9 April 2020

Fill in the gap: Tests are essential to contain the pandemic

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Clearly, a dedicated institution with experts who can give undivided attention to testing in conjunction with the National Centres for Disease Control (NCDC), needs to be set up.

Written by Shailaja Chandra , N K Ganguly | Updated: April 9, 2020 
Some countries test as many people as possible; others test those who develop serious symptoms of the infection. 

The nation-wide lockdown that began on March 25 has helped to contain the spread of COVID-19. In its absence, the incidence of infections could have doubled each day, instead of every four days. The responses from public health networks, clinical experts, state governments and district administrations have surpassed expectations. However, it needs to be asked if India’s response to the coronavirusoutbreak has any unseen gaps.

Missing in these deliberations on testing are infectious disease specialists. These specialists are available in India, many of them have trained abroad or at AIIMS, CMC Vellore and PGI Chandigarh, but they mostly work in big private hospitals. The Clinical Infectious Diseases Society (CIDS) and the Indian Association of Medical Microbiologists (IAMM), the National Academy of Medical Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences are not known to have proffered any advice to the government. If they are waiting to be invited to the high table, no time should be lost in extending the invitation!

Twelve Years Ago, India Drew up Plans to Deal with Massive Pandemic. Then, Bureaucrats Sabotaged Them

Praveen Swami 

New Delhi: Bureaucratic resistance undermined plans drawn up more than ten years ago to prepare India for large-scale biological catastrophes, senior officials involved in the process have told Network18. The plans included the community preparedness for social distancing and lockdowns, the creation of state-level stockpiles of critical medical equipment and protective clothing, and ensuring all hospitals were prepared for biological disasters that could involve sudden, mass casualties.

The plans were prepared by experts brought together by the National Disaster Response Force, led by former Director-General of the Armed Forces Medical Services Lieutenant-General JR Bhardwaj — who earned widespread praise for his handling of medical logistics issues during the 1999 Kargil war.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government efforts to battle the unfolding Wuhan virus pandemic have run into multiple logistical problems action on the NDRF’s plans could have mitigated, the officials said, including chronic shortages of protective equipment for medical staff and ill-trained first-responders.

“Instead of having to improvise solutions on the fly,” an official involved in drafting the report said, “we’d have had a clear picture of what resources were available and where”. “A great deal of hardship could have been averted”.

Gulf-India Strategic Engagement: Implications for the United States

In this brief, Dr. Narayanappa outlines the steps that India has taken to improve its relationship with the Gulf countries. 

The Gulf countries and India have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship, anchored in economic ties, for decades. Their recent interactions have extended to political and even security cooperation. 

Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government in New Delhi adheres to a Hindu nationalist agenda, it has worked to expand its ties to the Muslim countries in the Gulf. The Modi government has intensified cooperation efforts with the Gulf countries that began under previous governments, emphasizing India’s non-ideological foreign policy regardless of the political party at the helm. 

For their part, the Gulf countries are diversifying their foreign policy approach with a variety of countries, including India, and linking their economic interests with security imperatives. Several Gulf countries have signed strategic partnerships with New Delhi and are encouraging India – along with Russia, China, and the European Union – to play an important role in the region’s international affairs. This means the current U.S.-centric security architecture in the region could evolve into a collective mechanism in the future. 

Taliban Warn Peace Deal With US Near Breaking Point A Taliban statement wa

By Kathy Gannon

The Taliban said their peace deal with the United States was nearing a breaking point, accusing Washington of violations that included drone attacks on civilians, while also chastising the Afghan government for delaying the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners promised in the agreement.

The Taliban said they had restricted attacks against Afghan security forces to rural outposts, had not attacked international forces, and had not attacked Afghan forces in cities or military installations. The Taliban said these limits on their attacks had not been specifically laid out in the agreement with the United States signed in February.

The Taliban’s statement issued Sunday warned of more violence if the U.S. and the Afghan government continue alleged violations of the deal.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Sonny Leggett in a tweet overnight denied the Taliban allegation, saying the U.S. forces in Afghanistan have “upheld and continues to uphold the military terms of the U.S.-TB (Taliban) agreement; any assertion otherwise is baseless.”

China and the Oil Price War: A Mixed Blessing



The oil price war started this month by Russia and Saudi Arabia is good news for the Chinese economy, which has been reeling from the coronavirus. After all, China is the world’s largest crude oil importer. The savings in oil import costs will be significant. Yet the economic benefits to China will be limited by several factors, including lack of consumer demand due to the lingering effects of coronavirus disruptions. In addition, lower oil prices could make it more difficult for the Chinese government to meet its energy security and environmental goals, which have received considerable priority from Chinese leaders in recent years. The oil price war will also make it more difficult for China to hit the targets set out in the US-China Phase 1 trade deal signed in January. In sum, lower oil prices will deliver significant benefits for China, but are likely to be somewhat of a mixed blessing.


The Chinese economy sustained an enormous blow from the coronavirus in the first two months of 2020. Industrial production dropped 13.5%, retail sales dropped 20.5% and fixed asset investments dropped 24.5% as compared to the same period the prior year.[1] As of this writing, official GDP figures are still pending.

Against this backdrop, the oil price collapse will deliver some welcome relief to China’s economy as it recovers from the coronavirus. In 2019, China imported roughly 10.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil.[2] At that level of imports, the plunge in the price of Brent crude from $67 per barrel in December 2019 to roughly $25 per barrel at the time of this writing would reduce China’s oil import bill by $428 million per day—about 1% of GDP—for as long as the price war lasts. Even if oil imports fall by several million barrels per day on average over the course of 2020, the savings to China’s foreign exchange accounts as a result of the price war will be significant.

Why militarizing the coronavirus response is a bad idea…for now anyway


With rattled governors calling out the National Guard, politicians demanding the mobilization of the military, pundits characterizing the coronavirus emergency as a national security threat, analysts claiming that “battling a pandemic is a job for the military,” and even talk of “martial law”, the pressure is growing to further militarize the coronavirus response.

In a sense, this is understandable given the high-standing of the military in the eyes of the American people and, as one commentator put it, the “reflexive assumption by many policymakers and senior officials that our military forces are able to take on any threat in any location in the world.” However, while there are certainly some things the armed forces can and should do now, a significant militarization of the coronavirus response (at this point anyway) is a bad idea. Allow me to explain why.

1) The military needs to be ready to counter any adversary who seeks to exploit the situation

Supply Chains and a Novel Path to Conflict

By George Friedman

Though “supply chain” became a household term only in the past generation, it has been around since humans have been engaging in commerce. One group had fish and the other had arrowheads. In order to fish, the fishermen needed nets, which another group provided, while the arrowheads went to a group that could hunt for animals, whose kill disseminated through the system by exchange with those providing arrowheads. This is obviously a poorly thought out scenario, but all I want to convey here is that supply chains are integral to human life, and always complex. Human beings need many things in order to live, and they are divided into many groups that care for themselves. This inevitably leads to trade and at times to war, which happens when one group tries to use the needs of another group to force them to submit. The supply chain has always been with us.

Economists tend to focus on the financial system, which is an abstraction of the physical system of production, consumption and trade. This method is essential for a high-level understanding of the economy, but the economy is, at root, not abstract. A component of a cellphone is made in one place and moved to another, where it is merged with others to make a cellphone. From there it travels to another place, where it is stored, shipped and used by a customer. The cellphone contains an enormous number of parts, and the parts are most efficiently made in different places.

China's sharp manufacturing recovery means little if world in recession

William Pesek

Those who are bullish on China's prospects are having a great week: its all-important manufacturing sector has returned to expansion. Enjoy it, because this momentary high is already ceding ground to global realities.

The jump in the Purchasing Managers' Index, which reflects confidence in market conditions, to 52 from the record low of 35.7 in February is as good as news gets these days. Readings above 50 signal expansion. But a temporary rebound from a low base is not proof of a sharp V-shaped recovery from the coronavirus shock to Asia's biggest economy.

There are some obvious reasons not to trust China's PMI snapback. Not the least is the consensus among economists that it takes at least three monthly readings to give a clear trend. An even better one rests in the answer to this question: if China really is back, who is buying?

China Remains Unfazed by Warming U.S.-Vietnam Security Ties

by Derek Grossman

For the second time in the last three years, the United States on March 5 sent an aircraft carrier to Da Nang, Vietnam, in a further display of goodwill and deepening security ties between the former adversaries. Upon the arrival of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Ambassador Daniel Kritenbrink noted that “Visits like these not only strengthen the United States' partnership with Vietnam, but they also continue to ensure peace and stability and freedom of commerce across the region.”

Of course, parenthetically, Ambassador Kritenbrink was referring to securing the Indo-Pacific from China's growing economic and military power. Within the context of Vietnam, this means helping Hanoi cope with Beijing's increasingly assertive approach toward disputed sovereignty claims in the South China Sea. Viewed through this lens, the budding security partnership between Washington and Hanoi is aimed at deterring Beijing from harassing Vietnam within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ), as it did most recently at Vanguard Bank in the westernmost Spratly Islands.

China is well aware of U.S.-Vietnam moves, and yet its public reaction to the USS Theodore Roosevelt—as was the case during the visit of the USS Carl Vinson in 2018—can be summed up in one word: unfazed. Chinese commentaries since the visit have projected supreme confidence that U.S.-Vietnam security ties, no matter how close they get, will never rival the China-Vietnam partnership.

The United States Can Still Win the Coronavirus Pandemic


An event like the new coronavirus forces all of us to make rapid judgments and decisions—in our personal lives, in our financial dealings, in how we do our jobs, and in what we think is going to happen. Whether on Twitter, in interviews, or here at Foreign Policy, prognosticators are offering up hot takes daily, based on whatever information they can gather and the worldviews (i.e., theories) on which they typically rely.

I’m no exception. I’ve already offered a quick “realist” interpretation of what is happening and suggested the crisis was likely to reinforce nationalism, strengthen the state, accelerate a shift in influence toward Asia, reduce confidence in U.S. leadership and competence, and encourage a partial retreat from hyperglobalization. In a Foreign Policy symposium last month, I suggested the end result would be a world “that is less open, less prosperous, and less free” than the world of today.

I stand by those forecasts, but I have also spent some time over the last several days considering whether some of my expectations might not be borne out. In particular, I’ve wondered if my initial forecast of a shift in influence from West to East is going to be as profound as I thought. Despite all the mistakes the Trump administration has made and continues to make—missteps and misjudgments that will cause thousands of otherwise preventable deaths and billions of dollars of economic damage that could have been avoided—it’s still possible that the flexibility, inventiveness, and adaptability of American society, combined with smart initiatives at all levels of government, will enable the United States to get through the worst phase of the crisis and recover fairly quickly. Don’t get me wrong: The situation is grim and is going to get worse, but the question is how matters will look a year or two from now. Needless to say, I’ll be delighted if the country turns out to be more competent and resilient than I thought.

China’s version of GPS is almost complete. Here’s what that means.

P.W. Singer and Taylor A. Lee

On March 9, China moved into the end run of a decades-long project to build its own global navigation satellite system, a project that will make it independent of foreign rivals when it comes to a network that undergirds modern tech, business, and the military. It’s called BeiDou.

The latest satellite in the navigation system, a third-gen craft (known as BeiDou-3) now in a geostationary orbit, lifted off earlier this month from the Xichang Center in southwestern China. The system’s final satellite, scheduled for launch in May, will give it full global capability. At that point, China’s completed system will rival America’s GPS, Russia’s GLONASS, and Europe’s Galileo.

BeiDou is representative of China’s push to build and offer commercial alternatives to Western tech platforms, from servers and 5G equipment from Huawei, for example, to satellites. The system is meant to provide highly-accurate global positioning services, as well as a means to transfer limited amounts of data, for commercial and military users.

Countering China’s Laser Offensive

By Patrick M. Cronin and Ryan D. Neuhard

China is laser-focused on maritime primacy — quite literally. Beijing is leveraging lasers and other emerging technologies to expand and police its offshore sphere of influence and keep American and allied naval power at bay. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) finds it insufficient to fabricate law with expansive nine-dash line claims and coerce others the old-fashioned way via ramming and gunboat diplomacy.

The Global Times threw down the gauntlet in a March 17 article under this headline: “U.S. intrusions in the S. China Sea can be stopped by electromagnetic weapons: experts.”

The provocative commentary highlighted a proposal from Song Zhongping, who is identified only as “a Chinese military expert” but is, in fact, a graduate of the PLA’s Second Artillery Engineering University (as it was then known) and a former PLA military instructor. Song called for China to deploy electromagnetic weapons, including lasers, against U.S. personnel exercising their legal right to freedom of navigation in waters China seeks to control. The only other “expert” cited in the article, a spokesman for the PLA’s Southern Command, indicated that the Chinese military forces would do whatever was necessary to safeguard “national sovereignty, peace, and stability.” The ends, in other words, justify the means.

Despite the dubious claim of these experts that sovereignty and peace were under assault, their comments represent more than just an idle threat. If anything, the article appears to be an ex post facto rationale for deploying directed-energy weapons in support of an open-ended Chinese bid for maritime dominance. Facts on the ground show that China’s military and paramilitary forces have been employing lasers with increasing frequency since at least 2018.

Securing U.S. Access to Rare Earth Elements

Tobin Hansen
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Control over the production of critical minerals necessary for advanced defense and commercial manufacturing processes is a new feature of the escalating tensions between the United States and China over trade and security. This report explores the state of the supply chain for global critical materials—specifically rare earth elements (REEs)—and the near-monopoly that China holds over it. Additionally, it identifies unique aspects of the critical mineral production process that makes the supply chain particularly difficult to preserve and evaluates ongoing efforts by U.S. industry and policymakers to create a reliable critical minerals supply chain. The report concludes by assessing the likelihood that China cuts off U.S. access to their production capabilities and how effective current U.S. countermeasures are in preserving access to rare earth elements.

Globalized Authoritarianism: The Expansion of the Chinese Surveillance Apparatus


In recent debates on the globalization of authoritarianism, China is considered one of the central, if not the single most important actor. Paradigmatic for this view is the European Commission’s Strategy Paper (2019:1) of March 2019, in which China is portrayed as the “systemic rival” propagating an “alternative governance-model”. A recent GPPI report (2018:1) goes as far as announcing that “China’s rapidly increasing political influencing efforts in Europe and the self-confident promotion of its authoritarian ideals pose a significant challenge to liberal democracy (…).” Many scholars (cf. Huotari et al., 2017; Chun, 2018; Starrs, 2018) have put forward the hypothesis that Chinese authoritarianism is, perhaps through transitions in global hegemony (cf. Arrighi, 2007; Robinson, 2011), beginning to expand around the world––to semi-periphery countries, in particular. This is the hypothesis I wish to put under scrutiny in this essay. I call it, the expansion-hypothesis. While all of the above-mentioned seminal studies focus on the foreign financial investments of Chinese companies and government, I porpose that a more robust indicator for this hypothesis can be found: the expansion of Chinese surveillance technology outside of mainland China.

The essay is structured as follows: I shall first, and very briefly, discuss the theoretical background on which I take the expansion-hypothesis to rest. I will then criticise contemporary studies for their lack of robustness. I argue that the material expansion of authoritarian means, such as surveillance technology, is a more reliable indicator than financial transactions. To provide the necessary theoretical background, I will discuss why surveillance technology is a potential means of authoritarian abuse, calling on Bigo (2006, 2016). Subsequently, I look at where, how, and why Chinese security technology is implemented outside of China. I will conclude that, taking the expansion of the Chinese security apparatus into account, the expansion-hypothesis can be affirmed.

Chinese Authoritarianism: The BRI and the MSRI

Cybersecurity Skills Development in the EU

This report focuses on the status of the cybersecurity education system and the inability to attract more students in studying cybersecurity and to produce graduates with “the right cybersecurity knowledge and skills”. It argues that many of the current issues in cybersecurity education could be lessened by redesigning educational and training pathways that define knowledge and skills which students should possess upon graduation and after entering the labour market. Four countries – Australia, France, the United Kingdom and the United States – have attempted to rethink cybersecurity degrees using certifications. In this context, ENISA created the Cybersecurity Higher Education Database, which is an interactive database of cybersecurity degrees in EEA countries and Switzerland.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Forever Alter the World Order

by Henry A. Kissinger

The U.S. must protect its citizens from disease while starting the urgent work of planning for a new epoch.

The surreal atmosphere of the Covid-19 pandemic calls to mind how I felt as a young man in the 84th Infantry Division during the Battle of the Bulge. Now, as in late 1944, there is a sense of inchoate danger, aimed not at any particular person, but striking randomly and with devastation. But there is an important difference between that faraway time and ours. American endurance then was fortified by an ultimate national purpose. Now, in a divided country, efficient and farsighted government is necessary to overcome obstacles unprecedented in magnitude and global scope. Sustaining the public trust is crucial to social solidarity, to the relation of societies with each other, and to international peace and stability.

Nations cohere and flourish on the belief that their institutions can foresee calamity, arrest its impact and restore stability. When the Covid-19 pandemic is over, many countries’ institutions will be perceived as having failed. Whether this judgment is objectively fair is irrelevant. The reality is the world will never be the same after the coronavirus. To argue now about the past only makes it harder to do what has to be done.

Should the United States Lift Sanctions on Iran to Address Its Coronavirus Outbreak?

Iran is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic’s leadership has engaged in a massive campaign aimed at lifting sanctions imposed on it for its malign activities, claiming sanctions hinder efforts to address the COVID-19 public health crisis. This memo, however, assesses that lifting sanctions would be ill-advised. The Iranian population suffering from COVID-19 deserves much needed medical assistance but that should be funded though reliable NGOs, bypassing the regime and not through the transfer of funds to the regime, which has ample financial resources estimated at over $300 billion for economic stimulus and humanitarian aid.

On April 2, 2020, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani admitted that the regime’s public relations campaign ultimately aims to convince the world to lift sanctions on Iran using coronavirus as a pretext. Speaking at his cabinet’s economic meeting, Rouhani said U.S. sanctions have not curbed Iran’s ability to cope with the COVID-19 outbreak. Numerous Iranian health officials have confirmed this assessment. Rouhani added that Iran has “a good reserve of essential commodities for the next months and agriculture and trade ministers have given very promising reports for the situation during the coming months.”

Rouhani also told his colleagues that Iran’s Central Bank Governor said, “Iran has no problem in providing foreign currency until the end of the [Iranian] year,” which is March 2021.

An Eroding European Union

The COVID-19 pandemic will be a history-altering event. But where will it take us? In “On the Horizon,” a new CSIS series, our scholars offer their insights into the fundamental changes we might anticipate for our future social and economic world.

At the end of a frustrating six-hour teleconference with European Union leaders at the end of March, French president Emmanuel Macron warned that the Covid-19 pandemic was challenging “the survival of the European project.” These dramatic words, uttered to spur the European Union and its member states into action, revealed both the bloc’s fragility and its “pre-existing conditions,” which make it more susceptible to grave economic and political blowback from Covid-19. A project that was designed for peace has declared war on the novel coronavirus. The European Union that emerges from this war will not be the same as it is today. 

European watchers have grown so accustomed to high-level European meetings producing little and to observing EU leaders quarreling among themselves that we may not fully appreciate the magnitude of the crisis facing Europe. It is true that Europe progresses through crises and has managed an extraordinary series of shocks over the past decade. But in all of these cases, European leaders exited the crisis through a fragile institutional stalemate rather than a full resolution. Each crisis gradually weakened the rationale behind Europe’s institutional complexity and its solidarity mechanisms. 

What’s Driving the Rise of Authoritarianism and Populism in Europe and Beyond?

Globally, the past decade has been marked by the twin advances of authoritarianism and populism. The two are not always linked, but in situations ranging from the Philippines and Cambodia to Hungary and Poland, politicians have leveraged populist movements to seize power. Once in office, they have begun the process of dismantling the institutions designed to check their authority and protect human rights, particularly the judiciary and the media.

The populist boom is fueled by disparate, local issues, but these often share common features, such as feelings of disenfranchisement, of being left out of a global economic boom and of discomfort at seeing familiar social orders upended. The movements these grievances generate have spurred anti-immigrant xenophobia—and, in places like Hungary and Greece, even horrifying episodes of political violence—as underlying prejudices are exploited by opportunistic politicians.

Champions of liberal democracy have often appeared hamstrung in their attempts to counter these forces, but there have been some recent successes, including the rise of the Greens across Europe and electoral setbacks for extremist parties in countries where they once seemed ascendant, such as France, Spain and the Netherlands. And in countries where centrist or right-wing parties have chosen to adopt populist policies rather than to push back against them, civil society groups have been resurgent.

Confucianism Isn’t Helping Beat the Coronavirus


As COVID-19 ravages the United States and Europe, South Korea’s response to the pandemic is earning praises from around the world. The unmatched scale and efficiency of the country’s test-and-quarantine scheme allowed South Korea to stop the coronavirus in its tracks, pushing down the number of new cases to around 100 a day from a peak of around 900 new cases a day in late February. In addition to Korea’s testing capacity, the international media has marveled at its drive-thru testing facilities, detailed tracking of the movements of coronavirus patients, and the calm response of the public, which buys the same amount of toilet paper as before.

Perhaps inevitably, some media have offered reductive cultural explanations for this success. A common trope is that Koreans are less individualistic, more community-oriented, and more willing to sacrifice for the greater good. A New York Times article, for example, claimed: “Social trust is higher in South Korea than in many other countries, particularly Western democracies beset by polarization and populist backlash.” An analysis in the Wall Street Journal said that “the lingering cultural imprint of Confucianism gives a paternalistic state a freer hand to intrude in people’s lives during an emergency.” Several analysts offered that freedom-loving Westerners would not accept South Korea’s contact tracing, as the Western public would not accept the invasion of privacy that detailed every location they visited while carrying the virus.

Force Planning in the New Era of Strategic Competition

by Jacob L. Heim

The U.S. Department of Defense announced (PDF) in 2018 that it was elevating the priority it placed on developing the capabilities necessary to deter Chinese and Russian aggression. That means that the Department needs new analytical frameworks to reassess what force development looks like during an era of peacetime military competition. In particular, analysts need techniques for estimating how much it costs each side to maintain a fixed military balance over time.

There are no finish lines in the military competition between opponents who are both wealthy and motivated. For example, the People's Liberation Army has been working steadily for at least 20 years on the specific goal of denying the United States the ability to generate combat power from air bases and on the broader goal of countering the American Way of War. Any single U.S. move to improve the resilience of its air bases could be countered by China. More broadly, any conventional deterrent contains the seeds of its own demise as each side “designs around” the other's capabilities. This reality requires the Defense Department to continually adapt as adversaries continue to modernize their capabilities. Military advantages in the 21st Century will likely not prove as durable as they were in the 1990s and early 2000s when the United States didn't have a motivated, technologically capable, and wealthy adversary to drive the competition.

This aspect of a military peacetime competition between major powers has similarities to a multi-move game: An adversary develops capabilities and operating concepts to be prepared to achieve its objectives in potential conflicts. The DOD responds by developing counter moves, prompting the adversary to respond with its own counter moves, which starts the whole cycle again. (Though many other factors also shape a nation's force structure.)

We should prepare now to send U.S. armed forces to help police in hard-hit areas

By John Allen, John Donohue, Rick Fuentes, Paul Goldenberg and Michael O'Hanlon

John Allen, president of the Brookings Institution, commanded coalition forces in Afghanistan and U.S. Marines in Iraq. John Donohue was chief of strategic initiatives for the New York City Police Department. Rick Fuentes was superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. Paul Goldenberg serves on the Department of Homeland Security Advisory Council. Michael O’Hanlon is a senior fellow at Brookings.

Already, the U.S. armed forces are providing important help here at home in the struggle against the novel coronavirus. Well over 10,000 members of the Army National Guard and Air Force National Guard have been mobilized to help with setting up more hospital capacity, transporting supplies and providing other services. Other personnel who have “Individual Ready Reserve” status are being activated to take advantage of their particular skills in medicine or other crucial fields. They are typically doing so under Title 32 of the U.S. code, whereby they are paid by the federal government but controlled by the governors of the states where they operate.

There is potentially a much larger, and more fraught, role for the armed forces in this crisis: They might need to backstop and backfill police forces. With 15 percent of the New York City Police Department recently reporting sick due to illness or self-quarantine, and even higher absentee rates reported elsewhere, hard-hit communities might soon need major assistance with patrolling streets, enforcing restrictions on movement, deterring crime and other tasks. Such police work is legal for the National Guard, though not the active-duty military, under the 1878 Posse Comitatus law. And it might be the most prudent thing we can do to reduce the risk of deteriorating social stability and security.

Emerging-Market Petrostates Are About to Melt Down

By Amy Myers Jaffe 

In normal times, the global economy hums on oil. But as more and more countries issue shelter-in-place orders in response to the novel coronavirus, the demand for oil is plummeting and with it, the hope that prices will rebound anytime soon. At first, OPEC and other major petroleum producers sought to put a floor under falling prices by slashing production, but they failed to reach an agreement. To the contrary, Russia and Saudi Arabia have been waging a price war since early March, each seeking to expand its market share at the expense of countries with higher production costs. By March 30, the price of Brent crude—the international benchmark product—had fallen to an 18-year low of less than $23 a barrel.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called the oil price war “crazy,” and his administration has sought to convince Russia and Saudi Arabia—through bilateral diplomacy, as well as discussions within the G-20 forum—to stabilize energy markets. These efforts appear to be gaining traction: Russian officials have indicated publicly that they are open to a potential deal—possibly because Russia’s oil industry could soon run out of storage for barrels that can’t be sold to Europe during a virus-related shutdown—and today, Saudi Arabia publicly stated its willingness to work toward an agreement to end the price war.

S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis (CTTA), March 2020, v. 12, no. 2

Killing of Iranian General: US Reaps More Than It Wished For 

Soleimani's Assassination: Could Jihadist Groups Benefit? 

The Implications of Soleimani's Killing for South and Southeast Asia 

The Unique Legacy of the 'Islamic State' in Indonesia 

The Sahel: A New Theatre for Global Jihadist Groups?

Creating a Separate Space Force

Key Questions

What activities within the Department of Defense should be transferred to the Space Force, given the goals of effectiveness, efficiency, independence, and sense of identity for the new service?

Can the Space Force sustain the necessary career fields?

What other challenges will the Space Force face as it stands up and grows into its role?

With the passage of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. government will launch a Space Force. Prior to this legislation being enacted, the U.S. Space Force Planning Task Force asked the RAND Corporation to analyze several challenges involved in transitioning to the new service. RAND researchers examined questions about what activities should transfer to the Space Force, whether it can sustain the necessary career fields, and what challenges it will face.

Transferring Activities to the Space Force

Detecting Malign or Subversive Information Efforts over Social Media

by William Marcellino, Krystyna Marcinek, Stephanie Pezard, Miriam Matthews

What evidence currently exists regarding malign or subversive information campaigns on social media?

What analytic methods can be used to detect such campaigns on social media?

How could such methods be of use to the U.S. government, other researchers, and social media companies in the future?

The United States has a capability gap in detecting malign or subversive information campaigns before these campaigns substantially influence the attitudes and behaviors of large audiences. Although there is ongoing research into detecting parts of such campaigns (e.g., compromised accounts and "fake news" stories), this report addresses a novel method to detect whole efforts. The authors adapted an existing social media analysis method, combining network analysis and text analysis to map, visualize, and understand the communities interacting on social media. As a case study, they examined whether Russia and its agents might have used Russia's hosting of the 2018 World Cup as a launching point for malign and subversive information efforts. The authors analyzed approximately 69 million tweets, in three languages, about the World Cup in the month before and the month after the event, and they identified what appear to be two distinct Russian information efforts, one aimed at Russian-speaking and one at French-speaking audiences. Notably, the latter specifically targeted the populist gilets jaunes (yellow vests) movement; detecting this effort months before it made headlines illustrates the value of this method. To help others use and develop the method, the authors detail the specifics of their analysis and share lessons learned. Outside entities should be able to replicate the analysis in new contexts with new data sets. Given the importance of detecting malign information efforts on social media, it is hoped that the U.S. government can efficiently and quickly implement this or a similar method.

Creating a Separate Space Force

Key Questions

What activities within the Department of Defense should be transferred to the Space Force, given the goals of effectiveness, efficiency, independence, and sense of identity for the new service?

Can the Space Force sustain the necessary career fields?

What other challenges will the Space Force face as it stands up and grows into its role?

With the passage of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. government will launch a Space Force. Prior to this legislation being enacted, the U.S. Space Force Planning Task Force asked the RAND Corporation to analyze several challenges involved in transitioning to the new service. RAND researchers examined questions about what activities should transfer to the Space Force, whether it can sustain the necessary career fields, and what challenges it will face.

Transferring Activities to the Space Force