20 December 2019

Lt Gen SRR Aiyengar, PVSM, AVSM, VSM (Retd), Social Media – A Study of Social Media and Its Impact on Contemporary War/Conflicts, Uday Publishing House, 2019, PP. 152, ISBN: 978-93-85991-85-1, INR- 699/-

Development of Social Media (SM) is a relatively new phenomenon. Between 2004 and 2014, all 22 of the world’s biggest Social Media (SM) networks were developed and launched. The Facebook was the first to be started on February 4, 2004. Rapid global increase in mobile telephone usage helped the growth of SM. SM can be fun, exciting, entertaining and useful for maintaining relationships. For marketing, managing their public image, connect with customers and solicit ideas and feedback people can use social media websites for professional reasons. SM can be used to issue warnings for cyclones, floods or other disasters. Home bound people who are ill, stay-at-home parents, or retired use social media to stay connected.

SM can also be used for political polarization and radicalization. SM is being used by both state and non state actors to further their own interests.SM has been utilized to recruit terrorists, organize revolutions and riots, encourage attacks, collect funds, glorify gangs and spread violence. Terrorist organizations like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State exploit the social media to radicalize, recruit and deploy young people in service of their terrorist causes. The 2011 Arab Spring and 2011 London riots have shown how social media can impact matters of national security. A recent Oxford University study found evidence of disinformation campaigns run by state actors in more than 70 countries around the world. Most of these countries are authoritarian regimes that use SM to threaten activists and journalists with hate and violence, spread pro-government propaganda and drown out opposing voices.

***Cyber Attack on Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant – A Wake Up Call

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

The media is agog with the report of a cyber attack in India’s largest civil nuclear facility - the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu. Cyberspace provides a new opportunity for determined adversaries to wreak havoc at nuclear facilities possibly without ever setting foot inside the nuclear plant. If the network that runs the machines and software controlling the nuclear reactor are compromised, cyber attacks on nuclear power plants could have physical effects. This can be used to facilitate sabotage, theft of nuclear materials and sensitive information, or at its worst, a reactor meltdown. In a densely populated country like India, any radiation release from a nuclear facility would be a major disaster. Threats may be posed by nation states, terrorists, extremists, criminals including organized groups, outsiders such as suppliers or insiders acting intentionally or negligently. 

There is no such thing as a perfectly secure system. Systems are going to be breached - even one that may be disconnected from the Internet. Those looking to attack critical infrastructure can wait for years for a single mistake to be made. This is cyber warfare and vulnerabilities are going to be found. There have been over 20 known cyber incidents at nuclear facilities since 1990 all over the world which shows that the nuclear sector is not immune to cyber related threats. As the digitalization of nuclear reactor instrumentation and control systems increases, potential for malicious and accidental cyber incidents also increases. Authorities responsible for cyber security of nuclear installations have to be constantly on the vigil.The media is agog with the report of a cyber attack in India’s largest civil nuclear facility - the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu. Cyberspace provides a new opportunity for determined adversaries to wreak havoc at nuclear facilities possibly without ever setting foot inside the nuclear plant. If the network that runs the machines and software controlling the nuclear reactor are compromised, cyber attacks on nuclear power plants could have physical effects. 

War Between India and China: Would It Go Nuclear?

by Kyle Mizokami
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A hypothetical war between India and China would be one of the largest and most destructive conflicts in Asia. A war between the two powers would rock the Indo-Pacific region, cause thousands of casualties on both sides and take a significant toll on the global economy. Geography and demographics would play a unique role, limiting the war’s scope and ultimately the conditions of victory.

India and China border one another in two locations, northern India/western China and eastern India/southern China, with territorial disputes in both areas. China attacked both theaters in October 1962, starting a monthlong war that resulted in minor Chinese gains on the ground.

Both countries’ “No First Use” policies regarding nuclear weapons make the outbreak of nuclear war very unlikely. Both countries have such large populations, each over 1.3 billion, that they are essentially unconquerable. Like all modern wars, a war between India and China would be fought over land, sea, and air; geography would limit the scope of the land conflict, while it would be the air conflict, fought with both aircraft and missiles, that would do the most damage to both countries. The trump card, however, may be India’s unique position to dominate a sea conflict, with dire consequences for the Chinese economy.

Modi’s ‘New India’ and the US-India Relationship: Turbulence Ahead?

By Ankit Panda

Is Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s naya bharat (New India) — with its post-2019 general election focus on social issues, in particular — likely to cause a change in the U.S.-India relationship? University of Chicago scholar Paul Staniland has written a thoughtful essay over at War on the Rocks that examines this and other questions.

Staniland’s essay represents an important effort to think through the implications of how internal changes in India’s security policy and the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party’s controversial domestic efforts are likely to feed back into New Delhi’s relations with the United States. As of late-2019, Staniland notes, there are “disagreements about the precise level of alignment that the United States and India should, or will, achieve” within the community of U.S. India-watchers.

“The ‘New India’ of Modi, [Amit] Shah, and [Subrahmanyam] Jaishankar is unabashed in its embrace of power politics and contemptuous of its critics,” he continues, citing the Indian home minister and external affairs minister alongside the prime minister as the three formative figures in the post-2019 government in New Delhi, which was built off the back of a tremendous democratic mandate for the BJP in elections to the Lok Sabha earlier this year.

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 is on the rise and has increasing interests in the Middle East that it wants to protect. This next strategic step under the banner of anti-piracy neatly accomplishes several objectives in China’s strategy for the Middle East.

China Commissions 2nd Aircraft Carrier, Challenging U.S. Dominance

By Steven Lee Myers
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BEIJING — China commissioned its first domestically built aircraft carrier on Tuesday, reaching a new milestone in its ambitions to build a modern navy capable of challenging American dominance of the seas, especially in the Pacific.

China’s leader, Xi Jinping, presided over a commissioning ceremony at the Chinese naval base in Sanya, on the southern island of Hainan, where the vessel will be based, according to video broadcast on China’s state television.

From there, the new carrier will be able to project power throughout the disputed islands of the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait — a development that has been watched warily by the United States and other Pacific powers, including Japan and Australia.

“This is a major milestone for China,” said Matthew P. Funaiole, a senior fellow with the China Power Project at the Center For Strategic and International Studies in Washington who tracks the country’s military developments. “There are only a handful of countries capable of fielding aircraft carriers, and China now has two, which puts it in elite company.”

How a Huge New Gas Pipeline Boosts Russia’s Strategic Entente With China

Artyom Lukin

Natural gas started flowing from Russia to China for the first time on Dec. 2 when Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, officially launched the initial phase of a huge new pipeline known as the Power of Siberia. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, claims it is expected to generate $400 billion in revenue—its largest export contract ever. The potentially lucrative pipeline also has clear geopolitical undertones, accelerating the strategic entente between the world’s second-largest gas producer and Asia’s biggest economy at a time when both Russia and China are pushing back against the global influence of the United States and its allies.

“This contract kick-started an unprecedented high-tech project in eastern Russia,” Putin said at an inauguration ceremony that he and Xi participated in via video link. Indeed, the Power of Siberia is an impressive feat of engineering. From the newly developed Chayanda gas field in the frigid northern Russian region of Yakutia, it stretches more than 2,200 kilometers (1,300 miles) southeast to the Chinese border, where it crosses beneath the Amur River to enter Heilongjiang province, in northeastern China. It passes through a variety of treacherous terrain, in extremely harsh conditions: Winter temperatures in Yakutia can reach 62 below zero Celsius.

How the CIA and China Helped Saudi Arabia Get Ballistic Missiles

You would be hard pressed to find two more determined foes of Iran other than Saudi Arabia and Israel. The latter country has long been perturbed by bellicose anti-Israeli rhetoric from Tehran, and has unleashed hundreds of air strikes and artillery bombardments targeting Iran’s efforts to arm Hezbollah forces in Lebanon and Syria.

Meanwhile, Riyadh appear to see itself as engaged in nothing short of an epic struggle for dominance of the Middle East, and has oriented its foreign policy around combating the perceived Iranian menace, even in places its influence is moderate at best.

Iran hawks are preoccupied by the possibility of an Iranian nuclear weapon—a weapon which, given the limitations of Tehran’s air and sea forces, would need to be delivered by a ballistic missile. Iran’s continuing development of such missiles has been proposed as a casus belli, and was cited to justify the U.S. withdrawal from a nuclear deal struck in 2014 (the deal constrained Iran from developing nuclear warheads, but not ballistic missiles to carry them in). It’s often ignored that Israel and Saudi Arabia themselves maintain some of the largest ballistic missile arsenals in the region—the latter of which is the subject of this article.

Turkey: Learning From the Ottomans’ Mistakes

By Xander Snyder

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to move Turkey’s military procurement process under his direct authority – mandated in an emergency decree passed on Dec. 24 – indicates two things. First, that he knows that for Turkey to rise, it needs a stronger military. Second, that he’s mindful of past mistakes made by the Ottoman Empire. For Turkey to project power, it needs the ability to intervene unilaterally, independent of foreign military purchases. It also needs its strategic planners to be on the same page with those who procure the weapons that support its military strategy. In other words, Erdogan is aware of the risk of the disconnect between perception and reality.

Geopolitical Futures has written extensively on the rise of Turkey as a major regional power. To buffer its core from the chaos in the Middle East, Turkey needs to expand its territory. To expand its territory, it needs a powerful, independent military. Turkey’s Emergency Decree No. 696 is a step toward constructing this military.

Has Netanyahu’s End Finally Come?

By Aluf Benn 

Next March, Israelis will head to the polls for the third time in less than a year, and, once again, the vote will amount to a referendum on the rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu may now be in the final act of his political career: the Magician, as Israelis used to call their longest-serving prime minister, has lost his erstwhile grip on the political system, having failed twice to form a coalition following last year’s elections. But that Netanyahu is holding on at all, even as he faces indictment on several corruption charges, is remarkable—and a testament to just how much he has transformed Israel’s democracy. 

The vote in March will be the country’s third attempt in a row to form a stable government after two consecutive elections in April and September ended in deadlock. Netanyahu’s centrist challenger, Benny Gantz, came close to forming a majority last time around, and next time he may be in a stronger position still. Even so, Netanyahu is using his endless supply of spins and tricks to lead the news cycle, rally his right-wing base, and keep his opponents nervous. If he does fall—by indictment, through a primary challenge, or at the hands of Gantz—Israel will need some time to recover from his divisive tenure. 

Turkey Threatens to Close Key U.S. Air Base That Houses Nuclear Bombs

by Mark Episkopos
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“If it is necessary for us to take such a step, of course we have the authority ... If this is necessary, together with our delegations, we will close down Incirlik if necessary,” Erdogan told Turkish state television earlier this week.

President Erdogan’s comments were prompted by a recent Senate vote to recognize the early 20th century massacres and mass deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as a genocide, as well as the ongoing prospect of Ankara’s S-400 deal being sanctioned under the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

Far more than merely a symbolic rift in the U.S.-Turkey defense relationship, the prospective closure of the Incirlik air base forebodes immediate and serious military repercussions for the U.S. The base, located deep in southern Turkey off the mediterranean coastline, houses a 50-unit stockpile of B61 nuclear bombs. A legacy of Cold War-era nuclear deterrence strategy, Incirlik remains the largest U.S. nuclear weapons storage site in Europe. But what used to be a forward post for a retaliatory strike against prospective Soviet encroachment into Western Europe, as well as a crucial bargaining chip during the 1960’s Cuban Missile Crisis, is increasingly seen as a strategic liability amid the stark downturn in U.S.-Turkish relations over the past several years.

Executive Order Highlights Electromagnetic Pulse Threat

By Jon Harper
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In March, President Donald Trump signed an “Executive Order on Coordinating National Resilience to Electromagnetic Pulses,” which many observers see as an important step in confronting an unconventional threat that could wreak havoc on the United States.

An electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, is an intense burst of energy that can be released by a nuclear weapon detonated high in the atmosphere, or by a geomagnetic disturbance caused by natural phenomena such as solar flares.

Consider this scenario that some analysts have envisioned: An electromagnetic pulse hits the nation’s electric grid. The power goes out across a large swath of the country, communication systems and other critical infrastructure are disrupted, military readiness is degraded, chaos ensues and many people die.

That is a nightmare situation that the U.S. government is making a new concerted push to avoid.

Giuliani Hints at New Defense: So What If Trump Did It?

Noah Feldman

Noah Feldman is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Harvard University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. His books include “The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President.”

Slowly but perceptibly, the Trump administration is moving towards a concrete defense in the president’s Senate impeachment trial: Not that Donald Trump didn’t pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe and Hunter Biden, but that he did — and that there’s nothing wrong with it.

The latest indication of this direction comes from the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, who in a couple of press interviews has acknowledged his role in advising President Trump to arrange the firing of the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, because Giuliani believed she stood in the way of getting those investigations.

If Trump wanted to focus on the impeachment defense that there was no quid pro quo and that he innocently asked for the investigations in order to fight corruption, then it would be genuinely crazy for his personal lawyer to reveal the specifics of how and what he communicated to the president. Giuliani’s statements are terribly harmful to Trump’s case — and he has now effectively waived attorney-client privilege, so he could be called to testify.

The Dead End of the Normandy Format


Putin and his regime are thugs and kleptocrats. Only they can bring peace to Ukraine—not comfortable dilettantes at diplomatic summits.

On December 9, Ukraine’s new President Volodomyr Zelensky met face to face in Paris with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He retained his dignity and ceded nothing—quite an accomplishment, given the pressures and competing interests bearing down on him and his hapless and struggling nation. After long meetings, the perpetrator and the victim only agreed to swap prisoners, impose ceasefires in certain areas, and meet again in April. Zelensky later described the outcome as a “draw,” a success against his nemesis. 

Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany met as members of the so-called Normandy Format, which aims to resolve a war that began after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. Initially, talks involved Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union in Geneva in 2014, under the auspices of the United Nations. But these failed and Putin rejected out of hand participation by the two power blocs. He then cherry picked France and Germany instead. 

The Trump Administration’s ‘Denuclearization’ Is A Road to Nowhere


U.S. policy will remain stuck as long as the administration continues to convince itself that the North’s nuclear dismantlement can be achieved on Washington’s timeline.

It doesn’t take an international relations genius to recognize that President Donald Trump’s diplomatic standoff with North Korea is on tenterhooks. Yet, as demonstrated by U.S. envoy Stephen Biegun’s trip to Seoul this week—a trip that produced nothing more than a plea from the new deputy secretary of state to resume talks immediately—U.S. officials are coming around to the view that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was serious last April when he spoke of embarking on a “new way of calculation” if the talks prove unproductive.

If nothing changes between now and New Year’s Eve, the world will likely witness more of the military tests Kim conducted at the Tongchang-ri facility on Dec. 10 and 14. The likelihood of the Kim regime launching additional ballistic missiles of greater range is quite high. (The commander of U.S. Pacific Command said as much on Tuesday.) After 18 months of uneven diplomacy with Washington, Kim is disappointed at the lack of results and skeptical that the Trump administration is truly interested in establishing a more constructive relationship. 

The Age of Great-Power Competition

By Elbridge A. Colby and A. Wess Mitchell 

U.S. foreign policy is, by most accounts, in disarray. Headlines—including in these pages—proclaim the death of global American leadership. Famous columnists send regular dispatches from the frontlines of U.S. President Donald Trump’s supposed campaign against the postwar liberal order. The damage to Washington’s standing in the world, we are told, is irreparable. 

But step back from the day-to-day commotion, and a different picture emerges. In truth, the United States is gearing up for a new era—one marked not by unchallenged U.S. dominance but by a rising China and a vindictive Russia seeking to undermine U.S. leadership and refashion global politics in their favor. 

This shift in Washington’s focus has been some time coming. Elements of it emerged, mostly in a reactive form, under President Barack Obama. The Trump administration has gone one important step further, recognizing that great-power competition warrants rebuilding U.S. foreign policy from the ground up, and it has based its formal strategy documents on that recognition. When future historians look back at the actions of the United States in the early twenty-first century, by far the most consequential story will be the way Washington refocused its attention on great-power competition. Beneath today’s often ephemeral headlines, it is this shift, and the reordering of U.S. military, economic, and diplomatic behavior that it entails, that will stand out—and likely drive U.S. foreign policy under presidents from either party for a long time to come. 


Tech Giants Are Engaged in a New Scramble for Africa

Howard W. French 

By his own account, Jack Ma, the founder of the hugely successful Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, only visited Africa for the first time in 2017, when he went to Kenya and Rwanda. And yet there he was earlier this month in the Opinion pages of The New York Times, full of supposed wisdom about how the continent can leap into the future by cultivating his own brand of entrepreneurialism. “If we all work together to support entrepreneurs,” Ma gushed, “then Africa will become a hub of innovation and growth, the global leader we know it can be.”

It is worth noting that after founding Alibaba in 1999, Ma became one of the world’s richest people not only as an innovator, but also, perhaps even primarily, as an astute adopter of trends set in motion by others. Early Alibaba, after all, essentially copied elements of the business models of eBay and PayPal. .

Climate Security is National Security

By Joanna Rozpedowski
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Between 2008-2012 over 144 million people were displaced by a sudden onset of disasters in more than 122 countries, a number far greater than the number of refugees and internally displaced by conflict and persecution during the same period. Unpredictable climate-related calamities and the associated socio-economic costs test our current legal frameworks and put significant stress on existing capacities of states.

Internal government reviews, climate and security conferences, and domestic security reports have increasingly focused on the strategic challenges posed by global climate change. The proliferation of studies suggests that 'the projected climate change is a threat multiplier in already fragile regions, exacerbating conditions that lead to failed states — the breeding ground for extremism and terrorism.' An overlapping consensus among scholars and policymakers holds that climate-induced crises in the next two to three decades have the potential of aggravating already brittle relations between Sub-Saharan African, the Middle Eastern, and South and Southeast Asian states, destabilizing regions, toppling governments, and issuing in mass migrations, widespread pandemics, and food scarcity.

The University of Toronto's Project on Environment, Population, and Security forecasts that environmental change will significantly stress or reduce the supply of vital natural resources, such as freshwater, cropland, forests, fisheries, leading to environmental scarcity and increased probability of conflict. The United Nations Climate Reports have consistently predicted that increased occurrence of droughts, rising sea levels, and flooding will pose significant challenges to national stability, exacerbating global economic vulnerabilities and political instabilities, which may result in internal civil and political unrest. Similarly, a quantitative study conducted by the State Failure Task Force assembled at the request of U.S. policymakers to identify factors associated with serious internal crises, concluded that massive environmental damage provoked by general patterns of global climate change could directly contribute to political collapse and destabilization. Analyses conducted by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Swiss Peace Institute have echoed those concerns.

The Post-American Middle East

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NEW YORK – It was August 5, 1990, just days after Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had invaded and conquered all of Kuwait, and US President George H.W. Bush could not have been clearer as he spoke from the South Lawn at the White House: “This will not stand, this aggression against Kuwait.” Over the next six months, Bush proved to be a man of his word, as the United States sent a half-million soldiers to the Middle East and led an international coalition that liberated Kuwait.

Leaving the European Union on January 31, 2020, will be UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s repayment of the debt he owes to the many Labour supporters who "lent" his Conservatives their votes. But "getting Brexit done" won't be enough for the Tories to hold on to their parliamentary seats.2Add to Bookmarks

Three decades later, a very different American president embraced a very different US policy. In the wake of abandoning its Kurdish partners in Syria who had fought valiantly in defeating Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, the US stood by as Iranian drones and missiles attacked Saudi Arabian oil installations, temporarily taking half of its capacity offline.

The Posh Versus the Blokes in the UK

By George Friedman

I arrived in London on Saturday afternoon. Traffic was heavy and it took nearly two hours to reach my hotel, giving ample time to speak to my driver. It was time well spent. He was a Scotsman who had been living and driving in London for a long time. We discussed the election, of course, and the devastation of the Labour Party and the rise of the Conservatives. He had voted for the Tories. He explained that this was because of his loathing for what he called the “posh in London” and their hatred of England while enriching themselves shamelessly and despising anyone who doesn’t worship as they worship.

By “worship” he was not referring to religion, but their belief that Britain is corrupt and demands ruthless reform. He particularly was enraged that the playing of “Rule Britannia” was seen by the posh left as disgraceful, because it paid homage to an evil that Britain ought to apologize for over and over: the British Empire. The loss of empire didn’t bother him. What bothered him was that the posh left was unwilling to respect that whatever faults Britain might have had, Britain was a great moment in human history, and he as a British subject and as a Scotsman was not prepared to be ashamed about it.

The Real Reason Syria Clings to Long-Time Partner Russia

by Carlo J. V. Caro
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It has been four years since Russia got involved in Syria’s civil war. Since then, Moscow has been able to help Syria’s dictator turn the tide of war. But the historical relationship between Moscow and Damascus has often been overlooked and understated in explaining why Russian president Vladimir Putin aided Syrian president Bashar al Assad.

Cooperation between Syria and Russia predates the Cold War rivalry between Russia and the United States and the sectarian and geopolitical conflict between the Sunni and the Shia in the Middle East. Bilateral relations were actually established as Syria gained independence from the French and became an independent state.

When Syria gained independence, in part due to the Soviet Union, it was the Sunni elite who inherited the government from the French and who began to rule over the new Republic. And it was the Sunni elite who started a friendship with the Soviets. As Western colonies disintegrated, the Arab world opened itself to the influence of the Soviet Union. In 1944, during World War II, diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and the former two French protectorates were established: Syria and Lebanon.

Contrasting Views on How to Code a Nuclear Crisis

Brendan Rittenhouse Green, Austin Long, Mark S. Bell, Julia Macdonald
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In this issue’s correspondence section, Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long offer up an alternative way to code nuclear crises in response to Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald's article in the February 2019 issue of TNSR. Bell and Macdonald, in turn, offer a response to Green and Long's critique.

In Response to “How to Think About Nuclear Crises”

Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long

In their article in the February 2019 issue of the Texas National Security Review, Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald make a cogent argument that all nuclear crises are not created equal.1 We agree with their basic thesis: There really are different sorts of nuclear crises, which have different risk and signaling profiles. We also concur that the existence of a variety of political and military dynamics within nuclear crises implies that we should exercise caution when interpreting the results of cross-sectional statistical analysis. If crises are not in fact all the same, then quantitative estimates of variable effects have a murkier meaning.2 We should not be surprised that, to date, multiple studies have produced different results.

Wars with Words?

Francis J. Gavin

Though we are loath to admit it, we all enjoy a good academic fight. The recent passing of two noted, brilliant, but problematic intellectual pugilists — the historian Norman Stone and literary critic Harold Bloom — has made me wonder whether such battles are the best way to advance scholarly arguments and expand our understanding of the world.1

I was certainly trained in the arts of intellectual combat. As an undergraduate, I had a front row seat to what had been called “the great 3:1 pissing match,” an intense debate over whether NATO conventional forces could withstand an attack from larger Soviet forces, and how to assess the military balance on the central front in Europe (3:1 is the concentration of forces needed to break through a well-established front).2 Reading Greg Brew’s new article, “The Collapse Narrative: The United States, Mohammed Mossadegh, and the Coup Decision of 1953,” brought back memories of my first academic clash. Twenty years ago, an article I published on the same issue received a skeptical review at H-Diplo.3 I remember locking myself in my office for 48 hours, pulling out file after file of primary documents, and consulting with friends and mentors, all in order to craft the right response.4

Sense and Indispensability: American Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty

Azita Raji
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Like many people of a certain age, I vividly remember the landing of Apollo 11 on the moon nearly 50 years ago. I held my breath as the lunar module approached the moon’s surface, and when the camera showed the American flag standing on the surface of another world, I was filled with pride, like millions of Americans. But I wasn’t an American yet. I was an Iranian citizen, a young girl watching television in our house in Tehran. And although I wouldn’t move to the United States until several years later, I knew from an early age that America was the place for me.

The America I admired as a young girl was the America that put a man on the moon, the America that stood for democracy in the face of the Soviet monolith, the America that struggled righteously and courageously to bring justice to all, regardless of color or creed.

Over the past century, the United States has served as the world’s premier example and defender of freedom and human rights. Most people on this planet admired America’s foundational values — perhaps not universally, but broadly and deeply.1 I saw this when I studied in Switzerland. I saw it when I worked as an investment banker in Japan. And I especially saw it when I served as the U.S. ambassador to Sweden. Even when they disagreed with American policies, people abroad had faith in the American people and, by and large, believed that the United States would ultimately do the right thing and lead by example.

Russia Is a Rogue, Not a Peer; China Is a Peer, Not a Rogue

by James Dobbins, Howard J. Shatz, Ali Wyne
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Russia and China represent distinct challenges to U.S. national security. Russia is not a peer or near-peer competitor but rather a well-armed rogue state that seeks to subvert an international order it can never hope to dominate. In contrast, China is a peer competitor that wants to shape an international order that it can aspire to dominate. Both countries seek to alter the status quo, but only Russia has attacked neighboring states, annexed conquered territory, and supported insurgent forces seeking to detach yet more territory. Russia assassinates its opponents at home and abroad, interferes in foreign elections, subverts foreign democracies, and works to undermine European and Atlantic institutions. In contrast, China's growing influence is based largely on more-positive measures: trade, investment, and development assistance. These attributes make China a less immediate threat but a much greater long-term challenge.

In the military realm, Russia can be contained, but China cannot. Its military predominance in east Asia will grow over time, compelling the United States to accept greater costs and risks just to secure existing commitments. But it is geoeconomics, rather than geopolitics, in which the contest for world leadership will play out. It is in the domain of geoeconomics that the balance of global influence between the United States and China has begun shifting in China's favor.

Key Findings

The DHS cyber agency gets massive funding boost

Andrew Eversden

A new spending bill allotted the Department of Homeland Security’s cybersecurity agency more than $2 billion for fiscal 2020, a $334 million increase over last year for the year-old agency tasked with protecting federal networks and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

The funding for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency includes substantial boosts in funding for several federal and election cybersecurity programs. Congress allocated CISA a $30 million bump in federal cybersecurity spending over last year. Additionally, the bill sets aside $25 million for the creation of a cybersecurity shared services office to bolster CISA’s ability to provide cybersecurity services throughout the federal government.

Budget documents accompanying the legislation also direct CISA to take a central role in tackling the government’s pervasive cyber workforce shortage. The minibus legislation included a $7.1 million increase above the CISA budget request for expediting cybersecurity education, training, workforce and development. Three months after the budget is signed, CISA must also deliver a report to Congress on potential solutions to the workforce shortage.

The Great Algorithm Problem: How Do We Know They Will Be Fair?

by Karthik Kannan
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Using machines to augment human activity is nothing new. Egyptian hieroglyphs show the use of horse-drawn carriages even before 300 B.C. Ancient Indian literature such as “Silapadikaram” has described animals being used for farming. And one glance outside shows that today people use motorized vehicles to get around.

Where in the past human beings have augmented ourselves in physical ways, now the nature of augmentation also is more intelligent. Again, all one needs to do is look to cars – engineers are seemingly on the cusp of self-driving cars guided by artificial intelligence. Other devices are in various stages of becoming more intelligent. Along the way, interactions between people and machines are changing.

Machine and human intelligences bring different strengths to the table. Researchers like me are working to understand how algorithms can complement human skills while at the same time minimizing the liabilities of relying on machine intelligence. As a machine learning expert, I predict there will soon be a new balance between human and machine intelligence, a shift that humanity hasn’t encountered before.

Washington Must Bet Big on AI or Lose Its Global Clout

The US government must spend $25 billion on artificial intelligence research by 2025, stem the loss of foreign AI talent, and find new ways to prevent critical AI technology from being stolen and exported, according to a policy report issued Tuesday. Otherwise it risks falling behind China and losing its standing on the world stage.

The report, from the Center for New American Security (CNAS), is the latest to highlight the importance of AI to the future of the US. It argues that the technology will define economic, military, and geopolitical power in coming decades.

Read the full story and more in WIRED.

What Is a Moral Foreign Policy?

Joseph S. Nye Jr.

While historians write about American exceptionalism and moralism, diplomats and theorists like George Kennan have often warned about the negative consequences of the American moralist-legalist tradition. According to this line of thinking, international relations is anarchic and there is no world government to provide order. States must provide for their own defense and when survival is at stake, the ends justify the means. Where there is no meaningful choice there can be no ethics. Thus, in judging a president’s foreign policy, we should simply ask whether it worked, not whether it was moral. However, in my experience as a scholar and sometime practitioner of foreign policy, morals do matter.

The skeptics duck the hard questions by oversimplifying things. The absence of world government does not, in fact, mean the absence of all order. And while some foreign policy issues do relate to America’s survival as a nation, most do not. Since World War II, the United States has been involved in several wars but none were necessary to ensure its survival. Many important foreign policy choices having to do with human rights or climate change or internet freedom do not involve war at all. Instead, most foreign policy issues involve making trade-offs between values — something that requires making choices — not the application of a rigid formula of “raison d’état.” A cynical French official once told me, “I define good as what is good for the interests of France. Morals are irrelevant.” He seemed unaware that his statement was a moral judgment.

Infographic Of The Day: Why The Future Of Security Is Biometric

Since Apple first introduced Touch ID in 2013, the global market for mobile biometrics has grown to over $14 billion. Today, 57% of apps feature a biometric login option

Ransomware Forces New Orleans To Declare State Of Emergency

Tom Jowitt

Another ransomware victim. Staff told to switch off computers as government of New Orleans declares state of emergency

The City of New Orleans on Friday declared a state of emergency after all governmental computers were forced to shut down.

The southern city was hit by a ransomware attack after phishing attempts and suspicious activity was first detected at 5am on Friday morning, CNN reported.

The attack reportedly intensified as city staff logged on for work at 8am, and the city declared a cyber security incident at 11am and asked all city staff to shut down computers.
Ransomware attack

Later in the day, the New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell officially declared a state of emergency, a copy of which can be found here on Twitter.

The move does give the US city access to some much needed assistance from public bodies in the state.

Is the race for 5G a run or a crawl?

By: Diane Katz  

In what is widely characterized as a “race” for technology dominance, fifth generation wireless networks are being deployed in Europe, Asia and North America. But the mammoth task of revamping the cellular landscape will likely take at least a decade—as well as trillions of dollars. In actuality, the “race to 5G” is more like a slog.

There are advantages to launching 5G services sooner rather than later, of course, but the value of 5G is not the infrastructure per se. The technological leaps will largely spring from the “intelligent” systems and immersive activities enabled by 5G’s blazing speeds, its unparalleled capacity and its ultra-low latency. Such innovation is America’s strategic advantage.

The United States leads the world in the launch of 5G commercial service, according to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association. China is also aggressively pushing its state-owned telecom operators to “catch up and surpass” the United States. (Elsewhere in Asia, deployment is occurring rapidly, particularly in Japan and South Korea.) Europe lags both the United States and Asia.