18 March 2020

Did Trump Cave to the Taliban?

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In mid-February, as talks with the Taliban were nearing completion, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was asked a direct question by Democratic Rep. Tom Malinowski: Would the new truce commit the Afghan government, which wasn’t party to the negotiations, to releasing Taliban prisoners? 

It would not, Pompeo responded during the back-and-forth at the Munich Security Conference. But in the end, the deal did. Not only that, but the Taliban managed to extract a commitment from the U.S. side—without consulting the Afghan government—to force Kabul to release “up to” 5,000 Taliban prisoners in exchange for only 1,000 captives from the Afghan national forces. The disproportionate release was to have taken place by March 10, which was also supposed to be the start of the intra-Afghan peace talks that the American side insists are central to the agreement. 

Now that eleventh-hour U.S. concession threatens to blow up the peace talks, which are stalled. On Wednesday the Taliban rejected Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s offer to release 1,500 prisoners ahead of talks, saying they wanted all 5,000 freed before negotiations could start. 

To some critics of the U.S.-Taliban deal, like Malinowski, the concession was emblematic of a deeply flawed agreement that could ultimately cede Afghanistan back to the Taliban after 18 years of immense American expense and bloodshed—a defeat that could be a model for anti-American insurgencies around the world.

Another Afghan Election Crisis and the Challenge of Power-Sharing

Colin Cookman
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Approximately five and a half months after Afghanistan held nationwide presidential elections in September 2019, incumbent President Ashraf Ghani and runner-up Abdullah Abdullah have held parallel inauguration ceremonies this week, with each side claiming the authority to form the next government. The current political crisis complicates efforts to open up broader power-sharing talks with the Taliban called for under an agreement signed in Doha at the end of February, as President Ghani seeks to consolidate his authority, and Abdullah and his supporters seek to claim a seat at the negotiating table.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Afghan Abdullah Abdullah, left, and Ashraf Ghani, right, in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 12, 2014, after he helped broker an agreement to resolve the disputed presidential election. (U.S. State Department)

A Contested Vote Count

Earlier last month, after two rounds of audit scrutiny and recounts, Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission (IEC) announced final results for the election, upholding Ghani’s reelection with 50.64 percent of the final total of approximately 1.82 million valid votes. Although Abdullah received less than 40 percent of the total vote, the Afghan constitution requires a second-round runoff election in the event that no candidate clears a 50 percent majority, which Ghani’s margin only narrowly surpassed.

Around-the-halls: What the coronavirus crisis means for key countries and sectors

Giovanna De Maio

The global outbreak of a novel strain of coronavirus, which causes the disease now called COVID-19, is posing significant challenges to public health, the international economy, oil markets, and national politics in many countries. Brookings Foreign Policy experts weigh in on the impacts and implications.

Giovanna DeMaio (@giovDM), Visiting Fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe: As I write in more detail elsewhere, with almost 7,000 reported cases of coronavirus (including 366 dead), Italy is the European country hardest hit by COVID-19 contagion. While one might expect nationalist narratives to thrive in a time of stress and uncertainty, Italians have actually set aside euro-skepticism and anti-globalization sentiment and have instead embraced international cooperation. The long-term consequences will depend in part on whether the European Union can manage this crisis effectively and as one.

While other European leaders, like French President Emmanuel Macron, have called for more coordination both in the EU and with the United States, Europe is currently facing some protectionist trends that risk undermining a collective approach to handle the crisis. The meeting of EU ministers of health in Brussels on March 6 revealed that for now, Europe is failing this stress test, as it was impossible to convince France, Germany, and Czech Republic to lift the ban on exporting protective medical gear (face masks, mostly) to avoid shortages at home. To address this, President of the European Parliament David Sassoli declared that the EU commission is working to create a centralized agency in charge of buying and distributing this kind of material in order to prevent “useless competition between EU member states and prevent international speculation.” Conversely, the Chinese company Xiaomi has donated thousands of face masks to Italy as a thank-you for having welcomed the firm so warmly two years ago.

Can Political Reporters Handle the Covid-19 Disinformation Machine?

If the coronavirus pandemic becomes for Donald Trump what Hurricane Katrina was for George W. Bush, we might come to look back at last Friday’s press conference as Trump’s “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” moment. The president’s comments to reporters at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters in Atlanta were, as my colleague Adam Rogers has masterfully explained, riddled with bizarre and dangerous falsehoods. One stood out above the rest: Trump’s flatly untrue claim that “anybody that wants a test can get a test.” The president was either lying about or ignorant of the central fact of the US government’s botched response to the disease. That alone could have been front-page news: “Trump Falsely Declares ‘Anybody That Wants’ Can Get a Coronavirus Test.”

Yet here’s how The New York Times, our paper of record, initially covered the claim: It didn’t. The paper’s report on Trump’s press conference didn’t even mention the tests comment at first; later, a reference was added, without explaining that the statement was false. Instead, the article, by a White House reporter, made Trump sound downright presidential, focusing on his effort to project calm. In print, it ran with the headline “‘It Will End’: Trump Urges Nation to Avoid Panicking.”

‘Phase one’ China trade deal tests the limits of US power

Geoffrey Gertz

Throughout his campaign and the early years of his presidency, Donald Trump promised to fundamentally reshape U.S.-China trade policy. The conclusion of the “phase one” trade deal, agreed to by the two countries in mid-January, provides an opportunity to assess what has been achieved so far.

Trump’s efforts to change China’s behavior are running up against the same limits faced by previous U.S. administrations. Yet there is little evidence of a long-term strategy that reflects this reality.

In the two decades leading up to Trump’s election, U.S. presidents followed a broadly similar, largely bipartisan approach to engagement with China. The United States welcomed economic integration between the two countries, believing it would produce real economic gains for the United States and ultimately encourage China to move toward a more market-based economy.

Where Chinese actions fell short of U.S. aspirations, the United States had two main levers to shift Chinese behavior. First, bilateral diplomatic appeals such as the various iterations of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and second, filing claims against China at the World Trade Organization (WTO), infrequently at first but more actively over time.

Will COVID-19 Halt China’s ‘Going out’ Economic Strategy?

By Chan Kung and Wei Hongxu

The impacts of COVID-19 could cause further problems for the already suffering Chinese economy. Fazed by the tremendous pressure from the outbreak, it is very likely that China will soon direct its future development strategies and priorities toward improving its domestic economy instead of pursuing outbound investment. Consequently, this also means that the country’s plan of “going out” into the international economic and geopolitical scene would have to be put on hold for the time being.

Even prior to the outbreak, China’s outbound investment had already slowed down as a result of international trade frictions, particularly the U.S.-China trade war. Despite having reached the first phase of a trade deal with the United States, China’s attempts to retain its foreign investors have not eased up the slightest bit, and the U.S. government’s increasingly stringent scrutiny and restrictions on Chinese investments have hurt China’s overseas investments. As a result, China’s outbound investment had already begun to show a gradual decrease back in 2019.

China’s Coronavirus Spin

By Eleanor Albert
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The first months of 2020 have come with exceptional volatility, not least due to the global spread of COVID-19. The disease, caused by a novel coronavirus which first broke out in China’s central city of Wuhan, has infected people in more than 100 countries and killed more than 4,000 people. The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic earlier this week. While Chinese cases still account for nearly 60 percent of the world’s total, the country’s rate of infection has slowed significantly following aggressive measures.

Viruses, of course, are not constrained by borders. Each government with new cases faces its own test in managing the outbreak and implementing a response. While countries in the West find themselves under increasing pressure, Beijing appears to be taking the opportunity to alter the narrative around the coronavirus and its own efforts both domestically and internationally.

Caveat Emptor: Why China's Cheap Military Drones Are so Cheap

by David Axe

Key point: Everyone wants drones these days, but sometimes it is worth buying American. That's what some countries are finding out the hard way.

China’s CH-4 killer drone appears to be falling out of favor with some of its major operators.

This first appeared in August 2019 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

The Iraqi air force is down to just one operational CH-4 out of a fleet of around 10, according to an August 2019 report from the U.S. inspector-general.

Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the U.S.-led operation targeting Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, told the inspector-general that maintenance problems have grounded most of the Iraqi CH-4s.

The CH-4 is roughly similar to the U.S.-made MQ-1 Predator. The Chinese unmanned aerial vehicle, which is remotely-controlled via satellite and can carry a variety of missiles, briefly was popular among Middle East militaries that balked at the cost, politics and paperwork associated with acquiring armed drones from the United States.

With the Coronavirus, Science Confronts Geopolitics

By: Eric Schewe

The containment of COVID-19 raises pressing questions related to the freedom of scientific information, civil liberties, and human rights, one scholar explains.

Columnist Eric Schewe

The world faces an increasingly serious medical threat from the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. The virus causes a respiratory disease dubbed COVID-19 that appears to be much less deadly than the earlier incarnation of SARS that spread worldwide in 2002-2003. This has increased the likelihood that it could infect a much larger population, as many people are able to incubate and transmit it with no symptoms. Although it has an estimated mortality rate between 0.5% and 3% in countries with widespread testing, if the coronavirus spreads to the population at large, it could kill millions. People older than 60 and those with preexisting health problems are particularly vulnerable.

The speed with which it has spread and the seriousness of this crisis has surprised many—but not virologists. As the world economy has globalized, the risk that a new infectious disease can break free of regional quarantines has increased. Epidemics have often occurred in other historical eras of expansion, such as the smallpox plagues that afflicted the Roman Empire.

How to Tell If You Have the Flu, Coronavirus, or Something Else

Robert Roy Britt

The first sign of a scratchy throat is scientifically known to be accompanied by an “uh-oh” sensation, followed by the ironic hope that it’s “just a cold,” because otherwise it could be the onset of a disabling flu, the looming coronavirus, or some other infectious disease affecting the upper airways.

“Because colds and flu share many symptoms, it can be difficult (or even impossible) to tell the difference between them based on symptoms alone,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But in fact, the CDC’s own lists of symptoms for the two diseases draw notable distinctions in typical cases.

Symptoms of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, can indeed be difficult to distinguish from flu symptoms, but researchers are beginning to see some telltale signs. Meanwhile, people often misidentify short-lived, intense norovirus infections as the “stomach flu.”

There are distinct differences in the most likely symptoms of various viral infections and how fast they come on.

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now

Tomas Pueyo

Updated on 3/13/2020. Now reflects an update on containment vs. mitigation strategies. 26 translations at the bottom. Send me more existing translations in private notes at the bottom. This article has received over 28 million views in the last week.

With everything that’s happening about the Coronavirus, it might be very hard to make a decision of what to do today. Should you wait for more information? Do something today? What?

Here’s what I’m going to cover in this article, with lots of charts, data and models with plenty of sources:
How many cases of coronavirus will there be in your area?
What will happen when these cases materialize?
What should you do?

When you’re done reading the article, this is what you’ll take away:

U.S.-Chinese Distrust Is Inviting Dangerous Coronavirus Conspiracy Theories

By Yanzhong Huang 

Tens of thousands of people get sick. More than 2,900 die. Fear spreads faster than the virus. Factories are closed. Roads are blocked. Villages are sealed off. Cities are locked down. The outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is the most severe sociopolitical crisis Chinese leaders have grappled with since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. And the crisis is not confined to China. The spread of the virus across borders—and the panicky reaction to that spread—will have profound effects on the global economy, politics, security, and governance. 

The virus’s novelty leaves many unknowns. We still don’t have a clear idea of its transmissibility and virulence. We do not have a clear idea of the incubation period, which could last up to 24 days. We also don’t know how infectious people are before their symptoms manifest and why some cases suddenly become severe. We also don’t understand why some patients tested positive a second time even after they seemingly recovered.

The Coronavirus Won’t Be The Cause Of The Next Bust, But It Will Make It Worse – Analysis

By Frank Shostak*
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Global policymakers moved to ease public anxiety over the coming economic hit from the coronavirus as analysts warned of a severe slowdown in growth and a possible recession if the virus continues to spread. The US Federal Reserve cut interest rates on Tuesday, March 3, in an emergency move designed to shield the world’s largest economy from the impact of the coronavirus. The central bank said it was cutting rates by a half percentage point to a target range of 1.00 to 1.25 percent.

“The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong. However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity. In light of these risks and in support of achieving its maximum employment and price stability goals, the Federal Open Market Committee decided today to lower the target range for the federal funds rate,” the Fed said in a March 4 statement.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund signaled that they were also ready to assist, particularly poor nations. Monetary policymakers from Japan to Europe pledged to act as needed to stem any economic fallout as infections spread.

The Pandemic Stress Test


CHICAGO – The coronavirus pandemic has taken the world by surprise and will now expose underlying economic weaknesses wherever they lie. But the crisis also reminds us that we live in a deeply interconnected world. If the pandemic has any silver lining, it is the possibility of a much-needed reset in public dialogue that focuses attention on the most vulnerable in society, on the need for global cooperation, and on the importance of professional leadership and expertise.

At more than 1,000 pages, Thomas Piketty's doorstop sequel to his previous opus, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, does not disappoint. But whether it will fundamentally change the global debate about inequality is an open question.5Add to Bookmarks

Apart from the direct impact on public health, a crisis of this magnitude can trigger at least two direct kinds of economic shock. The first is a shock to production, owing to disrupted global supply chains. Suspending the production of basic pharmaceutical chemicals in China disrupts the production of generic drugs in India, which in turn reduces drug shipments to the United States. The second shock is to demand: as people and governments take steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus, spending in restaurants, shopping malls, and tourist destinations collapses.

The Oil Shock Of 2020 Appears To Be Here And The Pain Could Be Wide And Deep

by Scott L. Montgomery
The world is again undergoing an oil shock.

Prices, already on a downward trend, have collapsed 30% in less than a week, bringing the total fall to nearly 50% since highs in early January. Consumers, of course, can expect gasoline prices to go down, but the story is far more complicated than that.

Having researched energy for decades, I see this as a big deal, not only for the global economy, but for geopolitics, the future of transport and efforts to mitigate climate change, particularly if the world enters into a sustained period of cheap oil.

False Flags During Times of Geopolitical Conflict – The Right Time to Strike

Emilio Iasiello
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The global nature of the Internet coupled with the inexpensive nature of conducting activities therein make cyberspace an immediate and attractive medium for states seeking to extend their power and influence. Therefore, it is unsurprising to see how state use of cyberspace has continued to evolve, extending beyond cyber-attacks to include a variety of “soft power” options that states have at their disposal that can support a variety of national objectives.

Cyber activities that have been specifically attributed to a state have included cyber espionage for intelligence/information collection (e.g., China), network reconnaissance to facilitate additional compromise of conduct or for a later attack (e.g., Iran), propaganda and disinformation/influence operations designed to manipulate a target audience’s opinion (e.g., Russia), and destructive attacks intent on punishing or trying to coerce a target (e.g., Ukraine power grid). Many more may have been conducted by state sympathizers and nonstate actors directed by or working on behalf of a state’s interests (e.g., Estonia cyber-attacks, Operation Ababil).

The question of attribution has always remained a murky effort, largely because of the difficulty in proving direct links between the activity and a specific state, but it appears that over the past few years the threshold for that rigor has significantly decreased. Technical analysis linking malware language, command-and-control indicators, domain names, and IP addresses have been used to support such allegations, even though it is well known by state actors that such artifacts are used to analyze these activities and have been used in publicly-accessible published findings and analysis on APT activity. In short, tactics, techniques, and procedures are identified and made widely known.

After Nine Years, Syria’s Conflict Has Only Become More Complicated

Mona Yacoubian

The engagement of external actors has protracted the conflict and Syrians civilians continue to bear the brunt.

In March 2011, as the Arab world was roiled by demonstrations, protests broke out in Syria to demand political reform after four decades of Assad rule. Nine years later, the Assad regime is on the offensive against the last rebel stronghold of Idlib, with Russia, Turkey and Iran all heavily invested in the conflict. The humanitarian consequences for Syrians cannot be overstated and a political solution to conflict seems as distant as ever. USIP’s Mona Yacoubian discusses the dreadful toll on the Syrian population and what the battle for Idlib means for the trajectory of the conflict.

Nine years since the Syrian uprisings first began, what has the toll been on the country and its population?

This week marks the ninth anniversary of the war in Syria, which has evolved from peaceful protests in 2011 as part of the "Arab Spring" to a multi-level conflict involving both regional and major power players. It is the most complex conflict to have emerged from the Arab uprisings. (For a timeline of events since the Syrian uprising began, see below.) Today, no fewer than six interlocking conflicts are being waged inside Syria:

The US Navy may soon have a way to shoot down hypersonic missiles

The U.S. Navy plans to begin deploying interceptors that can shoot down hypersonic missiles aboard some Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers in just a few years. Though some critics counter that the Navy's timeline seems awfully optimistic, as no existing missile defense system has proven capable of intercepting an inbound hypersonic weapon.

Hypersonic missiles fly in excess of Mach 5, and potentially much faster than that, making them so much faster than the ballistic and cruise missiles previously employed by national militaries that even advanced air defense systems like America's destroyer-based Aegis Combat Systems can't find and shoot down hypersonic missiles in flight. This has raised the alarm among many within the Defense Department, both in order to field America's own hypersonic weapons and, of course, to find ways to defend against those employed by foreign militaries.

How Far Reaching Will the 'Oil Crisis' of 2020 Be?

by Scott L. Montgomery

Prices, already on a downward trend, have collapsed 30% in less than a week, bringing the total fall to nearly 50% since highs in early January. Consumers, of course, can expect gasoline prices to go down, but the story is far more complicated than that.

Having researched energy for decades, I see this as a big deal, not only for the global economy, but for geopolitics, the future of transport and efforts to mitigate climate change, particularly if the world enters into a sustained period of cheap oil.

Oil prices have been forced downward due to major influences from both the demand and supply sides.

Demand for crude oil and petroleum fuels has fallen worldwide because of the coronavirus pandemic, nowhere more so than in China. Locking down millions of people closed factories, cut supply chains and reduced transport at home and abroad via trade. This is key, because China is the globe’s largest oil importer and a major driver of global demand. A global downturn in demand from transportation, not least in air travel, has eroded demand further.

Space Force Just Received Its First New Offensive Weapon

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U.S. Space Force has begun operating a new offensive weapon system, an upgraded version of a ground-based satellite communications jamming system, for the first time in its short history. The first iteration of the Counter Communications System entered U.S. Air Force service in 2004 and the program has now gotten transferred to the newest branch of the American military.

The Space Force declared it had reached initial operational capability with the Counter Communications System Block 10.2, or CCS B10.2, on Mar. 9. The Harris Corporation, which merged with L3 Technologies last year to form L3Harris Technologies, had received the contract from the Air Force to develop this upgraded variant of the system in 2014. 

The National Defense Authorization Act for the 2020 Fiscal Year, which Congress passed and President Donald Trump signed in December 2019, officially established Space Force as a separate service within the Department of the Air Force. Units and assets previously assigned to Air Force Space Command now form the core of the new service, which is still very much in the process of standing up.

The Real Oil Demand Shock Is Yet To Come

By Julianne Geiger 

Oil demand has been revised downward several times since the start of the year by nearly every analyst or banking institution thanks to the devastating impact of the coronavirus. With the number of coronavirus cases in China--the world’s largest oil importer--seemingly leveling off in recent days, some may be taking the view that the worst of the oil demand shocks is now behind us.

But more shocks are on the horizon as the world’s number one crude oil consumer--the United States--begins its own war on the deadly virus.

When China first issued travel bans in its areas hardest hit by the coronavirus, or COVID-19, oil demand took a beating, and analysts tried to work out just how much oil demand would be lost. As it became clear that China didn’t have the situation contained, other countries closed their borders and halted or tapered air travel, worsening the demand outlook. 

Great Power Relations: What Makes Powers Great and Why Do They Compete?

Cornell Overfield and Joshua Tallis

The US national security community is in the midst of a renewed examination of great power competition (GPC) and its role in strategy. GPC already predominates as a strategic term inside the Department of Defense (DOD) and it has rapidly spread in the national dialogue on foreign policy. Yet there remains notable ambiguity regarding what GPC actually implies. What does the concept mean? Why it is happening now? How can we answer these questions authoritatively? 

This paper aims to produce a more engaged debate on the subject of great power competition by considering what it means to be—and to compete as—a great power. 2 Most observers of international affairs make sense of the complexities of global politics with the help of theories that simplify the world and make it comprehensible. These theories are not just abstract concepts; they serve as frameworks that represent what factors analysts believe are most significant in describing how the world works. Consequently, they offer a valuable lens for us to think about GPC and assess its application to national strategy. Our objective in this paper is to elaborate on relevant parts of international relations (IR) theories on the structure of global power and thus inform leaders on how to understand great power relations and then develop and advance appropriate, effective, and coherent policies.

The Syrian Civil War's Never-Ending Endgame

The Syrian civil war that has decimated the country for nine years now, provoking a regional humanitarian crisis and drawing in actors ranging from the United States to Russia, appears to be drawing inexorably to a conclusion. President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Iran and Russia, seems to have emerged militarily victorious from the conflict, which began after his government violently repressed civilian protests in 2011. The armed insurgency that followed soon morphed into a regional and global proxy war that, at the height of the fighting, saw radical Islamist groups seize control over vast swathes of the country, only to lose it in the face of sustained counteroffensives by pro-government forces as well as a U.S.-led coalition of Western militaries.

The fighting is not yet fully over, though, with the northwestern Idlib region remaining outside of government control. In the past few weeks, the Syrian army’s Russian-backed campaign to retake Idlib from the last remaining armed opposition groups concentrated there resulted in clashes with Turkish forces deployed to protect Ankara’s client militias. The skirmishes were a reminder that the conflict, though seemingly in its final stages, could still escalate into a regional conflagration. The situation in the northeast also remains volatile following the removal of U.S. forces from the border with Turkey, with Turkish, Syrian and Russian forces all now deployed in the region, alongside proxies and Syrian Kurdish militias.

The Invisible Lives of Hand Dryers

Consider the humble electric hand dryer. First introduced in the 1920s, the contraption was advertised as a cheaper, more sanitary alternative to towels. Today, hand dryers are an $800 million industry and have become ubiquitous fixtures in restrooms around the world, despite lingering controversy over whether they’re as hygienic as paper towels—a dispute given new relevance by the global spread of Covid-19. Contentious and often seemingly ineffective, hand dryers have become a virtually invisible part of everyday life.

“They’re something you rely on and expect, but don’t ever recall,” says English photographer Samuel Ryde. “They’re only remarkable in their lack of remarkableness.” Ryde wants to change that. He began photographing hand dryers in 2012, and in 2014 he launched an Instagram page that now contains over 1,000 photographs shot in 17 countries. Next month, his book of hand dryer photography will be released in the US, complete with a foreword by James Dyson—inventor of the eponymous Airblade hand dryer.

Winning Small Wars in Contests for the People

M. Knight


In 425 BC, during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, a contingent of elite Spartiac hoplites found themselves stranded and surrounded on the island of Sphacteria. They had been unable to subdue their opponents who insisted on using slings and arrows as an effective distance-weapon to counter the heavy infantry close-quarter tactics of the Spartans. The Athenians refused to engage the Spartans in a manner that would ensure their own defeat, much to the chagrin of the Spartans. Facing defeat themselves, the Spartan forces on Sphacteria send a message to Sparta asking what they should do. The reply was clear, “Do nothing shameful”(Nichols, 2015). Following discussions the Spartans on Sphacteria decided that their best course of action, and one that held no shame, was to surrender.

A similar dilemma is now facing western militaries, in-so-far as, the contextual terrain has shifted to such an extent that their enemies refuse to engage them in a manner that would ensure their own destruction. Focus on this modern Sphacterian-dilemma has led to discussions and debates that are encapsulated within the ‘War amongst the people’ arena. A recent notable addition to this discourse is “War Amongst the People: Critical Assessments” (Brown, et al. 2019) that summarises the present thinking and highlights common themes along with critical questions. This paper is a response to the ‘Critical Assessment’ in Brown (2019), and aims to deliver an equally Laconic response as that received by the Spartans on Sphacteria, to the dilemmas identified in ‘War amongst the people’ (Rossi. N, & Riemann. M. ‘Conclusion’ in Brown, et al. 2019).[i]


Commandership: A Fresh Look at Command

Kevin Gentzler and Ken Turner

On the afternoon of Monday June 5, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower penned a note to the Allied Expeditionary Force as it readied itself for the largest amphibious assault in military history.

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone. --June 5.[i]

Eisenhower faced immense pressure as he alone held ultimate accountability for the decision to launch Operation OVERLORD. Weather delays, operational security lapses, and training fatalities compounded the stress and uncertainty. The pressure took its toll. Eisenhower was smoking four packs of cigarettes a day and drinking pot after pot of strong black coffee. Facing enormous uncertainty, he was probably a little irritated when, after the weather decision Sunday night June 4, his driver Kay Summersby poignantly commented, “If all goes right, dozens of people will claim credit. But if it goes wrong you’ll be the only one to blame.”[ii] While the comment did not likely improve Eisenhower’s mood, Summersby was right. As the commander, Eisenhower was ultimately responsible and the Allied Nations would hold him personally accountable for any failure. While the success of the operation relied on the efforts of thousands of men and women, the responsibility for failure was his alone. Eisenhower never had to issue his note.

How the US Can Compete in 5G

By Lucas Tcheyan and Sam Bresnick

At the Munich Security Conference, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly hammered Huawei, trying to convince U.S. allies to forsake the Chinese company’s 5G technology on national security grounds. “Huawei and other Chinese state-backed tech companies are Trojan horses for Chinese intelligence,” Pompeo said. Esper repeated the call for countries to shun Chinese telecommunications equipment, saying “Huawei and 5G are today’s poster child for this nefarious activity.”

Despite American warnings about Huawei, the company continues to expand at a fast clip, accounting for the largest share of the global 5G market. Already active in many developing countries, Huawei is making inroads with U.S. allies; the United Kingdom recently elected to use Huawei equipment in its 5G networks, and Germany appears ready to follow suit.

The Trump administration seems unable to convince many likeminded countries to follow its lead in banning Huawei, partly because it has not offered a credible alternative to Chinese 5G technology. Although American companies produce some of the most advanced 5G software, they do not manufacture much of the hardware necessary to build digital infrastructures, limiting their global competitiveness.

Cyber Command doubled its contract spending in the past year

Mark Pomerleau
U.S. Cyber Command nearly doubled the amount of money it issued in defense contracts between fiscal years 2018 and 2019, according to figures provided in written testimony to Congress.

In 2019, the command awarded $74.9 million through 81 contracting actions, Gen. Paul Nakasone, the command’s leader told the House Armed Services Committee March 4. Those figures are up from the 32 contracts valued at $43 million in fiscal year 2018 that Nakasone provided in testimony in February 2019.

Congress gave Cyber Command limited acquisition authority in 2016 following the model of Special Operations Command. It capped acquisition funds at $75 million per year, with a clause that is scheduled to sunset in 2021.

However, some members of Congress questioned whether it needed $75 million.

Some congressional leaders are questioning Cyber Command's needs given it has yet to exhaust what has already been provided.

Hacking Is the New Cold War

Ben Buchanan


The question was posed online with no preamble and in broken English. It sounded like a prank, a thought experiment, or an internet troll shouting into the digital ether. It was none of these things.

This message, posted in 2016 by an account calling itself “theshadowbrokers,” began a series of events that would send shock waves through United States intelligence agencies and beyond. During a year-long escapade, the Shadow Brokers released documents that exposed how hackers working on behalf of the American government had penetrated networks around the world to delay, disrupt, and defang their targets. Their purloined files revealed that hacking was a fundamental, though mostly secret, tool of American statecraft, one deployed clandestinely against foe and friend alike.

The Shadow Brokers released more than just documents. They revealed a collection of hacking tools amassed and guarded by the National Security Agency, or NSA, that were so powerful that American hackers likened them to “fishing with dynamite.” And now this dynamite had suddenly been made available to anyone for free.

‘No Timeout’ In Future Wars: Army Gen. Murray EXCLUSIVE


CAPITOL HILL: “If you’re talking about future ground combat, you’re not talking tens of thousands of sensors,” Gen. John “Mike” Murray told me here. “We’ve got that many in Afghanistan, right now. You’re talking hundreds of thousands if not millions of sensors.”

How do you make sense of all that data for human soldiers and commanders?

“That’s why machine learning, artificial intelligence – especially broader artificial intelligence — is so critical,” the chief of Army Futures Command replied.

We are not the only country developing military AI, of course. What if an enemy takes the human out of the loop, letting their algorithms decide whom to kill so they can kill us faster than we can react?

“Do I think it’s insurmountable? No,” he said. “Because I think our ethics and our concern for the value of human life are actually a strength, and not a weakness.”