5 August 2020

Galwan River Valley: An important history lesson

The Chinese claim of sovereign rights over the entire Galwan river valley is essentially Beijing's bid to turn the clock back to 1962, when its army advanced briefly in these barren uplands belonging to India. China probably feels, just like then, India will stand down to its aggressive tactics.

River Galwan is more like a stream or a nullah, which originates from the Aksai Chin, flowing through a narrow valley to meet River Shyok on the Indian side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The river takes a sharp bend before merging with the Shyok, thus forming a Y-like shape which on the Indian side has come to be known as the Y-nullah or Y-junction. The Chinese side broadly refers to this as the Galwan-Shyok ‘estuary’. The LAC, according to the Indian side, is a couple of kilometres east of this point.

The valley was never part of China’s claims until 1960. In the 1950s when Beijing first asserted its right over Aksai Chin by building what is today the 2342 km China National Highway 219 connecting its western province of Xinjiang with Tibet, it also pushed its claim with India further south-west. India objected, but China went ahead and presented a claim line in 1956.

US Diplomacy in Pakistan: The Case of the Missing Mangoes

By Adam Weinstein and Adnan Rasool
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Summer is mango season in Pakistan and the fruit is a common token of diplomatic exchanges. Wouter Plomp, the Netherlands’ ambassador to Pakistan, recently tweeted a photo of himself eating mangoes from his Pakistani counterpart. Thomas Drew, who served as British high commissioner to Pakistan from 2016 to 2019, referred to mango season and generosity as “two of the joys of Pakistan,” with a particular admiration for Chaunsa mangoes from Multan.

Eating at roadside stalls, praising local produce, attending weddings, visiting small towns, and documenting it all on social media is a growing component of European and Chinese diplomacy in Pakistan and beyond. It is time for U.S. diplomats to get out from behind the blast walls of diplomatic enclaves that largely confine them to interactions with elites and grasp the low-hanging fruit of authentic digital diplomacy.

The decision by diplomats to publicly laud mangoes in Pakistan is a deliberate one. The 19th century Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib attributed the mango to the “gardeners of heaven’s orchards.” Spiritual leaders and landed families gifted the flavorful Sindhri mangoes from Sindh province, where Karachi sits, as gestures to Mughal kings and later to British viceroys. At the onset of China’s Cultural Revolution in 1968, Pakistan’s foreign minister delivered a crate of mangoes to Chairman Mao Zedong, who gave them to factory workers who then preserved them as relics. Sindhri mangoes in particular even impressed diplomats with a grim view of Pakistan. Ambassador Arma Karaer, who served as deputy principal officer at the U.S. consulate in Karachi, remarked: “Oh, Karachi is an ugly place. It is a violent place. It is a dirty place. But Pakistan produces the best and largest variety of mangoes anywhere in the world.” Not always a token of goodwill, mangoes laced with explosives also allegedly took down military dictator Zia ul-Haq’s C-130 in 1988.

How Asia’s largest pharma is leveraging its values to navigate the COVID-19 crisis

What’s the way forward under extreme uncertainty? And how might the way be different for Asian companies? Christophe Weber, the CEO of Takeda Pharmaceuticals, has been solving for the tectonic changes brought on by COVID-19 by centering on his company’s nearly 240-year-old value system, and on connecting outward—across borders, regions, and continents. Indeed, Weber, who is from France and joined Takeda in 2014 after more than 20 years at British competitor GlaxoSmithKline, defines his role and Takeda’s mission in global, not Asian, terms.

Takeda is one of the ten largest pharmaceutical companies in the world and the largest in Asia. Following its $62 billion acquisition, in 2019, of the biopharmaceutical company Shire, based in Ireland—a deal Weber championed—Takeda had a larger footprint than ever before; it now has operations in some 80 countries. That global reach, and the fact that diseases, particularly COVID-19, don’t recognize borders, enforces a global approach. It also presents global challenges: stresses to supply chains, operating models, and geopolitical relations begin to tell.

Weber recently took time with McKinsey’s Kenneth Bonheure and David Schwartz to reflect on his “CEO moment” and discuss these and other challenges—and how Takeda is preparing to meet them.

China Has Squandered Its First Great Opportunity

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Foreign-policy observers have long debated: What if Beijing were handed a golden opportunity to strut on the world stage, absent a more powerful United States? Would it seize the opportunity, acting for the good of all and convincing the globe of its peaceful intentions? Or would it pursue a cramped vision of national interest? The world has inadvertently run that very experiment since January.

The combination of China’s early coronavirus recovery, the catastrophic health and economic situation in the United States, an administration whose “America First” instincts have turned the country inward, and a mostly every-country-for-itself response to the global pandemic has put China in the geopolitical driver’s seat. So far, Beijing has squandered the opportunity in dramatic fashion.

The news of Chinese diplomats burning documents in Houston represents just the latest, most dramatic development in Washington’s quickly deteriorating relationship with Beijing. The United States is not the only country with worsening ties. In the first half of 2020, Beijing has been ecumenical in its assertiveness: Britain, Japan, Australia, India, Canada, and others have been on the receiving end of China’s so-called wolf-warrior diplomacy

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

by Richard N. Haass
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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

EU Sanctions Russian, Chinese 'Cyber Attackers'

By Dave Clark 
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The European Union imposed its first ever sanctions against alleged cyber attackers on Thursday, targeting Russian and Chinese individuals and a specialist unit of Moscow's GRU military intelligence agency.

An export firm based in North Korea and technology company from Tiajin, China, were also listed.

The member states said measures would be taken against six individuals and three entities involved in various actions, including the attempt to hack into the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

They also included suspects said to be involved in the major cyber assaults known by the nicknames "WannaCry," "NotPetya" and "Operation Could Hopper."

The individuals will be banned from travel to the European Union and all the targets will be subject to an asset freeze for any funds in areas under EU jurisdiction.

In addition, the European Council of member states said: "EU persons and entities are forbidden from making funds available to those listed."

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the action had been taken "to better prevent, discourage, deter and respond to such malicious behavior in cyberspace."

Why are U.S. institutions working with scientists linked to China’s military modernization?

John Pomfret

The recent Justice Department case charging four Chinese military officers with visa fraud on suspicion of lying about their service in the People’s Liberation Army so they could conduct research in the United States appears to be the tip of an iceberg. As a Hoover Institution report released Thursday documents, researchers from Chinese institutions with the central mission of modernizing China’s military have co-authored hundreds of scientific articles with American colleagues.

Among those partnering with American researchers are Chinese scientists involved in stealth technology and classified weapons studies, those employed by the PLA’s General Arms Department and those engaged in work on high-tech naval systems. The report does not say whether any of the studies done with American partners were directly related to weapons development. Regardless, the report questions why so many academies that serve the advancement of China’s military are intent on sending researchers to the United States.

“These cases establish that U.S. scholars and research institutions have been contributing directly to the [People’s Republic of China’s] military modernization,” the report concludes.

Decoding China's vision for new era world-class army

Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has come a long way since its birth during the armed uprising in the city of Nanchang on August 1, 1927, when it had only 20,000 soldiers.

With two million servicemen, today's PLA pledges to build up new types of combat forces that have the ability to conduct special operations, all-dimensional offense and defense, amphibious operations, far seas protection and strategic projection.

Over the past few years, Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), has reshaped the PLA and is leading it to become a world-class military force.

Why now? Understanding Beijing’s new assertiveness in Hong Kong

Ryan Hass

An hour before the toll of the midnight bell on July 1, 2020 — the 23rd anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China from British rule — Hong Kong authorities promulgated a new national security law that had been sent from Beijing. The law gave sweeping new powers to authorities to crack down on acts of “secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with foreign or external forces.” Chinese authorities defended the decision as necessary for returning stability to Hong Kong. Outside of mainland China, most commentators lamented the new law as a heavy-handed effort by Beijing to impose its authoritarian impulses on Hong Kong. They warned that by eroding Hong Kong’s unique attributes — its free speech, free assembly, and legal transparency — Chinese authorities were mortgaging Hong Kong’s dynamism in pursuit of greater societal control.

China’s opaque policymaking process makes it difficult to determine what precisely prompted Beijing to act on Hong Kong now, and it remains too early to draw final conclusions. What drove Beijing to impose the new national security law on Hong Kong? Why now? What are the potential implications for everyday life and commerce in Hong Kong? What will be the impact on U.S.-China relations?


Global China: Regional influence and strategy

The papers in this installment of the “Global China: Assessing China’s Growing Role in the World” project 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.

China’s maturing relationship with the diverse nations of Latin America and the Caribbean, driven primarily by economic security interests, is facing new challenges as the struggling region copes with an intensifying wave of economic, public security, and public health crises.

Testing the limits of China and Brazil’s partnership

When it comes to global aspirations, China and Brazil have historically been in sync on their critiques of the liberal international order, if not on their preferred remedies. Since President Jair Bolsonaro assumed office in January 2019, this historical pattern has been upended.

A BRI(dge) too far: The unfulfilled promise and limitations of China’s involvement in Afghanistan

China’s focus on and presence in Afghanistan has grown significantly over the past decade. However, the original emphasis on economic relations has been eclipsed by China’s security agenda in the country.

China in Central Asia: Is China winning the "new great game"?

The future of trans-Atlantic collaboration on China: What the EU-China summit showed

Paul Gewirtz

The EU-China Summit this week made clear that while both the United States and Europe are both moving toward a tougher and more critical view of China, European governments aren’t anywhere near as tough. Instead, they are trying to advance their distinct interests, which means emphasizing cooperation and partnership with China along with vigorous competition and criticism.

Understanding our allies’ approaches to China is important because virtually every critique of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy charges that his administration acts “unilaterally” and that we should be “working with our allies.” Whenever presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden discusses foreign policy, he is explicit that working with our allies will be a pillar of his approach, including on China policy. And rightly so — the U.S. will be much stronger and have greater leverage in addressing China if we develop and execute policies jointly with our allies and friends.

But what common policies are possible? We can’t work on a collaborative approach towards China unless we first understand how our allies see and act on their own interests. We need to be as clear-eyed as possible, not cherry-picking European viewpoints that match our own and misperceiving what collaborations with Europe are realistic. And we will need to take European interests into account as we work with them to forge collaborative policies and actions.


Balancing act: Major powers and the global response to US-China great power competition

Fiona Hill

The world’s major powers are currently engaged in a careful balancing act when it comes to navigating the complex and ever-changing competition between the United States and China. This discussion focuses on the actors that have agency in this dynamic, and how each is approaching the escalation of U.S.-China rivalry.

The United States and China are now the world’s clear number one and number two in economic scale, energy consumption, carbon emissions, military spending, and technology. For most metrics indicative of relative international power, there is a substantial and growing gap between the top two powers (the U.S. and China) and the rest (with the exception of gross domestic product, if you consider the combined GDP of the European Union member states).

The countries discussed in this interview all have deep ties with both the United States and China. They are faced with increasingly difficult decisions regarding their current and future relations with both great powers. How are these countries attempting to cope, survive, and shape the rivalry, and to what extent are there commonalities or divergences of strategy across these issues?

In January 2020, Bruce Jones sat down with five other Brookings scholars — Fiona Hill, Tanvi Madan, Amanda Sloat, Mireya Solís, and Constanze Stelzenmüller — to discuss how U.S.-China rivalry is unfolding in India, Japan, the United Kingdom, the European Union (with a focus on Germany), Russia, and Turkey. In the interview, key areas of geopolitical competition, including technology, infrastructure development, trade, and sea power, are explored. The edited transcript below reflects their assessments.

The echoes of Hong Kong in Portland

Ishaan Tharoor

The protesters are defiant. They equip themselves with makeshift protective gear, donning bicycle helmets, gas masks and goggles while wielding umbrellas as shields. Some have repurposed household tools like leafblowers to help against tear gas and other projectiles fired into the crowds. Others assemble ramshackle barricades and shine laser pointers to disrupt the scopes of the heavily armed security forces. Authorities brand them vandals and “rioters.” But the crackdowns that ensued only galvanized further dissent.

That’s how the script read for months of unrest that gripped Hong Kong last year. But it has also been on view in recent weeks in the West Coast city of Portland, Ore., the site of an intensifying showdown between demonstrators and the Trump administration. Over the weekend, Black Lives Matter protesters marched in cities across the country, from Los Angeles to Omaha to Seattle. In some instances, they clashed with police and federal security forces, leading to arrests.

Portland, though, has become ground zero of a new phase in the United States’ summer of discontent. The city, as my colleagues noted, has “a long tradition of protest as a subculture of anarchism.” Petty street skirmishes there between far-right and anti-fascist groups have inflamed American social media in recent years. Their reelection prospects narrowing, President Trump and his Republican allies have seized upon the disturbances in the Pacific Northwest as a parable for what the American left supposedly has in store for the rest of the country. As a result, Portland has become the first battleground in an apparent nationwide surge of federal agents deployed to big cities with the White House’s prodding — and without local approval.

Why Trump Will Never Win His New Cold War with China

By Robin Wright

Last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited the Nixon Presidential Library, a nine-acre compound in Yorba Linda, California, which was partially reopened, amid the pandemic, just for the occasion. Pompeo placed a wreath of red, white, and blue flowers at Richard Nixon’s grave. He toured the museum, where he was photographed at an exhibit featuring life-size statues of Nixon reaching out to shake the hand of Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, during that historic first visit by an American President to China, in 1972. After his tour, Pompeo walked to a dais overlooking the parking lot—where folding chairs for a small audience were set up six feet apart, in spaces normally reserved for tourist buses—and angrily declared that Nixon’s outreach to China a half century ago had utterly failed. He called on allies to create a new nato-like coalition to confront the People’s Republic and stopped just short of calling for regime change. Basically, he declared a new Cold War.

“We, the free nations of the world, must induce change in the Chinese Communist Party’s behavior in more creative and assertive ways, because Beijing’s actions threaten our people and our prosperity,” Pompeo said. He railed against the long-standing U.S. policy of “blind engagement” that had allowed Beijing to “rip off our intellectual property and trade secrets,” endanger the world’s waterways, exploit international trade, and expand espionage in a quest for “global dominance.” Nixon’s policy of engagement benefitted Beijing more than it benefited the United States, Pompeo said, in a remarkable insult to the Nixon family assembled for the speech. “The truth is that our policies—and those of other free nations—resurrected China’s failing economy, only to see Beijing bite the international hands that fed it.” If the free world doesn’t change Communist China, Pompeo warned, “Communist China will surely change us.”

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.

Turkey issued new rules for social media. That may mean that media censorship wasn’t working.

By Andrew O’Donohue, Max Hoffman and Alan Makovsky
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Turkey’s parliament on July 29 passed legislation effectively banning Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube — unless they comply with government censorship. Under the rules, expected to take effect on Oct. 1, every major social media platform will need to appoint a local representative in Turkey and respond quickly to court orders to block or remove content. Companies that fail to designate a representative could face hefty fines and see their bandwidth cut by up to 90 percent.

The new law intensifies President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push to control the media. Other governments have restricted Internet freedom amid the pandemic, whether to combat harmful misinformation, or clamp down on their critics. But why is Turkey going to such lengths and precipitating a showdown with some of the world’s most powerful tech companies?

Our research — based on nationally representative polls in Turkey — suggests the new law isn’t a sign of President Erdogan’s growing strength, but perhaps is a sign of the regime’s weakness. The data point to three reasons Turkey’s government was losing its ability to control public opinion. With previous censorship efforts falling short, the government’s focus may have shifted to tighter controls on social media. Here’s what you need to know.

1. Most Turks already know that Turkish media content is censored

‘Drone Swarm’ Invaded Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant Last September — Twice

David Hambling
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Documents gained under the Freedom of Information Act show how a number of small drones flew around a restricted area at Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant on two successive nights last September. Security forces watched, but were apparently helpless to act as the drones carried out their incursions before disappearing into the night. Details of the event gives some clues as to just what they were doing, but who sent them remains a mystery.

Details of the events were obtained from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission by Douglas D. Johnson on behalf of the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU) using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The SCU’s main interest is in anomalous aerospace phenomena, what other people term UFOs. In this case though the flying objects were easily identifiable as drones, although their exact mission and origin are unknown. Johnson passed the information to The War Zone who give a detailed account.

What’s behind Trump’s decision to cut US troops in Germany?

Michael E. O’Hanlon and Constanze Stelzenmüller

President Trump announced that he is relocating 12,000 U.S. troops from Germany, a third of U.S. forces there. What’s behind this decision? Does it make strategic sense? Will it help or harm NATO’s deterrence capabilities? And while President Trump has criticized Germany (and other NATO allies) for not yet meeting the agreed-upon 2% of GDP spending target for the alliance, should we broaden the definition of burden sharing? In this episode, guest host Senior Fellow Michael O’Hanlon and Senior Fellow Constanze Stelzenmüller discuss the issue.

The End of Immigration Detention Doesn’t Mean the End of Fortress Europe

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Nacho Hernandez Moreno, an attorney in Alicante, Spain, has spent the past two years pushing for Spain to end its detention of migrants and asylum-seekers. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, he feared that overcrowding and poor sanitary conditions would fuel the spread of COVID-19 inside facilities. That has been the case in detention centers in the United States, France, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, which have emerged as hot spots for COVID-19.

By March 14, Spain had declared a state of emergency and closed its borders, making it unlawful to keep people in detention; according to national law, migrants can be held for a maximum of 60 days while awaiting deportation. But with deportations frozen, detention became illegal immediately. On March 18, judges therefore began ordering the country to empty its detention centers.

“They’re still empty,” Moreno said in a phone interview in June, calling the move “unprecedented.” Undocumented migrants were connected with nonprofit organizations such as Fundación Cepaim, where Moreno works, and residents were released into the community to return to their families. “It ended up working as a de facto alternative to detention,” he explained. “It wasn’t designed that way, but it worked.”

The pandemic is prompting two parallel trends when it comes to global migration: on the one hand, mounting legal challenges to detention and, on the other, a significant reduction in immigration and asylum. 

The Total Destruction of U.S. Foreign Policy Under Trump

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The lack of any significant U.S. response to the revelation that Russia has offered money to the Taliban for killing U.S. troops shines yet another ugly spotlight on the foreign policy of U.S. President Donald Trump—or, more precisely, the utter lack of one. As the presidential election season heats up, Trump’s latest failure should remind American voters that his administration has failed on the most important global threats—not least the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. All these and other foreign-policy failures should be just as much at the center of the debate as the crush of domestic policy concerns.

Trump’s latest failure should remind American voters that his administration has failed on the most important global threats.Many months after the Russian bounties first became known to the White House, and weeks after they became public, Trump still has taken no action and expressed no empathy for soldiers or their families, claiming that this issue, too, is just a hoax cooked up by his enemies. On this issue as on so many others, his foreign policy mainly consists of a series of marginally coherent tweets with no discernible objective or strategy. Indeed, after three and a half years in office, Trump has developed no foreign policy at all. What we do see are haphazard assertions, “maximum pressure” campaigns, boundless admiration for and obsequious pandering to authoritarian leaders, disparaging of democratic allies, and so-called trade deals that cost thousands of American jobs and lack any strategic objective.

How Much Will the Pandemic Change Egyptian Governance and for How Long?


The Egyptian regime has reacted in an unexpected way to the global pandemic—with civilian, technocratic, and expert bodies leading the way and even some (admittedly officially patrolled) political debate being allowed to emerge. Does this portend a real change in Egyptian governance, and if so, why, what kind, and will it last?

The initial indications are that lines of authority and responsibility have been redrawn as a result of the various challenges to public health, economic activity, and social life resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. The shifts are far from radical, but they may result in some lasting changes in Egyptian governance and politics. The regime has not become more liberal or democratic, but it has become more technocratic. Rather than assessing the overall effectiveness of the official Egyptian response to the coronavirus—a response that raises profound concerns about the pandemic’s long-term devastating impacts—this article focuses on the ways that policymaking, information sharing, and politics have shifted and on how long-lasting these shifts are likely to be.


When it became clear in February 2020 that COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, presented a global health challenge that would leave no society unaffected, past behavior suggested that the Egyptian regime would deny or obscure the severity of the problem, shifting blame to external and internal enemies. To the extent a problem was acknowledged, it would be understood by the regime and presented to citizens as a security challenge to be met by Egypt’s most effective institutions, especially the military.

The Great British Comeback


British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a coronavirus news conference inside 10 Downing Street, March 19, 2020. (Leon Neal & Pool/Reuters)Critics thought that post-Brexit Britain would fail to stand up for the liberal world order. Boris Johnson proved them wrong.

Many commentators thought that Brexit would mark the end of Britain’s involvement in foreign affairs. Embracing the siren calls of nationalism, the reasoning went, the British people had decided to turn inwards, to retreat, to isolate themselves, to reject international alliances, and to focus on domestic problems. This analysis was understandable, particularly given that the shadow of past foreign interventions has haunted the British political establishment for years. But Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proven these commentators wrong. Over the past few months, Downing Street has shown itself capable of working with other democracies to fight for the liberal world order without relapsing into reckless interventionism.

The past ten years have seen a decline in British diplomatic involvement. Successive governments have reduced defense budgets, shut down military bases, and distanced themselves from playing an active role on the international stage. The Iraq War left an ineffaceable mark upon the British public, which has come to view NATO as a convenient way to justify otherwise unjustifiable interventions abroad. Voters no longer want their country to be America’s wingman, to get carried away in decade-long conflicts that do nothing but destabilize foreign lands and exacerbate anti-Western passions. The ultimate failure of the Libyan intervention reinforced that sentiment. Once more, the all-too-noble but unsuccessful desire to topple a murderous dictator came at the cost of British blood. Chaos ensued, the military dictatorship was replaced by a de facto Islamist theocracy, and the U.K. became even more hated in the region than it was before. One after the other, foreign interventions provided the British people with countless reasons not to trust the promises of their leaders. In 2013, the House of Commons refused to authorize air strikes against Bashar al-Assad — after he used chemical weapons against peaceful Syrian protesters. This vote, many thought, signified the beginning of the end for British influence abroad.

Lawmakers Want Economic Recovery Plan For Cyber ‘Day After’


WASHINGTON: The congressionally chartered Cyberspace Solarium Commission told the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the nation urgently needs a “continuity of economy” plan to guide recovery from a devastating cyber attack.

“I want to make sure we… address the continuity of the economy,” said Patrick Murphy, a Solarium commissioner who has served in the Army, the Pentagon, and the House of Representatives. “The government needs a continuity plan to ensure that critical data and technology remains available after a devastating network attack.”

Patrick Murphy testifies to Congress by video

“We need to direct the executive branch [to] make sure we have continuity of economy planning that’s in consultation with the private sector,” Murphy said, the former legislator lapsing into speaking of Congress in the second person plural. “Congress should codify a cyber state of distress tied to a cyber response and recovery fund to ensure that the CISA [Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency] and appropriate federal agencies have sufficient resources and capacity to respond.”

Lawmakers, United in Their Ire, Lash Out at Big Tech’s Leaders

By Cecilia Kang and David McCabe
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WASHINGTON — The chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook, four tech giants worth nearly $5 trillion combined, faced withering questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike on Wednesday for the tactics and market dominance that had made their enterprises successful.

For more than five hours, the 15 members of an antitrust panel in the House lobbed questions and repeatedly interrupted and talked over Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google.

It was the first congressional hearing for some time where Democrats and Republicans acted as if they had a common foe, though for different reasons. Democratic lawmakers criticized the tech companies for buying start-ups to stifle them and for unfairly using their data hoards to clone and kill off competitors, while Republicans questioned whether the platforms had muzzled conservative viewpoints and were unpatriotic.

“As gatekeepers to the digital economy, these platforms enjoy the power to pick winners and losers, shake down small businesses and enrich themselves while choking off competitors,” said Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. “Our founders would not bow before a king. Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy.”

The Real Problem With 'Politicizing the Military'

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If President Donald Trump has done nothing else in his troubled, turbulent tenure, he has sensitized us anew to concerns about the politicization of the military ­— along with the diplomatic corps, the intelligence community, and the law enforcement community. As much as the subject demands our attention, it has largely escaped the level of scrutiny and understanding it deserves. Few among us understand the subject, much less why it is important. Trying to define it is even harder. As Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously said in a 1964 opinion of pornography, “I know it when I see it,” but that standard seems obscenely inadequate with regard to this important democratic precept.

Here’s a question for starters: Does the U.S. military belong to the president? The answer is unconditionally no. Ours being a system of governance based on popular sovereignty — rule of, by, and for the people — the military, especially a professional, full-time, paid one, belongs to the people it is charged with representing.

Can the president then do whatever he wants with the military? The answer is again no, but conditionally so. Our chosen form of government, representative democracy, is built of constitutionally empowered, co-equal institutions charged with checking and balancing one another.