15 June 2020

How the COVID-19 Lockdown Is Affecting India’s Households

Amid a gradual reopening of its economy, India has extended its nationwide lockdown in containment zones – areas where people have tested positive for COVID-19 – through June 30.

The wisdom of even a phased reopening in select sectors such as malls, restaurants and markets selling non-essential goods and domestic train and air travel is being questioned as the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths continues to climb. According to the Johns Hopkins University’s dashboard, as of June 8, India was seventh on the list of countries with the most infections with 258,090 positive cases and 7,263 deaths.

But also compelling is the pile-up of economic misery the lockdown has wrought. In the latest quarter ended April 20, India’s GDP grew the slowest in 11 years at 3.1%, and is expected to contract by 6.8% in the current fiscal year.

The economic distress in India caused by the lockdown is dire. Nearly 84% of Indian households are seeing decreases in income since the lockdown began, according to a recent study by experts at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago and the Mumbai-based Centre for Monitoring the Indian Economy (CMIE), titled “How Are Indian Households Coping Under the Covid-19 Lockdown? 8 Key Findings.”

Factional Struggles Emerge in Virus-Afflicted Taliban Top Ranks

Source Link

With the likely death of the Afghan Taliban’s supreme leader from COVID-19 and the illness of many other senior figures, the son of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the militant group’s founder, has taken control. But now the Afghan government is worried that a power struggle within the Taliban could damage the tenuous peace process that is barely underway.

Indeed, as the Taliban move closer to a return to at least partial power in Kabul, thanks to a deal with the United States aimed at ending its war in Afghanistan, there are signs the jihadi movement is set to descend into an internal battle of its own, as rival factions and tribes fight for control of its vast financial and military assets.

At stake is close to $2 billion in annual revenues, a well-armed and battle-hardened militia, and alliances with international terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, eager to piggyback on the Taliban’s supposed victory over the United States and its allies and use Afghanistan, as it once again becomes an ungoverned space, for training and operational planning.

Uncertainty about how the Taliban’s leadership struggle will unfold comes amid the latest stage of U.S. efforts to broker peace, following the signing of a bilateral deal on Feb. 29 that transformed the Taliban into an ally and facilitated the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan in 14 months. That drawdown is already ahead of schedule, and some analysts believe it could even be completed before the November U.S. presidential election.

The Shape of Asia’s New Cold War


China's decision to demolish the "one country, two systems" arrangement in Hong Kong appears to be a fait accompli, and in fact seems to have been preordained. Viewed in a broader context, the move represents a major salvo in a new cold war that is already playing out across three critical dimensions.

SEOUL – In retrospect, the decision by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to impose a new security law on Hong Kong seems to have been preordained. Historically, rising powers always try to expand their spheres of geopolitical influence once they pass a certain stage of economic development. It was only a matter of time before China would do away with the “one country, two systems” arrangement and impose its laws and norms on Hong Kong – a territory that it considers integral to the motherland.

While many recent proposals for reforming capitalism would substantially change the way our economies operate, they do not fundamentally alter the narrative about how market economies should work; nor do they represent a radical departure for economic policy. Most critically, they elide the central challenge we must address: reorganizing production. 

The Shape of Asia’s New Cold War


SEOUL – In retrospect, the decision by the Communist Party of China (CPC) to impose a new security law on Hong Kong seems to have been preordained. Historically, rising powers always try to expand their spheres of geopolitical influence once they pass a certain stage of economic development. It was only a matter of time before China would do away with the “one country, two systems” arrangement and impose its laws and norms on Hong Kong – a territory that it considers integral to the motherland.

While many recent proposals for reforming capitalism would substantially change the way our economies operate, they do not fundamentally alter the narrative about how market economies should work; nor do they represent a radical departure for economic policy. Most critically, they elide the central challenge we must address: reorganizing production. 

From China’s perspective, America’s decadence and decline over the last 12 years – from the 2008 financial crisis to Donald Trump’s presidency – have given it an open invitation to accelerate its strategic expansion. Though Chinese President Xi Jinping has long assured the world that the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both China and the United States, his actual policies have often suggested otherwise. In addition to militarizing the South China Sea, his signature Belt and Road Initiative aims to make China the nodal point for the entire Eurasian landmass.

Intel: China may pose greater challenge to US hegemony in Mideast than Russia

The top US military commander for operations in the Middle East said that China’s economic influence in the Middle East may one day pose a greater challenge to US strategic interests than Russia in the region, even as the Kremlin seeks a wider military presence in Syria and Libya.

“I do worry about China quite a bit because it is one of my core taskings,” head of US Central Command Gen. Frank McKenzie said during a think tank event in Washington on Wednesday.

“Russia doesn’t have the economic resources to come into the region in the way that China does,” McKenzie said, calling the Kremlin’s interventions in Syria and Libya “opportunist.”

“I am not one of those people who thinks the Russians are master chess players and see four, five, six moves ahead,” McKenzie said.

Why it matters: The Pentagon is shifting resources away from the Middle East and other regions to focus on deterring China in East Asia. McKenzie voiced support for the Trump administration’s priorities but, like the commanders of US Africa Command and US Southern Command have done, argued Wednesday that his region of responsibility is essential to the wider strategy, calling the Middle East “one of the Wild West areas of global competition.”

Could Donald Trump’s War Against Huawei Trigger a Real War With China?

by Graham Allison 
Source Link

As relations between the United States and China worsen over the months ahead, could Beijing decide to try to make Taiwan the solution to its advanced semiconductor problem?

The centerpiece of the Trump administration’s “tech war” with China is the campaign to prevent its national champion Huawei from becoming the dominant supplier of 5G systems to the world. The Administration’s objective, as a former Trump NSC staffer described it, is to “kill Huawei.” And China has heard that message. As Huawei’s legendary CEO Ren Zhengfei told the leadership of the company in February, “the company has entered a state of war.”

After months of diplomatic efforts to dissuade other nations from buying their 5G infrastructure from Huawei, the administration delivered what one official called a “death blow.” On May 15, the Commerce Department banned all sales of advanced semiconductors from American suppliers to Huawei. It also prohibited all sales of equipment to design and produce advanced semiconductors by foreign companies that use U.S. technology or intellectual property.

In the five months between now and the election, could the U.S. attempt to enforce that ban become a twenty-first-century equivalent of the oil embargo the United States imposed on Japan in August 1941? While many people may not remember what happened, and while it was certainly not what the United States intended or anticipated, that action precipitated Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor four months later—and America’s entry into World War II. 

COMMENTARY: It’s the Logistics, China

By Will Mackenzie

In protracted warfare, logistics and sustainment capabilities are as important as force composition, something China will struggle to mitigate.

Despite recent successes by the People’s Liberation Army Navy to fulfill Xi Jinping’s goals of modernizing China’s military by 2035, its Navy lacks requisite logistics and sustainment capabilities for blue water operations.

Currently the Chinese Navy conducts maritime operations with the help of commercial replenishment ships and ports. While an effective solution in peacetime, civilian logistics and sustainment practices are untenable in combat operations. In pursuit of a truly modern navy, China requires: additional combat capable replenishment ships, such as the Type 901; basing access in critical regions; and securing prepositioned stockpiles like fuel, munitions, and repair parts in countries like the Seychelles and Pakistan.

China’s envisioned blue water navy involves carrier strike groups operating beyond the Second Island Chain into the Pacific and the Indian Ocean. Currently, its maritime deployments consist of small flotillas supported by the Type 903 replenishment ship. According to a report prepared for the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, the People’s Liberation Army Navy anti-piracy deployments to the Gulf of Aden reveal that the Type 903 replenishment ship can only support two-to-three ships for approximately two weeks at a time before requiring a resupply, seriously hampering China’s near-term expansion goals.

China's 1974 Battle With Vietnam Was Practice For Today's South China Sea Showdown

by Harry J. Kazianis 

Here's What You Need To Remember: Greater conventional military means will thus further empower irregular forces to impose China’s will on rival claimants. And, if all else fails, Beijing can still call on its navy to settle a dispute. That China—unlike its weaker rivals—has the option of climbing the escalation ladder only amplifies the intimidation factor.

While Asia watchers the world over debate China’s latest moves to transform the status-quo in the South China Sea one fake island at a time, we must remember the starting point of Beijing’s quest for dominance in this vital body of water: a brief and bloody battle with Vietnam in 1974 over the Paracel Islands. History clearly shows that it was this fast-paced and intense clash which set events into motion, a battle between Asian powers that is not very clearly understood—until now.

(This first appeared several years ago.)

Thanks to the great work of scholar Dr. Toshi Yoshihara, a Professor at the United States Naval War College and one of the world’s best China defense watchers, we now have a much greater understanding of this brief struggle thanks to his recently published research, what he calls “a first cut at an important but largely underappreciated episode in China’s march to the seas.” The good professor also shares important details on how this battle likely influenced current Chinese tactics, laying out in stunning detail “how Chinese strategists tailored their tactics so as to coerce, deter and defeat a rival claimant in the South China Sea.”

What to Make of China’s Debt Relief Announcement

By Eleanor Albert

China announced earlier this week that it had suspended debt repayments for dozens of developing countries and regions as part of the debt relief initiative put forth in April by the G-20 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The news is being packaged with other efforts by Beijing to contribute to the international response to the virus, along with $50 million in funding to the World Health Organization, vaccine development efforts, and bilateral support, including partnerships between Chinese and African hospitals. In May, Chinese President Xi Jinping committed $2 billion in aid and donations to developing countries for post-epidemic and economic and social recovery. Still, details about the types of loans, money involved, and recipient countries remain few and far between.

The G-20’s Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) outlined an agreed upon coordinated, “time-bound” suspension of payments starting in May through the end of 2020 by all bilateral official creditors. All International Development Association (IDA) countries qualify for the initiative and are required to formally request debt service suspension from creditors and commit to making use of the fiscal space to increase spending on the economy, health, and social programs in response to the effects brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. (The IDA is a part of the World Bank committed to assisting the world’s poorest countries by providing loans and grants for programs designed to boost growth and reduce poverty.) As delineated in the G-20 Communiqué, repayments will be paused through the end of 2020, with the possibility of an additional year grace period.

For the US and China, Thucydides’ Trap Is Closing

By Kevin Brown

Long before Donald Trump, with his “America First” foreign policy agenda, took office as president, relations between Washington and Beijing were in a state of gradual decline. These developments have their roots in the dramatic rearrangement of the post-1989 world order, where the fall of the Soviet Union made Beijing’s position as a counterweight to Moscow redundant for Washington. Add in mounting trade tensions and increasing Chinese aggression in the South China Seas, among other factors, and ties were fraying before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now both Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping face dueling crises that could bring both powers to a head-on, domestically driven clash.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which originated in the People’s Republic of China, has killed over 110,000 Americans and sickened nearly 2 million. It has also rapidly sped up the deterioration in relations between the world’s top two economies. Now the United States faces interlinked public health, social, and economic crises that have devastated vast swaths of the American economic landscape. Domestic developments are made only worse through urban unrest caused by the murder of an unarmed black man by a white police officer in Minnesota over a counterfeit $20 bill. As a result, Trump faces three crises providing headwinds to his re-election effort, which is just five months away. Amid domestic turmoil, he is now attempting to make opposition to China a centerpiece of his bid.

China’s (Potentially) Revealing Government Work Report

By Shin Kawashima

China has held its National People’s Congress, and Premier Li Keqiang’s Government Work Report has attracted considerable interest in Japan. The Japanese perspective is largely as follows. First, the report seemed surprisingly modest, placing importance on the recovery of economic activity and social life after COVID-19. The emphasis was very much on measures for employment and similar issues. Second, and for that reason, the 6.6 percent increase in national defense expenditure stood out. Although the report clearly prioritized domestic recovery, China does not seem ready to abandon its rivalry with the United States. The third point noted in Japan was that there were many differences in wording from 2019.

Take for example the phrase, “high-quality joint building of the Belt and Road,” found in the section on the Belt and Road. This phrase was already being used in 2019, but the gross volume of infrastructure investments related to the Belt and Road declined in 2020, and the report suggests the possibility of more selective activities.

As Global Value Chains Shift, Will China Lose Its Dominance?

By Priyanka Pandit
Source Link

Discussions about the end of globalization and disruptions in global value chains (GVCs) have been ongoing since the 2008 global financial crisis. The financial crisis, which originated in the subprime market of the United States, put the limitations and unequal benefits of the global capitalist system into the spotlight and exposed the vulnerability of GVCs to external shocks. The crisis also intensified the debate between pro-globalists and alter-globalists, forcing policymakers to realize the importance of regulation in the working of the modern capitalist system.

The financial storm that swept across the Atlantic to Europe and to the emerging economies in Asia revealed the pervasive nature of globalization and underscored the importance of GVCs in world trade. It confirmed that global trade, which involves multiple production stages, is more prone to economic shocks, which not only affect firms operating in final goods but also creates fluctuations in the supply and demand of intermediate goods via forward and backward linkages in GVCs.

While GVCs faced a temporary slowdown during the 2008-09 crisis, they quickly recovered from 2010 on. The post-crisis period also saw some profound changes in GVCs. Intraregional trade grew compared to interregional trade and China emerged as the crucial economy in global production, owing to its strong trade linkages with other countries. For example, the trade in regional value chains dominated by China replaced the traditional trade networks dominated by the United States, Germany, and Japan. China’s active participation in these value chains also challenges the traditional assumption that endpoints of value chains or final markets should be in the developed world.

China’s Quest For Digital Dominance – Analysis

By Isaac Kfir*

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) sees the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which blurs the line between the ‘physical, digital, and biological spheres,’ as central to its ambitious domestic and foreign policy agenda. 

By the early-2010s, the CCP saw the digital space as offering several things. First, providing China with new markets that would keep the factories working, possibly because the CCP had always known that eventually other countries would seek to replace China as the world’s factory. Second, it would further the CCP’s ability to connect the economic to the political and advance its revisionist foreign policy

For years, China has been affected by labour disputes because of disparity between wages and the cost of living underlying the growing inequality within China. These disputes are a major concern for Chinese leaders who fear that such unrest would lead to political turmoil that could end the CCP’s dominance.

Central to the CCP’s domestic and foreign agenda is tech-nationalism. This form of industralisation rejects the traditional laissez faire model for a state-led one. To attain tech-nationalism and ensure China’s place under the sun, the CCP will oversee $1.4 trillion investment over the next six years in technology development within China seen especially in China’s commitment to Smart Cities, where technology is used to ease peoples’s lives through automation and the collection of vast amounts of data. Hangzhou, Alibaba’s “City Brain” is such a city as AI manages amongst many other things the city’s traffic, helping to make transport more efficient.

The Missile War in Yemen

By Ian Williams, Shaan Shaikh
Source Link

A key aspect of Yemen's civil war has been the extensive use of ballistic missiles, far more than any other conflict in recent history. With the assistance of Iran, Yemen’s Houthi rebels have fired hundreds of ballistic missiles, along with cruise missiles and drones, to strike Arab coalition bases, population centers, and infrastructure. Consequently, the war in Yemen has also featured the most combat uses of modern air and missile defenses of any conflict in history. This ongoing duel between Houthi missiles and coalition defenses has offered a rare glimpse of the utility and limitations of ballistic missiles as a military tool. The conflict has also illustrated the kinds of difficulties that missile defense faces on the modern battlefield, and reinforced lessons about the difficulties of aerial “Scud-hunting” operations and the challenges of preventing the flow of missiles and other weapons from determined proliferators. 

This report lays out the first comprehensive review of the Yemen missile war. 

This report is made possible by general support to CSIS. No direct sponsorship contributed to this report.


Source Link

COVIDcast is a Lowy Institute pop-up podcast for anyone interested in understanding the effect of coronavirus on global politics. Each week for the next few weeks, Lowy Institute experts will sit down to discuss the implications of coronavirus for the world. In this episode, Roland Rajah, Lowy Institute lead economist, sits down with Adam Tooze, Professor of History at Columbia University and the Director of its European Institute, to discuss how the COVID-19 economic crisis is evolving and reshaping the world economy.

G7 Leaders: Don’t Let Yourselves Be Used as Props

By Jonathan Katz

When U.S. President Donald Trump proposed Bringing Russia back as a member of the G7, some of America’s most important allies, including the leaders of the United Kingdom and Canada, immediately opposed the idea. In Washington, Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress have dug in over the past two years, demanding that the United States hold Putin accountable and vigorously opposing Trump’s effort to re-open the G7's door to Moscow.

The timing of the president’s latest push to return Russia to the G7 is unsettling. At a moment when the United States is dealing with multiple crises, this is not a move toward greater national security for the United States and our allies and partners globally. Instead it is a move to give an adversary, Russian President Vladimir Putin, a platform to advance his agenda at the expense of our core interests, values, and future.

Trump’s G7 overture came on the same day that Putin announced Russians will soon vote on so-called constitutional amendments to cement his dictatorial powers until 2036. Meanwhile, we can’t ignore another glaring irony: the White House pushing to hold China accountable for violating human rights in Hong Kong, and for mass detention of Muslim ethnic minorities, all while Trump ignores Putin’s savagery and egregious human rights record.

How AI and Networked Drones Will Help America Wage Future Wars

by Kris Osborn

As the Army looks toward future warfare scenarios, it is increasingly emphasizing the need to fully network air and ground drones to one another. This is vital as a way to fully defend advancing armored units in war and to pursue new applications of Combined Arms Maneuver. 

Much of this hinges upon taking new steps with automation and AI systems to not only connect manned vehicles with air and ground drones but also extend command and control options by networking drones-to-drones in combat autonomously. Much of the work is taking place with Army Futures Command’s Artificial Intelligence Task Force in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, which is working closely with Carnegie Mellon University. 

“Up at CMU they are working on algorithms to link ground and air vehicles—and it becomes not manned-unmanned teaming but unmanned-unmanned teaming. Go out in this grid square and go identify this threat, so from a ground and air perspective, those vehicles talk to each other. We are collecting training data to train our algorithms,” General John Murray, Commanding General of Army Futures Command, told TNI in an interview. 

Asia and the Global Economy’s COVID-19 Plunge

By Catherine Putz

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the global economy, with many analysts settling on the notion that the world is in for a recession as a result. But just how bad will the economic effects of the pandemic be?

This week the Wold Bank released its June 2020 Global Economic Prospects report with a grim headline: COVID-19 to Plunge Global Economy into Worst Recession since World War II. The global economy, the World Bank says, is now forecasted to shrink by 5.2 percent in 2020.

While all will suffer from the “swift and massive shock of the coronavirus pandemic and shutdown measures,” some will suffer less and others more. Advanced economies, for example, are anticipated to shrink 7 percent; emerging and developing economies will shrink too, but only by 2.5 percent. This is even more stark when looking at the regional breakdowns.

Of the World Bank regions which map onto those that we cover here at The Diplomat — East Asia and Pacific, Europe and Central Asia, and South Asia — the East Asia and Pacific region is projected to fare the best, relatively, with growth slowing to .5 percent, the lowest rate since 1967. South Asia, the World Bank forecasts, could see a contraction of 2.7 percent in 2020 and Europe and Central Asia a contraction of 4.7 percent.

A Crash in the Dollar Is Coming

Stephen Roach

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The era of the U.S. dollar’s “exorbitant privilege” as the world’s primary reserve currency is coming to an end. Then French Finance Minister Valery Giscard d’Estaing coined that phrase in the 1960s largely out of frustration, bemoaning a U.S. that drew freely on the rest of the world to support its over-extended standard of living. For almost 60 years, the world complained but did nothing about it. Those days are over.

Already stressed by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, U.S. living standards are about to be squeezed as never before. At the same time, the world is having serious doubts about the once widely accepted presumption of American exceptionalism. Currencies set the equilibrium between these two forces — domestic economic fundamentals and foreign perceptions of a nation’s strength or weakness. The balance is shifting, and a crash in the dollar could well be in the offing.

The seeds of this problem were sown by a profound shortfall in domestic U.S. savings that was glaringly apparent before the pandemic. In the first quarter of 2020, net national saving, which includes depreciation-adjusted saving of households, businesses and the government sector, fell to 1.4% of national income. This was the lowest reading since late 2011 and one-fifth the average of 7% from 1960 to 2005.

Lacking in domestic saving, and wanting to invest and grow, the U.S. has taken great advantage of the dollar’s role as the world’s primary reserve currency and drawn heavily on surplus savings from abroad to square the circle. But not without a price. In order to attract foreign capital, the U.S. has run a deficit in its current account — which is the broadest measure of trade because it includes investment — every year since 1982.

Twitter Removes Chinese Disinformation Campaign

By Kate Conger
Source Link

OAKLAND, Calif. — China has stepped up its effort to spread disinformation on Twitter, creating tens of thousands of fake accounts that discussed protests in Hong Kong and the Communist Party’s response to the coronavirus, Twitter said on Thursday.

The company said it had discovered and removed 23,750 accounts that were “highly engaged” in a coordinated effort to spread disinformation. Twitter said it also took down about 150,000 accounts that were dedicated to boosting China’s messages by retweeting and liking the content.

Twitter’s findings were consistent with a recent New York Times analysis of roughly 4,600 accounts that engaged with Chinese leaders on Twitter. The Times found hundreds of accounts with underdeveloped personas that appeared to operate solely to cheer on and amplify China’s leading envoys and state-run news outlets.

While previous disinformation campaigns from China have focused on opposing and demeaning the Hong Kong protests, the exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui, and Taiwan, Twitter said the recently discovered batch included new messages promoting the Chinese government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

A ‘new normal’ in cyberwar should scare us to action

Source Link

Israel and Iran appear to be engaged in tit-for-tat cyberattacks on each other’s physical infrastructure. While attacks on information technologies — phishing, denial of service, theft — have become routine, attempts to disable physical infrastructure are a troubling escalation in cyberwarfare, and experts worry that it will soon become the new normal worldwide.

Weapons of mass disruption threaten to be the great leveler in the competition between states. And, as always, the world is woefully ill-prepared for this new reality.

In April, hackers broke into Israeli water facilities, targeting programmable logic controllers that operate valves for water distribution networks, causing pumps to malfunction as well as increase the amount of chlorine added to water that goes to homes. The disruptions occurred during a heatwave; a shutdown would have been calamitous. Excess chlorine could have sickened those who drank the water. At first the attacks were thought to have been limited, but subsequent reporting in Israel revealed that dozens of installations had been targeted. Israeli experts insist that the April incidents were only the most recent in a long series of attempts.

Facing the Cyber Pandemic

Source Link

WASHINGTON, DC/NEW DELHI – The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the Internet is a critical – and uniquely global – part of our infrastructure. As challenging as the public-health lockdowns have been, their social and economic costs would be far greater in the absence of smoothly functioning digital networks.

While many recent proposals for reforming capitalism would substantially change the way our economies operate, they do not fundamentally alter the narrative about how market economies should work; nor do they represent a radical departure for economic policy. Most critically, they elide the central challenge we must address: reorganizing production.9Add to 

Moreover, containing the pandemic itself will likely require better and more innovative uses of our collective data, all of which is generated online. Home offices, home schooling, and home life increasingly depend on our ability to use the Internet. Protecting cyberspace is therefore an increasingly urgent task, not least because it is facing a “pandemic” of its own.

Since early March, there has been an unprecedented global increase in malicious cyber activity. Phishing attacks seeking to steal money or secrets from home-office workers have more than doubled compared to last year, and in some places they are up sixfold. There have also been a number of attempted cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, including airports, power grids, ports, and water and sewage facilities. Even hospitals treating COVID-19 patients have been targeted, and the World Health Organization itself has reported a fivefold increase in attacks on its networks.

Can we recover our soft power?


The United States is involved in three simultaneous crises — a pandemic, economic collapse, and protests against racism — which are hurting us both at home and abroad. Where others once admired us for our competence and values, we are now losing our attractiveness. Recent polls show a serious decline in American soft power around the world.

Can we recover it? We have done so before. Our focus on the current crises can lead us to forget the capacity of this country for resilience and reform that is our hope.

In the 1960s, our cities were in flames over racial protests, and we were mired in the Vietnam War. I remember a bomb exploding in my office building at Harvard, and massive protests in the streets outside. I remember my despair at the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy — and the racist rhetoric of George Wallace and Richard Nixon. Yet in the following decade, a series of reforms passed Congress, and the honesty of Gerald Ford, the human rights policies of Jimmy Carter and the unifying optimism of Ronald Reagan proved to be restorative. 

In the 1960s, when crowds marched through the world’s streets protesting American policies in Vietnam, it is worth noting that the protesters did not sing the communist “Internationale.” Instead, they sang Martin Luther King’s “We Shall overcome.” An anthem from the civil rights protest movement illustrated that America’s power to attract rested not on our government but in large part on our civil society and our capacity to reform. Smart political leaders have long understood the power that comes from values. If I can get you to want to do what I want, then I do not have to force you to do what you do not want. If the U.S. represents values that others find attractive, we can economize on sticks and carrots.

Building a Modern Military: The Force Meets Geopolitical Realities

By Eric Gomez, Christopher A. Preble, Lauren Sander, Brandon Valeriano
Source Link

When we began drafting this study of U.S. military spending and force posture, we had no way of knowing the tremendous challenge that COVID-19 would pose. It has wreaked havoc on the economy. It has disrupted every facet of American life. The impact will reverberate for generations. The global pandemic—and the U.S. government’s response to it—has threatened the lives and liberties of Americans as well as the United States’ standing in the world.

This disaster is a call to action. The threat posed by nontraditional security challenges, including pandemics, climate change, and malicious disinformation, should prompt a thoroughgoing reexamination of the strategies, tactics, and tools needed to keep the United States safe and prosperous.

As of this writing in late April 2020, and well before the full impact of COVID-19 is known, it seems obvious to us that the United States can no longer justify spending massive amounts of money on quickly outdated and vulnerable weapons systems, equipment that is mostly geared to fight an enemy that might never materialize. Meanwhile, the clearest threats to public safety and political stability in the United States are very much evident and all around us. Just how demonstrations of force or foreign stability operations contribute to U.S. national security is particularly questionable at a time when a microscopic enemy has brought the entire world to a standstill.

Why Military Leaders Like Me Are Speaking Out

James Stavridis

James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also an operating executive consultant at the Carlyle Group and chairs the board of counselors at McLarty Associates.

The demonstrations set off by the death of George Floyd are creating remarkable crosscurrents in American society, from new ideas about police reform to an increased focus on the disparate health and economic damage African-Americans have suffered from Covid-19. There is increasing turmoil in terms of the use of the military as well.

A number of retired generals and admirals have spoken out with alarm over the last week about adding active-duty military to law enforcement, and using the Insurrection Act to do so. The appearance of National Guard troops to make the area around the White House safe for a presidential photo-op was very troubling as well.