12 July 2020

Why India and Russia Are Going to Stay Friends


In December 1971, India and Pakistan fought for 13 days—one of the shortest wars in history—over the humanitarian crisis in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. India had, for months, been trying to convince the world that West Pakistan’s subjugation of East Pakistan was an emergency. Refugees from East Pakistan were pouring into India, and the situation would only be improved with a resolution of the political predicament between West and East Pakistan.

The Soviet Union was the only country that listened. In August of that year, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi signed the India-Soviet Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Cooperation. Gandhi had held off on completing the agreement for domestic political reasons; she had not wanted to give fodder to those political opponents who accused her of being too cozy with the Soviet Union. But international concerns were soon more pressing: With the signing of the treaty, the Soviet Union provided India both the diplomatic and arms support it needed for the war Gandhi knew was coming, helping India over Pakistan.

While the world in 2020 is in many ways changed from that time, 1971 looms large in the India-Russia relationship today. Moscow was a reliable partner for New Delhi when no one else was. And the United States, meanwhile, actively ignored India’s pleas to deal with the situation in East Pakistan: President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger considered Pakistan a key go-between in opening relations with China.

How Shared Distrust of China Is Fueling Closer India-Australia Relations

Ian Hall

Had Scott Morrison traveled to New Delhi as planned in January, it would have been the fourth such trip by an Australian prime minister in a decade, a testament to the considerable effort successive governments in Canberra have made to build a viable strategic partnership with India. But a bushfire crisis at home, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, forced Morrison and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, to settle for a virtual summit on June 4.

If the two leaders were disappointed by this outcome, they certainly did not show it. Both took to social media to make a show of bilateral friendship, with Morrison posting pictures on Twitter of homemade vegetarian “ScoMosas”—a play on his nickname, ScoMo, and samosas—and expressing regret that Modi could not taste one. On cue, the Indian prime minister replied that they looked “delicious.”

India’s TikTok Ban Dispels the Myth of the ‘China Bogeyman’

Mark Zuckerberg and US tech giants argue that regulation will allow China to dominate. But in reality, the global market rejects unregulated, invasive tech.

If Congress truly wishes to show leadership and protect the American national security interest, it will recognize this global movement to regulate Silicon Valley.

IN APRIL 2018, as Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress amid the Cambridge Analytica scandal, photojournalists captured a fascinating line of argument in the Facebook founder’s typed notes: “Breakup strengthens Chinese companies,” it read.

This defense, which the company’s executives have wielded repeatedly in the past two years, argues that concerns over Facebook’s monopoly power voiced by US senators Lindsey Graham and Elizabeth Warren and others are misplaced. If Congress broke up or regulated Facebook, or another US tech giant, then regulation-free Chinese companies would come to dominate the world. Chinese monoliths could continue to exploit digital markets through privacy invasion, algorithmic processing, and participation in industrial policy with China’s government with impunity. Regulation would also supposedly allow US companies to be bludgeoned into oblivion, because they’d lose the ability to personalize social feeds and manipulate the media experience to maximize user engagement. Eric Schmidt has also suggested that breaking up Big Tech will only help China. Indeed, this argument has resonated even in Congress, given the concerns over American economic security it implicitly raises.

How Trump is losing Asia

by Robert D. Kaplan

Robert D. Kaplan holds the Robert Strausz-Hupé Chair in Geopolitics at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. His latest book is the forthcoming “The Good American: The Epic Life of Bob Gersony, the U.S. Government’s Greatest Humanitarian.”

The United States has dispatched two aircraft carrier strike groups to the South China Sea to contest China’s creeping annexation of the maritime region. It is one of the bluntest expressions of U.S. hard power in years.

Yet the very fact that such a dramatic step was even necessary indicates how the power balance is shifting in China’s favor. China’s long-term and methodical attempt to dominate shoals and islands in the region is a reflection of both U.S. domestic distractions and its loss of prestige throughout Asia.

While the United States is half a world distant from Asia, China is Asia’s geographical, demographic, economic and military organizing principle. Asians simply cannot escape the Chinese. For them to align with the United States in the face of China’s immovable presence has always required faith in the word and commitment of the United States to this vast region. But for the first time since World War II, a U.S. president has shaken that faith to its core.

The High Risk of Learning the Wrong China Lessons

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Everywhere you look in Washington these days, you'll find a China hawk. Many, however, look upon China's recent and obvious economic, foreign policy, human rights, and public health offenses and point fingers not at Beijing but inward at U.S. policymakers from decades ago. In particular, a bipartisan chorus of politicians, think tankers and presidential advisers decry the 2000 U.S. law that granted China "permanent normal trade relations" (PNTR) and China's 2001 entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and blame it for both the country's rise and the now-famous "China Shock"—the period between 1999 and 2011 during which a sizeable increase in Chinese imports supposedly destroyed approximately 2.4 million U.S. jobs. They've in turn used this "mistake," to justify grand rethinks of current U.S. foreign and economic policy—including withdrawal from the WTO itself. Since we got China so wrong, critics argue, we clearly must abandon traditional U.S. positions on not only China but also trade agreements, industrial policy, labor policy, and international engagement more broadly. 

The trendy view of U.S.–China economic engagement errs repeatedly, and in doing so risks new U.S. policies that "fix" a "problem" of limited actual import and which could make things worse, not better, for both the United States and the world.

Viral Alarm: When Fury Overcomes Fear

Kevin Frayer

Geremie Barmé is a historian, cultural critic, filmmaker, translator, and web-journal editor who works on Chinese cultural and intellectual history from the early modern period (1600s) to the present...

My thanks to Warren Sun who read over the draft translation of this essay and offered a number of insightful suggestions and to two other unnamed friends who helped me rid the text of various infelicities. I blame my obduracy for those that remain. For more essays by Xu Zhangrun in English, and for an account of his persecution by Tsinghua University, see the Xu Zhangrun Archive published by China Heritage.—Geremie Barmé

Subheadings have been added by the translator. The rule of Xi Jinping is officially hailed as China’s “New Era.“

Translator’s Introduction

Trump’s New Realism in China


This summer, as the international travel industry began its struggle to rebuild after collapsing during the coronavirus pandemic, Beijing maintained a near-blanket ban on U.S. airlines flying into China while allowing Chinese carriers to fly freely from American airports back home. By the beginning of June, with Chinese flights increasing on American soil, Washington announced that it would block Chinese passenger air flights into the United States in retaliation for the prohibition. Within one day of the announcement, Beijing indicated that it would relax its restriction. The episode was the latest evidence that the Trump administration does have a coherent China policy—and it is based on reciprocity.

Critics of the president describe his White House as vacillating wildly or barreling toward an outright break in ties with China. In his new book, for example, former National Security Advisor John Bolton, at the moment the most visible of the critics, claims that President Donald Trump’s China policy is “chaotic,” reflects “incoherence,” and is “not grounded in philosophy, grand strategy or policy” but rather in domestic political calculations. Yet the example of the airline ban, among others, offers a different interpretation. And although it is too soon to judge the ultimate effectiveness of a reciprocity strategy, it represents a potentially fundamental shift in Washington’s approach to Beijing, overturning four decades of diplomatic practice.

Everyone Knows We’re Arming Up Because of China

John Lee
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Take with a large grain of salt the diplomatic denials that the 2020 Strategic Defence Update and commitment to spend $270bn on defence across the next decade is all about one country. There are other troubling developments in the region but only China’s coercive turn can account for the dramatic upgrade of our martial mindset, posture and capabilities.

That Beijing’s foreign ministry responded immediately in saying that all countries should avoid an arms race and refrain from purchasing unnecessary equipment is evidence it knows Canberra’s announcements last week is about China — which has caused some to question the Morrison government for poking the Chinese Communist Party in the eye when the bilateral relationship is deeply strained.

These are criticisms moved by a poor sense of history and strategy, and a poor understanding of the principles of negotiation and managing risk.

Since the early 1990s, the annual increase in spending on the People’s Liberation Army has been growing about twice as fast as the country’s gross domestic product and the increase in fiscal revenues collected by the regime. It has come to the point where China spends more on its military each year than the combined military outlays of all countries in East Asia, South Asia and Oceania — and the gap is widening. This is accompanied by a shift, which occurred two decades ago, from defending the homeland to developing offensive and power projection capabilities in the sea, air, cyber and space -domains.

China challenges U.S. to cut nuclear arsenal to matching level

Fu Cong, head of arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, speaks at a news conference in Beijing, China July 8, 2020. REUTES/Shubing Wang

BEIJING (Reuters) - China would “be happy to” participate in trilateral arms control negotiations with the United States and Russia, but only if the United States were willing to reduce its nuclear arsenal to China’s level, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Wednesday.

Washington has repeatedly called for China to join in trilateral negotiations to extend New START, a flagship nuclear arms treaty between the United States and Russia that is due to expire in February next year.

Fu Cong, head of the arms control department of Chinese foreign ministry, reiterated to reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that China has no interest in joining the negotiation with former Cold War-era superpowers, given that the U.S. nuclear arsenal is about 20 times the size of China’s.

“I can assure you, if the U.S. says that they are ready to come down to the Chinese level, China would be happy to participate the next day,” he said. “But actually, we know that’s not going to happen.”

China ready to improve ties if US is willing, says Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Teddy Ng
Wang became the most senior Chinese official in recent months to voice a more positive message for ties between the two, stressing that China would not displace the US as a superpower, and suggesting three lists that he said could identify and resolve disputes.

The reconciliation message followed months of sabre-rattling and rising calls for a decoupling of the two nations, and after top diplomats from both sides laid out the sticking points in their disputes in high-level talks in Hawaii last month.

In those talks, China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi expressed Chinese frustrations over Washington’s actions concerning Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Taiwan to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Criticism Of China’s South China Sea Military Exercises Is Hyped And Hypocritical – Analysis

By Mark J. Valencia

On 1 July, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy and Coast Guard began exercises in the South China Sea that included practice of amphibious assaults. They were held in a declared temporary maritime exclusion zone (MEZ) southeast of Hainan and “in portions” of the China-controlled but Vietnam claimed Paracel Islands. 

The US Pentagon lambasted China saying that “conducting military exercises over (sic) disputed territory in the South China Sea is counterproductive to_ _easing tensions and maintaining stability.” It charged that “such exercises also violate the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea [DOC] to avoid activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability. It concluded by urging” all parties to exercise restraint and not undertake military activities that might aggravate disputes.” The Philippines and Vietnam also objected. These criticisms were both hyped and hypocritical.

The U.S. promptly demonstrated its lack of restraint by deploying two of its most prominent symbols of power –air craft carrier strike groups– into the South China Sea. According to a spokesman for the US Seventh Fleet,” the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Groups are conducting dual carrier operations in the South China Sea”. However, “the presence of two carriers is not in response to any political or world events”. https://www.channel3000.com/us-navy-to-send-two-aircraft-carriers-and-several-warships-to-south-china-sea/This is nonsense.

Impact Of AI On Nuclear Deterrence: China, Russia and The US – Analysis

By Lora Saalman
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is an increasingly important component of weapons systems, with both positive and negative implications for nuclear deterrence. Integration of AI into military platforms has the potential to allow weaker nuclear-armed states to reset the imbalance of power, but at the same time it exacerbates fears that stronger states may further solidify their dominance and engage in more provocative actions.

China, Russia, and the US are all engaged in developing and integrating AI applications into their military modernization programs. These applications include machine learning, neural networks, and autonomy that feature in Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems. They also include the deployment of unmanned weapons-delivery and defense platforms.
AI has both defensive and offensive applications

At the defensive level, AI has a strong allure for countries that have less capable early-warning systems and smaller and weaker nuclear and conventional arsenals. Machines have the capacity to make decisions based on objective criteria, avoiding the pitfalls of human error, and they can provide faster anticipation and response to an incoming attack. These capabilities are compelling for countries such as China and Russia that have concerns about deficiencies in their early-warning capabilities in the face of improving US capacity to mount high-precision, stealthy, and swift attacks.

China Says It Could Sink U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers. That Might Not Be Accurate.

by Kris Osborn

AChinese-government backed newspaper is reporting that U.S. carriers in the South China Sea are “fully within the grasp of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army…..which has a wide selection of anti-aircraft carrier weapons like the DF-21D and DF-26 ‘aircraft carrier missiles.’”

The Chinese report comes in response to U.S. dual-carrier training operations in the region using the USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz. The U.S. drills involve decided efforts to prepare for the possibility of a coordinated, multi-carrier attack. These types of operations succeed by virtue of elaborate networking, and command and control and air-confliction efforts. They also deliver a massive advantage to maritime attack options by, essentially, doubling firepower, surveillance potential and weapons capability. 

Not only would a dual-carrier attack option extend the Navy’s ability to hit inland targets to a larger extent, extend target-searching dwell time and enable coordinated multi-platform strikes, but they also greatly improve destroyer-and-cruiser launched missile attacks. Each Carrier Strike Group consists of a carrier, cruiser and two destroyers, bringing a large, integrated combination of sea-launched assets.

China’s Second Wave of Coronavirus Censorship Is Here

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My Weibo account was blocked on May 19. I had been using this account on the Chinese equivalent of Twitter for more than nine years, published thousands of posts, and accumulated around 90,000 followers. On the same day, five of my friends who are writers and influencers also lost their Weibo accounts. We were all familiar with China’s growing censorship and had avoided using words and phrases that the Chinese government didn’t like—but we fell victim to an expanding system anyway.

We certainly weren’t alone. A wave of new censorship has grown during the coronavirus pandemic, most of it focused on covering up the stories around COVID-19 itself. Since January, I have worked as an independent reporter in the United States writing coronavirus-related articles, and I also organized a volunteer group in Austin, Texas, to ship donations of medical gear to hospitals in Wuhan, China. While I helped dozens of doctors, nurses, and patients in recent months, I also tried to use my limited power to reveal the truth—and found myself repeatedly shut down by the authorities.

After the lockdown on Jan. 23, the situation in Wuhan was chaotic and horrific. I was told by Li, a doctor at Wuhan No. 4 Hospital, that “there’s insufficient manpower, limited treatment, and scarce [personal protective equipment].” In a Weibo group named “COVID-19 patients pleading for help,” there were more than 150,000 people—mostly patients and their families—asking for assistance. (I am providing only pseudonymous surnames in order to protect sources.] A lot of these patients were untested and untreated due to a shortage of medical resources.

China Is NATO’s New Problem

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Over the past decade, Chinese companies have invested billions of dollars throughout Europe—buying up critical infrastructure and increasing Beijing’s political clout across the continent. As Chinese firms, often with strong ties to the state and Chinese Communist Party (CCP), acquire parts of sensitive ports, pipelines, and telecommunication networks, China’s incursions into Europe’s security umbrella are drawing serious concern.

But NATO, long worried about Russia, has largely been silent on China. Now, that is changing. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg recently called on the alliance to stand up to Beijing’s “bullying and coercion,” underscoring how China’s rise is fundamentally shifting the global balance of power. It’s apparent that NATO can no longer ignore the threat. If the alliance hopes to remain competitive, it will need to develop a new strategy for dealing with Beijing.

China’s Superpower Dreams Are Running Out of Money

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Seen from afar, China’s current all-fronts offensive gives the impression of a rising power on the march. China is simultaneously starting a border skirmish with India, militarizing the South China Sea, cracking down on Hong Kong, pressuring Taiwan, confronting Japan over disputed islands, and quelling internal unrest—all while fighting a resurgent coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, it is investing billions of dollars in a bid to dominate emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and advanced semiconductors. And then there’s the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China’s $1 trillion program to build the transportation infrastructure for a China-centered world.How is it possible that a self-described developing country like China can finance a superpower rivalry with the United States?

Running a global superpower is an expensive business. The United States famously spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined, yet the notion persists that its military is still underfunded and underequipped for its global superpower role. And if the pundits are to be believed, the United States will lose its competitive edge without more investment in university research, advanced technologies, foreign aid, diplomacy, the United Nations, clean energy, and, of course, pandemic preparedness. That’s just to name a few of the United States’ superpower funding priorities. The full list is much longer.

Trying to loosen the linchpin: China’s approach to South Korea

Jung H. Pak

China sees South Korea as a critical part of its effort to establish its preeminence in Northeast Asia. South Korea’s status in the U.S. alliance architecture as the “linchpin” and its central role regarding North Korea issues, as well as its geographic proximity and economic dynamism, have underscored the country’s importance to China’s regional strategy. This strategy is driven by a desire to weaken Washington’s alliance relationships, increase Beijing’s influence on Korean Peninsula affairs, including North Korea denuclearization, and shape the region to be more amenable to supporting its preferences.[1] Beijing perceives Seoul as the weakest link in the U.S. alliance network, given its perception of South Korea’s deference and history of accommodating China’s rise relative to other regional players, such as Japan, which considers China a long-term security threat.[2]

For most of the two decades following the normalization of bilateral relations in 1992, Beijing primarily employed its soft power — encouraging economic interdependence and people-to-people ties, emphasizing China’s desire for peace and prosperity in the region, and highlighting its role as a “good neighbor,” for example — to woo South Korea. Seoul has welcomed the blossoming of trade cooperation and further developing security cooperation in large part because South Korean leaders view China’s cooperation as vital to Seoul’s North Korea policy, even as its leaders became increasingly wary about China’s rise and aggressiveness.

Dealing with the Dragon: China as a Transatlantic Challenge

The world is confronting unique changes in relations among the United States, Europe, and China, which have now been further exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. At the same time as transatlantic relations have grown increasingly tense, China’s party-state has become considerably more assertive in a number of domains, including an aggressive “Wolf Warrior” diplomacy, mercantilist trade behavior, and intensifying domestic social repression. These trends have significantly altered American and European perceptions of and interactions with China. What do these changes mean for the transatlantic relationship? How can governments, experts, and civil society members on both sides of the Atlantic forge a closer consensus on the challenges posed by China?

The Asia Society Center on U.S.-China Relations, the Bertelsmann Stiftung, and the George Washington University China Policy Program are jointly launching a new report on the changing U.S. and European views of, and relations with, China. The report “Dealing with the Dragon: China as a Transatlantic Challenge” is the outgrowth of a symposium that brought together 43 of America’s and Europe’s top China experts to identify areas of common interest and divergence across the Atlantic. These findings were divided into the following seven sections.: 1) Trade & Investment Concerns 2) The China Technology Challenge 3) Connectivity: Dealing with the Belt & Road 4) Human Rights in China 5) China’s Influence Activities 6) China and Global Governance 7) Challenges in the Security Arena

What Germany Must Do For A Speedy Recovery – Analysis

By Philipp Bagus*
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On June 29, the German parliament reacted as parliaments normally do when there is a problem, namely, by allowing the government to spend more. In order to respond to the economic difficulties due to the corona epidemic and the government restrictions, it passed a typical Keynesian stimulus package in order to boost aggregate demand.

The self-set goal of the economic stimulus package is to lead the German economy back to a “sustainable growth path…that will secure jobs and prosperity.” I interpret the term “sustainable growth” here as growth that individuals really want and would support through their voluntary actions in a market economy. It is therefore a growth that is not based on fiscal subsidies and growing public debt and that would collapse without these subsidies or in the event of public overindebtedness. To wit, state funding of new structures that are only kept alive by continuous state subsidies cannot be described as sustainable growth.
The Initial Situation

The corona epidemic and the political reactions to the epidemic have led to a worldwide supply and demand shock. On the supply side, production had to be stopped due to disease, lockdown, and disruption of supply chains. In addition, there are problems of overindebted companies with insufficient liquidity. Since many companies could not and cannot produce any more, global production has collapsed.

Roadmap For Studying Link Between Climate And Armed Conflict

Climate change–from rising temperatures and more severe heavy rain, to drought–is increasing risks for economies, human security, and conflict globally. Scientists at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science are leading an effort to better assess the climate-conflict link to help societies manage the complex risks of increased violence from a changing climate.

The links between climate and the risk of violent conflict are well studied; however, scientists in varying research disciplines often disagree about the scope and severity of possible climate change impacts. Some of the open research questions are about the links between climate change and violence, including large-scale armed conflict.

In a new report in Earth’s Future, a group of scholars, with backgrounds including environmental and political science, geography, and economics, analyze the relationship between climate and organized armed conflict to define crosscutting priorities for future directions of research. In a previous assessment published in 2019 by the group, it was estimated that over the last century between 3-20 percent of organized armed conflict risk has been influenced by climate.

U.S. Security Policy in the Trump Era

When President Donald Trump entered office under an “America First” banner, it seemed to herald a new era of U.S. isolationism. After more than three years into his term, though, the shifts in America’s military engagements have been less dramatic. Though their numbers are down, U.S. troops are still stationed in Afghanistan—for now. And until recently, the Trump administration had left relatively unchanged the strategy against the Islamic State that it inherited from its predecessor.

Nevertheless, Trump’s isolationist instincts have come into regular tension with his closest advisers, many of whom espouse a more traditional view of American power projection. This was never clearer than in December 2018, when Trump ignored his aides and announced his decision to pull all U.S. troops out of Syria, prompting then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and other high-ranking officials to resign in protest. Trump subsequently softened his rhetoric, without definitively articulating a final policy, contributing to the sense of uncertainty over America’s security policymaking. The entire process was repeated in October 2019, only this time the decision triggered not resignations, but outrage among even Trump’s closest Republican supporters in Congress.

The US Pioneered Digital Contact Tracing. Why Aren’t We Using It to Fight COVID-19?


Two public health measures – testing, to identify those infected, and contact tracing, to identify those who may have encountered an infected person – have become essential as countries around the world reopen their economies and fresh surges of COVID-19 infections appear.

Even as testing ramps up, contact tracing with a wide enough net remains a daunting task. Contact tracing involves public health staff conducting interviews with infected people. Public health experts are calling for 180,000 more contact tracers, but progress on contact tracing has not been going well, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Enter digital innovations that offer a tantalizing promise: to automate the laborious task of alerting people who have been exposed to the virus. Numerous governments have championed such apps as a means of augmenting manual contact tracing. As an economist who tracks digital technology’s use worldwide, I’ve found that the experiences of these countries reveal challenges to getting enough people to use the apps. Unfortunately, these challenges appear to me to be all but insurmountable in the U.S.

Future Missile War Needs New Kind Of Command: CSIS


WASHINGTON: Don’t try to shoot down each arrow as it comes; shoot the archer. That’s a time-honored military principle that US forces would struggle to implement in an actual war with China, Russia, North Korea, or Iran, warns a new report from thinktank CSIS.

New technology, like the Army’s IBCS command network – now entering a major field test — can be part of the solution, but it’s only part, writes Brian Green, a veteran of 30 years in the Pentagon, Capitol Hill, and the aerospace industry. Equally important and problematic are the command-and-control arrangements that determine who makes the decision to fire what, at what, and when.

Today, the military has completely different units, command systems, doctrines, and legal/regulatory authorities for missile defense – which tries to shoot down threats the enemy has already launched – and for long range offensive strikes – which could keep the enemy from launching in the first place, or at least from getting off a second salvo, by destroying launchers, command posts, and targeting systems. While generals and doctrine-writers have talked about “offense-defense integration” for almost two decades, Green says, the concept remains shallow and incomplete.

Russia’s Arctic Ambitions

By Ekaterina Zolotova

The Russian government is reigniting its push into the Arctic. Despite the challenging global economic environment, the Kremlin plans to build at least five new icebreakers, which, according to Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, will be used to further develop the Northern Sea Route across Russia’s Arctic coast. On Monday, Russia announced that it had started construction on the Leader project, the world’s most powerful nuclear-powered icebreaker, at the Zvezda shipyard in the Far East region. According to the government, the project is worth the expense because it will help make the Northern Sea Route accessible year-round and tap into the growing interest in the new transit corridor between Europe and Asia. But the Kremlin’s own interest in the Arctic is not only a result of the potential economic benefits; it’s also a matter of securing Russia’s eastern borders.

The Eastern Front

Russia has long concentrated its security efforts on its western front. The main threats to Russia’s territorial integrity have historically emanated from there, and so it has spent considerable time and resources building up its Baltic and Black Sea fleets. But Moscow is increasingly focusing on its eastern frontier, which is facing growing threats from several sources, some of which are building up their own naval capabilities. Japan, the United States (through the Bering Strait) and China are all neighbors of this region, and though it’s unlikely that any of these countries would initiate military action against Russia’s east, Moscow is taking no chances, initiating steps to increase the fleet’s combat effectiveness in order to guarantee that no nation can block its access to the Pacific. It also faces internal threats. This is a massive and remote region with poor infrastructure, making it potentially difficult to control. Maintaining the unity of such a vast territory requires a strong military.

Robert Reich: Monopoly Mayhem Corporations Win, Workers Lose – OpEd

By Robert Reich
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Why do big corporations continue to win while workers get shafted? It all comes down to power: who has it, and who doesn’t. 

Big corporations have become so dominant that workers and consumers have fewer options and have to accept the wages and prices these giant corporations offer. This has become even worse now that thousands of small businesses have had to close as a result of the pandemic, while mammoth corporations are being bailed out. 

At the same time, worker bargaining power has declined as fewer workers are unionized and technologies have made outsourcing easy, allowing corporations to get the labor they need for cheap. 

These two changes in bargaining power didn’t happen by accident. As corporations have gained power, they’ve been able to gut anti-monopoly laws, allowing them to grow even more dominant. At the same time, fewer workers have joined unions because corporations have undermined the nation’s labor laws, and many state legislatures – under intense corporate lobbying – have enacted laws making it harder to form unions.