20 July 2020

Cyber Wargame - An Indian Scenario

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

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.......

Indian, Chinese Soldiers Disengaging After Deadly Clash in Ladakh

By Ashok Sharma

Indian and Chinese front-line troops are disengaging in the western sector of their disputed border, but the process is intricate and requires constant verification, an Indian army spokesman said Thursday.

Col. Aman Anand’s suggestion that the disengagement will take time came after top commanders from the two sides held a fourth round of talks on Tuesday and a month after a deadly clash between their soldiers in the Galwan Valley.

India says 20 of its soldiers were killed in the June 15 clash and that there were casualties among the Chinese as well. China hasn’t confirmed any deaths on its side.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Wednesday that the two sides have made progress in disengaging the front-line troops and easing border tensions.

Hua called for concrete actions by India to implement the consensus reached by the two countries and jointly safeguard peace and tranquility along the border.

China's Incursions into India Are Really All about Tibet

by Salvatore Babones
Source Link

That's the question that lies behind repeated China-India clashes in the high Himalayas, culminating in this spring's deadly skirmishes in Ladakh. The area is so remote that in the early twentieth century, the British occupiers of India and the semi-independent kingdom of Tibet never bothered to demarcate their exact border, and the war-torn Republic of China was unable to assert control over Tibet, never mind establish its borders.

After the proclamation of the People's Republic of China in 1949, Mao Zedong's first priority was the subjugation of Tibet. The following year, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) "liberated" the country, forcing its leaders to sign a Seventeen-Point Agreement by which Tibet "returned to the motherland" of China. A rebellion in 1959 brought the inevitable crackdown, during which the 23-year-old Dalai Lama fled to India. The Tibetan government in exile, known in English as the Central Tibetan Administration, remains there to this day.

It is hard for us today to imagine the incredible remoteness of 1950s Tibet. Even now, there are few roads connecting Tibet's capital city Lhasa to lowland China, and virtually none over the high Himalayas to South Asia. A treacherous mountain road connects Tibet and Nepal via the Sino-Nepal Friendship Bridge north of Kathmandu, and 800 miles to the west an only slightly less treacherous mountain road connects the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to Pakistan via the Khunjerab Pass. In between, nothing.

India’s National Security Strategy 2020 Inescapable Imperatives-- “China Containment”

By Dr Subhash Kapila

China presented itself as India’s ‘Implacable Enemy’ when a China Occupied Tibet obliterating Independent Tibet as a centuries old buffer state in 1950, China imposed its borders with India on India’s Himalayan Watershed raising irredentist claims against India on centuries-old established geographical frontiers.

China in 2020 with its military adventurism in Eastern Ladakh sequentially and relentlessly following seven decades of similar military provocations violating multiple China-India Border Agreements, emboldened by “China Appeasement’ and ‘Risk Aversion’ policies of past Indian Governments leaves no political or strategic space for India other than adopting a firm policy of “China Containment”.

China foisted a militarily adventurist borders dispute on India which China has perpetuated for 70 years defying all reasonable solutions. Chi has deliberately impeded solution of China Occupied Tibet-India Himalayan Border Dispute as any demarcation resulting from satisfactory solution would rob China of leverages against India of political and military coercion.

Fast forwarding history of China-India conflictual relations and border turbulences inflicted by China ‘Slow Creep’ of nibbling away at Indian Line of Actual Control on pretext of ‘Perceptional Differences” on alignment of the demarcated Line of Actual Control, interspersed with the Sino-India War 1062 and the 1967, 1975 and 1986.87 major China-India militany standoffs the picture in Mid-May 2020 is “Grim”.

Can China's Military Bases In the South China Sea Be Defended From Attack?

by Kyle Mizokami
Source Link

Here's What You Need to Remember: In any military confrontation with the United States, China’s at-sea outposts would almost certainly be quickly rolled back by waves of airstrikes and cruise missile attacks, devastating People’s Liberation Army facilities and stranding the personnel manning them. 

In recent years the People’s Republic of China has laid claim to ninety percent of the South China Sea, buttressing this claim by creating artificial islands with dredging equipment. These claims run roughshod over Beijing’s neighbors, which have competing claims. The discovery in 2016 that China had militarized these artificial islands was not exactly surprising, but just how useful are these islands in defense of China’s strategic goals?

China’s campaign to militarize the South China Sea began in 2009, when it submitted a new map to the United Nations showing the now-infamous “Nine-Dash Line”—a series of boundary dashes over the South China Sea that it claimed demarcated Chinese territory. Since then, China has expanded at least seven reefs and islets in the sea with sand dredged from the ocean floor, including Subi Reef, Mischief Reef, Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, Gaven Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Cuarteron Reef.

Look Closely: This Picture Holds the Key to China's Dominance in the South China Sea

by Kyle Mizokami

In recent years the People’s Republic of China has laid claim to ninety percent of the South China Sea, buttressing this claim by creating artificial islands with dredging equipment. These claims run roughshod over Beijing’s neighbors, which have competing claims. The discovery in 2016 that China had militarized these artificial islands was not exactly surprising, but just how useful are these islands in defense of China’s strategic goals?

China’s campaign to militarize the South China Sea began in 2009, when it submitted a new map to the United Nations showing the now-infamous “Nine-Dash Line”—a series of boundary dashes over the South China Sea that it claimed demarcated Chinese territory. Since then, China has expanded at least seven reefs and islets in the sea with sand dredged from the ocean floor, including Subi Reef, Mischief Reef, Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, Gaven Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Cuarteron Reef.

According to the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Beijing has created more than 3,200 acres of new land. China initially claimed its “territory” was being developed for peaceful purposes, from aid to mariners to scientific research, yet many of the islands now feature military-length airfields, antiaircraft and antimissile guns, and naval guns. Cuarteron Reef now has a new High Frequency early-warning radar facility for detecting incoming aircraft, a development difficult to square with a peaceful mission. Farther north, but still in disputed territory, China has installed HQ-9 long-range surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island.

Can China's Military Bases In the South China Sea Be Defended From Attack?

by Kyle Mizokami

Here's What You Need to Remember: In any military confrontation with the United States, China’s at-sea outposts would almost certainly be quickly rolled back by waves of airstrikes and cruise missile attacks, devastating People’s Liberation Army facilities and stranding the personnel manning them. 

In recent years the People’s Republic of China has laid claim to ninety percent of the South China Sea, buttressing this claim by creating artificial islands with dredging equipment. These claims run roughshod over Beijing’s neighbors, which have competing claims. The discovery in 2016 that China had militarized these artificial islands was not exactly surprising, but just how useful are these islands in defense of China’s strategic goals?

China’s campaign to militarize the South China Sea began in 2009, when it submitted a new map to the United Nations showing the now-infamous “Nine-Dash Line”—a series of boundary dashes over the South China Sea that it claimed demarcated Chinese territory. Since then, China has expanded at least seven reefs and islets in the sea with sand dredged from the ocean floor, including Subi Reef, Mischief Reef, Johnson Reef, Hughes Reef, Gaven Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Cuarteron Reef.

How Significant Is the New U.S. South China Sea Policy?

Yesterday, July 13, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced an important shift in U.S. declaratory policy on the South China Sea. This morning, Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell elaborated further during remarks at CSIS’s annual South China Sea Conference. The press statement from Pompeo listed specific Chinese maritime claims the United States considers illegal. The statement marks a significant clarification of prior U.S. positions but not a radical break from past policy. It makes explicit things that had been implied by previous administrations. And in that, it sets the stage for more effective diplomatic messaging and stronger responses to China’s harassment of its neighbors. U.S. partners and allies in the region were seemingly briefed in advance—the Philippine defense secretary, for instance, was ready with a positive statement within hours. And the new policy sparked excited, and often hyperbolic, coverage in the press and social media.

Q1: What is the new U.S. position?

A1: Pompeo’s statement does not alter U.S. neutrality on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Washington still has no interest in wading into the historical morass of which country has sovereignty over each of the Spratly and Paracel Islands. But it does now explicitly take a position on the maritime disputes over water and seabed rights. The opening paragraph says, “We are making clear: Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea are completely unlawful, as is its campaign of bullying to control them.” The remainder of the statement explains what exactly that means.

Banning Huawei’s 5G tech in the UK was the easy bit. Now it gets messy


In January, the UK had the Huawei problem solved. After extensive analysis from the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), prime minister Boris Johnson decided that although the Chinese company was “high-risk” it could still have a place in developing 5G networks. But with caveats: it would be limited to 35 per cent of the market and excluded from the most sensitive elements.

Now, everything has changed – and the ongoing trade tussle between the US and China is to blame. UK network operators must remove Huawei’s 5G equipment from their networks by 2027, the government has said following publication of new technical analysis discussing the increased threat that Huawei poses after additional US sanctions were imposed in May. They've also been told to “transition away” from using Huawei's equipment for full-fibre broadband networks within the next two years.

The revised UK position means 5G deployment, which has been beset by dangerous conspiracy theories, will be delayed by years, cost billions extra and cause a major logistical headache for network providers that have already installed Huawei’s technology.

The Beidou Satellite Network and the “Space Silk Road” in Eurasia

By: John Dotson


On June 23, a Long March-3B carrier rocket was successfully launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province, carrying with it the latest satellite of the Beidou (“Big Dipper”) Global Satellite Navigation System (北斗全球卫星导航系统, Beidou Quanqiu Weixing Daohang Xitong). This launch was a capstone event in an ambitious series of satellite launches conducted by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) throughout the early months of 2020 (China Brief, May 15). The June 23 launch delivered into orbit the 30th and final satellite of the Beidou third-generation constellation (and the 55th Beidou satellite overall), reportedly completing the third-generation network six months ahead of the original timetable (Beidou.gov.cn, June 23). The launch was hailed in PRC state media as “a complete success,” and “a milestone in the nation’s space endeavor” (Xinhua, June 23; Xinhua, June 24).

The Beidou third-generation constellation (hereafter, “Beidou-3”) consists of: 3 satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO); 24 satellites in middle earth orbit (MEO); and 3 satellites in inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO) (China Satellite Navigation Office, December 2017; Xinhua, June 23). Beidou-3 represents a noteworthy advancement over the capabilities of the earlier first- and second-generation Beidou satellite navigation networks. [1] Per official PRC information issued in December 2018—when Beidou-3 was proclaimed to be operational, if not yet complete—the system offers positioning accuracy within 10 meters horizontal and 10 meters vertical (5 meters in the Asia-Pacific Region); a velocity measurement accuracy within 0.2 meters per second; and a timing accuracy of 20 nanoseconds. [2]

The Security Component of the BRI in Central Asia, Part One: Chinese and Regional Perspectives on Security in Central Asia

By: Sergey Sukhankin
Source Link


On June 15, People’s Republic of China (PRC) Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng (乐玉成) held consultations via video with Turkmenistan’s Deputy Foreign Minister Vepa Hajiyev. During the meeting, two main topics were discussed: the first was reaffirming the strategic nature of bilateral ties between the two countries, and the second consisted of Hajiyev expressing Turkmenistan’s commitment to further promote the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) (Belt and Road News, June 15). Earlier in March, PRC State Councilor and former Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (杨洁篪) stated during a trip through Central Asia that China and regional countries had reaffirmed their determination to deepen cooperation through the BRI. He specifically highlighted the determination of Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to “push forward cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative and further increase economic connectivity” (Belt and Road News, March 6).

The PRC clearly views Central Asia as a key region for the BRI, its cornerstone foreign policy initiative. Beijing’s ambitious plans in the region—one that holds a key strategic geopolitical location, as well as abundant natural resources—could be hampered by a number of different factors. Among these are security-related concerns that might jeopardize China’s massive economic and diplomatic investments in the region. The region is diverse, but the main advantage for Beijing—which historically prioritizes an individual state-to-state approach to foreign relations—is that it is dealing with five countries who are weak and disunited politically, militarily, and economically. [1]

China and Russia: Economic Unequals

Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are attempting to put economics at the center of their strategic partnership. “Economic cooperation and trade, as a key pillar of our relations, is crucial to the common development and revitalization of China and Russia,” Xi said during a visit to Moscow in June 2019.1 “We enjoy an unprecedentedly high level of trust and cooperation,” Putin said several months later. “This is an allied relationship in the full sense of a multifaceted strategic partnership. This is reflected in the economy.”2

Xi and Putin’s signature economic visions even appear complementary at first glance. Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has unleashed Chinese companies to build roads, railways, fiber-optic cables, and other hard infrastructure across the Eurasian supercontinent and beyond. Putin’s Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) harmonizes customs processes to create a single market among Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. The world, and especially where these efforts most directly overlap in Central Asia, needs both “hard” and “soft” infrastructure upgrades. Playing up their personal relationship, Xi and Putin have repeatedly promised to “link” the BRI and EAEU. But they have provided few practical details, leaving observers to speculate about the future of their economic relations.

This report examines four dimensions of China-Russia connectivity and reveals a growing partnership that faces structural constraints. Trade is highly concentrated in natural resources, where Chinese and Russian interests most strongly overlap. Investment is constrained by corruption and poor infrastructure in Russia. People-to-people ties have been improving but mistrust remains, as the Covid-19 pandemic has revealed. Even as China and Russia cooperate in building digital infrastructure, each side imposes restrictions that limit data flows. Standing in the way of deeper connections are Russia’s development challenges and both governments’ obsessions with maintaining control.3

China in the Gulf: A New Partnership with Iran?

The steady rise in U.S. strategic competition with China over trade and the South China Sea already has so many dimensions that it is sometimes easy to ignore shifts in China’s behavior in other areas. During the last week, however, China has taken a step that could have a truly critical impact on such competition. On July 6, Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, announced that Iran was negotiating an agreement with China that would make the two countries the equivalent of strategic partners. This could radically expand U.S. and Chinese competition to new parts of the world.

The New York Times broke the story in early July. An 18-page outline of such an agreement in Persian was leaked whose authenticity is unclear but tracks with previous reports that such an agreement was being considered (https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/review?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3Af6a1ae0b-9378-4831-b6bf-af56c9f5696d&utm_campaign=wp_todays_worldview&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_todayworld#pageNum=16).

Various reports indicate that the actual agreement would create a major new Chinese strategic relationship with Iran that would make the two countries strategic partners, and that it could be the prelude to a serious Chinese challenge to the U.S. position in both the Persian/Arab Gulf and the Indian Ocean region.

Maritime Power And The Pandemic: US’ Loss; China’s Gain? – Analysis

By Jack Kai Yui Wong*
Source Link

Beginning April 2020, China has launched a series of offensive actions in the South China Sea (SCS). They include the establishment of administrative districts in disputed islands, sinking a Vietnamese vessel, and deploying an aircraft carrier to the region. These reflect China’s regional ambitions, particularly its aim to secure ownership of 85 per cent of the SCS under the ‘nine-dash line’—a claim that clashes with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea’s (UNCLOS) definition of an exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

This commentary argues that China took advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to advance its strategic position in the region. The ultimate goal for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is to break out of the ‘first island chain’, which starts from Japan and ends at the Philippines, covering all of China’s ‘near-seas’. It will allow China a gateway to the Pacific Ocean, and a platform to further challenge the US.
Challenging the Status Quo

Over the past few decades, the SCS has been home to various territorial and maritime disputes. Comparatively speaking, it is easier for the Chinese Navy to exploit the weakness of the US Navy in the SCS than the Yellow and the East China Seas. While the US does not have any naval bases in the SCS, the PLAN is better equipped and has tremendously enhanced its capabilities in recent years.

This Is the Missile Iran Would Use To Carry Nukes—If It Had Them

by David Axe 

Iranian media have broadcast the first-ever footage of an operational Sejjil medium-range rocket in its underground bunker.

The same February 2020 broadcast includes what apparently is new or at least rarely-seen footage of trials involving the Sejjil.

The 59-feet-tall Sejjil could be a leading candidate to carry atomic warheads, if and when Iran develops them. The new imagery is a reminder that Iran apparently has deployed the Sejjil even before completing the rocket’s development.

Fabian Hinz, a researcher at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, part of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California, circulated the Iranian broadcast on Twitter.

“The status of the Sejjil has been under question for a while,” Hinz tweeted. “Seeing new footage of its deployment and new testing footage is quite a surprise.”

Iran in all deploys around 55,000 surface-to-surface missiles. Most of them are shorter-range models such as the Shahab-1 and Fatah-110. The country also possesses Qiam rockets that can travel as far as 500 miles.

The Undeclared War Against Iran

by Paul R. Pillar

Aseries of violent attacks, involving explosions and fires, has been hitting Iran. The incidents have been too frequent and intense to be random accidents. They are part of an organized effort. 

Caution is always advisable in attributing responsibility for such unclaimed acts, especially for all of us outside the government channels that possibly have better information about what is going on. But circumstances point strongly, as some mainstream press reporting reflects, to either or both of two suspects: the Netanyahu government in Israel, and the Trump administration in the United States. 

Both of those suspects have track records that point that same way. The most conspicuous relevant act by the Trump administration was its assassination in January, with a drone-fired missile at the Baghdad airport, of Qassim Suleimani, one of the most prominent political and military figures in Iran. The Israeli record of aggressive acts against Iran has included a series of assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists. Those murders were part of a larger, longstanding Israeli campaign of assassinations throughout the Middle East. That campaign is in turn part of an even larger Israeli record of aggressive acts throughout the region—including, over the past couple of years, scores of aerial attacks in Syria.

Republicans Scale Back Convention Plans in Florida Due to Coronavirus

by Rachel Bucchino 

Republicans are scaling back the size of the Republican National Convention taking place next month in Jacksonville, Fla. due to surges in coronavirus cases.

Ronna McDaniel, the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee (RNC), made the announcement Thursday in the form of a letter, warning members that there will be a limit on attendance.

“I want to make clear that we still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville,” McDaniel wrote. “We can gather and put on a top-notch event that celebrates the incredible accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his re-nomination for a second term — while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner.”

McDaniel said attendance will be limited to regular delegates during the first three days, which will bring in about 2,500 people. On the final day - the same day President Donald Trump is expected to deliver and formally accept his nomination for the party - she said delegates may bring a guest, and other delegates are also welcome, with a maximum amount of 6,000 to 7,000 people.

What If the U.S. Army Built Flying Armored Cars?

by Kris Osborn

What if an armed tactical vehicle is driving head-on into enemy fire, when soldiers suddenly detect large armored vehicles, uneven terrain and heavy weapons? What if, in order to avoid those obstacles, the armored vehicle turns into a flying one? Perhaps a ground combat vehicle quickly becomes airborne, flies above the high threat area and lands behind enemy lines to conduct reconnaissance and fast high-and-run attacks?

Such a “flying car” phenomenon may no longer purely exist in futuristic sci-fi movies but could actually be beginning developmental work.

The Air Force Research Laboratory is teaming up with small businesses to explore new innovations intended to accomplish a wide range of new technological feats, to include engineering a “first-of-its-kind flying car.” 

A flying car, which one might say can be approximated or mirrored by next-generation helicopters, might seek to incorporate the fast ground speed mechanics of a standard automobile with airborne maneuverability and flight speed. 

Nuclear Battleships: The Navy Had 4 Big Ideas to Bring Back the Battleship

by Kyle Mizokami

Here's What You Need to Remember: The Navy came to the conclusion that if the country was going to get its money’s worth from the four battleships, the vessels had to concentrate on their unique abilities: firing massive artillery shells at the enemy.

In the early 1980s, four Iowa-class fast battleships originally built during World War II—Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey and Wisconsin—were taken out of mothballs and returned to active duty.

Nearly 900 feet long and displacing close to 60,000 tons, the battlewagons could fire a nine-gun broadside sending 18 tons of steel and explosives hurtling towards their targets.

The battleships were modernized to include cruise missiles, ship-killing missiles and Phalanx point-defense guns. Returned to the fleet, the ships saw action off the coasts of Lebanon and Iraq. At the end of the Cold War the battleships were retired again. All were slated to become museums.

Pompeo Downplays Possibility of Summit With North Korea

By Kim Tong-hyung

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo downplayed the possibility of another summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before the U.S. presidential election, saying Trump would only want to engage if there were real prospects of progress.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has called for another Trump-Kim meeting ahead of the election in November, acknowledged Thursday that U.S. and South Korean relations with North Korea were still like “walking on ice” after two years of high-stakes summitry.

During a parliamentary speech, Moon urged North Korea to return to inter-Korean dialogue, which has also stalled, and called for South Korean lawmakers to support government policies aimed at reviving cross-border cooperation. He made no direct comment on the prospects for U.S.-North Korea talks.

Pompeo’s comments during a forum in Washington on Wednesday followed repeated North Korean statements insisting it would no longer gift Trump high-profile meetings he could boast as foreign policy achievements when it’s not being substantially rewarded in return.

Why Did Israel Build Nuclear Weapons (And Keep It a Secret)?

by Kyle Mizokami

In a private email leaked to the public in September of 2016, former secretary of state and retired U.S. Army general Colin Powell alluded to Israel having an arsenal of “200 nuclear weapons.” While this number appears to be an exaggeration, there is no doubt that Israel does have a small but powerful nuclear stockpile, spread out among its armed forces. Israeli nuclear weapons guard against everything from defeat in conventional warfare to serving to deter hostile states from launching nuclear, chemical and biological warfare attacks against the tiny country. Regardless, the goal is the same: to prevent the destruction of the Jewish state.

Israel set off to join the nuclear club in the 1950s. David Ben-Gurion was reportedly obsessed with developing the bomb as insurance against Israel’s enemies. Although an ambitious goal for such a small, initially impoverished country, Israel did not have any security guarantees with larger, more powerful states—particularly the United States. The country was on its own, even buying conventional weapons off the black market to arm the new Israeli Defense Forces. Nuclear weapons would be the ultimate form of insurance for a people that had suffered persecution but now had the means to control their own destiny.

75 Years After Trinity: The Human Cost of Nuclear Tests

By Jon Letman

The landscape at the former Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in northeastern Kazakhstan where more than 450 nuclear tests were conducted.Credit: Photo courtesy of the Center for International Security and Policy

Seventy-five years ago today, the United States conducted the Trinity test, the world’s first nuclear detonation. In the ensuing years, the U.S. ultimately conducted more than 1,000 nuclear tests, half of all known tests conducted by the world’s nine nuclear nations since 1945. Now, on the 75th anniversary of the nuclear age, the United States is contemplating the resumption of live testing for the first time in nearly three decades. 

A nuclear test, the Washington Post reported in May, could be used as leverage in negotiations with China and Russia. The news provoked widespread criticism, not only from the Chinese government, but also Nevada’s congressional delegation (the state where a future test would presumably be conducted). The idea that the Trump administration could carry out the first U.S. nuclear detonation since 1992 was lambasted broadly across the arms control, national security, and scientific communities.

The Fastest Way Out of the Pandemic


GENEVA – Every day, the COVID-19 pandemic costs the world thousands more lives and billions more dollars. The most efficient way to bring this crisis to an end – possibly as early as next year – is with a safe and effective vaccine, manufactured in large quantities and distributed globally. To avoid any unnecessary delays, governments should take this moment, while researchers work to develop the right formula, to prepare the ground for rapid production and broad, equitable deployment.

This is the principle on which the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access (COVAX) Facility is based. Created by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, this innovative platform aims to distribute at least two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021.

That many doses – which will be divided equitably among participating countries, regardless of their ability to pay – would cover some 20% of populations in participating countries. It would thus be sufficient to protect high-risk and vulnerable people and frontline health-care workers worldwide. (Additional doses would also be stockpiled, so that any future outbreak could be tackled before it spun out of control.)

G20, Heal Thyself


NEW YORK – The G20 ministers of finance meet this week under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, which holds the group’s presidency this year. But it is hard to imagine the G20 countries leading the world, as they like to pretend that they do. Most of them can’t effectively lead themselves through the current COVID-19 crisis.

As the world’s largest economies, the G20’s members have one overriding responsibility at the upcoming meeting: to agree on actions to suppress the pandemic. A few G20 countries are doing well; the laggard countries need to take urgent measures to stop the spread of the virus. All G20 countries need to cooperate on global-scale policies to overcome the health crisis.

An overview of the G20 countries is sobering. Many are so poorly governed that they have been utterly ineffective in containing the pandemic. Judging by data from the past two weeks, the biggest G20 failure, at 176 new cases per day per million population, is Brazil, led by the reckless populist Jair Bolsonaro, who has himself now contracted the virus. The second-biggest failure is the United States, led by the Bolsonaro of the north, Donald Trump, with 137 new cases per day per million population. The two other G20 countries with more than 100 new cases per day per million population are South Africa (129) and Saudi Arabia (112).1

The CIA, Covert Action and Operations in Cyberspace

By Robert Chesney 

In a major story this morning, Yahoo News (Zach Dorfman, Kim Zetter, Jenna McLaughlin and Sean Naylor) disclosed the existence of a 2018 presidential covert action finding altering the terms on which CIA can (and should) engage adversaries via cyber means. Should you be concerned, impressed or both?

1. What exactly does the story reveal that we did not already know?

It should not come as a surprise to anyone that CIA has been ordered by the president to engage in covert action in relation to Iran, North Korea, Russia and China. Nor should it be a surprise that this might include operations in the cyber domain. So what is the news here?

It’s about process, and more specifically about the way that executive branch decision making procedures are calibrated to modulate risk-reward tradeoffs. The essence of the story is that, under the Obama administration’s approach and continuing well into the Trump administration, the CIA had to get approval for cyber domain operations on an individualized basis through the National Security Council’s usual screening process for covert action (or perhaps with extra scrutiny beyond what covert action proposals usually receive). But in 2018, we are told, President Trump issued a new finding that provided blanket authorization for CIA to conduct cyber operations against certain named adversaries—Russia, China, North Korea and Iran—and potentially others (though the triggering conditions for other states or non-state actors to come within the scope of the finding are not identified in the story), without having to revert to the NSC process to get approval of particular actions. Critically, the reporters indicate, this has cut approval times from as much as a year or more to a matter of weeks.

The Politics and Science of the Future

By Andreas Wenger, Myriam Dunn Cavelty and Ursula Jasper
Source Link

In a world of complexity, interconnectedness, uncertainty, and rapid social, economic and political transformations, policy-makers increasingly demand scientifically robust policy-advice as a form of guidance for policy-decisions. As a result, scientists in academia and beyond are expected to focus on policy-relevant research questions and contribute to the solution of complicated, oftentimes transnational, if not global policy problems. Being policy-relevant means to supply future-related, forward-looking knowledge – a task that does not come easy to a profession that traditionally focuses on the empirical study of the past and present, values the academic freedom of inquiry, and often sees its role in society as confronting and challenging power and hierarchy.

Contributing future knowledge towards the sustainable solution of complex problems can be rewarding and it is an important basis for fostering and maintaining trust between science, society, and politics. However, creating future knowledge can also be a thankless task and, worse, backfire, fuelling pessimism towards science (Pielke 2007). On top of that, future knowledge is political, because the science and the politics of anticipating and preparing for the future are closely intertwined and cannot be separated: It shapes perceptions about the future and such perceptions do not simply provide orientation between the past, the present, and the future – once future knowledge is acted upon, it influences and changes the course of the future. Conversely, institutions and governance structures influence the making of knowledge about the future, acknowledging, selecting, and legitimizing some forms of future knowledge provided by some experts and institutions, while precluding other forms (Jasanoff 2015).