27 April 2020

India Plans Wristband Patient Surveillance as Lockdown Eases

By Aniruddha Ghosal

India said Wednesday that it plans to manufacture thousands of wristbands that will monitor the locations and temperatures of coronavirus patients and help perform contact tracing.

The wristband project aims to track quarantined patients and aid health workers and those delivering essential services. India is ramping up surveillance as it begins to ease one of the world’s strictest virus lockdowns.

It has 19,984 confirmed cases of coronavirus, including 640 deaths, and experts fear the epidemic’s peak could still be weeks away. Thousands of wristbands are expected to be deployed, but an exact figure has not been released.

The wristbands mirror a similar program in Hong Kong, where authorities used bands to monitor overseas travelers ordered to self-isolate.

Broadcast Engineering Consultants India, a government-owned company, will present wristband designs to hospitals and state governments next week and work with Indian start-ups to manufacture them.

India’s Indian Ocean Diplomacy in the COVID-19 Crisis

By Niranjan Marjani

The outbreak and spread of COVID-19 has created multiple challenges for the entire world. Apart from containing the spread of virus and treating infected patients, there are related political issues such as the blame game between the United States and China, the role of the World Health Organization (WHO), and questions about the future world order.

Amid this entire crisis, India has been playing an important role. India’s role could be considered at both the domestic level – the steps taken to tackle the crisis at home — and the diplomatic level — India’s assistance to other countries, especially in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), amid the pandemic.

India’s approach, including on the diplomatic front, has been proactive since the outbreak of the crisis. One of the first steps taken by India was to evacuate citizens of different countries along with its own citizens from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the first COVID-19 outbreak. Those evacuated as compassionate cases included citizens from IOR countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Maldives, South Africa, and Madagascar. India not only evacuated these people, but also quarantined them in India as a precautionary measure before sending them to their respective countries.

On the Taliban, Pakistan, and Islamic State: An Interview With the Former TTP Spokesman

By Kunwar Khuldune Shahid

A former spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban, who goes by the nom de guerre Ehsanullah Ehsan, is currently raising his voice against the alleged human rights abuses of the Pakistani state.

Ehsan, who escaped from the captivity of the Pakistani security agencies in February, has written letters to Prime Minister Imran Khan, along with global rights groups like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the International Red Crescent.

The former spokesman of terror outfits Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JA) alleges that the Pakistan Army has abducted his family members, including father and brothers, without following the “process of law.”

Ehsan, reiterating that he doesn’t “want any sympathy for myself,” urges the human rights groups to take note of what he maintains are illegal activities on the part of the Pakistani military.

COVID-19 and a New Direction for Asian Integration

By Mie Oba

Over the last 30 years of advancing globalization, the international community has for the most part looked favorably on the movement of people, goods, capital and information across national borders, and on the unfettered development of economic and social activities. It has encouraged the creation of systems and environments that facilitate these cross-border activities. As part of these ongoing efforts, regional integration has been promoted in several areas through economic partnership agreements and free trade agreements.

In Asia, several regional integration initiatives are underway. With these initiatives gathering momentum within ASEAN, the ASEAN Economic Community was established in 2015. ASEAN also concluded free trade agreements with six countries outside the bloc in the early 2000s. Based on these agreements, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership negotiations were launched, led by ASEAN, with the aim of regionally integrating East Asia. Meanwhile, the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations were underway for the economic integration of the Asia-Pacific region at large. In 2019, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership was enacted by 11 countries, although the withdrawal of the United States from the TPP in 2017 was an unexpected interruption.

Not Just Coronavirus: Here Are 10 Catastrophic Threats We Face

by Arnagretta Hunter John Hewson

Four months in, this year has already been a remarkable showcase for existential and catastrophic risk. A severe drought, devastating bushfires, hazardous smoke, towns running dry – these events all demonstrate the consequences of human-induced climate change.

While the above may seem like isolated threats, they are parts of a larger puzzle of which the pieces are all interconnected. A report titled Surviving and Thriving in the 21st Century, published today by the Commission for the Human Future, has isolated ten potentially catastrophic threats to human survival.

Not prioritised over one another, these risks are:

decline of natural resources, particularly water

Afghanistan’s Next War

One Wednesday in March, 11,627 people crossed the Iranian border into the Afghan province of Herat. A sea of young men formed outside an immigration center that could accommodate only 300 people at a time. Some carried backpacks, others large sacks overstuffed with their belongings. One carried a child’s bicycle, another a string instrument. One had just two blankets folded under his arm, another a canary in a cage. As the line slowly moved forward, some put down shawls to pray; others found rocks to rest on.

Most of the men were Afghans in their 20s. Their search for a better life in Iran had been abruptly thwarted by the corona­virus, returning them to a border that once took them days to cross in the other direction — squeezed into the beds of pickup trucks by smugglers who sped them through deserts at night, leaving some with bruises and others with broken body parts. The least fortunate were left in the desert to rot.

Now, as the men waited to be processed back into a war zone they had tried to escape, health care workers shouting through a megaphone instructed them in how to wash their hands. By the afternoon, the crowd grew impatient and started pushing and shoving to get into the offices where each person would be registered. The police, overwhelmed, responded with force, beating the returnees back into a line that wrapped around the building, zigzagged a couple of times and ended in a sprawling crowd.

Returnees waiting to register with the authorities at the Afghan border.

China’s military draws on 6G dream to modernise fighting forces and plan wartime scenarios

Kristin Huang

China launched its first 5G networks in November but its military is already looking ahead to even faster wireless technology. Photo: AFP

China has discussed using 6G telecommunication technology to modernise its fighting forces, even though the country has just begun implementing 

Observers said there remained questions around whether the 
People's Liberation Army (PLA) could shoulder such an ambitious and demanding transformation and how far the sixth-generation wireless technology could be adopted.

5 ways to protect critical digital connectivity during COVID-19

COVID-19 has dealt a shock to our world. Large swathes of the global population are living under some restrictions and enforced distancing. We are learning to live differently – to learn, socialize, shop, worship and collaborate differently. And we are doing all of this online.

The role of digital connectivity in our lives has grown over recent years, but never have we been so acutely aware of how critically we depend on it. From getting the latest information and health guidance, to supporting health services, adapting supply chains and sourcing equipment from across the globe – we depend on the ability to connect across distance.

However, we are also learning that we cannot take this connectivity for granted. Critical challenges require immediate action to ensure operational continuity and to ensure availability to the people who need it as the COVID19 wave continues across the globe.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the coronavirus outbreak?

The increased demands on our global networks have been dramatic. The use of both video-calling and streamed entertainment services have surged – Zoom has reported a 20-times growth in daily participants. Voice calls in some countries have tripled, and the use of communications apps have doubled.

China’s Hidden Crackdown in Tibet

By Kate Saunders

On April 1, government officials arrived at a remote rural monastery in Markham, Tibet, where local people were completing the construction of a small building in the temple compound to house around 16 monks. It was built of rammed earth in the traditional style using the collective labor of local people, unlike so many other new religious buildings in the area, which tend to be constructed from concrete by imported workers.

The officials told monks that the building was not allowed. The next day, April 2, police arrived with a bulldozer and razed it to the ground. When the abbot of the monastery appealed against the destruction, he was beaten, and he and two other monks were threatened with imprisonment.

Images prior to the demolition, sent from Tibet clandestinely and at great risk, depict local people singing as they work on the building housing 16 monks’ cells in a tiny monastery that clings to a steep, wooded hillside. Two red Chinese flags are displayed, compulsory for monasteries in Tibet, while Tibetan prayer flags flutter in the breeze beside them. Now the monastery is empty, as all the monks were compelled to leave.

How Could COVID-19 Reshape Asia’s Digital Landscape?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

While the global coronavirus continues to have significant macro-level political and economic impacts on the Asia-Pacific, it is also likely to affect key industries. Among the most notable ones is the digital domain, where COVID-19 could reshape interactions between various actors across several levels in the region.

At the outset, it is important to recognize that while the digital domain may have clear contours, it is often loosely used as a catch-all phrase for a series of developments, industries, and technologies across the region, be it the fourth industrial revolution, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, or e-commerce. It is also a source of both opportunities – including the digital economy or increased technological inclusion – as well as challenges such as the exploitation of digital tools by authoritarian governments and nefarious nonstate actors or the increased regulation of cross-border data flows.

Over the past few years, Asia’s digital landscape has continued to be powered by a series of broader, longer-term trends. These include Asia’s rising share within global economic output, a growing and more empowered Asian middle class, the continued regional battle between various political and economic models of governance, and rising geopolitical competition between the United States and China.

Kabul New City: Afghanistan’s Forgotten Development Dream

By Hakmatullah Hamidi

Kabul New City (KNC) was intended to be home for 3 million by 2040, one and a half times larger than the existing Afghan capital. KNC aimed to create more than a million jobs and provide a high-quality environment for key industries, education, employment, commerce, and a broad spectrum of other socioeconomic activities. Envisioned as “the city of the century” and “one of the most standard cities in the region,” this enormous development project was intended to attract mass domestic and foreign investments and contribute to the economic and social development of Afghanistan. Most importantly, the new city was planned to mitigate the urban challenges and problems of the existing Kabul city.

Almost a decade and a half after its initiation in 2006, very little progress has been made on this ambitious national mega-project. KNC is well behind schedule and it did not receive enough attention and support from the previous administration, the National Unity Government (NUG). On the other hand, the existing city of Kabul is struggling with a shortage of drinking water, insufficient basic infrastructure, pollution of all kinds, a housing crisis, and other challenges that are getting worse every day.

Iran Opens Up as Economic Woes Overshadow Virus Infection Fears

By Nasser Karimi

Iran on Monday began opening intercity highways and major shopping centers to stimulate its sanctions-choked economy, gambling that it has brought under control its coronavirus outbreak — one of the worst in the world — even as some fear it could lead to a second wave of infections.

Stores from high-end malls to the meandering alleyways of Tehran’s historic Grand Bazaar opened doors, though the government limited their working hours until 6 p.m. Restaurants, gyms, and other locations remain closed. 

There are still lingering questions over Iran’s outbreak and the safety of those returning to work. Taxi drivers partitioned their seats from the customers with plastic shields and wore masks, having seen colleagues sickened and killed by the virus and the COVID-19 illness it causes. 

“We, the taxi drivers, are at higher risk than anybody else because we are constantly in touch with people,” cab driver Nemat Hassanzadeh said. “We have no choice but to work because we cannot afford to sleep at home and not to work with these high prices.”

Is Russia Finally Ready To Give Up On Its Aircraft Carrier Dreams?

by James Holmes

Here's What You Need To Remember: Russian leaders are acutely concerned with restoring luster to the Russian Navy’s reputation, and thus obsessed with their luxury aircraft carrier. But it is far from uncommon for national leaders in any country to entangle national honor with weapon systems. The closest American analogy to the Kuznetsov would be deciding to extend the lifespan of the nuclear-powered flattop USS Nimitz into the indefinite future.

Fire aboard ship is never funny. Not to anyone who has served aboard ship and witnessed firsthand the perils of operating a metal box brimming with flammables and explosives amid the salty waste that is the sea. Even prospective foes deserve sympathy—not mockery. Back in December of last year, Russia Today reported that the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, Russia’s lone flattop, was ablaze at its berth in Murmansk while undergoing repair work. Six people were reportedly injured. Another is missing.

All good wishes to the Kuznetsov crew and shipyard workers.

Big Guns, Big Problems: Russia Is Outgunning The U.S. Army's Artillery

by Michael Peck

Here's What You Need To Remember: RAND warns that U.S. gunners will have to do something they haven’t done for a while: practice defending themselves against attack. American artillery batteries will be stalked by armed drones, attack helicopters, and strike aircraft. Russian tank crews are even practicing “carousel” tactics to break through enemy lines and hunt down hostile artillery.

The U.S. Army’s big guns have problems.

The Army’s field artillery is outgunned by Russian weapons. And, it would face difficulties in knocking out entrenched North Korean artillery, or mobile Iranian weapons.

That’s the conclusion of a report on U.S. Army artillery—or ground fires—capabilities by the think tank RAND Corporation, which examined an Army artillery arm that has suffered two decades of neglect since the Pentagon began focusing on counterinsurgency in the early 2000s. During that time, aircraft and helicopters replaced artillery as the main source for fire support during small-unit operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while highly trained gunners were relegated to infantry duties such as manning checkpoints.

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. 

Fault Lines and Prospects for European Solidarity

After tense negotiations, members of the Eurozone finally clinched an economic package on April 10 to tackle the fallout of the Covid-19 crisis, which will cut an estimated 7 to 8 percent from the European Union’s GDP. Despite the well-publicized acrimony among EU leaders and an all too vague statement about a future recovery fund, the package offers strong measures: €100 billion ($109 billion) in unemployment reinsurance, €200 billion ($217 billion) in loans for cash-strapped companies, and credit lines worth up to 2 percent of Eurozone members’ GDP (for a total of €240 billion or $260 billion) for health-care-related costs—without conditionality.

However, these measures were overshadowed by the debate around so-called “coronabonds,” a form of debt mutualization among Eurozone members. This debate is symptomatic of the lack of a proper fiscal union within the European Union and of successive crises with faulty institutional patch-ups. It is also a hangover from the 2011-2012 sovereign debt crisis, during which the debate among member states on whether to pool debt or reform struggling economies was never resolved.

This two-part commentary argues that the bloc will only exit the cycle of doomsday pronouncements over its future when member states show a genuine willingness to address the institutional and political shortcomings that have hampered effective economic action at the EU level. This first part of the series details the unstable ground upon which member states are making decisions today, which rests upon three main issues: fiscal, institutional, and political.

In a post-pandemic global economy, expect only the fittest to survive – and emerge stronger than ever

David A. Gantz and Bashar H. Malkawi
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Chairs sit stacked inside a closed cafe in Paris, France. Photo: Bloomberg

The pandemic is posing many challenges to governments, with millions affected and more than 160,000 dead. The world economy cannot significantly recover unless and until testing is widely available – so businesses can rehire those with immunity – and an effective  vaccine is widely available, though this is probably a year off at least.

In the short term, with locked-down businesses and  social distancing, economies are suffering major downturns. The impact will be severe, possibly into the medium term. Isolation measures are causing an enormous reduction in domestic demand in many countries, and a huge dip in savings.

Consumption of everything but the bare essentials will slow for at least several years. Many will have to borrow the maximum on their credit cards just to pay for food, clothing and shelter.

Once economies begin to recover, governments are expected to encourage domestic consumption. Manufacturing has fallen in many countries, with factories closed and workers furloughed. No economy is immune.

The Oil Inventory Challenge

Any optimism generated by the recent OPEC+ deal is fading in the face of an unprecedented demand shock. The OPEC+ group agreed to cut 9.7 million barrels per day from October 2018 levels in May and June (aside from Saudi Arabia and Russia, who will implement cuts from a baseline of 11 million barrels per day). Beyond that headline figure, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait aim to cut an additional 2.5 million barrels per day. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that non-OPEC supply could also drop by 3.5 million barrels per day in the coming months. The math is fuzzy, and oil ministers and heads of state have conflated the deal with voluntary pledges by some states and market-driven curtailments outside the OPEC countries. Compliance could also be a challenge, with many questions about whether Russia can deliver its planned cut of 2.5 million barrels per day.

Still, it is increasingly clear that oil demand is dropping too quickly for supply agreements to keep pace. The IEA anticipates a year-on-year decline of 23.1 million barrels per day in the second quarter and a 9.3 million barrels per day demand drop for the full year. Even a theoretical OPEC+ cut of 12 million barrels per day—based on 100 percent compliance with the deal as well as steeper declines pledged by Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, and Kuwait—plus sharp declines in the United States and elsewhere would not balance the market.

Eyes on the Other Global Crises

By Emily Estelle

The United States will wake up from its COVID-19 nightmare to renewed national security horrors if our leaders fail to take the right lesson from the pandemic: the best policy is one of early recognition and preemptive action.

While America focuses inward, international crises that predate the pandemic are getting worse, with negative implications for U.S. national security. In Syria, the pandemic is supercharging a catastrophic humanitarian situation, with Russia and Turkey at each other’s throats in the war-torn country. This sets up disaster scenarios for NATO. In Western Africa, COVID-19 threatens already fragile states, and extremists wait to exploit the chaos.

Our increasingly unsettled world is filled with local conflicts turned larger and discrete conflicts that are now merging. Look at Libya. Its war started as a revolution against longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi. NATO intervened to prevent slaughter, contributing to Gadhafi's fall. NATO stepped back, unwilling to risk entanglement to safeguard Libya’s transition, and others filled the vacuum. Libya now hosts many conflicts, including an intra-Middle Eastern struggle over power and Islamism, a competition for Mediterranean undersea resources, and Russia’s multi-front campaign to break NATO. Foreign weapons and fighters have flooded in. Turkish and Emirati drones spar in Libya’s skies while Russian, Syrian, and Sudanese mercenaries fight below. Meanwhile, Libya fragments and civilians suffer.

Five Coming Global Challenges

By Edward Goldberg

The coronavirus has acted with the power of a conquering army, upending long-established behaviors in global economics and politics. It is apparent that the virus will be similar to 9/11 in its power to alter global perspective for decades.

Some of these changes are immediately apparent; others more elusive. Some will influence the geopolitical landscape for years, while others will slowly change our economic behavior.

The first great change regards China, where the virus appears to have come under control, but at an unkown cost to the leadership of the ruling Communist Party. The Chinese government’s political legitimacy since Deng Xiaoping has been based not on communism, but on economic growth and the guarantee of an increased standard of living for its citizens. But how does the Chinese government maintain the perception that the party is all-knowledgeable regarding economics? Due to the virus, China’s GDP did not show 4% to 5% growth for the first quarter as the government projected. Instead, it shrank 6.8%. The same rosy projection never took into account the fact that China’s overseas customers are now in a virus shutdown, thus dramatically slowing China’s exports.

The virus has also called into question the issue of the competency of the Communist Party of China, due to the mismanagement of the crisis itself. Despite all the propaganda a massive dictatorship will throw at its people, the reality of botched leadership in fighting the early onset of the virus was obvious to the common person and has percolated throughout society. China’s leadership is exposed now, very much like Hans Christian Andersen’s emperor without clothes. How they will now behave both domestically and internationally remains to be seen.

The Limits of the World Health Organization

By Eric A. Posner 

President Trump has characteristically tried to divert public attention from his botched response to the coronavirus pandemic by blaming others—Democrats, governors, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, China. But in the World Health Organization (WHO), he has found the ideal piñata.

The WHO combines all the elements of the populist bestiary—an international organization, staffed mostly by foreigners, whose authority rests on the technical expertise of an elite cadre of specialists. And by portraying the WHO as a puppet of China, Trump has cast the organization as a threat to American security. But the impulse to dismiss Trump’s attacks as narrowly political is a mistake. The WHO is such an appealing target for reasons that go beyond Trump. It’s a casualty of our unraveling international system and was on life support even before Trump was elected.

From the standpoint of most strands of international relations theory—which since the 1990s has become increasingly abstract, idealistic and detached from political realities—the WHO is the embodiment of what international cooperation should be able to accomplish. Having given up dreams of a global government, theorists saw in international institutions like the WHO a way to solve global collective action problems. International institutions offered a middle way between the one-world idealism of the past and the grim prognoses of realist thinkers, who often seemed to think that any kind of international cooperation was impossible.

I Live in South Korea. Here Is What a 'Limited' Reopening from Coronavirus Looks Like.

by Robert E. Kelly
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South Korea, where I call home, has been widely praised for its handling of the coronavirus. As a democracy, it labors under constraints a dictatorship like China, for example, does not. South Korea nevertheless managed to beat down the virus’ spread to under ten new cases a day this week, and without the kind of social revolt brewing in the United States now.

As everywhere else, there is pressure to re-open. Everyone is bored and frustrated at home. Businesses are struggling. Families are frazzled at having the kids at home all day every day. People are putting on weight because they are watching too much TV and over-eating. All the same sort of complaints accumulating on social media in Western countries exist here too. It’s exhausting.

Indeed, ‘corona fatigue’ set in earlier here. Korea’s clampdown began in mid-March, and one can already see the edges fraying. I see fewer masks on the subways. The lines to pick up government-distributed masks are shorter. Bars and restaurants are filling, where people are sitting in proximity and not wearing masks. Panic buying has stopped (although to be fair, there was never really much). The economic costs of the lockdown are now discussed more frequently on TV (although not nearly as vociferously as on Trumpist media in the U.S.).

Together, Reliance Jio and Facebook are sitting on a goldmine of data

By Manavi Kapur
Reliance Jio and Facebook have much to celebrate beyond their combined market value.

With Menlo Park-based Facebook buying a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms, the two giants could be potentially sitting on a goldmine of data. The Mukesh Ambani-owned company is the umbrella entity for all of Reliance Industries’ (RIL) digital and internet businesses. One of the largest investments across the world for a minority stake in the technology sector, this deal puts the spotlight on the huge amount of data each of the platforms generates.

As of July 2017, Facebook had 240 million users in India, while Jio currently has 388 million subscribers. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, has 400 million users in India, whom the tech giant hopes to leverage for a collaboration with JioMart, Reliance’s online grocery delivery business.

No New Orders Issued: U.S. Military Brass Clarifies Trump’s Iran Threat

by Matthew Petti 

President Donald Trump’s social media message ordering the Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian vessels was simply emphasizing that U.S. ships “retain the right of self-defense,” Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist told reporters at the Pentagon.

The latest statements followed a tense showdown in the Persian Gulf between Iranian and U.S. vessels. The President has escalated against Iran without much warning, ordering the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani in a surprise airstrike in January. But he has also made statements that U.S. military leadership later walked back, including a January message on Twitter threatening to strike Iranian cultural sites.

“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Wednesday morning.

Norquist seemed to imply that Trump’s message was not a change in U.S. policy.

“The President issued an important warning to the Iranians,” he told reporters at a Wednesday briefing. “What he was emphasizing is all of our ships retain the right of self-defense.”

A Nine Carrier US Navy? In 2020?

By Robert Farley

A new report out of the Office of the Secretary of Defense suggests that the United States Navy should downsize by two aircraft carriers and use the money thus saved on smaller, lighter combatants. As reported by David Larter, the U.S. Navy would also freeze the size of the force of large surface combatants (cruisers and destroyers) in favor of smaller ships (including frigates and corvettes) and unmanned vessels.

The suggestion that the United States cut two carrier battle groups comes at the intersection of two broad debates. The first involves how to restructure the U.S. Navy for high intensity conflict, and what role aircraft carriers will play in that new structure. While the vulnerability of modern aircraft carriers remains very much in question, their tremendous expense is not. The current force structure invests an immense amount of combat power into a few hulls that can only be in a few places at once. Advocates of force structure reform have long called for a new procurement strategy that would multiply the number of platforms capable of combat, even at the expense of per unit capability. The proliferation of Chinese anti-ship missile systems has driven much of this discussion.

The second (and much more recent) debate investigates how the United States military will manage what may become long-term austerity in response to the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19. To be sure, the OSD report does not appear to have taken the pandemic’s disruptive effect into account, but the proposal to decommission two carriers for strategic reasons will undoubtedly have an impact on how Congress and the Defense Department manage looming cuts to the defense budget.