8 April 2020

Russia Offers India Three Refurbished Kilo-Class Submarines

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Indian Navy is considering an offer by Russia’s state-owned JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation (USC) for three refurbished Kilo-class submarines to augment its shortfall in diesel-electric submarines (SSKs), according to local media reports.

USC reportedly offered a $1.8-2 billion “three plus three” package that would include upgrade work on three Indian Navy Sindhughosh Kilo (Project 877EKM)-class SSKs with an additional three refurbished Russian Navy Kilo-class hulls.

The possible defense deal was expected to be raised at a meeting of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission on Military and Military Technical Cooperation (IRIGC-M&MTC) that was scheduled to take place in Goa last month but was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Indian Navy would receive the Russian-made SSKs at one-year intervals with the first boat slated for delivery three years after the conclusion of the agreement. The refit of the three Sindhughosh Kilo (Project 877EKM)-class SSKs, which entered service in 1990, 1991, and 2000 respectively, would extend their operational life by 10 years.

Can America Trust the Taliban to Prevent Another 9/11?

By David Petraeus and Vance Serchuk 

For nearly 20 years, the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan has been sustained by a single, vital national interest: the clear and present danger of another September 11–like attack emerging from this region of the world, absent constant efforts to thwart it. To this end, U.S. strategy has been threefold: deploying American and allied forces to Afghanistan to conduct sensitive counterterrorism missions there and in neighboring parts of Pakistan; training and enabling Afghan partner forces to assume the bulk of responsibility for security inside their country; and backing a friendly government in Kabul that has permitted international forces to operate from its territory against Islamist extremism.

This strategy has been costly and unsatisfying—but also reasonably successful. It enabled the United States to eliminate the al Qaeda camps that flourished in Afghanistan under the Taliban prior to its ouster from power in late 2001, and equally important, it has kept that extremist infrastructure from being reestablished. When terrorists attempted to rebuild their networks in the nearby tribal areas of northwest Pakistan in the mid-2000s, the United States was able to smash them there, too, from its Afghan bases. And it was out of Afghanistan that the operation against Osama bin Laden in his Abbottabad hideout was launched in May 2011. More recently, the U.S. footprint in Afghanistan again proved its value when an Islamic State (ISIS) affiliateemerged on the Afghanistan-Pakistan frontier and attempted to raise the black flag of the caliphate there. It likewise has been pummeled.

Rather than a safe haven for extremists to plot devastating strikes on the United States and its allies, in other words, Afghanistan over the last two decades became an outpost from which the United States and its allies could project power against the terrorists.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor at Five

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that was off icially launched in April 2015, promised transformational gains. Five years later, a quarter of announced projects have been completed, energy projects dominate, and industrialization efforts are lagging, according to data collected by the CSIS Reconnecting Asia Project and made available to the public here


Scaled-back Ambitions: Of 122 announced projects, a quarter (32 projects) have been completed, or roughly $20 billion of the estimated $87 billion in funding. While this is a significant amount of activity, particularly in the transport and energy sectors, it also highlights a gap between projects announced and completed. 

Energy Focus Carries Environmental Costs: Energy projects account for nearly two-thirds of CPEC funding, and nearly 40 percent of the planned generation capacity uses coal, despite ongoing concerns about the high public health costs of pollution in Pakistan. 

Pakistan Is Showing U.S. Enemies How to Defeat America

by Michael Rubin

Simply put, the U.S. willingness to accept a flawed ‘peace’ deal with the Taliban has convinced Taliban sponsors within Pakistan’s military and all-powerful intelligence service not only that Washington is weak and its concerns not worthy of serious attention, but also that Pakistan can gratuitously humiliate the United States as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan pivots the country further into China’s orbit. 

In 1985, when Hezbollah kidnapped four Russian diplomats in Beirut, killing one, Moscow’s retaliation was swift. Different versions of the story exist, but they all have one thing in common: A Hezbollah commander began receiving body parts of a close relative through the mail. Hezbollah released the remaining hostages and never took another Russian.

Hezbollah may not have liked the Soviets, but they quickly learned that they could not mess with Russians. Contrast that with Pakistan today. On April 2, a Pakistani court voided a murder conviction of Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh who kidnapped and then videotaped his slaughter of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

Welcome to the world after the U.S.-Taliban realm, negotiated by U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad. Simply put, the U.S. willingness to accept a flawed ‘peace’ deal with the Taliban has convinced Taliban sponsors within Pakistan’s military and all-powerful intelligence service not only that Washington is weak and its concerns not worthy of serious attention, but also that Pakistan can gratuitously humiliate the United States as Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan pivots the country further into China’s orbit.

Do Authoritarian or Democratic Countries Handle Pandemics Better?


China has declared victory over the new coronavirus and begun to close its temporary hospitals. Singapore’s coronavirus chief wept while thanking healthcare workers for their efforts. Meanwhile, Spanish officials have requisitioned an ice rink as a makeshift morgue, and nurses in the United States are begging for hand-sewn masks. The stark contrasts raise a pointed question about governance: Are authoritarian countries doing a better job than democratic ones in arresting the coronavirus?

China is certainly engaged in an English-language propaganda campaign to depict its response as an effective deployment of high-tech authoritarianism that rapidly contained the virus and bought the world time. It’s buttressing the message by sending medical equipment and experts to other countries, and spreading a false story that the illness originated as U.S. military bioterrorism. Mounting a propaganda campaign of his own, President Donald Trump issued guidelines to slap the pandemic with a “Made in China”label and blame China’s authoritarianism and censorship for early delays that allowed a potentially containable virus to infect the world.

China and America Are Failing the Pandemic Test


All national leaders must put their country’s interests first, but the important question is how broadly or narrowly they define those interests. Both China and the US are responding to COVID-19 with an inclination toward short-term, zero-sum approaches, and too little attention to international institutions and cooperation.

CAMBRIDGE – COVID-19 is confronting humanity with its most severe test since 1918, when an influenza pandemic killed more people than died in World War I. Yet the top leaders of the world’s two largest economies, China and the United States, have failed the first round.

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his White House desk that read, “The buck stops here”: ultimate responsibility for the country’s welfare rests with the president. Now contrast that with how the current occupant of the Oval Office has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The initial reaction of both Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump was denial. Crucial time for testing and containment was wasted, and opportunities for international cooperation were squandered.

The Two Pandemics


Predicting the stock market at a time like this is hard. To do so well, we would have to predict the direct effects on the economy of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as all the real and psychological effects of the pandemic of financial anxiety. The two are different, but inseparable.

NEW HAVEN – We are feeling the anxiety effects of not one pandemic but two. First, there is the COVID-19 pandemic, which makes us anxious because we, or people we love, anywhere in the world, might soon become gravely ill and even die. And, second, there is a pandemic of anxiety about the economic consequences of the first.

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his White House desk that read, “The buck stops here”: ultimate responsibility for the country’s welfare rests with the president. Now contrast that with how the current occupant of the Oval Office has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. 

An Open Letter to the People of the United States From 100 Chinese Scholars

“Facing the most dangerous infectious disease in a century, politicized criticisms help neither China, the U.S., nor the world to curb the spread of the virus.”

Dear American friends:

We are a group of 100 Chinese scholars representing diverse academic fields including philosophy, political science, economics, medicine, international relations, sociology, law, communication, military science, and technology. Our members include a number of university professors from Wuhan. While our areas of expertise are diverse, as intellectuals we all share a common desire to express our concerns about the well-being of all people in China, the U.S., and every country on Earth.

Recently, we have heard many critical voices politicizing the COVID-19 pandemic. Facing the most dangerous infectious disease in a century, these criticisms help neither China, the U.S., nor the world to curb the spread of the virus. Political bickering does nothing to contribute to the healthy development of Sino-U.S. relations, nor will it help the people of the world to rationally and accurately understand and cope with the pandemic.

We want to sincerely and frankly share our views with our American friends today.

Some Say China’s Belt and Road Helped Create This Pandemic. Can It Prevent the Next One?

By Andreea Brînză

As the novel coronavirus spread from country to country, reaching the level of a pandemic, some voices pointed toward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the main avenue of contagion. But had it been better implemented, the BRI could instead have been lauded as a champion of pandemic prevention.

Many people may not know that the BRI has a branch dedicated to facilitating communication among countries in order to prevent and control infectious diseases, create a platform for proper health services and the health industry, facilitate personnel training and medical research, and develop international assistance. The idea of what we might call BRI Health Cooperation was first mentioned in 2015, in the Three-Year Plan for the Implementation of the “Belt and Road Initiative” Health Exchange and Cooperation (2015-2017) as a short- and medium-term goal.

China, coronavirus and surveillance: the messy reality of personal data

Yuan Yang and Nian Liu in Beijing, Sue-Lin Wong in Hong Kong and Qianer Liu in Shenzhen YESTERDAYPrint this page86 Be the first to know about every new Coronavirus story Get instant email alerts Three days after the Chinese government locked down Hubei, the province at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, a local government official more than 1,000km away received data from telecoms carriers alerting her to a list of people who had left Hubei and entered her town. The data included traces of the estimated locations of users’ mobile phones, showing that many had driven back along the highways from Hubei to Guangdong province in southern China, where the official works in a small town. The location data helped the official’s team “more or less” pin down everyone who came back from Hubei, she said. 

 But for another Guangdong town, the information it was able to get hold of was much less comprehensive. “We did identify one man from Hubei on the list who was high-risk. We searched everywhere for him but just couldn’t track him down,” a second official told the Financial Times, speaking on condition of anonymity. A worker in protective gear checks the health code of a man outside a shopping centre in Wuhan, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, on Tuesday © Roman Pilipey/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock A woman's temperature is checked at the entrance of a bank in Wuhan © Roman Pilipey/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Officials went door to door searching for the man. Finally, they found him — in a neighbouring municipality, where he had not been included on its list of high-risk people. To the outside world, China can often seem like a monolith, with edicts from Beijing ruthlessly implemented by the rest of the system. US officials regularly accuse the Chinese government of having access to all data held by companies in the country. When dissidents are involved, the surveillance is often swift and decisive — partly because the police and other security services have the greatest power within the government to marshal different sources of data. 

Why this crisis is a turning point in history


The deserted streets will fill again, and we will leave our screen-lit burrows blinking with relief. But the world will be different from how we imagined it in what we thought were normal times. This is not a temporary rupture in an otherwise stable equilibrium: the crisis through which we are living is a turning point in history. 

The era of peak globalisation is over. An economic system that relied on worldwide production and long supply chains is morphing into one that will be less interconnected. A way of life driven by unceasing mobility is shuddering to a stop. Our lives are going to be more physically constrained and more virtual than they were. A more fragmented world is coming into being that in some ways may be more resilient. 

The once formidable British state is being rapidly reinvented, and on a scale not seen before. Acting with emergency powers authorised by parliament, the government has tossed economic orthodoxy to the winds. Savaged by years of imbecilic austerity, the NHS – like the armed forces, police, prisons, fire service, care workers and cleaners – has its back to the wall. But with the noble dedication of its workers, the virus will be held at bay. Our political system will survive intact. Not many countries will be so fortunate. Governments everywhere are struggling through the narrow passage between suppressing the virus and crashing the economy. Many will stumble and fall. 

China’s Coming Upheaval Competition, the Coronavirus, and the Weakness of Xi Jinping

By Minxin Pei

Over the past few years, the United States’ approach to China has taken a hard-line turn, with the balance between cooperation and competition in the U.S.-Chinese relationship tilting sharply toward the latter. Most American policymakers and commentators consider this confrontational new strategy a response to China’s growing assertiveness, embodied especially in the controversial figure of Chinese President Xi Jinping. But ultimately, this ongoing tension—particularly with the added pressures of the new coronavirus outbreak and an economic downturn—is likely to expose the brittleness and insecurity that lie beneath the surface of Xi’s, and Beijing’s, assertions of solidity and strength.

The United States has limited means of influencing China’s closed political system, but the diplomatic, economic, and military pressure that Washington can bring to bear on Beijing will put Xi and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) he leads under enormous strain. Indeed, a prolonged period of strategic confrontation with the United States, such as the one China is currently experiencing, will create conditions that are conducive to dramatic changes.

Evolutions in the U.S. Chinese-Hacking Indictment Strategy

By Jakob Bund

On the heels of the indictment of a China-backed hacking group in December 2018, Jack Goldsmith and Robert Williams presented a compelling case that U.S. attempts to leverage legal action against Chinese hackers affiliated with the country’s security and defense organizations had failed to deter Chinese theft of intellectual property and trade secrets. Noting the difficulty of assessing the effectiveness of the indictment strategy conclusively, Goldsmith and Williams pointed out that a lasting deterrence effect had not materialized and argued that, without the ability to redress the called-out cyber intrusions, indictments might give rise to impressions of weakness and prove self-defeating.

The indictment strategy originated in the criminal charges of economic espionage against five officers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced in 2014. At best, it succeeded in brokering a temporary reprieve in PLA-orchestrated cyber espionage operations. Following organizational restructuring of the PLA in early 2016, operations resumed under China’s Ministry of State Security, while a surge in Chinese direct investment and business acquisitions in the U.S. and across Europe opened up alternative channels by which China could gain access to foreign technology and know-how.

Emergency Planning for OPEC States

The worst oil demand shock in history is unfolding due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and there is no relief in sight for Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) states. The debate over responsibility for the recent oil price war—and whether Saudi Arabia or Russia is to blame for the collapse of the OPEC+ framework that curtailed production and supported prices since late 2016—is increasingly irrelevant. The demand impact of the coronavirus outbreak is now so large that, for the time being, any OPEC supply responses are moot. 

Some analysts now anticipate a drop in demand of 20 million barrels per day or more in the second quarter, but this will not be a short-lived phenomenon. It is possible that until a vaccine is developed for the virus—perhaps another 18 months or more—severe restrictions on movement will remain in place, and investment, trade, and lending will be sharply curtailed. For the oil industry, a rapprochement between Moscow and Riyadh and an end to the production free-for-all would be a welcome development but will not change this unprecedented demand weakness. 

Emergency planning is underway for the major oil-exporting countries, but nearly all of the OPEC+ states are in worse shape now compared with 2014, when oil prices began to decline. States facing consistent deficits have been forced to borrow to meet their spending requirements. Current account balances have also declined sharply as export revenues have fallen, and government debt is on the rise. To cite a few examples, Saudi Arabia has registered annual budget deficits averaging 10 percent of GDP since 2015, and Oman’s gross government debt rose from 16 percent of GDP in 2015 to about 60 percent of GDP today. 

Coronavirus: How Are Countries Responding to the Economic Crisis?

by Jonathan Masters

The coronavirus pandemic is slowing global commerce to a crawl, but many of the world’s largest economies are taking extraordinary actions to propel them through the crisis and, hopefully, into a rapid recovery. 

A pedestrian wearing a protective face mask amid the the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is reflected on a screen displaying stock prices outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, on March 17, 2020. 

The coronavirus is throttling the global economy. In a matter of weeks, the highly contagious disease has pushed the world to the brink of a recession more severe than the 2008 financial crisis. The depth and duration of the downturn will depend on many factors, including the behavior of the virus itself, public health responses, and economic interventions. 

Given the extraordinary nature of the pandemic-induced crisis, fiscal and monetary policymakers are working without a playbook. Many are already taking stunning actions, and the price tag of these bailout measures could top $10 trillion, analysts say.

How bad will the recession be?

The Oil Collapse A Pandemic and a Price War Have Together Brought Energy Markets to a Crisis

By Daniel Yergin 

The global oil market has never in history collapsed as precipitously as it has right now. The oil and gas industry, which provides almost 60 percent of the world’s energy, is engulfed in a double crisis that would have been dismissed as unthinkable at the start of this year. A price war, with producing nations battling for market share, has become lodged in the larger crisis of the novel coronavirus pandemic and what will likely be the worst recession since World War II. The resulting collapse in demand will be bigger than any recorded since oil became a global commodity. Oil prices are already down two-thirds since the beginning of 2020 and still falling. The decline in global consumption in April alone will be seven times bigger than the biggest quarterly decline following the 2008–9 financial crisis. In areas that lack access to storage and markets, the price of a barrel of oil could fall to zero.

This crash will create turmoil for oil-exporting countries and add to the turbulence of financial markets. It will also add another layer of complexity to an already fraught geopolitical situation—including by pulling the United States into contentious international wrangling over what can be done to ameliorate the crash. In February of this year, U.S. oil production reached its highest level ever, 13.1 million barrels a day—considerably more than either of the other top global producers, Saudi Arabia and Russia. That record followed a decade in which, owing to the shale revolution enabled by new fracking techniques, the United States went from being the world’s largest importer of oil to a major exporter.

Aircraft Carrier Captain Fired For ‘Poor Judgement’ In Sending Coronavirus Letter


The commander of USS Theodore Roosevelt, who sounded the alarm about a COVID-19 outbreak aboard his aircraft carrier, has been relieved of command by the acting Navy secretary.

Capt. Brett Crozier “demonstrated extremely poor judgement in the midst of a crisis” by sending a four-page request for urgent help to people outside his chain of command, Thomas Modly told reporters Thursday afternoon.

The carrier pulled into Guam on Friday after several COVID-sickened sailors had been medevaced off the ship. Crozier soon began sending sailors ashore to accommodations where they could isolate themselves, but became concerned that a lack of rooms on Guam was slowing the evacuation. A total of 114 Roosevelt sailors have tested positive for the coronavirus, and the ultimate number will probably be “in the hundreds,” Modly said.

Modly said Crozier could have “walked down the hall” to his immediate boss, the admiral in charge of the carrier’s strike group, or expressed his concerns in one of his conversations with Modly’s chief of staff. Instead, Crozier sent his March 30 letter over unsecure email to multiple Navy leaders in and outside his chain of command, and it made its way to the San Francisco Chronicle, which published it on Tuesday. 

EU: Strongly United for Health—Deeply Divided on the Economy

by Ilona Kickbuschand Susan Bergner

Lock-step solidarity during COVID-19 pandemic is challenged by policy questions within and "mask diplomacy" from abroad

As Europe enters full crisis mode as a key epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, EU member states are beginning to find an awareness of shared vulnerabilities in addressing health but still firmly disagree over the financial strategies required to fight its economic impact. In their meeting on Friday, March 26 the members of the European Council reiterated their commitment [PDF] to European solidarity and to five priorities but deferred the decision on key economic instruments by two weeks. 

First you try and save yourself—then you realize that you need your neighbours, said Ylva Johansson the EU commissioner for home affairs. Under the leadership of Ursula von der Leyen, the commission’s president, member states have been cajoled, pushed, and bullied into solidarity. 

‘We must not have twenty-seven small hearts, but one big European heart’

Ylva Johansson

Four Priorities for a Global Pandemic Strategy


The world initially met the COVID-19 crisis in an uncoordinated fashion, with too many countries ignoring the warning signs and going it alone. It is now clear that the only way out of it is together.

BRUSSELS – The contrast between the silence of Europe’s streets and squares and the tumultuous, painful reality in many of its hospitals is heartbreaking. COVID-19 has not only Europe but the entire global community in its grip. It is already clear that the pandemic will reshape our world. But precisely how will depend on the choices that we make today.

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his White House desk that read, “The buck stops here”: ultimate responsibility for the country’s welfare rests with the president. Now contrast that with how the current occupant of the Oval Office has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The coronavirus should be seen as the world’s common enemy. Though this is not a war, we nevertheless need a “war-like” mobilization of resources.

But in times of crisis, our instinct is to turn inward, to fend for ourselves. This reaction, though understandable, is self-defeating. Going it alone all but guarantees that the fight will last longer, and that the human and economic costs will be far higher. Although the enemy has triggered nationalist reflexes, we can defeat it only with cross-border coordination – in Europe and beyond.

The Trump Presidency Turns Deadly


Harry Truman famously had a sign on his White House desk that read, “The buck stops here”: ultimate responsibility for the country’s welfare rests with the president. Now contrast that with how the current occupant of the Oval Office has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

WASHINGTON, DC – For the first three years of his administration, US President Donald Trump focused on consolidating power. And yet, as the United States approached its greatest domestic peril in a century, he refused to use that power. Instead, as a deadly coronavirus was poised to invade the country, the president opted for denial and delay.

Harry Truman famously had a sign on his White House desk that read, “The buck stops here”: ultimate responsibility for the country’s welfare rests with the president. Now contrast that with how the current occupant of the Oval Office has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Brilliant Plodder

David Quammen

Charles Darwin is ever with us. A month seldom passes without new books about the man, his life, his work, and his influence—books by scholars for scholars, by scholars for ordinary readers, and by the many unwashed rest of us nonfiction authors who presume to enter the fray, convinced that there’s one more new way to tell the story of who Darwin was, what he actually said or wrote, why he mattered. This flood of books, accompanied by a constant outpouring of related papers in history journals and other academic outlets, is called the Darwin Industry. 

There’s a parallel to this in publishing: the Lincoln Industry, which by one authoritative count had yielded 15,000 books—a towering number—as of 2012, when an actual tower of Lincoln books was constructed in the lobby of the renovated Ford’s Theatre, the site of his assassination, in Washington, D.C. It rose thirty-four feet, measured eight feet around, yet contained less than half the total Lincoln library. You could think of the Darwin library as a similar tower of books three stories high, big around as an oak, festooned with biographies and philosophical treatises and evolutionary textbooks and Creationist tracts and the latest sarcastic volume of The Darwin Awards for suicidal stupidity and books with subtitles such as “Genetic Engineering and the Future of Humanity.” Janet Browne’s magisterial two-volume life would be included; so would David Dobbs’s Reef Madness, about Darwin’s theory of the formation of coral atolls, and a handful of books on the Scopes trial. Lincoln and Darwin were born on the very same date, February 12, 1809: a good day for the publishing business. 

What if the Realists Are Right?

By Mark Beeson

If there’s one thing we can be confident about at the moment, it’s that policymakers won’t be turning to international relations (IR) specialists for advice on how to handle a truly global problem. Most of us are accustomed to being studiously ignored, but it’s still a bit deflating. Unlikely as it may seem, though, IR types actually have some interesting ideas about their chosen subject matter and even about the implications of the current pandemic.

Rather tellingly, the only IR specialists that policymakers do take seriously are so-called realists. Keynes’s famous observation about “practical men” being the slaves of some defunct economist applies equally well to policymakers’ conscious or, more often, unconscious adoption of realist ideas. Unfortunately, the realist view of international affairs and human nature is uniformly grim and likely to add to our current problems.

Simply put, realists think individual states are in a struggle for survival in which, as Thucydides put it, the strong do as they will and the weak do as they must. Accumulating wealth and power, especially of the military variety, is the name of the game. It’s not hard to see the influence of such ideas in Australia, where few limits and little oversight have been applied to defence spending over the years, despite our benign geographical position. Increases in health budgets, by contrast, generally face more rigorous scrutiny.

Jamestown Foundation

Terrorism Monitor, March 20, 2020, v. 18, no. 6

The Houthis’ War to Lose: The Battle for Marib 

Terrorist Threat as a Pre-Text: Russia Strengthens Ties with G5 Sahel 

Islamic State in West Africa Province and the Battle with Boko Haram

Panel wants to double federal spending on AI

Aaron Mehta

A congressionally mandated panel of technology experts has issued its first set of recommendations for the government, including doubling the amount of money spent on artificial intelligence outside the defense department and elevating a key Pentagon office to report directly to the Secretary of Defense. 

Created by the National Defense Authorization Act in 2018, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence is tasked with reviewing “advances in artificial intelligence, related machine learning developments, and associated technologies,” for the express purpose of addressing “the national and economic security needs of the United States, including economic risk, and any other associated issues.” 

The commission issued an initial report in November, at the time pledging to slowly roll out its actual policy recommendations over the course of the next year. Today’s report represents the first of those conclusions — 43 of them in fact, tied to legislative language that can easily be inserted by Congress during the fiscal year 2021 budget process. 

The Critical Role Of Social Media Platforms In Intelligence, Defense, And Law Enforcement Preparedness

By Mohamed ELDoh 

There were over 4.5 billion active internet users around the world as of January 2020—roughly 60 percent of the global population. In an average month, over 3 billion are active on social media platforms. This scale means individuals can disseminate an unprecedented amount of information more efficiently than ever. On Facebook alone, more than 300 million photos are uploaded each day—while every 60 seconds, approximately 510,000 comments and 293,000 status updates are posted. On Twitter, an average of 350,000 tweets are sent per minute—equivalent to 500 million each day, or 200 billion per year.

The decentralization of the ability to disseminate information at scale poses a challenge in the event of national and global security threats and incidents like terrorism, instability in post-conflict states, natural disasters, and public health crises, such as the pandemic we are currently experiencing. In all the examples above, without exception, individuals use social media to share opinions, news, photos, and videos of the incident and its aftermath. First responders and the relevant authorities—whether defense, intelligence, national security, law enforcement, and public health agencies—require accurate information in real-time, and can use social media as a tool for such information to assist in planning and response.

While social media is already widely used by law enforcement and national security agencies as to gather and disseminate information, this author argues there is an essential need to advance the use of social media in the public sector as a source of real-time information to enhance situational awareness, crisis preparedness, and disaster response efforts.