9 August 2020

The Pandemic Depression

By Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart
The COVID-19 pandemic poses a once-in-a-generation threat to the world’s population. Although this is not the first disease outbreak to spread around the globe, it is the first one that governments have so fiercely combated. Mitigation efforts—including lockdowns and travel bans—have attempted to slow the rate of infections to conserve available medical resources. To fund these and other public health measures, governments around the world have deployed economic firepower on a scale rarely seen before.

Although dubbed a “global financial crisis,” the downturn that began in 2008 was largely a banking crisis in 11 advanced economies. Supported by double-digit growth in China, high commodity prices, and lean balance sheets, emerging markets proved quite resilient to the turmoil of the last global crisis. The current economic slowdown is different. The shared nature of this shock—the novel coronavirus does not respect national borders—has put a larger proportion of the global community in recession than at any other time since the Great Depression. As a result, the recovery will not be as robust or rapid as the downturn. And ultimately, the fiscal and monetary policies used to combat the contraction will mitigate, rather than eliminate, the economic losses, leaving an extended stretch of time before the global economy claws back to where it was at the start of 2020.

The pandemic has created a massive economic contraction that will be followed by a financial crisis in many parts of the globe, as nonperforming corporate loans accumulate alongside bankruptcies. Sovereign defaults in the developing world are also poised to spike. This crisis will follow a path similar to the one the last crisis took, except worse, commensurate with the scale and scope of the collapse in global economic activity. And the crisis will hit lower-income households and countries harder than their wealthier counterparts. Indeed, the World Bank estimates that as many as 60 million people globally will be pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. The global economy can be expected to run differently as a result, as balance sheets in many countries slip deeper into the red and the once inexorable march of globalization grinds to a halt.

Mohan Guruswamy | China’s real target may be Arunachal Pradesh

Of late, the Chinese have given a glimpse of what their true intentions are by laying claim to Bhutan’s Sakteng wildlife reserve area

I have always believed that with having obtained by hook or crook just about all they wanted in Ladakh, the real prize the Chinese are eyeing is Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chinese have never been explicit on how much of Arunachal they seek. I once saw an official map in a travel agent’s office in Lhasa that showed only the Tawang tract as Chinese territory.

In other maps I have seen in China, they have their border running along the foothills, which means all of Arunachal or what they now call “Southern Tibet”.

The Chinese based their specific claim on the territory on the premise that Tawang was administered from Lhasa, and the contiguous areas owed allegiance to the Dalai Lama.

Of late, the Chinese have given a glimpse of what their true intentions are by laying claim to Bhutan’s Sakteng wildlife reserve area, which falls just below the Tawang tract.

When you look at this in the map, their intentions become clear. They are looking for a direct passage from occupied Tibet into the Assam valley.

The Quad Is Poised to Become Openly Anti-China Soon

by Derek Grossman
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One of the most heavily scrutinized aspects of the Donald Trump administration's Indo-Pacific Strategy is the role played by the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” comprised of Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Since the Quad's resurrection from a decade-long hiatus in November 2017, the group has met five times and has emphasized maintaining the liberal rules-based international order, which China seeks to undermine or overturn. As I have previously argued, the Quad signals unified resolve among these four nations to counter China's growing assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific.

What has been striking about the Quad thus far, however, is that it has resisted openly identifying China as the primary target it seeks to rein in. Indeed, Quad press releases from the respective foreign affairs establishments of each country have never once raised the word “China,” nor did the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy, in mentioning the Quad, directly link (PDF) Quad consultations to addressing China.

This is not a trivial issue as the first iteration of the Quad, in 2007, fell apart largely because Australia and to some extent India got cold feet over how much to push China without impacting other dimensions of their bilateral relationships with Beijing (Japanese and Australian electoral politics and America's reorientation toward trilateral engagement with Japan and Australia contributed as well). Thus, if the Quad is to be sustained this time around, it will likely have to come to grips with a forward-leaning approach to opposing Chinese activities throughout the region. Just one defection to a softer line on China could easily spell doom for the Quad all over again.

Russia Is Winning the Information War in Afghanistan

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Since 2015, when Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suspended Moscow’s participation in the Northern Distribution Network supply route, which facilitated the transit of food, fuel, and hardware for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Russia has transformed from an inconsistent partner to a multipronged adversary of the United States in Afghanistan.

To expedite a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and once again establish a geopolitical foothold in the war-torn country, Russia allegedly supplied light weaponry to the Taliban and hosted alternative peace negotiations, which undermined Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s sovereign authority.

The controversy surrounding U.S. President Donald Trump’s nonchalant response to Russia’s alleged payment of bounties to Afghan militants targeting U.S. forces has inspired a flurry of news stories about Moscow’s relationship with the Taliban, but media outlets have paid little attention to a similarly insidious threat to U.S. national security: Russia’s information war against U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Pompeo Wants to Cut Off China’s Access to America’s Internet

by Matthew Petti 

The United States has accused China of data theft and other malign cyber activities as tensions rise between the two global powers. Pompeo gave a preview of likely U.S. moves to reduce Beijing’s reach into American networks. 

“We’re protecting Americans’ most sensitive information, and our businesses’ most valuable intellectual property,” he said. “We call on all freedom-loving nations and companies to join the Clean Network.” 

The initiative will focus on keeping American users off Chinese cloud services or cellular carriers, Chinese apps off of American app stores, American apps off of Chinese app stores, and Chinese companies away from undersea cable projects. 

Pompeo’s announcement comes after lawmakers and the Trump administration successfully pressured Chinese tech giant ByteDance to sell the popular U.S.-based social media network TikTok to an American company. 

The Secretary of State also offered a $10 million reward for information on foreign-backed hackers or cyber-warfare officers working to undermine U.S. elections under the Rewards for Justice counterterrorism program. 

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.

How TikTok Got Caught in the Crosshairs of US-China Politics

by Kerry Brown

Donald Trump’s threat to ban TikTok, a video sharing app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, on August 1 is only the latest in a series of clashes between the US and China. With each of these events – from the US ban on telecoms company Huawei to the US response to events in Hong Kong and the continuing escalation of the trade war which stretches back formally to 2018 – one has to remember that there are several different conflicts taking place between the world’s largest and second-largest economies. It is important to work out which of these the TikTok issue belongs to.

Ostensibly, the main reason for a ban is national security concerns. Trump administration officials say TikTok could pose a security threat by giving the Chinese government access to vast amounts of US citizens’ data. Yet there is little evidence for these claims, nor how Trump’s proposed solution of selling TikTok’s US operations to Microsoft would solve the problem.

Similar issues were raised by the ban on Huawei, and the operations of other major Chinese corporates in the US. They even predate the Trump presidency, reaching back to the mid-2000s when Congress vetoed Chinese involvement in energy company Unocal, and raised questions about tech company Lenovo’s purchase of the US IBM ThinkPad brand.

A strange security risk

Beijing’s Retaliation on TikTok Could Hurt U.S. Firms

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On July 31, President Donald Trump told reporters that he planned to ban TikTok in the United States, sending shockwaves through the technology sector. After a false start over the weekend, Microsoft began negotiations with TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, to purchase the app. The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has reportedly given TikTok 45 days to find a buyer or face a ban of questionable effectiveness from the U.S. market. The Trump administration has forced Chinese companies to reverse purchases of U.S. companies in the past—most recently the gay dating app Grindr—but this would mark the first time the U.S. government forced a Chinese-developed product with significant market share out of the U.S. market.

The Chinese government might retaliate to either a U.S. government outright ban or a forced sale of TikTok, but the long-term implications of a forced sale are potentially more worrying. Although ByteDance is not a state-owned enterprise or even a favored nominally private champion like Huawei, it is a major Chinese technology company with vast domestic and global markets. Some investors are valuing TikTok at $50 billion, about one-half of the valuation that ByteDance received in May. On July 30 and Aug. 3, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) registered its objections to the U.S. government’s action against TikTok, noting the United States “is threatening a Chinese company based on presumption of guilt … in violation of the [World Trade Organization] principles of openness, transparency, and nondiscrimination.” China has a fairly consistent policy of measured but reciprocal retaliation to U.S. actions, such as shuttering the Chengdu consulate in retaliation for the abrupt closure of its consulate in Houston, and it has maintained this proportionality following U.S. actions such as cutting media visas and sanctioning officials.

China Turns on 'Son in Law' Zuckerberg for Showing 'True Face of U.S. Capitalism'


The Chinese state launched an attack on Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg this week, indicating the U.S. billionaire is now firmly in the bad books.

The Global Times, a tabloid mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), said his "willingness to set aside morality for profit shows the true face of U.S. capitalism," citing comments Zuckerberg made during the July 29 antitrust hearing.

The founder of the U.S. social networking giant stood out from his peers during his live-streaming remarks last week after telling senators that it was "well documented that the Chinese government steals technology from American companies."

The Chinese state outlet suggested Zuckerberg was previously known as the "people's son-in-law" due to his previously-friendly approach to officials in the country.

While visiting back in 2016, Zuckerberg met with China's propaganda chief Liu Yunshan but was criticized after being pictured jogging through Tiananmen Square without a face mask despite the heavy pollution. He shared a picture to his personal Facebook account from the country, despite the platform being banned inside China.

The China Hawks Got It Mostly Right

Tyler Cowen

More than a year after protests for democracy in Hong Kong dominated the news, some major questions about China have been answered, and pretty decisively at that. The main takeaway is that “the China hawks” were right — with one important caveat.

China is an aggressive, expansionist power with anti-democratic values, and it is not turning toward liberal ideals. Nor does being “nice” to China yield dividends in terms of encouraging good behavior. As long ago as 2015, writers such as Christopher Balding were far better guides to reality, and far better predictors, than were the China accommodationists.

A few examples suffice to drive this point home. China has put more than 1 million Uighurs in what are effectively concentration camps, and it is trying to eliminate Uighur cultural influence throughout Xinjiang province. A true surveillance state has been constructed. Overall, the outcome is worse than the predictions of almost all the China hawks.

China’s J-20 carrier-based jet fighter influenced by US – not Soviet – thinking, designer says

Minnie Chan
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The chief designer of the J-20 said the plane was a better match for US fighters. 

As tensions between Beijing and Washington continue to rise, China’s military aircraft designers are racing to develop a next-generation fighter jet for use on the nation’s aircraft carriers capable of competing with their American rivals.

The two contenders are Chengdu Aircraft Design Institute (CADI), which is working on a modified version of its J-20, and Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute, which is adapting its FC-31.

While both aircraft have been in development for many years, CADI’s chief designer, Yang Wei, said recently the J-20 was a better match for US fighters.

The aircraft was inspired by American theories on air combat and jet development, he said in a recent article published in the Chinese journal Acta Aeronautica et Astronautica Sinica.

Military observers said that by openly stating he had learned from American ideas, Yang was trying to promote the modified J-20 as a superior option to the adapted FC-31, which is based on much older, Soviet, designs.

Monsoon rain puts pressure on China’s Three Gorges dam

Alessio Martini

After a particularly active monsoon across central parts of China, with places recording more than double the normal amount of rain across June and July, the water pressure on the Three Gorges dam has increased significantly, leading to a slight deformation of the structure during July. Luckily, the dam has been declared safe, as millions of people live downstream of the river, in towns such as the now well-known town of Wuhan.

Northern parts of the Persian Gulf are not new to intense heat during the summer months, although temperatures rose to between 50C (122F) and 53C during last week. Basra international airport in southern Iraq recorded 53C on Thursday 30 July, very close to the all-time record for that area of 53.8C and against a July average of just 41.3C.

July ended with the ice extent of the Arctic Sea just over 6m sq km, the lowest ever recorded during July, and more than 2m sq km of ice less than the 1981-2010 average. This record-breaking low extent of the ice comes after months of significantly high temperature anomalies across northern parts of Siberia, leading to a rapid melting of ice along Russian coasts and over the Laptev and Barents seas.

Japan’s Legal Response in the Gray Zone

By James Kraska

Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Browning, from Air Station Barbers Point, Hawaii, and deployed with the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell, is lowered from an HH-65 helicopter to a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat during a search and rescue (SAR) exercise with the Japan Coast Guard.Credit: Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer Jonathan R. Cilley

While ample attention has been paid to China’s employment of maritime militia and gray zone tactics in the South China Sea, a similar dynamic unfolding in the East China Sea has attracted less consideration, yet it is even more provocative and dangerous. China’s tactics test the credibility of Japan’s unique concept of self-defense and the U.S.-Japan alliance, underwritten by American strategic security guarantees.

China routinely employs maritime militia fishing vessels backed by coast guard and naval forces to encroach on Japan’s territorial sea surrounding the Senkaku Islands (which are administered by Japan, but claimed by China as the Diaoyu Islands). Each year an influx of Chinese fishing vessels swarms around the Senkaku Islands beginning on August 15, when China lifts its unilateral fishing ban. Already, the recent Defense of Japan annual white paper reports that 2020 will be a record year for Chinese incursions.

China’s campaign of harassment and aggression raises questions about how Japan responds under its unique “pacifist constitution.” At the same time, the pressure campaign implicates the U.S.-Japan security alliance, which forms the bedrock for international security and stability in the eastern hemisphere. In 2017, then-U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis declared that protection of the Senkaku Islands was within the scope of the bilateral defense agreement. On July 29, Lt. Gen. Kevin Schneider, the commander of U.S. Forces Japan, said the United States would help Japan monitor the incursions by Chinese militia, which he described as an “attempt to truly challenge Japan’s administration” of the Senkaku Islands.

There Is No Russian Plot Against America

By Anna Arutunyan

As the U.S. presidential election on November 4 approaches, many Americans have braced for interference from Moscow. The only question, seemingly, is what form the meddling will take: Should Americans expect cyberattacks and leaks by sinister groups with ties to Russian intelligence? Divisive social media campaigns by trolls funded by associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin? Russian activists attempting to infiltrate U.S. lobbying groups?

All of the above marked the run-up to the 2016 presidential election—and all of it may happen again this year, according to a cottage industry of U.S.-based Russia watchers and pundits. The mainstream view in the U.S. media and government holds that the Kremlin is waging a long-haul campaign to undermine and destabilize American democracy. Putin wants to see the United States burn, and contentious elections offer a ready-made opportunity to fan the flames.

But ascribing motive and intent is a tricky business, because perceived impact is often mistaken for true intent. Researchers and investigators have revealed in great detail the activities of Russian actors with ties to the Kremlin during the 2016 election. They have comparatively little information about the real impact of these measures on the election’s outcome—and still less about Moscow’s precise objectives. Where is the evidence that Russia actually wants to bring down the liberal world order and watch the United States burn?

Threat of Atomic Weapons Grows as U.S., Russia and China Renew Arms Race

By Christian Esch, Dietmar Pieper, Alexander Sarovic und Bernhard Zand
It’s not very difficult for an industrialized country to build a nuclear bomb. The technology is already available, and it’s astonishing that more countries haven’t done it so far.

The veto powers on the United Nations Security Council - the United States, Russia, China, France and Britain – all have nuclear weapons, as do Israel, India and Pakistan. Beyond that, there’s North Korea and perhaps also soon Iran.

Many worry that the proliferation of nuclear weapons could spin out of control. But those worries apparently don't go deep enough. Fears of nuclear war more or less disappeared after the Cold War and they haven’t returned since. The nuclear weapons of the world’s major powers seem to be in a state of slumber deep within their silos, like mythical creatures from a distant past. That impression, however, is deceptive.

In recent years, one disarmament treaty after the other has been dismantled, including the nuclear deal with Iran, the INF treaty banning land-based, medium-range weapons, the Open Skies Treaty, which guarantees countries mutual reconnaissance flights – all terminated by U.S. President Donald Trump. The New START treaty on strategically offensive weapons is also about to expire.

Strengthening Privacy Protections in COVID-19 Mobile Phone–Enhanced Surveillance Programs

by Benjamin Boudreaux, Matthew A. DeNardo, Sarah W. Denton, Ricardo Sanchez, Katie Feistel, Hardika Dayalani

Public health officials worldwide are struggling to manage the lethal coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. As part of the response, governments, technology companies, and research organizations are leveraging emerging data-collection and data-analysis capabilities to understand the disease and model and track its spread through communities. Facilitated by a trove of technology-based data sources—in particular, the data generated from the widespread use of mobile phones—these public health surveillance programs could prove especially valuable for preventing successive waves of infections as quarantine orders are relaxed and economies reopen.

Balancing Public Health Benefits and Privacy Concerns in COVID-19 Mobile Surveillance Tools
Dozens of countries, including the United States, have been using mobile phone tools and data sources for COVID-19 surveillance activities.

How Internal Squabbling Paralyzed Europe’s Most Vital Security Organization

Stephanie Liechtenstein 

VIENNA—Just before breaking for their summer recess, in early June, ambassadors to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe had one major item on their agenda. The terms of the organization’s four top leaders were set to expire in mid-July, so the OSCE planned to reappoint each of them for another three-year stint. The extensions were widely seen as mere formalities—nothing out of the ordinary.

But then, on June 11, a letter of protest from Azerbaijan changed everything, turning an otherwise routine decision into a political power struggle that culminated in the toppling of the OSCE’s entire senior leadership team one month later. The head of the OSCE, Secretary General Thomas Greminger, had to vacate his office at its headquarters here in Vienna on July 18, along with the director of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir; the representative on freedom of the media, Harlem Desir; and the high commissioner on national minorities, Lamberto Zannier.

Three Decades of Delusion


America today faces a potentially existential challenge to its national security as two great power adversaries, Russia and China, contest its post-Cold War dominion. The reason? For 30 years it has been led by corporate, media, and policy elites who failed to acknowledge the enduring verities of great power politics. Instead of carefully reassessing our strategy when the Soviet Union imploded, after 1990 our intelligentsia embraced without hesitation the ideological bromides—principally cooked up in our think tanks and universities—about the “end of history,” our “unipolar moment,” and the inevitable triumph of the so-called liberal international order across the globe. Never before has a drive towards empire been based on such a glaring inability to calculate power relationships and to learn from history.

How did we get here? Simply put, our political class failed to appreciate why the United States triumphed over the Soviet Union. We won not because of the power of liberal ideals—though they were important additional enablers of American foreign and security policy against the Soviets—but because in 1947, when the Cold War competition was fully joined, our country possessed a massive industrial base, the global reserve currency, the largest gold reserves, half of global GDP, a navy larger than all the world’s navies combined, an expanding population and rapidly growing middle class, and a monopoly on atomic weapons.

From a COVID-19 Recession to COVID-19 Depression?

By George Friedman

It’s been roughly five months since COVID-19 lockdown measures were first put in place. That means that come September, we will have gone two quarters like this with no end in sight.

Masks and social distancing contained the spread of the virus somewhat but could never eliminate it. Yet that is the only containment strategy we had. The only real solution is a vaccine. Many have already claimed that a vaccine is coming soon, but even if comes to market in September, producing, distributing and administering it to billions of people will be a time-consuming and logistically fraught process. Obviously, the number of people vulnerable will decline over time, but it is not clear that social distancing or quarantining will be suspended simply because a vaccine will be available. They will likely continue.

I have argued that unless a solution is found by September, the probability that the recession could turn into a depression would mount. A recession is a normal part of the economy, a primarily financial event that imposes disciplines on an overheated economy. A depression, from a geopolitical standpoint, involves the physical destruction of the economy, something that lays waste to businesses, dislocates labor and vaporizes capital. A recession is the economy cycling. A depression is an economy breaking.

Beware of the looming chaos in the Middle East

by Marwan Bishara

If you thought the Middle East has hit rock bottom and may finally emerge intact from a decade of upheaval and conflict, think again.

The economic, political and societal realities in the region are going from dire to horrendous, with no end in sight. They could spiral out of control towards a more violent and chaotic future with unforeseen international ramifications.

The killings may have relatively subsided in some places, for now, but the wounds of war are not healing and are being exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and its associated economic hardship. The greater Middle East is hurting far more than meets the eye.

In 2010, the region was also heading into the abyss, but with little fanfare. Today, the writing is on the wall. If similar but milder situations have led to a violent and destructive decade, today's apocalyptic dangers could lead to a much worse outcome.
Predicting a hot winter

"This is going to be a hot winter," I wrote in an internal Al Jazeera memo in November 2010, forecasting the political temperature of the coming season.

When Russia abandons its bases

by Pavel Luzin

Why has Moscow given up on its radar station in Kazakhstan, and what is the fate of the sites in Belarus, asks Pavel Luzin?

On July 21, the lower house of Russia’s parliament terminated the agreement with Kazakhstan under which the Russian military used the Dnepr radar station (part of the early-warning radar and aerospace surveillance system) on the coast of Lake Balkhash. The five-year agreement had been signed in 2014 and ratified in November 2015, so it expires in December 2020. The termination means Russia has decided not to extend it for the next 3 years and will abandon the radar. The final political decision was announced earlier, in June.

Given the situation, two other sites are of interest. Russia was supposed to decide their fate in June but the decision has not yet been announced. Is Moscow going to continue to use the Volga radar and the 43rd Communications Centre of the Russian Navy located in Belarus, since the respective agreements (1, 2) expire in June 2021? The cooling of relations between Moscow and Minsk is therefore accompanied by military-and-political uncertainty. Hypothetically, this uncertainty can be clarified using the case of the Kazakhstan radar. So, why is the Kremlin, which traditionally considers military presence to be one of the most important foreign policy levers, ready to abandon these sites?

The main principle of military presence

Egypt acquires Russian fighter jets despite US warning

Hagar Hosny
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CAIRO — Russia Today quoted military sources July 27 as saying that the Egyptian army will acquire the Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet, a first for Egypt, after photos emerged of five of them heading to Egypt. Neither the Russian nor the Egyptian side has so far made any official comments on the alleged acquisition, while the United States objects to any such deals.

According to Russia Today, “The sources indicated that these heavy and long-range fighter jets would give the Egyptian army superiority in the regional sky, which is why the US strongly objected.”

Russia’s Top War website, which focuses on defense affairs, reported July 23 that the first batch of Su-35 fighters took off from the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant and headed to the European side of Russia, from where they will be delivered to Egypt.

The report read, “Photos of the first five Su-35 fighters built for the Egyptian Air Force appeared on the web, which made a stopover at Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport during a flight to the European part of Russia. As can be seen from the photographs, there are no identification marks on the planes, but the tail numbers on the keels are marked from 9210 to 9214.”

The Erratic State of U.S. Foreign Policy Under Trump

U.S. foreign policy under Trump does not appear to have a consistent logic. Trump has promised to put “America First,” and pursued that end in a variety of ways. At the same time, he has stocked his Cabinet with hawkish interventionists. While adopting a more unilateralist approach, Trump has neglected the institutions that help formulate and execute U.S. foreign policy.

After more than three years in office, President Donald Trump’s administration does not appear to have seized on a consistent approach to dealing with the world. Instead, U.S. foreign policy under Trump has become erratic and seems predicated on somewhat random factors. Decisions often seem to depend on the ability of an individual—whether a world leader, a Cabinet official or an informal adviser—to sway Trump’s opinion. Trump himself seems to revel in any opportunity to undo the accomplishments of his predecessor, Barack Obama, as well as any chance to right a perceived slight against the United States.

Trump entered office promising to put “America first,” which he has pursued by lambasting America’s traditional allies, tearing down international institutions and attempting to cut foreign aid. He has criticized NATO members for not meeting their commitments to defense spending, and both threatened and imposed tariffs against allies. He promised to impose steep sanctions on Mexico unless Mexican authorities manage to stop the flow of immigrants across the United States’ southern border, despite the fact that the move could have upended the renegotiated North America Free Trade Agreement and hurt the U.S. economy.

The U-2's Latest Feat: Passing Data from F-35s to Army Missiles

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The venerable U-2 took another step toward the Pentagon's vision of 21st-century warfare, thanks to a recent demonstration in which it relayed sensor data from F-35 aircraft through Lockheed Martin communications gear to an Army missile-command system, company officials said Monday.

In a July Orange Flag demonstration at Edwards Air Force Base in California, the high-flying spy plane acted as an airborne communications node, collecting targeting data from Air Force F-35As. The F-35s also sent the data via a ground station to Lockheed’s Airborne Sensor Adaptation Kit to a surrogate Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, or IBCS, a command system for Army missiles such as the PAC-3 interceptor or HIMARS artillery rockets.

The addition of the U-2 builds on a January demonstration in which F-35s passed data to an IBCS, which shot down test targets.

“F-35 data collected from the U-2 airborne relay will serve to validate that a single IBCS Airborne Sensor A-Kit can serve multiple pathways to get data from F-35 and ISR assets,” said the Lockheed statement, obtained by Defense One ahead of its official release.

Army Keying in on Anti-Ship, Hypersonic Weapons for ‘All Domain’ Pacific Fight

By: John Grady
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A M1A2 Abrams tank with 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division fires during gunnery qualification in South Korea in 2019. US Army Photo

The Army is developing long-range hypersonic and intermediate-range anti-ship weapons as key components of its emerging strategy in the Western Pacific, the service’s top officer said last week.

These changes include establishing joint all-domain task forces, the Army’s largest transformation in 40 years, Gen. James McConville said Friday at an online forum sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The transformation “is not just new equipment” like long-range precision weapons and achieving long-range effects, but ensuring the Army’s warfighting doctrine “is synchronized” from air, land and sea to cyber, space and information operations with the other services and allies.

McConville said those types of fundamental changes require a new Army organization structure, like the Army’s Futures Command, and the standing up of the security assistance brigades to work with allies and partners. Inside the Army, he noted the transformation also includes overhauling the personnel management system, so “we’ll get the people we need.”