25 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.

India’s COVID-19 Cooperation With the Middle East

By Alvite Ningthoujam

At this crucial juncture when almost every part of the globe is engulfed by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the current Indian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has taken a step forward by providing medical assistance to some of its international partners. Lately, India has been propagating the ancient Sanskrit dictum Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, meaning “the world is one family.” Further promoting this philosophy, India, despite the existing domestic challenges emanating out of the pandemic, has decided to render possible help to countries like the United States, a few European, African, and Latin American countries, as well as countries in the Middle East by providing medicines and sending medical professionals. In addition to this, during the initial days of the pandemic, Modi took preemptive diplomatic steps by reaching out to India’s immediate neighbors in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), with the sole objective to kickstart collaborative measures and efforts to contain the spread of the disease in the region. Such a goodwill reflected the evolving nature of the Indian foreign policy, and this has gradually been acknowledged by other countries, including the United States.

While the current Indian government has been placing immense importance on promoting its “Neighborhood First” policy (mainly focusing on South Asia), it is simultaneously strengthening overall cooperation with its “extended neighbors.” This is where the Middle Eastern countries come to the fore. Lately, India’s cooperation with this region has become more comprehensive, moving beyond the oil-energy trade to include military-security ties, maritime cooperation, strategic oil reserves, joint energy exploration projects, and mutual investments. For instance, with total bilateral trade of $34.03 billion (2018-2019) and $60 billion (2018-2019), Saudi Arabia and the UAE are India’s fourth and the third largest trading partners, respectively. Both these Gulf countries are aspiring to increase their trade volume and investments in India during the next couple of years. Alongside this dimension, which is important for India’s economic growth, both sides have also taken note of the need to strengthen bilateral engagements in the health and medicine sectors. During the last few years, India has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Oman (February 2018, during Modi’s visit to Muscat), Israel (January 2018, during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s India visit), Saudi Arabia (October 2019, during Modi’s Saudi Arabia visit) and Jordan (March 2018, during Jordanian King Abdullah II’s visit to India). These agreements have encouraged cooperation in a wide range of fields, including health, medical science, medical education, and research, as well as the establishment of joint working groups for smooth and regular discussions on these issues.

The Last Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan Plead for U.S. Help

by Jessica Donati and Ehsanullah Amiri - Wall Street Journal

The last community of Sikhs and Hindus in Afghanistan is seeking asylum in the U.S. after suffering an attack by Islamic State extremists, posing a test of the Trump administration’s pledge to protect and support religious minorities world-wide.

The Islamic State attack targeting a Sikh temple in Kabul last month killed 25 people, while dozens of others were taken hostage in a six-hour siege ending in a gun battle with Afghanistan’s commandos, the elite army unit that works closely with U.S. Special Forces.

There are about 650 Sikhs and Hindus left in Afghanistan. The fear in the community is a reminder of the uncertainty facing the country after the U.S. reached a February deal with the Taliban to withdraw all of its troops next year.

“When the U.S. leaves, life for us will become impossible. It’s only a matter of time that all of us will be eliminated. We want refugee status and protection in a U.S. Army base here. We want this soon,” a Sikh community leader who lost three immediate relatives in the attack told The Wall Street Journal…

Amid COVID–19, Pakistan Launches an ‘Islam Friendly’ Action Plan to Keep Mosques Open

By Umair Jamal

Last week, Pakistan’s president met with prominent religious leaders to formulate a plan for congregational prayers during the month of Ramzan (Ramadan). The Pakistani state agreed to a 20-point action plan after consultation with religious scholars of all sects. 

The crux of the plan is that the government in Pakistan has decided to keep all mosques open, a key recommendation made by clerics of all major seminaries. The decision could have disastrous public health implications amid the COVID-19 pandemic as its implementation and agreed guidelines are unlikely to be followed or enforced across the thousands of mosques across the country. What is particularly unfortunate is that the current government didn’t even put up a fight to enforce its decision on the clergy. Rather, the meeting with the clergy was called by the government to agree to what the former had demanded more formally. 

Last week’s decision on the part of the government essentially showed who runs the actual state in Pakistan. While arguments about radicalization and the influence of right-wing forces in Pakistan carry weight, what is unknown is the true power of the clergy if they were to unite against an elected government or the state’s priorities. In such a case, the state would either be sitting with the clergy or negotiating its way out, as we have seen with this decision and countless others before that. 

How the Illicit Drug Trade Is Adapting to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Benoît Gomis 

Throughout history, outbreaks of infectious disease have often been linked with illicit trade. A cholera outbreak in Mexico during the 1990s, for example, is believed to have originated with an infected person from South America who arrived on an illegal airstrip used for drug trafficking. The historian Julia Clancy-Smith writes that in mid-19th-century Tunisia, “contraband, quarantine, and cholera worked together.” And while the precise origin of the coronavirus pandemic currently sweeping the globe is unknown, the illicit wildlife trade in China may have been a major factor.

Once they spread widely, infectious diseases also disrupt the illicit drug trade at all stages of the supply chain, from the production of raw materials to the distribution on the street. The current crisis, unprecedented as it may be, is no different. As a result, major organized crime groups are being forced to adapt their operations, with potentially far-reaching implications for consumers, policymakers and law enforcement agencies

COVID-19: Time to Rethink International Peace & Security

By Benjamin Syme Van Ameringen

At time of writing, the United States is the emerging epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic and over one-third of the world’s population is on some sort of lockdown. The virus has spread like wildfire across the planet and poses the greatest existential global threat since World War II.

Case fatality rates in some regions of Europe are in double-digits and shortages of personal protective equipment and ventilators are hindering the response. Markets have crashed at a faster pace than during the Global Financial Crisis due to a collapse in global demand, and major US banks estimate that US GDP could fall by as much as 35% by the end of the second fiscal quarter. Demand for commodities from emerging markets has plummeted and investors have pulled over $96 billion from these markets since the start of this ‘black swan’ event. The economic and health impacts of the crisis will have a destabilizing effect on the most vulnerable in societies across the globe. If governments do not take decisive and collective action to respond to this health and economic crisis, it will quickly become a political one, especially in fragile states.

Despite the complexity and transboundary nature of this multifaceted crisis, governments in both poor and rich countries have retreated inwards, enacted unilateral travel and trade restrictions and worked to protect their citizens and territory in a way not seen in modern history. The Westphalian state of old seems to be making a comeback in an unprecedented way.

The Great U.S.-China Divorce Has Arrived

by James Jay Carafano
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Make no mistake: The global struggle with China is about to go to the next level. Or two. Or three.

By triggering a global disease outbreak, the Chinese Communist Party’s reprehensible behavior crossed the last line, leaving other nations no recourse but to push back. Hard.

No longer can responsible nations tolerate the regime’s destabilizing interference around the world. Post-COVID-19, there will be a new world map, and this is what it is going to look like.

Cartography in Modern Times 

Let’s start with what the map doesn’t look like. There won’t be big bold circles, blue and red, demarking spheres of influence and control. This isn’t like most other great power competitions, from “Inter Caetera” to the Cold War. For one, the U.S. is a global power with global interests and responsibilities. Washington isn’t going to cede any part of the world to Beijing. Conversely, China’s reach is worldwide. No one is going to stop doing business with China, least of all the United States.

China and COVID-19 in MENA

Guy Burton, Vesalius College
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China has been an early partner in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East. Initially seen primarily as the source of the virus, China has provided material and equipment, as well as advice. China’s actions in the Middle East are similar to those it is carrying out in other parts of the world and reflects its keenness to control and shape the narrative. Rather than be seen as the source of the virus, it wants to present itself as a leader in containing its spread. In addition, its response to COVID-19 in the Middle East is enabling it to broaden and deepen its relations with states across the region, including those where contact has previously been slight.

China’s earliest interaction with COVID-19 in the Middle East involved Iran. Iran’s relationship with China is asymmetric.[i] It has been keen to play up its close ties with China as a way of overcoming global isolation, especially following the US decision to reimpose sanctions after withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Following the outbreak of COVID-19 in China’s Hubei province and the government’s imposition of a lockdown on its cities, Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Zarif was one of the first to express solidarity with Beijing when he tweeted his support in January.

Iranian authorities’ determination to keep diplomatic relations open with China contributed to the importation of COVID-19 into the country. They kept air travel open with China and also allowed some Iranian airlines to fly China-bound travelers from other countries, even as China was attempting to contain the virus at home.[ii] In mid-February the first cases appeared in Iran. The regime initially downplayed the outbreak in ways which likely contributed to its rapid spread. From there it spread to the neighboring Arab Gulf states and then on to the wider region. Iran remains the epicenter of the regional outbreak, with more than 70,000 cases including a wide swathe of the regime’s political elite. While this could have become grounds for a crisis in the Iran-China relationship, relations have instead only strengthened. Iran was the first country to receive Chinese assistance to tackle the virus, receiving experts, test kits and medical supplies as well as two mobile hospitals.[iii]

President of Taiwan: How My Country Prevented a Major Outbreak of COVID-19

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Taiwan is an island of resilience. Centuries of hardship have compelled our society to cope, adapt, and survive trying circumstances. We have found ways to persevere through difficult times together as a nation, and the COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Despite the virus’s highly infectious nature and our proximity to its source, we have prevented a major outbreak. As of April 14, we have had fewer than 400 confirmed cases.

This success is no coincidence. A combination of efforts by medical professionals, government, private sector and society at large have armored our country’s defenses. The painful lessons of the 2003 SARS outbreak, which left Taiwan scarred with the loss of dozens of lives, put our government and people on high alert early on. Last December, when indications of a contagious new respiratory illness began to appear in China, we began monitoring incoming passengers from Wuhan. In January, we established the Central Epidemic Command Center to handle prevention measures. We introduced travel restrictions, and established quarantine protocols for high-risk travelers.

OPEC Plus’ Zero-Sum Oil Game

by Amy M. Jaffe

Prior to the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, international sanctions had severely curtailed Iraq’s oil industry. Oil production sat at 1.4 million barrels a day (b/d). Iraq’s beleaguered refining industry was forced to inject surplus heavy fuel oil into oil reservoirs because there was nowhere else to put it. Iraq’s oil industry was debilitated from years of war and sanctions. It took the country billions of dollars of foreign direct investment and over twelve years to restore production to its pre-revolution 1979 capacity of above 4 million b/d. The breakup of the former Soviet Union tells a similar story. Russian oil production declined slowly from 11.3 million b/d in 1989 to a low of 6 million b/d in 1996. It only reached its pre-collapse level of 11.3 million b/d again in 2018. These lessons from history are important because they demonstrate the severe and long-reaching consequences that can result from mismanagement of oil sectors amidst turmoil created by endogenous or exogenous forces. The COVID-19 pandemic has already shown it could produce unprecedented shocks both from the health crises within petrostates and from external forces such as the sudden loss of demand for oil and the accompanying logistical and operational problems arising from oil pricing volatility. 

Making Sense of China’s Latest Bid to Administer Sovereignty in the South China Sea

By Ankit Panda

At the end of last week, China took yet another step to expand its administrative claims over the South China Sea. On Saturday, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs announced that the State Council of China had approved two new administrative divisions under Sansha City, an earlier administrative unit created in 2012 to encompass the South China Sea. While nominally a “city,” Sansha encompasses 2 million square kilometers and more than 200 features. 

The two districts — named Xisha and Nansha — use the Chinese names for the disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands, respectively, and correspond to those features. China claims the entirety of the Paracel and Spratly Islands under its capacious nine-dash line claim. Five other parties — Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, and Malaysia — have overlapping territorial claims with Beijing’s nine-dash line; Indonesia and China have also locked horns over an exclusive economic zone overlap. 

Separately, following the approval of the Xisha and Nansha districts, China’s Natural Resources Ministry and Civil Affairs Ministry released names for some 80 geographical features in the South China Sea, many of which are underwater at high tide (and therefore legally distinct from rocks and islands, which receive certain maritime entitlements under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). 

The End of Grand Strategy America Must Think Small

By Daniel W. Drezner, Ronald R. Krebs, and Randall Schweller

Whatever else U.S. President Donald Trump has done in the field of international relations, he can claim one signal accomplishment: making grand strategy interesting again. For decades, American foreign policy elites in both parties embraced liberal internationalism, the idea that Washington should sustain and expand a global order that promoted open markets, open polities, and multilateral institutions. But Trump has repeatedly attacked the key pillars of liberal internationalism, from questioning the value of nato to blowing up trade agreements to insulting allies. When, in July 2017, his national security team met with him in a windowless Pentagon meeting room known as “the Tank” to educate him about the virtues of the liberal international order, Trump blasted them as “a bunch of dopes and babies,” according to The Washington Post. 

Trump’s disruptions have forced foreign policy analysts to question first principles for the first time in decades. With bedrock assumptions about liberal internationalism dislodged, the debate over U.S. grand strategy has experienced a renaissance. New voices have entered the fray, ranging from far-left progressives to populist nationalists on the right. Advocates of retrenchment and restraint have received a fuller hearing, and unusual alliances have formed to advance common agendas.

A Return To Normalcy?

John H. Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, H. R. McMaster, Bill Whalen

The question on everyone’s mind: when will society revert to its pre-coronavirus existence, and is such a restoration remotely possible? Hoover senior fellows John Cochrane, Niall Ferguson, and H. R. McMaster reflect on the various factors—economic policies, governments restoring civil liberties, nations working in tandem, the search for a COVID-19 vaccine—that will lead to the “new normal.”

South Korea Offers a Lesson in Best Practices

By Victor Cha
When it comes to the novel coronavirus, South Korea has taken tracing to a new level. When passengers deplane at Incheon International Airport near Seoul, they pass through mandatory temperature checks and are required to download the health ministry’s self-diagnosis app. Once at their destinations, they must use the app every day to self-report any symptoms of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The movements of those who test positive are tracked, and other people in their vicinity receive social-distancing alerts on their phones.

Most Americans would chafe at this type of Big Brother surveillance as contrary to the values of freedom and privacy, even in these disruptive times. To compare South Korea’s infection numbers with those of the United States, however, is to wonder whether combating the virus and reopening the economy could require temporarily eschewing those values in favor of invasive policies.

The United States and South Korea confirmed their first cases of COVID-19 within a day of each other, but since then, the United States has registered case numbers in six digits, whereas South Korea has barely cracked 10,000 and has witnessed a slowdown in the rate of infection. South Korea’s COVID-19 mortality rate is one-third that of the United States. And per capita, South Korea has tested three times as many citizens as the United States has—thanks in part to South Korean companies, which produce more than 350,000 test kits per day and plan to increase their output to one million.

USA vs Everybody? Why Foreign Policy Will Be a Backdrop to Domestic Policy in 2020

Bruce Stokes

Foreign policy has rarely been a preeminent issue in US presidential elections. But the world has often been a foil for American politicians seeking to demonstrate to voters their toughness, their anti-cosmopolitanism and their nationalism. In 2016 Donald Trump’s ‘Make America Great’ campaign followed that script. In 2020, his blaming of China for the coronavirus, his threat to defund the World Health Organization and his continued anti-trade, anti-immigrant, anti-NATO rhetoric are clear evidence that an appeal to ‘us against them’ sentiment, with Americans as victims of foreigners, will again be a backdrop to domestic policy debates during the campaign.

Everyone, everywhere, has a stake in the outcome of this electoral debate because the winner of the US presidential election will not only be America’s leader, but by extension, he will also be the leader of the world. So it is not too early to assess how American voters’ views of the world and the US role in it may influence their voting. For even in this time of total coronavirus pandemic preoccupation, the public’s reaction to the crisis provides telling insights into how foreign policy issues may play a role in the November voting in the US.

President Trump has used the health crisis to repeatedly attack others: labeling the disease a ‘Chinese virus’, threatening to pull out of the World Health Organization, peremptorily banning travel from Europe and attempting to block international trade in medical equipment.

What Does Russia Want From the United States?

By Dmitry Trenin
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The much-publicized “reset” was shorthand for the Barack Obama administration’s effort to push through the logjams that had built up in U.S.-Russia relations in the George W. Bush years, and harness that relationship to achieve Washington’s new objectives, mostly in Afghanistan and Iran. A reset, however, has also been a long-standing objective in Moscow’s own policy toward the United States.

When a major crisis occurs that affects both countries and indeed the world as a whole, the Kremlin seeks to reach out to the White House with the idea of joining forces to fight a common threat. 

This is what occurred immediately after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, when President Vladimir Putin not only expressed sympathy and solidarity with the American people, but also offered material support to the U.S. anti-terrorist operation in Afghanistan. It happened again in 2015, at a time when ISIS had overrun large chunks of Iraq and Syria and was threatening Baghdad and Damascus. Back then, Putin called for a broad anti-ISIS coalition. Even after that call was spurned by the United States, which already had put together an international posse of its own, Putin persevered and tried hard to turn Syria — where Russia was staging a military intervention— into a playground for Russia-U.S. diplomatic cooperation. The new coronavirus pandemic is just another opportunity that Moscow is using to engage Washington. 

The end of economic growth

By Sarmishta Subramanian
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What economies face now may not be solely a coronavirus-triggered meltdown. As devastating as the coming recession—or depression—is likely to be, the health crisis is exacerbating problems in a system that was already under strain.

In the past month, as the world grappled with the coronavirus, images circulated from the Great Influenza Pandemic of 1918: grainy black-and-white photographs of police in masks, hospitals with rows and rows of beds, Red Cross workers bearing stretchers. Then, as now, there was no vaccine. Schools, churches and bars closed, and quarantines were imposed. Then, as now, travel helped spread the virus globally (it was wartime); at least 50 million people died. And then, as now, economies were affected, though it’s difficult to calculate how much, as the Spanish flu began during the Great War, which had its own effects. The World Economic Forum estimates the outbreak reduced GDP per capita by six per cent.

One clear difference, though, is that the Spanish flu pandemic, as it’s known, did not arrive to a backdrop of anxiety about economic growth. That term came into more common use in the ensuing years; worry about inadequate growth was not the preoccupation it has been in the past decade.

Russia’s COVID-19 Measures Short-Change Its Economy

As the COVID-19 pandemic bites harder on Russia’s economy, Moscow’s reluctance to avert its vast financial reserves toward more stimulus spending will restrain its ability to fend off a cumulative economic crunch that triggers longer-term setbacks. In a televised address on April 14, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced additional or advanced support measures to help the country’s private sector weather the COVID-19 crisis. The support measures’ narrow scope, however, has failed to impress both the business community and economists. 

Indeed, most of the “new” measures Putin unveiled only represent the further implementation of prior announcements or the expansion of existing measures. But with more than a third of domestic companies already at risk of bankruptcy, Russia’s unwillingness to cough up the capital needed to keep its private sector afloat during the pandemic could come at the cost of a much longer and more painful recession. 

Limited Support Measures

Wage support: Putin announced that the government would provide direct financial support to small- and medium-sized businesses in the form of minimum wage salary payments. With Russia’s minimum wage set at 12,130 rubles ($162) per month, this measure falls significantly short of average wages in the country that are about $623. These funds will also only be available beginning May 18, leaving companies with a relatively long period to bridge before receiving the support. The total size of this package will limit its reach to only a fifth of Russians currently employed by small- and medium-sized enterprises as well.

Recession and Depression

By George Friedman 

A recession is an essential part of the business cycle. Among other things it culls the weaker businesses and redistributes capital and labor for better uses. It is painful but necessary and it ends as it began, as a function of a healthy economy.

Depressions are not economic events; they are the result of exogenous forces such as wars or disease. Depressions are not a necessary culling but a byproduct of the savage destruction of these external forces, which not only disrupt but destroy vast parts of humanity and decency, along with the economy. Therefore, the question of whether we are now in a depression or recession is not an academic question but the single most important question that humanity faces. We will recover from a recession. We will recover from a depression as well, but it will take much longer and involve far more pain.

Depressions are economic events not created by economic forces. Therefore, measuring the depth of a depression by economic measures alone is insufficient. The measure of a depression is the extent to which it will destroy the hopes and dreams of a generation, making what had been in easy reach inconceivably far away, and taking successful people and reducing them to penury. Like many things, the face of depression is readily recognized even if it is difficult to quantify. Among other things, if for example an economy were to contract by 30 percent, recovering from that by, say, a 4 percent growth rate would not be a triumph but a confirmation that we would be beginning to climb out of depression.

Nationalizing Supply Chains Is the Wrong Response to COVID-19

Kimberly Ann Elliott 

President Donald Trump’s aggressive unilateralism on trade appears to be driven by his belief that making imported goods more expensive will lead multinational companies—foreign and domestic, but especially American—to relocate production facilities to the United States. There is nascent evidence that Trump’s trade war with China has caused some reshuffling of supply chains, but mainly to other parts of Asia, not to America. Now, though, some trade hawks in the administration appear to view the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to encourage firms to move their supply chains to the U.S., no matter the cost.

The Trump administration is not the only government looking to reduce reliance on imports of critical medical equipment and supplies. French President Emmanuel Macron recently expressed sympathy for the idea, and his finance minister, Bruno Le Maire, has reportedly directed French companies to review their supply chains and suggested that they diversify away from China and the rest of Asia. But the European Union has authority over trade policy for its members, and the bloc’s director-general for trade, Sabine Weyand, recently expressed skepticism that any country—even a whole continent—could achieve self-sufficiency in these or other products.

Has Netanyahu’s End Finally Come? How Bibi Lost His Grip on Israeli Politics

By Aluf Benn
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Next March, Israelis will head to the polls for the third time in less than a year, and, once again, the vote will amount to a referendum on the rule of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu may now be in the final act of his political career: the Magician, as Israelis used to call their longest-serving prime minister, has lost his erstwhile grip on the political system, having failed twice to form a coalition following last year’s elections. But that Netanyahu is holding on at all, even as he faces indictment on several corruption charges, is remarkable—and a testament to just how much he has transformed Israel’s democracy. 

The vote in March will be the country’s third attempt in a row to form a stable government after two consecutive elections in April and September ended in deadlock. Netanyahu’s centrist challenger, Benny Gantz, came close to forming a majority last time around, and next time he may be in a stronger position still. Even so, Netanyahu is using his endless supply of spins and tricks to lead the news cycle, rally his right-wing base, and keep his opponents nervous. If he does fall—by indictment, through a primary challenge, or at the hands of Gantz—Israel will need some time to recover from his divisive tenure. 


FAQ: A Shale New Deal

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This is a guest post by Hunter Kornfeind, intern for Energy and Climate Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations.

A breakthrough agreement between major oil producers and the G-20 has ended the oil price war that began with a conflict between Saudi Arabia and Russia on how to respond to a sharp collapse in global oil demand following the wide spread of the coronavirus global pandemic. The deliberations, highly influenced by diplomatic intervention from the Donald J. Trump administration, brought to the fore questions about how the United States can contribute to a global oil deal to stabilize markets by curtailing U.S. oil production or exports. There is virtually no oil production under the direct control of the U.S. federal government. The U.S. Naval Petroleum Reserve, which was established in 1912 to provide the U.S. Navy with an assured source of oil, was disbanded starting in the mid-1990s amid changing markets. To support the broader global oil stabilization program, the Trump administration has said it will lease the 77 million barrels of storage space left in the U.S. strategic petroleum reserve as a means to reduce the rising surplus of U.S. oil production, in effect taking some U.S. oil production off the market and putting it into storage to supplement market-related cutbacks that have already been announced by private U.S. companies. 

This backgrounder of frequently asked questions explains how much oil is produced in the United States, what percentage comes from fracking activities in the U.S. shale, and the outlook for U.S. oil production going forward in light of the latest global oil producer deal, and volatile oil prices. This brief also includes some discussion on how the U.S. Presidential election might influence U.S. oil drilling and production going forward. 

How much oil does the U.S. produce? 

COVID–19 Is a Test for Climate Migration and the World Is Failing

By Pierfilippo M. Natta and Adam Weinstein

The loss of life and economic chaos wrought by COVID-19 serves as a forewarning for how the world might cope with mass migration as a result of climate change. The inevitable emergence of climate migration poses a great risk to many nations, and, now more than ever, governments and international institutions must begin contingency planning. 

The world’s failure to effectively react to a rapidly spreading virus offers a grim outlook for its ability to collectively prepare for climate migration, but the consequences of inaction have never been clearer. The distinction between COVID-19 and climate change is that flattening the curve for the latter will require decades of consistent action rather than mere weeks. 

The economic chaos and rising death toll of COVID-19 highlights the need for stagnant national security agendas to prioritize outbreaks of disease, climate change, and mass migration. However, even as the world hit 1 million COVID-19 infections, prominent voices in the U.S. national security community remained focused on other threats. 

As Challenges Mount, Can Europe Correct Its Course?

The liberal European order that emerged after World War II and spread after the collapse of the Soviet Union is now under attack from both within and without. The European Union—the ultimate expression of the European project—has become a convenient punching bag for opportunistic politicians in many of its member countries, as anti-EU sentiment has become part of the broader populist platform of protectionism and opposition to immigration. The EU still managed to withstand its latest challenge when the gains made by populist parties in last year’s European Parliamentary elections fell short of expectations.

Nevertheless, Britain’s withdrawal from the union, known as Brexit, has now become official, and there is no way of knowing whether the populist wave has crested. Illiberal governments hold power in Hungary and Poland, and a far-right party was part of a coalition government in Austria until its recent collapse. Centrist leaders seem unable to come up with a response to immigration that doesn’t alienate more voters than it unites. And now the coronavirus pandemic has further highlighted the EU’s difficulty in providing effective collective responses to a crisis that, at least initially, saw each member state looking out for itself.

Smart Weapons Need to Be Smarter

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No missiles should shoot down civilian airliners by mistake.

In January, an Iranian gunner, using Russian equipment, fired surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) at a Ukrainian passenger airliner, killing 176 people. When the airliner was shot down near Tehran, tensions were high. Iran had struck an American base in response to the U.S. killing of the Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. Nervous Iranian anti-aircraft crews expected retaliation, and the gunner in question likely thought he was shooting down a military target.

The incident marked the fourth time a radar-guided SAM destroyed a civilian airliner by mistake. Such accidents have already killed 842 people, and as SAMs proliferate, further tragedies may be in store. These so-called smart weapons aren’t smart enough. But with some relatively straightforward changes, the fourth accidental shoot-down of a passenger jet could also be the last.

How COVID-19 Could Permanently Transform the U.S. Military

by Loren Thompson – Forbes

When I first got into the defense business 30 years ago, I would often hail a taxi on the streets of Washington, ride it into the bowels of the Pentagon, and then walk into the building unchallenged. No badge required.

The rise of global terrorism changed all that. After 9/11, the Pentagon became an armed fortress—which it remains today. If I tried to enter the building today the way I did in the old days, I would be gunned down by guards wielding automatic weapons.

Although terrorism now seems to be in retreat around the world, chances are that strangers will never again be able to walk into the Pentagon unchallenged—or any other federal building for that matter.

When it comes to building security, there is a new normal…