10 August 2020

India Successfully Gains Allies While Confronting China | Opinion


China seems to have put into action one of the dictums propounded by Sun Tzu in The Art of War, viz. "Appear weak when you are strong, and strong when you are weak."

China's weakness came to the fore when it failed to effectively handle the outbreak of COVID-19 in its initial stages and was caught on the back foot with the U.S., Australia and other countries blaming it and seeking an investigation.

So, what did China do? Rather than adopting a remorseful demeanor, China portrayed itself as "strong" by displaying an aggressive attitude. Not only did the Chinese diplomats turn into "wolf warriors," taking on all those who questioned Beijing, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime also came down harsh on Hong Kong, displayed belligerence in the Taiwan Strait, South China Sea and East China Sea, and engaged in land border clashes with India.

But China seems to have gone too far in this faux display of strength—so much so that it has now created new adversaries for itself and is struggling to handle the backlash. Take the example of India and the recent Sino-India confrontation in the Galwan Valley.

Afghan Council to Decide Whether Kabul Releases 400 Taliban

By Tameem Akhgar and Kathy Gannon

Afghanistan officials say a traditional consultative council will convene Friday to decide whether the last 400 Taliban prisoners will be released as part of a peace agreement, even as its health ministry says half of Kabul’s residents are infected with the coronavirus. 

The Taliban have rejected any changes to the deal they signed in February with the United States. 

That deal calls for 5,000 Taliban prisoners to be freed by Kabul and the Taliban to free 1,000 government personnel, including security officials, ahead of the start of intra-Afghan negotiations to map out a framework for a future Afghanistan. The release of the 400 prisoners is the final hurdle to the start of negotiations.

The Taliban have freed the 1,000 prisoners they were holding and U.S. and NATO soldiers have already begun withdrawing troops in line with the agreement. But Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has refused to free a final 400 Taliban prisoners, saying he needs a wider authority from a loya jirga, or traditional grand consultative council. 

The 3,200 people who will be attending the meeting are the same elders and political leaders invited to a similar council meeting held last year. According to Ghani’s spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, the council will also decide “what kind of peace it wants.”

Why are there so many territorial disputes in Asia?

Whatever its colonial and pre-colonial legacies, the world's growth engine needs to move on

Protesters attend a rally near the Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines in 2013. Seven years ago, hundreds of militants landed in Sabah, leading to deadly clashes with Malaysian security personnel. AP Photo

Border disputes in Asia still regularly make the news. The face-offs and clashes between Indian and Chinese troops in the Himalayas since May have probably been the most high-profile, as they may have led to scores of deaths on both sides.

A war of words between China and the US over Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea has also been escalating, as has the presence in the region of the two countries’ navies. Analysts such as Michael Vatikiotis, author of Blood and Silk: Power and Conflict in Modern Southeast Asia, now warn that an accidental collision “could easily result in an unstoppable conflict, given the political dynamics in both Beijing and Washington".

Most recently an ancient spat between the Philippines and Malaysia was revived by Teodoro Locsin Jr. The Philippine Foreign Secretary wrote on Twitter: “Sabah is not in Malaysia if you want to have anything to do with the Philippines." This reference to the Malaysian state on the north-east of the island of Borneo prompted his Malaysian counterpart, Hishammuddin Hussein, to respond: “This is an irresponsible statement that affects bilateral ties. Sabah is, and will always be, part of Malaysia.” Mr Locsin then said he would be summoning the Malaysian ambassador for a telling off and continued to make further provocative remarks.

Overseas Professionals and Technology Transfer to China

Ryan Fedasiuk 

China's government encourages members of the Chinese diaspora to engage in technology transfer through Chinese professional associations. This issue brief analyzes 208 such associations to assess the scope of technical exchange between overseas professionals and entities within China.Download Full Issue Brief

Since the 1990s, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have encouraged members of the Chinese diaspora to “serve the nation” from abroad (为国服务), in part by promoting technical exchanges between established groups of overseas professionals and entities in China.1 Many Chinese professional associations (CPAs) operate independent of Party influence, and simply provide networking opportunities and social support to ethnic Chinese living outside China. But some CPAs serve as access points to technical information and expert personnel for Chinese laboratories and state-owned enterprises.2 This report highlights the scale of China’s technology transfer efforts that leverage professional associations abroad.

Among a limited sample of 208 overseas CPAs derived from lists of associations that participate in global “federations” of Chinese professional associations,3 we found:

Approximately 145,000 people are members of professional associations that advertise they transfer technology to China—a small portion of the broader diaspora, which numbers 60 million people.


Aiming to contribute to a better understanding of China’s Digital Silk Road (DSR) and its implications for Europe, this Clingendael Report analyses the concept, objectives and activities of the digital subset of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. China Standards 2035 (a blueprint to set global standards for the next generation of technologies), as well as Beijing’s cybersecurity law and push for digital sovereignty, call attention to the DSR’s normative dimensions. China’s moves in the digital domain warrant closer scrutiny.

The European Union and its member states need to act on the DSR’s economic and normative challenges to European industrial competitiveness and European ideas about digital sovereignty, individual privacy, a data-driven society and free flows of data.

Download the report.

China’s Economy Needs Institutional Reform Rather Than Additional Capital Deepening


In June 2020, a group of six World Bank economists issued a very interesting paper called “China’s Productivity Slowdown and Future Growth Potential,” in which they explain why Chinese productivity growth has declined so markedly over the last several years. The authors argue that China’s total factor productivity (TFP) growth was between 3.1 percent and 3.5 percent in the 1980s and 1990s, after which it began to drop. They go on to say:

Aggregate TFP growth slowed from 2.8 percent in the 10 years before the global financial crisis to 0.7 percent in 2009–18. In 2017, signs of improving labor productivity and TFP growth emerged but both remain significantly lower than their pre-crisis levels. Although weaker productivity growth in China has coincided with—and likely been affected by—the recent decline in world productivity growth, the deceleration in China has been sharper.

The paper provides some very helpful details about China’s declining productivity growth, including differences by time period and by region, and it also suggests how sector shifts may have affected changes in productivity. Among other things, the paper recommends policies to hasten the shift in the Chinese economy away from less productive sectors; it argues, correctly in my opinion, that “strengthening market institutions for the effective management of insolvency, firm restructuring, and bankruptcy could accelerate productivity growth.”

China’s Emerging Middle Eastern Kingdom


American policymakers have long assumed that Chinese and American goals in the Middle East are largely complementary. Beijing, so the prevailing wisdom holds, is fixated on commerce, with a special emphasis on oil and gas. “China’s strategy in the Middle East is driven by its economic interests,” a former senior official in the Obama administration testified last year before Congress. “China … does not appear interested in substantially deepening its diplomatic or security activities there.” According to this reigning view, China adopts a position of neutrality toward political and military conflicts, because taking sides would make enemies who might then restrict China’s access to markets.

This oft-repeated shibboleth ignores clear signs that China is very actively engaged in a hard-power contest with the United States—a contest that the Chinese occasionally acknowledge and are capable of winning. In 2016, Xi Jinping toured the Middle East for the first time in his capacity as president of the People’s Republic of China, visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran. Chinese propaganda hailed the trip as a milestone. The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a white paper on its Arab policy, the first of its kind. “We will deepen China-Arab military cooperation and exchange,” the paper read. “We will … deepen cooperation on weapons, equipment and various specialized technologies, and carry out joint military exercises.”

A Very British Dodge on Huawei

By Michito Tsuruoka

With its decision to exclude Huawei from Britain’s 5G network on July 14, the Boris Johnson government finally managed to put an end to the protracted debate on whether or not to allow the Chinese company’s involvement. London had been under heavy pressure from both Washington and Beijing and its decision was quickly hailed by Donald Trump and widely reported by the press. The decision looked a remarkable U-turn for the Johnson government, which in January had decided to allow Huawei’s limited role in the 5G network.

Nonetheless, the Huawei decision does not represent a strategic departure and cannot be seen as evidence of London’s willingness to join the increasingly confrontational U.S. campaign to counter China. A contour of the conversation between the two remains as follows: Whereas the Americans argue that Huawei needs to be banned because the company is under the control of the draconian Chinese Communist Party, Britain’s position is that it will have to ban Huawei equipment as a result of the U.S. sanction. It is hard to find a meeting of minds between the two partners. Yet, London seemingly succeeded in delivering a political message to the Trump administration, and a strategic message to the world, of U.S. and U.K. solidarity.

The U.K. decision clearly reflects the country’s growing concerns about China, such as the way in which Beijing has handled the COVID-19 pandemic and the imposition of the National Security Law on Hong Kong, as well as critical voices from within the Conservative party.

Confused Turkey: Westward Ho All Over Again?

By Burak Bekdil

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Turkey, which has labeled onion traders terrorists, blames the Kurds for the turmoil in America, and encourages its own intelligence agency to kill Turkish journalists abroad who are critical of the regime, never ceases to amaze. The latest survey reveals that Turks consider America both the greatest threat to Turkey and the second-best choice as a foreign policy partner. 

In 2018, the Turkish police began to raid onion wholesalers on suspicion that they were artificially raising onion prices and trying to “illegally overthrow” the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Pro-government headlines included “Police find onions in onion storehouse,” which in America would be a headline from The Onion. At around the same time, Erdoğan claimed the US was plotting to economically damage Turkey just as his government signed a deal with US management consultant McKinsey to help Ankara implement a new medium-term economic program.

Back in 2014, the president caused loud laughter when he claimed that Muslim sailors had reached the American continent in 1178 (314 years before Columbus) and that Columbus said in his memoirs that he had seen a mosque atop a hill on the coast of Cuba. Not much has changed since then. In June 2020, Sabah, a fiercely pro-Erdoğan daily, claimed that an ancient site in Thessaloniki, Greece, built 300 years before Muhammad, was a mosque.

U.S. Examines Whether Saudi Nuclear Program Could Lead to Bomb Effort

By Mark Mazzetti, David E. Sanger and William J. Broad
Source Link

American intelligence agencies are scrutinizing efforts by Saudi Arabia to build up its ability to produce nuclear fuel that could put the kingdom on a path to developing nuclear weapons.

Spy agencies in recent weeks circulated a classified analysis about the efforts underway inside Saudi Arabia, working with China, to build industrial capacity to produce nuclear fuel. The analysis has raised alarms that there might be secret Saudi-Chinese efforts to process raw uranium into a form that could later be enriched into weapons fuel, according to American officials.

As part of the study, they have identified a newly completed structure near a solar-panel production area near Riyadh, the Saudi capital, that some government analysts and outside experts suspect could be one of a number of undeclared nuclear sites.

American officials said that the Saudi efforts were still in an early stage, and that intelligence analysts had yet to draw firm conclusions about some of the sites under scrutiny. Even if the kingdom has decided to pursue a military nuclear program, they said, it would be years before it could have the ability to produce a single nuclear warhead.

Lebanon as Paradise Lost Explosions rock Beirut

Jeffrey Feltman

Lebanese and foreigners alike have long nurtured nostalgic images of what Lebanon supposedly represents. But the tragic explosions in Beirut on August 4 demonstrate again how far that reality is from the truth.

A self-reverential joke once common in Lebanon posited that God bestowed Lebanon with beautiful mountains, stunning beaches, freshwater resources, fertile soil and fruited plains, and creative, attractive people: paradise. But then God realized that heaven is reserved for the afterlife — so he created Lebanon’s neighbors. Indeed, the history of Lebanon, approaching its centennial on September 1, is a story of vexed relations with its neighbors.

The comforting myth of Lebanon as a would-be paradise was shattered well before this week’s astonishingly destructive back-to-back port explosions. Videos and testimonials from Beirut are simultaneously shocking and heartbreaking. Preliminary information about the blasts suggests that the Lebanese are most likely culpable, not the Syrians and not the Israelis. This appears to be yet another example of irresponsible or even criminal neglect on the part of Lebanese officials. As if the Lebanese people needed more evidence of the abysmally low performance of their successive governments.

U.S. Troops Really Are in Syria to Protect the Oil—for the Kurds

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AU.S.-backed deal to develop oil fields in northern Syria is helping the State and Defense departments push for a continued American troop presence in the area to counter the Islamic State, current and former U.S. officials told Foreign Policy.

The deal, in which the Delaware-based Delta Crescent Energy is to revamp Syrian oil fields in conjunction with Kurdish authorities, was first revealed during a Senate hearing exchange between South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week.

Current and former U.S. officials say the arrangement will both starve the Bashar al-Assad regime of money and give U.S. officials a way to make the case to keep troops on the ground in a still critical theater.

“I think DoD and State can now make the argument to [President Donald] Trump that we have to stay and make sure the oil flows or the U.S. company will lose all their investment,” a former senior Trump administration official told Foreign Policy. “So it’s a gift for those who want us to stay in Syria.”

Destruction of Iranian Nuclear Facility Should Remind Democrats of Israel’s Unique Value as an Ally .

By John Hannah

An explosion at the Natanz nuclear complex on July 2 laid waste to the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC), a workshop designed to mass produce thousands of advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium. Satellite pictures strongly suggest that the blast's cause was a powerful bomb placed at a critical juncture inside the facility. Not implausibly, many experts pointed to Israel—not least because “a Middle Eastern intelligence official,” widely suspected to be Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, told the New York Times that Israel was, in fact, responsible. If true, it’s a potent reminder of Israel’s enormous value as a strategic partner of the United States, one that combines the will, capabilities, and tactical skill to confront the region’s most dangerous threats in ways that are largely unrivaled by any other American ally. The point may be particularly worth underscoring in the run up to the 2020 elections, especially for a Democratic Party where support for Israel has seemed increasingly under stress.

The destruction of the ICAC was a significant blow to Iran’s nuclear program. Once deployed, the advanced centrifuges being assembled there would have dramatically reduced the time required to produce enough highly-enriched uranium (HEU) not just for one nuclear bomb, but for a small arsenal. Their mass production would also have made it much easier for Iran to divert a critical number of advanced centrifuges to a covert site, where any rapid breakout to develop nuclear weapons could proceed in secret. With a single exquisitely executed act of sabotage, cloaked in mystery, and avoiding the attendant risks of war associated with an overt military strike, those powerful Iranian cards have now been swept from the table—at least for the time being. Estimates are that the explosion could have set back Iran’s centrifuge program by up to two years.

Where Did COVID-19 Really Come From?

By Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Dany Shoham

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The questions of the true genomic origin as well as the direct source of the initial SARS-CoV-2 strain that infected Patient Zero in China, an event that ultimately unleashed COVID-19 on the world to devastating effect, are hotly debated and highly consequential. Both science and intelligence will contribute to uncovering the evidence needed to answer these questions conclusively.

Behind the great challenge of how to deal with the global COVID-19 pandemic are the questions of the virus’s true genomic origin and direct source. These questions will likely be answered through synergies between science and intelligence, the combined findings of which will ultimately converge into a critical mass of evidence.

SARS-CoV-2 is the strain of coronavirus that causes COVID-19. According to unofficial reports and taking into account the virus’s incubation period, Patient Zero was apparently infected in Wuhan, China in October or November of 2019. However, it was not until December 31, 2019 that the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission issued an alert that there was a cluster of cases of “viral pneumonia” in Wuhan. At the time, the initial source of the virus was said to have been an unidentified infected animal from the Wuhan wet market. This claim was later abandoned by China.

An alternative possibility is that the virus—whether natural, man-made, or otherwise modified—leaked from a lab at the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) or another Wuhan-based facility.

Risk, resilience, and rebalancing in global value chains

By Susan Lund, James Manyika, Jonathan Woetzel, Edward Barriball, Mekala Krishnan, Knut Alicke, Michael Birshan, Katy George, Sven Smit, Daniel Swan, and Kyle Hutzler
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In recent decades, value chains have grown in length and complexity as companies expanded around the world in pursuit of margin improvements. Since 2000, the value of intermediate goods traded globally has tripled to more than $10 trillion annually. Businesses that successfully implemented a lean, global model of manufacturing achieved improvements in indicators such as inventory levels, on-time-in-full deliveries, and shorter lead times.

However, these operating model choices sometimes led to unintended consequences if they were not calibrated to risk exposure. Intricate production networks were designed for efficiency, cost, and proximity to markets but not necessarily for transparency or resilience. Now they are operating in a world where disruptions are regular occurrences. Averaging across industries, companies can now expect supply chain disruptions lasting a month or longer to occur every 3.7 years, and the most severe events take a major financial toll.

The risk facing any particular industry value chain reflects its level of exposure to different types of shocks, plus the underlying vulnerabilities of a particular company or in the value chain as a whole. New research from the McKinsey Global Institute explores the rebalancing act facing many companies in goods-producing value chains as they seek to get a handle on risk—not ongoing business challenges but more profound shocks such as financial crises, terrorism, extreme weather, and, yes, pandemics.

Today technology is challenging old assumptions that resilience can be purchased only at the cost of efficiency. The latest advances offer new solutions for running scenarios, monitoring many layers of supplier networks, accelerating response times, and even changing the economics of production. Some manufacturing companies will no doubt use these tools and devise other strategies to come out on the other side of the pandemic as more agile and innovative organizations.

Section 1

Why the EU’s Coronavirus Rescue Package Might Save the European Project

Frida Ghitis 

Authoritarian leaders have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, intensifying their efforts to undercut the democratic norms that restrain their power. Some of those leveraging COVID-19 for their autocratic agenda are in the European Union, where they have created dilemmas for the bloc for years. And yet, this crisis has also created opportunities. If managed skillfully, the EU can convert the upheaval of the pandemic into a turning point, at long last exerting meaningful pressure to start reversing Eastern Europe’s undemocratic, illiberal tide.

Last month, EU leaders managed to craft a muscular economic rescue package to deal with the pandemic’s economic toll. By making disbursements contingent on adherence to fundamental democratic principles, the continent’s democracies may just save the European project.

Mauritania’s Economic and Social Ambitions Collide: The Story of Diawling Park

Intissar Fakir

Across Africa, countries are grappling with the trade-offs that come with the pursuit of economic growth. This is evident from my recent trip to Mauritania, where the narrative is familiar but far from simple. Economic ambitions are clashing with human and environmental interests, but the country’s historical foundations and ways of governing might prove a drag on its grand plans for modernization.

Over the past decade, Mauritania has made progress on the security and political stability fronts but has largely skirted social justice and equity questions. Such questions are never too far from the surface, especially as the country moves closer to realizing its vision of a resource-rich economy. Years of energy exploration and the promise of fortune are gradually transforming the country.

Intissar Fakir is a fellow and editor in chief of Sada in Carnegie’s Middle East Program.

I visited Mauritania to understand firsthand how its social, economic, and environmental dynamics are evolving. And in the story of Diawling National Park, I found a microcosm of the challenges facing the state and citizens. It is a place where the potential for energy wealth and all its benefits and drawbacks—related to the environment, social development and equity, economic growth, and the politics of a rentier economy—come together.

Russia and US National Interests: Maintaining a Balance of Power in Europe and Asia

Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Editors' note: Whether there is a change of guard in the White House or not next January, the aftermath of a presidential election traditionally offers the U.S. president a chance to commission a review of U.S. domestic and foreign policies. This primer is the first in a series designed to facilitate a reassessment of America’s relationship with Moscow by detailing exactly what impact Russia does or can have on each of five vital U.S. national interests, as defined by a task force co-chaired by Graham Allison and Robert D. Blackwill, and offering selected recommendations on how to best advance these interests during the next presidential term of 2020-2024. These interests are as follows: (1) maintaining a balance of power in Europe and Asia; (2) ensuring energy security; (3) preventing the use and slowing the spread of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, securing nuclear weapons and materials and preventing proliferation of intermediate and long-range delivery systems for nuclear weapons; (4) preventing large-scale or sustained terrorist attacks on the American homeland; and (5) assuring the stability of the international economy. 

Executive Summary

While Russia is not a superpower, it remains one of the few countries that both defines its interests in global rather than regional terms and retains limited but real global power-projection capabilities. Meanwhile, U.S. national security continues to be guided by the premise that the United States cannot allow another state to become the preponderant power in either Europe or Asia, the two continents Russia famously spans. This primer attempts to assess Russia’s impact on a vital U.S. interest: maintaining a balance of power in Europe and Asia that promotes peace and stability with a continuing U.S. leadership role. Its main conclusion: As the United States endeavors to retain favorable balances of power in both these key regions, its interests are best served by having Russia remain an independent pole within the international system rather than grow even closer with China and forge a formalized, strategic Sino-Russian entente.

Biden’s Blind Spots on Foreign Policy Would Cripple America After Trump

Howard W. French 

With polls making it appear increasingly likely that Donald Trump has entered the twilight of his presidency and could be defeated in the November election, it is not too soon to focus on the blind spots and liabilities that come with his Democratic challenger.

Since he secured his party’s nomination in a sudden burst of primary victories in March that abruptly turned around a flagging campaign, former Vice President Joe Biden has benefited from two main types of appeal. First, and probably most powerfully in a country where many have tired of Trump, is the simple fact that he is not the man he seeks to replace. Second, and deeply associated with that, the prospect of a Biden presidency seems to offer the return to an implicitly familiar and comfortable past. This can mean a whole range of things, from personal decency and self-discipline in a leader, along with the capacity to empathize with others, to returning to a well-worn playbook that involves emphasizing democratic values and building consensus with allies.

US Air Force produces first 3-D printed metal part for aircraft engines

By Garrett Reim

Tinker Air Force base maintenance personnel in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma have produced and tested the first 3-D printed metal part on a US Air Force (USAF) aircraft engine.

The service reverse engineered and reproduced an anti-ice gasket for the Pratt & Whitney TF33-P103, a turbofan engine which powers the Boeing E-3 Sentry, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and the Northrop Grumman E-8.

3-D printed anti-ice gasket for P&W TF33

The Pentagon is pushing the US military services to experiment with using 3-D printing technologies to save time and money manufacturing replacement parts for equipment, components which typically are only needed in small lots.

In August 2019, Travis AFB produced the first certified 3-D printed aircraft parts: replacement latrine covers for the Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy.

In particular, finding replacement parts for aging aircraft can be difficult and expensive as the original part designs or manufacturers may no longer exist. Contractors sometimes charge more than the original cost of the part due to re-engineering work required. The small number of replacement components to be ordered mean engineering costs can’t be spread across a large production run, adding additional cost per part.

The anti-ice gasket project was a collaboration between the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group, the Reverse Engineering and Critical Tooling Lab, and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Propulsion Sustainment Division, says Tinker AFB.

Centre for European Reform (CER)

o Will Germany Rethink Defence, Too?

o To V or not to V

o What Future for a 'Geopolitical' Europe?

Cheap, Easy Deepfakes Are Getting Closer to the Real Thing

THERE ARE MANY photos of Tom Hanks, but none like the images of the leading everyman shown at the Black Hat computer security conference Wednesday: They were made by machine-learning algorithms, not a camera.

Philip Tully, a data scientist at security company FireEye, generated the hoax Hankses to test how easily open-source software from artificial intelligence labs could be adapted to misinformation campaigns. His conclusion: “People with not a lot of experience can take these machine-learning models and do pretty powerful things with them,” he says.

Seen at full resolution, FireEye’s fake Hanks images have flaws like unnatural neck folds and skin textures. But they accurately reproduce the familiar details of the actor’s face like his brow furrows and green-gray eyes, which gaze cooly at the viewer. At the scale of a social network thumbnail, the AI-made images could easily pass as real.

To make them, Tully needed only to gather a few hundred images of Hanks online and spend less than $100 to tune open-source face-generation software to his chosen subject. Armed with the tweaked software, he cranks out Hanks. Tully also used other open-source AI software to attempt to mimic the actor’s voice from three YouTube clips, with less impressive results.

World of Drones

By: Peter Bergen, Melissa Salyk-Virk, David Sterman
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This from the International Security Program examines the proliferation, development, and use of armed drones. The World of Drones database draws upon media reports and other open source information to track which countries and non-state actors have armed drones or are in the process of developing them; which actors have used armed drones in combat; and which non-state actors are artificially equipping over-the-counter drones with improvised explosives like ISIS, or have obtained military-grade UAVs like Hezbollah.


The United States Army is in the midst of an identity crisis. One of the difficulties that George Washington faced more than 240 years ago is still a challenge today: inspiring young people to aspire to a greater calling. The United States Army Recruiting Command (USAREC) failed to achieve its Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 mission, missing the mark by around 6,500 recruits; the U.S. Navy, Marines and Air Force all reached their FY 2018 goals.1 This prompted Secretary of the Army Mark Esper to make this declaration to current and former members of the U.S. Army: tell your Army Story.2 If USAREC continues to fail to fill the ranks, there will be rippling national security implications. In order to correct this, the Army Marketing Research Group (AMRG) must find the words, images and sense of calling that connect with America’s youth.

AMRG, which is ultimately responsible for managing the U.S. Army brand initiatives aimed at recruitment, has failed to produce a desired return on investment (ROI) and has wasted money in the process.3 In 2018, WARC addressed a report from the U.S. Army Audit Agency (AAA) to the military chiefs that cited 20 out of 23 programs had failed to “generate a positive impact.” AAA attested that this was due to AMRG’s failure to adequately evaluate performance, an inability to identify and discontinue projects that are not cost effective and an absence of specific objectives or direction. In FY 2016 alone, the internal AAA audit concluded that AMRG wasted tens of millions of dollars on marketing initiatives.4 AMRG contested the findings in the AAA report and stated that the AAA findings demonstrated a “lack of marketing understanding or criteria for performance assessment.”5

After the Calamity: Unexpected Effects of Epidemics on War

Lazar Berman and Jennifer Tischler

The COVID-19 pandemic is a novel event. It shut the world down as leading economies lay dormant and citizens stayed home for weeks on end. But pandemics have been shaping history for millennia. Ancient populations also quarantined, had their lives disrupted, and raged against authorities as deadly diseases ravaged their communities.

As the world emerges from the pandemic, states will return to commerce, diplomacy, and war. Pre-existing rivalries will not disappear. However, many countries and non-state actors will emerge fundamentally changed, as will the dynamics between them.

As military and political leaders try to make sense of how the coronavirus has altered relations with hostile actors, they can draw important insights from past epidemics and their effects on persistent conflicts throughout history. This article examines past epidemics, from the Peloponnesian War in 430 BCE through the modern era, to extract lessons on incentives for aggression, power balancing, alliances, and internal legitimacy. By studying the past, contemporary decision-makers will be better equipped to anticipate challenges and avoid recurring dangers in the wake of pandemics.