23 June 2020

Mapping U.S.-India Partnerships in Electric Mobility

The report, made possible by generous support from the ClimateWorks Foundation and part of the CSIS Electric Mobility Initiative, aims to identify opportunities for subnational collaboration between the United States and India to support “EV-Ready States.” It provides information on where U.S. and Indian stakeholders are in managing their role in the e-mobility transition. This includes mapping current policies, listing incentive structures at the state and city level, sharing best practices, and charting avenues for successful collaboration. The report will help guide philanthropic, government, public and private sector engagement, and investments in facilitating India’s e-mobility transition. 

This report was made possible by the generous support of the ClimateWorks Foundation.

Taliban Ramps Up Attacks After Ending Unilateral Ceasefire

By Bill Roggio
The Taliban has resumed its offensive against Afghan security forces throughout the country after a lull in fighting following a three-day unilateral ceasefire for the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday in late May.

Over the past week, the Taliban has killed or wounded more than 420 Afghan security personnel during attacks across Afghanistan.

At least 171 Afghan security personnel were killed in and 250 more were wounded during 222 Taliban attacks in 29 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces during the past week, a spokesman for the Interior Affairs Ministry told TOLONews.

The Taliban’s resumption of its nationwide offensive against the Afghan government is in stark contrast to the picture that was painted by Afghan officials a little over two weeks ago.

The Taliban announced its Eid ceasefire on May 23 and said it would end on May 26. It never coordinated its ceasefire with the Afghan government. Instead, the Afghan government seized the opportunity to reciprocate and declared its own ceasefire.

Uncharted Territory: Asian Security after Covid-19

by Dennis C. Blair
Source Link

Dennis C. Blair surveys the legacy of natural disasters in Asia and finds no comparable historical precedent for predicting how the regional environment will develop in the aftermath of the pandemic. He identifies three effects of the pandemic that will leave an imprint on the Asian security architecture of the future. Admiral Blair is former commander in chief of U.S. Pacific Command and a former Director of National Intelligence.

Asia for years has been gathering a string of “best in the world” titles, both positive and negative—the center of growth in the global economy, or the region with the most nuclear powers, the largest general-purpose armed forces, and the most geopolitical hot spots. For years it has also been the region with the most natural disasters—earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons, volcanic eruptions. As for man-made disasters, Asia also laps the field. It generates the most pollution and is the leading source of pandemics.

Why is China on a Hyper-Aggressive Streak during a Global Pandemic?

In this OpEd, Dr. Srini Sitaraman offers three explanations as to why China is engaged in hyper-aggressive behavior in the midst of a global pandemic.

As the tensions surrounding China’s accountability in the cause and origins of the COVID-19 continue to mount, China has instigated a global campaign of aggressive rhetoric termed—Wolf Warrior Diplomacy and increased its assertiveness in taking advantage of countries distracted by the global pandemic. Beijing has commenced a violent political crackdown in Hong Kong completely overturning the One-Country, Two-Systems Model to crush all forms of democracy in Hong Kong.

To protect frontline workers during and after COVID-19, we must define who they are

Adie Tomer and Joseph W. Kane
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, America’s frontline workers are still valiantly reporting to their job sites and risking their personal health to keep the economy in motion and the rest of us safe. But to adequately protect these workers, their households, and the communities where they live, employers, policymakers, and other leaders must first agree on exactly who the frontline workforce is.

Most of us continue to rely on media stories and our experiences in daily life to identify frontline workers: butchers at meatpacking plants, bus drivers, grocery workers, and health care providers. But there are millions of more workers on the frontlines; we need clearer metrics to complement these broader narratives. We cannot afford to overlook workers some of us may not see, both now and after COVID-19. Failing to recognize and protect frontline workers harms our public health and economy.

Protecting all essential workers is important, but defining the subset of essential workers who must physically report to their jobs and are most vulnerable to health risks—what we call “frontline” workers—demands greater attention. Which raises the central question: Exactly how many of these workers are commuting each day versus how many can safely stay home?

The U.S. needs multilateral initiatives to counter Chinese tech transfer

Remco Zwetsloot
Source Link

China’s efforts to acquire dual-use technology through overseas talent have sparked intense debates in the United States. Just like exports and foreign investments, the flow of students and researchers across borders can be an important avenue for technology transfer. And many in Washington are therefore concerned that the U.S. government isn’t doing enough to control the flow of Chinese talent between the two countries.

In response to these concerns, the White House announced on May 29 that it would bar visas for Chinese students and researchers deemed to have ties to the country’s military. Recognizing the need to strike the right balance between openness and protection, State Department officials stressed the policy is meant to be “very, very narrowly targeted.” Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, far more expansive restrictions on Chinese researchers are being considered.

But unilateral U.S. actions are unlikely to thwart China’s ability to acquire technology from abroad. For the same reason that a go-it-alone approach to export controls and investment screening is widely considered ineffective, a purely domestic focus when it comes to Chinese talent is liable to fail. Unilateral measures to protect widely available technologies will simply lead Beijing to target other countries, moving the problem elsewhere instead of solving it. Without multilateral initiatives, even well-targeted U.S. countermeasures are unlikely to reduce China’s ability to acquire sensitive dual-use technology and know-how from overseas.

Chinese talent and technology transfer

Cooperation, Competition, or Both? Options for U.S. Land Forces vis-à-vis Chinese Interests in Africa

James McDonnell 

This paper responds to a topic from the Army War College’s Key Strategic Issues List, 2018-2020: Evaluate the ramifications of China’s and/or Russia’s interests in Africa for U.S. land forces and suggest options, both to compete and to cooperate, to further U.S. interests.As there is no Department of Defense (DoD) definition of “competition,” I will employ a Rand Corporation suggested definition: “Competition in the international realm involves the attempt to gain advantage, often relative to others believed to pose a challenge or threat, through the self-interested pursuit of contested goods such as power, security, wealth, influence, and status.”1For “cooperation,” I reference Helen Milner’s definition of “goal-directed behavior that entails mutual policy adjustments so that all sides end up better off than they would otherwise be.”2 Furthermore, while U.S. land forces may benefit from competition or cooperation with Chinese elements in Africa, I judge that they possess limited agency to compete or cooperate in the context of these definitions. Therefore, I will take a whole-of-government approach to furthering U.S. interests in Africa vis-à-vis China.

Executive Summary

The Chinese presence on the African continent, exemplified by large-scale transportation infrastructure projects, overt and covert arms sales, peacekeeping operations, and the establishment of the first of potentially several overseas bases, is an irritant, but not yet a threat, to America’s enduring interest in establishing a secure, stable, and prosperous Africa. This is not a return to the Cold War where Washington and Moscow saw Africa as a zero-sum game as China has as much to gain as Washington from a stable and prosperous African continent. Nonetheless, a strategy to manage these developments, in an era of global power competition, will ensure America’s standing, meet broader foreign policy objectives, and permit continuous freedom of movement on the continent and its littoral regions. This paper addresses courses of action that for the near to midterm will maintain a favorable balance of power:

Religious and Cultural Obstacles to China’s BRI in the Middle East

By Dr. Mordechai Chaziza

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The successful implementation of China’s BRI strategy will largely depend on its ability to overcome the Middle East’s weighty political, economic, religious, cultural, and security problems.

The Middle East is situated at the heart of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative, which is also referred to as the New Silk Road, is one of the most ambitious infrastructure projects in modern history and has the potential to completely reconfigure global trade routes.

The BRI aims to deepen and expand links between Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa by recreating the ancient Silk Road trade routes through both land and sea. The Middle East occupies a strategic position at the intersection of the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road Initiative (MSRI). It sits at the juncture of Asia, Africa, and Europe. It has vital maritime chokepoints (Strait of Hormuz, Strait of Bab al-Mandab, and the Suez Canal) that are critical for the global energy transport system. The Middle East is thus a key to the success of the new Silk Road strategy—especially to the MSRI, as many of the relevant straits, sea routes, hubs, and offshoots run through the region.

China’s Salami Slicing Tactics and the Latest India-China Border Standoff

In this OpEd, Dr. Srini Sitaraman discusses India’s strategy for dealing with the increasing border incursions committed by China while minimalizing the effects of COVID-19 and what is required for de-escalation.

At its heart, the People’s Republic of China is a territorially revisionist, expansionist, and hegemonic state and it will not stop until it achieves the goals of capturing all of the land and sea areas over which it believes it has “historic rights.” Beijing has particularly turned to an aggressive maritime posture in the South China Sea and has increased its infrastructure construction along the LAC and increased the frequency of incursions into areas that are generally accepted as being within Indian control.

Is Vietnam Eating into China’s Share of Manufacturing?


Vietnam has managed an impressive feat in controlling the coronavirus, with zero deaths and limited lockdown measures. Its screening, testing, and medical supply manufacturing also show how the country kept supply chains moving with limited disruption. As of June 6, mobility trends in several key sectors had already returned to or exceeded their prepandemic baselines, making Vietnam’s restoration of economic activity among the best in the world.

While this success does not immunize Vietnam from an economic slowdown, it raises the country’s brand as the top destination for diversifying beyond or away from China. Vietnam has many attractive features: cheap input costs, stable politics, and increasingly liberalized trade and investment policies, especially after its free trade agreement with the EU. But two factors limit Vietnam’s ability to absorb significantly more manufacturing from China and move up the value chain: its high dependence on foreign input for production and its much smaller population size (see figure 1).

How Europe Can Live with China


STOCKHOLM – In an age of escalating tension between the United States and China, will the European Union still have room to maneuver in pursuit of its own interests? That will be a key question for EU policymakers in the years ahead.

The Sino-American conflict has already become a central issue in the run-up to the US presidential election this November, because President Donald Trump’s administration has clearly decided that bashing China is one way to divert attention from its own failings. But even if Trump loses to his presumptive challenger, Joe Biden, the bilateral confrontation will continue to escalate. Within the US political and foreign-policy establishment, actively looking for ways to curtail, stop, or even reverse China’s geopolitical rise is a bipartisan pursuit.

Yet, even with the most aggressive policies, it is doubtful that the US – or anyone else – could achieve that goal. China’s per capita GDP (adjusted for purchasing power parity) is roughly one-third that of the US or most European countries. But in terms of the overall size of its economy, it is quickly catching up to the US and the EU.

Nobody can know for certain how China’s economic story will unfold in the decades to come; but current trends suggest that it will continue to grow much faster than either the US or the EU. If it can close even half the per capita GDP gap with Taiwan, its economy will have grown (by dint of population) to twice the size of the US or the EU economies.

The Geopolitics of Post-Brexit Britain

This essay draws on the author’s previous work, specifically: The Geopolitics of Anglo-Irish Relations in the 20th Century.

The greatest failure of the European referendum campaign in 2016, which can be attributed to both sides, was the inability to articulate an understanding of Britain’s geopolitical relationship to Europe. By geopolitics, I do not mean its current usage: interpreted merely as a synonym for international strategic rivalry. I refer, instead, to classical geopolitics, which is a confluence of three subjects: geography, history, and strategy. It draws attention to certain geographical patterns of political history. It fuses spatial relationships and historical causation. It can produce explanations that suggest the contemporary and future political relevance of various geographical configurations.

What sets geopolitics apart is that it does not obey the artificial boundaries of disciplinary knowledge; classical geopolitics embraces a synthetic approach to address policy problems and issues. Furthermore, the problems and issues themselves do not respect those artificial boundaries, nor do the solutions.

The Post-COVID19 World: Globalization with Different Characteristics

This OpEd speculates on how trade strategies combined with US-China strategic competition and the ongoing economic decoupling of the world’s top two economies may redefine the nature of post-COVID19 globalization.

For the first time in recent history, a decoupling process features two countries upholding opposing political ideologies that inform their respective visions of world order. In effect, the economic decoupling also draws an ideological line of separation between the US and China.

Ethical Imperatives for Lethal Autonomous Weapons

Dillon Patterson 


In September 2017, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a group of students regarding the role of advanced technology in the future of warfare. During his address, Putin stated, “when one party’s drones are destroyed by drones of another, it will have no other choice but to surrender.”1 Putin’s remarks highlight a change in the character of war. Robots, often enabled by artificial intelligence (AI), represent an increased portion of military forces. In a November 2019 report to the United States Congress, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI) identified Russia and China as utilizing various forms AI to advance their national agendas.2 AI-enabled autonomous systems are tools that nations will not overlook in the development of national security plans.

The fields of automation and artificial intelligence are broad, having applications in diplomatic, informational, military, and economic activities. Within this realm, lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS) are a new enabler for achieving political ends through the application of the military instrument of power. As the world is past the point of considering whether robots should be used in war, the goal of the discussion herein is to examine how autonomous systems can be used ethically. This article seeks explicitly to demonstrate that fielding and employment of lethal autonomous weapons systems can be done effectively and ethically by maximizing the advantages and minimizing the shortfalls of both technology and the human mind.

The Nexus Between the COVID-19 Pandemic, International Relations, and International Security

The extent to which other related global relationships, national entities, and supranational organizations have performed in the current case will only be clear in retrospect: it will quite possibly emerge that a combination of right- and left-wing polices – cherry-picking elements of travel and visa restrictions, greater health security and diplomacy investments, and other defensive and protective policy aspects from the two highly divergent sets of agendas — will be the guiding paradigm for the decades to come. Despite the mutual antipathy between contemporary political perspectives in the United States, there are elements of each agendas — what has been called bipartisanism, or post-partisanship — that will be crucial to the future of humanity. Taking this forward in a proactive, positive, and productive manner requires that neither side be vilified.

U.S.-Russian Relations in 2030


It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.
—Yogi Berra

U.S.-Russian relations are at the lowest point since the Cold War. Almost all high-level dialogue between the two countries has been suspended. There are no signs that the relationship will improve in the near future.

However, this situation is unlikely to last forever—even during the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union maintained a limited but meaningful dialogue; the two countries eventually will reengage, even if mostly to disagree, and new U.S. and Russian leaders could pursue less confrontational policies. What is the agenda that they will need to tackle then—perhaps as far in the future as 2030?


U.S. and Russian leaders in 2030 will face a global landscape whose key features will include the following:

Judy Asks: Will U.S. Troop Pullouts Accelerate European Defense Integration?



There has been lots of discussion on Twitter about U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision, with a whole range of people pointing out that U.S. troops in Germany are not primarily there for the defense of Germany.

Nobody in the national security community needed to be enlightened to that effect: Germany is a gigantic U.S. forward operating base. But national security types on Twitter do not communicate with American voters. Communicating with American voters is, on the contrary, Trump’s only intention, and it will be easy to sell the decision to withdraw troops from Germany as punishment of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But Trump’s decision will primarily harm the United States—and it certainly won’t harm European countries enough for EU defense integration to become a priority. There’s already significant unhappiness among non-French defense companies with France’s eagerness to promote defense integration on terms that seem to primarily benefit French firms. As for armed forces integration, the perennial obstacle of command structure and allocation of troops remains.

Economic Consequences Of COVID-19 In The EU-19

Dirk Ehnts

This background article explains where the money for governments in the current crisis comes from and why, contrary to general expectations, the EU-19 (eurozone) will probably not play a major role in this crisis.

The Western states decided relatively late to largely shut down public life in response to the spread of Covid-19 (coronavirus) because they knew from the outset that the near-quarantine would have far-reaching economic consequences. Since the health and economic future is completely uncertain and, for example, pubs and hotels are or were closed, the citizens hardly spend any money. Companies are foregoing investments, and entire industries are lying idle: Lufthansa had to cancel almost all flights, VW had to stop production in Wolfsburg. The workers are therefore unemployed, which makes the applications for short-time work benefits skyrocket. More people are already unemployed than during the Great Financial Crisis of 2008/09. The economy would collapse if the state did not intervene.

But how does the state get its money - and what money? Should national governments spend more? Or should the EU spend more money, and if so, how? The questions mix up monetary policy issues with political questions about the future of the eurozone and the European Union. In this text I will try to separate the two dimensions. To put it bluntly, the crisis will cause economic damage in the form of lost production combined with unemployment. This damage is real economic damage. Less goods and services will be produced and therefore consumed. Nevertheless, we are constantly hearing about the “financial costs" of the crisis. This view of things is fundamentally wrong. Costs are a business concept. They evaluate the consumption of production factors in production. But if less is produced, then there are no “costs".

Robert Reich: Who’s Really Looting America? – OpEd

By Robert Reich

As hundreds of thousands take to the streets to protest ruthless police killings of Black Americans and centuries of systemic racism, Donald Trump and his enablers have been quick to cast the protesters as violent “looters” – and distract from the real looters of America.

So far, over 10,000 Americans have been arrested during the wave of protests. Yet a decade ago, after Wall Street bankers looted America through predatory lending and securities fraud – often preying upon people of color and causing American households to lose roughly $19 trillion in total wealth – not a single top Wall Street executive went to prison. Instead, they received billions in taxpayer bailouts, and executives took home massive bonuses.

Now, during the coronavirus pandemic and an unprecedented economic crisis, America’s billionaires have seen their wealth soar by $434 billion. How? Their corporations lobbied for and got $500 billion in bailouts and they got $135 billion in tax breaks. And the Treasury Department and the Fed are erasing the corporate debt they amassed over the last few years so their corporations could buy back their shares of stock. Meanwhile, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Walmart, and other corporate giants are using their vast market power to rack up record profits.

NATO Allies Push Back at U.S. Order to Pull Troops Out of Germany

James Marson
Source Link

BRUSSELS—U.S. allies in Europe are cautiously pushing against President Trump’s order to withdraw thousands of American troops from Germany by arguing that the U.S. needs them there as much as Europe does.

In a sign of the issue’s sensitivity, it was barely mentioned Wednesday at a long-planned meeting by video link of defense ministers from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that included U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

Moscow’s Next Front: Russia’s Expanding Military Footprint in Libya

New imagery analysis from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) of Russian operations in Libya indicates the breadth and depth of Russian involvement, as well as its limits in altering the conflict’s trajectory, as seen in recent setbacks for Moscow’s primary partner, General Khalifa Haftar and the Libyan National Army (LNA). Imagery released in late May by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) displayed Russia’s deployment of at least 14 combat aircraft, including Su-24 attack, MiG-29 fighter, and Su-35 interceptor escort aircraft, from bases in Russia and Syria to Libya’s Al Khadim and Al Jufra air bases. A closer examination of Russia’s deployment at Al Jufra Air Base reveals not only an expansion of Russian air activity but also of its ground forces, namely the Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner Group, the core component of Russia’s intervention in Libya.

Russia’s Deployment to Al Jufra in Context

Since 2015, Russia has provided military, diplomatic, and financial support to Libya’s eastern-based government in Tobruk and the LNA in its war against the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli. Since 2017, Russian support has centered on training, equipping, and advising the LNA and its commander, General Khalifa Haftar, for its push into central and western Libya, alongside Haftar’s other backers, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. At the vanguard of Russian military efforts has been the Wagner Group, which by 2018 had deployed several hundred mercenaries to multiple training sites, airfields, forward bases, and key energy and infrastructure sites, thus supporting the LNA as well as securing Russian interests. Russian PMC activity surged in the summer of 2019 to bolster Haftar’s flagging western Libya campaign and enable an LNA offensive against Tripoli. By early 2020, up to 1,200 Wagner mercenaries were on the ground in Libya, to then be supported from the air with the arrival of Russian combat aircraft.

The Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States

The United States faces a growing terrorism problem that will likely worsen over the next year. Based on a CSIS data set of terrorist incidents, the most significant threat likely comes from white supremacists, though anarchists and religious extremists inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaeda could present a potential threat as well. Over the rest of 2020, the terrorist threat in the United States will likely rise based on several factors, including the November 2020 presidential election.

On June 3, 2020, federal authorities arrested three individuals allegedly associated with the “boogaloo” movement, a loosely-organized group of extremists preparing for a civil war, for conspiring to cause violence in Las Vegas and possessing an improvised incendiary device.1 Less than a week later, law enforcement officials near Richmond, VA, arrested Harry H. Rogers, a member of the Ku Klux Klan, for driving a vehicle into peaceful protesters. Around the same time, members of a Brooklyn anarchist group urged its supporters to conduct “rebellion” against the government.2 Extremists from all sides flooded social media with disinformation, conspiracy theories, and incitements to violence in response to the protests following the death of George Floyd, swamping Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and other platforms.3

A New U.S. Strategy for the Indo-Pacific

by Roger Cliff
This report describes U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific, challenges and opportunities the United States will likely face in the region over the next decade, the resources available to the United States for protecting and advancing its interests, and a recommended strategy for doing so.

The Indo-Pacific is a region of critical importance to the U.S., but one in which it is likely to face major challenges in coming years. China will be both the dominant economy and the dominant military power (other than the U.S.) in the region and will continue its efforts to take control over Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the Senkaku Islands. Beijing will also continue to infiltrate and subvert the political systems of countries in the Indo-Pacific and elsewhere in the world. Meanwhile, North Korea will continue to increase its capability to attack the U.S. with nuclear weapons, and state failure in North Korea is a possibility over the next decade. Other adverse events could occur as well, including interstate conflict, new internal conflicts, democracies becoming autocracies, and Islamist regimes coming to power. In addition, unusually hot weather and floods will become more frequent as a result of global climate change, and the Indo-Pacific will be a major source of environmental pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, the Indo-Pacific presents major strategic opportunities for the U.S., which still enjoys significant strengths. The U.S. possesses more human capital than any country in the world, has the world’s best technological capabilities, and has by far the world’s most capable military. Perhaps its greatest asset in the region, however, is its democratic allies, particularly Japan, South Korea, and Australia. As a result, U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy should focus on strengthening ties with the democracies of the region and making those democracies stronger and more secure.

The Challenges of Countering Influence Operations


This paper contains references to disturbing subject matter, including violence, sexual violence, child abuse, xenophobia, hate speech, and verbal harassment.

Influence operations are organized attempts to achieve a specific effect among a target audience. In such instances, a variety of actors—ranging from advertisers to activists to opportunists—employ a diverse set of tactics, techniques, and procedures to affect the decisionmaking, beliefs, and opinions of a target audience.

Yet much public discourse has failed to paint a nuanced picture of these activities. Media coverage of influence operations often tends to be negative, stoking fears about how influence operations might undermine the legitimacy of liberal democracies. But the purpose behind such campaigns must be considered when assessing their effects. In electoral settings, influence operations can refer not only to coordinated state efforts to influence a foreign election but also to positive advocacy campaigns such as those designed to encourage people to vote. That being said, governments and industry actors face growing pressure to do something about malign influence operations, but these campaigns must be clearly understood to be addressed effectively.


For almost 20 years, mission command has been a key component of command and control (C2) in the U.S. Army. However, with the advancements in the realm of artificial intelligence and the resultant utilization of autonomous and semiautonomous weapon systems in warfare, it is necessary to examine the extent to which these machines can cooperate within this construct. 

Mission command, properly understood, empowers subordinate decisionmaking and decentralized execution appropriate to any given situation. It is solely meant for human-to-human C2. Like war itself, it is an inherently “human endeavor . . . not a mechanical process that can be precisely controlled by machines [or] calculations.” Systems that use machine algorithms for their decisionmaking processes are in direct variance to the emotive- and moral-seeking components of human cognition. Humans experience love, fear, camaraderie and hate—machines do not. Nor do they understand honor, integrity or self-sacrifice. Faced with this conflict, how can the deployment of machines work in concert with the Army’s C2?