27 December 2019

The Significance of an India-Philippines Brahmos Missile Deal

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Last week, we heard renewed talk of the Philippines’ interest in acquiring Brahmos missiles from India. While speculation about such a deal is far from new, it has nonetheless spotlighted the significance of an ongoing activity between the two countries which, if materialized, could extend beyond their bilateral relationship.

As I have observed before in these pages, while defense collaboration between India and the Philippines has been quite basic up to this point, with areas such as naval ship visits, training, and education, there have been efforts by both sides to boost this aspect of ties still further in realms such as military equipment and maritime security amid wider regional developments, including concerns about aspects of China’s behavior and broader convergences tied to the Indo-Pacific. This has continued on into 2019 as well, which marks the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

Inside the Taliban’s Afghanistan, violence remains the path to power

By Susannah George
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WAZIR TANGI, Afghanistan — Deep inside Taliban territory, high in the mountains that line the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, a top-ranking militant commander cradling a Kalashnikov boasted of the group's victory against the Islamic State here. He declared that "when the Taliban comes, the peace will also come."

But a deadly Taliban attack on the U.S. military base in Bagram just hours earlier undermined his message of comity. Even as the group dispatched negotiators to forge a peace deal with the United States, commanders and fighters were describing a militancy committed to the use of violence to achieve its goal of regaining political power after more than 18 years at war with U.S. and Afghan forces.

The extraordinary briefing earlier this month by the acting director of the Taliban’s military operations, Moulawi Muhammad Ali Jan Ahmed, for a small group of Western journalists signaled the militants’ quest for legitimacy on the global stage after years of being seen as enemy combatants. The Taliban controls or contests roughly half of Afghanistan, and peace talks could formalize the group’s power.

After the Junaid Hafeez Verdict, Time to Face the Truth About Pakistan’s Blasphemy Law

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid
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On Saturday, Multan-based academic Junaid Hafeez became the latest to be given the death sentence for blasphemy in Pakistan.

The 33-year-old former lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University had been arrested in 2013 over alleged “blasphemous” comments on Facebook, after accusations from an Islamist group that had explicitly taken issues with Hafeez’s “liberal views.”

After six years of solitary confinement, and a problematic trial, Hafeez has been sent to the gallows by a sessions court for “outraging religious sentiments.”

Pakistan is one of 13 countries where blasphemy is punishable by death. The constitution’s Islam-specific clauses, notably Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code, maintain that the capital punishment is solely for sacrilege against the majority’s religion in the Muslim-dominated country.

Musharraf sentence sends a powerful message to Pakistan’s military

By Shamila N. Chaudhary 

Easily corruptible, dominated by dynastic politics and weakened by decades of repeated military coups, Pakistan’s democracy still finds a way to fight back when it wants to make a point. And what a point it made this week when a Pakistani court sentenced former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to death for high treason for suspending the constitution in 2007. The ruling marks the first time in Pakistani history that a military general is held accountable for undermining democracy. It also boldly states that no matter how powerful or influential, the military is not above the law.

Before Musharraf, Pakistan endured two earlier periods of military rule. General Ayub Khan led a coup in 1958 and ran Pakistan for 11 years until he was forced to step down. General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq overthrew the government in 1977 and ruled until he died in a 1988 plane crash.

Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi. Photo Credit: Tasnim News Agency

By Dr. S. Chandrasekharan
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Suu Kyi returned from the Hague on 14th December. She was received at the airport by enthusiastic colleagues and the people that included Members of Parliament, Locals, teachers and students. Significantly, no Senior Army Official was present.

At the court, in her final submission, Suu Kyi said that the case filed by Gambia should be dismissed or alternatively, the provisional measures requested by Gambia should be dismissed. 

It should be noted that decisions on both the counts of “intent of Genocide” or “provisional measures” to protect the Rohingyas from future threats of violence will take a long time and are not enforceable also unless it is brought to the Security Council again for action. Here again both China and Russia may come to Myanmar’s rescue.

It is in this connection, Joe Kumbum’ (an analyst from Kachin under a pseudonym) has suggested that Myanmar should keep in touch with the Western powers lest it does not go over to the Chinese. My response would be that it is the Western Powers including the USA that should take the initiative.

China’s Central Asian Plans Are Unnerving Moscow

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KHORGOS, Kazakhstan—On the China-Kazakhstan border, flanked by snowcapped peaks, a highway cuts through a barren landscape to reach this terminal at Khorgos. Here, amid a collection of cranes, rail tracks, and warehouses, a growing town is poised to become a bustling inland transport hub and a vital link in China’s vast and battered Belt and Road Initiative.

Khorgos is roughly 1,550 miles from the nearest coastline, but developers have dubbed the site a “dry port,” a terminal designed to process overland cargo. It began operating in 2015 and has seen steady growth. But it is also a launching pad for Beijing’s ambitions to connect Europe to Asia through new trade and transport routes under what Chinese President Xi Jinping has called “the project of the century.”

A nearby special economic zone is already home to a few factories and boasts lofty ambitions for future investment and industry. On the Chinese side of the border, the scope and scale of the project is already visible, with a sister city of high-rises and shopping malls, also called Khorgos, home to a population of more than 100,000 people after the town was officially opened in 2014.

Graphics: Reform in China's national defense and armed forces

By Liu Hui

Deepening national defense and military reforms are in line with the requirements of the times to reach the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation and China's strong-military dream.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping

Four years ago, the Central Military Commission (CMC) released an official guideline on deepening the national defense and military reform. Carried out boldly and resolutely, national defense and military reforms took historic steps, and achievements in major fields were attained.

Regarded as one of the biggest military reforms in modern China, the latest military reform has been on the agenda for China's rejuvenation in the new era since the 18th Communist Party of China (CPC) National Congress, in 2012.

What are these achievements? Here are some key developments in recent years:

Russia up in arms over Chinese theft of military technology

MOSCOW -- In a rare public display of frustration between Moscow and Beijing, Russian state defense conglomerate Rostec accused China of illegally copying a broad range of Russian weaponry and other military hardware.

"Unauthorized copying of our equipment abroad is a huge problem. There have been 500 such cases over the past 17 years," said Yevgeny Livadny, Rostec's chief of intellectual property projects on Dec. 14. "China alone has copied aircraft engines, Sukhoi planes, deck jets, air defense systems, portable air defense missiles, and analogs of the Pantsir medium-range surface-to-air systems."

Rostec's complaint about Chinese reverse engineering comes at a time when the arms trade between the two countries is thriving. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Russia was by far China's largest weapons supplier between 2014 and 2018, accounting for 70% of Beijing's arms imports during that period.

Trump Will Make China Great Again


NEW YORK – Financial markets were cheered recently by the news that the United States and China have reached a “phase one” deal to prevent further escalation of their bilateral trade war. But there is actually very little to cheer about. In exchange for China’s tentative commitment to buy more US agricultural (and some other) goods, and modest concessions on intellectual-property rights and the renminbi, the US agreed to withhold tariffs on another $160 billion worth of Chinese exports, and to roll back some of the tariffs introduced on September 1.

The good news for investors is that the deal averted a new round of tariffs that could have tipped the US and the global economy into recession and crashed global stock markets. The bad news is that it represents just another temporary truce amid a much larger strategic rivalry encompassing trade, technology, investment, currency, and geopolitical issues. Large-scale tariffs will remain in place, and escalation may well resume if either side shirks its commitments.

As a result, a broad Sino-American decoupling will likely intensify over time, and is all but certain in the technology sector. The US regards China’s quest to achieve autonomy and then supremacy in cutting-edge technologies – including artificial intelligence, 5G, robotics, automation, biotech, and autonomous vehicles – as a threat to its economic and national security. Following its blacklisting of Huawei (a 5G leader) and other Chinese tech firms, the US will continue to try to contain the growth of China’s tech industry.

Revolutionizing lng and natural gas in the indo-pacific

The Trump administration’s new “free and open Indo-Pacific” strategy is an evolution and expansion of the Obama administration’s earlier “rebalance” of the United States’ strategic focus toward the Asia-Pacific. At its core, the strategy is a response to the expanding power and influence of China across the region as it rolls out its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which is focused on building energy infrastructure and transportation links across Southeast Asia, South Asia, and the Eurasian continent. The concept of the Indo-Pacific developed in the Trump administration’s 2017 National Security Strategy is an ambitious expansion of U.S. strategic and economic interests in the Asia-Pacific to a broader region running all the way from the Strait of Hormuz around to Northeast Asia and the Russian Far East.

From one perspective, the free and open Indo-Pacific strategy is an effort to reshape the U.S. approach to economic statecraft to promote private-sector investment and financing in developing regional economies as a strong alternative to the state-directed approach of China. As Nadège Rolland and others have detailed extensively in their analyses for the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), China’s approach often has strings attached and subordinates the economic interests of recipient states to Beijing’s broader strategic and economic interests in an effort to create what some have dubbed an “Indo-Pacific with Chinese characteristics.”

Israel Is a Tech Superpower, and America Needs It on Its Side

John Hannah

We find ourselves in strong agreement with the two central contentions of Arthur Herman’s valuable new essay in Mosaic, “The Impasse Obstructing U.S.-Israel Relations, and How to Remedy It.” First, China’s growing penetration of Israel’s economy over the past decade, particularly in the high-tech sector, poses real risks to the U.S.-Israel relationship if left unattended. But second, if addressed in a spirit worthy of the profound alliance that has bound these two great liberal democracies together for decades, the China challenge should serve instead as a major opportunity to propel the strategic partnership to new heights.

Indeed, that’s precisely the case that one of us, John Hannah, made in an article earlier this year:

Working together in close consultation, with the protection and strengthening of the alliance uppermost in their minds, [U.S. and Israeli policymakers] should make sure that China becomes the catalyst for the next major leap forward in the U.S.-Israel relationship rather than a dangerous source of division.

Herman is also spot-on in identifying the struggle for technological primacy as the central arena that will shape the geopolitics of the 21st century, in particular the escalating strategic rivalry between, on the one hand, the United States and other free societies, and, on the other hand, China, Russia, and the camp of anti-American authoritarians.

‘We Just Capitulated’

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Michael Mulroy could not have left his position as the U.S. Department of Defense’s Middle East policy chief at a more tumultuous time. Mulroy, a former CIA paramilitary officer, presided over the Trump administration’s Middle East defense policy from October 2017 until Dec. 1, overseeing the withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and a spike in tensions with Tehran, the defeat of the Islamic State caliphate, and two announcements—and reversals—of a U.S. drawdown in Syria. 

In an interview with Foreign Policy just weeks after his departure, Mulroy addressed the U.S. response to the increased threat from Iran this summer and Turkey’s October invasion of northeastern Syria. Mulroy, who along with most of the Defense Department opposed exiting the nuclear deal, said the response to Tehran’s shootdown of a U.S. military drone in the Strait of Hormuz—an unacknowledged cyberattack instead of the planned kinetic strike—was insufficient to prevent further attacks. 

The Saudi Sentences in Jamal Khashoggi’s Murder Case Are a Mockery of Justice

By Robin Wright

On Monday, the authoritarian kingdom of Saudi Arabia sentenced five operatives to death for the grisly murder and dismemberment of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, in October, 2018. Another three men were dispatched to jail; three more were acquitted. The outcome was, in the words of human-rights experts with whom I spoke after the verdict was announced, “typical Saudi justice.” The trial was held in secret. The government’s evidence was never publicly released. The convicted were never named, even in the verdict. And the few diplomats allowed to attend the trial had to swear that they would not disclose any details or identities. Most strikingly, the three men widely believed to be ultimately responsible for Khashoggi’s murder—including the powerful crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, his close adviser, Saud al-Qahtani, and the former deputy head of intelligence, Ahmed al-Assiri—got off scot-free. “This is not a surprise. It is true to form,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the executive director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, told me. “The Saudis are compounding their stream of laughable lies with a laughable verdict.”

Both the C.I.A. and the U.N. implicated M.B.S., as the crown prince is commonly known, in Khashoggi’s murder. During the past two years, the ambitious young royal has consolidated Saudi Arabia’s five major branches of power under his gold-embroidered robe. He has also been the key Saudi liaison to the Trump Administration and a close ally of Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner. Khashoggi, a former unofficial spokesman for the oil-rich monarchy, fled the kingdom in 2017 and took residence in the United States, where he became the prince’s most vocal and visible critic. Weeks before his death, Khashoggi told me that M.B.S., still only the heir apparent to the Saudi throne, had already become more autocratic than any of the previous six kings. He compared the prince’s absolute powers to those of Iran’s Supreme Leader: “He has no tolerance or willingness to accommodate critics.” In one of Khashoggi’s early columns for the Post, he says that he has to write as his conscience dictates. “To do otherwise would betray those who languish in prison,” he writes. “I can speak when so many cannot. I want you to know that Saudi Arabia has not always been as it is now. We Saudis deserve better.”

NATO Was Never Only About Russia

By Karsten Riise

It is today sadly forgotten, that NATO was created not with one, but with two objectives. The second objective of NATO was to retain inner peace, that is, keep the peace amongst NATO’s own members. When NATO was created, future peace between Germany and its neighbors was yet far from secured, especially as seen from the perspective of Germany’s neighbors at the time, not least France. Thus, the saying of NATO-creator Lord Ismay included that NATO should “keep the Soviet Union out”, but also “the Germans down”, that is, to keep NATO members safe, also from themselves. NATO was never only about Russia.

Today Germany is a great and constructive neighbor in Europe. But Europe sadly still sees other inner-neighbor relations, which unfortunately cannot yet be considered absolutely stable. One only needs to refer to the afterglows of the Yugoslav wars. From that perspective, it can be argued that all Balkan countries should be part of NATO — not to protect them against “Russia”, or to strengthen NATO externally for that matter, but simply to enhance the safe development of all the Balkan countries concerning one another. Bosnia-Herzegovina is especially relevant here since the country is not even fully stabilized internally yet. There are also other less warm neighbor issues, but still potential minority-heats, notably related to eastern NATO members. NATO keeps all such inner-relations from potentially flaring up, which may also be said to be in the interest of Russia, and of Russia’s partner in the Balkan area, Serbia. We should note too, that the EU also has a vital and overlapping interests to co-work in this region.

Charting Convergence

Ongoing geopolitical shifts are placing increased pressure on the rules-based international order that has facilitated decades of growth and development across the Indo-Pacific. The United States and Taiwan have responded by redoubling their respective commitments to the region. Leaders in both Washington and Taipei recognize that securing freedom and openness across this vast geographic space is essential for maintaining peace and promoting prosperity across the region.

The United States has advanced its vision for the region through the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) strategy, which is founded on—and aims to protect—common principles that have benefitted all countries in the region. Taiwan upholds the same principles and has a similar vision for the Indo-Pacific. To this end, Taipei is implementing the New Southbound Policy (NSP), which seeks to leverage its cultural, educational, technological, agricultural, and economic assets to strengthen Taiwan’s relations across the Indo-Pacific.

This report was made possible by the generous support of Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.DOWNLOAD THE REPORT


The less-hyped, but more realistic threats to US national security


Statements by President Donald Trump and some members of Congress have caused many Americans to view unsecured borders as the preeminent threat to our nation’s security. While secure borders are important to our economic and physical security, recent information has disclosed alarming deficiencies in U.S. military capabilities. Other information has revealed inadequate cybersecurity requirements in our weapons systems and in other infrastructure systems. These vulnerabilities pose a far greater threat to our national security than our Southern Border.

Hypersonic missile threat

The U.S. missile defense system operates on the assumption that the incoming threat is a ballistic missile traveling on a predictable trajectory. To defeat these systems, Russia has developed several types of weapons classified as “hypersonic” because they travel at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). Russia claims one such weapon, the Avangard, consists of a glide vehicle attached to a ballistic missile and has a range of 3,700 miles. Once launched, the glide vehicle — which can carry a conventional or nuclear payload — separates from the missile and is able to make rapid lateral and vertical movements as it travels to its target at speeds purportedly reaching Mach 20. Russia claims to possess another missile with similar maneuverability, the Kinzhal. Russia contends that this missile, which is fired from a fighter jet, has a range of 1,200 miles, and a speed up to Mach 10.

America Desperately Needs AI Talent, Immigrants Included


DoD clearly has recognized artificial intelligence (AI) as the next game-changer in military competition, with the Pentagon and the services pouring money into numerous development programs. Indeed, mastering AI and machine learning will be crucial to the new way of war envisioned by Pentagon leadership: Multi-Domain Operations. But the US government may be shooting itself in the foot by overlooking a key problem: a lack of American AI specialists, argues Megan Lamberth co-author of “The American AI Century: A Blueprint for Action,” a new report from the Center for New American Security.

The United States is engaged in a global technology competition in artificial intelligence. But while the US government has shown commitment to developing AI systems that will positively transform the American economy and national security, the country has neglected its most important resource: talent. Talent is the bedrock of technological advancement in AI.

Moon’s New Year’s Resolution for the South Korean Economy

By Kyle Ferrier

The Moon Jae-in administration in South Korea is looking to spur strong, inclusive economic growth in 2020. Though that’s a perennial goal for Moon, the government has rolled out new plans in recent weeks in hopes of starting a struggling economy off on the right foot next year.

The confluence of sluggish global and domestic factors has made this year a rough one for the South Korean economy. Trade tensions between Beijing and Washington have been a drag on global demand, but have hit South Korea particularly hard considering its overall reliance on exports and that China and the United States are its first and second largest export destinations, respectively. At home, ongoing efforts to bolster jobs and economic development have continued to fall short of high expectations. The end result is the expected real GDP growth rate of 2.0 percent this year, the lowest since the wake of the global financial crisis in 2009.

Despite the recent truce in the U.S.-China trade war, the projected growth numbers for next year are still historically low. South Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance (MOEF) is aspiring for 2.4 percent GDP growth next year, but others are less optimistic. The credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s are currently predicting 2.1 percent growth for next year, while the IMF is only slightly more optimistic at 2.2 percent. Even if MOEF were to hit its numbers next year, it would mark the first time since at least 1954 that the country recorded back-to-back years of lower than 2.5 percent annual GDP growth.

Is Nuclear Power Worth the Risk?

By Carolyn Kormann

On a blustery Sunday in Okuma last spring, a crowd was seated under red-and-white tents awaiting the arrival of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. They had gathered to celebrate the opening of a new town hall, and the reopening, just a few days earlier, of the town of Okuma itself. In March, 2011—after a magnitude-nine earthquake, one of the most powerful in recorded history, triggered a twelve-story tsunami—the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant flooded and lost power, prompting three of the plant’s six reactors to partially melt down. Radioactive water flowed into the sea, and plumes of radioactive particles spewed into the sky. The fallout contaminated Okuma and the surrounding towns. More than a hundred thousand people were ordered to leave their homes, with little sense of when, if ever, they would be able to return. Many more people across Fukushima Prefecture—which is slightly larger than Connecticut—self-evacuated, afraid and uncertain about the danger the fallout posed.

“It’s been 2,956 days since 3/11,” Jin Ishida, Okuma’s vice-mayor, told me, referring to the date of the disaster. We were standing near the entrance to the new town hall, a glass-and-cedar building next to a stubbly field that had once been rice paddies. Ishida, who is sixty-five, had returned to live in Okuma alone, without his family. He had given the day’s opening speech, followed by a parade of officials, including Fukushima’s governor, a member of the national assembly, representatives from Japan’s Ministries of Environment and Economics, and the Okuma mayor. Abe, who was late, was coming from a nearby sports complex known as J-Village, which had, until recently, served as a logistics base for disaster-response workers. In 2020, the Japan leg of the Tokyo Olympic-torch relay will begin on its grounds, to celebrate the region’s recovery—at least, that is the hope.

Leviathan gas platform test delayed, set to commence Tuesday


The final stage of testing at the offshore Leviathan natural gas platform may begin on Tuesday, according to instructions issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection to operator Noble Energy on Friday.

While Noble applied for approval to start the delayed test on Monday, the ministry stated the company had failed to give the public two working days’ notice ahead of the operation as required, and can therefore only proceed the following day at the earliest.

Anchored to the sea bed 10 km. from Israel’s Mediterranean coast, the Leviathan platform is currently approaching the conclusion of a series of commissioning tests before starting to pump gas to Israel’s domestic market later this month, and subsequently to Egypt and Jordan.

The challenge of non-state actors and stand-off weapons

The proliferation of ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and uninhabited aerial vehicles to non-state actors in the Middle East represents a future challenge for national militaries, explores Timothy Wright.

Ongoing wars in the Middle East are setting a worrying precedent, revealing a proliferation in the region not only of ballistic missiles, but also cruise missiles and improvised stand-off munitions in the form of low-cost uninhabited aerial vehicles (UAVs). Iranian ballistic- and cruise-missile technology has been ‘supplied’ to Ansarullah in Yemen, while Iranian-sourced weapons in Hizbullah arms depots in Syria continue to be attacked by the Israeli Air Force.

The latest round of Israeli airstrikes against alleged Iranian missile depots in Syria and recurrent missile attacks by the Houthis against a variety of targets in southern Saudi Arabia underscore the extent of the proliferation of precision-guided missiles and associated missile technology to non-state actors in the Middle East.
Ansarullah and Hizbullah

Ansarullah’s use of ballistic and cruise missiles and UAVs – the latter deployed as improvised stand-off munitions – is an attempt to begin to offset the Saudi-led coalition’s air power in Yemen’s civil war. The group’s ability to strike back, however limited, has propaganda value in this regard.

Strengthening the Economic Arsenal

By Elizabeth Rosenberg and Jordan Tama

Sanctions occupy a strange place in U.S. national security. For many years, they were derided as mostly ineffective. The received wisdom was that sanctions generally did not work, and critics would point—with some justification—to the Cuba trade embargo as the perfect example of a failed sanctions policy. As result, for many years sanctions were used somewhat sparingly, albeit not sparingly enough for the critics.

But then things changed, and quite dramatically so. The advent of targeted financial sanctions, particularly focused on terrorist financing, led the way. These restrictions focused on severing the financial lifeline that terrorist groups required to plan, organize, and execute their attacks. Implemented aggressively after the al Qaeda terrorist attacks in September 2001, these sanctions have been credited—again, with some justification—for helping to prevent al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations from attacking again in the United States.

At the same, the United States, led by the Department of the Treasury, deployed targeted financial sanctions to manage an ever-broader array of security threats, perhaps most effectively to impede Iran’s development of its nuclear program. Like the measures targeting terrorist financing, these had a particularly acute impact on international financial institutions, which quickly came to understand that it was in their best interest to prevent not only terrorist financiers, but also those supplying Iran’s nuclear program, from making use of their services. When these targeted financial sanctions were paired with measures designed to isolate Iran from the international financial system and prevent Iran from monetizing its oil, the Iranian regime came to the table to negotiate on its nuclear program. Whether one believes that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action reached in 2015 was a good or bad deal (I, for one, believe it was a very good deal), almost everyone agrees that the combination of targeted and broad-based sanctions created crucial leverage in the negotiations.

Understanding the Chinese Communist Party’s Approach to Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare

Zack Cooper

American prosperity and security are challenged by an economic competition playing out in a broader strategic context … Every year, competitors such as China steal U.S. intellectual property valued at hundreds of billions of dollars. Stealing proprietary technology and early-stage ideas allows competitors to unfairly tap into the innovation of free societies. Over the years, rivals have used sophisticated means to weaken our businesses and our economy as facets of cyberenabled economic warfare.

— U.S. National Security Strategy (2017)

The United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are engaged in an increasingly intense political, economic, and military competition spanning not only throughout East Asia, but also around the globe. In this competition, China uses cyber means to enhance its strategic position vis-à-vis the United States and its allies and partners. China is engaged in wide-ranging cyber intrusions and network exploitations causing massive damage to U.S. and other foreign firms annually. By advantaging Chinese enterprises at the expense of competitors from the United States and its allies and partners, these attacks cumulatively degrade U.S. national security. This cyber campaign is an integral part of China’s broader security strategy and has undermined both American prosperity and security. And yet, it has not garnered the public attention warranted by its severity.

Looking Back at Cybersecurity Trends in 2019 (and Ahead to 2020)

A look back at three of the biggest cyber security trends of 2019, and how a new approach to incident response and threat containment can help address them all.

Wow, that was a fast year. We’re currently in the process of looking ahead to new cybersecurity predictions for 2020, but wanted to briefly summarize some of the trends that we all experienced this year. 

At this time last year, we posted a blog, which focused on our top predictions for 2019. This article highlighted four major cyber security trends worth watching. It turns out that while they were all big news in cybersecurity this year, three of them were key areas of focus for ARIA Cybersecurity Solutions. These three trends were: “new compliance challenges,” “today’s threat tools need some help,” and “the ever-expanding threat surface.”

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at each of these cyber security trends, and, in the spirit of a “little extra,” we’ll highlight a fourth trend as well to show why we all need a new approach (and how ARIA Cybersecurity can deliver). Enjoy!

The Cyberwar Decade: How an Invisible Battlefield Came of Age in the 2010s

By David Hambling

The Decade, Reviewed looks back at the 2010s and how it changed human society forever. From 2010 to 2019, our species experienced seismic shifts in science, technology, entertainment, transportation, and even the very planet we call home. This is how the past ten years have changed us.

The 2010’s saw a step change in cyber warfare, defined as attacks against a nation by a computer. Rather than just being used for spying, this was the decade the digital world was weaponized to break through to the physical.

Analysts had long warned about the potential for cyber operations. Now, malware has attacked machinery, power grids, and military control systems and brought a new dimension to warfare.

This is how cyberwarfare came of age in the 2010s.

A Long List of Cyber Skirmishes

Mediation Perspectives: Steer Your Way through Conflict Analysis

By Inbal Ben-Ezer

In many cultures, the winter holidays are symbolized by shedding light onto darkness: Bright Christmas lights shine in dark alleyways and Hanukkah menorah candles are placed on windowsills of Jewish households. Scandinavian girls put a crown of candles on their heads; Iranians celebrate the triumph of the sun god Mithra over darkness on the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere; while Peruvians celebrate the sun god Inti on the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere.

Darkness is defined as the absence of light; but also as sadness, obscurity, mystery or concealment, ignorance, and evil. From dark deeds and dark alleyways to the Dark Ages and “The Dark Side of the Force” – darkness is often associated with the worst of human potential and deep running fears.

Conflict, especially violent political conflict, is a type of darkness; its origins in our darkest demons, its consequences are the worst kind of evil and its complexity beyond anyone’s clear view.

Going backwards in the ‘race for 5G’

Tom Wheeler

The collision of corporate opportunism and Republican anti-government orthodoxy has pushed the United States backwards on the allocation of important spectrum for fifth generation wireless networks (5G). Positioning the U.S. as engaged in no-holds-barred competition with China, President Trump declared in April, “The race to 5G is on and we must win.” With typical bravura, he then promised, “my administration is freeing up as much wireless spectrum as is needed.”

Unfortunately, such is not the case when it comes to the most desired piece of 5G spectrum. Thanks to the Trump Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the effort to free up a large and important piece of 5G spectrum known as C-Band is farther behind at the end of 2019 than it was at the beginning of the year.


Part of that regression stems from a phone call from the president to the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Immediately after the call, the chairman reversed plans to allocate this important piece of spectrum for 5G. The result is to make the path to 5G spectrum longer, not shorter.

There’s a new role for this Air Force cybersecurity outfit

Mark Pomerleau
The Air Force Cyber Resiliency Office for Weapons Systems (CROWS), established by a provision in a 2016 law charging the Department of Defense to identify and mitigate cybersecurity vulnerabilities of weapon systems, initially focused on legacy systems. However, its director says now it’s also taking aim at new ones.

“We’re actually embedding cyber professionals within the program executive offices … [because] we want to explain to them what cyber is; we wanted them to spread that ‘cyber’ word in new acquisitions,” Joe Bradley, the director of CROWS, told Fifth Domain in a December interview.

As part of that effort, CROWS worked to distill the systems engineering handbook to eight or nine actionable pages to make it easier for officials and contractors to find quick solutions.

“They can go in there and they find language in the statements of work or for the request for proposals or the specs,” Bradley said, adding that this is really important to the industrial base because when the government makes changes from one program to another, they are scrambling to find out why that change was made.

AI & Robots Crush Foes In Army Wargame


WASHINGTON: How big a difference does it make when you reinforce foot troops with drones and ground robots? You get about a 10–fold increase in combat power, according to a recent Army wargame.

“Their capabilities were awesome,” said Army Capt. Philip Belanger, a Ranger Regiment and Stryker Brigade veteran who commanded a robot-reinforced platoon in nearly a dozen computer-simulated battles at the Fort Benning’s Maneuver Battle Lab. “We reduced the risk to US forces to zero, basically, and still were able to accomplish the mission.”

That mission: dislodge a defending company of infantry, about 120 soldiers, with a single platoon of just 40 attackers on foot. That’s a task that would normally be assigned to a battalion of over 600. In other words, instead of the minimum 3:1 superiority in numbers that military tradition requires for a successful attack, Belanger’s simulated force was outnumbered 1:3.

Why quantum computing could be a geopolitical time bomb

Kevin Allison
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Late last month, Google confirmed that a special kind of rig known as a "quantum computer" had performed an amazing feat. In just a few minutes, it managed to perform a calculation that would have taken the world's most powerful supercomputers thousands of years. The race to develop these computers is in, and it's not just computer nerds who are hyped up about this – the fight for "quantum supremacy," could one day have huge geopolitical implications too.

So what the heck is quantum computing, and why does it matter? Here's a quick rundown:

What the heck is quantum computing? It's a way of computing that is immeasurably faster than what existing computers do. Traditional computers work by adding up 1s and 0s. Quantum computers are, very roughly speaking, able to make finer distinctions between the two, which allows tremendously complex calculations to be done in a fraction of the time it would take using a traditional computer.

There's still a lot of work left to do before Google, or anyone else, can create a reliable quantum computer that works outside of a narrow laboratory setting, but as this recent article by a computer scientist argues, Google's breakthrough is an important milestone on the way there.