20 April 2020

India’s National Cyber Security Strategy : How to Go About It

By Maj. Gen. P K Mallick

The exponential growth and rapid adoption of information and communication technologies (ICT) with its associated economic and social opportunities have benefited billions of people around the world. The Internet has become the backbone of modern businesses, critical services and infrastructure, social networks and the global economy. The confidentiality, integrity and availability of ICT infrastructure are challenged by cyber threats including electronic fraud, theft of intellectual property and personal identifiable information, disruption of service and damage or destruction of property. Cyber security is a foundational element for achievement of socio-economic objectives of modern economies. It encompasses governance policy, operational, technical and legal aspects.

US State Department Clears Lightweight Torpedo, Harpoon Missile Sales to India

By Franz-Stefan Gady

The U.S. Department of State on April 13 cleared the possible sale of 10 AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air-launched missiles and 16 MK 54 lightweight torpedoes and related equipment for service on the Indian Navy’s Boeing P-8I Neptune advanced maritime patrol/anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft at an approximate combined cost of $155 million.

The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified U.S. Congress of the possible sales, which are still subject to congressional approval.

The proposed sales “will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to strengthen the U.S.-Indian strategic relationship and to improve the security of a major defensive partner, which continues to be an important force for political stability, peace, and economic progress in the Indo-Pacific and South Asia region,” a DSCA statement reads.

“The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.”

The Afghan Peace Agreement and Its Problems


On February 29, 2020, in Doha, Qatar the United States and the Afghan Taliban signed a peace agreement designed to end the long war in Afghanistan. The agreement contains largely the same conditions that had been agreed upon in September 2019 but which was scuttled by President Trump. Essentially, this agreement calls for the removal of United States and Coalition forces from Afghanistan in exchange for the promise that the Taliban would not allow terrorist groups to operate on Afghan soil. However, the agreement is premised on several assumptions that will make its success problematic. The agreement assumes a functioning Afghan government in Kabul with which to negotiate. The recent Afghan presidential election, rather than resolving who is in charge, has in fact muddied the waters. The failed presidential election took place last September, but the vote counting process was so confused and contested that the winner was not announced until February 18, 2020, almost five months after the election took place. The flawed and contentious election has resulted in a contested and split government in Kabul, creating a stalemate regarding who is in charge and making the implementation of the next step in the peace agreement problematic. The result may be that with a weak, or split, government in Kabul, the Taliban will be in a stronger position to dictate terms of an agreement over the future of Afghanistan favorable to their point of view.

But the Taliban has its own leadership problems. The team negotiating the peace agreement in Doha does not necessarily speak for the Taliban commanders in the field, who may not be willing, or able, to give up the fight and lay down their arms. This leaves the possibility of continued fighting even after a deal in Kabul is reached. 

The Peace Agreement

Phase-II Of The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Dim Prospects – Analysis

By Nowmay Opalinski*
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As the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—which is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)—enters its second phase, Pakistan’s new Special Economic Zones (SEZ) are now at the forefront of the Sino-Pakistani industrial cooperation agenda. However, Beijing’s cautious treading reflects its apprehensions regarding the viability of the CPEC’s industrial component.
China Relevance for Pakistan’s Industrial Ambitions

The first phase of the CPEC’s “early harvest projects” was intended to overcome Pakistan’s shortcomings in communication infrastructure and energy supply. The second phase is expected to catalyse industrial take-off, and create over 575 000 jobs in Pakistan in the coming years. On 3 January 2020, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan inaugurated the CPEC’s first SEZ, the Allama Iqbal Industrial City, in Faisalabad. This is one of the nine SEZs set to be created along the Corridor. Under the Pakistan Vision 2025 plan, these SEZs are expected to complete the implementation of industrial clusters across the country, and spearhead Pakistan’s overall industrial development.

The South China Sea in 2020: What to Watch

By Prashanth Parameswaran

While the global coronavirus pandemic continues to dominate the headlines, Asia’s flashpoints continue to simmer. The South China Sea is no exception, as evidenced by recent developments including China-Vietnam tensions. To get a sense of these developments and more, The Diplomat’s Prashanth Parameswaran talked to Greg Poling, director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

As of late last year, some of the key developments to watch with respect to the South China Sea in 2020 had become clear, including Vietnam’s occupation of the ASEAN chair and continued tensions in the U.S.-China relationship. How have the events we have seen thus far in 2020, including the outbreak of the global coronavirus pandemic, affected your expectations for the South China Sea this year in terms of both continuity and change? 

China Tries to Revive Economy But Consumer Engine Sputters

By Joe McDonald

China, where the coronavirus pandemic started in December, is cautiously trying to get back to business, but it’s not easy when many millions of workers are wary of spending much or even going out.

Factories and shops nationwide shut down starting in late January. Millions of families were told to stay home under unprecedented controls that have been copied by the United States, Europe, and India.

The ruling Communist Party says the outbreak, which had killed more than 3,340 people among more than 82,341 confirmed cases as of Thursday, is under control. But the damage to Chinese lives and the economy is lingering.

Truck salesman Zhang Hu is living the dilemma holding back the recovery. The 27-year-old from the central city of Zhengzhou has gone back to work, but with few people looking to buy 20-ton trucks, his income has fallen by half. Like many millions of others, he is pinching pennies.

Why There Are No Easy Answers for Ending COVID-19 Shutdowns

Judah Grunstein 

With China having lifted the lockdown in place in Wuhan since the end of January, and many European countries and parts of the United States beginning to envisage how they, too, will gradually ease social distancing measures, the second phase of the response to the coronavirus pandemic is coming into focus. Central to already active debates in Western democracies, at least, is the balance to be struck between addressing the urgency of the public health crisis and managing the growing impact of social distancing on national economies and individual livelihoods.

At first glance, the choice seems to be an obvious one. After all, everywhere the social distancing measures have been introduced, they have proved to be effective at containing the spread of the viral outbreak. More importantly, for now, they are the only effective way to do so. According to epidemiologists, without the widespread availability of mass testing and the ability to conduct exhaustive contact tracing, any premature return to “normal” will inevitably lead to further waves of uncontrolled transmission, requiring periodic shutdowns.

How the Coronavirus Forced the Pentagon to Improve Its IT — and Quickly


New teleworking capabilities — hastily installed to help DoD get work done at home — will stick around after the virus subsides.

The COVID-enforced shift to “maximum telework” has forced the Defense Department to update its information technology so that more employees can work remotely — and push critical communications to the front lines faster.

“We are creating a much more robust, enhanced teleworking capability,” Defense Department Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy told reporters at the Pentagon on Monday. “What we’ve done is put a multiplier effect into the quantity, types of services, etc. There will be some permanency to what we have here, specifically more on the network side. We will also have created a base of teleworking equipment that we will be able to, in some cases, reuse for other purposes. But yes, there will be an enhanced teleworking capability that will be sustained at the end of COVID-19.”

Opinion – Realism and the Coronavirus Crisis

IR scholars are often mocked for their obsession with theory and often dismissed by those outside the field as a purely academic exercise. And true enough, IR theory cannot help solve any of the current problems regarding the global spread of the novel coronavirus/Covid-19. What IR theory can do, however, is offer informed predictions as to how states will react to crises and they can help us to understand why states react the way they do – principally in this case via realism. As realists would expect, when crises hit, it is not international organisations, not even the World Health Organisation (WHO) or NGOs, that citizens turn to first. It is their own respective governments that citizens ask to take the necessary actions to protect them from the threat and to provide for relief efforts. In the absence of a global authority governing international relations, the nation state is proving once more that it is the main actor in global politics.

No realist would be surprised to learn of the national self-help, the “Us First” mentality, currently on display. Travel- and entry bans, international scapegoating and pharmaceutical protectionism is ubiquitous. Even in the world’s only truly supranational organisation, the European Union (EU), we witness how the member states readily violate otherwise sacrosanct principles, such as the “four freedoms of movement” (goods, capital, services and people). EU members do so, because it is the national self-interest that is the only truly sacrosanct currency of IR.

The Coronavirus Loosens Lips in Hanoi

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When Vietnam’s Communist government attempted to cover up a major toxic spill in 2016—a disaster that decimated farming and fishing sectors across several provinces—it looked to some as Vietnam’s Chernobyl moment. The ruling Communist Party had become so secretive, and the public so distrusting of what officials said, that rare large-scale public protests erupted across central Vietnam. Two years later, large demonstrations broke out again over special economic zones. The protests were against Chinese incursion but directed at a government viewed as corrupt and secretive. That view has spread more quietly across the internet, where pro-democracy bloggers have gained widespread prominence—and drawn harsh punishment—for exploring the failings of Hanoi.

So, few might have predicted that the Communist Party could mount such a successful fight against the coronavirus—let alone one marked by openness. Hanoi’s uncharacteristically transparent and proactive response to the coronavirus pandemic has earned it international and domestic praise. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the Communist Party hasn’t been this popular since the Vietnam War. But will Hanoi’s newfound awareness of the benefits of transparent government endure once the crisis is over?

As the Coronavirus Spreads, Conspiracy Theories Are Going Viral Too

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Long dismissed as absurd, conspiracy theorists on social media are increasingly posing a potential global threat—and becoming an asset for states looking to disrupt the geopolitical narrative and spread disinformation.

In the context of the global COVID-19 crisis, conspiracy theories have exploded across digital news sites and social media. While propaganda campaigns amid pandemics are nothing new, what is new in the current crisis is the global information environment in which it is playing out. The all-too-real impacts and stresses of the pandemic feed into the preexisting dynamics of the online information ecosystem, amplifying rumors, misinformation, conspiracies, and outright lies. For governments seeking to build trust and communicate clearly, it’s a nightmare. For those looking to sow chaos and doubt, it’s an opportunity.

There is a concept in social media studies known as “context collapse.” Usually attributed to the researcher Danah Boyd, it refers to the way in which social media platforms take messages that the sender intended to be seen by one audience in a given context and serve them up to others who were not the intended targets.

In the Post-Coronavirus World, Chinese Power Is Overrated

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On March 18, U.S. President Donald Trump invoked the Korean War-era Defense Production Act, casting himself as a “wartime president” fighting for “total victory” against an “invisible enemy”: the new coronavirus. Two days earlier, French President Emmanuel Macron had issued his own declaration of war on the coronavirus. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s coronavirus war became personal when he himself entered the casualty lists, spending a week in the hospital. Political leaders in Australia, India, South Africa, South Korea, and of course China have also cast their response to the pandemic in decidedly martial terms. In Brazil, the legislature has even tried to force the country’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, to declare war against his will.

All this talk of war inevitably raises questions about the shape of the postwar world. Analysts polled by Foreign Policy all agree that the coronavirus will bring big changes, but they hold widely divergent opinions about just what it will change. Perhaps not surprisingly, each one seems to believe that the world after the pandemic will be reshaped much in the same way they predicted or warned before the pandemic.

China's Secret Weapon In The Looming Tech War

By Ian Jenkins 
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The next quantum leap in technology is 5G, and America’s lack of one critical metal threatens its supremacy. 

New 5G cellular wireless technology will transfer data and the correct time faster than anything we’ve seen before. And if you didn’t think that the keeping of accurate time was that important a goal for global superpowers - think again. 

5G will not just revolutionize our connectivity and crown the next superpower, but it will forever change time, with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) being overtaken by something eerily accurate.

Cesium is the critical element in all of this, and it means the difference between real-time responsiveness and 5G failure. 

Yet, China controls 100% of its existing supply, with only one junior Canadian miner - Power Metals (TSXV:PWM, OTC:PWRMF) - emerging with the potential to develop a supply of this critical mineral outside of China’s influence. 

The Next Iranian Revolution

By Eric Edelman and Ray Takeyh 

“Regime change” is a toxic phrase in Washington. It conjures up images of the Iraq war, with the United States trapped in a quagmire of its own making. That is why those who favor a coercive U.S. approach to Iran are routinely charged with secretly supporting regime change. In response, the accused almost always deny it. They don’t want regime change, they insist: they just want the Islamic Republic’s theocrats to change their behavior.

But no such transformation will ever take place, because the Iranian regime remains a revolutionary movement that will never accommodate the United States. That is why regime change is not a radical or reckless idea but the most pragmatic and effective goal for U.S. policy toward Iran—indeed, it is the only objective that has any chance of meaningfully reducing the Iranian threat.

Backing regime change emphatically does not mean advocating a military invasion of Iran, but it does mean pushing for the United States to use every instrument at its disposal to undermine Iran’s clerical state, including covert assistance to dissidents. The United States cannot overthrow the Islamic Republic, but it can contribute to conditions that would make such a demise possible. The regime is weaker than many Western analysts believe; a campaign of external pressure and internal resistance could conceivably topple it. Recent years have witnessed explosions of broad-based public opposition to the regime. Iranians are hungry for better leadership. The question for Washington should be not whether to embrace regime change but how to help the Iranian people achieve it.

Saudi Arabia wants out of Yemen

Bruce Riedel

Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of a unilateral cease-fire in Yemen reflects the kingdom’s dire economic and social crisis caused by the pandemic and the fall in oil prices. It’s not clear if the Houthis will accept the cease-fire, but it is certain that Yemen is completely unprepared for the outbreak of the virus in the poorest country in the world.

The Saudis announced a unilateral cease-fire last week after months of United Nations-brokered talks and direct contacts between the parties failed to produce a durable truce and a political settlement. The Houthis want a complete lifting of the blockade of Yemen, the “siege,” as they call it. They are right to do so: The country urgently needs to import food and medicine. Roughly 80% of the population — 24 million people — are dependent on humanitarian assistance, and two-thirds are malnourished. Children are especially vulnerable.

The Saudi air strikes have targeted hospitals and other civilian sites for five years, according to a new study in the United Kingdom. One-third of all the air strikes have hit civilian targets including hospitals and schools. Only half the country’s hospitals and medical installations are operating because of the bombing and the siege.

Opinion – Iran’s End Game Beyond Coronavirus


As the global community is occupied with the coronavirus pandemic and saving lives, the regime in Tehran is focused on using the crisis for its own survival. Some argue the Iranian regime may not survive the coronavirus crisis. Others are warning that the regime is taking the people of Iran hostage to this pandemic crisis. I argue that the regime’s deception and disinformation campaigns during this pandemic cannot be analyzed in a vacuum or divorced from its other repressive measures at home, hegemonic goals for the region, including the export of terrorism and nuclear expansion. For several weeks, the Islamic Republic of Iran denied the initial outbreak of the virus and sealed the news in order to move forward with the regime’s anniversary celebration and parliamentary elections in February. By March 1st, the death toll published by Iran’s main opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), was 10 times higher than the official figures inside Iran. On March 3rd, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, made his first official remarks about the virus, calling it a “blessing” and urged people to pray. Employing the typical tactics of denial, concealment coupled with arrests of whistleblowers and multifront disinformation campaigns, the entire regime rallied behind Khamenei’s narrative to downplay the virus and declare it “not a big deal.”

What’s Behind US ‘Concerns’ About Possible Chinese Nuclear Testing?

By Ankit Panda

On Tuesday, Michael Gordon at the Wall Street Journal wrote a story covering a claim that was to be made by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance (AVC) in its then-upcoming report. Gordon’s article, provocatively titled, “Possible Chinese Nuclear Testing Stirs U.S. Concern,” discussed a new claim from the AVC report, which is designed to give the United States a chance to highlight compliance concerns with other countries’ behavior pertaining to weapons of mass destruction.

The article begins by noting that “China might be secretly conducting nuclear tests with very low explosive power despite Beijing’s assertions that it is strictly adhering to an international accord banning all nuclear tests.” That’s a strong claim, but not one directly supported by a close reading of the AVC report.

The report includes a section titled “Nuclear Testing Moratoria as Interpreted in Accordance With the U.S. ‘Zero-Yield’ Standard.” This section features two subsection, one addressing China (the focus of this discussion) and another on Russia. The language on China in the executive summary of the AVC report is as follows:

US Space Command: Russia Tested Direct Ascent Anti-Satellite Weapon

By Ankit Panda

Russia has conducted another test of its Nudol hit-to-kill interceptor, designed for anti-satellite missions, U.S. Space Command said in a statement on Wednesday. The test took place from Russia’s Plesetsk test site.

The test, which involved the system known as PL19/Nudol, did not involve a live orbital target. U.S. officials criticized the test.

“This test is further proof of Russia’s hypocritical advocacy of outer space arms control proposals designed to restrict the capabilities of the United States while clearly having no intention of halting their counter-space weapons programs,” said Space Command’s chief Gen. Jay Raymond.

“Russia’s DA-ASAT test provides yet another example that the threats to U.S. and allied space systems are real, serious and growing,” Gen. Raymond added. “The United States is ready and committed to deterring aggression and defending the Nation, our allies and U.S. interests from hostile acts in space.”

The US Reliance On Other Countries For Essential Medical Equipment – Analysis

By Fernando Leibovici, Ana Maria Santacreu and Makenzie Peake*
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The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a massive shortage of medical equipment. To face the health crisis, the US needs to increase its supply of protective equipment, and equipment needed to treat infected patients. This column studies the extent to which the US relies on other countries to supply its demand for critical medical goods. Given its heavy reliance on other countries also affected by COVID-19, the US might need to urgently design policies to boost its production of these goods.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is leading to a massive shortage of key medical equipment in the US. The surge in the number of infections that require hospitalisation is leading to an excess demand for protective personal equipment—such as masks, gowns and gloves—necessary to protect medical personnel from contagion.

Moreover, the increasing number of COVID-19 patients requiring intensive care has significantly increased the demand for respirators and other equipment used to treat infected patients in critical conditions. As a result, the US urgently needs to increase its supply of such key medical equipment to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In this article, we study the extent to which the US typically relies on other countries to supply its demand for these critical medical goods.

How the Russian-Saudi Oil War Went Awry—for Putin Most of All

By Joshua Yaffa

It appears that the latest in the many seemingly immutable systems that the covid-19 pandemic has undone is global oil markets, and how the world’s largest energy producers measure their own power and profits. On Sunday, after a month-long oil war that saw prices cut in half, the conflict’s two main protagonists—Russia and Saudi Arabia—reached a supposed truce, in which oil-producing nations will cut output by nearly ten million barrels a day. President Trump presented himself as peacemaker and made vague notions that the United States would decrease its oil production, too.

This new multilateral oil pact, forged with unprecedented U.S. involvement, would seem to be a new form of energy diplomacy with potentially deep implications, at a time when the global economy is facing great turbulence and a likely recession. But the truth is that the deal may prove little more than a short-term measure—and Russia, the country that, more than any other, provoked the standoff, may end up looking like a gambler who greatly overplayed his hand.

The world looked very different just a month and a half ago, when Moscow and Riyadh each decided that it had an advantage over the other, with political leaders in both capitals calculating that they, and not their rivals, were better equipped to weather the financial pain of a price war. The two countries had reached loggerheads over future production cuts as part of the opec+ grouping, created in 2016, which saw Russia and a handful of other oil producers—but not the United States—join existing cartel members. The logic was based on simple market economics: producers would agree to limit supply in an effort to keep prices up.

Oil Power Politics amidst a Global Pandemic


Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, domestic and international economies have been struggling. Markets have effectively been put on ‘pause’ in an effort to ‘flatten the curve’ of the continued spread of Covid-19. In function what this means is that people have been taken out of the economy – to varying degrees – through policies such as ‘social distancing’, ‘shelter in place,’ and limiting as much domestic and international travel as possible. While there are efforts underway to transition as many people as possible into working-from-home situations, these policies are intended to ensure that community spread of Covid-19 is reduced, while keeping as much of the economy running as possible. As a result of people are having their movements limited and travel restricted, they are travelling less. The flow-on effect on the global oil price has resulted in a depressed global demand for oil, resulting in a drop in prices.

The lowered demand has been a concern of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) since Covid-19 started to spread internationally, and China – their largest oil market, initiated lockdowns. Initially, this came to a head on the 4th of February, when OPEC held a meeting in Vienna to discuss how to address the lowered demand for oil from China. However, OPEC alone does not have complete hegemonic control over the global price of oil, only accounting for 55% of the oil produced globally. Instead, a fragile alliance between OPEC and Russia – known as OPEC+ – ensures that there is a globally consistent oil price. As OPEC sought to arrest the continued drop in demand for oil and ensure a stable and consistent price by lowering global production, tensions between OPEC and Russia began to rise as Russia was frustrated by both OPEC’s plan and the United States’ (US) lack of involvement.

Community-Based Natural Resource Management and Global Climate Change in Namibia

Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) is a system of resource governance that has developed across much of southern Africa as a way to protect certain resources such as freshwater, forests and forest products and wildlife populations and their habitat while empowering local populations. It is intended to do so by devolving control from central government to local communities so that they in turn become responsible for both the costs associated with managing resources but also any possible benefits that can be accrued from doing so. The literature on CBNRM generally approaches this form of resource governance as an apolitical domestic policy tool within a framework of local environmental conservation. My recent fieldwork in the Namibia, however, has pointed to two important points that the existing literature has not yet adequately accounted for. First, CBNRM should be understood as a global phenomenon, and that even conservation activities that take place in the most rural African community are intimately tied into broader issues in global environmental governance. This occurs as rural communities lack the capacity to benefit from projects through ecotourism in the way they are intended and must partner with a vast network of NGOs that have developed in order to administer funds from a variety of donors within the international community. This has a great affect on how power is rearticulated on the ground and leads to a blurring of the local, the national and global as well as the public from the private. Second, Climate change has profoundly changed the role that CBNRM plays in Namibia.

While not all environmental/conservation issues are directly related to climate change and CBNRM was not developed with climate change in mind, the two have become intricately intertwined and CBNRM can now not be understood outside the broader effects of the changing climate in Namibia. This has resulted as rural Namibian livelihoods which relied traditionally on various forms of subsistence agriculture have become severally threated due to the drought. As a result, many communities now rely solely on income derived from the CBNRM programs and its economic offshoots. Beyond this, the Conservancies themselves have grown and developed into governance apparatuses that provide important public services that are now needed more than ever.

Reviewing Key Details in Namibia’s Historical Context

How Does the EU Exercise Its Power Through Trade?


Trade has been an integral part of the European Union (EU) ever since its very inception as the European Coal and Steel Community, where a common market for coal and steel was established to make conflict between France and Germany “not merely unthinkable, but materially impossible” (Schuman, 1950, p. 17). From the six-member common market of coal and steel established in 1951, all the way to the customs union of twenty eight states with trade relations with almost every country in the world that it is today (Keukeleire and Delreux, 2014, p. 203), the EU has become the largest actor in international trade. This paper will explore the ways in which the EU exercises its power through trade using a Lukesian power framework. In order to do this, the institutional framework of trade competences and goals will firstly be introduced. This will be followed by a brief survey of the literature to assess the key arguments advanced on the EU’s trade power and to provide context for the main analysis. The Lukesian framework will then be presented and the channels through which the EU exerts this power (direct, indirect, and structural) will be critically evaluated. It will finally be concluded that the EU’s power through trade is primarily exerted via indirect methods though direct methods are used as complements.

Institutional Framework: Competences and Goals

EU competencies over trade are enshrined in Article 207 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, 2012). The EU receives authority over Common Commercial Policy (CCP), which comes under the form of negotiating trade agreements, foreign direct investment, and export policy to name a few. The CCP is in itself embedded within the broader chapter on external action. This means that trade policy should follow the principles and objectives set out in Article 21 of the Treaty of the European Union (Consolidated versions of the Treaty on European Union and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, 2012), which include, amongst others, the promotion and observance of the rule of law, democracy, and human rights. The CCP is thus best understood as a pool of trade sovereignty in order to safeguard and promote the EU’s interests and values through the principle of economies of scale.

Survey of the Literature

America First? The Coronavirus Couldn’t Care Less

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In recent years, the White House has raised the drawbridge against trade, immigration, long-standing alliances, and international institutions. The limits of this approach have been laid bare by the coronavirus pandemic: “America first” means nothing to germs that know no borders.

A key facet of Washington’s strategy in fighting the coronavirus hinges on the Trump administration’s ability to convene and lead other nations. Even if the United States momentarily subdues the virus, an outbreak in some far-flung corner of the world could quickly restart a new spiral of American infections—long before a vaccine is approved. Now more than ever, the United States’ health and therefore security depends on the world’s most fragile health systems and governments. That interdependence—and the imperative it creates for cooperation—should have prompted an immediate rethink of a blustering, unilateralist diplomacy. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo continues advancing, mostly unchanged, a policy agenda that predated the virus.

Before COVID-19’s onslaught, U.S. foreign policy focused primarily on major-power rivalry with China and Russia and, secondarily, maximum pressure campaigns to force Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela to change course. (With North Korea, of course, the administration has supplemented sanctions with direct talks.) These inveterate challenges require vigilance and constant management. But now, an invisible, lethal enemy also demands that U.S. diplomacy adapt to contain an omnipresent danger.

When Cash Is Tight, Should You Borrow from Retirement Savings?

Millions of Americans find themselves strapped for cash with reduced work or lost jobs as the coronavirus pandemic roils the economy with no end in sight. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed in late March offers some respite with the promise of direct checks of $1,200 for individuals ($2,400 for couples) with an additional $500 for each child, and expanded unemployment insurance benefits. It also opens up a bigger cash window by waiving the 10% penalty on withdrawals of up to $100,000 from 401(k) accounts by those below 59.5 years of age. Earlier rules required those aged less than 59.5 years to pay a penalty on withdrawals.

Attractive as it might seem, tapping retirement savings is fraught with risks that need careful consideration, according to experts at Wharton. Those premature withdrawals will not just erode individuals’ retirement nest eggs: Those who lose their jobs after they withdraw from those retirement funds will have to either repay that amount within three years or pay additional taxes. Meanwhile, despair on the job front is growing, with jobless claims nearing 17 million for the last three weeks, and the unemployment rate projected to rise from the current 4.4% to more than 10% by the second quarter.

Don’t Be Fooled. Trump’s Cuts to WHO Aren’t About the Coronavirus

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Republicans have been hating on international organizations for decades. This is just a convenient excuse to take another shot, and it harms American security.

Don’t be fooled. President Trump and his supporters don’t hate the World Health Organization because of its coronavirus response. The far right hates the WHO because it is an international organization, and hating on international organizations has been a page in the Republican playbook for decades. This is just another opportunity to do it, with the added bonuses of diverting attention from the Trump administration’s slow and chaotic pandemic response and onto China, the enemy du jour. 

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox’s Sean Hannity, “The World Health Organization declined to call this a pandemic for an awfully long time because, frankly, the Chinese Communist Party didn’t want that to happen. We need a health organization that’s going to deliver good outcomes for the world and not do the bidding of any single country. We need accurate information and transparent information. We didn’t get it. The world didn’t get that.”