11 June 2020

Hustling in the Himalayas: The Sino-Indian Border Confrontation


Once again, Chinese and Indian forces find themselves locked in a tense border standoff. Confrontations between Chinese and Indian soldiers in contested territories along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Himalayan borderlands are not new. But, for the most part, these encounters end uneventfully, without the firing of weapons or loss of life on either side. Patrolling platoons have, however, often engaged in intense physical altercations involving scuffles and stone throwing, which are then calmed through flag meetings between Chinese and Indian senior military officers.

On occasion, both nations have reacted vigorously to considered attempts by the other to change the status quo by either entrenching a new physical presence or creating new physical infrastructure in the disputed areas. In the last decade alone, three such episodes—at Depsang in northern Ladakh in 2013, at Chumar in eastern Ladakh in 2014, and at Doklam on the Sino-Indian-Bhutanese border in 2017—produced local crises severe enough to require higher political intervention to defuse them.


China Is Weaponizing Globalization


The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered calls in many countries for a reexamination of their relationship with China. In places like Australia and the Czech Republic, these calls have built on preexisting doubt, emerging from the realization that actors linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) may be interfering with democratic political processes in “covert, coercive, or corrupting” ways. In a recent report for the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, I examined what makes this interference distinct from other authoritarian actors like Russia. The report finds that the party’s interference in democratic countries is characterized by five mutually reinforcing factors:

weaponization of China’s economy, attempts to dominate the global conversation about China, a reliance on elite intermediaries, targeting the Chinese diaspora, and a tendency to embed authoritarian norms

Each of these characteristics draws its potency from one key strategy: the CCP’s repurposing of globalization as an engine meant to power—and win global consent for—the party’s progress toward “the center of the global stage.” The party has identified globalization’s interconnectedness as a key driver of its rise: The need for China to continue deepening its connections to the rest of the world through trade and technological exchange is one of the most consistent themes of its leaders’ speeches and writings.

Tiananmen Can Happen Here

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When I was 5, all I knew of Tiananmen, the Gate of Heavenly Peace, was that it was an entrance to the Forbidden City, a wondrous palace where the emperors of the Qing dynasty once dwelled. China’s history was tangible to me, at my fingertips in my books and lessons.

Then I learned more. At 15, I knew of the deaths when tanks rolled into the square and suppressed the demonstrators. At 20, I read the diary of Communist Party chief Zhao Ziyang, which detailed how students and workers organizing for government accountability had once filled the square. Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army struggled to force them out. Leaders, afraid for what they called a “counterrevolutionary riot,” sent in tanks and ordered the use of live ammunition.

June 4, 1989, 31 years ago this month, is a pivotal moment in Chinese history. Memory, ideology, and state violence intermingle even after three decades. Tiananmen’s true legacy, which encompasses both the glory of the palace and the blood and hopes of the students who demonstrated on the square, will be something that Chinese people like myself continue to grapple with as long as our history ticks on.

Defying Beijing, Thousands in Hong Kong Hold Tiananmen Vigil

By Javier C. Hernández, Austin Ramzy and Tiffany May
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Residents across the city gathered to commemorate the victims of China’s 1989 crackdown, despite a police ban. Hours earlier, the city made mocking China’s anthem a crime.

Chanting slogans like “Liberate Hong Kong,” thousands of people in Hong Kong flouted a police ban on Thursday as they gathered to memorialize the Tiananmen Square massacre, a striking display of defiance against Beijing’s tightening grip on the territory.

“We have a responsibility to remember and to grieve,” said Clara Tam, 51, who took part in a vigil for the victims of the Chinese military’s brutal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters on June 4, 1989. “We have to let survivors know that we have not forgotten the children and loved ones they had lost.”

The public displays of anger and grief took on greater meaning this year amid a push by China to impose broad new security measures that take direct aim at the semiautonomous territory’s antigovernment demonstrations. In what critics see as the government’s latest attempt to curb dissent, Hong Kong on Thursday passed a law making it a crime to mock China’s national anthem.

Boris Johnson lays out visa offer to nearly 3m Hong Kong citizens

Patrick Wintour 

Boris Johnson has opened the path to what he called one of the “biggest changes” to the British visa system, stating he was ready to offer a right to live and work in the UK to any of the nearly 3 million Hong Kong citizens eligible for a British National Overseas passport.

Ministers have been ambivalent since last Thursday on whether the UK government’s offer of an extendable 12-month visa would be available only to the 350,000 current BNO passport holders in Hong Kong, or would also include the more than 2.5 million eligible to apply for the passport.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam slams Trump administration’s ‘double standard’ for city, points to force used at US protests

Kimmy Chung
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‘They value very much their own national security, but are biased in viewing ours’, chief executive says in defending new national security law But questions about specifics of Beijing-imposed legislation, including whether Tiananmen vigils will continue in the future, go unanswered

A planned security law for Hong Kong has sparked concerns about issues including freedom of speech among some residents. 

Hong Kong’s leader has slammed the United States for applying a “double standard”, pointing to the tough approach it has taken at recent protests in defence of its own security while attacking the national security law Beijing is now drafting for Hong Kong.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor hit back at the US on Tuesday as President Donald Trump, who on Saturday said his government would move to eliminate special policy exemptions granted to the city, vowed to end violent protests across the country sparked by the death of a black man in police custody.

The Great Unequalizer

By Mohamed A. El-Erian and Michael Spence
As parts of the United States begin to open up after months of coronavirus lockdown, hope is rising that some semblance of economic normalcy could be on the near-term horizon. That hope could still be dashed by lingering health, business, and consumer uncertainties, any of which could slow recovery. But for the least fortunate segments of the population, more economic pain is a virtual certainty. Far from the “great equalizer” that some initially dubbed the pandemic, COVID-19 has walloped the U.S. economy in a way that exacerbated inequalities in income, wealth, and opportunity. Absent a timely policy response, this negative trend could begin to reinforce itself, as one debilitating setback for the disadvantaged increases the odds of another.

The data are stark and alarming, and they will get worse before they get better. GDP is set to contract by 30 percent or more this quarter. More than 40 million workers, or roughly a quarter of the U.S. labor force, have filed jobless claims in the last three months. The unemployment rate is likely to approach—and could even exceed—the 25 percent record set during the Great Depression. And all this despite an enormous fiscal and monetary policy relief effort that cost nearly $6 trillion, or 28 percent of U.S. GDP in 2019.

None Of Your Business: China, Hong Kong And A Question Of Sovereignty – OpEd

By Binoy Kampmark

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam seemed to relish it before the cameras this week. The United States was enduring extensive shudders of internal instability in the wake of the George Floyd protests. Dubious proposals to deploy the military were on the books. This was a superb stage show. The Chinese move to crush or, to be more accurate, bring forward, the ultimate incorporation of Hong Kong into the PRC structure, had received some breathing space.

It all had to do with a little matter called sovereignty. For years, the United States, the United Kingdom, and European Union have seen Beijing’s sovereignty over the island qualified by the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. On the horizon lay the magic year when this singular status would end: 2047. In 2016, the Under Secretary for Constitutional & Mainland Affairs Ronald Chan announced that 2047 should not trouble those in Hong Kong. There was “no question of the expiry of the Basic Law after 2047.” 

In the “one country, two systems” formula, the one country has, at stages, been forgotten in favour of the two systems, with Hong Kong having sway in most matters of governance except foreign affairs and defence. Much of this was bound to be wishful thinking on the part of those outside China. Since June 2019, when large and determined protests commenced against the proposed extradition treaty to China, the program of integration and winding back various provisions otherwise guaranteeing autonomy in the province has been fought tooth and nail. 

Decoding Russia’s Official Nuclear Deterrence Paper

In a world where major powers are unconstrained by mutual obligations regarding their most powerful arms, proper communication is key to avoid fateful mistakes.

The demise of strategic arms control with the ever more likely expiration of the New START Treaty next February leaves nuclear deterrence as the only guarantee of national security for the nuclear weapons states. Responding to this situation, the Kremlin has come up with a policy paper called Nuclear Deterrence Policy Guidelines (NDPG) spelling out the principles of Moscow’s deterrence strategy. Roughly equivalent to the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) in the United States, such a document had previously remained unpublished, as an annex to the country’s Military Doctrine. Making it public now sends several important messages not to be ignored.

One is to respond to Western interpretations of the Russian strategy as providing for “escalation for de-escalation,” i.e., first use of nuclear weapons to avert defeat in a conventional conflict. The Kremlin paper says up front that “in the event of a military conflict, nuclear deterrence should prevent the escalation of hostilities and allow their termination on conditions acceptable to Russia and its allies.” This seems to corroborate the common Western view that, should Russian forces face the prospect of being defeated in a collision with NATO, they would use tactical nuclear weapons. 

History Will Judge the Complicit

by Anne Applebaum

On a cold march afternoon in 1949, Wolfgang Leonhard slipped out of the East German Communist Party Secretariat, hurried home, packed what few warm clothes he could fit into a small briefcase, and then walked to a telephone box to call his mother. “My article will be finished this evening,” he told her. That was the code they had agreed on in advance. It meant that he was escaping the country, at great risk to his life.

Though only 28 years old at the time, Leonhard stood at the pinnacle of the new East German elite. The son of German Communists, he had been educated in the Soviet Union, trained in special schools during the war, and brought back to Berlin from Moscow in May 1945, on the same airplane that carried Walter Ulbricht, the leader of what would soon become the East German Communist Party. Leonhard was put on a team charged with re‑creating Berlin’s city government.

He had one central task: to ensure that any local leaders who emerged from the postwar chaos were assigned deputies loyal to the party. “It’s got to look democratic,” Ulbricht told him, “but we must have everything in our control.”

Leonhard had lived through a great deal by that time. While he was still a teenager in Moscow, his mother had been arrested as an “enemy of the people” and sent to Vorkuta, a labor camp in the far north. He had witnessed the terrible poverty and inequality of the Soviet Union, he had despaired of the Soviet alliance with Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1941, and he knew about the Red Army’s mass rapes of women following the occupation. Yet he and his ideologically committed friends “instinctively recoiled from the thought” that any of these events were “in diametrical opposition to our Socialist ideals.” Steadfastly, he clung to the belief system he had grown up with.

Japan Suspects HGV Attack Missile Data Leak in Part of Cyberattack That Hit Mitsubishi Electric Corp


Recently, the Mitsubishi Electric Corp has revealed a major security breach; and in a brief statement released on its website stated that “sensitive information on the development of attack missiles could have been stolen part of a cyberattack on the servers of the Japanese electronic manufacturer Mitsubishi Electric last year.”

The attack appeared to have occurred on June 28, 2019, and was investigated months later. After two local newspapers published the stories about the attack, now finally the company has decided to converse on the matter.

The company, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, has argued that it is industrial surveillance. Still, sources say that the hackers have targeted the defense industry, mainly to steal information on a prototype of a cutting-edge high-speed gliding missile.

A government source has explained that “Although the data was not classified as highly confidential,, the fact is that, it is still sensitive information related to the future of Japan’s defense capabilities.”

Confronted with the development of hypersonic missiles (HGV) in China, Russia, and the United States, the Japanese Ministry of Defense also launched its own research on this type of missile with a varied trajectory in 2018, sending the required specifications to the candidate companies to develop the prototype, including the Mitsubishi Electric Corp as well.

Trump’s Public-Relations Army

By Dexter Filkins

The image of Donald Trump leading his advisers to St. John’s Church may prove to be a defining one of his Presidency: Trump, passing through streets that had been cleared of protesters by tear gas, to pose with a Bible while fires burned all over the country. For many members of the military, the image contained an especially discordant note. Amid the political aides in blue suits was a barrel-chested Army officer wearing combat fatigues: General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and America’s highest-ranking soldier. A former senior defense official described to me his disgust with that moment and the de-facto endorsement that it represented. “Walking the streets of D.C. in your combat fatigues—are you kidding me?” he said.

Milley’s appearance breached the long-standing Washington norm that senior officers don’t visit the White House dressed for combat. More important, it violated one of the oldest traditions of the American constitutional order: soldiers stay out of politics.

With relatively few exceptions—including the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act, the Civil War, and Reconstruction—the armed forces have hewed to the rule that they should never be deployed against American citizens. This helps to explain why the military is among the few national institutions that still enjoy broad public confidence. But Trump has shown himself willing to trash any institution—the press, the F.B.I., the State Department—that he can’t bend to his will. This week, Milley and Mark Esper, the Secretary of Defense, allowed the armed forces to be drawn into Trump’s protest response—and allowed themselves to be used for Trump’s political gain.

We’ve now entered the final phase of the Trump era

Thomas Wright

President Trump is stuck in a vicious downward spiral. The worst possible crisis arrived in COVID-19, one that tugged at every weakness of the president and the nation. After three chaotic years, we have finally arrived at the final phase of the Trump era, the long-feared crisis and unraveling, argues Thomas Wright. This piece originally appeared in The Atlantic.

We are in the Götterdämmerung now, the final phase of the Trump era. We began with the axis of adults that imperfectly constrained him. We then entered the age of hubris and action during which he systematically rid himself of the adults and was free to follow his whims. The third phase was the reckoning as he began to bump up against the contradictions of his own approach, on China and Iran in particular. Now we have finally arrived at the long-feared crisis and unraveling.

For three chaotic years, Donald Trump muddled through, at least in the eyes of Republicans, buoyed by the strong economy he inherited from his predecessor and powered forward by the long GOP wish list, which included, among many items, judicial appointments, deregulation, and the undoing of the Iran nuclear deal. Virtually every consequential and sympathetic analysis of the Trump administration, though, included a caveat: A serious crisis would upend any Republican progress and test the ill-equipped and vindictive president. Deep down, we all hoped the country would get lucky and slip through these four years without a paradigm-changing incident. But if luck is earned, we had no right to it.

A Few Good Men

By Max Boot

When Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, there was good cause to think that he would be popular with the armed forces. He was, for a start, a Republican, and the military leans heavily conservative. He had also run an ostentatiously pro-military campaign, promising to “rebuild the military, take care of vets and make the world respect the U.S. again!” There were, to be sure, some warning signs of trouble to come, such as when he attacked the war hero John McCain, a Republican senator from Arizona (“I like people who weren’t captured”), and belittled the parents of a soldier who had died in combat after they dared to criticize him. 

But initially, at least from the military’s perspective, the good seemed to far outweigh the bad. Trump pushed for higher defense spending; sent more U.S. forces and firepower to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria; and liberalized the military’s rules of engagement, giving commanders on the ground more freedom of maneuver. Even more eye-catching was his appointment of generals to senior civilian positions: the retired Marine Corps general James Mattis became the secretary of defense, the retired Marine general John Kelly became the secretary of homeland security and then the White House chief of staff, the retired army lieutenant general Michael Flynn became Trump’s national security adviser—and, when he flamed out after just 24 days, was replaced by the then active-duty army lieutenant general H. R. McMaster. Trump, for his part, reveled in the generals’ aura of manliness, hailing “Mad Dog” Mattis (a nickname Mattis hated) as “a true General’s General!”

Promoting human rights abroad when they’re being trampled at home

Tamara Cofman Wittes

The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, and the widespread public protests and demands for systemic change that have followed, are being watched closely around the world. Closely observed, too, are President Trump’s statements labeling protesters as thugs and threatening to send military forces into American cities if their elected leaders don’t get them “under control.” The Committee to Protect Journalists has reported over 125 violations of press freedom in just three days of protests this weekend.

From this sorry chronology flowed an inevitable cascade, from inside and outside the country, decrying U.S. hypocrisy on human rights: Shameless dictatorships took opportunity attacks on the United States, condemning its racism and injustice; and the “woke” commentariat proclaimed that the United States had no standing to criticize rights abuses elsewhere as long as we failed to address systemic racism at home.

Hypocrisy, of course, is a charge so prevalent in political affairs as to have little real force left. Hypocrisy in foreign policy is nearly inevitable, since every policy choice involves opportunity costs and trade-offs among a complex mix of U.S. interests and values. Even were that not true, the most alert, adroit, and well-staffed government would be challenged trying to speak evenly to every abuse of rights, everywhere, at every moment.

Is America Becoming a Banana Republic?

By Robin Wright
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In the early nineteen-hundreds, the American writer O. Henry coined the term “banana republic” in a series of short stories, most famously in one about the fictional country of Anchuria. It was based on his experience in Honduras, where he had fled for a few months, to avoid prosecution in Texas, for embezzling money from the bank where he worked. The term—which originally referred to a politically unstable country run by a dictator and his cronies, with an economy dependent on a single product—took on a life of its own. Over the past century, “banana republic” has evolved to mean any country (with or without bananas) that has a ruthless, corrupt, or just plain loopy leader who relies on the military and destroys state institutions in an egomaniacal quest for prolonged power. I’ve covered plenty of them, including Idi Amin’s Uganda, in the nineteen-seventies, Muammar Qaddafi’s Libya, in the nineteen-eighties, and Carlos Menem’s Argentina, in the nineteen-nineties.

During the heated Presidential campaign of 2016, the term made its way into mainstream American politics, often glibly. President Trump invoked it in October, 2016. “This election will determine whether we remain a free country in the truest sense of the word or we become a corrupt banana republic controlled by large donors and foreign governments,” he told a cheering crowd in Florida. After the second Presidential debate, in October, Robby Mook, the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, countered, “Donald Trump thinks that the Presidency is like some banana republic dictatorship where you can lock up your political opponents.” The phrase has become an undercurrent in the national political debate ever since.

Hundreds of Former National Security Officials Condemn Trump’s Response to Protests

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More than 280 former senior U.S. diplomats and military leaders rebuked President Donald Trump over his plans to use U.S. military units to control protests across the country in a letter shared with Foreign Policy on Friday. 

The participants joined a chorus of high-ranking current and former officials who already have condemned the commander in chief after police forcibly cleared protesters near the White House this week for a photo opportunity.

The letter was drafted by Douglas Silliman, the president’s former ambassador to Iraq; Deborah McCarthy, who served as U.S. ambassador to Lithuania during the Obama administration; and Thomas Countryman, a veteran diplomat who served as the State Department’s top arms control official. 

“Many of us served across the globe, including in war zones, diplomats and military officers working side by side to advance American interests and values. We called out violations of human rights and the authoritarian regimes that deployed their military against their own citizens,” the former high-ranking officials wrote. “We condemn all criminal acts against persons and property, but cannot agree that responding to these acts is beyond the capabilities of local and state authorities.” 

Could the Pandemic Kill the United Kingdom?

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The latest round of trade negotiations over the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union commenced on June 2, but British officials might have bigger problems at home. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his government’s underwhelming response to the coronavirus pandemic has been sharply criticized across the political spectrum, possibly giving further impetus to the Scottish independence and Irish unification movements.

For many nationalists in Northern Ireland, the pandemic has exposed the folly of running two separate health and political administrations on the same island, and, to them, this strengthens their demand for unification. “The behavior and the interests of the British government have caused a whole raft of people to think and review and analyze whether their best interests were served by that,” said Niall O Donnghaile, the spokesman on uniting Ireland and Brexit for the pro-unification party Sinn Fein. “All of this is certainly pointing toward a bigger manifestation of an argument for unity.”

In Scotland, a YouGov poll conducted in January already found a narrow majority of Scots in favor of independence for the first time since 2015. Every district in Scotland voted to remain as part of the European Union in 2016, and Brexit has forced some to change their minds on the question of Scottish independence. With support for independence on a knife-edge, even a marginal change in public opinion brought about by the pandemic could prove to be decisive.

No-Deal Brexit Looks Likelier Than Ever After the Pandemic

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Talks between Britain and the European Union over their future relationship are going absolutely nowhere, with the EU’s chief negotiator saying Friday that the two sides made “no substantial progress” in their latest round of discussions and lambasting what he called Britain’s “backtracking.”

“In all areas, the U.K. continues to backtrack on the commitments it has undertaken,” said Michel Barnier, Brussels’s point man for the talks, at a press conference. 

Almost four years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, and nearly five months after it finally did, Britain now looks closer than ever to crashing out with no deal—an outcome actually made more likely by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has disrupted an already abbreviated schedule for talks, distracted political leaders, eroded trust in the British government—giving it even less political leeway to ask for a much-needed extension—and created an economic upheaval that many pro-Brexit people figure will mask any pain from the departure, making a no-deal exit seem relatively less painful.

Banning Covert Foreign Election Interference

Robert K. Knake
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The United States is one of the countries that is most susceptible to foreign election interference. To safeguard the U.S. elections in November, Robert K. Knake argues that the United States and other democracies should agree to not interfere in foreign elections.


That Russia interfered in the 2016 election on behalf of the Donald J. Trump campaign is no longer disputed. To varying degrees, Trump administration officials and Democratic presidential candidates have warned against such interference in 2020. For his part, President Trump has downplayed both the effect of Russian interference and its impropriety, telling Russian officials in a 2017 meeting that the United States interfered in elections in other countries.

Many on the left also hold this view, arguing that turnabout is fair play given past interference by the U.S. intelligence community in foreign elections. In October 2019, then Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang said in a debate that he would tell Russia, “We’ve tampered with other elections. You’ve tampered with our elections. And now it has to stop.”

Congo hit by a second, simultaneous Ebola outbreak

FILE PHOTO: Moise Vaghemi, 33, (L) an Ebola survivor who works as a nurse cares for a patient who is suspected to be suffering from Ebola, inside the Biosecure Emergency Care Unit (CUBE) at the Ebola treatment centre in Katwa, near Butembo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, October 3, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra/File Photo

Six cases have been detected, four of which have died in the city, a trading hub of 1.5 million people on the Congo River with regular transport links to the capital Kinshasa.

Mbandaka is 1,000 km (620 miles) from an ongoing outbreak that has killed over 2,200 people in North Kivu province by the Uganda border, where containment efforts have been hampered by armed conflict.

The new outbreak is Congo’s eleventh since the virus was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976.

“We have a new Ebola epidemic in Mbandaka,” health minister Eteni Longondo told reporters. “We are going to very quickly send them the vaccine and medicine.”

The Ebola virus causes hemorrhagic fever and is spread through direct contact with body fluids from an infected person, who suffers severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

Zuckerberg’s dilemma: How to moderate Facebook amid violent unrest

Chris Meserole
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Late last week, as protests over George Floyd’s killing began to boil over, President Trump took to Facebook and Twitter. Rather than de-escalating the unrest, he instead fanned the flames. “When the looting starts, the shootings starts,” he intoned, echoing a phrase used by segregationist politicians to condone police violence against the black community. The response of many social platforms was unusually swift. Twitter restricted Trump’s message by placing a warning over his tweet before it could be viewed, while SnapChat declared that it would no longer promote Trump’s content in the coveted real estate of its Discover tab. Both steps were unprecedented. 

Facebook, by contrast, appeared to be stuck in cement. The company famous for its efforts to “move fast and break things” refused to move at all, with company founder Mark Zuckerberg standing by his decision not to remove or moderate Trump’s recent posts, even in the face of intense criticism from Facebook employees. According to the company’s existing policies, Trump’s posts were within bounds—they predicted but didn’t incite violence, Zuckerberg argued—and therefore should stand as published. 

Lost within the rancor over Facebook’s refusal to moderate Trump’s specific post was a comment by Zuckerberg about a potential policy shift that could be much more consequential. “If we were entering a period where there may be a prolonged period of civil unrest,” he told one employee, “then that might suggest that we need different policies, even if just temporarily, in the United States for some period.” Read the full exchange, and what’s clear is that while Facebook may not be censoring Trump’s posts anytime soon, it may instead develop a set of policies much more far-reaching in scope—namely, a separate framework for content moderation during times of heightened unrest and violence around the world, including in the United States. 

Antitrust investigations have deep implications for AI and national security

Dakota Foster
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In late March, Attorney General William Barr announced that “decision time” was looming for America’s leading tech firms. By early summer, Barr expects the Department of Justice to reach preliminary conclusions about possible antitrust violations by Silicon Valley’s largest companies. The DOJ’s investigation is just one of several probes scrutinizing potential abuses by Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. While concerns over consumer protections, anti-competitive practices, and industry concentration have fueled these antitrust investigations, their results will almost certainly have national-security ramifications. 

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has argued that artificial intelligence is likely to shape the future of warfare, and the national-security community has largely backed that conclusion. The most recent National Defense Strategy, released in 2018, highlights AI’s importance, noting that the Pentagon will seek to harness “rapid application[s] of commercial breakthroughs…to gain competitive military advantages.” With defense officials arguing that U.S. military superiority may hinge on artificial intelligence capabilities, antitrust action aimed at America’s largest tech companies—and leading AI innovators—could affect the United States’ technological edge.

Israel and Iran Just Showed Us the Future of Cyberwar With Their Unusual Attacks

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In late April, Israeli media reported on a possible cyberattack on several water and sewage treatment facilities around the country. Israel’s national water agency initially spoke of a technical malfunction, but later acknowledged it was a cyberstrike. According to Israeli officials, the event caused no damage other than limited disruptions in local water distribution systems. At the time, the reports went all but unnoticed amid the flood of pandemic-related media coverage. Israeli media later blamed Iran for the cyberattack, which had been routed through U.S. and European servers. Iran has denied involvement.A closer look suggests that cyberwarfare is maturing into a new phase, where new rules of engagement and deterrence are in the process of being established.

Then, on May 9, a cyberattack targeted the computer systems at Iran’s busiest hub for maritime trade, Shahid Rajaee Port in Bandar Abbas near the Strait of Hormuz. According to Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, the attack did not penetrate central security and information systems but instead disrupted private operating companies’ systems for several hours. On May 18, the Washington Post cited unnamed officials who identified Israel as the author of what appeared to be a retaliatory attack. Contradicting official Iranian claims of negligible effects, the Post reported that the attack triggered serious road and waterway congestion for several days. Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi didn’t directly acknowledge responsibility, but he alluded to the event when he declared that “Israel will continue acting [against its enemies] with a mix of instruments.”

13th Signal Regiment: UK army launches first dedicated cyber warfare division4TH JUNE 2020

The British army is launching a 250-strong cyber warfare division in an effort to modernise the armed forces and better protect frontline operations.

Stationed in Blandford, Dorset, the new unit, known as the 13th Signal Regiment, is the British army’s first dedicated cyber regiment. It will be tasked with developing an Army Cyber Information Security Operations Centre, protecting sensitive military communications and developing “digital armour” around overseas personnel.

In a statement issued with the announcement, the defence secretary Ben Wallace (pictured) said: “This is a step-change in the modernisation of the UK Armed Forces for information warfare.

“Cyber-attacks are every bit as deadly as those faced on the physical battlefield, so we must prepare to defend ourselves from all those who would do us harm and 13th Signal Regiment is a vital addition to that defence.”

It’s not clear if the regiment will also be tasked with carrying out offensive cyber campaigns, but Brigadier John Collyer, Commander 1st (UK) Signal Brigade, said: “The re-formation of 13th Signal Regiment is an exciting step forward as the Royal Signals, Army and wider Defence rapidly drives up their potency and resilience in the information environment and cyber domain.

“The stakes are high and our success is increasingly and critically reliant on focusing our brightest men and women onto the opportunities and risks that underpin our operations – both home and away.”

The 13th Signal Regiment was first launched during World War 2 to pioneer the application of wireless radios. It was renamed in 1959 and deployed in Berlin during the Cold War, before it was disbanded in 1994.

Its re-formation comes after the government announced last year that it was preparing to unlock £22m to create a series of centres focused on cyber warfare operations.

Tom Copinger-Symes, general officer commanding Force Troops Command said at the time: “Combining artificial intelligence with our military analysts will help us better understand threats and exploit opportunities, in turn enabling us to get the truth out much more rapidly, quashing the noise of disinformation from our enemies.”