10 May 2020

In Looking Beyond Its Lockdown, India Can Look to Its Past Public Health Successes

By Mohamed Zeeshan

When Prime Minister Narendra Modi first announced India’s stringent anti-COVID-19 lockdown in March, he likened it to a wartime effort. Weeks later, it turns out that he was right. India is beginning to discover that lockdowns are much like wars: easy to get into, but difficult to get out of. 

After much debate and discussion, the Modi government has now extended India’s lockdown for a second time, albeit slightly watered down. Despite economic suffering, it seemed the inevitable choice. Over the past weeks, chief ministers across the country had been weary of reopening the economy due to unknown consequences. The lockdown has managed to keep cases and fatalities relatively low. But India’s curve is still climbing and nobody knows if an outbreak is waiting to happen. Once the economy is opened, it would be difficult to win back support for yet another lockdown. 

This is not to mention the long-term consequences of a botched reopening: If India was to shut down yet again somewhere down the line, it would take much more effort to reassure investors of stability when it was time to reopen again. There would also be consequences for foreign trade, investment, and migration into and out of India. Any chances of an economic recovery – for both the middle class and the poor migrant workers – would be devastated. 

Not unlike during wars, therefore, India now needs a clearly articulated long-term exit strategy, including means to comprehensively identify clusters and treat the vulnerable. 

Why We Should Care About Islamic State Now (They Are on the Rise Again)

by Aviva Guttmann

In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic the crises of tomorrow can fester. A resurgence of Islamic State (IS) is likely to be one of them.

In recent weeks, IS has carried out a spate of attacks on security forces in Iraq and different areas of Syria. There are striking similarities between these current developments and events that happened in 2013-14 as IS seized huge swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

The threat of a resurgent IS is mounting and governments around the world could be about to make the same mistake again of missing it and reacting too late. Based on my ongoing research investigating why the rise of IS in 2013 came as a strategic surprise to European governments, I’ve identified the seven most eye-catching parallels between 2013 and today.

1. Declared dead prematurely

After the death of Osama Bin Laden in 2011, the various branches of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and Pakistan, Syria and Iraq, Yemen, the Horn of Africa, and the Sahel and Maghreb refocused more locally. The remaining leadership directly addressed grievances against their respective local governments. Al-Qaida seemed to be on the defensive and leaders in Europe and the US expected it to stop posing a national threat.

Is Pakistan Nothing More than a Colony of China?

by Michael Rubin
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Pakistanis may soon die en masse for China’s interests, and the Pakistani government may allow it to happen. At issue is the nature of how Pakistan’s leaders have shifted their alliance partners from the United States to China. 

That the U.S.-Pakistan relationship has plummeted in recent years should not surprise. Pakistan was long an American Cold War ally but it was a partnership of last resort for both countries. President Harry S. Truman had initially sought an alliance with India. India was not only a democracy, but it also was home to the world’s second-largest population, and its ability to dominate the Indian Ocean made it a strategic prize. Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, rebuffed him, preferring instead to seek non-alignment. Pakistan had little choice but to work with the United States: To join the Non-Aligned Movement was to subordinate itself to India. Because the Non-Aligned Movement leaned toward the Soviet sphere of influence, Pakistan could also not trust Moscow to protect its interests vis-à-vis India, as Moscow would always side with Delhi for reasons of realpolitik. 

Initially, both the United States and Pakistan were willing to put their grievances aside. Pakistan became a charter member of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) or “Baghdad Pact,” an Eisenhower-era grouping meant to serve as a corollary to NATO along the Soviet Union’s southern tier. The notion of mutual defense, however, took a hit when war erupted between India and Pakistan, first in 1965 and then again in 1971. Pakistan insisted India was the aggressor and demanded the United States come to its assistance. U.S. authorities, however, quietly blamed Pakistan for starting the conflict and refusing to come to Pakistan’s assistance. Pakistan lost both wars and nurtured a deep-seated grudge against the United States for Washington’s alleged betrayal. 

A Gloomy Forecast for the Middle East following the Coronavirus Crisis

Even if there is an effective medical response to the coronavirus soon, it will take many months, or even years, before the Middle East emerges from the economic crisis that has afflicted it and other regions since early 2020. The coronavirus crisis is in effect the new calamity following the decade of the “Arab Spring,” which severely undermined political and economic stability in a number of countries in the region and left 10 million refugees, mainly in Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey. Israel is capable of handling its own problems created by the coronavirus crisis, but it will also have to deal with the political and the economic fallout of the two crises in the neighboring countries.The extent of coronavirus infection has not yet created a medical crisis in the health systems of Israel's neighbors in the Middle East. At the same time, the severe economic consequences of the virus are liable to affect the political environment. The cumulative damage results from the negative impact on five sources of income that have individually or collectively benefited every country in the region: oil and natural gas, tourism, transit fees, services, and remittances from workers in other countries, mainly in oil producing countries.

Oil prices have plunged in the past two months to around $20 a barrel, the lowest level since the beginning of the century (adjusted for inflation). The same is true for gas prices, which are linked to the price of oil. The main victims are the traditional oil producers; companies producing natural gas in Egypt and Israel will have to reprice the gas sold in local and overseas markets. The tourism sector and the related services have been paralyzed almost completely, with the recovery period projected to be among the longest. Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco (and Israel) are among the countries hit hardest in this industry. Egypt, Syria (until the outbreak of the civil war), Jordan, and Lebanon have all benefited over the years from income derived from international trade passing through their territory en route to East Asia and Europe. The reduction in demand caused by the coronavirus crisis has already hurt the large and local markets, consequently resulting in a loss in income. Egypt is prominent among those affected because of less traffic in the Suez Canal caused by the decline in international trade and tourism.

Paul Romer’s Case for Nationwide Coronavirus Testing

By Isaac Chotiner
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One of the biggest questions every country faces is how to reopen businesses without causing a resurgence of coronavirus infections. Paul Romer, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who has served as the chief economist at the World Bank, has been putting forward plans to mitigate the economic fallout from the coronavirus and to allow for a return of normal economic activity in the U.S. His main proposal is to offer bimonthly tests to every person in the country, allowing more of us to go about our daily lives safely. But testing is still short of where it needs to be, and we may be facing an economic crisis akin to the Great Depression.

I recently spoke by phone with Romer, who is a professor at N.Y.U. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we also discussed why Americans may be resistant to digital contact tracing, the need for states to administer tests, and what lessons economists have learned from the crisis.

Over a month ago, you co-wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times that stated, “To protect our way of life, we need to shift within a couple of months to a targeted approach that limits the spread of the virus but still lets most people go back to work and resume their daily activities.” Are we anywhere close to that approach? And, if not, is our way of life at risk?

Infographic Of The Day: The Future Of Supply Chain Automation

As COVID-19 disrupts global supply chains, we take a look at how industries are investing in automation, and what this tells us about the future.

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. .

Chinese Military Cyber Spies Just Caught Crossing A ‘Very Dangerous’ New Line

Zak Doffman

“This is the most extensive operation we have ever reported by a Chinese APT group,” the cyber researchers at Check Point told me, warning just how “targeted and sophisticated” this five-year campaign had been. Multiple overseas governments have been compromised by this threat group’s cyber weapons, and those government systems have been used to attack other countries.

The military espionage group’s tactics, described by Check Point as “very dangerous,” involved hijacking diplomatic communication channels to target specific computers in particular ministries. The malware-laced communications might be sent from an overseas embassy to ministries in its home country, or to government entities in its host country. “The group has introduced a new cyber weapon crafted to gather intelligence on a wide scale, but also to follow intelligence officers directives to look for a specific filename on a specific machine.”

Meet Naikon, a cyber reconnaissance unit with links to the People’s Liberation Army, outed in a ThreatConnect and Defense Group Inc. report in 2015. Back then, the group’s operations were described as “regional computer network operations, signals intelligence, and political analysis of the Southeast Asian border nations, particularly those claiming disputed areas of the energy-rich South China Sea.”

And while Naikon has been seemingly quiet since then, nothing has changed. Check Point told me that it has actually been “penetrating diplomats’ PCs and taking over ministerial servers—making the group very successful in gathering intelligence from high-profile personnel and able to control critical assets.” The regional focus is the same. During those five-years, Naikon’s cyber weapons have targeted Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and Brunei.

Securing America From China’s Predatory Economic Tactics Begins With Protecting Our Businesses .

By Mark Green
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The global economy is clearly at a vulnerable point due to the coronavirus pandemic that the Chinese Communist Party failed to prevent from spreading across the globe. And given the CCP’s notorious lack of ethical boundaries, we have learned to expect the worst from them. If the CCP is not afraid to kill their own innocent civilians and apprehend dissidents in Hong Kong, then they certainly are not hesitant to advance their quest for hegemony by the acquisition of distressed companies whose technologies advance America’s national security.

China’s actions to cover up their handling of the outbreak have shed new light on China’s hegemonic intentions.

It’s time for America to act.

Several weeks ago, a retired Army General and fellow Night Stalker shared with me his concerns about how the communist leadership of China is looking to take advantage of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. China has a long track record of swooping in with reams of cash, making strategic purchases of U.S. companies in the critical infrastructure, technology, and defense sectors. In 2017, The New York Times profiled a range of American startups working on cutting-edge military technologies that received large investments from Chinese firms, including the Boston-based artificial intelligence company Neurala, which took funding from a firm backed by a state-run Chinese company when the U.S. Air Force didn’t follow through on its interest. Fast forward to today—even NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has warned about China’s buying spree as asset prices fall during the pandemic.

The Day After Tomorrow


PRINCETON – When (and how) to end the COVID-19 lockdown has become the leading political question in every afflicted country. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has gone so far as to describe the increasingly intense debate as a collection of “discussion orgies.”

Germany's Federal Constitutional Court, heedless of the political consequences for Europe and Germany, has issued a ruling that risks sacrificing the euro and possibly even the European Union. An institution that, under Germany's Basic Law, no one governs is now out of control.3Add to Bookmarks

At the heart of the issue is the question of how to distribute the soaring economic and fiscal costs associated with the crisis. The closest historical analogy is to the twentieth century’s interwar period, which offered a crash course in navigating extreme fiscal circumstances.

Like the COVID-19 crisis, World War I was a prolonged affair, lasting much longer than people initially expected. In the summer of 1914, many assumed that it would all be over by Christmas. Likewise, in early 2020, many hoped that a brief shutdown would stop the spread of the virus in its tracks. In both cases, the economic shock was grossly underestimated at the outset.

Reviewing Vietnam’s ‘Struggle’ Options in the South China Sea

By Derek Grossman

Once again, Chinese assertiveness against Vietnam in the South China Sea is on the rise. Beginning on April 3, a Chinese coast guard ship sunk a Vietnamese fishing vessel in disputed waters off the Paracel Islands, and ten days later, on April 13, Beijing redeployed the controversial Haiyang Dizhi 8 geological survey ship, which it had used last year to harass international drilling near Vanguard Bank, to Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). And on April 18, Beijing announced that it had established administrative control over the disputed Paracel and Spratly Islands. 

Following this new round of escalating bilateral tensions, Vietnam has publicly protested each Chinese move. But these statements have yet to alter Beijing’s bad behavior. So the question naturally becomes: beyond publicly airing grievances, what else could Vietnam do to curtail Chinese assertiveness in the future? 

As I have previously discussed, Vietnam’s approach to international relations, and China particularly, is one of “cooperation and struggle.” In other words, Hanoi has consistently sought to keep bilateral ties with Beijing cordial and productive in spite of simultaneously pushing back in the South China Sea and other areas of the relationship. Indeed, Vietnam refers to China as a “comprehensive strategic cooperative partner”— the highest distinction Hanoi offers any major power partner. Of Vietnam’s three “comprehensive strategic partners” (China, India, and Russia), or closest major power partnerships, only China holds the additional title of being a “cooperative” partner — underscoring the exceptional priority Hanoi places on cooperating with its much larger northern neighbor. 

China’s Strategy for Hollowing out Hong Kong

By Simon Shen

While the world is preoccupied with a fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been tightening its political grip on all aspects of Hong Kong’s civil society. Rumor has it that Beijing will push through legislating national security laws under Article 23 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law by unconventional means, such as massively disqualifying pro-democratic legislators or even directly applying a national law, widely argued as a major step to destroy the rights and freedom of Hong Kongers, and bring Chinese authoritarianism to Hong Kong. 

After the 2019 protests, the administration of Carrie Lam, who theoretically is still leading the special administrative region of China, has little political capital at stake, with its legitimacy reaching rock bottom. The pro-government camp has dwindling prospects for the city’s upcoming Legislative Council election. The government‘s ”nothing to lose“ mentality is apparent from its recent blatant reinterpretation of the Basic Law’s Article 22 (another article that limits the influence of China’s offices in Hong Kong’s internal affairs). The debate is nothing new, but the pressure this time is quite different. 

Tokyo Prods Japanese Firms to Leave China

By Mercy A. Kuo

The Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into the U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. David Arase, Resident Professor of International Politics at the Johns Hopkins University Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies, explores Japan’s recent push to move critical production away from China. 

Explain the rationale behind Tokyo’s recent $2.2 billion stimulus package to help Japanese companies to move production out of China. 

There are two immediate reasons to reduce supply chain dependence on China. One is that many Japanese firms have “bet on China” and depend exclusively on Chinese factories and firms to provide critically important goods. COVID-19 highlighted the risk of making China a single point-of-failure in Japan’s global and regional supply chains. The lesson is that Japanese firms must expect disruption, diversify risk, and design redundancy into supply chains, especially for products critically important to Japan’s stability and security. 

Assessing the Early Response to Beijing’s Pandemic Diplomacy

by Kirk Lancaster and Michael Rubin

Since the COVID-19 epidemic has gone global, China has launched a campaign to cast itself as a global health leader. Chinese government entities, NGOs, and corporations have sent medical teams, personal protective equipment (PPE), and testing kits to dozens of countries around the world. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also has revived the Health Silk Road moniker in a branding effort to promote its health leadership abroad and redeem its international image.

But it appears this extension of political goodwill is being met with some resistance. From South and Southeast Asia to Europe and Africa, governments are reacting to China’s so-called mask diplomacy with attitudes closely in line with prior attitudes toward China. What could have been an opportunity for Beijing to display prudent, thoughtful leadership in addressing the novel coronavirus has devolved into diplomatic self-defeat. Among a sample of countries targeted by Beijing’s post-COVID-19 diplomatic and propaganda push, thus far it appears that the COVID-19 pandemic—and the Chinese government’s international response—has primarily reinforced pre-existing relationships and sentiments.

CFR fellows and other experts assess the latest issues emerging in Asia today. 1-3 times weekly.

The World and the Middle East in 2021: Four Scenarios

Itai Brun

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

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

Coronavirus lockdown could trigger 1.4 million extra tuberculosis deaths, study shows

New disease models showed that social distancing could lead to a disastrous rebound in TB infections
A three-month lockdown followed by a 10-month ‘recovery’ period could lead to an additional 6 million infections by 2025, the study found

Indian paramilitary personnel patrol a deserted street during a lockdown in Gauhati. Photo: AP

The global lockdown caused by Covid-19 risks a “devastating” surge in tuberculosis cases, with nearly 1.4 million additional deaths from the world’s biggest infectious killer by 2025, new research showed on Wednesday.

TB, a bacterial infection that normally attacks patients’ lungs, is largely treatable yet still infects an estimated 10 million people every year.

In 2018, it killed around 1.5 million people, according to the World Health Organisation, including more than 200,000 children.

Since effective medication exists, the world’s TB response is centred on testing and treating as many patients as possible.

Singapore Is Trying to Forget Migrant Workers Are People

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In the evening of April 25, residential blocks in Singapore burst into coordinated cacophony as people participated in “Sing Together Singapore!”—an initiative aimed at expressing support for the country’s front-line and migrant workers.

The song of choice was “Home,” a popular patriotic song with poignant verses that seem particularly relevant at a difficult time: “When there are troubles to go through / We’ll find a way to start anew / There is comfort in the knowledge / That home’s about its people too.”

But who is included in the “people” that “home” is about? While Singapore might be willing to organize a singalong as a show of #SGUnited solidarity, actual solidarity is in limited supply when it comes to the thousands of migrant workers now stuck in their dormitories as a second outbreak ravages the city-state that once prided itself on its success against the coronavirus. Instead, policy and public discussions clearly segregate—both physically and rhetorically—migrant workers from the rest of the population.

The 2020 Oil Crash’s Unlikely Winner: Saudi Arabia

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With 4 billion people around the world under lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic grows, demand for gasoline, jet fuel, and other petroleum products is in freefall, as are oil prices. The price of a barrel of crude has been so low in the United States that sellers recently had to pay people to take it off their hands. As a result, oil-dependent economies are reeling. In the United States, the largest oil producer in the world, the number of rigs drilling for oil has plummeted 50 percent in just two months, almost 40 percent of oil and gas producers could be insolvent within the year, and 220,000 oil workers are projected to lose their jobs. Around the world, petrostates from Nigeria to Iraq to Kazakhstan are struggling and their currencies tanking. Some, like Venezuela, face an economic and social abyss.

While 2020 will be remembered as a year of carnage for oil nations, however, at least one will most likely emerge from the pandemic stronger, both economically and geopolitically: Saudi Arabia.

First, Saudi Arabia is proving that its finances can weather a storm such as this.
Saudi Arabia is proving that its finances can weather a storm such as this. Low oil prices are, of course, painful for a country that needs around $80 per barrel to balance its public budget, which is why Moody’s cut Saudi Arabia’s financial outlook last Friday. Saudi Arabia ran a $9 billion deficit in the first quarter of 2020. Like other nations, the kingdom has also seen tax revenues fall as it imposes economic restrictions to halt the pandemic’s spread. Last week, the Saudi finance minister said that government spending would need to be “cut deeply” and some parts of the kingdom’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan would be delayed.

How Drones Could Mission Kill a U.S. Destroyer

By Lieutenant (J.G.) Artem Sherbinin, U.S. Navy, and First Lieutenant Richard Kuzma
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“Navy Destroyer Attacked!” was the headline of every U.S. newspaper and morning talk show on 12 October 2020, the 20-year anniversary of the al Qaeda attack on the USS Cole (DDG-67). A terrorist group used a swarm of drones carrying explosives to cripple the radars and weapon systems of the USS John Basilone (DDG-122) only months before she was due to deploy with her carrier strike group. The John Basilone was moored at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach and in the process of onloading missiles and ammunition. 

The drone threat has been around for years, but the Navy has yet to prioritize defending against these easily acquired weapons. Amid preparations for a high-end fight, the Navy still is vulnerable to an adversary trading thousand-dollar drones for billion-dollar warships. 
How It Could Happen

The Islamic State first used explosive-carrying drones in 2016, and a do-it-yourself drone swarm attack was reported in Syria in 2018. Terrorist groups can purchase high-end commercially available hobbyist drones for around $2,000, masking the money trail by purchasing drones over time from multiple brick-and-mortar stores or by using cryptocurrencies at online retailers.

Russia's military aggression against Ukraine continues

By Jed Babbin 
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Even when they shouldn’t, the media and most politicians ignore small wars, especially those that are stalemated. There has been a virtual news blackout on Russia’s revanchist war to conquer Ukraine. That war deserves greater attention, and Ukraine deserves increased support, because it is a struggle between freedom and slavery.

Russia’s war on Ukraine began in February 2014, when it seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine. The “little green men” — Russian troops, in uniforms without Russian markings, and mercenaries — seized Crimea, forcing a sham election in which the Crimean people purportedly chose to become part of the Russian Federation. Weeks later, Russia formally annexed Crimea.

During that same February, violent anti-government protests resulted in Ukraine’s comprehensively corrupt president, Viktor Yanukovych (a favored ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin) fleeing to Russia. The leader of the Ukrainian parliament, Oleksandr Turchynov, was then chosen by parliament as interim president. He served as president until May, when Petro Poroshenko was inaugurated president. Mr. Turchynov then became secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, a cabinet post roughly equivalent to combining the U.S. posts of secretary of Defense and the secretary of Homeland Security.

E.U. Is Facing Its Worst Recession Ever. Watch Out, World.

By Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Jack Ewing

BRUSSELS — The good news for Europe is that the worst of the pandemic is beginning to ease. This week deaths in Italy hit a nearly two-month low. And the German leader Angela Merkel announced that schools, day care centers and restaurants would reopen in the next few days.

But the relief could be short-lived.

The European Commission released projections on Wednesday that Europe’s economy will shrink by 7.4 percent this year. A top official told residents of the European Union, first formed in the aftermath of the Second World War, to expect the “deepest economic recession in its history.”

To put this figure in perspective, the 27-nation bloc’s economy had been predicted to grow by 1.2 percent this year. In 2009, at the back of the global financial crisis, it shrank by 4.5 percent.

It’s a grim reminder that even if the virus dissipates, the economic fallout could pressure the world economy for months, if not years.

The Evolving Nature of War

By Douglas J. Feith and Shaul Chorev
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Douglas J. Feith is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and served as Under Secretary of Defense for Policy from July 2001 until August 2005. Admiral Chorev, who heads the Research Center for Maritime Strategy at the University of Haifa, served as Deputy Chief of the Israeli Navy and as head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission. This article is excerpted and adapted from a recent report entitled “The Eastern Mediterranean in the New Era of Major-Power Competition” by the University of Haifa-Hudson Institute Consortium on the Eastern Mediterranean. [1]

Throughout history, wars generally hinged on clashes of arms. To win, a party had to defeat its enemy’s military forces. For the United States since the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 1970s, however, the only conflict of this conventional model was the Gulf War of 1990-91. Israeli wars have not conformed to that model since the end of the 1973 October (Yom Kippur) War. Having remained largely unchanged for millennia, the character of war has changed radically only in recent decades. Inter-state battlefield clashes of arms are now rare, although the amount of tanks, mechanized weapons and fighter aircraft that exist in arsenals around the world means that traditional arms clashes remain possible.

Japan's response to COVID-19: A preliminary assessment

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WASHINGTON – In the four months since the new coronavirus spread from China to become a global pandemic infecting over 3 million individuals and resulting in more than 200,000 deaths, each country has responded to the crisis in its own way, reflecting that society’s politics, economy, institutions, health care system, culture and values.

Because we are still in the midst of the pandemic, it is too early to conclude which countries have been the most effective in managing the crisis. But at this point, public health experts agree that Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia and Germany have been among the more successful in containing the virus. Singapore and Hong Kong were considered relatively successful at first, but the positive early results were brought into question by subsequent relapses.

When measured based on the number of deaths per 1 million population, the countries that have suffered the most include Spain (548 per million), Italy (481), the United Kingdom (423), France (386), Sweden (283), and the United States (213). Comparable data for the more successful cases are as follows: Taiwan (0.3), Hong Kong (0.5), Singapore (three), Japan (four), Australia (four), New Zealand (four), South Korea (five) and Germany (83).

The case of Japan

COVID-19: Trouble on the China-Russia Border

By Ankur Shah
Suifenhe is a county-level city on the eastern edge of China’s 4,300-kilometer border with Russia. It is 2,000 km away from Wuhan, where the COVID-19 crisis began late last year, and until recently, the epidemic may have felt quite distant. 

Locally, Suifenhe is best known for a series of increasingly extravagant national gates in its land port, which are designed to project China’s progress over recent decades, in the face of Russia’s simultaneous decline. During the current pandemic, however, this land port was repurposed as a collective quarantine site for 1,479 Chinese citizens. 

This is the result of the hasty return of Chinese citizens domiciled in Russia, which has seen Suifenhe replace Wuhan as the new focal point in China’s domestic struggle to contain COVID-19. As of April 20, 2020, almost 2,500 nationals had re-entered China via the city’s land port. Of them, 377 were diagnosed with COVID-19, with 27 designated as “asymptomatic” cases in China’s terminology. 

Most of these Chinese nationals left Moscow by flight, transiting through Vladivostok en route to Pogranichny, which borders Suifenhe. The precise source of their urgency to leave Russia is unclear. According to a state newspaper, Chinese businessmen spread rumors online, encouraging their compatriots in Moscow to flee the country. It is likely that they felt that China was a safer option than Russia to weather the crisis. 

Trends in World Military Expenditure, 2019

Here is SIPRI’s data-​rich synopsis of global military expenditures for 2019. This year’s key findings include that 1) global military expenditure is estimated to have risen to 1,917 billion USD in 2019, the highest level since 1988 and an increase of 3.6 per cent in real terms from 2018; 2) world military spending rose in each of the last five years, having decreased steadily from 2011 until 2014; 3) US military spending grew by 5.3 per cent to 732 billion USD; 4) there were also increases in military spending by China (5.1 per cent), India (6.8 per cent) and Russia (4.5 per cent); 5) spending fell in Saudi Arabia by 16 per cent, and more.

Author Nan Tian, Alexandra Kuimova, Diego Lopes da Silva, Pieter Wezeman, Siemon Wezeman