14 July 2020

Cyber Wargame - An Indian Scenario

Immediately after the first gulf war in the early 1990’s the theories of Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) and Information Warfare were being studied all over the world as a new kind of warfare. During that time, a course on Information Warfare was conducted at the National Defense University of USA. The course participants were from senior officers of the armed forces, representatives of Department of Defence and Department of State and policy makers from the government. Rand Corporation of US was conducting this course. Continue reading.......


China is upsetting the balance of power in South Asia to further its own economic and political interests. There is a grave danger of further armed conflict, and even a war, argues 2018 AsiaGlobal Fellow Amit Wanchoo, Founder Chairman of the HN Wanchoo Trust in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India. To preserve peace and prosperity, India, China and Pakistan need to move from confrontation in the Himalayas to cooperation around the negotiating table.

This year will go down as a memorable one for both Covid-19 and conflict. While 2020 recalls the term for clear vision, geopolitically there has been little of that, especially in China's leadership. Due to its handling of the coronavirus crisis and, more broadly, its aggressive foreign policy, Beijing has seen its soft power, taken as a measure of international popularity, decrease globally.

In recent years, China has overseen the sharp growth of its robust export-led economy, even during the pandemic. But of its 15 largest trading partners – the US, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Germany, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Australia, Canada, the UK, Singapore and Russia – it has strained relations with 12. This is not a positive development for the Chinese economy. Even the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing’s showcase US$1-trillion global infrastructure development program, will not yield immediate results for China due to both the difficult physical terrain it covers and the hostility of governments in several countries along its routes.

India’s China Strategy Is Changing


NEW DELHI – After last month’s clash in the Ladakh region’s Galwan Valley killed 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops, the two countries are settling in for a prolonged standoff on their disputed Himalayan frontier, even amid reports of a disengagement at the site of their recent clash. More important, the recent skirmish may have highlighted a broader shift in Asian geopolitics.

The worse economic fundamentals and forecasts become, the more mysterious stock-market outcomes in the US appear. At a time when genuine news suggests that equity prices should be tanking, not hitting record highs, explanations based on crowd psychology, the virality of ideas, and the dynamics of narrative epidemics can shed some light.

At first glance, this suggestion may seem exaggerated. After all, China and India had been making a decent fist of living with each other. Although they haven’t reached a durable settlement of their disputed 3,500-kilometer (2,200-mile) border, not a shot had been fired across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 45 years. Meanwhile, bilateral trade has climbed to $92.5 billion in 2019 from just $200 million in 1990.

Of course, bilateral tensions also reflect long-term disagreements that go beyond territorial disputes, such as China’s “all-weather” alliance with Pakistan, and India’s hospitality toward the Dalai Lama, to whom it granted refuge when he fled Tibet in 1959. But neither country has been swept up by these issues. When China declared that the border dispute could be left to “future generations” to resolve, India was happy to go along. India also endorsed the “One China” policy, and shunned United States-led efforts to “contain” its northern neighbor.

Return to Kabul? Russian Policy in Afghanistan

By David G. Lewis 

Afghanistan looms large in Russia’s strategic culture. Since the 19th century, Russia has viewed Afghanistan as its southernmost strategic flank and as an arena for competition with the West. After a long hiatus, Russia has resumed this historical position, reemerging as a significant player in the complex geopolitics of Afghanistan. 

Russia has reportedly developed ties with a wide range of political parties and armed groups inside Afghanistan, including the Taliban. Russia convened its own intra-Afghan talks in Moscow in 2019, before the United States and the Taliban resumed their own peace talks. Although Moscow publicly supports the U.S. initiative, it will seek a leading role in any post-conflict political settlement. 

Russia has also convened regional powers in “Moscow format” talks, which are designed to produce a regional consensus on a solution to the conflict. One of Russia’s key aims is to ensure that any peace agreement enhances its own geopolitical position in the region. 

Both the United States and Russia are committed to stability in Afghanistan; therefore, there has been some cooperation despite strained U.S.-Russian relations elsewhere. But although Russia’s primary aim in Afghanistan is to ensure security on its southern flank, over the long term it also aims to ensure that the United States withdraws from the region.

Iran’s influence in Afghanistan

Vinay Kaura

Despite strong religious and cultural ties and a long shared border, Iran has a somewhat complicated relationship with Afghanistan. Revolutionary Iran’s tumultuous birth coincided with the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan some four decades ago. Since then, Iran’s attempts to preserve its interests in conflict-ridden Afghanistan have not received much attention from the outside world, but it remains one of the most important neighboring countries for Tehran’s foreign policy.

Iran is an ambitious regional player with a clear understanding of its complex surroundings and a cautious plan to chart a path through them. The complicated nature of Iran’s relations with Afghanistan is in part a result of the fluctuating pattern of its interactions with the relevant stakeholders, which are meditated by the interplay of many identity or interest groups and intermediaries that have the potential for influencing social, political, and economic developments in what is a deeply contested society. More often than not, these groups and intermediaries have conflicting positions in Afghan society.

Another part of Iran’s complicated ties with Afghanistan can be attributed to its unremitting opposition to the United States, which is a strong partner of the Kabul regime. As a Shi’a-dominant country, Iran had a long history of ideological differences and political rivalry with the Afghan Taliban. During the ill-fated Taliban regime in the late 1990s, Iran supported the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, a non-Pashtun coalition of other ethnic groups. Although Iran held back-channel diplomatic talks with the U.S. following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 on how to stabilize Afghanistan and eliminate al-Qaeda, several structural barriers prevented the informal talks from being institutionalized.

Resurgent Taliban Bode Ill for Afghan Peace

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JALALABAD, Afghanistan—At a mud-walled front-line checkpoint just yards away from Taliban territory, Anar Gul keeps a wary watch. Developments in the past three weeks deeply trouble the long-bearded, AK-47-wielding local police commander.

In just the past month, the Taliban set up three new camps for their fighters just outside Sham Sharpoor village in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province, Gul reported, with another four camps farther away, in Tatang village.

“They have been expanding quickly since the signing of the U.S.-Taliban agreement, and that’s partly because there are barely any airstrikes now,” Gul, 47, explained. “Joining the Taliban has become a growing trend—and it’s not only civilians but also local police officers or soldiers whom I’ve seen switch sides.”

“Joining the Taliban has become a growing trend—and it’s not only civilians but also local police officers or soldiers whom I’ve seen switch sides.”

Is Beijing’s Vice Grip on Hong Kong Jeopardizing Japan-China Relations?

Elliot Waldman

Editor’s Note: In accordance with a recent change in policy by the Japanese government, WPR is changing its style to render Japanese names in English with the family name first. Hence, in this article and in others, the Japanese prime minister’s name will appear as Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe.

Just over a week after China’s decision to impose a sweeping new security law on Hong Kong, the scale of the fallout is coming into full view. As WPR columnist Howard French wrote this week, “the law sharply curtails what was left of Hong Kong’s semiautonomous status, which was promised to last for 50 years after the city’s handover to China from Britain in 1997.” .


OTTAWA, ON (June 23, 2020): As we enter an age of volatile geopolitics post-COVID-19, it is necessary to consider how the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will adapt to deal with both growing uncertainty around US leadership and the rising threat of the Chinese regime.

In MLI’s newest paper titled “NATO 2020: Dealing with Trump, Preparing for China,” author Brooke Smith-Windsor examines the internal and external challenges facing NATO during the past three-and-a-half years of the Trump presidency and the growing Sino-American strategic competition.

President Trump has made it clear he questions the continued relevance of multilateralism, openly threatening to withdraw the United States from NATO unless fellow allies increased their defence spending. In recent days, he has even stated his desire for a significant drawdown of US troops from Germany, though whether this plan is implemented and to what extent remains to be seen.

Despite Trump’s rhetoric, however, it is notable that the overall US defence commitment to Europe has only increased during his administration. In fact, the 2018 National Defense Strategy includes strengthening alliances as among the top US priorities. As tensions with China only grow, Smith-Windsor adds that NATO is once again crucial to US interests and values.

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.

How China Is Dividing Britain’s Tories

When Britain’s then-prime minister, David Cameron, sat down for a pint of beer and fish and chips with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a Buckinghamshire pub in 2015, it marked a “new golden era” of British-Chinese relations. As the pair enjoyed the atmosphere of the Plough—a pub that would shortly afterward be purchased by a Chinese firm—the United Kingdom was well on its way to becoming China’s preferred gateway into Europe.

Under consecutive Conservative Party-led governments since 2010, Britain has become overwhelmingly the largest recipient of Chinese investment in Europe. And even when France, Germany, and the U.K.’s overall share of Chinese investment in Europe declined from 71 percent in 2017 to just 35 percent last year, Britain remained the continent’s second-largest recipient of Chinese foreign direct investment in 2019, according to an April study by the Mercator Institute for China Studies, a Berlin-based think tank.

But in recent months, the governing Conservatives have changed tracks, attacking the Chinese government on a range of issues and backing away from Chinese partnerships. And with not all Tories on board, the question of how to deal with Beijing is becoming a major fault line within the party.

Hong Kongers Say Taiwan Is Their First Choice as Exile Looms

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As a draconian new national security law is imposed in Hong Kong, locals face a bleak choice: fight or flight. While plenty remain committed to defending freedom and democracy in Hong Kong, another alternative is to emigrate away from the city. Since last summer, Hong Kong protesters began to flee for safer countries out of fear of political persecution. Now that Beijing has enacted the national security law, talk of departing Hong Kong among the masses has spread. This leads to two important questions: How serious are Hong Kongers about leaving their home, and where do Hong Kongers plan to move to?

We conducted an online survey of 890 Hong Kong citizens through Survey Sampling International (Dynata) between June 22 and 26, right before the passage of the national security law. Our sample demographics match trends released previously by the Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute in terms of ethnic identification, showing a large rift between those who identify as Chinese versus Hong Konger. Over three-quarters of our sample identified as Hong Konger, an affiliation more likely to be held among the young. Our sample’s proportion of Chinese-identifying individuals mirrors the share of those who affiliate with a pro-Chinese establishment political party; the same is the case for the comparable proportion of those who identify as Hong Konger to those identified with a non-establishment movement (pan-democrat, localist, or self-determinist).

Hong Kong's Security Law Puts Big Tech at a Crossroads


A NEW NATIONAL security law has turned Hong Kong into a battleground for the United States and China's escalating war over control of the global internet. Whether Hong Kong eventually falls behind China’s Great Firewall will depend on how strictly Beijing enforces the regulation, and how willing technology platforms are to stand up in the face of Communist Party pressure—particularly when their business interests are at stake. Some tech giants like Google and Facebook have already paused accepting requests for data from Hong Kong authorities. Others, like Chinese-owned TikTok, have decided to pull out of the region altogether.

China’s Latest Crackdown in Hong Kong Will Have Global Consequences


On June 30, China passed a new national security law in Hong Kong that upended the city’s politics and threw the tech community into disarray. The law’s draconian provisions criminalize a range of activities and give law enforcement agencies power to carry out sweeping surveillance and censorship measures.

Not only is the law designed to break the back of the Hong Kong protest movement, but China’s actions effectively put an end to the one country, two systems model. This unusual governing arrangement had traditionally guaranteed Hong Kongers expanded rights of free expression beyond those held by citizens of mainland China. In substitute, Chinese authorities have taken decisive steps to bring Hong Kong into the fold of China’s Great Firewall—a closed, censored version of the internet that blocks most foreign apps and platforms from operating.


Some of these effects are already happening. A dramatic chill has descended over online speech in Hong Kong as the government prepares to implement the directive. Newspapers report that several apps designed to categorize businesses’ political affiliations (whether certain establishments are pro-mainland Chinese or pro-protester) have suspended their services. Some people are preemptively self-censoring their online content—taking down pro-independence posts, removing likes of protester group pages, and deleting social media accounts critical of the government. Amid rumors that WhatsApp may start handing over users’ private data to Chinese authorities, Hong Kong has experienced a surge of downloads of the encrypted communications app Signal.

Mysterious Fire and Explosion in the New Natanz Advanced Centrifuge Assembly Facility

by David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian

Following closely on the heels of two unexplained incidents in Iran involving explosions and fires that in one case reportedly killed 19 people,1 media reported early on July 2, 2020 that a fire and apparent explosion had occurred at the Natanz Enrichment Site, which houses large underground enrichment halls and several above-ground workshops, the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP), and support buildings.2 The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) stated that “one of the sheds under construction in the open area of the Natanz site suffered damage this morning” and published a photo of a damaged building.3 Correlation of the information from the ground photo with commercial satellite imagery allowed for the geolocation of the building using Google Earth.

The satellite imagery revealed that describing the damaged site as a “shed” is a vast understatement. The fire occurred at a centrifuge assembly workshop, first identified by the Institute in 2017,4 which only operated for a maximum of two years after taking at least six years to be completed (see Figures 1 and 2). Construction started in 2012, and when it was near operation in June 2018, a promotional video of the workshop followed a press announcement by AEOI-head Ali Akbar Salehi. 5, 6 A photo with many people standing in front of the entrance appeared in the media in the spring of 2019, likely from an inauguration ceremony or similar celebration of the new facility.7 The name of the facility is written in English above the entrance: Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC).

Submarine Cables in the Law of Naval Warfare

By James Kraska 
No technology is as profoundly important to the global economy as the internet, which is dependent on the security of a vast network of some 750,000 miles of seabed cables that criss-cross the oceans’ depths. The interdependence of global submarine communication systems means that a break in one cable can have cascading effects on internet access to distant states. While the rules to protect this critical infrastructure in peacetime should be refurbished, the need to further develop the rules to secure this global infrastructure during periods of armed conflict is perhaps even more compelling. Although several peacetime treaties protect submarine cables from disruption and criminal acts, albeit weakly, the rules that apply during naval war are even more antiquated. Because the law of naval warfare is principally based on custom and state practice rather than treaties, there is considerable uncertainty over how submarine cables would fare in conflict at sea.

The internet facilitates $10 trillion in international financial transactions daily; submarine cables are the backbone of this distributed, global infrastructure. The critical importance of cables underscores the debate within Western states over the prudence of working with the Chinese communications conglomerate Huawei Marine. Russia and China both view submarine cables as strategic assets and could either tap them or sever them in any future conflict. Russia’s surface ship Yantar, for example, is monitored by Western naval forces since it is outfitted with cable-cutting gear and deep-sea submersibles.

How the US could ramp up its economic war on China

Jonathan Hackenbroich

There are at least 11 different ways the United States could use economic weapons to harm China in the coming years.

The United States could soon place sanctions on European officials. Last month, a leaked German economics ministry report warned that Congress’s proposed Protecting European Energy Security Clarification Act (PEESCA) could lead to sanctions on ministry staff involved in the inspection and certification of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The report rightly calls this “an entirely new development if it materialised”. For a long time, such a scenario was simply unimaginable – the United States would never move to sanction, directly or indirectly, government officials of allied countries, and certainly not Europeans. So thought many on both sides of the Atlantic. But, as with many of its economic coercion manoeuvres – from export controls to treating European cars as a potential national security threat – the US is breaking one taboo after the other.

There is now a long list of instruments the US could use in a new round of economic warfare with China and others. The selection below focuses on measures that have direct or great indirect relevance for Europe. It is in part based on an extraordinary new report compiled by Republican foreign policymakers in Congress calling for a vast expansion of US economic coercion. Not all of the following measures are necessarily likely to be implemented, but they are all possible over the course of the coming months.

Sanction INSTEX

Addressing the Risks of Climate Change

Dr. Susanne Dröge is Senior Fellow in the Global Issues Division.

The Small Island Development States (SIDS) and other developing coun­tries affected by climate change are demanding more attention be given to climate-related losses and damages. The issue of “loss and damage” is being addressed in UNFCCC negotiations; however, the SIDS regard the Security Council as another key place for related debates.

The Security Council can sound out climate policy interests to increase knowledge and improve the means of early warning. Moreover, its role can be to focus on the security aspects of climate risks and highlight im­portant preventive approaches. These include, above all, development policy and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (the UN 2030 Agenda).

The demands on the Security Council are strongly linked to the inter­national climate negotiations. Thus, Germany’s commitment to climate policy has to be broad and long-term in times of dwindling multilateralism.

Due to the Corona pandemic, short-term national and international policy agendas have readjusted to address the crisis situation, which has been detrimental to the climate policy agenda. A debate at the Security Council should nevertheless keep the focus on climate-related risks as such.

Issues and Recommendations

Mineral Concessions: Avoiding Conflict in DR Congo’s Mining Heartland

What’s new? Competition between industrial and artisanal miners is a source of tension in the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the mineral-rich provinces of Haut-Katanga and Lualaba, state security forces intervened in 2019 to expel over 10,000 artisanal miners who were encroaching on two of the country’s largest industrial mining sites.

Why did it happen? Artisanal miners lack economic opportunities. They are often denied access to industrial sites, even for purposes of exploiting commercially non-viable deposits, and the region lacks artisanal mining zones. Local politicians sometimes seek to advance their own interests by encouraging artisanal miners to take confrontational actions.

Why does it matter? President Félix Tshisekedi faces the twin challenges of defusing mining sector tensions and working within the fragile political coalition he has formed with his rival, former President Joseph Kabila. Whether or not he succeeds will bear on the country’s stability and prosperity, as well as on his political future.

What should be done? To create economic opportunities for artisanal miners, the DRC government should create artisanal mining zones and remove impediments to industrial subcontracting of artisanal miners. Mining companies should meet their legal obligations to support community development, and standard-setting organisations should make clear that they see industrial-artisanal cooperation as responsible corporate behaviour.
Executive Summary

13 Lessons from the Crozier Controversy


Much has been written these past few months about Capt. Brett Crozier’s response to the coronavirus outbreak on board the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt. The general theme of most of the articles is that the Navy should have protected Crozier because he “loved” his crew and had their best interests at heart. As I have written previously, the question as to whether he was actually effective had been lost in nearly all of the analysis. As the Navy’s investigation has concluded, it is clear from the report that Crozier’s performance was deficient.

Here are a few lessons for military leaders from the Crozier incident, written with full awareness of the Navy’s investigation report. They don’t merely derive from the 47-page report, but include learnings that emerge from the entire public spectacle:

1. An 80-percent solution delivered on time is almost always better than a 100-percent solution delivered too late. Captain Crozier was hyper-focused on a solution he believed would meet 100 percent of the CDC guidelines for protecting his crew. Unfortunately, that solution—moving his crew into hotels in Guam’s tourist district—was not within the Navy’s ability to implement without significant local government and business help, an effort which would take days to weeks. There were other, more immediate, solutions within Crozier’s authority to direct, but he elected not to pursue them because they were not “ideal” solutions. In so doing, the report concludes, Crozier put the crew’s comfort ahead of their safety and actually delayed isolation efforts. Ask for outside help if you think you need it, but meanwhile focus on measures that are within your control. 

Leaving the WHO Will Hurt Americans’ Health

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Even as the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies in the United States, on July 7, 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump notified Congress that he had sent formal notification to the United Nations of the U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Not only is the United States a critical player in global health, but the WHO is deeply integrated into U.S. public health efforts at home. Under U.S. law, the president cannot immediately and unilaterally withdraw from the organization. The U.S. Congress, courts, and public can all work to prevent this damaging move. But even if they do, the president’s actions will have immediate effects. Trump is moving rapidly to freeze relations, disrupting ongoing operations of U.S. health agencies. Further extracting the United States over the next year would be difficult and harmful. U.S. experts work daily with WHO, sharing information and expertise to protect Americans’ health and save lives around the world. Those who suggest that the United States can go it alone, substitute another institution, or work with WHO in a transactional manner on certain issues misunderstand global public health and international relations. Simply put, the United States needs the WHO, even with its imperfections.

The Pandemic Should Kill Regime Change Forever

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Afew weeks ago, I tweeted the following: “A country that cannot convince its own citizens to wear masks to halt a pandemic has no business toppling foreign governments and trying to remake whole societies that it barely understands.” It received more retweets and “likes” than I usually get, along with the usual amendments, endorsements, and snarky replies. The logic of my tweet should be fairly obvious, but since there are still prominent people and organizations who think regime change is a ready solution to vexing foreign-policy challenges, it’s worth unpacking the argument in a bit more detail.

Let’s begin with the nation-building side of the equation. Despite what you may have thought as the “forever wars” dragged on, the past 25 years have taught us quite a bit about why foreign-imposed regime change rarely works. For starters, toppling a foreign government inevitably damages or destroys whatever political institutions existed previously (which is the whole point of the intervention), which means there is no effective local capacity to keep order after the old regime is gone. Even a limited operation that removes a tyrant and his immediate henchmen but leaves lower-level officials in place would unravel lines of authority and patronage and thrust the country into uncertain territory.

Russia-Saudi Roller Coaster: From a High Five to a Price War

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Amid the pandemic, Moscow and Riyadh have fought their five-week-long oil price war and reached a new accord. Was this a test that they have passed, or does this presage more conflicts ahead? Their future relationship will depend on many factors, including how successful Russia will be with political settlement in Syria, with its complex military-political game in Libya, and in retaining a modicum of influence with Iran.

“Like any family, they go through differences … but we don’t need any divorce lawyers.” This is how Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, described his country’s relationship with Russia in mid-April 2020, the day after the world’s top oil-producing nations had finally reached an agreement on reducing output to stabilize plummeting prices.

The minister’s comments gloss over how fiercely Riyadh waged its price war against Russia after the latter refused in early March to commit to deeper cuts to its output than previously agreed with OPEC members and other oil producers. Moscow’s refusal was based on its growing unease that previous reductions had only served the interests of U.S. shale oil producers unconstrained by any commitments, and on the unease about the cavalier fashion in which the Saudis sought to impose their will on their partners.

History Quiz: This Leader Killed Millions of His Own People and Built Nuclear Weapons

by Zachary Keck

Here's What You Need to Remember: The Mao example does suggest that the United States shouldn’t rule out the deterrence option simply because of the nature of the Kim regime.

North Korea’s July 4 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has forced Americans to confront a possibility that was once unthinkable: Kim Jong-un armed with nuclear weapons and the ability to use them against the United States. While the spread of nuclear weapons is always a bad thing, it’s the nature of the North Korean regime that is truly terrifying. As one observer recently put it: “It isn’t the nukes that ought mainly to worry us. It’s the hands that hold them.”

These concerns are hardly unreasonable. After all, the Kim family has ruled North Korea in cult-like fashion for three generations. Along with over-the-top propaganda, the regime has maintained control through some of the most oppressive policies in the modern world, including the liberal use of forced labor camps that punishes dissidents and three generations of their family. While all of its neighbors have grown rich, the government’s gross mismanagement of the economy has impoverished the country and led to a widespread famine in the 1990s that killed as many as one million people. And although Pyongyang has been deterred from starting any general wars since the 1950s, the Kim regime has regularly committed lower-level aggression against more powerful countries like the United States, South Korea and Japan. To top it off, North Korea constantly make bellicose threats against these countries.

5G Tech Factsheet for Policymakers

Lindsay Gorman
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ASD Emerging Technologies Fellow Lindsay Gorman, Harvard’s Hugo Yen, and Virginia Tech’s David Simpson provide a brief overview of 5G technology and related policy considerations for Harvard Belfer Center’s Technology Factsheet Series. 


5G refers to fifth-generation cellular network technology, and includes both the mobile broadband infrastructure as well as 5G devices that rely on the network. Compared to 4G (fourth-generation cellular network technology), 5G offers not only faster network speeds but also many new functions such as increased machine-to-machine communications and low-latency data transfer.1 Through these upgraded capabilities, 5G will enhance and enable technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR). Use cases for 5G include autonomous vehicles, smart cities and smart grid automation, industrial IoT, remote surgery robots, public video surveillance, and immersive media.2 The first 5G networks in the US and world were launched in mid-2019, though current 5G networks are early versions with limited capabilities. 5G network standards are projected to be completed by the early 2020s, while technical features will continue to be developed throughout the decade.

The introduction and integration of 5G poses opportunities and risks, both of which are important to consider from a public sector and private sector standpoint. The promise of 5G’s faster connectivity and scaled data processing capacity is counterbalanced by foreseeable risks around national security and safety, individual privacy, and a lack of inclusive accessibility.

Slate Star Codex and Silicon Valley’s War Against the Media

By Gideon Lewis-Kraus

On June 22nd, visitors to Slate Star Codex, a long-standing blog of considerable influence, discovered that the site’s cerulean banner and graying WordPress design scheme had been superseded by a barren white layout. In the place of its usual catalogue of several million words of fiction, book reviews, essays, and miscellanea, as well as at least as voluminous an archive of reader commentary, was a single post of atypical brevity. “So,” it began, “I kind of deleted the blog. Sorry. Here’s my explanation.” The farewell post was attributed, like virtually all of the blog’s entries since its inception, in 2013, to Scott Alexander, the pseudonym of a Bay Area psychiatrist—the title “Slate Star Codex” is an imperfect anagram of the alias—and it put forth a rationale for this online self-immolation.

“Last week I talked to a New York Times technology reporter who was planning to write a story on Slate Star Codex,” the post continued. “He told me it would be a mostly positive piece about how we were an interesting gathering place for people in tech, and how we were ahead of the curve on some aspects of the coronavirus situation.” In early March, Alexander had suggested that his readers begin to prepare for potential catastrophe, and his extensive review of the available medical literature led him to the conclusion that, despite the early guidance by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the contrary, masks were likely to prove more useful than not. A month later, he looked back at his forecast and awarded himself a “solid B-”—not perfect, but at least more accurate than the news media, which, with some notable exceptions, he wrote, “not only failed to adequately warn its readers about the epidemic, but actively mocked and condescended to anyone who did sound a warning.” Journalists, in his view, were guilty of an inability or a refusal to weight the possible outcomes. As he put it, if there was even a ten per cent risk of a ruinous pandemic, shouldn’t that have been the headline? Alexander, who prefaces some of his own posts with an “epistemic status,” by which he rates his own confidence in the opinions to follow, thought the media, too, should present its findings in shades of gray.

An Audit Slams Facebook as a Home for Misinformation and Hate

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CIVIL RIGHTS LEADERS who instigated an unprecedented ad boycott of Facebook renewed criticism of the social media company for tolerating hate speech, misinformation, and harassment. In a meeting with Facebook executives on Tuesday, and a civil rights “audit” released Wednesday, activists demanded the company act more forcefully against specific posts, and change its management structure and business model.

Sidney Fussell is a senior staff writer at WIRED covering surveillance, ad tech, and Silicon Valley's social and political impact. He was formerly a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is based in San Francisco. Send tips to sidney_fussell@wired.com or via Signal at 510-768-7625. 

Investor-turned-critic Roger McNamee on “The Facebook Catastrophe”

Roger McNamee, an early investor in Facebook and mentor to Mark Zuckerberg, and author of "Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe," speaks with WIRED Editor-in-Chief Nicholas Thompson at SXSW about the future of the social media giant.