has not been without its critics. But in a passionate editorial in The National, Abu Dhabi’s English-language daily newspaper, on May 30 of this year, Chinese Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates Ni Jian used strong arguments and historical references to defend the nature and well-being of the relationship between the UAE and the PRC.

The historical ties between the two countries are long-standing. The Silk Road of old brought merchants from both regions together in trade and more. Even today, the legacy of the human interaction between Chinese and Arab traders can be seen along the Chinese portion of the Silk Road. Xi’an, home to the terracotta warriors, boasts many faces that would seem more at home in Baghdad or Beirut than in a north-central Chinese province.

Inside China's "People's War" Plan for the South China Sea

by James Holmes

Last year China’s defense minister, General Chang Wanquan, implored the nation to ready itself for a “people’s war at sea.” The purpose of such a campaign? To “safeguard sovereignty” after an adverse ruling from the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea. The tribunal upheld the plain meaning of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), ruling that Beijing’s claims to “indisputable sovereignty” spanning some 80-90 percent of the South China Sea are bunk.

A strong coastal state, in other words, cannot simply wrest away the high seas or waters allocated to weaker neighbors and make them its own.

Or, at any rate, it can’t do so lawfully. It could conceivably do so through conquest, enforced afterward by a constant military presence. Defenders of freedom of the sea, consequently, must heed General Chang’s entreaty. Southeast Asians and their external allies must take such statements seriously—devoting ample forethought to the prospect of marine combat in the South China Sea.

That’s the first point about a people’s war at sea. A clash of arms is possible. Statesmen and commanders in places like Manila, Hanoi, and Washington must not discount Chang’s words as mere bluster.

The Middle East’s Lost Decades

By Maha Yahya

Since the 9/11 attacks, the Arab world’s relative economic, social, and political underdevelopment has been a topic of near-constant international concern. In a landmark 2002 report, the UN Development Program (UNDP) concluded that Arab countries lagged behind much of the world in development indicators such as political freedom, scientific progress, and the rights of women. Under U.S. President George W. Bush, this analysis helped drive the “freedom agenda,” which aimed to democratize the Middle East—by force if necessary—in order to eradicate the underdevelopment and authoritarianism that some officials in Washington believed were the root causes of terrorism. Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, criticized one of the cornerstones of the freedom agenda—the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003—but he shared Bush’s diagnosis. In his first major foreign policy speech as president, delivered in Cairo in 2009, Obama called on Middle Eastern governments to make progress in democracy, religious freedom, gender equality, and “economic development and opportunity.” Implicit in his remarks was a widely shared view among Western observers of the Middle East: that the Arab world’s dysfunction was a product of social and political arrangements that thwarted human potential, furthered inequality, and favored a small elite to the detriment of the broader population.

The Business Case For Terrorism – Analysis

By Stanley McChrystal and Ellen Chapin*

The aphorism “If you’re not growing, you’re dying” has long ruled the American business mindset. This principle, however, is contextualized quite differently by traditional bureaucratic companies and (by-design) volatile startups. Today, we tend to view startups as having a culture all their own, and while they may be plentiful, only the rare few will have the good fortune to thrive for any period of time. Meanwhile, the more plodding hierarchical organizations struggle to match either the notoriety or the innovation that startups produce, taking a longer-term view of company success and hoping not to fail before that success is possible. As businesses evolve, we apply new labels to them accordingly—monopolies, franchises, networks, startups—reflecting a range from fully hierarchical bureaucratic to entrepreneurial networked organizations.

The same principles and roles can be applied to a more dangerous business—the business of terrorism. Two of the deadliest and most notorious terrorist organizations, al-Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State (IS), have boasted many of the same structures and utilized tactics common to organizations in the business world. While AQ (having existed and thrived longer) has gradually built a global network of operatives, IS has focused on rapid expansion. Circumstances have forced the two organizations to compete for influence, resources, and success. In this, article we will reconceptualize terrorist groups as business organizations and explore how such organizations can best be countered, based on insights from the business world.

Is Iran Losing Its Grip? – OpEd

By Neville Teller

Iran’s international power structure is under severe threat from mass disaffection. 

Ever since the Islamic revolution of 1979 swept the Shah from Iran’s Peacock Throne, its leaders have been painstakingly building Iranian influence in the Middle East. The regime has been single-minded in pursuit of political and religious hegemony in the region. Its strategy – which has included the acquisition of nuclear capability – has involved strengthening the power of Shi’ite entities and coordinating them into what has been called a “Shia Crescent”. This arc of Iranian influence now stretches from Lebanon across to Syria, then to Iraq, through Iran itself and via the Gulf state of Bahrain down to Yemen. In Lebanon, Iran exercises control by way of Hezbollah, in Yemen it sustains the Houthis, and up to 70 percent of the citizens of the Island kingdom of Bahrain are Shia, though it is ruled by a Sunni royal family.

In the last few weeks severe and widespread popular protests have erupted across Iran’s sphere of influence. This wave began in Iraq, was followed in Lebanon and, on Friday November 15, burst out inside Iran itself, triggered when the government announced a 300 percent increase in the price of fuel linked to a tightening of the rationing system. Motorists are combining to block roads and switch off their engines and, in some cases, abandon their vehicles. 

New Terrorism in the Wake of Withdrawal

By Faith Stewart

The last three American presidential elections have emphasized a commitment to “bringing troops home” and bringing an end to “endless wars.” While the sentiment is well intentioned, it is at best misinformed and at worst intellectually dishonest. It stems from a need to placate an uninformed public and earn reelection votes. Further, it discounts the reality of the situation on the ground. These platforms largely ignore relevant military advice, choosing to foster emotionally driven campaign promises rather than to pragmatically highlight the need for involvement or engagement in a given area. Most military advice of the day, which is unrelated to whether or not America should have engaged in the conflict in the first place, based on a critical assessment of historical precedents, and focused on executing the best current course of action for a peaceful, long-term solution, is being ignored. Right now, in northern Syria, the Syrian Democratic Force (SDF) and the Kurdish people are experiencing the latest fallout from this misguided practice of placing mass public opinion and reelection hopes ahead of the greater future of the United States and the world. 

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.

If European efforts continue to falter, the United States should take a more active role in the peacemaking process, working with European countries to make Russia’s military engagement in Ukraine more costly and a settlement more attractive. Moreover, Washington should set forth its own peace plan—one that builds on previous diplomatic efforts but includes a UN-authorized peacekeeping mission and an interim international administration in Donbas.

The Future Of Values In The EU Global Strategy 2020 – Analysis

By Maryna Rabinovych and Zuzana Reptova

The revised version of the EU Global Strategy is to be released by the next High Representative, Josep Borrell. What potential is there for introducing a new focus on fundamental values in order to boost the EU’s global role at a time of crisis for the international liberal order?

In June 2019 the EU marked the third anniversary of the EU Global Strategy (EUGS), adopted as a response both to the increasingly complex, contested and conflict-prone external environment and to internal divisions that threaten the coherence of the EU’s external action. Compared with the initial 2003 European Security Strategy (ESS), the EUGS’s distinctive features encompass an explicit recourse to the EU’s self-interest and the downscaling of the transformative ambitions of the EU’s foreign policy. As opposed to the ESS, the EUGS has been ‘more conscious of the limits, imposed by our own capabilities and by others’ intractability’, and more specific about the EU’s strategic priorities (‘Security and Defence’, ‘Building State and Societal Resilience’, ‘Integrated Approach to Conflicts and Crises’, ‘Cooperative Regional Orders’, ‘A Rules-Based Governance’ and ‘Public Diplomacy’). According to the recent report on the implementation of the EUGS, a sharp focus on the EU’s vital interests and strategic priorities, listed above, helped the Union achieve considerable progress in a number of foreign policy domains, ranging from defence to countering external crises. Furthermore, as exemplified by the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), the launch of the EUGS has also been conducive to foreign and security policy integration among the Member States. However, to further promote a ‘stronger Europe in a fragile world’, in light of new intra-EU and external developments, Josep Borrell, the new HR/VP, will have to review the EUGS.

Newly Declassified Documents Reveal the Story of Why America Sent Nuclear Weapons to South Korea

by Daniel R. DePetris

"The deliberations within the U.S. national security bureaucracy leading up to Eisenhower's final call, however, was far more spirited than previously understood. The State Department may have lost the battle to the Pentagon, but not without a fight."

The day was January 17, 1957, and Assistant Secretary of State Walter Robertson had a nagging worry that his boss, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, wouldn’t go toe-to-toe with the Pentagon on the subject of introducing nuclear weapons into South Korea. The State Department, Robertson wrote in a memo to Dulles, remained unequivocally opposed to deploying atomic weapons on the Korean Peninsula. “In my opinion the introduction of atomic weapons into Korea, whether accompanied by nuclear components or not, in this time of world tension would have serious adverse repercussions throughout the Far East...,” Robertson opined. The military benefit was simply not worth the political costs.

The next day, Secretary Dulles met with Defense Secretary Charles Wilson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Arthur Radford and delivered some of those same points. Dulles, no Cold War peacenik, told his colleagues that it would be very difficult to convince Washington’s allies that sending U.S. nuclear weapons into the South was an appropriate response to perceived North Korean violations of the Armistice Agreement. The Joint Chiefs didn’t buy the argument: Pyongyang, Radford claimed, was throwing the military balance off-kilter. The only way the United States could mitigate the situation was by flying in strategic weapons on the other side of the Armistice line. 

Is Russia the Middle East’s new hegemon?

Shlomo Ben-Ami

The collapse of the Soviet Union three decades ago meant that its once-formidable presence in the Middle East collapsed as well. Today, however, as the United States has withdrawn from the region, Russia has rushed to recapture the Soviet Union’s position there, through a combination of military force, arms deals, strategic partnerships and the deployment of soft power. But its success is being significantly overestimated.

To be sure, Russia’s soft-power push has been impressive. As early as 2012, President Vladimir Putin emphasised the need to expand Russia’s ‘educational and cultural presence in the world, especially in those countries where a substantial part of the population speaks or understands Russian’. At a recent conference in Moscow, Putin made clear that Israel, for one, is on that list.

As part of this effort, Russia established a federal diaspora agency known as Rossotrudnichestvo, which has opened centres for science and culture in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia. It has also expanded the Arabic service of RT, the state-funded international television news network. With 6.3 million monthly viewers in six Arabic-speaking countries—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—RT Arabic is now among the Middle East’s leading networks.

How to Salvage Syria and Protect U.S. Troops

By Michael O'Hanlon

Not for the first time since civil war broke out in 2011, U.S. policy towards Syria is in shambles. Last year, President Trump promised to pull out the 2,000 or so U.S. forces who were present in the country’s northeast after the territorial defeat of the ISIS caliphate—only to reconsider after then-Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis resigned in the wake of that abrupt decision.

Earlier this fall, Trump again declared that U.S. forces (by that point numbering about 1,000) would soon leave, and he immediately pulled modest numbers out of their positions along the Syrian-Turkish border, where Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan planned a military operation against the very same Kurds who helped us defeat ISIS. Continuing the see-saw, Trump then decided that he will keep perhaps 600 U.S. personnel in country (backed up by 5,000 troops in Iraq, at least as many at al-Udeid Air Force Base in Qatar, and U.S. forces in Kuwait, Turkey, Bahrain, and nearby waterways as well).

Evo Morales’s Chaotic Departure Won’t Define His Legacy

In the wake of Evo Morales’s departure from office earlier this month after nearly 14 years as president of Bolivia, the country is in political chaos. More than 30 people have died as a result of ongoing unrest, and protests over the weekend led to food shortages in some cities. Interim President Jeanine Áñez has promised new elections, but the timeline remains unclear.

Morales’s exit, amid pressure from the military and mass protests, was a mess, and the country faces an uncertain political future. But Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, won’t be remembered primarily for his abrupt resignation, the turmoil that followed, or even for the democratic backsliding that marked the latter years of his presidency. His legacy will be the transformation of Bolivian society through the enfranchisement of the country’s indigenous population.

Morales’s national political career was born in the mid-1980s amid the contention generated by the long U.S.-led crackdown on drugs in Bolivia, during which he served as the paramount leader of coca grower unions in the Chapare region, where the majority of Bolivian coca is grown. Coca has been a traditional crop among the indigenous people of the Andes for centuries. Chewed or brewed as tea, it is a mild stimulant, ubiquitous in Bolivia. But it can be refined into cocaine—the international trade in which much of the country’s crop ultimately winds up. The Chapare was ground zero for decades of low-intensity war between coca growers and both Bolivian and U.S. law enforcement.

Trump’s Sisyphean Task: Bringing Down the U.S. Trade Deficit Without A Fall in the Dollar

Brad W. Setser

No modern president has obsessed about the trade deficit as much as President Trump.

No modern president believed as strongly that reducing the trade deficit could deliver a sustained boom to the United States economy (and particularly those parts that had been hard hit by the 2015-16 industrial recession).

And Trump can hardly be accused of inaction—he has engineered a revolution in U.S. trade, putting substantial tariffs on around two-thirds of U.S. imports from China (the largest single supplier of goods to the United States), rewriting NAFTA, and threatening broad action against auto imports.

Yet, well, the gap in non-petrol goods trade keeps on rising. The chart data is in real or volume terms. I also took out agriculture as it has its own sources of seasonal volatility but adding it in wouldn't change the trend.*

US Strategy Of Maximum Pressure Is Taking Iran To The Brink – Analysis

By Dr. Theodore Karasik

A few months ago, Iran launched drones and cruise missiles at Saudi Arabia in an unprecedented show of strategic and tactical thinking. It was a glorious moment for Tehran, and one of contemplation for the rest of the world on how best to respond. That question is still being asked today. This type of strike demonstrated a jump in strategy and technology. Many military analysts were taken aback by the attack because of its sophistication and pinpoint targeting.

But fast forward to the present, and there is no larger turnaround in fortunes than what is now besetting Iran. Hundreds of protesters have been killed in the worst uprising since the 1979 revolution. The protests that broke out across the country, in the wake of the announcement to increase fuel prices, exposed how the White House’s strategy of maximum pressure on Iran is taking the latter to the brink.

With parliamentary elections slated for February 2020, issues perhaps once thought off limits may be allowed to release steam, further challenging the government as the sanctions squeeze continues.

Fault lines in the US-ROK alliance: Shared defense but diverging values?

The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War and a deterrent to North Korea. The costs of that deployment are shared by both the US and the ROK, with Seoul carrying close to $1 billion annually, roughly 40 percent of the total cost. But Donald Trump wants South Korea to pay more. Specifically, 400 percent more. That’s unlikely to happen.

While policymakers and defense experts generally agree that South Korea can and should shoulder more of the burden, Seoul reacted with anger to the $5 billion ask US Defense Secretary Mark Esper relayed during a surly meeting earlier this week. Not only that, but the same day talks dissolved with the US, South Korea signed a defense agreement with China. A $5 billion request is certainly a shock to the system, but the larger issue is that increasingly, South Koreans don’t believe their interests align with those of the US.

The International Politics of Energy and Resource Extraction

Despite concerns over the environmental impact of industrial mining and the contribution that fossil fuels make to global warming, resource extraction continues to be a major source of revenue for both developing countries and wealthier nations alike. In fact, new data show that the amount of resources being pulled from the earth has tripled since 1970, though the global population has only doubled in that time.

Amid global efforts to reduce carbon emissions as part of climate change diplomacy, fossil fuels remain among the most prized extractives, for a simple reason: Global demand combined with the wealth they generate continues to give some countries, including members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, outsized global influence.

What is ‘sovereignty’ in cyberspace? Depends who you ask

By: Mark Pomerleau   

As the cyber domain is more active, and actively exploited, from around the world, experts in the cyber and international legal community believe that rightful authority in cyberspace will be an issue to be reckoned with in the near future.

“I think one of the next big areas that we need to look at is what is the meaning of ‘sovereignty’ in cyberspace,” Emily Goldman, a member of the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State, leading the cyber and emerging technology portfolios, said at CyberCon Nov. 12.

Sovereignty — the notion that the affairs and entities within a territory are solely the business of that territory and no one outside — becomes far more complex when there are no physical lines. Complicating matters further, the digital domain allows for activity that impacts networks within recognized lands to take place remotely and in many cases undetected, unlike a massing of troops that threatens to forcefully penetrate an established border.

Goldman highlighted positions taken by key U.S. allies within the last year, adding the United States has not officially taken one yet.

Online disinformation and emerging tech: Are democracies at risk?

By Brad Allenby

It’s been a problematic several years to be a denizen of a democratic country. The news in the United States and elsewhere is filled with reports on populist unrest, the rise of authoritarian governments, breakups of long-standing alliances, and online disinformation attacks by domestic and foreign actors on the levers of democracies. Domestic political polarization and institutional failure in previously vibrant pluralistic countries are a reminder that Western democratic societies are not historically foreordained, but may actually be fairly fragile in the face of fundamental technological and social change.

Online disinformation campaigns supported by fundamental changes in military and geopolitical strategies of major players such as Russia and China harden tribal factions and undermine the security of infrastructure systems in targets such as the United States, as state and non-state actors mount increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks on democratic institutions. The accelerating velocity, volume, and variety of information are creating a dramatic increase in the complexity of the information ecosystem, which in turn causes people to retreat into fundamentalism and encourages further institutional breakdown. Militaries, private firms, and civic organizations are trying to respond to the immediate challenges of an unpredictably shifting and dangerous new environment, with limited success.

Top 10 Emerging Technologies Of 2019

One day soon an emerging technology highlighted in this report will allow you to virtually teleport to a distant site and actually feel the handshakes and hugs of fellow cyber travelers. Also close to becoming commonplace: humanoid (and animaloid) robots designed to socialize with people; a system for pinpointing the source of a food-poisoning outbreak in just seconds; minuscule lenses that will pave the way for diminutive cameras and other devices; strong, biodegradable plastics that can be fashioned from otherwise useless plant wastes; DNA-based data-storage systems that will reliably stow ginormous amounts of information; and more.

Together with the World Economic Forum, Scientific American convened an international Steering Group of leading technology experts and engaged in an intense process to identify this year's “Top 10 Emerging Technologies.” After soliciting nominations from additional experts around the globe, the Steering Group evaluated dozens of proposals according to a number of criteria: Do the suggested technologies have the potential to provide major benefits to societies and economies? Could they alter established ways of doing things? Are they still in early stages of development but attracting a lot of interest from research labs, companies or investors? Are they likely to make significant inroads in the next several years? The group sought more information where needed and honed the list in four virtual meetings.

Cyber Influence Operations: An Overview and Comparative Analysis

Influence operations are nothing new, but the dawn of the information age has seen such activities migrate towards cyberspace. In this publication, Sean Cordey addresses this development by looking at the concept and use of cyber influence operations (CIO), including a comparative analysis of American and Russian CIOs. His findings include 1) that discussion and definition around CIO still lacks coherence and overlaps with other concepts; 2) cyberspace has opened up the potential use of influence operations to everyone; and 3) that a state’s CIO toolbox is dependent on context and objectives. 

5G doesn’t belong to just one country, Cisco’s vice president says

Holly Ellyatt

The advent of a super-fast 5G mobile network has been dominated by heated debates over national security concerns and fears that major players in the 5G industry, like tech giant Huawei, could be used by China to spy on other nations.

But Guy Diedrich, the vice president and global innovation officer at Cisco, insisted to CNBC that no one country or company would have a monopoly on the next generation of mobile internet.

“There is not any one country, one company or one continent that’s going to own 5G,” he said, speaking at CNBC’s East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China on Monday. 

The advent of a super-fast 5G mobile network has been dominated by heated debates over national security concerns and fears that major players in the 5G industry, like tech giant Huawei, could be used by China to spy on other nations.

But Guy Diedrich, the vice president and global innovation officer at Cisco, insisted to CNBC that no one country or company would have a monopoly on the next generation of mobile internet.

Moscow Showcases Breakthrough in Automated Command and Control

By Roger McDermott

Russia’s defense ministry has announced a breakthrough in its ongoing efforts to introduce advanced automated command and control (C2) within its Armed Forces. The importance of this development cannot be underestimated, as it places the Russian military decision-making process and automated C2 beyond the existing capabilities of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) militaries (see EDM, June 11). Of course, the system being introduced extends far beyond C2, to include the wider integration of C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capability. NATO militaries and planning staffs must now adjust to a new reality, that Moscow has developed the capability to plan and develop its military decision-making process to a stage well beyond the existing standards and capacities of Alliance standards; meaning that Russian military C2 is faster than that of its potential adversary. The breakthrough relates to uniting artificial intelligence and Big Data technologies to analyze the battlefield situation and through the automated system to rapidly provide commanders in the field with several possible solutions (Izvestia, November 13).