3 April 2020

Making Sense of Indian and Chinese Strategic Nuclear Postures

By Ankit Panda

With both countries professing nuclear policies of No First Use, India and China don’t talk to each other much about their nuclear weapons forces. China, indeed, still sees India’s possession of nuclear weapons as a state outside of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons as unacceptable and New Delhi, meanwhile, sees Beijing’s arsenal as a continued source of concern for its self-professed pursuit of a credible minimum deterrent. Neither side takes the other’s assurances on No First Use at face value — and thus nuclear competition persists in southern Asia, with the dyad between China and India existing alongside the much more discussed India-Pakistan nuclear relationship.

Despite the importance of the nuclear competition between these two countries, with their populations amounting to more than 2.8 billion people, there are few good resources on how and where the two sides have postured their nuclear forces. A new interactive presentation published this week by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School provides an excellent top-level view of the nuclear relationship between the two countries and how the sides manage their postures. The authors, Frank O’Donnell and Alexander K. Bollfrass, have meticulously mapped out the known strike ranges of delivery systems available to both sides — based on publicly available information — and also provided maps detailing where specific units are based.

The Taliban Rejects Ghani’s Intra-Afghan Dialogue Team: What Now?

By Umair Jamal

Last week, the Afghan Taliban refused to meet a negotiating team that included Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. The Taliban’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, in a statement said that “In order to reach a true and lasting peace, the aforementioned team must be agreed upon by all effective Afghan sides so that it can represent all sides.”

The Taliban’s position should not come as a surprise and doesn’t reflect a setback for the peace process if one is to consider the development in the conflict’s totality. If anything, the group is only doing what it should be expected to do: undermining the credibility of a political leader whose regime faces a crisis of legitimacy at home and from abroad.

It’s important to note that it’s not only the Taliban that has refused to meet Ghani’s negotiating team. Ghani’s political rival, Abdullah Abdullah, who also declared himself president after last September’s controversial election has not supported the team formed to negotiate with the Taliban. Other political leaders with significant clout in Afghan politics including Hamid Karzai, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, Abdul Rab Rasul Sayyaf, and Rahmatullah Nabil have not made their position clear. All of these political leaders have an interest in seeing a regime in Kabul that meets the Taliban with the complete support of Afghanistan’s political leadership. Amid a crisis between Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, it’s unlikely that any of these political leaders will support a team unilaterally formed by President Ghani.

Moreover, for Ghani’s part, the decision related to forming a negotiating team with the Taliban was done in haste. The development is nothing short of a gamble that may undermine the intra-Afghan peace process further. Ghani’s announcement to begin an intra-Afghan dialogue without making a deal with Abdullah only made a historic declaration insubstantial and crippled the legitimacy of a most important part of the peace process.

Opinion – International Humanitarian Law Should Have Been Part of the Taliban Deal


In February, the US and the Taliban reached an agreement to put the two sides on a path to ending the Afghan War. Despite concerns over the feasibility of the deal, some praised it as a new way to finally bring an end to almost two decades of violence. One component missing from the agreement was any discussion of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) In the past, the Taliban has disregarded IHL. The ability to incorporate IHL could have spared Afghan citizens from terror, even if the fighting did not cease. This piece evaluates how IHL could have been a part of the deal.

In September 2018, U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad began holding peace talks with the Taliban. The talks were heading towards success until an act of terrorism killed a US soldier in Kabul in September 2019, which led US President Donald Trump to proclaim any potential deal ‘dead.’ In December 2019, Khalilzad began holding talks with the Taliban again, where he proposed a temporary peace talk. By the end of December, there were reports that the Taliban had agreed to a temporary cease-fire, but the details were unknown.

Taliban Takes District Headquarters, Says It Will Not Negotiate With Afghan Government Team

Taliban forces have taken control of a district headquarters in Afghanistan's northeastern province of Badakhshan, an overnight development that was followed on March 28 by an announcement that the militant group will not negotiate with a team recently unveiled by the Afghan government.

The district headquarters in Yumgan was overrun by Taliban fighters after heavy fighting, resulting in an undetermined number of casualties, provincial councilors told the German dpa news agency.

Four villages in neighboring Jurm district were also taken by the Taliban, according to the councilors.

The militant group followed up on the development by announcing that it is refusing to deal with the 21-member team approved on March 26 by the Afghan government in an effort to end the country's 18-year-old war.

How to Counter China’s Coronavirus Disinformation Campaign


Beijing is using lies to undermine America’s standing; the U.S. should fight back with science and truth.

Whether we like it or not, the United States is engaged on a new battlefield defined by the “speed, spread, and accessibility of information,” as P.W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking write in their prescient book, Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media. But our government does not appear to have received the memo. As a result, we’re losing the global war over the narrative about COVID-19 in the midst of a global pandemic. And there is much more at stake than words.

Within weeks of discovering the novel coronavirus late last year, the Chinese government began to spin powerful narratives to deflect its responsibility and disguise its accountability for the outbreak, covering up information that might lead to Patient Zero and the source of the novel pathogen, and presenting itself as the global model and potential international partner for effectively responding to the outbreak—a role the United States might have typically held in the past. 

How Huawei is dividing Western nations

he relationship between the United Kingdom and Australia is not usually a flashpoint in international relations. After all, the two allies share a common language, ancestry, and monarch. So what caused a dustup recently that saw a senior Australian parliamentarian rebuke the British foreign secretary, and for a group of Australian MPs to then cancel a trip to London in protest?

The answer is fears over Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant at the center of the 5G next-generation wireless debate. Australian officials were miffed when the British government recommended that the company be allowed to play a limited role in the U.K.’s 5G deployment despite calling it a “high risk” supplier due to its close ties to the Chinese government (the company’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, served for many years as an engineer in the People’s Liberation Army). The Australian government, a fellow member of the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (which includes the two countries plus the United States, Canada, and New Zealand), disagreed back in 2017 when it barred Huawei on national security grounds.

Now, two close allies are at cross purposes about the very future of the internet. What’s at stake is not just who equips the future of telecom infrastructure, but the very values that the internet itself holds.

Two countries, ocean(s) apart

Intermestic Realism: Domestic Considerations in International Relations


Although the field of International Relations (IR) has seen a cascade of newly developed theories over the last decades, realism has remained one of the most prevalent theories in the field. In spite of this prevalence, realism has kept evolving over these last decades, with new varieties being developed and old varieties being expanded on. While there is not yet a theoretical framework within the discipline of IR which analyses the influence of domestic discourse on shaping foreign policy, some scholars of IR have explored the intersection of domestic politics and international relations.[1] Nonetheless, existing theories of realism that do acknowledge domestic politics as a factor in international relations do not analyse whether domestic politics are a determining factor in shaping foreign policy. Moreover, these theories fail to provide a framework through which to analyse how domestic considerations shape international relations.

In this paper I will argue that international relations are often shaped by domestic considerations and explore how this synergy between domestic and foreign policy can be analysed within a realist theoretical framework. I will do so by giving a short overview of realism, particularly in terms of the global political economy, and intermestic affairs; policies that blur the line between the domestic and the international sphere. Afterwards, I will propose a thesis of intermestic realism. Finally, I will offer a short instrumental case study on intermestic considerations in the US-China trade war. By doing so, this paper aims to show how a frame of intermestic realism can be used to explain how domestic considerations can shape international relations.

Realism and the Global Political Economy

China and Japan’s Connectivity Strategies in Southeast Asia: Thailand’s Case


China is striving to connect most of the world through new networks of trade, investment, and infrastructure which are expected to strengthen its financial and geopolitical relations. Japan aims to constrain such a process through several strategies and initiatives, especially when considering its long-term presence and experience in Southeast Asia. While the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) appears to be a more comprehensive grand strategy when compared to Japan’s Partnership for Quality Infrastructure, there are at least two additional dimensions to be observed beyond the so-called ‘infrastructure diplomacy’ and the related investments. These are the digital realm, which includes the media-sphere, and the sociocultural aspect involving people-to-people interaction. Thailand is a topical case study where these dynamics are playing out due to its strategic relevance and location. First, this article provides the necessary background while contextualizing China and Japan’s efforts. Second, it collects several examples of direct and indirect competition for influence in the Kingdom found within the multiple dimensions of connectivity. Third, it speculates on how the situation might evolve in the foreseeable future while outlining the potential implications for the region.

There is little doubt that Asia is in need of infrastructure. As of 2017, more than 1.7 trillion USD per year was required through 2030, doubling previous estimates. There is also evidence of the relationship between infrastructure projects build abroad and influence. A 2019 report concluded that ‘[c]ountries with more connections to global flows of trade, finance, people, and data grow by up to 40 percent more than less connected countries.’ Japan has been providing funding in multiple forms and technical know-how for decades across Southeast Asia, with tangible returns. Due to domestic issues such as an aging population, the necessity to expand abroad is growing. China is a latecomer, but it is fast catching up, especially following the launch of the BRI in 2013. Yet, with regard to infrastructure, a report showed that as of mid-2019 China was still ‘no match’ for Japan in Southeast Asia. The former had 255 billion USD of pending projects versus 367 billion for Japan. However, the comparison of FDI tells only part of the story. China and Japan’s rivalry for influence encompasses multiple dimensions and it can be observed on different fronts.

Opinion – Can the Coronavirus Crisis Revive Multilateralism?


Multilateralism, or rather the need for it, has now been thrust back into the limelight with the novel coronavirus pandemic. The focus is on not only the failure of multilateralism to tackle the situation more effectively, but also on the need for strengthening its fundamentals, as international cooperation is the only way to contain the spread of COVID-19 and manage its economic, social and political fallouts in the coming months. The seeds of international cooperation have already been sowed by several governments amidst scaremongering, propaganda and blame-game by some establishments and leaders. Most cooperative efforts have so far primarily manifested in the form of videoconferences (which have become the new norm in international relations) organized by regional organizations and groups of countries (minilateral and informal groups) to address the COVID-19 situation – also indicative of geopolitical alignments and realignments in regional settings such as South Asia, Europe, and the Indo-Pacific. Will the COVID-19 crisis reinvigorate multilateralism, which also serves as the bedrock of global governance of a number of issues, including climate change? There are no definitive answers to this question, but it will certainly be debated more frequently in the coming days and months as the world reels under the COVID-19 crisis and tries to outlive it.

Populist/nationalist movements and unilateral moves have threatened multilateralism in recent years. The United States (US) President Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement (among his other decisions), Brexit and the divided approach of the members of the European Union (EU) towards managing migration from conflict areas of the Middle East and North Africa, to name just a few, have gone against the tide of multilateralism. Even otherwise, many would argue that the success of multilateralism as an approach towards global governance is largely overrated.

A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Post Pandemic World

by Muqtedar Khan

The COVID-19 pandemic could transform the world. Many geopolitical experts are concerned that this crisis, more than any other this century, has the potential to permanently reconstitute the global order. Some are even arguing that while the United States is abdicating global leadership during the current pandemic, China is using it to reinforce its growing status as the alternate destination for economic aid, medical and scientific support, and leadership for many nations, including Western and developed nations like Italy. Some commentators claim that China is using the crisis to dethrone the United States as the global superpower. 

While it is difficult to predict the overall death toll, socio-political disruption, and the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, a few things are already manifest. The main vehicle of COVID-19’s destructive impact will not be through its potentially significant death toll but rather through its economic fallout. There will be a sustained global economic recession that will impact some countries harder than others. All major powers – the United States, China, Europe, and Russia will come out bruised and battered by the pandemic, and in the Middle East, Iran – the only counter-hegemonic player – will be definitely downsized in economy and state capacity. While the United States’ soft power has declined in the age of Trump, the crisis now tarnishes the larger-than-life images of Xi Jinping of China, Narendra Modi of India, and other populist leaders. Even European nations’ aura of good governance and exemplary healthcare systems has lost its shine. The pandemic is proving to be a great leveler. 

The Great Disruption is a Great Opportunity

China's Military Modernization Is Becoming A Real Problem For America

Key point: Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the U.S. shipbuilding industry has experienced a tremendous decline.

China is modernizing every element of its military. It has announced plans to field a world-class military by 2035 and a dominant military by mid-century.1 Consistent with its goal of regional hegemony, China is building Navy, Coast Guard, and merchant ships faster than any other nation. Its Navy now directly commands China’s Coast Guard, adding hundreds of ships to its fleet. China’s fleet of warships now outnumbers U.S. warships in the Indo-Pacific by about 10 to 1. With this new capability, China constantly intimidates its neighbors through its increasingly aggressive maritime behavior.2

China intends to control the international waters off its shores.3 It has invested heavily in long-range anti-access area denial (A2/AD) missiles. These missiles represent a serious threat to warships, since considerable uncertainty exists about the effectiveness of the defenses against them.4 A strategic benefit of robust A2/AD missiles is increasing the stand-off distance from China that warships must maintain to avoid attack. By pushing navies further away from shores, these weapons look to turn the China Seas into Chinese territorial waters. According to the Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Phil Davidson, “China is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.”5

A Made-in-China Pandemic

Source Link

The COVID-19 pandemic should be a wake-up call for a world that has accepted China’s lengthening shadow over global supply chains for far too long. Only by reducing China’s global economic influence – beginning in the pharmaceutical sector – can the world be kept safe from the country’s political pathologies.

The new COVID-19 coronavirus has spread to more than 100 countries – bringing social disruption, economic damage, sickness, and death – largely because authorities in China, where it emerged, initially suppressed information about it. And yet China is now acting as if its decision not to limit exports of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and medical supplies – of which it is the dominant global supplier – was a principled and generous act worthy of the world’s gratitude.

When the first clinical evidence of a deadly new virus emerged in Wuhan, Chinese authorities failed to warn the public for weeks and harassed, reprimanded, and detained those who did. This approach is no surprise: China has a long history of “killing” the messenger. Its leaders covered up severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), another coronavirus, for over a month after it emerged in 2002, and held the doctor who blew the whistle in military custody for 45 days. SARS ultimately affected more than 8,000 people in 26 countries.

With US Preoccupied And Europe Weak, China Begins To Advance – OpEd

By Dr. John C. Hulsman*

History certainly teaches us that power abhors a vacuum. Geopolitics goes on, as it has done since the days of Athens and Sparta, whatever the calamity. In the case of the coronavirus catastrophe, ironically it is China — the initial propagator of the virus, whose two-month cover-up allowed it to spread undetected to much of the world — that stands to benefit most.

Sometimes history favors the culpable. And Beijing has lost no time in taking advantage of the sluggish responses to the virus emanating from both Brussels and Washington. In the case of the EU, the coronavirus crisis is ruthlessly exposing its flaws: It is too slow, too divided, and — when push comes to shove — not enough of a union at all.

For example, while the hard-pressed Italians were first bearing the brunt of the disease in Europe, a selfish German government decided to hoard surgical masks, as the Germans might need them themselves in just a matter of weeks. Either Europe is a union, and behaves as such, or else all that endless pious talk means nothing.

America, as all continental powers tend to be, is so preoccupied with itself and the impending hit it is about to take that it has spared nary a thought for its besieged European allies. In essence, the crisis is ruthlessly making clear weaknesses already present in the international system well before it struck: Europe is both weak and less than a real union, while the US has lost interest in Europe as its gaze turns to Asia — with much of the world’s future growth as well as much of its global risk. In both cases, the coronavirus has merely clarified the strategic vacuum that had already been quietly growing.

Open Conflict: The US Versus Iran’s Proxies – OpEd

By Neville Teller

Nominally, Iraq is blessed with two strong allies – the United States and Iran. Unfortunately the two are virtually at war with each other – virtually, because although missiles are flying in each direction, Iran is not itself firing any. A crucial aspect of Iran’s politico-religious strategy has long been to use proxies to execute its less savory operations, thus avoiding direct responsibility for the atrocities committed at its bidding. Among such organizations as Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, Hamas in Gaza, and a plethora of jihadist groups in Syria, is Hashed al-Shaabi, a network of armed groups embedded in the Iraqi state. Its most prominent member is Kataib Hezbollah (KH).

KH is an Iranian-sponsored Shia militia. Founded in 2003, it is in sympathy with the Lebanon-based Hezbollah organization, itself a key element in Iran’s network of jihadist groups. Since late October 2019 KH has been launching rocket attacks on bases housing US troops and diplomats in Iraq – to date no less than 23 such strikes. On March 11, in a rare daytime attack and one of the heaviest ever, at least 33 rockets rained down on air defense units at the Taji air base, some 17 miles north-west of Baghdad. Three people were killed and 14 injured.

The next day a retaliatory raid by US and British forces hit KH facilities across Iraq.

How did the US and Iran emerge as allies of Iraq?

Now is the time to revisit the Global Health Security Agenda

Bonnie Jenkins

In 2013, members of the National Security Council convened a meeting to bring together officials working on infectious disease prevention and response from the Departments of State, Defense, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, as well as from the Federal Drug Administration, the Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

I worked at State at the time, and my portfolio focused on preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, as well as terrorism and biosecurity issues. We met because of a growing concern: that despite the work of the United States, other countries, a variety of international organizations, the non-governmental sector, and other institutions to combat infectious disease, there was a steady increase of infectious disease threats. It was clear that infectious diseases would continue to endanger the global community, and that something had to be done.

That discussion was followed by a range of additional meetings to include close engagements with other countries, international organizations, and the non-governmental sector. The result was the February 2014 launch of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) by the U.S. and international partners. The GHSA is an effort to build countries’ capacities to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats (whether from an accidental, natural, or intentional causes). Over 30 countries, along with international organizations including the World Health Organization (WHO), joined.

It Wasn’t Just Trump Who Got It Wrong


Many will be tempted to see the tragic coronavirus pandemic through a solely partisan lens: The Trump administration spectacularly failed in its response, by cutting funding from essential health services and research before the crisis, and later by denying its existence and its severity. Those are both true, but they don’t fully explain the current global crisis that has engulfed countries of varying political persuasions.

As it turns out, the reality-based, science-friendly communities and information sources many of us depend on also largely failed. We had time to prepare for this pandemic at the state, local, and household level, even if the government was terribly lagging, but we squandered it because of widespread asystemic thinking: the inability to think about complex systems and their dynamics. We faltered because of our failure to consider risk in its full context, especially when dealing with coupled risk—when multiple things can go wrong together. We were hampered by our inability to think about second- and third-order effects and by our susceptibility to scientism—the false comfort of assuming that numbers and percentages give us a solid empirical basis. We failed to understand that complex systems defy simplistic reductionism.

Widespread asystemic thinking may have cost America the entire month of February, and much of what we’d normally consider credible media were part of that failure.

Lack Of Testing Doesn't Explain Why Japan Has So Far Escaped The Worst Of The Coronavirus

by Jonathan Newton

It has been suggested quite widely that the relatively low number of known cases of COVID-19 in Japan is mainly due to the low number of tests for the disease that have been carried out. But looking more closely at the maths shows that this is almost certainly wrong. Japan has experienced a slow growth in the disease relative to other countries despite limited testing.

Anyone paying attention to the news lately will have heard the word “exponential" quite a lot. And often, they will have heard the word used wrongly. Exponential does not mean “big", nor does it mean “fast".

Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impactsJanuary 2020 | Report

By Jonathan Woetzel, Dickon Pinner, Hamid Samandari, Hauke Engel, Mekala Krishnan, Brodie Boland, and Carter Powis

After more than 10,000 years of relative stability—the full span of human civilization—the Earth’s climate is changing. As average temperatures rise, climate science finds that acute hazards such as heat waves and floods grow in frequency and severity, and chronic hazards, such as drought and rising sea levels, intensify (Exhibit 1). In this report, we focus on understanding the nature and extent of physical risk from a changing climate over the next one to three decades, exploring physical risk as it is the basis of both transition and liability risks.

Review – The Age of Illusions


Andrew Bacevich’s newest work, The Age of Illusions, examines the history behind American expectations of global supremacy and perpetual prosperity. The road from those expectations to the economic realities of the United States in 2016, Bacevich argues, led to the election of Donald Trump. The book has many valid, well-argued points. It’s clear that Bacevich is attempting to save the country from societal collapse. However, the author’s tone and lexicon limit the book’s reach to like-minded individuals and academics. As a result, the lessons Bacevich seeks to impart may never reach an audience large enough to make a difference.

The book opens with a quote from James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son (1955):

In America, though, life seems to move faster than anywhere else on the globe and each generation is promised more than it will get; which creates, in each generation, a furious bewildered rage, the rage of people who cannot find solid ground beneath their feet.

Though this rage has been building for generations, Bacevich argues that the true “age of illusions” comes from post-Cold War hubris and, “expectations of material abundance on an unheralded scale, permanent military supremacy, a vastly enlarged conception of personal freedom, and a belief in presidential wizardry, if not exhibited by the incumbent then expected of his successor” (p. 60).

Opinion – Coronavirus amid Regional Instability in the Middle East


The Coronavirus crisis may be a global crisis, but it will not have the same consequences in every region. Although the Middle East has a significant advantage in the face of this pandemic, as the median age of its population is 26 years old compared to 42 years old in Europe, and although COVID-19 has so far broadly spared the lives of young people, the population as an entity is more vulnerable. The Middle East is unprepared to face this time bomb-like epidemic in a region where health infrastructure is most often lacking, where two humanitarian disasters are under way, in Syria and Yemen, and where millions of refugees live in camps – making social distancing almost impossible. At the moment, political tensions complicate, even more than elsewhere, the cooperation needed between states in the region to make it through this difficult period. The Coronavirus epidemic is a crisis on top of unresolved crises which jeopardizes the stability of most countries in the region. It subsequently leans on the shortcomings and incompetence of the states’ often lack of economic means, administrative organization, as well as the expert skills to face such a challenge.

Health facilities in the region are not ready to cope with a large influx of patients coming in at the same time because of this infection. Major countries in the region are either at war (Syria, Yemen), or out of breath (Iraq, Jordan, Egypt), or bankrupt (Lebanon, Iran), or barely standing on increasingly fragile models (the other Gulf states). To the fragility of these states, one must add, in the majority of cases, an absence of transparency and distrust of the populations towards those who run them, which only further complicates the fight against the spread of the virus. Increasingly, it is proving difficult to control populations, to make them “stay home” as well as to make them trust the data provided by the authorities – who provide nothing but empty figures in most cases.

The End of New York Will the pandemic push America’s greatest city over the edge?


Grand Central Terminal, New York City, 1941LIBRARY OF CONGRESS

For over two centuries, New York has been the predominant urban center in North America. It remains the primary locale for the arts, culture, finance, and media, and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future. It has also served as the incubator of the many Americas—including Jewish, Italian, African American, Irish, and, increasingly, Middle Eastern, North African, and Asian cultures—and nurtured their contributions to the arts, business, and intellectual life.

Yet today, New York faces a looming existential crisis brought on by the coronavirus. It suffers the largest outbreak of infection by far, accounting for the largest numbers of both cases and deaths outside of Wuhan and Milan. New York is home to nearly half of the coronavirus cases in the United States, and a majority of deaths.

What’s particularly ominous for New York’s future is that the best way to slow the spread of the virus—social distancing—works against the very things that make Gotham so appealing. The very pleasures and crowded realities of urban life, such as mass transit, are particularly susceptible to pandemics. As New Yorkers are told to avoid crowded subways, subway traffic is down 60% and commuter train traffic by as much as 90%.

Africa is changing so rapidly, it is becoming hard to ignore

Sometimes bridging the gap between success and failure, between finishing high school or dropping out, requires a lot of determination and the cost of a cow. Jack Oyugi grew up as the oldest of 14 children to parents tilling an acre of ground in western Kenya. Their crops usually gave them enough to eat—neighbours would feed them if food ran short—but they had little cash. When Mr Oyugi went to secondary school his father sold his only cow to pay the fees. “The neighbours laughed at him,” he says. Now he is having the last laugh. Mr Oyugi went on to university where he studied biotechnology, and then developed a process to make protein-rich animal feed from water hyacinth, an invasive plant on Lake Victoria. He provides jobs for 30 people. Orders for the feed, which is about 30% cheaper than soyabean protein, are coming from as far away as Thailand. As for his father, “I’ve built him a seven-room house and bought him some cows,” he says proudly.

Mr Oyugi is talented and hard-working. But his jump from village to university, from subsistence farming to founding a thriving business, is also one that encapsulates the change that is sweeping across the world’s youngest continent. Almost half of the 1.3bn Africans alive today were born after the terror attacks on America in 2001—the median age of 19 is less than half that of Europe (43).

Freedom House 2020: Africa In Freefall? – Analysis

By Arman Sidhu*

In its latest report regarding global civil and political liberties, the US-based NGO Freedom House concludes that a worldwide decline in democracy continues to persist in what the report describes as a “a leaderless struggle for democracy.” This year’s report marks the 14th year in a row in which Freedom House has noted an erosion of democratic norms. While strengthened autocracies are partially to blame, the two nations headlining the decline involve democracies, namely, the United States and India.

The emergence of illiberalism within democracies is a trend fueled by the election of populists, many of whom generate appeal through rebuke of global trade, migration, and multilateralism. The past five years have been particularly salient as recovery from the global recession has led to unfavorable and likely permanent structural economic changes for both developed and developing nations. From the displacement of labor, spurred by the outsourcing of entire industries, to austerity measures that have pared social programs, support for populist politicians and their respective ideologies do not appear to be an overnight phenomenon that will simply dissipate with time and the next election cycle.

Instead, in channeling the grievances of their supporters, leaders of autocracies and democracies alike have attributed blame to a myriad of opponents, including multilateral institutions (UN, EU, NATO, IMF), neighboring nation-states, in addition to religious and ethnic minorities. Such conditions have led to targeted policies and legislation, which in turn has fomented riotous violence, as is the case in both Hong Kong and India.

DHS Makes a Master List of Coronavirus Knowns and Unknowns


The list is meant to help government decision-makers make better choices about policies and actions.

The Homeland Security Department recently launched and continues to update a new, living document that agency officials can use as a reference tool to inform the choices they must make in response to the COVID-19 crisis. 

Upon recognizing that there’s a range of knowledge gaps about the novel coronavirus itself that directly impact DHS’ policies and operations—and America’s entire medical emergency response community-at-large—the department created and released a Master Question List, or MQL. According to the latest version published March 26, the document “quickly summarizes what is known, what additional information is needed, and who may be working to address” fundamental questions about COVID-19. It’ll be updated “as needed when new information becomes available.” 

“The MQL is primarily intended to quickly present the current state of available information on operationally-relevant questions to government decision-makers to support structured and scientifically guided discussions without burdening them with the need to review scientific reports, as well as to prevent duplication of efforts by highlighting and coordinating research efforts,” Lloyd Hough, lead of DHS’ Science and Technology Directorate’s Hazard Awareness and Characterization Technology Center, told Nextgov Wednesday. “Given the breadth of the response to COVID-19, many stakeholders have different priorities—so hopefully the MQL allows each stakeholder to quickly find the relevant information they need for their mission.”

Cyber Warfare – Truth, Tactics, And Strategies Is A Good Read

Louis Columbus

As far back as 2009, hackers were able to access drone feeds from highly specialized drones that were covering the war in Iraq.

The use of proprietary wireless signals and protocols within IoT devices is the main avenue of compromise for hackers and threat actors.

Fake digital fingerprints can be created by AI engines that are capable of fooling fingerprint scanners on smartphones and other devices that use this form of authentication.

Hackers tricked an executive assistant at a UK-based firm into transferring more than $200,000 to a bogus account because they "heard their CEO tell them to" on the phone where the hackers used deep fake technology.