27 June 2020

Locust Invasion in India

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd), Consultant, VIF

It has been a double whammy. As the nation is reeling under the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, India has to fight another menace: locust invasion. Massive swarms of desert locusts have devoured crops across seven states of western and central India including Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab. The locust population might grow 400 times larger by end June 2020 and spread to new areas without action. It would be disrupting food supply, upending livelihoods and require considerable resources to address. India is facing its worst desert locust invasion in nearly 30 years.

The Big Lesson of the India-China Conflict: Borders Don’t Work at High Altitude

By Ruth Gamble and Alexander Davis

In the past week, fighting between Chinese and Indian soldiers on disputed western Himalayan borders left 20 Indian soldiers dead, 20 seriously injured, and an unknown number of Chinese casualties. The conflict was triggered by roads built near the border, and possibly dams. These projects all further stress the fragile and globally crucial high-altitude environment.

Most of the commentary over the disputes has focused on China’s growing foreign policy assertiveness, and the long-standing nature of the dispute. But the clash should also call into question the necessity of territorializing these fragile and isolated environments.

The clash on the night of June 15-16 marked the first time that soldiers have died in combat between China and India in the past 40 years. But these are not the only soldiers or their support staff to die in this region during that time. China, India and Pakistan have been arguing over the western Himalaya region for over 70 years. During this time, thousands of soldiers have died, and significant damage has been done to the fragile environment, including the glaciers that sit at the headwaters of the Indus, Brahmaputra and Tarim River Basins.

China Is Losing India

By Tanvi Madan

At a seaside summit in southern India in October 2019, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged to take relations between their two countries to “greater heights” in the next year. The Asian neighbors—which together contain over a third of the world’s population—promised to work more closely in 2020, the 70th anniversary of formal ties between the two nations. Officials outlined 70 joint activities, ranging from trade and military delegations to academic studies of ancient civilizational links, all intended to strengthen Sino-Indian cooperation.

But instead of deeper ties, 2020 has highlighted the growing rivalry between China and India. Since early May, Chinese and Indian troops have been facing off at multiple points on the remote, rugged, and often disputed border between the two nations. The situation escalated on June 15 when Chinese and Indian soldiers clashed in the Galwan Valley. At least 20 Indian soldiers died in the skirmish, along with an unknown number of Chinese troops (China has yet to disclose any casualty figures). According to the Indian government, China precipitated the fighting by seeking to change the status quo on the boundary, advancing into or hindering Indian patrols in territory that both countries claim. Chinese officials, meanwhile, blamed India for instigating the violent face-off.

India Is Paying the Price for Neglecting its Neighbors

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As India manages the fallout from its deadly clash with China last week—the first border skirmish in which there were troop fatalities since 1975—it would do well to take a step back and assess its broader regional situation. And if it does so, New Delhi would realize that its problems are by no means limited to Beijing: India’s relations with each of its neighbors are in shambles.

Things could so easily have been different. In May 2014, shortly after being elected to office, Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited his counterparts from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka—members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)—to his inauguration. It was a deft exercise in public diplomacy, as no previous prime minister had made such a grand gesture. It was also in keeping with his Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign manifesto, which had promised to improve ties with India’s neighbors.

Modi used the occasion to announce his “neighborhood first” initiative, a new focus on prioritizing relations with SAARC member states. The project, had it come to fruition, would have given a much-needed boost to regional trade and investments and led the way in addressing geopolitical tensions. It would have also provided a natural—and lasting—bulwark against China’s relentless attempts to expand its footprint across the region, especially with its Belt and Road Initiative.

India picks a side in the new cold war

The Sino-Soviet split was a critical moment in the cold war. A Sino-Indian split could be just as crucial to the “second cold war” that seems to be developing between the US and China. Until now, the Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has tried to avoid choosing sides in the fast-developing antagonism between Washington and Beijing. But a parting of the ways between India and China now seems inevitable following last week’s border clashes between the two nations’ armies, which left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unknown number of Chinese casualties. 

Mr Modi has met President Xi Jinping of China several times since becoming India’s leader in 2014 and has made five visits there. As recently as last October, the Indian and Chinese leaders held a friendly summit, after which Mr Modi hailed “a new era of co-operation between our two countries”. Opinion Asia-Pacific India picks a side in the new cold war GIDEON RACHMAN It is folly for China to drive its rival into America’s arms The mood in New Delhi is now very different. Whatever happened high up in the Himalayas, Indians feel assaulted and humiliated by China. On Friday, Mr Modi held emergency meetings with leaders of the Indian opposition — a remarkable development in itself, given the extreme partisanship of Indian politics today. 

Nationalism Is Impeding China’s Efforts to De-escalate Tensions With India

By Jo Kim

In this Oct. 19, 2017, photo, video showing Chinese President Xi Jinping handling an assault rifle is shown at an exhibition highlighting China’s achievements under five years of his leadership at the Beijing Exhibition Hall in Beijing.Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

During the 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Chinese President Xi Jinping revealed his grand strategic vision for the country’s development – the idea of the “Chinese dream” as the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” The vision, which embodies a nationalistic consciousness of “historical greatness” exclusive to the “Chinese nation,” has augmented the abrasive nationalism in China’s international conflicts, which are expected to grow more frequent. The adoption of nationalism as the nation’s driving ideology may have bolstered the legitimacy of the CCP, but it has also become increasingly problematic for creating a peaceful environment for the rising power with numerous border disputes, both on land and at sea. China sporadically clashed with Japan over the Senkaku (or Diaoyu) Islands, and with the Philippines, Vietnam, and other Southeast Asian countries over the South China Sea.

China’s latest major border conflict is with India at the Galwan Valley in the Himalayas. The military personnel of the two sides brawled with fists, rocks, and nail-embedded clubs. India suffered 20 deaths, according to a statement from the Indian Army. Indian media reports China’s casualties at between 35 and 43; China, however, chose not to disclose the number of casualties. For nationalist purposes, China could report a lower number of casualties or simply remain silent if the numbers might undermine the people’s faith in the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). A source close to the PLA told the South China Morning Post that all casualty numbers had to be approved by Xi himself.

Five priorities for corporate India in the next normal after COVID-19

By Rajat Dhawan

The coronavirus pandemic has had a serious effect on the lives and livelihoods of people in India. Daily counts of new confirmed COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 deaths have continued to rise, although lockdown measures imposed in late March helped slow the spread of the disease. As in other countries, these lockdown measures have curtailed economic activity and increased unemployment. McKinsey estimates that India’s GDP in the first quarter of the 2020–21 fiscal year could shrink by 20 percent, compared with the same quarter last year. The World Bank projects that full-year GDP will contract by more than 3 percent. India’s unemployment rate, which stood at 8.4 percent before the lockdown, rose to 27.1 percent in April.

The beginning of May saw the government cautiously lift certain restrictions so that some businesses could reopen. This helped bring the unemployment rate down to 24 percent by mid-May. And when McKinsey surveyed global executives on their economic views in early May, almost half of respondents in India said that they expect economic conditions in India to be substantially or moderately better in six months’ time.

Nevertheless, a sober, pragmatic outlook emerges from our discussions with dozens of CEOs and senior executives in recent weeks. Executives are planning for a prolonged economic downturn—and for an uncertain “next normal” that could follow an eventual recovery. They also observed that the COVID-19 crisis has brought new urgency to some of corporate India’s longstanding challenges, and that companies which act now to address these priorities could emerge stronger from the crisis. In this article, we offer a closer look at these priorities, which are as follows:

India's armed forces have to get rid of hopeless dependence on US jargons

P.K. Mallick 

Yanks are very fond of new terminology. Remember how COIN (counter-insurgency) ops became LICO (low-intensity conflict operations), MOOTW (military operations other than war), SASO (stability and support operations), asymmetric, long, small, unconventional, and 4GW (fourth-generation warfare)? In between, Israelis coined ‘sub-conventional war’, which we happily copied. Two Chinese colonels used the term ‘unrestricted war’.

Then the US Marine Corps Lt Col Frank G. Hoffman had the idea of ‘hybrid war’. We in India fell for that one hook, line and ...

China’s next move in the South China Sea

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The last time that three American aircraft-carriers prowled the Pacific Ocean was in 2017, shortly after President Donald Trump had threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea. In mid-June a trio of carriers returned—the uss Ronald Reagan and uss Theodore Roosevelt in the Philippine Sea and uss Nimitz farther east. Together they brought more fighter jets than most countries in Asia possess. Chinese commentators had little doubt what the point was this time: to show China that despite covid-19, America still has muscle.

American officials are not so explicit about the meaning of the exercise. But they are clearly disturbed by recent Chinese moves in the South China Sea. On April 3rd China’s coastguard sank a Vietnamese fishing boat near the Paracel islands (see map). On June 10th another one was rammed in the same area by a Chinese ship. In April and May Chinese coastguard vessels harassed West Capella, a Malaysian drillship near Borneo, prompting America and Australia to send warships. In the Spratly archipelago, China’s “maritime militia”, disguised as a fishing flotilla, has been swarming near Thitu, an island controlled by the Philippines but claimed by China. America’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, has accused China of taking advantage of distraction caused by covid-19 to engage in “provocative behaviour”.

China’s Media Influence Has Gone Global. So Has the Pushback.

By Sarah Cook
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and various Chinese government entities have long sought to influence public debate and media coverage about China around the world, a trend that has accelerated in recent years. Over the past month, a number of news reports and investigations, often by local journalists, have highlighted new evidence of how Chinese government-linked actors impact global information flows via propaganda, censorship, surveillance, and control over infrastructure. In response, various governments and technology firms have taken steps to undermine the negative effects CCP influence has on media and internet freedom. This article calls attention to some of these new developments.

In Southeast Asia, Thailand’s cash-strapped media companies are increasingly relying on Chinese state media like the official newswire, Xinhua News Agency, to provide coverage on the global response to the coronavirus. But China’s influence on Thai news precedes the pandemic, with at least a dozen outlets having inked partnerships with Xinhua and 2019 being named by the Thai government as the “ASEAN-China Year of Media Exchanges.”

Farther afield, according to Italian journalist Gabriel Carrer, writing at Formiche, coverage on Italy’s public television of Chinese government assistance to the coronavirus-ravaged country has been three times greater than comparable coverage of U.S. government help. The coverage appears to have contributed to improved public opinion of China vis-à-vis the United States, according to recent polls.

The World Has Naively Believed That China Has Good Intentions. It Doesn't. | Opinion


The recent killing of 20 Indian soldiers by the Chinese military at the Himalayan border should not surprise the world. Though it's true these are the first casualties at the border in over 45 years, this brazen act of aggression fits within China's modus operandi. Unfortunately, the world has far too often naively believed the best of China's intentions.

Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, attempted a diplomatic approach to the border dispute with China before the Sino-Indian War broke in 1962. While in retrospect, Nehru's actions come across as too trusting, the truth is that a diplomatic approach was probably never going to work with China. For China, it has always been Chinese interests first.

Now, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with his goodwill towards the Chinese leadership, sits in a similar position to his predecessor. His bonhomie with Chinese President Xi Jinping, carefully built over the years, appears to have come to an awkward halt following the recent border incident—pointed out by keen observers who noticed that Modi failed to wish Jinping a happy birthday for the first time in five years. Since the deadly clash at the border, Modi has felt increasing pressure from the public to assert India's sovereignty.

Putin’s New History of Europe and the Rehabilitation of Stalin

By George Friedman

Russian President Vladimir Putin likes to argue that World War II, and much of the suffering wrought by it, was the responsibility not just of Nazi Germany but of governments that went against it. He has made this argument before, but the most recent version delivered during Russia’s annual Victory Day celebration was the most comprehensive yet. He shifted the responsibility for Germany’s invasions and atrocities to other countries, and used that to minimize the Soviet Union’s responsibility for the war.

Previously, Putin had charged that the British and French agreement at Munich for German occupation of part of Czechoslovakia laid the groundwork for World War II, that U.S. trade with Germany before the war strengthened Germany, and that the Polish government caused the mass slaughter in Poland after its occupation by fleeing. All of this is designed to reduce the importance of the Hitler-Stalin pact and the Soviet invasion of Poland. It is in his telling no more consequential than many other events.

To be polemical for a moment, let me take each charge one at a time. The government did flee Poland as did governments of other countries after German occupation. Trying to create a government in exile was what many did. The idea that by leaving the country they were responsible for what happened is absurd. Poland was occupied by German and Soviet troops. The Germans rapidly began rounding up and executing any possible resistance, and the Soviets carried out the murder of thousands of Polish army officers they captured. The idea that the presence of Polish government officials in country would have stopped Hitler and Stalin in their tracks is self-evidently wrong.

Putin's rating is collapsing as anger grows in Russia

by Roman Dobrokhotov

The coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout have been the top concern of people across the world and naturally this has affected ratings of governments and heads of state.

In some places, those in power struggling with unpopularity have managed to gain public support. For example, Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte's public approval rating jumped from 50 percent in February to 70 percent in March. In France, beleaguered President Emmanuel Macron had a 51 percent approval rating in a March poll, the highest since February 2018, before it fell back to 33 percent in June.

In April, the UK government saw the highest approval ratings in nearly 10 years - 52 percent - before slipping back to 39 percent in June. In Germany, the Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, saw support soar from 27 percent in February to 39 percent in June.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been struggling. The pandemic did not give him a boost, and in fact just solidified the downward trend his approval rating has been suffering over the past two years.

The EU’s new bond isn’t as solid as it seem

Its rescue fund will bail out the poorer states. It will fuel a rapid economic recovery. And perhaps most of all, it will finally turn the European Union into a fiscal union, raising its own money, and distributing it based on which region needs its most. The EU’s new €750 billion (£680 billion) rescue fund has been hailed as a huge step forward for the Union. Perhaps it will be. There is a problem, however. Some analysts are starting to argue the new shiny new EU bonds should be rated as junk – or something close to it.

On the surface, you might think an EU bond should be completely solid. After all, this is a £14.5 trillion economy, the largest single bloc in the world, with the world’s second-largest currency, the euro. It is only borrowing a fraction of GDP. In a world awash with debt, it should be able to raise the money, and lots more if it is needed, right? Well, here’s the problem. The EU has done the easy bit (promising to hand out lots of free cash) but has been a little slower on the harder bit (raising some taxes to pay back all that debt).
You are relying on Greece, Portugal and Italy to come up with the cash

Even at very low interest rates, a bond needs some form of income to back it up. The EU is looking at new forms of direct taxes to repay the bonds. Plenty of fashionable ideas are under discussion, such as the inevitable green levies, and raiding the Apple piggy bank (otherwise known a digital services tax), along with more controversial proposals such a 0.5 per cent extra VAT rate, or an access fee to the single market. But none of them have been agreed yet and most of the 27 countries are very reluctant to let Brussels raise taxes directly. It could be years before a compromise is hammered out.

Russia’s New Nuclear Doctrine: Don’t Mess With Us—But Let’s Talk

Richard Weitz 

For the first time ever, the Russian government has publicly released a document laying out the logic and principles underpinning its approach to nuclear deterrence. Formally titled “Fundamentals of Russian State Nuclear Deterrence Policy,” the report was approved by President Vladimir Putin and posted on the government’s official information web portal on June 2. Previous iterations of Russia’s deterrence policy, such as the one associated with the updated military doctrine it unveiled in 2010, were alluded to in public, but never published.

Why did Russia decide to publish its deterrence policy now? In part, it could be to dispel alleged Western misperceptions about when Russia might use nuclear weapons, specifically the Pentagon’s assessment that Moscow would threaten to use nuclear weapons—or actually do so—to intimidate an adversary into yielding in a major crisis. Previously referred to as “escalate to de-escalate,” U.S. officials currently describe this strategy as “escalate to win,” and have used it to justify developing U.S. low-yield nuclear weapons options to counter it.

COVID-19 and USS Theodore Roosevelt: The Chain of Command Did Not Work

By Harlan K. Ullman

Now that the investigation into the decisions by Navy Captain Brett Crozier, the former commanding officer (CO) of the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is complete and, for the moment, the case seems closed, two conclusions are striking. First, former Acting Secretary of the Navy Thomas Modly seems to have been right in relieving him. Second, the chain of command did not work. Had it, Crozier would still be in command, and former Vice Chief Admiral Robert Burke would not have had to lead an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 on board the ship.

At a press conference last Friday, with Secretary of the Navy Kenneth Braithwaite at his side, Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Mike Gilday reversed himself on reinstating the aircraft carrier’s former skipper. If he had had all the facts at the time, the CNO said he would have relieved the captain. The carrier strike group’s commander, Rear Admiral (lower half) Stuart Baker, has had his promotion to two-star admiral deferred awaiting further investigation of his role. 

The former Acting Secretary of the Navy’s decision to relieve the CO underscored problems within the chain of command that the investigation of the incident did not choose to review. Based on Mr. Modly’s interviews with the Washington Post’s David Ignatius, the Acting Secretary was concerned that senior Navy leaders were not responding to the outbreak on the Theodore Roosevelt with sufficient urgency. When he raised this with the CNO, Admiral Gilday’s advice was to allow the chain of command to work. Unsatisfied with that answer, Mr. Modly and his chief of staff called Captain Crozier telling him that if the ship needed further assistance, a direct line was open to the Acting Secretary.

Ending America’s Grand Strategic Failures

By Anthony H. Cordesman

It is all too tempting for Americans to focus on the Coronavirus crisis, the pandemic’s impact on the U.S. economy, and the existing levels of racism revealed by the killing of George Floyd. The fact remains, however, that the U.S. is still facing equally serious challenges in national security. The U.S. may be spending more on defense, but it lacks a meaningful and well-focused approach to strategy, force planning, and dealing with its strategic partners in virtually every area of national security.

The most recent case example is the cut of some 9,500 U.S. troops in Germany – more than 25% of the total U.S. troops stationed in Germany. These U.S. troops perform critical roles in shaping NATO’s deterrent and defense capabilities and also in supporting U.S. global power projection. The motive for these cuts may be the fact that Germany has not spent 2% of its GDP on defense, but it may also be a retaliation against Chancellor Angela Merkel for not attending a G-7 conference held in the United States that seems to have been designed largely for political visibility rather than actual diplomatic importance.

This is scarcely the only time the U.S. has faced major national security challenges or needed to make major changes in its strategy. Since 1945, various Presidents and Congresses have faced crises like the beginning of the Cold War, the nuclear arms race, Vietnam, the decision to invade Iraq, and the state and conduct of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. All were challenges the U.S. met slowly and with mixed results.

Geoeconomic Strategy in the COVID Era


In the wake of coronavirus and debates over “decoupling,” the United States needs a new approach to national security: one based on geoeconomics, not geopolitics.

Many of us have long awaited America’s wake-up call with China, the turning point when we grasp the formidable challenges in catching up to a geopolitical foe. With coronavirus, that moment may have finally arrived. With COVID transmission spread across the globe in an eye-blink, with pharmaceutical and health product supply chains looking more like gossamer threads, the world’s interconnectedness has not saved us—indeed, it has only magnified the crisis.

As we move forward, attempting to make sensible, informed decisions to protect public health without irreparably harming the economy, the U.S. government needs to fully reconsider its understanding of national...

How the Pandemic Should Shake up Economics


ITHACA – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive disruptions to markets, supply chains, and world trade. This has forced a reckoning with many traditional policies and should be treated as an opportunity to rethink some of the ideas that economists have long taken for granted – including the basic notion of what makes an economy function efficiently.

That notion goes back to 1776, a landmark year during which Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations, America’s 13 states declared independence, and the same day, July 4, the philosopher David Hume held a dinner party for his friends, including Smith, to mark the twilight of his life.

Smith’s path-breaking work, along with later highly influential contributions by Léon Walras, Stanley Jevons, and Alfred Marshall, transformed economics. We learned that markets can function smoothly without a central authority, because the actions of ordinary people trying to earn more and purchase the goods they want create tugs and pulls of demand and supply, causing prices to rise and fall.

As this idea became formalized, the social norms and customs on which markets also depend became part of the woodwork – tacit assumptions that we ignored, because they are so unchanging in normal times, and then forgot were there.

Multilateralism in a G-Zero World


MADRID – This year’s gathering of world leaders for the United Nations General Assembly in New York has been called off. The news of the cancellation – the first in the UN’s 75-year history – came a week after a planned G7 meeting at Camp David was scrapped, and a month after the G20 abandoned plans for a virtual summit. At a time when the global nature of today’s most pressing challenges is more apparent than ever, the instruments of multilateralism are not just underperforming. They have stopped functioning.

The implications are even worse than they initially seem. Of course, there is the COVID-19 pandemic – an unprecedented public-health crisis that demands cooperative action, not least to develop and deploy a vaccine quickly and widely. And the most severe economic slump since the Great Depression will probably pop an unprecedented global debt bubble.

But that is only the beginning of the world’s woes. Geopolitical tensions are also on the rise, including on the Korean Peninsula, along the border between China and India, and between the United States and China. Even the transatlantic alliance is under serious strain, with US President Donald Trump’s recent decision to slash the number of American troops in Germany just the latest sign of fraying ties.

Reviving the WTO


WASHINGTON, DC – The World Trade Organization is in the news mostly for the wrong reasons nowadays. Many people regard it as an ineffective policeman of an outdated rulebook that is unsuited for the challenges of the twenty-first-century global economy. And WTO members generally agree that the organization urgently needs reforming in order to remain relevant.

Recent months have brought further challenges. The WTO’s appellate body, which adjudicates trade disputes among member countries, effectively ceased functioning last December amid disagreements regarding the appointment of new judges to the panel. And in May 2020, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo announced that he would step down at the end of August, a year before his current term was due to end.

Whoever Azevêdo’s successor is will face a major challenge. Since its establishment in 1995, the WTO has failed to conclude a single trade-negotiation round of global trade talks, thus missing an opportunity to deliver mutual benefits for its members. The Doha Development Round, which began in November 2001, was supposed to be concluded by January 2005.

Fifteen years later, WTO members are still debating whether the Doha process should continue. Some think it has been overtaken by events, while others want to pursue further negotiations.

Who’s Who in Libya’s War?

By Kali Robinson

The conflict in oil-rich Libya has become a proxy war, fueled by rival foreign powers such as Russia and Turkey.

For months, UN-backed government forces have battled rebel commander Khalifa Haftar for control of Libya, with foreign powers increasingly wading into the fray. Here are the major players involved in the conflict:

The United Nations helped establish and formally endorsed Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) in 2015 to unify rival administrations that came out of the country’s 2014 elections. Based in the capital city of Tripoli, the GNA is led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj and controls parts of the country’s west. The GNA’s armed forces comprise the remains of Libya’s official military as well as local militias, with more than thirty thousand fighters. It receives significant military aid from Turkey, Italy, and Qatar.

The Benghazi-based Libya National Army (LNA), a force of some twenty-five thousand fighters, is led by Khalifa Haftar, a former general who helped Muammar Qaddafi seize power in 1969 and allegedly assisted the CIA in the 1990s after breaking with Qaddafi. The LNA launched an assault on Tripoli in April 2019 and today controls large swaths of Libya’s east and south. Haftar claimed military rule over eastern parts of the country in April 2020, though it has not materialized, and his campaign to take western Libya has essentially collapsed amid opposition from GNA forces. The LNA’s backers include Egypt, France, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Russia. Notably, the UAE has provided the LNA with armed drones, while Russia has allegedly sent mercenaries. In January, the LNA shut down state oil production and exports, costing Libya over $4 billion.
House of Representatives

How Far Will North Korea’s Military Adventurism Go?

By Jina Kim

A man watches a TV screen showing a news program with video of the demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office building in Kaesong, North Korea, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, June 17, 2020.Credit: AP Photo/Lee Jin-man

North Korea has blown up a joint liaison office used for talks with South Korea and vowed that more actions would follow. Hence, many are speculating as to how far North Korea’s military adventurism will go in the future.

Provocation is defined as a strategic action to gain political advantage at a time when national values or interests are challenged. In mapping out next moves, it will be important for North Korea to anticipate what it will gain from provocations. It is also important for North Korea to calculate whether the value of expected utility will be large enough to offset the political and diplomatic costs that can be entailed by offensive actions. In this regard, we can assume that the scope and level of North Korea’s next move will be determined by the extent of the benefits it can expect.

Pressuring the US

The next software disruption: How vendors must adapt to a new era

By Paul Roche, Jeremy Schneider, and Tejas Shah

For the past ten years, the rise of software as a service (SaaS) has reshaped the enterprise-software industry. During that period, the disruptors that pioneered the model and the incumbents that transitioned to it created tremendous shareholder value. Between 2011 and 2018, the global software industry’s market cap grew at twice the rate of the overall market. Yet that growth came with a cost: industry profitability tumbled, falling by half over the decade.1

The next ten years will not be any less tumultuous. As SaaS matures, the customer’s expectations around ease of use and ease of doing business will continue to rise. Platforms as a service (PaaS) from the Big Three cloud vendors (Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure) are gaining share and commoditizing software. And with financial markets reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, investors are looking more closely at bottom-line health.

Addressing these demands will require software vendors to adopt a new playbook. Success will take a renewed strategic focus, a willingness to expand “as-a-service” offerings beyond subscription pricing, and a greater emphasis on profitable growth (see the sidebar, “Software’s new playbook”).

On Deterrence, Defense and Arm Control: In Honor of Colin S. Gray

By Keith B. Payne

Dr. Keith B. Payne is a co-founder of the National Institute for Public Policy, professor emeritus of the Graduate School of Defense and Strategic Studies at Missouri State University and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.

For five decades Professor Colin Gray’s scholarly writings contributed tremendously to our understanding of strategy and his wise counsel benefited U.S. security policies enormously. His intellectual depth, rigor, curiosity and wit were unparalleled, as was the time, energy and stamina he devoted to writing and lecturing. To say that Colin was prolific is a profound understatement. His scholarly published canon includes more than 30 books and 300 articles. He also authored or contributed to scores of unpublished reports for various U.S. government offices. To achieve such a record, Colin often would work on multiple texts simultaneously. As a consequence, two substantial books he authored occasionally would be published in the same year—once I believe in the roughly the same month.[1]

Equally important, colleagues and students of all views and backgrounds greatly enjoyed and appreciated Colin’s unassuming affability and easy charm. While frequently involved in the back and forth of strategic policy debates, he typically remained a gentleman—reflecting a genuine civility that seems rare today. In one extended press interview Colin referred to a prominent Washington politician in a mildly unflattering way. When the article was subsequently published and Colin saw his comment in print, he mailed a personal apology to the politician. The latter responded to Colin that he had been called much worse but had never before received an apology.

Building a Modern Military: The Force Meets Geopolitical Realities

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

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.