28 December 2019

Jean Dreze on Malnutrition and Child Mortality in India

By Harshita Rathore

While the Indian government is aiming at a 5 trillion dollar economy by 2024, a recent report by UNICEF reveals that nearly a million children under five years old died in this South Asian country last year, the highest number of child deaths in the world. Experts believe that had the Indian government not heeded the word of vegetarian activists, the lives of many children could have been saved.

On nutrition, India also ranked 102nd among 117 countries on the Global Hunger Index 2019. And according to the Indian government’s own National Family Health Survey, more than 35 percent of children under five years of age are underweight, over 38 percent are stunted, and more than half of all children are anemic.

To make sense of these statistics, The Diplomat spoke to a Belgian-born Indian economist and activist, Jean Dreze.

The Diplomat: According to government data, the budget for women and child development increases every year. For example, this year’s budget for anganwadis, or government sponsored childcare centers, increased by 11 percent. However, a recent report suggests that there was little improvement in combating malnutrition. So what’s wrong with the government’s efforts?

The High Price of Afghanistan’s Disputed 2019 Presidential Election

By Umair Jamal

The preliminary results of the Afghan presidential election are out. According to the data released by Afghanistan’s Election Commission (EC), President Ashraf Ghani has won a slight majority and thus a second term in office.

While it’s encouraging that the presidential election is entering its final phase following months of controversy, the results are suggestive of an ominous outcome in many ways. Afghanistan appears more internally divided than ever, with groups like the Taliban and regional states positioning to take advantage of the ongoing fragmentation to extract maximum benefits.

A map published by the EC shows a treacherous division between the north and south. Ghani is leading or winning in the 16 south and eastern provinces while rival candidate Abdullah Abdullah received the highest number of votes in 18 provinces in the north and central highlands of Afghanistan. This division is not only reflective of a deep ethnic divide in the country, but also suggests that another feud between the leaderships of two sides and their position on key issues is in the offing.

Why Pakistan’s Former Ruler Musharraf Was Sentenced to Death, And What It Means

By Madiha Afzal 

On Dec. 17, a special court found former Pakistani ruler General Pervez Musharraf guilty of high treason under article 6 of Pakistan’s constitution—for suspending the constitution when he imposed a state of emergency in November 2007—and sentenced him to death. Article 6 holds that a person who “abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance” the country’s constitution has committed high treason. Musharraf can appeal the verdict in the Supreme Court.

Given that he is currently living in Dubai, the sentence is unlikely to be carried out, even if it is upheld by the Supreme Court. Nevertheless, this is an unprecedented verdict and an unprecedented ruling against a former army chief, and it serves as an unmistakable blow to Pakistan’s powerful military. It has ignited a legal and political firestorm in Pakistan.

The Background

The verdict against Musharraf caps a six-year trial since he was first booked for high treason in court in December 2013, under a case moved by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s government. Sharif had signaled his intent to bring high treason charges against Musharraf in June 2013, right after he came into power.

Is It Only A Matter Of Time Before China Invades Taiwan?

by Ian Easton

Various sources from within the People's Republic of China have allegedly suggested that time is running out for Taiwan's democracy. In their narrative, China's iron-fisted leader, Xi Jinping, is "losing patience" and could order the invasion of Taiwan in the early 2020s. The world's most dangerous flashpoint might witness an overwhelming amphibious blitz, perhaps before July 2021 to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). 

That's the narrative. The reality is that China will probably not attack Taiwan in such a radical and high-risk fashion. Xi and his top lieutenants are far more likely to draw-out and escalate the war of nerves across the Taiwan Strait. They will continue using disinformation and other techniques to drain Washington's confidence that Taiwan can be defended, while ramping up subversive activities to undermine the island nation's confidence and willpower.

Xi will bide his time and hope the Taiwanese government cracks under mounting pressure, allowing him to conquer his target cheaply. At the same time, his military generals will continue planning and preparing to deliver on their "sacred" mission. Coercion could easily fail, making invasion a tempting option―especially in a future scenario where the balance of power looks more favorable to Beijing than it does today. 

Assessing the Threat:

Revealed: How China's Military Caught Up With America and Russia So Fast

by Robert Farley

As the People’s Republic of China (PRC) emerged from war and revolution in 1949, it became apparent that the Chinese economy lacked the capacity to compete with the U.S. or the U.S.S.R. in the production of advanced military technology. Transfers from the Soviet Union helped remedy the gap in the 1950s, as did transfers from the United States and Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Still, the Cultural Revolution stifled technology and scientific research, leaving the Chinese even farther behind.

Thus, China has long supplemented legitimate transfers and domestic innovation with industrial espionage. In short, the PRC has a well-established habit of pilfering weapons technology from Russia and the United States. As the years have gone by, Beijing’s spies have become ever more skillful and flexible in their approach. Here are five systems that the Chinese have stolen or copied, in whole or in part:


In 1961, as tensions between the USSR and the PRC reached a fever pitch, the Soviets transferred blueprints and materials associated with its new MiG-21 interceptor to China. The offering represented an effort to bridge part of the gap, and suggest to China that cooperation between the Communist giants remained possible.

U.S.- China competition for global influence

Ashley J. Tellis, Alison Szalwinski, and Michael Wills

After a little over two decades of simmering geopolitical suspicion between Washington and Beijing, President Donald Trump’s administration finally declared China to be a major strategic competitor of the United States. The December 2017 National Security Strategy plainly described China as a “revisionist” power that “seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favor.”

The summary of the National Defense Strategy issued subsequently by the U.S. Department of Defense elaborated on this assessment by declaring that “China is a strategic competitor” and further noting: China is leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce neighboring countries to reorder the Indo-Pacific region to their advantage. As China continues its economic and military ascendance, asserting power through an all-of-nation long-term strategy, it will continue to pursue a military modernization program that seeks Indo-Pacific regional hegemony in the near-term and displacement of the United States to achieve global preeminence in the future.2 This transformation of China from an ambiguous partner to a strategic rival was a long time coming. 

The Trump administration only articulated boldly what both the George W. Bush and the Barack Obama administrations feared as a possibility but hoped to avoid through deepened engagement and prudential hedging. Yet this aspiration was unlikely to ever be realized because, irrespective of what the United States tried or did, the steady growth of Chinese power since the reforms began in 1978 would have bestowed on Beijing greater influence and control over the Indo-Pacific space at Washington’s expense—this, in turn, enabling China to seek parity with, if not supplant altogether, the United States globally.3 This chapter analyzes the progression of China as a strategic competitor of the United States and the geopolitical implications of this evolving development. Toward that end, it is divided into four major sections. 

Breaking China With American help, the Communist regime has grown richer and more oppressive

Clifford D. May

Suppose you had a neighbor who beat his wife, abused his children, engaged in violent crimes, and routinely burgled your home. Would you invite him for Sunday brunch? Go into business with him? Share a bungalow at the beach? I don’t think so. So why are we still pretending that China is just one trade agreement away from becoming anything other than the nation-state version of the odious character I’ve described above?

Here’s an incomplete list of the nefarious activities undertaken by the ruling Communist Party of China: incarcerating Muslim Uighurs in “re-education” camps; colonizing Tibet; organ-harvesting from prisoners of conscience; suppressing the people of Hong Kong in violation of treaty obligations; stealing hundreds of billions of dollars of American intellectual property, including defense secrets year after year; forcing American corporations to kowtow and self-censor; proliferating nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology; pursuing exploitative and neo-imperialist policies in Asia, Africa and Latin America; and building up its military capabilities with the goal of intimidating and ultimately defeating the United States.

America’s China policy – based on engagement and conciliation — traces back to the Nixon administration. To be fair, in the midst of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, Sino-American detente brought some benefits. But there also was this: Republicans and Democrats alike believed that by helping China get richer, we’d help China to liberalize.

Securing the Belt and Road

by Nadège Rolland

On August 1, 2017, the day of its 90th anniversary, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) officially inaugurated its first permanent overseas support facility under the blazing Djiboutian sun. The event indicated a dramatic departure from the previously prevailing claim that China “does not station any troops or set up any military bases in any foreign country” as a matter of policy.[1] It also highlighted the long-term role assigned to the PLA in protecting China’s expanding national interests, a role that Hu Jintao had granted the Chinese military back in 2004 as part of its “new historic missions.”[2] For the past fifteen years, recognizing that “security risks to China’s overseas interests are on the increase,”[3] the PLA has taken on the new challenges created by globally expanding national interests and entanglements, pushing farther away from China’s shores, broadening its strategic horizons, and enhancing its power-projection capabilities. The 2015 defense white paper put an unprecedented emphasis on maritime interests and on the PLA’s responsibility to protect them as one of its core missions.[4]

Chinese strategic planners generally agree that the “boundaries of China’s national security” are defined by the expansion of its overseas interests and that “where national interests expand, the support of the military force has to follow.”[5] Since its introduction in late 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been pushing the boundaries of China’s national interests well beyond the traditional focus on the country’s immediate neighborhood. China’s Ministry of National Defense publicly denies that BRI has any military or geostrategic intent.[6] Even if that is truly the case, the priority Beijing has given to BRI for the last six years has created an overall acceleration and geographic expansion of Chinese overseas activities that will inevitably generate the need for some level of state and military protection.

China and instability in developing countries

In a new IISS report, Nick Crawford finds that as China is an increasingly important actor in countries facing instability and crisis, its responses to these situations and its underlying preferences and concerns will have implications for Western countries and their responses.

China has become the largest lender to developing countries, and a major investor there too. As a result, it has a major stake in many countries facing political and economic instability. Western policymakers involved in responding to instability and crises overseas need to understand how China navigates these situations. China’s approach is similar in some respects to that of Western states, but there are also important differences.

China’s policy towards countries facing political and economic instability is driven by four main concerns:

It seeks to strengthen and maintain its partnerships with those countries to ensure they remain open to and supportive of the Chinese government and its businesses.

China is determined to protect its financial interests, businesses and citizens from the harms that result from instability. It is concerned to see its loans repaid, its investments secure, its workers safe and its supply chains undisrupted.

Why a New Missile Arms Race with China Might Not Be Worth the Cost

by Lyle J. Goldstein

Washington has gotten ever more hysterical about China, betraying not a small crisis of self-confidence. Concerns from a decade ago about intellectual property, excessive carbon emissions, and Beijing’s military purchases from Russia have morphed into the “total” trade war in pursuit of “decoupling.” Moreover, these concerns have resulted in a wave of arrests of Chinese living in the United States, the closure of Confucius Institutes at universities across the country, and serious anxiety lest Chinese missiles put holes through a U.S. Navy flattop. True, few if any American strategists anticipated Beijing’s brazen moves in the South China Sea to build out new reef bases during 2014–16, but let’s recall that move came a few years after the much-heralded 2011 Obama announcement of the American pivot to the Asia-Pacific.

Now, as China’s shipyards turn out advanced destroyers “like sausages,” the U.S. military finds itself on the back foot. Allies are increasingly skittish across the region, and the president of the Philippines has taken to mocking America’s will to confront China directly, while Manila meanwhile pursues a robust engagement with Beijing. Meanwhile, the situations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong have piqued journalistic interest to the point that these twin “crises” have the collective impact of pouring gasoline on what was already a hot blaze in U.S.-China relations. A real crisis actually looms with respect to Taiwan, moreover. And now, even the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is apparently pivoting to confront the supposed threat from the Middle Kingdom. Will Montenegro, America’s newest ally in NATO, save America amidst the intensifying rivalry with China? Perhaps not.

What the End of the INF Treaty Means for China

Beijing perceives the U.S. withdrawal from the INF and possible deployment of ground-based missiles to Asia as part of Washington’s broader campaign to contain China. Overall, China can be fairly confident regarding its chances in a potential missile race in Asia, thanks to several advantages.

For many years, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) acted as a security guarantee for China: Beijing successfully made use of the mutual limitations imposed by the treaty on Russia and the United States to minimize the military threat to itself.

The open confrontation between Washington and Beijing that has begun under U.S. President Donald Trump has changed all that. The United States needed to free itself of restrictions to its military potential, and this was one of the factors in the collapse of the INF treaty. Washington’s focus on containment of China was not unexpected for Beijing, but the new military dimensions of that policy compel China to take measures in response.

The INF treaty prohibited the United States from deploying ground-based intermediate-range missiles in Asia. This restriction on Washington’s actions helped Beijing to maintain a nuclear deterrence strategy based on a relatively small number of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). 

Politics in the Boardroom: The Role of Chinese Communist Party Committees

By Federica Russo

China’s President Xi Jinping has called for efforts to strengthen the role of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) within domestic borders, considereding the Party as the engine behind the country’s rejuvenation. Indeed, to navigate the unstable international scenario and make China a global power by 2050, the CCP has adopted “the spirit of the nail,” according to which one must strike until the nail is well in place, because a single blow with a hammer is not always enough. Following that philosophy, China’s Communist Party works hard throughout all levels of society to improve its credibility and continuity over time, cementing a vision that is reflected even in the business sphere. In particular, Party Committees represent an important mechanism through which Beijing’s government expands its authority and supervision over organizations, creating different nuances of corporate governance with Chinese characteristics.

A Party Committee is formed by a group of senior CCP members who are given a leadership position inside the halls of public and private companies operating in China. The legal pillars sustaining such a committee’s activity are marked in the 2012 Constitution of the Communist Party of China. In China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs) the committee’s leading position refers to its competence in setting the right decision, keeping in mind the big picture, and supporting the meeting of shareholders and boards of directors to decide on major issues. Within private enterprises, however, it implements Party’s policies and operates through the Trade Union and the Communist Youth League Organization. According to Asian Corporate Governance Association’s reports, to understand what a Party Committee really does, we must take into account three main points:

The Changing Face of Indonesian Islam

By Carter Banker

Walking through Indonesian college campuses today, it’s easy to spot the young women clad head-to-toe in black amongst the sea of students wearing jeans and brightly colored batik. These women in black, along with many of their male classmates, have recently “hijrahed.” In Arabic, the word hijrah literally means, “to migrate or emigrate,” and is traditionally used to describe the Prophet Muhammad’s migration from Mecca to Medina. In Indonesia, the term has come to encompass a variety of movements and ideologies in which nominal Muslims are “born again,” and begin to seriously study religion. The movements are typically composed of young people who have little-to-no prior religious background and seek to become religious experts immediately, often switching out their modern clothes for long, dark, loose clothing for women, and ankle length pants and a beard for men, within the span of just a few months.

The biggest hijrah movements found on campuses in Indonesia are Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), Tarbiyah, and Salafism.

The 2016 Copenhagen ‘Matchstick’ Terror Plot and the Evolving Transnational Character of Terrorism in the West


Abstract: In May 2019, Syrian refugee Moyed el-Zoebi was sentenced to 12 years in prison and (to be followed by) deportation from Denmark. El-Zoebi, who had previously fought alongside jihadis in Syria, was found guilty of planning a terrorist attack in Copenhagen while living in Sweden and in cooperation with another Syrian refugee living in southern Germany. The two were directed by an Islamic State ‘virtual planner’ based in Syria. Their plan, which eventually failed, was to construct several bombs using a large number of matches and strike a political target. An examination of the so-called ‘matchstick plot’ provides important insights into contemporary Western terrorism, its international character, and the methods of coordination.

In 2015, Moyed el-Zoebi, a Syrian national then in his 20s (and now 32), came to Sweden seeking asylum together with his wife and their one-year-old son. Having been acquitted for an attack he was alleged to have carried out on a Shi`a community center in Malmö on October 11, 2016, claimed by the Islamic State,1 el-Zoebi proceeded to plot a terrorist attack on a political target in Copenhagen in cooperation with another Syrian refugee living in southern Germany. The first part of the article looks at el-Zoebi’s trajectory. The valuable insights this provides into the terrorist threat Western countries now face is discussed in the article’s second part. Almost all information about el-Zoebi and the plot comes from court documents from el-Zoebi’s trial in Denmark, which includes testimonies from his accomplice’s court case in Germany.2 Unless otherwise noted, the information provided here comes from these documents.

The Halle, Germany, Synagogue Attack and the Evolution of the Far-Right Terror Threat


Abstract: On October 9, 2019, 27-year-old Stephan Balliet allegedly attempted to forcibly enter the Jewish community center and synagogue in the eastern German town of Halle (Saale) and execute a mass shooting livestreamed online. It is alleged that after failing to enter the building, he randomly shot a woman who happened to be passing by and moved to a Turkish restaurant as a secondary target, where he shot and killed a second victim. Balliet appears to be mainly a copycat attacker inspired by previous incidents involving the posting of a manifesto and online livestreaming, such as the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, in March 2019; Poway, California, in April 2019; and El Paso, Texas, in August 2019. The Halle attack reflects and evidences several trends, including the internationalization of right-wing terrorism and lone-actor terrorists fashioning their own weapons. The attack stood out because it was the first time a terrorist appears to have used homemade firearms.

On October 9, 2019, at 11:54 AM, the alleged shooter Stephan Balliet allegedly sat in his rental car on a parking lot close to the Jewish community center and synagogue in the eastern German town of Halle and started his livestream on the gaming platform Twitch. He allegedly used a smartphone attached to a helmet for that purpose. At 11:57 AM, he published a link to the Twitch livestream on the social media picture network site Meguca, where he allegedly uploaded his manifesto.1 Meguca, the now-defunct2 niche network site, contained general-purpose discussions and was “loosely affiliated with 4chan’sa anime board.”3 According to Twitch, only five users actually saw the livestream in real time. It took the platform administrators 30 minutes to find and delete the video. By then, it had been watched by approximately 2,200 viewers.4 Notwithstanding Bailliet’s later confession (which is discussed below), these details and all the other assertions about the case that follow must be regarded as allegations as they have not—to date—been proven in court.

The El Paso Terrorist Attack: The Chain Reaction of Global Right-Wing Terror


Abstract: The past two years have witnessed a wave of terrorist attacks perpetrated by right-wing extremists, most notably in Christchurch, New Zealand; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Poway, California; Halle, Germany; and in August 2019, El Paso, Texas. An in-depth study of the El Paso attack, the perpetrator’s modus operandi, and the changing response of U.S. law enforcement to the scourge of extreme right-wing terrorism situates events in Texas within their broader context—as part of a chain reaction fomented within the violent sub-cultural online milieus of right-wing extremism. This digital eco-system is fueling a cumulative momentum, which serves to lower ‘thresholds’ to violence for those engaged in this space, both in the United States and elsewhere, as one attack encourages and inspires another, creating a growing ‘canon’ of ‘saints’ and ‘martyrs’ for others to emulate.

On August 3, 2019, Patrick Wood Crusius, a 21-year-old from Allen, an affluent suburb 20 miles north of Dallas, Texas, allegedly drove some 650 miles to El Paso, a journey of more than 10 hours. He then allegedly walked into a Walmart Supercenter near the Cielo Vista Mall on the city’s eastern side and opened fire on shoppers using a WASR-10 rifle, murdering 20 people including a 25-year-old mother of three whom he killed as she held her two-month-old baby. Two more shoppers subsequently succumbed to their wounds in hospital, bringing the death toll to 22; another 26 people were wounded.1 The terrorist attack in El Paso was the seventh-deadliest mass shooting in modern American history. It was also the third-deadliest shooting in Texan history, the worst since a gunman murdered 26 people during a rampage at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs near San Antonio in November 2017.2

Giuliani promotes Soros conspiracy theories in bizarre New York Magazine interview

Fadel Allassan
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Rudy Giuliani appeared to hold nothing back in a wide-ranging interview with New York Magazine's Olivia Nuzzi, in which he promoted unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about George Soros and discussed the reported federal investigation into his finances.

The big picture: Giuliani defended his work digging up dirt on Trump's political rivals in Ukraine, which he recently claimed the president continues to support. The former mayor of New York also stressed that he's not worried about his legacy and that he has been besmirched as part of a conspiracy by Democrats, the media and the "deep state" to remove Trump from office.

Giuliani told Nuzzi that Marie Yovanovitch, the former ambassador to Ukraine who he helped oust in order to clear the way for politically beneficial investigations, is "controlled" by George Soros.

“Don’t tell me I’m anti-Semitic if I oppose him. Soros is hardly a Jew. I’m more of a Jew than Soros is. I probably know more about — he doesn’t go to church, he doesn’t go to religion — synagogue. He doesn’t belong to a synagogue, he doesn’t support Israel, he’s an enemy of Israel. He’s elected eight anarchist DA’s in the United States. He’s a horrible human being.”

Transnational Strategies of ISIS Post Baghdadi

By Kritika Karmakar
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From being proclaimed dead on multiple occasions to the actual confirmation of his death by the Islamic State, the life of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has been shrouded in mystery in both life and death. Rising from extremely ordinary ranks, the self proclaimed caliph had made immense progress in causing a wave of violence and threatening the security of superpowers like the US for a while now. However this all changed as Donald Trump announced the success of a US raid conducted in northwest Syria on the 26th of October, 2019. This announcement soon raised questions on the future of the Islamic State and the announcement of the new Caliph.

Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, parted ways from Al-Qaeda in 2013 and declared a Caliphate and himself as the Caliph. His main aim being, to consolidate the Muslims around the world in the name of Islam and form an Islamic State. Baghdadi, who had been particularly careful about making public appearances was seen in the pulpit of a mosque in Mosul on July 5, 2014. In a 21 minute long video which was made public, Baghdadi is seen speaking in Arabic and states that “the establishment of a Caliphate is an obligation.” However, he also claims his righteousness by saying that “I am not better than you or more virtuous than you,”. He further adds, “If you see me on the right path, help me. If you see me on the wrong path, advise me and halt me. And obey me as far as I obey God.”

Throughout History U.S. Leaders Have Lied

by Gordon Adams
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Interview transcripts from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, obtained by the Post after many lawsuits, show that for 18 years these same officials have told the public the intervention was succeeding.

In other words, government officials have been lying.

Few people are shocked. That’s a stark contrast to 1971, when the Pentagon Papers, a classified study of decision-making about Vietnam, were leaked and published. The explosive Pentagon Papers showed that the U.S. government had systematically lied about the reality that the U.S. was losing the Vietnam War.

The failure of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan has been known for years. Virtually none of the U.S. goals have been met. These goals included a strong, democratic, uncorrupt central government; the defeat of the Taliban; eliminating the poppy fields that contribute to the world’s heroin problem; an effective military and police and creating a healthy, diversified economy.

During the December 2015 North American storm complex, a tornado outbreak occurred in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. About a dozen people died.

The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and "I Saw Her Standing There" are released in the United States, starting international Beatlemania.

Nuclear Weapons Might Just Be the Ultimate Paper Tiger. Here Is What a Military Analyst Told Us.

by Robert Farley

Overrated” is a challenging concept. In sports, a player can be “great” and “overrated” at the same time. Future Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Derek Jeter, for example, is quite clearly a “great” player, well deserving of the first ballot invitation he will likely receive. However, as virtually all statistically minded aficionados of the game have noted, he is highly overrated (especially on defense) by the baseball press. Similarly, no one doubts that Kobe Bryant is an outstanding basketball player. However, many doubt that he is quite as good as his fans (or the NBA commentariat) seem to believe.

The five weapons of war listed below are “overrated” in the sense that they occupy a larger space in the defense-security conversation than they really deserve. Some of them are fantastic, effective systems, while others are not. All of them take up more ink than they should, and (often) distract from more important issues of warfighting and defense contracting.

Nuclear Weapons:

A View from the CT Foxhole: Lieutenant General John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan, Director, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Department of Defense


Lieutenant General John N.T. “Jack” Shanahan is Director of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Office of the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer. General Shanahan is responsible for accelerating the delivery of artificial intelligence-enabled capabilities, scaling the department-wide impact of AI and synchronizing AI activities to expand joint force advantages.

General Shanahan has served in a variety of assignments, most recently as Director of Defense Intelligence Warfighter Support, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence at the Pentagon. He was also Director of the Algorithmic Warfare Cross- Functional Team (Project Maven), where he led the artificial intelligence pathfinder program charged with accelerating integration of big data, machine learning, and artificial intelligence.

General Shanahan also served as the Commander, 25th Air Force, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, where he led 30,000 personnel in worldwide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations and also served as the Commander of the Service Cryptologic Component. In this capacity, he was responsible to the director of the National Security Agency, and the chief of Central Security Service, as the Air Force’s sole authority for matters involving the conduct of cryptologic activities, including the spectrum of missions directly related to both tactical warfighting and national-level operations. Prior to these assignments, General Shanahan also served as Deputy Director for Global Operations on the Joint Staff.

History Says America Won the First Gulf War. One Historian Has a Different Take.

by Robert Farley
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The United States and its coalition partners evicted Iraq from Kuwait over twenty-three years ago. Temporally, the Gulf War is closer to the fall of Saigon than it is to us today. Given the struggles of the past fourteen years, it’s difficult to remember how important the Gulf War seemed in 1991, as the Soviet Union neared its collapse.

The war suggested a bright future. The United Nations, riding the overwhelming power of American arms, could finally meet its true potential as a collective security and peacemaking organization. The thawing of the Cold War opened up political possibilities, while the remarkable effectiveness of American precision-guided munitions meant that warfare no longer demanded the destruction of civilian life and property.

In short, the Gulf War seemed to suggest that international institutions, underwritten by revolutionary advances in American military power, could finally solve real military security problems. The political and technological foundations for a transformation in the functioning of global politics were in place.

European security in crisis: what to expect if the US withdraws from NATO

The Körber Policy Game brought together a high-level group of senior experts and government officials to address a fictional scenario that involves a US withdrawal from NATO followed by multiple crises in Europe.

Recent developments in transatlantic relations have reignited the debate about the need for Europeans to assume greater responsibility for their own security. Yet, efforts by European leaders to substantiate the general commitment to 'take their fate into their own hands' are so far lacking sufficient progress.

Against this backdrop, the Körber Policy Game brought together a high-level group of senior experts and government officials from France, Germany, Poland, the UK and the US to address a fictional scenario that involves a US withdrawal from NATO, followed by multiple crises in Europe.

How will Europeans organise their security and defence if the US withdraws from NATO? To what extent will future European security be based on mutual solidarity, ad-hoc coalitions or a bilateralisation of relations with the US? Which interests would the respective European governments regard as vital and non-negotiable? What role would the US play in European security after the withdrawal?

The Pitfalls of Silicon Valley

by James Pethokoukis

It was back in 2011 that billionaire investor Peter Thiel published his “What Happened To The Future?” essay, an expression of disappointment in technological progress. He’s probably no more enthusiastic today. We have more Twitter characters, but no new car of either the flying or autonomous, ground-based sort. And other people have picked up the theme of tech stagnation, as I write in my new The Week column. For them, smartphones, Amazon Prime, and global messaging platforms are uninspiring advances and a poor use of American tech talent.

So has Silicon Valley failed us by its no longer dreaming big dreams? Here is a bit from my chat earlier this year with Margaret O’Mara, the author of The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America:

Silicon Valley needs to dream big, but America needs to dream big. And part of the history of Silicon Valley hasn’t simply been these people doing it by themselves. Even though the brilliance of the Valley is that they believed they did it by themselves. I mean, that’s part of the magic — belief in entrepreneurial inventiveness and ingenuity, and the brilliance of individual business leaders and technologists. But, this is an America problem, an America-dreaming problem. This goes back to Eisenhower at his desk, to John Kennedy shooting the moon, Ronald Reagan declaring that the American Revolution is on a tiny microchip.

Inside the NSA’s plan to lure cyber talent

Andrew Eversden
About 50 miles northwest of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, sits Dakota State University, a small institution with enrollment just over 3,200. Despite its small class size and rural location, DSU has built a curriculum that has made the school one of the most successful in funneling cybersecurity professionals into the National Security Agency’s talent pipeline.

And the skills are quite specific. The defensive and espionage missions undertaken by the NSA require efforts from some of the top tech operators in the world, capable of performing some of the most complex cybersecurity operations to defend and infiltrate adversarial networks.

These operators must come from somewhere. And it’s no secret that the public and private sectors are strapped for cybersecurity talent — a problem pecking at federal government, no matter their line of work.

But the NSA has DSU. And, actually, the NSA has spent the last 20 years cultivating an interwoven network of universities and community colleges across the country capable of educating students in rigorous cybersecurity programs that are tailored to the needs of the agency.

Several Strategies to Harness the Science of Will Power and Apply it to Your New Year’s Resolutions

by Jelena Kecmanovic
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It’s that time of year when people make their New Year’s resolutions – indeed, 93% of people set them, according to the American Psychological Association. The most common resolutions are related to losing weight, eating healthier, exercising regularly and saving money.

However, research shows that 45% of people fail to keep their resolutions by February, and only 19% keep them for two years. Lack of willpower or self-control is the top cited reason for not following through.

How can you increase your willpower and fulfill your New Year’s promise to yourself? These seven strategies are based on behavioral science and my clinical work with hundreds of people trying to achieve their long-term goals.

1. Clarify and honor your values

The American AI Century: A Blueprint for Action

By Robert O. Work

We find ourselves in the midst of a technological tsunami that is inexorably reshaping all aspects of our lives. Whether it be in agriculture, finance, commerce, health care, or diplomatic and military activities, rapid technological advancements in fields like advanced computing, quantum science, AI, synthetic biology, 5G, miniaturization, and additive manufacturing are changing the old ways of doing business. And AI—the technologies that simulate intelligent behavior in machines—will perhaps have the most wide-ranging impact of them all.

This judgment is shared by many countries. China, Russia, members of the European Union, Japan, and South Korea all are increasing AI research, development, and training. China in particular sees advances in AI as a key means to surpass the United States in both economic and military power. China has stated its intent to be the world leader in AI by 2030 and is making major investments to achieve that goal.

Artificial Intelligence and the Adversary

Samantha Ravich

The potential benefits of artificial intelligence are proclaimed loudly, for all to hear. The dangers, however, are discussed quietly among national-security experts. The time has come to bring the general population into the discussion.

The benefits are enticing. With AI, the future promises longer life expectancy, increased productivity, and better preservation of precious resources. You will be able to take a picture of a mole on your leg and send it electronically to a dermatologist, who will use deep neural networks to determine whether it is skin cancer. Data-driven sensors and drones will determine the perfect amount of pesticide and water to promote agricultural diversity and counter monocropping. The AI revolution in transportation will herald autonomous planes, trains and automobiles. Music will be created to improve not only mood but heart rate and brain activity.

But we should know by now that advanced technology can also be used for ill. The whispered worst-case scenarios stem from malign actors gaining control of the massive data sets that will train machines to compute faster, better and perhaps with more-penetrating insight.

Forget Tanks, The Army's Most Powerful Weapon Will Be AI

by Kris Osborn

(Washington, D.C.) Envision a scenario wherein dismounted infantry soldiers are taking heavy enemy fire while clearing buildings amid intense urban combat -- when an overhead drone detects small groups of enemy fighters hidden nearby, between walls, preparing to ambush. As the armed soldier's clear rooms and transition from house to house in a firefight, how quickly would they need to know that groups of enemies awaited them around the next corner?

Getting this information to soldiers in seconds can not only decide victory or defeat in a given battle but save lives. What if AI-enabled computer programs were able to instantly discern specifics regarding the threat such as location, weapons and affiliation by performing real-time analytics on drone feeds and other fast-moving sources of information, instantly sending crucial data to soldiers in combat?

While current technology can today perform some of these functions, what if this data was provided to individual dismounted soldiers in a matter of seconds? And instantly networked? Operating in a matter of milliseconds, AI-empowered computer algorithms could bounce new information off vast databases of previously compiled data to make these distinctions--instantly informing soldiers caught in the crossfire.

Myanmar Air Force Capabilities in the Headlines with Anniversary Celebration

By Prashanth Parameswaran
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Last week, Myanmar’s Air Force commissioned new aircraft as part of the commemoration of its 72nd anniversary. Though the development was just the latest in a series of routine anniversaries held in the country, it nonetheless put the spotlight on developments within the service as well as the wider modernization underway in one of Southeast Asia’s largest militaries.

Although Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, is one of the biggest armed forces in Southeast Asia quantitatively speaking and has exercised significant political influence in the country, its capabilities have still significantly lagged behind those of some of its neighbors. However, over the past few years under the leadership of Min Aung Hlaing, the military has sought to further develop and modernize the institution, and services like the air force have seen advances in areas such as acquiring new weapons and building relationships with foreign militaries like Russia, China, and India.

Earlier this month, Myanmar’s air force capabilities were in the headlines again with the commemoration of the MAF’s anniversary. The MAF held its 72nd anniversary celebrations in a ceremony on December 15 at Meiktila Air Base, in an event that is closely watched by observers of the Myanmar military.