10 July 2020

Afghanistan Between Negotiations: How the Doha Agreement Will Affect Intra-Afghan Peace

By Andrew Quilty 

Editor’s Note: The U.S.-Afghan peace deal is a possible diplomatic triumph but also a possible disaster. Much depends on the weak Afghan government, the Taliban's willingness to abide by the agreement once U.S. forces depart and the willingness of the United States to reengage if things go south. Kabul-based photojournalist Andrew Quilty argues these factors are not promising. Although the situation in the near term is still fluid, in the long term Afghanistan's future looks grim.

Daniel Byman

The Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan, signed by the Taliban and the United States in Doha on Feb. 29, laid the foundations for an end to the war in Afghanistan. The agreement mandates the prevention of Afghan soil being used by any group that threatens the security of the United States or its allies and the announcement of a timeline for the withdrawal of all foreign troops. If both these conditions are implemented, intra-Afghan talks should then begin to negotiate a lasting cease-fire. Barring complications, including a U.S. policy shift should Democrats win the election in November, the United States and NATO are now scheduled to withdraw their forces from the country in early 2021, after nearly 20 years at war.

President Trump sees the signing of the Doha agreement as the fulfillment of a key 2016 election promise and a boon to his reelection hopes. In a rush to work within such a timeline, however, the U.S. negotiating team, led by former Amb. Zalmay Khalilzad, made concessions that have weakened the Afghan government and strengthened the Taliban.

Sterilizations, IUDs, and Mandatory Birth Control: The CCP’s Campaign to Suppress Uyghur Birthrates in Xinjiang

Dr. Adrian Zenz is one of the world’s leading scholars on People’s Republic of China (PRC) government policies towards the country’s western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. Research performed by Dr. Zenz in 2017-2018 played a significant role in bringing to light the Chinese government’s campaign of repression and mass internment directed against ethnic Uyghur persons in Xinjiang (China Brief, September 21, 2017; China Brief, May 15, 2018; China Brief, November 5, 2018). Dr. Zenz has also testified before the U.S. Congress about state exploitation of the labor of incarcerated Uyghur persons (CECC, October 17, 2019), and was the author earlier this year of an in-depth analysis of the “Karakax List,” a leaked PRC government document relating to repressive practices directed against religious practice among Uyghur Muslims (Journal of Political Risk, February 17, 2020).

In this special Jamestown Foundation report, Dr. Zenz presents detailed analysis of another troubling aspect of state policy in Xinjiang: measures to forcibly suppress birthrates among ethnic Uyghur communities, to include the mass application of mandatory birth control and sterilizations. This policy, directed by the authorities of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is intended to reduce the Uyghur population in Xinjiang relative to the numbers of ethnic Han Chinese—and thereby to promote more rapid Uyghur assimilation into the “Chinese Nation-Race” (中华民族, Zhonghua Minzu), a priority goal of national-level ethnic policy under CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping.

U.S. and Chinese Strategies for Developing Technical Standards in AI

by Jeffrey Ding

Jeffrey Ding (Oxford University) provides an overview of national and international standards-setting organizations and explains how China, the United States, and other countries are balancing priorities in their pursuit of technical standardization in data governance and artificial intelligence in particular.

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a global network that convenes tens of thousands of experts in 210 technical committees and 2,443 working groups. Every working day of the year, about seven ISO meetings are held to develop technical standards.[1] Since the work of organizations like the ISO is often shrouded in technocratic obscurity, the work of standards-setting is often underappreciated, or even ignored, in discussions of technological governance. Only major flashpoints, such as Microsoft’s campaign to have its document format adopted as a global industry standard in 2008, draw attention to what happens behind the scenes in forums like the ISO. Prescient observers, however, realize that much of the substantive work of data governance will be hammered out through setting technical standards.

On the occasions when technical standards are analyzed as instruments of technological governance, the focus is often on corporate competitiveness. Microsoft’s success in establishing its Open XML format as an ISO standard, for instance, greatly boosted its chances at competing for billion-dollar government contracts. But the stakes of standards-setting extend beyond competitiveness. For states, firms, regulators, and other actors, technical standardization is a process that involves balancing many other interests: the health of the innovation system, the protection of consumer interests, and the safe development of technology.

Jamestown Early Warning Brief: Beijing Imposes Its New “National Security” Law on Hong Kong

By: Willy Wo-Lap Lam


The central government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has imposed sweeping new national security legislation on Hong Kong, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the crimes of secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, and “collusion” with foreign forces to jeopardize state security. The “Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” (中华人民共和国香港特别行政区维护国家安全法, Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Xianggang Tebie Xingzhengqu Weihu Guojia Anquan Fa) was unanimously passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliament, on June 30 (NPC, June 30).

New PRC Institutions to Operate in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) legislature was not involved, and the bill was passed less than 30 days after it was first introduced at the full session of the NPC in late May (China Brief, May 26). There was no consultation by Beijing except with pro-establishment elements in the former British territory. While the majority of criminal cases under the new law will be handled by special courts set up by the HKSAR Government, a minority of particularly complex and sensitive ones will be dealt with by mainland judicial authorities. A new body to be set up in Hong Kong, called the Central People’s Government (CPG) Office for Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR (henceforward “CPG Office”), will handle “complicated situations” of interference by foreign forces; cases that the HKSAR government could not handle effectively; and cases in which national security would be under “serious and realistic threats.” Such cases would be prosecuted by the PRC Supreme People’s Procuratorate and put on trial in mainland courts, where the full force of PRC law will apply (China.org.cn, July 1; Xinhua, June 30). The CPG Office will be in charge of investigations and intelligence gathering, and its activities will be beyond the control of the HKSAR city administration (China News Service, July 1; Southcn.com, July 1).

China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Road-Rail Connection Launched Amid Violent Border Clashes

By: Fozil Mashrab

China and Uzbekistan have opened a new transport corridor between one other, which could eventually form a key link in a much shorter inter-continental route connecting China to the Middle East and Europe. Tashkent trusts that the new corridor complements rather than competes with already-established trans-Eurasian transport routes via Kazakhstan and Russia (Podrobno.uz, June 6).

On June 5, the first express train left for Uzbekistan from the Lanzhou railway terminal, in China’s northwest Gansu Province. The onboard cargo traversed a multi-modal (combined road-rail) transport line from China, across Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan. With the opening of the new corridor, cargo from Chinese ports and other provinces will now be able to proceed by rail until the Kashgar terminal, in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where they will be offloaded onto trucks and drive further by road, via Kyrgyzstani territory (Kashgar–Irkeshtam–Osh–Andijan) (Mift.uz, June 9). According to Uzbekistan’s Ministry of Investments and Foreign Trade, the new road-rail line is 295 kilometers shorter than the alternative transport route through Kazakhstan’s Horgos and Dostyk border crossing points, thus reducing delivery times and making the new route more attractive and competitive for businesses (Mift.uz, June 9).

After more than two decades of unsuccessful negotiations with Bishkek on the construction of the China–Kyrgyzstan–Uzbekistan railway (see EDM, February 13, 2014, November 3, 2015, November 17, 2017, March 21, 2019), Chinese and Uzbekistani officials seem to have settled on this combined road-rail line. Formally, negotiations over the railroad are still ongoing (Podrobno.uz, October 14). Rather than seizing the opportunity, successive Kyrgyzstani administrations chose to delay the construction of this important railway, citing multiple reasons. Kyrgyzstan could hugely benefit by becoming a busy transit hub for growing trade and economic ties between China and the rest of Central Asia. However, leaders in Bishkek repeatedly turned down various offers by their Beijing and Tashkent counterparts (Platon.asia, June 13). Instead, officials of the Kyrgyz Republic independently invited Russia, a country that secretly sees the Uzbekistan–Kyrgyzstan–China rail line as a threat to its regional geopolitical interests, to implement the railway connection on its territory (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 10).

China’s Rise as a Global Power Reaches Its Riskiest Point Yet

By Rodger Baker

China has reached a risky point in its international development where its economic and strategic power is perceived as great enough to require a reply, but are not yet strong enough to withstand a concerted counter-challenge. 

By default and design, Beijing can no longer rely on its former admonition to bide time and will act with haste and intensity to close the gap with other global powers. 

China will continue to rely on a policy of division, exploiting the rifts in the framework of the liberal Western world order to delay any collective action that may expose its weakness or force a stumble in its stride. 

China is an empire in the modern sense — a nation strengthened (but also held hostage) by its long supply chains, compelled to ever greater economic and political intercourse to preserve its interests, and increasingly drawn into the security sphere as well. It uses its economic, political and military leverage to expand its own direct sphere of operations, from the South China Sea to India and across Central Asia into Europe. The more engaged it is internationally, the more dependent it is on maintaining and strengthening those connections, which are critical for Chinese economic growth and, by extension, domestic management of its massive, diverse and economically unequal population.
Revisiting Japan's Rise

Perhaps the most dangerous time for a rising power is when it is strong enough to feel confident and arouse suspicion from rivals, but not yet powerful enough to ensure its intended new position in the face of resistance. A dual sense of destiny and insecurity can lead to higher levels of risk tolerance, a greater sense of urgency, and at times, self-fulfilling prophecies of international confrontation. 

This Is No Time to Take Eyes off the South China Sea

By Huong Le Thu  Alexandra Pascoe

Regional flashpoints are heating up, as we’ve seen with the fatal clash in Ladakh on the India–China border, the protests in Hong Kong and provocative sorties in the airspace over Taiwan and Japan. But the South China Sea may be the most dangerous of all.

Recent developments suggest that China is making even more decisive, and potentially long-lasting, moves to override other countries’ claims in this large and strategically crucial body of water.

Concern is growing that Beijing plans to declare an air defence identification zone over the Spratly, Paracel and Pratas islands. An ADIZ is a region of airspace over land or sea in which the identification, location and control of aircraft are ‘performed by a country in the interest of its national security’. This is not a new idea, of course; China unilaterally declared an ADIZ over the East China Sea in 2003.

Such a declaration would invite much criticism from Southeast Asian claimants, and would certainly be a great worry for Taiwan and Japan. It might also catalyse long-needed unity and solidarity in the regional response to China.

Over the past few months, Beijing has intensified its activities in the South China Sea, causing increased anxiety among its Southeast Asian neighbours.

America and China Are Entering the Dark Forest

Niall Ferguson

“We are in the foothills of a Cold War.” Those were the words of Henry Kissinger when I interviewed him at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Beijing last November. 

The observation in itself was not wholly startling. It had seemed obvious to me since early last year that a new Cold War — between the U.S. and China — had begun. This insight wasn’t just based on interviews with elder statesmen. Counterintuitive as it may seem, I had picked up the idea from binge-reading Chinese science fiction.

First, the history. What had started out in early 2018 as a trade war over tariffs and intellectual property theft had by the end of the year metamorphosed into a technology war over the global dominance of the Chinese company Huawei Technologies Co. in 5G network telecommunications; an ideological confrontation in response to Beijing’s treatment of the Uighur minority in China’s Xinjiang region and the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong; and an escalation of old frictions over Taiwan and the South China Sea.

Nevertheless, for Kissinger, of all people, to acknowledge that we were in the opening phase of Cold War II was remarkable.

China and Taiwan Could Be Headed Towards a Showdown. What Should America Do?

by James Holmes

“Independence Support Spikes,” blared a headline this week in the Taipei Times, one of my favorite erstwhile publishing haunts. And blare it should. A Taiwanese Public Opinion Foundation poll indicated that a striking 54 percent of respondents favor early independence from China, 23.4 percent back the cross-strait status quo, 12.5 percent favor early unification with China, and the remainder made no response or were unsure. Breaking down the numbers among those who prefer the status quo—who in effect are content to postpone settling the question indefinitely—the pollsters found that 64.4 percent of respondents support independence, now or later, while just 17.8 percent endorse unification across the Taiwan Strait.

The poll shattered longstanding patterns in popular opinion. Declared foundation chairman Michael You: “In my research on public surveys on these issues over the past 30 years, this is the highest rate of support among Taiwanese for independence,” not to mention “the lowest figure for people supporting unification with China.”

And indeed the breakdown is stunning. For many years opinion on the island was steady and predictable. Some small percentage, generally under 10 percent of the electorate, generally favored either immediate independence or immediate unification. The middle 80 percent or so were content to kick the can down the road in hopes of getting their wish sometime in the indefinite future, whether that wish was for unification or for independence. And why not? I used to spend a fair amount of time on Taiwan and found the status quo there pretty darned pleasant. Some large share of that 80 percent backed eventual independence while the remainder backed eventual unification. The proportions sidled gradually toward independence as demographics shifted. Youthful islanders defined themselves as Taiwanese while the elder generation, many of mainland origins, went to their reward. Events seem to have accelerated that trend—as You notes.

Hong Kong, Changed Overnight, Navigates Its New Reality

By Vivian Wang, Elaine Yu and Tiffany May
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HONG KONG — A barge draped with enormous red banners celebrating China’s new security law was sailing across Hong Kong’s famed Victoria Harbor only hours after the legislation passed. The police now hoist a purple sign warning protesters that their chants could be criminal. Along major roads throughout the city, neon-colored flags hailing a new era of stability and prosperity stand erect as soldiers.

In recent days, as China took a victory lap over the law it imposed on the city Tuesday, the defiant masses who once filled Hong Kong’s streets in protest have largely gone quiet. Sticky notes that had plastered the walls of pro-democracy businesses vanished, taken down by owners suddenly fearful of the words scribbled on them. Parents whispered about whether to stop their children from singing a popular protest song, while activists devised coded ways to express now-dangerous ideas.

Seemingly overnight, Hong Kong was visibly and viscerally different, its more than seven million people left to navigate what the law would mean to their lives. The territory’s distinct culture of political activism and free speech, at times brazenly directed at China’s ruling Communist Party, appeared to be in peril.

China Is a Genocidal Menace

By Andrew Sullivan
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Genocide is not measured simply by the number of human beings in a demographic group who have been killed. Such numbers vary. The pogroms in Europe of the 14th century killed far, far fewer Jews than died in the 20th-century Holocaust, but it would be crazy not to see a very similar eliminationist impulse. It’s the genocidal intent that defines a genocide. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum defines it as “the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” Their definition includes the following five categories:

1. Killing members of the group.

2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group.

3. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.

4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.

5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

Turkey Makes Strides in Diversifying Its Natural Gas Imports

By: Rauf Mammadov

For two months in a row this past spring, during March and April, Azerbaijan surpassed Russia in delivering natural gas supplies to Turkey (Hellenic Shipping News, June 2). At the same time, Turkey’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports have also been skyrocketing, with LNG suppliers from the United States continuing to carve out a lucrative and growing share of the Turkish market (Caspianbarrel.com, April 5). And while the March and April numbers have been staggering, they were not unexpected—and in fact, are fully indicative of the trends observed over the past several years.

During the last four decades, Turkey has been dependent on mainly Russian, Iranian and, more recently, Azerbaijani-borne pipeline gas. But that picture is changing, mostly due to the global supply gluts. Chronic natural gas abundance, combined with plummeting oil prices, have led to low costs for gas, while tangible progress in improved efficiency of LNG transportation has eroded logistical obstacles. Ankara has exploited the opportunity stemming from this confluence of market factors to opt for cheaper LNG volumes, mainly thanks to its timely deployment of several floating storage and regasification units (FSRU) in recent years (Anadolu Agency, November 20, 2017; Daily Sabah, July 5, 2019). As a result, Turkey, which was almost 50 percent dependent on Russian pipeline gas in 2016, has since then managed to reduce that reliance to only 14 percent today (Epdk.gov.tr, June 29). Meanwhile, US LNG has been carving out an ever-larger share of Turkish imports: in April 2020, making up 10 percent of purchased foreign volumes of gas, compared to 0 percent just three years ago.

Iran and Saudi Arabia Battle for Supremacy in the Middle East

The struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance in the Middle East has insinuated itself into nearly every regional issue, fracturing international alliances and sustaining wars across the region, while raising fears of a direct conflict between the two powers.

Saudi Arabia has ramped up its regional adventurism since Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful son of King Salman known as MBS, was appointed crown prince in 2017. And it has cracked down on its opponents, including the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. That appears to have had little effect on the crown prince’s increasingly close ties to the Trump administration, though. Determined to undermine the Iranian regime, Washington has pulled out of the nuclear deal with Tehran and used its economic might to suffocate Iran’s economy. Months of tensions over Iranian provocations, including a drone and cruise missile strike against Saudi oil facilities in September, culminated in January with the U.S. assassination of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, followed by an Iranian ballistic missile barrage targeting U.S. troops there.

Though both sides quickly backed away from escalation to open warfare, the Middle East is rife with other ongoing conflicts, including a civil war in Yemen that has fueled one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, another in Syria that may finally be reaching a no-less bloody endgame, and one in Libya that is once again escalating after a short-lived cease-fire. These conflicts exist on two levels: domestic battles for control of the countries’ futures, and proxy wars fueled by the regional powers, as well as Russia and—in the case of Libya—France.

How the post-COVID workplace will change business for the better

Mark Pringle
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Businesses that prioritize their return to work strategies and change how they operate will outpace their peers;

As we emerge from coronavirus lockdowns, we need to evolve the dated mindset that being in an office full-time is an actual business imperative;

Organizations should focus on four key pillars to ensure a smooth transition of team members back onsite.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations across the globe into a balancing act – protecting the health and safety of their employees while simultaneously continuing their operations. Like all essential businesses, Dell Technologies is working through this challenge to implement the most effective approach for protecting as many stakeholders as possible. And, it’s critical that we partner with customers to put their business continuity, remote working and digital services into practice.

As we began creating our company's return to site strategy, it became clear that the workplace impact would not be a temporary one, and organizations that seize this opportunity to change how they work will outpace their peers. This concept compelled us to create a formal Customer Playbook that serves as reassurance that our plan – and business – are strong, as well as providing guidance on how to leverage these strategies to strengthen their own businesses.

Emerging opportunities

U.S.-Russian Relations in 2030


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:

A Bipolar+ World: The United States and China will remain the biggest actors on the world stage, even if their ability and will to act globally over the next several years is significantly diminished as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, competing domestic demands on resources, and preoccupation with internal matters. At the same time, a number of significant state and nonstate actors will continue to exercise considerable influence in regional and global affairs. Eurasia will remain the strategic center of gravity in the world.

Networked Benefits: Realizing the Potential of 5G in South Korea

by Clara Gillispie

South Korea has earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the world’s most innovative economies, and its substantial investments in 5G could position it to realize significant returns. Yet Seoul is currently grappling with what role the government should play in guiding how data can be aggregated, used, and shared, which in turn will affect what kinds of products are developed. Several domestic policy debates focus on whether the country’s established protections are too restrictive and limit its competitiveness. How Seoul navigates these issues has implications for not only South Korea but also other countries looking to strengthen their own governance practices.


The Personal Information Protection Act, the Act on the Protection, Use, Etc. of Location Information, and the Korean Land Survey Act shape how data can be collected within South Korea. Any revisions should aim to address domestic concerns while also meeting or exceeding international benchmarks for privacy and data protection, such as those set by the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

South Korea’s challenges are not exclusively regulatory in origin. A legacy of top-down approaches and a relatively homogenous field of domestic specialists are also undermining efforts to convert available information into useful information. Addressing this problem requires bringing more people to the table and ensuring greater diversity among those represented.

Scant Foreign Policy Choices for a Troubled and Divided Russia

By: Pavel K. Baev

For months, and particularly during the end of June and start of July, Russian politics was centered on ensuring the desired result in the vote on the set of amendments to the constitution. By resorting to crude manipulations and fraud, President Vladimir Putin secured his “triumph” and can now claim yet another (his fifth) presidential term in the elections scheduled for 2024 (see EDM, July 2). His rule, however, much like the blatantly falsified vote, is shaped by gross distortions of facts and figures (Novaya Gazeta, July 2). The official data on the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic—which shows a gradual decline from 11,000 new infections a day in the first half of May to 6,500 cases presently, with very low mortality—entirely fails to reflect the real scope of the disaster (Meduza.io, July 1). Economic indicators are also carefully doctored: even as real incomes and household consumption keep contracting, government forecasts continue to predict a fast recovery (Rosbalt, June 30). Putin cannot order the recession to stop, but he also does not want to lead the struggle against the coronavirus; therefore, he has turned to the area where he used to thrive—foreign policy.

The most immediate problem is growing in neighboring Belarus, where President Alyaksandr Lukashenka faces unexpectedly determined opposition in the forthcoming presidential elections and has opted to put his contenders behind bars (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, July 1; see EDM, June 23, July 1). Seeking to show his continued good rapport with Russia, Lukashenka attended the parade in Moscow on June 24 and then stood next to Putin at a ceremony for opening a huge monument at the site of the tragic 1942 Battle of Rzhev (Kommersant, June 30). Putin may have mixed feelings about the maverick Belarusian head of state, but much the same way as in domestic politics, the Kremlin leader’s preference vis-à-vis Minsk is for “cementing” autocratic control rather than experimenting with unpredictable changes.

Air and Space Power Journal

o The AETF Today: Enabling Mission Command of Airpower

o More Cowbell: A Case Study in System Dynamics for Information Operations

o Personality and Leadership: The Potential Impact to Future Strategic Thinking

o Aiming for Squadron Success: The Tailored Command Philosophy

o Developing and Mentoring “In Extremis” Leaders: Lessons Learned from Special Operations

o Addressing Counterspace Doctrine through Naval Composite Warfare

Rushing to Defeat: The Strategic Flaw in Contemporary U.S. Army Thinking

By Christopher Parker

“In the event of a conflict, the application of calibrated force posture positions the right mix of ready forces and capabilities so they can rapidly transition to combat operations, penetrate and disintegrate enemy anti-access and area denial systems within days, and exploit the resultant freedom of maneuver to defeat the enemy within weeks rather than months.”

—The U.S. Army in Multi-Domain Operations 2028[1]

The United States Army has a problem. As it extricates itself from protracted counterinsurgency and stability operations in Afghanistan and reorients towards large-scale combat operations, the Army has realized its adversaries, namely China and Russia, have adopted a security posture bent on undermining its preferred way of war. These adversaries have developed systems and doctrine that “achieve physical stand-off by employing layers of anti-access and area denial systems designed to rapidly inflict unacceptable losses on U.S. and partner military forces and achieve campaign objectives within days, faster than the U.S. can effectively respond.”[2] Through multiple wargames and exercises following the events in Crimea, the Army has concluded that Russia, for example, can achieve its military and political objectives in the Baltic in under three days, a fait accompli too costly to contest.[3] Such rapid aggression requires an equally rapid response.

…this obsession with speed and duration is a strategic miscalculation that…cedes the nation’s geostrategic advantages by embracing an operational concept foreign to its nature. 

Welcome to the Post-Leader World


On April 14, as the enormity of the coronavirus crisis was finally becoming clear, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that he was halting funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), delivering a major blow to an organization that depends on the United States for nearly 10 percent of its budget. Washington followed that decision with a declaration 10 days later that it would not take part in a global initiative to speed up the development, production, and distribution of drugs and vaccines to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In early May, the United States sat out a global vaccine summit led by the European Commission, and later that month, Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from WHO altogether. Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has been silent, paralyzed by the rising tensions between China and the United States.

The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare how much global institutions have come to rely on a United States that has now abdicated its role as the world’s indispensable nation. The Trump administration hasn’t just responded to the emerging health crisis by imposing travel bans, carrying out draconian restrictions on immigration and asylum, and pressing intelligence agencies to distort assessments on the source of the outbreak. The United States has also turned on the global institutions it was instrumental in creating after World War II to address just such global threats.

The Unraveling of the U.S.-South Korean Alliance

By Sue Mi Terry

U.S. President Donald Trump has held three summits with Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, in the last three years and still failed to secure a denuclearization agreement. John Bolton, the former U.S. national security adviser, offers a high-level window onto these dealings in his new memoir, The Room Where It Happened. In Bolton’s telling, the U.S. president was more interested in how his peacemaking efforts would play in the media—and whether he could claim they were a “huge success”—than in actually trying to eliminate North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction. He made no effort to understand the issues or to study why U.S. approaches to North Korea had failed over three previous presidencies. Instead, he relied on his own instincts as he sought to charm Kim into a deal that was never remotely realistic. 

The revelations about Trump’s failed diplomacy with Kim have attracted particular attention, but the more disturbing story Bolton tells is that of the withering of the U.S.–South Korean alliance on Trump’s watch. While in reckless pursuit of an attention-grabbing deal with the North, Trump did considerable damage to U.S. relations with Seoul. North Korea’s nuclear arsenal isn’t going anywhere—but Bolton’s book makes clear that the U.S.–South Korean alliance, long a cornerstone of U.S. defense strategy in Asia, may not survive a second Trump term. 


How to Make Trade Work for Workers

By Robert E. Lighthizer

The new coronavirus has challenged many long-held assumptions. In the coming months and years, the United States will need to reexamine conventional wisdom in business, medicine, technology, risk management, and many other fields. This should also be a moment for renewed discussions—and, hopefully, a stronger national consensus—about the future of U.S. trade policy.

That debate should start with a fundamental question: What should the objective of trade policy be? Some view trade through the lens of foreign policy, arguing that tariffs should be lowered or raised in order to achieve geopolitical goals. Others view trade strictly through the lens of economic efficiency, contending that the sole objective of trade policy should be to maximize overall output. But what most Americans want is something else: a trade policy that supports the kind of society they want to live in. To that end, the right policy is one that makes it possible for most citizens, including those without college educations, to access the middle class through stable, well-paying jobs.

That is precisely the approach the Trump administration is taking. It has broken with the orthodoxies of free-trade religion at times, but contrary to what critics have charged, it has not embraced protectionism and autarky. Instead, it has sought to balance the benefits of trade liberalization with policies that prioritize the dignity of work.

Immigration Policy and the Global Competition for AI Talent

Zachary Arnold
Source Link

Current immigration policies may undermine the historic strength of the United States in attracting and retaining international AI talent. This report examines the immigration policies of four U.S. economic competitor nations—the United Kingdom, Canada, France, and Australia—to offer best practices for ensuring future AI competitiveness.Download Full Report

The United States has historically led the world in technological innovation through its internationally renowned education institutions, innovative industries, top-tier research laboratories and, critically, its unique ability to attract talent worldwide. 

Immigrants play a key role in sharpening America’s technological edge.1 In recent years, the demand for artificial intelligence talent has greatly exceeded domestic supply, leading to a large share of foreign-born AI students, workers and entrepreneurs in the United States.2 Although important, efforts to increase the domestic AI workforce are insufficient to fill the immediate demand for AI talent. At the same time, other countries are developing their own capabilities and institutions in AI and aggressively recruiting AI talent through new immigration policies.3 In this competitive environment, current U.S. immigration policies, many of which date back decades, may work against the country’s historic strength in attracting and retaining international talent. 

Trump, Twitter, Facebook, and the Future of Online Speech

By Anna Wiener

On March 7th, Dan Scavino, Donald Trump’s director of social media, posted a video to Twitter. It depicted Joe Biden endorsing his opponent: “We can only reëlect Donald Trump,” Biden seemed to say. The tweet went viral, and users, who noticed that the video had been selectively edited, reported it to Twitter’s moderators; they, in turn, determined that Scavino’s tweet had violated the company’s new policy on “synthetic and manipulated video,” which had been introduced in February. Twitter has long avoided taking a stance on incendiary and factually inaccurate communiqués from political figures, including the President. This time, though, they footnoted the tweet with a warning label. It ran alongside a small error symbol, rendered in the service’s signature blue.

On May 11th, Twitter announced that its warning system would be expanded to cover misinformation about covid-19. Around two weeks after that, as coronavirus deaths in the United States approached six figures, Trump went on Twitter to sound an alarm about mail-in ballots, claiming, erroneously, that they were “substantially fraudulent” and that their use would lead to a “Rigged Election.” Twitter, explaining that the tweets violated the “suppression and intimidation” section of its civic-integrity policy, appended fact-checking notes to them. The notes urged readers to “get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and linked to a Twitter “Events” page on the topic, with the headline “Trump Makes Unsubstantiated Claim That Mail-In Ballots Will Lead to Voter Fraud.”

The fog of cyberwar

by Sam Trendall 

For governments and armed forces around the world, the digital domain has become a potential battlefield. But this new realm of warfare brings with it many ethical and legal complications. PublicTechnology talks to digital ethics expert Dr Mariarosaria Taddeo to find out more.

“Cyberattacks are every bit as deadly as those faced on the physical battlefield.”

These were the words of defence secretary Ben Wallace last month, spoken on the occasion of the creation of the UK Armed Forces’ first-ever dedicated Cyber Regiment.

The 250 specialist servicewomen and men that comprise the 13th Signal Regiment will be tasked with offering a technical support hub in the UK, as well as securing military communications networks and providing support to overseas operations.

According to the Ministry of Defence, the ultimate goal in establishing the unit is to ensure that “UK defensive cyber capabilities remain ahead of adversaries and aggressors”.


Justin Lynch

If monarchy and oligarchy are rule by the few, and aristocracy and democracy are rule by the best and the many, then bureaucracy, Hannah Arendt tells us, is rule by Nobody. It is often easier—and often more accurate—to blame a bureaucratic system than it is to blame the individuals in it for its failures, and even for its nature. Because of that inability to hold individuals accountable, Arendt tells us that “rule by Nobody is clearly the most tyrannical of all.”

Arendt, writing in the 1970s, believed rule by Nobody was a leading contributor to social unrest and violence in her time. Today that tyranny is on full display within the Department of Defense, where it instead produces inaction and inertia. The Army’s most senior leader went on publicly decried the slowness of the Army’s process to pick a new pistol, only to have his spokesperson release a statement about how the Army would continue to follow the process without prejudice. The military has fought in Afghanistan for nearly twenty years, regularly making questionable claims of progress as each senior leader switched out with the next, and few in any part of government were held accountable for the actual lack of results. This system can inspire a sense of helplessness, a sense that failure can, and possibly should, be blamed on constraints created by DoD’s bureaucracy that even its most senior leaders seem powerless to change.