7 March 2020

Is Trump Risking the Bedrock Principle of the U.S.-India Partnership?

Aditi Kumar

During his state visit to India last week, President Trump focused on promoting our increasingly important strategic relationship with Delhi. Working with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom he shares a populist brand of politics, social media savvy, and a penchant for raucous rallies, Trump rightly emphasized strengthening military ties and a trade and investment partnership that has doubled in recent years.

This new US reliance on India, aimed, in part, at limiting China’s ambitions in the region, enjoys rare bipartisan support at home. It has been a high priority of recent presidents and congressional leaders of both parties. It was also made possible by the shared values between the world’s two strongest democracies — the United States and India — to democracy, the rule of law, and human and religious rights.

Whither al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula?

By: Michael Horton

On January 29, an airstrike killed Qasim al-Raymi, the “emir” of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Raymi, who assumed the leadership of AQAP in 2015, has been reported dead on numerous occasions in the past. However, on February 6, the White House released a statement confirming al-Raymi’s death (al-Jazeera, February 7).

What does the death of al-Raymi mean for AQAP’s future operations and long-term strategies? In short, very little. While al-Raymi was, by some accounts, a skilled tactician, his influence within the organization was never as pronounced as that of his predecessor, Nasir al-Wuhayshi. While this partly reflects the different styles and core competencies of the two leaders, more importantly, it reflects the fact that AQAP has moved away from relying on a hierarchical core for leadership. [1] Instead, it is implementing an atomized organizational structure that empowers local operatives. [2] AQAP has also reordered its priorities and objectives.

Such changes began as early as 2017. They were a response to the increased pressure from coalition-backed forces and the fluid socio-political environment that AQAP must navigate. [3] While AQAP maintains a veneer of ideology, it has long since deprioritized imposing strict interpretations of sharia, holding territory, and carrying out attacks on foreign targets. Instead, AQAP’s focus is parochial and pragmatic. [4]

Trump and Modi Embrace, But Remain Digitally Divided

By Justin Sherman and Arindrajit Basu

U.S. President Donald Trump traveled to India last week for a series of meetings with Indian Prime Minister Modi and his administration. The populist strongmen embraced — literally — with Trump attending a campaign-style rally of cheering fans at the largest cricket stadium in the world. On the core issues that are sowing democratic discord, the two strongmen seemed united. Trump insidiously praised Modi’s religious tolerance despite Modi’s recent track record clearly indicating otherwise.

However, for all the bonhomie, the two countries remain divided on a core national security and digital question — whether to allow Chinese telecommunications company Huawei to supply 5G infrastructure. Last week, the sustained U.S. efforts in this regard (advocating a total ban on Huawei equipment) continued to fall visibly flat. This underscores not only the structural weaknesses in the U.S. diplomatic campaign around 5G, but also the potential for discord in the digital relationship between India and the United States going forward.

Running Into Roadblocks on 5G

International Criminal Court Approves Afghanistan Investigation

By Mike Corder

Appeals judges at the International Criminal Court gave the green light Thursday for prosecutors to open an investigation targeting the Taliban, Afghan forces, and U.S. military and CIA personnel for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The decision marked the first time the court’s prosecutor has been authorized to investigate U.S. forces. Washington has long rejected the court’s jurisdiction and refuses to cooperate with it. 

In 2018, then-U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said the court established in 2002 to prosecute atrocities throughout the world “unacceptably threatens American sovereignty and U.S. national security interests.”

The global court set itself on a collision course with Washington with Thursday’s decision to uphold an appeal by prosecutors against a pretrial chamber’s rejection in April last year of Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda’s request to open a probe in Afghanistan. 

Analysis: Taliban leader declares victory after U.S. agrees to withdrawal deal


Shortly after the Trump administration signed its accord with the Taliban on Feb. 29, Taliban leader Haibatullah Akhundzada declared “victory” on behalf “of the entire Muslim and Mujahid nation.” It’s easy to see why.

The State Department agreed to a lopsided deal in which the Taliban extracted several significant concessions in exchange for little. The U.S. agreed to a full withdrawal from Afghanistan within 14 months, the delisting of Taliban leaders from international sanctions lists, and an uneven prisoner exchange that would free 5,000 jihadists for just 1,000 prisoners held by the Taliban. (The Afghan government quickly balked at this concession.) The Taliban has agreed to take part in intra-Afghan negotiations, but hasn’t recognized the Afghan government’s legitimacy. Nor has the Taliban agreed to a ceasefire with Afghan forces, or offered any real indication that it seeks peace. Akhundzada’s victory declaration was littered with references to the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate,” the same authoritarian regime the jihadists have been fighting to resurrect since 2001.

In his defense of the deal, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo trumpeted the Taliban’s supposed counterterrorism assurances. But the text of the agreement doesn’t support his claims. Pompeo told a national television audience that the Taliban “for the first time, have announced that they’re prepared to break with their historic ally, al-Qa’ida, who they’ve worked with much [to] the detriment of the United States of America.” Except, that is not what the Taliban’s political team agreed to in Doha.

CPEC – China’s most ambitious project in Pakistan has become a corridor to nowhere


Hong Kong: The four-times-a-week propeller plane from Karachi whips up a cloud of dust as it lands on an arid airstrip. Passengers cross the tarmac in the scorching sun and enter an arrivals terminal not much larger than a tractor-trailer. Outside, soldiers carrying AK-47s are waiting. This is Gwadar, a remote scratch of land on Pakistan’s southwest coast. Its port is the last stop on a planned $62 billion corridor connecting China’s landlocked westernmost province to the Arabian Sea, the crown jewel of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, designed to build infrastructure and influence around the world.

Plans originally called for a seaport, roads, railways, pipelines, dozens of factories and the largest airport in Pakistan. But, almost seven years after the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor was established, there’s little evidence of that vision being realized. The site of the new airport, which was supposed to have been completed with Chinese funding more than three years ago, is a fenced-off area of scrub and dun-colored sand. Specks of mica in the dirt are the only things that glitter. The factories have yet to materialize on a stretch of beach along the bay south of the airport. And traffic at Gwadar’s tiny, three-berth port is sparse. A Pakistan Navy frigate is the only ship docked there during a recent visit, and there’s no sign of the sole scheduled weekly cargo run from Karachi.

Blindsided on the Supply Side

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On Feb. 27, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the tech giant would be reopening its factories in China, which had been an early victim of the coronavirus. Like Apple, companies around the world are discovering that their China-linked supply chains bring not only financial advantages but risks, too. And COVID-19 won’t be the last such risk. While everyone should spare a thought for COVID-19’s victims, they also ought to learn lessons from the bug’s disruption of the unsexy but vital supply chain.

At the end of January, when COVID-19’s destruction in China was becoming apparent, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business that “I think it will help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.” Coming at a moment when some 8,100 Chinese had been infected with the virus, it was an extraordinarily callous comment, but the line was consistent with the so-called decoupling from China the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump advocates.

Is Vietnam Sending Its Maritime Militia to China’s Coast?

By Yan Yan

The South China Sea Probing Initiative (SCSPI) a project of the Peking University Institute of Ocean Research, recently released Automatic Identification System (AIS) data showing more than 300 Vietnamese fishing boats gathering in the near seas of China’s Guangdong, Guangxi, and Hainan provinces in February — while China is busy fighting the coronavirus.

Illegal fishing from Vietnam is a long-standing problem. Even with a nearly 3,500 kilometer coastline, fish stocks in Vietnam’s near sea are depleting, and its fishermen have been trying to venture farther away to catch fish in the past years. The European Commission (EC) applied a yellow card warning on seafood from Vietnam in 2017 due to the failure of to prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The warning came out especially after a number of Vietnamese fishing fleets were caught illegally fishing in other countries’ waters.

Although Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung demanded that all related parties prevent illegal fishing in other countries’ waters after the EC decided to extend the yellow card in 2019, the situation hasn’t changed much. Vietnamese government officials have mentioned in the past that it is difficult to catch the illegal trawlers operating at sea since there are too many of them, and their engine capacity reaches 500-800 horsepower.

China’s Proposed Immigration Changes Spark Xenophobic Backlash Online

By Chauncey Jung

While China is struggling with the coronavirus pandemic, the country’s Ministry of Justice has sparked another controversy over some proposed changes in China’s immigration policy. The policy proposed by Chinese officials has been slammed by Chinese internet users on the country’s social media outlets WeChat and Weibo since the ministry began seeking public consultations through departmental websites and social media in late February.

According to the proposed clauses listed by the Chinese Ministry Of Justice, the new legislation aims to attract high-income foreign nationals to permanently live in China. In order to qualify, applicants need to have made major contributions to China’s science, technologies, sports, or cultural sectors. Experts in specific subjects may also qualify for permanent residence status in China. Foreign nationals whose incomes are six times higher than local residents can also apply after working in China for four consecutive years, or eight consecutive years if their incomes are less than six times but more than three times the average income of local residents.

As Coronavirus Spreads, Iranian Doctors Fear the Worst

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Iranian Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi wipes the sweat off his face, during a press conference with the Islamic republic's government spokesman Ali Rabiei in Tehran on Feb. 24. He confirmed on Feb. 25 that he has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, amid a major outbreak in Iran. 

Iran is often described as an isolated country, but the spread of the coronavirus has made clear that the Islamic Republic is less isolated than often assumed. Iran’s significant trade links with China, where COVID-19 originated, left the country vulnerable to the spread of the virus.

'We’ll have the first global cyber warfare this year’: Nouriel Roubini

Daniel Howley

‘We’ll have the first global cyber warfare this year’: Nouriel Roubini

An economist who predicted the 2008 housing crisis and recession is now predicting that 2020 will be the year the world sees its first full-fledged cyber war. 

The online battle, according to NYU Stern School of Business professor Nouriel Roubini, will take place between the U.S. and four of its rivals: China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

According to Roubini, the 2020 election will prove pivotal in this cyber war, with America’s adversaries working to undermine the election results starting with the primaries — 15 of which will happen this Tuesday, March 3, on so-called Super Tuesday.

“We imposed sanctions against Russia, China, Korea, and Iran...and they cannot respond to us with conventional power, because we are stronger from a conventional point of view,” Roubini told Yahoo Finance’s On The Move in an interview Friday.

Photo Essay: Algeria’s Forgotten Borderlands


The eastern regions of Algeria have long been marginalized. From 2000 onwards the authorities engaged in what they called a National Spatial Plan to reduce regional disparities and create a greater balance between urban and rural areas. Despite such efforts, and others since independence in 1962, severe imbalances remain. No plan has lived up to expectations or prevented a feeling of exclusion in border areas. In many towns on the road from Algiers to M’Daourouche, those with whom I spoke complained about sharp disparities between the large prosperous cities of Algeria’s north and the rest of the country.

M’Daourouch, a municipality that reflects well the conditions in the eastern regions near the border with Tunisia, is located 580 kilometers from Algiers and less than 100 kilometers from the border. The municipal area is some 168 square kilometers and contains approximately 60,000 residents. Despite the presence of agricultural activity, agriculture is limited by the nature of the soil and climatic conditions. As for the Roman and Byzantine ruins in the region, they are underexploited because of Algeria’s stagnant tourism industry.

On the road to the Algerian-Tunisian border.

Tribalism Is Killing Liberalism

By Michael Carpenter 

In an interview with the Financial Times last year, Russian President Vladimir Putin glibly proclaimed Western liberalism to be “obsolete.” Self-serving as his remark may have been, Putin was tapping into a global sentiment. Illiberal populism is on the rise on virtually every continent, even in places that not long ago seemed headed the opposite way. The Hindu nationalist agenda of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has fanned anti-Muslim sentiment in the world’s most populous democracy. In Brazil, murders of LGBTQ people have risen sharply under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro. In Europe, far-right parties long confined to the fringes of the political spectrum have recently entered ruling coalitions in Austria, Estonia, and Italy. Anti-Semitism is growing in many societies, and anti-immigrant attacks have shaken democratic communities from Christchurch, New Zealand, to Halle, Germany. 

Three trends are fueling the rise of illiberalism in modern democracies. Social media networks are gradually displacing civil society networks, democratic societies have grown more politically polarized, and the middle classes have been hollowed out by growing socioeconomic insecurity. Taken together, these developments have generated a form of identity politics that undermines liberal institutions even in supposedly “consolidated” democracies. 


Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s Unique Regional Strategy


Abstract: In recent years, Iran has projected its power across the Middle East, from Lebanon and Syria to Iraq and Yemen. One of the keys to its success has been a unique strategy of blending militant and state power, built in part on the model of Hezbollah in Lebanon. The acknowledged principal architect of this policy is Major General Qassem Soleimani, the long-serving head of Iran’s Quds (“Jerusalem”) Force. Without question, Soleimani is the most powerful general in the Middle East today; he is also one of Iran’s most popular living people, and has been repeatedly touted as a possible presidential candidate.

Despite its ongoing economic woes, today’s Iran has fashioned itself into one of the premier military and diplomatic powers in the Middle East—and Saudi Arabia’s principal rival for hegemony over the entire region. It has achieved this with a mix of policies—among them, deft diplomatic maneuvering; a tactical alliance with Vladimir Putin’s Russia; and the provision of arms, advice, and cash to Shi`a militias across a variety of countries. In the latter case, Iran has pioneered a seemingly unique strategy that combines insurgent and state power in a potent admixture—a strategy that is evident today in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

What Comes Next in the Standoff Between the U.S. and Iran?

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein and Freddy Deknatel talk about the latest developments in the standoff between the U.S. and Iran, following the U.S. assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s retaliatory ballistic missile strike against two military bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are stationed. Did the U.S. reestablish deterrence, as the Trump administration claims? Or will Iran take further covert action to avenge Soleimani’s death? And what impact will the U.S. political calendar have on how both sides manage tensions moving forward? Judah and Freddy discuss those topics and more on this week’s show.

Europe’s Morality Is Dying at the Greek Border


This week, Greece’s northern border with Turkey and the Bulgarian-Turkish borderlands, too, have witnessed brutal, violent scenes reminiscent of war zones. Thousands of desperate migrants fleeing war zones—including mothers with babies in their arms—are storming barbed-wire fences to get into European Union territory to apply for political asylum, while Greek security forces in anti-riot gear beat them back and shoot rubber bullets and billowing clouds of tear gas at them. On the easternmost Greek islands, such as Lesbos, the Greek coast guard and navy have been turning away dinghies of half-frozen, frightened refugees. More than 32,000 migrants have been arrested at the Greek land border.

Greece has suspended asylum applications for a month and is deporting all migrants attempting to enter Greece “illegally,” although The United Nations refugee agency has said there is no legal basis for suspending asylum decisions. Two people have reportedly died so far, including a child in a capsized boat. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis is making no apologies for such treatment: “We stopped and protected our borders, which are also the EU’s borders,” a government spokesperson said on March 1. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who visited Greece yesterday to show solidarity with the Athens government, praised Greece’s role as “Europe’s shield” and promised Greece 700 million euros ($780 million) more in support to bolster border security. “The events of 2015 must not be repeated,” said David McAllister, head of the European Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs, referring to the influx of 1.3 million asylum applicants into the European Union that year.

Europe and NATO’s Shame Over Syria and Turkey


In October 2019, the German defense minister suggested the creation of an internationally controlled security zone along the Turkey-Syria border, which could be led by NATO. It would have provided some kind of safe haven. It would have also addressed some of Turkey’s security concerns.

Nothing came of her proposals, which were politely listened to by NATO and the EU and then discarded. Both organizations are now paying a heavy moral and political price for the devastation and suffering taking place in Syria.

They will pay a very high price for Russia’s military and political role—as well as Iran’s—in this part of the Middle East. They will pay a heavy price over the way Turkey has consistently blackmailed NATO and the EU. The war in Syria has left both organizations morally high and dry.

The moral consequences for NATO and the EU are clear. NATO is supposed to be a military and political organization made up of democratic countries that uphold certain values. As a civilian organization, the EU boasts about values too and defends its democratic principles based on solidarity, the rule of law, and international obligations.

What Washington Can Learn About Elections—From Abroad


Competitive elections may be a hallmark of democracy, but in severely polarized political contexts they can exacerbate tensions that end up ripping apart democratic norms and institutions. They can trigger unfounded accusations of fraud, fuel claims of an election that has been stolen, and drive losing candidates and their supporters to reject legitimate results—sometimes violently. Those dangers are unfortunately evident in the United States as the country moves into what is likely to be the most divisive presidential election in decades. Political attacks across the partisan divide are conducted with an extraordinary rancor, and fights over basic procedural issues, such as voter registration and the purging of voter rolls, are intensifying. In a recent poll, nearly 40 percent of Americans said that if the candidate they supported lost, they would have little or no confidence in the integrity of the election process.

As part of its democracy promotion work over the past several decades, the United States has often helped polarized countries’ electorates navigate fraught contests. In contexts as diverse as Kenya, Malawi, North Macedonia, Sri Lanka, and Tunisia, U.S. election experts have crafted assistance efforts and diplomacy to de-escalate the drivers of division and bolster institutional safeguards to help keep democracy on the rails. The question then is how those same experts would attempt to fix problems within American democracy. Given the success the United States has had with supporting democracy around the world, why does it seem incapable of applying those lessons at home?

Given the success the United States has had with supporting democracy around the world, why does it seem incapable of applying those lessons at home?

When confronting highly polarized electoral processes, U.S. democracy promoters typically respond with five types of action:

REPORT - Harvard Project on Climate Agreements

Robert N. Stavins

Climate change is a global commons problem and therefore necessitates cooperation at the highest jurisdictional level — that is, international cooperation among national governments — if it is to be adequately addressed. However, both national and subnational governments can significantly advance efforts to mitigate climate change. Provinces and municipalities around the world have indeed undertaken initiatives — sometimes working together across national boundaries — to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. This includes jurisdictions in the largest-emitting countries — China, the United States, and India — as well as in the European Union.

This volume examines subnational climate-change policy in China — including how Chinese provinces and municipalities work with the central government to implement policy. The volume focuses to a considerable degree on carbon-pricing policy in China, including how China’s subnational (pilot) emissions-trading systems can inform the emerging national carbon-pricing system.

Geopolitical and Market Implications of Renewable Hydrogen: New Dependencies in a Low-Carbon Energy World

Nicola De Blasio, Fridolin Pflugmann 
To accelerate the global transition to a low-carbon economy, all energy systems and sectors must be actively decarbonized. While hydrogen has been a staple in the energy and chemical industries for decades, renewable hydrogen is drawing increased attention today as a versatile and sustainable energy carrier with the potential to play an important piece in the carbon-free energy puzzle. Countries around the world are piloting new projects and policies, yet adopting hydrogen at scale will require innovating along the value chains; scaling technologies while significantly reducing costs; deploying enabling infrastructure; and defining appropriate national and international policies and market structures.

What are the general principles of how renewable hydrogen may reshape the structure of global energy markets? What are the likely geopolitical consequences such changes would cause? A deeper understanding of these nascent dynamics will allow policy makers and corporate investors to better navigate the challenges and maximize the opportunities that decarbonization will bring, without falling into the inefficient behaviors of the past.
Why renewable hydrogen?

The Value of Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration

Cuicui Chen, Henry Lee

Carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) represents a class of technologies that directly capture carbon dioxide, either before or after combustion, and then either permanently store it in underground deposits or recycle it for further use.

As of now, CCUS has been deployed only in isolated pilot projects; most of which sell the resultant stream of carbon dioxide to oil producers as a tool to increase production in older wells. This market is both geographically and economically limited, particularly if oil prices remain low.

However, growing concern around climate change has ignited recent interest in CCUS technologies and a series of studies on its global market potential. A 2017 International Energy Agency report suggests that to meet the 2-degree-Celsius target, CCUS must account for at least 20% of the reduction in annual global emissions by 2060. In the United States, Congress has approved generous tax credits for CCUS investments, generating new interest from investors. The number of CCUS projects is increasing in many countries, from the U.S. and Canada to China and Norway.

The EU’s White Paper on AI: A Thoughtful and Balanced Way Forward

By Mark MacCarthy, Kenneth Propp 

On Feb. 19, the European Commission released a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence outlining its wide-ranging plan to develop artificial intelligence (AI) in Europe. The commission also released a companion European data strategy, aiming to make more data sets available for business and government to promote AI development, along with a report on the safety of AI systems proposing some reforms of the commission’s product liability regime.

Initial press reports about the white paper focused on how the commission had stepped back from a proposal in its initial draft for a three- to five-year moratorium on facial recognition technology. But the proposed framework is much more than that: It represents a sensible and thoughtful basis to guide the EU’s consideration of legislation to help direct the development of AI applications, and an important contribution to similar debates going on around the world.

The key takeaways are that the EU plans to:

Pursue a uniform approach to AI across the EU in order to avoid divergent member state requirements forming barriers to its single market.

Take a risk-based, sector-specific approach to regulating AI.

Pandemic Disease Is a Threat to National Security

By Lisa Monaco

On January 13, 2017, national security officials assembled in the White House to chart a response to a global pandemic. A new virus was spreading with alarming speed, causing global transportation stoppages, supply-chain disruptions, and plunging stock prices. With a vaccine many months away, U.S. health-care infrastructure was severely strained.

No, I didn’t get that date wrong. This happened: it was part of a transition exercise that outgoing officials from the administration of President Barack Obama convened for the benefit of the incoming team of President Donald Trump. As Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser to President Obama, I led the exercise, in which my colleagues and I sat side by side with the incoming national security team to discuss the most pressing homeland security concerns they would face. Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden made ensuring a professional transition a top priority, so we followed the excellent example of our predecessors, who held a similar exercise in 2009. After 9/11, congressional legislation mandated such efforts in order to safeguard the country’s security through presidential transitions.

During the exercise, we put together plausible scenarios and offered lessons learned. Although the exercise was required, the specific scenarios we chose were not. We included a pandemic scenario because I believed then, and I have warned since, that emerging infectious disease was likely to pose one of the gravest risks for the new administration. 

Trump’s Bureaucratic Arson

William J. Burns

In their public testimonies, Bill Taylor, George Kent, and Masha Yovanovitch demonstrated professionalism, integrity, and plainspoken courage.

I had the good fortune of seeing those qualities up close over our many years together in the diplomatic trenches—out of sight, out of mind, and far from the public spotlight. It saddens me that our fellow citizens will learn about these patriotic Americans because of an impeachment inquiry, but I’m heartened that they’ve provided a vivid reminder of the dignity of public service in these undignified times.

Through their actions and words over recent weeks and months, they’ve also reminded us that human beings animate our institutions and civic norms, not faceless bureaucracies. And they’ve reminded us that the real threat to our democracy is not from an imagined deep state bent on undermining an elected president. Instead, it comes from a weak state of hollowed-out institutions and battered and belittled public servants, no longer able to uphold the ever more fragile guardrails of our democracy or compete on an ever more crowded, complicated, and competitive international landscape.

What Is a Moral Foreign Policy?


CAMBRIDGE – Many Americans say they want a moral foreign policy, but disagree on what that means. Using a three-dimensional scorecard encourages us to avoid simplistic answers and to look at the motives, means, and consequences of a US president’s actions.

Consider, for example, the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and the two George Bushes. When people call for a “Reaganite foreign policy,” they mean to highlight the clarity of his rhetoric in the presentation of values. Clearly stated objectives helped educate and motivate the public at home and abroad.

But that was only one aspect of Reagan’s foreign policy. The success of his moral leadership also relied on his means of bargaining and compromise. The key question is whether he was prudent in balancing his objectives and the risks of trying to achieve them.

Reagan’s initial rhetoric in his first term created a dangerous degree of tension and distrust between the United States and the Soviet Union, increasing the risk of a miscalculation or accident leading to war. But it also created incentives to bargain, which Reagan later put to good use when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union. Reagan advanced US national interests, and he did so in a manner that did not exclusively benefit American interests.

No Time to Waste: Achieving the UN’s Sustainability Goals

Wharton’s Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership (IGEL) focused its 12th annual conference, “Setting Goals for a Flourishing World,” on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As leaders from both the public and private sectors shared strategies for accomplishing the 17 crucial objectives, a way forward began to take shape. Although progress toward the goals has been slow, a sustainable future is possible if business, government and nonprofits work together to devise scalable solutions that fully engage the power of the global marketplace.

This special report is sponsored by IGEL and Innovyze.

The Rise and Fall of Mubarak in Egypt Is a Cautionary Tale for Sisi

Francisco Serrano 

When I landed in Cairo in late January 2011 to cover the growing wave of demonstrations that had mobilized Egyptians, I was unsure whether or not the protest movement could topple then-President Hosni Mubarak. After all, he had been ruling for almost three decades, enjoyed Western backing and commanded a robust security apparatus.

But as I drove through downtown Cairo from the airport, I saw the headquarters of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party in flames. It was difficult to see at the time just how much that burning building would come to symbolize about post-Mubarak Egypt. In the end, it took 18 days and the will of millions of Egyptians—hundreds of whom sacrificed their lives—to oust the country’s longest-serving modern ruler. ...

How Tech Could Help the World Prepare for the Next Epidemic


It may be tempting to imagine a room of all-seeing officials managing the global response to the novel coronavirus epidemic, like desk officers directing a field operative in an international spy movie. While this is certainly not the case, rapid technological advances could soon bring this vision closer to reality.

Improved systems and data sharing have already enabled a faster, more effective response to COVID-19, the disease caused by this coronavirus strain, than to any previous outbreak. The virus’s DNA sequence was released in record time, at least eleven labs have begun to ship out diagnostic tests, and the biotech firm Moderna hopes to have a vaccine ready for clinical trials as early as April. In the years ahead, technologies for early detection, rapid diagnosis, and remote treatment will make it easier and safer to contain the spread of future outbreaks.


The Chinese government has been criticized for its weeks-long delay between diagnosing its first COVID-19 patients and notifying global health authorities. Yet a team at the Canadian start-up BlueDot was able to detect the outbreak days before initial reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization. BlueDot’s algorithm picked up early warning signals by applying natural language processing and machine learning to data sets including news coverage, global flight patterns, and government reports.

Peace in cyberspace is still possible, let’s make it an international priority


The number of threats facing the digital landscape are increasing, placing the industry at a crossroads

‘Is the world in the grip of a violent, silent cyber war?” I often get this question and my answer is invariably: no. In my opinion, we have only experienced one real act of war in cyberspace so far, called Stuxnet. However, it would be wrong to say that cyberspace is at peace.

Every day, sabotage, espionage and crime campaigns are committed there – and the threat is constantly changing. As we deploy thousands of new connected objects and increase our dependence on the internet, the opportunities for private and state groups to destabilise, steal or destroy are multiplying.

This reality is not new, but the danger is different because malicious actors can now act on an...

Moscow Promotes Military Communications Systems for 21st Century Conflict

By: Roger McDermott
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A critical feature in the transformation of Russia’s Armed Forces since the political leadership introduced the reform and modernization efforts in late 2008 has been the extent to which older analogue systems of military communications have been digitized. This complements wider efforts to adopt and integrate automated command and control (C2) as the force structure modernizes for the challenges of modern warfare. While many advances have been made in these areas, challenges persist. A recent commentary in Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye contextualizes this drive to adopt modern communications and navigational systems by examining the levels of progress since the Russia-Georgia conflict of August 2008 (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, February 28).

Colonel (ret.) Anatoliy Tsyganok, a member of the Academy of Military Sciences, writes about the experience and achievements in Moscow’s efforts to enhance communications within the context of modern approaches to C2. In addition to the important observations Tsyganok makes, the article is also significant in the fact that a Moscow-based defense specialist is analyzing some of the Russian military’s experiences derived from its involvement in the Ukraine conflict. However, Tsyganok’s starting point is to highlight the communications deficiencies the Russian military encountered during its operation in Georgia in 2008, some of which were exploited later by the political-military leadership to justify the need to reform the Armed Forces (Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozreniye, February 28).