12 September 2020

Eternal Brexit

By George Friedman

In 2016, the British government called for a referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union. The British people voted to leave. Since then, there has been a struggle in Britain to reverse the decision and a struggle between Britain and the EU on the terms of the departure. It’s now 2020, and the process still isn’t finished. Given that the EU is based merely on a treaty – not a federation – sovereignty is a matter for individual states, not the “government” in Brussels. Treaties are arrangements between nations, not a merger of nations, and therefore are reversible.

Since we are about to see a new and presumably final round of negotiations on the divorce, with the EU now calling for a rapid resolution, even as the Irish question is now the blocker, the real issue is how this matter has dragged on so long. To anyone who has been divorced or seen one, it makes sense: Divorces are almost always filled with rage, recrimination, desires to inflict pain and sometimes the desire that the old affection be resurrected. The children are made pawns. Friends must choose sides. The difference, of course, is that Britain’s relationship to the EU is simply a matter of national interest and not the result of a love affair. Britain and the EU lived together when they had to, but they never married. And so the lawyers continue to meet as each side creates more barriers to an amiable disengagement.

Taliban Return to Doha, Setting Stage for Afghan Peace Talks

By Kathy Gannon

In this photo provided by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, right, greets members of a Taliban political team on their arrival at the Foreign Ministry for talks, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020.Credit: Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs via AP

Taliban officials say a senior delegation returned early Saturday to Qatar, paving the way for the start of peace talks with the Afghan government that are expected to take place in the tiny Gulf state. 

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The delayed negotiations are the second, critical part to a peace deal the U.S. signed with the Taliban in February in Doha.

The Taliban delegation’s arrival in Qatar, where the group keeps its political office, came as a top Afghan government body blamed the militants for delays in starting talks.

In a tweet on Saturday, the spokesman for Kabul’s High Council for National Reconciliation, Faraidoon Khwazoon, said the government was ready to start direct negotiations. 

Can Nepal’s Army Become a Threat to Its Democracy?

Since the overthrow of monarchy in Nepal in 2006, there has been a lot of twists and turns in the country’s politics. These twists and turns have constantly changed the fortunes of Nepal’s political parties. From the Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist, the party of former guerrillas, to their ideological opposite — the monarch supporting dyed-in-the-wool conservative Rastriya Prajatantra Party — all at some point have sat in power in Kathmandu. Like parties in clientelist democracies, when in power Nepali political parties have weakened state institutions with partisan appointments. This has not only decreased citizen trust in state institutions but also decreased trust in political parties. The 2017 survey by the Asia Foundation shows just 7 percent Nepalis “fully trust” political parties.

Amid decreasing trust in political parties and other state institutions, the Nepal Army has continuously guarded and expanded its sphere of influence while keeping public trust intact. The same survey reported 29 percent of Nepalis “fully trust” the army. This is more than the trust expressed for the judiciary, government, or the other two security agencies: Nepal Police and Armed Police Force. All this is remarkable given that this is the same army which was seen as being close to the former Shah monarchs.

Abe Ruined the Most Important Democratic Relationship in Asia

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The reviews of the foreign policy of Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who announced his resignation on Aug. 28 citing health reasons, have been largely positive. The overall assessment is that Abe was a “pragmatic realist,” strengthening the alliance with the United States, finding new partnerships with rising powers like Australia and India, promoting free trade and the liberal order, and striking a more assertive and influential posture on the international stage. But such assessments miss one critical point: Abe took Japan’s relationship with South Korea, one of Japan’s most important security and trade partners, and drove it into a ditch for reasons neither realistic nor pragmatic.

In a Gallup Korea poll from November 2019, Abe’s favorability among the South Korean public clocked in at miserable 3 percent, lower than Russia’s Vladimir Putin (17 percent), China’s Xi Jinping (15 percent), and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un (9 percent). To be sure, Abe does not deserve a lower favorability rating than Putin, Xi, or Kim, irrespective of his faults. Abe’s low favorability is also not entirely his fault; rather, in no small part, it is a reflection of the fact that he interacted mostly with former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, the radioactively unpopular leader who was impeached and removed from office in 2017. Nevertheless, it remains true that Abe took a thriving relationship, if one still haunted by historical issues, and left it in pieces.

Why China Is Trying to Copy Japan’s Old Political Plan for Declaring Primacy in Asia

by Patrick Mendis Joey Wang

In its continuing tensions with Japan, China sailed its ships near the Senkaku (Diaoyu in Chinese) Islands for 111-days straight beginning on April 14 until August 3, ending Beijing’s pressure on Tokyo only due to the approaching Typhoon Hagupit. These uninhabited islets in the East China Sea are claimed by China and Taiwan even as Beijing continues to challenge Washington in the South China Sea, Taipei in the Taiwan Strait, and New Delhi on border issues. If history is any guide, then China’s overall actions appear to be following the pattern of post-Meiji restoration (1868–1912) Japan. 

Like China, Japan in the nineteenth century was too weak politically and too backward economically to repel the advances of the West. However, Japan’s view of its role in the world would depart from that of China. Whereas China’s place in the world remained largely unchanged well into the middle of the twentieth century, Japan would embark on modernization before 1900, build on a successful “industrial economy” and preserving the “empire,” according to William Beasley in his definitive book, Japanese Imperialism, 1894–1945. 

China’s Most Strained Relations Are With Its Most Valuable Trading Partners

By Bala Ramasamy, Mathew Yeung, and Wu Howei
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In the last three years, tensions among major powers have escalated, with China involved, willingly or otherwise, in several episodes. These include the trade war with the United States, border frictions with India, maritime issues with several Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea, industrial espionage accusations involving Huawei, the U.K. and other Western countries’ reaction to the national security law in Hong Kong, and more recently controversy surrounding the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Who are China’s foes? To what extent can China rely on its friends? Given the importance of the international sector in the Chinese economy, these are important questions to consider. Trade sanctions, as in the past, can be used to punish China. If such sanctions are carried out, to what extent will China’s international trade be affected?

We took the 26 major trading partners, which make up 80 percent of China’s total trade, and then excluded Taiwan due to data inconsistency and Hong Kong due to Chinese goods being re-exported from the city. We classified the remaining 24 countries based on their relationship with China using big data. We counted the number of articles in the Financial Times and South China Morning Post, over the period of January to June 2020, that contained negative sentiments such as “tension,” “disagreement,” “dispute,” “accusation,” and “war” involving China and its trading partners. We categories the countries with the largest of negative connotations as “red” while the green countries are those with the least. The yellow ones are those around the average.

America has to invest in advanced chipmakers or lose battle to China


The United States is in the fierce competition with the hostile country of China. This is a new kind of conflict in which technological leadership is critical. Our opponents learned from us that such an advantage provides influence and authority in international affairs, and this is vital for military strength. They seek the technological leadership that we have held, and there is a real risk that the United States could lose its edge.

China has one clear advantage in that it is willing to spend money. China is not like the sluggish Soviet Union. Even if it was more like the old Soviet Union, the United States no longer makes the federal investments needed for competition. We spend much less today than during the golden age of American technology. In contrast, research and development spending by China reached $550 billion back in 2018, more than that of Japan, France, Germany, South Korea, and the United Kingdom combined. It is unrealistic to be in a competition with China without more spending.

Semiconductors are the strategic industry of the modern era. They power our economy and our weapons. China knows this, which is why it plans to spend over $58 billion on investments for semiconductors, including this corporate tax exemption lasting one decade for firms that make advanced chips and a pledge of another $60 billion from local governments, as well as other policies aimed at improving the production of chips. These other policies aim to bolster the workforce, expand research and development, and incentivize foreign companies to relocate to China, which also hires away engineers and engages in espionage to fuel its efforts.

Chinese chip giant SMIC 'in shock' after US trade ban threat

By Leo Kelion
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China's largest chip manufacturer's stock sank after the US revealed it could be its next trade ban target.

Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) said it was "in complete shock and perplexity" after the Pentagon revealed it had proposed the firm be added to a government blacklist.

This would restrict suppliers from providing it with American-based tech without special permission.

Beijing said it was "firmly opposed".

A foreign ministry spokesman accused Washington of "blatant bullying" and using supposed national security concerns to break international trade rules .

The move could make SMIC the next focus of a trade clash that has already threatened Chinese tech firm Huawei's survival and forced Bytedance to negotiate the sell-off of video-sharing app TikTok's American operations.

SMIC has a less advanced production line than some of its rivals - it cannot make transistors as small as they can, limiting its ability to produce some of the cutting-edge chips featured in the latest smartphones.

Semiconductors and Modern Defense Spending

A New Competition

The United States must again confront authoritarian powers, but the nature of conflict has changed. Now, technological leadership is one of the most important areas for competition. U.S. opponents learned from the United States that technological leadership provides countries with influence, power, and authority in the international environment and that it is crucial for military strength. They seek the leadership that we have held. The United States is in a new kind of conflict where technology and ideas will play as big a role as militaries in creating national power. We need to adjust to this new and different kind of conflict.

China is our chief competitor. It has one clear advantage over us in this conflict. It is willing to spend money. China spends on its military, but it is not just spending on weapons. It spends on research and on its companies. This is the new space for competition. China, unfortunately, is not the sluggish Soviet Union with its turgid economic planning. It has found a way to introduce a degree of market dynamism into its state-controlled economy. But even if it was the Soviet Union, we would still be at a disadvantage. The United States no longer has the federal investments in technology needed for competition, having slashed technology budgets since the end of the Cold War.

‘Chairman Xi’ seeks only to purge and subjugate. That is his weakness

Simon Tisdall
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It’s often said that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely – but does it also induce leaders to act in foolhardy, headstrong and ultimately self-destructive ways? History, especially Chinese history, is full of examples of omnipotent rulers whose unchecked behaviour led to disaster. Xi Jinping, China’s comrade-emperor, is a modern-day case in point. Xi seems to think he can do no wrong. As a result, not much is going right.

Xi’s authoritarian, expansionist policies, pursued with increasing vehemence since he became communist party chief and president in 2012-13, have enveloped China in a ring of fire. Its borderlands are ablaze with conflict and confrontation from Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, Tibet and the Himalayas in the north and west to Hong Kong, the South China Sea and Taiwan to the east. More than at any time since Mao’s 1949 revolution, China is also at odds with the wider world.

It’s not all bad news. China’s manufacturing heartlands are recovering quickly from the pandemic. The IMF predicts 1.2% growth this year and above 5% annually thereafter, well ahead of other major economies. Yet there is evidence that a widening wealth gap is weakening social cohesion. The rich-poor divide is symbolised by Xi, whose unaccountably large personal fortune is put at $1.5bn. Meanwhile, the pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, has seriously damaged China’s reputation abroad.

In Belarus, China Is Neither at Odds With Russia nor Wedded to Lukashenko

By Temur Umarov
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For Lukashenko, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s August 10 message congratulating the Belarusian leader on his victory in the previous day’s presidential election was the best gift for which he could have asked. The support of the world’s second largest economy was highly welcome, since Belarus’s post-election crisis was making Lukashenko increasingly dependent on Russia, much to his chagrin.

Ideally, the Belarusian president would like to not only balance East and West but also exploit the divisions between Moscow and Beijing. But there are few such divisions, with China’s efforts to expand its presence in Eastern Europe, including Belarus, designed to avert a clash with Russia.

Belarus’s cooperation with China has always been informed by its relations with Russia and the West. Hence the original impetus for Minsk’s pursuit of a closer Sino-Belarusian relationship: the 2000s’ oil wars with the Kremlin and EU sanctions.

Be Glad That Taiwan Didn’t Shoot Down A Chinese Fighter – And Start A War

Michael Peck
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Did Taiwan shoot down a Chinese jet fighter?

The answer is no. And that’s good news, because the last thing that the current Asian tinderbox needs is being set aflame with rumors of war.

The furor began when Taiwanese social media went abuzz with video that purportedly showed the wreckage of a People’s Liberation Army Air Force Su-35 fighter destroyed by Taiwanese air defenses. Other video supposedly showed the injured pilot laying on the ground.

The Taiwanese tweets were quickly picked up by Indian social media. Recent border clashes between Chinese and Indian troops in the Himalayas have heightened tensions between the two nations. With China deploying additional jets on the Indian border, and India sending its new French-made Rafale fighters to the region, the sight of a destroyed Chinese jet must have gladdened the hearts of Indian nationalists.

Adding credence to the reports was the fact that Chinese fighters have entered Taiwanese airspace in recent months. Taiwanese fighters intercepted them, though no shots were exchanged.

The Ugly Truth about China’s Crackdown on Its Uighur Population

by Sumantra Maitra

Acurious puzzle in international relations that might one day launch a thousand PhDs is why the Islamic world is notoriously silent about the Chinese brutality of the Uighurs and, in general, about Chinese hegemony. Recently, a Turkish doctor examined around three hundred Uighur women refugees and found out that eighty of them have been sterilized. Consider for a moment something similar taking place in the United States, Britain, India, or Australia and imagine the outrage it would rightly inspire. Add to that the hundreds of videos on social media of thousands of men bound in chains guarded by uniformed men who have been taken in trains to unknown destinations and this silence sounds even more puzzling.

There are, of course, sporadic individual protests. But not only Turkey, the self-declared leader of the Islamic world and ethnically closest to the Uighurs, but also Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, and the entirety of Central Asia have yet to sever diplomatic ties with China. There are no embassy burnings, no mass protests, and no jihadist attacks on increasing Chinese material interests and establishments across the globe, no threats of war. Why is that so? Does this open subservience stem from the desire for more Chinese financial carrots, or the logical fear of Chinese sticks, and the worry that Chinese retribution would be far more merciless than lily-livered western rules of engagement that still broadly aspire to follow human rights and minimize civilian casualties? China, it is feared, still goes by pre-second world war rules; its wars are punitive and its hegemony is imperial. 

The Strategic Significance of Vietnam-US Oil and Gas Cooperation

As a fast-growing economy, Vietnam’s demand for energy is projected to increase by between 8.5 and 9.5 percent annually over the next five years. Together with the need to reduce its dependence on coal-fired power plants, this has led Vietnam to explore alternative energy sources. In addition to investing in renewable energy, Vietnam is also seeking to work with United States-based partners to develop oil and gas supplies and gas-fired power plants—an effort fueled by strategic calculations, as well as purely economic motivations.

Vietnam is currently working with ExxonMobil to develop the Blue Whale gas field off the country’s central coast, which has an estimated reserve of 150 billion cubic meters. Gas from this field will be used to run three gas-fired power plants slated to be built at the nearby Dung Quat Economic Zone. In November 2019, the American firm AES Corp also won approval to build the 2.25 GW Son My 2 gas-fired power complex in Binh Thuan province. The plant will be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) imported from the US.

Apart from the Son My 2, Vietnam is currently developing four other gas-fired power projects using imported LNG, namely Ca Na 1 (1.5 GW), Son My 1 (2.25GW), Bac Lieu (3.2 GW), and Long Son 1 (1.2 GW). According to Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, these new projects will push the total installed capacity of Vietnam’s gas-fired power plants up from 9 GW at present to 19 GW by 2029, meaning that the country will have to increase its LNG imports.

UAE Deal Boosts Israeli Oil Pipeline Secretly Built With Iran

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Adesert oil pipeline that Israel once operated as a secret joint venture with Iran could be a major beneficiary from the Trump-brokered peace deal with the United Arab Emirates. With the UAE formally scrapping the eight-decade Arab boycott of Israel—and other oil-rich Gulf neighbors likely to follow suit—the Jewish state is on the cusp of playing a much bigger role in the region’s energy trade, petroleum politics, and Big Oil investments.

It starts with an under-used but highly strategic pipeline. Stepping cautiously out of the shadows, the Israeli managers of Europe Asia Pipeline Co. (EAPC) say their 158-mile conduit from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea provides both a cheaper alternative to Egypt’s Suez Canal and an option to connect to the Arab pipeline grid that transports oil and gas not just to the region, but to the seaports that supply the world. “It opens a lot of doors and opportunities,” the pipeline company’s CEO, Izik Levi, told Foreign Policy. He reckons that the pipeline, which connects Israel’s southern port of Eilat with a tanker terminal in Ashkelon on the Mediterranean coast, could nip off a significant share of the oil shipments now flowing through the nearby Suez Canal.

The Coming Global Technology Fracture


CAMBRIDGE – The international trade regime we now have, expressed in the rules of the World Trade Organization and other agreements, is not of this world. It was designed for a world of cars, steel, and textiles, not one of data, software, and artificial intelligence. Already under severe pressure from China’s rise and the backlash against hyper-globalization, it is utterly inadequate to face the three main challenges these new technologies pose.

First, there is geopolitics and national security. Digital technologies allow foreign powers to hack industrial networks, conduct cyber-espionage, and manipulate social media. Russia has been accused of interfering in elections in the United States and other Western countries through fake news sites and the manipulation of social media. The US government has cracked down on the Chinese giant Huawei because of fears that the company’s links to the Chinese government make its telecoms equipment a security threat.

Second, there are concerns about individual privacy. Internet platforms are able to collect huge amounts of data on what people do online and off, and some countries have stricter rules than others to regulate what they can do with it. The European Union, for example, has enacted fines for companies that fail to protect the EU residents’ data.

How Strong Are the Ropes That Bind the Japanese Military?

By Robert Farley

At the legal blog Lawfare, Masahiro Kurosaki has a useful account of the legal thinking on how the Japanese Constitution restricts the usage of offensive weapons. This affects not only the types of weapons that Japan can use, but also the tempo and pacing of their use, especially in reference to whether Japan could make an anticipatory response to an attack. This is to say, if the Japanese government obtained near-certain intelligence of an attack upon its territory, could it strike a missile launcher or airfield preemptively, in anticipation of the attack? The answer necessarily has implications for Japan’s ability to acquire “offensive” cruise missiles, as well as the role of reconnaissance and surveillance technology in Japan’s arsenal.

While some formulations of international law prohibit preemptive attacks, many authorities and learned opinions have been comfortable with a distinction between preemptive war (attacks launched in immediate anticipation of a foreign attack) and preventive war (attacks launched in anticipation of long-range strategic competition). 

Any such discussion necessarily involves reference to the notorious “Caroline Affair,” upon which the theory of anticipatory self-defense rests. In December 1837, a Canadian war party burned an American steamer near Niagara Falls, leading Daniel Webster to formulate a legal doctrine for preemptive action to forestall such an attack. Analysts, especially in the United States, have argued that the Caroline Affair opens up wide space for assertive action in response to suspected aggression.

Biden’s Domestic Priorities Should Guide His Foreign Policy

By Robert B. Zoellick
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If Joe Biden wins the presidency in November, his foreign policy team will present him with a staggering to-do list. Given his significant international experience, the former vice president will be tempted to dive in. But he should pause to consider his priorities.

Biden will face vast demands at home. COVID-19 will continue to endanger American lives and livelihoods and spotlight inequities in the nation’s health-care system. The new president will need to direct an inclusive economic recovery. He will face frustrations over racism and criminal justice. Democratic constituencies will demand action on climate change, the environment, energy, and immigration.

Biden’s staff will want to rely on his skills as a dealmaking legislator—no president since Lyndon Johnson has had his experience working in and with Congress—even as he faces a diverse and impatient caucus. Biden will understand that he needs to demonstrate effectiveness, not just stand for causes, because many Americans will have voted against President Donald Trump, not necessarily for Biden’s program. He and his inner circle know the experience of newly elected Democratic presidents who have taken power along with a Democratic-controlled Congress after an era of Republican rule: Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter all faced high expectations and then suffered midterm defeats after two years. A wise White House will set priorities and pursue specific accomplishments.


As governments around the world continue to grapple with the pandemic, FP Analytics has developed the COVID-19 Global Response Index to track countries’ responses to the novel coronavirus according to key metrics. While country rankings have been published by other organizations and publications, the Index is the first effort to track national leaders’ responses in critical policy areas, including public health directives, financial responses, and fact-based public communications—and is doing so on an ongoing basis. Initially released on August 5th, 2020, the Index was updated with the most recent data on September 1st, capturing some of the impacts of reopening.

FPA’s COVID-19 Global Response Index covers an initial set of 36 countries, including G20 nations as well as several other developing and middle-income countries that experts and epidemiologists have identified as having notable experiences with respect to COVID-19. This group represents an initial set of countries for which there is reasonably robust data availability as well as global geographic distribution and socio-economic and political diversity. While notable gaps in data and reporting remain, this Index endeavors to provide a framework to track government responses across multiple categories and will continue to be refined and expanded as more consistently tracked and disaggregated datasets become available and understanding of the virus can inform further Index weighting.

National Bureau of Asian Research

China’s Engagement with Cambodia: Developing a Strategic Foothold in Southeast Asia

Chinese Strategy and South Korea

China at the UN Human Rights Council: Conjuring a “Community of Shared Future for Humankind”?

China-Led Multilateralism: The Case of the 17+1 Format

Harmonic Convergence: China and the Right to Development

China’s Vision for Cyber Sovereignty and the Global Governance of Cyberspace

Every Step Makes a Footprint: China’s Aid and Development as Incremental Policies

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 return of the Blob

Robert D. Kaplan

For decades, Washington think tanks were vital to a virtuous revolving door. Young policy professionals, both Democrats and Republicans, would serve time in government, then remove themselves to think tanks where they further honed their professional skills and rethought issues, then go back into government at a slightly higher level. Donald Trump’s election in 2016 put a spike in that revolving door, shattering its mechanism.

Not only were Democrats barred from the Trump administration, but so were the most talented of Republicans who, having assumed Trump would lose, declared themselves in opposition to him and thus disqualified themselves from work in his administration. Moreover, many of the people who did get jobs in the Trump administration were not think-tankers at all, but rank amateurs whom no respectable think tank would ever have hired. That’s why a Trump re-election could damage the thinktank model forever, as think tanks exist to provide the cadre of experts for government service. (Because of their dramatic move to the left, universities no longer serve this function.) But a Trump defeat would result in nothing less than the revenge of the Blob.

Reality Bites

Venezuela still has plenty of oil — about one-fifth of the world’s known petroleum reserves are under the jackbooted feet of Hugo Chávez’s heirs. Nothing happened to the oil, and, in spite of the recent coronavirus-related turbulence in the energy business, nothing really happened to the oil market, either.

What’s a barrel of oil worth? It depends. Economic values are relational. One telephone is worthless — if there were only one telephone in the world, it would be a scarce item, indeed, but not a valuable one, since there would be no one to call. The thing has value because of what you can do with it, and that depends on additional factors.

Oil is a little bit like that. It is not actually very valuable on its own, because you can’t really do much of anything with it. But oil in the context of a rich capital ecosystem — refineries, pipelines, supertankers , etc. — is very valuable stuff.

US Army Cyber Command to take ‘more direct role’ in offensive, influence operations

Mark Pomerleau
WASHINGTON — Army Cyber Command’s new headquarters will allow the organization to take a sharper focus on its offensive and influence mission, its commander said Sept. 3.

The command officially commemorated its move from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to Fort Gordon, Georgia, in a Sept. 3 ceremony, a move that has long been in the works. The ceremony celebrated the opening of the command’s new building, called Fortitude Hall, a 336,000-square-foot facility that cost about $366 million.

The facility is co-located with the National Security Agency’s Georgia post.

The Army’s Joint Force Headquarters-Cyber — the entity that plans, synchronizes and conducts operations for combatant commands to which they’re assigned under U.S. Cyber Command — has been at Fort Gordon, co-located with NSA Georgia, conducting operations for years. But the new facility and headquarters boasts several new benefits.

“We’re going to take a much more direct role in the attack or offense and influence portion of the mission,” Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty, commander of Army Cyber Command, told reporters Sept. 3.

This is largely due to the fact that over the years, the Army has matured the “operate and defend” portion of its mission, pushing additional responsibilities and authorities to Network Command located at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

CyberWar: What if…?

By William B. Scott*

Warfighting has moved well beyond the realms of land, sea and air, and is now being waged daily in cyberspace. Over the past few decades, military units engaged primarily in computer network defense (CND) have focused on keeping low-level hackers and nation-state bad actors from penetrating critical U.S. systems. Cyber-warriors now cautiously launch limited computer network attacks (CNA), because leaders are concerned about the unintended consequences of offensive cyber operations. For example, what if a cyber attack on a sophisticated hacker cell in North Korea went astray and seriously disrupted or destroyed an ally’s banking system? 

Today, U.S. cyberwar methods and capabilities are highly classified, but one can extrapolate from what is known and make some educated guesses. We know that cyber attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities seriously damaged dozens of centrifuges. Sources imply—but never confirm—that adversaries’ electrical power grids and oil or natural gas pipelines have been disrupted by “cyber” means. Undoubtedly, other cyberwar engagements have been undertaken with results known only to those holding high-level clearances.