1 March 2020

Afghan conflict: US and Taliban sign deal to end 18-year war

The US and Nato allies have agreed to withdraw all troops within 14 months if the militants uphold the deal.

President Trump said the US was "working to finally end America's longest war and bring our troops back home".

Talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban are due to follow.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and leaders of the hardline Islamic movement attended the signing ceremony in Doha in Qatar.

Under the agreement, the militants also agreed not to allow al-Qaeda or any other extremist group to operate in the areas they control.

The US invaded Afghanistan weeks after the September 2001 attacks in New York by the Afghanistan-based al-Qaeda group.

More than 2,400 US troops have been killed during the conflict. About 12,000 are still stationed in the country. President Trump has promised to put an end to the conflict.
What happened in Doha?

Troops in Afghanistan: India faces new options

By Anand Arni and Pranay Kotasthane
Praveen Swami wrote in an article that Afghanistan’s National Security Advisor Hamdullah Mohib, during his recent visit to Delhi for the Raisina dialogue, had asked for the positioning of Indian peace-keeping troops in Afghanistan. Harsh Pant also referred to much the same in his commentary for the Observer Research Foundation. It is not clear whether the two are from a singular source, with domestic compulsions in mind, or whether this is a foretaste of what Trump would talk about when he comes to Delhi next week. This news was, however, promptly denounced as “fake news” by the spokesman of the Afghanistan’s National Security Council on Twitter.

This discussion over positioning of Indian troops in Afghanistan is more than a decade-old. The rationale being that an Indian military involvement in Afghanistan will shift the battleground away from Kashmir and make the Pakistani military-jihadi complex divert its resources towards the Durand Line. However, this argument has not been able to find much traction. A number of strategic, logistical, and historical reasons have been put forward over the years in opposition to this bold idea. The renewed request, attributed to Mohib, means we have come a full circle. So, should India revise its approach given a significant context shift?

Triangular Diplomacy Is the Best Strategy to Court India and Counter China

by Arjun Kapur
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If President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi decide to sign the first U.S.-India free trade agreement in the wake of the president’s visit to India this week, it would represent the most important trade deal of his administration.

A strategic partnership between the world’s oldest and largest democracies, as America’s leading India hands have argued, has the immense potential to craft renewed order in the Indo-Pacific region. The primary flaw in the U.S. approach to India, they believe, is that wishful thinking compels Washington to assume the viability of an alliance of democracies. In reality, India “prizes policy independence above all.” As a result, “Washington and New Delhi should strive to forge a partnership that is oriented toward furthering common interests without expecting an alliance of any kind.”

The traditional U.S. alliance model will not work for India. Still, these same experts on India who believe that the traditional basis for U.S. foreign policy in the postwar era—the American-led liberal international order—is a sound strategic concept and that Washington and New Delhi should base their partnership upon it. In bipartisan fashion, the two most recent U.S. ambassadors to India agree, with former U.S. envoy Richard Verma noting that Washington and New Delhi can be “guarantors of the democratic and liberal democratic order.” Meanwhile, sitting ambassador Kenneth Juster has declared that both can “ensure a free and open region, where the rule of law and democratic principles are reflected in a rules-based order.”

Is India Still a Rising Superpower?

By Muhsin Puthan

Since Narendra Modi came to power in 2014 he has actively pursued India’s international relations. While it is debatable how much his foreign policy activism has delivered in concrete terms, it has undoubtedly brought greater vigor and enthusiasm into India’s foreign policy. Some of his notable foreign policy pursuits include greater attention on expanding India’s soft power through cultural diplomacy, effective engagement with the Middle East, increased outreach to the Indian diaspora, and a leadership role in climate change (and particularly solar energy).

Much for the same reason, while Modi was seeking re-election last year, foreign policy received greater expectations from both policy circles and the general public. The notion of the rise of India’s international prestige that Modi had managed to cultivate seemingly played a contributing role in the his landslide victory the secured his second term.

However, hardly a year into office, Modi’s second term has already given overwhelming indications of a scenario in which India is losing its grip over maintaining the status quo. Foreign policy challenges are mounting, especially emerging from the domestic political arena — and some of them are clearly the result of the government’s own mistakes, coupled with deeply misplaced national priorities that do not accord with the reality and thus suggest a lack of global vision. While prudence dictates maintaining momentum in foreign policy for long-term benefits, unfortunately India’s international relations have become a hostage to its own domestic political and social chaos, if current trends are a reliable indicator. And the severe downturn in India’s economy further adds to its woes.

Why Has China Given Shelter to a Rebel Leader From India’s Northeast?

By Rajeev Bhattacharyya

Some have speculated that ULFA chief Parash Baruah lives in and operates from Ruili in China’s southwestern province of Yunnan. He is one of the most wanted men in both India and neighboring Bangladesh, where he has been awarded a death sentence along with other politicians and government officials for their role in the infamous Chittagong Arms Haul.

Corroboration about his presence in Yunnan has emerged from different sources in the last couple of years, which include statements by surrendered ULFA functionaries and inputs received by Indian intelligence agencies.

“China is keeping and creating various options for dealing with India, particularly when the latter is now more forthcoming about its geopolitical interests in the Indo-Pacific region. It suits China to keep India strategically imbalanced without taking an overtly hostile stance against it. Deniable covert support to Paresh Baruah fits into that pattern,” says Brigadier (Retd) Rumel Dahiya, who was also deputy director of the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses, a Delhi-based government think tank. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and proposed China-Myanmar Economic Corridor “complement that larger design,” he adds.

Here's How the Coronavirus Could Take Down China's Tech Companies

by Stratfor Worldview
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Without question, the new coronavirus has taken a toll on China and many other places in the world, infecting at least 30,600 people and killing 633 as of Feb. 7. But only now, as the Lunar New Year holiday draws to a close, is Beijing preparing to assess just how much economic damage the coronavirus outbreak has wrought, especially as China is central to the global electronics and information technology sector.

Ultimately, the breadth of the impact depends on how far the virus spreads beyond its current location. Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan, are not critical nodes for the vast majority of China's electronics sector. But neighboring provinces, including Shaanxi, Henan and Jiangxi, are all home to cities that are prominent in the global technology sector, while the provinces with the second and third most confirmed cases so far, Zhejiang and Guangdong, are arguably China's two most critical areas for tech. For the moment, the risk of the new coronavirus to such provinces is somewhat limited — but all that depends on the success of China's containment strategy in Hubei: For if the outbreak continues, it would have a monumental impact on China's tech sector, resulting in significant shortages.

A Limited Effect on Tech — For Now

Used to Run Google. Silicon Valley Could Lose to China.

by Eric Schmidt

Dr. Schmidt is the chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and the Defense Innovation Board. He is the former chairman and C.E.O. of Google.

Silicon Valley leaders may be putting too much faith in the private sector to ensure U.S. global leadership in new technology.

America’s companies and universities innovate like no other places on earth. We are garage start-ups, risk-taking entrepreneurs and intrepid scholars exploring new advances in science and technology. But that is only part of the story.

Many of Silicon Valley’s leaders got their start with grants from the federal government — including me. My graduate work in computer science in the 1970s and ’80s was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

But in recent years, Americans — Silicon Valley leaders included — have put too much faith in the private sector to ensure U.S. global leadership in new technology. Now we are in a technology competition with China that has profound ramifications for our economy and defense — a reality I have come to appreciate as chairman of two government panels on innovation and national security. The government needs to get back in the game in a serious way.

China’s Uneven High-Tech Drive: Implications for the United States

This report, with contributions from leading U.S. and Chinese experts, provides a dispassionate assessment of China’s high-tech drive and the implications for the United States and the global economy. The first section examines the overall trajectory of Chinese innovation. The second part takes an in-depth look at several prominent cases, including 5G, artificial intelligence, and autonomous vehicles. Collectively, this analysis indicates a highly uneven record of performance, with substantial successes and major problems. The report’s final section suggests how, in light of these findings, the United States and China should address the challenges in technology innovation and their broader relationship.

This report is part of the CSIS China Innovation Policy Series (CIPS), which has been made possible by generous support from the General Electric Foundation, the Japan External Trade Organization, Medtronic, Microsoft, the Semiconductor Industry Association, SK Hynix, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

How China poses an insider threat

Andrew Eversden
SAN FRANCISCO — The year 2019 was a “very bad year” for insider threats causing harm to the intellectual property of the private sector and the government, senior government security officials said Feb. 25.

Central to concerns is China, which for years has been infiltrating the networks of defense contractors and tech companies and stealing their technology, and how the country is now going beyond cyberattacks and increasingly relying on insiders to steal IP instead.

That’s a trend that the intelligence agencies inside the U.S. government have seen since former President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to halt the theft of IP, a deal that hasn’t been entirely successful and pushed the Chinese to steal IP outside of the cyber realm.

“What we ... saw since that understanding is the [Chinese] intelligence services becoming involved in developing and expanding the insider threat, which wasn’t, strictly speaking, covered by the understanding, but obviously covered by the spirit of the understanding,” said John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, speaking at the the RSA Conference.

The Takshashila PLA Insight

I. The Big Story: CMC Decrees and Measures

Tightening Security:

China has tightened the confidentiality rules for overseas cooperation and arms fairs as the PLA steps up exchanges with foreign counterparts. President Xi Jinping signed a decree last week to improve confidentiality for important military events, exchanges and arms fairs abroad. Increased confidentiality was a part of revised law that would come into effect from March 1, 2020.

Since the Xi Jinping military reforms in late 2015, the PLA’s engagement with the foreign armies has spiked. Xi in 2015 promised the UN that China would deploy 8,000 peacekeeping troops. That same year, NPC passed a revised national security law that expanded the PLA’s peacekeeping responsibilities, international rescue operations and escort missions. One reason for more bilateral and multilateral exercises and training is to overcome the so-called PLA’s “Peace disease” which “the PLA is suffering from 1979” and make it more combat-ready for the future.

Under the revised law, people who disclose information the PLA’s political department considers “confidential,” will face punishment. “If it’s just a minor offence they might only receive an internal disciplinary penalty, but it could mean being sent to military court if they are seen as traitors for leaking something ‘confidential’,” reports Minnie Chan in SCMP. The revised law will also include details on how to keep military information confidential when using the internet and intelligent electronic devices, she reports.

New Rules for Cyber Security Risks:

How a Coronavirus Outbreak Could Add to Iran’s Many Troubles

Frida Ghitis
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Iran has suddenly emerged as the principal focus of global infection for coronavirus outside of China. Just in the past few days, it has reported more deaths, 26, than any country after China, where 2,744 people have died from the highly infectious disease. More worryingly, Iran has only reported 245 cases of coronavirus as of Feb. 27—far fewer than Japan or South Korea, and even Italy—but those official numbers defy belief. They would put the mortality rate in Iran at more than 10 percent, significantly higher than the rest of the world. In the central Chinese province of Hubei, for example, the epicenter of this epidemic, the reported mortality rate is estimated at 2 percent. Either Iran has a much more deadly strain, or it is lying about the numbers of infected.

Observers in and out of Iran are convinced the government is lying, at great risk of a pandemic. Cases of coronavirus traced back to Iran have been identified over a wide span of the globe, from Afghanistan to Canada.

The outbreak in Iran, at the heart of the world’s most unstable region, has thrown a new and potentially explosive element of uncertainty into the Middle East. Iran was already facing steep challenges at home and abroad, from domestic dissent to a regional backlash against its influence to pressure from the United States. But the regime’s reaction to this public health crisis is likely to weaken its hand on all those fronts

#RSAC: What Governments Should Do to Respond to Nation State Attacks

Sean Michael Kerner 

Nation states are actively attacking digital and internet-connected assets, but whether or not the US and other governments are doing enough to stop those attacks is a burning question that was debated in a session at the RSA Conference in San Francisco.

Sometimes there is a tendency for individuals or even organizations to question whether nation state cybersecurity attacks matter, which is something that Tom Corcoran, head of cybersecurity at Farmers Insurance Group, disagreed with. In his view, whether we like it or not, cyber space attacks matter to everyone now. To reinforce his point, he cited a famous quote attributed to Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky at the turn of the twentieth century: “You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

What Nation States Want

The reasons why different nations engage in cybersecurity attacks are wide and varied though Stewart Baker, partner at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, summarized the key threat actors succinctly.

Russian Military Science Promotes Innovation in Future Warfare

By: Roger McDermott

Russian military science contributes in many ways to planning concerning a range of defense and military issues. The political-military leadership attaches primary importance to efforts to research and examine future warfare in order to help the state prepare for and invest in the development of force structures required to operate in such likely conflicts. Russian military officials do not view such processes as abstract, as evidenced by the chief of the General Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov’s, annual speeches to the Academy of Military Sciences (Akademii Voyennykh Nauk—AVN). These addresses are frequently used to appeal to the AVN to innovate and develop new approaches to future warfare (see EDM, March 12, 2019, June 5, 2019). Some important insights into the ideas and perspectives emanating from the AVN concerning the warfare of tomorrow are revealed in a recent article in Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, authored by AVN Professor Sergei Chvarkov (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, February 20). Chvarkov’s article examines the nature, aims and likely diversity of future armed conflicts.

Chvarkov’s consideration of the theme of future warfare places this in the context of the science of war (nauki o voyne), asking if this is a necessity or fashion. The author notes that in recent years the leaderships of the defense ministry and the General Staff have set specific goals for Russian military science: these include examining the main trends in global military thought, international development, and the future of Russia as well as considering Moscow’s geopolitical role in relation to the science of war. Chvarkov argues that “war is essentially multifaceted; an assessment of the totality of factors that make up its nature requires an integrated approach” (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, February 20).

Solidarity Now


ROME – The world is facing a multitude of challenges, from climate change and inequality to the crisis of confidence in our political and economic institutions. The capitalist system itself is undergoing yet another existential crisis, and many countries are facing various trials of their own. The United States is in the grips of an opioid crisis, a childhood diabetes crisis, and a political crisis. China, already struggling to maintain growth in the context of a broader trade and technology war with US President Donald Trump’s administration, is beset by a coronavirus epidemic that threatens to become a pandemic. Argentina is confronting another debt crisis, and mass demonstrations are roiling countries worldwide.

Looming in the background is a deeper ethical crisis that is evident pretty much everywhere. Business leaders, myopically focused on the bottom line, have displayed remarkable moral turpitude. The financial sector has been marked by predatory lending, market manipulation, and abusive consumer-credit practices. Automakers have been caught gaming environmental regulations. The food and beverage industry is knowingly contributing to childhood obesity around the world. Pharmaceutical companies are pushing addictive drugs even as they claim otherwise (while eschewing research into desperately needed new antibiotics).

The True Price of Carbon


NEW YORK – At the center of many policy challenges is a contest between “realists” and “radicals.” That’s true of the ongoing Democratic primary race in the United States, for example, and it has long defined the climate-change debate. Will incremental policies such as a modest carbon price save us from disaster, or does climate change call for a more revolutionary approach?

It might seem strange that a global economy with so much knowledge and wealth at its disposal would be beset by so many crises. Yet the current dismal state of affairs is exactly what we should expect after 40 years of "greed-is-good" market fundamentalism. 11Add to 

Attempts to answer this question typically rely more on gut feelings and political instincts than on rigorous analysis. The debate also often features a generational divide between youthful idealists and seasoned moderates. Just recently, US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin dismissed criticism from 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg by suggesting that she take a class in economics.

The Geo-Economics of the Water Deficit in Crimea

By: Ridvan Bari Urcosta

In Russian-occupied Crimea, people are praying with Christian Orthodox priests for rain and snow because the last six months passed by with virtually no precipitation. Because of the dry winter, local reservoirs are now almost empty. Journalists forecast apocalyptic drought scenarios for the peninsula. And in the administrative capital of Simferopol, the authorities have gradually introduced rationing measures to conserve the limited water supply.

Since the 2014 annexation of Crimea, the Kremlin initiated unprecedented infrastructure projects that have had important geopolitical consequences for the region. Inter alia, Russia is presently completing three enormous projects: the Tavrida highway, Kerch Strait Bridge and thermal power stations on the peninsula. As a result, Moscow has managed to develop Crimea’s energy self-sufficiency, a sophisticated system of communications and logistics (natural gas, electricity, railways, airports), and it restored the status of Crimea as a Russian military bastion in the Black Sea. Total Russian investments in Crimea from 2014 to 2022 approximate $15 billion (Vzglyad, January 17). However, chronic water shortages remain the biggest still-unresolved problem that Russia inherited following the annexation.

In 2013, the total water consumed by Crimea amounted to 1,553.78 million cubic meters. Of this, water procured from the Dnieper River in Ukraine proper, via the North Crimean Canal, made up 86.65 percent of the total water intake; local stocks equaled 8.7 percent; groundwater—4.41 percent; and seawater—0.16 percent (Meco.rk.gov.ru, December 2013). But following the peninsula’s forcible annexation by Russia, Kyiv cut off water supplies from the Dnieper. The resulting water shortages have most severely affected eastern Crimea, notably such major cities as Feodosia, Kerch, Sudak, the Leninsky district, as well as, partially, Simferopol and Sevastopol (Vestnik.vsu.ru, August 2015). This negatively affected Crimean agriculture: rice cultivation has had to be abandoned and other crops, primarily corn and soybeans, had to be reduced. Some of the most affected have been Crimean Tartars farmers, who are concentrated in the Crimean steppe zone.

The UAE Nuclear Project Is Nearing Operation, but Will It Usher in a Nuclear Power Boom in the Middle East?

Last week, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) moved a step closer to becoming the first Arab country to host a nuclear power project. Unit 1 of the Barakah nuclear power plant received a long-awaited operating license. After a series of additional testing, the reactor will be set to operate for 60 years. The four-unit Barakah plant in Abu Dhabi, supplied by South Korea, is expected to meet about one-quarter of the country’s electricity needs while also helping to avoid around 21 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

Will the successful completion of the second nuclear power project in the Middle East (after the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran in September 2011) herald an expansion of nuclear power generation in the region? Besides the additional three units in the UAE, one unit is under construction in Iran. Additional regional players with plans for introducing nuclear power include Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The list is even longer when nuclear aspirant countries less far along in their planning are included.

Policymakers in the region are increasingly drawn to nuclear energy as a partial solution to growing energy demand, increasing global concern over greenhouse gas emissions, and overdependence on fossil fuels in the domestic economies. The share of nuclear energy in the region’s primary energy mix could grow from 0.26 percent today to about 2 percent, according to the International Energy Agency stated policies scenario and ExxonMobil, or as much as 6 percent (Shell’s Sky Scenario) in 2040.

U.S. Media Outlets Aren’t Ready for Russia’s Election Interference

Candace Rondeaux 

If recent history is any guide, the United States is less than a year away from a paralyzing national security crisis. Whether President Donald Trump or his Democratic challenger wins in November, revelations that Russia is once again interfering in the 2020 presidential election all but guarantee that the legitimacy of the electoral results will be called into question, potentially undermining the country’s very political stability. One way to guard against that looming threat is for media outlets, which frame how most Americans understand foreign meddling, to make a major course correction in how they cover and respond to Russia’s election interference.

Many newsrooms and journalists remain troublingly ill-equipped to deal with Russia’s information warfare, despite what happened in 2016. While many news outlets are giving their all to covering the unrelenting 2020 election news cycle fairly and rigorously, the news industry itself is woefully behind the curve on confronting the threat posed to a free press by these disinformation campaigns. Despite the preponderance of evidence that news organizations, along with social media platforms, are the central targets of Russia’s more sophisticated 21st-century efforts, many American news outlets continue to operate like they are stuck in the 20th century.

Health Security: The Global Context

Protection from infectious diseases has become a key issue not only in Swiss, but also in international health policy in recent years. Under the terms of the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR), which are at the center of these efforts, states must identify and contain outbreaks at the earliest possible stage. However, the global implementation of the regulations must be further improved. By Ursula Jasper SARS, MERS, H1N1, Ebola, Zika – the list of infectious diseases that have alarmed the public and challenged researchers around the globe in recent years is a long one. Today more than ever, communicable diseases are regarded as serious potential threats to national and global society. For instance, the WHO in 2007 described the danger of a new type of influenza virus as “the most feared security threat” (World Health Report 2007, p. 45). 

Health experts warn that increasing global mobility as well as interdependencies and interconnections due to flows of trade and goods, migration, and tourism create the conditions for a spread of global, i.e. pandemic diseases within a short time. This means that purely national efforts to combat diseases are ineffective, and that transnational, joint approaches are necessary. Therefore, after years of negotiations, the WHO passed a new set of International Health Regulations (IHR) in 2005. They stipulate that all WHO member states must build up national early detection and warning systems to be able to discover and respond in a timely manner to potential cross-border pandemics – known as Public Health Emergencies of International Concern – on their territories.

Why America Radicalizes Brits


The United States has a strange power over Britain, radicalizing Brits who spend any time in its embrace—for the British, there’s no other place like it.

Europe, the idea and the reality, has challenged and polarized Britain for half a century, but mainly on practical and constitutional grounds—whether the U.K. should belong to Europe or stand apart from it. With David Cameron’s decision to call a referendum on British membership of the European Union, this question became immediate and existential. Distant America is neither. And yet the very idea of it exerts a hold that seems to only grow with experience, radicalizing even the most mild-mannered of Brits who venture there, in a way France, Germany, Italy, or Australia does not.

The idea of America has always been political: the wealth and opportunity as some see it, the injustice and individualism as others prefer. With Brexit this has only become more pronounced. The U.S. has been held up by one side of the argument as an opportunity to grasp, and by the other as the danger of what might become. To ardent leavers, it offers the hope of free trade without constitutional entanglement; to many remainers, it means subservience to a greater power, chlorinated chicken, and privatized health care.

Can the US-Japan Alliance Handle Cyberattacks?

By Sonoko Kuhara
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Not surprisingly, in 2018, the White House released the National Cyber Strategy, which shows a shift toward a more offensive cybersecurity posture. It emphasizes that the United States will take a strong policy stance, not only for the U.S. but also its allies and partners, to impose costs on attackers, including the use of kinetic means to deter cyber threats.

As cyberattacks pose serious national security risks to each state, the international community has also begun to discuss when cyberattacks should trigger the activation of self-defense and/or collective defense and has started cooperative programs to address the threat. For instance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) initiated cooperative cyber defense after a critical cyberattack on Estonia in 2007. NATO’s Tallinn Manual is a crucial publication that attempts to apply pre-cyber era international law to cyber operations, asserting that both self-defense and collective self-defense are applicable to cyberattacks.

Japan, which suffers the third most targeted cyberattacks in the world, has caught up with this trend. In April 2019, the United States and Japan agreed that their mutual security treaty will also cover serious cyberattacks against both countries, and this agreement is expected to deepen their cooperation significantly. However, three major challenges remain for the U.S. and Japan to effectively protect themselves against cyber threats.

The Cyber Threat from Iran after the Death of Soleimani – Combating Terrorism Center at West Point


Abstract: Following the U.S. drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani, the U.S. government has issued repeated warnings to be vigilant against cyberattacks from Iran. In the immediate aftermath, Iranian social media disinformation operations, website defacements, phishing attempts, and network probing emanating from Iran spiked. Iranian hackers of all skill levels—from amateurs to professionals—appear to be taking the initiative to launch attacks they believe the regime would want them to undertake, whether or not they have received direct orders or requests from the government to launch these operations. Public reporting indicates that the Iranian regime itself has yet to retaliate for the commander’s death with a destructive cyberattack. Based on past behavior and the regime’s use of cyber as a tool in its asymmetric arsenal, it is likely that state-backed hackers will attempt to conduct significantly damaging cyber operations in the future. Soleimani’s death itself, however, is unlikely to significantly alter the trajectory of the cyber threat from Iran. State-sponsored Iranian cyber operations are likely to continue, either in direct response to Soleimani’s death, in reaction to U.S. economic pressure, or in pursuit of other regime interests.

Tensions between the United States and Iran have been escalating since the Trump administration came into office in January 20171 and withdrew from—and in November 2018 began reimposing sanctions lifted pursuant to—the 2015 nuclear agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).2 Washington has further escalated sanctions since then, and Iran has responded with violence and destabilizing activities across multiple domains.3 In total, U.S. sanctions have cost Iran $200 billion in investment and oil revenue, according to President Hassan Rouhani.4 Inflation is rampant,5 foreign exchange reserves are rapidly shrinking, and the country has entered a deep recession.6

Viral Panic

Having brought the Chinese economy to a virtual standstill, the COVID-19 epidemic now threatens to trigger a global recession. What can policymakers do to stem the panic?

In this Big Picture, Stephen S. Roach of Yale University warns that the global economy today is much more vulnerable, and more dependent on China, than at the time of the 2003 SARS outbreak. Moreover, says Keio University’s Akira Kawamoto, the draconian steps that governments have taken to contain the virus are seriously disrupting global supply chains, trade, and tourism.

And even if the world does avoid recession, says Harvard University’s Jeffrey Frankel, the COVID-19 epidemic could well hasten the ongoing economic decoupling of the United States and China. Meanwhile, Princeton University’s Harold James identifies possible historical precedents for what might come next, and argues that COVID-19 may precipitate the waning of globalization.

Cyberspace and Geopolitics: Assessing Global Cybersecurity Norm Processes at a Crossroads


As cyber insecurity has become a growing problem worldwide, states and other stakeholders have sought to increase stability for cyberspace. As a result, a new ecosystem of “cyber norm” processes has emerged in diverse fora and formats. Today, United Nations (UN) groups (for example, the Group of Governmental Experts [GGE] and the Open-Ended Working Group [OEWG]), expert commissions (for example, the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace), industry coalitions (for example, the Tech Accord, the Charter of Trust), and multistakeholder collectives (for example, the Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace) all purport to identify or operationalize various normative standards of behavior for states and/or other stakeholders in cyberspace. As some of these processes wind down (for example, the Global Commission) and others wind up (for example, the OEWG), cyber norms are at a crossroads where each process’s potential (and problems) looms large.

On October 29, 2019, the University of Pennsylvania’s Perry World House and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace convened a one-day workshop titled “Cyberspace and Geopolitics.”1 It brought together three dozen key stakeholders in the cyber norm discourse, including representatives of national governments, international organizations, nongovernmental entities, industry, and think tanks, alongside several chief information security officers and academics from international law and international relations. Participants assessed the various cyber norm processes both individually and collectively. This paper builds on the outcome of those discussions.2

Hackers Are Everywhere. Here’s How Scholars Can Find Them.

By Ben Buchanan 

The world of cyber operations is full of hard national security choices. How do long-held ideas of counterintelligence, deterrence and deception apply in this new arena of competition? How does escalation work with hacking? Who carried out this intrusion, and what was the intention behind it? Most of all, what does any of this mean for geopolitics in the modern age, and how can scholars communicate that to policymakers?

There are a variety of ways to approach these questions. Some scholars have constructed intricate formal models that use game theory to predict how states will behave in cyberspace. Others have used surveys and war games, asking participants to imagine what they would do in various situations of crisis. Still others have expanded the aperture of study, creating vast catalogs of cyber incidents, even comparatively minor ones, and subjecting them to quantitative analysis. All these approaches are valid.

But I want to advocate for a different technique, one that does not replace the others but supplements them: Deeply study the hacks that have taken place. This case study method is out of vogue in political science, which has preferred large-n samples and regression models. But in the world of government hacking operations, where the notable public cases are only a few dozen in number, examining these cases in detail can offer insights that would otherwise be missed—or add support to theories that need it.

Pentagon Wants To Start Testing New 5G Tech Soon

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Within the next couple of weeks, the U.S. Defense Department will release a final request for proposals to industry on 5G technology to test at four military bases across the country. That testing, prototyping, and experimentation will include virtual reality tech and sharing portions of the electromagnetic spectrum between DoD and telecommunications companies, according to Defense Department officials. 

“DOD is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to set up prototypes at four of our bases around the country where we can invite companies in to test, because we would benefit from 5G,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. 

Smart warehouse prototypes and testing will take place at Naval Base San Diego in California and Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany, Georgia. Augmented reality and virtual reality tech development and testing will take place at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. Dynamic spectrum-sharing experiments will take place at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.