22 May 2020

The Naku La Incident

Map of Naku La area

As soon as China recovered from the dreaded Covid19, it started a new battle, an Information Warfare (IW) to change the way the world presently perceives the Middle Kingdom. In the process, Beijing found it sometimes necessary to show force, and the recent incident in Northern Sikkim and in Ladakh should be seen in this perspective.
Since the outbreak of the virus in December, the Communist regime discovered that it had not many friends on the planet. Even Vladimir Putin was targeted by Beijing asking the Russian authorities not to discriminate against Chinese citizens; reports had appeared of police raids in Moscow against people from China evading quarantine measures.

The IW counterattack

Soon Beijing decided to counterattack. Zhao Lijian, one of China’s sharp shooters and now a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, alleged that the Americans were at the origin of the virus.

Another shot came from the Chinese Embassy in Australia who emailed local journalists, accusing them of “politicizing the coronavirus” by saying it originated in China “without any supporting facts.”

U.S. Intelligence: Iran Is Not a Threat To U.S.-Led Peace Process In Afghanistan

by Matthew Petti 

Pompeo had claimed in January that Iran is “actively working to undermine the peace process.” But the Defense Intelligence Agency painted a much different picture for U.S. government investigators supervising the war effort in Afghanistan, claiming that Iranian goals match up with a recent U.S.-Taliban peace deal and downplaying the threat of Iranian-backed forces.

The DIA told the Lead Inspector General in a Tuesday report that Iran has not indicated that it will “actively oppose” the peace accords, which call for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

“Iran’s strategic objectives relating to Afghanistan continue to be maintaining a stable Afghan central government and security along Iran’s eastern border,” the Lead Inspector General wrote in a Tuesday report, summarizing the DIA’s statements. “Iran’s objectives also include protecting Shia populations, eliminating [the Islamic State in Central Asia], opposing the U.S. presence in the region, and securing Iranian economic interests.”

US semiconductor giant shuts China factory hailed as ‘a miracle’, in blow to Beijing’s chip plans

Sidney Leng
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Beijing boasted that the final total investment in the GlobalFoundries plant could be US$10 billion. The plant was intended to produce 300mm wafers, a key material in making chips, but production never started at the 65,000 square metre facility, which was completed mid-2018. Photo: Weibo

US chip giant GlobalFoundries has halted operations at a joint venture factory in China, the company has confirmed, dealing a potential blow to China’s bid to own a bigger slice of the global semiconductor market.

The closure of the firm’s only China facility comes just three years after it announced plans to make chips in the mainland, and comes amid an escalating tech war with the United States.

The winding down, however, has little to do with the fierce 

superpower rivalry. It comes after two years of speculation as to what was actually happening at the US$100 million facility, which was hailed as “a miracle” by local media when announced to fanfare in 2017, but which never got off the ground.

China updates its ‘Art of (Hybrid) War’

A Chinese anti-US propaganda poster from the Korean War era. Photo: Facebook

In 1999, Qiao Liang, then a senior air force colonel in the People’s Liberation Army, and Wang Xiangsui, another senior colonel, caused a tremendous uproar with the publication of Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America.

Unrestricted Warfare was essentially the PLA’s manual for asymmetric warfare: an updating of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. At the time of original publication, with China still a long way from its current geopolitical and geo-economic clout, the book was conceived as laying out a defensive approach, far from the sensationalist “destroy America” added to the title for US publication in 2004. 

Now the book is available in a new edition and Qiao Liang, as a retired general and director of the Council for Research on National Security, has resurfaced in a quite revealing interview originally published in the current edition of the Hong Kong-based magazine Zijing (Bauhinia). 

General Qiao is not a Politburo member entitled to dictate official policy. But some analysts I talked with agree that the key points he makes in a personal capacity are quite revealing of PLA thinking. Let’s review some of the highlights. 
Dancing with wolves

The Coming Post-COVID Anarchy

By Kevin Rudd

In January and February of this year, there was audible popping of champagne corks in certain quarters of the U.S. foreign policy establishment. What some observers had long seen as this era’s giant geopolitical bubble had finally begun to deflate. China’s Communist Party leadership, the thinking went, was at last coming apart, a result of its obsession with official secrecy, its initial missteps in responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak, and the unfolding economic carnage across the country.

Then, as China began to recover and the virus migrated to the West in March and April, irrational jubilation turned to irrational despair. The commentariat greeted with outrage any possibility that the pandemic might in fact help China emerge triumphant in the ongoing geopolitical contest with the United States. This concern was a product of China’s seemingly cunning remolding of the narrative on the origins of the virus, the brutal efficiency of the Chinese authoritarian model in containing it, and Beijing’s global COVID-aid campaign. China’s own nationalist commentariat happily piled on, delighting in the United States’ distress and noting the supposed contrast between Chinese largesse and American indifference: the “people’s war” against COVID-19 had been won, and the virtues of China’s political model had been vindicated.

U.S. Competition with China and Russia: The Crisis-Driven Need to Change U.S. Strategy

By Anthony H. Cordesman with the assistance of Grace Hwang

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win…The greatest victory is that which requires no battle…To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The new National Security Strategy (NSS) issued on December 18, 2017, called for the United States to focus on competition with China and Russia in order to focus on the potential military threat they posed to the United States. This call to look beyond the current U.S. emphasis on counterterrorism was all too valid, but its implementation has since focused far too narrowly on the military dimension and on providing each military service all of the U.S. military forces that are needed to fight “worst case” wars.

This focus on high levels of direct conflict with China and Russia is a fundamental misreading of the challenges the U.S. actually faces from Chinese and Russian competition as well as a misinterpretation of their strategy and capabilities. It ignores the fact that China and Russia recognize that major wars between them and the United States – and particularly any wars that escalate to the use of nuclear weapons – can end in doing so much damage to both sides that they become the equivalent of “mutual assured destruction” (MAD). They understand that the only winner in such conflicts between the great powers would be the one power that could actually find a way to stand aside from such a major nuclear exchange or from a high level of theater warfare between the other two. To quote a passage from Clausewitz’s War Games, “the only way to win is not to play.”

The world faces a moment of truth on China

Brahma Chellaney
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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the global geopolitical landscape, including triggering a growing backlash against China. The world wants to know why and how a local outbreak in Wuhan turned into a global pandemic that has already killed more than a quarter of a million people. The incalculable human and economic toll continues to mount.

An independent international inquiry will give China a chance to clear the air with the rest of the world. But the Chinese Communist Party vehemently opposes such a probe, viewing it as a mortal threat.

Against this background, the forthcoming session of the World Health Assembly (the decision-making body of the World Health Organization) is shaping up as a test of China’s ability to block an independent investigation into the origins and spread of the new coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan. The European Union is the latest to state that it will back a resolution at the assembly calling for an independent review.

Getting to the bottom of how the COVID-19 virus flared and spread is essential for designing rapid-response efforts to prevent a future local outbreak from spiraling into another pandemic. After all, this is not the first deadly disease to spread globally from China. A Chinese coverup of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak triggered the world’s first 21st-century pandemic. Even the WHO agrees on the need for an investigation, with its representative in China saying that knowing the origins of the COVID-19 virus is “very important” to prevent “reoccurrence.”

China’s economy in the Corona crisis: A historic fall

by Max J. Zenglein and Maximilian Kärnfelt

China’s economic growth came to a screeching halt in the first quarter of the year, due to the government’s measures to contain the Covid-19 virus. Macroeconomic indicators fell off a cliff and, for the first time since the cultural revolution in 1976, China’s economy contracted with GDP growth falling by 6.8. Despite signs of economic recovery in March, China’s economy is far from normal. 

The effect of the shutdown is unprecedented. Previous crises over the past two decades, like SARS in 2002/3, the global financial crisis of 2007/8, and the stock market turbulences in 2015/16, pale in comparison to the current devastation. 

Starved of revenue, industrial profits tumbled by 38 percent in the first two months with almost half a million companies reported to have closed. Small and medium sized enterprises (SME) are particularly vulnerable. They were already struggling for financing since the onset of the deleveraging campaign in 2018 and lack the credit lines that large businesses have. This has resulted in layoffs – and wage losses – in what is usually a key hiring season following the Chinese New Year.

Restarting the economy will be an uphill struggle

Chinese Private Security Contractors: New Trends and Future Prospects

By: Sergey Sukhankin


In addition to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Support Base in Djibouti, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has indicated ambitious plans for future “strategic strong point” naval bases in the Indian Ocean and Africa (China Brief, March 22, 2019), and has pursued this goal with varying degrees of success (China Brief, April 13). One of the key ideas behind these bases is to provide security to Chinese workers and businesses abroad. By late 2016, more than 30,000 Chinese businesses had invested offshore (with a total investment of $1.2 trillion) and nearly one million Chinese citizens were working abroad (China Daily, July 14, 2017). Many of these workers are either employed, or in the near future could be employed, along Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) routes that traverse over some of the world’s most unstable and dangerous areas (China Brief, February 15, 2019; China Brief, April 1).

The PRC has sought multiple means to improve regional security in BRI-affiliated countries, to include promoting a greater role for the Central Asia-based Shanghai Cooperation Organization (China Brief, July 16, 2019). The PRC has also sponsored the “Beijing Xiangshan Forum” (北京香山论坛, Beijing Xiangshan Luntan) which has been promoted as “the security component” of the BRI, and as a cooperative framework intended to strengthen military-technical cooperation with BRI-associated countries (Belt and Road News October 28, 2019; China Brief, November 19, 2019).

Partial Disengagement

China has long followed a predatory approach to its economic relations with the U.S., deploying subsidies, tariffs, and non-tariff barriers while restricting investment in “strategic sectors” of its economy. Meanwhile, the U.S. has remained comparatively open to Chinese imports and investment. In the last two years, however, the environment has shifted rapidly, with the Trump administration using tariffs and other executive actions to try to compel China toward greater openness while simultaneously attempting to restrict Chinese investment in the U.S. economy, control technology transfer, and reduce reliance on some Chinese-made products. While tariffs are controversial, growing bipartisan concern about national security and economic risks posed by China has resulted in legislation that tightens investment screening and export control regulations. Although there appears to be widespread support for a tougher stance toward China, a clear and comprehensive strategy is still lacking.


This report recommends a four-part strategy for defending U.S. prosperity and security by moving toward a posture of partial economic disengagement from China:

Achieve a ceasefire in the current tariff war. The U.S. should avoid a superficial deal that would relieve pressure on Beijing without extracting fundamental concessions. Instead, it should seek at least a temporary settlement that reduces costs to U.S. consumers and producers, while retaining restrictions on select Chinese imports.

Why This Time Was Different


For too long after HIV/AIDS emerged in the 1980s, policymakers and the public simply refused to care, let alone acknowledge the scale of the devastation in their midst. One of the leading scientists from the front lines of the AIDS crisis sees troubling but edifying parallels between that outbreak and the COVID-19 pandemic.

The current crisis is hardly the first of its kind. In early 2003, another coronavirus – SARS-CoV-1 – suddenly spread from southern China across Southeast Asia, but it ultimately remained regionally contained. Later, we learned that SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) had been spreading in southern China for some time, and that Chinese officials had been reluctant even to admit its existence and issue a warning, let alone take appropriate measures to contain it. Only after the epidemic had reached Hong Kong, a key global financial hub, did alarm bells go off.

Nonetheless, coordinated international action soon followed. There was a sharp drop in air traffic in the region, and many areas were cordoned off. The World Health Organization’s leaders at the time criticized China for its slow response, and the Chinese health minister was duly fired. By early July, the WHO was able to declare the crisis over, lifting its remaining recommendations for restrictive measures. The world returned to normal.

How to Think about Potentially Decoupling from China

Ali Wyne

From the Nixon administration’s opening to China through the second term of the Obama administration, the United States debated how best to engage China so that it would emerge into what Robert Zoellick famously called “a responsible stakeholder”—a country, he explained, that would undertake actions to “sustain the international system that has enabled its success.”1 In a marked departure, US policymakers and observers are increasingly advocating that Washington selectively decouple from Beijing and identifying domains in which it might do so.2 Many contend that, even if growing trade and technological interdependence did for some time impart a baseline of strategic stability to US-China relations, the net impact of that dynamic on US national interests is increasingly unfavorable.

Trends of recent years have prompted growing US alarm over China’s trajectory. First, China is steadily militarizing the South China Sea, despite the September 2015 pledge that Chinese President Xi Jinping made while standing next to then-US President Barack Obama in the White House Rose Garden. Second, China’s economic expansion has not induced it to undertake political liberalization; to the contrary, it has emboldened the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to be both more confident and more unwavering in its enforcement of authoritarian rule. Third, China’s foreign policy increasingly betrays a desire to shape a global order that is “safe for authoritarianism” and conducive to bilateral transactionalism.



Aspokesperson for China's foreign ministry has said it is too early to allow an independent investigation into the origins and spread of the COVID-19 virus, as nations prepare to meet at this week's World Health Assembly (WHA).

Spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters at a daily briefing in Beijing that the vast majority of countries do not yet think the pandemic is over, according to Reuters. As such, he argued it is too soon to think about an investigation.

Multiple world leaders have called on Beijing to allow a probe into the coronavirus outbreak, which so far has infected more than 4.7 million people worldwide and killed more than 315,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

At this week's meeting, 122 of the World Health Organization's 194 member states will call for an independent investigation into the outbreak and course of the pandemic, despite protests from China.

The outbreak began in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December. The dominant theory is that the virus originated at a wildlife market in the city, jumping from bats to humans via an intermediary animal such as a pangolin.

How a Chinese AI Giant Made Chatting—and Surveillance—Easy

IN 1937, THE year that George Orwell was shot in the neck while fighting fascists in Spain, Julian Chen was born in Shanghai. His parents, a music teacher and a chemist, enrolled him in a school run by Christian missionaries, and like Orwell he became fascinated by language. He studied English, Russian, and Mandarin while speaking Shanghainese at home. Later he took on French, German, and Japanese. In 1949, the year Mao Zedong came to power and Orwell published 1984, learning languages became dangerous in China. In the purges of the late 1950s, intellectuals were denounced, sent to labor camps, and even executed. Chen, who by then was a student at prestigious Peking University, was banished to a Beijing glass factory.

Chen's job was to cart wagons full of coal and ash to and from the factory's furnace. He kept his mind nimble by listening to his coworkers speak. At night, in the workers' dormitory, he compiled a sort of linguistic ethnography for the Beijing dialect. He finished the book around 1960. Soon after, Communist Party apparatchiks confiscated it.

His fortunes improved after Mao's death, when party leaders realized that China's economy needed intellectuals in order to develop. Chen went back to school, and in 1979, at the age of 42, his test scores earned him a spot in the first group of graduate students to go abroad in decades. He moved to the US and earned a PhD in physics at Columbia University. At the time, America offered more opportunity than China, and like many of his peers, Chen stayed after graduation, getting a job with IBM working on physical science research. IBM had developed some of the world's first speech recognition software, which allowed professionals to haltingly dictate messages without touching a keyboard, and in 1994 the company started looking for someone to adapt it to Mandarin. It wasn't Chen's area, but he eagerly volunteered.

How Smart City Planning Could Slow Future Pandemics

THE CITIES OF the world are sick. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, people living in metropolitan areas have been among the worst hit, unable to socially distance effectively and sometimes plagued with preexisting conditions that their cities helped create. Many municipalities weren’t built with highly transmissible infectious disease—or human health—in front of mind, and the toll of Covid-19 is making that oversight all too clear. “We’re on an urban planet. The global economy is living and dying by what happens in cities,” says Jason Corburn, who studies urban health at UC Berkeley. “We’ve got to pay attention.”

The Covid-19 pandemic is a chance to focus that attention on what can—and should—be changed, to reevaluate the way cities are built, maintained, and lived in. In the midst of this crisis, some cities have already begun doing so by closing roads to cars to create room for bicyclists and socially distanced pedestrians, or by building additional hospitals and homeless shelters. These stopgap, reactive steps are important and needed, but they will do little to slow or stave off this pandemic or help prevent the next one. To ward off the outbreaks of the future, it’s time to start thinking proactively, and long-term.

Turkey’s Growing Military Expeditionary Posture

By: Can Kasapoglu

A glance at the Turkish Armed Forces’ recent combat record demonstrates that Turkey’s defense policy now extends well beyond its borders. Drones loitering in the Syrian airspace, navy frigates along the Libyan coast, Turkish military advisors in Tripoli alongside Government of National Accord (GNA) formations, mountain commando units operating in northern Iraq, and high-ranking Turkish officers in Qatar and Somalia are all pretty common to see now. Overall, the Turkish military is fast becoming an expeditionary actor in league with Ankara’s geopolitical worldview.

Turkey’s ambitious strategic posture is centered on three pivots. These are the naval transformation toward a blue-water force; the army’s expeditionary warfare concepts married to a growing tendency of resorting to proxy war agents in various battlegrounds from North Africa to the Levant; and expanding forward military bases in different parts of the Turkish zone d’influence.

The Turkish Navy’s Blue Homeland

The Turkish Navy, traditionally a coastal deterrent since the beginning of the republic era, is gaining a power projection edge. This change is centered on defense technology breakthroughs and a novel military-geostrategic approach.

The Pandemic’s Geopolitical Aftershocks Are Coming


With most European countries confident that they are past the worst of the coronavirus pandemic, their attention is turning to the chance of its resurgence once society returns to some semblance of normal. But beyond the epidemiological challenges lies a slowly amassing threat that is not pathological in nature, but economic, political, and military. This is the geopolitical second wave, and its power is already starting to concern Western leaders.

Imagine a scenario: Just as Europe and the United States begin to feel as if they have the coronavirus under control, it takes hold in the developing world. Exhausted, indebted, and desperate for their own economies to get back up to speed, richer countries are too slow to help. Panic ensues. Migrants mass in southern Europe, which is still struggling to pull itself out of a coronavirus-induced depression. Somewhere, a state defaults on debt held largely by Western financial institutions. In the chaos, an autocrat eyes an opportunity for a land grab. A United States already unwilling to take the lead leaves China to step into the void.

Distorted Data and Fanciful Beliefs Inform Russia’s Crisis Mismanagement

By: Pavel K. Baev
Russia is rightfully held responsible for and often caught red-handed spreading disinformation around the globe; but its own policymaking is, in fact, informed by similarly false assessments, which are “improved” (exacerbated) many times while traveling up the bureaucratic pyramid. For months, President Vladimir Putin has been aloofly presiding over Russia’s poorly coordinated efforts at managing the complex crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has betrayed his poor understanding of the scale and consequences of this unexpected disaster (Znak.com, May 15). It is difficult to judge whether the Kremlin leader actually wants to know the real picture, but it is increasingly clear that the few courtiers who still have access to his tightly isolated residence are careful not to upset him with bad news, all while promoting their own parochial agendas (Meduza, May 15). Operating in this distorted reality, Moscow has no problem with the Chinese manipulations of crucial information. And recently, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov once again described the United States’ criticism of China’s behavior as allegedly ungrounded and unfair (RBC, May 15).

A particular twist in this tale of self-deception occurred last week, when Russian officials protested against Western media reporting on the country’s dubious coronavirus statistics (Rossiiskaya Gazeta, May 15). Strikingly, the number of infections in Russia is rising fast, approaching the 300,000 mark, and yet, fewer than 3,000 deaths have officially been attributed to the disease—a less-than-one-percent mortality rate that many Russian experts suggest is an obvious anomaly (Moscow Echo, May 14). Investigative journalists have shown that hospitals are instructed to register the causes of death in such a way that the data on the pandemic is agreeable for the regional authorities, who are held responsible for controlling the disease (Meduza, May 14). At the same time, it is convenient to accuse the West of having a hostile attitude toward Russia and to demand apologies from The New York Times and Financial Times, despite knowing full well that these publications are impeccably researched (Kommersant, May 15).

Attribution from Behind the Veil of Ignorance

By J. Zhanna Malekos Smith
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Chronology of Possible Russian Gray Area and Hybrid Warfare Operations

By Anthony H. Cordesman with the assistance of Grace Hwang

There is no simple or reliable way to define Russian gray area or hybrid civil and military operations that affect U.S. strategic interests. Many Russian low-level operations, claims, and political acts can have such an effect, but they are only reported as serving commercial interests, reflecting local claims or interests, or supporting Russia’s broader security needs.

The impact of gray zone operations on Russia’s strategic competition with the United States may be highly indirect, and the motives behind Russian actions may be highly uncertain. Many activities are described, in terms of their impact on U.S. strategic partners, other states, and non-state actors, to not have an impact on competition with the United States. Other activities may not be reported in open source literature or may not be described accurately. Even when some Russian actions clearly involve gray area or hybrid operations, the motives behind such actions might be very different.

Much of the available reporting also is written in ways that highly compartmentalize civil and military activities, or activities within each category. Military exercises involving air, land and maritime claims are often described in very different ways. The motives behind investments and major civil projects may only be viewed in terms of their commercial merit or benefits, and not their strategic impact. 

The Contents of this Chronology

Syria Redux: Preventing the Spread of Violent Extremism Through Weaponized Populations and Mobile Safehavens

Robert Broadbent 

In the early Fall of 2020, Turkey unleashes millions of refugees into Europe and Syria making good on threats made since its invasion of northern Syria in October 2019. President Erdogan has also forcibly repatriated hundreds of foreign terrorist fighters and their families to European nations previously unwilling to accept the return of their nationals. Finally, Erdogan has requested North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Article 5 assistance in defending Turkey from armed attacks from Syria. NATO is facing its worst threat since the cold war but is unable to act as NATO member-states begin taking individual steps to secure their borders against the onslaught of refugees and foreign terrorist fighters. Violent extremist organizations present in the refugee populations take advantage of the chaos created by the mass movements of Syrian refugees and regain physical control of territory within Syria and Iraq. President Putin begins exerting pressure on former eastern bloc and Middle Eastern nations to reform a regional security and economic alliance with Russia.* The upcoming American election has paralyzed Washington and the United Nations (UN) continues to be hamstrung by Russia and China. Can NATO survive this threat? Will NATO assist Turkey? Will the United States defend its vital national security interests in NATO? Will Russia and Iran reassert themselves as the dominant regional players in the Middle East? Will there be a resurgence of yet another violent extremist organization in the region? This fictional scenario is not only plausible, but components of this scenario continue to play out in the news headlines week by week.

* Jim Mattis, “Summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy,” page 8, available at https://dod.defense.gov/Portals/1/Documents/pubs/2018-National-Defense-…, accessed November 19, 2019. (“A strong and free Europe and a shared commitment to NATO is a vital national security interest of the United States.”).

1. Introduction

The United States will soon be faced with new national security threats arising from conflict zones in and around Syria. These conflicts have created large displaced populations capable of being weaponized along with mobile safe havens. It is within these populations and havens that the next violent extremist national security threat will be conceived and grow unimpeded if not systematically addressed.

Pompeo’s State Department Faces Yet a New Oversight Battle With Capitol Hill

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Two senior Democratic lawmakers say the U.S. State Department is withholding information on its longstanding diversity challenges based on legally dubious claims that the department does not provide information to its oversight committees that are “internal documents and non-publicly available,” according to a letter obtained by Foreign Policy. 

Their claims raise questions about whether the State Department will withhold other information to lawmakers who sit on committees with jurisdiction over the Trump administration’s foreign policy. 

It comes just after House and Senate Democrats launched an inquiry into President Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to fire the State Department’s top watchdog on May 15—the fourth inspector general he has fired in the past two months. The decision came after State Department Inspector General Steve Linick opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s misuse of staff for personal reasons, congressional sources told Foreign Policy. As president, Trump has the power to appoint and remove inspector generals. In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Trump wrote that he lost confidence in Linick’s ability to do his job, but he didn’t offer specifics. 



The Federal Reserve chairman said he doesn't believe the U.S. is heading for a "Second Great Depression," but warned that the U.S. economy may not recover from the coronavirus pandemic until the end of 2021.

Jerome Powell told CBS News on Sunday night that it "may take a while" for the American economy to bounce back from COVID-19 shutdowns, but added that the U.S. would "get through this" downturn.

He also said GDP could have contracted by as much as 20 to 30 percent in the second quarter of this year, following a sharp fall in the first three months of 2020.

Asked if history would view this era as America's "Second Great Depression" on last night's edition of CBS News' 60 Minutes, Powell said: "No, I don't. I don't think that's a likely outcome at all. There're some very fundamental differences. The first is that the cause here-- we had a very healthy economy two months ago. And this is an outside event, it is a natural disaster, in effect.

"And that's one big difference. In the '20s when the Depression, well, when the crash happened and all that, the financial system really failed. Here, our financial system is strong, has been able to withstand this."

Assessing the Threat Posed by Artificial Intelligence and Computational Propaganda

By Marijn Pronk

Marijn Pronk is a Master Student at the University of Glasgow, focusing on identity politics, propaganda, and technology. Currently Marijn is finishing her dissertation on the use of populist propagandic tactics of the Far-Right online. She can be found on Twitter @marijnpronk9. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

Author and / or Article Point of View: The Author is a Master Student in Security, Intelligence, and Strategic Studies at the University of Glasgow. The Author believes that a nuanced perspective towards the influence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on technical communication services is paramount to understanding its threat.

 AI has greatly impacted communication technology worldwide. Computational propaganda is an example of the unregulated use of AI weaponized for malign political purposes. Changing online realities through botnets which creates a distortion of online environments could affect voter’s health, and democracies’ ability to function. However, this type of AI is currently limited to Big Tech companies and governmental powers.

AI-Powered Propaganda and the CCP’s Plans for Next-Generation “Thought Management”

By: Devin Thorne


The propaganda apparatus of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is in full swing: to ward off the negative international repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, the PRC’s diplomatic corps and state media are actively asserting Beijing’s perspectives online. For example, in April the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) International Liaison Department tweeted links to a series of “public prevention” tip videos in 5 languages, seeking to spotlight positive elements in China’s epidemic management strategies (Twitter, April 17). The PRC’s propagandists also aim to redirect anger and blame toward other actors, such as when China’s state television network CGTN and Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian (赵立坚) both promoted the theory that the SARS-CoV-2 virus originated in the United States (Twitter, March 12; YouTube, March 17).

However, such attempts to divert public attention and manipulate narratives to protect China’s image are rudimentary compared to the CCP’s latest public relations project: propaganda powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Last year, CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping urged China to “explore the application of AI for news collection, production, [and] dissemination… to comprehensively increase [our] ability to lead [public] opinion” (National Academy of Governance, January 25, 2019). Intended for both domestic and international application, the system envisioned by CCP analysts and communications theorists will identify early warning indicators of social unrest, assist state journalists in producing effective content, and disseminate approved narratives to target audiences. If successful, AI will amplify the Party’s voice and boost its influence over public opinion.

The CCP’s Quest for Next-Generation “Thought Management”