23 January 2020

The Need for Détente: Cyberwarfare in India/Pakistan Conflict

Jonathan Lancelot

Sometimes brutal honesty is the best form of diplomacy, and if there is a conflict that is in immediate need for some kind of resolution, it is the conflict over the region of Kashmir between Pakistan and India. As both nuclear nation-states are within instant reach of one another, the conflict has reached a new high beginning in early 2019, and the escalation includes use of cyberwarfare. “While countries like Russia, China, and North Korea have often dominated the international landscape for their cyberattack capabilities, both India and Pakistan also have formidable government hacking programs, as well as populations with strong technology skills and access to hacking tools” (Fazzini). Granted, the cyberwar between the two nations have been ongoing since the late 1990s. Recent escalations have led organizations like the Council on Foreign Relations or individuals like Alex Stamos, former chief security officer of Facebook to be deeply concerned. This concern should lead to diplomatic interventions from the United States, China, Russia, and Iran as three of these nations have a geopolitical interest in helping the cyber conflict from metastasizing into a full blow conventional war, and the United States interest in mitigating the conflict is within responsibility of the most powerful nuclear nation-state on Earth. 

The biggest hurdle to a strategic partnership between the US and the other three nations is evident. There is respective mutual tension amid the US and each of the three, preventing a geopolitical collaboration that could possibly solve the real danger of an escalation and nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India. There could very well be a partnership between Russia, Iran, and China to help the situation, yet China might not be an impartial partner as they might side with Pakistan against India due to historical relationships. These are examples of vulnerabilities within the international system’s capacity to collectively solve the Kashmir problem. 

Fears over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act are unfounded


The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) has been passed by Parliament after a thorough debate in both Houses. It is the product of a fully democratic exercise.

The continued opposition from political parties, civil society activists, retired government servants and students to CAA makes little sense to those who have no political axe to grind, no ideological bias, are capable of thinking on their own about the reasons for the amendment and do not believe that protests through open letters to the government are free of political party preferences.

Historical concerns

The status and condition of religious minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan is well known. The number of Hindus and Sikhs in these countries has declined steeply over the years. Even today, we have instances in Pakistan of Sikh girls being abducted, forcibly married and converted to Islam. Many Sikhs moved out of Afghanistan during Taliban rule. A significant number of Hindus have migrated from Bangladesh to India before 1971 and afterwards, even if Sheikh Hasina’s government today is protective of minorities.

The Three Misunderstandings of Soviet Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

Daniel J. O’Connor

As scores of diplomats seek to navigate a peaceful resolution to the current instability in Afghanistan, it is the proper time to reassess the major effort of the conflict; specifically, the military effort. Although most of those involved want nothing more than a sustainable resolution to the conflict, it seems distinctly possible that military action will be a continued component, at least in the near-term. To aid conflict resolution in Afghanistan, the enemy must be deprived of their willpower, localized clout and the impression that they hold a powerful bargaining position, due to local support and coalition missteps. Accomplishing this requires a deeper understanding of past conflict in Afghanistan, acknowledgement of conventional warfare’s place in this conflict, and a tactically sound counterinsurgency approach. While many choose to see the US effort in Afghanistan as distinct in its aims and outcomes, this may not be an entirely accurate view. It is particularly helpful to utilize the lessons of those who have fought on Afghan soil before the US became involved.

Several major actions taken by the United States and coalition in the last 18 years share much in common with the efforts of the Soviet Union during its combat operations in the country (1979-1989).[i] It is therefore incumbent upon any student of the current conflict to firmly understand the Soviet conflict, its doctrine, execution, and most importantly, the Soviet methods of counterinsurgency. This should be done in order to avoid an “eerily familiar” application of counterinsurgency in Afghanistan.[ii] Due to the Soviet Union’s particularly disastrous experience in Afghanistan, and some of the recent challenges to US and coalition policy, this topic will continue to be important for the foreseeable future as the US and its partners seek to open windows of advantage, exploit the advantage and stabilize Afghanistan through conflict resolution with the Taliban and other powerbrokers in the region.

Iran's New Quds Force Leader Has A Long, Shadowy History With Afghanistan

By Frud Bezhan

It was in the late 1980s when Ismail Qaani -- then a local commander in Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) -- first became active in Afghanistan.

It was to be the start of Qaani's decades-long involvement in Iran’s eastern neighbor, where Tehran has carved up influence by arming and offering political and economic backing mostly to the Shi'ite and Persian-speaking communities.

Qaani on January 3 became the chief of Iran’s elite Quds Force, the overseas operations arm of the IRGC, established following the 1979 Islamic Revolution to defend the country's theocratic system.

The 63-year-old general succeeded Major General Qasem Soleimani, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, early on January 3. He had long served as Soleimani's deputy.

Mysterious Visit

The Simple Reason Why America Could Lose the Next Cold War to Russia or China

by Michael Rubin
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Soon after announcing he would seek the Republican presidential nomination, George W. Bush chastised President Bill Clinton for taking too soft an approach toward China. Clinton “made a mistake [in] calling China a strategic partner,” Bush said, saying China was instead a “strategic competitor.” This recognition was also at the heart of President Barack Obama’s call for a “pivot to Asia.” Russia, too, has made no secret of its global ambition. Both Beijing and Moscow invest in new technologies. In 2007, China surprised the Pentagon with a successful anti-satellite weapon test, and U.S. strategists grow increasingly concerned about Russia and China’s new class of hypersonic weaponry. Whether through theft, ingenuity, or a combination of the two, both countries military industries’ have emerged as top competitors and, in certain categories, threaten to surpass U.S. capabilities.

Whether policymakers want to admit it or not, the United States is not only embroiled in a new Cold War and capabilities race, but is also facing a new Sputnik moment when the capability deficit will become impossible to ignore.

To succeed in this new environment, the United States must foster defense innovation, strengthen industrial manufacturing capabilities, and avoid any action that pushes manufacturing capabilities offshore, or forces companies to abandon the defense sector altogether. Alas, the system that exists now does the opposite.

China Just Decided Against A Six Aircraft Carrier Fleet—Why?

by Sebastien Roblin
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Key point: China’s downsizing of its carrier ambitions may leave it with more time to evaluate just what the carriers of the future will really look-like—and whether they’re worth the cost.

China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy takes many of its cues from the U.S. Navy as it develops its carrier aviation branch. It is seeking similar flat-deck carriers to its U.S. counterpart, and has developed airborne early warning planes and electronic attack jets comparable to American E-2D Hawkeyes and EA-18 Growlers.

But that tendency may have backfired for once. That’s because the U.S. Navy has been beset by major cost overruns and delays in deploying its new generation Gerald Ford-class supercarriers due to persistent flaws in their catapults, arresting gear, radars and weapons elevators. You can read more about these many problems in an earlier article.

Similar problems apparently are affecting China’s carrier program. On November 28, Minnie Chan of the South China Morning Post reported that Beijing was scrapping plans for a fifth and sixth nuclear-powered carrier, once it finished construction of two new steam-powered vessels.

The Clock Is Ticking: China Will One Day Invade Taiwan

by Ian Easton
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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. 

China Figured Out The Secret To Closing The Gap With America's Military

by Robert Farley 
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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:


The U.S.-China Relationship Is At a Crossroads

by Joseph S. Nye Jr
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President Trump has declared a temporary truce in his trade war with China. Economists point out that both countries gain from trade, but strategists complain that in terms of relative power, China gained more. Vice President Mike Pence recently pointed out that over the past 17 years, China’s GDP has grown more than nine-fold, and we should regard China as a strategic rival. Gone are earlier administrations’ rhetoric about engagement, and while Pence disavowed it, many observers believe that decoupling has already begun.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently summarized the many strands of U.S.-China economic interdependence. In trade, the U.S. accepts 19% of China’s exports while China takes only 8% of U.S. total exports, but despite this two to one asymmetry, America does not have all the cards in this game and China knows it. On foreign direct investment, the total stock of US FDI in China is $269 billion while Chinese FDI in the U.S. reached $145 billion, but annual flow rates have been decreasing as both sides tighten policy constraints. In capital markets, the overall financial relationship totals over $5 trillion including nearly two trillion in Chinese listings on US stock exchanges and $l.3 trillion in Chinese official holdings of U.S. government bonds. Rudd argues that despite strategic difficulties the two governments will not decouple these arrangements.

China, US Sign ‘Historic’ Trade Deal

By Shannon Tiezzi
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The “Phase One” U.S.-China trade deal was officially inked on Wednesday, in a ceremony featuring U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He. A White House press release touted the deal as a “historic agreement” that “will begin to rebalance our vital trade partnership with China” and “will be an incredible boost for American businesses, farmers, manufacturers, and innovators.”

Trump used similarly grandiose language in the ceremony, saying that the agreement “mark[s] a sea change in international trade.”

China watchers noted the extreme oddity of having a signing ceremony featuring a president on one side and an envoy on the other – something analysts agreed China’s president would never submit to. Jorge Guajardo, formerly the Mexican ambassador to China and currently a senior director with McLarty Associates, tweeted: “China would never host a signing ceremony between Xi and a non-head of state/government.” But the discrepancy in rank didn’t seem to bother Trump, who appeared jubilant at the signing.

Are China’s South China Sea Artificial Islands Militarily Significant and Useful?

By Ankit Panda
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Are China’s seven artificial islands in the Spratly Group in the South China Sea liable to complicate U.S. freedom of maneuver in a conflict in East Asia? In a recent article at War on the Rocks, Gregory Poling makes the case that the islands have “considerable military value for Beijing,” contrary to some conventional wisdom that has written off the value of these facilities in a conflict.

Poling’s argument is a convincing corrective to the conventional wisdom that these facilities — built on top of reclaimed land and quickly too — would be a strategic liability for Beijing in a conflict. In peacetime, these outposts serve to allow China coercive leverage as it bolsters its “nine-dash line” claim in the South China Sea, where the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Taiwan maintain territorial claims (and Indonesia maintains a disputed exclusive economic zone claim).

But in a conflict, the capabilities on the Spratly outposts are more than just cannon fodder. They will contribute to Chinese firepower, situational awareness, and logistics. Beijing is also well-positioned to employ anti-ship and anti-air missiles on these facilities to deny access to the U.S. Navy and other regional navies.

Documenting the Tragedy in Xinjiang: An Insider’s View of Atajurt

By Mehmet Volkan Kaşıkçı
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It was a cold February day in Kazakhstan. Outside a small village house in Qarabulaq, a village near Taldykorgan in Almaty province, as many as a hundred people gathered, waiting since the early morning to enter. Inside the house, volunteers with Atajurt — myself included — recorded close to 60 video testimonies from people whose loved ones had been detained in Chinese prisons, concentration camps, and forced labor factories. After personally conducting about 40 of the interviews (it was my personal record with Atajurt), translating from Kazakh into English and Turkish, I collapsed with exhaustion at the end of the day. There were still people waiting outside to tell their stories. 

The day before we were in the town of Tekeli, where we worked from a relatively large and comfortable restaurant. We had three cameras purchased through donated funds raised by generous Kazakhs concerned for those in Xinjiang. Three of us from Atajurt, including Serikjan Bilash himself, translated video testimonies into English, Chinese, and Turkish while other Atajurt volunteers helped people prepare written petitions. 

China’s Cyber Warfare CapabilitiesAuthor: Brigadier Saurabh Tewari@

The potency and overwhelming lethal effects of cyber warfare have outpaced the technological development in conventional military weapons space, changing the very character of future wars, and the role of cyber warfare in them. Worldwide cyber warfare is now being acknowledged as the fifth dimension of warfare.

In the last decade or so there has been consistency in reports of cyber intrusions in India from China. Important Indian targets include ministries, embassies, industrial houses, defence establishments, apart from sensitive government offices. No Indian cyber intrusion investigation reports are available in the open domain; however, investigation reports of major cyber breaches world over by foreign investigators do exist, wherein India is mentioned as one of the victims, with intrusions attributed to China.

China and Pakistan are known to be developing cyber warfare capability to deter a physically and technologically superior military adversary. India needs to be aware and conscious of these threats, and needs to develop counter capabilities. In the last decade. China has made considerable progress in developing cyber warfare capabilities in terms of revising its policies, restructuring organisations, building human expertise, and raising new establishments.

This article analyses Chinese cyber warfare strategy and capabilities and its impact on India.

New report explains how China thinks about information warfare

By: Mark Pomerleau
The Department of Defense’s annual report on China’s military and security developments provides new details about how China’s military organizes its information warfare enterprise, an area that has been of particular interest to U.S. military leaders.

In 2015, the People’s Liberation Army created the Strategic Support Force, which centralizes space, cyber, electronic warfare and psychological warfare missions under a single organization. The Chinese have taken the view, according to the DoD and other outside national security experts, that information dominance is key to winning conflicts. This could be done by denying or disrupting the use of communications equipment of its competitors.

The 2019 edition of report, released May 2, expands on last year’s version and outlines the Chinese Network Systems Department, one of two deputy theater command level departments within the Strategic Support Force responsible for information operations.

Inside the Feds’ Battle Against Huawei

On the morning of December 1, 2018, the vast central plaza in Mexico City was thronged by tens of thousands of people. Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a left-wing populist, had just been sworn in as Mexico’s 58th president. In his inaugural address, he thumbed his nose at decades of neoliberal rule and promised a sweeping political and economic transformation of Mexico.

The people converging on the Plaza del Zócalo from all over the country weren’t the only ones who sensed opportunity in the new administration. At that very moment, high over the Pacific Ocean, a Chinese executive named Meng Wanzhou was winging her way from Shenzhen to Mexico.

Meng is chief financial officer of Huawei, the world’s largest manufacturer of telecommunications equipment and second-­largest maker of smartphones. Though Huawei’s Android handsets are all but unknown in the United States, they are everywhere in Mexico, as they are in China, South Asia, and the Middle East. Even more ubiquitous in some 170 countries around the world are pieces of Huawei equipment that ordinary consumers rarely touch: arrays of radio antennas perched atop cell towers and electronic base stations that sit beneath them on the ground, converting between digital and radio signals. By some accounts, about 40 percent of the world’s population relies on Huawei equipment. But even with 191,000 employees and $108 billion in annual revenue, Huawei remained hungry for growth.

The U.S. Military Is Now Occupying Iraq. Its Time To Leave.

by Paul R. Pillar
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The administration’s current stubborn insistence on keeping American troops in Iraq exhibits several damaging patterns of thought.

It wasn’t just about weapons of mass destruction and mythical alliances with terrorist groups. The war was also supposed to bring the blessings of freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq, who would be grateful to the United States for overthrowing their dictator. The war was to be not just a pursuit of American objectives in opposition to Iraqi ones but an altruistic action for the benefit of Iraqis.

Whatever gratitude Iraqis felt, however, was soon overshadowed by more negative sentiments. American forces were met less with flowers and sweets than with a multi-faceted insurgency. That insurgency encompassed a sectarian civil war that the U.S. invasion unleashed as well as armed opposition to what many Iraqis regarded as a foreign military occupation.

Iran Is Ready for the Next Great War in the Middle East

by Jonathan Ruhe
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Major conflict looms in the Middle East, and Iran is already on track to win. Its September surprise attack on the Saudi oil facility at Abqaiq and the glaring lack of response is a microcosm of how Tehran is busy gaining the strategic upper hand over the United States and its allies.

Using swarms of new long-range precision munitions, Iran and its proxies can now credibly threaten to conduct disabling, and potentially catastrophic strikes against vital strategic targets across the region. This is a function of three factors: Iran’s upgraded weapons, regional expansion to encircle its enemies, and the lack of strategic depth possessed by these enemies.

Amazingly, Iran is building this leverage despite sanctions, antiquated conventional military forces, a small defense budget and no nuclear weapons. Instead, it is creating clear offensive advantages by increasing the precision and range of its ballistic and cruise missiles and drones.

Why Isn't the Iran-Trump Showdown Making Oil Prices Spike?

by Scott L. Montgomery
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Assassinations, militaries on high alert, geopolitical tensions at the boil. Any one of these in Persian Gulf countries would have roiled oil prices a few years ago. Today, even in combination, they hardly register.

Is the oil market now so secure that even the prospect of war between Iran and the U.S. has little effect? More broadly, is this relatively sanguine response warranted at this time?

Reasons oil traders should be nervous

The assassination of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s top military commander and head of its Revolutionary Guards, happened on Iraqi soil, without Iraqi permission, while Soleimani was reportedly on official business.

This attack by a U.S. drone, which killed up to 10 Iranian and Iraqi personnel, transgressed two nations’ sovereignty. It could be easily defined as an act of war.

Iran’s Support to the Taliban, Which Has Included MANPADS and a Bounty on U.S. Troops, Could be a Spoiler for Peace in Afghanistan

by Shawn Snow 

U.S. military intelligence assessments dating back to 2010 suggest Iran’s elite paramilitary unit, the Quds Force, has track record of providing training and lethal arms to the Taliban. The list includes portable shoulder-fired air-defense systems known as MANPADS.

While the level of that support from Tehran does not appear to be a game changer on the battlefield, the recent succession of the former head of Iran’s Qud’s Force branch in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Esmail Ghaani, to be the top commander of the elite Iranian unit could amplify Iran’s destabilization efforts in Afghanistan.

Ghaani was chosen by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to lead the Quds force following a Jan. 2 airstrike by the U.S. that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

Phillip Smyth, a research fellow with the Washington Institute, told Military Times that the new Qud’s Force commander could be a spoiler for peace prospects in Afghanistan…

In Oman, Sultan Qaboos Leaves a Legacy of Nonalignment. Can It Survive?

Frida Ghitis 

For years, a cloud hung over a corner of the Middle East, containing fears of yet another conflict suddenly erupting. They centered on what would happen after the death of the longest reigning monarch in the Gulf, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, who ruled over the Sultanate of Oman for half a century without leaving behind an heir apparent. Qaboos had been ill for years, and yet, if you tried to gently broach the subject of his successor with Omani citizens, they would recoil. The sultan had set up a system for succession and everyone knew it. But no one knew if it would work.

After Qaboos died last Friday, it didn’t take long to find out. By Saturday, his successor —his cousin, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said—had been named to the throne, vowing to continue the policies that turned tiny Oman into a key player in a region of much larger, wealthier and aggressive nations unafraid to pummel, pressure and dominate their neighbors. ...

Eleven US Troops Were Injured in Jan. 8 Iran Missile Strike

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Nearly one dozen American troops were wounded in Iran’s Jan. 8 missile attack on Iraq’s al-Asad air base. This week, they were medically evacuated to U.S. military hospitals in Kuwait and Landstuhl, Germany, to be treated for traumatic brain injury and to undergo further evaluation, several U.S. defense and military officials have confirmed to Defense One. 

Senior military and Trump administration officials had said on Jan. 8 that 11 Iranian missiles had caused “no casualties, no friendly casualties, whether they are U.S., coalition, contractor, et cetera.” 

In the past week, news organizations that were granted access to the base to film the damage and interview military personnel have reported that no Americans were killed, wounded, or “seriously injured.” But the New York Times reported on Monday that some personnel had been treated for concussions

Climate Change Brings Geopolitical Complications for Australia

By Christopher Ryan
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Recent catastrophic fires have made all too apparent the risks Australia faces due to global warming, exacerbated by a lack of coordinated Australian state and federal policy. Australia’s vulnerability to climate change is also aggravated by its geography. Australia is surrounded by developing countries such as Timor-Leste that do not have the resources, skills, knowledge, and infrastructure to mitigate the impacts of climate change in the coming decades.

The impacts from climate change on developing countries include water and food insecurity, as well as the destruction of homes and livelihoods in catastrophic events. This leads to the potential for environmental refugees and internally displaced people as recently witnessed in Australia and Australia’s Pacific neighbors, like Kiribati. To contain regional security threats from climate change will require a budget shift away from Australia’s traditional defense resources in order to manage its national, regional, and global responsibilities, as we have witnessed in the recent Australian wildfires.

Unpacking the engagement of nontraditional actors in Africa: China and other emerging players

Yun Sun

Below is a Viewpoint from Chapter 6 of the Foresight Africa 2020 report, which explores six overarching themes that provide opportunities for Africa to overcome its obstacles and spur inclusive growth. Read the full chapter on bolstering Africa’s role in the global economy.

While China, Europe, and the United States have been intensifying their competition in Africa over the last decade, the next decade is likely to see other players making more prominent moves. Among them, India, Russia, and major actors in the Middle East are already shifting resources and attention to the promising continent.


China’s comparative advantage has laid in the large financial resources at its government’s disposal and its state-backed economic engagement model. Although Beijing has indicated a desire to increase private equity investment in Africa, it is unlikely to abandon its overall priority on infrastructure development financed by Chinese loans. But as the frenzy over the large Belt and Road Initiative infrastructure projects in Africa subsides with the existing projects’ loan payments due, African governments have to deal with the sobering financial consequences of projects such as the Addis-Djibouti railway and the Mombasa-Nairobi railway.

As Putin Schemes to Extend His Reign, Expect New Forms of Internet Repression

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Russian President Vladimir Putin wouldn’t seem to be a man with any real check on his authority, but there is still the Russian constitution, which says that a president can’t serve more than two consecutive terms. Russia watchers believe he has found a way to stay in power after his second term expires in 2024 — one that will have disastrous effects on freedom and particularly Internet freedom in Russia.

On Tuesday, in a televised address, Putin announced reforms to shift authority to the State Council, a part of the Russian parliament. That would seem to have the opposite effect of consolidating power within the presidency. But then Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned, along with his cabinet. That clears the way for Putin to stack government bodies with loyalists whom he has empowered to amend the constitution and give him the permanent control he’s seeking, either by allowing him to remain president or elevating whatever new role he takes to de facto leader. 

“This wasn’t much of a surprise. We knew the Kremlin would have to put a plan in motion,” said Alina Polyakova, director of the Project on Global Democracy and Emerging Technology at the Brookings Institution. Putin has held the presidency for a total of four terms, bookending a 2008-12 hiatus as Prime Minister that is regarded as a simple Potemkin ploy to retain power.

Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time

On the evening before All Saints’ Day in 1517, Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door of a church in Wittenberg. In those days a thesis was simply a position one wanted to argue. Luther, an Augustinian friar, asserted that Christians could not buy their way to heaven. Today a doctoral thesis is both an idea and an account of a period of original research. Writing one is the aim of the hundreds of thousands of students who embark on a doctorate of philosophy (PhD) every year.

In most countries a PhD is a basic requirement for a career in academia. It is an introduction to the world of independent research — a kind of intellectual masterpiece, created by an apprentice in close collaboration with a supervisor. The requirements to complete one vary enormously between countries, universities and even subjects. Some students will first have to spend two years working on a master’s degree or diploma. Some will receive a stipend; others will pay their own way. Some PhDs involve only research, some require classes and examinations and some require the student to teach undergraduates. A thesis can be dozens of pages in mathematics, or many hundreds in history. As a result, newly minted PhDs can be as young as their early 20s or world-weary forty-somethings.

Modern information warfare: analysis and policy recommendations

Hanci Lei
Information warfare (IW) is a novel and poorly understood threat to the international community, which may be used more commonly as a foreign policy tool in the future. By identifying the key components of modern IW, this paper seeks to formulate policy recommendations for how best to deal with this new threat. The general overview of the topic that this paper provides contributes to current efforts to develop strategies to counter IW operations around the world.


The goal of this paper is to break down the components of modern IW and provide policy recommendations for domestic and international governance on the issue. These recommendations will be based in part of historical initiatives to counter IW and existing literature on cyber governance. Central to the framework used to analyze the cases of Russian and North Korean IW operations are the seven defining features of “strategic” IW established by a 1996 RAND Corporation report, modified to incorporate the importance of cyberspace to cases of IW in the modern day.


Here are the NSA general counsel’s cybersecurity warnings

Andrew Eversden

The U.S. government needs to do more to protect itself in cyberspace as adversaries’ technological capabilities rise, according to the departing general counsel of the NSA.

Glenn Gerstell, who is leaving the NSA later this year, said the expanding threat landscape — caused by the combination of nation-state’s capabilities and the onset of technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence and the internet of things — presented several challenges that the intelligence community must grapple with long after he leaves the agency.

“It is almost impossible to overstate the gap between the rate at which the cybersecurity threat is getting worse relative to our ability to effectively address it,” Grestell said at an American Bar Association event Jan. 15.

At the heart of the issue, he said, is the odd geopolitical dynamics of relying on countries considered adversaries for trade, like China, or sending American astronauts to the International Space Station, in the case of a Russian launch in December. The Russians, of course, have a well-documented record of attempting to breach, sometimes successfully, state voting infrastructure. And the Chinese have continuously stolen intellectual property from American business by breaching their networks, including those of defense contractors, which has ultimately led to the development of the soon-to-be released Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) out of the Pentagon.

DoD To Launch 5G Experiments By March


WASHINGTON: DoD will solicit vendors to undertake experiments to integrate high-speed 5G wireless connectivity into operations at four military bases sometime this quarter, Pentagon officials said today.

The test program involves one base for each service, Dwayne Florenzie, senior strategy exec at the Air Force’s Office of Commercial and Economic Analysis, told an audience this afternoon at a conference on 5G cosponsored by law firm Venable and The Potomac Institute. “That was purposely done,” he explained, “so that we do share the information and lessons learned from each other.”

The first experiment will take place at Hill Air Force Base in Utah, and will involve spectrum sharing, he said. Then “test environments” will be stood up at McChord AFB in Washington (the main base for the Army’s C-17 fleet), which will involve using 5G to enable virtual reality training, and at the Marine Corps Logistics Base in Georgia and Naval Base San Diego where 5G connectivity will be used to speed depot and warehousing activities.

It's not me, it's you: The pros and cons of breaking up big tech

by Macy Bayern 

Debates over breaking up big tech companies filled the latter half of 2019, and those discussions continued in a session at CES 2020 on Thursday. The session, aptly titled "Should Big Tech be Broken Up?" explored the positive and negative impacts big tech has on both consumers and the economy.

After posing the very question that titled the session, moderator Jamie Susskind, vice president of policy and regulatory affairs at the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), received a mix of answers; however, the majority of answers leaned one way. 
Why big tech should not be broken up 

All four panelists regularly referenced the ongoing antitrust investigation into Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. First announced in June 2019, the probe examines these companies on the basis of privacy breaches, possible anti-competitive behavior, and data misuse

While these investigations are important, the answer to the problem should not be to break up big tech, according to panelist Robert Atkinson, president of information technology at the Innovation Foundation. 

How Israel Took 10 Years to Prepare for the Next Big Land War

by Kyle Mizokami
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Key Point: Israel has always been under threat and so has worked to create a high-tech and formidable army. These upgrades have included building one of the best tanks on the planet.

Much like the Israeli Air Force, the Israeli Army came from humble—but more established—beginnings. Israel’s ground forces had their origins in the Haganah, a Zionist paramilitary force created in the early 1920s to protect Jewish interests.

The Haganah cooperated with British authorities, but turned hostile in 1944 when the Axis neared defeat and the need for a Jewish state became increasingly clear. In 1947 the Haganah was reorganized into regular army units, and renamed the Israeli Army two weeks after the founding of the State of Israel.

Since then, the Israeli Army has seen combat every decade since its founding. It has fought numerous wars in defense of Israel, and embarked on numerous punitive expeditions into the Sinai, Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank.