26 April 2020


Ravi Bhoothalingam, Founder Chairman, Manas Advisory; Treasurer and Honorary Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi

Aditya Valiathan Pillai, Senior Researcher, Initiative for Climate, Energy and Environment, Centre for Policy Research, Delhi

P.S. Raghavan, Chairman of India's National Security Advisory Board, Delhi

Zorawar Daulet Singh, Adjunct Fellow, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi; Founder, The Northcap University, Gurgaon

Aleksandr Dugin, philosopher and political analyst, Moscow

The Case for Maintaining an Advisory Presence in Afghanistan

Scott C. Buchanan


Barring an unforeseen event or shift in policy, it seems likely that by May 2021, the United States will remove its military forces from Afghanistan. Despite claims of progress, the United States and its allies have undeniably made many mistakes over the past two decades. Some commentators have argued that Afghanistan has been an “undeniable failure.” While many commentators and policymakers have focused on getting out of Afghanistan, the past shows the potentially devastating consequences such actions could bring. Instead, the United States and its NATO allies should consider leaving a small presence of advisors to support institutional development at the ministries and institutions.

The United States has maintained a presence in Afghanistan since the terrorist attacks on Washington D.C. and New York in 2001. The presence focuses on the defeat of terrorist threats directed at the United States or its interests through counterterrorism and the elimination of safe havens. Counterterrorism is generally conducted in one of two ways: either through direct U.S. or coalition action against terrorist threats, or with, by, and through proxy forces. On the other hand, the elimination of safe havens is most effective when strong governance institutions can exercise legitimate rule of law and the government can wield its law enforcement tools. If the United States wants to continue to influence the Afghan government, as Joe Felter recently asked, how can the international community pull out of Afghanistan without “pulling the rug out” from under the Afghans?

The Infection That’s Silently Killing Coronavirus Patients

By Richard Levitan

A pulse oximeter can provide early warning of the kinds of breathing problems associated with Covid-19 pneumonia.Credit...Giorgos Moutafis/Reuters

I have been practicing emergency medicine for 30 years. In 1994 I invented an imaging system for teaching intubation, the procedure of inserting breathing tubes. This led me to perform research into this procedure, and subsequently teach airway procedure courses to physicians worldwide for the last two decades.

So at the end of March, as a crush of Covid-19 patients began overwhelming hospitals in New York City, I volunteered to spend 10 days at Bellevue, helping at the hospital where I trained. Over those days, I realized that we are not detecting the deadly pneumonia the virus causes early enough and that we could be doing more to keep patients off ventilators — and alive.

On the long drive to New York from my home in New Hampshire, I called my friend Nick Caputo, an emergency physician in the Bronx, who was already in the thick of it. I wanted to know what I was facing, how to stay safe and about his insights into airway management with this disease. “Rich,” he said, “it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

Analytics, Risk and Managing the 21st Century Supply Chain

As the COVID-19 pandemic is making painfully clear, several challenges are associated with providing caregivers with basic tools and remedies. Hospitals and health centers around the world are struggling to keep pace with the surge in demand for test kits, basic medical supplies, personal protective equipment and life-saving drugs in an effort to satisfy existing demand and prepare for the expected increase in cases related to the coronavirus outbreak. It is difficult to predict when, where and how these outbreaks may occur and spread.

What we can do is be better prepared for when these episodes arise. This can help reduce risk and disruption by combining several analytics-based tools that are now becoming commonplace in supply chain discussions: blockchain and location intelligence, according to Michael Ferrari and Raghu Iyengar, co-authors of this opinion piece. Ferrari is the global head of climate and agronomic decision sciences at Syngenta and a senior fellow at Wharton. Iyengar is a professor of marketing at Wharton and faculty director of Wharton Customer Analytics.

The business of moving goods from their point of origin to their destination anywhere on Earth is no small task, and the risks seem to be growing. As the COVID-19 pandemic is making painfully clear, in this time of crisis, several challenges are associated with providing caregivers with basic tools and remedies, which we all take for granted. Hospitals and health centers around the world are struggling to keep pace with the surge in demand for test kits, basic medical supplies, personal protective equipment and life-saving drugs in an effort to satisfy existing demand and prepare for the expected increase in cases in the coming weeks and months related to the coronavirus outbreak. It is certainly difficult to predict when, where and how these outbreaks may occur and spread. What we can do is be better prepared for when these episodes arise and lessen the risk and disruption by combining several analytics-based tools that are now just becoming commonplace in supply chain discussions: blockchain and location intelligence.

China-U.S. Relations in the Era of COVID-19: What Lies Ahead?

The China-U.S. “Phase One” trade deal now feels like ancient history. How will the relationship between the world’s two most powerful countries change in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic? In this opinion piece, Wharton dean Geoffrey Garrett offers predictions for 2020, 2021, 2022 and beyond.

It feels like ancient history now but it was only three months ago that China and the United States signed a “Phase One” trade deal and declared a cease fire to their 18-month trade war. Back then, this conflict was the biggest threat to the global economy.

Now, the new coronavirus is changing and challenging literally everything. The China-U.S. relationship — arguably the most important bilateral relationship in history between the world’s biggest and most powerful countries — is no exception.

Here are my predictions about those changes, from right now to how the world will look when we are on the other side of the crisis.

The Very Short Term (Now Through the Second Half of 2020) – Name calling, but no new crises.

Why Your Age and Sex Matter If You Get the Coronavirus

by Jeremy Rossman

The fatality rate for the disease is estimated to be 0.66%, according to data from China. In other words, 0.66% of people who are formally diagnosed with COVID-19, die. But the rate varies dramatically for different age groups, ranging from 0.0016% for children under ten to 7.8% in people over 79. Similar rates are seen in New York city.

The graph below shows the increasing fatality rate for increasingly older populations.

Dealing with China After COVID-19


LONDON – With the coronavirus continuing its brutal global rampage, it takes a particular sort of malign genius to put the United States in the political dock as the death toll mounts and economic devastation spreads. Yet, that is what President Donald Trump is doing.

But first things first. In every country, medical workers and support staff have been on the front line fighting the pandemic on behalf of the rest of us. Beginning with the brave Chinese doctors and nurses who risked their lives and were muzzled by local political bosses when they tried to sound the alarm, we have seen similar examples of professional courage everywhere. And we should also salute those who try to keep normal life going by providing our food, operating our public transport, and cleaning our streets.

In the midst of a fire, it makes no sense to point fingers at the principal arsonist. The top priority must be getting the hoses to work and extinguishing the fire. But knowing how the COVID-19 pandemic started is central to learning how to prevent similar disasters in the future.1

First, the outbreak began (like SARS in 2002) in China, probably in a so-called wet market in Wuhan, although some have pointed to allegedly lax biosecurity at a nearby virology research center. (Although these suspicions have been widely debunked, they have been given greater credibility in some people’s eyes by the systematic destruction of the published outcomes of the research undertaken there and elsewhere in China.)

Are Imran Khan’s Days as Pakistan’s Prime Minister Numbered?

By Daud Khattak

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is under criticism from the media for what is being called his government’s failure to make visible progress on the economic and political fronts as well as decisively confront the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Khan was once Pakistan’s most popular man and believed to be a messiah, able to steer the country out of myriad problems ranging from economic mismanagement to corruption, terrorism, and a darkened international image. While in the opposition, Khan spoke from a very high moral pedestal; now it seems his idealism raised expectations beyond his capacity. 

His government’s performance during the past 20 months has not only disenchanted many of his diehard supporters in the media and his voters, particularly among the middle class and the youth, but also to some extent alienated the decision makers in the military, Pakistan’s most powerful institution, which is always seen as a silent and invisible actor in throning and de-throning leaders and governments in Pakistan. 

COVID-19 and Khan Government’s Response 

On April 13, while hearing a suo moto case, Pakistan’s Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed remarked that “there is no betterment in the federal government’s performance to deal with the outbreak.” 

COVID-19, Africans’ hardships in China, and the future of Africa-China relations

Yun Sun

In the midst of the global scramble to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, relations have ruptured at a most unexpected front—between China and Africa. Since April 8, reports and social media discussions about the eviction and maltreatment of Africans in the Chinese city of Guangzhou have gone viral, leading to a series of formal and official diplomatic protests from the African Union and African countries toward China. Never before had the two sides had such a critical, high-profile, and widespread clash of positions, let alone allowed it to erupt in front of the public. Given China’s relentless efforts to consolidate ties and enhance engagement with Africa (including sending medical equipment and doctors to the continent during this crisis), this racism and discrimination against African migrants and residents is both shocking to the world and damaging for China’s policy agenda.


The discrimination and maltreatment the African nationals have suffered are the direct result of the rising pressure from the imported cases of COVID-19 faced by the authorities of Guangzhou. On March 28, China officially imposed an entry ban on all foreign nationals with visas or residence permits in an attempt to curb the rising number of imported cases after the country managed to control the domestic infection. As a part of these measures, Chinese airlines are only allowed to operate one route per week to any specific country, primarily to bring back overseas Chinese who wish to return.

Iran And Syria Are Helpless Against Israel's Suicide Drones

by Sebastien Roblin

Here's What You Need To Remember: In the coming months, Syria may eventually activate long-range S-300 surface-to-air missiles systems which may impose additional risks and costs on Israeli strikes.

On January 21, 2019. Iranian, Syrian and Israeli forces unleashed a hail of missiles upon each other in what is becoming yet another flare-up of violence along the Syria-Israel border. Afterwards, the Israeli Defense Force released a video depicting unidentified munitions eliminating two or three short-range air defense systems—apparently including Russia’s latest short-range system, the Pantsir-S2.

In fact, the recent raids may reveal improvements to Syria’s air defense forces due to ongoing Russian training and weapons transfers. However, they also reveal Israel’s continuing ability to defeat, including through likely use of kamikaze-drones.

The succession of tit-for-tat attacks apparently began with the launch of a Fateh 110 short-range ballistic missile by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, targeting an Israeli ski-resort on Mount Hebron in the Golan Heights. As the solid-fuel rocket blazed towards to the snowy mountain, it was intercepted and destroyed by two missiles from the Israel Iron Dome air defense system, as you can see in this video.

The World and the Middle East in 2021: Four Scenarios

What will the world look like one year from now, and how will the corona pandemic affect the Middle East? This article presents four possible scenarios: “continuation,” in which following a temporary interruption of a few months, there is a resumption of familiar global and regional trends from the pre-corona era; “revolution,” in which there is a fundamental change in the patterns that characterized life before the crisis and the world prepares for a new illiberal world order led by China; “breakdown,” in which all global actors emerge wounded from the crisis and the fragile structure of the international system collapses into chaos, expressed inter alia by new waves of upheaval in the Middle East; and “reconstruction,” in which the United States regains its initiative and resumes an international effort to repair the liberal world order and solve burning conflicts. This is not an attempt to predict the future, but a planning tool that can help us think about and prepare for the future. Each of these scenarios poses serious challenges for Israel that require deliberation, monitoring, and preparation.

Over the last few weeks, analysts, commentators, and practitioners have debated the global consequences of the coronavirus. While there are divergent views, in most cases the crisis is described as a seminal event of historic proportions that will materially change the world we live in. In this it resembles previous pandemics, world wars, global economic crises, and other significant historic events. Along with the sweeping agreement on this aspect, there are a number of crucial opposing contentions, such as, will the pandemic create new historic trends, or will it accelerate existing trends? And of course, what will be the image of the new world order shaped by the effects of the coronavirus?

How to reduce emissions as much as possible at the lowest cost

Melanie Gilarsky, Kriston McIntosh, and Jay Shambaugh

The 50th anniversary of Earth Day this year presents a unique opportunity to envision a future where dramatic reductions in pollution across the globe are the status quo. Efforts to mitigate the horrific global health crisis caused by COVID-19 have caused a significant decline in emissions and other pollutants. But, obviously, we need a better solution to emissions reductions than stopping the economy.

This moment presents the opportunity to reexamine what types of policy and regulatory changes are needed to ensure the reductions in air pollution and emissions are necessary for the health of the economy.

An economy-wide price on carbon offers a cost-effective strategy to achieve emissions reductions. A carbon price discourages carbon pollution by making polluters pay for the emissions they generate. Yet several important policy questions will likely remain, even when a carbon price is eventually implemented. In particular, we need to understand how a carbon price should interact with existing environmental regulations.

How Trump Misrepresents the WHO’s Coronavirus Response

Clare Wenham 

President Donald Trump justified his recent announcement that the U.S. would halt further payments to the World Health Organization by claiming that “the WHO failed to adequately obtain, vet and share information in a timely and transparent fashion” about the coronavirus pandemic. This charge has been widely rebutted by global health experts and practitioners. WHO representatives, journalists and academics have all demonstrated that the organization was doing what it could through diplomatic channels with Beijing to get updated information about the novel coronavirus that first emerged in central China and has since spread around the world. Contrary to Trump’s accusations, the WHO took early and forceful actions to warn governments of the threat from the virus.

It remains uncertain whether Chinese authorities were fully transparent in sharing information during the early stages of the outbreak in Wuhan. While there is evidence to suggest that official Chinese data on the pandemic should be viewed with skepticism, international criticism of Beijing’s response may be partly colored by long-standing suspicions based on China’s opaque responses to previous outbreaks, such as SARS. Yet Trump’s criticism of the WHO for being overly deferential to China seems at odds with many of his statements—for example, his tweet in late January that, “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency.” .

Addressing climate change in a post-pandemic worldApril 2020 | Article

By Dickon Pinner, Matt Rogers, and Hamid Samandari
Source Link

The coronavirus crisis holds profound lessons that can help us address climate change—if we make greater economic and environmental resiliency core to our planning for the recovery ahead.

Aferocious pandemic is sweeping the globe, threatening lives and livelihoods at an alarming rate. As infection and death rates continue to rise, resident movement is restricted, economic activity is curtailed, governments resort to extraordinary measures, and individuals and corporations scramble to adjust. In the blink of an eye, the coronavirus has upended the world’s operating assumptions. Now, all attention is focused on countering this new and extreme threat, and on blunting the force of the major recession that is likely to follow.

Amid this dislocation, it is easy to forget that just a few short months ago, the debate about climate change, the socioeconomic impacts it gives rise to, and the collective response it calls for were gaining momentum. Sustainability, indeed, was rising on the agenda of many public- and private-sector leaders—before the unsustainable, suddenly, became impossible to avoid.

Will Trump Really Ban All Legal Immigration?

by Jacob Heilbrunn 

President Donald Trump announced last night that he will issue an executive order closing off legal immigration to America. He tweeted, "In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!" But what his announcement actually means in practice is unclear—and it directly contradicts his upbeat message that the coronavirus crisis will soon be over and shown to be no big deal.

What would be the effect of an executive order? So far, the White House has not commented. Legal immigration has already been mostly suspended. There are no citizenship ceremonies taking place and visa offices are shuttered. Trump could target holders of green cards and H-1B visas. This would deliver a real blow to Silicon Valley which relies on engineers from China and India. Immigrants also constitute almost a third of doctors and surgeons in America, according to Vox. What a total ban would imply for farmworkers is also an open question. Previously, Trump had championed agricultural visas. He stated in early April, “We want them to come in. We're not closing the border so that we can’t get any of those people to come in. They've been there for years and years, and I've given the commitment to the farmers: They're going to continue to come. Or we‘re not going to have any farmers.” He will be challenged on what’s changed in the past week.

The EU Should Issue Perpetual Bonds

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The disruption in the European Union caused by the COVID-19 pandemic should be temporary, but only if EU leaders take the extraordinary measures needed to avoid long-term damage. Fortunately, there is an easy, fast and low-cost way to finance the proposed €1 trillion European Recovery Fund.

NEW YORK – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced that Europe will need about €1 trillion ($1.1 trillion) to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This money could be used to establish a European Recovery Fund. But where will the money come from?

I propose that the European Union should raise the money needed for the Recovery Fund by selling “perpetual bonds,” on which the principal does not have to be repaid (although they can be repurchased or redeemed at the issuer’s discretion). Authorizing this issue should be the first priority for the forthcoming European Council summit on April 23.

It would, of course, be unprecedented for the EU to issue perpetual bonds, especially in such a large amount. But other governments have relied on perpetual bonds in the past. The best-known example is Britain, which used consolidated bonds (Consols) to finance the Napoleonic Wars and war bonds to finance World War I. These bond issues were traded in London until 2015, when both were redeemed. In the 1870s, the US Congress authorized the Treasury to issue Consols to consolidate already existing bonds, and they were issued in subsequent years.

The Privacy Factor in Ending the Lockdown

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – How, precisely, will we end the period of confinement that has stifled entire economies and left more than one billion people sheltering in place? Some have suggested a selective approach, whereby younger, less vulnerable cohorts would be ushered back to work before others. But dire warnings from epidemiologists about the inevitable health consequences have since eroded support for this strategy in most quarters.

Now, the only generally accepted solution is a gradual relaxation of restrictions, enabled by mass-scale testing, tracking, and contact tracing to identify all those with whom an infected person has interacted. And, because it is not feasible to test 100% of the population, the ultimate solution lies in making track-and-trace systems work. 

The only realistic way to track and trace at the necessary scale is to use the geolocational data provided by cellphones. In this approach, a “contact” occurs whenever two people’s devices – namely, their Bluetooth signals – come into close proximity for a certain period of time. Several systems for identifying such interactions have already been proposed or even deployed. Singapore has relied on its TraceTogether initiative, Google and Apple recently joined forces to design a voluntary contact-tracing app, and a broad consortium in Europe has launched the Pan-European Privacy Preserving Proximity Tracing (PEPP-PT) project.


by Fortuna's Corner

I have been writing for over five years now on this blog that the European Union (EU) was in a slow-motion death dance to the dustbin of history. The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the ‘unity’ piece of the EU as an empty pledge without substance. As Tyler Druden wrote on his blog, ZeroHedge this morning, April 20, 2020, “the EU objective was to be an ‘even closer union;’ but now, if the EU does not show solidarity and strength at a time of global crisis — then what is the EU’s purpose?” Actually, one of the real reasons for the EU’s founding was bullt on the hopes of preventing WWIII. With two world wars having their origin on the continent, the leaders of Europe hoped that by stitching 27 countries together into some kind of union, then perhaps they could avoid WWIII. But the coronavirus pandemic has exposed this one for all philosophy as a fraud. “Europe,” said the former EU Commission Chief and an EU founder, Jacque Delors, “is in mortal danger.” For Mr. Druden’s full article, I refer you to ZeroHedge.com

As Mr. Druden notes, “the truth is, there is no “Union.” “There is a conglomerate of European states trying to take advantage of some of the rules called “the union.” “The coronavirus has now put the EU and its comfort zone, face-to-face with all its weakness [warts], decadance, and cowardice.”

“In the face of Italy’s pandemic catastrophe,” Mr. Druden wrote, “the European Union showed only impotence and indifference.” European Commission President Ursala von der Leyen even “apologized” for the EU’s stiffarn to Italy, acknowledging the EU had failed to respond well to the COVID-19 pandemic,” in an understatement — which likely was way too late, and fell on deaf ears.

Despite Advances in Women’s Rights, Gender Equality Lags Around the World

Despite progress in codifying women’s rights into law, advances in gender equality around the world have been halting, at best. This, despite the additional attention that the #MeToo movement has brought to incidents of sexual assault and harassment in parts of the Global North.

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa made news in mid-2019 when he appointed a Cabinet that included as many women as men. Later the same year, the European Commission also achieved the European Union’s self-imposed goal of gender parity. The thinking behind gender parity in government is that with greater levels of representation, women policymakers and legislators will pay more attention to issues that are often ignored by men, like gender-based violence or inheritance laws that discriminate against women. Quotas are not a panacea, though. Even with increased representation, policymakers must figure out how to translate high-level policy changes to transformation on the ground, so that removing restrictions on education, for instance, actually translates into improved rates of girls and young women attending school.

In places like Rwanda, which also has gender quotas for political representation, the increase in political gains has not necessarily translated to social advances. Efforts to promote gender equality have not fostered an understanding of its importance, particularly among men.

Agriculture After the Pandemic


PRETORIA – As the COVID-19 pandemic forces countries to close their borders, their agricultural sectors are confronting major challenges. Even in countries that are unlikely to face food insecurity – such as those in Europe and North America – farms are facing severe labor shortages, owing to new barriers that keep low-cost workers out. And the impact of the disruption on the supply of workers is likely to spur permanent shifts within the sector after the pandemic ends.

The risks inherent in depending on foreign seasonal workers have materialized in several European countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, which depend on labor from Eastern Europe. Between border closures and fears of sickness and quarantine, those workers are not coming this season, and many Western European crops are set to rot in the fields.

In parts of the United States, fears about agricultural-labor shortages were mounting even before the COVID-19 crisis. Americans do not want to work in the fields, so farmers depend largely on seasonal Mexican migrant workers. Participants in the H-2A visa program – covering those who have been hired to fill agriculture jobs lasting less than one year – comprise 10% of all farmworkers in the US.

4G vs. 5G: We Explain the Difference and Why You Need to Care

by Ethen Kim Lieser
Latency – the time it takes for devices to communicate with each other or with the server that’s imparting information – was already pretty low with 4G, but 5G will basically make it disappear. This development is great news for new tech forays into remote real-time gaming and self-driving cars, as the communication needs to be instantaneous for hiccup-free gameplay and to guarantee the safety of passengers.

Although there has been much media coverage regarding 5G’s health-related dangers and conspiracy-driven connection to the coronavirus, many people are still in the dark about what the 5G network can bring to the everyday internet user.

To put it simply, there are three main differences between 4G and 5G: faster speeds, higher bandwidth and lower latency.

Several major U.S. cities already have this next-gen network, but the areas that receive signals that surpass gigabit-level speeds (can approach 15 or 20 Gbps) are still limited. Because many revolutionary innovations will be built on top of 5G, many developed countries are indeed competing to be the first to roll out a fully functional nationwide network.

Study on the Use of Reserve Forces in Military Cybersecurity

In this report, Marie Baezner looks at the structure, organization, development, and challenges of reserve forces in military cybersecurity in Estonia, Finland, France, Israel, Switzerland and the US. Baezner finds that while all of these countries are developing cyber units based on their reserve forces, this remains a work in progress. Furthermore, the contextually dependent way these forces are used means it is difficult for countries to replicate each other’s reserve models. Nevertheless, Baezner contends that cyber reserves are a way for armed forces to close the workforce gap for in cybersecurity.



Sudais Asif posted an April 18, 2020 article to the cyber security and technology blog/website, HackRead, with the title above. As Mr. Asif explains, the original intent of the Dark Web was to give individuals an opportunity to hide their online activities from autocratic governnments intent on surveilling their every digital move. But, as with almost anything else, the darker digital angles of our nature saw an opportunity to conduct illicit online activities — ranging from drug and weapons transactions, selling personal data from governments, corporations and individuals, trafficking in child pornography, and even hiring a hitman.

“Concerning the general perception surrounding it, the vast majority believe that stolen data through breached data bases and drugs are what make up the bulk of these [illicit] items,” Mr. Asif wrote. “The truth, however, is far from it,” he added.

To understand the leading online illicit items Mr. Asif wrote, “Terbium Labs — a digital risk protection company — analyzed “three leading [Dark Web] marketplaces (see link ar top of page) comprising of the ‘Canadian HeadQuarters,’ ‘Empire Market,’ and the ‘White House Market.’ And, they found:

1) Fraudulent how-to guides, which include tutorials on performing malicious activities, were the most sold item on the dark web at 49 percent of all sales. “An example.” Mr. Asif noted, would be a query on “How to open a fraudulent account at a financial institution? These listings had an average price of $7.88;”


However, a study by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment makes the case that non-stealth surveillance drones could be useful before any shots get fired by providing persistent surveillance of global hot spots as part of a concept dubbed “Deterrence by Detection.” Systematic surveillance could render non-viable underhanded “gray zone” actions reliant on plausible deniability and/or surprise such as Russia’s seizure of the Crimean peninsula, and China’s construction of military bases on disputed islands in the western Pacific.

RQ-4 Global Hawk flying environmental mapping missions in Latin America, Caribbean. The Air Force … [+] plans to retire 24 of its 35 Global Hawk drones in its 2021 defense budget.

U.S. Air Force/Bobbi ZapkaThe COVID-19 pandemic may have turned everyday life upside down for citizens across the globe, but the ensuing bad faith blame game has only served to stoke, rather than mitigate escalating political and military competition between the United States, China and Russia.

The Pentagon has been shifting focus to more lethal weapons and formations designed to battle hi-tech foes, while trimming away capabilities used to battle the likes of the Taliban or ISIS. One dramatic aspect of that shift are moves to downsize the U.S. military’s burgeoning fleets of long-range surveillance drones.

Inside the Wild Final Week of the Acting Navy Secretary


How it all fell apart for Thomas Modly in seven days that included a two-plane, 50-hour trip to chastise a fired skipper to his sailors aboard a COVID-stricken aircraft carrier.

New details about Thomas Modly’s whirlwind final week as acting Navy secretary shed light on how the service’s civilian leader chose to spend his time as a global pandemic sidelined an aircraft carrier on a high-profile deployment. And they show that not one but two VIP business jets were scrambled from the mid-Atlantic to Guam in the wake of Modly’s decisions to fire the captain of USS Theodore Roosevelt, then fly to the ship and denigrate the former skipper to his crew.

Modly decided to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of command on the morning of April 2, when there were about 100 known cases of COVID-19 among the Roosevelt’s 4,865-member crew. 

Three days had passed since Washington woke to news that Crozier had sent a memo begging Navy leaders for more urgent help finding isolation accommodations ashore in Guam for the vast majority of his sailors, arguing that keeping them aboard the crowded ship was an “unnecessary risk.” The commanding officer had emailed it to about a dozen people in and out of his chain of command, and the memo had made its way to the press. Modly deemed this “extremely poor judgement,” considering the assistance the CO was already getting, including phone calls from the acting secretary and his staff. The secretary had even offered to fly to Guam, an offer Crozier had declined as a distraction.