11 August 2020

India Doesn’t Want to Be a Pawn in a U.S.-China Great Game

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China’s increasingly strident territorial claims and economic coercion have forced startled governments such as those in India, Japan, Taiwan, and Vietnam to strengthen relations with friends that can help them respond effectively. In recent months, India has arguably suffered the most from China’s lack of restraint: New Delhi is trapped in a slow-moving border stand-off with Beijing that has already left more than 20 troops dead.

The possibility of greater international coordination to rein in Beijing should be especially appealing to New Delhi. When it comes to potential partners, India enjoys a big geopolitical advantage over China—most of the West roots for a rising, democratic country. Meanwhile, China’s list of allies isn’t very long and includes problematic governments such as those of North Korea and Pakistan.

Countries may instinctively prefer India, but depending on how its current border stand-off with China is resolved, New Delhi’s traditional aversion to security and trade alliances could complicate partnerships. To encourage Indian choices that facilitate alignment, countries such as the United States need to be a more consistent friend, and sometimes to be prepared to play the long game when interests diverge on issues such as partnering with Russia. If India makes the right decisions, its democratic institutions, market potential, and demographics position it as a leading power that can make a difference in managing China and the global commons.

Toward a Kashmir Endgame? How India and Pakistan Could Negotiate a Lasting Solution

BY: Happymon Jacob
Kashmir has once again emerged as a major flashpoint between South Asia’s nuclear-armed rivals, India and Pakistan. The Indian government’s August 2019 withdrawal of statehood status for the Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir region intensified disaffection among separatists and the Kashmiri public. This report explores the strategies India and Pakistan have adopted toward Kashmir in the year since August 2019, and examines a potential road map for resolving the Kashmir conflict.Motorcyclists navigate past barbed-wire placed by Indian security forces in the Kashmiri city of Srinagar on August 10, 2019. 

Kashmir has been a cauldron of discontent since August 2019, when the Indian government altered the special constitutional status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and split it into two “union territories” under direct federal administration. 

For now, the Indian government seems to have closed off options for a negotiated settlement of Kashmir with Pakistan as well as with separatist parties in Kashmir. New Delhi’s strategy is to tighten its control of Kashmir while creating space for more pro-India politics. But this approach has intensified disaffection in Kashmir while opening the door for increased Pakistani interference. 

Post-COVID India Must Foil China’s Designs

By Jagdish N. Singh

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Modi government in India is working hard to fight COVID-19 and save precious lives, both at home and abroad. However, it cannot afford to focus solely on the containment of the pandemic and the development of the national economy. The communist leadership in Beijing is taking advantage of India’s current predicament to advance its imperial aggression against the country, and this threat must be addressed.

On June 15, 2020, Chinese communist troops killed 20 Indian Army personnel, including the commanding officer of the 16th Bihar Regiment, in the Galwan Valley of Ladakh. India’s former Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao pointed out in The Hindu that “[n]othing on this scale was witnessed even in the run-up to the conflict between the two countries in 1962.” According to one study, the recent violence was the worst since 1967.

In a media interview, India’s former Ambassador to China and Pakistan Gautam Bambawale confirmed that Beijing does not believe in its 1993 Border Peace and Tranquility Agreement and subsequent confidence-building agreements with India. China has assumed the right to unilaterally define the LAC (the Line of Actual Control) and to move its ground positions accordingly.

Former diplomat Jayant Prasad warns against any complacency vis-à-vis China because of the defusing of recent standoffs in Depsang, Chumar, and Doklam. There are reports of a Chinese build-up at Pangong Tso, in India’s eastern Ladakh.

New Delhi would do well to take steps to counter Beijing’s anti-India designs.

‘Google Tax’: Implications for India

Amitendu Palit

India, along with several other countries, has imposed digital service taxes on online advertisement revenues and other digital sales by non-resident e-commerce firms. Popularly christened the ‘Google Tax’, these taxes have provoked United States (US) authorities to launch investigations on many imposing countries for determining whether or not these are particularly discriminatory to US technology firms, which are the largest online service providers in India and much of the rest of the world.

This paper reviews the global trends in digital service taxes, including efforts to arrive at solutions for fixing multilateral principles for administering these taxes, which are extra-territorial, and unlinked from the traditional principle of physical presence for taxing foreign firms. For India, which has expanded the scope of the tax from 1 April 2020, the issue has emerged as a problem in proceeding on a limited trade deal with the US.

The paper argues, from a revenue perspective, that the Indian authorities find the ‘Google Tax’ appealing at a time when its public finances are strained. Also, India is a major contributor to online revenues earned by big US technology firms. Whether the tax will impact US technology investments in India will depend upon outcomes of US investigations and ongoing global talks on digital taxes. More importantly, they would also depend on outcomes of bilateral consultations between the US and Indian tax authorities as the ‘Google Tax’ is outside the purview of existing tax treaties.

Digital Service Tax: The Global Trend

No Sanctuary: China’s New Territorial Dispute with Bhutan

Resting at the eastern end of Bhutan is the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary. Spanning some 750 square kilometers, it is spread out across a densely forested area of the Himalayan Mountains. The sanctuary is far better known for its unique flora and fauna (including the red panda and, reputedly, the fabled yeti) than its geographic boundaries. But the latter is precisely what brought it to international attention in June 2020. Early that month, Bhutan sought a grant for the sanctuary from a global environmental organization that funds sustainable development projects. Unexpectedly, China’s representatives to that organization opposed the grant. Their reason: China considers the sanctuary to be “disputed territory.”

That came as a surprise to Bhutan. For although Beijing and Thimphu do contest several areas along their border, China had never before claimed the land of the Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary or, for that matter, any land in eastern Bhutan. Even more puzzling, Beijing had not mentioned the region during the 36 years of diplomatic talks that the two sides have held to resolve their boundary differences. Naturally, Bhutan protested China’s new claim.[1] But, as Indian media reported, China’s foreign ministry has a different perspective, explaining that “the boundary between China and Bhutan has never been delimited. There have been disputes over the eastern, central and western sectors for a long time.”
More Discernable Disputes

The pandemic deals a blow to Pakistan’s democracy

Madiha Afzal

As Pakistan continues to deal with COVID-19 — with more than 280,000 cases to date and over 6,000 dead — in the face of a struggling economy, the pandemic is dealing a blow to its fledgling democracy. While Pakistan has brought new coronavirus cases and deaths under control in the past month, the pandemic’s aftershocks have weakened the country’s current civilian government, further emboldened its military, and brought about a broader crackdown on dissent.

I, along with other analysts as well as public health experts, criticized Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s initial response to the coronavirus for being weak and indecisive. He refused to implement a nationwide lockdown, letting Pakistan’s four provinces implement their own lockdowns. The provincial actions limited the initial spread of the virus. Khan focused instead on a gimmicky coronavirus youth “Tiger Force” that would help the government disseminate its message. His government first caved in to the religious right to keep mosques open during Ramadan and then allowed markets to reopen too quickly toward the end of Ramadan in May, resulting in a spike of cases across the country in June, stretching its hospitals and doctors to the limit. Khan’s messaging during this time was muddled.

The country’s powerful military, reportedly unhappy both with Khan’s response and that it drew criticism, had publicly backed a tougher lockdown at the same time that Khan opposed it in March. It then started taking a more visible role in the coronavirus response. When the virus seemed to be spiraling out of control in June, the National Command and Operation Center (NCOC) — the joint civilian-military body created to coordinate the national COVID response, in which high-ranking military officers play increasingly visible roles, enforced “smart” lockdowns in hundreds of COVID hotspots across the country. The military’s intelligence agencies led in surveillance and contact tracing efforts. (Khan still chairs meetings of the National Coordination Committee, the decisionmaking arm of the NCOC, but the army chief General Qamar Bajwa also attends many of those meetings.)

More pain than gain: How the US-China trade war hurt America

Ryan Hass and Abraham Denmark
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The ultimate results of the phase one trade deal between China and the United States — and the trade war that preceded it — have significantly hurt the American economy without solving the underlying economic concerns that the trade war was meant to resolve, writes Ryan Hass and Abraham Denmark. The consequences that have followed in the wake of the economic clash have served to exacerbate bilateral relations. This piece originally appeared in SupChina.

As a candidate in 2016, Donald Trump built his argument for the presidency around his claimed acumen as a dealmaker. As the 2020 election draws nearer, President Trump and his surrogates are doubling down on that assertion, including by calling attention to what he has deemed “the biggest deal ever seen”: the “phase one” trade deal with China. The agreement reportedly includes a Chinese commitment to purchase an additional $200 billion in American goods above 2017 levels by the end of 2021.

Six months after the deal was inked, the costs and benefits of this agreement are coming into clearer focus. Despite Trump’s claim that “trade wars are good, and easy to win,” the ultimate results of the phase one trade deal between China and the United States — and the trade war that preceded it — have significantly hurt the American economy without solving the underlying economic concerns that the trade war was meant to resolve. The effects of the trade war go beyond economics, though. Trump’s prioritization on the trade deal and de-prioritization of all other dimensions of the relationship produced a more permissive environment for China to advance its interests abroad and oppress its own people at home, secure in the knowledge that American responses would be muted by a president who was reluctant to risk losing the deal.


How Much of a Threat Is TikTok?

The wildly popular video-sharing platform TikTok and its Chinese parent company, ByteDance, have had a rough couple of months. The government of India banned TikTok in June—along with dozens of other Chinese apps—and authorities in a number of other major markets are investigating TikTok over national security and data privacy concerns. President Donald Trump said last week that he would ban the app in the United States, but then changed his mind and gave his blessing to a proposed deal in which Microsoft would buy TikTok’s operations in the U.S., Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

On the Trend Lines podcast this week, Samantha Hoffman and Fergus Ryan, both experts on China at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, joined WPR’s Elliot Waldman to talk about the extent to which TikTok and ByteDance could be using—and abusing—the app’s user data. They also discussed the broader issues posed by China’s stringent government oversight over its technology sector, and what lessons Western observers can take from the rapid growth of Chinese tech companies. ...

Washington Needs a Better Plan for Competing With China

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On July 23, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a major address on China that received widespread attention. The speech contained much to commend, but it was missing an important element: It did not articulate a clear goal of the U.S. strategy for China.

The 2017 U.S. National Security Strategy declared that the return of great-power competition with China and Russia was the foremost threat facing the United States, but Washington has yet to articulate a clear objective for this competition, and many questions about its nature remain unanswered.

What are the United States and China competing for? When will the competition end? What does success look like?

The goal was to make China the Germany of Asia. It was a coherent approach, but it didn’t work.


However, while Canadian policy-makers are now just waking up to this danger, Taiwan has long been subject to these sharp power attacks against its democracy. In MLI’s latest paper titled “Democracy Under Fire: China’s political warfare against Taiwan during President Tsai Ing-Wen’s first term,” MLI senior Fellow J. Michael Cole examines how Beijing’s sharp power influence operations against Taiwan have played out from 2016 to 2020.

China had relied more on non-coercive means to try to influence the previous Taiwanese government’s agenda. But the election of Tsai Ing-Wen signalled a turn in Beijing’s “strategy by renewing its focus on political warfare and military coercion,” explains Cole. As Beijing failed to get the political results it wanted with tactics such as economic incentives, China instead turned to coercive action.

Cole argues that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) sharp power playbook can be divided across five main aims. The CCP sought to undermine Taiwan’s democracy, weaken the resolve of the Taiwanese people, exacerbate social divisions, co-opt influential Taiwanese, and coerce critics into silence or support.

The paper explores how a broad array of activities coordinated by China’s United Front Work Department through a variety of proxy organizations are directed toward all elements of Taiwanese society to exercise Beijing’s authoritarian influence.

Watching Over the Taiwan Strait: The Role of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles in Taiwan’s Defense Strategy

By: Ian Easton, Mark Stokes, Yang Kuang-shun, Eric Lee, and Colby Ferland 
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Unmanned systems are likely to transform the Taiwan Strait battle space in the coming years. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has fielded a large and increasingly sophisticated force of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) opposite Taiwan. This underscores the importance of exploiting advanced unmanned systems to deter opportunistic acts of aggression, and to defeat the PLA’s potential use of force in the event that deterrence should fail. This report examines the current state and trajectory of Taiwan’s indigenous UAV capabilities, and illuminates the role UAVs play within both Taiwan’s defense strategy and the American-led Indo-Pacific security network more broadly. In addition, this report evaluates the PLA’s organizational infrastructure designed for a Taiwan campaign, discusses cross-Strait political-military challenges, and highlights future opportunities to expand U.S.-Taiwan military and security cooperation as part of long-term strategic competition with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Let’s Face It, China Is Its Own Worst Enemy

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In hopes of winning reelection, President Donald Trump is launching a new Cold War against the People’s Republic of China. Still focused on trade, however, his heart does not appear to be in his campaign—in contrast to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who obviously enjoys launching rhetorical broadsides against Beijing. Pompeo also has been seeking allies willing to join a veritable economic war against China.

So far Pompeo has met with only indifferent success. The PRC’s economic reach makes countries reluctant to risk their relationship with China. Nations in East Asia, including allies such as Australia and South Korea, worry about security as well as economic ties. And no one has any confidence in a Washington administration that has leavened arbitrary incompetence with arrogant hypocrisy. If there is one U.S. president no one is inclined to follow, it is Donald Trump.

However, Washington has found an unexpected ally of extraordinary importance. This government could end up providing essential services in winning adherents to America’s cause. It is Beijing, which has been acting like, well, the Trump administration, maladroitly offending even those who should be China’s friends. The PRC seems to have decided to heed Machiavelli’s advice that it is better to be feared than loved. But China, also rather like the Trump administration, has pushed too hard, ending up loathed more than feared.

How Many Bridges Can Turkey’s Erdogan Burn?

With his sweeping overhaul of Turkey’s political system in 2017, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared to cement his near-total control over the country. But an electoral setback in the Istanbul mayoral election in June 2019, the worst of Erdogan’s career, pointed the way to a potential rebirth of the political opposition, even as it highlighted Erdogan’s willingness to destabilize Turkey’s democracy to maintain his grip on power.

The victory by Ekrem Imamoglu of the opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, in June came after the Supreme Election Council sided with Erdogan and his ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, to overturn an earlier ballot in March that was also narrowly won by Imamoglu over the AKP’s candidate. The Supreme Election Council’s decision underscored how severe the erosion of democratic institutions has been under Erdogan and the AKP. And Erdogan’s interference with the initial outcome points to a potential future in which the regime may no longer even look for institutional cover when it decides to subvert democratic norms.

Beirut after the blast: the crunch of glass, acrid smoke and stairs slick with blood

The clock had just struck 6pm when the world shook. From Sassine Square, one mile (1.6km) from the blast, it seemed like a car bomb or a gas explosion—a disaster, but a localised one. Only on the drive down towards the Mediterranean did the scale of the devastation become clear. Streets were blanketed with broken glass that rained down from battered buildings. At a busy intersection three women sat in the median holding scraps of fabric to bloodied heads. Beirut was an assault on the senses: the crunch of glass under tyres, the wail of sirens, the acrid smell of smoke.

The explosion at Beirut’s port on August 4th was gigantic. Residents of Cyprus felt it, 150 miles (240km) away. Seismological monitors in Jordan registered it as the equivalent of a minor earthquake. The shock wave left much of Beirut’s city centre in ruins. By the next evening the death toll was 135, a number that will surely rise as rescuers dig through the rubble. Another 5,000 people were injured. The financial cost will run into the billions, in a country that can ill afford to pay.

The cause seems to be negligence, a mind-boggling degree of it, even by the debased standards of Lebanon’s government. In 2013 Lebanon seized a cargo of ammonium nitrate, used in fertiliser and in explosives for mining and quarrying, from the MV Rhosus, a Russian-owned vessel plying the seas from Georgia to Mozambique. The chemicals, all 2,750 tonnes of them, were stored in a warehouse at the port. (The Oklahoma City bombers in 1995 used just two tonnes of the stuff to kill 168 people.) Some officials warned of the danger of keeping a giant bomb next to a population centre. Their pleas were ignored.

It’s a New Europe—if You Can Keep It

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This summer, Europe is basking in a sense of accomplishment. On July 21, after protracted labor, the European Union announced the birth of a historic recovery package to the tune of 750 billion euros ($880 billion). It’s not only that this is a lot of money. For the first time, a considerable sum will be financed through large-scale borrowing by the EU itself. Once again Europe has managed to turn a crisis into the spur for major institutional change.

With the troubled last decade of the eurozone in mind, it is tempting to view these changes as long-overdue updates of Europe’s incomplete union. That is both true and reassuring in confirming that, once again, Europe “got there” in the end. But by the same token, this complacent narrative tends to diminish the scale of Europe’s problems and the novelty of the crisis we face in 2020. The speed and scale of changes forced on Europe since this spring ought to give one pause for thought. To move Europe this far this fast takes an almighty shock. Even with this latest package, it is far from obvious that Europe is sufficiently equipped to meet the challenges ahead.

To appreciate the sense of relief in Europe this summer, it is worth recalling how unlikely this outcome seemed only a few months ago—and how serious a disaster COVID-19 has been for the continent. In terms of national excess mortality, only Ecuador and Peru exceed the levels of mortality recorded in Spain, Italy, and Belgium. We talk a lot about America’s mishandling of the crisis. But in terms of mortality, only New York and New Jersey are in the same league as Europe’s hot spots. As of July, recalcitrant red states like Texas, Florida, and Georgia aren’t even close.

The U.S. Space Program Is Back, but It Can’t Go It Alone

Victoria Samson 

The splashdown of two American astronauts, Robert L. Benken and Douglas G. Hurley, in the Gulf of Mexico last Sunday was historic in many ways. It was the first water landing by NASA since 1975, and marked the completion of the first manned trip into outer space by a private company. Perhaps most importantly, it showed that the United States has officially regained the ability to send astronauts into space.

For the better part of a decade, since the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011, the United States depended on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to get its astronauts to the International Space Station. That changed with the May 30 launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which carried Benken and Hurley 250 miles from Cape Canaveral, Florida, into low Earth orbit. The SpaceX capsule docked successfully with the space station the following day, allowing the astronauts to spend two months with their Russian colleagues on the station before returning home

Putin Is Ruling Russia Like a Central Asian Dictator

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Between June 25 and July 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a national referendum on a host of constitutional amendments; unsurprisingly, it passed by an overwhelming majority. What drew the attention of most commentators was not the nature of these amendments—which touched on a variety of themes, from increasing social pensions to banning same-sex marriage—but the fact that, by changing the constitution, Putin opened the path to resetting his term as Russian president.

In office since 2000, when he was first elected president, Putin has ruled Russia continuously for two decades. (He did step down briefly, taking the position of prime minister from 2008 to 2012, but no one had any illusions as to who actually remained in charge.) Having reset his term, he could now in theory rule until 2036, by which point he will have bested Joseph Stalin as the longest-reigning ruler in Russia’s modern history. If Putin wanted to stay on even then, who could stop him but the constitution, which has already been trampled on?

The Hiroshima Effect

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“Why is it night already? Why did our house fall down? What happened?” The befuddlement of 5-year-old Myeko Nakamura moments after the first atomic bomb fell at 8:15 on the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, as related in John Hersey’s classic account Hiroshima, remains to a large extent our befuddlement today. Seventy-five years after about 80,000 of Myeko’s neighbors died in an instant, we are, like that little girl, grateful to be alive but somewhat mystified about how it happened—and what surviving in the nuclear age really means. 

Above all we are mystified that today’s leaders aren’t doing more to prevent a greater horror than Hiroshima; if anything, led by America’s history-shredding president, Donald Trump, they are making that prospect more likely.

True, there are reasons to turn this baleful anniversary into a moment, however brief, of self-congratulation. Despite several close calls in the past 75 years—some notorious, like the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, others known to only a few—nuclear weapons were never again used in anger after the second bomb fell on Nagasaki three days after Hiroshima. The day-to-day balance of terror that defined the 40-year Cold War between the two nuclear superpowers, the United States and Soviet Union, is long over. Despite renewed tensions between the major nuclear powers and the advent of scary new technologies, no one touts the benefits of a nuclear first strike, as those satirized in the war room of black comedies like Dr. Strangelove once did. And with the exception of rogue nations such as North Korea and Iran, nuclear proliferation does not seem to be a growing threat; everyone is thankful that no terrorist group seems close to getting the bomb.

Inevitable bedfellows? Cooperation on military technology for the development of UAVs and cruise missiles in the Asia-Pacific

Will states in the Asia-Pacific develop real capabilities to deter Chinese aggression? In this discussion paper – published as part of the Missile Dialogue Initiative research programme – Dr Amy J. Nelson and Dr T. X. Hammes examine the increased likelihood that UAV and cruise-missile technologies will proliferate throughout the Asia-Pacific.

Today, the ‘small, smart and many’ revolution is providing state and non-state actors with capabilities that previously belonged only to great powers. Advances in specific technologies and manufacturing are broadening access to long-range precision-strike capabilities, and an increasing number of states have an incentive to take advantage of this – particularly those that share a border with China. This paper examines how the evolution of enabling technologies and changes in strategic objectives are increasing the likelihood that uninhabited-aerial-vehicle (UAV) and cruise-missile technologies will proliferate throughout the Asia-Pacific. Through arms sales, new technology-sharing relationships are likely to be created and existing ones reinforced. The current rapid pace of technological evolution means that non-aligned states, non-state actors and even second-tier defence companies are pursuing and contributing to UAV and cruise-missile capabilities. We conclude that although the proliferation of advanced weapons is normally a cause for concern regarding escalation, modern cruise missiles and UAVs may today serve as weapons that smaller states can use to deter aggression from larger states.

Historically, the drive to obtain ballistic-missile technology has – when not inhibited by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and other non-proliferation initiatives – produced unlikely state-to-state development partners (some of which paired off specifically in order to circumvent MTCR restrictions). Ballistic-missile proliferation saw the emergence of partnerships between Pakistan and North Korea, Iran and North Korea, and Ukraine and China – all forged to develop or provide capabilities via aligned political interest. In 2008, Dennis Gormley warned that the pattern of cruise-missile proliferation would likely mirror that of ballistic missiles.


R 281355Z JUL 20







GENTEXT/REMARKS/1. Situation. This MARADMIN provides guidance to all users in possession of government-furnished equipment (GFE) mobile devices regarding the need to be cognizant of applications downloaded and residing on these mobile devices. 

2. Background. Commercial mobile applications are critical enablers for the Marine Corps and provide new opportunities to improve mission effectiveness. The collection, use, and disposition of information for account creation or made available through mobile applications (e.g., physical locations, significant life events, images, videos, etc.) is a privacy and security concern. 

Whose Story Wins : Rise of the Noosphere, Noopolitik, and Information-Age Statecraft

by David Ronfeldt, John Arquilla

In this Perspective, the authors urge strategists to consider a new concept for adapting U.S. grand strategy to the information age—noopolitik, which favors the use of "soft power"—as a successor to realpolitik, with its emphasis on "hard power." The authors illuminate how U.S. adversaries are already deploying dark forms of noopolitik—e.g., weaponized narratives, strategic deception, epistemic attacks. The authors propose new ways to fight back and discuss how the future of noopolitik might depend on what happens to the global commons—i.e., the parts of the Earth and space that fall outside national jurisdictions and to which all nations are supposed to have access.

The authors expand on many of the ideas they first proposed in a 1999 RAND Corporation report titled The Emergence of Noopolitik: Toward an American Information Strategy, in which they describe the emergence of a new globe-circling realm: the noosphere. The authors explain that Earth first developed a geosphere, a geological mantle, and then a biosphere, consisting of plant and animal life. Third to develop will be the noosphere, a global "thinking circuit" and "realm of the mind"—a collective form of intelligence enabled by the digital information revolution. As the noosphere expands, it will profoundly affect statecraft; the conditions favoring traditional realpolitik strategies will erode, and the prospects for noopolitik strategies will grow. Thus, the decisive factor in today's and tomorrow's wars of ideas is bound to be "whose story wins"—the essence of noopolitik. To improve prospects for the noosphere and noopolitik, U.S. policy and strategy should, among other initiatives, treat the global commons as a pivotal issue area, uphold "guarded openness" as a guiding principle, and institute a requirement for periodic reviews of America's "information posture."

How Vulnerable Is G.P.S.?

By Greg Milner

In the cool, dark hours after midnight on June 20, 2012, Todd Humphreys made the final preparations for his attack on the Global Positioning System. He stood alone in the middle of White Sands Missile Range, in southern New Mexico, sixty miles north of Juárez. All around him were the glowing gypsum dunes of the Chihuahuan Desert. In the distance, the snow-capped San Andres Mountains loomed.

On a hill about a kilometre away, his team was gathered around a flat metal box the size of a carry-on suitcase. The electronic machinery inside the box was called a spoofer—a weapon by another name. Soon, a Hornet Mini, a drone-operated helicopter popular with law-enforcement and rescue agencies, was scheduled to appear forty feet above them. Then the spoofer would be put to the test.

Humphreys, an engineering professor at the University of Texas at Austin, had been working on this spoofing technology for years, but he was nervous. Witnessing the test that morning was a group of about fifteen officials from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Air Force’s 746th Test Squadron. They were Humphreys’s hosts, but they very much wanted him to fail. His success would mean a major reckoning for the entire G.P.S. system—and, in turn, for the effectiveness of some of the country’s principal military and defense systems. Drones, which rely on G.P.S. to navigate, are an increasingly indispensable part of our security apparatus. Demand for them is growing elsewhere, too. There are now over a million more recreational drones in the sky than there were just four years ago. Sales of high-precision commercial-grade drones—for everything from pipeline inspections to 3-D mapping—increased more than five hundred per cent during the same period.

Bill Gates on Covid: Most US Tests Are ‘Completely Garbage’

FOR 20 YEARS, Bill Gates has been easing out of the roles that made him rich and famous—CEO, chief software architect, and chair of Microsoft—and devoting his brainpower and passion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, abandoning earnings calls and antitrust hearings for the metrics of disease eradication and carbon reduction. This year, after he left the Microsoft board, one would have thought he would have relished shedding the spotlight directed at the four CEOs of big tech companies called before Congress.

But as with many of us, 2020 had different plans for Gates. An early Cassandra who warned of our lack of preparedness for a global pandemic, he became one of the most credible figures as his foundation made huge investments in vaccines, treatments, and testing. He also became a target of the plague of misinformation afoot in the land, as logorrheic critics accused him of planning to inject microchips in vaccine recipients. (Fact check: false. In case you were wondering.)

Opportunities and Implications of Brain-computer Interface Technology

By Maj Mark W. Vahle 

This paper examines the implications of a technological convergence of biotechnology and cyber technology and how best to prepare for the exponential change triggered by this emerging field. This convergence, specifically brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, is enabling bidirectional communication between the brain and a computer. Clinical applications are significant, offering treatments for epilepsy, dementia, nervous system disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury, as well as advanced prosthetics. In some cases, BCIs may be able to not just restore functionality but also augment it. New noninvasive techniques are now showing benefits to the point where healthy individuals may opt to have BCIs installed to augment their abilities. This paper will explore the opportunities this technology creates for the United States Air Force (USAF) to enhance combat capability, particularly in high-workload career fields, and the policy choices needed to prepare for the next 20 years. It concludes that in order to seize these opportunities, the USAF needs to act now on currently available technologies to foster a culture of increased experimentation and calculated risk-taking. [Maj Mark W. Vahle / 2020 / 27 pages / ISSN 2687-7260 / AU Press Code: WF-75]

Open Future The Way Forward on 5G

By Martijn Rasser and Ainikki Riikonen

Communication networks are the central nervous system of the 21st century economy. The fifth generation of wireless—5G—will be essential to and inseparable from all we do. In many ways, we are already there. What for most was an abstract concept became all too real during the COVID-19 crisis.

The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the critical importance of communication networks: They are integral to our daily lives and our ability to function economically and as a society. Shutdowns of offices, schools, and stores have meant turning to apps to work, learn, and buy. Frontline medical workers and vaccine researchers have consulted colleagues via teleconference to get the latest insight and advice on combating the virus. Being connected means resilience, coping, surviving.

Getting 5G right is all the more urgent. Next-generation 5G networks will enable telemedicine, self-driving cars, and a proliferation of Internet of Things devices to fuel the future digital economy. Secure, reliable 5G networks will be essential elements of national infrastructure. Policymakers in Australia, Japan, and Vietnam understood this early on and took decisive action to secure their 5G networks. U.S. officials, slower out of the gates, are now the loudest voice on the risks of having equipment from untrusted vendors in 5G networks. The spotlight is brightest on the risks that Huawei poses to national security, including the threat of espionage or disruption. Given the Chinese Community Party’s ability to exercise control over Huawei, there is justifiable concern over data integrity on networks that deploy Huawei equipment. More serious is the potential to use 5G equipment as a vector to cripple critical infrastructure. Such risk is not only about communications—5G will be the backbone of controls needed for power grids, water supplies, and transportation infrastructure. Despite this, the United States has had only limited success convincing its allies to join it in banning Huawei.