31 March 2020

The Thing That Determines a Country’s Resistance to the Coronavirus

When the coronavirus pandemic now sweeping the world was localized in China in January, many people argued that China’s authoritarian system was blocking the flow of information about the seriousness of the situation. The case of Li Wenliang, a physician punished for blowing the whistle early on and who subsequently died from the disease, was seen as emblematic of authoritarian dysfunction.

The situation now looks less rosy for democratic government. Europe now faces a larger disease burden than China, with Italy alone exceeding the number of deaths officially reported in China, despite having one-twentieth the population. It turns out that the leaders of many democracies felt similar pressures to downplay the dangers of the epidemic, whether to avoid injuring the economy or to protect their personal interests. This was true not just of Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro or Mexico’s Lopez Obrador, but also of President Donald Trump, who until mid-March kept insisting that the U.S. had the disease under control and that the epidemic would disappear shortly. This explains why the U.S. lost two months in preparing for the onslaught, creating persistent shortages of testing kits and medical supplies. China, meanwhile, is reporting a leveling off of new cases. Chinese students in Britain have reportedly been astonished at the lax approach taken by Boris Johnson’s government.

If India has to control coronavirus pandemic, it must contain 4 other contagions as well


There are not one but five concurrent, interconnected contagions spreading around the world, all triggered by the SARS-CoV-2 or the novel coronavirus outbreak that emanated in China in December 2019.

The first is obviously the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the increasing global spread of the coronavirus itself. This, in turn, has triggered four other contagions — in information, economy, psychology and behaviour. While policymakers’ and media attention is primarily focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to recognise and address all five contagions in order to bring them under control.
The viral pandemic

The viral pandemic, of course, is the most immediate and about which much has been discussed and much is being done. India’s response — like that of many other countries — is to contain the spread through social distancing and severe restrictions on movement. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did well to his personal standing with the masses by emphasising the need for people to protect themselves and the community by staying home and distancing themselves for others. The Janata curfew that he proposed was a trial both to assess how practical voluntary shutdowns are in a country of 1.3 billion people, as well as to sensitise the people to the seriousness of the challenge. The government will have to quickly learn from the intended and unintended consequences of the exercise as it implements such measures nationwide for weeks together.

Takshashila Discussion Document: A Framework for Enabling Predictive Genomics to Improve Public Health in India


Heritable genetic diseases, particularly rare diseases, contribute to a significant disease burden in India. In India’s urban areas, congenital malformations and genetic disorders are the third most common cause of mortality in newborns. Rare diseases by themselves are expected to afflict 70-96 million Indians currently.

Guided by a few core principles, this document provides a governance framework for collecting, analysing, and prioritising genomic data for engineering diagnostics and therapeutic solutions. At an estimated cost of INR 1600 crore per year over the next 5 years the “Indian National Genome Project” is made up of the following steps:

1. Seeding the National Genome Platform with the full genome sequencing of 1 million Indians – this seeding will represent the approximately 5000 genetic sub-populations present in India. There are provisions for co- opting private players to leverage existing infrastructure for completion of the sequencing exercise.

2. Developing and Maintaining a National Genomic Database as Public Infrastructure – anonymized and annotated data to be made publicly available. This would ensure access and effective use of the data by multiple players for designing diagnostic/therapeutic products.

Why Widespread Coronavirus Testing Isn’t Coming Anytime Soon

By Robert P. Baird

This past Thursday, Donald Trump visited the National Response Coordination Center for a teleconference with the nation’s governors about how to handle the covid-19 pandemic. The center, which is situated inside the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Administration, in Washington, is designed, in the agency’s words, to coördinate “the overall Federal support for major incidents and emergencies.” Trump—along with Mike Pence, and several other Cabinet and sub-Cabinet officials—sat around a table in a gray-walled conference room, while the governors were patched in from around the country. The governors said their states needed personal protective equipment (P.P.E.) for health-care workers, ventilators for patients, block grants for their balance sheets, and the National Guard to build hospitals and distribute food. They also needed tests. Kristi Noem, of South Dakota, said that her state’s public-health laboratory—the only lab doing covid-19 testing in the state—had so much trouble securing reagents that it was forced to temporarily stop testing altogether. “We, for two weeks, were requesting reagents for our public-health lab from C.D.C., who pushed us to private suppliers, who kept cancelling orders on us,” she said. In order to get her public-health lab the reagents it needed, Noem said, “we had to get a little pushy with a few people.”

Trump and his team sought to reassure the governors. Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, who was appointed two weeks ago to coördinate the federal effort to get testing back on track, said, “We’re very effectively transitioning to large-scale testing by leveraging all components of our American health-care system, including C.D.C. and the state public-health labs, health care and hospitals, and large commercial labs.” Giroir told the governors that, in the twelve days between March 2nd and March 14th, more than ten million tests had been made available in the U.S. And, citing numbers from the F.D.A., he suggested that another seventeen million would be added by March 28th. “We have plenty of tests on the back side. We have plenty of supplies on the front side,” Giroir said. Pence, too, emphasized that “now tens of thousands of more tests are being performed literally every day,” while Trump, responding to Noem’s difficulties securing reagents, told her not to be concerned. “We got you, Kristi,” he said. “There is tremendous supply.”

China’s Coronavirus Information Warfare

By Valérie Niquet

In recent weeks, with new cases of COVID-19 virtually disappearing from its territory, China has embarked on a massive campaign to change the global narrative and perception of the pandemic. This campaign is waged on the front line of the information war — another war, based on the control of public opinion, launched by the Chinese authorities and led by President Xi Jinping alongside the “people’s war” against the virus itself.

The elements of this campaign are well known. The general narrative goes like this: There are doubts about the origins of the virus, and China has demonstrated its effectiveness in managing the crisis. Its authoritarian system is validated in the face of the supposed ineffectiveness of democratic values.

For Beijing, the control of information becomes a priority after an initial relaxation designed to provide a safety valve for a population facing a major humanitarian crisis. Already severe in China, this control has now been reinforced. Above all, the regime is also trying to silence all foreign experts guilty of deviating from the “official line,” denounced in the Chinese media as “anti-Chinese elements.”

US Marine Corps Unveils Transformation Plan Focused on China

By Steven Stashwick

The U.S. Marine Corps wants to undertake a radical, decade-long transformation of its force to fight the sort of war it envisions might happen against an adversary like China, which Marine leaders describe as the U.S. military’s “pacing threat.”

The commandant of the Marine Corps, General David Berger, came into the job last summer determined to remake a force that had spent 20 years fighting largely as an adjunct of the army in places like Iraq and Afghanistan, and return it to its maritime roots to face new threats in the western Pacific. The new vision is expected to be released this week.

The plan reflects a shift in the Marines’ outlook on what will be the hardest and most important missions in a future war. Traditionally, the Navy has provided control over the seas for the purpose of safely delivering marines ashore. The new concepts reverses the Marines’ role to one of helping the Navy control sea lanes that are expected to be under increasing threat from advanced missiles and growing adversary fleets from coastal bases.

In an essay on his vision from last December, Berger said that “the design of our force, how we organize for combat, our equipment, and our war-fighting capabilities, are no longer aligned to the potential adversaries America faces.” He said the new initiative would reshape the Marine Corps to focus on maritime warfare, denying use of the seas to adversaries, and ensuring freedom of action for U.S. forces. He warned that this reshaping would require shedding some traditional Marine capabilities in favor of new ones.

A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Post Pandemic World

by Muqtedar Khan

The COVID-19 pandemic could transform the world. Many geopolitical experts are concerned that this crisis, more than any other this century, has the potential to permanently reconstitute the global order. Some are even arguing that while the United States is abdicating global leadership during the current pandemic, China is using it to reinforce its growing status as the alternate destination for economic aid, medical and scientific support, and leadership for many nations, including Western and developed nations like Italy. Some commentators claim that China is using the crisis to dethrone the United States as the global superpower. 

While it is difficult to predict the overall death toll, socio-political disruption, and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a few things are already manifest. The main vehicle of COVID-19’s destructive impact will not be through its potentially significant death toll but rather through its economic fallout. There will be a sustained global economic recession that will impact some countries harder than others. All major powers – the United States, China, Europe, and Russia will come out bruised and battered by the pandemic, and in the Middle East, Iran – the only counter-hegemonic player – will be definitely downsized in economy and state capacity. While the United States’ soft power has declined in the age of Trump, the crisis now tarnishes the larger-than-life images of Xi Jinping of China, Narendra Modi of India, and other populist leaders. Even European nations’ aura of good governance and exemplary healthcare systems has lost its shine. The pandemic is proving to be a great leveler. 

The Great Disruption is a Great Opportunity

How China Built a Twitter Propaganda Machine Then Let It Loose on Coronavirus

by Jeff Kao

Is the United States Prepared for COVID-19?

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Kalen Keegan, a college student at the University of Nebraska Omaha, immediately noticed when her Twitter account unleashed a torrent of posts in Chinese. “My other account got hacked👍🏽,” the soccer player posted on a replacement account. The new author tweeting as @Kalenkayyy had strong views on geopolitics — all aligned with the Chinese Communist Party. It was obsessed with the protests in Hong Kong, offered uncritical praise of the Hong Kong police and accused demonstrators of fomenting a “color revolution” backed by an “anti-Chinese American conspiracy.”

As the coronavirus outbreak led to a lockdown of Wuhan and its surrounding cities in late January, the Hong Kong posts were suddenly deleted. The account continued to post relentlessly in Chinese, but it now focused on the burgeoning epidemic. About a month later, her Twitter profile began to change in other ways. The reference to her college disappeared and her headshot was replaced by a generic photo of two people kissing. By the end of the week, her Twitter transformation was complete. @Kalenkayyy was now a Chinese propaganda-posting zombie account belonging to someone purportedly named Kalun Tang.

COVID-19 Fiscal response: What are the options for the EU Council?


As the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies, and now that Europe has become one of its epicentres, voices are raised among EU countries in support of a common and significant European response to deal with the health situation and the related economic crisis currently unfolding.

Many options are currently discussed in policy and academic circles: ESM credit lines, ‘corona-bonds’, a euro-area Treasury, and even one-off joint expenditures. But, at this stage, those various options are relatively fuzzy, and they sometimes mean different things to different people. This blog post aims to distinguish and explore the pros and cons of each of these possible options at the current juncture.

Option 1: Hoping that the status quo will be sufficient

Euro-area countries finance their necessary expenditures to fight the health crisis and the resulting economic crisis, through a significant increase in national borrowing (now unconstrained by the EU fiscal rules). This is supported by massive ECB QE to ensure that all euro area countries have an easy and cheap access to market funding.

With its announcement of the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) on March 18, the ECB has already put in practice this first option. As a result, spreads have substantially decreased on the next day and stabilised at a lower level since then.

Democratic Taiwan rises to virus challenge despite Beijing's hostility

By Daniel N. Hoffman 

If you’re looking for a silver lining in the dark cloud that is the COVID-19 outbreak, you might want to consider Taiwan’s extraordinary response to this increasingly dangerous pandemic.

Taiwan’s highly urbanized population of 24 million citizens live about 80 miles from mainland China. Some 1.25 million Taiwanese citizens either live or work on the mainland, and the island-state last year welcomed almost 3 million Chinese visitors.

Taiwan’s government is under siege from Beijing, whose official “one China” policy aims to force unification if peaceful reconciliation fails. Ruthlessly seeking to prevent international recognition of Taiwan, China ruthlessly blocks Taipei’s membership in international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), which officially considers Taiwan a part of China.

Taiwan thus risks missing out on critical health information from WHO since the message must first pass through China’s strict state-sponsored censorship.

Donald Trump Offered to Help North Korea on Coronavirus. Why Not Iran?

by Ted Galen Carpenter

The coronavirus outbreak has already had effects that go far beyond public health issues. It has impacted Washington’s relations with numerous countries, adversaries and allies alike. 

Nowhere is that more evident than in the Trump administration’s policies toward North Korea and Iran. Interestingly, though, the administration’s treatment of those two countries is a study in contrasts. 

As my Cato Institute colleague Doug Bandow notes, the pandemic has totally eclipsed Washington’s usual concerns about North Korea’s behavior. U.S. policymakers have obsessed about Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs and ambitions for decades, but their attention is now, understandably, focused elsewhere. President Trump has not entirely ignored Pyongyang during this crisis, however. He sent a letter directly to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un offering U.S. aid in combatting the epidemic. 

IDF Involvement in the National Management of the Coronavirus Crisis

Meir Elran, Gadi Eisenkot, Carmit Padan
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Israel's management of the coronavirus epidemic is proving to be one of the most challenging events since the establishment of the state. To judge by the emerging indications, this is a fourfold crisis, relating to public health, the economy, the national mindset, and politics. Given the intensity of the crisis and its likely intensification, the IDF has begun preparing for active and broad participation in the national effort to manage the crisis. First steps have already been taken, mainly by the Homefront Command (HFC). This article aims to examine the ramifications of involving the military in the management of the campaign, and to propose recommendations regarding its potential greater involvement.Basic Assumptions for IDF Activation in a Protracted Crisis

Israel is in the midst of an unfolding event that has the potential to pose a grave risk to personal, social, and national security. As it progresses under severe and unfamiliar directions, the challenge may well spiral into a protracted crisis with far reaching consequences, to the possible extent of a national disaster. Accordingly, every national resource must be mobilized for the national effort.

It’s Time for the US and Saudi Arabia to Break Up

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Riyadh’s recent crude-oil dump is the latest indication that the oil-for-security basis of the special relationship is no longer applicable.

It was only a short time ago when Mohammed Bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince, was assembling world leaders at conferences in the Saudi desert and impressing global investors with grandiose plans of economic and social modernization. Next month will mark the third anniversary of MBS’s PR tour around Hollywood, Washington, D.C., and New York, pressing the flesh with titans of industry like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Disney’s Bob Iger—and convincing lawmakers on Capitol Hill that Saudi Arabia under his tutelage was a country brimming with opportunity.

Much has changed in a few years. The Saudi crown prince is no longer categorized as a widely-hailed reformer of the Middle East, but as a thick-headed, rash, and impatient young autocrat whose tenure is filled to the brim with an endless list of poor decisions. MBS’s latest gamble, which involved dumping more Saudi crude into the global market to coerce Russia into returning to the negotiating table on pricing and output quotas, has caused significant strain for American shale oil companies

Iran and the Changing Military Balance in the Gulf - Net Assessment Indicators

The Burke Chair at CSIS is issuing a working draft of a new net assessment of the security situation in the Persian/Arab Gulf. This net assessment is a book length analysis entitled Iran and the Changing Military Balance in the Gulf - Net Assessment Indicators. It is available on the CSIS website here .

The assessment covers the policies and security forces of Iran, the Arab Gulf states, and the U.S. role in the Gulf. It sets out the baseline conditions now shaping the balance and addresses three major changes in the Gulf military balance:

First, the changing strategic relationship between Iran and its Arab neighbors and the uncertainty of the future U.S. role in the Gulf.

Second, Iran’s growing capabilities for asymmetric warfare in the Gulf area.
Third, the impact of Iran’s success in creating conventionally-armed, precision guided missiles and more effective air defenses.

The U.S. Army and Navy Are Going All in on Hypersonic Weapons

by Peter Suciu
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Last week, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced that it had successfully tested a common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB), in an experiment conducted from the Pacific Missile Range Facility at Kauai, Hawaii. The launch was jointly performed by the United States Army and United States Navy, while the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) concurrently monitored and gathered tracking data from the flight experiment.

Hypersonic weapons are capable of flying at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5) and yet are highly maneuverable and can operate at varying altitudes. This can enable the military to strike a wide range of high-value targets that are hundreds or even thousands of miles away in just a matter of minutes.

Last week's test was considered a major milestone in the DoD's goal of fielding hypersonic warfighting capabilities in the early- to mid-2020s.

''This test builds on the success we had with Flight Experiment 1 in October 2017, in which our C-HGB achieved sustained hypersonic glide at our target distances,'' said Vice Adm. Johnny R. Wolfe, director of the Navy's Strategic Systems Programs, which is the lead designer for the C-HGB, via a statement.

Japan’s Limited Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

By Hayden Marks

As one of the first countries besides China to have been affected by COVID-19, and with the highest percentage of elderly people in the world, who are at higher risk of either becoming seriously ill or dying from the disease, one might assume that Japan would have been at the forefront of developing and implementing measures to help prevent the spread of the disease. Yet, apart from the early closures of schools, which, against expert advice, look set to reopen as early as next week, and a stern warning against congregation and non-essential gatherings, Japan’s measures have seemed almost lax in comparison to the lengths countries such as Italy, the United States, U.K., and Australia have gone to in recent weeks.

In regards to testing for the virus for example, while on the surface Japan may appear to have only a small number of confirmed cases at the present, this low number is most likely the result of its similarly low rate of testing. To highlight just how little Japan is testing, my home state of South Australia, with an estimated population of 1.7 million people, has, at the time of writing, tested 16,717 people. Japan on the other hand, with an estimated population of 126 million people, has only tested 16,484 individuals.

Trump’s Strategic Foresight Is Being Put to the Test


President Donald Trump addresses his administration’s daily coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, March 20, 2020. 

The ancient Greeks believed that true leadership in a crisis came down to what they called pronoia — the Greek word for “strategic foresight.”

Some statesmen, such as Pericles and Themistocles, had it. Most others, such as the often brilliant and charismatic but impulsive Alcibiades, usually did not.

“Foresight” in crisis means sizing up a nation’s assets and debits, then maximizing advantages and minimizing liabilities. The leader with foresight, especially in times of irrational despair, then charts a rational pathway to victory.

Such crisis leaders do not fall into panic and depression when the media shout “Catastrophe!” Nor do they preen when the same chorus screams “Genius!” in times of success.

The English poet Rudyard Kipling would have defined such a gift as: “If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,” or “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same.”

The End of New York

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For over two centuries, New York has been the predominant urban center in North America. It remains the primary locale for the arts, culture, finance, and media, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. It has also served as the incubator of the many Americas—including Jewish, Italian, African American, Irish, and, increasingly, Middle Eastern, North African, and Asian cultures—and nurtured their contributions to the arts, business, and intellectual life.

Yet today, New York faces a looming existential crisis brought on by the coronavirus. It suffers the largest outbreak of infection by far, accounting for the largest numbers of both cases and deaths outside of Wuhan and Milan. New York is home to nearly half of the coronavirus cases in the United States, and a majority of deaths.

What’s particularly ominous for New York’s future is that the best way to slow the spread of the virus—social distancing—works against the very things that make Gotham so appealing. The very pleasures and crowded realities of urban life, such as mass transit, are particularly susceptible to pandemics. As New Yorkers are told to avoid crowded subways, subway traffic is down 60% and commuter train traffic by as much as 90%.

Assessing the G20 Virtual Summit

Leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) countries, representing 85 percent of the global economy, met by videoconference on March 26 to discuss the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated economic disruptions. This year’s G20 host, Saudi Arabia, issued a 20-paragraph communiqué on behalf of the group following the call. In it, leaders committed to doing “whatever it takes” to overcome the pandemic and laid out a number of individual and collective actions to address the health crisis, bolster the global economy, and assist countries in distress. However, the statement lacked concrete proposals, and questions remain about the extent to which major economies are committed to following through with a concerted international response to the crisis.

Q1: Did the G20 live up to its billing as the premier forum for international economic cooperation?

A1: No, certainly by comparison with the G20’s forceful role in the 2008-2009 global financial crisis. Leaders’ commitment in the March 26 communiqué to do “whatever it takes” to minimize the economic and social damage from the pandemic was a useful statement of shared purpose. However, the communiqué essentially recounted and endorsed what national governments and central banks are already doing individually through aggressive fiscal and monetary policy. Despite early press reports suggesting injection of a new $5 trillion in spending, this figure was merely an aggregation of existing measures by G20 countries. Nor did leaders provide any new framing of the economic challenges posed by the health crisis or offer guidance to policymakers—whether in individual countries or in international organizations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank—on additional measures needed.

Q2: Where specifically did the G20 communiqué fall short?

Army University Press

Journal of Military Learning, April 2020, v. 4, no. 1

Metacognition and the Military Student: Pedagogical Considerations for Teaching Senior Officers in Professional Military Education 

Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Competencies and Training Pertinent to the Military Health System 

Learning Challenges Faced by Transitioning Military Service Members: Voices of Military Transition Counselors 

An Evidence-Based Approach to Unit-Level Teaching and Learning 

Instructional Strategies for the Future 

The Importance of Teaching Followership in Professional Military Education

The Hacker and the State: Cyberattacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Ben Buchanan – professor at Georgetown University and author of The Cybersecurity Dilemma and recently published The Hacker and The State: Cyber Attacks and the New Normal of Geopolitics (Harvard University Press, 2020) – is the 229th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

How has hacking changed geopolitics?

Hacking has quickly become a favored and powerful arrow in the quiver of statecraft. Over the last 20 years, a panoply of nations has found that hacking capabilities help them shape geopolitics to their liking. The result is a competition between government hackers that is fierce and nearly continuous; this competition is not unusual, reserved only for war time or extreme circumstances, but daily — it has become a key part of intelligence and military operations. From espionage to overt cyberattacks to election interference and beyond, there is a lot that hackers can do in the service of their states.

Explain the role of state and nonstate hackers in “signaling and shaping” in geopolitics. 


Against a backdrop of geopolitical tensions and rapid technological developments, the debate on governing autonomous weapons is gaining momentum – both in the Netherlands as well as in other countries. Discussions are complicated, however, because of wide variations in the positions of countries, compounded by a tendency of some politicians and non-governmental organizations to frame the discussion in alarmist terms. The regulation of controversial categories of robotic and autonomous systems (RAS) requires new approaches and new instruments.

Building on theories of transnational governance, this paper highlights so-called trusted communities as a potentially valuable instrument to engage relevant stakeholders, particularly those from the private sector. Apart from continuing its efforts in formal frameworks – such as the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), where Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) are discussed – the Netherlands government may consider reaching out to businesses and relevant experts at home as well as in like-minded states through trusted communities.

Such networks have the ability to bring together key actors to provide input for developing principles and norms for further regulation and export control regimes that are based on mutual trust and respect.

Here’s a Blueprint for a Practical Quantum Computer

By Richard Versluis

The classic Rubik’s Cube has 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 different states. You might well wonder how people are able to take a scrambled cube and bring it back to its original configuration, with just one color showing on each side. Some people are even able to do this blindfolded after viewing the scrambled cube once. Such feats are possible because there’s a basic set of rules that always allow someone to restore the cube to its original state in 20 moves or less.

Controlling a quantum computer is a lot like solving a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded: The initial state is well known, and there is a limited set of basic elements (qubits) that can be manipulated by a simple set of rules—rotations of the vector that represents the quantum state. But observing the system during those manipulations comes with a severe penalty: If you take a look too soon, the computation will fail. That’s because you are allowed to view only the machine’s final state.

Microsoft Is The Last Member Of The Trillion-Dollar Club

by Felix Richter
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Following a 2 percent drop on Monday, Apple's market capitalization fell below the symbolic $1 trillion mark for the first time since September 2019. Like many other tech companies, the iPhone maker has been heavily affected by the coronavirus crisis, as it faces supply chain issues as well as declining sales due to widespread store closures and weakening consumer demand.

Since February 21, the last day before news of the virus rapidly spreading outside of China emerged, Apple has lost almost $400 billion in market capitalization, dropping from $1,370 billion on said February 21 to $982 billion by market close on Monday.

As the following chart shows, Apple isn’t the only tech giant to have seen its membership in the trillion-dollar club cancelled in recent weeks. Alphabet and Amazon have also seen their market cap slip below $1 trillion, leaving Microsoft as the last remaining member consistently above $1 trillion. The company based in Redmond, Washington even benefitted from the current crisis to some degree. As hundreds of millions of people across the globe are currently forced to work from home, the company’s cloud-based tools included in Office 365 are seeing a surge in usage.

Earn Points on this Purchase!

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An exploration of the cutting-edge technology that will enable us to confront the realities of climate change.

For decades scientists and environmentalists have sounded the alarm about the effects of global warming. We are now past the tipping point. As floods, storms, and extreme temperatures become our daily reality, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” efforts aren’t enough anymore. In Hacking Planet Earth, New York Times bestselling author Thomas Kostigen takes readers to the frontlines of geoengineering projects that scientists, entrepreneurs, engineers, and other visionaries around the world are developing to solve the problems associated with climate change.

From giant parasols hovering above the Earth to shield us from an unforgiving sun, to lasers shooting up into clouds to coax out much-needed water, Kostigen introduces readers to this inspiring work and the people who are spearheading it. These futurist, far- thinking, world-changing ideas will save us, and Hacking Planet Earth offers readers their new vision for the future.



Chris Telley 

This forum has seen much discussion on the hard choices required to build the right force for the future. One of those hard decisions is how to balance lethal warfighting with the complexity of campaigning below the level of major combat operations. Unfortunately, though, the recent Army Modernization Strategy obscures this decision—and its importance—underneath the glamourous depiction of a very specific vision of future war. Army Futures Command (AFC) is supposed to facilitate resourcing decisions in the form of “future concepts, requirements, and organizational designs based on its assessment of the future operating environment.” Unfortunately, AFC cannot do this because it is neither manned for nor focused on anything but the most conventional of envisioned battlefields. The shiny new strategy simply ignores the possibility of anything other than uniformed combatant forces on future battlefields. The new strategy document poorly assumes that Army forces will not do the murkier work like managing proxies, interacting in the economies it moves through, or using influence technology—among other information-related tasks required to gain the initiative at the opening of a future war.

We were living in a moment of opportunity for the Army, as the primary influencer in the land—and therefore, very human—domain. Senior leaders seemed to understand the facts laid out in the Joint Concept for Operating in the Information Environment (JCOIE): that force alone had become insufficient to achieve information superiority or influence the behavior of actors; that in an increasingly pervasive and connected information environment, existing policies and norms have hampered influence operations to the point where they could not achieve strategic outcomes. The Defense Department even designated information as a joint function, as evidenced by the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s mandate to “gain and maintain informational superiority.” The Joint Staff published concepts on campaigning below the level of armed conflict, even before the JCOIE, that seemed to prompt real strategic innovation. Innovative voices in the Army certainly identified a need to address our adversaries’ economic and proxy maneuver. Unfortunately, our moment may have passed.

30 March 2020

South Asia’s Looming Disaster

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Welcome to Foreign Policy’s South Asia Brief, a weekly look at the most important news from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—a region that comprises a quarter of the world’s population. Given the severity of the coronavirus crisis, this week we’re focusing almost entirely on how the region is coping with COVID-19 and what happens next.

If you would like to receive South Asia Brief in your inbox every Tuesday, please sign up here.

Community Spread Has Begun

Most South Asian countries locked their borders down last week or even earlier, but the number of confirmed coronavirus cases keep rising, particularly in Pakistan and India. This trend suggests that the region has likely moved from phase two of the virus outbreak, when transmission is traced to people who have arrived from foreign countries, to phase three, when the disease is spreading more widely among communities.

Bangladesh’s Leader Urges All Citizens to Stay at Home to Slow Virus Spread

By Julhas Alam

In this March 23, 3030 photo, a policeman urges residents not to come out of their homes as residents stand behind a gate, hours after the second death from COVID-19 was confirmed from the area, in Dhaka, Bangladesh.Credit: AP Photo/Al-emrun Garjon

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina appealed on Wednesday to all citizens to stay at home and avoid any gatherings to slow the transmission of the coronavirus.

In particular, she urged hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis who worked abroad and recently returned to the country from virus-hit countries to isolate themselves at home for 14 days.

“It is essential to follow the directives to save the lives of your family members, neighbors, and ultimately all of your countrymen,” she said in a televised address. “Do not leave home unless it’s an emergency.”

Experts say there is a high risk that people who returned in recent weeks and attended social gatherings will spread the virus.

What’s Behind the Rising India-France Maritime Activity in the Indo-Pacific?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Despite growing fears of the global coronavirus pandemic, India and France held a joint exercise in the Indian Ocean. While dealing with this and other challenges, both countries understand that they share broader strategic interests including the implications China’s rise in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

In a first, the two navies conducted joint patrols from Reunion Island, the French naval base in the Indian Ocean. The Commander of the Indian Navy P-8I, which was part of the joint patrols, is reported to have said that that such joint security operations “make it possible to maintain the security of international maritime routes for trade and communications.”

These engagements are not without significance. India has so far generally conducted Coordinated Patrols (CORPAT) only with its maritime neighbors. Currently, the Indian Navy has Joint Exclusive Economic Zone surveillance exercises with the Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius and CORPAT series are undertaken with the navies of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia. The United States had earlier made an offer to India to carry out CORPAT but India rejected it.

Resolving the Ghani-Abdullah impasse in Afghanistan

John Allen and Michael E. O’Hanlon

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has just returned from an emergency trip to Afghanistan. His mission there did not center on the war against the Taliban, the peace process with the Taliban, or even the global coronavirus pandemic. Rather, his visit was intended to resolve a major dilemma within the Afghan government itself—the fact that the Afghan government now exists in two versions in the aftermath of last fall’s disputed presidential elections. President Ashraf Ghani, the previous incumbent, claims to have won reelection by a comfortable margin, a result confirmed by the Independent Electoral Commission in Afghanistan. He held an inauguration ceremony earlier this month, attended by U.S. officials, to begin his second term. Simultaneously, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, now a three-time presidential runner-up at least according to official tallies, claimed victory in a vote that he said was fraudulent—and held his own inauguration. Secretary Pompeo was unsuccessful in getting the two men to agree to a power-sharing arrangement, so upon his departure he stated that the Trump administration would cut $1 billion out of the several billion dollars in aid that, in addition to its military presence there, the United States now provides to the government of Afghanistan.

We have not been supporters of President Trump’s often off-the-cuff dismissiveness of the importance of the Afghanistan mission to U.S. security, or of his frequent threats to radically curtail or end the U.S./NATO mission there. However, this time, Pompeo’s threats are commensurate with the strategic situation as well as the stakes at hand. The American taxpayer cannot be expected to support duplicative—or even competing—Afghan governments that will have no realistic chance of bringing peace to that country. As Abraham Lincoln rightly said, a house divided against itself cannot stand. Pompeo, who stopped by Doha, Qatar, on his way home from Afghanistan to have an amicable conversation with Taliban negotiators, should be careful not to overdo his friendliness toward our longstanding adversary in this conflict, even as a tactic to pressure Ghani and Abdullah. But it remains true that the Taliban will benefit from any enduring weakening of the Afghan government that results from this impasse.

Afghanistan is Drifting Toward Civil War. The Coronavirus Pandemic Makes One More Likely.

by Arif Rafiq
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America has finally laid down the law in Afghanistan, where Ashraf Ghani and Dr. Abdullah remain mired in a dispute over last September’s presidential elections. On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan as part of a bid to broker a deal between the Afghan leaders. Pompeo’s intervention failed. He then left the country announcing the reduction of U.S. aid to the country by $1 billion and threatening another $1 billion reduction the next year.

For over a year, the wily Ghani has played America like a fiddle. He has also outsmarted his political rivals and the Taliban. Ghani obtained international support for the ill-advised move to go forward with presidential elections. Then he not only rigged those polls in his favor, but also eventually moved forward with his presidential inauguration, leaving world powers with little choice but to recognize his government. And he has stifled multiple efforts at initiating an intra-Afghan dialogue process that would deny his government a lead role.

But like the Aesopian fox, Ghani has been too clever by half.