21 August 2020

The happy classroom: Insights from our study of schools in Delhi, India

Esther Care

“Knowing if you are happy from within or not is very important because, when your actions are driven from this state of happiness nothing seems to be a burden.” Manish Sisodia, deputy chief minister and minister of education, Delhi government.

Happiness means different things to different people. In a place where the majority of students in public education systems (government schools) are first generation learners, Delhi’s Happiness Curriculum is designed to strengthen the foundations of happiness and well-being for all students and change the relationship of the student with her teacher and school through a 35-minute class delivered every day for every student in kindergarten to grade eight across 1,030 schools in Delhi. Started in July 2018, the Happiness Curriculum is the first attempt of its kind to reimagine the classroom and the school for over 800,000 students.

In this strange time of discontinuities and uncertainties, education is more important than ever as we struggle to engage constructively with the world and its inhabitants. Our education systems—and our societies more broadly—must look beyond knowledge and facts, and address how to manage the experience of life.

Unlike 1962 War, China Will Use Drones, PGMs, Electronic Warfare To Rattle India – Top General

After several rounds of military talks between India and China, the disengagement process has been excruciatingly slow. According to the former military commander, Lt Gen H.S. Panag’s assessment of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) doctrine, India-China war, high in the Himalayas, would be very different from 1962 war. 

Lt Gen H.S. Panag PVSM AVSM (R) has served in the Indian Army for 40 years and was the General-Officer-Commander-in-Chief (GOC) in C Northern Command and Central Command. 

“The PLA will neutralise the ‘predominance of the defence’ in high altitude terrain by not getting involved in “close infantry combat” over unfavourable terrain. If at all it chooses to use force, its pattern of attack will be driven by high-end technology with the overwhelming use of Precision Guided Munitions (PGM), cyber and electronic warfare” he wrote. “The much romanticised ‘blood and guts’ close combat is a relic of the last century,” he added.

Indian and Chinese troops clashed on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in June which resulted in 20 Indian casualties and an unconfirmed number on the Chinese side. Although the disengagement talks are underway between the top military officials of both sides, there is an ongoing buildup on the LAC.

According to reports, the Chinese People Liberation Army (PLA) has deployed close to 50,000 troops in Aksai Chin. India has also mirrored this by deploying a squadron (12) T-90 missile-firing tanks, armoured personnel carriers (APCs) and a full troop brigade (4,000 men).

China Appears To Increase Foothold In Strategic Port In Pakistan

H I Sutton
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China has a commercial and political interest in developing the port of Gwadar in Pakistan. It is of strategic importance because it will provide Beijing with a port facility connected to China by road and rail that bypasses the Strait of Malacca. In wartime, that narrow choke point between the Malay Peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra could be closed off by the Indian Navy. Gwadar is also believed to be a possible future overseas base for the Chinese Navy, adding to the existing one in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. Now new buildings point towards the next phase of China’s development at the port.

Open-source intelligence reveals that a third new site of interest has been constructed in the past few months. Twitter account d-atis, which monitors Asian defense topics and specializes in image intelligence, shared a tweet showing the three sites. These have characteristic blue-roofed buildings which contrast with existing local building materials and styles. They are seen as a leading indicator of the next stage of port construction.

Construction of the first site, nearest to the port facility, began around May last year. The first of the blue-roofed buildings appeared there in June 2019. Then the blue roofs appeared at the second site, farther north, in September 2019. The land at the third site started to be prepared in January this year and the blue roofs were substantially completed in July. These later two sites are nearer to the heavily defended Chinese compound built at the anticipated northern end of the new port.

Why Doesn’t China Deploy Fighter Jets to the Spratly Islands?

By Ian Storey

On August 4, China’s Global Times reported that SU-30MKK Flanker fighter jets belonging to the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) had conducted a 10-hour patrol over the South China Sea, breaking the air force’s previous record of 8.5 hours. 

Although the report suggested only one SU-30 had made the 10-hour flight, an online video showed five to six fighter jets had been involved in the mission. 

The fighter aircraft departed from an air base in southern China and were refueled twice by Ilyushin-78 aerial refueling tankers. The Global Times described the operation as “technically and mentally” challenging for the pilots, noting that they had “consumed rations to keep their energy levels up.” 

The mission came at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and China over the maritime disputes in the South China Sea. Over the past few months, both countries have increased the tempo of naval exercises and air patrols in the South China Sea. On July 13, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared China’s jurisdictional claims in the South China Sea to be unlawful and accused Beijing of bullying the Southeast Asian claimants. 

Water Wars: Lines in the Great Wall of Sand

By Sean Quirk 

On July 13, the United States hardened its position against the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on the South China Sea. A statement from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that “Beijing’s claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea” and “its campaign of bullying” are “completely unlawful.”

Since the July 12, 2016, arbitral tribunal ruling in Philippines v. China (South China Sea Arbitration), the United States has insisted that the decision is “final and legally binding” on both parties. The tribunal rejected China’s claims to “historic rights” and its “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea. In calling for all sides to abide by the tribunal decision, Washington—along with dozens of other countries—had thus aligned itself in support of international law and against China’s claims that fell outside the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

But Pompeo’s announcement stresses U.S. support not only for the tribunal’s jurisdiction over the disputes but also for the merits of the tribunal’s findings. His statement asserts that China “has no legal grounds” to continue claiming maritime dominion throughout the nine-dash line. The statement’s strong rhetoric lambasts Chinese behavior since the 2016 ruling, saying: “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire.” Moreover, the statement paints the United States as the defender of Southeast Asian countries facing a China that is attempting to “bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion, and replace international law with ‘might makes right.’”

New Chinese Air-Launched Glide Weapon Designed To Be An Airfield Killer

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China has unveiled a new “smart” glide dispenser weapon that closely resembles the Raytheon AGM-154 Joint Stand-Off Weapon (JSOW). In a video posted by state-run China Central Television, or CCTV, this weekend, an orange-painted example of the weapon was shown, loaded on a trolley in what was reportedly a People’s Liberation Army Air Force storage facility. 

A report on the Shanghai-based news website Eastday stated that CCTV’s National Defense Science and Industry program had disclosed details of the domestically-made 1,100lb (500kg)-class air-launched weapon for the first time. CCTV’s reporter provided a guided tour of the glide weapon, including manually extending and retracting its small wings. The weapon shares obvious common design features with the JSOW including an almost identical tail configuration with six small fins. The front end of the Chinese weapon appears less sophisticated in design than its U.S. counterpart, which also includes a sleeker nose profile that was designed for low-observability (stealth). You can read all about the JSOW in this past article of ours, as well as how it is gaining a powered cruise missile capability here

China’s Global Times added more detail, saying the weapon — for which a formal designation remains unknown — “can release hundreds of submunitions,” which it said “can effectively paralyze an airfield in one shot.” A senior engineer at the China North Industries Group Corporation (NORINCO), which is stated as the weapon’s manufacturer, is quoted as saying that each glide-bomb can carry 240 sub-munitions of six types. These likely include armor-penetrating submunitions and mines that can be dispersed across a large area, such as an airfield or a critical choke point.

China and the United States Are in a Race to Lose Power

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Back in the bad old days of the Cold War, I recall hearing a well-known academic (and former diplomat) remark that the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in “a relentless competition to see which one could lose influence fastest.” Assuming my memory is accurate, he then added, “Fortunately, the Soviets are winning.”

I’m wary of facile analogies to that earlier period of great-power rivalry, but that observation seems to be an apt description of the current state of Chinese and American foreign policy. Beijing and Washington can each point to a few successes over the past year or two, but for the most part both seem to be perfecting the art of the own goal. Citizens of both countries have reason to be grateful; given how poorly their leaders have performed, it’s a small miracle the other side hasn’t taken better advantage.

Let’s start with the United States. I’m old enough to remember when it enjoyed a position of primacy unseen since the Roman Empire. Sadly, assorted sins of omission and commission under both Democrats and Republicans wasted the so-called unipolar moment and facilitated the rise of a new set of challengers. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made the first missteps but escaped most of the blame, because the consequences of his blunders (NATO enlargement, dual containment, a bungled Middle East peace process, and overzealous pursuit of globalization) did not come home to roost until after he had left office. President George W. Bush got to deal with some of the repercussions (such as the 9/11 attacks), and he compounded the error by launching global anti-terrorism campaigns, invading Iraq, and letting a dangerous financial bubble burst in 2008. President Barack Obama failed to reverse the slide despite his successful rescue of the economy and his personal popularity in much of the world, and the consequences of these accumulating failures helped open the door to President Donald Trump’s reign of error.

China’s ‘Never Again’ Mentality

By Mark Tischler

Chinese residents attend a ceremony to mark China’s first National Memorial Day at the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall in Nanjing in eastern China’s Jiangsu province Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014.Credit: AP Photo/Ng Han Guan

Understanding the driving forces behind China’s grand strategy often proves a daunting and elusive task for Western analysts studying the emerging Asian superpower. An often-overlooked aspect of Beijing’s collective mentality is that China is the first power to challenge the United States that truly rose from its post-colonial past. While analysts often cite the Century of Humiliation as a driving force in Beijing’s policies, they too often ignore exactly how this collective trauma manifests itself in China’s “never again” mentality. This mentality cannot be overlooked when attempting to challenge China, whether it be in a territorial dispute or in a trade war. While fears of again falling prey to foreign powers play a significant driving force in Beijing’s policies, many Western analysts overlook this important aspect, as it is foreign to American and Western European mindsets.

The birth of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was not only the beginning of a new regime, but it also marked the ending of the Century of Humiliation (1839-1949), in which foreign powers subjected, manipulated, colonized, and occupied China. This period, characterized by pandemics, famines, corruption, mass murder, and widespread drug addiction, did not gradually wind down. Rather, the last years of this period were also some of its darkest, with the Japanese occupation of China during World War II. During the Japanese invasion and occupation, China experienced war crimes, a high death toll, and man-made natural disasters that killed and displaced millions. Mao Zedong’s founding of a New China marked the end of this dark period, and was supposed to shine in a new era of prosperity.

The Security Component of the BRI in Central Asia, Part Two: China’s (Para)Military Efforts to Promote Security in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

By: Sergey Sukhankin


Successfully realizing the ambitions of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will require the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to guarantee the protection of its workers, businesses, and critical infrastructure in BRI countries. The first part of this short series of articles discussed Beijing’s general views on the security challenges to PRC interests in Central Asia (China Brief, July 15). This second article is concerned with two specific cases: Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, these two states remained heavily dependent on Russia in terms of economics and security (Ipg-journal.io, April 8). However, China’s increasing influence has now created a state of “competitive cooperation” between Beijing and Moscow.

Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan occupy key strategic territory for Beijing’s interests in Central Asia, as seen in their proximity to the potentially rebellious Xinjiang region; their importance for transportation infrastructure projects linked to the BRI; and the strategic location of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (戈尔诺-巴达赫尚自治州, Ge’ernuo-Badaheshang Zizhizhou) of eastern Tajikistan, which covers most of the territory connecting the PRC to Afghanistan. For Beijing, the successful projection of influence over these two countries, and their internal stability, are key conditions for the successful completion of BRI projects further afield in Central Asia.

Mossad thinks Turkey is a bigger menace than Iran

The man who is given most public credit for negotiating a groundbreaking deal between Israel and the UAE is the head of Mossad, Yossi Cohen. He has been talking secretly with fellow spooks in the Gulf states for years, pointing out that they shared a common enemy: Iran. But there was one encounter about 20 months ago when he let slip another agenda. “Iranian power is fragile,” he reportedly told spymasters from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, “but the real threat is from Turkey.”

That was quite something coming from the spy chief who masterminded the Israeli heist of large chunks of the Iranian nuclear archive from a warehouse in central Tehran. His point, though, was not that Iran had ceased to be an

Europe Can Preserve the Iran Nuclear Deal Until November

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The United States just lost the showdown at the United Nations Security Council over extending the terms of the arms embargo against Iran. The U.S. government was left embarrassingly isolated, winning just one other vote for its proposed resolution (from the Dominican Republic), while Russia and China voted against and 11 other nations abstained.

But the Trump administration is not deterred: In response to the vote, President Donald Trump threatened that “we’ll be doing a snapback”—a reference to reimposing sanctions suspended under the 2015 nuclear deal from which the United States withdrew in 2018.

The dance around the arms embargo has always been a prelude to the bigger goal: burning down the remaining bridges that could lead back to the 2015 deal.

The dance around the arms embargo has always been a prelude to the bigger goal: burning down the remaining bridges that could lead back to the 2015 deal. The Trump administration now seeks to snap back international sanctions using a measure built into the very nuclear agreement the Trump White House withdrew from two years ago. This latest gambit by the Trump administration is unsurprisingly contested by other world powers.

Israel and the UAE Formalize Their Normalized Relations

By Hilal Khashan

On Aug. 13, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a historic peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, two countries that do not share borders and have never gone to war against each other. The agreement formalizes relations that have been improving since 2004, when Mohammed bin Zayed – the architect of the UAE’s interventionist foreign policy – became crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the deputy supreme commander of the Emirati armed forces, and, thanks to the poor health of his half-brother, the de facto leader of the country.

Under his rule, relations with Israel went from good to better. (Not even the assassination of a Hamas military commander by Mossad in Dubai in 2010 could shake them.) In 2018, the UAE invited Israeli athletes to participate in Abu Dhabi’s Judo Grand Slam and allowed them to display their flag and sing their national anthem. The Israeli minister of sports and culture accompanied the athletes and was invited by Emirati authorities to visit Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Last year, news emerged about a secret deal by which Israel would supply the Emirati air force with two sophisticated surveillance planes. The UAE allowed Israel to have its pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai (now postponed to 2021 because of COVID-19). MBZ persuaded Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, the chair of Sudan’s ruling Transitional Council, to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Uganda last February. The meeting allowed Israeli jetliners to fly over Sudanese airspace. As a gesture of goodwill, Abu Dhabi supplied Israel with 100,000 virus test kits last June.

United States vs. Iran: The Failure to Extend the Arms Embargo

Eldad Shavit, Sima Shine

The rejection by the Security Council of a US draft resolution to extend the embargo on arms sales to Iran, scheduled to expire on October 18, 2020, is evidence of the administration's isolation, which is largely a result of the displeasure with its unilateral steps and the deep rift with its traditional allies in Europe. The administration now intends to demand that the Council invoke a clause for a snapback of all sanctions and curbs that were previously imposed on Iran and lifted after the nuclear agreement was reached. Implementation of the US demand would essentially be a political rather than a legal matter, as Russia and China, which contend that the United States does not have the authority to seek this measure once it quit the nuclear deal, are expected to continue – regardless of any discussion of the demand – to look out for their own interests vis-à-vis Iran. For Iran, which has threatened a fierce response should the Security Council renew sanctions, the embargo’s removal marks a significant achievement, as it gains legitimacy for procuring weapons and transferring weapons to its allies in the Middle East. For Israel, the US failure is a blow to their common interests on Iran. In concrete terms, even if it is still unclear to what extent Russia and China will hasten to sell advanced weaponry to Iran, preparations should be made for direct dialogue with them in order to limit this eventuality as much as possible.The UN Security Council rejected a draft resolution submitted by the United States to extend the embargo on arms sales to Iran, scheduled to expire on October 18, 2020. Though it was known in advance that Russia and China would veto the resolution, the results of the vote – two in favor (the United States and Dominican Republic), 11 abstentions, and two opposed – is clear evidence of the US administration's isolation following its decision (May 2018) to withdraw from the nuclear deal (JCPOA) reached with Iran in 2015, ideally toward collapse of the deal.

Distributed Sensing: The Key to Successful Air And Missile Defenses

by Dan Goure

For more than two centuries, the U.S. military has practiced a particular style in warfare, which some have called the “American Way of War.” This method tends to focus on attrition and annihilation. It depends on the creation of material superiority on the battlefield which, in turn, relies on economic advantages relative to adversaries. Today, the return of great power competition centered on the proliferation of advanced military technologies has put in doubt the ability of the U.S. to execute its preferred methods of warfare. If the U.S. is to be successful at deterring and winning conflicts, its military will have to change both how and with what it will fight. A key aspect of that change is the exploitation of opportunities for distributing sensors across all domains.

U.S. military leaders, both in and out of government, recognize that for the first time in three decades, this country could lose a large-scale conventional conflict. The U.S. and its regional allies are now confronted by potential adversaries who have spent decades investing in a set of integrated capabilities specifically for the purpose of denying the U.S. the ability to conduct high-end conventional warfare at the time and place of its choosing. Potential adversaries have deployed long-range precision strike systems, intended to attack high-value platforms and the limited set of major facilities housing and supporting U.S. and allied forces.

8 Takeaways From the Senate Committee Report on Russian Interference

By Julian E. Barnes and Charlie Savage
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WASHINGTON — For more than three years, the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee investigated Russia’s operations to influence the 2016 election. The fifth and final volume of its report on the inquiry, released on Tuesday, runs for nearly 1,000 pages and is likely to stand as the definitive bipartisan government examination of Moscow’s interference. The report revealed new details about Russian links to the Trump campaign in 2016 and offered broad warnings for future elections.
Senators split along partisan lines over whether to absolve or condemn the Trump campaign.

A Republican appendix to the report:

“After more than three years of investigation by this Committee, we can now say with no doubt, there was no collusion.”

A Democratic appendix:

“The committee’s bipartisan report unambiguously shows that members of the Trump campaign cooperated with Russian efforts to get Trump elected. … Paul Manafort, while he was chairman of the Trump campaign, was secretly communicating with a Russian intelligence officer with whom he discussed campaign strategy and repeatedly shared internal campaign polling data. … This is what collusion looks like.”

The Armenian Model for Belarus


STOCKHOLM – With Belarusians taking to the streets in unprecedented numbers and refusing to be cowed by state violence, it is obvious that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has failed in his bid to steal another election and prolong his time in power. By all standards, his days in power are now numbered.

Although it is difficult at this point to say anything new about Donald Trump, it is never too early to start reckoning with the implications of his presidency. The only thing more disturbing is the possibility of what may lie ahead in – and after – November's election.

Many commentators are comparing the situation in Belarus to Ukraine’s Orange and Maidan revolutions in 2004-05 and 2014, respectively. But Belarus is not Ukraine, and nor is it particularly helpful to apply the Maidan model to the scene playing out in Minsk and other Belarusian cities and towns.

Although domestic issues of corruption and mismanagement have undoubtedly played a role in Ukraine’s post-Cold War political developments, the main determining factor has been the wish to bring the country into the European fold. The Maidan movement was a direct response to then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s attempt to abandon the cause of European integration and reform. The revolutionaries openly mobilized under the banner of the European Union.

Japan and the 'great power competition'


When I joined Pacific Forum, a Honolulu-based think tank, in 2001, the transition to a tripolar world was finally gaining traction. Some far-sighted individuals envisioned the rise of Asia (and not merely a few countries within the region) in the 1970s and ’80s, but serious discussions of power and politics remained focused on the trans-Atlantic space. Asia was largely viewed as a secondary theater.

When George W. Bush became the U.S. president in 2001, some strategists grasped the implications of China’s rise. Attention almost shifted following the April 2001 EP3 crisis, in which a U.S. surveillance aircraft collided with a Chinese fighter, was forced to make an emergency landing on Hainan island, and the plane and its crew were detained. (The Chinese jet was lost and its pilot was killed.) That could have crystallized U.S. antagonism toward China and moved forward the confrontation that is now unfolding, but the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States refocused attention and Beijing seized the opportunity to find new common ground with Washington.

Until then, interactions between U.S. experts and officials and their Asian counterparts were limited, focused on identifying shared concerns, which tended to be security-oriented (and security as traditionally defined), although economics was of increasing importance given the spread of Japanese production networks. A lack of commonality between interlocutors — the U.S. and whichever country it was talking to — meant that discussions sought broad principles of agreement which would then be used to craft action agendas.

How Did the Eastern Mediterranean Become the Eye of a Geopolitical Storm?

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In mid-August, a Turkish and a Greek warship collided in the Eastern Mediterranean, raising tensions in the most combustible naval stand-off the region has witnessed in 20 years. The crisis had started two days before, when Turkey deployed an energy exploration ship along with its naval escort to search for oil and natural gas in waters near the Greek island of Kastellorizo—waters Athens claims as its own maritime territory.

More than ever before, the latest cycle of escalation risks spiraling into a multinational conflict. Making a show of staunch support for Greece against Turkey, France dispatched warships to the contested waters and promised more. Egypt and Israel, which hold regular joint military exercises with Greece, have also expressed their solidarity with Athens. With France and Egypt already in open conflict with Turkey in Libya, observers around the world fear that any further escalation in the Eastern Mediterranean could set off a Euro-Middle Eastern maelstrom.

How did the Eastern Mediterranean become the eye of a geopolitical storm?

Symposium: We Asked the World’s Top Experts What America’s North Korea Policy Would Look Like If Joe Biden Wins

by Harry J. Kazianis 
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With less than three months to go until Election Day and a potential change of presidential administration, the Center for the National Interest’s Korean Studies team decided to ask dozens of the world’s top experts a simple question: If Joe Biden wins come November, what do you expect his North Korea policy to look like?

Below you will find links to each expert's analysis. Every day for the next several days, we will update this page with new and different perspectives. Please check back frequently!

August 18:

Joseph S. Nye, Jr.: University Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at, and former Dean of, Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and author of Do Morals Matter? Presidents and Foreign Policy from FDR to Trump.

August 17:

Why Americans Want a President Who Ends Endless Wars

by William Ruger
The United States has been an active military player around the globe since the end of the Cold War. It has fought bloody and expensive wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while also conducting significant military operations in the Balkans, Libya, Syria, and other hot spots in the Middle East and North Africa. 

The election of Donald Trump and the significant support garnered by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in the Democrat primary suggests that Americans have become weary of this heavy burden. These elected officials prominently called for new thinking about America’s role in the world and benefited from it. 

A new YouGov poll commissioned by the Charles Koch Institute provides further evidence that the American public supports a more realist foreign policy and wants its leaders to focus more on pressing domestic needs than overseas projects. YouGov interviewed two thousand people from July 24–27, 2020, and compiled the poll data based on their responses. Given how polarized the country is on so many other issues, it is particularly striking how unified Americans are in ending our endless wars in the Middle East and avoiding greater military entanglement in conflicts overseas. 

Report: America Is No Longer Asia's Undisputed Superpower

by Kris Osborn
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Here's What You Need To Remember: Overall, the U.S. technological advantage in weaponry, air and naval platforms is rapidly decreasing, according to all the assessments. Today -- China’s J-10 and J-11 fighter jet aircraft would be roughly equivalent in capability to an upgraded U.S. F-15.

Aircraft carriers, stealth fighters, anti-satellite weapons, drones, cyber attack technology and a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles are all among a series of Chinese weapons said to present serious concerns for Pentagon leaders and weapons developers, according to DoD’s annual China report.

The Pentagon 2018 report, called “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” details a broad spectrum of risks to include global economic expansion, massive military modernization and breakthrough weapons technology able to threaten US superiority.

While of course the report emerges within the context of a complicated, multi-faceted and stressed US-China relationship which includes growing tensions, military rivalry and some measure of cooperation as well. A recent DoD news report, for instance, was careful to mention China as a potential “adversary,” not “enemy.”

The Sino-Russian Disinformation Axis During the COVID-19 Pandemic

By: Richard Weitz


For the first time, the European Commission has identified the People’s Republic of China (PRC), along with Russia and other actors, as responsible for conducting “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns in the EU, its neighborhood, and globally” (European Commission, June 10). In the past, PRC media management normally focused on censoring undesirable narratives at home while employing positive messaging to promote favorable images of China’s policies abroad. This contrasted with the more combative international approach traditionally adopted by Moscow. During the current COVID-19 crisis, however, PRC propaganda has followed the Russian practice of not only advancing positive reviews of its own actions, but also promoting negative messages about other states.

The PRC and Russian foreign ministries have jointly complained that “certain [i.e., Western] countries, out of ideological bias and political needs, have been spreading disinformation, distorting history, attacking other countries’ social systems and development paths, politicizing the pandemic, pinning labels on the virus, and restrict[ing] and oppress[ing] foreign media for doing their job” (PRC Foreign Ministry, July 25). Their information departments have agreed to cooperate against the West’s media policies, including by executing joint digital media projects (Russian Foreign Ministry, July 24).

You Can’t ‘Zoom’ Trust

By Admiral James Stavridis, U.S. Navy (Retired)

When I was Supreme Allied Commander at NATO, I spent an enormous amount of time on the road. Each year, I would visit each of the Alliance’s capitals a couple of times a year. I’d also go to the nations that were not NATO allies but strong partners in Afghanistan. I did it because I wanted to have a human interaction and to build personal trust with the leaders of those nations and their militaries. In the U.S. military we have a saying, “You can’t surge trust.” In times of crisis, you can surge forces, but you must build trust one interaction at a time.

I’ve been thinking about that recently. As we continue to deal with the effects of COVID-19, many of us are now zooming (pun intended) past the 150 day point away from our offices. For many, the daily commute is just a few feet to a home office, and we have our “Zoom shirts” hanging on the back of the door knob. There is an entirely new rhythm to life via telephonic conference calls, video and facetime chats, and the wide variety of video conference options—Blue Jeans, Zoom, Cisco Webex, Microsoft Teams, GoToMeeting, and many others.

DOD Leaders Provide Digital Modernization Updates


Data will be the fuel and the engine for everything the Defense Department has to do to bring intelligence and operations together, DOD's chief information officer told CIOs and technology leaders from across the department in a virtual global town hall meeting.

Dana Deasy said during the Aug. 12 event that quality data that is secure will also help to enable the development of artificial intelligence.

With AI, humans and machines are going to collaborate effectively and efficiently in an ethical manner, Deasy said, lauding the progress being made by the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center's work over the last 18 months.

The DOD COVID-19 Task Force, along with IT organizations across the department, have helped to protect DOD personnel, ensured continued execution of missions and supported the whole of government approach in combating the pandemic, the CIO said. The combatant commanders, leaders from across the services and the secretary of defense all have recognized that effort, he noted.

Boeing & Lockheed Vie For Cyber/EW/SIGINT System, TLS


Lockheed Martin’s proposal for the Terrestrial Layer System (TLS) cyber/EW/SIGINT vehicle.

WASHINGTON: Army jargon can be notoriously bland, but Terrestrial Layer System may take the cake. Behind the nondescript name, however, is an ambitious program that will challenge the high-tech titans now competing to manufacture it: Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

Boeing subsidiary DRT got a $7.6 million Other Transaction Authority contract in April to build TLS prototypes; Lockheed got its $6 million OTA in May. Both firms are now busily integrating their electronics onto Army-provided 8×8 Stryker armored vehicles.

“The advancement of the state of the art is really in two areas,” Boeing executive Paul Turczynski told me. “You hear a lot about ‘convergence,’ but this is really the first program that brings together the SIGINT, the EW and the cyber. And the second major difference from other programs is the open architecture.”