5 March 2020

India as a Rising Power


The Security Studies Seminar is a monthly seminar series that aims to comprehensively discuss a new piece of academic research on matters pertaining to Indian and international security, with the author.

In the 72 years since India achieved independence, many believe that the country is destined to rise as a global power. While India has achieved much in obtaining a higher global status, its quest of great power status remains unfinished. What kind of opportunities has India leveraged or missed in this pursuit? What are the external and internal constraints that hamper its progress? Finally, what does the future hold for India’s status elevation?

Carnegie India hosted T.V. Paul as he discussed the oppprtunities and constraints that India faces as it navigates its rise in the 21st century. The discussion was moderated by Srinath Raghavan.


Attaining Great Power Status: Participants stated that in international relations, the study of great powers is an area of major focus, from the works of classical realists like Machiavelli to neoclassical realists such as Robert Gilpin. They noted, in the Indian context, foreign policy continues to center around the pursuit of prosperity and security. These twin goals contribute to India’s ambition for great power status. Participants explained that great power status, synonymous with institutionalized global power status, is the result of systemic recognition. The degree to which a state is accepted, and part of exclusive international institutions is a sign of great power status, institutional recognition is central to a state being a great power, they noted. Participants further highlighted that prestige and global power status are interlinked. 

Are Afghan Elites Ready for an Afghanistan Without America?

by Arif Rafiq
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An unwinnable war is now a potential opportunity for diplomatic victory. That is what President Donald Trump, U.S. Special Representative Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, and Khalilzad’s team have achieved with the help of Qatar and Pakistan through Saturday’s accord with the Taliban.

The U.S.-Taliban agreement is no peace deal. At its core, it exchanges a full U.S. military withdrawal for Taliban counterterrorism guarantees. But it does more than that. It includes a Taliban commitment, in exchange for the release of some five thousand prisoners, to participate in a political dialogue with other Afghan leaders, including those from President Ashraf Ghani’s government, on their country’s future. And in doing so, the agreement forged by Khalilzad and lead Taliban negotiator, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, provides a real pathway to responsibly end America’s longest war and the broader forty-year Afghan civil war. 

On Saturday, an emotional Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underscored the historic opportunity before Afghan leaders, stating that they must not fail to seize it. He implored them to think beyond their personal interests.

The ball is now in the court of Afghanistan’s leaders. The Taliban appear to have implicitly consented to Ghani playing a lead role in forming the committee of Afghans with whom they will negotiate. But Ghani, unfortunately, has not changed his stripes. His priority remains staying in power by any means, even if that requires upending the peace process. 

The Real Test in Afghanistan Is Still to Come

By Carter Malkasian 

After more than 18 years of fighting in Afghanistan and many missed opportunities, the United States and the Taliban are on the verge of signing a conditional peace agreement. As a prelude to the deal, both parties began a voluntary seven-day reduction in violence on February 22. So far, the lull in the fighting has held. While an accord with the Taliban entails a number of risks, such dangers are to be expected in a complicated peace process, and they should not obscure the fact that the agreement is Washington’s best hope of ending the longest American war. 

The deal on the table in Afghanistan is the culmination of peace talks that began in September 2018, when Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghan reconciliation, opened a dialogue with the Taliban Political Commission. The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump saw bilateral talks that excluded the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as the first step toward a political settlement between all Afghan parties. In January 2019, Khalilzad offered to give the Taliban a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. military forces. In return, the Taliban eventually agreed to stop assisting al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, to reduce violence, and to reach a political settlement with the government and other Afghans that would end the war.

Why a U.S.-Taliban Peace Deal Could Strengthen ISIS in Afghanistan

Patrice Taddonio 

The U.S.-led war in Afghanistan began nearly two decades ago in a post-9/11 bid to kill Osama bin Laden, destroy Al Qaeda and oust its ruling ally, the Taliban.

More than 18 years and tens of thousands of deaths later, the Trump administration is negotiating with a resurgent Taliban — and both sides have said that they are prepared to sign a peace deal on Feb. 29. The signing of the deal, which is contingent on the successful completion of a week-long reduction in violence meant to show the U.S. that Taliban leadership has control over its fighters on the ground, is expected to involve an agreement to draw down U.S. troops in the country and to open the door to talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

But according to recent FRONTLINE reporting from inside Afghanistan, a U.S.-Taliban peace deal could have unintended consequences inside the country: an increase in membership for ISIS, as Taliban fighters unhappy with their group’s participation in the peace process defect.

China Pledges Support for US-Taliban Peace Agreement

China on Monday pledged its support for the U.S.-Taliban peace agreement in Afghanistan and called for the “orderly and responsible” withdrawal of foreign troops to avoid a power vacuum and possible terrorist resurgence.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said the reconciliation process should be “Afghan-led and Afghan-owned,” despite the Taliban’s refusal thus far to negotiate directly with Afghanistan’s elected government.

China shares a narrow border with Afghanistan and is wary of crime and violence spilling over into its volatile Xinjiang region, which is on a virtual lock-down after years of anti-government bloodshed. China has also provided aid to the Afghan government and is seeking to profit by helping develop the country’s deposits of copper and other minerals.

China’s desire for stability and concerns about the spread of extremism are partly at odds with its desire to see its chief rival, the United States, leave the region, which it considers part of its sphere of influence. As a result, it has sought to build influence with both the government in Kabul and the Taliban.

Peace, Not Justice: Questioning the Top-Down Deal in Afghanistan

By Monish Tourangbam and Neha Dwivedi
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Afghanistan is yet again at the cusp of transition and perhaps transformation. On February 29, in Qatar, the United States entered into a peace deal with the Taliban. Despite proclaiming in the very title of the document that it was an “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America,” the provisions therein emphatically reflect the ground that the U.S. government has ceded vis-à-vis the Taliban. There is a surreal sentiment pervading the peace agreement, given how the Taliban from being ousted from power in 2001, has nearly re-entered the corridors of power less than two decades later. Few could have imagined some years back that Sirajuddin Haqqani, deputy leader of the Taliban, would put his point of view in a New York Times op-ed “What We, the Taliban, Want.” 

Amrullah Saleh, the vice president-elect of Afghanistan in a recent article for Time magazine “I Fought the Taliban. Now I’m Ready to Meet Them at the Ballot Box,” while calling for truce and peace in Afghanistan, was skeptical and suspicious of the Taliban having changed their ends or means. 

The question of sustainable peace and transitional justice hangs over the moves of a war fatigued United States and an emboldened Taliban. Even the initiative for a week-long reduction in violence was preceded by an air-strike in the Kashk-e-Kohna district, claiming the lives of at least 11 civilians; and it was followed by a blast at a football stadium in Khost province that killed three.

Agreement with the Taliban: What next?

by James B. Cunningham

With the February 29 signature of the US-Taliban agreement, a new phase for Afghanistan may be opening. The Taliban will no doubt consider this the beginning of the restoration of the Islamic Emirate, whether they say so in public or not. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo describes the agreement, the terms of which remain to be seen, as a “timeline for both a conditions-based and phased troop withdrawal, and for the commencement of intra-Afghan negotiations” on a political settlement to end the conflict. This agreement is a first step toward that goal, hopefully opening the door to negotiations on the future of Afghanistan.

It is certainly right to test the proposition whether a genuine peace negotiation is possible, and if a Taliban commitment to break with al-Qaeda and combat terrorism will be upheld. It is also important to be clear-eyed about what is necessary to achieve a long-term solution that most Afghans can accept, and that the international community, led by the United States, must help shape.

Withdrawal deadlines in war: Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan

by Paul D. Miller

At the outset of some of the most impactful wars in history, policymakers have assumed that the duration of conflict would be brief. Unfortunately, their assumptions were often wrong, as may wars like those in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan only grew more complicated with the passage of time. However, at least in these three cases, the reality of prolonged stalemate did not stop policymakers from setting withdrawal deadlines to assuage public anxieties and improve military performance. The pressures contributing to these consistent decisions across time are still relevant now. Therefore, as the United States currently seeks to deter great-power rivals and rogue regimes while combating terrorism, it is as important as ever to understand the roles and potential outcomes of withdrawal deadlines in war.

In this new Atlantic Council report, Withdrawal Deadlines In War: Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Dr. Paul D. Miller examines the effect of withdrawal timetables on public opinion, military success, and policymakers’ goals across the three titular case studies. He finds that “Withdrawal timelines do not achieve the political benefits that policymakers desire, but they do incur the risks policymakers rightly fear.” In the face of prolonged and difficult military challenges, withdrawal deadlines can exacerbate outcomes at crucial moments, and thus policymakers must tread carefully.

Pandemics Ravaged Iran Long Before the Coronavirus

By Amir A. Afkhami 

As the novel coronavirus sweeps Iran, the government’s response has been opaque and remarkably deficient, favoring political and religious priorities over pragmatic prevention policies. When the virus began to spread in Wuhan, China, other countries took stock of their readiness against the disease. Iran did not prepare. Instead, it continued to export facemasks to China, causing a national shortage when its own hospitals needed masks in February. Iran also refused to restrict travelers from China, its largest trading partner, in all likelihood to avoid any deleterious impact on its already spiraling economy, which has been battered by U.S. sanctions.

Just a month before the country’s first coronavirus cases were reported, Iran’s military had mistakenly downed a Ukrainian jetliner. The handling of the crisis that ensued became an embarrassing display of ineptitude on the part of the country’s leadership. Facing a crisis in public trust after that blunder, as well as worsening economic and political isolation under U.S. sanctions, Iran’s leaders were disinclined to ask for international aid and instead adopted a policy toward the coronavirus outbreak that prioritized the regime’s survival and prestige over the public’s welfare.

A New Book Details How China Plans To Beat America

by Nathan Levine

Key point: There is a perfectly rational, realist case for why America should not allow China’s vision to come to pass.

The core theme of Jonathan D. T. Ward’s recently published book China’s Vision of Victory is clear from its striking cover art: Lady Liberty struggles to hold her torch of freedom aloft above red waves, under which she has been almost completely submerged. The message is obvious: the United States, and the ideas it represents, are about to be swamped by the rising tide of a Chinese empire.

Only a few years ago this kind of imagery would have signaled to America’s foreign-policy establishment that the book could be dismissed out-of-hand, an alarmist screed to be set carefully aside like Peter Navarro’s “Death by China” (replete with a jagged, “Made in China” dagger plunging into the heartland of a bloody America).

Times have changed, however, and today the book no longer feels out of place. Indeed it captures better than any other the current zeitgeist in Washington, which finds itself rapidly reorienting to embrace a new era of “strategic competition” with Beijing. This helps explain why, despite being a relatively young scholar, Ward’s work has achieved a notable degree of attention and influence inside the U.S. government—and the Pentagon in particular, as evidenced by a foreword by Adm. Scott Swift and glowing endorsement by Gen. David Petraeus.

China Is Prepared to Reap the Strategic Rewards of Its Relationship With Russia

By Lyle J. Goldstein

Moscow has transferred more than five hundred aircraft—large military transports, early warning aircraft, refueling aircraft, attack jets, and fighter interceptors—to Beijing since 1990.

Chinese air power these days is something to behold. In the course of just about thirty years, Beijing’s aerial inventory has gone from quite obsolete to cutting edge. It’s worth noting, moreover, that Chinese airpower is but one tool that Beijing can wield in the skies. If its massive missile forces perform as expected, destroying adversary runways, then there will be few enemy aircraft getting into the air to contest the supremacy of China’s fighters and bombers—or at least very few of them will be able to gain access to much of the western Pacific.

The Russia-China military cooperation has already fundamentally altered the balance in the Asia-Pacific region more than once. Moscow sold to Beijing four rather advanced destroyers and twelve extremely capable diesel submarines with all the related armament during the 1990s. This arms sale was facilitated by a relationship that existed between the two countries in the 1950s, which is when hundreds of vessels (and designs) were transferred from Russia to China. The same process has transformed Chinese airpower—perhaps even more so. 

Can China’s Economy Withstand the Coronavirus?


MILAN – The new coronavirus, COVID-19, that emerged in Wuhan, China in December has already killed thousands, altered the daily lives of hundreds of millions, and put the entire world on edge. Because epidemiologists have not yet fully discerned the virus’ transmission mechanisms, no one can say for sure when the outbreak might be contained, let alone what its economic fallout will be.

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. 

This does not mean, however, that no educated guesses can be made. Historical experience with similar large shocks suggests that the short-run economic damage may be considerable. As investors de-risk their portfolios, market volatility should be expected, especially in sectors deemed to have the largest exposures, such as travel and tourism, luxury goods, and autos.

China’s ruling elite stumbles into a ‘disaster’

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For China, the start of 2020 has been an unmitigated disaster after the Covid-19 outbreak swept across the country before spreading to more than 50 other nations.

Even the official statistics fail to convey the magnitude of the catastrophe as the death toll climbs past 3,000 with close to 89,000 people worldwide infected.

Politically, this has been a public relations calamity for President Xi Jinping and the ruling Communist Party. Accusations of incompetence have been leveled against Beijing for its early response to the crisis, as well as claims of a “cover-up” by officials in Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic in Hubei province.

“It’s very difficult to say how much damage the Covid-19 disease has done to the reputations of Xi Jinping and the CCP [Communist Party of China] but I don’t think it’s an imaginative stretch to say it’s ‘disastrous,’” Wu’er Kaixi, the exiled Chinese activist known for his leading role in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, told Asia Times.

In the past 10 days, a back-to-work program has been launched, but progress has been slow after factories, businesses and schools were shut down in January following the Lunar New Year holiday.

Coronavirus special edition: Europe’s historic test amid expanding, global ripples

by Frederick Kempe

Castiglione d'Adda, Italy - 27 February 2020: Military personnel wearing protective respiratory masks stand guard at the border of the isolated small town of Castiglione d'Adda as measures are taken to contain the outbreak of Coronavirus COVID-19 (Photo by Piero Cruciatti/Sipa USA)

The coronavirus pounded the European Union this week with the biggest test of its political, economic and social fabric since the refugee crisis of five years ago.

The ripples from the European Migrant Crisis of 2015 continue until today with its dual shock to the EU’s unity and domestic politics. It triggered a wave of populism and nationalism, the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the EU, and Germany’s political fragmentation behind the weakening of Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Most dramatically, the Turkish government this week backed off from its commitment made in 2016, in return for 6 billion euros in EU funds, to prevent Syrian refugees from entering Europe. That followed a Thursday airstrike by Russian-backed Syrian forces in Syria’s Idlib province, killing at least 33 Turkish troops.

China’s Declining Birth Rate and Changes in CCP Population Policies

By: Linda Zhang


Demography may not be destiny, but China has always been conscious of rearing the next generation. One of the three unfilial acts, according to the ancient Chinese philosopher Mencius, is the failure to bear a son. The Chinese have traditionally viewed offspring as a form of wealth, and have placed immense value on fecundity. [1] Despite such traditional beliefs, in the years after the Cultural Revolution senior officials of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) feared that overpopulation would exhaust the country’s scarce resources. In 1980, the CCP formally implemented the One Child Policy (独生子女政策, Dusheng Zi Nu Zhengce), or OCP, a national family planning policy that limited parents to only one child (Xinhua, November 16, 2015).

However, after over three decades of efforts to reduce population growth, People’s Republic of China (PRC) officials are now concerned about a shrinking workforce and an aging population. The CCP leadership repealed OCP in 2015, but the fertility rate in China is nowhere near pre-OCP levels. Furthermore, the PRC has seen a significant decline in birth rate in recent years (see discussion below). The true extent of the decline is impossible to verify, but the downward trend in birth numbers is worrisome. This article examines both official PRC statistics on total birth numbers for recent years, as well as discussions among Chinese netizens using unconfirmed statistics, to analyze the deep uncertainties surrounding China’s demographic and political future.

Iranian digital influence efforts: Guerrilla broadcasting for the twenty-first century

by Emerson T. Brooking, Suzanne Kianpour

Tens of thousands of Iranians took to the streets to protest irregularities in the 2009 Iranian presidential election. These protests soon became known as the “Green Movement.” In their aftermath, Iranian authorities began to infiltrate and co-opt the digital platforms used by democratic activists. 

Iran has invested significant resources and accumulated vast experience in the conduct of digital influence efforts. These clandestine propaganda efforts have been used to complement Iranian foreign policy operations for the better part of a decade. Nonetheless, Iranian influence capabilities have gone largely unstudied by the United States, and only came to widespread attention in August 2018 with the first public identification of an Iranian propaganda network. Following the US assassination of Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani and a sharp escalation in US-Iranian tensions, it is important to understand the perspective, methods, and intent of Iranian influence efforts. 

For Iran, information dominance represents a central focus of both foreign and domestic policy. Iran sees itself as engaged in a perennial information war: against Sunni Arab powers, against the forces of perceived Western neocolonialism, and particularly against the United States. Should the information conflict be lost, many Iranian officials believe the collapse of the state will soon follow. Accordingly, Iran has prioritized the development of digital broadcast capabilities that cannot be easily targeted by the United States or its allies. 

Erdogan’s Empty Threats

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EDIRNE, Turkey—Driving northwest from Istanbul toward the Pazarkule border crossing between Turkey and Greece, refugees dot the road in groups carrying belongings and children, evoking memories of the migrant crisis of nearly five years ago. Less than a mile from the signs bidding travelers goodbye from Turkey, smoke rises from the encampments of migrants trying to keep warm.

On Feb. 28, the Turkish government announced Ankara would cease controlling its land and sea borders with Europe and open the passage for migrants wishing to cross. The announcement kindled hopes among the millions of refugees in Turkey whose dreams of life in Europe were dashed after the European Union and Turkey sealed a deal in early 2016 to prevent migrants from illegally entering Europe.The announcement kindled hopes among the millions of refugees in Turkey.

WhatsApp and Telegram groups sprung up immediately following the Turkish border announcement, advertising a so-called hope convoy traveling from Istanbul. Maps were sent out detailing where private buses would leave from, some chartered by local municipalities and others run by private companies with unregulated prices.

America's History of Successful Science Research Provides a Glimpse of the Future

by Marc Zimmer

The U.S. has been the most productive country for science and technology for decades. Many of the basic policy tenets that supported American prowess date back 75 years, to a document called “Science: The Endless Frontier.” Released by the first U.S. presidential science adviser, engineer Vannevar Bush, just two weeks before the Hiroshima bombing in 1945, it would become the blueprint for postwar science.

“The Endless Frontier” led scientists to successfully advocate for federal scientific funding and a separation between science policy and politics. They argued that if science could win wars, it could also help maintain peace.

The report advocated that governmental, industrial and academic research can accomplish far more in partnership than in isolation. It led to the development of the modern American research university, the National Science Foundation and increased government funding for science research, which rose by more than a factor of 10 from the 1940s to 1960s.

Turkey Has a Drone Air Force. And It Just Went to War in Syria.

by David Axe 

Turkish medium-altitude drones, which are similar to the U.S. Air Force’s own Reaper drones, struck Syrian forces in and around the city of Idlib, killing 19 people, according to the United Kingdom-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Turkey on March 1, 2020 also shot down two Syrian warplanes. Ankara claimed that, in weeks of fighting, it has killed 2,200 Syrian troops and destroyed 103 tanks and eight helicopters.

The Syrian government, in turn, claimed it shot down three Turkish drones.

Nineteen years after a U.S. Air Force Predator fired a missile in combat for the first time, more and more countries have armed drones of their own -- and are less and less shy about deploying them in combat.

The March 2020 drone strikes were part of Turkey’s escalating military campaign in Syria. The campaign, which includes air strikes and attacks by ground forces, aims to create a buffer between Syria and Turkey.

The Turkish military’s drones represent an “asymmetric” force in Syria. Damascus’s forces lack the technology reliably to defeat attacks by unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs.

“Only sophisticated [electronic-warfare] capabilities that are matched with robust radar-warning and air-defenses can potentially tackle this threat,” drone expert Samuel Bendett told The National Interest. Bendett is a member of the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses' International Affairs Group. 

The New-Old Threat to Economic Freedom


STANFORD – In our new book, Choose Economic Freedom, George P. Shultz and I point to clear historical evidence – and words of wisdom from Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman – to show why good economics leads to good policy and good outcomes, while bad economics leads to bad policy and bad outcomes. But we also recognize that achieving economic freedom is difficult: one always must watch for new obstacles. 

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.  

Many such obstacles are simply arguments rejecting the ideas that underpin economic freedom – the rule of law, predictable policies, reliance on markets, attention to incentives, and limitations on government. If an idea appears not to work, it must be replaced. Thus, it is argued that the rule of law should be replaced by arbitrary government actions, that policy predictability is overrated, that administrative decrees can replace market prices, that incentives don’t really matter, and that government does not need to be restrained.

These obstacles were common in the 1950s and 1960s, when socialism was creeping up everywhere. Many tried to stop the trend, and many were successful. But the same obstacles are now reappearing. For example, there are renewed calls for such things as occupational licensing, restrictions on wage and price setting, or government interventions in both domestic and international trade and finance.

African Union to EU: We’ve got our own strategy, thanks

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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The African Union had a clear message for Brussels: We appreciate your interest, but we can solve our own problems, thanks.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen arrived in the Ethiopian capital Thursday with a large delegation from Brussels, including 20 commissioners, hoping to forge a new strategic partnership with the 55-country African Union. More concretely, they wanted to use their meetings with their AU counterparts to take a crucial step forward in drafting a new Africa strategy that Brussels is hastily putting together to debut next week.

Unlike a similar strategy launched by the U.S. in 2018, which concentrated more on how Washington can counter the rising influence of China and Russia in Africa, Brussels wants to convince its neighbors to the south that Europe’s strategy will take Africa’s interests to heart.

But while the AU leadership is happy to strengthen its ties with Europe, the body is more interested in its own Africa strategy. The buzz around the heavily repeated slogan of finding African solutions to African problems was hard to miss at the AU headquarters, be those rising insecurity in the Sahel or climate shocks in the east.

“A very important lesson: African solutions to African problems,” Frans Timmermans, vice president of the European Commission, told reporters after commissioners from the AU and EU had concluded their talks. “We should not now think we can reinvent the wheel from scratch.”

That 1970s Feeling


CAMBRIDGE – It is too soon to predict the long-run arc of the coronavirus outbreak. But it is not too soon to recognize that the next global recession could be around the corner – and that it may look a lot different from those that began in 2001 and 2008.

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. 31Add to 

For starters, the next recession is likely to emanate from China, and indeed may already be underway. China is a highly leveraged economy, it cannot afford a sustained pause today anymore than fast-growing 1980s Japan could. People, businesses, and municipalities need funds to pay back their out-size debts. Sharply adverse demographics, narrowing scope for technological catch-up, and a huge glut of housing from recurrent stimulus programs – not to mention an increasingly centralized decision-making process – already presage significantly slower growth for China in the next decade.

Moreover, unlike the two previous global recessions this century, the new coronavirus, COVID-19, implies a supply shock as well as a demand shock. Indeed, one has to go back to the oil-supply shocks of the mid-1970s to find one as large. Yes, fear of contagion will hit demand for airlines and global tourism, and precautionary savings will rise. But when tens of millions of people can’t go to work (either because of a lockdown or out of fear), global value chains break down, borders are blocked, and world trade shrinks because countries distrust of one another’s health statistics, the supply side suffers at least as much.

America’s future battle network is key to multidomain defense

By: Gen. David Goldfein and Gen. Jay Raymond
When Americans think about military power, they often associate our wars with iconic commanders like Grant, Eisenhower, Nimitz and Doolittle. They may also think about the famous weapons that helped win them: the P-51 Mustang fighter, the Essex-class aircraft carriers of World War II, and more recently the Abrams tank, F-117 stealth fighter and GPS-guided smart bombs.

Success against a technologically advanced enemy in the future will require us to think much differently — about both the tools we use in war and, more importantly, how they work together. In fact, the most important element of future combat will not necessarily be warships, combat vehicles, aircraft or satellites. It will be a battle network that connects them to work in unprecedented harmony.

Pentagon leadership and the heads of each of the military service branches have all come to the same conclusion: Data is the principal currency of future warfare. And the military that is able to collect, process and share data faster than opponents will hold a huge advantage.

Today, we can type out a text, forward an email or update a social media post on our phones, and it will appear on any other device via the network. Somehow, magically, the content is translated and shows up simultaneously, regardless of operating system or manufacturer. We need a similar level of connectivity and compatibility for our military at war.

We cannot yet share data in a seamless and simultaneous way between the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps or the Space Force. And the problem is actually worse. Weapons are built by defense contractors who often hold data as proprietary information. Very often the platform made by one contractor won’t communicate or share data with a system made by another. And the same often goes for sharing data with our allies and partners.

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. 

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.

As the science of navigating tradeoffs, economics can indeed help one make decisions under circumstances defined by binding constraints and pervasive uncertainty. In theory, at least, economists have the tools to determine the costs and benefits of cutting carbon emissions. Yet getting that calculation right has haunted the profession for decades.

The Palm Oil Conundrum in EU-ASEAN Relations

By Naila Maier-Knapp

With new regulatory changes now taking place on the basis of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED) II of 2018, Indonesia and Malaysia are trying to come to terms with the implications for their global palm oil market strategy and domestic production. They are mobilizing intra-regional support from ASEAN and its members and even considering bringing their case forward to the WTO. The prospect of a considerable dip in palm oil exports to the European Union has become very real.

And in light of contemporary global efforts to fight climate change and European discourse linking deforestation and high emission levels of carbon dioxide to palm oil plantations in Southeast Asia, there are fears among Southeast Asian growers and other stakeholders that the lower export volumes to the European Union will remain.

Two decades ago, this decline of palm oil imports was unforeseeable. In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was growing interest in sustainable energy and the advancement of the European Union as a low-carbon economic zone. The European Commission treated palm oil imported from Southeast Asia as an essential part of its environmental risk and climate change mitigation strategy rather than a hindrance to global efforts to protect the environment and combat climate change.

The Age of Mass Protests: Understanding an Escalating Global Trend

We are living in an age of global mass protests that are historically unprecedented in frequency, scope, and size. Our analysis finds that the mass political protests that have captured media attention over the past year, such as those in Hong Kong and Santiago, are in fact part of a decade-long trend line affecting every major populated region of the world, the frequency of which have increased by an annual average of 11.5 percent between 2009 and 2019. The size and frequency of recent protests eclipse historical examples of eras of mass protest, such as the late-1960s, late-1980s, and early-1990s. Viewed in this broader context, the events of the Arab Spring were not an isolated phenomenon but rather an especially acute manifestation of a broadly increasing global trend. Analysis of the root causes of these global protests suggests they will continue and could increase in 2020 and beyond. While each protest has a unique context, common grievances overwhelmingly center on perceptions of ineffective governance and corruption.

Executive Summary 

Mass protests increased annually by an average of 11.5 percent from 2009 to 2019 across all regions of the world, with the largest concentration of activity in the Middle East and North Africa and the fastest rate of growth in sub-Saharan Africa.

Analysis of the underlying drivers of this growth suggests the trend will continue, meaning the number and intensity of global protests is likely to increase.

Protests have resulted in a broad range of outcomes, ranging from regime change and political accommodation to protracted political violence with many casualties.

Factors that could increase the rate of protest include slowing global economic growth, worsening effects of climate change, and foreign meddling in internal politics via disinformation and other tactics.

The PRC’s Cautious Stance on the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy

By: Yamazaki Amane

Introduction: Japan and the United States Promote an “Indo-Pacific Strategy”

In June 2019, the U.S. Department of Defense issued a major new policy document, the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, which asserted that “Inter-state strategic competition, defined by geopolitical rivalry between free and repressive world order visions, is the primary concern for U.S. national security.” The document was clear as to which country it identified as the greatest source of strategic concern: “In particular, the People’s Republic of China, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party, seeks to reorder the region to its advantage by leveraging military modernization, influence operations, and predatory economics to coerce other nations.” [1]

This was followed by the U.S. State Department document A Free and Open Indo-Pacific: Advancing a Shared Vision, issued in November 2019. This document stated that “Authoritarian revisionist powers seek to advance their parochial interests at others’ expense,” and that therefore “the United States is strengthening and deepening partnerships with countries that share our values.” [2]

In using such language, the United States is not alone. Japanese Prime Minister (PM) Abe Shinzo has advocated Japan’s own “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy,” which he has discussed since 2016. This concept emphasizes economic development assistance and infrastructure construction, promotion of the rule of law, and freedom of trade. It particularly emphasizes maritime security and freedom of navigation—which connect directly to the territorial disputes that are a key point of ongoing contention between Japan and China. [3]

How the Navy is building out its digital platform transformation

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The Navy will soon begin implementing a framework governing how it builds its network architectures, as well as how its forces operate in cyberspace.

While the Integrated Navy Operations Command and Control System (INOCCS) has been discussed internally for a few years, officials said it will now begin to be put into practice.

“This is, I would say, more than a vision; we’ve got a framework that’s been developed — we’re building out the architecture and design for the Navy digital platform transformation effort,” Manuel Hermosilla, executive director of 10th Fleet/Fleet Cyber Command, said March 2 during a presentation at WEST 2020 in San Diego, California. “This is a system of systems. It’s basically the ability to operate, defend all of the different technologies and capabilities” from an information warfare perspective.

Hermosilla told C4ISRNET following his presentation that the framework is based upon an industry best practice called “operation system support.”

A Failure of Intelligence: Part I

by Freeman Dyson
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I began work in the Operational Research Section (ORS) of the British Royal Air Force’s Bomber Command on July 25, 1943. I was 19 years old, fresh from an abbreviated two years as a student at the University of Cambridge. The headquarters of Bomber Command was a substantial set of red brick buildings, hidden in the middle of a forest on top of a hill in the English county of Buckinghamshire. The main buildings had been built before the War. The ORS was added in 1941 and was housed in a collection of trailers at the back. Trees were growing right up to our windows, so we had little daylight even in summer. The Germans must have known where we were, but their planes never came to disturb us.
Air War: A British Lancaster bomber is silhouetted against flares and explosions during the attack on Hamburg, Germany, on the night of January 30, 1943. 

I was billeted in the home of the Parsons family in the village of Hughenden. Mrs. Parsons was a motherly soul and took good care of me. Once a week, she put her round tin bathtub out on her kitchen floor and filled it with hot water for my weekly splash. Each morning I bicycled the five miles up the hill to Bomber Command, and each evening I came coasting down. Sometimes, as I was struggling up the hill, an air force limousine would zoom by, and I would have a quick glimpse of our commander in chief, Sir Arthur Harris, sitting in the back, on his way to give the orders that sent thousands of boys my age to their deaths. Every day, depending on the weather and the readiness of the bombers, he would decide whether to send their crews out that night or let them rest. Every day, he chose the targets for the night.

Elon Musk Tells Air Force General That Fighter Jets Are Over

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told a room full of U.S. Air Force pilots last week that “the fighter jet era has passed,” as CNBC reports. He made the comments at the Air Warfrare Symposium in Orlando Florida last Friday, referring to the fact that remotely-controlled drones — and not extremely expensive fighter jets — are the future.

“Drone warfare is where the future will be,” Musk told Air Force lieutenant general John Thompson at the event. “It’s not that I want the future to be — it’s just, this is what the future will be.”

Trillion Dollar Jet

Musk also argued that the American F-35 fighter jet, developed by Lockheed Martin, should have some competition. The jet has cost the Pentagon — and taxpayers — over a trillion dollars to develop. The latest iteration of the F-35 has been steeped in problems, getting abysmal results during recent testing.

“The competitor should be a drone fighter plane that’s remote-controlled by a human, but with its maneuvers augmented by autonomy,” Musk wrote in a Friday follow-up tweet. “The F-35 would have no chance against it.”

Second in Space