13 June 2020

China puts rising star in command of forces in border face-off against India

Minnie Chan

Xu Qiling, former ground force commander of the Eastern Theatre Command, swapped posts with his counterpart He Weidong in the west, overseeing border areas in the Xinjiang and Tibet autonomous regions since last month, according to a report posted on the Western Theatre Command’s WeChat social media account.

“As tensions with India are escalating over border disputes, the Western Theatre Command needs a younger commander to lead frontier soldiers and officers in this current sensitive period,” a military insider, who requested anonymity, told the South China Morning Post.

“Xu is 57 years old, five years younger than his predecessor, He. The working environment in the Western high altitude is very tough and even young people age prematurely there.”

The insider said that after working for four years in the Tibetan Plateau, 63-year-old He’s new position in the Eastern Theatre Command was a more comfortable job before his formal retirement.

China Is Pushing India Closer to the United States

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As Chinese soldiers rough up Indian ones around Pangong Lake in Ladakh along the two countries’ disputed border, one thing is clear—while India and China have faced off in the region before, nobody knows what’s coming next. India’s friendship with China once seemed natural for a country that put socialist principles in its national constitution and that prided itself on Cold War neutrality. It was unsurprising that India under its first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, was interested in broadening ties with other newly created socialist nations, including China. But factors more powerful than ideological affiliation knocked the relationship off course, leading to an overlooked war and the tensions of today.

At first, the relationship was all smiles and comradeship. In its early days, the Indo-Chinese relationship was supposedly based on five principles enunciated in the Panchsheel Agreement: mutual respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty, mutual nonaggression, mutual noninterference in internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence. These principles, plus a shared belief in socialist economics, led to a strong relationship. As the slogan went, “Hindi Chini bhai-bhai”—India and China are brothers.

In 1954, Nehru met Mao Zedong in Beijing, and the two leaders agreed on many issues—chiefly, the need to remain strong against Western imperialism. Nehru had little love for the United States, despite being hosted by Presidents Harry Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy. In the early days of the Cold War, he commented that “there is on the whole more reason on the side of Russia.” Mao saw himself as continuing the anti-imperialist tradition of Chinese revolutionaries.

India – Taliban: Talk Without Granting Legitimacy

Kunal Chonkar
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As an urgent and a real debate stirs across the corridors of the South Block, about whether or not to engage with the Taliban – regional experts, Intel analysts, and former diplomats advocate that New Delhi needs to advance its own legitimate security and economic interest in Afghan, without losing its innate sense of realism and pragmatism

New Delhi: Brimming with a strategic intent to strike the balance between Islamabad’s influence over Kabul, India’s move to support President Ashraf Ghani underlines the cornerstone of its Afghanistan policy. Staying true to its colors and continuing on its role as a strategic ally to the Afghans – New Delhi has refused to make contact with the Taliban to maintain ties with the Afghan government.

However, even with this policy stance, concerns continue to rise over an increasing role of Pakistani intelligence in Kabul’s polit-bureau, bolstering of the Haqqani network, and the ever-developing ties of the Taliban with al-Qaeda and Islamic State.

As an urgent and a real debate stirs across the corridors of the South Block, about whether or not to engage with the Afghan Taliban – experts and diplomats speaking at a webinar ‘The Neo-Taliban’ organized by the Central University of Jammu on June 9, advocated New Delhi to advance its own legitimate security and economic interest in Afghan, without losing its innate sense of realism and pragmatism.

Opinion – Virtual Diplomacy in India

Angana Guha Roy

The advent of the information age has changed the way diplomacy was conducted in the past. The ongoing pandemic has exposed us to “Virtual Diplomacy” as the new technique of Negociation Continuelle or Continuous Negotiation (as put by Cardinal Richelieu) which was later labeled as Diplomacy by Edmunde Burke in 1796. Moving on from “living letter” to the establishment of temporary envoys in the second half of the 15th century, the domain of diplomacy and the tools of its execution has come a long way. And now virtual space is the new frontier of conducting diplomacy. Indian diplomacy has moved to the virtual space.

Ever since the First Ministry of Foreign Affairs was created by Cardinal Richelieu (the Chief Minister of French King Louis XIII) in 1626, the requirement of building organized communication models became a priority. However, the priority was optimized only after dedicated “foreign ministries” emerged. It was during the 18th century “foreign ministries” became “the general rule” in Europe. Britain created its Foreign office in 1782, the US State Department was established in 1789. Turkey, Japan, and China adopted the structure in the middle of the 19th century. Diplomatic messages were carried by hand, until the 19th century.

China’s New Outbreak Shows Signs the Virus Could Be Changing

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Chinese doctors are seeing the coronavirus manifest differently among patients in its new cluster of cases in the northeast region compared to the original outbreak in Wuhan, suggesting that the pathogen may be changing in unknown ways and complicating efforts to stamp it out.

Patients found in the northern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang appear to carry the virus for a longer period of time and take longer to test negative, Qiu Haibo, one of China’s top critical care doctors, told state television on Tuesday.

Patients in the northeast also appear to be taking longer than the one to two weeks observed in Wuhan to develop symptoms after infection, and this delayed onset is making it harder for authorities to catch cases before they spread, said Qiu, who is now in the northern region treating patients.

Reviewing Vietnam's 'Struggle' Options in the South China Sea

by Derek Grossman

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

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

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

China’s rise and the legacy of Deng Xiaoping

American elites have woken up to Beijing’s threat to global US hegemony. Now questions about China and its institutions are on everyone’s mind. Will its economy continue to expand or will it stagnate? Exactly how communist is China anyway? How stable is the regime? In sum, where is China going?

To answer these vital questions, we must examine the origins of China’s current institutional and ideological structure, which was shaped primarily by Deng Xiaoping during his leadership of the country from about 1980 to 1992. Xi Jinping inherited this structure and has not fundamentally changed it.

The future of China will follow the tracks Deng set down, through a series of institutional reforms that enabled the country’s tremendous drive for growth. As the foundations of this reform decay, so will the growth, eventually leading China into stagnation unless another successful reform is undertaken, which neither Xi nor his successors appear capable of.

Deng had two key objectives in pursuing this growth: to ensure the survival of the communist regime and to improve China’s geopolitical position. He succeeded with honors on both counts, because he understood that achieving those two objectives required dealing with a key constraint: is it possible to open up trade without ceding power to the outside world? 

The U.S.-China ‘cold war’ is here — and Beijing may start targeting Washington’s allies, analysts say

Weizhen Tan

“Many economic redundancies will emerge as the United States and China replicate efforts and compete for the allegiances of the rest of the world by offering carrots and threatening sticks,” said Dan Ikenson, director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. 

“That is what is meant by the emergence of a new cold war environment,” he said.

Beijing could also start targeting America’s allies, as it embarks on what analysts call the “wolf warrior diplomacy” — named after a series of hugely-popular movies where Chinese fighters defeat adversaries globally.

Combination of file photos showing U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Mandel Ngan, Nicolas Asfouri | AFP | Getty Images

Less gratitude, please. How COVID-19 reveals the need for migration reform

Marta Foresti

One thing is clear: With COVID-19, we will all move much less, at least for a while. The virus has pretty much halted human mobility across the globe, and it looks increasingly likely that traveling across and between countries will remain restricted for the foreseeable future. From tourism to business travel and labor migration, the world will be a lot more sedentary.

This is bad news for international migration. It will only get harder to advocate more open and flexible approaches to global migration management. With trust in multilateralism at an all-time low, COVID-19 will give new ammunition to the “nationalistas”: Control borders, keep the virus—and especially the people who carry it—away from “us.” We can expect even more of an “us first” approach in politics: “our” vaccines, “our” PPE, “our” health, “‘our” borders, “our” people first.

But what about “our” jobs?

This is where the COVID-19 experience can help us look at migration through a different lens. Over the past few months, we have all learned that a range of skills, professions, and workers are especially needed in a pandemic. From doctors, nurses, and care workers to delivery drivers and shelf stackers, many of these “essential workers” come from abroad. In the U.S. for example, 30 percent of doctors and 27 percent of farm workers are foreign born. In Australia, 54 percent of doctors and 35 percent of nurses are immigrants. These key, essential workers have been celebrated as heroes during the pandemic, with weekly clappings and accolades from the highest levels of power: Upon leaving hospital after his personal encounter with the virus, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the two migrant nurses who cared for him—Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal.

China’s Inopportune Pandemic Assertiveness

By Joel Wuthnow

For a state just beginning to recover from COVID-19, China has been remarkably active in pressing its sovereignty claims. Chinese forces have been involved in a spate of incidents around its borders, most recently a series of tense encounters with India. Foreign media have seized on this as another example of Chinese opportunism, in which Beijing shamelessly presses its territorial agenda against weaker rivals still in the throes of the disease. However, China’s actions also constitute a strategic blunder, sacrificing the propaganda value of its contributions to regional pandemic responses and weakening its long-running attempts to dilute U.S. influence. This gives Washington a second chance at drawing a contrast with China and demonstrating concrete leadership for a region still reeling from COVID-19’s effects.

Untimely Bellicosity 

In February, Chinese jets crossed the mid-line of the Taiwan Strait, forcing Taiwan to scramble interceptors, and People’s Liberation Army troops carried out live-fire combat drills in the vicinity. In March, a Chinese fishing boat — possibly belonging to the paramilitary maritime militia — collided with a Japanese destroyer in the East China Sea, damaging the latter ship. In April, Beijing declared new administrative districts in the Paracel and Spratly islands, the latest step in China’s bid to legitimize effective control over these areas. The same month, a Chinese coast guard ship sank a Vietnamese fishing boat in the South China Sea. In May, Chinese and Indian troops were involved in a confrontation along the disputed Himalayan border, though Indian officials suggested both sides bore some responsibility. And, over several months, Chinese ships repeatedly entered Japan’s claimed territorial waters near the Senkakus.

China’s silent treatment for Australia in beef, barley trade row viewed as new normal under ‘Wolf Warrior’ diplomacy

Su-Lin Tan and Annette Ho
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China imposed tariffs on Australian barley and banned exports of beef from four Australian abattoirs three weeks ago Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has since tried unsuccessfully to speak with China’s Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan

Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has expressed his disappointment at not being able to speak with Zhong Shan despite trying several times to place a call with his Chinese counterpart. Photo: Getty Images

Since China imposed tariffs on Australian barley and banned exports of beef from four Australian abattoirs three weeks ago, Australian Trade Minister Simon Birmingham has tried unsuccessfully to get in touch with his Chinese trade counterpart, Minister of Commerce Zhong Shan.

This creates an unusual situation for two countries with strong trade relations, and only adds to growing suspicions in Australia, the world’s most China-dependent economy, that the tariff and bans were punishment for Canberra’s political support for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus.

EU says China behind 'huge wave' of Covid-19 disinformation

Jennifer Rankin

China has been accused by Brussels of running disinformation campaigns inside the European Union, as the bloc set out a plan to tackle a “huge wave” of false facts about the coronavirus pandemic. 

The European commission said Russia and China were running “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighbourhood, and globally”. While the charge against Russia has been levelled on many occasions, this is the first time the EU executive has publicly named China as a source of disinformation. 

French politicians were furious when a Chinese embassy website claimed in mid-April, at the height of Europe’s pandemic, that care workers had abandoned their jobs leaving residents to die. The unnamed Chinese diplomat also claimed falsely that 80 French lawmakers had used a racist slur against the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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The World’s Weakest Strongman

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If you know where the continuing wave of public protests in the United States is going to lead us, you’re smarter than I am. In fact, figuring out what is going to happen when mass protesters go up against the coercive apparatus of the government is inherently difficult to predict and maybe impossible.

Part of the reason, as Timur Kuran explained in a seminal article (and subsequent book), is that an individual’s propensity to rebel (or, in this case, join a demonstration) is a form of private information that is impossible to ascertain in advance, even in a democracy. Even today, it is hard for outside observers to know what might be the final straw that would provoke more people to go out into the streets or what sort of government response might lead them to stay home. And as Susanne Lohmann and other theorists have argued, protests also benefit from “cascade effects”: You might not be willing to be the first person out in the street, but you might be willing to be number 5,000. In this way, protest movements can grow larger over time and especially if the government reacts in ways that reinforce the initial burst of popular anger.

President Donald Trump (and other violence junkies like Republican Sen. Tom Cotton) seems to think that all that is needed to make the demonstrations cease is a ruthless show of force. He should think again. Overwhelming force sometimes works, especially when there is a genuine threat to regime stability, the public at large is supportive, and one can count on the security forces to obey orders and respond brutally. But as the Shah of Iran and other autocrats have discovered, wielding the mailed fist can also turn peaceful protests violent, drive more people into the opposition and onto the streets, and eventually cause the security apparatus to switch sides or dissolve. Even if a tyrant ultimately “wins,” the country may be but a hollow shell (see: Syria).

D-Day and Stalin

By George Friedman

Editor’s Note: The following analysis was published on the anniversary of D-Day in 2019. It has been lightly edited. Over 70 years after it was fought, D-Day remains one of the most vividly recalled battles in history. It was also one of the most decisive. There are those who will argue that the Allies would have won World War II regardless of the outcome of the Battle of Normandy. Indeed, similar arguments are made for most decisive battles. Two years ago, I wrote about the Battle of Midway, on the 75th anniversary of that campaign, and argued that a defeat there would have been disastrous to the global balance. But some readers rejected this, saying that, even if the U.S. had been defeated, it would have deployed ships into the Pacific and recovered. That might well be true, but as I will try to show, the invasion of France’s Calvados coast was a turning point in the war. Had it failed, the Allies likely would not have been able to recover. Far From Over The pivot was the Soviet Union. By the time the D-Day invasion was launched, the Soviet Union had been fighting the Germans for three years. Germany […]

Why the United States Will Need a New Foreign Policy in 2020

by Raphael S. Cohen

Voting may still be six months away, but already the 2020 election cycle is in full swing, and the traditional presidential tropes—pledging a new and better future—are out in force.

And yet, for all the campaign promises to the contrary, a disconcerting truth remains. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the country faced a growing strategic predicament: The United States' challenges are mounting, and its international commitments increasingly outstrip its means to fulfill them. Since the pandemic, these problems have only multiplied. Consequently, no matter who wins in 2020, big changes in America's foreign policy could be on the horizon.

To start, the geopolitical dynamics making the world an increasingly uncertain place exist largely irrespective of who occupies the presidency. To be sure, President Trump is a polarizing figure. In Pew Research surveys of 32 countries worldwide, 64 percent of respondents said they had no confidence that he would “do the right thing” in world affairs, making him far more globally unpopular than other leaders, such as Germany's Angela Merkel, France's Emmanuel Macron, China's Xi Jinping, and Russia's Vladimir Putin. And Trump's statements—threatening to withdraw from NATO or demanding greater burden sharing for American troops abroad—have put American allies and partners on edge. And highly publicized aid campaigns in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic by China and Russia—along with relative American inaction—will likely further tilt global opinion against the United States.

A COVID-19 response for the world’s poor

Erik Berglöf, Gordon Brown, Helen Clark, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

G-20 leaders urgently need to reconvene to agree on an enhanced and more strongly coordinated global response to the COVID-19 crisis. Although lockdowns are being eased in many places, the daily number of new COVID-19 cases worldwide recently reached its highest level yet, while the pandemic’s devastating economic toll continues to mount as new epicenters arise in the emerging and developing world.

We are at a critical moment, because the poorest countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are facing economic and public-health emergencies that demand immediate action. A diverse group of middle-income economies need help, too. Together, these countries represent nearly 70 percent of the world’s population and account for approximately one-third of global GDP.

Their needs will grow more acute in the months and years ahead. The International Labor Organization expects that global working hours in the second quarter of 2020 will be 10.5 percent below pre-crisis levels, equivalent to the loss of more than 300 million full-time jobs. And, for the first time this century, global poverty is rising.

Indeed, a global recession could reverse up to three decades of improvements in living standards and, according to one estimate, push 420 million to 580 million people worldwide into poverty. The World Food Program, moreover, has warned that COVID-19 will likely double the number of people suffering from acute hunger, to 265 million.

The pandemic has also given rise to the greatest education emergency of our lifetime, with 1.7 billion children—more than 90 percent of the global total—having been out of school because of lockdowns. In poor countries, many may never go back. Millions of children who no longer receive school meals are going hungry, and cash-strapped governments are reducing education aid.

World faces worst food crisis for at least 50 years, UN warns

Fiona Harvey

The world stands on the brink of a food crisis worse than any seen for at least 50 years, the UN has warned as it urged governments to act swiftly to avoid disaster.

Better social protections for poor people are urgently needed as the looming recession following the coronavirus pandemic may put basic nutrition beyond their reach, the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said on Tuesday.

“Unless immediate action is taken, it is increasingly clear that there is an impending global food emergency that could have long-term impacts on hundreds of millions of children and adults,” he said. “We need to act now to avoid the worst impacts of our efforts to control the pandemic.”

Although harvests of staple crops are holding up, and the export bans and protectionism that experts feared have so far been largely avoided, the worst of the impacts of the pandemic and ensuing recession are yet to be felt. Guterres warned: “Even in countries with abundant food, we see risks of disruption in the food supply chain.”

About 50 million people risk falling into extreme poverty this year owing to the pandemic, but the long-term effects will be even worse, as poor nutrition in childhood causes lifelong suffering. Already, one in five children around the world are stunted in their growth by the age of five, and millions more are likely to suffer the same fate if poverty rates soar.

American Leadership Begins at Home

By Stacey Abrams

America’s leadership on the global stage has always been grounded not only in the power of our ideals but also in the power of our example. That power of example includes competence in harnessing resources and delivering solutions for citizens, and it is one reason why this moment is so consequential for the United States and for its friends and allies abroad. The struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic is an enormous test of a government’s ability to deliver solutions—and by extension, of a country’s ability to lead. It is a test that the United States is currently failing.

Our country has faced national and international crises before, but never with a president as oblivious to the danger at hand. We are typically expected to lead close allies, like-minded states, and other democracies in critical global efforts, but our present national leadership has instead fumbled the defense at home, embracing half-truths and rejecting expertise, and adopted a dangerous go-it-alone approach abroad. Others have stepped into the breach, from American governors and mayors to the leaders of other democracies around the world, many of whom have made great strides in protecting their citizens despite having fewer resources and weaker infrastructures. But the United States finds itself in a dire predicament: it has the world’s highest death toll and greatest number of infections, its doctors are reusing medical gowns and nurses are wearing garbage bags, it has a shortage of ventilators, masks, swabs, and vials. The country that rescued Europe, defeated communism, and built the liberal international order daily fails the test of leadership, at the cost of tens of thousands of lives and of the United States’ place in the world.

Does The BCG Vaccine Protect Against Coronavirus? Applying An Economists Toolkit To A Medical Question

As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, there is an intense search for treatments and vaccines, with numerous trials running in multiple countries. Several observers and prominent news outlets have noticed that countries still administering an old vaccine against tuberculosis - the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine - have had fewer coronavirus cases and fewer deaths per capita in the early stages of the outbreak. But is that correlation really strong evidence that the BCG vaccine provides some defense against COVID-19?

In this post, we look at the incidence of coronavirus cases along the former border between East and West Germany, using econometric techniques to investigate whether historical differences in vaccination policies account for the lower level of infection in the former East.

The BCG vaccine has been used for nearly 100 years in the battle against tuberculosis. Today, the disease has been largely eradicated from the developed world and many rich countries have stopped mandatory vaccination. Spain, for example, ended mandatory BCG vaccination in 1985. The country experienced more than 563 coronavirus deaths per million population and is one of the hardest-hit countries in per capita terms. Its neighbor, Portugal, continues to perform mandatory BCG vaccination to this day and has experienced only 108 coronavirus deaths per million population (all numbers as of May 8). More generally, studies have documented that countries with mandatory BCG vaccination tend to have substantially fewer coronavirus cases and fewer deaths per capita than countries without mandatory vaccination and that the intensity of the epidemic is lower for countries that began vaccinating earlier. Such cross-country correlations do not imply causation and skeptics have rushed to suggest that the passive immunization from the BCG vaccine would at best be short-lived. The WHO now cautions that there is currently no evidence that the vaccine protects against the novel coronavirus.

The Syrian Civil War’s Never-Ending Endgame

The Syrian civil war that has decimated the country for nine years now, provoking a regional humanitarian crisis and drawing in actors ranging from the United States to Russia, appears to be drawing inexorably to a conclusion. President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Iran and Russia, seems to have emerged militarily victorious from the conflict, which began after his government violently repressed civilian protests in 2011. The armed insurgency that followed soon morphed into a regional and global proxy war that, at the height of the fighting, saw radical Islamist groups seize control over vast swathes of the country, only to lose it in the face of sustained counteroffensives by pro-government forces as well as a U.S.-led coalition of Western militaries.

The fighting is not yet fully over, though, with the northwestern Idlib region remaining outside of government control. Earlier this year, the Syrian army’s Russian-backed campaign to retake Idlib from the last remaining armed opposition groups concentrated there resulted in clashes with Turkish forces deployed to protect Ankara’s client militias. The skirmishes were a reminder that the conflict, though seemingly in its final stages, could still escalate into a regional conflagration. The situation in the northeast also remains volatile following the removal of U.S. forces from the border with Turkey, with Turkish, Syrian and Russian forces all now deployed in the region, alongside proxies and Syrian Kurdish militias.

Why Tackling Corruption Is So Urgent—and So Difficult

The world is constantly reminded that corruption knows no geographic boundaries. In South Africa and Malaysia, former leaders are embroiled in court cases involving corruption allegations that already helped remove them from power. A money laundering investigation launched in Brazil in 2008 expanded to take down a vast network of politicians and business leaders across Central and South America. And U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has been plagued by officials who have used their offices for private gain and been forced to resign.

The impact of actual corruption is devastating, whether it siphons money from public use or drives policy that is not in the public interest. The effects can be particularly pernicious in developing countries, where budgets are tight and needs are vast. The United Nations estimates that corruption costs $2.6 trillion in losses every year.

But even the perception of corruption is dangerous, undermining people’s faith in government institutions, a phenomenon that is helping to drive a crisis of democracy worldwide. In Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index, most governments are seen as corrupt by their own citizens. The rise of populist governments in particular poses challenges. By their nature, populists tend to define themselves against a corrupt elite, which then allows them to weaken institutions and divert attention from their own use of the levers of power to enrich themselves.

Dear Mr. Secretary, You Can Rename Army Bases Right Now

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The U.S. Army recently signaled a willingness to have a “conversation” on its century-old practice of honoring Confederate generals. No such conversation is necessary. Below is a draft memo, prepared for the signature of Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, to end this unambiguous practice of institutional racism. It is entirely within his power to correct this injustice; he needs no Congressional authorization or permission from the President to do so. 

Your move, Mr. Secretary. Signed:

Colonel Michael Jason, U.S. Army (Retired)

Lieutenant Colonel John Nagl, U.S. Army (Retired)

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling, U.S. Army (Retired)

MEMORANDUM FOR The United States Army

SUBJECT: Eliminating Racism in the U.S. Army

For the Rural Poor, the Coronavirus Crash Isn’t Here Yet


Since coronavirus lockdowns took hold across the world, there has been a spirited debate about the human costs of social distancing in low-income countries—where those who depend on daily-wage labor risk starvation by staying home—and how those compare against the benefits of limiting the spread of the disease. Lockdown politics and policy have shifted back and forth in countries such as India, Pakistan, Ghana, and Bangladesh. Governments have adjusted policies depending on how vociferous the complaints have been from consumers, business owners, and other interest groups. Leaders have had to weigh the economic toll of distancing, relative to the daily publicity surrounding the escalating numbers of infections and fatalities.

But such comparisons neglect a critical piece of information: Current economic hardships pale in comparison to the likely longer-term costs of continued lockdowns and the more acute deprivation that is likely to occur in the next few months. That’s because the majority of the world’s poorest people continue to live in rural, agrarian areas where incomes and work opportunities are seasonal and fluctuate with the crop cycle. Up to a quarter of respondents of large-sample surveys of poor rural Nepalis and Bangladeshis report being forced to restrict meals or portion sizes during the three-month lean season, even during normal years. This is true even for households that have enough to eat during the rest of the year.

Infographic Of The Day: 5G Revolution - Unlocking The Digital Age

Today's infographic breaks down the potential that 5G promises, and the immense opportunities stemming from its implications for smart tech and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Trust in Interstate Intelligence Sharing

Robert Dover

Trust is at the heart of all intelligence work. That is trust and distrust, loyalty and betrayal, protection and intrusion. Trust is a coin with two distinct sides, and this coin is as valid in interstate intelligence relations, as it is between intelligence officers, as it is between a communications intelligence analyst listening to an audio feed and their certainty in the feed, as it is between an intelligence officer and her human source. The many attempts of western intelligence agencies to systematise source verification, to structure intelligence analysis, and to lean ever more heavily on computer aids has not removed the essential need for human judgement in the business of government intelligence. A system that relies upon human behaviour and the judgments of humans will always be fallible. It will also always pivot around the notion of trust.

The positives of sharing intelligence are often highlighted during the inquiries that follow intelligence failures. The 9/11 inquiry famously concluded that it was the stovepiping of intelligence about the eventual attackers that allowed the US system to collectively possess sufficient intelligence to disrupt the plot against the World Trade Center and other sites, but to not share that intelligence amongst agencies to deploy assets against the threat (9-11 Commission 2004). We should note that novel threats – those whose premise falls outside of our established thinking – have often resulted in strategic shocks (think Barbarossa in 1941, think Pearl Harbor, think AQ Khan and so on, and so forth). These failures have increasingly been attributed to a failure of imagination and a failure of cultural reflexivity: something noted by Matthew Syed in his most recent book, and by me in my response to it (Syed 2019; Dover, 2019).