20 March 2020

Across the Border from China, How Should India Prepare for the Coronavirus?


The December 2019 outbreak of the coronavirus originated in a city in central China called Wuhan, and the strain has now spread to more than ten countries. In China, over 4,500 people are known to be infected, and 106 have been reported dead; these numbers are rising rapidly every day. The global spread of this outbreak should serve as a wake-up call for governments around the world, particularly India, which not only shares a border with China and is densely populated but also has a fragile public health infrastructure.

Wuhan and several other Chinese cities have been quarantined to contain the disease. But amid the Chinese New Year celebrations, millions of people elsewhere in the country have been traveling, exacerbating the risk that the virus has continued to spread.

Shruti Sharma is a research analyst with the Technology and International Affairs Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. She works primarily on the safety, security, and ethical implications of emerging biotechnologies.

Growing Russia-India-China Tensions: Splits in the RIC Strategic Triangle?

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

India’s Minister of External Affairs Dr. S Jaishankar will be heading to Russia later in the month for a ministerial-level trilateral meeting among three Eurasian powers of the RIC group: Russia, India and China (RIC). The meeting, to be held in Sochi on March 22-24, is meant to take stock of major geopolitical developments affecting the Indo-Pacific region.

According to reports, the meeting will possibly discuss the recently-concluded Afghanistan peace deal, the return of the Quad (quadrilateral security dialogue involving Australia, India, Japan and the United States), the Indo-Pacific concept and the implications of the end of the INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty for the region. The last RIC leaders meeting took place on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Osaka in July 2019, just after another trilateral between three democracies – Japan, America, and India (JAI).

RIC came together as a strategic triangle in the late 1990s under the mentorship of Yevgeny Primakov as “a counterbalance to the Western alliance.” The Russian goal was the “end[ing] its foreign policy guided by the US,” and rebuilding old partnerships with countries like India nurturing relatively newer friendships such as with China.

China Plays NIMBY With the Taliban

Austin Bodetti

RABAT: As officials in Beijing continue to battle coronavirus, China’s notorious campaign to oppress its Muslim ethnic groups into submission is receiving less attention from the news media. Chinese leaders frame the imprisonment of a million Uyghurs as counterterrorism, arguing for the need to reeducate Muslim minority groups in China to prevent extremism. Chinese policymakers’ efforts to engage with militants considered terrorists by the Western world, however, speaks to a far more complex reality in Beijing’s halls of power.

China has long sought to distinguish between domestic militants in the Uyghur-heavy region of Xinjiang, whom Chinese officials consider a national security threat, and foreign extremists who target Western national interests. China’s relationship with the Taliban provides the best example.

The Taliban in Afghanistan

by Lindsay Maizland and Zachary Laub

The Taliban is a predominantly Pashtun, Islamic fundamentalist group that ruled Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001, when a U.S.-led invasion toppled the regime for providing refuge to al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The Taliban regrouped across the border in Pakistan and has led an insurgency against the U.S.-backed government in Kabul for more than eighteen years.

Experts say the Taliban is stronger now than at any point in recent memory, controlling dozens of Afghan districts and continuing to launch attacks against both government and civilian targets. An agreement signed by U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s administration and the Taliban in early 2020 could mark a new stage for the militant group as it starts intra-Afghan negotiations on Afghanistan’s future.

How was the Taliban formed?

The Economic Fallout of the Coronavirus in Southeast Asia


The world watches as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases continues to climb. But at more than 1,000 fatalities and counting, the new virus strain has already claimed more total lives than the 2002–2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, according to data from CEIC (see figure 1). That said, a lower share of people who have contracted the 2019–2020 coronavirus have died, a figure that hovers around 2 percent.

To contain the virus’s rapid spread, authorities in China have locked down Hubei Province, where the outbreak was first reported, and have restricted economic activities in the rest of China. Some other countries have curbed travel to mainland China, including Australia, the United States, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Quarantine measures may have helped keep the virus from spreading even faster, but they have also stymied economic activity. The virus’s ripple effects have hampered the economies of nearby countries, especially in Southeast Asia, in three main ways: by curtailing the number of Chinese tourists, disrupting China-centric supply chains, and putting a damper on economic demand in China.

China locked in hybrid war with US


Among the myriad, earth-shattering geopolitical effects of coronavirus, one is already graphically evident. China has re-positioned itself. For the first time since the start of Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in 1978, Beijing openly regards the US as a threat, as stated a month ago by Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Munich Security Conference during the peak of the fight against coronavirus. 

Beijing is carefully, incrementally shaping the narrative that, from the beginning of the coronovirus attack, the leadership knew it was under a hybrid war attack. Xi’s terminology is a major clue. He said, on the record, that this was war. And, as a counter-attack, a “people’s war” had to be launched.

Moreover, he described the virus as a demon or devil. Xi is a Confucianist. Unlike some other ancient Chinese thinkers, Confucius was loath to discuss supernatural forces and judgment in the afterlife. However, in a Chinese cultural context, devil means “white devils” or “foreign devils”: guailo in Mandarin, gweilo in Cantonese. This was Xi delivering a powerful statement in code.

Physical, Not Social Distancing: Staying Connected In The Coronavirus Age

by Jonathan Kanter Adam Kuczynski

In times of societal stress, such a demand runs counter to what evolution has hard-wired people to do: Seek out and support each other as families, friends and communities. We yearn to huddle together. The warmth of our breath and bodies, of holding hands and hugging, of talking and listening, is a primary source of soothing. These connections are pivotal for responding to and maximizing our survival in times of stress.

Priority number one is to follow the recommended social distancing guidelines to control the virus. The cure is definitely not worse than the disease – experts’ projections of disease spread and mortality without strong intervention make this clear.

But as with any pill, there are side effects. As psychological scientists at the University of Washington’s Center for the Science of Social Connection, our lab studies social connectedness, why it is important and how to maximize its benefits. Our clinical and research experiences help us understand the side effects of social distancing and suggest strategies for addressing them.

In times of stress and illness, being deprived of social connection can create more stress and illness. People who are lonely have higher levels of the hormone cortisol, an indicator of stress; show weaker immune responses to pathogens; and are at increased risk for premature death. Isolation can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts and other clinical conditions.

America Must Have a Grander Strategy for China

by Wilson VornDick
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Many circulating and competing proposals for America’s new grand strategy not only focus on China but also start with a ‘c’ such as ‘Competitive Co-existence.’ But what else starts with a C? Capitulation, Concession, and Chamberlain. What is lacking is a simple, bumper-sticker grand strategy catchword akin to America’s twentieth-century grand strategy, containment. The answer starts with an “E” for Envelopment.

It is a strategically dynamic time in American grand strategy. As of yet, there is no twenty-first-century description or “hashtag” to describe our evolving relationship with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) that fits the equivalence or Cold War-era gravitas of Containment. At this critical juncture, pundits, academics, and policymakers are all vying to coin the next American grand strategy to deal with a rising PRC. The lack of a discernable grand strategy even seems to have stirred debate amongst generations of U.S.-China experts. Now is the moment for an alternate grand strategy proposal. It starts with an ‘e’ for Envelopment.

The Sociology of Surviving the Coronavirus

by Amitai Etzioni
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There is another name for social distancing—a mainstay of the campaign to contain the spread of the coronavirus—social isolation. Much has been made of the economic effects of COVID-19. However, we should not overlook the social and psychological effects. The containment campaign basically greatly reduces the contacts people have with one another, by canceling numerous social events and urging older people and those with special health conditions not to leave home. Many of these elders live on their own, as their partners have died. For all, it means fewer opportunities to see family and friends. One should also note that many people have social contacts at work, so teleworking—introduced widely in an effort to stop the spread of disease—undermines these contacts.

The Effects of Isolation

Isolated individuals exhibit major health problems. James House, Karl Landis and Debra Umberson found that “[m]ore socially isolated or less socially integrated individuals are less healthy, psychologically and physically, and more likely to die.” In an article based on her 2017 testimony before the U.S. Senate Aging Committee, Julianne Holt-Lunstad reports that, physically, “[l]acking social connection carries a risk that is comparable, and in many cases, exceeds that of other well-accepted risk factors, including smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day, obesity, physical inactivity, and air pollution.” She also notes that people who are isolated may have less effective immune systems, higher blood pressure, and increased inflammation, and they are less likely to follow medication and treatment plans. John Cacioppo and Louise Hawkley demonstrated that social isolation engenders a ripple of mental and physical health risks, including depleted ability to cope with stressors, poor sleep, and slower healing. Holt-Lunstad finds that “those who are isolated are at increased risk for depression, cognitive decline, and dementia.” Hawkley and Cacioppo suggest “ that loneliness is the social equivalent of physical pain, hunger, and thirst.”

Can the United States and China Cooperate on the Coronavirus?

In early February 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump took to Twitter to hail his excellent call with Chinese President Xi Jinping about the coronavirus outbreak. Trump called Xi a “strong, sharp and powerfully focused” leader who was successfully eradicating the coronavirus. That same day, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that Washington would spend up to $100 million to help Beijing curtail the virus, in addition to the nearly eighteen tons in medical supplies it had already sent to China.

Twenty-four hours later, however, Pompeo stood in front of the U.S. National Governors Association with a very different message. In his latest China speech, Pompeo warned of competition with Beijing that threatens “the very basic freedoms that every one of us [U.S. governors] values.” Just days later at the Munich Security Conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that U.S. “accusations against China are lies and not based on facts.”

Paul Haenle

Paul Haenle holds the Maurice R. Greenberg Director’s Chair at the Carnegie–Tsinghua Center based at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Haenle served as the director for China, Taiwan, and Mongolia Affairs on the National Security Council staffs of former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama prior to joining Carnegie.

How Coronavirus Beat Big Brother in China

The outbreak of coronavirus in China has exposed the weak spots of the country’s Big Brother system. It turns out that China’s extensive network of facial recognition cameras is useless in the face of a simple surgical mask.

“I’d already got used to paying using Face ID. What do I do if I can’t remember my password?” “Bring back fingerprint scanning!” “The gates are fitted with facial recognition technology and didn’t open, so I couldn’t get into my own home!” These are just a few of the many thousands of indignant comments that Chinese people are currently posting on social media such as Weibo.

With World Health Organization officials demonstrating how to wear surgical masks and insisting that they really do offer protection from the coronavirus epidemic, many pharmacies and stores in China have sold out of them as Chinese people buy them in bulk. But this almost universal wearing of masks has had another unintended effect. It has essentially destroyed one of China’s technological achievements: its facial recognition system. 

Back in 2017, China already had over 20 million surveillance cameras equipped with face recognition technology. By the end of 2020, that number is expected to pass the 600 million mark. In theory, any high-resolution camera can be connected to the face recognition system. 

The World Is at War


MUNICH – The fight against COVID-19 is a full-on war. China seems to have won the first battle. Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and Japan have also chalked up visible successes in mitigating the outbreak, no doubt owing to their experiences in dealing with the 2003 SARS epidemic. Europe and the United States, on the other hand, are only just awakening from their illusions of invulnerability. As a result, the epidemic is now raging across the West.

The hardest-hit Western country so far is Italy, which has particularly strong economic ties to China. Northern Italy is now the new Wuhan (the Chinese megacity where the coronavirus first emerged). With its health system overwhelmed, the Italian government has slammed on the brakes, shutting down the retail economy and quarantining the entire country. All shops except pharmacies and grocery stores are closed. People have been instructed to stay home and may enter public places only for necessary shopping or commuting to work. Many public and private debt obligations (such as housing rents and interest payments) have been suspended. Italy is attempting to slow down the economic clock until the coronavirus dies out.

Transparency and Testing Work Better Than Coercion in Coronavirus Battle

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With the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 reaching pandemic proportions and U.S. President Donald Trump declaring a national emergency, now is a critical moment to learn from countries’ responses thus far and rapidly implement effective strategies to limit the impact of the virus. Yet Americans are at risk of learning the wrong comparative lessons in the face of this global emergency. In times of crisis, authoritarian responses based in high-profile displays of state power can seem attractive. But it is the far less conspicuous public-health work that seems to be separating the effective responses so far.

Last week, Trump announced a surprise ban on travelers from much of Europe and extended it on Saturday to the United Kingdom and Ireland. This travel ban, which goes against World Health Organization (WHO) advice and international law, is unlikely to significantly affect the U.S. COVID-19 epidemic. Indeed, it may have worsened it, by creating crowded scenes in unprepared airports as panicked travelers returned home.

On China, COVID-19, and Conspiracy Theories

By Mu Chunshan

This year’s Chinese New Year was the most memorable for people across China. For the two months, from the end of January to the present, the Chinese government has used the strongest administrative power in the world to ban 1.4 billion Chinese people from going to work and social activities. The Western media have criticized this as a human rights violation, but the Chinese rejected that view. Everyone was very obedient, knowing that their lives were facing a serious threat — the new coronavirus that broke out in the central city of Wuhan.

Now the tables have turned, and the pandemic is spreading abroad. Seeing frequent images of Westerners without face masks, many Chinese are asking: “Are these foreigners crazy?”

I’m bored these days in Beijing, after around 50 days of self-isolation, but I know the risks of being out and about — Beijing is one of the 10 most severely impacted cities in China, with more than 400 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Amid the lockdown, the Beijing Municipal Government invited vendors to visit residential communities. They come three days a week to allow residents to buy basic materials such as meat, vegetables, noodles, and fruit without going to the supermarket. So I stayed home, all the while observing and thinking.

What concerned me the most was my college teacher’s diagnosis.

What the Fukushima meltdowns taught us about how to respond to coronavirus

By Azby Brown, Sean Bonner
Since the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, Safecast—a volunteer-driven nonprofit organization that enables individuals to share radiation measurements and other data—has accumulated a lot of experience and insight about trust, crisis communication, public perception, and what happens when people feel threatened by a lack of reliable information. As our team at Safecast observes the global spread of the coronavirus and the poor responses to it, we can’t help but feel a strong sense of déjà vu.

As with Fukushima, the preparation and communication vulnerabilities that the COVID-19 outbreak has laid bare were entirely predictable—and the physical, social, and economic effects that have erupted because of poor official communication should have been anticipated and prevented. We recently published some advice about COVID-19 for governments, the media, and individuals, but we wanted to explore the similarities between the two situations further.

Fear of the unknown is normal, and radiation and viruses are both invisible threats that heighten anxiety. Most people have almost no way to determine for themselves whether they have come into contact with either of these threats, and they find themselves dependent on specialists, testing devices, and government and media reports. If the government and media do not provide clear, credible explanations and prompt communications, misinformation and mistrust can easily take root and spread.

Black plague, Spanish flu, smallpox: All hold lessons for coronavirus

By Ibrahim Al-Marashi

"The black death," a watercolor painting by Monro S. Orr. Credit: Creative Commons.

As the novel coronavirus has spread, so too have a flurry of myths and disinformation about it, often perpetuated by mainstream and social media. Many of these myths are medical. For example, although wearing a surgical mask will not protect you from contracting the illness—viruses are too small to be screened out—healthy people around the world have rushed to buy them.

But the myths are also social. A perfect example is the false assertion that the coronavirus emerged because a Chinese woman in Wuhan ate bat soup. (Though bats may have been the source of the virus, the video that purportedly substantiates the claim was filmed in the South Pacific island of Palau, not China, for the popular online travel show of a Chinese video blogger named Wang Mengyun.)

Although public health experts have worked hard to debunk many of these myths, popular history can also be a valuable tool for putting the outbreak in context, dispelling untruths, and allaying fears among a wider public. The history of the Black Death, the Spanish flu, and smallpox all hold valuable lessons.

The Coming Coronavirus Recession

By Mohamed A. El-Erian 
The global economy will go into recession this year. The downturn will be sudden and sharp. And although a constructive response from policymakers, companies, and households could limit its duration, its effects will be felt for decades to come. 

Most economic forecasts for 2020 predicted a year of steady if not rising growth. The International Monetary Fund’s January forecast update saw growth picking up from 2.9 percent in 2019 to 3.3 percent in 2020. And there were plenty of reasons to be optimistic: the “Phase One” trade agreement between China and the United States, the reduction of Brexit-related uncertainties, and strong consumer spending, especially in the United States and Germany, which seemed likely to spur companies to proceed with delayed investment plans.

A War Plan for the Next Coronavirus Starts Now

by James Stavridis 

History tells us that every century or two, there is a particularly virulent pathogen that poses a significant global threat to humans. We don’t know if the coronavirus will have the transmission rate of the Spanish Influenza of a century ago — which infected more than a third of the world’s population — and it hasn’t had anything like the 60% lethality of the Avian Flu of 1997. But what if someday we face a biological opponent that combines both?

Obviously, we are in an all-hands-on-deck moment. Our best scientists and physicians are working desperately to develop both a vaccine to prevent infection and drugs to mitigate the effects of Covid-19, the actual disease caused by the coronavirus. But even as we struggle to contain, treat and ultimately defeat the coronavirus, we need to be thinking about next pandemic. How can experience from past crises be useful in combating this one? How can we ensure that lessons learned from the coronavirus fight are used to prepare us for the next time?

This Is How the Coronavirus Will Destroy the Economy

By Ruchir Sharma
Sourec Link

Though the Federal Reserve moved over the weekend to slash rates and buy treasuries, markets around the world fell on Monday anyway. The coronavirus threatens to set off financial contagion in a world economy with very different vulnerabilities than on the eve of the global financial crisis, 12 years ago.

In key ways the world is now as or more deeply in debt as it was when the last big crisis hit. But the largest and most risky pools of debt have shifted — from households and banks in the United States, which were restrained by regulators after the crisis, to corporations all over the world.

As businesses deal with the prospect of a sudden stop in their cash flows, the most exposed are a relatively new generation of companies that already struggle to pay their loans. This class includes the “zombies”— companies that earn too little even to make interest payments on their debt, and survive only by issuing new debt.

Another Big Market Collapse Heightens Fears of Global Recession

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Global markets collapsed again on Monday, dismissive of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s dramatic weekend rate cut and huge new round of quantitative easing, as the near-term economic carnage from the new coronavirus outbreak is coming into sharp relief.

For the third time in less than a week, trading on the New York Stock Exchange was briefly suspended after the market plunged almost 12 percent upon opening, and it closed even lower, down almost 13 percent in one of its worst days ever, while stock markets across Europe and Asia posted sharp declines and crude oil cratered. Even though U.S. President Donald Trump finally has interest rates close to zero, the move to loosen monetary policy has done little to assuage nervous investors.

“It’s started to dawn on people—we’ve seen the demonstration of the president’s understanding of the problem, which was worrisome—that there is nothing between us and the worst-case scenario,” said Austan Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.

Ways government, industry can overcome a perpetual challenge

Andrew Eversden
A congressional report recommended that the federal government takes several measures to improve its intelligence sharing relationship with industry through policy reviews and joint collaboration platforms.

The report, created by the Cyberspace Solarium Commission (made up of government and nongovernment cyber experts), presented 75 cyber policy recommendations, including the recognition that information sharing is a perpetual challenge both between feds and private industry and agencies within the federal government.

The report suggests that Congress direct the executive branch to undergo a six-month review of intelligence policies, procedures and resources to identify pieces that inhibit the intelligence community to effectively share information.

“It needs to be done better in terms of higher level of collaboration [at] more senior levels between and among the government and private sector,” said Tom Gann, chief public policy officer at McAfee.

The Economic Costs of Containing the Coronavirus Pandemic

Kimberly Ann Elliott 

The coronavirus pandemic is, first and foremost, a global health emergency. But it is also having major economic effects—sinking stock markets and threatening to send the global economy into recession.

The economic shocks outside China, where the outbreak originated, were relatively modest at first, as the authorities there—after initially trying to suppress any news of an epidemic—finally imposed strict containment measures that shut down major parts of the economy and disrupted supply chains globally. But those shocks grew rapidly as the virus spread around the world and countries took drastic steps to try and contain it. In the midst of this crisis, international trade in goods and services has been both a vector for spreading COVID-19—cruises and other international travel in particular—and a casualty of that spread. The severe measures being taken now to shut schools and other gathering places will hopefully slow the rate of infection, but the economic cost is going to be high. .

Should other countries copy Italy’s nationwide lockdown?

Giovambattista presti, a psychologist at the Kore University of Enna in Sicily, is an adviser to the Policlinico, Milan’s oldest hospital, which is at the centre of Italy’s covid-19 epidemic. Of great concern now, says Mr Presti, is staff burnout. He is particularly worried about post-traumatic stress disorder among some medics. If hospitals reach the point at which they no longer have the capacity to treat every patient, some of them “will be forced to decide who should go into intensive care and who should be left to die”.

Similar accounts are emerging elsewhere. Daniele Macchini is a doctor at the Humanitas Gavazzeni hospital in nearby Bergamo. It has been overwhelmed by covid-19 patients. “Cases are multiplying. We are getting 15-20 admissions a day,” he wrote on Facebook. “The results of the swabs come in one after another: positive, positive, positive. All of a sudden, accident and emergency is collapsing.” Nurses, he added, have been reduced to tears “because we cannot save everyone”.

When “Whatever It Takes” Isn’t Enough


NEW YORK – When interpreting the US Federal Reserve’s weekend announcement of new measures to mitigate the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important not to confuse motion with action.

Arguably, the Fed’s latest move to ease monetary policy is unprecedented, not least because it was announced on a Sunday afternoon. The Fed cut the federal funds rate by 100 basis points (to the 0-0.25% range), which will likely translate into a meaningful reduction in the marginal cost of corporate and household borrowing from banks. The Fed is also reactivating quantitative easing (QE). In the coming months, it will increase its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $500 billion and its holdings of mortgage-backed securities issued by one of three quasi-governmental agencies (known as Ginnie Mae, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac) by at least $200 billion. And it will reinvest all maturing principal payments from these holdings in agency mortgage-backed securities.

In addition to these measures, the Fed also recently expanded its overnight repurchase-agreement (repo) operations and has announced that it will loosen capital and liquidity requirements for banks. But the most important part of the March 15 announcement was the promise to pursue “coordinated central bank action to enhance the provision of US dollar liquidity,” in partnership with the Bank of Canada, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, and the Swiss National Bank. To that end, the pricing of existing dollar-swap lines has now been lowered by 25 basis points; and, more significantly, foreign central banks will “begin offering US dollars weekly in each jurisdiction with an 84-day maturity, in addition to the 1-week maturity operations currently offered.”

Coronavirus could break the EU

For better and for worse, crises create opportunities for extraordinary politics. European leaders, including the eurozone’s top central banker, Christine Lagarde, would be foolish to think that the ongoing pandemic is different just because it is a public health crisis — and not a political or financial one.

Besides the cost in terms of lives and public health, the pandemic has created an economic shock on a scale that could easily exceed the 2008 financial crisis. While the Great Recession resulted from a financial shock that reverberated through the U.S. and European economies, the entire world now faces a massive downturn across all sectors of the economy.

Social distancing” invariably means less economic activity for everybody. In the coming weeks, if not months, people will work less, invest less and spend less. Inevitably, balance sheets will deteriorate and otherwise profitable businesses will go under — unless there is a clear commitment from public authorities to stabilize the economy.

How Should the World Respond to the Coming Wave of Climate Migrants?

Stewart M. Patrick 

By 2050, hundreds of millions of people in developing countries will have left their homes as a result of climate change—a mass displacement that will make already-precarious populations more vulnerable and impose heavy burdens on the communities that absorb them. Unfortunately, the world has barely begun to prepare for this impending crisis.

Those displaced by climate change are neither true refugees nor traditional migrants, and thus occupy an ambiguous position under international law. The world needs to agree on how to classify environmental migrants, as well as what their rights are. It also needs to strengthen its capacity to manage these mass migrations, without weakening existing international regimes for refugees and migrants. .

AI is an Ideology, Not a Technology

A leading anxiety in both the technology and foreign policy worlds today is China’s purported edge in the artificial intelligence race. The usual narrative goes like this: Without the constraints on data collection that liberal democracies impose and with the capacity to centrally direct greater resource allocation, the Chinese will outstrip the West. AI is hungry for more and more data, but the West insists on privacy. This is a luxury we cannot afford, it is said, as whichever world power achieves superhuman intelligence via AI first is likely to become dominant.

Space Force May Be Too Small: RAND


WASHINGTON: The Space Force should be expanded to include most DoD space operational and acquisition organizations, including those of the Army and Navy, says a study released today by RAND’s Project Air Force. In also recommends that the Missile Defense Agency’s hands-on work operating satellites should be transferred, although the question of moving MDA activities requires more study,

The report, “A Separate Space: Creating a Military Service for Space,” also says that, as currently planned, the new service may be too small to adequately support its mission, noting that the Air Force’s start-up size was 300,000 compared to the Space Force’s planned 16,000.

“DoD is attempting to limit the additional resources needed to build the Space Force, which is understandable and even laudable, but being small could hurt the viability of the Space Force,” the study says. Its small size compared to the other services could also limit its leverage as it competes for resources both within DoD and on Capital Hill, RAND suggests.

Quarantine and the Supply Chain

By George Friedman

The global medical community appears to have devised a strategy for mitigating the coronavirus that depends largely on quarantine, or limiting contact among the infected and potentially infected, thereby limiting the virus’ spread. No one expects this strategy to eliminate the virus, of course. The hope is to keep it at bay long enough for it to fade away on its own or, as many experts believe, die in the more hostile conditions of warmer weather. In the meantime, it’s possible that scientists will develop more effective treatment for the disease it causes.

This is all speculative. What we know for sure is that the world’s governments are kicking the can down the road, hoping that later is better than now. It’s not an irrational plan, but it does come with economic costs, not the least of which involve supply chains. What we need to survive must travel from where it’s made to our homes, and every step along the chain is at risk of breaking down.

For our purposes, there are three indispensable supply chains: food, pharmaceuticals and energy. The need for food is obvious. The inability to obtain pharmaceuticals for pre-existing medical conditions could kill more people than the coronavirus itself. Electricity is essential to refrigerate foods and possibly pharmaceuticals, allow information to flow, and drive facilities needed for the supply chain. Gasoline must be delivered if the trucks that distribute food and pharmaceuticals are to run. There are undoubted other supply chains we have missed, but these are the essentials to get us through until the weather turns.

Junior Officers’ Role in an Apolitical Military

By Lieutenant Steven Salva, U.S. Navy

Why does the public have more confidence in the military than banks, religious organizations, and the government?1 A contributing factor is certainly the military’s obligation to remain apolitical. In a time of bitter political divisiveness, Americans do not feel they have to contradict their political views, no matter what they are, in supporting the military. All military members are required to uphold this confidence, but junior officers play an especially instrumental role in maintaining this public support.

Plenty has been written about how active-duty and retired admirals and generals should conduct themselves in the political realm, including Vice Admiral Doug Crowder’s October 2019 Proceedings article, “Generals and Admirals, Stay Out of Presidential Politics.” Crowder’s title summarizes the crux of many of these articles—the importance of senior military leaders staying out of politics. But less has been written about the role of junior officers. This is understandable, as flag and general officers are closer to the apex of civil-military relations and interact with elected officials far more frequently. However, while less influential, junior officers must still be aware of the important role they play in leading their subordinates, influencing their military and civilian seniors, and interacting with foreign peers.