28 January 2020

Key Global Takeaways From India's Revised Personal Data Protection Bill

By Arindrajit Basu, Justin Sherman 
The Indian government finally introduced its Personal Data Protection Bill in Parliament on Dec. 11, 2019, after more than two years of fierce debate on the bill’s provisions. Rather than pushing to immediately pass this hugely significant bill, India’s minister of information technology, Ravi Shankar Prasad, referred it for scrutiny to a joint parliamentary committee. After the committee publishes a report on the bill, it will then be debated in the Indian Parliament—and, given the huge majority the ruling coalition has in both houses, likely passed—in 2020.

This bill has implications far beyond India, as the country seeks to develop a comprehensive data governance framework that would affect virtually any company attempting to do business in India. India—thanks to its population size, gross domestic product and influx of new internet users—has a unique ability to exercise leverage over multinational tech companies and shape global policy.

As many countries begin to construct data governance regimes, this bill will have an important role in shaping the regulation governing today’s increasingly data-driven geopolitical landscape. All the while, the bill contains some elements of the protectionist and authoritarian-leaning data policies that are cropping up around the world as some countries attempt to curtail the global and open internet.

Afghanistan: “Peace” as the Vietnamization of a U.S. Withdrawal?

By Anthony H. Cordesman

One has to be careful when examining the “peace” the United States is now seeking in Afghanistan. There are many warning signs that this peace effort may actually be an attempt to provide the same kind of political cover for a U.S. withdrawal as the peace settlement the United States negotiated in Vietnam. At the same time, U.S. policymakers may be taking the current peace effort in Afghanistan seriously and believe it could actually succeed. At best, it is a well-intentioned attempt at peace, whose authors do not realize that this form of “peace” is likely to rapidly deteriorate into a Vietnam-like withdrawal.

Seeking a failed peace is an all too real possibility. After all, almost all current U.S. and other international peace efforts lack a clear strategy that goes beyond military victory or conflict termination. In Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, the U.S. goal is limited to bringing an end to the current fighting, creating some form of ceasefire, or defeating the current terrorist threat. There is no clear effort or plan to produce a stable peace and create both a workable and lasting structure in any country’s governance, security, or economy. Looking for a hidden motive in the lack of a meaningful peace strategy for Afghanistan can easily end in discovering that a motive does not even exist.

Total Competition: China’s Challenge in the South China Sea

This report argues that China is waging a campaign of ‘total competition’ in the South China Sea. Such a campaign reflects George Kennan’s concept of “political warfare” and involves the use of all tools at the state’s disposal short of war. Indeed, it includes illegitimate and destabilizing methods ordinarily avoided by benign competitors. The text’s authors explain that China’s campaign has five essential pillars: economic power, information dominance, maritime power, psychological warfare and “lawfare.” They also suggest that because of its efforts, China now appears to be an unstoppable force in the South China Sea.

A One-​sided Affair: Japan and the People's Republic of China in Cyberspace

In this publication, Stefan Soesanto analyzes the cyber threat landscape regarding Japan and China, focusing on cyber incidents that spilled over into the political realm or had the potential to do so. More specifically, Soesanto looks at 1) the historical evolution of cybersecurity and defense policies in both countries; 2) relevant cyber incidents in which the countries targeted one another; 3) the various Japanese and Chinese teams connected to these incidents; 4) the social, economic, technical and international effects resulting from the cyber threat landscape, and more. 

Not Good: This Report Warns China Could Beat America in a Fight by 2049

by David Axe
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Key point: Beijing is racing ahead with modernizing its forces and tipping the regional balance in its favor. Without a counter plan from America, it is only a matter of time before China is able to assert dominance in the Western Pacific.

Chinese leaders have laid out a plan for deploying the world’s best-armed forces no later than 2049. If the United States is to prevent China from becoming the world’s leading military power, it needs a plan of its own.

That’s the sobering warning in a new report for the Center for a New American Security by former deputy defense secretary Robert Work and co-author Greg Grant.

Chinese leaders’ resolve hardened in 1991 as they watched the U.S.-led coalition pummel Iraqi forces with seemingly ceaseless barrages of precision-guided munitions.

Can there be a winner in the U.S.–China ‘tech war’?

When Donald Trump solemnly announced the reasons behind his trade war with China in late March 2018, he accused China of ‘economic aggression’. This concept has not figured in formal US economic diplomacy since 1943, when a senior US official accused Nazi Germany of this practice during the war. Since then, the United States has avoided the term in its own diplomatic positions, a stance staked out in its reluctance to include economic aggression as an international crime for the Nuremberg war crimes tribunal.

It was more commonly the Soviet Union, China and other countries, such as Iran, that have levied the charge of economic aggression against the United States whenever it applied sanctions against them. Somewhat ironically, in terms of the current China case, an international legal scholar, writing in 1934, identified China and Chinese merchants as the leading practitioners of economic boycotts that had evolved into an increasingly common state practice. In 1935, a Chinese newspaper described ‘American economic aggression in China [as] more serious than Japanese military policy’.

Officials 'formally recommend limited role' for Huawei in British 5G networks

Alexander Martin
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Government officials have formally recommended granting Huawei a limited role within Britain's future 5G infrastructure, according to the Reuters news agency.

The recommendation appears to reassert a decision reportedly made by Theresa May last year, but comes despite repeated pressures from the US to completely prohibit the use of any telecommunications equipment produced by the Chinese company in the UK.

Citing two people with knowledge of the matter, Reuters reported that the recommendation was made at a meeting of officials from senior government departments and security agencies on Wednesday.
The ultimate decision on the matter will be made at a meeting of the National Security Council next week, according to Reuters sources.

A spokesperson for Downing Street said: "The work on the issue of high-risk vendors in the 5G network remains ongoing and when it is completed it will be announced to parliament."

China's Strategy in a War: Blind America, Then Go in for the Kill

Harry J. Kazianis
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Key Point: What if Beijing simply degraded and destroyed the ability of U.S. forces to have those advanced eyes and ears and brought back an old foe of U.S. forces— the much hated “fog of war?”

We all know that the chances of a U.S.-Sino war in Asia are remote— thank God. With hundreds of billions of dollars in bilateral trade, the strong possibility that such a conflict would draw in most of Asia’s big geopolitical players, as well as the very real eventuality that such a conflict could go global (and nuclear), is enough to shut down such apocalyptic thoughts. However, as I have discussed in the past, there is enough pressure points between the two superpowers that sudden tensions could spark a crisis— a crisis that could spiral out of control if cooler heads don’t prevail.

The purpose of this article is straightforward and scary enough: what if Beijing found itself in a situation where it felt war was inevitable with Washington (a crisis over Taiwan, a crisis in the East or South China Seas etc.)— how would it procede? While there are many different ways China could strike America— many of which would be non-kinetic and could even deny like a cyberstrike from a third party country or actor— Beijing has the means to do incredible damage to U.S. interests and alliance networks throughout Asia and even in the wider Indo-Pacific. Much of Washington’s “pivot” or “rebalance” is certainly based on such a fact: a realization that U.S. military primacy is no longer guaranteed thanks to a slick Chinese counter-intervention based military modernization (despite what others may think).

Iran and the US Avoid War for Now, but Political Sparring Will Continue

By Ian Dudgeon

President Donald Trump’s public response to Iranian missile strikes on two US airbases in Iraq suggests that he and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have reached a mutual ‘no war’ agreement. Barring any miscalculation by either side that triggers military escalation, the confrontation will continue to be played out politically, with the US maintaining its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign that seeks to force regime change through severe economic sanctions. There will be a lot of bruising ahead for Iran, but Trump will not win politically.

The absence of any US casualties or significant equipment damage from the strikes at the Al Asad and Erbil air bases in Iraq yesterday, and Trump’s decision not to retaliate as threatened, suggest the no-war agreement was reached through intensive back-channel negotiations.

By capping military escalation at this point, Trump can still boast that he’s tough and decisive. He can claim Iran that has backed down to US threats, and that his commitment to countering terrorism is well demonstrated by the killing of the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force. Trump’s branding of Qassem Soleimani as the world’s ‘number one terrorist’ not only ‘justified’ his assassination but also implicitly matches his predecessor Barack Obama’s resolve in killing Osama bin Laden.

Iran’s leaders have a problem they can’t fix

Suzanne Maloney

When Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led prayers at Tehran’s Grand Mosque for the first time in eight years on Friday, Iran’s supreme leader described the downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 by his military as a “bitter accident”—one that enemies abroad were exploiting as an excuse to discredit the Islamic Republic. But the real threat to the regime, which has spent decades trying to cement its rule, is the discontent of the Iranian public. Both the plane crash on January 8 and the cover-up that followed struck at the heart of the grievances that shape Iranians’ anger toward and alienation from their government. And if the demise of Flight 752 revealed the government’s malign disregard for its own citizens, its relentless suppression of the subsequent protests has only underscored its imperviousness to any meaningful accountability.

After decades of international sanctions that hamper Iran’s ability to buy new aircraft and spare parts, the country’s plane fleet is notoriously old and prone to catastrophe—so much so that the early reports citing engine problems sounded plausible to people grimly inured to aviation risks. But the early explanations for the downing of Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752 quickly crumbled under the weight of obvious falsehoods. In reality, Flight 752 had been downed by Iran’s own air defenses. In the course of retaliating against the United States for the drone strike that killed General Qassem Soleimani, Iranian military commanders apparently mistook the jetliner for an incoming American cruise missile. But this tragedy never would have occurred had Tehran taken the obvious precaution of halting civilian air traffic as it began missile strikes against U.S. forces in Iraq. Iranian leaders declined to take this step. Citing unnamed sources, the London-based Persian-language news channel Iran International, which is frequently critical of the Iranian government, reported that officials believed the presence of civilian aircraft in the skies would deter any possible U.S. counterattacks.

Saudi Arabia’s Phone Hacking Shows We Need Better Encryption — Not Backdoors

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Before the world learned that history’s richest man had been hacked by agents of Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Saudi dissidents and human rights activists such as Yahya Assiri had received similar treatment.

In May 2018, Assiri opened a message purporting to be from the Saudi government. The innocuous-looking message installed Pegasus spyware, which allows remote surveillance of cellphones, he told PBS Frontline. The spyware was made by NSO Group, the Israeli company that researchers credit for the Bezos hack. “If I take [these attacks] serious, I must stop my work,” said Assiri. 

The recent incident shows the importance of strong consumer encryption technology, both between phones and for backup data, of the sort the U.S. government is seeking to undermine. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, offers end-to-end encrypted messages. But the Bezos hack, and the others like it, show the limits of even good message security in the face of a known attacker. 

The Terrorism Paradox


LONDON – There was, all too predictably, no shortage of political profiteering in the wake of November’s London Bridge terror attack, in which Usman Khan fatally stabbed two people before being shot dead by police. In particular, the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, swiftly called for longer prison sentences and an end to “automatic early release” for convicted terrorists.

In the two decades since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks in the United States, terrorism has become the archetypal moral panic in the Western world. The fear that terrorists lurk behind every corner, plotting the wholesale destruction of Western civilization, has been used by successive British and US governments to introduce stricter sentencing laws and much broader surveillance powers – and, of course, to wage war.

In fact, terrorism in Western Europe has been waning since the late 1970s. According to the Global Terrorism Database (GTD), there were 996 deaths from terrorism in Western Europe between 2000 and 2017, compared to 1,833 deaths in the 17-year period from 1987-2004, and 4,351 between 1970 (when the GTD dataset begins) and 1987. Historical amnesia has increasingly blotted out the memory of Europe’s homegrown terrorism: the Baader-Meinhof gang in Germany, the Red Brigades in Italy, the IRA in the UK, Basque and Catalan terrorism in Spain, and Kosovar terrorism in the former Yugoslavia.

Europe Can’t Win the Tech War It Just Started

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There are no bronze medals in the artificial intelligence race: That was Kai-Fu Lee’s tart rejoinder when talking about Europe’s future in the geostrategic AI game. Lee is a Chinese tech entrepreneur and sort of geotechnical Alexis de Tocqueville. His point was that in the geopolitical race for AI dominance, it is the United States and China hustling for gold and silver—and leaving everyone else in the dust. But the European Union sees things differently. In AI—and other areas of strategic technology—new European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to go for gold.

In her November 2019 inauguration speech, von der Leyen set technology—along with climate change—as the EU’s top priority for the next five years. Von der Leyen’s rhetoric is ambitious: “we must have mastery and ownership of key technologies in Europe,” she said, which would include such general purpose technologies as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and critical chip technologies. In Brussels, Paris, and increasingly Berlin, Europe’s political and foreign-policy elite are joining the United States and China in casting the geopolitical dimensions of tech in decidedly multipolar terms. Buzzwords used by everyone from French President Emmanuel Macron to the European Council on Foreign Relations—“strategic autonomy” and, increasingly, “digital sovereignty”—point to a yearning for tech independence. The question is: from who? The immediate answer is the United States. The less urgent answer seems to be both China and the United States. But in charting this course, the compass is already pointing in a worrying direction.

The new European Commission dreams of uncoiling itself from its dependence on U.S. tech as a geostrategic priority. The broad tech portfolio nominally rests with Brussels’ antitrust maven, Margrethe Vestager, known for her assiduous prosecution of Google’s anti-competitive behavior and Apple’s Irish tax dodging. But she will be tied up with the competition file, and Macron worked to guarantee the actual machinery of strategic industry rests with the French commissioner, Thierry Breton. A former telecommunications executive and former French President Jacques Chirac’s industrial policy czar, Breton knows a thing or two about techno-Gaullism. His monster portfolio includes the directorates-general responsible for defense, tech policy, and industrial policy, as well as the telecoms regulation and cybersecurity agencies.

Getting to Less? The Innovation Superiority Strategy

This is the second CSIS Brief in a series called Getting to Less, which explores different philosophies and motivations that could lead to a decreased emphasis on U.S. defense ends, ways, or means. In this brief, the authors discuss a strategy they have labeled the Innovation Superiority Strategy.1 The strategy is guided by a focus on achieving enduring American military advantage in the U.S.-China security competition. In orienting Department of Defense investments toward this goal, the strategy bets big on innovation efforts to create a favorable balance of power in the Indo-Pacific and beyond. The authors explore likely changes that such a strategy might entail. The brief concludes by exploring the risks and opportunities associated with the Innovation Superiority Strategy.


“History shows that the U.S. Joint Force has . . . a demonstrated ability to question the status quo, to take risks and experiment, and adopt new technologically enabled operational concepts that confound its opponents. If it hopes to upset the Chinese offset, it will need to do so again.”2

Many modern American defense thinkers have focused on how military innovation, especially technological innovation, can create a more effective force. Although there are a wide range of perspectives on how best to achieve this, there is a particularly rich history of seeing such innovation as a means of maintaining relatively robust national security objectives while seeking to significantly shift the ways and reduce the costs of U.S. military contributions to those objectives.

10 Conflicts to Watch in 2020

By Robert Malley

Friends and foes alike no longer know where the United States stands. As Washington overpromises and underdelivers, regional powers are seeking solutions on their own – both through violence and diplomacy.

Local conflicts serve as mirrors for global trends. The ways they ignite, unfold, persist, and are resolved reflect shifts in great powers’ relations, the intensity of their competition, and the breadth of regional actors’ ambitions. They highlight issues with which the international system is obsessed and those toward which it is indifferent. Today these wars tell the story of a global system caught in the early swell of sweeping change, of regional leaders both emboldened and frightened by the opportunities such a transition presents.

Only time will tell how much of the U.S.’s transactional unilateralism, contempt for traditional allies, and dalliance with traditional rivals will endure – and how much will vanish with Donald Trump’s presidency. Still, it would be hard to deny that something is afoot. The understandings and balance of power on which the global order had once been predicated – imperfect, unfair, and problematic as they were – are no longer operative. Washington is both eager to retain the benefits of its leadership and unwilling to shoulder the burdens of carrying it. As a consequence, it is guilty of the cardinal sin of any great power: allowing the gap between ends and means to grow. These days, neither friend nor foe knows quite where America stands.

Top Conflicts to Watch in 2020: A Crisis Between Russia and Ukraine

by Thomas Graham

One of the highest rated concerns in this year’s Preventive Priorities Survey was the outbreak of a severe crisis between Russia and Ukraine following increased fighting in eastern Ukraine, and/or a major military clash in contested areas. In contrast to the results of the survey, I would argue that the likelihood of such a crisis is actually low. For the past several months, Russia and Ukraine have pursued confidence-building measures, such as prisoner exchanges and separation of forces in eastern Ukraine (the Donbas), to reduce the risk of serious conflict. Moscow has little interest in escalating the fighting: instead, it is focused on persuading the European Union to ease sanctions that have been dragging its economy. Kyiv has little capacity for a sustained military effort and worries about whether Europe would have its back, especially as French President Emmanuel Macron appears intent on pursuing détente with Russia. The Donbas separatists themselves have little room for maneuver, absent strong backing from Moscow.

The low likelihood of a crisis, however, does not mean that the Russian-Ukrainian dispute is close to resolution. Russian leaders have yet to be reconciled to Ukraine’s independence. Russia’s security and prosperity, they believe, require that Ukraine be tightly bound to Russia. Ukraine, however, has resisted Russia’s embrace, seeking to reinforce its independence through closer ties to Europe and the United States. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and fomented rebellion in the Donbas to forestall what it feared was Ukraine’s rapid movement away from Russia toward Europe after a pro-Western popular uprising ousted the Russian-backed president. The intensity of the conflict in the Donbas, which has taken more than 13,000 lives, has subsided considerably since 2014-15, but fighting continues along the line of contact separating the belligerents. Moscow denies Western accusations that its forces have participated directly in the fighting. The Normandy Format—France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine—was created in 2014 with the aim of resolving the conflict.

The Twin Rise of Populism and Authoritarianism

Globally, the past decade has been marked by the twin advances of authoritarianism and populism. The two are not always linked, but in situations ranging from the Philippines and Cambodia to Hungary and Poland, politicians have leveraged populist movements to seize power. Once in office, they have begun the process of dismantling the institutions designed to check their authority and protect human rights, particularly the judiciary and the media.

The populist boom is fueled by disparate, local issues, but these often share common features, such as feelings of disenfranchisement, of being left out of a global economic boom and of discomfort at seeing familiar social orders upended. The movements these grievances generate have spurred anti-immigrant xenophobia—and, in places like Hungary and Greece, even horrifying episodes of political violence—as underlying prejudices are exploited by opportunistic politicians.

Champions of liberal democracy have often appeared hamstrung in their attempts to counter these forces, but there have been some recent successes, including the rise of the Greens across Europe and electoral setbacks for extremist parties in France, Spain and the Netherlands. And in countries where centrist or right-wing parties have chosen to adopt populist policies rather than to push back against them, civil society groups have been resurgent.

The Sorry State of U.S. Election Security Makes Foreign Interference Inevitable

Michael Carpenter 

As the United States girds for highly contentious and consequential elections later this year, federal agencies and local officials remain woefully unprepared to deal with the high likelihood of foreign interference. The House of Representatives has passed three bills to address election-related vulnerabilities, but none has been taken up by the Senate, leaving gaping deficiencies in election infrastructure and the balloting process. A congressional appropriation of $425 million for election security, enacted last month as part of a broader spending package, will help local officials with urgent needs, but it comes late in the cycle and fails to create a permanent mechanism to fund election security. This means election administrators will most likely spend the money on quick fixes, like updates to existing software, rather than on long-term solutions.

This is in spite of a joint statement issued last November by the heads of numerous federal agencies—including the Justice Department, Pentagon, Department of Homeland Security and FBI—warning that “Russia, China, Iran, and other foreign malicious actors all will seek to interfere in the voting process or influence voter perceptions.” Congress’ willful failure to pass laws to address this challenge makes it practically inevitable that foreign actors will continue to take advantage of America’s vulnerabilities. ...

Tor Hidden Services Are a Failed Technology, Harming Children, Dissidents and Journalists

By Brian Levine, Brian Lynn 

A recent series of New York Times articles reported on the deeply disturbing amount of child sexual exploitation material that is available on the Internet. The articles discuss personal accounts of children who have been targeted, how tech companies have provided platforms for perpetrators of what is commonly called child pornography and how law enforcement has gone underfunded for years. In October 2019, Alan Rozenshtein commented on Lawfare that law enforcement’s efforts to combat this issue will become increasingly complicated when Facebook and other platforms roll out end-to-end encryption.

But the New York Times articles give just passing mention to the troublesome role already played by darknets in crimes against children. Darknets were created by computer scientists with the intention of increasing privacy and free speech. Unfortunately, even after decades of research, darknets are causing much more harm than good in practice. They have allowed perpetrators of many crimes, not just child sexual abuse, to organize like never before. And they have placed those who need free speech most—whistleblowers, dissidents and journalists—in danger. These are concerns that projects supporting darknets fail to acknowledge, and these organizations need to change their ways.

America’s Debilitating Middle-East Obsession

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NEW DELHI – “Great nations do not fight endless wars,” US President Donald Trump declared in his 2019 State of the Union speech. He had a point: military entanglements in the Middle East have contributed to the relative decline of American power and facilitated China’s muscular rise. And yet, less than a year after that speech, Trump ordered the assassination of Iran’s most powerful military commander, General Qassem Suleimani, bringing the United States to the precipice of yet another war. Such is the power of America’s addiction to interfering in the chronically volatile Middle East.

Open societies have not always needed defending in the determined way that they do today. But the tide turned against them after the 2008 global financial crisis, and, more than a decade later, the threat posed by authoritarian nationalism continues to rise. 

The US no longer has vital interests at stake in the Middle East. Shale oil and gas have made the US energy independent, so safeguarding Middle Eastern oil supplies is no longer a strategic imperative. In fact, the US has been supplanting Iran as an important source of crude oil and petroleum products for India, the world’s third-largest oil consumer after America and China. Moreover, Israel, which has become the region’s leading military power (and its only nuclear-armed state), no longer depends on vigilant US protection.

Has the World Economy Reached Peak Growth?


LONDON – At the start of a new decade, many commentators are understandably focused on the health of the global economy. GDP growth this decade most likely will be lower than during the teens, barring a notable improvement in productivity in the West and China, or a sustained acceleration in India and the largest African economies.

Open societies have not always needed defending in the determined way that they do today. But the tide turned against them after the 2008 global financial crisis, and, more than a decade later, the threat posed by authoritarian nationalism continues to rise. 

Until we have final fourth-quarter data for 2019, we won’t be able to calculate global GDP growth for the 2010-2019 decade. Still, it is likely to be around 3.5% per year, which is similar to the growth rate for the 2000s, and higher than the 3.3% growth of the 1980s and 1990s. That slightly stronger performance over the past two decades is due almost entirely to China, with India playing a modestly expanding role.

Average annual growth of 3.5% for 2010-2019 means that many countries fell short of their potential. In principle, global GDP could have increased by more than 4%, judging by the two key drivers of growth: the size of the workforce and productivity. In fact, the 2010s could have been the strongest decade of the first half of this century. But it didn’t turn out that way. The European Union endured a disappointing period of weakness, and Brazil and Russia each grew by much less than in the previous decade.

Protecting Trade


CHICAGO – Toward the end of the last decade, globalization – the lowering of barriers to cross-border flows of goods, services, investment, and information – came under severe pressure. Populist politicians in many countries accused others of various economic wrongs, and pushed to rewrite trade agreements. Developing countries have argued for decades that the rules governing international trade are profoundly unfair. But why are similar complaints now emanating from the developed countries that established most of those rules?

Open societies have not always needed defending in the determined way that they do today. But the tide turned against them after the 2008 global financial crisis, and, more than a decade later, the threat posed by authoritarian nationalism continues to rise. 

A simple but inadequate explanation is “competition.” In the 1960s and 1970s, industrialized countries focused on opening foreign markets for their goods and set the rules accordingly. Since then, the tide has turned. Emerging economies, especially China, got a lot better at producing goods; and the old rules dictate that developed countries must keep their markets open to the now-more-productive producers from elsewhere.

Finding Europe’s Way in the World

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BERLIN – The European Union, and particularly Germany, have yet to rise to the challenge posed by the United States’ retreat from global leadership. But, given the new competition from China, together with Russia’s renewed great-power aspirations, Western countries must find a way to cooperate more closely.

Open societies have not always needed defending in the determined way that they do today. But the tide turned against them after the 2008 global financial crisis, and, more than a decade later, the threat posed by authoritarian nationalism continues to rise. 

To that end, five issues seem vital. The first is Germany’s relationship with the US, which is now under severe stress. The elephant in the room is Germany’s failure to increase its annual defense spending to 2% of GDP, as agreed at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales. For obvious historical reasons, Germany is hesitant to become Europe’s de facto military power. Were it to meet its spending commitment, it would be allocating €80 billion ($89 billion) per year to the Bundeswehr, which is €46 billion more than what France spends.3

Schieffer Series: 2020 Challenges Ahead

BEVERLY KIRK: Good evening, everyone. Thank you for joining us tonight. Welcome to CSIS and the Schieffer Series. I’m Beverly Kirk. I direct the Smart Women, Smart Power Initiative here, and we are pleased to welcome you here if you’re in the room and if you’re online.

Before we get started this evening, we want to thank the sponsor of the Schieffer Series, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. They have supported this series since the very beginning, and we are very grateful for their support.

We also want to thank the Texas Christian University, home of the Schieffer College of Communication. They’ve been a very important partner to this series, and we’re grateful for their support as well.

Well, tonight’s Schieffer Series – you may notice I’m not Andrew Schwartz, who is normally your host for the Schieffer Series—but tonight’s discussion about “2020 Challenges Ahead” grew out of a Smart Women, Smart Power podcast that I did with the experts you see here on the stage about last year’s foreign policy hot topics and what we should expect coming up in 2020. And if you’re not already a podcast subscriber, I hope you will be after this.

An Alternative to the Defense Department’s New, Technology-Focused Organizations

The national security community increasingly creates new organizations to manage technology. Just within the Department of Defense (DOD), the past three years have seen the elevation of U.S. Cyber Command and the creation of the Space Force, U.S. Space Command, Space Development Agency, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, Army Futures Command, and an Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering. Looking to the future, some have even suggested creating a cyber defense agency or a new missile defense agency.

Policymakers often create new organizations to prioritize technology. But if new organizations separate technology and missions, they can be counterproductive—and create bureaucratic barriers that instead hurt technology development and fielding. Policymakers, therefore, should be wary of creating new organizations that focus solely on high priority technology. Instead, the national security community should carefully construct new organizations to facilitate technology development and fielding by integrating—rather than separating—technology and missions.

Today’s Focus on Technology

A Data Revolution for All


NEW YORK – Science has revolutionized medicine and agriculture over the last 100 years, particularly for the poorest of the poor. Achievements ranging from the treatment of hookworm to the green revolution attest to its power.

Open societies have not always needed defending in the determined way that they do today. But the tide turned against them after the 2008 global financial crisis, and, more than a decade later, the threat posed by authoritarian nationalism continues to rise. 

Looking ahead, data science has even greater potential to revolutionize everything from how we treat disease to how we build more inclusive economies. History shows us that when the power of science and technology is brought to bear on society’s greatest challenges, millions of lives can be improved.

Pick any problem you see around the world: the raging wildfires that are devastating Australia; the opioid epidemic that is ravaging poor communities in the United States; the world’s worst refugee crisis since World War II. Confronting these problems and others – from poverty and inequality to conservation and climate change – requires the responsible application of data, and the insights drawn from them.

Why AI Will Not Abolish Work


VIENNA – The diffusion of artificial intelligence (AI) across the economy has raised the possibility – and for many, the fear – that machines will eventually replace human work. They will not only perform an ever-larger share of mechanical operations, as we have been observing since the first Industrial Revolution, but will also coordinate work by establishing direct communication among machines (the so-called Internet of Things).

Open societies have not always needed defending in the determined way that they do today. But the tide turned against them after the 2008 global financial crisis, and, more than a decade later, the threat posed by authoritarian nationalism continues to rise. 

Some applaudthese breakthroughsfor realizing the old human dream of liberation from work, whereas others blame them for depriving people of fulfillment through work, and for cutting the link to income and job-related social benefits. According to the latter scenario, more and more jobs will disappear, leading to mass unemployment, although demand will increase for process- and product-design specialists. Studies of the likely effects of AI and increased automation on the labor market are of course highly speculative, but we should not underestimate the possible consequences of new technologies for employment.

Many observers, fearing the worst, have advocated an unconditional workless basic income to ward off foreseeable impoverishment. But, before economists and policymakers begin calculating the costs and benefits of a general basic income, we would do well to question the very premise of a workless future.

Work in the Twenty-First Century


Most of the reading public will have encountered scholarly predictions about the "future of work," and yet the most important elements of the debate lie in the past. As three recent books by leading economists show, understanding the history of technological change is crucial for anticipating what it will mean for employment in the decades ahead. 

OXFORD – Work! It consumes much of our lives and energy. But how we work and what we get from it have changed dramatically over time, and, as all three books under review here show, further radical shifts are on the horizon. As is to be expected of books about the future of work in the twenty-first century, there are common themes – automation, globalization, inequality. But each also brings something original to the table.

Dartmouth’s David G. Blanchflower, the author of Not Working, has enjoyed a long career as a labor economist, during which he has resisted both the neoliberal assault on the welfare state and the austerity hawks’ obsession with fiscal ratios and alleged inflation threats. He is a firm believer that economists should pursue a pragmatic investigation of the actual state of the economy, rather than simply taking orders from possibly outdated models.

Teaching Old Markets New Tricks


HANGZHOU – One of the most contentious political debates nowadays can be summarized as a classic left-right dispute. The left believes that markets are not delivering the results people need, and therefore government should step in. The right points out that markets have enabled the massive increase in living standards that we enjoy today, and thus should be left alone.

Both positions are correct, but also flawed. Market forces have indeed created vast wealth in the West, and more recently in China. But markets do not necessarily produce the greatest good for the greatest number, especially when they become engines of environmental pollution and other negative externalities.

Fortunately, there is a middle path. Through “market design,” market forces can be harnessed and directed toward socially desirable outcomes. This approach is familiar in government procurement. Governments do not typically make roads, computers, French fries, or warships; rather, they buy these things, after having issued specifications for them and solicited bids.

Whoever leads in artificial intelligence in 2030 will rule the world until 2100

Indermit Gill

Acouple of years ago, Vladimir Putin warned Russians that the country that led in technologies using artificial intelligence will dominate the globe. He was right to be worried. Russia is now a minor player, and the race seems now to be mainly between the United States and China. But don’t count out the European Union just yet; the EU is still a fifth of the world economy, and it has underappreciated strengths. Technological leadership will require big digital investments, rapid business process innovation, and efficient tax and transfer systems. China appears to have the edge in the first, the U.S. in the second, and Western Europe in the third. One out of three won’t do, and even two out three will not be enough; whoever does all three best will dominate the rest.

We are on the cusp of colossal changes. But you don’t have to take Mr. Putin’s word for it, nor mine. This is what Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and a serious student of the effects of digital technologies, says:

“This is a moment of choice and opportunity. It could be the best 10 years ahead of us that we have ever had in human history or one of the worst, because we have more power than we have ever had before.”