3 January 2020

The Evolving Contours of E-commerce in India

Dipinder S Randhawa

The e-commerce landscape in India is changing rapidly, as cash-rich, globally renowned firms announce their intention to enter the domestic arena in India. Concurrently, e-commerce is engendering rapid change in the thousands of small firms listed base and is evolving into a surprisingly robust medium for the inclusion of hitherto neglected groups into mainstream retail.


It was just over a year ago that Walmart/Flipkart and Amazon were deemed to be the two dominant players in the e-commerce sector, accounting for over 75 per cent of sales. The expectation was that the duopolistic structure would persist, with the smaller firms phased out through acquisitions or attrition. A year later, not only is the imminent entry of at least two firms with a global reach likely to change the landscape, e-commerce’s footprints in expanding to hitherto neglected sectors of the economy, and its catalytic effects on development of segments of infrastructure is becoming more visible. E-commerce firms are rapidly deepening and broadening their engagement with smaller players on the periphery and catalysing the development of neglected parts of the infrastructure, with potential benefits that extend well beyond the sector.

Three distinct developments are likely to shape the growth and impact of e-commerce in the near future.

Silk Road Diplomacy

Many countries engage in public diplomacy—diplomatic instruments used to influence the perceptions, preferences, and actions of citizens and leaders in another country—as a means to win over foreign publics and advance national interests. In a new study and report published by AidData, in collaboration with the Asia Society Policy Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the authors look at the past two decades of China’s relationship cultivation—including efforts to balance negative perceptions of its growing military and economic strength—within its greater periphery, specifically the 13 countries of South and Central Asia.

This study collected an unprecedented amount of qualitative and quantitative data on Beijing’s public diplomacy in the South and Central Asian region from 2000 through 2018. In the report Silk Road Diplomacy, the authors analyze this data to illuminate which tools Beijing deploys, with whom, and to what effects within this subregion.

History Lesson: Why China Wants to Become a Military Superpower

by Harry J. Kazianis 

Over several years in this publication, I have been exploring the dynamics of the budding U.S.-China security dilemma—a high-tech drama pitting anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) against what we used to refer to as Air-Sea Battle (ASB)—and have offered several different ways to lessen the possibility of such a dynamic from becoming cemented into the Asia-Pacific’s security architecture. However, China’s development and implementation of A2/AD clearly has various origins. One such origin that deserves to be explored is the “historical nightmare” of China’s subjugation at the hands of various colonial and Asian powers.

In many respects, China is trying to solve a centuries-old problem that never went away: how to defeat in battle military forces that are at least in a symmetrical sense superior to its own and will be for some time to come. If we alter our perspective and take a much longer view of Beijing’s own military obsolescence, a strategy that emphasizes anti-access makes tremendous sense. According to Admiral Wu Shengli, former commander of the PLA Navy, “in China’s modern history, imperialist and colonists initiated more than 470 invasions of China, including 84 large ones, from the sea.” If China’s military were to deter or halt the deployment of superior military forces into areas of Chinese territory or areas Beijing perceives as a core interest, another period of what leaders in China might see as a new form of subjugation could theoretically be avoided. A2/AD allows Beijing to compete with the United States asymmetrically—an important point when one thinks through how many years away China is from competing with America ship for ship or plane for plane.

We Asked an Expert To Simulate a U.S.-China War in the South China Sea

by Kyle Mizokami

The year is 2016, and two of the U.S. Navy’s latest ships are backing a key ally in the tinderbox of the South China Sea. They’re facing down the Chinese navy halfway across the world with the latest weapons and systems the United States can get its hands on. But is it enough?

For more than a hundred years, the U.S. Navy has been using naval wargames to test ships, tactics and strategy. Today, thanks to the ability of computers to process massive amounts of data, sharply accurate, procedural “hard” simulations are possible.

One such sim is Command: Modern Naval/Air Operations, a new game that attempts to model modern sea and air warfare as closely as a game for civilians can.

Command is particularly suited for attempting a high-fidelity simulation of modern naval combat — it included an admiral and staff from the U.S. Naval War College in the game’s beta testing — and we’re going to take a page from the Navy and put America’s latest fighting ship to the test.

Nazi Germany passes the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring".

China’s Economic Slowdown: Root Causes, Beijing’s Response and Strategic Implications for the US and Allies

John Lee
Good policies and responses depend on accurate analysis, sound assessments of the strengths and vulnerabilities of oneself and one’s competitor, and appreciation of structural and other trends that are difficult to shift or circumvent.

The Donald Trump administration has recognized that China poses the most comprehensive and formidable challenge to American interests and values. It is a view increasingly shared by both major political parties, the national security community and policy elites, and the general population.

The United States openly discusses its strengths and weaknesses. The difficulty is in coming up with sensible and effective responses to an opaque competitor or rival that is increasingly adept at controlling grand narratives by trumpeting apparent strengths and concealing weaknesses.

This monograph attempts to argue and/or demonstrate three main points.


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China’s economic growth has fallen to its slowest rate since 1990, and this deceleration looks set to continue. Key factors include weakening demographics, inefficient investment, maturing export markets and declining productivity growth rather than the current trade dispute with the United States.
To reverse that trend, China will need a wide-ranging policy approach that mimics the policies implemented by Japan and Korea at a similar economic stage.

While there are considerable political and economic obstacles to such reforms, if it manages to continue its rapid catch-up to advanced economy incomes the potential returns for both China and the world are significant.


China’s economic progress is slowing. A rapidly ageing population means its demographics are becoming increasingly unfavourable, and China has reached the limits of its traditional reliance on investment and exports to fuel rapid economic growth. The key question is what comes next. Continuing with the same approach risks a further decline in the pace of growth. This would create major difficulties for its highly leveraged economy, disappoint the growth expectations of its populace, and add to the internal and external economic risks that are already evident. Deep reforms will be required just to sustain a trajectory of 5 to 6 per cent growth annually over the coming decade.

Is China Engaging in Debt Trap Diplomacy?

By Dr. James M. Dorsey

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The pending Chinese acquisition of a stake in Tajikistan’s aluminum smelter, coupled with earlier tax concessions to Chinese companies that would substantially reduce the trickle down effect of investments for the troubled Tajik economy, suggest that China has yet to fully take into account frequent criticism of its commercial approach to Belt and Road-related projects.

Desperate for cash, Tajikistan is about to sell yet another vital asset to China at a time when countries like Sri Lanka and the Maldives are demanding renegotiation of debt settlements that either forced them to surrender control of critical infrastructure or left them with unsustainable repayments.

The center said eight countries — Tajikistan, the Maldives, Pakistan, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, and Montenegro — are particularly at risk.

China’s Year of Europe

The Forbidden City resolved in the second half of November 2019 that 2020 will be “the Year of Europe” and “the Year of the EU” (which for the Chinese is a blurred distinction - but not so for the Europeans). The initiative will be supervised by Xi Jinping and his inner-circle. Wu Hongbo, the Special Representative for European Affairs, is directly in charge of interaction with Brussels and the implementation of on-going tasks. The decision to undertake this initiative is based on the thorough analysis of the recent visits to China by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in the context of long-range forecasting regarding the situation in Europe.1 Beijing is now convinced that Brussels no longer wary of the increasing Chinese presence in Europe. 

The EU policy is “a pragmatic mix of cooperation and competition.” Ultimately, the EU increasingly considers China as “a strategic partner” rather than “a systemic rival” as the EU did only recently. Hence, Beijing is anticipating a marked expansion of economic relations with the EU. In 2019, the EU is China’s largest trading partner. As well, China is the EU’s second-largest trading partner (with the US still the first). To-date, the 2019 daily average of the China-EU bilateral trade surpassed 1.5 billion Euros ($1.65 billion). Chinese experts are convinced that there is a huge potential for the further growth of bilateral trade in the immediate future. 

This decade belonged to China. So will the next one

Martin Jacques

By 2010, China was beginning to have an impact on the global consciousness in a new way. Prior to the western financial crisis, it had been seen as the new but very junior kid on the block. The financial crash changed all that. Before 2008 the conventional western wisdom had been that sooner or later China would suffer a big economic meltdown. It never did. Instead, the crisis happened in the west, with huge consequences for the latter’s stability and self-confidence.

Europe needs China’s billions. But does it know the price?

Every year for the past decade, China, not the US, has been the main source of global economic growth. In 2014, according to the World Bank’s international comparison program, the Chinese economy overtook that of the US to become the world’s largest, measured by purchasing power parity. Although China’s growth rate over the past decade has declined to its present 6.2%, it is still one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Today its economy is more than twice as big as it was in 2010.

Is China coming full circle by repeating the Qing court’s self-defeating mistakes?

Phil C. W. Chan

Back in 2013, I wrote in the Post that China proffered a valid voice that would help maintain and shape the international order in its current form. My 2015 book China, State Sovereignty and International Legal Order argued that China’s assertions and exercise of sovereignty should not be taken automatically as signs of aggression, or acts beyond the remit of international law, that would threaten world peace. In turn, international law would moderate and influence China’s state behaviour, both within its territory and in its relations with other states.

Since then, President Xi Jinping has further tightened his grip on power, with any 
term limit on his presidency removed. In his report to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, at the Great Hall of the People in 2017, Xi promised to propel China into 
Instead of a harmonious rise during the 2000s, China is implementing an ambitious vision of itself and the world through the 

America Is Wearing Out Its Welcome In Iraq

by Paul R. Pillar
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The scene in the Green Zone in Baghdad easily evokes memories of Tehran forty years ago. A U.S. embassy in the Persian Gulf region is under siege by an angry mob. The protestors, predominantly young, break through the outer walls of the compound as U.S. diplomats take refuge in a safe room. President Donald Trump implicitly extends the parallel by reacting in the narrowly anti-Iran terms that have defined his policies in this part of the world. “Iran is orchestrating an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Iraq,” Trump tweeted from Mar-a-Lago. “To those many millions of people in Iraq who want freedom and who don't want to be dominated and controlled by Iran, this is your time!"

But a closer look at what has been happening in Iraq suggests that genuine anger had much more to do with events than any orchestration did. The protestors who smashed their way into the embassy compound did so in defiance of appeals from leaders armed with loudspeakers. And the popular anger displayed at the embassy was also quite visible elsewhere in Iraq. If there is a parallel with Tehran in 1979, it is to be found primarily in a U.S. failure to anticipate and understand the nature of the anti-U.S. anger so much in evidence.

The Decision to Go to War Is More and More Difficult

By Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The phenomenon of a growing reluctance to go to war and commit ground troops to combat can be seen around the world, not only in Israel. Citizens are increasingly demanding clarity on the purpose of the wars their armies are expected to fight.

“In the Netanyahu era,” argued a recent article in the monthly Hebrew magazine Liberal, “we are unable to launch a real war in Gaza. The leadership has no way to sell its cost to the public.”

Although Netanyahu’s reluctance to go to war may be related to his own quintessential decision-making pattern, it is consistent with a global trend. Something fundamental in the phenomenon of war has changed, particularly with regard to ground forces, and it is a concern for all armies. Even Russia is showing restraint in its use of ground forces in Syria.

A Plan for World War III: How the Warsaw Pact Planned to Defeat NATO

by Kyle Mizokami

Last month in the National Interest we discussed NATO’s plan for World War III in Europe. The scenario, set in the late 1980s, assumed that the forces of the Soviet Union and the rest of the Warsaw Pact—namely East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary—steamrollered West Germany to defeat NATO. The plan assumed the western alliance would defend as far forward as possible while avoiding the use of tactical nuclear weapons.

But what about the Warsaw Pact? After the Cold War ended, the Polish government made public classified Soviet documents that revealed the likely war plan. The plan, known as “Seven Days to the Rhine,” was the basis of 1979 military exercise that assumed NATO as the aggressor, having nuked a series of twenty-five targets in Poland, including Warsaw and the port of Gdansk. The cover story of countering aggression was a mere fig leaf for the true nature of the anticipated conflict: a bolt-from-the-blue Soviet attack against NATO.

By the 1980s NATO had shifted to a “Flexible Response” nuclear doctrine: the alliance was prepared to use nuclear weapons, but would seek to win the war conventionally. This is in stark contrast to the Warsaw Pact, which saw their use as inevitable and planned to use them from the outset. Such early would confer the pact an enormous strategic advantage over NATO.

Where is economy headed? Pluses and minuses

Huang Yixuan

With the end of 2019, market watchers are turning their attention to economic prospects in the new year. 

Huang Jun, chief economist for China at Forex.com, estimates that China’s gross domestic product should come in at about 6 percent. That would be on the lower end of the government’s growth target of 6 percent to 6.5 percent. 

Looking forward, the crystal-ball gazers are sizing up the pros and cons of economic growth. 

Standard Chartered is forecasting 6.1 percent growth for 2020, above the general market consensus. The bank said that "despite trade and housing headwinds, we see tailwinds from policies, car sales and the inventory cycle." 

Ding Shuang, chief economist for China and North Asia at the bank, said, “We think the government will set the 2020 growth target at around 6 percent, providing policy support for a slightly higher growth rate.” 

How to Succeed at Seceding

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In the British general election on Dec. 12, Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson won 43.6 percent of the national vote and increased his party’s seats in Parliament from 317 to 365. To put that in historical context, no party has won more emphatically since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher ousted Labour leader James Callaghan with 43.9 percent of the vote.

The pro-Brexit Johnson is now under renewed pressure from Nicola Sturgeon, head of the Scottish National Party (SNP), to grant Scotland a second referendum on splitting from the rest of the United Kingdom. (Sturgeon argues that circumstances have fundamentally changed since the independence referendum in 2014, when Scottish voters chose to remain in the U.K. by a 55 to 45 percent margin.) The SNP, which wants to see an independent Scotland as a member of the EU rather than be forced out of the EU against its will, also triumphed in December and is now the third-most powerful party in the U.K., occupying 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats in Westminster. 

Don’t Hold Your Breath for Democratic Change in the Middle East

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There were a number of major developments in the Middle East over the last 12 months: the bombing of Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil facility, Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria, the election of a new Tunisian president, the United Arab Emirates’ decision to withdraw from Yemen, and the U.S. affirmation that Israeli settlements are not “inherently illegal.” But something more important happened in the Middle East in 2019. Just as everyone was getting used to the idea that the so-called Arab Spring was dead, street demonstrations swept through the region. The fact that protests erupted is not as interesting as whether people power will shape politics in the Arab world into 2020. That seems likely, but not necessarily in ways that some analysts expect and many Arabs hope.

With so much international media focused on the demonstrations in Hong Kong, one might be excused for forgetting that people in Sudan, Algeria, and Morocco were out in the streets months before Hong Kongers began venting their anger at Chief Executive Carrie Lam and Beijing. There were also protests in Egypt, though they were quite small, and larger demonstrations that are ongoing in Iraq and Lebanon.

The response in Washington has been generally low-key, indicating that U.S. policymakers have learned a lesson since they romanced the barricades during the Arab Spring of 2011 to 2012. With the exception of Tunisia, the much-anticipated transitions to democracy in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and Syria never materialized. Yet that does not mean that the contradictions of political systems have been resolved. Instead, leaders have used force to silence those who have drawn attention to these problems.

Hypersonic Putin and Gonzo Weaponry

Weapons of dazzling murderousness have always thrilled military-industrial establishments. They make money; they add to the accounts; and they tickle the pride of States who manufacture them. From time to time, showy displays of restraint through arms limitation agreements are made. These can apply to either the offensive element of such weapons, or their defensive counters.

The calculus of death is often premised on ensuring that, for every destructive advance made, some retarding force accompanies it. By way of example, nuclear warheads spraying a country can be countered by anti-defence missiles. However, the nature of such a defence should never be impregnable. The balance of terror must be maintained in these acts of amoral accounting.

Of late, treaties restraining the deployment of weapons that gallop ahead of such a balancing act have been confined to shredders and dustbins. There was the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), a reminder of a thawing period between the Soviet Union and the United States from 1987. It prohibited the fielding of land-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometres. But President Donald J. Trump has never been a man for history, treating it as an encumbrance on the United States. Violations by Russia were cited, with the 9M729 missile singled out as a stand out culprit. Russia duly countered; the United States’ Aegis Ashore facility based in Romania could technically be used to launch missiles in breach of the treaty. Both countries have now confined the document to oblivion.

Is a New Nuclear Age Upon Us?

By Nicholas L. Miller and Vipin Narang 

Ayear ago, it was clear that a storm was brewing on the nuclear horizon. Writing in Foreign Affairs in January, we warned that “the United States could find itself in not one but three nuclear crises in the next 12 months.” We pointed to the risk that negotiations with North Korea would break down, that arms control between the United States and Russia would further deteriorate, and that Iran would begin violating its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal.

Looking back, it is clear that we missed the mark—by being too optimistic. Over the past year, Washington has not only faced nuclear crises with North Korea, Russia, and Iran, as predicted; it has also watched as nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan stumbled to the brink of all-out war and a host of U.S. allies began to rethink their nuclear options. Unless governments in Washington and elsewhere act quickly to reverse course, future scholars may look back on 2019 as the turning point from an era of relative calm to one of intense nuclear competition and proliferation—the dawn of a dangerous new nuclear age.


Ambivalence About Moscow Is a French Tradition

By Robert Zaretsky
Last August, while preparing for the G-7 summit in Biarritz, French President Emmanuel Macron opened the doors of his summer residence at Fort Brégançon to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Armed with a bouquet of flowers, the Russian ruler praised the residence’s superb view of the Mediterranean and his host’s equally superb tan. In return, the French leader praised the cultural role in France of Russian artists such as Ivan Turgenev and Igor Stravinsky. These artists served as a reminder, Macron announced, that Russia is très profondément European.

Macron’s declaration was not improvised. Not only did it throw important light on recent French diplomatic activity but it also reflected an older source of light—namely, le siècle des Lumières, or the Enlightenment. It was fitting that a président philosophe—pace the title of a recent Macron biography—reaffirmed Russia’s ties to Europe. Who could be better qualified? After all, the eighteenth-century French philosophes were the ones to both inspire and thwart Russia’s long effort to be counted as a European nation.

Say what one will about the Enlightenment—and much can be said in light of the furious debate over the cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker’s recent work, Enlightenment Now—one cannot gainsay its impact. The Enlightenment revolutionized Western conceptions of both time and space: its thinkers created the idea of the Middle Ages as a foil to their own age and “Eastern Europe” as a mirror for their native “Western Europe.” Tell us how far in the past and far to the east you live, declared the philosophes, and we will tell you how far from civilization—a word they also reinvented—you happen to be.

Europe’s Third Way in Cyberspace

Cybersecurity has become a key issue for Europe in the global digital transformation. The EU Cybersecurity Act lays down a legal framework whose aim is to achieve global reach. Embedded in a policy that combines digital sovereignty with strategic inter­dependence, the Act could represent the gateway to a third European pathway in cyber­space, something in between the US model of a liberal market economy and the Chinese model of authoritarian state capitalism. The Cybersecurity Act will be a bind­ing framework for action and provide a tailwind for German cybersecurity policy.

Cyber threats are a component of and, at the same time, the spearhead of global competition between liberal democracies and authoritarian systems. The different understanding of cybersecurity and infor­mation security between Western coun­tries, on the one hand, and states such as China and Russia, on the other, remains a key area of conflict in international politics. After more than ten years of unsuccessful negotiations against a backdrop of growing rivalry between the US and China, an agree­ment on global standards and regulations is still a long way off. The EU is trying to find a third way which circumvents this rivalry. This has become apparent in, among other things, the 5G debate. The Commission is inclined to allow the Chinese company, Huawei, to be involved in building Euro­pean 5G infrastructure, subject to tight controls and only if all market participants meet strict hardware and software certifi­cation criteria. The question of the trust­worthiness of Chinese telecommunications components is being shelved in favour of a market regulation solution. With its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which Member States have been required to apply since May 2018, and its consistent approach to competition policy, the EU has taken on an effective and globally respected role as a regulatory power, achieving a balance between consumer protection and the competitiveness of the industry. The EU Cybersecurity Act further strengthens Europe’s regulatory power. However, the European cybersecurity certificate, defined with the entry into force of the Act in June 2019, will only be able to develop into a global model if it is flanked by a European strategy for the digital space. Regulation, competition and industrial policy, as well as support for innovation must relate to security and cyber foreign policy. The key question will be whether and how the EU can successfully strengthen European digi­tal sovereignty whilst preserving its liberal democratic traditions in the digital space and ensure the necessary strategic interde­pendence with other regions of the world.

Cybersecurity at the heart of global conflicts

The world in 2020: ten issues that will shape the global agenda

* Text finalised on December 16th 2019. This Nota Internacional is the result of the collective reflection of the CIDOB research teamin collaboration with EsadeGeo. Coordinated and edited by Eduard Soler i Lecha, it has benefited from the contributions of Hannah Abdullah, Anna Ayuso, Jordi Bacaria, Ana Ballesteros, Pol Bargués, Moussa Bourekba, Carmen Claudín, Carme Colomina, Anna Estrada, Francesc Fàbregues, Oriol Farrés, Agustí Fernández de Losada, Blanca Garcés, Eva Garcia, Francis Ghilès, Sean Golden, Rafael Martínez, Óscar Mateos, Sergio Maydeu, Pol Morillas, Diego Muro, Yolanda Onghena, Francesco Pasetti, Enrique Rueda, Olatz Ribera, Jordi Quero, Héctor Sánchez, Ángel Saz, Cristina Serrano, Marie Vandendriessche and Lorenzo Vidal. 

As well as immediate challenges, 2020 will encourage us to think about those in the medium and long term. A new year begins and so does a new decade. We leave 2019 behind with public protests on half of the world's streets, with the economic crisis so many have warned of still to surface, new examples of Donald Trump's erratic foreign policy at the helm of what remains the leading global power and growing awareness of the climate emergency and gender gap. 

EU-Trends in 2020

The European Union (EU) and its member states are expected to face a series of turbulent developments and challenges in the coming year. The stability on the European continent will likely be impacted by various ongoing and emerging crises – on an institutional level as well as on the member state level. Worsening socioeconomic indicators due to recession trends, general economic slowdown and trade stagnation worldwide will have a negative impact on Europe. However, the integration process in both dimensions – the further institutional consolidation of the EU as well as the geographical enlargement – will witness positive impulses for further development. 

Following the general election in Great Britain and the overwhelming majority win for the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a known advocate for a rather swift exit from the European Union (Brexit), it is to be expected that the EU will intensify the efforts and introduce further steps towards strategic autonomy in the field of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) as well as Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). This will also result in a deepening institutional cooperation between the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) as well as in diverse new initiatives in this field.

Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies

Journal of Military and Strategic Studies, 2019, v. 20, no. 1

o Israel and the Permanent Siege: The People Have Spoken - Who Will Find an Answer to the Needs of the Voters?

o The Global Expansion of China’s Military – 2019

o Geostrategy and Canadian Defence: From C.P. Stacey to a Twenty-First Century Arctic Threat Assessment

o The Economic forces of victory versus those of defeat: An analysis of the Greek Economic and Military Mobilization of the 1909-1923 Period

o The Devil is in the Details: An Examination of Hybrid Cyber Operations and International Law

o Vergennes’ Grey Zone: Grappling with the Grey Zone and Hybrid War through French Strategy 1774–1783

o Women on the Home Front: Gender Roles and IODE Contributions to the War Effort in Winnipeg, Manitoba

o Can Information Displace Mass? Armour In The Future Operating Environment

o The PLAN’s Anti-Piracy Missions in the Gulf of Aden, Africa

o The Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Facilitating Military Innovation

o The State Of Strategic And Security Studies In Canada: Workshop Report

Russia Will Test Its Ability to Disconnect from the Internet

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Russia will test its internal RuNet network to see whether the country can function without the global internet, the Russian government announced Monday. The tests will begin after Nov. 1, recur at least annually, and possibly more frequently. It’s the latest move in a series of technical and policy steps intended to allow the Russian government to cut its citizens off from the rest of the world.

“On Monday, the government approved the provision on conducting exercises to ensure the stable, safe and holistic functioning of the Internet and public communications networks in the Russian Federation,” notes an article in D-Russia. (The original article is in Russian. We verified a translation with the help of a native Russian speaker.) “The exercises are held at the federal (in the territory of the Russian Federation) and regional (in the territory of one or more constituent entities of the Russian Federation) levels.” 

The word “holistic” shows that the exercises follow April’s passage of the sovereign internet law that will require all internet traffic in Russia to pass through official chokepoints, allowing the government to shut down outside access, block websites that they don’t like, and monitor traffic. 

E Pluribus Unum? The Fight Over Identity Politics

By Stacey Y. Abrams

Recent political upheavals have reinvigorated a long-running debate about the role of identity in American politics—and especially American elections. Electoral politics have long been a lagging indicator of social change. For hundreds of years, the electorate was limited by laws that explicitly deprived women, African Americans, and other groups of the right to vote. (Efforts to deny voting rights and suppress voter turnout continue today, in less overt forms but with the same ill intent.) When marginalized groups finally gained access to the ballot, it took time for them to organize around opposition to the specific forms of discrimination and mistreatment that continued to plague them—and longer still for political parties and candidates to respond to such activism. In recent decades, however, rapid demographic and technological changes have accelerated this process, bolstering demands for inclusion and raising expectations in communities that had long been conditioned to accept a slow pace of change. In the past decade, the U.S. electorate has become younger and more ethnically diverse. Meanwhile, social media has changed the political landscape. Facebook captures examples of inequality and makes them available for endless replay. Twitter links the voiceless to newsmakers. Instagram immortalizes the faces and consequences of discrimination. Isolated cruelties are yoked into a powerful narrative of marginalization that spurs a common cause.

Acquisition and Use of MANPADS Against Commercial Aviation

by Sean M. Zeigler,

What are the trends in the use of MANPADS against civilian aviation?

What is the current and evolving threat environment caused by the proliferation of MANPADS?

How would a MANPADS attack against civilian aircraft affect an economy?

What mitigation options are available to reduce the risk of an attack or to lower the likelihood it is successful?

Since 1975, upwards of 60 civilian aircraft have been hit by surface-to-air missile platforms known as man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS), resulting in the deaths of over 1,000 civilians. Terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and Lebanese Hezbollah are thought to possess MANPADS, presenting an ongoing concern for civilian air travel in the modern political climate. Although a MANPADS attack on a civilian aircraft has not been attempted since 2007, the threat of MANPADS attacks remains, and so does the need to develop a better understanding of the security risks posed by these systems. The loss of life from a MANPADS incident could be severe and have grave international repercussions. The research summarized in this report aims to provide analysis of the key issues of this international security challenge.

A new $5M competition to help the Pentagon detect deepfakes

By: Nathan Strout 

In this Monday, July 1, 2019, photo Hany Farid, a digital forensics expert at the University of California at Berkeley, gestures as he views video clips in his office in Berkeley, Calif. Congress established a $5 million prize competition in the annual national defense policy legislation that could unlock the secret to automatically detecting deepfakes. 

Congress hopes a $5 million prize competition will unlock the secret to automatically detecting deepfakes.

The annual defense policy bill, which the president signed into law Dec. 20, called on the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity to start the competition as a way to stimulate the research, development, or commercialization of technologies that can automatically detect deepfakes. Congress authorized up to $5 million in cash prizes for the competition.

Congress is grappling with how to combat deepfake videos, which are created to manipulate audio and video in a way that is indistinguishable to most people.

The US Army has chosen its top 10 science and technology advances for this year - here are the potential game-changers that made the list


US Army and service-funded researchers are making strides in a number of areas, including the material sciences, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Alexander Kott, chief scientist at Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory, recently picked the Army's top 10 science and technology advancements of 2019.
The list of potential game-changes features things like artificial muscles for robots, self-repairing materials, and 3D-printed steel that's tougher than anything commercially available, among other things.

US Army researchers and engineers have been busy this year, developing new capabilities and technologies that will help modernize the force.

Alexander Kott, chief scientist at Combat Capabilities Development Command's Army Research Laboratory, recently picked the Army's top 10 science and technology advancements of 2019. These are potentially game-changing developments that will help Army soldiers fight and win on future battlefields.The list includes ongoing research and development efforts in material science, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

Army Follows Pentagon Guidance, Bans Chinese-Owned TikTok App

By Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army has reversed its policy on TikTok, Military.com has learned, banning soldiers from using the popular Chinese social media app, which is now considered a security threat.

"It is considered a cyber threat," Lt. Col. Robin Ochoa, an Army spokeswoman, told Military.com. "We do not allow it on government phones."

Just two months ago, Army recruiters were using TikTok as an effective tool for reaching young people of Generation Z even as lawmakers were calling for a national security review of the music video app, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance.

In late October, Sen. Tom Cotton R-Arkansas, and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, asked U.S. intelligence officials to investigate whether TikTok represents a national security risk to the United States.

As of mid-December, the Army began advising soldiers to stop using TikToK on all government-owned phones, Ochoa said. The U.S. Navy recently put out similar guidance, prohibiting the use of TiKTok on government phones, according to reports by Gizmodo and other publications.


When the U.S. Army released its long-awaited critique of the Army’s successes and failures in the Iraq war, many wondered how honest the Army would be with itself. A review of the documents, however, revealed an unflinching account of both successes and failures of Army operations from the tactical to strategic levels of conflict. One conclusion was that the Army failed to fully understand, throughout the invasion and occupation, the operating environment with Iraq’s totalitarian government structure, tribal allegiances, underlying ethnic tensions and aged infrastructure. What is also clear is that the Army’s most senior leaders failed to adequately identify, account for and engage with parties of sufficient power and interest to develop and shape what it did there. This lack of effective stakeholder identification and engagement created deleterious effects in planning and execution—from the tactical to operational to strategic levels. One must, therefore, ask: How can military leaders get better at identifying and engaging with their stakeholders?