4 June 2020

What’s Behind the Latest India-China Border Tensions?

By Ashok Sharma

Tensions along the China-India border high in the Himalayas have flared again in recent weeks.

Indian officials say the latest row began in early May, when Chinese soldiers entered the Indian-controlled territory of Ladakh at three different points, erecting tents and guard posts. They said the Chinese soldiers ignored repeated verbal warnings to depart, triggering shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights. China has sought to downplay the confrontation while providing little information.

A look at the history and current relations between the two countries and how events may develop:

Brawling Troops

Over recent weeks, thousands of soldiers from the two countries have been facing off just a few hundred meters (yards) from each other in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. China has objected to India building a road through the valley connecting the region to an airstrip, possibly sparking its move to assert control over territory along the border that is not clearly defined in places.

Trump should stand with India, not offer to mediate with China

by Tom Rogan

He may have good intentions, but President Trump made a strategic mistake with his Wednesday offer to mediate a growing border crisis between China and India. Trump should instead offer support for India, which is the victim of Chinese aggression here.

Trump's risk of alienating India is significant if he continues on his present course. Brahma Chellaney, a top Indian security commentator, summed up the concern on Twitter.

Yes, Trump's motives here appear sound.

The situation along the contested Indian-Chinese border is increasingly tense. In early May, dozens of soldiers on both sides of the so-called line of control were wounded after fighting with each other with rocks, fists, and kicks. But in recent days, China has flooded troops and equipment to the area along the high-north Indian border at Jammu and Kashmir. More concerning, although likely in-part designed to spark American satellite interest and corollary American requests to Beijing to calm down (Chinese President Xi Jinping wants Trump to owe him), the People's Liberation Army have sent armored vehicles to support their forces. Considering that the two countries have previously fought a war and that each side has hundreds of nuclear warheads, this is not an ideal situation.

What now for Afghanistan’s fragile peace process?

The beginning of the end or doomed from the start? As part of a series of blogs to mark the publication of the Armed Conflict Survey 2020, Isa Gailani and Viraj Solanki reflect on the immensely fragile peace process that seeks to bring an end to nearly two decades of conflict in Afghanistan. 

The United States and the Taliban signed an unprecedented peace agreement on 29 February 2020, which was intended to pave the way for the Afghan government and the Taliban to engage in an intra-Afghan dialogue. In the months leading up to the signing, violence had intensified across the country, primarily due to an increase in attacks by the Taliban; in the months following, the Taliban continued its campaign of violence and political disputes within the Afghan government endured.

The deal was signed after nine rounds of formal negotiations and only months after US President Donald Trump had stated that the peace talks ‘were dead’. Following a pair of deadly attacks in Kabul in September 2019, including one near the US embassy that killed an American soldier, Trump cancelled a signing ceremony between the Taliban and the US government at Camp David.

China’s Funding of U.S. University Scientists Requires a Watchdog

by Frances Burke

In May 1975, President Gerald Ford signed an executive order establishing the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, otherwise known as “CFIUS,” which is an important tool for the Department of the Treasury and its interagency partners to assess whether a foreign acquisition of a U.S. company or real estate transaction may jeopardize U.S. national security interests. Despite 2018 CIFIUS reforms, the scope of the legislation does not cover foreign “investments” into U.S. universities. It should.

Recently in the American Interest, Gary Schmitt and Craig Kennedy wrote that “revitalizing [CFIUS]—creating a CFIUS 2.0—is the way to do it.” By “do it,” they mean “decouple” from China by using the CFIUS regulatory tools to decrease unnecessary critical dependencies on strategic goods from the People’s Republic.

Tacked onto Schmitt and Kennedy’s 2.0 plan should be a “3.0”: CFIUS for U.S. universities concomitant with China.

China’s “One Road, One Plague” Tragedy

by Richard Javad Heydarian

In their groundbreaking “Dialectic of Enlightenment” (1944), Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno meticulously analyzed how the best intentions of modernity have descended into the horrors of the twentieth century. While the Enlightenment project is “understood in the widest sense as the advance of thought,” which is “aimed at liberating human beings from fear and installing them as masters,” they explain, “the wholly enlightened earth is radiant with triumphant calamity.” 

A similar theme runs through the works of other intellectual luminaries of the time, from Karl Popper’s The Open Society and Its Enemies (1945) to Georg Lukacs’s The Destruction of Reason (1952), which placed these monstrous perversions of Fascism and Stalinism as a symptom of totalistic understanding of truth, namely the idea that fallible men could politically superimpose a contrived utopia on complex human societies. 

In many ways, the globalization project is the manifestation of a similar form of totalistic understanding, whereby the compression of time and space through advanced technology and economic interdependence would supposedly guarantee the greatest possible peace and prosperity on earth. Though the West, particularly the United States, served as the torchbearer of globalization in the twentieth century, China has emerged as its latest and most enthusiastic advocate. Through the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Communist China has sought to present itself as the vanguard of globalization, albeit with new characteristics. 

China and the COVID-19 Debt Crunch

By Hannah Ryder

In this Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 file photo, demonstrators calling for an end to the “age of greed” march to the office of the president in downtown Nairobi, Kenya.Credit: AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File

“It’s like they grab you by the neck and pin your back to the wall,” the ambassador said.

We were having a fairly candid discussion about negotiations with a lender over his country’s debt levels, a country that had, by then, raised debt from all over the world – the private sector through Eurobonds, multilateral lenders, as well as bilateral lenders and China, too. And I understood. That fear of being helpless, unable to move, is what a number of politicians, government representatives, and diplomats around the world are concerned about right now, as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads.

Opinion shapers, experts, and journalists are using phrases such as debt crisis, debt diplomacy, debt relief, debt forgiveness, and debt moratoriums. Countries with alleged “debt problems” are being downgraded by ratings agencies. In February 2020, even before revising global growth forecasts due to COVID-19, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) classified half of low-income countries (LICs) around the world as already “debt distressed” or at high risk of becoming so. There have been specific calls for China, as a lender reported to play a huge role in many countries’ debt positions, to cancel or at least suspend requests for debt payments.

Are these concerns backed up by facts? And what is the solution for Asian, African, and other developing countries – including those part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)?

On Point: What Tasks Does Xi Have for China's Military?

by Austin Bay
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On May 26, Chinese President Xi Jinping told senior officers the Peoples Liberation Army and Peoples Armed Police Force increase "preparedness for armed combat" as well as other military tasks.

It is a chilling thought, but Xi may have several "tasks" in mind, for both the PLA and the PAP. Throttling Hong Kong immediately comes to mind. Beijing's communist government is on the verge of breaking the 1984 Sino-British treaty that guaranteed Hong Kong's autonomy through 2047.

Another round of armed imperial bullying in the South China Sea may be in the offing. In that tense sea, China's artificial islands and illegal maritime claims, backed by its armed forces, have literally stolen territory from neighboring nations.

China's land border touches 14 sovereign countries: Vietnam, Laos, Burma, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia and North Korea. China has territorial, political and ethno-cultural conflicts with several of these nations.

No, the Pandemic Will Not Bring Jobs Back From China

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No idea has been more central to U.S. President Donald Trump’s philosophy of “America first” than bringing jobs back home. In his 2017 inaugural address, he lamented that “one by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.” Under his presidency, a newly elected Trump promised, “we will bring back our jobs.”Lighthizer cast the pandemic as an overdue comeuppance for U.S. companies that had offshored production to lower-wage countries.

More than three years later and in the most unlikely of scenarios—a pandemic that has killed 100,000 Americans and destroyed more U.S. jobs than any time since the Great Depression—the Trump administration finally believes its opportunity has come. The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wrote earlier this month, has left U.S. companies with no choice but to “bring the jobs back to America.” Lighthizer cast the pandemic as an overdue comeuppance for U.S. companies that had offshored production to lower-wage countries in a “lemming-like desire for ‘efficiency.’” Lighthizer was echoing another top official, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who had said in January—when the new coronavirus still appeared to be confined to China—that it would “help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

Cyberwar between the United States and China

By Giancarlo Elia Valori

How is the new “Cold War 2.0”,which currently characterizes the ever less collaborative relations between the United States and China, developing?

Some data may be interesting in this regard. On March 3, 2020 the Chinese cybersecurity company Qihoo 360 accused CIA of having hacked many Chinese companies for over 11 years.

They are – almost obviously – aviation companies, large global commercial Internet networks, research institutions and certainly also Chinese government agencies.

Not to mention the cryptocurrency operations often organized by people and entities traceable to the North Korean government.

Both the Chinese and the US governments, in fact, use various and complex entities and mechanisms to operate in cyberwar. Firstly, the “front companies”. Just think of the Chinese group APT40, which even hires hackers – as everybody does, after all. Secondly, the intrusions to collect cyberdata in the large multinational companies, or even in State agencies, which often remain blocked for a few days and, in that phase, transfer vast masses of data to the “enemy”.

Thirdly, the theft of IP and trade secrets- another mechanism that everybody uses.

China raises US trade tensions with warning of ‘new cold war’

Simon Goodley and Dan Sabbagh
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The prospects of a trade war between China and the western economies ratcheted up on Sunday as Beijing accused the US of pushing relations towards a “new cold war”.

“China has no intention to change, still less replace the United States,” China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said on Sunday in the latest escalation in tensions between the world’s two largest economies. “It’s time for the United States to give up its wishful thinking of changing China and stopping 1.4 billion people in their historic march toward modernisation.”

He said US political attacks on China over the coronavirus and global trade matters “are taking China-US relations hostage and pushing our two countries to the brink of a new cold war”.

Relations between the UK and the US have also soured as a string of Conservative politicians pressed on Sunday for tighter controls to protect struggling UK companies from Chinese takeovers, and the UK announced an emergency review of the deal to allow the Chinese telecoms firm Huawei to help run the forthcoming 5G mobile network.

Hong Kong's moment of truth — and China's


For decades before the coronavirus emerged from Wuhan and exploded onto the rest of the world, China has been waging a cold war against the United States and the West on a number of fronts: trade and economics, intellectual property, Taiwan’s democratic security, maritime freedoms in the South and East China Seas, proliferation, cyber security and human rights. It has supported North Korea and Iran, and sided with every rogue regime seeking to undermine the West and challenge the global order and its moral underpinnings. On virtually every international norm, Beijing has been aggressively on the wrong side of history.

The failure of past U.S. administrations to confront the communist regime for the sake of expected reforms through engagement has only whetted its appetite for further advances against Western interests. The Trump administration emphatically declared an end to the one-sided relations, and was beginning to make progress on curtailing China’s exploitation in the trade area with its Phase 1 agreement.

The eruption of the coronavirus pandemic stopped that progress in its tracks while destabilizing the global economy and much of the international social order. The outbreak’s origin and the dubious circumstances of China’s handling of it have aroused suspicions that even if its beginnings were purely accidental and innocuous, its spread to the outside world was clearly avoidable and therefore plausibly intentional.

From Naive to Realist? The EU’s Struggles With China

Heather A. Conley

The European Union has struggled mightily in recent months to assert itself as a strategically autonomous and relevant actor in response to an increasingly aggressive China. In April, the EU drafted a report critical of Chinese disinformation efforts related to the spread of the novel coronavirus in Europe, but it bowed to pressure from China and removed most of the criticism leveled at Beijing that had been included in the initial draft, which leaked to the press. The subsequent public criticism led the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, Josep Borrell, to receive a tongue-lashing at a hearing of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.

The headlines from that incident had barely faded before Borrell found himself in the same embarrassing predicament again. Earlier this month, the EU’s ambassador to China and 27 other European envoys in Beijing co-authored an op-ed that appeared in Chinese state media. But the EU later admitted its ambassador had yielded to Beijing’s insistence that a line in the op-ed referring to COVID-19’s origin in China be removed. Afterward, Borrell told reporters that “something like this will not happen again, and it was not the right decision to take.”

The Pandemic’s 5 Silver Linings

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You don’t need me to tell you that life is pretty grim these days. Nor will it help if I remind you that the negative consequences of the pandemic will persist long after it is over. But even a realist can see glimmers of hope in today’s gloomy circumstances and believe that what we are going through today could eventually have some positive consequences.

In my previous column, I offered a glass-half-full assessment of the pandemic’s impact on the risk of war. In a similar spirit of optimism, and mindful of the considerable suffering with which millions of people are now dealing, this week I offer the top five silver linings from COVID-19.
Climate change slows down (a bit).

Putting the world economy in a coma has cut fossil fuel use dramatically, thereby reducing the accumulation of atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases and slowing the rate of global warming. Skies are visibly clearer, and those deeply worrisome forecasts about future warming will probably have to be revised in slightly more optimistic directions. The discovery that we can get a lot of useful work done on Zoom and other videoconferencing platforms is likely to dampen business travel in the future, thereby cutting commercial jet traffic even after recovery begins. Meat shortages resulting from the shutdown of slaughterhouses may encourage some people to shift to less carnivorous diets, which would improve public health and reduce methane emissions by all those cows.

No, the Pandemic Will Not Bring Jobs Back From China

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No idea has been more central to U.S. President Donald Trump’s philosophy of “America first” than bringing jobs back home. In his 2017 inaugural address, he lamented that “one by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.” Under his presidency, a newly elected Trump promised, “we will bring back our jobs.”Lighthizer cast the pandemic as an overdue comeuppance for U.S. companies that had offshored production to lower-wage countries.

More than three years later and in the most unlikely of scenarios—a pandemic that has killed 100,000 Americans and destroyed more U.S. jobs than any time since the Great Depression—the Trump administration finally believes its opportunity has come. The disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wrote earlier this month, has left U.S. companies with no choice but to “bring the jobs back to America.” Lighthizer cast the pandemic as an overdue comeuppance for U.S. companies that had offshored production to lower-wage countries in a “lemming-like desire for ‘efficiency.’” Lighthizer was echoing another top official, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who had said in January—when the new coronavirus still appeared to be confined to China—that it would “help to accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

Lessons Not Learned: The Israeli Experience in Lebanon (1985-2000) and America’s Forever Wars

by Benjamin Runkle

Perhaps no foreign conflict has ever influenced the U.S. military as much as the Yom Kippur War did. Following that conflict’s conclusion in October 1973, delegations of U.S. military officers and analysts travelled to Israel to consult with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) about their recent combat experiences. These discussions significantly impacted the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Command’s thinking, especially for influential officers such as Generals William E. DePuy and Donn A. Starry, the first two commanders of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). TRADOC’s annual report for 1975 declared that the “war in the Mideast produced startling and stark facts about modern combat,” details that were seen as particularly relevant to a future conflict in which outnumbered NATO forces—surprised by Soviet offensive action—would face forces armed with the same lethal weapons provided to Egypt and Syria. The extrapolation of the lessons learned from the battles in the Sinai and Golan helped spur a reinvention of U.S. doctrine and training that evolved over the next decade to become FM100-5, AirLand Battle, and eventually produced a military triumph in the sands of the Middle East rather than in the Fulda Gap.

Unfortunately, no comparable effort followed Israel’s protracted fight against Hezbollah from 1985–2000, which ended in the IDF’s ignominious withdrawal from southern Lebanon on May 24, 2020, twenty years ago this Sunday. When journalist Matti Friedman published a memoir of his IDF service in Lebanon in 2015, the first in English by an IDF enlisted man, he wrote: “My intention here is not to get bogged down in historical explanation. I would rather suggest the title of a comprehensive history of these years of the Lebanon security zone in the 1990s for those interested in the background. . . . Unfortunately no such history has been written.” Similarly, a U.S. Army officer writing in 2006 notes that “although there is much English-language literature on various aspects of the conflict in Lebanon, much of it relates only to the period 1982–1985.”

We may be heading towards a post-dollar world

Continued erosion of trust in America politically could have an impact on the primacy of its currency RANA FOROOHAR Add to myFT © Matt Kenyon Share on Twitter (opens new window) Share on Facebook (opens new window) Share on LinkedIn (opens new window) Save Rana Foroohar MAY 31 2020 187 Print this page Unfettered globalisation is over. That is not a controversial statement at this point for obvious reasons, from the post-Covid-19 retrenchment of complex international supply chains to the decoupling of the US and China. It’s hard to imagine a reset to the 1990s neoliberal mindset, even if Joe Biden wins the US presidential elections, or if the EU experiences a moment of renewed cohesion in response to the pandemic. 

The world is more likely to become tripolar — or at least bipolar — with more regionalisation in trade, migration and even capital flows in the future. There are all sorts of reasons for this, some disturbing (rising nationalism) and others benign (a desire for more resilient and inclusive local economies). That begs a question that has been seen as controversial — are we entering a post-dollar world? It might seem a straw-man question, given that more than 60 per cent of the world’s currency reserves are in dollars, which are also used for the vast majority of global commerce. The US Federal Reserve’s recent bolstering of dollar markets outside of the US, as a response to the coronavirus crisis, has given a further boost to global dollar dominance. As a result, many people would repeat the mantra that in this, as in so many things, “you can’t fight the Fed”. The dominance of the US banking system and dollar liquidity, both of which are backstopped by the Fed, will give the American dollar unquestioned supremacy in the global financial system and capital markets indefinitely. 

Europe’s battle lines are drawn at a uniquely perilous moment

Constanze Stelzenmüller

After an initial selfish European reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, safeguarding the achievements of the European project will require European member states to work with and not against each other, argues Constanze Stelzenmüller. This post originally appeared in the Financial Times.

An ever deeper Union versus a Europe of nation-states. European solidarity versus fiscal prudence. Joint profligacy versus national egotism. These were the battle lines pegged out last week by Germany and France’s proposal of a €500bn economic recovery fund consisting of outright grants financed by common borrowing on the one hand, and the loans-only counterproposal of the EU’s “Frugal Four” (Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Sweden) on the other.

And that was before the European Commission waded in on Wednesday with a €750bn package consisting of grants, loans and guarantees, to be partially financed by EU taxes — an idea that has been rejected before by member states. It’s a safe bet that things could get pretty nasty before a classic fudge is hashed out at the last moment.

America’s Race Problem Erupts Anew, Layered With Coronavirus Tensions

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MINNEAPOLIS—I woke up to the smell of smoke coming through the window. Black clouds billowed into the sky just a few blocks north as the arson that had been concentrated on Lake Street spread throughout the community overnight. Teenagers were looting the corner gas station, and on what was previously forecast to be a sunny spring day, the weather prediction on my phone turned to “smoke.” 

That was Friday. By the weekend, things were worse. In defiance of an 8 p.m. curfew, rioters continued to set fires across the city, and, according to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, who held a news conference in the middle of the night calling for calm, authorities were deploying three times the force they did during the 1960s race riots. The Target store where so many of us shopped for essentials during the coronavirus lockdown had been vandalized, looted, and set on fire. So, too, many small businesses in the community that were already struggling with virus-induced shutdowns. Neighborhood shops were boarded up, and the violence began extending to formerly quiet residential areas.

It all started here, in Minneapolis, in one of the country’s most stable and prosperous cities. But by Saturday and Sunday, rioting and protests had erupted from New York City to Los Angeles, with Atlanta placed under a state of emergency. Violent confrontations with police continued through the weekend in many cities, including Washington, D.C., where President Donald Trump was taken by Secret Service agents to an underground bunker as protests raged across the street from the White House in Lafayette Park.

Why Are Stocks Soaring in the Middle of a Pandemic?

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The contrast seems grotesque. A deadly pandemic has shut down the global economy and left millions of workers furloughed, fired, or stranded without gigs. The future for most businesses looks uncertain to dismal. Yet U.S. stock indices are near all-time highs, at giddy valuations comparable to the 2000 dot-com bubble and 1929.

Foreign Policy researched but could not find a moment in financial history that remotely resembles today—so we asked a panel of leading experts to help us make sense of the markets, and what their state tells us about the economy and society going forward.

Investors See the World Through Pre-Pandemic Lenses

Want to Fix the Deficit? Bring Home the Troops.

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An active foreign policy is costly. Intervention requires aid programs, trade initiatives, and diplomatic personnel. Reliance on the military is especially expensive. What are described as “endless” wars post-9/11 are expected to eventually cost, including veterans’ care, more than $6 trillion. And combat is not over: Approximately 12,000 service members are posted in Afghanistan, though the number is dropping under the peace accord with the Taliban, and some 6,000 troops remain in Iraq. A few hundred work in Syria, while special operations forces have been deployed in Yemen. Peacetime deployments, some permanent, some temporary, also create a significant, ongoing burden. For instance, the United States currently stations some 78,000 troops in East Asia, as many as 65,000 in the Persian Gulf, about 35,000 in Europe, and 6,000 to 7,000 in Africa. Additional units in the United States back up these commitments. Every military alliance and relationship requires additional force structure, wherever the troops are deployed at any given time.

The financial burdens of this activist military policy had been growing difficult to bear long before the economic crisis created by the coronavirus pandemic. In June 2019, the Congressional Budget Office forecast trillion-dollar annual deficits as far as the eye can see. The agency warned: “Large budget deficits over the next 30 years are projected to drive federal debt held by the public to unprecedented levels—from 78 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019 to 144 percent by 2049.” For comparison: Greece was at a similar deficit level when it was battered by its own debt crisis in the wake of the global financial crisis. If interest rates in the United States grow by just 1 percent, in three decades the federal government’s debt will run 199 percent of GDP. However, well before that level is reached, Washington would risk what the Congressional Budget Office terms “a fiscal crisis—that is, a situation in which the interest rate on federal debt rises abruptly because investors have lost confidence in the U.S. government’s fiscal position.” This would greatly intensify the fiscal crunch.

African Leaders, Joined by U.S. Embassies, Condemn Police Killing in Minneapolis

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African leaders reacted to the killing of a black man in Minneapolis police custody with a mixture of outrage and dismay, prompting two U.S. embassies on the continent to issue unusual statements about the incident and reflecting the global diplomatic fallout of American police violence and racial injustices. 

The head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, condemned George Floyd’s death in a statement, saying he “firmly reaffirms and reiterates the African Union’s rejection of the continuing discriminatory practices against Black citizens of the United States of America.”

“This is one too many. We may be black, but we are people too,” another top African Union official, Kwesi Quartey, said in a social media post. “Africa demands a full investigation into this killing.”

In a highly unusual move that reflects the degree of distress in the countries they are posted in, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Uganda also issued statements on Twitter, saying the embassies were “deeply troubled” by the death of Floyd in police custody and that “[g]overnment officials should not operate with impunity in any country.” 

U.S. cybersecurity deficiencies can no longer be ignored

Hugh Hewitt
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Rarely has a bipartisan commission produced its findings immediately before the allocation of trillions of dollars in the service of national rehabilitation. The timing of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission’s report this spring could not have been more perfect. Also fortuitous are the profiles of the commission’s co-chairs: Angus King, Maine’s center-left governor-turned-senator; and Mike Gallagher, a center-right scholar and Marine who represents Wisconsin’s 8th District in the U.S. House. The pair radiate goodwill and seriousness of purpose, a mix that recalls eras when politics did indeed stop at the water’s edge.

Despite its roster of accomplished members and senior staff — including Rear Adm. Mark “Monty” Montgomery, a much-respected Pentagon veteran — the commission has had a hard time gaining public attention amid the chaos of the pandemic and the political upheavals of the “Trump era.” (Gallagher — affectionately dubbed “China Mike” by Robert C. O’Brien, the president’s national security adviser, when Gallagher was left off the list of elected “China hawks” that the Chinese Communist Party recently threatened with sanctions — discussed the commission’s work with me on air last week.)

What, many readers may be wondering, is a “solarium”?

The role of geospatial information in confronting COVID-19 – Learning from Korea

Map of confirmed COVID-19 cases (blue icons) in Korea and pharmacies with available face masks (yellow icons) - a practical example of geospatial-based COVID-19 response (Image: Government of Korea)

As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds, authorities are relying on measures that are inherently spatial in nature: quarantining, contact tracing, and social distancing. With citizens working and studying at home, decision makers are navigating the pressures of needing to prevent infection, while also looking to eventually relax restrictions and reopen the economy.

COVID-19 Wounds The EU

by Dan Steinbock
In the ongoing battle against the global pandemic, belated responses will result in huge human costs and massive economic damage. In Europe, losses are climaxing in the 2nd quarter of 2020.

Before advanced economies - including those in Europe - began to flatten the epidemic curve, they fattened it for 6-8 weeks. These COVID-19 delays will prolong the global pandemic and cause secondary waves of imported infections and residual clusters both in Europe and worldwide. For the full story, see my reports on the historical COVID damage.

In the United States, the Trump administration's futile effort to “protect the economy" (read: the markets) backfired disastrously. The European Union was more willing to battle the virus but was unable to do so proactively because it lacks the needed common institutions for effective response.

As the consequent political backlash will soon wash across Brussels and the continents major capitals, the EU federalists are likely to demand "more integration" to deter past policy delays in the future. In contrast, the advocates of sovereign states will insist on "less integration" to overcome the EU's institutional deficiencies.

Minneapolis, the Coronavirus, and Trump’s Failure to See a Crisis Coming

By Jelani Cobb
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There, yet again, were the flames. Before the furious conflagrations erupted in Minneapolis, the final weeks of May had already seemed like the answer to a grim math problem: What is the product of a crisis multiplied by a crisis? The official mortality count of the covid-19 outbreak in the United States swept toward a hundred thousand, while the economic toll had left forty million people out of work. It was difficult to countenance how so much misery could come about so quickly. But on Memorial Day we became video witnesses to the horrific death of George Floyd, at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department. By Friday, the looted shops, the charred buildings and cars, the smoldering Third Precinct—these were evidence of what the world looks like when a crisis is cubed.

These seemingly disparate American trials are not unrelated; they’re bound by their predictability and by the ways in which the Trump Administration has exacerbated them since they began. In March, the President claimed that “nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion,” and he has echoed that sentiment throughout the course of the emergency. But virtually everyone paying attention to public health saw something like the novel coronavirus coming. In less than two decades, we have seen epidemics of the sars, mers, Ebola, and H1N1 viruses. The Obama Administration created a National Security Council Directorate to mitigate the impact of such events; the Trump Administration largely disbanded it.