9 May 2020

The new patterns of islamist militancy in Kashmir

By Roland Jacquard
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Almost three decades ago, in the winter of 1991, the Kashmir Valley was in the grip of a full-fledged islamist militancy. Kalashnikov-wielding terrorists roamed the streets in the neighbourhoods of Srinagar and the valley’s other areas from north to south.

Writer and consultant, Chairman of Roland Jacquard Global Security Consulting (RJGSC)

The early phase of militancy in Kashmir was witnessed in the late 1980s. Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF), which believes in independence of Kashmir was leading the anti-India ‘movement’ then. The JKLF was amongst the first few outfits to recruit and train Kashmiri youth in a rebellion against the Indian state. However, by 1990 the Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, an outfit which declared its objective to be Kashmir’s merger with Pakistan started to dominate Kashmir militancy. The Hizbul drew its cadres mostly from Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) J&K, a religo-political organisation.

Thereafter, other outfits like Al-Jihad, Muslim Janbaz Force, Al-Umar Mujahideen, Al-Barq and dozens of smaller groups were propped up across the length and breadth of the Valley by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). Inspired by the success of the Afghan Jihad, the deep state of Pakistan instigated a widespread insurgency in Kashmir with an aim to push India out of J&K. ISI’s strategy got a fillip due to the widespread outrage in J&K over the cases of rigging in the State Assembly elections in 1997. As a result, a large number of Kashmiri youth exfiltrated across the border (known as the Line of Control)into Pakistan to join the training camps in Pakistan administered Kashmir.

India’s foreign affairs strategy

Shivshankar Menon

India finds itself in an increasingly dangerous world, one that is fragmenting and slowing down economically. It is a world in transition, one in which India’s adversaries — state or non-state, or both as in Pakistan’s case — are becoming increasingly powerful. If the external world is becoming more unpredictable and uncertain, so are internal politics and security in most of the powers. These are challenges that traditional institutions and state structures are not well-equipped to handle, mitigate, or solve. In this changing world, what are some of the basic and long-term drivers of India’s foreign policy which determine the overarching goal? What is India’s strategy to achieve those goals? What should India be doing?

Simply put, the task of India’s foreign policy is to protect and secure India’s integrity, citizens, values and assets, and to enable the development and transformation of India into a modern nation in which every Indian can achieve his or her full potential. The task of foreign policy professionals is to enable the transformation of India and to create an environment for that transformation.

China, India and the political economy of medical supplies

Stein Sundstøl Eriksen

• The pandemic and lockdowns threaten the supply of medicines, especially from India

• Poor countries relying on supplies of cheap Indian medicines are especially vulnerable

• New medicines and vaccines are likely to be developed and patented by Western companies and will be expensive.

• Norway should help fund the supply of medicines and promote reforms of patent rules to make medicines more affordable

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China Thinks India's Missile Defenses Are No Big Deal

by Michael Peck

Here's What You Need To Remember: China is indisputably more powerful, with a larger economy and a military that is rapidly procuring advanced conventional and nuclear weapons. But India also has nuclear weapons, and an Indian missile system that could intercept Chinese ballistic missiles would enhance India’s deterrence capabilities versus China.

India isn’t capable of building an effective missile defense system, according to Chinese media.

But does this reflect a problem with India – or is China trying to discourage its rival from building defenses against Beijing’s ballistic missiles?

“Generally speaking, although India has made considerable progress in the independent R&D and deployment of ballistic missile defense system in recent years, it is still faced with a string of difficulties, such as inadequate capital, unsmooth R&D process, heavy reliance on other countries regarding key technology, and incomplete systems,” writes Fang Xiaozhi, a researcher at the BRI Institute of Strategy and International Security at Fudan University. “New Delhi has a long way to go before it can establish a truly effective ballistic missile defense system and fully exert its real combat force.”

Pakistan’s dangerous capitulation to the religious right on the coronavirus

Madiha Afzal

In Pakistan, the religious right has functioned as a potent pressure force on the country’s government since its inception. It is doing so amid this COVID-19 pandemic as well, explains Madiha Afzal. This piece originally appeared in the Washington Post.

Perform your ablutions at home. Bring your own prayer mats, place them six feet apart. Wear masks. Use the provided hand sanitizer. No handshakes or hugs allowed. No talking in the mosque. No one over 50 years old can enter. No children allowed.

These guidelines are part of a list of 20 standard operating procedures that Pakistan’s government issued on April 18, ostensibly in consultation with the country’s religious clerics, for mosque congregations during Ramadan. In reality, the government caved in to the demands of clerics, who earlier that week said that they would refuse to limit Ramadan congregations, despite a growing number of covid-19 cases in the country.

In Pakistan, the religious right — an amalgam of Islamist political parties and the ulema, or religious clerics — has functioned as a potent pressure force on the country’s government since its inception. It is doing so amid this COVID-19 pandemic as well.

Anyone who has been inside a mosque in Pakistan knows these guidelines are impractical to follow. And enforcement is essentially impossible given the sheer number of mosques in the country, each holding prayers five times a day, in addition to extended Taraweeh prayers during Ramadan. Already, a report from a nongovernmental organization in Pakistan’s Punjab province said 80 percent of the mosques it visited last week were violating guidelines. As of Friday, Pakistan reported 17,700 COVID-19 cases, with more than 400 deaths.

The Balochistan Insurgency: A major security issue for Pakistan and its impact on Chinese interests in the region

By Melvin Dionnet
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Between economic interests, socio-political issues, and ethnic tensions, Balochistan has been a region subject to insecurity for more than 60 years, where insurgencies are continuous and in which a myriad of actors have diverging and often conflicting interests.

On January 10, 2020, an improvised explosive device (IED) detonated at a mosque in Quetta, Balochistan’s capital, killing at least 13 people and wounding 20 others. The Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

The situation in the region showed no sign of improvement in these past months and the increase in the Islamic State’s activity in the region throughout 2019 suggests that the circumstances might deteriorate further. On the other hand, China who has a strong presence in the region might act as a middle-man between Islamabad and Baloch insurgents, and help resolve the situation even though Chinese presence could also contribute to making things worse.

Pull US Troops, not Diplomats and Development Experts, from Afghanistan

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America’s interests are no longer furthered by military might in the country, but we can still help in other ways.

It seems hard to believe, but two months have passed since the U.S.-Taliban exit deal was finalized. Since that time, we have seen bipartisan pushback from Members of Congress insisting that we must maintain some form of military presence in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future. The novel coronavirus has also since grown into a global pandemic, threatening a humanitarian disaster and potentially interfering with withdrawal plans. But even though conditions and rhetoric are volatile, a truth remains constant: we must push forward in responsibly ending the Afghanistan war.

To be sure, Americans are sick and tired of being at war in Afghanistan, as the remote South Asian country is now synonymous with America’s longest active conflict. After nearly 20 years, many Americans do not even remember or care why we invaded in the first place. But the public’s war weariness isn’t the only or even the primary reason we must fully withdraw: the truth is that no amount of American military power can bring peace and security to Afghanistan. The sooner we recognize that, the sooner we can pivot to solutions that actually improve the security of Afghans and Americans alike. 

How Will COVID-19 Reshape Asia’s Energy Future?

By Prashanth Parameswaran

While the global coronavirus pandemic continues to have significant macro-level political and economic impacts on the Asia-Pacific and the world more generally, it is also likely to affect key industries in profound ways. Among the most notable sectors to watch is the energy realm, where COVID-19 could reshape interactions between various actors across several levels in the region with ripple effects for geopolitics more generally.

Over the past few years, Asia’s energy future has been driven by a series of broader, long-term trends. These include the rise of major Asian economies that have powered energy demand, the diffusion of energy technologies, and the growing awareness by governments of the need to manage carbon emissions even as they pursue economic growth. Along the way, we have also seen a series of notable shifts that have affected these dynamics, including the recent shale boom in the United States and fluctuations in oil prices.

Viewed from this perspective, COVID-19 is just one among a series of developments that will shape Asia’s energy landscape. It is worth noting that COVID-19 is also interacting with several other trends and developments occurring simultaneously or concurrently, including the collapse in oil prices, rising U.S.-China tensions, growing stress on regional and international institutions, perceptions of democratic rollback, friction between some major energy producers, and a global financial recession, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts will be the worst since the Great Depression.

Why Chinese Military Leaders Cannot Get Over The 1991 Gulf War

by Robert Farley 

Here's What You Need To Remember: The Gulf War provided Chinese military and civilian decision makers with a ready example of what modern war looked like, and gave some lessons about how to fight (and how not to fight) in the future. The PLA has become a radically more sophisticated organization—with much more effective learning capacity—than it was in 1991. We have yet to see, however, how all the pieces will fall together in real combat.

In 1991, Chinese military officers watched as the United States dismantled the Iraqi Army, a force with more battle experience and somewhat greater technical sophistication than the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The Americans won with casualties that were trivial by historical standards.

This led to some soul searching. The PLA hadn’t quite been on autopilot in the 1980s, but the pace of reform in the military sector had not matched that of social and economic life in China. Given the grim performance of the PLA in the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War, as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union, something was bound to change. The Gulf War provided a catalyst and direction for that change.


A Hypothetical Scenario in the China Sea

By Themistoklis Z. Zanidis

It is generally known that the modern world has a great interest in the East Asia region, were some of the greatest super powers in terms of economy, strength, population, and military capabilities, are focused. For instance, Japan is a technological and economic giant, and at the same time it is a close ally to the United States since the end of World War II. It may not be a nuclear power, but no analyst can seriously underestimate the ability of the country’s Self-Defense Forces. Across the Chinese Sea, lies the greatest power of Asia; the People’s Republic of China. It can be seen as equal to the unique superpower of the International System, the United States. Economically and commercially powerful, it keeps a nuclear arsenal and armed forces that are constantly evolving technologically, although they are not as powerful as the US respectively.

Other states in the region with economic power and large populations, but with apparently inferior military capabilities, are India, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. In addition to this, Russia should not be underestimated. Even North Korea’s isolated regime with an unpredictable leadership constitutes an unstable (or even failed) state. The United States maintains compelling forces in the region on a permanent basis (US Navy’s 7th Fleet). The excessive US presence provides security to its allies from the expansionism ambition of Beijing. As a result, East Asia hosts a colossal financial, commercial, technological, and industrial center of the planet.

China Is the Key to North Korea’s Denuclearization. Trump Is Throwing It Away

Kimberly Ann Elliott 

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un showed up to cut the ribbon at the opening of a fertilizer factory late last week, thereby quashing rumors that he was dead or perhaps incapacitated as a result of botched heart surgery. Disappearing for weeks at a time, as he did last month, is not unusual for Kim. But his failure to appear on April 15 at ceremonies celebrating the birthday of his grandfather and the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, triggered a whirlwind of rumors.

Because he is just 36 and his children are all quite young, there was also rampant speculation as to who might follow Kim and what a power vacuum at the top might mean for regional peace and stability. The uncertainty of the past few weeks—and the potential that political instability in North Korea could lead to a strategic miscalculation with disastrous results—underscores why the past four American presidents have made it a priority to eliminate the country’s nuclear weapons and missile capabilities.

China In Space: Does US Contest Or Cooperate?


Chinese forces erect ballistic missiles at night. China’s SC-19 ASAT is believed to be derived from the DF-21C ballistic missile.

WASHINGTON: The US must find a balance between countering China’s antisatellite (ASAT) weapons efforts and cooperating with it to stave off broader risks to the space operational environment, says a new Brookings Institution report.

“The United States faces a fundamental dilemma as it attempts to effectively manage China’s rise as a major actor in outer space,” says author Frank Rose, State Department assistant secretary for arms control under President Barak Obama. “On one hand, China’s development of anti-satellite weapons represents a direct threat to U.S. and allied space systems. On the other hand, it is difficult to see how the United States and the international community will be able to address the key challenges facing the outer space environment — i.e., the growth of orbital debris and the rise of mega constellations — without engaging with China.”

Managing China’s Rise In Outer Space says the US must live with the fact that China will be a peer in space, both militarily and in the civil and commercial spheres. For example, the report points out that China is second only to the US in the number of military and commercial remote sensing satellites it operates.

Contact-tracing apps are not a solution to the COVID-19 crisis

Ashkan Soltani, Ryan Calo, and Carl Bergstrom
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The unprecedented threat from the novel coronavirus has confined many Americans to their homes, distancing them from one another at great cost to local economies and personal well-being. Meanwhile the pressure grows on American institutions to do something—anything—about the pandemic.

Encouraged by the White House, much of that pressure to act has focused on Silicon Valley and the tech industry, which has responded with a fragile digital solution. Tech companies and engineering departments at major universities are pinning their hopes of returning Americans to work and play on the promise of smartphone apps. Coronavirus? There’s an app for that.

We are concerned by this rising enthusiasm for automated technology as a centerpiece of infection control. Between us, we hold extensive expertise in technology, law and policy, and epidemiology. We have serious doubts that voluntary, anonymous contact tracing through smartphone apps—as Apple, Google, and faculty at a number of academic institutions all propose—can free Americans of the terrible choice between staying home or risking exposure. We worry that contact-tracing apps will serve as vehicles for abuse and disinformation, while providing a false sense of security to justify reopening local and national economies well before it is safe to do so. Our recommendations are aimed at reducing the harm of a technological intervention that seems increasingly inevitable.

Clouded thinking in Washington and Beijing on COVID-19 crisis

Ryan Hass

In 2015, an action movie about a group of elite paratroopers from the People’s Liberation Army, “Wolf Warrior,” dominated box offices across China. In 2020, the nationalistic chest-thumping spirit of that movie is defining Chinese diplomacy, or at least the propaganda surrounding it. This aggressive new style is known as “wolf warrior diplomacy,” and although it is not embraced by all of China’s foreign policy mandarins, it does appear to reflect the current zeitgeist in Beijing. The style is characterized by triumphalism — equal parts eagerness to assert the superiority of China’s approach to COVID-19 and enthusiasm for pointing out the shortcomings of Western countries’ responses.

This brash new approach is helping China’s leaders stoke nationalism and shore up support at home amidst a spike in unemployment and a sharp economic downturn. The same messages that are playing well at home, though, are having the opposite effect abroad.

China’s propaganda push to assert the superiority of its response to COVID-19 is arousing antipathy on nearly every continent. So, too, are its efforts to push countries that receive Chinese health assistance to praise China’s response to the virus while staying silent on its negligent initial response to it.

Special Report: U.S. rearms to nullify China's missile supremacy

David Lague

FILE PHOTO: A Tomahawk Land Attack Missile (TLAM) is launched from the guided missile cruiser USS Cape St. George in the eastern Mediterranean Sea March 23, 2003. U.S. Navy/Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Kenneth Moll/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

The United States has largely stood by in recent decades as China dramatically expanded its military firepower. Now, having shed the constraints of a Cold War-era arms control treaty, the Trump administration is planning to deploy long-range, ground-launched cruise missiles in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Pentagon intends to arm its Marines with versions of the Tomahawk cruise missile now carried on U.S. warships, according to the White House budget requests for 2021 and Congressional testimony in March of senior U.S. military commanders. It is also accelerating deliveries of its first new long-range anti-ship missiles in decades.

In a statement to Reuters about the latest U.S. moves, Beijing urged Washington to “be cautious in word and deed,” to “stop moving chess pieces around” the region, and to “stop flexing its military muscles around China.”

The Post-crisis World: What Changes Are Coming?

How will the world look post-COVID-19? The question is as broad as the destruction brought by the virus, but Wharton’s Tarnopol Dean’s Lecture held on April 30 provided some insights through the lens of three sectors — health care, finance and technology. The virtual event, hosted and moderated by Dean Geoffrey Garrett, included a panel of three Wharton alums: Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of pharmaceuticals and medical devices company Johnson & Johnson; Marc Rowan, co-founder and senior managing director of private equity firm Apollo Global Management; and Andy Rachleff, founder of Benchmark Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, and Wealthfront, an online investment management firm. Wharton management professor Lori Rosenkopf facilitated by curating audience questions for the speakers. (Watch a video of the full discussion below.)

Finding a Cure

Garrett began by asking Johnson & Johnson’s Gorsky a question that’s perhaps the most relevant in terms of moving beyond the pandemic: “What are realistic expectations about the medical side of the COVID-19 fight?”

“This is a really nasty virus. It’s a smart virus,” said Gorsky. The best opportunity in the midterm, he noted, is for a vaccine or a therapeutic that will treat and slow down the disease in patients who are already affected. “I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll begin seeing the impact of a medicine in the coming months and a vaccine at some point in 2021.”

China Has a Playbook for Managing Coronavirus Chaos

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To governments around the world, the underlying threat of the current pandemic is not just death, but chaos. The mandate of all governments is to seek the opposite—maintaining order. The current competition between democratic societies in the West and authoritarian regimes such as China is about who can restore political order quickly and at what cost.

People desire predictability and fear chaos. The world is seeing a great race between countries seeking to reestablish their previous order as the coronavirus and lockdowns rock the foundations of their societies and threaten chaos. For the moment, North America and Europe appear to lag behind. Meanwhile, China, the great authoritarian power, has reportedly flattened its curve—the rate at which the coronavirus spreads—and is on its way to somewhat reviving the economy. Despite the government’s questionable statistical reporting, Chinese are going back to work.

Throughout this crisis, the Chinese government has been showcasing to the world its playbook for controlling chaos. Chinese propaganda mocks Western countries for not being able to “copy its homework” in battling the virus.

This playbook is not new. It involves above all mobilizing the public to take part in fighting a “people’s war.” It assumes that chaos is the common enemy of state and society alike. Well before Chinese President Xi Jinping took power, the Chinese Communist Party developed a set of tried and trusted tactics for controlling the chaos. Although Mao Zedong relished political chaos, calling it an “excellent” situation, Chinese political leaders thereafter learned to fear it. Since the Tiananmen democracy movement in 1989, Beijing’s No. 1 political priority has been to maintain internal social stability by maximizing order and minimizing social chaos.

Making China Pay Would Cost Americans Dearly

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China has few friends in United States these days, and it’s mostly Beijing’s own fault. Over the last decade, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has taken an increasingly authoritarian direction, attempting to impose its policies not only on its own long-suffering people but on the residents of other nations.

But the COVID-19 crisis has greatly inflamed anti-China sentiments in a dangerous and counterproductive way. The Xi Jinping regime responded badly, missing an opportunity to isolate Wuhan early and perhaps prevent the emergence of a pandemic. Beijing’s ham-handed propaganda afterward, including attempts to blame the United States for the virus, created additional antagonism.

However, conspiracy theories that China intentionally created the virus and, accident or not, loosed it on the world are seriously short of evidence, despite the best attempts of the Trump administration to claim otherwise. To be sure, China blundered badly, and some of its mistakes—censoring doctors and journalists—reflect the CCP’s oppressive rule. Nevertheless, it is not the first government to be slow to acknowledge problems, timid in responding to a serious challenge, reluctant to impose painful remedies, and unwilling to be open internationally about its problems. Moreover, Beijing’s failings do not excuse the West, and the United States especially, for wasting months when officials should have been preparing for the arrival of COVID-19.

China Steps up the Long March to 5G

By John Lee
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Despite much of the country still being under coronavirus restrictions, China has doubled down on its national 5G roll-out, with the central government directing measures to “forcefully advance 5G network construction.” The country’s three state-owned telecoms operators have already awarded nearly $10 billion worth of 5G contracts, and are projected to collectively spend $25.5 billion on 5G equipment throughout 2020, installing half a million base stations that will provide 5G coverage to every city in China. So far nearly 90 percent of contract value has gone to the Chinese firms Huawei and ZTE, with Sweden’s Ericsson receiving around 10 percent and Finland’s Nokia nothing to date.

Given Huawei’s extensive presence in European telecoms networks, this will fuel discontent over China’s reciprocity in affording market access to foreign firms. Coronavirus-induced delays to 5G roll-outs in Europe amplify concerns that China’s state-led drive to 5G connectivity will help its firms capture first-mover advantages that will follow in development of the technology and commercial applications. Anger over China’s propaganda campaign concerning the pandemic has amplified growing wariness about Chinese companies’ presence in European economies. Even in the United Kingdom, which in January green-lighted Huawei’s involvement in its 5G networks, the foreign secretary has warned that “we can’t have business as usual [with China] after this crisis,” while a Parliamentary caucus has been established to “promote fresh thinking” about commercial engagement with Chinese interests.

Outgoing UN Envoy Hopes Myanmar’s Suu Kyi Can Change

By Luke Hunt
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Outgoing UN human rights envoy for Myanmar Yanghee Lee says she believes State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi can change after failing to live up to her reputation as a humanitarian. But that seems unlikely to happen as fighting continues in the troubled northern state of Rakhine.

Sources close to the fighting said explosions had been heard near Rathedaung, where the Myanmar military (known as Tatmadaw) was going door-to-door in three villages searching for members of the Arakan Army, which it describes as a “terrorist group.”

The report can not be verified independently but sources named the villages as Zayti Pyin, Thar Yar Kone, and Maw Htet, adding that two people had been killed in recent days, while arrests were also made with the fighting spilling over into the nearby state of Chin.

“Tatmadaw are looking at household lists and photographing everyone in the village,” one source said amid speculation in the area that Germany will soon withdraw development aid for Myanmar and redirect it to Africa.

According to the UN, at least 32 people were killed by the fighting between mid-March and mid-April. The military insists it is not targeting civilians.

China’s Battle with Coronavirus: Possible Geopolitical Gains and Real Challenges

Jean-Pierre Cabestan
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China has tried to take advantage of the Coronavirus crisis to boost its international role and status. Nonetheless, China’s own mistakes in battling the virus as well as diplomatic aggressiveness have raised doubts about its capacity to become a world leader.

Originated from Wuhan, the current Coronavirus pandemic, known as COVID-19, is a good illustration of how the Chinese government has tried to grasp an unprecedented health crisis not only to demonstrate its capacity to rapidly overcome it but also to enhance its diplomatic influence, improve its international image and challenge the US dominant status both as a leading health care provider and a world role model. Has China succeeded? Taking advantage of its close relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Trump Administration’s late mobilization against this novel coronavirus, the European Union (EU)’s disorganization and divisions, as well as each country’s preoccupation with its own domestic health crisis, China has achieved early successes on the international stage, particularly in Eastern and Southern Europe as well as in the Global South. Nonetheless, the Chinese government’s initial failure in the management of the health crisis at home as well as the aggressiveness and incoherence of its own narrative have contributed to denting the credibility of its own data and its “politics of generosity”.

The COVID-19 crisis has also highlighted how much the world had become dependent upon China’s medical and pharmaceutical products, leading in particular the US and its allies, if not to fully decouple, at least to reduce their dependence upon this country. More generally, rather than mitigating the economic and geostrategic competition between China and the United States, this unprecedented planet-wide health crisis has intensified the “new Cold War” between the two great powers. While it has hurt the US’s prestige, it is far from having demonstrated China’s ability to lead. 

What to make of HBO’s ‘Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections’

Abel Morales
With the election now only months away, officials are desperately trying to find solutions to protect the integrity of our election systems. The big question that remains is, “Will it work?”

Kill Chain: The Cyber War on America’s Elections is a new HBO documentary that takes viewers through a journey to discover the weaknesses of today’s election technology. Being a security engineer, it is my job to help analyze some of the techniques that hackers are using in order to better protect the organizations I serve. I decided to watch Kill Chain to understand the minds of the adversaries who are conducting the attacks on our election system. Below are my takeaways from the film.

Hacking an election can take three days - or Less

In the documentary, one of the hackers at DEF CON successfully took over a voting machine and forced the system to shut down. The hacker achieved command line access. Within a three-day period, hackers learned from the presenter and found dozens of vulnerabilities.

The United States Forgot Its Strategy for Winning Cold Wars

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Did the United States consider and reject the strategy of offshore balancing during the early years of the Cold War? Writing last month in the National Interest, Franz-Stefan Gady suggests that Republican Sen. Robert Taft was proposing something akin to offshore balancing in the run-up to the 1952 U.S. presidential election, only to have it dismissed in favor of a bipartisan strategy of onshore containment. Indeed, he suggests that the possibility that Taft might win and implement his preferred approach helped convince Dwight D. Eisenhower to join the race and eventually to reach the White House.

Gady’s article is an interesting historical narrative, and it reminds us that U.S. strategy in the early Cold War was not preordained. But like other contemporary critics of offshore balancing, Gady does not fully grasp the underlying logic behind this strategy. As a result, he mistakenly believes that Cold War containment was at odds with offshore balancing. This is wrong: Containment during the Cold War was a clear application of offshore balancing’s central principles.

Oil Price Shock: What It Means for Producers and Consumers

With drastic declines in consumer demand, the coronavirus pandemic has created a difficult new world for the oil industry. On April 20, prices for futures contracts expiring on April 21 for the U.S. benchmark crude oil – West Texas Intermediate (WTI) – turned negative to minus $37.63 a barrel. Spot prices also fell below zero, and panicky oil producers and traders dumped a large volume of futures contracts. Prices for Brent, the benchmark for crude from the North Sea, also crashed, although they stayed in positive territory.

By April 21, prices for the benchmark WTI crude were back in the black. But its brief stay in subzero levels raised new questions that were beyond how long and how deep COVID-19 would cut demand. For producers, the negative prices had them worrying briefly about paying buyers to buy their oil, but now they face longer term concerns, such as having to curtail output; shut down producing wells and defer new well openings; put off exploration; and file for bankruptcies or get acquired in a wave of consolidation, according to experts at Wharton and elsewhere.

In late March, when WTI prices fell from the year’s opening at $61 to some $23 a barrel, the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM) estimated that if oil stays at $23 a barrel through the end of 2020, it would eliminate about 0.25% of GDP, and growth in business investment would be 1.9 percentage points lower.

The Global Crisis of Our Time: The Long-Term Impacts of COVID-19

Paul Rogers


The world is now feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to causing a substantial death toll, the crisis is putting considerable strain on the economies of states across the globe. Though the virus will eventually be contained, its effects will last for years. In a post-coronavirus world, patterns of global inequality will likely be even more extreme than they are now, potentially causing substantial future unrest. As such, it will be crucial to work towards fairer economic and political systems in states across the globe. 


The March briefing, Austerity in the Age of COVID-19: A Match Made in Hell? assessed the rapid development of the COVID-19 pandemic and explored whether the current global economic system, with its strong leaning towards the neoliberal model, was likely to prove an effective part of the response. At the end of that month, the world-wide spread of the pandemic had mainly impacted China but was starting to develop rapidly in some European states, notably Italy, Spain and France. Global deaths were estimated to be 24,000.

The growth of the virus’ impact during April has been alarming with the UK close to the global figure for March by the end of the month, and a world-wide pandemic of over three million cases of infection and over 210,000 deaths. The worst affected European states were Italy, France and Spain with estimates of up to 27,000 deaths but in all cases, there was some evidence of a peak being reached or even passed by the end of the month in terms of numbers of new infections. Some easing of the lockdowns was under way, but they were tentative and readily reversible if, as feared, there were further waves of infection.