29 August 2020

Saudi-Pakistan Rift Develops Over India

Simon Henderson
Growing tensions between the two allies have both Islamic and nuclear angles.

On August 17, Pakistani army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa visited Saudi Arabia to meet with Deputy Defense Minister Khalid bin Salman, younger brother to the kingdom’s de facto ruler Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman (aka MbS). The trip came at a time of growing Pakistani friction with Riyadh—historically perhaps its closest ally—regarding the fate of Kashmir, the divided and disputed Muslim-majority region that has locked Islamabad in bitter conflict with India for decades.

Indeed, the issue has split much of the Islamic world for months now. Last December, Malaysia organized a conference with Kashmir on the agenda. Given the subject matter and attendance list—which included Saudi rivals Iran and Turkey—Riyadh pressured Pakistan to withdraw, which it did at the last moment even though it had been one of the meeting’s prime backers.

Then, earlier this month—the first anniversary of New Delhi’s decision to forcefully suspend much of the autonomy formerly held by Indian Kashmir—Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi demanded that the Saudi-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation call for a ministerial meeting on Kashmir, suggesting that otherwise Pakistan would hold its own meeting. This and other posturing prompted Riyadh to freeze the $3.2 billion oil credit facility it had previously granted to Islamabad and insist that the country pay back parts of a $3 billion loan early.

Neighbourhood first responder: India’s humanitarian assistance and disaster relief

Saneet Chakradeo

The 2015 Nepal earthquake, one of the deadliest in its history, evoked an outpouring of support from the international community in the form of cash contributions, in-kind relief, and search and rescue operations. Among the quickest to respond was India, who launched Operation Maitri by deploying the Indian Army, the Air Force, and other specialised teams.[2] Claiming it to be its largest-ever disaster relief operation, India’s response garnered praise from many quarters with a top UN official acknowledging the country’s role as a “first responder”.[3] The relief operation also coincided with the Modi government’s focus on regional cooperation, including assertive claims to take on the role of a “first responder” to regional crises.[4]
Nepal’s then Ambassador to India recognised India’s timely efforts and called the response “unique” in its scale.[5] However, as the relief measures went on, there were also accusations of the Indian contingent hindering other international aid efforts, lack of coordination between Indian and Nepali agencies, and insensitive reporting by Indian media.[6] As a result, India’s largely successful operation raised some questions on its organisational and technical preparedness towards disaster relief and management in the region. Moreover, the massive international response to the crisis featured bilateral assistance from six different South Asian countries but with no coordinated relief effort, including from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). India’s leading role thus paradoxically also exposed the absence of effective regional mechanisms for disaster relief in South Asia.[7]

When land comes in the way: India’s connectivity infrastructure in Nepal

Constantino Xavier and Riya Sinha

Support for this research was generously provided by the Omidyar Network’s Property Rights Research Consortium (PRRC). Brookings India recognises that the value it provides is in its absolute commitment to quality, independence, and impact. Activities supported by its donors reflect this commitment and the analysis and recommendations found in this report are solely determined by the scholar(s).

Around half of the Indian government’s economic assistance to neighbouring countries in South Asia goes to the infrastructure sector, including roads, railways, ports, and other projects. Between 2014-18, this total investment in cross-border connectivity amounted to around Rs10,000 crores (approximately US$ 1,461 million). [1] These development cooperation projects are a critical component for India to achieve one of its most important foreign policy objectives: to tie its domestic economy closer to neighbouring countries and accelerate regional integration.

Funded by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and executed by Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) or private contractors, most of the Indian infrastructure projects are situated in the neighbouring countries of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Myanmar. However, a vast majority of these investments have faced chronic delays, or even halted, due to a myriad of challenges. Access to unimpeded land in these neighbouring countries is among the most significant reasons why India’s infrastructure projects get bogged down. This is due to both the Indian and host governments’ lack of expert and technical capacity on land issues – including on managing records, property right frameworks, litigation and lack of enforcement, or deficiencies in surveying.

Taking Stock of the Taliban’s Perspectives on Peace

What’s new? On 29 February 2020, the United States and the Taliban signed an agreement meant to prompt peace talks between the militant group and the Afghan government. Many issues have delayed those talks, including widespread concerns about the Taliban’s willingness to compromise in a political settlement ending the war.

Why does it matter? The U.S.-Taliban deal opened a fragile window of opportunity to settle the world’s deadliest conflict. But for talks among Afghans to progress, the Taliban will need to move beyond vague governing principles and put forth concrete negotiating positions on reconciliation, power sharing and governance.

What should be done? The Taliban should swiftly determine clear negotiating positions and be prepared to debate – and eventually reach compromises – on these as intra-Afghan talks unfold. The U.S. and other donors should leverage prospects of post-transition assistance as encouragement, while the Afghan government and civil society should engage the group and its ideas.

Executive Summary

US-China phase one tracker: China’s purchases of US goods

Chad P. Bown 

This PIIE Chart, originally published on May 18, 2020, tracks China’s monthly purchases of US goods covered by the phase one deal between the United States and China.

Hexuan Li provided outstanding data assistance, and William Melancon and Oliver Ward assisted with graphics.

On February 14, 2020, the Economic and Trade Agreement Between the United States of America and the People’s Republic Of China: Phase One went into effect. China agreed to expand purchases of certain US goods and services by a combined $200 billion over 2020 and 2021 from 2017 levels. This PIIE Chart tracks China’s monthly purchases of US goods covered by the deal, relying on data from both Chinese customs (China’s imports) and the US Census Bureau (US exports). It then compares those purchases with the legal agreement’s annual targets, prorated on a monthly basis, above two baseline scenarios (see methodology below). As set out in the legal agreement, one 2017 baseline scenario allows for use of US export statistics and the other allows for Chinese import statistics. Note that prorating the 2020 year-end targets to a monthly basis is for illustrative purposes only. Nothing in the text of the agreement indicates China must meet anything other than the year-end targets.

IB 2020/22 China’s Military Engagement with Pacific Island Countries

Denghua Zhang

China’s fast-growing presence in the Pacific Island countries (PICs) have triggered traditional powers’ increasing concerns about China’s military ambition in the region. In April 2018, in response to media speculation about China’s plan to build a military base in Vanuatu, Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull stated that ‘[w]e would view with great concern the establishment of any foreign military bases in those Pacific Island countries and neighbours of ours’. In 2019, China Sam Enterprise Group’s plan to lease the island of Tulagi in Solomon Islands (later vetoed by the Solomon Islands government) caused alarm in the United States and Australia. Drawing upon scholarly works and public documents in English and Mandarin, this research provides a brief account of China’s military engagement with PICs since 2006 and China’s perspectives on the relevance of these countries to its national security.

Hunting the Phoenix

Alex Joske

The Chinese Communist Party’s global search for technology and talent

What’s the problem?

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses talent-recruitment programs to gain technology from abroad through illegal or non-transparent means. According to official statistics, China’s talent-recruitment programs drew in almost 60,000 overseas professionals between 2008 and 2016. These efforts lack transparency; are widely associated with misconduct, intellectual property theft or espionage; contribute to the People’s Liberation Army’s modernisation; and facilitate human rights abuses.

They form a core part of the CCP’s efforts to build its own power by leveraging foreign technology and expertise. Over the long term, China’s recruitment of overseas talent could shift the balance of power between it and countries such as the US. Talent recruitment isn’t inherently problematic, but the scale, organisation and level of misconduct associated with CCP talent-recruitment programs sets them apart from efforts by other countries. These concerns underline the need for governments to do more to recognise and respond to CCP talent-recruitment activities.

The mechanisms of CCP talent recruitment are poorly understood. They’re much broader than the Thousand Talents Plan—the best known among more than 200 CCP talent-recruitment programs. Domestically, they involve creating favourable conditions for overseas scientists, regardless of ethnicity, to work in China.1 Those efforts are sometimes described by official sources as ‘building nests to attract phoenixes’.2



Gabriel Collins, the Baker Botts Fellow in Energy & Environmental Regulatory Affairs, analyzes the impact of China’s emerging demographic decline, debt burden and increasingly likely structural economic growth downshift on global oil and gas markets.

China’s Effect: A Global NATO

By Emil Avdaliani

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: China is increasingly viewed by NATO as a competitor, which represents a significant shift in the alliance’s vision. It fits the general narrative that NATO has recently been excessively focused on Russia at a time when China was quietly increasing its cyber capabilities and military power around the world, particularly in the Arctic and Europe. This shift in priorities could propel NATO toward a more globalist vision that would draw it closer to the Indo-Pacific region.

A shift is taking place in global military thinking. NATO, arguably the most successful military alliance in history, is slowly but steadily edging toward casting China as an outright military competitor. Previously, the collective West avoided involving NATO in the context of the rising China.

Much changed with the advent of Donald Trump. NATO has been undergoing a profound evolution in which it is recalibrating its priorities. We are gradually moving toward a more global NATO with interests that spread beyond its classical zone—Europe—and into the Indo-Pacific region.

Black and White and Red All Over: China’s Improving Foreign-Directed Media

Elizabeth Bachman

Since the mid-2000s, successive leaders of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have called explicitly for Beijing to improve its external propaganda capabilities and international influence.1 Hu Jintao (胡锦涛) first elevated these efforts in 2004, and they gained renewed urgency after the 2008 Beijing Olympics; international protests over China’s human rights record largely overshadowed the lead-up to the games. The following year, the Chinese government started investing billions into efforts to improve Chinese foreign-directed media and combat a perceived anti-China bias in Western reporting.

These funds paid for Chinese state media and broadcasters to produce content in a broader range of foreign languages, establish overseas bureaus, and develop increasingly sophisticated content aimed at foreign audiences.3 Although these efforts began in the previous decade, they have grown in scale and sophistication since Xi Jinping (习近平) became general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in 2012. Under his leadership, the Party has made a concerted effort to tighten its control over China’s internal and external propaganda apparatuses. He has overseen the formal consolidation of Party control over China’s print media, with recent administrative reorganizations moving direct control of the media out of state structures and into the hands of the Party.4

Debunking the Myth of ‘Debt-trap Diplomacy’: How Recipient Countries Shape China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Lee Jones
Source Link

Critics of the BRI accuse China of pursuing a policy of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’: luring poor, developing countries into agreeing unsustainable loans to pursue infrastructure projects so that, when they experience financial difficulty, Beijing can seize the asset, thereby extending its strategic or military reach. This paper demonstrates that the evidence for such views is limited. 

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is frequently portrayed as a geopolitical strategy that ensnares countries in unsustainable debt and allows China undue influence. However, the available evidence challenges this position: economic factors are the primary driver of current BRI projects; China’s development financing system is too fragmented and poorly coordinated to pursue detailed strategic objectives; and developing-country governments and their associated political and economic interests determine the nature of BRI projects on their territory.

The BRI is being built piecemeal, through diverse bilateral interactions. Political-economy dynamics and governance problems on both sides have led to poorly conceived and managed projects. These have resulted in substantial negative economic, political, social and environmental consequences that are forcing China to adjust its BRI approach.

Can Israel, Greece, and Turkey Cooperate?

By Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The recent visit of Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Israel was highly symbolic. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the two countries. It may well be possible for Jerusalem and Athens to cooperate with Turkey, though doing so will require all parties to be realistic about what is possible right now in view of the current state of relations with Ankara.

The father of Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis, former PM Konstantinos Mitsotakis, made the far-sighted decision in 1990 to recognize the Jewish state de jure at the beginning of his term as Greece’s premier. Kyriakos Mitsotakis recently traveled to Jerusalem not only to honor his father’s wisdom but to further cement a burgeoning relationship. It is his first visit to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. (His last stop outside his home country was Berlin at the beginning of March.)

In recent years, Athens and Jerusalem have greatly enriched their collaboration both bilaterally and trilaterally, with the participation of Cyprus. Trust is the key to success, and the more the countries talk to each other at the political level and beyond, the deeper their trust in one another becomes. This is what the Israel-Hellenic Forum, which was founded by B’nai B’rith and which the author co-convenes, seeks to facilitate.

In the Wake of the Israel-UAE Deal, Whither the Arab and Muslim World?

By Dr. James M. Dorsey

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: An agreement between Israel and the UAE to establish diplomatic relations, a Saudi-Pakistani spat over Kashmir, feuds among the Gulf States, and strife between Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Emirates drive nails into the notion that the component countries in the Arab and Muslim world share common geopolitical interests on the basis of ethnicity or religion and wish to embrace one another in solidarity.

The UAE-Israel agreement weakens the Palestinians’ efforts to create a state of their own, but their criticism of the UAE’s move to become the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan to officially recognize the Jewish state is based on a moral rather than a legal claim.

The UAE and Israel see their relations with the US and the perceived threat from Iran as bigger fish to fry.

Both countries hope an upgrading of their relations will keep the US engaged in the Middle East, particularly given that it puts pressure to follow suit on other Gulf States that have similar concerns and have engaged with Israel (if not to the UAE’s degree).

The UAE and Israel further worry that a possible victory by presumptive Democratic candidate Joe Biden in the US presidential election this November could bring to office an administration more willing than President Donald Trump’s to accommodate Iran.

In Iraq, the United States Must Be Careful What It Wishes For


Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s credibility was at stake when he visited Washington last week. In the eyes of many Iraqi politicians, the purpose of elevating Kadhimi from intelligence chief to premier in May was to strengthen the country’s bilateral relationship with the United States.

At home, the prime minister faces a perfect storm of challenges: rampant corruption, lack of basic services, and massive unemployment—all of which have generated mass protests since 2019. The domestic turmoil forced his predecessor to resign, and it is now compounded by the coronavirus pandemic and an economic crisis caused by the oil price slump.

The idea of traveling to Washington was to secure some U.S. help in dealing with these severe difficulties. Although Kadhimi received an audience with U.S. President Donald Trump and promises of economic assistance, the question is whether he is returning home with enough to tackle these problems, stabilize the country, and ensure his own longer-term political survival.

Russia’s Transition to 5G: Stuck in a Regulatory Tug-of-War

Mobile communications in Russia is an economic success story. Four competing operators have built state-of-the-art networks, relying on foreign technology and capital. However, as the sector prepares for the transition to 5G, it is facing strong headwinds: The security apparatus is unwilling to relinquish the most promising radio spectrum, 3.4-3.8 GHz, for 5G licenses. At the same time, Russia’s telecoms regulator is urging operators to build a single, shared 5G network with state participation, an idea that the privately-owned carriers strictly oppose. Additionally, import substitution lobbyists are working hard to make 5G infrastructure “Made in Russia” mandatory.

Russia’s telecommunications sector is stuck in a regulatory tug of war that is delaying the widespread introduction of 5G for years and could dampen the country’s digitalization hopes. At the same time, the slow-moving, multi-stakeholder bargaining process has so far prevented disruptive political interventions by the Russian state. Russia’s privately-owned network operators have defended their independence and rebuffed strict import substitution regulation, keeping the market open for foreign technology partners such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei. However, a radical policy shift, triggered by domestic developments or by future sanctions cannot be ruled out. It would result in less market competition and innovation and potentially deepen Russia’s technological dependency from China.

A European Approach to the Indo-Pacific?

Garima Mohan
Source Link

Although Europe is not a resident actor, it is an important stakeholder in the Indo-Pacific. Not only is the European block the largest trade and investment partner for most Indo-Pacific economies, but more than 35 percent of all European exports go to the region. A majority of those exports (around 90 percent) transit through the sea lanes of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. What is more, four of Europe’s top-ten trading partners are located in the area, making the Indo-Pacific the second largest market outside Europe for export-focused economies like Germany. As a result, Europe is highly dependent on unimpeded sea lines of communication that pass through the region.

The South China Sea or even the Indian Ocean may seem geographically far away from Europe, but the dynamics in the region will have an impact on European prosperity and security. The recent coronavirus pandemic is just one example. Given Europe’s varied interests in the region, it would be short-sighted to watch the Indo-Pacific debate unfold from the sidelines. Europe and the Indo-Pacific countries share the same geopolitical concerns, namely to avoid getting tangled up in US-China competition while also balancing the rise of an increasingly assertive China that is already reshaping the region and poses a challenge to the rules-based order. 

Balancing the Costs of Covid-19

by Jonathan W. Greenert

At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has made the world even less secure than before, Jonathan W. Greenert argues that the new normal for national security could be like the old normal if the U.S. executive and legislative branches do not address growing budgetary challenges. Admiral Greenert was the 30th chief of naval operations from 2011 to 2015.

In his excellent essay for this series, Ashley Tellis succinctly articulates the complex challenges to U.S. hegemony manifested by Covid-19. Within his analysis, he describes two transitions in the U.S. economy that will bear on the future of our national power: (1) a reassessment of national supply and production chains, and (2) an intensifying competition between federal spending on defense and nondefense goods.

The second transition is particularly concerning. A decade ago, a scenario played out involving increasing and evolving global threats, growing security commitments, and a compulsion to address federal spending by a partisan legislature. The outcome for the federal budget was regrettable—a government shutdown, sequestration, and several continuing resolutions resulting from an inability to complete a budget on schedule. This led to an oversubscribed and underfunded military and foreign service, as well as a substantial loss of our military technological edge over China and Russia.

Policing in America: Closing the Data Gap

By Julia Baumel
Source Link

Despite the attention on policing nationwide, we simply don’t have good enough data on how it is actually practiced in communities across the country. This issue brief identifies the specific areas in which more data collection and reporting could directly and indirectly improve policing—by holding police officers and departments accountable and allowing for objective policy analysis.

NATO in the 21st Century: Preparing the Alliance for the Challenges of Today and Tomorrow

Luke Coffey and Daniel Kochis

Since its inception, NATO has done more than any other multilateral organization to promote democracy, peace, and security in Europe and the broader transatlantic community with benefits that have rippled out to the broader global community. Ensuring that NATO can face the challenges of the 21st century while safeguarding and vitalizing collective defense—the heart of the Alliance—is the charge of the upcoming reflection period. In this important moment, American leadership cannot be replaced. The United States must ensure that the reflection outcome firmly moors a future NATO to both sides of the Atlantic, refocuses the allies on the raison d’être of collective defense (including the associated necessities of robust defense spending and vigorous capabilities in increasingly vital spheres like cyber warfare and information warfare), while at the same time ensuring NATO’s readiness to address a range of growing challenges. Getting this balance right requires an understanding of where the Alliance has been, where it is now, and where it is headed. The outcome of the reflection process will provide vital guideposts for striking the proper balance and ensuring the vitality of NATO for the next 70 years and beyond.

Emerging technologies and the future of US-Japan defense collaboration

by Tate Nurkin and Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi

Geopolitical and security dynamics are shifting in the Indo-Pacific as states across the region adjust to China’s growing influence and the era of great-power competition between the United States and China. These geopolitical shifts are also intersecting with the accelerating rate of innovation in technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) to reshape the future of military-technological competition and emerging military operations. This report, Emerging Technologies and the Future of US-Japan Defense Collaboration, by Tate Nurkin and Ryo Hinata-Yamaguchi, explores the drivers, tensions, and constraints shaping US-Japan collaboration on emerging defense technologies while providing concrete recommendations for the US-Japan alliance to accelerate and intensify long-standing military and defense-focused coordination and collaboration.


Primer on hypersonic weapons in the Indo-Pacific region

by John T. Watts, Christian Trotti, and Mark J. Massa

What are hypersonic weapons?

Hypersonic weapons are an emerging military technology that could dramatically alter the way the United States and its competitors, such as China and Russia, conduct war in the future. They are at the cutting edge of a new battle, as states seek to harness their offensive potential on the one hand, and defend against them on the other. Traveling at speeds ranging from 5 to 25 times the speed of sound, hypersonic missiles can strike targets more quickly and from farther distances than current defense postures are prepared for, thereby accelerating decision-making timelines and complicating strategic calculations.

Despite this revolutionary potential, current literature on these weapons is relatively sparse. In this primer, the Atlantic Council’s Forward Defense team has situated hypersonic weapons within the geostrategic and regional context of the Indo-Pacific, providing a foundation for strategic analysis on the ways in which hypersonic weapons may shape the future of warfare, both within the region and beyond.

An emerging military technology…

5G Promises and Risks for US National Security

The continued development of 5G wireless technology will be a disruptive game changer for the communications industry and the worldwide economy. The quantum leap in performance afforded by 5G will spawn new industries and novel applications within existing industries like autonomous driving, healthcare, industrial automation, and remote sensing. Countries that dominate 5G technology development will enjoy major economic benefits resulting from these advancements. On July 22, 2019, the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies and Venable, LLP cohosted a seminar titled: “5G Promises and Risks for U.S. National Security” to explore issues around U.S. employment of 5G for national security. The event provided a platform for insightful conversation around the approaching reality of a 5G-connected world and the security risks that must be addressed.

Issues surrounding the U.S. employment of 5G for national security applications include leveraging 5G for ubiquitous surveillance, mobile communications, secure networking, and more. Possible domination of emerging 5G technology by foreign national adversaries raises serious questions about national security. The subject matter experts at the“5G Promises and Risks for U.S. National Security” event emphasized the important new security aspects of 5G, the current state of the rollout for the U.S., and highlighted key items that need addressing going forward.

Utilities for democracy: Why and how the algorithmic infrastructure of Facebook and Google must be regulated

Josh Simons and Dipayan Ghosh
In the four years since the last U.S. presidential election, pressure has continued to build on Silicon Valley’s biggest internet firms: the Cambridge Analytica revelations; a series of security and privacy missteps; a constant drip of stories about discriminatory algorithms; employee pressure, walkouts, and resignations; and legislative debates about privacy, content moderation, and competition policy. The nation — indeed, the world — is waking up to the manifold threats internet platforms pose to the public sphere and to democracy.

This paper provides a framework for understanding why internet platforms matter for democracy and how they should be regulated. We describe the two most powerful internet platforms, Facebook and Google, as new public utilities — utilities for democracy. Facebook and Google use algorithms to rank and order vast quantities of content and information, shaping how we consume news and access information, communicate with and feel about one another, debate fundamental questions of the common good, and make collective decisions. Facebook and Google are private companies whose algorithms have become part of the infrastructure of our public sphere.

We argue that Facebook and Google should be regulated as public utilities. Private powers who shape the fundamental terms of citizens’ common life should be held accountable to the public good. Online as well as offline, the infrastructure of the public sphere is a critical tool for communication and organization, political expression, and collective decisionmaking. By controlling how this infrastructure is designed and operated, Facebook and Google shape the content and character of our digital public sphere, concentrating not just economic power, but social and political power too. Leading American politicians from both sides of the aisle have begun to recognize this, whether Senator Elizabeth Warren or Representative David Cicilline, Senator Lindsey Graham or President Donald Trump.

Who thought it was a good idea to have facial recognition software?

Mark MacCarthy

This report from The Brookings Institution’s Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technology (AIET) Initiative is part of “AI Governance,” a series that identifies key governance and norm issues related to AI and proposes policy remedies to address the complex challenges associated with emerging technologies.

Recounting her experiences working with Barak Obama as a candidate and as president, Alyssa Mastromonaco says he would often challenge his staff with the question, “Uh, who thought this was a good idea?” It was an attempt to ensure his advisers took personal responsibility for the recommendations they made, especially when things went wrong.

It’s about time someone asked that question about facial recognition software. It would oblige the developers and users of the technology to explain exactly why they think it’s a good idea to create something with that level of power.

Asking that question of facial recognition software is one way of participating in what legal scholar Frank Pasquale calls the “second wave of algorithmic accountability.” In the first wave, computer scientists working on applied artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms asked how the tools could be made more accurate and less biased. In the current second wave, advocates and critics are asking developers and users why they are using the technology at all and whether the payoffs are really worth it.


In war, moral factors account for three quarters of the whole; relative material strength accounts for only one quarter.
-Napoleon Bonaparte

To win in the competition continuum, unified land operations call for dominance in both the moral and the material dimensions. The U.S. Army has adopted Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) to drive change “to ensure that the intellectual precedes the physical in the development of the future force, enabling the United States to win in competition and conflict in the future.”1 At the same time, the Army must address its cognitive incapacity for MDO support of Joint All-Domain Operations (JADO) to “prevail in competition. . . penetrate and dis-integrate enemy anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) systems and exploit the resultant freedom of maneuver to achieve strategic objectives (win), and force a return to competition on favorable terms.”2 It must do this to stay on the winning side of a constant, multi-dimensional power struggle—power being the demonstrated capacity, ability or will to change or influence behavior or the course of events.

MDO describes the operational continuum as continuous competition vice the binary notion of conflict as war or peace. The Army needs “to actively compete left of conflict in order to enable winning in conflict” and “to expand the battlefield” beyond physical domains to cognitive capacities, developing full-spectrum capabilities to engage and influence the strategic and operating environment in decisive ways.3 These capabilities are as essential to war-winning as combat forces and do not exist merely to set conditions for victory in conflict or return to competition. The Army’s ability to influence populations and leaders through an effective narrative, combined with unified actions and informational power, are critical to holistic MDO.