11 April 2020

A Geostrategic Explanation of India-Myanmar Bilateral Relations since the 1990s


I argue that the relationship between India and Myanmar is dominated by geostrategic interests rather than identity, domestic politics or ideas. This argument is developed by examining India’s interests with Myanmar through realism and constructivism lenses. In doing so, an outline of the level of analysis framework and discussion of the realist view in the geostrategic and economic landscape of Myanmar is made. I later acknowledge that a realist lens is not completely sufficient in explaining India’s engagement with Myanmar, and complementary explanations using identity and domestic politics are offered. Finally, I focus on whether the ideas of leaders can influence the relationship. I conclude that realism remains the dominant explanation in India’s relationship with Myanmar.

The Levels of Analysis Explained

I use the level of analysis framework (Singer, 1961) to provide more holistic explanations. First, at the systemic level, realism[i] explains the structural logic behind India’s overtures in Myanmar. The international system constrains the choices that states have in international politics. The end of the Cold War (CW) caused a dis-equilibrium in the international system assumed to be anarchic[ii] which led to a unipolar power to emerge (Waltz, 2000). The presence of a unipolar power would mean rising powers will attempt to balance against a hegemon (benign or aggressive) by either internally and/or externally balancing to rival the capabilities of the hegemon. A corollary of the system upend, was the ‘rise of China’, seeking to be a regional hegemon and eventual peer competitor of USA. As such the new distribution of power suggests that India would have structural imperatives to pursue new partnerships with states to improve its capabilities relative to China in ordering the international system. As Ganguly & Pardesi, 2009 argue, India adopted a more ‘self-help’ stance and aggressive foreign policy in line with the systemic change that took place after the CW. They determined that India’s foreign policy shifted from ‘Nehruvian idealism’ to realism. The ‘Look East’ policy (LEP) employed after the post-CW review, is an attempt to counter the growing influence of China in the region by balancing regionally (Batabyal, 2006). India increased its capabilities by externally balancing China via securing strategic partnerships. India had to manage the China threat to its national security, geo-strategic and economic competition by courting Myanmar. Neorealism suggests that cooperative relationship between India and Myanmar is a consequence of the structure of the international system in the region. It offers parsimonious and descriptive explanations to certain outcomes. A fuller explanation of state behaviour is required to explain state choices, for which constructivist theories might be of use. As such I defer to the state and individual levels as likely explanations.

Planned $1 billion U.S. aid cut would hit Afghan security force funds

Jonathan Landay, Arshad Mohammed, Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A planned $1 billion cut in U.S. aid to Afghanistan would come from funds for Afghan security forces, according to three U.S. sources, a step experts said would undercut both Kabul’s ability to fight the Taliban and its leverage to negotiate a peace deal with them.

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers stand guard at a check point near the Bagram Airbase north of Kabul, Afghanistan April 2, 2020. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the reduction on March 23 and threatened to slash the same amount next year to try to force Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his political rival Abdullah Abdullah to end a feud that has helped stall U.S.-led peace-making efforts in Afghanistan.

After nearly 20 years of fighting the Taliban, the United States is looking for a way to extricate itself and to achieve peace between the U.S.-backed government and the militant group, which controls more than 40% of Afghan territory.

Did Pakistan Win the Afghanistan War?

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo scrambled to Afghanistan last week in a bid to rescue the peace deal with the Afghan Taliban. A little over one month since the “historic deal” was signed in Doha, Washington is already feeling the need for a salvaging act. The United States’ latest bid to get the current Ashraf Ghani-led Afghan regime on board, and in turn address a major stumbling block, was the announcement of a $1 billion reduction in aid to Afghanistan.

Islamabad is almost as invested in these developments as Washington and the Taliban are. While the past month has been marred by COVID-19 spiraling into a pandemic, in turn prompting Pakistan to focus the majority of its attention on addressing the escalating spread of the virus, the February 29 deal remains a milestone – and the basis for all of Islamabad’s post-coronavirus stratagems.

Indeed, the deal itself was viewed in Pakistan as a resounding triumph. The agreement, which seeks to put an end to an 18-year-old war rooted in the post 9/11 U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, was facilitated by a regional strategy envisioned in Rawalpindi long before the September 2001 attacks.

Engaging China in 17+1: Time for the ACT Strategy

By Ivana Karásková

Due to the coronavirus crisis, the summit of 17 Central and Eastern European countries with China (known as 17+1), which was scheduled to take place in April 2020 in Beijing, has been postponed indefinitely. Despite the rescheduling amid the pandemic, the 17+1 will continue to shape relations between the countries of the region and China. The platform may be even more important in the future, as before the postponement, China already announced it would elevate the summit from the level of prime ministers to the level of heads of state.

The 17+1 has been labeled by some as China’s tool to divide and conquer Europe. At the same time, analysts (the author included) frequently dismissed these charges, arguing that the 17+1 is an “empty shell” and that cooperation between Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and China lacks substance.

The proponents of the “empty shell” concept, however, seem to be wrong. A large-scale audit of the 17+1 points to a more alarming scenario. Substance in relations with China is, indeed, not lacking, and cooperation between China and CEE countries flourishes, encompassing political, economic, and societal dimensions.

Why the Coronavirus Is a Hinge for the Future of U.S.-China Relations

by Paul Heer

It is too soon to tell what net impact the COVID-19 pandemic crisis will have on the U.S.-China relationship. Several indicators point toward an accelerated deterioration as the two sides point fingers of blame at each other and compete for credibility and influence amidst the global response. But the crisis is also highlighting the opportunity—and the need—for Beijing and Washington to join forces against the virus, and thus open a path toward greater bilateral cooperation and the building of mutual trust.

Recall the trajectory that U.S.-China relations were on when 2020 began, just as COVID-19 was escaping from Wuhan. Washington and Beijing were in a downward spiral, fueled by several geopolitical trends. First was the growing divergence between the perceived “rise of China” and relative decline of the United States—especially since the global financial crisis of 2008-9. This prompted Beijing to press its material advantages in an effort to expand its global influence, while Washington started grappling simultaneously with domestic dysfunctionality and the emerging limits on its international clout. Second was the presumption—largely due to the baggage of the Cold War—that this divergence reflected and reinforced an existential ideological contest between the two sides. Third was the escalation of bilateral tensions over the past three years, fueled by the trade war and growing U.S. attention to expansive Chinese economic diplomacy, military deployments, and influence operations.

The Coronavirus Crisis Has Highlighted America's Failed Foreign Policy Tactics

by James Kraska Sumantra Maitra

There is no doubt that the United States is more prosperous and more secure in a globalized world, with close economic and political allies and strategic partners in Europe and Asia and elsewhere. But the coronavirus pandemic, produced by China’s dissembling and a credulous—if not incompetent—UN World Health Organization (WHO) underscores that while building foreign partnerships is more important than ever, these efforts should be guided by U.S. national interest. The upcoming U.S. presidential election will give the American people the opportunity to determine whether American interests are guided by a more calibrated approach to diplomacy informed by a healthy dose of skepticism of the costs and benefits of globalism, or to return whole-hog to the globalization of the past two decades.

In particular, the United States must decide whether the pandemic has tempered the liberal internationalist impulse to rely on the United Nations and continue to embrace China, despite the global calamity unfolding in slow motion before our very eyes. The New York Times, as the establishment voice of record, has reliably advocated more of the same. For the past three months, the paper of record has, without fail, published at least one propaganda piece from Chinese state media about the need for greater cooperation between China and the United States, amidst daily revelations that past cooperation has yielded few tangible results. On February 28, for example, the paper gave space to China’s foreign affairs commissioner in Hong Kong, who argued the United States and China must work together, to “protect global health.” This was printed around the same time China was denying that SARS-CoV-2 could become a global contagion.  On March 13, the paper gave space to a token westerner in Beijing, who copy-pasted the Xinhua’s argument that China’s effort to deal with the virus bought the West precious time. Recently, on April 5, longtime Chinese ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai argued in an op-ed that the two countries must embrace in solidarity, collaboration and mutual support on coronavirus, just two weeks after Chinese officials launched a psychopathological campaign to blame the pandemic on American soldiers.

Opinion – Coronavirus: A Global Crisis Waiting for a Global Response


“Ebola is a global crisis that demands a global response“, then US President Obama argued when requesting an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council in 2014. But where do we see multilateral coordination in the current pandemic? For days, the live webcam of the UN Security Council has portrayed a silent, empty hall; its agenda for the next weeks has been cancelled, and its diplomats are being called home. There are no signs that the Council is meeting any time soon on the current health crisis, despite the global impact of the corona pandemic for peace and security. This is a worrying signal for the state of multilateral institutions. The true character of a person, they say, is only revealed in a crisis. In these days, the same can be said about the true state of the multilateral system.

Until recently, Brexit, President Trump’s cuts in the United States’ financial contributions to UN organizations, and the withdrawal of member states from the International Criminal Court have put international institutions under pressure. In light of this, the launch of the “Alliance for Multilateralism” during the UN General Assembly’s last session in September 2019 by the German and French foreign ministers promised to be a last attempt to rescue multilateral cooperation. This coronavirus crisis will reveal to what extent states are truly committed to multilateralism and international coordination.

Internationalizing the Crisis


NEW YORK – As it spread from one country to another, the novel coronavirus paid no attention to national frontiers or “big, beautiful” border walls. Nor were the ensuing economic effects contained. As has been obvious since the outset, the COVID-19 pandemic is a global problem that demands a global solution.

In the world’s advanced economies, compassion should be sufficient motivation to support a multilateral response. But global action is also a matter of self-interest. As long as the pandemic is still raging anywhere, it will pose a threat – both epidemiological and economic – everywhere.

The impact of COVID-19 on developing and emerging economies has only begun to reveal itself. There are good reasons to believe that these countries will ravaged far more by the pandemic than the advanced economies have been. After all, people in lower-income countries tend to live in closer proximity to one another. A higher share of the population suffers from pre-existing health problems that render them more vulnerable to the disease. And these countries’ health systems are even less prepared to manage an epidemic than those of the advanced economies (which have hardly functioned smoothly).1

‘We’re Hardly Heroic’ Wuhan Medical Workers Look Back in Anger

Tracy Wen Liu
Source Link

Tracy Wen Liu is an award-winning freelance writer, reporter, and translator from China. She focuses on women’s rights and justice for marginalized people. She writes for media outlets in mainland...

Dr. Li, a heart specialist at Wuhan No. 4 Hospital, spent the third week of March preparing for the reopening of the hospital’s general clinics, which closed on January 22, when No. 4 became a key facility for treating COVID-19 patients. After working for two months on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, Li is mentally and psychologically at a loss about what to do next. He can’t sleep or eat, he often feels dazed, and sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, he weeps.

Li’s trauma stands in stark contrast to the image projected by China’s media, which is filled with articles and broadcasts glorifying the government’s response to the epidemic. Amid so much exultation, Li is increasingly reluctant to express fears or concerns to others around him. He has become a different man—one who understands that “life is fragile and weak.”

Why the Coronavirus Is Making U.S.-China Relations Worse

by Joseph S. Nye Jr.
Source Link

American relations with China were already difficult before the novel coronavirus appeared in January. Now the COVID-19 crisis has made them worse, and that represents a colossal failure of top leadership in both countries. 

The COVID-19 episode illustrates both China’s strengths and weaknesses. Its initial censorship, suppression of feedback and curtailment of the free exchange of international information allowed the pandemic to develop. The tight quarantine of Wuhan curtailed its spread, China then launched a government propaganda campaign to promote the theme that it’s behavior had been benign. Worse, a foreign ministry spokesman falsely attributed the origins of the virus in Wuhan to the U.S. military, and many Chinese now believe that.

China has been aided by the Trump administrations fumbling response to the crisis. After disbanding the NSC unit responsible for pandemics, cutting contributions to the WHO budget, and curtailing the impressive sharing of information that had developed between the two countries after SARS and flu epidemics, the administration went from denial to blaming a “Chinese” virus. Of course, a virus could not care less about the nationality of a human. 

Can Liberal Democracy Survive COVID-19?


MADRID – By some mix of cruel irony and remarkable prescience, the theme of last year’s Venice Biennale – the biennial art exhibition’s 58th incarnation – was: “May you live in interesting times.” The line, purportedly a translation of an old Chinese curse, was meant to highlight the precariousness of life in this dangerous and uncertain age. With the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, and credible global leadership nowhere to be seen, that reality has become impossible to ignore.

Venice has always been a monument to human ingenuity. Situated in the most improbable of locations, it rose to prominence as a hub of trade and commerce, supported by the institutions that underpinned the first era of globalization. It was thus a forebear of liberal internationalism, and remains a symbol of reason, humane values, and breathtaking artistic achievement.

Today, Venice, like most of Europe, stands empty. Moreover, the values and possibilities it represents are nowhere to be seen – on the continent or beyond. Instead, the world is seemingly at the mercy of the United States and China, which appear more concerned with upholding their great-power competition than resolving the COVID-19 crisis.

When Will the Pandemic Cure Be Worse Than the Disease?


MELBOURNE/OXFORD – As of today, almost half the world’s population, nearly four billion people, are under government-mandated lockdowns in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

How long should the lockdowns last? The obvious answer, to paraphrase UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is until we’ve “beaten” COVID-19. But when exactly will that be? Until not a single person on Earth has it? That may never happen. Until we have a vaccine, or an effective treatment? That could easily be a year away, perhaps much longer. Do we want to keep people locked down, our societies shuttered – restaurants, parks, schools, and offices closed – for that long?

It pains us to say it, but US President Donald Trump is right: “We cannot let the cure be worse than the disease.” Lockdowns have health benefits: fewer will die of COVID-19, as well as other transmissible diseases. But they have real social and economic costs: social isolation, unemployment, and widespread bankruptcies, to name three. These ills are not yet fully apparent, but they soon will be.

Space-Based Nuclear Command and Control and the ‘Non-Nuclear Strategic Attack’

By Ankit Panda

The Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) drew much attention for the inclusion of language expanding the scope under which the United States might employ nuclear weapons. Specifically, the document observed that certain “extreme circumstances,” which “could include significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” would rise to the level of meriting a nuclear response.

In remarks delivered during an online video conference this week, Christopher Ford, U.S. assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, discussed this language in the context of space security. Ford emphasized that for the purposes of parsing that bit of the 2018 NPR, American adversaries should understand that U.S. space-based dual-use (nuclear and nonnuclear) command and control assets qualified as what the 2017 National Security Strategy had dubbed a “vital U.S. interest.”

What’s Next for US-ASEAN Cooperation Amid the Global Coronavirus Pandemic?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

Last week, the United States and countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) held a high-level conference on the global coronavirus pandemic. Though this was just one of several interactions between the two sides in this regard, it nonetheless spotlighted one area on which Washington and Southeast Asian states have been looking to advance collaboration amid a crisis and the opportunities and challenges in this respect.

While U.S.-ASEAN relations have continued to functionally advance over the past few years under the mechanism of a strategic partnership institutionalized during the presidency of Barack Obama, multilateral engagement has encountered some challenges under U.S. President Donald Trump, despite occasional advances made bilaterally. The coronavirus pandemic has served as a test for how Washington and Southeast Asian states can cooperate amid a crisis.

The consequences of COVID-19 for U.S.-ASEAN relations was clear early on, with the virus being the stated rationale for the eventual cancellation of a proposed U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit in Las Vegas back in February. Since then, the United States has become a key epicenter in the pandemic, while the virus has become truly regional in Southeast Asia after weeks of speculation that had preceded about an understatement of the COVID-19 challenge in the region.

New Coronavirus Assistance Highlights Vietnam-EU Relations Amid COVID-19

By Prashanth Parameswaran

On April 7, Vietnam provided a new round of assistance to five European nations. While the assistance was just the latest in a series of such initiatives, it nonetheless put the spotlight on Vietnam’s relations with key European countries during the global coronavirus pandemic.

As I have noted before in these pages, though Vietnam has long had ties with select European states, ties have gotten greater traction over the past few years, with a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed with the European Union in 2012 and relations with key individual countries including Britain, France, and Germany also being advanced in recent years.

Vietnam’s relations with European countries have not been untouched by COVID-19. On the one hand, ties have been negatively affected by the evolution of the global pandemic, with restrictions on exports and visa regulations affecting economic ties, which remain an important area for both sides. The virus also put on hold several of Vietnam’s diplomatic plans for 2020 as ASEAN chair and a nonpermanent member of the UN Security Council. But on the other hand, both sides have also been working to manage some of the fallout from COVID-19 as well, including sharing information where needed on the security of their citizens and continuing on with some key developments such as the final steps in ratifying the EU-Vietnam FTA, which, when approved by Vietnam’s legislature expected sometime next month, would go into effect over the summer.

Russian Navy Stealth Frigate to Test Fire Hypersonic Missile

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The Admiral Gorshkov, lead ship of the Russian Navy’s new Admiral Gorshkov-class (Project 22350) of guided missile frigates, is expected to test fire the hypersonic 3M-22 Tsirkon or Zircon anti-ship missile (ASM) in April or May, according to a Russian defense industry source.

“The frigate Admiral Gorshkov has left for the Belomorsk naval base for undergoing some maintenance work and also for loading a Tsirkon missile launcher,” the source was quoted as saying by TASS news agency on April 6. The source added: “[T]he hypersonic missile’s second test-firings are expected to be carried out from the ship in April-May.”

The Tsirkon ASM has previously been test fired from a canister launcher aboard the Admiral Gorshkov from the Barents Sea against a ground target at a distance of 500 kilometers in the Northern Urals in January of this year.

According to a separate source, three to four additional test launches from the Admiral Gorshkov will be conducted in the coming weeks. As I explained last month:

Army Cyber Institute (ACI)

Cyber Defense Review, Spring 2020, v. 5, no. 1

A Framework of Partnership 

Civilians ‘Defending Forward’ in Cyberspace: Aligning Cyber Strategy and Cyber Operations 

Norms and Normalization 

Operational Decision-Making for Cyber Operations: In Search of a Model 

Overview of 5G Security and Vulnerabilities 

A Quest for Indicators of Security Debt 

Wargaming and the Education Gap: Why CyberWar: 2025 Was Created

Israel’s Policy against the Coronavirus: Findings from a Strategic War Game

Itai Brun, Udi Dekel, Noa Shusterman

On March 31, 2020, a war game was held at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) simulating a cabinet session about the coronavirus crisis, attended by cabinet ministers, advisers, and experts (played by INSS researchers and other participants with relevant expertise). The war game, led by Brig. Gen. (ret.) Itai Brun and conducted through Zoom, considered Israeli policy on the coronavirus crisis and, in particular, strategic options for exiting the lockdown after Passover. The war game was part of the Institute’s formulation of recommendations for Israeli policy on the crisis. The following is an account of the war game and a discussion of policy decisions taken within the framework of the game and actions to be taken in the coming weeks.The Situational Picture and Forecast for the Coming Weeks

The discussion commenced with an analysis of the current situation and an assessment regarding the coming weeks, with Prof. Jacob Moran-Gilad presenting the public health aspects, Dr. Avihai Lifschitz the economic aspects, and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Dr. Meir Elran the societal aspects:

The medical analysis highlighted the reduction in the overall rate of infection, along with the populations that have shown disproportionately high rates of infection (ultra-Orthodox Jews), and the expected rise in the number of severely ill patients. Also emphasized was the noticeable lack in information about various aspects of the spread of the virus in Israel.

“America First” Is a Dangerous Fantasy in a Pandemic

By Philip H. Gordon 

It should come as no surprise that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, whose foreign policy doctrine is called “America first,” vastly underestimated the importance to U.S. security of defeating the novel coronavirus pandemic abroad. Trump was slow to recognize that the United States could not seal itself off from the virus: on February 26, the president predicted that the number of infected Americans would soon go down “close to zero,” while the White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow insisted that the United States had “contained” the threat because its borders were “pretty close to airtight.” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross even assessed that the troubles in China “will help accelerate the return of jobs to North America.” But of course American borders were not airtight at all, and the United States is now home to the highest number of reported cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in the world, with more than 7,000 deaths, a number almost certain to increase exponentially in the coming weeks. 

With the domestic toll rising, the administration and many governors have belatedly implemented aggressive containment measures, and Congress has stepped in with a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to provide temporary economic relief to American workers and businesses. But Washington is still not doing nearly enough to prevent and mitigate the spread of the disease beyond U.S. borders—in some cases, the administration has even cut foreign assistance and rejected diplomacy where more of both were needed. The health and safety of the American people are the rightful priorities of the U.S. government, but concentrating narrowly on fighting the virus at home while allowing it to spread abroad would be as shortsighted as focusing on fighting a fire only in one’s own home when one’s whole neighborhood was engulfed in flames. 

Can the Lessons of the Coronavirus Pandemic Be Applied to Climate Change?

Stewart M. Patrick 

As the world grapples with COVID-19, it cannot afford to ignore an even more serious global emergency that will persist long after the pandemic has passed: climate change. Last month, the United Nations issued a dire multiagency report warning that the world is “way off track” on its commitments to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement. Without dramatic and sustained emissions reductions, higher atmospheric and marine temperatures will bring more deadly heat waves, catastrophic storms, rising seas, food insecurity, health crises and mass displacement.

Although emissions have dropped sharply since January with the coronavirus pandemic virtually shutting down entire economies and most air travel, they are sure to surge again as the world economy roars back to life whenever the pandemic ends. Antonio Guterres, the U.N. secretary-general, put it bluntly: “We will not fight climate change with a virus.” Indeed, the pandemic will make progress against global warming even more elusive.

Nobody welcomes a pandemic that threatens to kill millions, infect hundreds of millions more and throw the world into economic depression. Still, the dramatic global response to COVID-19 has captured many environmentalists’ imaginations, by showing what a less polluted planet might look like and suggesting how the world might mobilize to fight climate change.

National Security in the Age of Pandemics


We cannot reduce the danger and damage of the next pandemic by merely adding it to the ever-expanding laundry list of missions we expect the military to handle.

For the first time since World War II, an adversary managed to knock a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier out of service. Only this time the enemy was a virus, not a nation-state. The fact that we ‘lost’ the ultimate symbol of American military power to an invisible opponent should send shock waves through the national security community, because in its race to prepare the country for renewed great power competition with Russia and China, it has largely ignored a potentially greater threat: pandemic disease.

On March 31, the Navy confirmed that it had begun evacuating most of the crew aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt to facilities on Guam due to a COVID-19 outbreak on the ship. The Roosevelt, which had been on patrol in the Pacific since January, reported its first three cases of COVID-19 on March 24. On March 30, with 100 confirmed cases on board, the ship’s commander, Captain Brett Crozier, sent an urgent four-page letter to the Navy requesting emergency measures to halt the outbreak. He warned that normal shipboard operating conditions made social distancing impossible. Nor did the ship have appropriate quarantine and isolation facilities for sick and exposed sailors. Crozier ultimately decided that the only way to protect his sailors’ health was to temporarily sacrifice his ship’s considerable war-fighting capabilities by pulling into port and evacuating most of the crew until the outbreak could be eradicated. 

‘It Doesn’t Add Up To Me’: Current and Former Navy Officials Question Captain’s Abrupt Dismissal


“Why wasn’t there an investigation done before the captain was relieved?” one former senior official asked.

Acting U.S. Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s dismissal of a beloved captain who raised concerns about the health of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt sparked swift and sudden outrage from lawmakers and former service members who saw the move as retribution.

But within the Navy, the move left sailors, Marines, and former senior leaders more confused than angry. The timeline leading up to the abrupt relief of Capt. Brett Crozier raíses more questions that it answers about why Crozier felt compelled to go outside of his chain of command to raise alarm bells about the situation on board the Roosevelt, these people said — and why, less than a day after claiming that it wasn’t going to “shoot the messenger,” the Navy fired him. 

“Why wasn’t there an investigation done before the captain was relieved? Because clearly somebody in his position — a carrier CO who was headed upward with a bullet — why would he do this if he hadn’t been stymied somewhere in the chain of command?” said one former senior Navy official, who like other current and former officials said Crozier would have been acutely aware that his actions would cost him his career. 

Autocrats’ Quandary: You Can’t Arrest a Virus

By Declan Walsh
Source Link

CAIRO — When the virus hit, the strongmen hit back as they know best.

For Egypt’s president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, that meant deploying chemical warfare troops, clad in protective suits and armed with disinfectant, to the streets of Cairo, in a theatrical display of military muscle projected via social media.

Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin, donned the plastic suit himself, in canary yellow, for a visit to a Moscow hospital for coronavirus patients. Then he dispatched to Italy 15 military planes filled with medical supplies and emblazoned with the slogan “From Russia with Love.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, a prodigious jailer of journalists, locked up a few reporters who criticized his early efforts to counter the virus, then sent a voice message to the phone of every citizen over 50, stressing that he had everything under control.

And in Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most repressive countries, where not a single infection has been officially declared, the president for life, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, promoted his book on medicinal plants as a possible solution to the pandemic.

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.

As infections balloon, coronavirus squeezes Europe's armed forces

Tangi Salaün, Sabine Siebold, Luke Baker

PARIS/BERLIN/LONDON (Reuters) - Military forces across Europe have scaled back operations and imposed stricter rules on personnel to try to stem the spread of the coronavirus among staff who often live and work in close quarters, making them more vulnerable to infection.

Preventing the virus’ proliferation among the military is important both for national security and because specialist army, navy and airforce units are being drafted in to help governments tackle the virus in many countries.

Germany mobilised 15,000 soldiers to help local authorities tackle the crisis, for example, while Poland activated thousands of troops to patrol streets under lockdown, disinfect hospitals and support border control, its defence ministry said.

Events aboard the U.S. aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt have highlighted the risk of the disease spreading rapidly among personnel. The nuclear-powered vessel with 5,000 crew is now docked in Guam, a U.S. territory, so everyone can be tested.