27 August 2020

Why India’s bid to bring Russia into the Indo-Pacific initiative is unwise

Mohamed Zeeshan
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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin chat while visiting a shipyard outside the far-eastern Russian port of Vladivostok on September 4, 2019. Photo: AP

India has a difficult foreign policy problem on its hands. While New Delhi would like a balance against Beijing in the wake of recent tensions, it also prefers to remain non-aligned in China’s geopolitical rivalry with the United States in the Indo-Pacific. In a bid to solve that quandary, India has turned to an unlikely quarter: Russia. 
In June, Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh used a trip to Moscow for a delayed Victory Day parade to urge Russia to expedite the delivery of defence equipment. Then, India’s ambassador to Russia floated the idea of Moscow participating in the Indo-Pacific initiative.

With the idea having gained currency among many strategic analysts in New Delhi, India mooted the possibility of Russian involvement in a trilateral engagement with Japan. But that’s just a start; India and Russia will have their annual summit in October and chances are that the Indo-Pacific will feature on that agenda.

India Must Counter the Bidirectional Psychological Warfare

Lt Gen (Dr.) VK Ahluwalia 

Of late, India has been experiencing a psychologically driven Chinese war strategy at various occasions. For instance, during the 2017 Doklam standoff, and with a much-renewed vigour in the recent military standoffs in Sikkim and at multiple points along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. Thus, ‘Winning without Fighting’ has become a characteristic feature of China’s warfare strategy which is commonly called ‘psychological warfare’ (psywar).

What further adds to India’s dilemma is Pakistan’s obsession with ‘anti-India’ ideology compounded with acts of terrorism. It has made continuous attempts to internationalise the Kashmir issue especially by trying to influence the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 

Similarly, on 14 August, on the eve of its Independence Day, Pakistan awarded its highest civilian honour – ‘Nishan-e-Pakistan’ – to the Kashmiri Separatist leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani – yet again an act to defy India. In addition, the same day, Major General Babar Iftikhar, Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) remarked, “Whether it be Rafale or S-400, Pakistan Army is fully prepared and ready to thwart any Indian aggression”- a way to attack India’s cognitive capacities.

It Is Time to Accept That India's Defence Planning Is Crippled by Severe Financial Woes

Amit Cowsish
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Stung by China’s chicanery along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh, that resulted in a savage clash in Galwan valley on June 15 in which 20 Indian soldiers died, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has gone into overdrive, clearing procurement of materiel worth billions of rupees.

On July 2, the MoD approved acquisition of an assortment of missiles, software defined radios, 33 fighters from Russia, apart from the proposal to upgrade BMP infantry combat vehicles, all for an estimated Rs 389 billion.

A raft of proposals initiated alongside include the import of 72,000 Sig 916 assault rifles from the US, six Boeing P-8I Neptune long-range maritime multi-mission aircraft, six Predator-B armed drones, 200 Spike anti-tank guided missiles, and 20 launchers. 

Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), loitering munitions, man-portable surface-to-air missiles, besides a varied range of other ammunition, mostly from the US and Israel, complete the list of the planned military buys.

India and US Likely to Sign Geospatial Intelligence Pact

By Abhijnan Rej

President Donald J. Trump holds hands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India as they take a surprise walk together Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019, around the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

An Indian media outlet reported on August 23 that the United States and India seem to be finally ready to sign an agreement to share geospatial defense intelligence. Indian official sources told the Print that the two sides might ink the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) during a virtual “2+2” foreign and defense ministers/secretaries’ dialogue in September. BECA is the last of the four “foundational” agreements that underpin deepening defense cooperation between the two countries.

The first was a 2002 agreement to safeguard shared military information, followed by logistics and secure-communication pacts in 2016 and 2018, respectively. When signed, BECA will allow the United States to share satellite and other sensor data with India in order to improve the Indian military’s targeting and navigation capabilities. India and the United States had decided to fast-track the legwork for the agreement during U.S. President Donald Trump’s February India visit.

Notes from a CSIS Virtual Event: Countering Chinese Espionage

By Anna Lehman-Ludwig

On August 12, CSIS hosted a conversation with Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers on Chinese cyber espionage. John Demers leads the Department of Justice’s China Initiative, created in 2018 to combat espionage directed by the Chinese government.

The Initiative attempts to disrupt what Demers called China’s “rob-replicate-replace” policy, where Chinese individuals or companies steal American IP, replicate the product or service in China, replace the American company on the Chinese market, and, if all goes well, on the global market. Most cases prosecuted as part of this are insider cases, concerning individuals who steal IP from American companies or universities where they work and provide that information to China. This can take the form of State-directed cases or individuals induced by the incentives found in Chinese programs.

In State-directed cases, the Chinese intelligence services will develop relationships with individuals working in companies in the U.S. and co-opt them to gain information, utilizing traditional espionage approaches.

Chinese talent recruitment initiatives like the Thousand Talents Program are another way that the Chinese steal IP. Individuals who enter into Thousand Talents contracts may take information from their American employer – generally a corporation or a university – and transfer that information to China. When applying for the Thousand Talents Program, individuals must show how they will bring IP back to China. Notably, these individuals generally hide their affiliation with Chinese institutions from their American employers and the American government.

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.

From Pivot to Deance: American Policy Shift in the South China Sea

Shortly after his inauguration, President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement. That raised concerns among U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific as to whether the new American president was intent on further retrenchment from the region at a time when his predecessor’s “pivot to Asia” had already proven disappointing. But the Trump administration’s headline-grabbing efforts to remake the terms of America’s economic relations around the world obscured its increasing willingness to challenge China not only on trade, but also in terms of security. Nowhere has that been truer than in the South China Sea, where China is embroiled in disputes with Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam. In July 2020, the United States shed the last remnants of its hands-off policy in the region and formally rejected Chinese maritime claims there.
Gathering Momentum

For decades, the United States had pursued a policy that was once described as “scrupulous noninvolvement” in the maritime disputes of the South China Sea.[1] But China’s growing assertiveness in those waters during the early 2010s eventually led President Barack Obama’s administration to begin shifting American policy towards a firmer stance. In 2013, it stationed a U.S. Navy littoral combat ship on a rotational basis in Singapore. The next year, it published maps that cast doubt on China’s “nine-dash line” claim. And the year after that, it resumed the U.S. Navy’s freedom of navigation operations within 12 nautical miles of Chinese outposts in the South China Sea.[2] Unfortunately for the administration, its incremental approach did little to deter Beijing. By the time Obama left office, China was well on its way to completing several artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago and fitting them with airfields, ports, radars, and other military facilities (contravening Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping’s own pledge not to militarize the islands).

Why there won’t be a US-China war

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In 1976, world heavyweight champion Mohammed Ali fought an exhibition bout in Tokyo with karate master Antonio Inoki. Inoki spent most of the match on his back kicking at Ali’s shins crab-fashion.

“Ali was only able to land two jabs while Inoki’s kicks caused two blood clots and an infection that almost resulted in Ali’s leg being amputated,” Wikipedia reports. “The match was not scripted and ultimately declared a draw.”

Archival footage can be viewed here showing Ali hoisting himself on the ropes to avoid Inoki’s crab kicks.

That’s why there won’t be a shooting war between the US and China. China has spent massively on anti-access/area denial weapons – A2/AD for short – that make war impractical.

Xi Jinping's Geopolitical Cataclysm

by Richard Javad Heydarian
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Russia’s most dashing revolutionary Leon Trotsky once said, “Anyone desiring a quiet life has done badly to be born in the twentieth century.” A century later, his eloquent foreboding is even more palpable, given the concatenation of existential crises facing humanity, with no less than planetary climate change casting a long shadow on our future as a species. At the same time, we find ourselves in the midst of the most consequential geopolitical showdown in history, as the United States and China try to shape and reshape the contours of a new brave world on the ruins of a devastating pandemic.

But if one were to believe pundits and policymakers, what we are confronting is the latest iteration of a bipolar Cold War, with a resurgent China supplanting the once might Soviet Empire. In a searing address, which has evoked Raegan’s ‘evil empire’ speech, the U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo has accused Beijing of seeking “global hegemony” and fatuous fidelity to a “bankrupt totalitarian ideology.” Titled “Communist China and the Free World’s Future,” America’s chief diplomat warned of a zero-sum struggle, whereby a Chinese victory could mean the end of freedom everywhere. Just in case anyone missed his point, Mr. Pompeo tweeted, with even less subtlety, “China is working to take down freedom all across the world.”

Why America Doesn't Have to Worry About Losing the South China Sea

by Salvatore Babones

The South China Sea isn't anyone's sea. It belongs to the whole world. But the country that would suffer most from its closure in time of war would be China. Having developed A2/AD capabilities of its own, it would be hard-pressed were any country other than the United States to develop them, too.

Who owns the high seas? The conventional answer is: no one and everyone.

Coastal states exercise sovereignty over territorial waters that normally extend 12 nautical miles from their shorelines. They also have the right to exploit undersea resources like oil and gas in exclusive economic zones that extend out 200 nautical miles. Economics rights can even be extended further to incorporate the entire continental shelf before the seabed falls off into a deep ocean basin.

These lawyerly definitions are contentious enough in their own terms, but they are next to meaningless when it comes to security strategy. That's because legal terms like "sovereignty" and "rights" depend on possession, and it is notoriously difficult to possess the seas. If possession really is nine-tenths of the law, that explains why the Law of the Seas is so difficult to enforce. Turn your back for one minute, and you may find your former maritime possessions already in someone else's hands.

Does the U.S. Need to Fear That China Might Invade Taiwan?

Hal Brands
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Hal Brands is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist, the Henry Kissinger Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, and a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Most recently, he is the co-author of "The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order."

No scenario worries American strategists like a possible war with China over Taiwan. Recent months have brought a stream of reports making two things uncomfortably clear: The danger of a Chinese assault on Taiwan is growing. And the U.S., which has an ambiguous security commitment to Taipei, might well lose if it joined such a war on Taiwan’s behalf.

Given this grim forecast, many Americans might fairly ask why the U.S. would even try to defend an island thousands of miles away — a country that wasn’t supposed to have survived this long in the first place. The answer is that the fate of Taiwan may determine the fate of the Western Pacific. But in addressing the possibility, Americans have to understand just how difficult and dangerous it could be to preserve a free Taiwan.

Hackers Leak Alleged Internal Files of Chinese Social Media Monitoring Firms

By Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai
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A group of hackers says they have obtained internal files from three Chinese social media monitoring companies. After leaking some of the documents, the group was banned by Twitter under its hacked files policy, however, Motherboard has been unable to confirm the authenticity of the documents.

The group goes by the name CCP Unmasked, in reference to the Chinese Communist Party ruling the country. The group reached out to journalists on Thursday, pitching "a large dump of files" that they said exposes social media monitoring and disinformation campaigns conducted by three private companies at the behest of the Chinese government. They claim to have stolen internal documents from Knowlesys, a company based in Hong Kong and GuangDong, Yunrun Big Data Service, a company based in Guangzhou, and OneSight, based in Beijing.

"We think the public deserves to know about the CCP’s attempts to undermine democracy and freedom of expression," the hackers said in an email.

Knowlesys has previously held demonstrations on how to “monitor your targets’ messages, profiles, locations, behaviors, relationships, and more,” and how to “monitor public opinion for election,” according to Freedom House, a digital rights organization.

Army War College

Parameters, Autumn 2020, no. 50, no. 3 https://press.armywarcollege.edu/parameters/vol50/iss3/

Disintegrating the Enemy: The PLA’s Info-Messaging

Enduring Information Vigilance: Government after COVID-19

The COVID-19 Enemy is Still Advancing

Two Worlds: African American Servicemembers, WWII and Today

Toward a Racially Inclusive Military

Technology and Strategic Surprise: Adapting to an Era of Open Innovation

A Bizarre Pair: Counterinsurgency Lessons for Cyber Conflict

Training Better Arab Armies

The US Army and the Pacific: Legacies and Challenges

On “Military Anthropology”

On “Social Media Warriors: Leveraging a New Battlespace”

Belarus Protests Test Limits of Lukashenko’s Brutal, One-Man Rule

By Andrew Higgins
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He jokes about running a dictatorship. He makes his generals salute his teenage son, who shares his penchant for dressing in military uniforms. He commands a brutal security service that makes people disappear. And when Covid-19 arrived, he told his people to play hockey, drive tractors and not worry about it.

Aleksandr Lukashenko, the embattled ruler of Belarus and the most enduring leader in the former Soviet Union, heads a regime that is less a one-party state than a one-person state. In 26 years as president, he has turned Belarus into a strategically important and reliably authoritarian buffer between Russia and NATO-member democracies like Poland.

Clinging to power amid mass protests this month, Mr. Lukashenko, the former director of a Soviet collective pig farm, might seem like a relic of an era the world had forgotten, or barely noticed. But years before Vladimir V. Putin took power, vowing to “clean up” Russia, Mr. Lukashenko made similar promises to his country, and blazed the trail Mr. Putin would follow: an obscure figure on an unlikely, meteoric rise to personal rule.

Since a disputed election on Aug. 9, however, the biggest demonstrations in the country’s history have tested whether Mr. Lukashenko’s iron-fisted suppression of dissent can keep him in power after he claimed a landslide victory that is widely seen as fiction. As many as 100,000 protesters poured into central Minsk, the capital, on Sunday — a powerful show of defiance in a country with only 9.5 million people.

US Army to alter cyber drill in support of new multidomain forces

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Army is altering one of its cyber events in an effort to shape and equip one of the service’s newer multidomain formations.

The event, previously known as Cyber Blitz, next year will shift to what the Army is calling Multi-Domain Operations Live. It will primarily support the Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare and Space detachment of the Multi-Domain Task Force as part of the larger Defender Pacific exercise.

The I2CEWS is battalion-sized detachment encompassing capabilities within its namesake and is envisioned to help commanders on the battlefield by not only possessing some capabilities but also providing planning assistance within these non-kinetic realms. It is currently focused on the Pacific region as part of the Multi-Domain Task Force and will assist the Army from the competition phase to conflict. There are plans to create a detachment focused on Europe.

The Greater Middle East: From the “Arab Spring” to the “Axis of Failed States”

By Anthony H. Cordesman

We have come a long way from the hopes associated with Camp David, “Globalism,” “the end of history,” the end of the First Gulf War in 1991, and the first year of the Arab Spring in 2011 – almost all of it in the wrong direction. From a “realist” perspective, the greater Middle East has deteriorated over time, and in ways that go far beyond its conflicts, competing ideologies and faiths, and the petty power struggles of its ruling elites.

Accordingly, it is time to take a hard, blunt look at what has happened to country-after-country in the region. Far too many have become “failed states” in ways that go beyond the threat posed by Iran, extremism, and ethnic and sectarian divisions. They have failed to make adequate progress in civil and economic reforms, and they have stopped short of reducing corruption and incompetence in national politics and governance. These problems are not specific to any one nation. They have become regional – made worse in virtually every case by the impact of the crisis in petroleum export prices and the Coronavirus on the local and global economy.

Looking at the Real Causes of Failure

It may seem a bit brutal to illustrate failure by scoring the level of failure in each country in the region – essentially highlighting its worst defects – and it is inevitably somewhat unfair by ignoring the fact that the level of “failure” is not all that different from the levels of failure in large parts around the rest of the world.

How Did America Bring Democracy To Germany? By Bombing It Into Dust

by Warfare History Network

Here's What You Need To Remember: The advocates of strategic bombing and carrying the war to the civilian population had argued that these campaigns would bring the Third Reich to its knees without the need for brutal, bloody combat on the ground. They were wrong. By May 1945, the people of Germany may have lost their enthusiasm for Adolf Hitler’s regime and its wars, but they continued to carry on. It was only after the Allied armies with their superior manpower and firepower overran the German forces that surrender came.

Behind the strategy that governed the American air war in Europe during World War II lay events and ideas that dated back to World War I and the 1920s. The first strategic bombing raid in 1915 deployed not airplanes but German Zeppelins, rigid airships that dumped ordnance on the east coast of Great Britain. Two years later Germany’s Gotha bomber, a machine capable of a round trip from Belgian bases, struck at Folkestone, a port through which British soldiers embarked for the front. This raid killed 300 people, including 115 soldiers. The bomber had proven itself as a weapon against a military target.

Which Past Is Prologue?

By Margaret MacMillan
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U.S. President Donald Trump largely ignores the past or tends to get it wrong. “What’s this all about?” he is reported to have asked on a visit to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, in Hawaii, in 2017. When he has paid attention to history, it has been to call on it as a friendly judge, ready to give him top marks and vindicate him: his administration, he has claimed repeatedly, has been the best in U.S. history. The evidence—something that historians, at least, take seriously—suggests a different picture.

Whenever he leaves office, in early 2021, 2025, or sometime in between, the world will be in a worse state than it was in 2016. China has become more assertive and even aggressive. Russia, under its president for life, Vladimir Putin, carries on brazenly as a rogue state, destabilizing its neighbors and waging a covert war against democracies through cyberattacks and assassinations. In Brazil, Hungary, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia, a new crop of strongman rulers has emerged. The world is struggling to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and is just coming to appreciate the magnitude of its economic and social fallout. Looming over everything is climate change.

The End of American Illusion

By Nadia Schadlow
Since the end of the Cold War, most U.S. policymakers have been beguiled by a set of illusions about the world order. On critical issues, they have seen the world as they wish it were and not how it really is. President Donald Trump, who is not a product of the American foreign policy community, does not labor under these illusions. Trump has been a disrupter, and his policies, informed by his heterodox perspective, have set in motion a series of long-overdue corrections. Many of these necessary adjustments have been misrepresented or misunderstood in today’s vitriolic, partisan debates. But the changes Trump has initiated will help ensure that the international order remains favorable to U.S. interests and values and to those of other free and open societies. 

As the administration’s first term draws to a close, Washington should take stock of the crumbling post–Cold War order and chart a path toward a more equitable and secure future. No matter who is U.S. president come January, American policymakers will need to adopt new ideas about the country’s role in the world and new thinking about rivals such as China and Russia—states that have long manipulated the rules of the liberal international order to their own benefit. 

A new set of assumptions should underpin U.S. foreign policy. Contrary to the optimistic predictions made in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse, widespread political liberalization and the growth of transnational organizations have not tempered rivalries among countries. Likewise, globalization and economic interdependence have not been unalloyed goods; often, they have generated unanticipated inequalities and vulnerabilities. And although the proliferation of digital technologies has increased productivity and brought other benefits, it has also eroded the U.S. military’s advantages and posed challenges to democratic societies. 

Racial Injustice Protests Spark Think Tank Diversity Push

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Hundreds of Washington think tank and policy professionals, including some directors and CEOs, have signed a letter advocating for more diversity in their profession after nationwide protests against racial injustice shook the country this summer. 

The letter, signed by more than 300 current and former employees from 43 think tanks and research organizations, provides a detailed blueprint for reforms in the largely white Washington policy scene, recommending that think tanks make public their diversity data and work harder to recruit and retain people of color by adding human resources staff and paid internships, and by interviewing more diverse candidates. 

“The lack of diversity amongst decision-makers across organizations has severely hindered the ability of these institutions to promote and retain people of color, particularly Black Americans,” the letter says, building on an initial push for greater diversity in the think tank community led by Women of Color Advancing Peace, Security and Conflict Transformation, a Washington-based advocacy organization. 

For the First Time, EU Sanctions in Response to Cyberattacks: Enhanced Deterrence Efforts by Western Countries?

Vered Zlaikha

On July 30, 2020, the European Union decided to impose restrictive measures on nine individuals and entities from China, North Korea, and Russia for their responsibility or involvement in cyberattacks. The sanctions include a travel ban, asset freeze, and prohibition to make funds available to these individuals and entities. On the political level, it seems that Western countries have managed, despite other differences, to demonstrate a coordinated approach in this field and act in cooperation. From the perspective of international cyber policy, this step seems to be in line with previous measures taken by Western countries and by the European Union itself, as well as with the cyber deterrence strategy advanced in recent years by the United States. The European Union may be seeking to send a deterrent message against cyberattacks, in particular during the Covid-19 crisis.

On July 30, 2020, the European Council announced the imposition of sanctions (“restrictive measures”) against six individuals and three entities from China, North Korea, and Russia, for their responsibility or involvement in cyberattacks or attempted cyberattacks. According to Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, this step was taken “in order to better prevent, discourage, deter and respond to such malicious behaviour in cyberspace.” The new sanctions were imposed in accordance with the cyber sanctions regime that was adopted by the European Union in May 2019 following the framework that has developed since 2017 for a Joint EU Diplomatic Response to Malicious Cyber Activities (the "cyber diplomacy toolbox").

As Many As 646,000 Die Globally Thanks to the Flu (And Then Came COVID-19)

by Ethen Kim Lieser

These days, most Americans are inundated with up-to-the-minute data detailing the horrific effects of the novel coronavirus.

But what often gets ignored amid this ongoing pandemic is that the flu season is right around the corner—which can be a lethal virus in its own right.

More than eight months into the global pandemic, roughly 810,000 deaths have been reported due to the coronavirus, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University.

That indeed is a substantial figure, but what current data show is that the seasonal flu also has the potential to be extremely deadly.

In a 2017 collaborative study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and global health partners, between 291,000 and 646,000 people worldwide die from influenza-related respiratory illnesses each year.

Hiroshima and the Myths of Military Targets and Unconditional Surrender

By Katie McKinney, Scott D. Sagan, Allen S. Weiner 

Every year, in early August, new articles appear that debate whether the dropping of the atomic bombs in 1945 was justified. Earlier this month, the 75th anniversary of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki attacks, was no exception. 

The New York Times published Anne Harrington’s moving story about Maj. Claude Eatherly, the pilot of the reconnaissance plane for the Enola Gay, who spent the rest of his life haunted by his role in what he considered an immoral attack. The Wall Street Journal, in contrast, published an op-ed by former Los Alamos laboratory official John C. Hopkins, who claimed that the bombing saved an estimated 5-10 million Japanese civilians and 400,000-800,000 American soldiers who could have died in an invasion and was therefore “the lesser of two evils.” 

The Hopkins claim was the most recent inflation of estimates building on what Rufus Miles called the “myth of half a million American lives saved.” Secretary of War Henry Stimson originally claimed in his famous 1947 Harper’s article that an invasion was expected to produce “over a million American casualties [wounded and killed] to American forces alone” (emphasis added). Winston Churchill, in his memoirs, claimed instead that the invasion would have produced one million American fatalities and an additional 500,000 thousand allied fatalities. But the serious historians studying this issue come to a different conclusion, finding that the range of estimates of U.S. deaths in the 1945 military records was significantly lower than the mythical half a million figure.

Maintaining the Competitive Advantage in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

by Rand Waltzman

How do the U.S. and Chinese national strategies for AI compare?
What key differences in cultural and structural factors affect the implementation of U.S. and Chinese AI strategies?

How do these differences affect military capability development relevant to USAF?

How can the USAF establish a competitive advantage in militarily relevant AI capabilities?

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies hold the potential to become critical force multipliers in future armed conflicts. The People's Republic of China has identified AI as key to its goal of enhancing its national competitiveness and protecting its national security. If its current AI plan is successful, China will achieve a substantial military advantage over the United States and its allies. That has significant negative strategic implications for the United States. How much of a lead does the United States have, and what do the United States and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) need to do to maintain that lead? To address this question, the authors conducted a comparative analysis of U.S. and Chinese AI strategies, cultural and structural factors, and military capability development, examining the relevant literature in both English and Chinese. They looked at literature on trends and breakthroughs, business concerns, comparative cultural analysis, and military science and operational concepts. The authors found that the critical dimensions for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) involve development and engineering for transitioning AI to the military; advances in validation, verification, testing, and evaluation; and operational concepts for AI. Significantly, each of these dimensions is under direct DoD control.

Dismissing Cyber Catastrophe

A catastrophic cyberattack was first predicted in the mid-1990s. Since then, predictions of a catastrophe have appeared regularly and have entered the popular consciousness. As a trope, a cyber catastrophe captures our imagination, but as analysis, it remains entirely imaginary and is of dubious value as a basis for policymaking. There has never been a catastrophic cyberattack.

To qualify as a catastrophe, an event must produce damaging mass effect, including casualties and destruction. The fires that swept across California last summer were a catastrophe. Covid-19 has been a catastrophe, especially in countries with inadequate responses. With man-made actions, however, a catastrophe is harder to produce than it may seem, and for cyberattacks a catastrophe requires organizational and technical skills most actors still do not possess. It requires planning, reconnaissance to find vulnerabilities, and then acquiring or building attack tools—things that require resources and experience. To achieve mass effect, either a few central targets (like an electrical grid) need to be hit or multiple targets would have to be hit simultaneously (as is the case with urban water systems), something that is itself an operational challenge.

It is easier to imagine a catastrophe than to produce it. The 2003 East Coast blackout is the archetype for an attack on the U.S. electrical grid. No one died in this blackout, and services were restored in a few days. As electric production is digitized, vulnerability increases, but many electrical companies have made cybersecurity a priority. Similarly, at water treatment plants, the chemicals used to purify water are controlled in ways that make mass releases difficult. In any case, it would take a massive amount of chemicals to poison large rivers or lakes, more than most companies keep on hand, and any release would quickly be diluted.