17 May 2020

China, India and the political economy of medical supplies

Stein Sundstøl Eriksen
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• 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

Afghanistan To Resume ‘Offensive’ Actions Against Taliban In Blow To Peace Deal

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How that will affect U.S. plans is anybody’s guess.

Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has ordered Afghan forces to resume “offensive” actions against the Taliban, dealing what some analysts say is a fatal blow to the fragile U.S.-brokered peace process.

Ghani made the announcement in a national address Tuesday night in Kabul, hours after a brutal attack on a maternity ward in the western part of the city killed 14 women and children. The Taliban have denied the attack, but it comes amid a sharp escalation in violence from the group in the 45 days since the deal was inked. 

“If the Taliban cannot control the violence, or their sponsors have now subcontracted their terror to other entities —which was one of our primary concerns from the beginning— then their [sic] seems little point in continuing to engage Taliban in ‘peace talks’,” Afghan national security advisor Hamdullah Mohib said in a Twitter post

The Afghan government was not a party to the negotiations that led to the peace deal in Afghanistan, and the exact impact of Ghani’s announcement is a matter of debate. It was not clear to what extent U.S. military leaders in Kabul were consulted before Ghani’s announcement, or whether U.S. forces will be supporting their Afghan partners in resumed offensive operations against the Taliban. Also unclear is the impact on the U.S.’s withdrawal plans. 

China’s Dual-Capable Missiles: A Dangerous Feature, Not a Bug

By Ankit Panda

Over at Popular Science, Peter W. Singer and Ma Xiu draw attention to China’s DF-26 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM). The DF-26 is not only notable for being a system tailor-made for payload delivery to the U.S. territory of Guam, but for its dual capability. It is currently the longest-range system in the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force explicitly designed for compatibility with conventional and nuclear payloads alike.

As Singer and Ma note, this creates more than a few dangerous scenarios: for instance, in a conflict, the United States would be tempted to target DF-26 battalions to ensure that it could sustain operations into the Western Pacific and past the First Island Chain from its military facilities on Guam. But conducting such an attack would amount to nuclear counterforce given that any given DF-26 launcher could play a role for nuclear retaliation by China.

A separate scenario concerns China launching a conventional DF-26 during a conflict. With space-based early warning sensors able to notify the United States of a launch, planners may reason that such a launch could be a nuclear one. Here, China’s stated posture of No First Use might have little to do in shaping U.S. assumptions, especially as many in the U.S. government (certainly in the Trump administration) already view China’s No First Use declaration with skepticism.

China Uses Pandemic to Boost Military Pressure on Taiwan

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China has intensified a campaign of military and diplomatic pressure against Taiwan as the spread of the coronavirus pandemic has intensified around the world, according to a congressional report provided to Foreign Policy, as Republicans are pushing the Trump administration to support a closer alliance with the island nation. 

The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a two-decade-old board made up of members appointed by both Democrats and Republicans, is warning that Chinese military forces are engaging in repeated aggressive actions, buzzing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, and tracing the borders of the mountainous island with fighter aircraft.

The uptick in aggression near embattled Taiwan is likely to further raise tensions between China and the United States that have already been on a high over the spread of the novel coronavirus. In January, the U.S. Department of Defense asked Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which makes components for the U.S. military’s F-35 fighter jet, to begin producing parts in the United States, fearing Chinese interference. The Pentagon’s top official for East Asia, Heino Klinck, also paid an unofficial visit to the island in November 2019 to examine options to shore up its defenses. 

Let’s Say There’s a Covid-19 Vaccine—Who Gets It First?

THE RACE TO find a vaccine against Covid-19 is well underway. It has to be—without one, the Before Time is never coming back. More than a hundred candidates are cooking, most still preliminary. A handful are in early human studies, three in Phase II clinical trials designed to see if they actually confer immunity to the disease.

But nobody thinks finding a winner will be easy; vaccine development typically takes years. That’s time researchers and governments don’t feel like they have. Globally, more than 4 million people have gotten sick, and 280,000 have died. People sheltering in place and the closure of businesses has cost 30 million jobs in the United States alone. As the famed virologist Peter Piot wrote in an account of his own experience after getting sick with Covid-19, “the only real exit strategy from this crisis is a vaccine that can be rolled out worldwide.”

US Risks Losing 5G Standard Setting Battle To China, Experts Say

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Washington is faltering due to a lack of coherent policy on a wide swathe of foundational issues such as spectrum management for 5G usage, network supply chain security, infrastructure development and data sharing, experts say.

As Breaking D readers know, the question of spectrum access is at the heart of DoD’s fierce battle to overturn the FCC’s approval last month of a plan by Ligado to convert L-band spectrum for satellites to build a terrestrial 5G mobile communications network that DoD and many other US agencies say will jam GPS receivers.

“The US-China competition is essentially about who will control the global information technology infrastructure and standards,” said Frank Rose, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution and former assistant secretary of State for arms control, during a Brooking’s webinar on Friday. “I think an argument can be made that in the 21st century, whoever controls the information infrastructure will dominate the world.”

Why China’s Technology Theft Poses a Bigger Challenge Than That of the Soviet Union

By Robert Farley

In the context of ongoing discussions of Chinese technology theft, it’s worth revisiting how the Soviet Union sought to acquire U.S. technology during the Cold War. A CIA report on the acquisition efforts of Soviet and allied intelligence services from 1982 (declassified in 1999) sheds light on the Soviet effort, and offers an opportunity to contrast that effort with modern-day China’s. While the Soviets had some advantages, the lack of dynamism in their economy and the lack of extensive economic contacts with the West left them unable to take advantage of technological acquisitions to the same extent as contemporary China.

The Soviet effort was immense and was centrally directed, using communications intercepts, open source collection, and human intelligence assets. It took advantage of scientific and technical exchanges between East and West, multilateral scientific organizations, and communist-owned firms in Western countries. It placed agents in industrial, commercial, and political positions, and sought to acquire tacit knowledge (or “know how”) associated with industrial processes that could increase the quality and reduce the cost of military equipment. Most of the successful acquisition operations happened outside the United States, with the Soviets taking advantage of local firms in countries that had more extensive trade connections with the Eastern Bloc than did the United States. This was a necessary cost of both the arms export policies of the United States and the decision to pursue creation of a broad, multinational industrial base, both of which contributed to the transfer of technology.

The Geography of COVID-19 and a Vulnerable Global Food System

William G. Moseley

Late last month, as the coronavirus continued to spread across the globe, the World Food Program warned of a “hunger pandemic.” With lockdowns constraining the incomes of the poor and supply chain disruptions preventing food from reaching consumers, pandemic-related hunger and malnutrition could eventually take more lives than the disease itself. Understanding the geography of the pandemic and the vulnerability of different food systems is critical for a well-informed response.

According to the WFP, there are now 821 million people in the world who go to bed hungry every night, and an additional 135 million face crisis levels of hunger or starvation. That latter number could nearly double to 265 million by the end of the year because of COVID-19.

While global hunger had been declining for years, the trend reversed a few years ago as food insecurity levels began to creep up again, with military conflicts in many regions and recent locust infestations in East Africa being some of the major drivers. As such, coronavirus-related food security problems come on top of already troubling worldwide trends.

What Does Washington Want From China?

By Christopher R. Hill

During one of the Balkan wars in the 1990s, a group of senior officials met in the White House Situation Room and listened to a proposal for bombing Serbia yet again in retribution for the latest outrage by its dictator, Slobodan Milosevic. As the officials, almost all civilians, discussed the options, they turned to the U.S. military representative at the meeting for his view of the proposed new bombing campaign. He answered with a question: “And then what?”

Policy and strategy should be tethered to answering that question. That simple fact is especially true in great-power relations, when one country’s ability to affect internal change in the other is at best proscribed, and efforts to do so may backfire. Newtonian laws apply to foreign policy and national security matters as much as they do to the physical world: every action does indeed lead to an equal and opposite reaction. Rarely does the receiver of the action simply turn the other cheek and carry on.

There is no question that China grossly misbehaved in not being transparent with the rest of the world about what was happening in Wuhan. But although China seemed to be covering up the outbreak during those chaotic days in December, it is also very possible that Chinese health and security agencies simply didn’t know what they were dealing with in Hubei Province as thousands of citizens descended on an overmatched health system. The question of who knew what and when they knew it will in time be answered, largely because that question is being asked the world over—especially by the shaken Chinese public, for whom the effects of this virus are very raw even as the government claims to be achieving victory over it. 

The Apple–Google Partnership to Fight COVID-19: Understanding the Promises and Perils of Digital Contact Tracing

Klon Kitchen
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On April 10, 2020, Apple and Google announced a partnership to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Mobile devices manufactured by the two tech giants will support digital contact tracing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This digital tracing promises to increase the scale and speed of tracing the contacts of those who test positive for the virus, and also provokes questions about security and privacy. This Issue Brief answers basic questions about how the—voluntary—use of this technology will work, and how privacy can be protected.


Apple and Google have announced that their mobile devices—99 percent of the U.S. market—will soon support voluntary digital contact tracing in response to COVID-19.

Industry and government should adopt a set of standards that maximize the utility of digital-contact-tracing apps while assuaging legitimate privacy concerns.

These apps should collect the minimum amount of data necessary, and ensure that data are anonymous, encrypted, and unavailable for use by law enforcement.

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Covid-19 in Europe-China Relations: A country-level analysisSpecial Report of the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC), 29 April 2020


Analysis from 19 countries reveals the complexities of Europe’s relations with China amid the Covid-19 crisis.

This report, which brings together experts from across the continent, is a collaborative effort of the 21 research institutes that make up the European Think-tank Network on China (ETNC), of which Ifri is a founding member.

As explained by John Seaman, editor of the report and Research Fellow in Ifri’s Center for Asian Studies, the Covid-19 crisis represents the first time that China has figured so prominently on an issue of immediately critical importance to European citizens, governments, and the European project more broadly. The way that relations with China evolve over the course of the crisis will likely have a lasting effect on the Europe-China relationship.

Why Empowering Warlordism Is A National Security Threat To Afghanistan’s Lasting Peace – OpEd

By M. Iqbal Dawari*

Warlordism permeates many weak and vulnerable states. The shortsighted and frequently vicious roles of warlords deprive countries of the chance for enduring stability, economic growth, justice, and equality. This isn’t a new phenomenon; warlords have arisen through history in a variety of continents. Local warlords and their militias thrive during periods of war, conflict, and political fragility- conditions that are necessary for the alliance of power and the raising of revenues. Warlords often attempt to incite unrest and instability for their faction interests. They not only imposed taxes on the people on the regions they control but also through duties on business and, in many cases, illicit activities like drug trade and human trafficking. In return, they provide their population with protection, security, and in some areas public services to some extent. 

Warlordism has four following specs in common: First, strong-armed men exploit the disintegration of central authority to take over relatively small areas. Second, their moves and calculations are based on parochial interests, not ideology. Third, the source of their authority is based on charisma and sponsorship bonds to their mercenaries and followers. This narcissistic rule leads to the dissolution of political and economic arrangements throughout the country, disrupting the free flow of trade and making business and commerce volatile.

Moscow’s War in Syria

This report examines Russia’s military and diplomatic campaign in Syria, the largest and most significant Russian out-of-area operation since the end of the Cold War. Russia’s experience in Syria will shape its military thinking, influence promotion and personnel decisions, impact research and development for its arms industry, and expand its influence in the Middle East and beyond for the foreseeable future. Yet despite the importance of Russia’s involvement in Syria—especially as the United States competes with countries such as Russia and China—there has been little systematic analysis of Russia’s campaign in Syria. This research aims to help fill the gap and provides some new analysis and data. It conducts a broad assessment of the Russian campaign—including political objectives, diplomatic initiatives, and civilian targeting—which places the military campaign in a wider context. In addition, it compiles a data set of Russia’s civilian targeting and analyzes satellite imagery of Russian activity.

Overall, this report concludes that Russia was relatively successful in achieving its main near-term political and military objectives in Syria, including preventing the collapse of the Assad regime (an important regional partner) and thwarting a possible U.S. attempt to overthrow Assad. Still, Russia used a systematic punishment campaign that involved attacks against civilian and humanitarian infrastructure in an attempt to deny resources—including food, fuel, and medical aid—to the opposition while simultaneously eroding the will of civilians to support opposition groups.

This report is made possible by support from the Diana Davis Spencer Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation.

The Elites Were Living High. Then Came the Fall.

By Annalee Newitz
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About 3,190 years ago, a merchant in Emar, a trading outpost in what is now northern Syria, sent a desperate letter to his boss, Urtenu, who lived in the rich metropolis of Ugarit, a city-state on the coast of Syria. “There is famine,” he wrote. “If you do not quickly arrive here, we ourselves will die of hunger.”

A long drought had left the hinterlands around Ugarit in a state of famine, wars were brewing, and there were likely plagues as well. Urtenu may not have realized it, but he was living through the last years of two wealthy cities, Ugarit and Mycenae, that dominated the eastern Mediterranean Sea during what historians call the Bronze Age, from roughly 3000 to 1200 B.C.E.

More than a thousand years before the Greeks invented democracy and the Romans undermined it with imperialism, these city-states of the Bronze Age laid the foundations for what is often called Western civilization. Homer recorded the myths of the Bronze Age in “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey,” and carved stone inscriptions of the pharaohs Hatshepsut and Thutmose III record the machinations of the Bronze Age elites. Although the rulers of the Bronze Age sometimes went to war, the true source of their power, like that of today’s biggest cities, was economic power secured through trade. The final decades of Ugarit and Mycenae tell us a lot about why cities fail — and who survives amid the ashes.

Dropping the Democratic Facade

Zselyke Csaky
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A growing number of leaders in Central and Eastern Europe have dropped even the pretense of playing by the rules of democracy. 

As the democratic consensus of the post–Cold War order has given way to great-power competition and the pursuit of self-interest, these politicians have stopped hiding behind a facade of nominal compliance. They are openly attacking democratic institutions and attempting to do away with any remaining checks on their power.

In the region stretching from Central Europe to Central Asia, this shift has accelerated assaults on judicial independence, threats against civil society and the media, the manipulation of electoral frameworks, and the hollowing out of parliaments, which no longer fulfill their role as centers of political debate and oversight of the executive. Antidemocratic leaders in the region continue to pay lip service to the skeletal, majoritarian element of democracy—claiming that they act according to the will of the people—but they do so only to justify their concentration of power and escalating violations of political rights and civil liberties.

Gulf States: Managing the Oil Crash

The Covid-19 outbreak is wreaking economic havoc across the world, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states are especially vulnerable. Oil revenues for the Gulf states will plummet for at least the first half of 2020. Both fiscal break-even oil prices (the price required to balance the budget) and external break-evens (the price required to keep the current account at zero) show large imbalances this year.

The GCC states are generally in good shape relative to most major oil exporters and have more options at their disposal. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, and Qatar all have ample room to draw on savings and to borrow. Oman and Bahrain are in weaker positions but still have access to capital markets. Bahrain can probably count on aid as well, although it has become increasingly dependent on Saudi Arabia. The GCC countries hope the current pain will be short-lived. If lockdowns subside by the second half of the year, economic activity resumes, and oil prices rebound, the damage may not be too severe. Indeed, as low-cost producers with spare capacity, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Kuwait would benefit more quickly than others if the market turns.

Compromising the Knowledge Economy

Glenn Tiffert is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a historian of modern China. His research has centered on Chinese legal history, the judiciary, and the genealogy of the rule of law in the People’s Republic of China. He works closely with government and university partners to strengthen resilience against authoritarian influence in the academic sector.

This report explores the compromising effects of sharp power on the civil society institutions that democratic societies depend on for knowledge production, including universities, publishers, and think tanks. Authoritarian regimes—China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and others—are exploiting unanticipated vulnerabilities in open knowledge economies to challenge free intellectual inquiry from the inside. By systematically coopting foreign partners, marginalizing or intimidating dissenters, controlling discourse, and globalizing their preferred narratives, these authoritarian regimes intend to discredit democracy, shore up their positions at home, and facilitate the projection of their power and interests abroad. Resisting the compromising effects of sharp power requires a communal awakening backed by heightened regulatory and institutional standards, major investments in employee training and compliance, robust monitoring, and the fortitude to say “no” to authoritarian influence.

Blundering Toward Nuclear Chaos

The nuclear dangers facing the United States, its allies, and the world are increasing.

Three years after entering office, the Trump administration lacks a coherent set of goals, a strategy to achieve them, or the personnel or effective policy process to address the most complex set of nuclear risks in U.S. history. Put simply, the current U.S. administration is blundering toward nuclear chaos with potentially disastrous consequences.

In May 2020, the American Nuclear Policy Initiative (ANPI), a task force of former government and non-governmental experts, released an objective analysis of U.S. nuclear policy under Donald Trump. “Blundering Toward Nuclear Chaos: The Trump Administration after Three Years” finds that all of the nuclear challenges facing the United States – some inherited by the president and others of his own creation – have worsened over the last three years, putting national and global security at greater risk of nuclear use.

Featuring seven essays from ANPI members, the report details the current administration’s efforts on the issues of nuclear proliferation, strategic stability, nuclear modernization, Iran, and North Korea. The papers are by some of the most experienced and insightful U.S. analysts of nuclear issues. 

Jamestown Foundation

· China Brief, May 1, 2020, v. 20, no.8

o Beijing Promotes “National Security” Measures to Seek Tighter Control Over Hong Kong

o "State Companies Advance and Private Firms Retreat” in China’s Bid to Resuscitate the Economy

o Global Supply Chains, Economic Decoupling, and U.S.-China Relations Part 2: The View from the People’s Republic of China

o Chinese Survey Vessel Incident Puts Malaysia’s South China Sea Approach Under Scrutiny

o Examining China’s Organ Transplantation System: The Nexus of Security, Medicine, and Predation Part 1: The Growth of China's Transplantation System Since 2000

Op-Ed: Why our defence sector needs a different approach to cyber security

When you think about Australia’s defence forces, it’s easy to focus on big-ticket items such as planes, ships and submarines. However, while these items are vital, attention also needs to be placed on cyber resources, explains Steve Coad, Cohesity country manager for Australia and New Zealand.

Australian government spending to mitigate potential cyber attacks and threats has been bolstered in recent years with the creation of “cyber sprint teams” within the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC), increasing coverage of security vulnerabilities across government systems, as well as the creation of the Cyber Security Response Fund.

This all comes in the wake of last year’s setback for the government when a major attack on systems caused havoc, and a subsequent proactive and coordinated upscale of systems followed.

Modern government and defence forces have become increasingly reliant on information technology. Equipment and software underpin everything from planning and management, and now even in-the-field combat and unmanned patrol aircraft.

Multiple Reality and the Future of Command and Control

By Robert Clifford

With ever-expanding human networks, the proliferation of cyberattacks, and the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), world instability is increasing, and it is often caused by population growth and migration. In this world, the Department of Defense will need a more robust and flexible command and control platform that can facilitate effective and collaborative communications, while providing a high degree of survivability through redundancy and dispersion. Maintaining fidelity and continuity across a disbursed staff, however, can be extremely challenging. Multiple Reality (MR) may provide staffs the flexibility in command and control and survivability needed in the future, allowing them to be widely disbursed while operating as highly cohesive entities.

The world has already entered a phase in its history where various people, groups, and organizations have a greater ability to interact than ever before. With these increased levels of interaction, human networks and ideas rapidly expand, subsequently acting to create new levels of prosperity as well as new tensions and conflicts. Whether by the exchange of ideas or the clash of cultures, security, and maintenance of the status quo will be a paramount concern for nations to maintain their traditional grip on power. As it is, massive population growth, social media, and large-scale migration are already straining existing states dealing with these issues. Change is happening faster than states can adapt to it, and AI and 5G networks will speed this change along at an even higher pace. At the same time, the proliferation of cybercrimes by nefarious and disenfranchised actors grows. As people and entities clash with each other in an ever-shrinking world, security concerns will rise in number. As the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and precision-guided munitions grow alongside an ability to collect data on high-value targets rapidly, current command and control structures will become obsolete, as they are too easily identifiable and targetable.

The Confessions of Marcus Hutchins, the Hacker Who Saved the Internet

AT AROUND 7 am on a quiet Wednesday in August 2017, Marcus Hutchins walked out the front door of the Airbnb mansion in Las Vegas where he had been partying for the past week and a half. A gangly, 6'4", 23-year-old hacker with an explosion of blond-brown curls, Hutchins had emerged to retrieve his order of a Big Mac and fries from an Uber Eats deliveryman. But as he stood barefoot on the mansion's driveway wearing only a T-shirt and jeans, Hutchins noticed a black SUV parked on the street—one that looked very much like an FBI stakeout.

He stared at the vehicle blankly, his mind still hazed from sleep deprivation and stoned from the legalized Nevada weed he'd been smoking all night. For a fleeting moment, he wondered: Is this finally it?

Career Military Officers and Political Appointments

Last month, news outlets reported the Trump administration had selected a retired Army brigadier general to be the next under secretary of defense for policy (USDP). The selection was part of a Trump administration trend: tapping retired military officers to fill a role traditionally occupied by political appointees with civilian careers. Although commentary over the course of the Trump administration has noted the president’s frequent use of retired military personnel to fill political jobs, questions linger about whether these choices pose problems for the military or for politics.

Q1: What does it mean that OSD is a civilian organization?

A1: The secretary of defense’s staff plays an essential role in civilian control of the U.S. military. One of six senate-confirmed under secretaries in the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), the USDP oversees five civilian assistant secretaries, who are also confirmed by the Senate, and who, in turn, manage 21 deputy assistant secretaries. Together, these civilian officials oversee everything from defense strategy to global military operations to what kind of military hardware the Department of Defense (DOD) should buy.

According to the official job description, the USDP is supposed to be “appointed from civilian life by the President.” This rule dates to when the modern DOD was designed after World War II. Having politically appointed civilians in charge helps ensure that people with experiences outside the military can monitor and shape DOD activities. These officials also ensure an administration’s policy priorities are aligned with the military’s purposes and limits, an effort that requires balancing among and against different service priorities.

The War of Attrition: Three Wars – One Story

Dov Tamari 
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In 2019, the Israeli media covered the fiftieth anniversary of the War of Attrition, which was fought mainly against Egypt, and on a smaller scale, was waged along the ceasefire lines with Jordan and Syria. The War of Attrition resulted in 968 fatalities and 3,730 wounded, 260 of whom were combatants in the Suez Canal […]

In 2019, the Israeli media covered the fiftieth anniversary of the War of Attrition, which was fought mainly against Egypt, and on a smaller scale, was waged along the ceasefire lines with Jordan and Syria. The War of Attrition resulted in 968 fatalities and 3,730 wounded, 260 of whom were combatants in the Suez Canal arena. On June 16, 2019, four former IDF Chiefs of Staff were interviewed on the Israeli television channel Kan, and recalled their memories of that war. All four men, who are deserving of much esteem for their military service and their dedication to the State of Israel, fought during the War of Attrition as junior officers, and their stories were replete with the nostalgia typical of those recalling painful past experiences. However, during the program, none of the four addressed the question of the relevance of that war to the present day.

Shortcomings in the Appointment Process for the IDF Chief of Staff

Yagil Levy

Despite his powerful role, the IDF Chief of Staff is not appointed in a transparent process. There is thus room for a public debate prior to the appointment of the Chief of Staff, initiated by the media and agents of civil society, through which the public will be exposed to the mark left by the candidates in their previous roles and to their stances on issues over which the Chief of Staff wields decisive influence.

IDF Spokeperson's Unit

The IDF Chief of Staff is the most influential actor to shape Israel’s military policy after the Prime Minister, and has more than once overshadowed the Minister of Defense. He has the ability to lead the government to a military escalation (for example, Yitzhak Rabin prior to the Six Day War, Shaul Mofaz with the outbreak of the second intifada, Gadi Eisenkot against Iran in Syria). At the same time, he also has the ability to stop escalations urged by the political echelon, a role that Gabi Ashkenazi, for instance, apparently played in relation to the Netanyahu government’s intention to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities in 2010. Chiefs of Staff have also played a key role in the government’s ability to confer legitimacy on military restraint (such as Moshe Levy in his support of the military’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 1985, or Amnon Lipkin-Shahak in his support of the Oslo process in the mid-1990s), or to threaten such restraint (Moshe Ya’alon could have thwarted the disengagement in 2005 had he not been faced with a determined right wing government led by retired generals Sharon and Mofaz).

The power of the Chief of Staff can be illustrated well by the influence of Gadi Eisenkot, who served between 2015 and 2019. Independently, without any official national security concept endorsed by the political echelon, Eisenkot drew up a document outlining a strategy that anchors an offensive approach, and formulated a multi-year plan for the military that defined priorities for force buildup. Eisenkot was the architect of the restraint in the West Bank when the “knives intifada” broke out, and supported an arrangement with Hamas in the Gaza Strip. He was identified with the escalatory approach toward the Iranian presence in Syria and Lebanon, as well as with the approach that championed the preservation of the nuclear agreement between the Western powers and Iran. Eisenkot was also more influential than his predecessors in redesigning the IDF’s recruitment policy which, through a series of steps, may accelerate the future process of ending the draft.