18 June 2020

Takshashila Strategic Assessment: India, COVID-19, and West Asia


The novel coronavirus has introduced new and highly unpredictable social and political dynamics into West Asia. We argue that:

India’s key challenges are securing the return of out-of-work expatriates, protecting those still working in the region and preparing for a reduction in remittance income.

India’s key opportunities are to secure attractive rates for oil and gas amidst low prices and using Indian core competencies to provide medical services to countries in the region. These would include becoming a hub for pharmaceutical treatments and vaccines and offering telemedicine services.

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.

Unclaimed Terrorism: Afghanistan’s ‘Grey’ Attacks – Analysis

By Abdul Basit*
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Despite the Afghan government’s attribution, the Taliban’s denial of the Kabul maternity hospital attack indicates the group’s efforts to distance itself from indiscriminate violence against civilians fearing negative political outcomes ahead of the expected peace talks.

Terrorism is communicative violence that draws attention to perpetrating groups’ ideological narratives. Beyond the terrorist outfits’ use of the violence to kill or maim, there is their need to highlight their political grievances and demands through intimidation. Yet, the empirical data indicates that majority of the terrorist attacks go unclaimed; only one in seven attacks is claimed by the terrorist groups. Attacks are claimed if the expected political outcomes are positive and vice versa.

In May, two high-profile attacks in Afghanistan targeting a maternity hospital in Kabul and a mosque in central Parwan province went unclaimed. Though the Afghan government blamed the Taliban, the group has denied responsibility. Contrary to the Afghan government’s allegations, the US blamed the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISK) for the attack.
Why Some Attacks Remain Claimed

The terrorist groups are less likely to claim attacks which target the civilians ahead of major political developments such as ceasefire agreements or peace negotiations. Indiscriminate violence against civilians carries more political risks as compared to selective violence against military targets.

With a mix of pandemic denialism and exceptionalism, Pakistan makes a cynical bet on the coronavirus

Madiha Afzal

Pakistan’s coronavirus lockdown was implemented in March, along with much of the rest of the world. The lockdown order actually came from the country’s provincial governments, which have considerable decisionmaking authority, and in spite of objections from Prime Minister Imran Khan (as he himself reminds the country). The lockdown fell apart first in mosques at the beginning of Ramadan in late April, as the government caved to demands of the country’s Muslim scholars (ulema). From there, it unraveled in markets in the last two weeks of Ramadan, where traders had had enough. Then malls, which the country’s Supreme Court ordered to reopen in the days before the Eid festival at the end of May, saying in a remarkable statement that it saw no reason why the coronavirus, “which apparently is not a pandemic in Pakistan, is swallowing so [much] money.” All the while, the official justification for loosening the lockdown was that it hurt the poor; but the loosened restrictions extended to places — mosques and malls — that helped the religious and the rich far more than the poor.

Pakistan’s COVID-19 cases, as of June 5, have risen beyond 91,000, higher than China’s official numbers. Nearly 1,900 people have died, including at least four provincial lawmakers. Pakistan is the fifth most populous country in the world, with dense cities. As COVID-19 began spreading there in March and April, many feared the worst. But cases and deaths did not rise at as rapid a clip as they did in Europe and the U.S., at least partly because of the lockdown the country imposed in March.

Powers, Norms, and Institutions: The Future of the Indo-Pacific from a Southeast Asia Perspective

Situated at the heart of the Indo-Pacific, Southeast Asia has, in recent years, become the bellwether for the region, including the future of democratic governance. External powers, including the United States and China, have ramped up engagement with Southeast Asia and now compete for influence in the region. Amid these geopolitical shifts, Southeast Asian perspectives on dynamics that will shape the future of the region more than ever before.

In late 2019, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conducted a survey of strategic elites in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand as well as Fiji to understand how the region views trends related to power, norms, and institutions. In early 2020, CSIS conducted extensive analysis of the survey data and convened a workshop in Sydney, Australia, to further examine the results with leading experts from the countries surveyed, as well as Australia and the United States. This report presents key findings from the survey and workshop on the strategic landscape in Southeast Asia and the future of power and influence and challenges faced by the region.

Hong Kong’s Special Status: What’s Happening and What’s Next

On May 29, President Trump announced that the United States would be revoking Hong Kong’s special status. As a result, the United States may begin to extend the same measures applied to mainland China to Hong Kong. This change follows Beijing’s decision to introduce a new national security law in Hong Kong. While the president has yet to propose a detailed plan and timeline for specific action on Hong Kong, any new restrictions will impact the complex and interconnected trade relationships between the United States, China, and Hong Kong.

Q1: What was the previous status of the U.S.-Hong Kong trade relationship?

A1: Since 1997, Hong Kong has occupied a unique position outlined by the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the United States-Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992. The former agreement ended Britain's colonial rule of Hong Kong in 1997 and defined its future under China's control. Per the declaration, Hong Kong was granted significant authority and autonomy over its governance for 50 years under the “one country, two systems” policy. This degree of separation between China and Hong Kong allows countries to give Hong Kong special treatment and work with the territory independently on several issues while providing Hong Kong the policy space to establish a more open economy and society compared to mainland China.

Three pathways to war between the US and China

According to the theory of international relations, the world is constantly in a state of anarchy and countries always seek a balance of power to maintain their own security.

With China’s rise, the US and its allies fear losing the equilibrium that supports American domination of the global order. Considering China a “revisionist state,” they have raised concerns about Beijing’s unchecked attempt to change the status quo, to pursue military expansionism and follow a path toward hegemony.

From geo-strategic flashpoints in the South China Sea to Taiwan, to trade wars and technological wars, the likelihood of confrontations seems inevitable.

That raises a simple question. Will war between the US and China result from the current tension? If so, what form of war will that be?

If history is any indication, three speculations can be made for war between the US and China: World War III, Cold War 2.0, and regional proxy wars.

Either You are With Us Or Against Us: Gulf States Caught Between America and China

by Yoel Guzansky

Arare statement in early May 2020 by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker didn’t receive a proper amount of attention. Schenker said that the Gulf Arab states should consider their relationship with the United States when dealing with China. Furthermore, Schenker announced, “[t]hese [Gulf] states have to weigh the value of their partnership with the United States . . . [w]e want our partner nations to do due diligence” as it pertains to their relationships with China.

This extraordinary statement laid bare the lingering tensions between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi with Washington over the Arab Gulf States’ deepening relationship with China. Today, the Gulf states are on the frontline of China’s expanding influence, especially in terms of Chinese purchases of crude oil and its involvement in building 5G infrastructure in the Gulf. The United States is particularly concerned about the participation of the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei in developing 5G capabilities in the region, which hosts the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet and the forward headquarters of the U.S. military’s Central Command (CENTCOM), among other bases. On its end, the United States has banned Huawei in the United States and has pressured its allies to take similar steps. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—global transport and trade hubs—understand that there are no good alternatives to the U.S. security guarantees at the present time, especially vis-à-vis Iran, but doubts about the long-term credibility of Washington’s political commitment persist.

Opinion – China’s e-Renminbi as a Fiscal Silk Road?

Eerishika Pankaj

In terms of growth of its fiscal institutions and practices, China has outpaced other nations on almost all fronts. In 2019, the People’s Republic of China turned 70, and has since 2006 been the primary contributor to global economic growth. Nineteen (which is one-fifth) of the top hundred banks in the world have their headquarters in China and report USD 25.8 trillion in assets. According to the latest Global Bank Ranking by S&P Global Market Intelligence in April 2020 China has maintained its domination, for the fifth year in a row, of the global fiscal market with its “Big Four” remaining the four largest banks in the world. This was despite a weakened yuan, US-China trade tensions and protests in Hong Kong for the better part of the close of 2019.

In 2019, China’s per capita GDP was 4.6 times that of India with China becoming increasingly referred to as not just Asia’s, but the world’s top trading partner. Further, in terms of infrastructure financing, China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), with an estimated budget of USD 1 trillion, has superseded any other infrastructure development program in the world. The renminbi in 2014 overtook the Canadian and Australian dollars as the the fifth most used global payments currency and in 2015, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) included the Chinese yuan in its Special Drawings Rights which is its formal hard currencies basket. Following this decision, the Chinese renminbi joined the ranks of the US dollar, European euro, Japanese yen, and British pound sterling.

COVID-19 and the Post-Truth Age: The Role of Facts in Public Policy | Summary of an Online International Conference

Roy Schulman
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The COVID-19 pandemic erupted in what is commonly known as the “post-truth age,” when facts seemingly bear less importance than beliefs, emotions, and opinions. The occurrence of the pandemic in the post-truth age raises many questions regarding the role of facts in dealing with the crisis and the pandemic’s potential long term implications for the post-truth age. On May 27, 2020, the Lipkin-Shahak program at the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), “National Security and Democracy in an Era of Post-Truth and Fake News,” held an o-line international conference to address these questions. The speakers were experts in medicine, academia, research institutes, the traditional media, and the social media. Discussions questioned the whether the COVID-19 pandemic was a product of the post-truth age, and, if so, in what way. In the course of the crisis, what were the functions of the scientific community, the traditional media, and the social media, which currently constitute the entities for clarifying and mediating the truth? Another question considered the public’s confidence in these institutions during the pandemic, and the ways this confidence will presumably evolve in the future.

Conference Participants: INSS Deputy Director for Research and Analysis Brig. Gen. (ret.) Itai Brun, who moderated the conference; Dr. Jennifer Kavanaugh of the Rand Corporation; Prof. Steve Fuller of the University of Warwick; Dr. Ofer Fridman of Kings College London; Prof. Jacob Moran-Gilad of Ben-Gurion University; Prof. Ayelet Baram-Tsabari of the Technion; Dr. Tomer Shadmi of the Hebrew University’s Cyber Center and INSS; Attila Somfalvi of Ynet and INSS; and Prof. Sir Lawrence Freedman of Kings College London.

China’s Tightening Grasp in the South China Sea: A First-Hand Look

By Zachary Williams

China has taken advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been dominating headlines around the world, to reinforce its grasp on the South China Sea. While Western media is now preoccupied by the U.S. protests, Beijing will likely continue to take advantage of the fact that the eyes of the world remain focused elsewhere.

In the South China Sea, these past six months were marked by four distinct events. First, there was the Chinese Coast Guard’s aggression in sinking a Vietnamese fishing vessel. Second, the Chinese survey ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 went trolling for oil in the Malaysian Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) north of Malaysia but within the nine-dash line that encompasses China’s claimed waters. Third, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) stretched its legs and conducted sea trials with the Liaoning aircraft carrier. Finally, Beijing announced the creation of two new administrative districts in the South China Sea, covering disputed maritime features.

Looking into the summer with major Chinese military drills on the horizon, it can be expected that Beijing will continue to make advances that tighten its grip within the first island chain.

China's Evolving Taiwan Policy: Disrupt, Isolate and Constrain

By Rodger Baker

Although China's official policy is still one of peaceful reunification with Taiwan, the island's political evolution and shifting international relations are pushing Beijing down a more coercive path. 

China has a variety of toolkits to draw from as it seeks to shape the political and social dynamics in and around Taiwan, but events over recent years are shifting China away from conciliatory tools and toward an expansion of coercive measures. 

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-Wen's continued refusal to recognize the so-called 1992 Consensus, and more overt U.S. backing for Taiwan, are testing Beijing's perception that it has time on its side.

Should there be stronger political moves in Taiwan toward independence, or if U.S. military capability and political will appear significantly weak, Beijing may weigh the cost of inaction as exceeding the cost of unification by force. 

For China's leadership, the unification of Taiwan is more than a symbol of the final success of the Chinese Communist Party or an emotional appeal to some historic image of a greater China. It is a strategic imperative driven both by Taiwan's strategic location, and by the rising antagonism between the United States and China. Taiwan is the “unsinkable aircraft carrier” off the Chinese coastline, splitting China's near seas, and bridging the arc of islands stretching southwest from Japan with those from the Philippines south through Indonesia. Taiwan is crucial for both any foreign containment strategy, and for China's confidence and security in the East and South China seas — areas critical to China's national defense, food security and international trade. 

Why Iran's Armed Forces Rank Higher Than Israel's Military

by Michael Peck

Here's What You Need To Remember: What does all this prove? First, as anyone who peruses defense websites soon learns, rankings of military power are often so arbitrary that they become useless at best and ridiculous at worst. But more important is the arbitrary nature of these indexes, which tend to ignore the conditions that govern military power.

Iran’s armed forces ranked thirteenth in the world, according to GlobalFirepower.com’s 2018 rankings, which apparently combined various statistics to assemble a composite military power rating (0.3131 for Iran, with 0.00 being a perfect score).

Israel ranked sixteenth, with a military power rating of 0.3444. By comparison, the United States ranks Number One, followed by Russia, China, India, France and Britain.

Curiously, Egypt is in twelfth place, ahead of Iran and Israel. Indonesia is fifteenth, ahead of Israel. On the other hand, Israel is ahead of Pakistan (seventeenth place), North Korea (eighteenth place), and Sweden (thirty-first place). Dead last, in 136th place, was Bhutan. The website says it is in the midst of compiling the 2019 military power rankings.

COVID-19 Pandemic, Climate Change, And Renewables – OpEd

By Todd Royal

We are possibly witnessing the most destructive scientific fraud in the history of man via the COVID-19 pandemic while shutting down the U.S. economy. Hysteria has gone wild, destroying people’s lives. This level of “groupthink has drove unnecessary global shutdowns.” When the majority of U.S. deaths, and countries like Italy occur in nursing homes from the coronavirus it’s time to bring medical facts from physicians into this discussion. 

One epidemiologist, Knut Wittkowski, has gone so far as to say: “we could open up again and forget the whole thing (COVID-19).” Stanford University School of Medicine professor, Dr. jay Bhattacharya, would likely agree with Dr. Wittkowski.

The death blow for ending U.S. and global lockdowns comes from the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC):

“The CDC has attempted to offer a real estimate of the overall death rate for COVID-19, and under its most likely scenario, the number is 0.26%. Officials estimate a 0.4% fatality rate among those who are symptomatic and project a 35% rate of asymptomatic cases among those infected, which drops the overall infection fatality rate (IFR) to just 0.26% — almost exactly where Stanford researchers pegged it a month ago.”

Living In A Destructive Exploitative Age – OpEd

By Dr. Michael A. Bengwayan

We are living a millennial myth, an age of endless exploitation, absorbed into, and expressed in the doctrine of progress through technological wizardry by exploiting all of Earth’s resources. It’s fueling the drive towards the endless high consumption of goods.

Human beings are depleting the planet’s natural resources and standards of living will begin to decline by 2030 unless immediate action is taken. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) warns that the current overexploitation of natural resources is generating an enormous deficit, as 20% more than can be regenerated is consumed each year and this percentage is growing steadily.

Obviously the result is total exploitation. The millennial vision of a beatific future that we would accomplish ourselves through prodigious efforts implied, that all things on Earth as we found them in their natural state were in an unacceptable and unholy condition. We thought everything needed to be changed.

As a result, every effort of science, technology, economics and politics was to be bent towards effecting these transformations of the natural world. The drive behind this whole mechanism was to take all our natural resources and transform these by industrial methods into products for a society with an unsatiable hunger for more and more.

This uncontrolled consumption of natural resources has significant effects:

The Need for Climate Smart Foreign Policy

In recent months, many experts and government officials have pointed out the similarities between the current pandemic and climate change. Much like the current pandemic, climate change is a global phenomenon that requires a global and multifaceted response. The solutions to both crises lie in some combination of technological and policy solutions, but also human behavior and the ability to change behavior for the purpose of achieving some level of public good. We see that some places are better prepared than others, and that preparation leads to real advantages in terms of resilience. What once seemed like a far-off possibility that should be considered but not overly dwelled upon is now the central organizing factor in our daily life and activity. What once seemed like the purview of only global health experts, is now a critical factor to be considered in all sectors of the economy and areas of policymaking. These lessons should serve as a wake-up call to how the world is currently organized to deal with global climate change because the one main difference between the impact of the pandemic and the impacts of climate change is that the latter is likely to be far worse.

Despite clear signs of progress, the world is not currently prepared to address the causes and consequences of a changing global climate. While clean energy technology costs have declined and policies to advance a more meaningful low carbon transition exist in many countries, greenhouse gas emissions are not dropping commensurate with globally agreed-upon targets. Meanwhile, climate-related impacts, both gradual and dramatic, have begun to occur with increasing regularity and severity, laying bear how ill-prepared international, national, and local governments are to withstand and respond to these changes.

The war on the coronavirus

Three top military leaders offer lessons from the front lines of managing deadly crises.

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The challenge of navigating a vast public-health and -economic crisis shares some important parallels with leadership during military conflicts. In this episode of the Inside the Strategy Room podcast, McKinsey senior partner Yuval Atsmon talks with three top US Air Force and Navy leaders about what corporate executives can learn from the practices of military commanders. Michael B. Donley served as the 22nd secretary of the US Air Force. He has 30 years of experience in the national security community, including service on the staffs of the United States Senate, White House, and Pentagon. C. Robert Kehler is a retired US Air Force general who served as commander of the US Strategic Command and of Air Force Space Command, among other positions. Eric Olson is a retired US Navy admiral who headed the US Special Operations Command. He is also the first Navy SEAL to be appointed to three-star and four-star flag rank. Yuval Atsmon—himself a former tank commander—is a coauthor of the recent article “Lessons from the generals: Decisive action amid the chaos of crisis.”

Yuval Atsmon: The coronavirus is a major global crisis that has imposed lockdowns on many communities. It threatens our lives and our economies, a double front that’s moving rapidly. The three of you know better than most about how to take decisive action in a crisis, but let me first ask you: Do you think the analogy with war is apt?

C. Robert Kehler: Well, we have used the wartime analogy for other major public-policy issues: the war on crime, the war on drugs, the war on poverty. I think there are many features of the COVID-19 crisis that lend themselves to this analogy as well. The demands it places on leaders are very much like wartime demands in terms of the need to articulate objectives and priorities and rally the public behind them. Certainly, this requires major national and intelligence organization. It requires planning and mobilization. It requires communication and innovation, a commitment of resources—all the same kinds of things you would talk about during war. It is also warlike in the need for allies. For maybe the first time, the entire world needs to be viewed as an ally in this crisis.

Beyond corporate statements of solidarity and CEO rhetoric of equality

Makada Henry-Nickie

George Floyd’s final pleas were deeply traumatizing and agonizing for every Black mother and father who watched in horror as four police officers drained the life from Floyd’s body. Officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd beneath his knee for nine minutes. No apparent signs of stress, exertion, or anxiety flickered across his face. Fellow officer Tou Thao, standing a few feet away, seemed unphased by the entire event. Their indifference reflected a sense of normalcy in dispensing the duty to “protect and serve.”

mhnickieAny society that normalizes the casual murder of a human being must reflect on its values, history, and future. We must interrogate the systemic and cultural norms that embolden, normalize, and indemnify police violence. More importantly, these norms must be reconfigured to recognize that the murder of one individual sends waves of trauma throughout a community. For that reason, any efforts to address police brutality and misconduct must provide restitution to Black and Brown communities impacted by such practices.

Although our legal system appropriately allows individual families to collect civil money settlements when their constitutional rights have been violated, recompense for the toll exacted on the broader community has been largely ignored.

Black Lives Matter—for Social Justice, and for America’s Global Role

Stewart M. Patrick 

The murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other black Americans by police, and the sustained protests in their wake, present a test for the United States both at home and abroad. They underscore the structural racism that permeates American society and how far the nation remains from delivering on the Constitution’s promise of equal rights and justice for all. Globally, they threaten America’s longstanding, if uneven, role as the world’s leading champion of universal human rights. The success of the Black Lives Matter movement is critical, not only to achieve a more perfect union at home, but also to advance human liberty and dignity worldwide.

Since World War II, the United States has made the global promotion of human rights an explicit foreign policy objective. Eleanor Roosevelt shepherded negotiations on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and U.S. diplomats have spearheaded the drafting of the many human rights treaties, from the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The State Department issues annual reports on human rights in countries around the world, as well as assessments on the state of international religious freedom and progress against human trafficking. Abroad, human rights and democracy activists rely on U.S. support in their struggles against tyranny and oppression. .

Here's What You Need to Know About the L-1 Visa Trump is Taking Away

by David J. Bier

Despite the improving unemployment situation in the United States, President Trump may still further restrict legal immigration. One program that the Trump administration is considering restricting is the L-1 visa program.[1] Multinational businesses use the L-1 visa to transfer important employees from offices abroad to the United States. Eliminating the L-1 visa program would harm job and wage growth in the United States by making it much more difficult to expand businesses here.

What is the L-1 visa?

The L-1 visa is a nonimmigrant (i.e. temporary) visa for intracompany transfers. It permits multinational companies to bring employees temporarily to the United States if they were employed for at least one year abroad.[2] The program permits petitions by U.S. employers only for managers and executives (L-1A) and specialized knowledge workers (L-1B) who may be admitted for up to 7 or 5 years, respectively.[3] The statute defines “specialized knowledge” for L-1B workers as “special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets or has an advanced level of knowledge of [its] processes and procedures.”[4]

Can America Recover from the Coronavirus Recession?

by James Pethokoukis Michael R. Strain

How should we interpret the May jobs report? Is the coronavirus recession over already? What will the economy look like heading into the summer and beyond? And what do we need policymakers to do going forward? Michael Strain joined the Political Economy podcast last week to discuss the pandemic economy as summer arrives and restrictions lift.

Michael is the director of economic policy studies and the Arthur F. Burns Chair in Political Economy here at AEI. He is a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, and his essays and op-eds have been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, National Review, and The Weekly Standard.

Pethokoukis: Is the COVID-19 recession over? Are we done? Because we’re recording this as the May jobs report just released, and it kind of seems like the recession is over.

Is the Age Of Rapid U.S. Economic Growth Over?

by James Pethokoukis

The US stock market, with a strong rebound from its pandemic lows, might seem unhinged from current economic and political reality. But that’s really missing the point. The stock market is supposed to be a forward-looking entity. Think of the difference between GDP and a stock’s market capitalization. You frequently see Big Tech market caps compared to national GDP numbers as a way of demonstrating their staggering — maybe even dangerous — level of economic power.

But as tech analyst Benedict Evans tweets, “These comparisons are always entertaining, but can we please try and remember that GDP is what you did this year and market cap is the value of everything you have now and everything you’ll do in all future years.”

So maybe — of course, also maybe not — what the rising stock market is saying is that the American economy might do better going forward than what you might think when looking at, say, today’s sky-high jobless rate. After all, the economy does seem to be on the upswing, with Wall Street’s forecasts pointing to strong full-year growth in 2021. And in its new economic projections, the median forecast from Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents is for 5 percent growth next year and 3.5 percent in 2022.

US Intelligence Reports Warn Of Increasingly Dangerous Cyber ‘Cold War’ – OpEd

By Jim Kouri

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate should pass legislation to increase cyber security – in both public and private sectors – since the country is involved in a “type of cyber Cold War,” former U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said during a congressional presentation.

The Obama administration’s Clapper told the panel of lawmakers that the United States economy is losing upwards of $300 billion per year because of rampant cyber-based corporate espionage. Director Clapper also discussed intrusions on public systems controlling everything from major defense weapons systems and public air traffic to electricity and banking.

Speaking at a hearing of the House Select Intelligence Committee on worldwide threats, the intelligence community’s top commander urged lawmakers to pass a bill that forces intelligence sharing between the government and the private sector, following the model of the Defense Industrial Base pilot program launched by then-Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn in 2011.

In addition to DNI Clapper, former Central Intelligence Agency Director David Petraeus, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Ronald Burgess and former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Robert Mueller also testified before the bi-partisan Intelligence Committee. Mueller is now the independent counselor investigating the so-called Trump-Putin Collusion case.

The perils of transatlantic decoupling and how to stop it

by Frederick Kempe

It’s time to take urgent measures to head off the danger of “transatlantic decoupling,” a strategic shift that would put at risk more than seven decades of gains in democracy, open markets and individual rights. 

With all the recent attention to the ongoing economic and technological decoupling of the United States and China, far too little attention has been paid to a slower-moving, dangerously growing transatlantic divide.

Unaddressed, the result could be a tectonic strategic shift away from the trans-continental relationship that built and defined post-World War II Europe and shaped the last 75 years globally. At a time when the global balance of power is shifting in China’s direction, a de-coupling of the United States and Europe could be a decisive geopolitical factor. 

The damage would be far-reaching for America’s worldwide interests, for European unity and influence, and for the most significant community of democracies and open-market economies the world has ever known, accounting for nearly half of global GDP.

The case for rethinking the politicization of the military

Jim Golby and Mara Karlin
Writing in Task & Purpose, Mara Karlin and Jim Golby argue that "efforts to further refine and develop the notion of politicization in the military represent a step forward in an urgent conversation. The military is far too important in American society for it to be apolitical."

Every smart defense strategist learns early in their career the wise words of Carl von Clausewitz, “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” And yet, military leaders are constantly fearful that they will be labeled with that scarlet word, “political.” To some degree, this fear is well-founded; it is also profoundly problematic. The terms “political,” “apolitical,” and “politicization” are applied and misapplied across a wide range of issues, and understanding the military’s relationship to politics deserves serious reconsideration.

Claiming that the military is, or should be, apolitical is both confusing and counterproductive. The military itself is, of course, an intensely political institution. Military leaders need to be able to engage on political issues with their troops and with the public, and they shouldn’t shy away from a topic simply for fear of being labeled “political.” Instead, they should actively tackle what it means to do so in an appropriate and responsible manner.