21 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.......

A Field Guide to U.S.-India Trade Tensions

by Alyssa Ayres
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India has become an important trading partner for the United States over the past two decades, but the relationship has been marred by long-standing disagreements on everything from dairy products to intellectual property rights protections.

Trade between the United States and India has grown steadily ever since India’s economy began to take off in the mid-1990s and its information technology sector shot to prominence in the early 2000s. From 1999 to 2018, trade in goods and services between the two countries surged from $16 billion to $142 billion. India is now the United States’ eighth-largest trading partner in goods and services and is among the world’s largest economies. India’s trade with the United States now resembles, in terms of volume, U.S. trade with South Korea ($167 billion in 2018) or France ($129 billion).

But as trade between Washington and New Delhi has increased, so too have tensions. U.S. and Indian officials have disagreed for years on tariffs and foreign investment limitations, but also on other complicated issues, particularly within agricultural trade. Concern for intellectual property rights has preoccupied the United States for thirty years, while issues concerning medical devices and the fast-growing digital economy have more recently emerged. On top of this, the Donald J. Trump administration has exacerbated tensions by creating new dilemmas, including a focus on bilateral trade deficits and the application of fresh tariffs, prompting retaliation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Taliban make big changes ahead of expected talks with Kabul


ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Taliban have put the son of the movement’s feared founder in charge of their military wing and added several powerful figures to their negotiating team, Taliban officials said. The shake-up, one of the most significant in years, comes ahead of expected talks with Kabul aimed at ending decades of war in Afghanistan.

As head of a newly united military wing, 30-year-old Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob brings his father’s fiercely uncompromising reputation to the battlefield.

Equally significant is the addition of four members of the insurgent group’s leadership council to the 20-member negotiating team, Taliban officials told The Associated Press.

The shuffle, overseen by Taliban leader Mullah Hibatullah Akhunzada, is meant to tighten his control over the movement’s military and political arms, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the inner workings of the Taliban.

Analysts say the shake-up could be good news for negotiations with the Afghan political leadership, and a sign of how seriously the Taliban are taking this second — and perhaps most critical — step in a deal Washington signed with the insurgents in February.

“I’d say it appears to be a positive development because the Taliban are creating a delegation that seems more senior and more broad-based than they’ve used to date, or than might be strictly necessary for the opening stages of talks,” said Andrew Wilder, vice president of the Asia Program at the Washington-based U.S. Institute of Peace.

No One Knows What Thailand Is Doing Right, but So Far, It’s Working

By Hannah Beech

Is it the social distancing embedded in Thai culture — the habit of greeting others with a wai, a prayer-like motion, rather than a full embrace — that has prevented the runaway transmission of the coronavirus here?

Did Thailand’s early adoption of face masks, combined with a robust health care system, blunt the virus’s impact? Was it the outdoor lifestyle of many Thais, or their relatively low rates of pre-existing conditions?

Is there a genetic component in which the immune systems of Thais and others in the Mekong River region are more resistant to the coronavirus? Or is it some alchemy of all these factors that has insulated this country of 70 million people?

One thing is certain. Despite an influx of foreign visitors early in the year from countries badly hit by the coronavirus, Thailand has recorded fewer than 3,240 cases and 58 deaths. As of Thursday, there had been no cases of local transmission for about seven weeks.

Huawei and the tech cold war China v America

Nineteen years ago an unknown Chinese company set up its first European sales offices, in a suburb of Frankfurt and an English commuter town, and started bidding to build telecoms networks. Today Huawei symbolises the daunting rise of China Inc—and a global trading system in which trust has collapsed. With sales of $123bn, it is known for its razor-sharp prices and dedication to the industrial goals of China’s rulers. Since 2018 America has subjected it to a legal assault, making it a flashpoint in the trade war. Now Britain has said that it will block Huawei from its 5g networks (see article). Other European countries may follow. But far from showing the West’s resolve, the saga reveals its lack of a coherent strategy. If open societies and authoritarian China are to keep their economic links and avoid a descent into anarchy, a new trade architecture is needed.

America’s security chiefs have always worried that Huawei’s equipment was designed to aid spying and would make its customers dependent on subsidised Chinese technology. But over 170 other countries decided the risks were manageable. Britain, which works closely with America on intelligence, created a “cell” of cyber-experts to monitor Huawei’s gear in 2010 and, later, confined it to less sensitive parts of the network. Other countries mirrored this approach. It offered a middle way between a naive embrace of Chinese state capitalism and a cold war.

The U.S. Declared China’s South China Sea Claims ‘Unlawful.’ Now What?

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On Monday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo staked out the United States’ bluntest position yet on China’s illegal land grab in the crucial South China Sea, declaring both Beijing’s excessive maritime claims and its browbeating of smaller neighbors to be “unlawful.” It was a departure of sorts from years of cautious diplomatic speak and could open the door to tougher U.S. reprisals against Chinese behavior.

The new position, which takes specific legal issue with a host of over-the-top Chinese claims, is part and parcel of the Trump administration’s tougher approach to Beijing’s encroachment in the region—and part of a broader, and widening, showdown with China.

Washington is still embroiled in a trade war with China, has sanctioned Chinese officials involved in Xinjiang detention camps, plans to scrap the extradition treaty with Hong Kong over China’s imposition of a new national security law, is mulling tougher rules for Chinese firms listing on U.S. stock markets, and is successfully getting Huawei yanked out of telecommunications networks around the world.

In response to the new legal posture, a Chinese Embassy spokesperson called on the United States to “stop its attempts to disrupt and sabotage regional peace and stability.”

China’s Self-Defeating Nationalism

By Jessica Chen Weiss

In the months since the global COVID-19 pandemic began in Wuhan, China’s leaders have turned increasingly nationalistic. They have boasted to both domestic and foreign audiences about the superiority of China’s system when it comes to combating the disease. They have peddled conspiracy theories about the U.S. origins of the novel coronavirus. They have embraced “wolf warrior” diplomacy, brashly attacking foreign critics and using social media and other platforms to highlight foreign shortcomings.

Although the main objective of Beijing’s nationalist push has been to build domestic support for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), it has also stoked tensions with Washington, as each side tries to outdo the other in shifting blame and avoiding accountability for its handling of COVID-19. The tit-for-tat rhetoric has already accelerated a race to the bottom in U.S.-Chinese relations and hindered cooperation in fighting the pandemic. For the United States, this more nationalistic Chinese approach will present even greater challenges going forward, hindering U.S. leverage and deterrence in ways that will constrain U.S. policy options.

But over the long term, nationalism will prove even more of a hindrance to Beijing’s ambitions, since it undermines Chinese efforts to attract international support and show global leadership. Wolf warrior diplomacy might appease Chinese nationalists at home, but it will limit China’s appeal abroad. And xenophobia and repression in the name of national stability—whether toward African migrants in Guangzhou, Central Asian minorities in Xinjiang, or ethnic Chinese in Hong Kong—have given the lie to Chinese efforts to project a benevolent and magnanimous image. Even if Beijing recognizes these problems, it will be costly—although not impossible—for the Chinese leadership to constrain the nationalism it has unleashed.

China Is Done Biding Its Time

By Kurt M. Campbell and Mira Rapp-Hooper

Over the course of the novel coronavirus crisis, analysts have watched relations between the United States and China spiral to a historic nadir, with scant hope of recovery. There are many reasons for the slide, but Beijing, in a striking departure from its own diplomatic track record, has been taking a much harder line than usual on the international stage—so much so, that even the most seasoned observers are wondering whether China’s foreign policy has fundamentally changed.

China’s approach to the world was, of course, never ironclad. Many factors determine a country’s diplomatic strategy, from its history, culture, and geography to the nature of its regime and its relative global power. If a government perceives one or more of these factors to have changed, so, too, may its diplomacy. But as COVID-19 has ravaged the globe, Chinese President Xi Jinping has appeared to defy many of his country’s long-held foreign policy principles all at once. It is too early to tell with certainty, but China—imbued with crisis-stoked nationalism, confident in its continued rise, and willing to court far more risk than in the past—may well be in the middle of a foreign policy rethink that will reverberate around the world.

Yuan Peng, "Coronavirus Pandemic "

Yuan Peng
Introduction and Translation by David Ownby


Yuan Peng (b. 1967) is Research Professor and President of the China Institutes of Contemporary Relations 中国现代国际关系研究院 in Beijing, and a well-respected scholar of international affairs, the United States, and Sino-American relations. He has published extensively in Chinese (some 25 essays are available on his Aisixiang page) and in English.[2] Yuan is fluent in English, and has done stints as a Visiting Scholar both at the Brookings Institute and at the Atlantic Council. His is an important voice explaining the United States and Sino-American relations to the Chinese elite.

Yuan’s essay, published online on June 17, 2020, is part of the larger roll-out of China’s story of the coronavirus pandemic and how the pandemic will shape the future of the world. These topics have, of course, been much discussed in China (and elsewhere); on this site, see the essays by Yao Yang, Xiang Lanxin, and Zhao Yanjing, among others. A major moment in this roll-out was the June 7 publication of the State Council’s White Paper on the subject, Fighting COVID-19: China in Action. Essays like Yuan’s are meant to supplement the official document, providing the intellectual heft and luster that white papers (or most government publications anywhere) naturally lack.

Yuan Peng organizes his text around the theme of a “once-in-a-century change” currently occurring in China and the world. The origin of this theme appears to be an address by Xi Jinping to the Central Foreign Affairs Working Conference 中央外事工作会议 in June of 2018, when he remarked that: “At present, our country is in its best stage of development in modern times, and the world is experiencing a once-in-a-century major change.”[3] 

Russia Loosens Its Belt

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Last month, China held a virtual conference on the Belt and Road Initiative. Hosted by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the high-level meeting was, in the words of Chinese President Xi Jinping, “an opportunity to discuss a collective response to COVID-19, advance Belt and Road cooperation, and strengthen international solidarity.”

As a testament to the infrastructure and investment project’s clout, the event was attended by ministerial-level officials from 25 countries. Even the director-general of the World Health Organization was present to parrot the party line about turning the Belt and Road Initiative “into a true ‘Health Silk Road’”—central to Xi’s efforts to position China as a global leader in health care.

But one face was noticeably missing: Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister. To the dozens gathered virtually, Lavrov delivered a written statement, and an ambassador at large attended in his place.

China’s Activists Mourn the Loss of Hong Kong’s Glimmer of Hope

By Diana Fu and Sida Liu

For more than three decades, Hong Kong provided a glimmer of hope to Chinese rights activists. It was where mainland Chinese activists got their first taste of a street protest. It was where they learned about trade unionism, where they could talk about human rights, and where they could attend a vigil to commemorate the 1989 Tiananmen student movement. For many grassroots activists in China, Hong Kong seeded a fledgling idea: One day, mainland Chinese people, too, could assemble and critique their government without the fear of being arrested or disappeared.

On July 1, 2020, that glimmer of hope all but faded with the enactment of the National Security Law in Hong Kong. The law criminalizes a range of loosely defined activities deemed as secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign forces. Echoing similar national security provisions in the People’s Republic of China Criminal Law, these crimes are purposefully vague. The vagueness amplifies their chilling effect, inducing people to self-censor.

Why Are Mysterious Fires Still Burning in Iran?

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Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Security Brief. What’s on tap today: A wave of unusual fires is burning across Iran, Western governments accuse Russia of meddling with coronavirus vaccine research, and Trump signs off on covert CIA hacking authorities.

Mysterious Fires Scorch Iran

Iran, already ravaged by U.S. sanctions and the coronavirus pandemic, now faces another scourge: A wave of mysterious fires torching the country, including a blaze that burned seven ships in Bushehr, a major port city, on Wednesday. The fires include a July 2 explosion at an underground fuel enrichment plant in Natanz that the New York Times reported was part of a covert effort to undermine the Iranian nuclear program.

The incidents have sparked fears in Iran that the United States and Israel are increasing sabotage operations directed at Tehran. No deaths were reported from Wednesday’s fire. Officials in Iran have blamed some of the fires on sabotage, but others appear to have been caused by accidents, equipment failures, and inclement weather, the Times reported.

The fires may raise fears of military miscalculation between the United States and Iran. The blazes come as the United States failed to convince allies on the U.N. Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Iran set to expire in October, as Foreign Policy reported. The Trump administration faces opposition from allies in its efforts to continue its so-called “maximum pressure” campaign—a definitive effort to scupper the 2015 nuclear deal.

Enhancing Biological Weapons Defense

By Durward Johnson, James Kraska

On July 7, 2020, President Donald Trump formally notified the United Nations that the United States would withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO). This move comes as the United States reached another high-water mark in the burgeoning number of confirmed COVID-19 cases: surpassing three million. Regardless of whether the United States completes its withdrawal from the WHO, it must continue to prepare to defend against natural outbreaks of contagious disease as well as reconsider the prospects and dangers that might be inflicted through biological warfare. The need to strengthen defense against biological weapons has never been more urgent. We offer a roadmap for the United States to work in partnership with allies to induce states to clarify their abandonment of biowarfare programs while bolstering biodefense collaboration.

Ambiguity regarding China’s compliance with bioweapons treaties is of particular concern. In June 2020 the Department of State released the unclassified U.S. annual report, “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments.” The report details specific countries’ levels of compliance with the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and other instruments to control weapons of mass destruction. The reports’ coverage of China is unsettling given the uncertainty over whether Beijing adheres to its obligations to refrain from operating any biological weapons program, as well the duty of all states to eliminate any remnants of past biological weapon initiatives.

The World’s Most Dangerous Alliance

Thomas Joscelyn

On July 8, Xi Jinping spoke with his comrade, Vladimir Putin, by phone. Putin has been one of Xi’s staunchest allies throughout the coronavirus pandemic. And Xi wanted to thank him. The Chinese leader “commended the mutual support and assistance the two countries gave each other at the most trying time of the COVID-19 challenge, an endeavor which added strategic substance to China-Russia relations in the new era,” according to a readout of the call prepared by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Xi didn’t elaborate on what he meant by “new era,” but no explanation was necessary. He meant not only the COVID-19 world we all now live in, but also a new stage in the history of global affairs, one in which America is no longer the top dog.

The United States of America is not explicitly mentioned in the readout posted online by China’s foreign ministry. But American power was clearly the subtext for the two leaders’ exchange. Xi and Putin share a deep-seated animosity for what was once thought of as the American-led world order. They see it as a threat to their countries’ efforts to achieve great power status and, just as importantly, their authoritarian ambitions. And during their call earlier this month, the two autocrats made it clear that they intend to use international institutions to counter American influence.


Russia’s Attempted Vaccine Hack Suggests Research — and Putin’s Grand Plan — Has Stalled


For years, Vladmir Putin has boasted about his ability to restore Russia to its previous state of scientific glory. It appears that effort may not be going as well as the Russian president had hoped. 

On Wednesday, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre issued a joint statement with United States and Canadian partners claiming that Russian actors known as APT29, or Cozy Bear, linked to Russia’s FSB services (and the 2016 DNC hack,) had hit biotech targets in their countries “involved in COVID-19 vaccine development.” The center doesn’t say if any data was stolen but does say the likely intent was “stealing information and intellectual property relating to the development and testing of COVID-19 vaccines.” 

“Putin has argued for the last two or three years that he has pushed to save Russian science,” said Matthew Schmidt, an associate professor of national security and political science at the University of New Haven. Putin has also blamed declines in Russian science on the fall of the Soviet Union and, by extension, the West. “He’s been pushing to rebuild that. If he actually had a strong community of science, a strong educational system he wouldn’t need to do this stuff. My concern is that they’re actually behind [in vaccine development.] You have to be hacking for a reason,” Schmidt said. “That Russia hacked vaccine research is a statement of the weakness of Russian science under 20 years of Putin’s rule. He has failed his country.”

Ten innovations that can improve global health

By Jaana Remes 
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Today’s interventions are the innovations of the past. Without them, healthy lifespans would not be as long as they are. Innovation continues to be critical to tackle diseases without known cures and to help increase uptake and adherence to interventions that work.

As part of the report Prioritizing health: A prescription for prosperity, the McKinsey Global Institute identified ten promising innovations, now in progress, that could have a material impact on health by 2040. Focusing on technologies that address the greatest unmet needs, we determined the impact of these innovations by interviewing experts and evaluating the current biological understanding of each disease, as well as the effort and excitement surrounding the new techniques as measured by funding.

Identifying and sizing the potential scope of innovations now in the pipeline is inherently difficult, but we estimate that these technologies could reduce the burden of disease by a further 6 to 10 percent, assuming aspirational yet realistic adoption rates by 2040—on top of the 40 percent from known interventions. Some of these innovations could not only fully cure a number of diseases but also significantly extend healthy lifespans by tackling the underlying biology of aging and therefore postponing the onset of several age-related conditions. These possibilities make a sharp contrast with the innovations of the past 30 years, many of which reduced the symptoms or delayed the progression of diseases but rarely prevented or cured them. In addition, the innovations we have identified here are more digitally enabled than those of the past; for example, artificial intelligence (AI) systems make advances in omics and molecular technologies, such as gene editing, faster and more accurate.

Libya’s Expanding Proxy War May Be the Ultimate Test of NATO’s Resilience

Candace Rondeaux 

With Egypt reportedly on the brink of invading neighboring Libya, and troops from Chad said to be on their way north to join Gen. Khalifa Haftar in his fight to topple the internationally recognized government in Tripoli, what was already a complicated proxy war could soon become Africa’s first full-on intracontinental war in decades. That may not be all that is at risk, however. If Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi delivers on his promise to come to Haftar’s aid, it could also result in a serious setback for two key American and European security priorities: securing the volatile Eastern Mediterranean and stabilizing the increasingly fragile NATO alliance.

The escalation of tensions along Libya’s eastern and southern borders recently reached a new peak after Egypt conducted a massive military exercise last week in its western coastal region near Libya. The breakaway parliament in Tobruk, in eastern Libya, that supports Haftar’s Libyan National Army then invited Egypt to intervene militarily to stave off a Turkish-backed offensive. Since neither the United States nor Russia is well-positioned to deescalate the situation given their own growing frictions, it seems increasingly likely that the conflict in Libya could eventually result in direct clashes between Turkish and Egyptian military forces—both U.S. allies.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Will Transform How Vaccines Are Made

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There are several possible scenarios for how the coronavirus pandemic will play out in the next few years, and each one that points to a return to normalcy, with the least number of lives lost, includes safe and effective vaccines. Not surprisingly, developing and deploying COVID-19 vaccines has been a major focus for governments and international organizations.

Even if this pandemic is not unprecedented—the 1918 influenza killed as many as 50 million people, and the HIV pandemic remains a public health problem—it is one of the most significant global emergencies the world has faced in a long time. But major crises can be a useful opportunity to build efficiencies into global systems. If there is a ray of light, it is that the experience of developing a rapid vaccine for the coronavirus could also reform and improve the global system for the creation and distribution of vaccines for other diseases in the future.

There are several coronavirus vaccines in development. Currently, at least 145 vaccine programs have been announced—with more than 10 vaccines already in human clinical trials. Many experts predict that a licensed vaccine will be available in 10 to 16 months. But substantial uncertainty remains. The wide range of timelines is at least partially due to the vaccine development process: A lot of things need to go right for a vaccine to be available in a timely manner.The experience of developing a rapid vaccine for the coronavirus could improve the global system for the creation and distribution of all vaccines.

Congress Must Protect America’s Treaties

By Scott R. Anderson and Christopher C. Fonzone

The novel coronavirus pandemic might be the ultimate international problem. It is mobile, indifferent to national borders, and capable of menacing every nation until it can menace none. But instead of embracing international cooperation, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has leaned into its “America first” foreign policy, turning its back on U.S. allies and exiting some of the United States’ longest-standing treaty relationships.

On May 21, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the United States would begin the six-month process of withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty, a Cold War legacy that promotes military transparency by facilitating mutual surveillance overflights among NATO members and former Warsaw Pact countries. Then on July 6, the Trump administration announced that the United States was terminating its relationship with the World Health Organization by withdrawing from the organization’s foundational agreement, the WHO Constitution.

These are not the first treaty relationships Trump has jettisoned. Over the last three and a half years, he has exited or threatened to exit a long list of international treaties, ranging from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (from which the United States withdrew in August 2019) to the North Atlantic Treaty that created NATO (from which Trump has repeatedly suggested he would like to withdraw). But the Open Skies Treaty and the WHO Constitution are the first two treaties that the president has sought to exit on terms that appear to be in tension with the wishes of Congress.

In the COVID-19 vaccine race, nobody wins unless everyone wins


Despite thousands of experts working faster than ever before, it is still going to be at least a year before any licensed and widely distributed COVID-19 vaccines become available, if we’re lucky to have some of the first ones work. Although there are more than 200 in development, there’s normally only about a 7% chance that a candidate vaccine in preclinical development will ultimately prove to be both safe and effective, so the majority are likely to fail. In vaccine development, that is to be expected. But given the urgency in the context of the current pandemic, the uncertainty it brings creates the potential for a deadly zero-sum game. 

We desperately need COVID-19 vaccines to end this crisis, and with so many in development we can be optimistic about getting at least one. But if governments end up competing for them, backing individual vaccines in the hope that they have picked a winner, then one country’s gain will mean many more countries missing out. Moreover, regardless of which vaccines succeed, if we don’t also take a more global and multilateral approach, one involving unprecedented collaboration, where countries work together with global health agencies toward COVID-19 vaccines and where the rewards are shared, then ultimately we all stand to lose. Because with infectious disease, no one is safe until everyone is safe.

The political scar of epidemics

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Barry Eichengreen, Orkun Saka 

What will be the political legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic? This column uses data from the 2006-2018 Gallup World Polls to show that epidemic exposure during an individual’s ‘impressionable years’ of 18 to 25 has a persistent negative effect on trust in political institutions and leaders, especially in democracies. Combined with other evidence that trust is important for limiting the spread of infection, this raises the spectre of a circular, self-reinforcing spiral in which poor public health policy leads to deeper distrust, further undermining the effectiveness of public health policy.

It is widely argued (e.g. Fukyuama 2020) that the keys to success in dealing with COVID-19 are “whether citizens trust their leaders, and whether those leaders preside over a competent and effective state.” By way of example, Rothstein (2020) ascribes the greater success at containing the COVID-19 in the Nordic countries than in Italy in part to greater trust in government.

Trust in government is not a given, however (Dustmann et al. 2017, Grosjean 2019). Specifically, there is reason to ask whether COVID-19 itself will affect trust in political institutions and leaders.

New evidence

2020 Aerospace and Defense Industry Outlook: A midyear update

In our original 2020 outlook, we forecasted that long-term demand for commercial aircraft and innovative technologies are likely to help the aerospace and defense industry rebound from the previous year. Since then, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major disruptions throughout the industry. How can organizations address these new challenges to recover and thrive? Our midyear 2020 aerospace and defense industry outlook provides insights to help leaders navigate increased uncertainty to remain resilient in the wake of COVID-19.

Aerospace and defense (A&D) is one of the industries most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the commercial aerospace sector. With significantly reduced domestic and international passenger traffic, the US commercial aerospace sector is preparing for a weak second half of the year. Will the US defense sector suffer alongside commercial aerospace? How can organizations recover and remain competitive amid COVID-19’s impact on the aerospace and defense industry?

Explore our midyear outlook—focused on four aerospace and defense industry trends—to address new challenges and facilitate recovery in the remaining months of 2020.

While defense continues to soar, commercial aerospace is experiencing a short descent

Global Democracy Supporters Must Confront Systemic Racism


The movement against anti-Black racism has put the failures of U.S. democracy on display and sparked solidarity protests around the world. Occurring in the midst of a global pandemic, the protests have exposed the wide reach of systemic racism in many Western democratic societies, particularly within policing and criminal justice institutions. More broadly, the protests have revealed that deep trust deficits exist between Black communities and their governments. If Western democracies wish to maintain some credibility as lead advocates for human rights and democratic governance, they must seek to fully understand and address the role that racism plays in undermining the legitimacy of their institutions.

The global narrative on the use of police violence against Black people rightly centers around the problem in the United States: the country’s incarceration rate is the highest in the world, Black people make up one-third of the entire prison population but only 12 percent of the total population, and the recent murder of George Floyd has accentuated a history of brutal killings of Black people. Moreover, Floyd’s death finally seems to have moved public opinion. In a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of Americans now express support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Yet focusing exclusively on the United States neglects the extent to which systemic racism deeply permeates law enforcement and criminal justice in other highly developed Western democratic countries. A study in Canada on fatal police encounters from 2000 to 2017 found that Black people made up nearly 37 percent of the victims in Toronto, even though they comprised only 8 percent of the population. In Australia, Black Lives Matter solidarity protests sparked protests against the police killings of indigenous Australians, who are also grossly overrepresented in Australia’s prisons relative to their small population size. And like in the United States, there is rarely any accountability for police brutality; in the United Kingdom, for example, there has not been a successful prosecution for a death in police custody in over fifty years.

Will EU Green Deal Force Russia to Clean Up Its Act?

Russia’s inaction on climate change could lead to new problems in its relationship with the EU. Its Green Deal, for example, envisages the introduction of an EU carbon border tax, which alarms Russian exporters.

The European Union is gradually recovering from the new coronavirus pandemic and beginning to repair its economy. That economic recovery will happen in accordance with the Green Deal adopted at the end of last year, which is designed to drastically cut CO2 emissions and make the EU economy climate neutral by 2050.

For Russia, where environmental policy consists of little more than declarations, that decision by its biggest foreign trading partner could throw up many difficulties, especially for Russia’s traditional exports: oil, gas, and coal. The growing role of the environment in Russia-EU relations was discussed at a recent webinar titled “Europe’s Green Deal and Recovery Plan and Their Relevance for Russia,” organized by the EU Delegation to Russia.

In embarking on its Green Deal, the EU aims to become a world leader in tackling climate change, and to prompt other countries to be more active in implementing the Paris Agreement on climate change. The backdrop to Europe’s persistence on this issue is that the United States has withdrawn from the agreement altogether, Russia is expanding its plans to develop coal and oil deposits, and China and India have fairly weak environmental policies. Those four countries account for more than half of all global greenhouse gas emissions, while the EU accounts for just over 10 percent. 

Why Populism Can Survive the Pandemic


Bolsonaro, Johnson, Salvini, Trump. Erdoğan, Kaczyński, Le Pen. Modi, Orbán, Putin. Some of these global leaders are populists; some have authoritarian streaks; others are authoritarians using populism to consolidate power. Some will be booted out after their disastrous mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic. Others will stay, and new ones will arrive.

Given the poor performance of many populist governments in dealing with the coronavirus, populism looks like it could be magically swept away. But such wishful thinking ignores the reasons for the rise of populism and its likely endurance. To rid the world of populism, its root causes must be addressed.


Many in Europe believe that populism came about because of external crises that have hit the continent over the past ten years. These include the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the eurozone, which sparked displeasure with the euro and economic inequality, and the refugee influx of 2015 and 2016, which unearthed fears of identity loss and led to greater skepticism about the EU.

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.