22 August 2020

China Could Use Myanmar’s Airspace To Launch Surprise Attack Against India – Reports

As the India-China border-standoff in the Ladakh region now enters the 14th week, reports suggest that China is closely monitoring India’s strategic defense facilities including the Tezpur Airbase in Assam.

According to a report published by India Today, China is keeping a vigilant eye on India’s strategic facilities in the eastern sector, notably Tezpur Airbase in Assam and Abdul Kalam Islands in Odisha.

The reports come after India issued a Notice-to-Airmen (NOTAM) for a launch of an experimental flight vehicle in the Bay of Bengal from 20 to 22 August 2020, for an area of about 550 km off the coast of Odisha – similar to the one issued last year when India successfully tested Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV).

The HSTDV project is run by DRDO for its futuristic hypersonic weapons delivery platform including the BrahMos-2 project. Apart from the Eastern coast, the Tezpur airbase in Assam is a combined Defense-Civilian airport that is home to the No.2 and No.106 Squadrons of the Indian Air Force, fielding the mighty Su-30 MKI air-superiority aircraft.

Has India Won the Match Over the Maldives?

By Sudha Ramachandran

India has taken a lead over China in their contest for influence in the Maldives.

On Thursday, India’s Minister for External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar told his Maldivian counterpart Abdulla Shahid that New Delhi would fund the implementation of the Greater Malé Connectivity Project (GMCB) through a $100 million grant and a $400 million line of credit.

The GMCB project is a 6.7 km-long bridge and causeway link that will connect the Maldivian capital Malé with the neighboring islands of Villingili, Gulhifahu and Thilafushi. It also includes the building of a port at Gulhifahu and an industrial zone in Thilafushi.

It would be the Maldives’ “largest civilian infrastructure project,” a Ministry of External Affairs statement said. The most high-profile of projects undertaken by the Chinese in the Maldives as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, the 2.1 km-long Sinamalé Bridge, links Malé with Hulhulé and Hulhumalé islands.

The “high-visibility” GMCP will render the Sinamalé Bridge “insignificant in comparison,” according to Indian sources.

More than the bridge, it is the magnitude of India’s lending and the role it is poised to play in Maldivian development that will dwarf the Chinese role in the Maldives.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan Reunifies with Uncertain Consequences

By Umair Jamal

The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has announced that the organization’s two major splinter groups, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and Hizbul Ahrar, have joined its ranks again. This is not a small achievement for a militant organization that has been on the run for years and trying to survive in a highly competitive militant landscape.

The timing of the merger is significant. In the past, all groups associated with the TTP have easily found sanctuaries in Afghanistan, recruited and imported fighters and made local and transnational alliances. However, going forward, that may not remain the case anymore.

Over the years, internal feuds have resulted in the death of hundreds of Taliban fighters. There have been active attempts from different rival factions to win over the leadership of the movement. For instance, the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISKP) was founded by many estranged TTP fighters who had little or no connection with the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. Consequently, ISKP’s fighters in Afghanistan mainly comprise of former TTP fighters.

The intra-Afghan talks are expected to begin soon in Afghanistan. Assuming they do, one of the major political stakeholders in Afghanistan, the Afghan Taliban, is likely to come out with major gains from the talks. These likely gains may see the group back in power with more stakes in keeping stability and control over smaller militant organizations. Therefore, it’s in the interest of all intra-Afghan stakeholders, including the Afghan Taliban, that militant groups such as the ISKP and TTP do not actively pitch Afghan soil as a supplier of vast sanctuaries to target neighboring states.

Where Are the Afghan People in the Intra-Afghan Peace Process?

By Maryam Baryalay

The Afghan peace process has been a lengthy and arduous one. Breakthroughs, talks, derailment and collapse of talks have marked this peace process since it unofficially began in 2008 and 2009. Efforts continued in one way or another to build trust between the United States, the Taliban, and the Afghan government despite repeated and long impasses. Eventually, the efforts between the U.S. and the Taliban culminated in an agreement in February 2020, which bore fruit for the U.S. in Afghanistan, but sidelined the Afghan government. 

Ever since, the Afghan government has been trying to regain the upper hand in the peace process. But it lost the narrative, and the Taliban managed to leapfrog Kabul — it garnered credibility among regional and international stakeholders, engaging with the U.S. on equal footing to discuss their terms of an Afghan peace, all the while making the Afghan government a spectator. However, as the provisions of the U.S.-Taliban deal fell into place, the Afghan government has been able to win some ground by protracting the Taliban prisoner release; starting an unprecedented propaganda campaign against the Taliban, only too late; and reviving overdue and elitist concepts of Afghan nationalism (which are in urgent need of re-definition) to project strength and divert attention from its short-comings and systemic corruption during the global pandemic. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his close advisors are certainly making maximum use of all available tools to elevate their position at a very critical time in order to engage with the Taliban from a position of power.

Afghans Halt Prisoner Release, Delaying Talks With Taliban

By Rahim Faiez and Kathy Gannon
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The Afghan government said Monday it would not release the last 320 Taliban prisoners it is holding until the insurgents free more captured soldiers, defying a traditional council held last week and further delaying intra-Afghan talks sought by the United States.

The talks, which were laid out in a peace deal signed between the United States and the Taliban in February, were expected to begin on Thursday but are now postponed indefinitely.

The ruling by the traditional council, or jirga, which called for the immediate release of the Taliban prisoners, had raised hopes of a breakthrough in the process. 

The U.S.-Taliban peace deal called on the Taliban to free 1,000 government and military personnel and for the government to free 5,000 Taliban prisoners. The prisoner releases were to be a goodwill gesture ahead of intra-Afghan negotiations aimed at devising a postwar roadmap.

Uzbekistan’s Role in Afghan Reconciliation

By James Durso

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani recently announced the release of 400 Taliban prisoners in what was supposed to be the last step before direct talks between the Afghan government at the Taliban. While the prisoner release has been halted, hopes remain that the anticipated intra-Afghan talks will occur soon.

According to Uzbek sources, Ambassador Ismatulla Irgashev, the special representative of the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Afghanistan, was to visit Doha — where the Taliban have a political offices and where the intra-Afghan talks were expected to take place — to help facilitate the negotiations. The Tashkent Declaration of March 2018, which supported such talks, formalized the interest of the Central Asian states in the intra-Afghan negotiation process.

The 2016 rise to power of Uzbekistan’s president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, changed the tenor of the region’s view of Afghanistan and resulted in the recognition of Afghanistan as part of Central Asia. This was at odds with the conventional view that recognized the boundaries of a region that was actually “Soviet Central Asia + the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic” and not the wider region (Central Asia, Mongolia, the Caucasus, and Afghanistan) as a single cultural space.

The Biggest But Not the Strongest: China’s Place in the Fortune Global 500

By Scott Kennedy

With the world paying close attention to the geostrategic tensions between the United States and China, it is surprising that little coverage was given to what could be seen as a major development in superpower competition. Last week Fortune released its latest Fortune Global 500 list, and for the first time China had the largest number of companies represented. Chinese firms slightly outpace those from the United States, 124 to 121, and are way ahead of third-place Japan, which now has only 53 companies on the list. China now has more firms on the list than France, Germany and Great Britain combined.

Figure 1: Fortune Global 500 Companies, 2000-2020

The Next National Security Strategy: A Way Forward to Counter a Resurgent China

By Alexander Boroff and Brigid Calhoun

Despite the multitude of domestic issues facing the United States as it approaches a presidential election, policymakers must also not lose sight of enduring foreign threats to the nation. Members of both political parties generally agree China constitutes the preeminent national security concern. How should the United States, in a post-COVID world, check Chinese global influence to best protect American national interests?

The National Security Strategy is the government’s foundational document that answers this and similar questions on how the administration will confront threats to the nation with a whole-of-government approach. Historically produced at the beginning of each presidential term, a new National Security Strategy will likely be published in the next 18-24 months regardless of the outcome of the pending election. The current National Security Strategy, published in 2017, described the current multi-polar world order as one of Great Power Competition, in which the United States must compete globally rather than dominate from a unipolar position it has held since the Cold War’s end. While the current National Security Strategy contains proven tools to compete with China globally, the international environment has significantly changed since 2017.

The Ban on TikTok: The US Struggle against China Spreads to Apps

Hiddai Segev

In August 2020 President Trump signed an order banning US companies from conducting transactions with the companies ByteDance and Tencent, the owners of the popular apps TikTok and WeChat, respectively. This is a further step in the deepening struggle between the United States and China, which for the first time is spilling into the field of apps; until now the US administration has refrained from intervening in this area. Israel must review its stance in light of the Clean Network program, launched by the US as part of a Western technology coalition that avoids using Chinese technologies. It must form a clear picture of the risks of various apps used in Israel, in order to allow professional risk management and the formulation of clear policy in this context.

On August 6, 2020 US President Donald Trump signed two executive orders banning US companies from conducting transactions with the companies ByteDance and Tencent, the owners of the popular apps TikTok and WeChat, respectively. The move would take effect in 45 days (for TikTok it was subsequently extended to 90 days) unless their US activity was sold by their Chinese parent companies to US-based companies. The move was ostensibly taken “to deal with the national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and services supply chain," in other words, based on national security considerations. The orders did not define which "transactions" were banned, but it is clear that this is an additional escalation in the struggle between the US and China and a signal to American companies of the risk entailed in doing business with China. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo subsequently announced that the executive order might be expanded to cover additional apps, and was intended to prevent leakage of American data to the Chinese Communist Party. In response to this move, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated that the US is targeting Chinese companies under the pretext of national security justifications. ByteDance announced that it was considering a countersuit; meantime, American companies Oracle, Microsoft, and Twitter expressed interest in buying its US activity.

China Thinks Cooperation With the US Is ‘Unstoppable.’ It’s a Dangerous Assumption.

By Shannon Tiezzi
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On Monday, staff from China’s consulate in Houston, Texas – which was abruptly ordered to close by the U.S. government on July 21 – arrived back in Beijing. They were greeted on the tarmac of the Beijing Capital International Airport by Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who blamed “anti-China forces in the United States” for the steep decline in U.S.-China relations, including the closure of the consulate.

Wang said those “anti-China forces” were “undermining China-U.S. relations and deliberately trying to block China’s development,” according to a paraphrase by Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency.

Those efforts are “going against the tide of history, and it will never succeed!” he proclaimed.

As I discussed in an article for The Diplomat Magazine (and later outlined with Ankit Panda in our geopolitics podcast), China has been framing the downturn in U.S.-China relations as a historical aberration, one that by definition will be short-lived. Beijing seems intent on making this into a self-fulfilling prophecy, with a spate of speeches and articles this summer by Chinese officials driving that point home. The message is twofold: “The trend toward China-U.S. cooperation is unstoppable” (the title of a July speech by Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng) and, more importantly, so is China’s rise – its “great rejuvenation,” in the parlance of the China dream.

Will the ILO Defend China’s Uyghurs?

By Andrew Samet

There is understandable anguish about the human rights abuses being suffered by Muslim Uyghur and other ethnic communities in China’s Xinjiang region. The documentation of violations has grown more graphic over the last two years, while an international response remains largely indeterminate.

Not so for the Trump administration, which has sanctioned Chinese officials and firms for complicity in the abuses, and also issued a warning to U.S. businesses that they, too, could face sanctions for sourcing goods from Xinjiang if tied to the widespread forced labor in the region.

To amplify the basis for these actions, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien penned an op-ed on July 12 in which he referred to “the vast archipelago of camps where 1 million Uyghurs are undergoing “reeducation,” “thought transformation” and forced labor.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a July 23 speech and referred to Xinjiang’s “concentration camps.”

The UAE Deal May Be a Bittersweet Win for Israel’s Netanyahu

Frida Ghitis

The landmark agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that was announced unexpectedly last week, a prelude to normalized diplomatic relations, is by any measure a triumph for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But in the tumultuous, fractious landscape of Israeli politics, Netanyahu’s celebrations have been tempered by bitter recriminations at home, a reminder that in Israel, no win comes without wounds.

In the deal, first made public by U.S. President Donald Trump, the United Arab Emirates agreed to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel in exchange for Israel’s suspension of plans to annex parts of the West Bank. The UAE’s move goes a long way in dismantling the fiction of a united Arab front against Israel, one that started crumbling years ago, despite vows by Arab leaders not to make peace with Israel until the establishment of a Palestinian state. But the two-state solution has made no headway, while Arab countries, which have grown accustomed to the once-unacceptable existence of a Jewish state and Israel’s decades-long occupation of territories it captured during wars with its neighbors, have developed ever more elaborate, if secret, ties with Israel.

Now, the UAE-Israel relationship is out in the open. It’s a historic moment, and a huge stride in Israel’s longstanding aim to become a “normal” country in the Middle East, even as the conflict with Palestinians remains unresolved. It’s hard to view this as anything but a win for Israel—hard, but as it turns out, not impossible.

The UAE makes peace with Israel's war on the Palestinians

by Marwan Bishara
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After years of informal normalisation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has finally reached a formal "peace agreement" with Israel that paves the way for a strategic relationship between the two countries under the auspices of the Trump Administration.

The agreement rewards US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for their protracted assault on the Palestinians over the past four years. Once signed, and implemented, it is likely to embolden Netanyahu's coalition, deepen Israel's occupation and strengthen Israel's alliance with Arab autocrats.

But, Western media outlets welcomed the "peace agreement" as a "historic" breakthrough.

And UAE leaders have justified their rapprochement with Israel under the pretext of halting Israeli annexation of Arab territories, helping the Palestinians achieve their goals of independence, and promoting peace in the Middle East. 
Killing with kindness 

The UAE may hope to take credit for "stopping further annexation of Palestinian territories", but Netanyahu's plans to illegally annex a third of the occupied West Bank was derailed long before the de facto leader of the UAE, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, stepped into the fray.

Japan and the 'great power competition'

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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.

Critical communications infrastructure and COVID-19: An interview with Ericsson’s CEOAugust 20, 2020 | Interview

As president and CEO of telecom giant Ericsson for the past three and half years, Börje Ekholm has long understood the essential role his company and industry play in people’s everyday personal and professional lives. But that reality has never been so evident as it is during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic: billions of people around the world are confined to their homes and forced to rely on wireless and broadband access to maintain so many aspects of their daily existence.

In early July, Ekholm spoke with McKinsey’s Eric Kutcher, the firm’s chief financial officer, who until recently led the Technology, Media, & Telecommunications (TMT) Practice. They talked about the big responsibilities of his company, how it navigated through the early days of the crisis, and what COVID-19 means for the evolution of telecom networks and remote work going forward. The interview, condensed and edited, appears below.
Taking care of employees during the pandemic

McKinsey: We are living in a moment when COVID-19 is affecting all of us—both our lives and our livelihoods. You were among the first to realize how serious this could be and to pull away from the 2020 Mobile World Congress (MWC). What was it like to have to make that decision at that moment in time?

Goodbye — Sort of — to Germany?


U.S. Army soldiers with Third squadron, Second Cavalry Regiment, march at their home base at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany, April 1, 2015. (Michael Dalder/Reuters)Why should America anchor Germany's defense? It cuts deals with Russia, has never met its NATO commitment, and is the most anti-American nation in Europe. 

President Trump recently ordered a 12,000-troop reduction in American military personnel stationed in Germany. That leaves about 24,000 American soldiers still in the country.

A little more than half of the troops being withdrawn will return home. The rest will be redeployed to other NATO member nations, such as Belgium, Italy, and perhaps Baltic and Eastern European countries.

German chancellor Angela Merkel is said to be furious. She claims that the redeployments will “weaken the [NATO] alliance.” German commercial interests chimed in that the troop withdrawals will hurt their decades-old businesses serving U.S. bases.

Viruses have big impacts on ecology and evolution as well as human health

The outsiders inside

Humans are lucky to live a hundred years. Oak trees may live a thousand; mayflies, in their adult form, a single day. But they are all alive in the same way. They are made up of cells which embody flows of energy and stores of information. Their metabolisms make use of that energy, be it from sunlight or food, to build new molecules and break down old ones, using mechanisms described in the genes they inherited and may, or may not, pass on.

It is this endlessly repeated, never quite perfect reproduction which explains why oak trees, humans, and every other plant, fungus or single-celled organism you have ever seen or felt the presence of are all alive in the same way. It is the most fundamental of all family resemblances. Go far enough up any creature’s family tree and you will find an ancestor that sits in your family tree, too. Travel further and you will find what scientists call the last universal common ancestor, luca. It was not the first living thing. But it was the one which set the template for the life that exists today.

And then there are viruses. In viruses the link between metabolism and genes that binds together all life to which you are related, from bacteria to blue whales, is broken. Viral genes have no cells, no bodies, no metabolism of their own. The tiny particles, “virions”, in which those genes come packaged—the dot-studded disks of coronaviruses, the sinister, sinuous windings of Ebola, the bacteriophages with their science-fiction landing-legs that prey on microbes—are entirely inanimate. An individual animal, or plant, embodies and maintains the restless metabolism that made it. A virion is just an arrangement of matter.


by Eric Gomez
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Eric Gomez, Director of Defense Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, explains that “As the United States and China sink deeper into confrontation and competition, debates over U.S. deployment of missiles in East Asia will become more pressing.” 

Washington’s withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in early August 2019 frees it to deploy long-range, ground-launched missiles for the first time since 1988, when the now-defunct treaty entered into force. Russian violations prompted the U.S. to withdraw from the INF Treaty, but China’s unconstrained development of nuclear and conventional missiles played a supporting role in the U.S decision. As the United States and China sink deeper into confrontation and competition, debates over U.S. deployment of missiles in East Asia will become more pressing.

The U. S. ability to deploy ground-based, intermediate-range (in the 500 to 5,500 km range) missiles in East Asia is heavily dependent on its allies. The United States can deploy missiles on its own territory in the region without difficulty. However, the long distances from U.S. territories such as Guam or the Aleutians and a shorter list of deployment areas would make the missiles more expensive and counteract major operational benefits of mobility and survivability. If ground-based missiles can only be deployed on U.S. territory, then it will be relatively easier for Beijing to locate and target them than if the missiles could be spread across the region on allies’ territory. Moreover, allies might only agree to deploy certain types of missiles while rejecting other types, which could have knock-on effects for U.S.-China nuclear stability and approaches to conventional deterrence. It is therefore imperative for U.S. policymakers and defense planners to seriously consider the political and military positions of East Asian allies when crafting America’s intermediate-range missile posture. Initial evidence suggests that the United States has an uphill battle ahead.

Ground-Based Missiles and Allies in Great Power Competition

Why US Indo-Pacific strategy will fail

Since Donald Trump was elected to the US presidency, he has expanded the Asia-Pacific region to include the Indian Ocean, renaming the enlarged area “Indo-Pacific” and the Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific Command, a military theater stretching from the Western US to the Indian Ocean.

This was meant to revive Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – consisting of the US, Australia, Japan and India – as the “Indo-Pacific strategy” to counter China.

However, Trump’s “Indo-Pacific strategy” will probably fail because it is against the member countries’ national interests, including those of the US itself. Although they all feel threatened by or wary of China’s economic and geopolitical rise in the region, escalating conflicts of whatever form would adversely impact their economies and risk geopolitical instability in the region.

China is a major trade partner of all four Quad countries, implying that the Chinese market is very important for increasing and sustaining their economic growth. The US and Chinese economies, for example, are deeply entwined, China being both the “factory” and market for many US Fortune 500 enterprises, including Apple and General Motors.

It might be because of this close economic relationship between the two giants that Trump’s ill-advised trade war with China pushed the US economy to brink, raising consumer prices, bankrupting farmers, and increasing poverty. Many of the Chinese goods on which he imposed tariffs were made by American firms in the Asian nation. Against this backdrop, reviving the Quad could be fatal to the US economy, particularly amid the surge in Covid-19 infections and related deaths.

The Syrian Civil War’s Never-Ending Endgame

The Syrian civil war that has decimated the country for nine years now, provoking a regional humanitarian crisis and drawing in actors ranging from the United States to Russia, appears to be drawing inexorably to a conclusion. President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Iran and Russia, seems to have emerged militarily victorious from the conflict, which began after his government violently repressed civilian protests in 2011. The armed insurgency that followed soon morphed into a regional and global proxy war that, at the height of the fighting, saw radical Islamist groups seize control over vast swathes of the country, only to lose it in the face of sustained counteroffensives by pro-government forces as well as a U.S.-led coalition of Western militaries.

The fighting is not yet fully over, though, with the northwestern Idlib region remaining outside of government control. Earlier this year, the Syrian army’s Russian-backed campaign to retake Idlib from the last remaining armed opposition groups concentrated there resulted in clashes with Turkish forces deployed to protect Ankara’s client militias. The skirmishes were a reminder that the conflict, though seemingly in its final stages, could still escalate into a regional conflagration. The situation in the northeast also remains volatile following the removal of U.S. forces from the border with Turkey, with Turkish, Syrian and Russian forces all now deployed in the region, alongside proxies and Syrian Kurdish militias.

Is the Time Right for Japan to Become Five Eyes’ ‘Sixth Eye’?

By Ankit Panda

Japanese Defense Minister Taro Kono spoke to the Nikkei Asian Review recently to reiterate something he and his government have long had an interest in: elevating Japan’s relations with the privileged “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing group. “Five Eyes,” abbreviated to just FVEY in intelligence community discussions and documents, describes the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

Kono is not shy about stating Japan’s ultimate goal. “Japan can get closer [to the alliance] even to the extent of it being called the ‘Six Eyes,’” he told Nikkei. Japan’s already about as close as its possible to get to the Five Eyes without being a formal member, but the differences between non-membership and membership are significant.

Since its formation in aftermath of World War II, this group has not expanded past its five, English-speaking members, though expansion has been discussed now for some years. Broadly, the high-trust environment during the war between these countries led to privileged intelligence-sharing — including of raw, unprocessed intelligence. Arguably, Five Eyes finds its origins in the initial World War II-era signals intelligence (SIGINT) cooperation between the United Kingdom and the United States.

Why Did South Korea Decide to Build Aircraft Carriers?

By Robert Farley

South Korea has decided to build aircraft carriers. New defense planning documents offer a roadmap for building at least one light carrier by 2030. Some early reports had suggested that the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) would try to refit its Dokdo-class amphibious assault ships to operate F-35Bs. While conceptually possible, this plan would have resulted in small, cramped, unsatisfying ships, and would likely have gutted the ROKN’s amphibious capabilities. 

The purpose-built South Korean carriers are projected to displace in the 30,000-ton range, making them slightly larger than the Japanese Izumos. Although Japan built the Izumo and Kaga with an eye toward the possibility of conversion, the South Korean ships will likely have some advantages from being purpose-build carriers from the keel up. The new carriers are projected to carry the F-35B STOVL stealth fighter, which is rapidly becoming one of the world’s most important carrier aircraft. South Korea’s own stealth fighter project does not seem likely to produce a carrier-capable aircraft, especially for ships the size of the ROKN vessels. 

The ships will form the core of a well-balanced fleet, including large surface combatants, amphibious assault ships, and potentially nuclear submarines. But can South Korea afford aircraft carriers in the long-term? South Korea is somewhat smaller in size and economic footprint than France, which is the only country other than the United States that has maintained a first-rate naval aviation capability since the end of World War II. Great Britain and India have maintained carrier forces for most of that period, with a few interruptions, while smaller or less wealthy countries (including Australia, Canada, Brazil, Argentina) have struggled to maintain such capabilities, either enduring gaps over time or suspending their entire programs as ships come to age. 

Between Intelligence and Diplomacy: The information Revolution as a Platform for Upgrading Diplomacy

Itzhak Oren 
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The subject of this article is the new opportunity facing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the intelligence community to upgrade the work of Israel diplomatic missions and staff, through closer and more effective connection to the work process of the intelligence community. It focuses on the opportunity to transform the reality whereby the intelligence arm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is engaged in the work of intelligence as an accompanying body, and promote it as a vital body that receives and contributes information in its areas of expertise as equals. Diplomats in the field have significant relative advantages of years of hands-on service in the field, better understanding of the local mentality, and close acquaintance with the local players: politicians, interlocutors, and analysis bodies. The new rules of the game present diplomacy with new systemic opportunities to better express its capabilities and address frustrations and limitations on access to information and decision makers.

Keywords: diplomacy; intelligence; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; decision-making; information revolution


Intelligence is part of the diplomatic effort that aims to promote the strategic goals of the state through both contacts behind closed doors and public contacts. This definition contains a structural impediment stemming from the definition of the national interest. The various arms of the security establishment, intelligence included, view the existential needs of the state and the struggle against military threats as the supreme national interest and the top priority dominating all other state interests. In contrast, and in addition to the overall aims of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the foreign service highlights the need to build foreign relations based on Israel’s image as a legitimate member of the family of nations, and to consolidate its power as the nation state of the Jewish people that, like other nations, is committed to international law and justice.

Military Reasons to Celebrate the Israel-UAE Deal

James Stavridis

James Stavridis is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a retired U.S. Navy admiral and former supreme allied commander of NATO, and dean emeritus of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He is also an operating executive consultant at the Carlyle Group and chairs the board of counselors at McLarty Associates.

Last week, Israel and the United Arab Emirates announced a deal: The Arab state would formally recognize Israel in exchange for Israel halting annexation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank. This followed a public invitation by the UAE ambassador to Washington, Yusef al-Otaiba, a highly respected diplomat and a good friend of mine.

The ambassador laid out the deal in clear, respectful language. The Trump administration helped coordinate the details, building on work that presidential adviser Jared Kushner has been facilitating as part of the larger (and thus far unsuccessful) push for an overall peace deal. Reflecting earlier work by the Bush and Obama administrations to bring the Arab and Israeli sides together, it is an important bipartisan step toward Israeli-Arab rapprochement that may in time bear significant fruit.


by Eric Talbot Jensen, Summer Crockett 

The use of misleading “deepfakes” has risen dramatically across the globe. As with so much of emerging technology, deepfakes will inevitably become a part of armed conflict. While perfidious deepfakes would almost certainly violate the law of armed conflict, those that amount to ruses would not. Other considerations about the impact on the civilian population are also necessary to determine what uses of deepfakes in armed conflict would be legal.

“Sir, you had better take a look at this. I just received this video from higher headquarters.” The Commander walked over to the desk of his communications specialist. On his monitor was a video message from the Blue Republic’s Chief of Defense Staff: 

“We have just brokered a surrender from the Redland forces. We anticipate they will be approaching your front lines within the hour to complete the surrender. As part of the surrender, we have committed to have our soldiers stand down and refrain from the appearance of any hostile activity. So, have your forces stand down and prepare to receive the Redland forces.”

Cheers immediately erupted in the command tent. Their forces had been under heavy attack from the Redland military and were close to having to withdraw from their defensive positions in the city of Azure.