11 September 2020

Xi is reportedly angered by Indian defiance along border

Hong Kong, September 7 (ANI): Predictably, China has reacted angrily to successful Indian military action along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), with the People's Liberation Army (PLA) caught napping when Indian troops moved to occupy hilltop features near Lake Spanguur on the night of August 29-30. This anger allegedly ascends all the way to the top of China's military hierarchy, Chairman Xi Jinping.
China has for a long time relied on India behaving reactively rather than preemptively, as it manufactured seizures of territory along the troublesome un-demarcated border. This time the PLA has been on the receiving end, and Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership is not happy.

Some media alleged that the CCP leadership was "enraged" that a PLA commander withdrew forces to avoid physical conflict at Spanguur, though evidence to substantiate this is yet to emerge. This latest embarrassment came on top of the bloody fracas in the Galwan Valley on 15 June, which occurred on none other than the auspicious occasion of Xi's 67th birthday. Losing casualties, with Chinese numbers still a state secret, represented a severe loss of face to Xi on his birthday.

Dissatisfied with their level of CCP and personal loyalty, it is also rumoured Xi is on the brink of a "brutal purge" of the PLA and regular law enforcement agencies. China's authoritarian leader has always sought to consolidate military power, something his immediate predecessors could not achieve, and he is becoming even more paranoid about political loyalty and social unrest within China.

India–China border dispute: the curious incident of a nuclear dog that didn’t bark

By Ramesh Thakur, Manpreet Sethi

On June 15, nuclear-armed China and India fought with fists, rocks, and clubs along the world’s longest un-demarcated and contested boundary. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed; Indian estimates put the Chinese dead at around 40. The two countries remain in a state of military standoff.

Like the case of the dog that didn’t bark, which interested the great fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, the nuclear dimension of the recent border clashes was conspicuous by its invisibility. This may be in part because of the nuclear no-first-use policy expressed in the official nuclear doctrines of both countries. At a time when geopolitical tensions are high in several potential nuclear theaters, the nuclear arms control architecture is crumbling, and a new nuclear arms race is revving, there is a critical need to look for ideas that can prevent potential crises from escalating. Other nuclear powers can learn from China’s and India’s nuclear policies.

The normalization of nuclear threats. Over the last few years, leaders of many of the nuclear weapons states have taken to nuclear bluster. After the outbreak of the Ukraine crisis and annexation of Crimea in 2014, facing hostile Western criticism, Russian President Vladimir Putin pointedly remarked, “Russia is one of the most powerful nuclear nations”—a subtle but clear nuclear warning to the West. In July 2016, asked in Parliament if she would be prepared to authorize a nuclear strike that could kill 100,000 people, British Prime Minister Theresa May unwaveringly answered, “Yes.” And who can forget the tit-for-tat exchange of belligerent rhetoric by US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in 2017 before the blossoming of their bromance in 2018?

Indian Social Media Goes Nuts Over Fake Claim of Su-35 Shootdown

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Early on Friday morning in India, a video purporting to show a Chinese Su-35, a Russian-built plane used by the Chinese military, shot down in Taiwan began to spread like wildfire online, promoted by military-oriented accounts with large followings, by quick-hit news sites, and throughout Indian social media as a whole. A confused—and irate—Taiwanese government strongly denied the claims, which, as of writing, has barely dampened the Indian enthusiasm for them. The story itself will probably burn out within a day or two, but its emergence shows how entangled nationalist fantasies are becoming in Asia, and how dangerous they might be.

It’s unclear where the video actually came from, what it shows, or even how recent it is—but the most likely possibility seems to be an air accident in China itself. The plane involved may not even be a Su-35, but a J-10, a Chinese-built plane with a record of engine failures. Taiwan actually shooting down a Chinese plane would be an enormously significant, and risky, move. At worst, it could be the spark of a war; at best it would provoke economic and political retaliation from China—even if the Chinese had deliberately violated Taiwanese airspace. There was immediate worry inside the Taiwanese government that the video might have been a deliberate attempt to stir tensions. That seems unlikely. Instead, what happened is a compounding of bullshit on both the Chinese and the Indian sides.

Tracking variables of reconstruction and security in post-9/11 Afghanistan

Sam Gollob and Michael E. O’Hanlon


The Brookings Afghanistan Index presents numerical information on a range of security, economic, and political indicators of pertinence to the future of that country as well as the U.S. role within it. The Index was originally created in the early years of the 2000s, after a U.S.-led coalition overthrew the Taliban, pursued al-Qaida in the region, and sought to help Afghans build a state that could keep such extremist groups from regaining major footholds in the future. Our goal, then and now, is to present a wide enough array of information to gauge many aspects of the effort, without swamping a reader in so much detail or arcana as to obscure attention to the big-picture policy questions facing the United States and its allies and partners there.

No compilation of statistics can ever convey whether a counterinsurgency campaign is being won or lost, and whether a country is managing to stabilize itself or not. This lesson was learned in Vietnam and must never be forgotten. But careful compilation and study of metrics, recognizing the uncertainties and complexities of the data going into them, can nonetheless provide grist for policy debates — and keep those policy debates grounded in empirical reality. As the data show, Afghanistan remains a violent, impoverished, and unsettled place — but nonetheless a country considerably better off by most measures than it was in 2001, and hosting a far smaller U.S. and NATO troop presence than was present at most times over the past two decades.

The data for other troops includes all nations who sent military personnel to Afghanistan, including those under the NATO mission at the time, originally the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) now the Resolute Support Mission (RSM), as well as International assistance of the U.S.-directed counterterrorism mission.

For New Robotic Ships, Pentagon Ignores China’s Dangerous “Phony War Fleet”

Craig Hooper
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The Pentagon report on China’s emerging military prowess telegraphed the Navy’s purported need for large unmanned surface vessels, trumpeting that China “has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines”. But, of all the worrisome things in China’s growing arsenal, China’s conventional Navy, in itself, is an odd threat to highlight. While a strong conventional navy justifies the Pentagon’s interest in unmanned vessels, this was the wrong maritime threat to emphasize, and the report only made China’s conventional navy look far stronger than it is. 

A more provocative analysis might note that, despite China’s lofty maritime aspirations, China’s conventional naval force is undersized and still dominated by a plethora of tiny, low-endurance coastal defense platforms—platforms that are little threat beyond Chinese-held waters.

And yet, while the Pentagon took to the fainting couch over China’s small conventional Navy, the Department of Defense turned an almost blind eye to China’s massive “Phony War Fleet”, a giant array of low-tech, “non-military” maritime forces. China uses this force—a massive Coast Guard, civilian “fishing fleet” militia and an array of “ad hoc public/private” logistical partnerships—to change status quo in the maritime. But the Pentagon glossed over the threat of the “Phony Fleet”, only granting the force a few measly paragraphs in the back of the report.

Would a Biden administration be softer than Trump on China?

In december 2018 China hawks in the Trump administration pushed a series of punitive measures in what some referred to internally, according to a new book by Bob Davis and Lingling Wei, as “Fuck China Week”. That was as nothing compared with what happened in the month of July 2020.

In recent weeks America has imposed sanctions on senior Chinese officials, including a member of the Politburo, for their part in atrocities against Uighurs in Xinjiang; added 11 Chinese companies to the Commerce Department’s blacklist, for complicity in those atrocities; declared China’s sweeping claims in the South China Sea illegal; revoked Hong Kong’s special status for diplomacy and trade; announced criminal charges against four Chinese nationals who officials say were spies for the People’s Liberation Army; and ordered the closure of China’s consulate in Houston, supposedly a hub for espionage and influence operations, the first such move since the normalisation of relations in 1979 (China retaliated by closing America’s consulate in Chengdu). The first hint of trouble in Houston came when videos surfaced online of Chinese diplomats hurriedly burning documents in their courtyard—an apt metaphor for more than 40 years of diplomatic engagement going up in smoke.

All this has happened under a president, Donald Trump, who displays a personal affinity for his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, and (according to his former national security adviser, John Bolton) told Mr Xi that building camps for Uighurs was “the right thing to do”. He has shown little appetite for fights with China except over trade and, to deflect blame for his response to covid-19, the pandemic. But with time running out in his first term—and perhaps his presidency—hawkish officials around him are trying to fix in concrete a more confrontational posture than America has adopted since before Richard Nixon went to China almost half a century ago.

How China’s Massive Fishing Fleet Is Transforming the World’s Oceans


More than a hundred miles from shore, near the coast of West Africa, I accompanied marine police officers from Gambia as they arrested 15 foreign ships on charges of labor violations and illegal fishing over the course of a week in 2019. All but one of the vessels arrested were from China.

At the beginning of that same year, during a monthlong voyage on a toothfish longliner headed into Antarctic waters from Punta Arenas, Chile, the only other ships we passed were a dozen rusty Chinese purse seiners—fishing boats using long curtainlike nets—that looked barely seaworthy.

China’s fishing fleet is more than just a commercial concern; it acts as a projection of geopolitical power on the world’s oceans.

Aboard a South Korean squid boat in May 2019, I watched nearly two dozen ships flying Chinese flags make their way single file into North Korean waters, in flagrant violation of United Nations sanctions. They were part of the world’s largest fleet of illegal ships: 800 Chinese trawlers fishing in the Sea of Japan as of 2019, revealed in a recent investigation for NBC.

One Country, Two Systems, No Future

By Jane Perlez

Last summer, hundreds of thousands of protesters had been pouring onto the streets of Hong Kong for about a month when I got a call from a senior official in Beijing inviting me to lunch. We were quite friendly. We had shared stories about our work experiences and had politely sparred over the deepening chasm between the United States and China. I was about to leave China after seven years, and I was looking forward to a warm goodbye.

Thanks to Beijing’s scrupulous censorship, the crowds of angry Hong Kongers had barely registered on the mainland. Even as Hong Kong was becoming important on the world stage, the open defiance toward Beijing—two back-to-back marches had drawn more than a million people each—had yet to be revealed by China’s state-run media. Chinese leaders were afraid of contagion: if images of the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong were seen on the mainland, they might inspire errant thoughts and actions.

So as I headed to lunch, ordinary Chinese people were only vaguely aware of the tumult. Many of them consider Hong Kong to be a place that is rightfully part of the mainland and dismiss its residents as spoiled ingrates who do not understand the wisdom of hard work. When the protests later turned violent, China’s media presented the tear gas, Molotov cocktails, ramming rods, and injured people as dark examples of what was wrong with the disobedient territory.

Chinese Views of Big Data Analytics

by Derek Grossman, Christian Curriden, Logan Ma, Lindsey Polley, J.D. Williams, Cortez A. Cooper III

China's leaders' quest to achieve an artificial intelligence (AI) capability to perform a variety of civilian and military functions starts with mastering big data analytics — the use of computers to make sense of large data sets. The research conducted by the authors of this report indicates that China is aggressively working toward becoming a global leader in big data analytics as part of its plan to achieve great power status; indeed, President Xi Jinping has articulated that China should become the global center for AI by 2030.

Beijing's efforts are guided by a national big data strategy, an effort that encompasses economic, military, police, and intelligence functions. The authors find that Beijing is already using big data analytics to survey the country's domestic population and enhance its military capabilities. Improvements in big data analytics have supported Beijing's monitoring and control of its citizens — including ethnic minorities.

Key Findings

Xi Jinping has said that China needs to "promote the deepened integration of internet, big data, and artificial intelligence with the real economy"

Analysis of the US-China Tech Competition from a Theoretical Perspective

By Sirish Paudel
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In an era, when the world is increasingly getting digitalized and every aspect of state and non-state entities are embedded with technology – it is without a doubt that technology has become a crucial element of national power. Technical innovation has the potency to significantly alter the economic and military landscape. Thus, China and the US are competing over the next breed of technology. According to scholars, today, the US and China are locked in a ‘tech-war’ .The driving force behind this competition is the ‘quest for technological superiority’ . Among others, major factors that led the Trump administration to imposing trade tariffs against China is considered to be the American perception that China is involved in the ‘forceful transfer of technology’ as well as ‘theft of intellectual property’ ownership of American companies in China. Likewise, the US government also alleges that the Chinese state-entities are actively involved in act of ‘Cyber Espionage’ that involves breach of Cyber-Security of American firms and gaining unauthorized access to ‘sensitive data’ such as ‘trade secrets’ and other vital information .The main theme of this essay is to elucidate basic background of the US-China technology competition and provide an analysis from theoretical perspective.

As with any great power competition, the technological battle between the United States and China is not just limited to these great powers. It is increasingly brining other actors into play; forcing both other state entities (US allies) as well as non-state actors (primarily tech companies) to select sides in the tussle for technological supremacy. We can already see how direct and indirect US pressure on its allies are already forcing them to distance from Chinese technologies and companies. One of the biggest casualties of this confrontation has been the 5G communications network and pioneers of this technology Huawei. The US has accused Huawei of aiding Chinese Government in act of spying by allowing them to have unauthorized access to user data and have imposed sanctions against the company. In the last month, ‘Huawei along with another Chinese tech company ZTE were officially labelled threat to the US national security’ . As a result of US sanctions, ‘Huawei is running short on Chips for its smartphones’ . Just recently, following on the footsteps of the US, United Kingdom have also banned Huawei from their 5G network infrastructure and more similar decisions are anticipated from other European allies. While threat to US national security is unfounded, sanctions against Huawei can be seen as a way to halt China’s march towards becoming a global leader in 5G technology. It can be considered that the Trump Administration is increasingly weaponizing the notion of ‘threat to national security’ to pursue its end of hurting Chinese companies and in-turn the Chinese economy which is evident from the launch of Trump’s Trade War on China [[i]]. 

The End of Hope in the Middle East

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Summer always seems to be the cruelest season in the Middle East. The examples include the June 1967 war, Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, the hijacking of Trans World Airlines Flight 847 in 1985, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and the Islamic State’s rampage through Iraq in 2014. The summer of 2020 has already joined that list. But the world should also be attuned to another possibility. Given how widespread bloodshed, despair, hunger, disease, and repression have become, a new—and far darker—chapter for the region is about to begin.

A little more than a decade ago, analysts imagined a region in which political systems were reliably authoritarian and stable. Since the Arab uprisings in 2011, the narrative has shifted to one of instability but with an expectation of an imminent new wave of democratization and further economic and political progress.

Those hopes are now gone. The Middle East has long faced challenges—foreign intervention, authoritarian leaders, distorted and uneven economic development, extremism, wars, and civil conflict. But this year has added to the mix a global pandemic and a wrenching global recession, resulting in a scale of crisis that exceeds any other time in history.

Opinion – Iraq’s Toughest Challenge: Controlling the Iranian-backed Militias

Mehmet Alaca

On 14 August, an Iraqi civil activist, Tahseen Oussama, was shot dead and four days later another prominent activist Reham Yacoub was shot dead in Basra. Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi consequently sacked the Basra police and then visited the city to meet security officials, just hours after returning from official visit to the US. Hisham al-Hashemi, a close adviser to the Prime Minister, also had been shot dead in Baghdad in July. Iran-backed Iraqi Shia militia groups, which mostly are under roof of the Hashd al-Shaa’bi or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF), are widely suspected of being behind assassinations. It can be arguded that the assassinations are attempts to undermine al-Kadhimi’s rule, who has pledged to rein/restructure the militias which act outside state control. The question, however, remains whether al-Kadhimi will be able to keep his promise in bringing all militias under state control.

Al-Kadhimi, indeed, is not the first prime minister whose aim is to monopolize the use of power by bringing all militias under state control. Former PM Haider al-Abadi, for example, attempted to put the PMF under state control through a decree announced in 2016. Restructuring the PMF particularly has been on the agenda since the victory against ISIS was announced in 2017. With the killing of the PMF’s deputy head, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a US air strike on January 3, the role of the PMF has been even more questioned as it became fully integrated into the Iraqi security forces. Despite its legal framework, Iran-backed militia groups within the PMF have a heavy political, military and economic cost for Iraq since they act uncontrollably and meddle in the US-Iranian tension. It is no secret pro-Iranian militias under the PMF, which receive salaries from Iraqi state, have different agendas with the Iraqi state which can even be considered to be harmful for Iraqi national security and al-Kadhimi’s future.

‘Sci-Fi Awesome’—A U.S. Army Howitzer Just Shot Down A Cruise Missile

David Axe
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A U.S. Army self-propelled howitzer firing a Mach-5 shell just shot down a cruise missile for the first time.

It’s a big deal. Imagine, in some future war, Army howitzers ringing a strategic air base in the western Pacific, swatting down incoming missiles so the base’s planes can take off and land unmolested.

The shoot-down took place at the White Sands missile range in New Mexico on Wednesday. An M-109A6 Paladin tracked howitzer fired a 155-millimeter-diameter hypervelocity shell at an incoming BQM-167 target drone, blasting it to pieces.

“Tanks shooting down cruise missiles is awesome—video-game, sci-fi awesome,” said Will Roper, the U.S. Air Force’s top scientist.

The cannon-based air-defense was part of a two-day trial of a new command system the Air Force is developing. The Advanced Battle Management System is an artificial intelligence that takes sensor data from a whole bunch of different sources—satellites, stealth fighters, blimps, ground-based radar installations—and combines it.

The Pandemic Depression

By Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart

The COVID-19 pandemic poses a once-in-a-generation threat to the world’s population. Although this is not the first disease outbreak to spread around the globe, it is the first one that governments have so fiercely combated. Mitigation efforts—including lockdowns and travel bans—have attempted to slow the rate of infections to conserve available medical resources. To fund these and other public health measures, governments around the world have deployed economic firepower on a scale rarely seen before.

Although dubbed a “global financial crisis,” the downturn that began in 2008 was largely a banking crisis in 11 advanced economies. Supported by double-digit growth in China, high commodity prices, and lean balance sheets, emerging markets proved quite resilient to the turmoil of the last global crisis. The current economic slowdown is different. The shared nature of this shock—the novel coronavirus does not respect national borders—has put a larger proportion of the global community in recession than at any other time since the Great Depression. As a result, the recovery will not be as robust or rapid as the downturn. And ultimately, the fiscal and monetary policies used to combat the contraction will mitigate, rather than eliminate, the economic losses, leaving an extended stretch of time before the global economy claws back to where it was at the start of 2020.

The World Is Becoming More Equal

By Branko Milanovic

Opponents of economic globalization often point to the ways it has widened inequality within nations in recent decades. In the United States, for instance, wages have remained fairly stagnant since 1980 while the wealthiest Americans have taken home an ever greater share of income. But globalization has had another important effect: it has reduced overall global inequality. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in recent decades. The world became more equal between the end of the Cold War and the 2008 global financial crisis—a period often referred to as “high globalization.”

The economist Christoph Lakner and I distilled this trend in a diagram released in 2013. The diagram showed per capita income growth rates between 1988 and 2008 across the global distribution of income. (The horizontal axis has the poorest people on the left and the richest on the right.) The graph attracted a lot of attention because it summarized the basic features of recent decades of globalization, and it earned the moniker “the elephant graph” because its shape looked like that of an elephant with a raised trunk.

People in the middle of the global income distribution, whose incomes grew substantially (more than doubling or tripling in many cases), overwhelmingly lived in Asia, many of them in China. People farther to the right, who were richer than the Asians but experienced much lower income growth rates, mainly lived in the advanced economies of Japan, the United States, and the countries of western Europe. Finally, people at the far right end of the graph, the richest one percent (mostly composed of citizens of industrialized countries), enjoyed high income growth rates much like those in the middle of the global income distribution.

‘America First’ Enters Its Most Combustible Moment

William J. Burns

The months before and after a presidential election are particularly fragile for foreign policy. Each of the five presidents I served understood, as did his team, the weight of this time. Politics and legacy were always front of mind. They were all also conscious of the ways they could help pave an easier path for their successors. They all ultimately put country over party. That won’t be the case with Donald Trump. If the next 150 days turn out to be Trump’s final days in office, he could still wreak a lot of havoc on American foreign policy.

As a young National Security Council staffer, I sat in the Oval Office in December 1988 as Ronald Reagan—the fireplace crackling behind him—authorized the first-ever U.S. dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He saw it, at least in part, as a way to spare his successor, then–Vice President George H. W. Bush, from spending precious political capital early in his administration on an essential, if controversial, step toward Middle East peacemaking.

At the end of the George H. W. Bush administration, in January 1993, as the head of the State Department’s policy-planning staff, I wrote a long transition memorandum for incoming Secretary of State Warren Christopher. That memo was not appreciably different from a draft I had written six months earlier, prematurely titled “A Foreign Policy for the Second Bush Term.” The point of the exercise was less the title, or even the content, than the commitment to a responsible transition and the national interest.

Abe’s Resignation Is an Unexpected Test


Japan will soon have a new prime minister. This used to seem like an annual occurrence, but it has not happened for nearly eight years since Shinzo Abe capped his unlikely political comeback by leading the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to a general election victory in December 2012. That victory ended a rare stint out of power for the LDP, which has dominated Japan’s political scene for sixty of the past sixty-five years. To almost everyone’s surprise, Abe went on to become Japan’s longest-serving prime minister in history, until a chronic health ailment forced him this month to step down.

Abe’s unexpected resignation set off a frenzy of lobbying among the LDP’s factional groups, who will have an outsized role in choosing the party’s next leader on September 14 and—by virtue of its majority within the parliament—Japan’s next prime minister. The subsequent personnel and policy changes will likely be subtle in the short term, because the favorite to replace Abe is his long-time right-hand man, Yoshihide Suga. But this quick transition belies an important potential turning point in Japanese politics and foreign policy that offers opportunities and pitfalls for Tokyo and Washington. The United States has some ability to nudge developments in a positive direction for the alliance if it pays proper attention, but the most important variables are outside of its control.

The Process of European Integration Through the Lenses of Institutionalism

Albert Hayrapetyan

The delegation of power and authority to supranational entities is a relatively recent phenomenon. We, human beings, have been living on Earth for 2.5 million years if one is to believe the timeline of history opening Yuval Noah Harari’s bestseller ‘Sapiens’ (2014). It is equally true that like other apes, we human beings have always had a sort of a social order which undergoes change. In this regard, The Prince of Liechtenstein Hans Adam II made the following thought-provoking calculation: ‘If homo erectus two million years ago represents January 1, or the beginning of human development, then only on December 29, 12,000 years ago, did a few people try out agriculture for the first time in a small area. When, on December 31, or 4,000 years ago, agriculture finally spread and started to shape human society, this agrarian-style society was already coming to an end.’ (Hans Adam II, 2009, p. 48). Such a figurative depiction is paramount to realize how new the European Union (EU) is, with its foundation dating back to 1951 – a blink of eye in human history.

Power delegation to the supranational authorities of the EU, was indeed an unprecedented economic and political innovation which attracted magnificent scholastic attention. A plethora of buzzwords and nicknames were coined to describe the union, stretching from ‘sui generis entity’ to ‘beast’. Similarly, a large number of controversial theories appeared with each centering on a certain ‘ism’, trying to explicate the complex nature of this new political formation. Understandably, being a new and unprecedented political phenomenon, the process of European integration entailed a great number of EU-intrinsic theories, thus further developing and enlarging the body of literature in this field. Hence, numerous theoretical currents emerged, all sharing liberal perspectives about European integration. However, this liberal narrative is not homogenous, and its branches have striking differences along with ontological commonalities. 

Jamestown Foundation

Semi-Submersible Heavy Lift Vessels: A New “Maritime Relay Platform” for PLA Cross-Strait Operations?

The Controversies and Security Concerns Surrounding TikTok

Beijing’s Ambitions to Build Cross-Strait Transportation Infrastructure

China-U.K. Relations Grow More Strained Over Huawei and Hong Kong

The Strategic Implications of Chinese UAVs: Insights from the Libyan Conflict

Qualcomm’s Founder On Why the US Doesn’t Have Its Own Huawei

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The Plain View

Earlier this summer, I got a pitch from Qualcomm. The name is a familiar one in the tech world, and indeed the company is important, but most people have only a fuzzy idea of what it does. Something about chips and wireless, and they’re always in some courtroom suing somebody or getting sued. Let me dispel the mystery: Qualcomm creates and patents the technology that powers critical parts of mobile devices. It designed the Snapdragon chipset that is the core of many phones. Also, because the company owns critical intellectual property, it’s just about impossible to make a cell phone without paying Qualcomm, whether you use their chips or not. If you try it, your own cell phone better have lawyers on speed dial. Qualcomm has had pushback: For years, Apple contended in a long court battle over the scope of Qualcomm’s IP that it shouldn’t have to pay the company if it didn’t use its chips, and the Federal Trade Commission pursued an antitrust suit against Qualcomm, charging that its dominance was anticompetitive. But recently, Apple settled and paid up its back fees, and an appeals court ruled that Qualcomm wasn’t breaking the law.

Kosovo PM: ‘There Is No Other Solution Than Mutual Recognition’

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The leaders of Serbia and Kosovo are meeting at the White House for two days of talks starting Thursday in a bid to improve economic cooperation between the unreconciled neighbors—a key moment as both try to put the ghosts of the Balkan war behind them and look toward a joint future inside the European Union.

The Trump administration is hopeful that job creation and economic development between the feuding countries—both formerly part of Yugoslavia—can pave the way for peace. “We’re going to flip the script” by focusing on economic ties first, and political issues later, an advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump told reporters in a call Tuesday. 

But it’s still unclear whether Belgrade will budge on the fundamental issue of recognizing the independence of Kosovo, which was its former province that for historic reasons looms large in Serbian national identity. Following a bitter war in the 1990s, Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, and over 100 countries have since recognized it—though not some important players in the Balkans, such as Russia and China. 

The stakes are high for both parties to reach an agreement: Normalization of ties is a key precondition for them to join the EU, something both Pristina and Belgrade have said is a top priority. Kosovo is not yet an official candidate to join the bloc while Serbia has already begun accession talks but still has a long road ahead. 

Can Australia Force Google and Facebook to Pay for News?

AUSTRALIANS VISITING GOOGLE.COM last week found, hovering below the search bar, an exclamation point encased in a yellow triangle. A warning: “The way Aussies search every day on Google is at risk from new government regulation.”

The warning links to an open letter from Google Australia and New Zealand managing director Mel Silva. Google’s and YouTube’s offering in Australia could become “dramatically worse,” she warns. The services themselves are “at risk.” All Australians users could be affected.

Silva’s warning stems from a proposed law that would require Google and Facebook to negotiate with news outlets and pay for news content featured on their platforms. Australian regulators say the tech giants benefit from publishing news generated by others, but Google and Facebook are so dominant in search and social, respectively, that publishers can’t make them pay for it.

It’s not the first time a country has tried to force Google and Facebook to pay media companies for republishing their news. A 2014 Spanish law required publishers to charge Google for the headlines and snippets of their stories that appeared on Google News. In response, the company removed the Google News service from Spain and took Spanish publishers off its news service globally. Readership of news stories dropped, particularly at smaller, less-well-known outlets, according to one study.

Google Offers to Help Others With the Tricky Ethics of AI

COMPANIES PAY CLOUD computing providers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google big money to avoid operating their own digital infrastructure. Google’s cloud division will soon invite customers to outsource something less tangible than CPUs and disk drives—the rights and wrongs of using artificial intelligence.

The company plans to launch new AI ethics services before the end of the year. Initially, Google will offer others advice on tasks such as spotting racial bias in computer vision systems, or developing ethical guidelines that govern AI projects. Longer term, the company may offer to audit customers’ AI systems for ethical integrity, and charge for ethics advice.

Google’s new offerings will test whether a lucrative but increasingly distrusted industry can boost its business by offering ethical pointers. The company is a distant third in the cloud computing market behind Amazon and Microsoft, and positions its AI expertise as a competitive advantage. If successful, the new initiative could spawn a new buzzword: EaaS, for ethics as a service, modeled after cloud industry coinages such as SaaS, for software as a service.

Why We Tweet: General Officer Use of Social Media to Engage, Influence, and Lead

Mick Ryan, Tammy Smith, Patrick Donahoe

We are now nearly 15 years into the Era of Social Media. Facebook emerged in 2004 and Twitter began its rise in 2006. Both have hundreds of millions of users, including military personnel. It is well past time that all of our senior leaders appreciated the value of an open dialogue facilitated by these social media tools. These new 21st century technologies for interacting are not the only means to effect engaging and transparent leadership, but they provide an additional tool in the leadership kitbag of the most senior military leaders.

Why is this so?

If military institutions are to fully realise the potential of social media (they do not currently), they need all leaders from top to bottom to embrace and advocate its use. That is not to say that there are not pitfalls in using social media. A principal concern is that in using social media, we might inadvertently reveal things about ourselves or our institutions that should remain private or that breach security policies. This concern is entirely valid and has both security and reputational impacts. At the same time, however, there are many guides on the effective use of social media to assist us as we steer through the perils of social media. Two particularly useful guides are here and here.

Review – War in Space: Strategy, Spacepower, Geopolitics

Augusto Dall’Agnol

Bowen’s newest book, War in Space: Strategy, Spacepower, Geopolitics, is the result of his revised and expanded PhD dissertation and provides an original and compelling theory of spacepower that focuses on the conduct and exercise of military force and space technology. It offers a holistic view of the vast possibilities granted by spacepower. Through seven propositions, Bowen gives solid answers on how to think about what warfare in space looks like and what it means for military planners and strategic thinking. Simply put, his spacepower theory provides useful starting points for space strategy-making as it creates conceptual anchors to investigate the challenges of conducting, understanding and scrutinizing strategy and warfare, an activity that defies excessive prescription and linear war planning.

His spacepower theory embraces the instrumentalisation of violence with space technology, as it positively focuses more on war than on the entirety of relations between actors in space. It covers classic strategic concepts such as commanding a medium, lines of communication, friction, concentration and dispersal into orbit and how those concepts may shift in practice on Earth in light of the diffusion of spacepower. In brief, the book helps to think critically about the use of space systems in warfare – satellites, their infrastructure, methods of attacking them, as well as their influence on modern warfare and strategy.

A Clausewitzian spacepower theory