4 August 2020

Lessons for India After the Galwan Valley Clash

By Shruti Pandalai

“If you want to annoy your neighbor, say the truth about them” says an old proverb. Luckily for India, its neighbor decided to throw elbows around everywhere this time and the global town hall is finally convinced. As the international community seeks to shape Chinese misbehavior, it is an open secret that India has been living with these truths since the 1950s. Chinese patterns of provocation have endured for over five decades and efforts at palliation — mitigating tensions without curing the root of the problem — have remained cosmetic too.

The narrative of the great betrayal in India’s public discourse is a legacy of the 1962 war with China. I have argued before that 1962 cemented an enduring discourse of contested perceptions that persists, independent of the climate of talks between governments.

Today, the mainstreaming of anti-China sentiment in India has driven an articulation of policy options where proverbial red lines are being crossed. It is essential now to have a reset in ties, one that ensures that the strategic narrative on China in India’s public square reinforces cold facts and moves on from the shibboleths of the past.

Patterns of Provocation

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).(Source: depositphotos, Wikimedia Commons)

Can China’s Military Win the Tech War?

By Anja Manuel and Kathleen Hicks

As the Chinese government has set out to harness the growing strength of the Chinese technology sector to bolster its military, policymakers in the United States have reacted with mounting alarm. U.S. officials have described Beijing’s civil-military fusion effort as a “malign agenda” that represents a “global security threat.” And as China’s defense capabilities have grown, some Western policymakers have started to wonder whether the United States needs to adopt its own version of civil-military fusion, embracing a top-down approach to developing cutting-edge technologies with military applications.

Chinese President Xi Jinping formalized the concept of civil-military fusion as part of the extensive military reforms laid out in his 2016 five-year plan. He established a new Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development, with himself as its head. The commission’s goal is to promote the development of dual-use technology and integrate existing civilian technologies into the arsenal of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

The United States and its allies should take seriously Beijing’s efforts to militarize China’s technological base. Yet they should also recognize the strategy’s limitations, to avoid overreacting in ways that would prove counterproductive. China’s bureaucratic and authoritarian approach to civil-military fusion is likely to waste considerable time and money. By trying to control innovation, Beijing is more likely to delay and even stifle it.

China’s Infrastructure-Heavy Model for African Growth Is Failing

By Thierry Pairault
Locomotives for the new Ethiopia to Djibouti electric railway system queue outside a train station in the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Sept.24, 2016.Credit: AP Photo/Elias Meseret

The strategy of “infrastructure-led growth” (growth, not economic and social development) seems to be showing its limits in Africa, where China has largely been instrumental in promoting it.

This strategy is based on the Keynesian multiplier theory whereby any increase in aggregate demand would result in a more than proportional increase in GDP. In other words, any investment in infrastructure would induce growth, regardless of its true economic and social profitability. The implementation of this theory greatly explains why China has been able to maintain very high growth figures over the last 15 years. Whether or not infrastructure investment is redundant, whether it takes place in China or abroad, the result for China is the same. Thus, by financing African infrastructure investment, China is causing an increase in demand for the goods and services it produces and thus an increase in its own GDP. This is the virtue to systematically tying the granting of a loan with an almost exclusive sourcing of goods and services produced in China. It should be remembered that this tying practice is normally banned for OECD/DAC members (which do not include China) and that only France and the United Kingdom would actually comply with this rule.

How Will the EU Answer China’s Turn Toward ‘Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy’?

By Earl Wang

Chinese President Xi Jinping raises his glass and proposes a toast during the welcome banquet for visiting leaders attending the Belt and Road Forum at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, April 26, 2019.Credit: Nicolas Asfouri/Pool Photo via AP

The European Union (EU) is not a centralized state by nature, while in China the decision-making power has been centralized under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, Beijing’s foreign policy and the practices of its diplomats seem to more and more reflect the conceptions not of one party, but of one person: Xi Jinping. This became even more explicit when China’s Foreign Ministry established a research center studying Xi’s thoughts on diplomacy on July 20. The recent COVID-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong National Security Law, and the activities in the South China Sea gave Europe and other regions a chance to observe Xi’s way of conduct, coated with the growing assertiveness of China on the world stage. Faced with an extremely centralized counterpart like Beijing, Brussels and member state capitals have no choice but to unite themselves when articulating and implementing the EU’s grand strategy vis-à-vis China.

The EU and many of its member states had a bitter experience with China’s foreign policy and diplomatic practices during the COVID-19 crisis, when the EU’s diplomatic chief Josep Borrell stated the existence of a “battle of narratives.” Analysts in Europe have also raised awareness that China’s approach toward the EU is not unique to the pandemic but rather a long-term strategy to consolidate its power and compete for control of the international system.

After 99 Days of Success, Virus Returns to Haunt Vietnam

By Hau Dinh

For 99 days, Vietnam seemed to have defeated the coronavirus. There wasn’t a single reported case of community transmission. Not a single death. A handful of cases were caught and isolated at the border, but otherwise people were returning to their normal lives. The country of 96 million people was hailed globally as a standout success.

But then a week ago, an outbreak began that has now grown to 43 cases in six parts of the country, including three of the largest cities, and forced authorities to reimpose restrictions many thought they had put behind them. And experts worry the outbreak could be much larger than currently known.

The outbreak began last Thursday in the picturesque coastal city of Da Nang, where thousands of tourists were taking their summer vacations on golden beaches. A 57-year-old man was hospitalized with a fever and tested positive. His condition soon worsened and he was put on a ventilator.

Health authorities swung into action. But the man’s case was puzzling. He hadn’t left his hometown for over a month and tests on his family and 100 other possible contacts all came back negative.

What Mike Pompeo doesn’t understand about China, Richard Nixon and U.S. foreign policy

by Richard N. Haass

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a blistering speech about China on Thursday. The problem was not simply that the nation’s chief diplomat was decidedly undiplomatic. Worse was his misrepresentation of history and his failure to suggest a coherent or viable path forward for managing a relationship that more than any other will define this era.

The secretary asked what Americans have to show for 50 years of “blind engagement” and said the answer was little or nothing. He instead erected a straw man: U.S. policy failed, he said, because China did not evolve into a democracy when, in fact, the purpose of the policy developed by Richard M. Nixon and Henry Kissinger was to use China as a counterweight to the Soviet Union and shape China’s foreign policy, not its internal nature.

What’s more, their efforts largely succeeded. In cementing China’s split from the Soviet Union, the United States gained leverage that contributed to the Cold War ending when and how it did.

The World This Week

Russia Halted S-400 Air Defense Sales to China. Why?

by Mark Episkopos

The Kremlin has abruptly suspended further S-400 deliveries to The People’s Republic of China (PRC), portending an early sign of strain in the burgeoning ‘strategic partnership’ between Russia and China.

As Russia’s premier missile defense system, the S-400 Triumf has generated widespread interest from high-profile importers over the past decade. In a substantial boon to Russia’s arms export industry, China became the first foreign buyer to give the Triumf a stamp of import approval as part of a $3 billion deal for the delivery of six S-400 battalions—a total of thirty-six launchers. It was widely reported that the PRC received its first S-400 shipment in May 2018, but subsequent coverage by Russian and Chinese defense sources suggests that a handful of necessary components are still in the process of being delivered to the PRC. Moreover, reportedly Russia must also provide some onsite training and installation work before China’s S-400 systems can be fully deployed.

Late last week, several Chinese news sources reported that the Kremlin has indefinitely postponed all S-400 related deliveries to PRC’s armed forces. The most complete explanation comes from Chinese outlet Sohu, and is worth quoting in full: “This time, Russia announced the postponement of the delivery of missiles for the Chinese S-400 system. To a certain extent, we can say that it is for the sake of China. Getting a gun is not as easy as signing an invoice after receiving a weapon. They say that the work on delivering these weapons is quite complicated. While China has to send personnel for training, Russia also needs to send a lot of technical personnel to put the weapons into service...the reasons given by Russia are very heartwarming. It turns out that Russia is worried that the delivery of S-400 missiles at this time will affect the anti-pandemic actions of the Chinese army and does not want to cause trouble to China.”

Donald Trump’s Troop Shift to Asia Could Spark an Unexpected War With China

by Bonnie Kristian

Several thousand U.S. troops leaving permanent stations in Germany will soon be redeployed to the Asia-Pacific region to counter Chinese power from locations including Guam, Japan, and Hawaii. “In that theater, Americans and allies face the most significant geopolitical challenge since the end of the Cold War,” National Security Advisor Robert O'Brien argued in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, describing a plan that was implemented in late June. Thus, he said, “U.S. forces must be deployed abroad in a more forward and expeditionary manner than they have been in recent years.”

The implicit suggestion that U.S. forces have not been deployed in an expeditionary manner in recent years would be laughable were it not coming from the White House. The reality, of course, is that the last two decades of U.S. foreign policy have seen one expedition after another; that few, if any, of them have arrived at any real resolution; and that none have proven a success.

To be sure, this shift will differ in tactics from recent expeditions past, moving from land campaigns to an AirSea Battle concept introduced during the Obama years. It will see U.S. forces based relatively safely in U.S. territories and on allied soil and not, as in the Middle East and North Africa, significantly in nations subject to civil war, insurgency, terrorism, and U.S. and/or other foreign occupation. However, in marked contrast to American wars against weak regimes like Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or non-state actors like the Islamic State or the Taliban, it will risk plunging the United States into a great-power conflict with a near-peer competitor. At worst, it will risk existential injury to the United States.

The Great Paradox of Donald Trump’s Plan to Combat China

by Kishore Mahbubani

The great paradox about the Trump administration’s response to the challenge from China is that it is both overestimating and underestimating this challenge. The overestimation is clear; the underestimation, which is more dangerous, less so. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spelled out clearly his case for overestimation in his speech of the Nixon Library on July 23, 2020. “We’re seeing staggering statistics of China trade abuses that cost American jobs and strike enormous blows to the economies all across America, including here in Southern California,” Pompeo said. “And we’re watching a Chinese military that grows stronger and stronger and indeed more menacing.” One could be forgiven for believing that China is about to mount a military invasion of the United States. Yet, there is no doubt that in the military field, the United States is much stronger than China. In his speech, Pompeo said, “We’ve called on China to conform its nuclear capabilities to the strategic realities of our time.” If China heeded his call, then it would have to add over fifty-five hundred nuclear weapons to its stockpile since it only has over three hundred weapons, compared to almost six thousand for the United States.

Pompeo also declared that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was exploiting America’s “free and open society” and “sent propagandists into our press conferences, our research centers, our high-schools, our colleges, and even into our PTA meetings.” In short, Chinese agents of influence have infiltrated all segments of American society and could undermine it. The most telling word Pompeo used to describe the CCP was “Frankenstein.” This word implies that a monster was now threatening America. It would be reasonable for an American to feel scared after hearing the speech.

Sterilizations, IUDs, and Mandatory Birth Control: The CCP’s Campaign to Suppress Uyghur Birthrates in Xinjiang

Dr. Adrian Zenz is one of the world’s leading scholars on People’s Republic of China (PRC) government policies towards the country’s western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang. Research performed by Dr. Zenz in 2017-2018 played a significant role in bringing to light the Chinese government’s campaign of repression and mass internment directed against ethnic Uyghur persons in Xinjiang (China Brief, September 21, 2017; China Brief, May 15, 2018; China Brief, November 5, 2018). Dr. Zenz has also testified before the U.S. Congress about state exploitation of the labor of incarcerated Uyghur persons (CECC, October 17, 2019), and was the author earlier this year of an in-depth analysis of the “Karakax List,” a leaked PRC government document relating to repressive practices directed against religious practice among Uyghur Muslims (Journal of Political Risk, February 17, 2020).

In this special Jamestown Foundation report, Dr. Zenz presents detailed analysis of another troubling aspect of state policy in Xinjiang: measures to forcibly suppress birthrates among ethnic Uyghur communities, to include the mass application of mandatory birth control and sterilizations. This policy, directed by the authorities of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), is intended to reduce the Uyghur population in Xinjiang relative to the numbers of ethnic Han Chinese—and thereby to promote more rapid Uyghur assimilation into the “Chinese Nation-Race” (中华民族, Zhonghua Minzu), a priority goal of national-level ethnic policy under CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping.

European States Reappraise Their Diplomatic and Investment Relationships with China

By: Otto Tabuns


As the European Union seeks to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic that paralyzed much of its normal political agenda, some member states have also been seeking a way out of major Sino-European initiatives. For example, People’s Republic of China (PRC) diplomats have invested considerable effort in promoting the “17+1” cooperation framework for Central and Eastern European countries (China Brief, February 15, 2019; China Brief, May 29, 2019). However, this initiative seems to be unraveling from the Baltic end: as argued by Sven Saakov, the head of the International Center for Defense Studies under the Estonian Ministry of Defense, Estonia should find a polite way out of the initiative and communicate this to the PRC via Brussels (ERR, 20 May). This builds upon concerns voiced earlier this year by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, who ruled out, on security grounds, Chinese investment in a project to dredge a deep-water port in Klaipeda between 2020 and 2023—even though there were no other investment offers for the project, estimated to cost up to 1.28 billion dollars (1.1 billion euro) (Dredging and Ports, 23 January). This represented a blow to regional hopes to reach the Arctic via existing infrastructure investment in Belarus, and proposed investment in a railway tunnel between the capitals of Estonia and Finland.

The Black Sea regional component of Beijing’s 17+1 cooperation initiative does not appear to be faring much better. For example, a range of potential Chinese economic projects have been discussed in relation to Romania, to include upgrades to the nuclear power complex at Cernavodă and investments in 5G telecommunications infrastructure (China Brief, September 26, 2019). However, at the end of May 2020 the Romanian government asked its national nuclear company to stop its cooperation with Chinese representatives. The Cernavodă project, located on the strategically significant Danube-Black Sea Canal, was intended to build another two reactors at the nuclear power plant that already provides 20% of Romanian electricity consumption. The deal would give a PRC-based company a 51% majority stake in the deal (Balkan Insight, 27 May). This would allow the PRC to promote a green energy and job creation image similar to what Russia did with Rosatom investments in nuclear energy projects in Finland and Hungary (HybridCoE, October 2019), and would further allow Beijing to increase its influence and intelligence collection potential at a critical location within a Euroatlantic frontier country.

The European Union’s Interests in Chinese Investment

Beijing Imposes Its New “National Security” Law on Hong Kong (Updated)

By: Willy Wo-Lap Lam

The central government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has imposed sweeping new national security legislation on Hong Kong, which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for the crimes of secession, subversion of state power, terrorism, and “collusion” with foreign forces to jeopardize state security. The “Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” (中华人民共和国香港特别行政区维护国家安全法, Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo Xianggang Tebie Xingzhengqu Weihu Guojia Anquan Fa) was unanimously passed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliament, on June 30 (NPC, June 30).

New PRC Institutions to Operate in Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) legislature was not involved, and the bill was passed less than 30 days after it was first introduced at the full session of the NPC in late May (China Brief, May 26). There was no consultation by Beijing except with pro-establishment elements in the former British territory. While the majority of criminal cases under the new law will be handled by special courts set up by the HKSAR Government, a minority of particularly complex and sensitive ones will be dealt with by mainland judicial authorities. A new body to be set up in Hong Kong, called the Central People’s Government (CPG) Office for Safeguarding National Security in the HKSAR (中央人民政府駐香港特別行政區維護國家安全公署, Zhongyang Renmin Zhengfu Zhu Xianggang Tebie Xingzhengqu Weihu Guojia Anquan Gongshu) (henceforward “CPG Office”), will handle “complicated situations” of interference by foreign forces; cases that the HKSAR government could not handle effectively; and cases in which national security would be under “serious and realistic threats.” Such cases would be prosecuted by the PRC Supreme People’s Procuratorate and put on trial in mainland courts, where the full force of PRC law will apply (China.org.cn, July 1; Xinhua, June 30). The CPG Office will be in charge of investigations and intelligence gathering, and its activities will be beyond the control of the HKSAR city administration (China News Service, July 1; Southcn.com, July 1).

The PLA Is Mobilized for Flood Relief in Eastern China

By: John Dotson


Throughout June and July, much of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has experienced heavy rainfall from the annual late spring – early summer East Asian rainy season, a phenomenon sometimes called the “plum rain” (梅雨, meiyu). This year, the rainfall has brought severe flooding to vast areas of the central, eastern, and southern regions of the country—with the worst-affected regions including Jiangxi, Anhui, Hubei, and Hunan Provinces, as well as the municipality of Chongqing. Official PRC sources have cited this as China’s worst flooding in more than two decades: per state media coverage on July 17, “Since June, 141 people have died or are missing, 37.89 million have been affected and over 2,246,00 relocated due to floods in 27 provincial-level regions in China, including eastern Anhui and Jiangxi provinces” (CGTN, July 17).

Some of the worst flooding has been seen on the upper reaches of the Yangzi River, in what PRC state media has termed the “Yangzi 2020 Number Two Flood” (长江2020年第2号洪水, Changjiang 2020 Nian Dierhao Hongshui) (Xinhua, July 17). One particularly hard-hit region has been Poyang Lake (鄱阳湖, Poyang Hu) in northern Jiangxi Province. The area of the lake averages approximately 1,385 square miles, although its size varies considerably from year-to-year based on rainfall and other factors; in 2019 the lake’s size shrunk considerably due to drought, but this year’s heavy rains have brought it to its highest water levels ever (NASA, July 14). Per official PRC figures, “Poyang Lake, the country’s largest freshwater lake, saw its water level rise to 22.6 meters at 10 a.m. on [July 13], breaking the 22.52-meter record set in 1998” (CGTN, July 17). As of mid-July, fourteen flood levees in Poyang County had reportedly been breached (Xinhua, July 14).Image: A satellite image from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (dated July 14), which shows flooding at Poyang Lake in Jiangxi Province: flood-affected areas are shaded in yellow, and “severely flooded” areas are shaded in red. (Image sources: Google Maps and NOAA)

Asserting the Party’s Leading Role in Disaster Relief Operations

Competition Without Catastrophe

By Kurt M. Campbell and Jake Sullivan
The United States is in the midst of the most consequential rethinking of its foreign policy since the end of the Cold War. Although Washington remains bitterly divided on most issues, there is a growing consensus that the era of engagement with China has come to an unceremonious close. The debate now is over what comes next.

Like many debates throughout the history of U.S. foreign policy, this one has elements of both productive innovation and destructive demagoguery. Most observers can agree that, as the Trump administration’s National Security Strategy put it in 2018, “strategic competition” should animate the United States’ approach to Beijing going forward. But foreign policy frameworks beginning with the word “strategic” often raise more questions than they answer. “Strategic patience” reflects uncertainty about what to do and when. “Strategic ambiguity” reflects uncertainty about what to signal. And in this case, “strategic competition” reflects uncertainty about what that competition is over and what it means to win.

The rapid coalescence of a new consensus has left these essential questions about U.S.-Chinese competition unanswered. What, exactly, is the United States competing for? And what might a plausible desired outcome of this competition look like? A failure to connect competitive means to clear ends will allow U.S. policy to drift toward competition for competition’s sake and then fall into a dangerous cycle of confrontation.

Opinion – The Politics of Inclusion in Myanmar’s Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement

Ephraim Bassey Emah

Armed conflict in Myanmar (also known as Burma) has been protracted since the country’s independence from the British in 1948. Despite becoming an independent state, sub-national contests for political autonomy and legitimacy have sustained violent tensions. Also, the availability of natural resources in the country’s borderland regions has further contributed to the emergence of ethnonationalism and cycles of violence. Ethnonationalism enables competition for political power between so-called Ethnic Armed Organisations (EAO), such as the United Wa State Army (UWSA) and the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), and the central government, thereby contributing significantly to broader security challenges in Myanmar. The grievances that fuel these issues stem from access to political power by ethnic minorities and claims that the Bamar ethnic group allegedly dominates Myanmar’s polity.

Yemen in Crisis

by Zachary Laub and Kali Robinson


Yemen faces its biggest crisis in decades with the overthrow of its government by the Houthis, a Zaydi Shiite movement, and the resulting offensive led by Saudi Arabia. The fighting, and a Saudi-imposed blockade ostensibly meant to enforce an arms embargo, has had devastating humanitarian consequences, causing more than one million people to become internally displaced and leading to cholera outbreaks, medicine shortages, and threats of famine. The United Nations calls the humanitarian crisis in Yemen “the worst in the world.”

While the Saudi-led coalition and pro-government forces have recaptured some territory, the Houthis retain control of the capital, Sanaa, and the ongoing chaos has allowed al-Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula franchise to establish a foothold. The Saudi intervention is driven by Iranian backing of the Houthis, and the involvement of other outside powers, including the United States, raised worries that the conflict has become a proxy war. With numerous armed factions at odds over any potential settlement, UN-led efforts to broker a halt to the fighting have faltered.

What are Yemen’s divisions?

The modern Yemeni state was formed in 1990 with the unification of the U.S.- and Saudi-backed Yemeni Arab Republic, in the north, and the USSR-backed People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY), to the south. The military officer Ali Abdullah Saleh, who had ruled North Yemen since 1978, assumed leadership of the new country.

The Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from an Iraqi View – a Lost Role or a Bright Future?

The growing role and power of the IRGC is a critical factor shaping the power structure of Iran and the level of stability and security in the Gulf. It is a critical factor affecting the future of Iraq as well. This commentary by Munqith Dagher presents an Iraqi view of just how serious a challenge the IRGC has become.

Munqith Dagher brings an important perspective to the issue because he served as a General and national defense professor in the previous Iraqi army. Munqith also has since, conducted hundreds of public opinion surveys and studies in Iraq and the MENA region – many dealing with security issues. He is currently the director of the MENA region in the Gallup International Association and an external affiliate at CSIS.

For many years in Iran, the interactions between the powers of religious authorities, military institutions, and the merchant class in the Bazaar have played a significant role in the formation of Iran’s structure of authority and politics.1 It was this interaction that played a key role in leading to the revolution in 1979 when the Bazaari (which was struggling with the official governing authorities) allied with the religious authorities to overthrow the Shah’s regime.

When the government was taken over by Khomeini and the religious authorities, the military, on the one hand, and the senior professionals and bureaucrats of the opposition, on the other hand, were distanced from the institutions of governance. The Iranian revolution then proceeded to devour its original founders and form a new structure of power based on revolutionary and religious legitimacy.

Coronavirus: A Vaccine Will Likely Require Regular Boosters

by Sarah Pitt

In the global race to contain the coronavirus pandemic, there is hopeful news on the vaccine front, with a number of potential candidates being developed and some promising early results. Based on what we know so far, it currently seems likely that most potential vaccines designed to protect against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 will require boosters, perhaps regularly. Why is this?

When an infectious agent enters the body, the immune system will notice this and create a memory, so that the next time it encounters the agent there will be a swift, repelling response. In the case of most infectious agents, such as viruses, natural infection produces a long-lasting memory. But this is not always the case.

The idea behind any vaccine is to give the recipient a version of the infectious agent which will not cause the disease, but will still create the immune system memory. How we achieve that varies based on the nature of the virus targeted by a vaccine, and how much we know about it.

Two types of vaccine

The Great Coronavirus Economic Crisis Is Far From Over

by Desmond Lachman
Source Link

As if there could have been any doubt in our coronavirus-ravaged economy, it is now official. Today’s truly dismal GDP numbers confirm that not since 1958 have we had as deep a quarterly dive in economic activity as we have had in the quarter that just ended. This is all the more depressing considering that these numbers coincide with the recent resurgence in the pandemic that could now snuff out our nascent post-lockdown economic recovery.

Much in line with the expectations of analysts, today’s numbers show that in the second quarter of this year U.S. output collapsed by 9.5 percent over the previous quarter or by almost 33 percent at an annualized rate. At the same time, little comfort was to be derived from the weekly jobless numbers that ticked upwards to more than 1.4 million. This implies that we still have around thirty million people receiving unemployment benefits at a time that the $600 weekly supplement for those benefits is due to expire tomorrow.

The pandemic’s resurgence, coupled with indications that the economy is plateauing, makes it all too likely that for 2020 as a whole the U.S. economy could decline by at least the 8 percent that the International Monetary Fund is currently projecting. Such an outcome would be more than twice the decline that the U.S. economy experienced during the Great Recession of 2008–2009.

The Trump administration has been hoping that upon lifting the lockdown the United States would experience a very sharp V-shaped recovery. However, it has failed singularly to back up that hope with a coherent coronavirus strategy that would allow the economy to return to normal any soon.

A Foreign Policy for the Post-Pandemic World

By Michael H. Fuchs
Asingle event can reset U.S. foreign policy for decades in ways both good and bad. The 9/11 terrorist attacks created a brief moment of national and international unity that could have inspired an era of deeper global cooperation, but the United States squandered the opportunity. In the name of preventing another large terrorist attack, it launched unnecessary wars that cost the lives of thousands of American soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians—not to mention the wars’ exorbitant financial toll and the immeasurable damage they did to the country’s global image. The United States and the world are still grappling with the fallout almost 20 years later.

Those catastrophic policies were not inevitable; they were the work of individuals who had long advocated for a more aggressive U.S. foreign policy and took advantage of the crisis to enact one. U.S. officials began planning for war with Iraq just weeks after 9/11 and falsified intelligence to justify the invasion. They moved quickly, believing that the geopolitical earthquake caused by the terrorist attacks would enable them to reshape the world in their image.

“The reality is that these times bring not only dangers but also opportunities,” then Vice President Dick Cheney declared in a speech about how regime change in Iraq would supposedly benefit the entire Middle East. 

Post-Pandemic Japan Will Attract the World

By Gracia Liu-Farrer
When the COVID-19 pandemic is over, people will again be on the move, crisscrossing the planet in search of career opportunities, education, and better lifestyles. But the destinations and directions of those movements may be forever changed. Life in some countries, including the United States, will appear less desirable than it did before the pandemic. And the very nature of the recent crisis may drive would-be migrants to prize safety, stability, and the ability to maintain family connections.

The United States, whose response to the virus exposed chaos and division, stands to lose migrants. But other countries will gain them, and with them, the attendant benefits of diversity, dynamism, and new talent. Few stand to profit more than Japan, a relatively secure and stable country with low unemployment—even a need for more laborers—and excellent universities that can lure students who may now be reluctant to risk expensive study in the West.

Japan has long been considered a fairly homogeneous country. After the pandemic, it is likely to grow more diverse and globally connected. This transformation, which will remake Japanese society and challenge the traditional understanding of its national identity, is necessary if Japan wants to remain a significant power in the global arena.

The Tragedy of Vaccine Nationalism

By Thomas J. Bollyky and Chad P. Bown

Trump administration officials have compared the global allocation of vaccines against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to oxygen masks dropping inside a depressurizing airplane. “You put on your own first, and then we want to help others as quickly as possible,” Peter Marks, a senior official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who oversaw the initial phases of vaccine development for the U.S. government, said during a panel discussion in June. The major difference, of course, is that airplane oxygen masks do not drop only in first class—which is the equivalent of what will happen when vaccines eventually become available if governments delay providing access to them to people in other countries.

By early July, there were 160 candidate vaccines against the new coronavirus in development, with 21 in clinical trials. Although it will be months, at least, before one or more of those candidates has been proved to be safe and effective and is ready to be delivered, countries that manufacture vaccines (and wealthy ones that do not) are already competing to lock in early access. And to judge from the way governments have acted during the current pandemic and past outbreaks, it seems highly likely that such behavior will persist. Absent an international, enforceable commitment to distribute vaccines globally in an equitable and rational way, leaders will instead prioritize taking care of their own populations over slowing the spread of COVID-19 elsewhere or helping protect essential health-care workers and highly vulnerable populations in other countries.

Covid-19 Reshapes the Future


On March 11, 2020, Covid-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Uncertainty reigned. But soon thereafter, in perhaps the greatest intellectual explosion of futures thinking in human history, governments, businesses, institutions, and individuals asked what this shift would mean for them. How would the SARS-CoV-2 virus reshape our society and our lives in the days, weeks, months, years, and even decades to come?

In an especially prescient piece about the future course of the public health challenge, CSIS’s J. Stephen Morrison and Anna Carroll observed, “Pandemics change history by transforming populations, states, societies, economies, norms, and governing structures.”

With the benefit of four months of study and reflection, this analysis is an attempt to think systematically about how Covid-19 has fundamentally changed major global trendlines out to 2050. This research was conducted through the analytic framework of the Seven Revolutions initiative, a macrotrends assessment that is continually updated with a 30-year time horizon.

The net assessment is that Covid-19 is highly disruptive in the near term and highly unpredictable in the medium to long terms across every macrotrend area analyzed in this paper. It is at once an accelerant, an irritant, and a stress test. Its effects will ebb and flow and hit various nations and populations in different ways and on differing timescales. It is this unevenness and unpredictability that defines the challenges ahead, as explained in greater detail in this scenario analysis co-authored with CSIS’s Sarah Ladislaw. While there is high confidence in the assessment of first-order outcomes from this crisis, the second-order outcomes of events just now unfolding can only begin to be anticipated. For example, while the authors of this brief made predictions in early April that Covid-19 would likely accelerate global protest movements, it was never anticipated that by late May the United States would be the epicenter of a global protest movement and the focus of those protests would be police brutality and systemic racism. Many future such surprises should be expected, but the identifiable changes underway should still be cataloged to the best possible extent. Covid-19 marks the start of an era of continuous, rapid change.

The future of encryption: Getting ready for the quantum computer attack

by Owen Hughes 

The development of quantum computers poses a cybersecurity problem such as the IT industry has never seen before. All stored data currently deemed secure by modern standards – whether that's health records, financial data, customer databases and even critical government infrastructure – could, in theory, be cracked by quantum computers, which are capable of effectively short circuiting the encryption we've used to protect that data until now.

Efforts to protect our data from the quantum threat are underway, though whether the issue is being looked at with the urgency it deserves is up for debate. PQShield, a post-quantum cryptography startup spun out of Oxford University, perceives a disconnect between the scale of the threat and the current cyber-readiness of most businesses in 2020, which it is now trying to address.

"The scale of the quantum attack is just too big to imagine," Dr. Ali Kaafarani, research fellow at Oxford's Mathematical Institute and founder of PQShield, tells TechRepublic.

"The most important part of what we're doing is to educate the market."

Lessons in historical amnesia

In 1772, a crowd gathered outside court to hear the decision on a case that had captured the public imagination. It was the case of James Somerset, an enslaved man who had escaped from his ‘master’, Charles Stewart, in England in 1771. Stewart had Somerset arrested and placed aboard a ship bound for Jamaica, then a British slave colony. Somerset was able to contact Granville Sharp, a humanitarian lawyer and abolitionist, who brought the case to court. The presiding judge, Lord Mansfield, reluctantly agreed that Stewart must be discharged.

Sharp dedicated much of his life to the movement to abolish slavery and supported the resettling of former slaves in Sierra Leone. But he also believed in fundamental differences between white Britons and Africans. As Catherine Hall, the historian, has noted in the London Review of Books, Sharp felt it important to stop slave-owners bringing their enslaved attendants to Britain.

Migration from the ‘periphery’ of the British Empire to the UK has been contested for hundreds of years and remains so. Sharp was certainly radical and progressive for his time but he still believed in racial hierarchies. History is complicated and few are solely heroes or solely villains. But that is all the more reason why we should have an honest appraisal of our past.