2 May 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.

China and India Top Asian Military Spending, Figure in World Top 3 With US

By Ankit Panda

China and India led the Asian region in military spending in 2019, according to new data for the year from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The two countries were the second and third largest military spenders after the United States in 2019, with China spending an estimated $261 billion last year and India an estimated $71.1 billion. 2019 marked the first year that India and China figured among the world’s top three military spenders in SIPRI’s database.

The Chinese budget increase, as computed by SIPRI, represents an estimated growth of 5.1 percent. India’s year-on-year growth, meanwhile, amounted to 6.8 percent. Outside of China and India, Japan and South Korea were major military spenders in Asia. Tokyo spent $47.6 billion in 2019 and Seoul spent $43.9 billion. According to SIPRI’s data, military spending has risen continuously in Asia since 1989.

The continued trend in heavy military spending among Asia’s military powers comes amid a broader upward trend in global defense spending. 2019 amounted for the largest annual increase in defense spending worldwide since 2010. Together, all states spent around 2.2 percent global GDP on defense-related expenditures — a 7.2 percent increase in aggregate over the 2010 figures.

Following the money: China Inc’s growing stake in India-China relations

Ananth Krishnan

Since 2014, an influx of Chinese capital in India has transformed the structure of India’s trade and investment relations with China. Until that year, the net Chinese investment in India was US$1.6 billion, according to official figures. Most of the investment was in the infrastructure space, involving major Chinese players in this sector, predominantly state-owned enterprises (SOEs). In the next three years, total investment increased five-fold to at least US$8 billion, according to data from the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) in Beijing, with a noticeable shift from state-driven to market-driven investment from the Chinese private sector. Official figures, however, underestimate the amount of investment as they neither account for all Chinese companies’ acquisitions of stakes in the technology sector, nor investments from China routed through third-party countries, such as Singapore. For instance, a US$504 million (Rs. 3,500 crores)1 investment from the Singapore subsidiary of the mobile and telecom firm Xiaomi would not figure in official statistics because of how investments are measured.

The aim of this paper is to provide a more complete picture of Chinese investment in India and to assess the implications of Chinese investment and acquisitions for India’s diplomacy, trade strategy, and security. Rather than attempt to provide a definitive figure, which is beyond this paper’s scope, the broader objective is to examine the growing stakes of Chinese companies in India and assess the implications for the relationship. This paper draws on MOFCOM data, publicly available information sourced from Chinese firms, press reports in China and India, and background information shared by Indian and Chinese officials. It is possible to estimate that the total investment from China exceeds official figures by at least 25%, and this is a very conservative estimate. When announced projects and planned investments are included, the total current and planned investment is three times the current figure, crossing at least US$26 billion. In greenfield investments and capital invested in acquiring or expanding existing facilities in India, Chinese companies have invested at least US$4.4 billion. Chinese companies have also invested in acquiring stakes in Indian companies, mostly in the pharmaceutical and the technology sectors, and participated in numerous funding rounds of Indian startups in the tech space. Another US$15 billion approximately is pledged by Chinese companies in investment plans or in bids for major infrastructure projects that are as yet unapproved.

Afghanistan Sees Drop in Civilian Casualties, But Threat Remains Serious

By Catherine Putz

In the first quarter of 2020, according to a report from the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), civilian casualties in Afghanistan fell 29 percent compared to the same period in 2019.

Despite that dramatic drop, 533 civilians — including 152 children — were killed in the first three months of 2020. Those deaths, plus 760 injuries, occurred at time when hopes of peace were elevated by renewed talks between the United States and the Taliban and then a momentous agreement on February 29. 

In its first quarter report, UNAMA reiterates UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire so world governments and communities can focus on the fight against COVID-19.

Would China Use Nuclear Weapons First in a War With the United States?

By Gregory Kulacki

Admiral Charles A. Richard, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command, recently told the Senate Armed Service Committee he “could drive a truck” through the holes in China’s no first use policy. But when Senator John Hawley (R-MO) asked him why he said that, Commander Richard backtracked, described China’s policy as “very opaque” and said his assessment was based on “very little” information.

That’s surprising. China has been exceptionally clear about its intentions on the possible first use of nuclear weapons. On the day of its first nuclear test on October 16, 1964, China declared it “will never at any time or under any circumstances be the first to use nuclear weapons.” That unambiguous statement has been a cornerstone of Chinese nuclear weapons policy for 56 years and has been repeated frequently in authoritative Chinese publications for domestic and international audiences, including a highly classified training manual for the operators of China’s nuclear forces.

Richard should know about those publications, particularly the training manual. A U.S. Department of Defense translation has been circulating within the U.S. nuclear weapons policy community for more than a decade. The commander’s comments to the committee indicate a familiarity with the most controversial section of the manual, which, in the eyes of some U.S. analysts, indicates there may be some circumstances where China would use nuclear weapons first in a war with the United States.

China and the Budapest-Belgrade Railway Saga

By Andreea Brînză
Source Link

In November 2013, at the Bucharest Summit of the 16+1 initiative, China, Hungary, and Serbia talked about building a high-speed railway that would connect Belgrade to Budapest (respectively the capitals of Serbia and Hungary). The announcement happened just one month after Chinese President Xi Jinping put forward the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and one year after China inaugurated the 16+1 mechanism with 16 Central and Eastern European states (it was later expanded to the 17+1, with the addition of Greece). The Budapest-Belgrade railway quickly became the 16+1’s flagship project and the BRI’s most important European project. Nonetheless, almost seven years later, the saga still isn’t over and the railway has attracted a number of misconceptions over the years.

While the railway was proposed in 2013, the three countries signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) one year later, during the Belgrade summit of the 16+1 initiative. The the design details were settled in 2015. Construction itself would prove to be more tricky.



Just one day after the U.S. surpassed China to become the country with the highest number of Covid-19 cases, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency updated its assessment of the origin of the novel coronavirus to reflect that it may have been accidentally released from an infectious diseases lab, Newsweek has learned.

The report, dated March 27 and corroborated by two U.S. officials, reveals that U.S. intelligence revised its January assessment in which it "judged that the outbreak probably occurred naturally" to now include the possibility that the new coronavirus emerged "accidentally" due to "unsafe laboratory practices" in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the pathogen was first observed late last year. The classified report, titled "China: Origins of COVID-19 Outbreak Remain Unknown," ruled out that the disease was genetically engineered or released intentionally as a biological weapon.

"We have no credible evidence to indicate SARS-CoV-2 was released intentionally or was created as a biological weapon," the report found. "It is very unlikely that researchers or the Chinese government would intentionally release such a dangerous virus, especially within China, without possessing a known and effective vaccine." Every scientist interviewed by Newsweek for this story also rejected categorically the notion that the virus was intentionally released.

Global China: Technology

Tarun Chhabra, Rush Doshi, Ryan Hass, and Emilie Kimball

China’s rapid technological advances are playing a leading role in contemporary geopolitical competition. The United States, and many of its partners and allies, have a range of concerns about how Beijing may deploy or exploit technology in ways that challenge many of their core interests and values. While the U.S. has maintained its position as the technologically dominant power for decades, China has made enormous investments and implemented policies that have contributed significantly to its economic growth, military capability, and global influence. In some areas, China has eclipsed, or is on the verge of eclipsing, the United States — particularly in the rapid deployment of certain technologies.

These dynamics are enmeshed in a broader context of U.S.-China tensions; U.S. alliance management challenges; complex and shifting global supply chains; debates over economic and technology “decoupling”; tensions between norms of research openness and concerns about technology transfer; a contest for global technology standard-setting; rapid technological development in other countries, particularly in East Asia; and transnational debate about the regulation of large technology firms.

There is also an important debate about the relationship between China’s record of achievement in meeting its ambitions and what that record says about the long-term prospects for its development of key technologies. While some analysts focus on the persistent gap between the rhetoric of Beijing’s five-year plans versus its actual achievements, others point to an overarching record of extraordinary progress. The Chinese Communist Party’s ambition to “catch up with and surpass” the West in advanced technologies is hardly new. It traces a lineage in Party guidance from Mao Zedong to Xi Jinping, with an emphasis on technology as a source of national power and key domain of international competition, and “indigenization” as a top priority. But as China’s economic and political influence have expanded, so, too, have many of its technological ambitions and achievements.

COVID-19 Increases Importance of Middle Corridor

By: Cavid Veliyev

82-container train cross the BTK Railroad on April 19, 2020 (Source: Business Turkmenistan)

Following the large coronavirus outbreak in Iran, neighboring countries quickly closed their borders with the Islamic Republic. More than a thousand Turkish trucks carrying goods to Central Asia found themselves stuck at checkpoints due to the closure of the Iran-Turkey and Iran-Turkmenistan borders (Daily Sabah, March 4). As a result, Ankara redirected its cargo trucks to the so-called “Middle Corridor,” a trade route connecting Turkey to Central Asia via Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea. The government of Turkey additionally increased the transit capacities of the Sarp, Turkgozu and Çıldır-Aktaş border gates (crossings) to Georgia. On April 10, during a video summit of the Turkic Council—a multilateral organization of Turkic-speaking states—that was held under the auspices of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, Turkish President Recep Tayyib Erdoğan pointedly underlined the importance of the Middle Corridor.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected most international trade and transportation, it has also created new opportunities for some emerging routes. Until recent years, maritime shipping lanes and trade routes across Russia and Iran have connected Europe and Asia. Now, however, the Middle Corridor, through Turkey, Georgia, Azerbaijan and the Caspian Sea, is quickly becoming the shortest trade corridor between East and West.Map of the Middle Corridor (in blue) (Source: mfa.gov.tr)

The Coming Greater Depression of the 2020s


NEW YORK – After the 2007-09 financial crisis, the imbalances and risks pervading the global economy were exacerbated by policy mistakes. So, rather than address the structural problems that the financial collapse and ensuing recession revealed, governments mostly kicked the can down the road, creating major downside risks that made another crisis inevitable. And now that it has arrived, the risks are growing even more acute. Unfortunately, even if the Greater Recession leads to a lackluster U-shaped recovery this year, an L-shaped “Greater Depression” will follow later in this decade, owing to ten ominous and risky trends.

The first trend concerns deficits and their corollary risks: debts and defaults. The policy response to the COVID-19 crisis entails a massive increase in fiscal deficits – on the order of 10% of GDP or more – at a time when public debt levels in many countries were already high, if not unsustainable.

Worse, the loss of income for many households and firms means that private-sector debt levels will become unsustainable, too, potentially leading to mass defaults and bankruptcies. Together with soaring levels of public debt, this all but ensures a more anemic recovery than the one that followed the Great Recession a decade ago.

The Rhymes of History: Beijing’s Nightmare Strategic Scenarios

History does not repeat itself. With the exception of general platitudes about the permanence of international tension and the sporadic recurrence of violent conflict, statements about historical patterns and cycles of warfare can at best lead to historiographical confirmation bias and, at worst, can prejudice policymakers into taking counterproductive and unnecessary escalatory measures.[1] Diplomats, intelligence professionals, and politicians must tread with care when approaching history and any patterns that emerge from it, especially when trying to draw parallels with present-day events. History and policy are ultimately about particulars—particular interests, particular leaders, particular decisions, and particular crises. Specific policies matter and can go a long way towards avoiding war altogether or minimizing its impact should it occur.
History and policy are ultimately about particulars—particular interests, particular leaders, particular decisions, and particular crises.

Simplifications aside, a close study of history does have its merits. To borrow a phrase attributed to Mark Twain, history may not repeat itself, but it certainly rhymes. While the circumstances that cause state and sub-state groups to engage in open conflict are unique, the geographical, ethnic, and cultural conditions leading to tensions among these groups remain at least semi-permanent. The challenge before policymakers is to accurately assess present realities, many of which have historical precedents, and act within the small but undeniable window of choice these realities offer.

World War COVID-19: Who Bleeds, Who Pays?

By Karl Eikenberry, David Kennedy

“It’s a medical war,” President Trump declared of the coronavirus on March 18. The commander in chief then cast himself as “a wartime president.”

But if this is a war, it’s a war like few others in history—if any. For starters, today’s front-line fighters are not soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines clad in combat gear, but health care workers clothed in scrubs and face masks. When it comes time to award the medals, it will be the doctors, nurses, hospital staffers and first responders daily risking their lives to help the sick who will be honored as the true heroes.

Yet in the struggle against the “invisible enemy,” it is the different generational impacts that seem to suggest that the United States is engaged in a unique kind of warfare.

For millennia, societies at war have sacrificed their young for the common weal. War’s disparate demographic impact was emphatically evident in World War II. Adolescent boys were liable to be drafted when they turned 18, and the average soldier on D-Day was barely 26 years old. Precious few of the nation’s 10 million draftees had seen more than 37 birthdays. No one over 45 was obliged to serve. But for the nation’s youth, wartime service put education, careers, and often marriage and parenthood on hold. From the more than 400,000 young men who died, the nation asked the last full measure of devotion. Thousands of others returned home with disabilities. For the Greatest Generation, the full promise of adulthood had to wait. For many it never came at all.

How the coronavirus pandemic has shaken the US military

Barbara Starr

(CNN)The Department of Defense had unusual visitors on Thursday morning.

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx, two of President Donald Trump's key coronavirus advisers and public faces of the crisis, donned masks and were shown into "the tank" which is the Pentagon's secure conference room. They were there to meet with Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Vice Chairman Gen. John Hyten to discuss the military's efforts to manage the coronavirus pandemic and the medical expertise needed to protect the country's 1.4 million military personnel.

The meeting underscored a critical national security issue that has not been publicly discussed in detail by the President, the challenge of ensuring the military is ready to deploy and fight amid the pandemic.

As the country prepares for a possible second wave of the virus this fall, the obstacles facing the Pentagon are massive. They range from assembling robust testing capabilities to ensuring there is a constantly replenished supply of personal protective equipment, while all the while continuing to provide medical personnel to support the civilian healthcare system.
And beyond keeping the military functioning there's a realization within the that the pandemic could upend geopolitics and create new and unpredictable threats to US national security.

The tech industry turns to mask diplomacy

by Mara Hvistendahl

As the coronavirus spread from China across the world earlier this year, two friends in Sydney watched in horror. Milton Zhou is a cofounder of a renewable energy company called the Maoneng Group, which developed some of Australia’s largest solar farms. Saul Khan is a former partner in an energy efficiency consultancy. They met in a Facebook group for startups, where they bonded over a discussion about using blockchain to track goods as they’re shipped internationally. They had experience buying solar panels and other products from China, and they expected the medical supply chain to work, at least in the early stage of the outbreak. Instead, they watched as health-care workers ran out of respirators and other critical supplies. “We realized, okay, something is really wrong here,” says Khan. “People aren’t able to source things quickly.” Then it occurred to them that maybe they could help.

As demand for masks, respirators, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) has skyrocketed around the world, medical supplies have become a new geopolitical flashpoint. Officials have accused each other of hijacking shipments by buying them off the tarmac or by seizing them en route. When a US buyer allegedly diverted a batch of Chinese-made respirators bound for the Berlin police, for example, a German official denounced the act as “modern piracy.” But there is a bright spot. Amid the chaos, tech industry veterans have arranged shipments of high-quality goods, using both their political clout and their access to private jets. “A lot of hospitals tend to buy locally,” says Khan. “They’re used to local classifications and to not having to deal with import-export paperwork. People in tech are more global. They have the reach.” The result is good public relations, at a moment when the tech industry desperately needs it.

Will a Pandemic Shatter the Perception of American Exceptionalism?

By Jennifer Schuessler
Source Link

Politicians extol it. Scholars debate it. The past decade has battered it. Will the coronavirus crisis finish off this country’s golden view of itself?

An American flag a half mast in Staten Island in New York City on April 16, five days after the United States surpassed Italy as the country with the world’s highest death toll from the coronavirus.Credit...Stephanie Keith for The New York Times

“It can’t happen here” is an enduring refrain in American culture, a reflection of the idea — whether invoked ironically or in earnest — that the United States has a special destiny, and stands apart from the forces shaping the rest of the world.

Now, with a devastating global pandemic definitely happening here, much of the nation is asking how and why and what it means that a country that sees itself as the world’s wealthiest, most powerful and most scientifically advanced leads the world in both cases and confirmed deaths.

Germany’s Most Important River Is Drying Out

William Wilkes and Brian Parkin
Germany’s spring showers haven’t materialized this year, and that’s drying out the country’s most important river, prompting concerns that key industrial goods might have trouble making it to their destination.

Typically one of the wettest months, Europe’s biggest economy has received just 5% of its normal April rainfall so far, according to Germany’s federal weather service. It’s on course to be the driest month since records began in 1881.

In addition to yellowing vegetation that’s usually a lush green in this season, the dry spell has depressed water levels on the Rhine River, a conduit for barges delivering everything from steel to oil and coal to Germany’s factories. The river is now at its lowest level for the end of April since 2011.

“If we don’t get more normal rain in May, then we’re looking at another year of serious drought conditions,” said Andreas Friedrich of Germany’s DWD federal weather service.

The Middle East’s Challenges Aren’t Just Combatting the Virus

The Bible asserts that Egypt suffered 10 plagues during the Exodus story, and Covid-19 may well have shaped up to be the eleventh. Early news of sustained infections on Nile cruise boats in February raised fears that thousands of undiagnosed cases were floating around in Egypt. If infections were already widespread, whatever Egypt did to encourage social distancing seemed likely to fail because of a late start, poor compliance, crowded housing, and limited health care capacity.

Whether one takes at face value Egypt’s reports of 5,042 cases and 359 deaths, it seems very likely that Egypt hasn’t fared so poorly. By comparison, the state of Maryland, which was hit later and has been relatively aggressive in enforcing social distancing, has had 20,113 cases and 929 deaths. Even if one argues that Maryland’s more aggressive approach to diagnosing the disease has elevated the state’s toll, that doesn’t quite explain the difference. After all, Maryland has about one-sixteenth of the population of Egypt.

A month ago, Egypt was thought to be facing both a public health catastrophe and an economic one. While there is still much we don’t know about Covid-19, the public health catastrophe seems not to have hit. Still, Egypt’s government—and all Middle Eastern governments—will have to deal with the daunting economic challenges of Covid-19 and the potentially daunting political challenges that might come from it.

Undermining the WTO

Having spent most of the past two months writing about Covid-19 and its impact on the trading system, I thought I would take a break and return to a more traditional topic—the health, or lack thereof, of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The organization has three main functions—conduct negotiations, resolve disputes, and promote transparency and notification—and all three are currently in peril.

On the negotiation front, the WTO has completed one multilateral negotiation since it was formed—the Trade Facilitation Agreement. The much-anticipated Doha Round has been effectively moribund since 2008. The latest attempt at a broad-based agreement, on fisheries subsidies, appears to be in trouble. However, the postponement of the ministerial conference originally scheduled for June may end up providing more time to reach an agreement. The dispute settlement process is in disarray due to the cessation of the Appellate Body (AB). The recent announcement by the European Union and 15 other countries of an alternative to it for those countries has cast more doubt on the likelihood of it returning anytime soon, even though the announcement was clear that the alternative is intended to be temporary.

Similarly, notification requirements are being honored in the breach. CSIS just put out a more detailed study of this issue shows that 48 percent of WTO members had not notified any subsidies in 2017, compared to 25 percent not notifying in 1995, the WTO’s first year. Even a country’s unlikely argument that it did not have any subsidies and therefore had nothing to notify would not relieve it of its obligation to report that fact to the WTO. 

New Ukrainian Naval Base ‘East’: A Countermeasure Against Russia’s Hybrid Strategies in the Sea of Azov?

By: Alla Hurska

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made an official visit to the southeastern coastal oblast of Zaporizhzhia, on April 11. During his trip, local officials familiarized the commander-in-chief with the operational situation in the Sea of Azov. Additionally, Zelenskyy visited the port of Berdyansk, located in close proximity to the Russian coast and only 67 kilometers (across the sea) from the village of Dolzhanskaya, in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai (Kommersant, April 12).

Due to its important geostrategic location, Berdyansk was chosen as the site for the Ukrainian Naval Forces’ new naval base “East.” The eastern branch of Ukraine’s navy is presently based in Mykolaiv (upriver of the Black Sea coast and northwest of the occupied Crimean peninsula); but it is expected to be redeployed to Berdyansk in the near future in order to protect Ukrainian civil and military navigation in the Azov Sea from Russian impediment. During 2020–2021, Ukraine plans to revitalize a number of old infrastructure objects on the territory of the Berdyansk Sea Commercial Port (those objects will be transferred to the Naval Forces) as well as build new facilities, including new wharfs and residential buildings for military personnel. According to Zelenskyy, it is essential for the country to have locally based ships that will protect Ukrainian ports and trade routes on the Azov Sea (President.gov.ua, April 11). The issue is crucial for both security as well as economic considerations. In his statement, the president reassured that all necessary funds for re-equipping the port—approximately 553 million hryvnias ($20 million)—will be allocated in full (Brd24.com, April 11).

Multiple Challenges Hinder Russian Efforts to Modernize Its Satellite Navigation System

By: Pavel Luzin

Russia’s constellation of GLONASS navigation satellites are part of a dual-use system—available to both civilian users and the military. Moscow began deploying it during the 1980s–1990s, but its initial capabilities were almost fully lost by the year 2000, due to technical and economic shortcomings. However, since 2002 it has become one of the highest priorities for Russia’s space activities and was deployed a second time.

The system’s main purpose is military in nature, which is why the Russian Armed Forces were originally supposed to take full ownership of GLONASS after the deployment of the entire satellite constellation. But Russia’s military refused to take responsibility for it in December 2012 (RBC, December 21, 2012), consequently leaving, Roscosmos, the state-owned corporation and successor of the Federal Space Agency, in control of both GLONASS’s operation and modernization. The present year notably marks the conclusion of a nine-year, multi-billion-ruble, federal program on the “Maintenance, Development and Operation of the GLONASS System in 2012–2020,” and the results of the effort have been far from an unqualified success. The main challenge for Russia remains the need to rely on navigation satellites operating beyond their warranted lifetime; but due to manufacturing delays, Roscosmos looks unable to replace them anytime soon.

Economic Sanctions: An Alternative to War or War by Alternative Means?

by Matthew Petti 

Two former Obama administration officials defended the use of economic sanctions even as they slammed the Trump administration’s pressure campaign against Iran last week.

A growing coalition on the left is blaming the Trump administration’s self-described policy of “super maximum economic pressure” for worsening the coronavirus pandemic ravaging Iran. But some opponents of the pressure campaign believe America needs to kick its addiction to sanctions overall, while others say that sanctions are a valuable tool of diplomacy being misused by the Trump administration.

Their debate could shape the next Democratic administration’s approach to foreign policy.

Progressives had been souring on sanctions even before the coronavirus pandemic began. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D–Minn.) had proposed a bill in February that would require Congress’s approval before the President could impose or renew economic sanctions.

Cybersecurity Is an Important Part of the Military’s Response to COVID-19

By Dan Gouré
The U.S. has shown that it can fight wars on multiple fronts: first, a global struggle against violent extremists, and now, the spread of a deadly virus in the homeland. The U.S. Armed Forces have demonstrated their remarkable capacity to meet the nation's call. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have set up hospitals almost overnight, conducted medical supply flights around the world, deployed hospital ships on both the East and West Coasts and activated reserve and retired medical personnel to support hard-hit communities.

At the same time, the military has continued to conduct critical missions across the globe. One of these missions is working to ensure that military networks have sufficient cybersecurity capacities, including the ability to protect essential communications systems and data networks that support virus response efforts.

After half-a-century of the Cold War and nearly 20 years of combating violent global extremism, it is little wonder that Americans are most familiar with their military's capabilities to fight. The ability of the Armed Forces to build infrastructure, move supplies, and provide medical support was always there, but in the background. 

The Genetically Engineered War


There’s a new frontier of science that is having far reaching implications for the world. Gene editing, more commonly known by its new technique CRISPR, has the potential to change the food we eat, the plants we grow, the pets we keep and, more pressingly, it now has the potential to change the wars we fight. Unsurprisingly then, its use has profound national security implications, leading the U.S. Government to declare it a weapon of mass destruction in 2016.

So, does CRISPR have the potential to change war as we know it? The short answer is yes, because it also has the potential to change human life as we know it. Genes are the fundamental code of life. Mapping them allows us to understand how our bodies work and, more importantly, how to alter them. Long before CRISPR (an acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) was discovered, we have used selective breeding to manipulate these genes in a variety of applications for animals. The Nazi Lebensborn program provides one horrifying example of such attempts at eugenics in humans.

What makes this technology different, is its ability to target specific genomes at all stages of life; simultaneously and at low cost. 

The Future of Cyber Warfare – An Interview with Greg Austin

by Ed StaceyLt. Col. Tim Sands (from left), Capt. Jon Smith and Lt. Col. John Arnold monitor a simulated test April 16 in the Central Control Facility at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. They use the Central Control Facility to oversee electronic warfare mission data flight testing. Portions of their missions may expand under the new Air Force Cyber Command. (Image credit: U.S. Air Force/Capt. Carrie Kessler)

On 29 January 2020, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) hosted an event on its upcoming Measuring Coercive Cyber Power Project (available to watch here). Ed Stacey sat down with Greg Austin, Senior Fellow for the Cyber, Space, and Future Conflict Programme at the IISS, the day after the event, for a discussion on this new project, cyber power and offensive cyber operations.

For more information on the IISS and the latest analysis of international security, strategy and defence issues, visit them here or follow them on Facebook, Twitter (@IISS_org) and Instagram (@iissorg).

ES: What is the Measuring Coercive Cyber Power project?


ES: What is the Measuring Coercive Cyber Power project?

GA: This is a project that began at the IISS before I joined and has been run by a couple of very experienced professionals. Its purpose is to understand the basic fundamentals of cyber power. In other words: what are its economic, scientific, technological, and organisational underpinnings?

ES: What are your main findings?

GA: The main findings are a little obvious in one sense, but also a bit surprising. We have done thirteen country studies which include a review of the United States (US), China, Russia, Iran and North Korea – fairly obvious countries, perhaps – and then other states like Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Japan, and Canada. What we have found is that the US’ cyber power is miles ahead of any other country in the world; that the economic, scientific, and indeed, social underpinnings of cyber power are more powerful in the case of the US than any other country. That lead really revolves around the Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry – the fact that technologies like the Internet were devised in the US and that a very unusual relationship exists between its defence sector, industry, and universities. This relationship really does not exist anywhere else in the world. And the US has also been in the ICT industry longer than any other country – at the higher levels at least.

Eight leadership lessons from the Navy carrier captain’s case

Charlie Dunlap, J.D

Last Friday the media reported that Navy leaders are recommending reinstatement for Captain Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (Roosevelt) who was relieved from command for the way he handled the COVID-19 outbreak aboard his ship. This post examines a few leadership lessons that should be learned from his case.

Regrettably, the hagiographic narrative surrounding Captain Crozier is creating the very real risk that the wrong leadership lessons will be learned and propagated, irrespective of what does or does not happen to him personally. If that happens, the success of future military operations is imperiled, and troops could die. Some things really can be that simple.

To be clear, everyone agrees military leaders have the responsibility for the health and safety of those entrusted to them. Accordingly, Captain Crozier is to be rightly commended for being so concerned about the threat of COVID-19 to his crew. That doesn’t mean, however, that he handled his responsibilities the right way.