18 December 2019

China and India’s maritime rivalry has a new flashpoint: the Andaman Sea

Yogesh Joshi

The Andaman Sea is fast becoming the latest flashpoint of 
Sino-Indian maritime rivalry in the Indian Ocean. China’s increased interest in the region is evinced by the revelation earlier this month that the Indian Navy in September expelled a Chinese research vessel by the name of Shiyan 1 after it was found intruding into the exclusive economic zoneoff the coast of 

India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands. As Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh argued in a press conference last week, the Chinese ship was operating in Indian waters without permission.

China’s presence in the Indian Ocean has increased dramatically in the past decade, along with its economic and military rise. While it barely had a footprint there in the late 2000s, today an average of eight to 10 

People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships, submarines and research vessels are operating in those waters annually. New Delhi has repeatedly expressed its concerns regarding increased Chinese naval activity in the Indian Ocean, which it considers its backyard – but naval intrusions in and around the Andaman Sea are particularly disturbing for the Indian Navy.

India and China: A Managed Nuclear Rivalry?

Rajesh Basrur

Between June and August of 2017, a major military confrontation occurred between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam, an area close to the Sino-Indian border disputed by Bhutan and China.1 A Chinese attempt to build a road in Doklam led to a quick deployment of Indian forces and a faceoff that lasted until late August, when both sides agreed to disengage. The confrontation marked a high point in the friction between India and China, two of the world’s nine known nuclear states, that had been rising for well over a decade.2 Similar frictions raising the specter of a holocaust have occurred periodically between nuclear-armed states since the early Cold War days, some involving significant armed clashes, notably between China and the Soviet Union in 1969 and between India and Pakistan in 1999.

Tensions subsided further in late April 2018 when Chinese president Xi Jinping and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi met informally at Wuhan in China. At the ten-hour meeting, the two sides agreed to improve communications and strengthen numerous confidence-building measures (CBMs) already in place.4 Since then, India and China have held a number of ministerial meetings, restarting a delayed maritime dialogue in July 2018 and resuming their joint military counter-terrorism exercises after a two-year gap. In April 2019, the Indian Navy took part in an international fleet review hosted by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).5 The new warmth between China and India appears to confirm the judgment of many analysts that the competition has been well managed by a process of regular political engagement between the two nuclear powers.6

Great Expectations: Asking Too Much of the US-India Strategic Partnership

Sameer Lalwani and Heather Byrne

After India re-elected Narendra Modi as Prime Minister in May 2019 in a landslide victory, President Trump congratulated him, tweeting that “great things are in store for the US-India partnership with the return of PM Modi at the helm.” 1 In June, Assistant Secretary of Defense Randall Schriver echoed this sentiment, anticipating “a lot of convergence on the strategic landscape” between the United States and India.2 Nevertheless, on the eve of Secretary of State Pompeo’s June visit to New Delhi, analysts of the region warned that an emerging crisis could force a highly disruptive reckoning for the relationship.3 Recently, two of the original architects of US-India strategic alignment—former US ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, and former senior advisor to the US embassy in New Delhi, Ashley Tellis—have warned of “creeping disappointment and doubt” from both countries. 

Publicly, the US-India relationship has achieved rare status, touted as one of the greatest bipartisan successes and crowning achievements across the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations.5 Yet privately, some US policymakers have raised “serious concerns” about India’s defense decisions.6 Our own private conversations with US government officials and policy experts reveal frustration and concern over the supposed pattern of US concessions and Indian shortcomings— criticized as “all talk and no show.” 7

Pakistan Won in Afghanistan (While America Lost)

by Michael Rubin

The U.S. war in Afghanistan is winding down, and Pakistan has won. The basic outline of the agreement negotiated by U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is nothing new: The United States withdraws its forces in exchange for a Taliban pledge not to associate with terrorism or allow Afghanistan to be used as a safe-haven for terror groups.

There problems with the agreement are many. Proponents of diplomacy with the Taliban often say that wars can only end through diplomacy. “You don’t make peace with your friends. You have to be willing to engage with your enemies if you expect to create a situation that ends an insurgency,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained. But the agreement outlined by Khalilzad is little different from that which Clinton administration officials struck with the Taliban in the years prior to 9/11: At the time, the Taliban promised to foreswear terrorism and quarantine Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden. The subsequent terrorist attacks in New York and Washington underscored their insincerity. Perhaps the Taliban have changed, but not necessarily for the better, as the uptick in attacks throughout Khalilzad’s negotiations show. In many ways, President Donald Trump and Khalilzad seem to have embraced the John Kerry school of diplomacy, in which desperation for a deal substitutes for bringing leverage to bear and credibly convincing adversaries that failure to bargain will mean for them a far worse fate.

Does Al Qaeda Have a Future?

Daniel Byman

How much of a threat do Al Qaeda and its affiliates pose to the United States, Canada, and other Western countries today? Some analysts fear Al Qaeda is again on the march.1 The group that perpetrated the deadliest terrorist attack in history has survived a ferocious US counterterrorism response—one of the biggest US counterterrorism successes in recent years—that forced the Islamic State’s caliphate underground and subjugated its last territory in Syria in 2019. Al Qaeda could fill the void, however, and make a comeback. Its affiliates, too, pose a potential risk of swelling the ranks of those loyal to Al Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri, giving the organization greater reach. In addition, the United States is considering retreating from the Middle East, which could give Al Qaeda and its affiliates more opportunities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and other countries where its activities have been opposed by US forces and US-backed governments. A recent UN report also warned about the movement’s growing presence in South Asia and Africa. Continue Reading

Encouraging transformations in Central Asia

Lilia Burunciuc and Ivailo Izvorski

Nearly 30 years ago, the countries of Central Asia emerged from decades of Soviet domination. The rapid disintegration of production and trade linkages established in the Soviet Union led to deep recessions, with per capita incomes falling to about half of their pre-independence levels by the middle of the 1990s. In 1997, the private sector accounted for less than one-half of GDP in the region and banks were heavily controlled, except in Kyrgyzstan. What the countries lacked in terms of income and connectivity to the world they had in natural resources and abundance of low-cost labor, and they spent much energy grappling with the challenge of how to best exploit these components of wealth.


Has the region managed to integrate after the disintegration of the Soviet Union? The answer is simple: not much. The countries have integrated with the world economy through their natural resources, which account for about 65 percent of exports in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, and more than 90 percent in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan. But integration within the region has been slow: Unlike the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), there is no single economic organization that brings Central Asia together. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are members of the Eurasian Economic Union and the World Trade Organization (WTO), Tajikistan just of the WTO, and Uzbekistan is still working to join the WTO.

The Changing Fundamentals of US-China Relations

Evan S. Medeiros 

The US-China relationship is changing in fundamental ways. Currently, the United States and China are engaged in an intensive and costly trade war that, even if resolved through negotiations, will likely not provide the basis for long-term stability. Indeed, it may carry the seeds of future confrontation. More broadly, many of the fundamental ideas that once guided the relationship are being called into question, such as engagement, cooperation, and convergence. 

The institutional structure of the relationship is also being tested. The well-developed and hard-worn channels of communication have been allowed to atrophy. On both sides, and especially in China, bureaucratic processes are straining to keep up with the growing diversity and complexity of a relationship that is global in scope and consequence. Nevertheless, the United States and China have arrived at a point—perhaps a turning point—that requires we ask and attempt to answer some fundamental questions about how we got here and where the relationship might go: what are the sources of the current tensions? Which ones will persist, and which ones may shift due to political and/or economic changes in either country? How much of this is a function of President Trump’s and/or President Xi’s decisions? What are the possible trajectories for US-China ties, and what should the United States do about it?

Unpacking the China-Russia ‘alliance’

Michael E. O’Hanlon and Adam Twardowski

The United States appears to be settling in for a protracted period of great power military competition. Ever since Russia seized Crimea and militarily intervened in Ukraine, and as China moved onto islands across the South China Sea while claiming almost all surrounding waterways, American defense officials determined that rogue states and terrorist organizations should no longer be the epicenter of war planning and military resource allocation. The third offset strategy of the Obama administration and the national defense strategy of the Trump administration have followed, with their explicit reprioritization of defense objectives. After a quarter-century without major worries over great power competition, we find ourselves in an era that some now consider, rightly or wrongly, echoes the Cold War.

China and Russia no longer share a common expansionist ideology, but realpolitik considerations are driving them together. Both are subject to American sanctions of various types. Both have also found themselves in the crosshairs of Pentagon defense planners as a result of their assertive regional activities, with Russia mostly in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and China mostly in the Western Pacific, but both partially across regions as far away as Latin America as well as Africa. Both recognize that to stand up alone against an established alliance system led by the United States is very difficult, as neither has any truly powerful allies of its own.

The Chinese Piece in Iran’s War Games

By Lucille Greer

On November 30, the commander of Iran’s navy announced that it would be conducting joint war games with Russia and China at the end of December near the Strait of Hormuz. 

The official objective of these games, rumored since October, is to train for anti-terror and anti-piracy operations. Russian and Chinese statements on the exercises have been matter-of-fact about the joint operation, while Iran’s naval commander imbued them with sending “a message to the world.”

This proposal of uniting three of the United States’ main rivals in arguably the most strategic waterway in the world is certain to raise eyebrows in Washington. Russia has been fairly active in the Middle East, but China traditionally avoids involvement in the region because it views it as a political tar pit. What are U.S. policymakers to make of China’s participation in joint war games in the Gulf of Oman? 

China’s Trade With Europe Bypasses Russia in Both the North and the South

By: Paul Goble

Russia has long counted on its geographic location between the Asia-Pacific region and Europe to cement its relationship with China. However, Beijing increasingly views Russia as merely a supplier of raw materials (Svobodnaya Pressa, April 27)—a view reinforced anew on Monday (December 2), by the official start of flows of natural gas from eastern Russian fields to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline (Meduza.io, December 2). And perhaps even more importantly, the Chinese now also generally dismiss Russia’s utility as a transportation link given systemic problems with Russian infrastructure that make using Russian railways or highways extremely inefficient (Profile.ru, November 3, 2015; Nezavisimaya Gazeta, April 25, 2016). The latter difficulties were highlighted late last month, when the first ever cross-border bridge between Russia and China was finally opened (Znak.com, November 29).

As a result, Chinese officials and businessmen have more and more focused on finding ways to transit Europe-bound goods around Russia, circumventing the world’s largest country along its north and, now, to the south. The former strategy has already attracted a great deal of international attention, with China’s drive to pursue dominance on the Northern Sea Route. These Chinese activities in the High North are disturbing for Moscow given that the Kremlin had long viewed that Arctic maritime corridor—more than any other—as uniquely under its own control (Regnum, December 1, 2019; see EDM, July 12, 2018, June 12, 2019, September 3, 2019).

US-China Trade Deal: 3 Fundamental Issues Remain Unresolved

by Penelope B. Prime

The U.S. and China have reportedly reached a so-called phase one deal in their ongoing trade war.

While few details have been disclosed, the agreement principally seems to involve the U.S. calling off a new round of tariffs that were slated to take effect on Dec. 15 and removing others already in place in exchange for more Chinese purchases of U.S. farm products.

Good news, right? The end of the trade war is nigh? Don’t get your hopes up.

While business leaders in both countries will be temporarily relieved, the underlying tensions between them will not end easily.

The Evolution of China's Great Power Competition

by Nikolas K. Gvosdev
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“Great-power competition” was the central organizing principle of the just-concluded December 2019 sessions of the Loisach Group, the track 1.5 German-American security dialogue co-hosted by The George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies’ and the Munich Security Conference. Yet while there was unanimous agreement that both China and Russia are revisionist powers seeking to alter, redefine or even abolish the rules that have governed the international system since the end of the Cold War, as part of their efforts to reduce the overall influence of the Euro-Atlantic world in global affairs—“great power competition” does not automatically lend itself to shared solutions.

Part of the problem is that all three words of the bumper sticker are open to major differences in interpretation. First and foremost, what constitutes competition? Which sports metaphor best describes what sort of “competition” we are discussing? Is this a sudden-death, single-game match where winning and losing are zero-sum in nature, like a game of football (in either its international or American variants)? Is it more akin to a tournament like the Tour de France where winning individual races matters less than overall performance? Is it like the golf circuit where winning conveys more prestige and prize money but where other finalists can still walk away with substantial prize purses? To put in more bluntly, there is a major difference between great power competition where the goal is to eliminate rivals versus one where all the great powers are still standing at the end of the day and the focus is on their standing in the international system.

Tense U.S.-Iran Relations Have Put the Middle East on the Brink

Tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen dramatically in recent months. Amid it all, the Iranian population is increasingly caught between the pressure of sanctions from Washington and the authoritarian repression of the regime in Tehran. 

In May 2018, when U.S. President Donald Trump followed through on a campaign promise to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 multilateral deal limiting Iran’s uranium enrichment program, Tehran initially reacted by adopting a posture of strategic patience. But after European attempts to keep the deal afloat failed to deliver any respite from the U.S. campaign of “maximum pressure,” and amid increasingly bellicose rhetoric out of Washington, Iran has shifted gears in recent months.

Tensions rose dramatically in May and June, after a series of attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that Washington blamed on Iran prompted the U.S. to send additional troops to the region. Soon thereafter, Iranian forces shot down a pilotless U.S. drone it claims was operating in its airspace. Iran also announced a series of breaches of its obligations under the nuclear deal, exceeding limits on its stockpile of enriched uranium and the level to which it is enriched. Most recently, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have accused Iran of being directly or indirectly responsible for a drone and cruise missile attack on Saudi oil facilities.

IRGC Navy Is Monitoring All Foreign Vessels In Persian Gulf

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy Rear Admiral Ali Reza Tangsiri highlighted his forces’ powerful presence in the Persian Gulf and said all foreign vessels passing through the waters are closely monitored by the IRGC Navy.

“The IRGC Navy checks and monitors foreign vessels entering the Persian Gulf and questions them about their nationality, the type of the vessels, and their destination,” Rear Admiral Tangsiri told Tasnim.

All foreign vessels, including those belonging to the United States, have always been answerable to the IRGC Navy, the commander added.

He further emphasized that the monitoring of foreign vessels in the Persian Gulf is “an inalienable right” of the Islamic Republic.

“The Persian Gulf belongs to Iran and other littoral states and we have the right to question the vessels because the entrance to the Strait of Hormuz is located in Iran’s territorial waters,” Rear Admiral Tangsiri stated.

The Popular Backlash Against Global Migration Is Making the Problem Worse

Around the world, the popular backlash against global migration has fueled the rise of far-right populist parties and driven some centrist governments to adopt a tougher line on immigration. But with short-term strategies dominating the debate, many of the persistent drivers of migration go unaddressed, even as efforts to craft a global consensus on migration are hobbled by demands for quick solutions.

Around the world, migration continues to figure prominently in political debates. In Europe, far-right populist parties have used the Migrant Crisis of 2015 and latent fears of immigrants to fuel their rise and introduce increasingly restrictive border policies in countries, like Italy, where they have entered government. The popular backlash against immigrants has also pushed centrist governments to adopt a tougher line on immigration at home, while working with countries of origin and transit to restrict migration, whether through improving border controls or strengthening economic incentives for potential emigres to stay in their home countries.

How Syria Became The Centerpiece Of Russia's Middle East Strategy

by Nikolay Pakhomov

International analysis of Russia’s military action in Syria has been mostly focused on the main goals of the campaign. Reporters, politicians, experts and pundits have argued whether Russia is trying to rescue Assad or whether it is fighting ISIS and other terror groups in the area. These debates are often politically significant, but tend to be quite divisive and do not contribute much to understanding the background, broader context or consequences of the Russian operation. It seems that there could be a more promising analytical approach. Experts can spend years studying doctrines of foreign policy and speeches of decision makers, yet remain unable to decipher how the country in question would act in various circumstances. In this regard, Russia’s actions towards Syrian crisis speak volumes, providing significant amount of food for thought for those trying to understand Russian foreign policy.

Whether one thinks that Russia is rescuing Assad, which tends to be the Western perception, or fighting ISIS, several things are very difficult to argue with.

First of all, Syria is considered Russia’s ally in the Middle East: President Assad asked Moscow for help, and Russia has stood by its ally in very difficult circumstances. American pundits and politicians, especially Republicans, during the last month have often mentioned that the Russian military campaign represents Moscow’s return to the Middle East. According to these statements, Moscow has been absent in the area since Anwar Sadat switched Egypt’s loyalty from the Soviet Union to the United States. It is far from the truth.

Why Boris Johnson’s Election Victory Could Create More Instability for the U.K.

Aleks Eror 

LONDON—In the weeks leading up to the British general election last Thursday, all the opinion polls suggested that the Conservative Party was on course for a large parliamentary majority, with the Tories enjoying an average lead of 10 points over the opposition Labour Party. Yet despite the polls having pointed in that direction all along, few observers expected such a crushing victory. In the end, the Conservatives took 365 seats, handing them an 80-seat majority and dealing Labour its most brutal defeat since 1935.

But it isn’t simply the scale of the Tories’ victory that provoked disbelief. It was the nature of it as well. The Conservative Party won its largest majority since Margaret Thatcher’s third electoral victory in 1987 by poaching solidly Labour seats in the north of England—Labour’s so-called Red Wall where many districts had never before sent a Conservative MP to Parliament. The constituency of Bishop Auckland, for instance, turned Tory blue for the first time since its creation in 1885. Mining communities and post-industrial towns from across the English rust belt—including longtime Labour strongholds such as Ashfield, Bassetlaw, Bolsover, Blyth Valley and Workington—all backed the Tories for the first time in generations. The historic shift allowed Prime Minister Boris Johnson to achieve what many experts regarded as impossible just a week ago. ...

South Korea Attempts to Deal With the Dark Web

By Troy Stangarone

In October, law enforcement officials in South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom announced that over 300 individuals had been arrested in cooperation with 35 other countries in connection with an investigation into a shuttered child pornography site on the dark web. Authorities were able to take down the site by tracing the bitcoin transactions that were used as payment. They were also able to rescue 23 underage victims.

The shuttered website, Welcome to Video, has been described as the largest child pornography site discovered to date and explicitly only allowed users to upload child pornography. It contained more than 250,000 unique videos and is estimated to have distributed over a million videos.

The dark web was originally conceived in the 1990s as an encrypted and anonymized network inaccessible by ordinary internet users that would allow for sensitive communications between U.S. spies. While that initial vision didn’t come to fruition, there was hope that it could provide human rights activists and others an anonymous means of communications — particularly those who face monitored communications in authoritarian states. But it has also become a source of criminal activity, especially with the advent of means of payment outside of the control of national governments in the form of cryptocurrency.

A Final Chapter for the WTO? Five Experts Give Their Assessments

James Bacchus
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Council of Councils global perspectives roundups gather opinions from experts on major international developments. In this edition, members of five leading global think tanks offer their perspectives on the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body losing its quorum this week, and where the WTO can go from here.

The Trump Administration’s Appalling Lack of Judgment

In 1995, I accepted an appointment as one of the seven founding members of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body. I did so for two reasons. First, I hoped that by helping to uphold WTO treaty obligations, I could help establish the rule of law in international trade. Second, by proving that the rule of law could be upheld in trade, I hoped to help inspire the thought that we could find ways to uphold the international rule of law generally. In the quarter of a century since, my colleagues and successors have consistently upheld the rule of law in trade, in keeping with their mandate in the WTO treaty. The Appellate Body is not perfect, nor have all its rulings been perfect. No human institution is ever perfect. Yet, in its brief time, the Appellate Body has become the most significant and most successful international tribunal in the history of the world.

‘Music to Putin’s ears’: Russian forces shoot down US drone

The chaos and confusion of civil war has seen Washington and Moscow clash again, this time with a US drone being shot down by Kremlin-backed mercenaries in Libya.

In October, US President Donald Trump ordered his troops to retreat from the Syria-Turkey border. This was to avoid potential accidents with advancing forces belonging to Russia and his NATO ally Turkey.

But Washington and Moscow are again shooting at each other, this time in oil-rich Libya, reports News.com.au.

The Pentagon has accused Russian troops of targeting one of its surveillance drones close to the Libyan capital of Tripoli last month. The drone was watching on as a battle for control over the city began to unfold.

This is odd.

Since Mr Trump suddenly reversed US policy on Libya in April, Washington and Moscow are supposed to be on the same side.


The View From Olympus: Spreading Disorder and 4GW

In the United States, the number of mass shootings continues to climb. In Lebanon, Iraq, Hong Kong, and Chile, demonstrators fill the streets for weeks or months on end. In France, that cradle of disorder, the yellow vests have gone quiet for now, but probably not for long. What is going on? And what, if anything, does it have to do with Fourth Generation war?

To address the latter question, we need to remember that Fourth Generation war is rooted in a crisis of legitimacy of the state. As people shift their primary loyalty away from the state to a wide variety of other things, the state loses its monopoly on war and on social organization. And as those monopolies vanish, disorder spreads.

What we are seeing in spreading disorder is not Fourth Generation war itself. But it is a failure of the state. As Martin van Creveld argues in The Rise and Decline of the State, the state arose for only one purpose: to establish and maintain order and safety of persons and property. States that cannot do that lose their legitimacy.

Edward Snowden Speaks Out For Julian Assange And Chelsea Manning – OpEd

By Adam Dick

Julian Assange of WikiLeaks has been silenced. Assange was prevented from communicating with the outside world in his final 13 months at the Ecuador embassy in London, where he had obtained sanctuary from extradition to the United States. The silencing has continued in a British prison where Assange has been detained pending extradition to the US since British police forcibly removed him from the embassy in April.

Similarly, communication by Chelsea Manning has been much curtailed after Manning reveled United States military secrets. First, Manning served seven years in United States military prison after being convicted for the leak. Released from prison in 2017, Manning has been condemned to jail for most of the time since March of this year for refusing to testify for a grand jury involved in the US government’s effort to prosecute Assange.

Manning, a whistleblower, and Assange, a publisher who through WikiLeaks helped make public revelations of government activities provided by Manning and other whistleblowers, are prevented by the US and British governments, respectively, from speaking up on their own behalf. But that does not mean that other individuals cannot speak up for them. In fact, with Assange and Manning’s ability to communicate limited, it is more important than ever that advocates for their freedom speak up on their behalf.

Merkel’s Foreign Policy Muddle – Analysis

By Chris Miller*

(FPRI) — Whether “Queen of Europe” or “Leader of the Free World,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel has acquired many accolades in nearly fifteen years at the helm of Germany and of Europe. But today German power is fading, in no small part because Merkel has run out of ideas. Strategic thinking has been put on hold as the country awaits the end of the Merkel era.

This could come sooner than many expect. Last week, the Chancellor’s coalition partner, the Social Democratic Party, chose a new leadership team that is skeptical of their party’s collaboration with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU). This could accelerate the breakup of the coalition and bring forward the date of new elections—a vote that could bring the Merkel era to a close.

Until then, however, with Merkel at the helm, German foreign policy is a muddle. Berlin faces more foreign policy challenges today than at any point since the country’s reunification in 1990—an aggressive Russia, a rising China, a divisive relationship with Washington, and ongoing disagreements with France about the European Union’s future. The world’s great powers are jockeying for influence with assertiveness unseen for several decades. Merkel’s Germany is stuck in the middle, under pressure from all sides.

German-American Divide In View Of Bilateral Relations

by Felix Richter

While German chancellor Angela Merkel and Barack Obama saw eye to eye on most issues during the latter's eight years in the White House, the same cannot be said of Merkel's relationship with President Trump. On the one side Trump has repeatedly called out Germany for not pulling its weight in NATO, on the other side Merkel firmly disagrees with Trump's views on tariffs and immigration.

Over the past three years, the clouded relationship between the two hasn’t gone unnoticed by the people, at least on one side of the Atlantic. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center and the German Körber Stiftung, Americans and Germans have notably different perceptions of their countries’ relationship. While U.S. citizens widely consider bilateral relations to be good (75 percent of U.S. adults do), Germans have a much bleaker view of things with 64 percent of Germans saying U.S-German relations are currently bad.

Infographic Of The Day: The Lithium-Ion Supply Chain

Battery minerals are set to become the new oil, with lithium-ion battery supply chains becoming the new pipelines. Today's infographic explores the current energy landscape and America's position in the new energy era.

The Top 20 Security Predictions for 2020

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“The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” These wise words of world-renowned business author Stephen Covey challenge each of us as we stand on the precipice of a new decade. 

But what’s the ‘main thing’ when navigating technology as we enter 2020?

The simple answer is… Cybersecurity.

As innovation explodes into every area of our lives, cybersecurity is providing the glue that can enable the good and disable the bad for implementing cutting-edge innovation as well as reducing risk from older vulnerabilities. We also see cybersecurity continue as the top priority for chief information officers (CIOs) in 2020, just as it has been for most of the past decade, with groups like the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO).

But even as cybersecurity solutions offer a way forward to ensure privacy protections are workable and effective, most people see the data breaches, ransomware, identity theft, denial-of-service attacks and other cyberattacks as proof that cybersecurity has become the Achilles Heel, not the savior, for new innovation. Even as exciting advances occur in artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, 5G networks cloud computing, mobile devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), these same developments seem to cause negative societal disruptions that make daily news headlines. 

Why Social Media Is Harming The Exchange Of Free Ideas

by Samuel J. Abrams

Despite statements by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg that he was changing the mission of his company to “bring the world closer together,” data from the recent AEI survey on Community and Society make it abundantly clear that social media is not having a transformative effect in promoting a real diversity of ideas as so many internet evangelists like Zuckerberg are claiming.

In Zuckerberg’s words: “We need to stay connected with people we already know and care about, but we also need to meet new people with new perspectives … we will not accomplish this mission ourselves, [only] by empowering people around the world to build communities and bring people together.”

While I praise Zuckerberg’s goals, as a professor who cares deeply about viewpoint diversity and the critical role of different ideas in forging a stronger society, the reality is that social media is not expanding the political views of Americans in general, and those of Gen Zers in particular. As I wrote earlier, the “AEI data reveals that social media has helped created an echo chamber around extreme [views].”

Data Mining, Artificial Intelligence, And Angels Of Death

by Marilyn Singleton

Google is universally well known as a search and advertising company. Now Google is tapping into the $3.5 trillion healthcare market. To compete with the Apple Watch, Google acquired FitBit, the wearable exercise, heart rate, and sleep tracking device. Data is king.

Google is tapping into the $3.5 trillion healthcare market
A government inquiry has brought to light Google's "Nightingale Project" that collected private medical data from Ascension Health's 2,600 sites of care across 20 states and D.C., unbeknownst to the patients. Dozens of Google employees had access to the data which included lab results, physician diagnoses, hospitalization records, and health histories, complete with patient names and dates of birth.
If you put it all together, it adds up to a death panel of one. Google's software would decide that there is not a high likelihood of walking out of the hospital, no treatment would be given. We are becoming witness to the devolution of humanity.

A Final Chapter for the WTO? Five Experts Give Their Assessments

James Bacchus
Source Link

Council of Councils global perspectives roundups gather opinions from experts on major international developments. In this edition, members of five leading global think tanks offer their perspectives on the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body losing its quorum this week, and where the WTO can go from here.

The Trump Administration’s Appalling Lack of Judgment

In 1995, I accepted an appointment as one of the seven founding members of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body. I did so for two reasons. First, I hoped that by helping to uphold WTO treaty obligations, I could help establish the rule of law in international trade. Second, by proving that the rule of law could be upheld in trade, I hoped to help inspire the thought that we could find ways to uphold the international rule of law generally. In the quarter of a century since, my colleagues and successors have consistently upheld the rule of law in trade, in keeping with their mandate in the WTO treaty. The Appellate Body is not perfect, nor have all its rulings been perfect. No human institution is ever perfect. Yet, in its brief time, the Appellate Body has become the most significant and most successful international tribunal in the history of the world.

Can Killer Drones Really Be Stopped in a War?

by Michael Yekple
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What many people may not know is that United Nations peacekeepers use drones to protect civilians from violence. These drones are different: They don’t carry weapons.

I have followed the U.N.‘s use of drones since its beginning in 2013 and have spoken with peacekeepers and U.N. officers who are familiar with their use. I believe drones have the potential to save lives.

But that doesn’t mean they necessarily will.

The first episode of television series The Simpsons, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire", airs in the United States.

Final Fantasy is released in Japan on the Famicon, marking the start of the Final Fantasy series and saving Square from bankruptcy.

The U.N. is often called in to help calm trouble spots around the globe, sending soldiers, police and other officials from U.N. member countries to conflict zones to keep warring groups separate and reduce violence.

In countries with civil wars and sectarian conflict, civilians are often caught up in the violence, either by accident or targeted intentionally by armed fighters.