7 May 2020

Why Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative Being Questioned by Japan and India?

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a series of economic programmes designed by the Chinese government to foster economic cooperation along the ‘new Silk Road’, which stretches from the Chinese coast through to Europe. Announced at the end of 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping, it marks the most ambitious domestic and foreign policy programme ever initiated by the Chinese Communist Party. Such is the enormity of the programme that it is often compared to a Chinese version of the post-war American Marshall Plan in terms of scale and also of motive (Cai 2017). The project has shaped the ways that India and Japan—the other two major Asian powers in the Indo-Pacific—view their foreign policies. It has affected everything from the bilateral relationships with China, the relationship between India and Japan as well as other regional powers such as the United States and Australia.

This essay begins with an overview of the BRI and how it is designed to challenge the existing liberal order. It will then outline the Japanese perspective on the BRI, and how Tokyo is managing its commitment to a ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific’ while also wanting to build its own infrastructure programmes. Similarly, Indian views of the programme will also be analysed—focusing on the security concerns with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as a willingness to engage in multilateral institutions. The bilateral relationship between India and Japan is important and will also be discussed within the context of infrastructure and the liberal order. States do not act in a vacuum—this paper seeks to rectify an existing gap in research comparing Indian and Japanese views of the BRI. On the whole, Japan and India are hesitant to accept the BRI because they see it as a means of expanding Chinese unilateral power in the Indo-Pacific, which threatens their positions as alternate leaders in the region.

Pakistan’s anti-India cyber warfare goes unchallenged

Abhinandan Mishra

New Delhi:For almost the last two weeks, Pakistan-based groups, backed by its spy agency the ISI, have been carrying out a new wave of cyber warfare against India, where they are creating fake Twitter handles and impersonating members of the royal family from the Gulf countries to spread anti-India sentiments in the Gulf. What is more worrying is that these cyber attacks are going to increase and evolve even further in the coming times.

The Sunday Guardian has reliably learnt that in the past few days, Pakistan-based groups have purchased hundreds of domains with “.in” suffix. These newly bought domains will be converted to media outlets and will be used to spread fake news. Since these media outlets will have an Indian domain name, they will carry more trust value among the Indian and international readers who will visit them.

What has come to the aid of these cyber terrorists is India’s lack of capabilities to execute similar “fake-news” warfare to counter these attacks.

Officials, who are monitoring the situation, stated that the aim of this Pakistan-backed warfare is not just to create noise and chaos on social media but to hurt India’s economic interests in the Gulf countries from where India received roughly $35 billion as remittance annually in 2017 from the millions of workers deployed in these countries.

Opinion – Is the Coronavirus War Narrative Helping Pakistan?


Since the spread of Covid-19 heads of states are declaring their response as ‘war’ against coronavirus. In early February 2020, Xi Jinping, the President and general-secretary of the Communist Party of China declared China’s response as ‘people’s war’. Then in mid-March the US President Trump termed himself ‘a wartime president’ and compared the response required to combat coronavirus with World War II. Following the same trend, on March 24, declaring 21 days lockdown in India, Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi compared it to the 18-day long historic Mahabharata battle. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan terms Pakistan’s response as the war against coronavirus. The catchy words corona se darna nahi larna hai (not to be frightened of the coronavirus, but to fight it) have become the slogan and narrative of the government as it appears in TV adds, songs, pamphlets and media campaigns. Yet, the war-narrative against coronavirus is proving to be counterproductive and rather harmful in Pakistan.

Is it necessary to use the war metaphor in official statements on coronavirus? How does it help and what does it exactly mean by Corona se larna hai (to fight with corona)? How do people fight with coronavirus? The slogan Corona se bachna hai (Save yourself from Corona) which is used by the Jazz mobile network in their TV ads in Pakistan is more appropriate because so far, the only remedy against Coronavirus is social-distancing and self-isolation for which you need to keep away from it, not fight with it.

Coronavirus antibody tests aren’t as accurate as they seem

By Amanda Shendruk and Tim McDonnell

Antibody tests for SARS-CoV-2 are hard to interpret. Many health experts agree that the tests, which search a blood sample for signs of past infection, are key to reopening the economy, calculating the true death rate of Covid-19, and estimating how close we may be to “herd immunity.”

But the results can be misleading, even when the test performs as advertised (which is often not the case). The trouble is, when the prevalence of an infection in a population is low, the total number of people who receive false positives can match or even exceed the number receiving true positives.

The true prevalence of infections has a huge impact on these predictive values. See for yourself: Try running the simulation with different prevalence rates, but without changing specificity or sensitivity.

To start, here are some of the prevalence estimates to emerge from early US antibody surveys, or serology surveys: 2.8% to 5.6% in Los Angeles; 2.49% to 4.16% in Santa Clara; 6% in Miami; 20% in New York City. Or try the WHO’s global estimate, 2% to 3%.

The Coronavirus Is Creating a Crisis on Europe’s Borders

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For Europe, the internal economic shock created by the coronavirus is set to be compounded by an external security shock triggered by the economic collapse of its neighborhood. For many reasons, Europe’s southern and eastern neighbors remain highly vulnerable to such a disaster scenario.

These generally middle-income countries—including Turkey, Ukraine, Egypt, and Morocco—do not benefit from global initiatives like the debt relief programs led by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which target less developed nations. Yet they lack the domestic resources to rebound effectively from the deep recession that awaits them. The rising risk aversion in global markets has constrained their debt-raising options. Their economic well-being has further been undermined by the coronavirus-related economic downturn, raising fears about economic dislocation and political instability.

Europe is now looking at the emergence of exactly the type of scenario of regional instability that it sought to preempt. A key recommendation of its 2016 Global Strategy was to improve the political and economic resilience of its regional partners.

Preventing violent extremism during and after the COVID-19 pandemic

Eric Rosand, Khalid Koser, and Lilla Schumicky-Logan

While the world’s attention appropriately focuses on the health and economic impacts of COVID-19, the threat of violent extremism remains, and has in some circumstances been exacerbated during the crisis. The moment demands new and renewed attention so that the gains made to date do not face setbacks.

Headlines over the past few weeks have suggested that violent extremist and terrorist groups ranging from Colombian hit squads to ISIS affiliates in sub-Saharan Africa to far-right extremists in the United States are watching the disruption caused by COVID-19. Many are at least aware of the potential to benefit from that disruption, and in some cases they are already taking advantage.

As with so much reporting on and analysis of the pandemic, however, there is a shortage of data and evidence to support the headlines. The Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund (GCERF), where two of the authors work, has surveyed 50 local NGOs it supports to build community resilience against violent extremism in eight developing countries worldwide, to try to understand the nature of the threat. Six themes recur.

Inside the Early Days of China’s Coronavirus Coverup

LATE ON THE night of February 2, as her insomnia kicked in, a Beijing woman whom I’ll call Yue took out her phone and religiously clicked open WeChat and Weibo. Over the past two fitful weeks, the two Chinese social media platforms had offered practically her only windows into the “purgatory,” as she called it, of Wuhan.

At this point, according to official estimates, the novel coronavirus had infected just over 14,000 people in the world—and nearly all of them were in the central Chinese city where Yue had attended university and lived for four years. A number of her friends there had already caught the mysterious virus.

An inveterate news junkie, Yue hadn’t been able to look away from the ghastly updates pouring out of Wuhan, which—interspersed with a dissonant bombardment of posts praising the Chinese government’s iron grip on the outbreak—kept hitting her in an unrelentingly personal way. Her mental health was fraying, and she was “disappointed in humanity,” as she later put it.

That night, just when Yue was about to log off and try to sleep, she saw the following sentence pop up on her WeChat Moments feed, the rough equivalent of Facebook’s News Feed: “I never thought in my lifetime I’d see dead bodies lying around without being collected and patients seeking medical help but having no place to get treatment.”

What International Relations Tells Us about COVID-19


The emergence of a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19) in 2019 may be the most consequential event of the early 21st century, upending modern life, globalization, and relations between countries. The outbreak of COVID-19 is a health crisis, with approximately 3 million cases and over 200,000 deaths and counting. It is also an economic one, with the various stay-at-home ordinances and travel restrictions imposed to break the chain of transmission leading to dramatically diminished economic activity, massive unemployment, and income losses around the world. From China’s initial reluctance to allow World Health Organization (WHO) experts into the country to G7 fights over what to call the virus to President Trump’s hold on funding for the WHO, the global response has been shambolic and largely uncoordinated, in contrast to the adequate if not exceptional cooperation during the last major global crisis, the 2008 financial crisis. What can we learn from theories of international relations about why the response has thus far been so ineffective?

Here, Kenneth Waltz’s classic images of analysis are relevant, with first image theories focusing on the role of individuals, second image theories on the attributes of states, and third image theories the structural properties of the international system. Paul Poast has a thread summarizing some of his observations on this question that begins with the role of individuals and works its way up, but I want to start with structural theory and work my way down.

Review – The History of Philosophy


One of the few benefits of the 21-day lockdown in India in the wake of the Coronavirus epidemic was that I was able to sit down, focus on, and finish reading A.C. Grayling’s The History of Philosophy. As bad news from across the world kept piling on, one does wonder if the consolation of philosophy, to take from Boethius, makes sense. Perhaps one could learn from the Stoics. The Stoics, as Grayling explains, were determinists, who believed that what will happen tomorrow has already been decided. To the Stoics, we must master what we can (fear, paranoia etc.) and face with courage what we cannot (illness, age etc.). They were apathetic, in the sense that they did not give into passions. Epictetus, a slave who became a philosopher, emphasized self-knowledge and self-mastery instead. But what is the point of all this if everything is predetermined? For what does human agency count when a non-human microscopic organism is able to wreak global catastrophe? Epictetus believed that if we can do something about the existing state of affairs, then we should and must act. If we cannot, we shouldn’t lose our peace over it. To be unfree was to give into passions, ‘pathe’. To the Stoics, “Acceptance of inevitabilities is freedom” (p.113). A philosophical perspective may help you to emotionally weather or rationalize a grave crisis. But philosophy is not just about how to live life or why. It is the broadest possible study of life and non-life.

Grayling offers arguably the most diverse overview of philosophy’s history till date. This is a book every student of philosophy must have in their collection. Grayling’s engaging account of political philosophy, whether it is Hobbes and Mill or Mozi and Han Fei, will also be of great interest to students and scholars of political science and international relations. The History of Philosophy does not have the creative intensity of Peter Sloterdijk’s Philosophical Temperaments (2013) and it may not have the simple appeal of Will Durant’s The Story of Philosophy (1926), but it makes up for it in its breadth and casts its net wider. Grayling’s language is elegant, accessible and he is a good presenter of ideas. Where Bertrand Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy (1945) had the author imposing himself upon on the writers he covered, Grayling is relatively restrained. Relatively only, because Grayling is not above making reductive comments, and the occasional snide remark, on continental philosophers covered in this book.

Global Backlash Builds Against China Over Coronavirus

By Steven Erlanger
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BRUSSELS — Australia has called for an inquiry into the origin of the virus. Germany and Britain are hesitating anew about inviting in the Chinese tech giant Huawei. President Trump has blamed China for the contagion and is seeking to punish it. Some governments want to sue Beijing for damages and reparations.

Across the globe a backlash is building against China for its initial mishandling of the crisis that helped loose the coronavirus on the world, creating a deeply polarizing battle of narratives and setting back China’s ambition to fill the leadership vacuum left by the United States.

China, never receptive to outside criticism and wary of damage to its domestic control and long economic reach, has responded aggressively, combining medical aid to other countries with harsh nationalist rhetoric, and mixing demands for gratitude with economic threats.

The result has only added momentum to the blowback and the growing mistrust of China in Europe and Africa, undermining China’s desired image as a generous global actor.

How Sound Science Will Help Us Create a Coronavirus Vaccine

by Thomas Merritt

The current pandemic, and maybe even more importantly the next one, will be beaten in the laboratory by strong fundamental science that informs smart medical responses and public policy.

Globally, the research community is galvanized to fight this virus: researchers are developing ways to reuse personal protective equipment, devising better treatments for people who have been infected, creating vaccines and trying to understand what makes this virus so deadly.

One of the major issues in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic is that we simply don’t understand why SARS-CoV-2 — the coronavirus that causes the disease — is so dangerous. We do know that its deadly nature is a function of small genetic changes, called mutations, which distinguish it from other viruses. But which mutations?

How Coronavirus Will Change Our Working Environment

by Rachel Morrison

As lockdowns are relaxed around the world and people return to their workplaces, the next challenge will be adapting open office spaces to the new normal of strict personal hygiene and physical distancing.

While the merits and disadvantages of open plan and flexible workspaces have long been debated, the risk they posed of allowing dangerous, highly contagious viruses to spread was rarely (if ever) considered.

But co-working spaces are characterised by shared areas and amenities with surfaces that need constant cleaning. Droplets from a single sneeze can travel over 7 metres, and surfaces within pods or booths, designed for privacy, could remain hazardous for days.

Even in countries such as Australia and New Zealand where efforts to “flatten the curve” have been successful and which have relatively easily controlled borders, it’s fair to ask whether communal workspaces might be a thing of the past.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Has Taught the World the Importance of Reliable Energy

by Todd Royal
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Affordable, scalable, abundant, flexible, and reliable energy and electricity are essential for the world to alleviate the coronavirus pandemic. Without reliable electricity, hospitals can’t save lives, and without crude oil powering our modern world the virus would overtake civilized nations. A movie released earlier this year titled, “Juice: How Electricity Explains the World,” underscores the fact how “economic development (and medicine) depends on reliable and affordable power.” 

Degrees from elite universities now seem useless compared to farmworkers, truck drivers, and warehouse stock clerks. These same university-educated folk believe renewable energy (sun and wind) can deliver, “critical medical equipment, ultrasound systems, ventilators, CT systems, X-ray machines, personal protection equipment, masks, (and) gloves.” 

Each of these medical commodities emanate from the over six thousand products that start from a barrel of crude oil. The plastic in plastic gloves is overwhelmingly made from crude oil. 

Beijing doubles down in EU propaganda battle


China is pushing ahead with a propaganda campaign critical of Western democracies and their handling of the coronavirus, even after protests from Paris and a high-profile diplomatic dispute between Beijing and the EU over Chinese disinformation.

Two weeks after French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian summoned China's ambassador to France, Lu Shaye, over the embassy's publication of a post that derided France's care for its senior citizens during the pandemic, another critical post was published Sunday on the diplomatic mission's website.

The article, titled "Why the Covid-19 epidemic is so politicized," was attributed to an anonymous Chinese diplomat. Seeking to explain why questions have been asked about China's responsibility in the spread of the virus, the article said "some Westerners are beginning to lose confidence in liberal democracy," and "some [Western countries] have become psychologically weak."

How to Deal With Iranian Speedboats

James Stavridis
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James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also an operating executive consultant at the Carlyle Group and chairs the board of counselors at McLarty Associates.

President Donald Trump sent a warning shot across the bow of Iran last week, tweeting that any further “harassment” of U.S. warships by Tehran’s navy in the Gulf would result in the destruction of the Iranian units. The tweet was evidently a response to videos of Iranian ships behaving badly, and intended as a warning to stop small surface combatants – some armed with short-range missiles or guns – from buzzing by U.S. ships at close and therefore dangerous range. 

The Department of Defense, when queried about what many see as Trump’s new rules of engagement, simply said that commanding officers already have all the tools they need to respond appropriately to Iran. Translation: Thanks, but we’ve got this covered, Mr. President. How should the U.S. and its allies think about this latest twist on Iran’s campaign to threaten stability in the region? 

How the face mask became the world's most coveted commodity

By Samanth Subramanian

If Ovidiu Olea is astonished by the fact that he’s gone from being a finance guy to a mask mogul in four months, he shows no sign of it. The transition started innocuously. Late in January, when the coronavirus spread beyond Wuhan, Olea decided he would buy masks for his staff. He lives in Hong Kong, where he runs a payment technology firm. His staff isn’t large – just 20 employees – but finding even a few hundred masks proved hard. Part of the problem was that last year, after protesters in Hong Kong used masks to hide their identity, the Chinese government restricted supplies from the mainland. Before the pandemic, half the world’s masks were manufactured in China; now, with production there shifting into overdrive, that figure may be as high as 85%. If China isn’t sending you masks, you likely aren’t getting any at all. We have no masks, local pharmacies told Olea, but if you find some, we’ll buy them from you.

Olea got to work. In a journal article, he read that epidemiologists spoke highly of N95 respirators, masks that filter out 95% of small particulate matter. Stealing time out of his day job, Olea began phoning N95 suppliers in Mexico, Turkey, Indonesia, Ireland. Each one turned him down. “The answers ranged from ‘No’ to ‘We only sell to accredited buyers’ to ‘Come back next year,’” Olea told me. After three days, Olea found a South African firm named North Safety Products, which had 500,000 masks in stock. Olea bought them all, at less than a pound per mask, certain that he would be able to sell the surplus.

Trump Is Dangerously Predictable With China

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As a candidate in 2016, U.S. President Donald Trump offered a glimpse of his future foreign policy. Even more than putting “America first,” his goal was for the United States to become unpredictable in world affairs. “We must as a nation be more unpredictable,” Trump told his campaign audience. “We are totally predictable. … We have to be unpredictable. And we have to be unpredictable starting now.”

In many ways, Trump seems to have delivered on this promise, however ill-advised it was in the first place. He has threatened to annihilate at least two countries, impetuously fired and hired senior officials, tweeted apparently classified imagery, and abruptly announced—and then reversed—troop movements. These and many other steps might have startled even Richard Nixon, the president said to have pioneered the so-called madman theory in U.S. foreign policy.

At first glance, U.S. China policy under Trump fits this mold. It has been variously described as “topsy-turvy,” “impulsive,” and “erratic.” After all, Trump during his time in office has engaged in a head-spinning routine of confrontation and concession. Just as he engaged in an aggressive trade war with Beijing, for example, he spoke of deep admiration of and friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping. This year alone has been a rollercoaster in relations. In January, Trump spoke of his “love” for Xi—only to subsequently fuel attacks on China by labeling the novel coronavirus the “Chinese virus” and calling for China to pay reparations for the pandemic.

Noam Chomsky’s Views on Russian Foreign Policy: A Critical Analysis


Among the Western critics of the West who frequently appear in and get quoted by the Kremlin-sponsored media, the left-wing thinker Noam Chomsky clearly stands out. An internationally acclaimed MIT professor, the winner of the 2005 Prospect/Foreign Policy Top 100 Public Intellectuals poll, a pundit whose foreign policy views are discussed in high-level academic IR journals, Chomsky is head and shoulders above the numerous extreme, marginal, ill-reputed activists who RT and Sputnik International present as ‘experts,’ – be it the editor of the German neo-Nazi Zuerst magazine Manuel Ochsenreiter or the infamous conspiracy theorists William Engdahl and Jeffrey Steinberg. Yet, the overwhelming majority of Chomsky’s comments, which appear in Kremlin-backed media, predominantly concern the US and its allies rather than Russia. Their topics embrace the typical issues which the left regularly criticizes as imperialist and inhumane: US military strategy and immigration policies, the Iraqi war, Turkey’s treatment of the Kurds, Israeli policies in Palestine etc. What, however, remains interesting—and infrequently discussed—is Chomsky’s view of the Putin regime itself.

Putin’s Early Years

In the beginning of Putin’s rule, Chomsky’s statements about Russia were mostly critical. At least partially, this seems to have been inertial and influenced by the Russian government’s market reforms of the 1990s, of which Chomsky had utterly disapproved. In his opinion, those ‘neoliberal’ ‘US-backed’ reforms killed ‘millions of people’ throughout the post-Soviet space with ‘the mortality rate being akin to the results of Stalin’s purges’ (my translation). Yet more notably, his critical attitude was caused by Russia’s support of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, which Chomsky used to attribute to the Kremlin’s own then-ongoing war in Chechnya:

It Was Grand, But Was it Strategy? Revisiting the Origins Story of Grand Strategy

By David Morgan-Owen
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Recalling the experience of working on the grand strategy volumes of the British Government’s official history of the Second World War, Sir Michael Howard remarked that “the editor never told me what Grand Strategy was, and none of my colleagues seem to have asked.” Finding no definition of the term, Howard was obliged to make up his own.[1] This conceptual uncertainty has been a feature of debates over grand strategy ever since. A recent exchange on Twitter encapsulated the problem. In it, the philosopher and military ethicist Professor Pauline Shanks Kaurin asked for a definition of the term. When asked why she had posed the question, she made the honest admission that, “I sat in on a lecture on [Grand Strategy] and geopolitics today and I realized I’m not sure I understand what [Grand Strategy] is precisely.” Just as Howard had encountered half a century earlier, the resulting replies made clear that reliable definitions of grand strategy are hard to come by.

This lack of a clear or usable definition has prompted a series of attempts to try and provide clarity to discussions of grand strategy.[2]

Many of these, including those by Paul Kennedy, Hal Brands, and Lukas Milveski, make an attempt to understand grand strategy by returning to history.[3] By discovering the term’s origins, it is argued, they can pinpoint fundamental aspects of its meaning and evolution. Their efforts tend to locate the inception of grand strategy to the late-nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, and to associate it with familiar figures from the canon of strategic studies. Alfred Thayer Mahan, Julian Corbett, J.F.C. Fuller, Basil Liddell Hart, and Edward Mead Earle have all been cast as key contributors to the debate at one time or another.

The Rest of the World Is Laughing at Trump

Anne Applebaum

It looks, at first, like one of a zillion unfunny video clips that now circulate on the internet: “Once Upon a Virus” features cheap animation, cheesy music, and sarcastic dialogue between China—represented by a Lego terra-cotta warrior with a low, masculine voice—and the United States, represented by a Lego Statue of Liberty with a high, squeaky voice. They “speak” in short sentences:

“We discovered a new virus,” says the warrior. “So what?” says the Statue of Liberty.

“It’s dangerous,” says the warrior. “It’s only a flu,” says the Statue of Liberty.

“Wear a mask,” says the warrior. “Don’t wear a mask,” says the Statue of Liberty.

“Stay at home,” says the warrior. “It’s violating human rights,” says the Statue of Liberty

The dialogue goes on like that—“It will go away in April,” the Statue of Liberty says at one point—until it ends, finally, with the statue on an intravenous drip making wild and contradictory statements while the warrior jeers at her.

Trump’s New Marshall Plan

by James Jay Carafano

Aglobal power with global interests and responsibilities, the United States now finds itself battling a global pandemic, in the midst of great power competition. That’s a big agenda. 

Today, Americans obsess on one key issue–how and when to get America open for business. Still, now that the curving is bending, Washington’s attention will soon turn to our role as a global leader–if only because rebooting the U.S. economy depends, in part, on jumpstarting and revitalizing trade, investment, production, logistical and innovation partnerships with key friends, partners, and allies. 

It is time for President Donald Trump’s Marshall Plan–and Trump’s plan could be even more consequential. Marshall saved part of Europe. Trump can save the whole free world. 

A Time for Choosing 

The Decline of the Nation-State


California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued something very close to a declaration of independence for the largest U.S. state while speaking on MSNBC earlier this month. Noting that California has been forced in a position of “competing against other states, other nations, against our own government” for badly needed personal protective equipment to fight the coronavirus, Newsom vowed to “use the purchasing power of the state of California as a nation-state” to acquire the needed supplies.

California is often compared to other countries—it would have the world’s fifth largest GDP if it were independent—but Newsom’s statement took on new meaning in the context of the escalating tensions between state governments and the Trump administration over the response to COVID-19. States have been forced to work around the federal government to access supplies and coordinate plans. Some states are reopening their economies ahead of schedule, also in defiance of the White House, while others are banding together into regional alliances to coordinate their eventual reopening. President Donald Trump may claim that he has “absolute authority” when it comes to U.S. pandemic response, but right now the country looks more like a patchwork of occasionally overlapping regional responses.

Great Britain Hopes These Investments Can Save Its Dying Military

by David Axe 

Here's What You Need To Remember: In 2017 and 2018, the government allocated the armed forces an extra $2 billion, combined, above planned spending levels, enough to employ 196,000 active and reserve sailors, soldiers, airmen and civilian personnel. The extra money in part came from a $13-billion reserve fund for four new Dreadnought-class ballistic-missile submarines that the Navy is developing at a total cost of around $39 billion, which is nearly as much as the entire British military spends in a year.

The British military is struggling to reorganize for a new cold war in Europe. A modest spending boost in 2018 could give planners some hope that budgetary shortfalls -- a perennial problem for the U.K. armed forces -- might not doom the effort.

"After almost three decades of relative international stability, the world has now re-entered a period of persistent and intense state competition," the U.K. Defense Ministry stated in its December 2018 review "Mobilizing, Modernizing & Transforming Defense."

To deter and defeat potential enemies, the study asserted, the British military should be able to deploy a 50,000-person task force including a maritime task group centered on a Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier embarking F-35 stealth fighters, an army division with three brigades, an air force group with combat, transport and surveillance aircraft and a special forces task group.

The Coronavirus Creates New National Security Problems for America

by Wallace C. Gregson

The coronavirus consumes media space and government working hours. This is serious stuff, but it is not our only challenge. America’s target fixation on disease containment blinds it to other challenges. Autocrats see opportunity behind the coronavirus curtain to expand their power and settle issues in their favor. It could be a “springtime for dictators.”

Our challenge in Asia is particularly acute. Xi Jinping is exploiting the averted gazes of the United States and the world to tighten the noose on the South China Sea and its many islands and reefs. Pressure on the airspace and territorial waters of Japan, Taiwan, and various nations of South East Asia increases. Fishing vessels are harassed, rammed, and sunk. China’s de facto control of the South China Sea from their garrisons in the Spratly Islands, their presence in the Paracel Islands, and questions of U.S. access to the Philippines present a serious challenge in any crisis.

China pressurizes Hong Kong’s “one country, two systems” autonomy through arrests of prominent democracy advocates and abrogation of the prohibition on Chinese government interference in Hong Kong’s internal affairs. One Hong Kong bookseller was recently attacked by vandals. He relocated to Taiwan. Chinese political warfare continues unabated, not despite coronavirus but by making it an advantage. It was all caused by the United States, according to their story.

Opinion – The Rise of Mercenarism: Avoiding International Accountability


Libya can be considered the battleground of a Janus-faced perspective on outside intervention. After the NATO-led intervention in 2011, that took place in the broader regional context of the Arab Spring uprisings, the 42-year ruler of Colonel Qaddafi was brought to an end and the first test for the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) turned this intervention into a poster child of the doctrine; and, for a short time, into the UN darling. However, in a fairytale go bad twist of events, the country turned into a battlefield for a civil war with no (close) end in sight. Further adding to the imbroglio of local and foreign actors, as Turkey and Russia revive a practice that can be considered a relic of the past – mercenarism.

The seeds of the civil conflict in Libya lay in the aftermath of the 2011 intervention. As the United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted Resolution 1970 on 26 February 2011, to impose an arms embargo over Libya, a formal opposition group had already formed – the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC). Since then this is the formally recognized government of the country and its representative in the UN. Before the intervenors could declare ‘mission accomplished’ and amid diagnoses establishing that NATO exceeded the mandate accorded by Security Council Resolution 1973 – erroneously taking the protection of civilians to mean regime change – news began to emerge with regard to the chaos taking reign in the country, signaling a growing presence of armed militias posed to contest the newly established power.