1 September 2020

India-Vietnam Relations: Strong and Getting Stronger

By Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Earlier this week, India and Vietnam held the 17th meeting of their bilateral Joint Commission on Trade, Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation. The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement said that the meeting was co-chaired by External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh via video conference.

It appears that both sides have been pleased with outcomes of the meeting an the pace of the relationship. Jaishankar was particularly appreciative of Vietnam’s positive leadership of ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) this year, especially at a time when the region is battling the COVID-19 pandemic. Both sides reportedly also discussed China’s aggressive behavior in their respective neighborhoods.

At the meeting, the two sides took stock of the state of the India-Vietnam Comprehensive Strategic Partnership and agreed to step up their defense and economic partnership. The two sides put special emphasis on areas such as civil nuclear energy, space, marine sciences, and emerging technologies. India and Vietnam also agreed to strengthen their strategic partnership “in line with India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI) and the ASEAN’s Outlook on Indo-Pacific to achieve shared security, prosperity and growth for all in the region.”

Islamic State’s India Dilemma

By Abdul Basit and Mohammed Sinan Siyech

While claiming responsibility for the Nangarhar jailbreak in eastern Afghanistan, the Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP)’s propaganda wing released photographs of 11 attackers, including three Indian recruits from Kerala. In six months, this is the second time that Indian radicals have been part of a high-profile attack in Afghanistan. In March, a pro-IS Indian militant from Kerala, Muhammad Anis alias Abu Khalid Al-Hindi, perpetrated the Sikh Gurdwara attack in Kabul. Later, Islamic State’s weekly newsletter, Al-Naba, carried a detailed profile of Anis. In February 2020, IS also started a monthly propaganda magazine, Voice of Hind, which exclusively focuses on India.

Interestingly, the first part of the audio message released by ISKP spokesperson Sultan Aziz Azzam after the Nangarhar jailbreak is in Urdu. This indicates that the terror group is trying to target the north Indian Muslim community to fuel fresh recruitment and radicalization. Generally, IS’s propaganda aimed at India has been in local languages spoken in south India such as Malayalam and Tamil, among others.

ISKP’s posturing indicates its continued interest and obsession with India amid growing communal spasms and political polarization.

The Pakistan Army’s Belt and Road Putsch

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A Pakistan Army personnel looks on during the opening of a trade route project at the Gwadar port in Pakistan on Nov. 13, 2016. Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on November 13 opened a trade route linking the southwestern post of Gwadar to the Chinese city of Kashgar as part of a joint multi-billion-dollar project to jumpstart economic growth in the South Asian country. 

When Pakistan entered its 22nd International Monetary Fund program last year, plenty of observers assumed that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—described by Beijing as a “flagship project” in its broader Belt and Road Initiative—would be one of the casualties.

After all, with the IMF mandating cuts in public sector spending, a reduction of Pakistan’s deficit, and tightening of monetary policy, it made sense that the vast loans and spending associated with CPEC would have to stop. And further, China had already started to have misgivings about lending and investment in poorly governed frontier markets like Pakistan. It was said that CPEC—billed as a $62 billion connectivity initiative linking China’s landlocked Xinjiang region with Pakistan’s Arabian Sea ports—would likely continue only symbolically so as to enable the two stalwart allies to save face.


Fizza Batool

The signing of the Doha Agreement between the Afghan Taliban and the United States in February 2020 represented a success for Pakistan, which had advocated and worked towards providing diplomatic resolution to the Afghan War for many years. The Doha Agreement gives Pakistan a double cause for celebration. First, as reflected in the presence of Pakistan’s Foreign Minister at the signing ceremony, Pakistan has managed to regain its forlorn status as the regional U.S. ally and has since openly asserted that it has a significant role to play in bringing peace to Afghanistan. Second, the deal has opened the door for a power-sharing arrangement in Afghanistan in which the Taliban are likely to play a significant role. The Taliban are the principal pro-Pakistan actor in Afghanistan, and Islamabad sees them as integral for securing Pakistan’s political and security interests in the region.

As the political leadership in Afghanistan prepares for the intra-Afghan peace talks, Pakistan is keen to remain influential in a post-U.S.-withdrawal Afghanistan and is relying heavily on the Taliban to sustain its presence. However, Pakistan-Taliban ties have their limitations, and it remains unclear how much leverage Pakistan holds over the future direction of the relationship. If history repeats itself and the Taliban establishes an authoritarian Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s national identity and security are both at risk. The former threat stems from the Taliban’s more radicalized Islamic identity—an offset to the relatively moderate and inclusive Islamic identity Pakistan projects—and the latter from a possible backlash from hostile Taliban factions.

Political Polarization in South and Southeast Asia: Old Divisions, New Dangers


Political polarization is growing in South and Southeast Asia—one part of a troubling global trend. From long-established democracies like India to newer ones like Indonesia, deep-seated sociopolitical divisions have become increasingly inflamed in recent years, fueling democratic erosion and societal discord. New political and economic strains caused by the coronavirus pandemic are only reinforcing this worrisome trend.

This report focuses on six key countries: India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Behind the tremendous diversity of these cases lie illuminating commonalities, alongside revealing differences, in the roots, trajectories, drivers, and consequences of polarization, as well as in the attempted remedies different actors have pursued.

Carothers is a leading authority on international support for democracy, human rights, governance, the rule of law, and civil society.

Big Tech Embraces New Cold War Nationalism

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Last month, the CEOs of Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon were hauled before the U.S. Congress to be interrogated about their companies’ monopolistic behavior. While Democrats relentlessly grilled the four CEOs over their breach of antitrust laws, Republicans were just as interested in questioning their national loyalty and asking whether they had ties with the Chinese military. At the hearing, Republican Rep. Ken Buck accused Google of declining to work with the U.S. Defense Department while falsely claiming that the company collaborated with the Chinese military. In response, Google CEO Sundar Pichai fought nationalism with patriotism, stating that Google was in fact “proud to support the U.S. government” and boasted that they had “recently signed a big project with the Department of Defense.”

Coming from Pichai, the immigrant CEO of a company known for its progressive values, boasting of Google’s collaboration with the Pentagon may just seem like a defensive response to being called treasonous. But Google’s commitment to the military had long preceded this moment. The company’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt, has long advocated for deepening ties with the Pentagon and now serves as the chairman of the Defense Innovation Board—an initiative to transfer technological innovation from Silicon Valley to the U.S. military. Last month, a federal advisory commission that Schmidt chairs also recommended the creation of an artificial intelligence (AI) school to directly staff the U.S. government, including the Defense Department, with new technologists.

Can AI Solve the Rare Earths Problem? Chinese and U.S. Researchers Think So


A joint U.S.-Chinese research team has shown that artificial intelligence can help find potent new combinations of materials to replace rare earth metals that are key to military technology. 

Rare earths materials drive today’s high-tech batteries and computer chips. It’s possible to engineer new compounds from common materials that can perform as well or better than the rare-earth-based ones found in common devices. But figuring out the right combinations of elements to design, say, new high-ion conductors or other materials useful for electronics, is an enormous task. If you’re looking to make a compound material with just four of the first 103 elements on the periodic table, you’re looking at ten-to-the-12th-power combinations. A tiny fraction of those would work for electronics. That’s where advanced forms of AI are proving themselves useful. 

A team of researchers at the University of South Carolina College of Engineering and Computing and Guizhou University, a research university located in Guiyang, China, with funding from the U.S. and the Chinese governments, have applied an advanced form of artificial intelligence to the task of finding new combinations of elements that could meet future needs for rare earth resources. 

“Considering the huge space of doped materials with different mixing ratios of elements and many applications such as high-temperature superconductors, where six to seven component materials are common, the number of potential materials is immense,” notes the paper published in the June issue of NPJ Computational Materials.

Stay Calm About China


A central distinction in realist international relations thought is that between vital and secondary national interests. Vital interests are threats to a state’s survival, and can take the form either of conquest and subjugation from outside, or the promotion of internal subversion aimed at destroying the existing political and ideological order—the strategy followed by the Soviet Union across much of the world during the Cold War, and by the United States against the Soviet Union and allied regimes.

Rivalry between the United States and China is not a battle to the death of this kind, and it is very important that the United States not see it as such. The phrase “a new cold war” is a cheap journalistic formula, but it contains real dangers. The United States’ geopolitical competition with China is fundamentally different from that with the Soviet Union, and if the U.S. establishment frames it in the terms of the Cold War, it may do great damage to the United States and the world in general. While the Cold War with the Soviet Union stemmed originally from the Soviet revolutionary threat and the brutal nature of Joseph Stalin’s regime, many of the ways in which this rivalry was imagined and therefore conducted by the United States did terrible damage to its own politics, culture, and public ethics.

DoD War Games Predict ‘Extremely Destabilizing’ Chinese Military Parity


WASHINGTON: Worried about America’s eroding dominance at sea, the Pentagon has been running through a series of war games to shake out a plan to stay ahead of the rapid-fire Chinese military modernization effort. 

“The most destabilizing event in the 21st century is going to be when China can achieve conventional parity at a time and place of its choosing,” Maj. Gen. Tracy King, the Marine Corps’ Director of Expeditionary Warfare said during an online event today. “These war games are reinforcing that fact. So when they are able to do that, and when they can decide whether or not we’re going or fight or not, that’s going to be extremely destabilizing.” 

In an attempt to forestall parity, the Navy and Pentagon leadership are working on a force structure plan that includes more unmanned ships, smaller vessels that would be harder to hit, and long-range weapons that could hold Chinese ships at a distance. 

Part of the assessment includes a hard look at how the Navy and Marine Corps would get inside the A2/AD defenses China has built up along its coast and the island chains in the South China Sea.

The hidden growth driver: China’s industrial aftermarket-services sector

By Thierry Chesnais and Ting Wu

The early twenty-first century was a boom time for China’s industrial-equipment manufacturers, as the country’s growth fueled significant demand across most industrial sectors. Annual fixed-asset investment in equipment and instruments increased by an average of 21 percent annually between 2000 and 2015, an extended period of rapidly rising demand that helped many players grow substantially by focusing on new-equipment sales.

The sector is now entering a different phase of its development. While growth in new-equipment sales has slowed significantly, the installed base of industrial products across China has been transformed. For example, over the past 20 years, China’s operational stock of industrial robots has grown from less than 1,000 to almost 650,000, making the country home to an estimated one-quarter of the world’s robots (Exhibit 1). That shift is encouraging China’s industrial equipment makers to look to aftermarket services as an increasingly important driver of growth and profitability.

North Korea Doesn’t Trust China to Protect It

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When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Chinese President Xi Jinping met for the first time in March 2018, the official topics of discussion were predictable: peace, denuclearization, industry, economic development, and deepening North Korea-China relations. That’s unsurprising for two countries that are each other’s only formal treaty allies and have been for decades. But the relationship is far more taut than public displays indicate. North Korea is happy to have Beijing on its side. But it’s never going to be willing to put its ultimate security in China’s hands. Nowhere is this more important than in denuclearization. The United States has been able to pressure allies, such as South Korea and Taiwan, out of the possibility of nuclear programs in the past, thanks to offers of protection—whether the ambiguous guarantees to Taiwan or the formal shelter of the U.S. nuclear umbrella offered to Japan and others. That makes the idea of a Chinese nuclear umbrella over North Korea an attractive and legitimate avenue for denuclearization—but one that Pyongyang itself will never agree to.

China and North Korea share ideological roots, and Beijing laid the foundation for an enduring alliance when it came to North Korea’s aid during the Korean War. But there are key differences between the North Korea-China alliance and the United States’ alliances with South Korea and Japan that make the creation of a Chinese nuclear umbrella over the North highly unlikely. Any offer would directly clash with three critical North Korean concerns in policymaking: adherence to the ideology of juche (“self-reliance”), economic entwinement with China, and maintaining nuclear leverage.

With Latest Sanctions, US Casts a Shadow Over China’s Belt and Road

By Shannon Tiezzi

On Wednesday, the United States announced yet another tranche of sanctions targeting Chinese companies. This time, 24 Chinese firms were added to the Entity List, which prevents them from doing business with U.S. companies.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department announcement, the companies have been targeted “for their role in helping the Chinese military construct and militarize the internationally condemned artificial islands in the South China Sea.”

In the words of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, “The entities designated today have played a significant role in China’s provocative construction of these artificial islands and must be held accountable.”

However, as the Washington Post noted in its report on the sanctions, there will be little direct impact from listing the firms, simply because they don’t have much financial stake in trade with the United States. The “total U.S. exports to the companies amounted to $5 million over the past five years,” the Post reported, citing senior administration officials.

In a Drill, Beijing Launches Missiles into the South China Sea

By Abhijnan Rej

China launched two missiles into the South China Sea on the morning of August 26 in a drill, the South China Sea Morning Post (SCMP) reports. In a move designed to signal Washington as well as regional powers that Beijing is unafraid of a military confrontation should the U.S. challenge its resolve, it tested two missiles: a DF-21D and a DF-26B. SCMP reports that the DF-26B was launched from Qinghai province, while the DF-21D was fired from Zhejiang. According to its source, both missiles headed off to a region between the coastal Hainan province and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. While the precise operational objective behind these drills remain unknown, according to the SCMP report, “the landing areas were within a zone that Hainan maritime safety authorities said on Friday would be off limits because of military exercises from Monday to Saturday.”

The DF-21D is the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) – colloquially dubbed a “carrier killer” because of its ability to hold an aircraft carrier at risk – with a reported range between 1,450 and 1,550 kilometers. It can defeat the Aegis Combat Systems that guard key surface combatants operated by the U.S. and allies in the region. The DF-26 has a range between 3,000-4,000 kilometers allowing it to strike U.S. bases in Guam in a land-attack role. The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ (CSIS) MissileThreat website notes that the PLA has not publicly announced whether it has ever tested an anti-ship variant of the DF-26 missile against moving targets at sea. It does however note that “the PLA Rocket Force conducted an operational test of a new missile in the Bohai Sea” in May 2017 which many analysts speculated to be a DF-26 ASBM.

China's Three Gorges Dam is one of the largest ever created. Was it worth it?

by:Nectar Gan

Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydropower project ever built.
When construction began in 1994, it was designed not only to generate electricity to propel China's breakneck economic growth, but also to tame China's longest river, shield millions of people from fatal floods and, as a symbol of technological prowess, become a searing point of national pride.

But it hasn't quite worked out that way.

For a start, the whole project cost 200 billion yuan ($28.6 billion), took nearly two decades to build, and required uprooting more than a million people along the Yangtze River. And while the government promised the dam would be able to protect communities around its immediate downstream against a "once in a century flood," its efficacy has frequently been questioned.

Those doubts recently resurfaced, as the Yangtze basin saw its heaviest average rainfall in nearly 60 years since June, causing the river and its many tributaries to overflow.

More than 158 people have died or gone missing, 3.67 million residents have been displaced and 54.8 million people have been affected, causing a devastating 144 billion yuan ($20.5 billion) in economic losses.

Turkey’s Plans to Become a Regional Energy Giant Just Got a Boost

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Turkey has never made a secret of its ambitions to become a regional energy power. Its location between oil and gas producers in the Middle East and the southern Caucasus and consumer countries in the European Union has long been its trump card. But the recent discovery of a large natural gas field off Turkey’s Black Sea shore could prove the real game-changer.

Tuna-1, as the well is known (a reference to the Turkish word for the Danube River, not the fish), holds some 320 billion cubic meters of gas. For perspective, that is around two and a half times the size of the Aphrodite field south of Cyprus, which is the subject of ownership disputes that are one of several triggers for current tensions between Ankara and a Greek-led coalition of Mediterranean countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has vowed to make Black Sea gas available for use in 2023, the 100th anniversary of the Turkish Republic. If he is right, Turkey will be able to meet close to 7 percent of its annual demand for natural gas (around 45 billion cubic meters in 2019) from domestic sources. That’s not a small achievement for a country traditionally dependent on oil and gas imports. This gas find also dovetails well with the government’s campaign to boost domestic manufacturing to upgrade the economy and add to the country’s prestige, under the heading “yerli ve milli” (“local and national”).

Did Iran Suffer a Nuclear Setback?

By Ray Takeyh

An explosion has caused heavy damage to an Iranian nuclear facility just as the country approaches a bold new energy partnership with China, but Iran shows no signs of slowing down its nuclear program.

What happened at the Natanz nuclear plant earlier this month?

It appears that a huge explosion occurred at the plant, specifically at a warehouse used to construct advanced centrifuges. Iran had hoped to roll out a large number of such machines to boost its uranium enrichment capacity. The U.S. press has speculated that Israel was responsible. In the past few months, there have been various accidents at Iran’s military facilities, including at a missile production factory.

Pompeo’s RNC Speech Was a Preview of ‘America First’ After Trump

Candace Rondeaux 

Is Mike Pompeo the Teflon Don reincarnated? If you watched the U.S. secretary of state’s pre-recorded speech to the Republican National Convention on Tuesday, you’ll know your answer doesn’t matter, because Pompeo doesn’t really care about what you, many Americans or the world thinks. Pompeo delivered his address from Jerusalem while on an official diplomatic trip to the Middle East, breaking decades of political norms, and likely federal ethics laws. In this new era of American gangster diplomacy, what matters is always being right—as Pompeo sees it—and always being unapologetic in strong-arming the world into accepting the Republican Party’s isolationist and increasingly authoritarian bent under the GOP’s godfather-in-chief, President Donald J. Trump.

Federal laws prohibit civil servants from using their office, title or government resources to influence election results. So Pompeo’s remarks provided more proof that he genuinely believes that those laws don’t apply to him, and that he’s a made man as long as Trump’s “America First” vision of the world prevails.

The Democratic chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel, said this week that his committee would launch an investigation into whether Pompeo’s RNC convention speech from the rooftop of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem violated the Hatch Act, a federal statute that bars civil servants, including Cabinet secretaries, from mixing their official government duties with partisan politics. But like New York City’s one-time mafia kingmaker, John Gotti, who repeatedly escaped prosecution, Pompeo has played the role of an untouchable and loyal mafioso, enforcing Trump’s new world disorder and repeatedly testing the limits of the rule of law since his appointment as America’s top diplomat in 2018.

The October Surprise Is Already Here

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During the four days of the Republican National Convention, U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters cast about wildly for new ways to knock down his opponent, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who is consistently leading in the polls. And finally they found one, banking on the latest upsurge in protests against racial injustice and violence in response to yet another police shooting of a Black American, which occurred the same week as the RNC. 

Their message is: If you think America’s a dangerous place now, just wait until Biden becomes president. “No one would be safe in Biden’s America,” Trump said in his acceptance speech Thursday night as he praised the nation’s law enforcement officers, saying “we have to give [them] back their power” and “we can never allow mob rule” in “Democrat-run” American cities.

“Your vote will decide whether we protect law-abiding Americans, or whether we give free rein to violent anarchists and agitators and criminals who threaten our citizens,” Trump said in his speech on the White House grounds. “Make no mistake. If you give power to Joe Biden, the radical left will defund police departments, all across America. They will pass federal legislation to reduce law enforcement nationwide. They will make every city look like Democrat-run Portland, Oregon,” where Black Lives Matter protests have snarled the city for weeks.

US Space Force tests new anti-jamming capability

Nathan Strout
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force has tested a new anti-jamming capability that will make the military’s main satellite communications constellation more resilient than ever, the Space and Missile Systems Center announced Aug. 26.

On June 18, SMC successfully tested the Mitigation and Anti-Jam Enhancement, or MAJE, capability for Wideband Global SATCOM. WGS provides global satellite communications to American forces. MAJE includes both software and hardware upgrades to the Army’s Global SATCOM Configuration Control Element, the ground system the detects, identifies, locates and mitigates interference with WGS satellites.

According to SMC, the test demonstrated MAJE’s ability to detect and suppress interference as well as optimize performance in a contested environment. Once MAJE is fielded, it will allow the military to quickly isolate unwanted signals interfering with WGS and restore affected communications faster than before.

“MAJE will double the anti-jam SATCOM capabilities for six Geographic Combatant Commands,” Col. John Dukes, SMC’s Geosynchronous Polar Orbit Division senior materiel leader, said in a statement.

Belarus is a reminder that the USSR is still collapsing

by Franak Viačorka

It is common to view history as a series of specific dates and distinct periods, but real life is rarely so neat and tidy. Instead, empires and epochs have a tendency to expand and disperse like clouds in the sky, blending and merging in ways that expose the shortcomings of traditional chronologies. One relatively recent example of this phenomenon is the collapse of the Soviet Union. Generally viewed as a series of dramatic developments that took place over a relatively concentrated period of time in 1990-91, recent events in Belarus are reminder that the fall of the USSR is actually an ongoing event that continues to shape the global geopolitical climate.

The national awakening in today’s Belarus is especially striking because it is taking place in a country that had previously clung to the traditions, symbols, and narratives of the USSR with more enthusiasm than any other former Soviet republic. While Putin’s Russia has gone to considerable lengths over the past two decades to rehabilitate aspects of the Soviet past, Lukashenka’s Belarus also continued to embrace the specific statecraft and economic practices of the Communist era.

EU Leaders Meet as Eastern Mediterranean Crisis Deepens

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Here is today’s Foreign Policy brief: EU officials meet to discuss the crisis in the eastern Mediterranean, Bahrain says it is committed to Palestinian statehood, and the United Nations rejects U.S. efforts to reimpose sanctions on Iran. 

EU foreign ministers will meet in Berlin today to begin a two-day round of informal talks aimed at resolving the ongoing dispute between Greece and Turkey in the eastern Mediterranean, which observers warn could erupt into full-scale military confrontation between the NATO allies.

Disputed waters. Turkey and Greece have long butted heads in the region, but the latest dispute erupted after huge gas and oil reserves were discovered in the eastern Mediterranean, where both countries have overlapping maritime claims. Greece’s claims are based on the so-called Seville map, which was commissioned by the European Union in the early 2000s and gives maximal maritime boundaries to every Greek island in the region, no matter how close to Turkey’s borders.

Turkey has dismissed the Seville map, claiming it unfairly and unjustly encroaches on its exclusive economic zone. As Michaël Tanchum recently wrote for Foreign Policy, under the U.N. Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS), “Turkey is likely entitled to a larger maritime zone,” but because it isn’t a UNCLOS signatory, it cannot lean on this legal recourse.

5 challenges for the EU’s new trade chief

With global trade sputtering because of coronavirus, Brexit talks turning into a game of chicken, and the trade conflict with the United States in desperate need of a cease-fire, the new commissioner will have their work cut out. While prior commissioners were able to focus on securing headline-grabbing trade deals, attention is now turning toward damage control.

Here are the five main tasks for the EU's new trade chief:
End trade war with the US

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen counted on Hogan, who proved a highly effective negotiator in his previous stint as agriculture commissioner, to reset the world's largest investment and trade relationship after years of U.S. President Donald Trump's tariff war. Disputes over French plans for a digital services tax that would hit American tech giants and European support for Boeing's chief rival, Airbus, gave Trump the ammunition he needed to roll out new duties.

Last week, Washington and Brussels agreed on a mini-deal of reciprocal tariff cuts. But Brussels hopes to put the longstanding dispute over the aircraft subsidies to bed for good when the World Trade Organization is set to determine the size of EU retaliation Brussels will be entitled to impose on U.S. products. The EU is keen to resolve its fight on the Western front so that it can turn it's attention eastwards and deal with China’s state-led economy.

Prevent EU deals from unraveling

A Post-Pandemic Trade Revival

By Madeleine King

Albert Einstein once said that “in the midst of every crisis lies great opportunity”. For an open trading nation like Australia, the pandemic is an unparalleled crisis. The nation is facing its worst downturn since the Great Depression, along with recessions in key trading partners, severe disruptions to global supply chains and a rising tide of protectionism around the world.

Australia needs visionary, long-term thinking if it is to emerge from this shock and set itself up for the decades ahead.

Here is my four-point plan for a post-pandemic trade revival.
Diversification of our export markets

Twenty years ago, China bought about 5% of Australia’s goods exports. That has risen to an all-time high of 48.8%, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics data released this month.

Against the wishes of the doomsayers and the fearmongers who would prefer economic disengagement, China is cushioning the brutal shock of this pandemic on Australia’s economy.

What’s Next for the U.S.–Japan ‘Special Relationship’


U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun, left, and Japanese Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba, right, prior to their bilateral meeting at Iikura Guest House, July 9, 2020, in Tokyo, Japan. (Eugene Hoshiko/Reuters)Cooperation in all phases of defense will greatly benefit both partners.

The term “special relationship” is usually reserved for the alliance between the United States and Great Britain. Yet that term applies almost as well the United States and our oldest democratic ally in Asia, Japan.

Japanese and American security interests have never been more closely aligned. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe see the world in very similar ways, including the looming threat of China; and both have been forthright about making the alliance stronger and more proactive.

Later this week Defense Secretary Mike Esper and his Japanese counterpart, Defense Minister Taro Kono, will be meeting in Guam to discuss strengthening U.S.–Japan strategic cooperation. Their discussions offer the opportunity to lay down the concrete foundations of a “special relationship” almost as close as the one between the U.S. and Britain — one that will be a permanent strategic anchor in the Indo-Pacific region.

A Call to Action – Enhancing Our Capabilities to Counter Cyber Disinformation

By David R. Shedd and Barbara N. Stevens

We are inundated with information from a wide array of media, from social media to commercial news feeds. That flood includes large amounts of disinformation. At times, it can pose a threat to national security. As a nation, we are still struggling to respond effectively.

Social media has proved to be a remarkably effective platform for transmitting disinformation. A 2018 study published in Science Magazine, found that false news spreads on Twitter faster than other types of news and has a greater impact. In fact, tweets with false content were 70 percent more likely to be retweeted than fact-based tweets.

In a world that faces an ever-increasing volume of misinformation, America’s foreign policy and national security analyses must be able to separate fact from fiction. The sheer magnitude of the job requires an "all hands on deck" mindset and the willingness to pursue non-conventional approaches. For one thing, we will need to expand the talent base, both analytically and diplomatically, of our national security information operations.

Despite being prolific users of social media platforms, women have little impact in analyzing or shaping the responses to cyber-originated disinformation. They remain a small minority among those in the fields of computer science and data analytics fields who have the skills to detect and respond to manipulated information.