19 April 2020

Don’t disregard the long-term threat from Tablighi Jamaat

Brahma Chellaney
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Wolf in sheep’s clothing? The Tablighi Jamaat claims to be apolitical but its ultimate goal — triumph in global jihad — underscores its political mission. Authorities in multiple countries view its missionary training as providing members a stepping stone to later join terrorist groups. 

The greatest global health catastrophe of our time has helped shine a spotlight on the role of religious evangelists and other fundamentalists in spreading the China-originating COVID-19 disease. In a number of countries, from the United States and Israel to Iran and Indonesia, religious zealots — whether Christian, Jew, Shia or Sunni — have resisted adhering to government stay-at-home orders.

In some cases, their disobedience has led to spiralling COVID-19 infection rates. In Israel, for example, ultra-orthodox Jews account for 12% of the country’s total population but make as much as 60% of its COVID-19 cases in major hospitals, compelling the government to start policing ultra-orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods in order to protect the wider population.

The Coronavirus Offers a Radical New Vision for India’s Cities

By Raghu Karnad
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On the morning of April 3rd, residents of Jalandhar, an industrial town in the Indian state of Punjab, woke to a startling sight: a panorama of snowcapped mountains across the eastern sky. The peaks and slopes of the Dhauladhars—a range in the lesser Himalayas—were not new, but the visibility was. Last summer, Jalandhar had the worst air quality in Punjab, although it still doesn’t rank among the most polluted cities in India. On March 24th, as a national lockdown was imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, nearly all of Jalandhar’s road traffic came to a halt, along with its manufacture of auto parts, hand tools, and sports equipment.

Ten days later, suspended particulates had dispersed from the air, and the Himalayas were unveiled. Residents gathered on their rooftops, posting photos of far, icy elevations towering behind water tanks and clotheslines. “Never seen Dhauladhar range from my home rooftop in Jalandhar,” the international cricketer Harbhajan Singh, who was born there forty years ago, tweeted. “Never could imagine that’s possible.”

What Is Missing From Afghan Peace Talks

By Ahmad Massoud

PANJSHIR VALLEY, Afghanistan — After four decades of conflict, Afghanistan seems poised to embrace superficial peace. The negotiations between the United States and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, culminated in a peace agreement between the two sides. The agreement paved the way for a national peace dialogue between the Taliban and a conglomerate of Afghan political factions and figures led by the government of Afghanistan.

The people of Afghanistan, who have suffered for decades, are investing great hopes in these talks to settle the differences between the warring sides and achieve a permanent peace acceptable to all.

The most salient question begging for attention during the talks — expected to start soon — is understanding and resolving the key structural obstacles to the establishment of a lasting peace and just political order in postwar Afghanistan. Informal reports from Doha suggest that the Taliban, who are yet to show good faith in negotiations, have already declared their support for a highly centralized state system.

For a lasting peace and just political order to be established in Afghanistan, significant structural changes need to be made to our highly centralized political and administrative system that concentrates power and financial resources in the office of the president with little accountability.

How The 1979 China-Vietnam War Forever Reshaped Asia

by Sebastien Roblin

Vietnamese forces also remained in Cambodia. Over the next decade China, Thailand and the United States helped the Khmer Rouge and other groups wage a bloody anti-Vietnamese insurgency. In this context, Chinese tanks saw combat a final time during the Battle of Vi Xuyen in 1984 when PLA troops assaulted two Vietnamese-held mountains on the border.


Beijing and Hanoi released wildly contradictory claims regarding the casualties in the war. External studies estimate around 26,000 PLA killed in action and around 30 to 35,000 Vietnamese troops.

The PLA officially records total hull loss of 44 tanks, while Vietnam claimed to have knocked out 134 tanks at Cao Bang, 76 at Lang Son and 66 tanks at Lao Cai. Other sources claim hundreds, or 50 to 90 percent, of Chinese tanks were damaged or destroyed. The higher numbers likely better reflect combat losses, though many may have been recovered and repaired.

COVID-19 And The War On Cash: What Is Behind The Push For A Cashless Society? – OpEd

By John W. Whitehead

Cash may well become a casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As these COVID-19 lockdowns drag out, more and more individuals and businesses are going cashless (for convenience and in a so-called effort to avoid spreading coronavirus germs), engaging in online commerce or using digital forms of currency (bank cards, digital wallets, etc.). As a result, physical cash is no longer king.

Yet there are other, more devious, reasons for this re-engineering of society away from physical cash: a cashless society—easily monitored, controlled, manipulated, weaponized and locked down—would play right into the hands of the government (and its corporate partners).

To this end, the government and its corporate partners-in-crime have been waging a subtle war on cash for some time now.

What is this war on cash?

It’s a concerted campaign to shift consumers towards a digital mode of commerce that can easily be monitored, tracked, tabulated, mined for data, hacked, hijacked and confiscated when convenient.

The world will not be the same after the pandemic

Brahma Chellaney
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Historically, major wars have fostered profound changes in societies and economies. Today’s China-originating pandemic has created an acute international crisis akin to wartime. The world will not be the same after the pandemic.

The incalculable human and economic toll exacted by the rapid spread of the killer coronavirus promises to shake up global geopolitics, including China’s position in the world. The pandemic’s enduring impacts will likely extend from altering previously dependable supply chains to reshaping bilateral relationships.

President Donald Trump is right that “the world is paying a big price” for China’s initial, weeks-long cover-up of the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan city and other parts of Hubei province. According to a South China Morning Post report based on Chinese government data, Wuhan doctors began recording one to five cases daily from November 17, before infection rates spiraled and a raging epidemic unfolded. However, China waited until January 21 to issue its first public warning. By then, the spread of the virus had gone beyond its control.

COVID-19 pandemic is no soft power victory for China


COPENHAGEN – As Japan enters a state of emergency and confronts the human and economic costs of the coronavirus crisis, China is working hard to promote itself as the global leader in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Providing medical assistance from Europe to Africa, many see Beijing filling the global leadership vacuum left in Washington’s absence and possibly wielding new influence in a post-coronavirus world.

But China is failing to recast itself as a global champion. Rather than building new soft power, the pandemic is reinforcing China’s frayed relations with the European Union, India, and others it needs to persuade of its global leadership. Laying bare the limits of Beijing’s influence, the pandemic points towards a future where neither China nor the United States leads, but cooperation between a diverse group of countries, particularly middle powers like Japan, is necessary to tackle global challenges.

After receiving donations and buying medical supplies and equipment from abroad to slow the spread of the virus at home earlier this year, the Chinese government recently eased export restrictions and is donating and selling stockpiles of surgical masks, ventilators, and other protective equipment overseas. This reciprocal assistance fostered new goodwill between China and the world. The donations of masks and other supplies between Japan and China even propelled some to argue that so-called mask diplomacy will reverse generations of torn relations between the East Asian neighbors.

China’s Militia and the Battle Against COVID-19

By Shin Kawashima

A security officer wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of coronavirus stands guard at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province, Wednesday, April 8, 2020.Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

At least according to official announcements, China has emerged from the most critical stage of its battle against COVID-19 and the country is on the road to recovery. In the foreign policy realm, China is eager to change its image, aspiring to be seen as the international community’s leading contributor in the fight against COVID-19, rather than as the source of the pandemic. This initiative is being greeted with widespread skepticism. Meanwhile, the data Beijing releases is being questioned. For China, there is a significant gap between propaganda and fact, making it difficult to know what is truly happening.

However, looking at areas not currently subject to government propaganda, we can see some glimpses of Chinese reality. For example, to tackle COVID-19, Chinese authorities locked down a number of cities and blocked human movement. This unprecedented action has offered some insight into the kind of organizations that function in a state of emergency. Specifically, when the cities were locked down, the activities of China’s Militia, which are normally invisible, became much more public. Residential communities and their community committees, together with workplaces (which used to be called “work units,” or danwei), played a significant role in controlling individuals. It became clear that these organizations still function as tools for keeping tabs on individuals, especially in urban areas. While China’s methods are often described with a focus on digital surveillance, in some ways the country relied on more traditional means of control.

IMF Warns of Pandemic-Induced ‘Great Lockdown’

By Ankit Panda

At the beginning of March, I’d discussed the possibility that the fast-growing spread of COVID-19 would herald a once-in-a-hundred-years global economic shock. That was days before the official declaration of a pandemic by the World Health Organization and, along with the exponential growth in the disease’s spread, the economic implications became clearer.

This week, the International Monetary Fund, in its authoritative quarterly World Economic Outlook, sounded a dire alarm that the COVID–19-induced global economic crisis — dubbed for now the “The Great Lockdown” — will be the most significant since the Great Depression of 1929-1939. The IMF’s projections suggest a three percent fall in global economic growth in 2020, a significant downgrade of 6.3 percentage points from the organization’s January outlook.

“Assuming the pandemic fades in the second half of 2020 and that policy actions taken around the world are effective in preventing widespread firm bankruptcies, extended job losses, and system-wide financial strains, we project global growth in 2021 to rebound to 5.8 percent,” Gita Gopinath, the IMF’s economic counselor and director of the research department, writes.

The Gradual Easing Of China’s Monetary Policy – Analysis

By Chan Kung and Wei Hongxu*
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Recently, the Chinese State Council executive meeting once again proposed the financial support plan for the real economy, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), hoping that SMEs can make full use of the current low-interest rate policy environment and the future downward interest rate environment to raise funds and ease the liquidity pressure. The State Council executive meeting also proposed to “further implement targeted RRR cuts for small and medium-sized banks”. This is the second time this month to release a directional cut signal. From the perspective of monetary policy, as ANBOUND has previously noted, the policy department is increasing financial support to the economy in a gradual easing manner.

The policies proposed by the State Council include: increasing the re-discount quota for small and medium-sized banks by RMB 1 trillion; supporting financial institutions in issuing RMB 300 billion of small and micro-financial bonds, all of which will be used to issue small and micro loans; guiding the net financing of corporate credit-backed bonds to increase by RMB 1 trillion over the previous year; expanding low-cost financing channels for private and SMEs; as well as encouraging the development supply-chain financial products such as raising funds pledged against orders, warehouse receipts and accounts receivable. With this, smaller firms may thus gain access to another RMB 800 billion in annual financing backed by accounts receivable. At the same time, China will further implement targeted required reserve ratios, RRR cuts for small and medium-sized banks, encourage banks to funnel all the newly obtained funding in the form of loans at concessional rates to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The RRR cut mainly targets small and medium-sized banks such as urban commercial banks and rural commercial banks, and the release of funds is expected to be around RMB 500 billion. It is estimated that the credit support for SME financing will exceed RMB 4 trillion.

Coronavirus in Conflict Zones: A Sobering Landscape


Already, the coronavirus pandemic has taken a seismic toll on the public health and economic well-being of many countries. As it spreads beyond the higher-income and higher-governance-capacity countries where it first hit hard, and into developing or fragile states, its consequences are likely to be even more profound. This is especially true in conflict-affected states, where pandemic responses will struggle with fragmented authority, political violence, low state capacity, high levels of civilian displacement, and low citizen trust in leadership.

United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has projected a hopeful vision of a global ceasefire to allow political opponents to confront the common enemy of the virus: a hugely important, worthy goal. But a closer look at a range of significant conflicts across the world indicates, at least in the near term, a high risk of escalating violence, dramatic governance failures, missed opportunities for peace and political progress, regime instability, or even state collapse.

This compilation examines the potential implications of the pandemic for twelve conflicts across multiple regions. For each, it profiles the unique challenges and potential opportunities the coronavirus presents, including ways that the outbreak could accelerate or decelerate violence, contribute to or complicate negotiation efforts, and undermine or entrench state authority. The country case studies also consider how conflicts hinder or complicate public health responses, including deliberate tactics of obstruction by some warring parties. Even though the virus’s effects will vary across contexts, some recurrent themes emerge from the essays, pointing to both risks to be managed and opportunities to be seized in mitigating the destruction wrought by the pandemic.


Coronavirus: What about the Lab in Wuhan?


China started information warfare to prove to the world that COVID-19, which originated in China, does not have its origin in China.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson of the ministry of foreign affairs in Beijing, tweeted that the US army had brought the dreaded virus to Wuhan.

Wang Yi, China's state councilor and foreign minister, phoned his Indian counterpart Dr S Jaishankar that the virus should not be called 'Chinese', as it would stigmatise the country and would be detrimental to 'international cooperation'.

The stakes are high for Beijing: externally, it does not want to appear as the bad guy who spread the virus all over the planet with the drastic consequences seen today (more than 1.7 million affected, more than one lakh casualties, while three billion human beings live under confinement, all this with unpredictable and incalculable economic and social implications), but also internally, where General Secretary Xi Jinping's is more and more questioned within the Chinese Communist arty.

What Happens After the Coronavirus Peak?

by Chuck Ross

As Americans eye a return to normalcy in the wake of the first wave of the coronavirus pandemic, the great unknown is what happens once social distancing guidelines are relaxed.

Will the virus come roaring back once Americans resume shopping, eating at restaurants, vacationing and going back to work? What will day-to-day life look like in the coming months? And if another outbreak occurs later this year, will the economy shut down again?

Elected officials are in the precarious position of having to balance the need to protect the public from infection from the novel coronavirus while not completely shutting down the economy. More than 17 million Americans have already lost their jobs amid widespread business closures.

The consensus emerging among health experts is that states and cities will reopen in a tiered fashion depending on how prevalent the virus is within their jurisdictions.

And even when government-imposed restrictions are relaxed, a sizable proportion of the U.S.’s 320 million residents are likely to stay home or avoid unnecessary activities out of fear of becoming infected.

The Navy Was Right To Fire Capt. Crozier Over His Coronavirus Warnings

by Dakota Wood Thomas Spoehr

Americans concerned about the COVID-19 coronavirus threat have heard a great deal about how it’s affecting everything from hospitals to grocery stores. With so much to keep track of, though, it’s likely they know little about the outbreak that occurred aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, let alone what to make of the debacle that led acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly to resign.

To quickly recap the saga: A sailor aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt was diagnosed with COVID-19 on March 22. Within three days, seven more sailors were confirmed to be infected. Two days later, the ship pulled into Guam, where it has remained. On March 30, Capt. Brett Crozier, commanding officer of the Theodore Roosevelt, released a memo that stated in alarming terms his concerns about his ship and crew.

By April 2, cases had reached 114, the Navy was making arrangements to offload the ship’s crew, and Modly had relieved Crozier of command.

Wuhan Institute of Virology: Origin of Coronavirus or Conspiracy Nonsense?

by Stephen Silver

The coronavirus that's currently ravaging populations throughout the world began in Wuhan, China, and it's generally been understood that it originated from a wet market in that part of China. But it also turns out that there's a lab, also in Wuhan, that studies viruses, and had even specifically conducted years of research on bat-based viruses and their potential to infect humans in large numbers.

In fact, the Wuhan Institute of Virology in early 2019 released a paper specifically warning of future pandemics that could be caused by viruses moving from bats to humans.

This connection, of an institute studying bat-borne viruses being located in the same part of the world where a bat-born viral pandemic likely originated, has led to theories about the origins of the virus and the Chinese government's role in it. But now, The Washington Post has published a piece revealing that U.S. State Department warned in 2018 about safety issues at that very lab.

The Post published an op-ed column by Josh Rogin Monday, revealing that officials at the U.S. embassy in China in early 2018 had raised concerns about "inadequate safety" at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, with U.S. science diplomats repeatedly visiting the lab that year. The diplomats then sent cables to Washington, warning that due in part to a lack of adequate safety personnel, the research that the lab was conducting in relation to bats "represented a risk of a new SARS-like pandemic."

US-Saudi Oil Clash Sets Stage For Future Epic Battle – Analysis

By James M. Dorsey

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) risk jeopardizing their relationship with the United States as a result of diverging interests that became evident with the eruption of the recent oil price war. That remains true even if the war was unsustainable in the midst of a devastating pandemic.

So far Saudi Arabia has been the focus of US wrath at the kingdom’s perceived insensitivity and recklessness while the UAE has managed to fly under the radar despite it too declaring that it would increase production in support of the price war with Russia. The question is for how long the UAE can stay off the radar.

An immediate crisis has been averted with an agreement on Sunday, April 12 between members of the Organization of Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers to cut production by some 10 million barrels a day.

But 13 US Republican Congressmen from oil-producing states put Saudi Arabia on notice in a two-hour phone call with Saudi Energy Minister Abdulaziz bin Salman a day after the agreement.

“While we appreciate them taking the first step toward fixing the problem they helped create, the Saudis spent over a month waging war on American oil producers, all while our troops protected theirs. That’s not how friends treat friends. Their actions were inexcusable and won’t be forgotten. Saudi Arabia’s next steps will determine whether our strategic partnership is salvageable,” said North Dakota Senator Kevin Cramer

The United States Is Getting Infected With Dictatorship

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HBO’s The Plot Against America (based on the Philip Roth novel), presents an alternative history of the 1940s, where Charles Lindbergh is elected U.S. president and the United States begins a slow and troubling march toward fascism. If you read the New York Times columnist Paul Krugman’s latest column, you might be wondering whether something similar could be happening in real life.

I’ve chronicled some worrisome trends on several occasions since President Donald Trump was elected in 2016 (see here, here, and here), and ignoring these warning signs would be just like Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Remember when he said that one day the virus was just “going to disappear” and bragged that “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. … It’s going to be just fine.”?

My advice: Don’t be that guy.

But first: some good news. Although Americans are not happy with many government institutions, they remain strongly committed to the core ideals of a liberal society. Ninety-three percent believe it is important to have a fair judiciary, 84 percent say regular elections are important, 80 percent support a free media, and 77 percent prize freedom of speech, according to a 2019 Pew Research Center survey. Despite widespread political polarization, 67 percent believe having free opposition parties is also important. Such attitudes are reassuring, because public support for democracy turns out to be important for preserving a democratic order.

The Fire Fauci Brigade – OpEd

By Binoy Kampmark

The intemperate volcano that is the US President has done much to burn its way through prominent appointments. As the title of former GOP strategist Rick Wilson’s book goes, Everything Trump Touches Dies. There seem few more important individuals in the United States than Dr Anthony Fauci, and that, for the White House, is a problem. No burning bushel can distract from the orange tufted centre of power that is Donald Trump, and Fauci, as director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been giving much to distract. 

Over the weekend, the disgruntled anti-Fauci clan started buzzing with the hashtag #FireFauci, the underachieving work of DeAnna Lorraine. Lorraine, former challenger for Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s California House seat, likes to share material from the QAnon group, which takes pride in, shall we say, cavalier narratives pullulating with fantasies. (The fictional Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama child sex trafficking ring; the canard of Angela Merkel really being the granddaughter of Adolf Hitler.) 

Momentum was generated by President Trump’s Sunday retweet of a call to fire Fauci. Lorraine, in the tweet in question, was exercised by Fauci “now saying that had Trump listened to the medical experts earlier he could’ve saved more lives.” But, she claimed, it was the medical expert – one Anthony Fauci – who told people on February 29th “that there was nothing to worry about and it posed no threat to the US public at large.” Time, then, to fire him.

Preparing for a Dark Future: Biological Warfare in the 21st Century

By Thomas G. Mahnken

News of the spread of COVID-19 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and the subsequent relief of its Commanding Officer has highlighted the tension that exists between maintaining military readiness and the need to safeguard the health of members of the armed forces in the face of a pandemic.

The disease has been a feature of war for the vast majority of human history – from the plague that ravaged Athens early in the Peloponnesian War, killing the Athenian strategos Pericles; to the diseases that European settlers brought with them to the New World, devastating local populations; to the host of tropical diseases that caused appalling casualties in the China-Burma-India and Southwest Pacific theaters in World War II. The fact that we were surprised by the emergence, growth, and spread of COVID-19 reflects the false conceit of 21st century life that we have “conquered” disease.

In fact, pandemics are but one class of low-probability but high-impact contingencies that we could face in the coming years, including an earthquake or other natural disaster in a major urban area, regime change in an important state, and the collapse of financial markets leading to a global depression. When I served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning between 2006 and 2009, we explored a series of such “shocks” as well as the role the Defense Department could play in responding to them as a way of helping the Department’s leaders address such contingencies. During my time in the Pentagon, we also held a series of wargames with members of Congress and their staff, governors of several states and their cabinets, and the government of Mexico, to explore in depth the consequences of a pandemic. Much of what we found then resonates with what we are experiencing now. On the one hand, the measures that individuals need to take to protect themselves against a virus such as COVID-19 are relatively straightforward. On the other hand, group dynamics, bureaucratic behavior, public policy, and economic forces make it difficult to implement measures that make sense on an individual level across a society, let along across countries. It was, and is, also clear that the Defense Department possesses medical, logistical, and command and control assets that are helpful in dealing with a disaster such as a pandemic. Even if not a surprise, the fact that pandemics of this scale are rare events has hindered preparation and response.

What Happens to the WHO After the US Cuts Funding?

by Adam Kamradt-Scott
US President Donald Trump has announced the US is cutting its funding to the World Health Organisation (WHO) – a decision that will have major implications for the global health response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The US contributes more than US$400 million to the WHO per year, though it is already US$200 million in arrears. It is the organisation’s largest donor and gives about 10 times what China does per year.

Trump has accused the organisation of mishandling and covering up the initial spread of COVID-19 in China, and of generally failing to take a harsher stance toward China.

What will Trump’s decision to cut funding mean for the organisation?

Who are members of the WHO?

Cybersecurity, Tech Infrastructure Requires International Trust

In new research published in the journal Technology and Culture, Rebecca Slayton, professor of science and technology studies at Cornell University, uses the field of incident response to shed light on how experts – and nations – can more effectively combat cyberwarfare when they foster trust and transcend politics.

“People often think of infrastructure as a set of technologies just sitting there, but in fact they’re living technologies – socio-technical systems that are constantly being maintained by people, and trust is central to that,” Slayton said.

Most experts agree that state-sponsored hackers in Russia are trying to use the internet to infiltrate the U.S. electrical grid and sabotage elections, yet internet security teams in the U.S. and Europe actively seek to cooperate with their Russian counterparts, focusing on the issues where they can establish mutual trust.

“Even though they recognize that there are actors in the shadows in those countries whom they don’t trust, they have a shared goal of keeping the infrastructure running,” Slayton said.

The field of incident response began after the internet was struck by “an attack from within” in November 1988. A self-replicating program – a “worm” – infected thousands of connected computers, causing them to stop processing and communicating normally.

Will Today's Media Win or Lose Information Warfare for the West?

Irina Tsukerman

State Apparatchiks vs. Dissident Journalists

The memories of my early childhood in the Soviet Union straddle the vast gap between bits and pieces of the narratives about the world I would catch through the state-run media on the old black-and-white TV and the stories about the larger reality from my grandparents or overheard in conversation among adults. That the press could engage in underhanded tactics to divert attention from facts inconvenient to the government was revealed to me relatively early on in life when the Swan Lake would inevitably be aired to coincide with the death of some party apparatchik. And similarly anodyne entertainment programs took the place of news coverage in the days leading up to the demise of the USSR. I only knew about the tanks in Moscow from my parents, who in turn knew about it by word of mouth. Everyone, in fact, knew, and yet the official media kept trying to cover up the inevitable and the unavoidable, as if denying the turn of events would somehow reverse them. Perhaps the only calculus there was to keep the public from panicking and making the run on the banks or otherwise filling the streets en masse. Regardless, it was clear even to a child that the "news channel" were an arm of a panicky ossified regime, making its last gasps.

Yet the news anchors for these state-mandated programs were referred to as "journalists".

Years later, when Russian journalists would be found assassinated after critiquing official policies on various issues, I asked myself how the same word could be used to signify such disparate meanings and occupations.

Naval Integration Strategy Needs to Be Written in Plain English

By James Holmes

“Naval integration” is all the rage in U.S. Navy and Marine Corps circles nowadays. That’s the idea that the sea services must work in harmony to puncture antiaccess/area-denial defenses now strewn along many of the world’s coastlines. Displaying the ability to break into the Western Pacific is crucial to accomplishing U.S. strategic goals, from deterring China, to reassuring allies that the United States remains a reliable security partner, to upholding freedom of the sea. Antiaccess weapons proliferate even as budgets in Washington stagnate. This demands that the services join forces to command the sea while denying antagonists access to the saltwater commons. They must fight as one, fielding the necessary ships, planes, and ordnance to prevail while relearning skills and habits for near-shore combat.

The case for naval integration seems commonsensical, even inarguable. Yet it remains doubtful whether key stakeholders—including those who wield the power of the purse—have embraced the concept. If not—if apathy prevails—then naval leaders must consider how to do a better job convincing them it is the way to go.

Senior leaders must hone their skill at rhetoric—the art of persuasion—with the same fervor they bring to designing fleets or drawing up budgets. Think of strategy as storytelling. It is far more than the mechanical process military officers learn about in war colleges—namely, devising ways to harness diplomatic, economic, and military means for political gains in a competitive environment. Good strategy does more than supply information or map out a plan of action. It coherently narrates national purposes and explains to nonspecialists how its executors will put military and nonmilitary power to work achieving its purposes. Cogently framed, a strategic narrative sweeps the audience along to the writer’s or speaker’s conclusions. That’s how rhetoric works: it informs, provokes, and inspires. 

Unconventional Deterrence in Europe: The Role of Army Special Operations in Competition Today

By Bryan GrovesSteve Ferenzi

Russia’s aggressive actions in Georgia, Crimea, and Ukraine highlight its ability to quickly achieve escalation dominance along its frontier through the employment of new generation warfare and reflexive control. Russia occupied sovereign Georgian territory, quickly annexed Crimea, and supports proxy separatists in the Donbass region of Eastern Ukraine—subverting Western interests without triggering a war with NATO.

This Russian way of war involves a combination of early planning, mobilization of special forces and proxy elements (“little green men”), and political warfare. Under the guise of protecting “compatriots,” Russia utilizes indigenous populations to justify humanitarian intervention and then maintains “frozen conflicts” to create new facts on the ground that cement favorable political outcomes, such as thwarting Georgia’s accession into NATO. Russian faits accomplis against neighbors demonstrate its ability to separate the U.S. and its partners politically. Russian speed and unity of action exploit the West’s uncertainty about the extent of what is happening, its permanence, and an inability or unwillingness to respond quickly and assertively.

In competition, Russia stays below the threshold of armed conflict by paralyzing political decision-making processes through the use of information operations and unconventional warfare. On select battlefields of its choosing and in support of its broader campaign of competition, Russia dominates in short periods of armed conflict utilizing advanced weaponry and employing anti-access/area denial systems. Through this hybrid operational construct, Russia has proven its ability to separate its foes’ armed forces in time, space, and function through the application of non-military, indirect, asymmetric, and traditional military methods. Furthermore, allied war games have demonstrated that Russian forces could accomplish even more. They could reach the Estonian and Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga within 60 hours, while the recent Russian Zapad 17 exercise further demonstrates the vital nature of speed for the NATO alliance.


Joe Buccino
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The combination of professionalism and technology may also result in narrow-minded specialization more suited to a debating society than to an organization whose task it is to cope with, and indeed live in, the dangerous and uncertain environment of war.

The impending national COVID-19 recovery effort, combined with an enormous and rising national debt, portends a years-long period of declining defense budgets. This will force a re-evaluation of priorities, to be sure, but it will also accelerate trends that have already begun to take shape. The Department of Defense is committed to the development and application of critical technology, for instance, and that is unlikely to change. In the age of high-technology war and multi-domain operations, the military is likely to forsake traditional force structure and conventional capability for modernization and new technology. The Marine Corps is already taking the lead on this approach, shedding tanks and infantry formations to prioritize new technology in a multi-domain fight. In the years ahead, defense officials will be tempted to reduce manned systems and conventional force structure. These changes will manifest as soon as the forthcoming budget proposal.