1 August 2020

In a State of Flux: Maritime Order in the Indian Ocean

by Richard Ghiasy
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While many fixate on the South China Sea, the vast Indian Ocean region (IOR), stretching from East Africa to South East Asia, and down to Australia, has become a tense multipolar security space. HCSS first flagged this development in the IOR in 2010. Since then, developments have accelerated. Foreign military facilities and naval forces are proliferating around the Arabian Peninsula.

Simultaneously, the U.S. Navy's role as the primary security provider in the Indian Ocean, including for the safe passage of global trade and energy, has eroded. Consequently, the security dynamics and maritime order of the region are in a state of flux, and a long list of countries are seeking a foothold in the region. The most prominent of these is China.

But China’s rise is not the only factor behind the growing complexity in the IOR’s maritime order. New Delhi aims to become a key security provider in the region: India views the IOR as its natural sphere of influence and access to the Indian Ocean is crucial to Indian national security. In addition, smaller regional powers, particularly in the Middle East and the Gulf, harbor ambitions in the IOR. They aim to expand their areas of influence, notably along the East Africa littoral and the Red Sea.

Brahmaputra dams: A China-India political quagmire


The Brahmaputra River runs from its origin in western Tibet through India before flowing into the sea in Bangladesh. Photo: Pfly / WikiCommons

Both the 12th and 13th Five-Year Plans adopted by the Chinese State Council have called for large-scale expansion of hydropower projects in the southwest, including all three provinces of Tibet. The Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra River) is one of the main international rivers identified for hydropower expansion in Tibet.

Jiacha Dam to begin operation next month

Why global data flow is under threat, and why Asia is in a strong position to benefit

Carolyn Bigg

The Schrems II case concerns a complaint that Facebook was not adequately protecting EU personal data when transferring and storing it in the US. Photo: Bloomberg

Global trade largely depends on the free flow of data across borders – that is one reason data is often called “the new oil”. It is the very lifeblood of the digital economy.

Yet in the last few years the reality of international data flows has found itself out of step with the mercantilist direction of trade policy.

At first glance, the ruling on July 16 from the EU’s highest Court in the highly-anticipated Schrems II case appeared only to have major consequences for data sharing between the EU and the US. Now it’s abundantly clear that the decision presents a vast set of commercial, operational and legal challenges and risks for businesses all over the world.

The ruling affects all multinational businesses that transfer data in and out of the EU, use EU service providers, have EU entities or operations, or even just have EU-based customers or users – and not least the many businesses that rely on cloud and outsourcing providers in Asia.

In a nutshell, this is serious. But much of the world’s attention is focused elsewhere.

Global China: Regional influence and strategy

Tarun Chhabra, Rush Doshi, Ryan Hass, and Emilie Kimball

Not long ago, China was viewed primarily as a regional actor with a predominant focus on events in its near abroad. In the span of a few short decades, China has established itself as a global actor. It has solidified its role as one of a small handful of countries with interests spanning the globe and the capacity to act on them. China’s presence is now felt in every corner of the world, from the South Pacific to South and Central Asia, the wider Middle East, Latin America, and points in between.

To explore the impact of China’s global activism, the papers in this installment of the Brookings Foreign Policy project “Global China: Assessing China’s Growing Role in the World” explore China’s efforts to expand its influence across different geographic regions, as well as implications of those efforts for the United States and for international order. These papers each reach initial conclusions about what tools China is relying upon to advance its interests, how China’s efforts are being met by local actors, and what options exist for those actors — and in some cases the United States — to respond. The papers demonstrate the diversity of methods China is employing to advance its interests. Taken as a whole, though, they highlight China’s heavy reliance on economic statecraft as a tool of first resort for pressing gains and for imposing penalties on countries that challenge its interests or push back on its agenda.

Myanmar’s Casino Cities: The Role of China and Transnational Criminal Networks

BY: Jason Tower; Priscilla A. Clapp

Seeking to profit from China's lucrative but illegal gambling market, a shady web of actors has begun building resort cities in Myanmar’s Karen State to cater to Chinese gamblers. This report casts light on the actors behind Myanmar’s illegal gambling sector, their linkages to Chinese government entities and to Myanmar's armed groups and military, and how their actions could upend Myanmar’s prospects for peace.Chit Thu, commander of the Karen State Border Guard Force, has been a key figure in developing the Yatai New City Project. (Nyein Su Wai Kyaw Soe)


Complex transnational networks of Chinese investors, forced out of Cambodia for illegal gambling activity, are relocating to Karen State to build three megacities as a hub for casinos. They use partnerships with local armed groups, operating under the authority of the national army, to gain access to land, offering in return a share of the profits.

The China-Iran Deal: A Trial Balloon with a Clear Message

By Dr. James M. Dorsey

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Hobbled by harsh US sanctions and a global economic downturn, Iran has discovered a new weapon: hot air in the form of a cooperation deal with China that carries messages to its opponents. China, albeit far less economically impaired, sees virtue in this arrangement too.

A proposed 25-year humongous China-Iran cooperation deal has proven to be good business. Reams of articles, analyses, and commentary by pundits are ensuring that the two countries’ messages are delivered loud and clear.

Beijing and Tehran have provided evidence to keep the story alive: Numerous agreements signed by Presidents Xi Jinping and Hassan Rouhani during the Chinese leader’s visit to the Middle East in 2016 would, if implemented, expand economic relations between the two countries by a factor of 10 to $600 billion and significantly enhance military cooperation.

Those agreements, which signaled a potential Chinese tilt toward Iran, were concluded at a time when a significant easing of US sanctions against Iran was anticipated as part of the 2015 international agreement, which curbed Iran’s nuclear program.

Those hopes were dashed when President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions. China has since by and large abided by the US restrictions.

The Iran-China 25-Year Plan: A Preliminary Assessment

By Ofira Seliktar and Farhad Rezaei

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The newly announced Iran-China 25 Year Comprehensive Partnership is unprecedented in its scope. It contains a “mystery clause” that gives China control over how Iran spends its resources, which could ultimately amount to Iran’s selling its sovereignty to Beijing. The close military collaboration between the countries also has major implications for the decades-long US domination of the Gulf and large stretches of the Indian Ocean.

On June 23, 2020, the Iranian government announced the Iran-China 25 Year Comprehensive Partnership. According to a leaked draft of the 18-page agreement, it amounts to an unprecedented economic, military, and technological collaboration between the two states.

Relations between Beijing and Tehran, which date back to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “Pivot to the East“ policy, have blossomed under Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is pushing China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). According to China, the BRI aims to create a huge unified market in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa through massive investment in infrastructure, education, and technology. Critics view the BRI as a thinly disguised effort to achieve Chinese strategic and economic domination over a large swath of the globe.

Combatting and Defeating Chinese Propaganda and Disinformation: A Case Study of Taiwan’s 2020 Elections

Aaron Huang 

In its 2020 presidential and legislative elections, Taiwan combatted and defeated Chinese propaganda and disinformation through a whole-of-society approach, one in which the government became better at debunking fake news and raising awareness of these attacks; civil society became more alert and created non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to detect, debunk, and block fake news online; and companies such as Facebook and LINE (similar to WhatsApp) became faster at finding and removing fake accounts and disinformation. 

Using Taiwan’s most recent elections as an example to elucidate the nature of Chinese propaganda and disinformation, this report identifies China’s motives, tactics, and actors in its foreign information warfare. Similar to Russia’s, China’s motives are to destabilize democracy and weaken governance in a target country by sowing doubts and chaos in its society, undermining its self-confidence, and increasing polarization and disunity. Its tactics include the following: 1) worsen existing social, political, economic, and generational divides; 2) exploit weaknesses in the informational system; 3) financially control and absorb traditional media; 4) employ its cyber army; 5) obfuscate the attack source through technological, commercial, and legal means; and 6) make the attacks partisan so that one side will at worst not condemn it and at best magnify the effects of its attacks. Its actors are the Chinese Cyberspace Administration, Central Propaganda Department, United Front Department, People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force, State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office, 50-Cent Party (cyber army) and its content farms, and provinces, as well as agents from the target country employed by the Chinese government.

U.S.-China confrontation is like nothing we’ve seen before

by Frederick Kempe

We’ve never been here before.

The escalating confrontation between the United States and China is so perilous because the world’s two largest economies – and the two defining countries of their times – are navigating uncharted terrain.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s landmark speech at the Nixon Library on Thursday marked the most robust call to action yet against the Chinese Communist Party. It came amid tit-for-tat consular shutdowns in Houston and Chengdu, and the Friday arrest by the FBI of an alleged Chinese military operative in San Francisco.

It’s tempting to brand this a hotter phase of a new Cold War, as this column did just last week. However, that language understates the historic novelty of what’s unfolding and its epochal enormity.

It’s a unique moment because the United States, since its rise to global power, has never confronted such a potent peer competitor across so many realms: political, economic, technological, military and even societal.

It’s new as well because no country in modern history has risen as quickly as China, from 2% of global GDP in 1980 to some 20% of global GDP in 2019. That leaves Beijing, for the first time, confronting global challenges without the learning curve of a more gradual evolution.

China’s Fiscal Dilemma


BEIJING – COVID-19 hit the Chinese economy hard in the first quarter of 2020, causing real GDP to contract by 6.8% year on year. But since the city of Wuhan emerged from lockdown in early April, the economy has gradually returned to normal, and grew by 3.2% in the second quarter. According to the consensus view, China’s current potential GDP growth rate is 6%. If it achieves this in the second half of 2020, the economy could post full-year annual growth of 2.5%.

But achieving this outcome will require a demand boost. Lack of effective demand has impeded China’s growth for years, and the pandemic has made the situation much worse.

Consumption, which accounts for 55% of China’s GDP, fell by 3.9% in terms of social retail sales in the second quarter, on top of a 19% decline in the first three months of 2020. Some argue that consumption will now surge and become the main growth driver in the remainder of the year. But this is unlikely, because households will be anxious to replenish the savings they depleted during the lockdown. The government can and should provide relief to households affected by COVID-19, but it cannot do much to stimulate consumption.

China’s exports and imports fell by 3% and 3.3%, respectively, in the second quarter. But because the share of net exports in China’s GDP is less than 1%, export performance will in any case have a limited impact on growth in the second half of 2020.


Ali Wyne 
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Mao Zedong proclaimed the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. Coming just a month after the Soviet Union had tested an atomic bomb—roughly four years before the Central Intelligence Agency had forecast that Moscow would have the ability to produce one—that outcome seemed to reinforce that the supposed hegemony Washington had inherited with the conclusion of World War II was dubious, if not illusory. It also had a personal resonance for George Marshall, one of the most esteemed soldier-statesmen of his generation. As Foreign Affairs executive editor Daniel Kurtz-Phelan explains in his book The China Mission: George Marshall’s Unfinished War, 1945–1947, while Marshall is chiefly remembered for the visionary plan for European reconstruction that bears his imprimatur, his beliefs about the reach of US influence were significantly forged in the crucible of a bitter disappointment: Marshall had served as America’s special envoy to China from December 1945 to January 1947, laboring, ultimately in vain, to mediate a peace between Mao’s Communist forces and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist forces.

There was a prosaic explanation for Marshall’s failed intervention and the eventual defeat of the Kuomintang: namely, that despite its preponderant material power, the United States faced acute limits to the outcomes it could achieve as well as the setbacks it could avert (an assessment that obtains even more today). Kurtz-Phelan notes, though, that many US observers were incensed, asking how China had been “lost.” Initially arguing that “China was America’s to save, and it was Marshall’s failure to have lost it,” the diplomat’s critics would later contend that a “more enlightened policy toward the Communists . . . could have won them over as anti-Soviet allies.” Kurtz-Phelan characterizes these conclusions as “fanciful, both of them reassuring in their affirmation of American omnipotence.”

South China Sea: China’s ‘dark fleet’ now targeting Sea of Japan

Jamie Seidel
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It’s been a gruesome mystery for years: the wrecks of wooden boats crewed only by skeletons found adrift in the Sea of Japan.

But these ‘ghost ships’ have become a macabre spectre: More than 150 washed ashore last year alone. Some are split in half. Others are empty, but eerily intact. Some carry dead crews. A few hold steadfastly silent survivors. All were clearly North Korean.

Japanese authorities assumed the poverty-stricken fishers had sailed too far for too long in a desperate hunt for increasingly scarce fish. Or that they were defectors from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s authoritarian regime.

Now NBC News and a report by the University of Wollongong has exposed the presence of a vast, anonymous “Dark Fleet” operating in North Korean waters. And it’s been directly linked to Beijing.

Congress Pushes for Sanctions on Turkey, Russia Over Libyan War

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U.S. lawmakers are advancing a bill that would compel the Trump administration to levy sanctions on Russia and Turkey for fueling an escalation in the civil war in Libya, as the Defense Department has warned about the deployment of foreign mercenaries into the war zone.

The Libya Stabilization Act, which is expected to pass out of the House Foreign Affairs Committee this week, would impose mandatory sanctions on both countries within six months, giving the White House wide leeway to revoke U.S. visas or freeze funds in American banks, a bid to keep Russia in particular from establishing a bridgehead across the Mediterranean.

“We don’t want Russia to establish a foothold on what is essentially the soft underbelly of NATO in Europe,” a House aide familiar with the legislation told Foreign Policy. “Other than chastising them there haven’t been significant penalties.”

“With [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan and [Vladimir] Putin and more broadly, they act when there’s a stick involved or a penalty held above their head,” the aide added, referring to the Turkish and Russian presidents.

Did a Cyber-Weapon Blow Up an Iranian Missile Factory—And Is This Cyber-War?

An Iranian general would not rule out that a massive explosion east of Tehran last week was caused by “hacking,” amidst speculation that the incident was an act of sabotage.

Iranian authorities had attempted to downplay the blast—which tore through a missile factory east of Tehran—as a gas tank explosion at a different industrial park. But one official refused to rule out an act of cyber-sabotage.

“On the explosion of the Parchin gas facilities, it has been mentioned that the incident was caused by hacking the center’s computer systems,” said Brig. Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, head of the Passive Defense Institution, at a conference on anti-chemical weapons defense. “But until we come to a conclusion on the dimensions of this incident and the claim, we cannot comment.”

The explosion damaged the Khojir missile production complex, according to satellite imagery, but Iranian authorities have insisted that it actually took place at the Parchin industrial park forty kilometer away.

A Manifesto for Globalization

Charles Kenny

Globalization is under attack. From the right, President Trump thundered to the UN that “[w]e reject the ideology of globalism, and we embrace the doctrine of patriotism. Around the world, responsible nations must defend against threats to sovereignty...from global governance.” From the left, Bernie Sanders proclaimed, “Let’s be clear. The global economy is not working for the majority of people in our country and the world. This is an economic model developed by the economic elite to benefit the economic elite.” US isolationism is part of a worldwide phenomenon: anti-globalizers have risen to power in countries from Brazil and Hungary to the UK. And they led efforts to build walls real and virtual against trade and exchange. From the intellectual right, globalization is blamed for cultural decay. From the left it is attacked as a source of inequality and repression.

Director of Technology and Development and Senior Fellow

Perhaps most dangerously, we have allowed isolationists and nativists to portray global engagement as zero-sum and of benefit only to the few. We have allowed apologists to suggest their supporters are motivated by personal economic loss linked to globalization, rather than by cultural concerns. These are dangerous fictions, and it is time to confront them. There are valid complaints about some of the policies proposed as part of globalization, including the internationalization of excessive intellectual property monopolies, attacks on employee protections in the name of competitiveness, or demands to abandon health and environmental regulations, but the anti-globalizing populists are uninterested in these issues, or efforts to ensure the benefits of trade and exchange spread to all. And the overwhelming truth is that globalization today is a positive-sum force for global and national equality.

The Global Order After COVID-19

Stephen M. Walt 

The COVID-19 pandemic is the most disruptive global event since the Great Depression and World War 2. At least 4.8 million people have been infected in less than six months; more than 300,000 have died, and many more deaths will occur even if effective vaccines or treatments are eventually developed. The economic costs are staggering: much of the world has fallen into recession, debt levels are soaring, and future growth prospects have dimmed. It is in some ways the first fully global crisis in human history, one from which no country can remain aloof.

Yet despite these far-reaching effects, the current pandemic will not transform the essential nature of world politics. The territorial state will remain the basic building-block of international affairs, nationalism will remain a powerful political force, and the major powers will continue to compete for influence in myriad ways. Global institutions, transnational networks, and assorted non-state actors will still play important roles, of course, but the present crisis will not produce a dramatic and enduring increase in global governance or significantly higher levels of international cooperation

Instead, COVID-19 is more likely to reinforce divisive trends that were underway before the first case was detected. In particular, it will accelerate a retreat from globalization, raise new barriers to international trade, investment, and travel, and give both democratic and non-democratic governments greater power over their citizens' lives. Global economic growth will be lower than it would have been had the pandemic not occurred. Relations among the major powers will continue the downward trend that was apparent before the pandemic struck.

In short, the post-COVID-19 world will be less open, less free, less prosperous, and more competitive than the world many people expected to emerge only a few years ago

The End of the Middle East’s Trickle-Down Economy

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To walk their dogs, to clean their houses, or even to hand them towels as they exit their restrooms, Lebanese have traditionally depended on Ethiopians. To drive their cars, to build their stadiums, and to dig for their natural resources, the six oil-rich Gulf nations have traditionally hired South Asians. Both of these sizable immigrant groups were often overworked and underpaid. But they suffered through it all just to be able to earn enough to send money back home to help their families.

The onset of the coronavirus pandemic, however, has collapsed this economic model. The long lockdowns and resulting economic slump in host countries have put tens of millions of immigrants in the Middle East out of work, or on unpaid leave, and forced many to return to countries already grappling with poverty and high unemployment. Experts fear this reverse migration will have debilitating consequences for the workers and their home countries, as well as their host nations.

The salaries that Asian and African migrant workers earned in the Middle East trickled home in the form of loans to siblings to open small businesses, homes for aging parents, and school fees for children. Now, their joblessness is bound to have a ripple effect, too, as a decline in remittances reduces consumption and plunges local businesses into hardship. In an April report, the World Bank estimated that remittances to low- and middle-income nations will drop by 20 percent this year, a steeper dive than the 5 percent witnessed after the global recession in 2009.

Trump Can’t Ban TikTok, but He Can Hurt It

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The wild popularity of TikTok, the app best known for videos of lip-syncing teens, is re-igniting the debate among U.S. officials over how the United States should define and defend its national security interests against Chinese companies. One frequent argument is that the United States should “ban” TikTok. Under U.S. law, that’s not a real option—but there’s a huge toolbox the government can deploy against the app instead.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a Beijing-based software company, creating worries about data privacy. The U.S. has accused the Chinese government of stealing personal data many times in the past, including targeting the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, Equifax, Marriott, Anthem health insurance, and others. As TikTok collects user data from tens of millions of Americans, Chinese authorities who possess sweeping national security powers can simply compel ByteDance to hand over foreign users’ data. The United States is not alone—India banned TikTok last month (along with dozens of other Chinese apps), citing similar issues, in the aftermath of a bloody skirmish with China on the border.

The EU Opens the Door to More China Trade

By Antonia Colibasanu

After 10 years of negotiation, the European Council earlier this week authorized the EU to sign a trade agreement with China. The deal will protect geographical indications, a type of intellectual property for products like Camembert cheese from Lower Normandy and Prosecco from Veneto that possess certain qualities unique to their place of origin. The agreement will prevent these kinds of products from being produced elsewhere and sold using expressions such as “kind,” “type,” “style” and “imitation.” The deal may not sound like much; it covers just 100 products from each side, and some EU members are more represented than others on the list of products. (French goods, for example, represent a quarter of the protected products.) But it is notable that the EU, at this critical time, is laying the groundwork for a broader trade agreement with China.

Indeed, the timing of the deal is interesting. It had been under negotiation for a decade, a long time even by EU standards, and it still needs approval from the European Parliament (which is mostly a formality at this point) before it can take effect. Moreover, the European Commission called China a “strategic competitor” as recently as 2019, and opinion polls indicate an increase in unfavorable views of the country among the European public.

It Is Time to Abandon Dollar Hegemony

By Simon Tilford and Hans Kundnani

In the 1960s, French Finance Minister Valéry Giscard d’Estaing complained that the dominance of the U.S. dollar gave the United States an “exorbitant privilege” to borrow cheaply from the rest of the world and live beyond its means. U.S. allies and adversaries alike have often echoed the gripe since. But the exorbitant privilege also entails exorbitant burdens that weigh on U.S. trade competitiveness and employment and that are likely to grow heavier and more destabilizing as the United States’ share of the global economy shrinks. The benefits of dollar primacy accrue mainly to financial institutions and big businesses, but the costs are generally borne by workers. For this reason, continued dollar hegemony threatens to deepen inequality as well as political polarization in the United States.

Dollar hegemony isn’t foreordained. For years, analysts have warned that China and other powers might decide to abandon the dollar and diversify their currency reserves for economic or strategic reasons. To date, there is little reason to think that global demand for dollars is drying up. But there is another way the United States could lose its status as issuer of the world’s dominant reserve currency: it could voluntarily abandon dollar hegemony because the domestic economic and political costs have grown too high.

Zaporizhia Oblast: The Next Flash Point in Russia’s ‘Hybrid’ Aggression Against Southeastern Ukraine?

By Alla Hurska

On July 9, the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) arrested a group of radical pro-Russia separatists promoting the creation of the so-called “Zaporizhian People’s Republic” (ZPR). In 2014, these individuals allegedly tried to seize power in southeastern Ukraine’s Zaporizhia Oblast but had to flee to Luhansk, where they began cooperating with the Moscow-backed separatist authorities of the self-declared Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics” (LPR/DPR). Having secretly returned to Zaporizhia, the perpetrators allegedly planned to carry out various subversive activities and distributed pro-Russia separatist materials that called for the overthrow of the constitutional order in Ukraine and the creation of the ZPR (Ssu.gov.ua, July 9).

The arrested group of subversives was not the first indication of Moscow’s attempts to destabilize Ukrainian Zaporizhia, an important littoral region on the Azov Sea, northwest of occupied Crimea. A week earlier, on July 2, the SSU broke up the activities of a “bot farm” in the port city of Berdyansk that was generating fake/manipulative material for dissemination by 500 “bots” (fake/automated social media accounts) that were part of an extensive inter-regional network operated from Russia. The bot network was created by registering social media accounts using hundreds of SIM-cards of Ukrainian and Russian mobile operators. The SSU specifically uncovered a cache of almost 900 such SIM-cards at an apartment owned by one local resident involved with the bot farm. The information “throw-ins” produced by the Berdyansk bot farm were designed to sow panic during the coronavirus pandemic as well as discredit the actions of Ukrainian authorities (Ssu.gov.ua, July 2). In June, the authorities exposed a massive network of pro-Russian bot farms running 10,000 bots in four Ukrainian regions. According to the SSU, it would be impossible to anonymously (without passports) purchase such a massive number of Russian SIM-cards without the support of Moscow’s special services (Liga.net, June 16).

Critical Frontier: Leveraging Technology to Combat COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged clinicians, public health authorities, companies and governments to quickly develop new capabilities for supporting recovery, maintaining health security, and building resilience. Digital tools and strategies have become crucial in this effort.

The World Economic Forum seeks to help by aggregating and amplifying such digital offerings to facilitate implementation, identify gaps and better align efforts with needs.

This document is an update of the Early Compendium of Technology Responses to COVID-19 published in April 2020. It more than triples the number of solutions, providing better visibility into the diverse uses of technology for the COVID-19 response.

Ensuring Cyber Resilience in NATO’s Command, Control and Communication Systems

This paper will identify, raise awareness of, and help reduce risks to NATO’s nuclear weapon systems arising from cybersecurity vulnerabilities. It aims to respond to the need for more public information on cyber risks in NATO’s nuclear mission, and to provide policy-driven research to shape and inform nuclear policy at member-state level.

Control panels in an underground Launch Control Center outside Great Falls, Montana, on 1 July 2018. Photo: The Washington Post/Getty Images.

NATO’s nuclear capability is provided by the US and the UK. The modernization of systems and arsenals held by both states is proceeding apace. This has involved – and continues to involve – the integration and use of increasingly sophisticated new technologies within their nuclear programmes, including in their respective command, control and communication (C3) systems. 

Cyber operations targeting NATO members’ C3 systems and their assets, including nuclear assets, are also increasingly sophisticated in nature. While cybersecurity is a serious concern, and there is acknowledgment of the potential magnitude of cyberattacks, documentation available in the public domain indicates the need for NATO and its members to put in place further measures to ensure the cybersecurity of C3 systems, including those of nuclear systems. This is all the more pertinent given that some Allies’ military capabilities still include legacy systems from the Soviet era. 

Systems of Cyber Resilience: Secure and Trusted FinTech

Cyber risk is pervasive, systemic and global in scope. In the financial services industry, it is increasingly difficult to mitigate this risk, since the modularization of financial services interlinks organizations whose cybersecurity maturity levels vary greatly. It is therefore difficult for any one firm to understand how an attacker might move laterally across a supply chain. Given that interests and priorities diverge among actors, a sector-wide baseline for cybersecurity is necessary to ensure the integrity of the global financial system. 

A vital step in establishing this baseline is for financial technology (FinTech) companies to uphold their obligations to system resilience. FinTech companies must protect themselves and their customers in a measurable and demonstrable way, but they are often faced with fragmented regulations and finite resources and operate in a market where skilled expertise is in short supply. This Consortium helps raise the level of FinTech cybersecurity by supporting the scaling and adoption of frameworks that provide clear and achievable cybersecurity guidelines to FinTechs to enhance the security of the wider financial services supply chain. More significantly, this work is a vital step towards creating durable partnerships that will improve the cybersecurity and resilience of the global financial system. Additional organizations - including the Cyber Risk Institute, supported by the World Economic Forum, and the Coalition to Reduce Cyber Risk – will carry this group’s recommendations forward to implementation across the financial sector globally.

A New Era for Deep Space Exploration and Development

At the sixth meeting of the National Space Council on August 20, 2019, the Council adopted a set of recommendations, including a recommendation that directed the National Space Council staff, in consultation with National Space Council members and the Users’ Advisory Group, to present to the Chairman of the National Space Council a Moon-Mars Development Strategy. This strategy was to include low-Earth orbit commercialization, robotic and human exploration, national security capabilities, and international cooperation for science, safety, security, and economic growth. The strategy delineated in this paper supports an ambitious vision for human space exploration and development. This vision is one in which there is a sustainable human and robotic presence across the solar system — an expanding sphere of commercial, non-governmental activities in which increasing numbers of Americans live and work in space. 

This vision begins with a campaign to utilize Earth’s orbital environment, the surface and resources of the Moon, and cis-lunar space to develop the critical technologies, operational capabilities, and commercial space economy necessary for a sustainable human presence on the Moon, Mars, and beyond. U.S. space exploration efforts impact and aid multiple national interests, including the economy, national security, scientific advances, and diplomacy. The landscape has changed drastically since the early beginnings of the Space Age. Current space exploration efforts involve a greater number of nations and private sector actors, and as a result, the nature of leadership in space has evolved. The challenge in this new era is not simply to achieve what others cannot but to provide opportunities for others to partner with us. Although NASA is, and will remain, the primary United States Government entity for civil space exploration efforts, other departments and agencies have increasingly important roles to play in space.