22 December 2019



A crisis and a crackdown have defined India’s security policy in 2019. In February, the Indian Air Force launched an airstrike into Pakistan following a suicide bombing in Kashmir. This then led to a crisis, dogfights, and missile threats. In August, the government in New Delhi surged security forces into Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir and revoked its special status, beginning months of detentions, restrictions, and claims about the beginning of a radically new politics in Kashmir. Moreover, senior politicians have articulated a new vision of how India seeks to advance its interests at home and abroad: Toughness, boldness, and skillful maneuvering amongst the world’s leading powers define this aspiration.

How should observers assess India’s new security order? And what implications, if any, does it have for the United States?

I identify three characteristics of the new order: an emphasis on risk-taking and assertiveness, the fusing of domestic and international politics, and the use of unrelenting spin to hold critics at bay. This approach carries potential benefits for the United States in bolstering its position in Asia. But it also brings a set of risks and challenges that demand clear-eyed analysis — and a willingness to debate how the United States engages with India moving forward.

Crisis and Crackdown

India-Bangladesh: Sharing of waters of Feni River- A historical Event:

By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan

After more than two decades India and Bangladesh signed a major MoU on sharing of waters of the Feni River. Accoring to this agreement India is allowed to draw 1.82 Cusecs of water from Feni to the border town of Sabroom to augment the water supplies for the town.

The last agreement signed between India and Bangladesh was in sharing of Ganga waters in 1996- the Farakka and the agreement is still holding good.

The agreement on Feni was signed during the 4-day visit of Sheikh Hasina to India in the first week of October. The agreement was preceded by a meeting of a Secretary level of the two countries in August 2019 as a part of the Joint Rivers Commission meetings between the two countries held from time to time. This meeting that was much appreciated in the Joint Press Statement issued after the visit by coming to some positive agreements. The meeting also agreed to share data for an interim framework for sharing of waters of other trans boundary rivers- the Mana, Muhuri, Khowai, Gumti, Dharla and Dudh kumar.

Trans boundary rivers have always been problematic in resolving the vital issue of sharing waters and both the countries should be congratulated for a quick decision on the quantum of water to be shared. That the two Governments and their Representatives on Water sources have agreed to share the data and tentatively agreed to draw up a general framework for sharing of waters of such rivers is indeed a major paradigm change in the relationship between the two countries. The good will shown by Sheikh Hasina despite criticism from home on the still pending Teesta river issue is indeed, very commendable.

US Strategic Intelligence Strategy for Pakistan: Counterinsurgency, Diplomacy, and the Future

Christian M. Bills

Since the morning of September 11th, 2001, the United States has been at war, not with a singular country or group but with an ideology. Though the official declaration of war was not initiated until the following day, the smoldering ashes reminded us that America was not immune from foreign terrorist attacks. This forced the United States to take a long and solemn look in the mirror. Since that day Americas Strategic Intelligence Strategies have been overhauled, rethought, and torn-down several times over to ensure the safety of the country. However, as one could imagine this has been no simple task. Many locations where our military branches and intelligence agencies currently operate are nations are as complex and hostile as the terrorist organizations themselves. Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, and Libya are just a few that are infested with well-armed, well paid, and highly motivated terrorist groups. For all the threats and challenges that face Americas defense planners one of the greatest hurdles that must be overcome resides in Pakistan. Though Pakistan is an ally and is an active member in the United Nations, terrorist activity within its borders have forced planners to reevaluate the strategic goals and priorities for Pakistan. These challenges will be the foundation of my research as I search to answer three key questions: (1) What is the diplomatic relationship between the United States and Pakistan, (2) How have the Strategic Intelligence Plan evolved? and (3) Have the Strategic Goals been achieved? My findings will provide an understand of how Global War on Terrorism has affected our Intelligence Strategy goals for combating a non-state threat(s).

Diplomatic Relations: US & Pakistan

Everyone Knows America Lost Afghanistan Long Ago

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Last week, the Washington Post published a massive set of documents on the protracted and still unsuccessful U.S. war in Afghanistan, a conflict that Samuel Moyn and Stephen Wertheim have aptly dubbed the “infinity war.” 

While not quite as revelatory as the Vietnam-era Pentagon Papers, the release of these documents is still an important contribution to public understanding of U.S. national-security policy. In more normal times—without a looming impeachment, an endless parade of Trumpian distractions, and a congenitally irresponsible Republican Party—discovering that U.S. officials had obscured their doubts about the war and their recognition that U.S. strategy was failing might even prompt change of course.

To be clear, U.S. officials didn’t lie to the public so much as they misled them, largely by keeping their doubts hidden under a veil of government secrecy. The documents show that they understood the Afghan government was corrupt and unreliable, that Pakistan wasn’t going to end its support for the Taliban, and that U.S. strategy was ill-informed and riddled with contradictions. Yet instead of explaining these facts clearly to Congress and the American people, U.S. officials and military commanders repeatedly offered upbeat assessments of how the war was going in order to sustain public support and congressional approval.

Trade, Not Aid, Is the Way to Persuade Pakistan to Buck China's Influence

by Arif Rafiq
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This would provide a foundation for a long-term U.S. relationship with constituencies in Pakistan’s urban centers who have been negatively impacted by China’s unfair trade practices but may be courted by Beijing through the next stage of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

What Wells offered was a polemic that presented two competing approaches to foreign aid and investment, focusing on what China has gotten wrong and what America has gotten right.

Wells rightly noted that CPEC, with its controlled-bidding processes and unclear contractual terms, falls short of offering the sustainability and transparency critical for developing countries like Pakistan to grow over the long term. And she correctly asserted that CPEC is not an exercise in Chinese philanthropy, given that infrastructure projects are mainly funded by loans and Chinese companies are earning handsome guaranteed profits by selling comparatively expensive electricity to the Pakistani grid. America, Wells claimed, provides an alternative development partnership model, pairing grant assistance with support for policy reforms aimed at attracting private sector investment.

The New 'Missile Gap': America Is Losing To Russian And Chinese Hypersonic Weapons

by Dan Goure
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In a speech on the Senate floor on August 14, 1958, then-Senator and aspiring presidential candidate John F. Kennedy proclaimed the existence of a “missile gap” between the United States and Russia. Kennedy went on to warn that unless this gap was immediately addressed, the result would be the erosion of the U.S. strategic forces’ ability to deter the Soviet Union. It later became apparent that the balance in nuclear-capable ballistic missiles decisively favored the United States.

A new “missile gap” is emerging, one that is based in fact. This is the disparity between the United States and its main competitors, Russia and China, in the field of hypersonic weapons systems. A hypersonic vehicle is one that moves through the atmosphere at a minimum speed of five times that of sound, or Mach 5. A hypersonic cruise missile travels continuously through the air employing a special high-powered engine. A hypersonic glide vehicle is launched into space atop a ballistic missile, after which it maneuvers through the upper reaches of the atmosphere until it dives towards its target. Both vehicle types can carry either conventional or nuclear weapons.

Why Are Chinese Weapons Used so Frequently in the Middle East?

by Charlie Gao
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The Syrian Civil War is being fought with firearms from around the globe. While American and Russian weapons are currently the most common, Chinese guns are rapidly increasing their “market share” of the battlefield.

While China has taken a notionally neutral position on the war, Chinese arms ending up in the hands of rebels, IS, and regime forces. How are they getting there? Do they hold any advantages over their Russian and American counterparts?

Probably the most common Chinese weapon in the Middle East is the Type 56 rifle, a variant of the ubiquitous AK. Characterized by the full ring surrounding the front sight, the Type 56 was exported in great numbers to the Middle East during the 1970s and 1980s, arming both Iran and Iraq during the Iran-Iraq wars. This has caused it to pop up everywhere in the region. It’s been seen in the hands of Iraqi insurgents and forms the bulk of the Islamic State’s arsenal. Type 56 rifles are also common sights within the Free Syrian Army and the Syrian regime National Defense Force.

How America Could Catch China Preparing for a War

by David Axe
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That’s the thrust of a new report that seapower experts Seth Cropsey and Bryan McGrath wrote for the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.

“There is a current lack of appreciation for the critical role of intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and targeting (ISR/T) capabilities in naval combat success,” Cropsey and McGrath wrote. “This operational blind spot has concrete ramifications for the balance of power in the Western Pacific and the ability of the United States to force a political settlement without conflict.”

China, the experts noted, is expanding its influence across Asia while also continuing to threaten Taiwan. “China’s increasingly modernized armed forces, their continued expansion, new technology such as hypersonic missiles, the growing range of China’s anti-ship missiles, and Beijing’s increasingly robust anti-access/area denial network are just some of the challenges the U.S. faces in deterring conflict in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, and the Yellow Sea.”

China’s Civilizational Challenge


KUALA LUMPUR – China’s “one country, two systems” formula in Hong Kong is failing miserably. After more than six months of large-scale pro-democracy protests – including violent clashes with police – the city’s voters dealt a powerful blow in November to pro-mainland parties, which lost 87% of seats to pro-democracy rivals in district council elections.

The significance of that election should not be underestimated. While district councils have little power, they select some of the 1,200 electors who choose Hong Kong’s chief executive. In the next election, pro-democracy parties will fill nearly 10% of those seats.

The election also had important symbolic implications. District councils are elected in a fully democratic process (compared to only half the seats in Hong Kong’s legislative council). With an impressive 71% turnout, the election was widely seen as a vote of no confidence in the embattled China-backed chief executive, Carrie Lam.

Some of Hong Kong’s people have lost faith in the prospect of maintaining their democracy within the “one country, two systems” scheme. This is reflected in growing demands for independence, which were never heard during 155 years of British rule. While independence remains a fringe idea – owing partly to recognition of China’s uncompromising stand on territorial integrity – almost no one under the age of 30 in Hong Kong identifies exclusively as Chinese.

Fact-check: Five claims about thorium made by Andrew Yang

By John Krzyzaniak, Nicholas R. Brown

Andrew Yang, like many of the 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls, has an ambitious plan to wean America off of fossil fuels. Unlike many of the other candidates, however, a key piece of his plan to address climate change involves harnessing nuclear power—in particular thorium. According to Yang, thorium is “superior to uranium on many levels.” But Yang isn’t alone; thorium boosters have been extolling its supposed virtues for years.

Do the claims about thorium actually hold up? The Bulletin reached out to Nicholas R. Brown, an associate professor in the department of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Tennessee, to examine five common claims about thorium and next-generation nuclear reactors. Brown’s responses are below.

Overall, although existing and new nuclear reactors may indeed be part of a long-term carbon-free energy mix in the United States, the public has good reason to be skeptical that thorium can or should play any role in the future.


The Post-American Middle East

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.

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.

Welcome to the post-American Middle East. To be fair, the phrase is something of an exaggeration, as the US has not withdrawn from the region. In fact, it has recently sent additional troops to deter and, if necessary, help defend Saudi Arabia from future Iranian attacks and possibly respond directly to them. But there is no getting around the fundamental truth that the US has reduced both its presence and role in a region that it has dominated for nearly a half-century.

Not Another Arab Spring


TEL AVIV – “A specter is haunting the rich world. It is the specter of ungovernability,” began an editorial in The Economist earlier this year, paraphrasing the opening line of the Communist Manifesto. But it is not only the West that is grappling with ungovernability. Across the Arab world, protesters have been making it clear that they will be ungovernable until their leaders deliver good governance.

The immediate triggers of the protests vary by country. In Algeria, it was President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s announcement of his candidacy for a fifth term that sent people pouring into the streets. In Egypt, it was the government’s tightening of its food-subsidy program, which provides basic goods like rice to millions of people. In Iran, a 50% increase in previously highly subsidized fuel prices was to blame; in Sudan, high prices and bread shortages; and in Lebanon, a proposed tax on voice calls on apps like WhatsApp.

But these sparks caused conflagrations only because there was already plenty of kindling. Even after Bouteflika resigned, Egypt re-enrolled 1.8 million people in its food-subsidy program, and Lebanon canceled the WhatsApp tax, protests raged on.

It is tempting to assume that, as with the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, the public’s longing for democracy is fueling today’s fires. But the Arab Spring devolved into winner-take-all Islamist rule in some cases, and virtual state collapse in others. Now too jaded to expect fully democratic governments (the army, in most people’s view, will always rule in the end), today’s protesters are demanding functioning, reasonably accountable ones.

Islamic State and AQAP Could Exploit Disorder in Southern Yemen

By: Brian M. Perkins

Though the war in Yemen is far from over, the conflict is at least seemingly moving in a more positive direction as the Saudi coalition is engaging in indirect talks with the Houthis and facilitating a fragile ceasefire referred to as the Riyadh Agreement between the Southern Transitional Council (STC) and the Hadi-led government. While the Saudi coalition is working to address two of the most glaring issues in the war, another key problem has been left festering—the persistence of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Islamic State in Yemen (IS-Y). AQAP is very much still alive and has always been quick to exploit security vacuums and the moments between governance transitions. IS-Y, while not particularly strong, is still capable of playing a spoiler in the war and could see growth if the war provides the operational space.

There has been little concerted effort against AQAP since the group was pushed out of its many traditional safe havens in the coastal regions of Yemen’s southern governorates and corralled deeper into al-Bayda, Hadramawt, and Marib between 2015 and 2016. AQAP’s retreat inland was prompted more by constant pressure from UAE-trained and backed forces—which provided the bulk of the forces fighting in the south—than actions by the Yemeni military and forces loyal to President Hadi or Saudi Arabia.

Who’ll Fix EW? Task Force Gropes For Answers


Next Generation Jammer on EA-18G Growler

ARLINGTON: Five years ago, Pentagon research & engineering chief Alan Shaffer warned that “we have lost the electromagnetic spectrum.” Today, after the Russians have jammed US and allied radio, radar, and GPS from Syria to Ukraine to Norway, are we doing better?

“I’m going to characterize it this way….I want to be careful,” Maj. Gen. Lance Landrum told reporters at an Association of Old Crows roundtable this morning: “I can very firmly say we’re challenged in the electromagnetic spectrum.”

Air Force Maj. Gen. Lance Landrum (foreground) and his chief of staff, Navy Cdr. Scott Oliver


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Michael Eliot Howard died on Nov. 30 having just reached his 97th birthday. I first met him in October 1972 when I arrived at Oxford to do a D.Phil and was informed that he was to be my supervisor. Our last conversation was some months ago. From the start until the end, he had a huge influence on my career and how I approached the study of war.

When we first met, I knew nothing about his biography, but he appeared to me as extraordinarily grand. He was then approaching 50 and in his prime, well-established as both a scholar and a commentator. He had been awarded the Military Cross for an act of conspicuous bravery during World War II, established military history as a serious field of scholarship with a book on the Franco-Prussian war, set up the Department of War Studies at King’s College London, and been present at the creation of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. His entry into the British establishment had followed an almost stereotypical path: an elite school (Wellington), an elite regiment (Coldstream Guards), and then an elite college at an elite university (Christ Church, Oxford). We met at his rooms at All Souls College, founded in 1438. The walls were lined with books. Copies of newly-published works and journals sat on a table waiting to be read. In the middle of the room there was a desk, busy but neat, and in one corner comfortable chairs and a settee from where he would conduct supervisions.

Realism about reskilling

Marcela Escobari, Ian Seyal, and Michael J. Meaney

Every person deserves the opportunity for dignified employment that provides living wages and potential for advancement. But for many in America today caught in a cycle of low-wage work, this is far from reality.

Low-wage workers are struggling—and not for a lack of new jobs. The coming flood of innovation will create new tasks and occupations, and the labor market will demand new skills just as quickly as it will shirk others. Robots may be unlikely to wholly replace America’s workers anytime soon, but new technologies will radically displace workers, eliminating jobs in some industries while expanding others.

Policy and company responses have failed to keep pace with this transformation. As the labor market splits into low-wage and high-wage work, lower tier jobs are precarious, marked by unpredictable schedules, reduced benefits, and stagnant wages. While reskilling alone will not be enough to lessen inequality or provide equal opportunity in the face of these trends, it must be an integral part of the solution to support workers without leaving anyone behind.

Rigid Structures, Evolving Threat: Preventing the Proliferation and Use of Chemical Weapons

Chemical weapons are back. Since 2012, the growing number and types of CW uses have increasingly challenged the anti-CW regime. Furthermore, the shifting security environment has revealed emerging challenges to and increased pressure points on the system of restraint, which shapes nations’ behavior and encourages restraint through several different, often mutually reinforcing mechanisms: taboos, lack of benefit, norms, and deterrence. 

This study examines the evolving and changing nature of chemical weapons and how the system of restraint must adapt to ensure that the proliferation and use of chemical weapons do not reemerge as endemic features of the global security landscape. The study provides a framework for structuring the problem, identifies gaps and challenges, and puts forward options for improving the global effort to prevent the proliferation and use of these weapons.

This report is made possible through the support of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) and the Center for Strategic and international Studies under agreement number FA 7000-18-1-0008.

The Decade Big Power Politics Returned


In 2010, the Cold War had been over for 20 years, and superpower tensions seemed a figment of the past. President Barack Obama’s “reset” policy with his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev, was spurring major initiatives in cooperative diplomacy. Obama’s “pivot” away from the ancient conflicts in the Middle East to the dynamic opportunities for commerce and peace in the Pacific seemed promising. Threats to our security came less from rival nations than from shadowy terrorist groups, which our former rivals opposed as well. The few wars we were fighting involved local insurgencies and hadn’t metastasized into the wider proxy battles of earlier times.

Now, as the decade roars to a finish, the world seems a very different place. Russia is once again a geostrategic foe. We’re locked in a trade war with China, whose expansionist aims—long a matter of concern—are clearer than ever. Regional conflicts, especially in the Middle East, are serving as chessboards for the competing ambitions of outside powers.

Hypersonic missiles: Three questions every reader should ask

By Ivan Oelrich

Interest in hypersonic weapons is taking off. The United States has for decades supported a modest research effort in such weapons, but now, spurred along by Russia and China, it’s ramping up efforts. Russian President Vladimir Putin used his 2018 address to the nation to announce the development of a hypersonic glider that he claimed would be able to get through all US defenses, and that weapon assumed combat duty this month. Meanwhile, even a cursory scan of the academic research literature shows a healthy presence in this field at Chinese universities, and the hypersonic DF-17 missile was all the rage at that country’s 70th anniversary parade in October. Michael Griffin, head of the Pentagon’s research and engineering, has stated that hypersonic weapons, and defense against them, were the military’s highest technical priorities.

Interest from the press has followed. Scan Google News for the word “hypersonic,” and three times as many hits come up in the last two years as in the previous two-year period. Several reports have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Economist, and other leading general-interest publications, plus many more examples in the trade press.

One thing that jumps out from almost all of these pieces is a glaring lack of normal journalistic skepticism (with a few admirable exceptions). Indeed, some major pieces are downright fawning. The authors readily accept advocates’ claims that hypersonic weapons will move at blinding speeds, have extended range, be easily maneuverable, and strike targets with high precision without considering the engineering challenges or inherent physical limitations that will make this combination of capabilities difficult—if not impossible.

Infographic Of The Day: Habits Of Highly Effective Leaders

94% of employees with great bosses feel passionate about their job - That is 2X as many as those working for a bad boss

Winning the 5G Fight

By Tim Morrison
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At the recent NATO Leaders Summit in London, President Trump was clear about how he and the United States government view Chinese Communist Party (CCP) linked telecommunications equipment manufacturers like Huawei and ZTE, when he said, “I do think it’s a security risk, a security danger.”[i] But here is the challenge for the President and his Administration: even our closest allies, few of whom question the threat, are understandably focused on the next question--if not CCP-linked telecommunications equipment, whose?

Since taking office, the Trump Administration has changed the rules of the game when it comes to confronting the CCP and its state- and privately-owned enterprises (which are also at the beck-and-call of the Party thanks to the 2017 National Security Law of the People’s Republic of China).[ii]

First, he issued a sweeping Executive Order on Securing Information and Communications Technology and Services, which prohibits the federal government from using telecommunications equipment from other than trusted vendors--Huawei and ZTE, while not mentioned, would, of course, not qualify.[iii] This executive order complemented section 889 of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2019, which prohibited outright Huawei and ZTE, but also CCP-linked video surveillance equipment, which is involved in such atrocities as the ongoing suppression of the Chinese Uighur minority.[iv]

Is Huawei Really More Dangerous than Facebook?


OXFORD – The United States and some of its allies have acted decisively to exclude the Chinese technology company Huawei from their national markets, yet they continue to ignore the similar threat posed by Facebook and other US digital giants. Democratic governments must now be equally decisive in dealing with this home-grown danger.

Huawei is not only the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications equipment and its second-largest phone manufacturer; it is also the global leader in building ultra-high-speed 5G networks – far ahead of any US competitor. And, along with some other Chinese companies, Huawei supplies surveillance equipment to about 230 cities across Western Europe, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

US President Donald Trump’s administration accuses Huawei of stealing intellectual property, committing fraud and obstructing justice in evading American sanctions against Iran, and potentially using its hardware and inbuilt software to spy for the Chinese government. The US government has therefore prohibited US government agencies from buying equipment from Huawei (and also from ZTE, Hikvision, Dahua, and Hytera).

Who Will Respond to Emerging and Persistent Conflicts and Crises?

The international order is fraying, generating uncertainty about who will intervene to resolve persistent conflicts, and who will fund humanitarian responses to human-made and natural disasters. Meanwhile, emerging crises and multiple hotspots pose new risks, even as the nature of transnational terrorism is evolving. 

As conflicts and crises persist around the world, there is growing uncertainty about how—or if—they will be resolved. The international order is fraying, generating uncertainty about who will intervene and how humanitarian responses might be funded.

There are interminable conflicts, like the situations in Yemen, Afghanistan and South Sudan, which have produced years of violence, countless thousands of deaths and even more refugees. Then there are the emerging hotspots, including Mali and Burkina Faso, and any number of potential flashpoints, including in the South China Sea, which is dogged by territorial disputes. Even situations where there was some tenuous hope of reconciliation—such as the Central African Republic, where 14 armed groups recently signed a peace deal—are in danger of unraveling.

Paths to Power

By Anna Grzymala-Busse 

The world is in an illiberal phase. In recent years, dictators have strengthened their grip on many countries. Several democracies have witnessed the rise of authoritarian-minded leaders and movements. These trends make the task of understanding dictatorial rule all the more important. 

The research on autocracy is vast: the term “authoritarian” garners more than 800,000 citations on Google Scholar. But most analyses of the subject tend to either focus on the emergence and fall of dictatorships or examine their internal workings. Few examine both the rise of autocracies and how they rule. 

In How Dictatorships Work, the political scientists Barbara Geddes, Joseph Wright, and Erica Frantz offer a corrective, revealing not only how autocrats win and lose power but also how they wield it. They bring a wealth of new data to the table, following autocracies from cradle to grave and meticulously testing the received wisdom against hard numbers. How Dictatorships Work masterfully illustrates the paths autocrats take to power and the ways in which they keep it. Few dictators have a clear strategy, but the ones who seize control of a country’s security forces or build ruling political parties tend to stay on top.


Does the Defense Department’s New Approach to Industrial Base Cybersecurity Create More Problems Than It Solves?

Malicious cyber actors increasingly target the defense industrial base for both economic and security gains. For example, in 2018, the Chinese government hacked a U.S. defense contractor and stole 614 gigabytes of sensitive material from the Navy’s Sea Dragon program. The Department of Defense (DOD) has since acknowledged that industrial base cybersecurity is insufficient and has suggested a new approach—the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC)—to address future cyber threats. However, in its present instantiation, CMMC may create more problems than it solves.

Problems with Defense Industrial Base Cybersecurity

CMMC aims to address longstanding problems with DOD’s approach to industrial base cybersecurity. Presently, the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) requires contractors to implement the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Special Publication (SP) 800-171 standards. DOD, however, rarely enforces these standards using audits and instead relies on companies to self-report their compliance.

A New Cold War Is Not Inevitable

James Stavridis

When I served as Supreme Allied Commander at NATO from 2009 to 2013, I developed a friendly relationship with the head of the Russian armed forces, General Nikolai Makarov. He was a short, barrel-chested man with a congenial personal style, and given my own somewhat compact physique, I could at least tell my boss, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, that I literally saw things “eye to eye” with my Russian counterpart. Our meetings occurred both in Moscow and several times in Brussels at NATO headquarters. I also had him over to my official residence in Mons, Belgium, where too much vodka was drank but we continued to have meaningful conversations (at least in the early parts of the evening).

Misguided Wars: Lying Isn’t the Main Problem

by Paul R. Pillar
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The Washington Post has given huge play—multiple A-Section pages over several days, despite the competition for space from impeachment news—to a series about the war in Afghanistan, based on official interview records that the Washington Post obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Journalists and the newspapers that employ them like to portray such featured products as revelations—as bringing to light facts that, without journalistic digging, would have remained hidden. But the government office that conducted the interviews, known as the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), is not in the business of hiding facts. 

Established by an act of Congress in 2008, SIGAR operates openly and has published a long list of reports during its decade of existence. The Washington Post reporters took the interview transcripts and records that formed the basis of some of those reports and have highlighted some of the comments in them, along with the names of some interviewees that SIGAR had protected because the interviews were conducted on a non-attribution basis. The newspaper’s addition to the work the government had already done is best described not as a revelation but rather as an embellishment and a reformulation for the benefit of impatient lay readers.

History’s Largest Mining Operation Is About to Begin

by Wil S. Hylton
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Unless you are given to chronic anxiety or suffer from nihilistic despair, you probably haven’t spent much time contemplating the bottom of the ocean. Many people imagine the seabed to be a vast expanse of sand, but it’s a jagged and dynamic landscape with as much variation as any place onshore. Mountains surge from underwater plains, canyons slice miles deep, hot springs billow through fissures in rock, and streams of heavy brine ooze down hillsides, pooling into undersea lakes.

These peaks and valleys are laced with most of the same minerals found on land. Scientists have documented their deposits since at least 1868, when a dredging ship pulled a chunk of iron ore from the seabed north of Russia. Five years later, another ship found similar nuggets at the bottom of the Atlantic, and two years after that, it discovered a field of the same objects in the Pacific. For more than a century, oceanographers continued to identify new minerals on the seafloor—copper, nickel, silver, platinum, gold, and even gemstones—while mining companies searched for a practical way to dig them up.

A New Approach for the UN to Stabilise the DR Congo

The Security Council has an opening to rethink its approach to DR Congo with this month’s mandate renewal of the UN peacekeeping mission. The council should prioritise local conflict resolution and bolstering President Tshisekedi’s efforts to improve regional relations to combat over 100 armed groups ravaging the east.

What’s new? The Security Council is seeking new ways to stabilise the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with an eye to drawing down the long-running UN peace operation there. In parallel, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi wants to strike a new security agreement with neighbouring countries to suppress armed groups in the country’s east.

Why does it matter? The persistence of over 100 armed groups in the eastern DRC is a threat to both Congolese civilians and regional stability. The country’s neighbours have also often used these militias as proxies to attack one another and control economic resources.

What should be done? The Security Council should strengthen the UN mission’s capacity to analyse the armed groups’ political links and resolve local grievances these groups can exploit. The UN should support President Tshisekedi’s regional diplomacy, with an emphasis on political reconciliation and economic integration among the DRC’s neighbours as steps to increase security.