15 September 2020

India’s Path to the Big Leagues

Ashley J. Tellis

Even before the coronavirus pandemic swept through the country, India was at a crossroads. Its sustained economic expansion, accelerated by pathbreaking reforms in 1991, slowed significantly. Convulsions around religion and citizenship roiled domestic politics under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Meanwhile, the aspirations of international leadership that India has harbored since independence remain unrealized.

For all its recent shortcomings, however, India should not be counted out. At a time when China’s myriad pathologies have left many countries thirsting for an alternative exemplar, India could again become the world’s fastest-growing free market democracy. But it will need a new approach to revive its hopes of joining the league of great powers.

India could again become the world’s fastest-growing free market democracy.


India’s economic growth has contracted since 2018, alongside a larger global slowdown driven by falling commodity prices, declining international trade, intensifying U.S.-China tariff wars, and decreasing manufacturing output across the developed world. If these cyclical factors alone accounted for India’s weakening performance, New Delhi could get by on provisional remedies while waiting for global conditions to improve.

CPEC 2.0: Full Speed Ahead

By Muhammad Akbar Notezai

Once again, after a rockier period, stories abound in the mainstream Pakistan media, as well as in the foreign press, about the revival of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects in Pakistan. There have been articles and news stories in this regard ever since deals for $11 billion worth of projects were signed on June 25 and July 6. The new deals involve two hydropower generation projects costing $3.9 billion in the Pakistan-administered Kashmir region, and a plan to revamp the South Asian nation’s colonial-era railways for $7.2 billion – the most expensive Chinese project in Pakistan yet.

Along with the launch a special economic zone (SEZ) in Faisalabad, in the Punjab province of Pakistan, these developments have given new energy to CPEC, which had been on the back burner for some time. It is a push in the right direction in the terms of reviving CPEC on the parts of both Beijing and Islamabad.

The developments suggest that both sides want to move ahead, despite reservations emanating from both China and Pakistan. As a result, on the Pakistani side, retired Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa has been made the chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA) despite the opposition’s criticism of the very formation of the body.

US Aims for 4,500 Troops in Afghanistan by November

By Catherine Putz

The United States appears to be moving ahead with its plans to withdraw from Afghanistan.On September 9, during a visit to Iraq, the commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTROM) Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie told reporters in a telephone call that U.S. troop levels would fall to 4,500 by November. 

“We’re on a glide slope to be at 4,500 by the November time frame — October, late October, November time frame,” the Associated Press reported McKenzie as saying.

“At 4,500 we’re still going to be able to accomplish the core tasks that we want to accomplish,” McKenzie said. “And we’ve shown more than ample goodwill and our willingness to demonstrate that we don’t want to be an occupying force in this country. But we do have strategic interests, vital interests, that compel us to be certain that these entities, such as al-Qaida and ISIS, can’t be guests there to attack the United States.”

By June, following a path charted in the late February U.S.-Taliban agreement, the United States had reduced its footprint in Afghanistan to around 8,600 troops. The deal calls for the U.S. to completely withdraw by spring 2021 but its language predicates that withdrawal on “the commitment and action on the obligations” set forth for the Taliban. 

Diverging Interests Changing Saudi-Pakistani Relationship

 by Imtiaz Ali

The longstanding strategic relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is facing daunting challenges. Given their close historic relationship, Riyadh and Islamabad are unlikely to experience a serious breakdown in bilateral ties. However, geostrategic shifts and changing foreign policy priorities will continue to place Riyadh and Islamabad at odds with each other, despite their subjective preferences to the contrary. The United States must factor in this drift between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan as it increasingly relies on regional players to do the heavy lifting in security matters for both the Middle East and South Asia. 

The recent diplomatic spat in the wake of Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi’s open criticism of Saudi Arabia for not extending support over the Kashmir dispute between Islamabad and New Delhi indicates a conflict of interest and change of national priorities for the two close allies. Some very candid comments from Pakistan’s top diplomat showed deep frustration with the Saudi response on the Kashmir dispute since the Aug. 5, 2019, Indian revocation of the Muslim-majority region’s autonomous status. 

The recent diplomatic rift is not likely to disrupt or even worsen bilateral ties because of the grave implications for both sides – and for the region beset by rivalries, sectarian conflict, and geopolitical tug of war. Nonetheless, recent strained relations portend that a range of regional issues could challenge both countries as they work to maintain a cooperative and close relationship. 

How Is the SCO’s ‘Shanghai Spirit’ Faring in 2020?

By Catherine Putz

Foreign ministers from across the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are in Moscow this week for meetings. The organization’s headline yearly summit, the gathering of the heads of states, was originally planned for July 21-23 and was postponed along with the BRICS summit earlier this year. Those meetings have yet to be rescheduled.

Russia, which holds the SCO’s rotating presidency for 2019-2020, managed to gather the foreign ministers in Moscow despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. With Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov playing host, the attendees included Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wi, Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi, Kyrgyz Foreign Minister Chingiz Aidarbekov, Tajik Foreign Minister Sirodjidin Aslov, Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov, Indian Foreign Minister S. Jaishankar, and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, as well as the SCO’s Secretary General Vladimir Norov and others.

Russian President Vladimir Putin spoke to the group via videolink. 

The SCO as we know it now was originally rooted in a 1995 treaty, and dubbed the Shanghai Five in 1996, with China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan as members. Uzbekistan joined in 2001 and the group — initially focused closely on military and border matters between China and what had been the Soviet Union until 1991 — transformed into the SCO, with ambitions of deeper cooperation.

The Coming Tech Cold War With China

By Adam Segal

Three and a half years into its first term, the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has finally assembled a comprehensive strategy for technological competition with China. From cutting chains that supply Chinese tech giants to barring transactions with them to regulating the undersea cables on which telecommunications depend, the Trump administration’s measures have often been incomplete, improvisational, and even detrimental to some of the great strengths of the American innovation system. They have, however, set the outlines of U.S. technology policy toward China for the near future. That policy rests on restricting the flow of technology to China, restructuring global supply chains, and investing in emerging technologies at home. Even a new U.S. administration is unlikely to stray from these fundamentals.

Beijing’s counterstrategy, too, has crystallized. China is racing to develop semiconductors and other core technologies so as to reduce its vulnerability to supply chains that pass through the United States. In pursuit of that goal, its leaders are mobilizing tech companies, tightening links to the countries participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and sustaining a campaign of cyber-industrial espionage.

The contours of the “tech cold war” have become clear, but who, if anyone, will benefit from this competition remains an open question. A bifurcated technology world will likely innovate more slowly, at least in the short term. It will also be expensive. A report from Deutsche Bank estimates the costs of the tech war at more than $3.5 trillion over the next five years. Still, leaders on both sides of the Pacific hope to fast-track technological development at home by making it a matter of national security.

China’s Air Force Might Be Back in the Nuclear Business

By Roderick Lee

The Department of Defense’s recent 2020 China Military Power Report reiterated an assessment first made in the 2018 China Military Power Report: that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has re-assigned the PLA Air Force (PLAAF) with a nuclear counterattack mission after a several-decade-long hiatus. (The PLAAF conducted most of the PLA’s early nuclear testing, but the PLA then-Second Artillery, now Rocket Force, later took on the role as China’s primary nuclear force.) This assessment is based on the fact that the new H-6N bomber is capable of carrying a new air-launched ballistic missile, currently in development, that may be nuclear-capable.

Unlike platforms that the PLA explicitly associates with nuclear missions, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles and ballistic missile submarines, it is harder to positively demonstrate China’s intent to use long-range bombers as part of a nuclear triad just because they are technically capable of delivering a nuclear payload. However, there is now a growing body of evidence to suggest that China has created an operational bomber unit tasked with conducting nuclear strikes, alongside the acquisition of weapon systems needed to conduct air-launched nuclear strikes.

Where Did the H-6Ns Go?

The first piece of evidence suggesting that the PLA has elevated a new bomber unit is the disappearance of China’s new H-6N bombers.

US-China Techno-Nationalism and the Decoupling of Innovation

By Alex Capri

The U.S.-China hybrid cold war is spreading into places once thought to be detached from geopolitics.

In the technology space, there has been a steady progression of export controls on tangible, hard technology, followed by restrictions on data access and usage, and, most recently, new controls are emerging that will impede the free movement and development of human capital.

All of these restrictions will accelerate decoupling from Chinese supply chains, digital platforms, and knowledge networks. But the latest restrictions on human capital — especially as they relate to collaborative, knowledge intensive activities — will change the way global universities and centers of innovation can operate.

The overarching force behind all of this is techno-nationalism: a mercantilist behavior that links a nation’s tech capabilities and enterprise with issues of national security, economic prosperity, and social stability.

Going forward, techno-nationalism will impact the academic and innovation landscape in three ways.

First, affected institutions will decouple from blacklisted Chinese universities and academic programs.

PLA military coercion increases

By Bill Gertz
Source Link

The People’s Liberation Army is stepping up provocations and military coercion in Asia as part of a strategy to increase its power and influence throughout the region, according to a National Defense University expert.

NDU China specialist Joel Wuthnow said the aggressive tactics, mainly using “gray zone” warfare below the level of armed clashes, have been employed near Taiwan, Japan and the South China Sea in recent months.

“U.S. forces in the region were not immune from aggressive Chinese tactics,” he said. “In February, U.S. Pacific Fleet reported that a P-8A Poseidon patrol aircraft had been targeted with a high-powered laser from a Chinese destroyer west of Guam.”

It was the latest in a series of Chinese lasing incidents against U.S. aircraft, including strikes against U.S. military aircraft near China’s military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa.

Mr. Wuthnow told a hearing Wednesday of the congressional commission on China that Beijing has sought to use a combination of military diplomacy and provocative actions in the region. The coercive activities, however, overshadowed the diplomatic campaign.

Why Thailand’s Protesters Are Up in Arms Against the Monarchy

Pavin Chachavalpongpun, Joshua Kurlantzick 

Thai students and other activists have staged a series of escalating pro-democracy protests in recent months, drawing some of the biggest crowds since the country’s last coup in 2014. Their demands initially focused on constitutional reforms and new elections, after last year’s vote was widely seen as skewed toward a party aligned with the military. The demonstrators also called for an impartial investigation into the apparent abductions and murders of anti-government activists living abroad. Several Thai dissidents who had been living in Laos disappeared last year, while the bodies of others were found in the Mekong River, disemboweled and filled with concrete.

But as the recent uprising has grown in size and spread across the country, reaching educational institutions and other locales in smaller towns far away from Bangkok, the protesters have increasingly taken aim at the third rail of Thai politics: the monarchy.

The Thai king is technically a constitutional figurehead, but in reality, the royal palace has long played a major role in government. Those who criticize it risk long jail sentences under Thailand’s harsh lese majeste law, as well as a recent internet security law, the Computer-Related Crime Act, passed during military rule in 2016. And many Thais genuinely revere the royal family.

Why blanket 14-day quarantines may be causing more harm than good

Peter Singer
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The international response to coronavirus has been a mixture of 2 metre distancing, 14-day quarantines and month-long lockdowns.

However, focusing on blanket measures may not be as effective as we hope.

Agile decisions, based on a person-by-person basis could be more effective and help to reduce the economic damage caused by COVID-19.

When COVID-19 first appeared, strict quarantine requirements and short, tight lockdowns would have been a small price to pay to keep it at bay. Now that the pandemic has infected over 26 million people in 213 countries and territories, we need to find new ways to control it that are not just effective, but also efficient.

Emerging Stronger From the Great Lockdown

By Kristalina Georgieva, Gita Gopinath

For more than six months, the world has grappled with the severe health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Global economic activity collapsed in the second quarter of 2020, when about 85 percent of the global economy was in lockdown for several weeks. As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) first stated in its April World Economic Outlook, this is without historical parallel.

In its severity, the Great Lockdown of 2020 has naturally evoked comparisons to the Great Depression, which began in 1929. But today’s crisis is truly like no other. Although it’s too early to make a definitive judgment, we can already say that the severity and speed of the declines in economic output, employment, and consumption during the Great Lockdown were far greater than at the onset of the Great Depression. In just one month, from March to April, the U.S. unemployment rate roughly tripled to 14.7 percent, a level not reached in the Great Depression for nearly two years.

Equally unique has been the sharp rebound of output, consumption, and employment. With more than 80 percent of countries easing lockdown restrictions, the global economy has begun to recover from the depths of the downturn. The speed of this turnaround is also in dramatic contrast to the Great Depression, during which negative growth persisted for four years and the cumulative global contraction far exceeded that which is projected for the Great Lockdown.

Germany is well placed to lead a tougher EU response to Russia

Constanze Stelzenmüller

The poisoning of Alexei Navalny, a prominent critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin, has brought Russian relations with Western countries to a perilous impasse.

After doctors in Berlin identified the substance used as a military-grade nerve agent of the novichok group, German chancellor Angela Merkel issued a sharp condemnation: Mr. Navalny was “meant to be silenced,” she said, adding: “This raises very difficult questions that only the Russian government can answer, and must answer.”

German cabinet ministers raised the possibility of stopping the controversial gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2 — an idea Ms. Merkel now refuses to rule out. Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov flatly rejected the notion. Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian parliament, accused “foreign powers” of “creating tensions.” Kremlin-controlled media is churning out disinformation.

Now it is Berlin that will have to answer difficult questions. Can Germany find an appropriate next move that does not look like an embarrassing climb-down? Can it, since it now holds the EU’s rotating six-month presidency, broker a consensus on how to deal with Russia in a divided Europe? How to combine sanctions with a policy that does not punish civil society or close the door to pragmatic co-operation?

Finding a national consensus will be hard enough. Germany’s mainstream parties are torn over Russia. Some of the harshest critics are the conservative foreign policy committee chair (and would-be heir to Ms. Merkel) Norbert Röttgen; his competitor, the businessman Friedrich Merz; finance minister Olaf Scholz, a center-left Social Democrat; and the leadership of the Liberals and the Greens. Defenders include the conservative economy minister, Peter Altmaier; fellow-conservative state premier Armin Laschet (in the running to be chancellor); and the leaders of the Social Democratic party.

The 9/11 Commission Report, the Pandemic and the Future of Homeland Security

By Carrie Cordero

Lawfare has from time to time allowed me, as a longtime contributor, to use this space to acknowledge the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and reflect on some aspect of the 9/11 Commission Report, the definitive accounting of the federal government’s failure to prevent the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., formally titled the “Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States.” The 9/11 attacks were formative for me: I started that day working on counterterrorism matters at my desk at Main Justice, and by midmorning was dispatched to the FBI’s Strategic Information and Operations Center across the street to stand up a temporary station for Department of Justice lawyers handling emergency foreign intelligence surveillance applications. In the decade since leaving government service, I’ve often returned to the report each September, before a semester of teaching begins, to cull from its narrative and recommendations observations about the United States’s present national and homeland security challenges.

The report was specific in its remit to reshape government to address the terrorism threats that existed at the time, but its lessons withstand the passage of time. When it was issued in 2004, the report served two purposes: one, to provide a definitive factual narrative of the events and circumstances that led up to the attacks, and two, to provide recommendations about how to structure the federal government to protect against a future terrorist attack. But as time goes on, the report has come to serve an important third role: as a warning to the American public and its leaders about the importance of addressing emerging threats before it is too late. As I write this year’s reflection—sitting in our home’s dining room, which I’ve spent the weekend converting to a combined home office and middle school homeroom because schools and offices remain mostly shuttered due to the federal government’s failed response to the coronavirus—I have three concurrent, interrelated observations to share. The first concerns the pandemic; the second, the Department of Homeland Security and its continued viability; and the third, the capacity of the U.S. national and homeland security community to address emerging threats and challenges. 

How Trump Could Win

By Benjamin Wallace-Wells

Among the categories of professionals that Donald Trump seems intent on obliterating, one is Republican political strategists. The figures who guided his political rise in 2016 have been much diminished, because of criminal indictment (Steve Bannon), criminal prosecution (Roger Stone), incompetence (Brad Parscale), or domestic ruptures (Kellyanne Conway). Trump’s campaign does not have many strategists, nor, it has often seemed, much strategy. At the Republican National Convention, the idea of a second Trump term remained so undefined that the Party did not even offer a formal platform. Asked by the Times’ Peter Baker what he meant to do with a second term, Trump said, “I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing, we’d solidify what we’ve done, and we have other things on our plate that we want to get done.” The President has long succeeded by creating an environment of constant chaos; now his campaign seems to be drowning in it.

Foreign Technological Interests Increasingly Threaten U.S. Security

By James Stavridis & Frances Townsend

As the battle for global tech dominance intensifies, so too does the threat to America’s national security interests.

For years, the United States has experienced a collective assault on its technological edge from other countries. Companies, many of which are state-sponsored, have significantly increased the number of resources they invest in research and innovation with an eye toward usurping America's position as the world's leader in the high-tech space. China, for example, has been particularly aggressive in its investment in developing new technologies and, according to a report from the Council on Foreign Relations, will likely lead the world in R&D spending by the next decade.

It is undeniably dangerous for the U.S. to fall behind our potential adversaries in this space. Deterring growing threats from nations such as Russia, China, Iran, and others will depend on America's ability to rapidly advance in the spheres of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, robotics, and big data. To do this, we must keep our internet open and accessible, protect U.S. intellectual property to promote innovation in the private sector and avoid adopting policies that harm American tech companies' global competitiveness. We must also simultaneously adopt smart policies that make it easier for the Department of Defense and intelligence community to acquire advanced technologies developed by the private sector.

America's unique values allow the type of internet its citizens enjoy – one that is open, accessible, and welcoming of free expression and association. And one that is not used by government to suppress voices, discriminate, or mine data on citizens and eschew privacy and security. Unfortunately, this cannot be said for some other countries. As a quick scan of recent headlines will reveal, there are many bad actors out there. Countries with fundamentally different interests and values often exploit the internet for nefarious purposes – surveilling their people, censoring information, and identifying dissidents for arrest and imprisonment based on political, social, or religious speech online.

Did Donald Trump’s Bob Woodward Interviews Just Cost Him the Presidency?

by Jacob Heilbrunn
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President Donald J. Trump is right where he usually likes it—in the middle of a furor.

Two stories erupted on Wednesday that added to the conflagration that always seems to be flickering around the edges of his presidency. The first is Bob Woodward’s release of his new book Rage and of audiotapes indicating that Trump deliberately sought to downplay the severity of the coronavirus pandemic. The second is the accusation by a former high-ranking Department of Homeland Security official named Brian Murphy that he was told by Acting Director Chad F. Wolf, among others, to cease reporting on assessments of Russian interference in the American 2020 elections.

The Woodward audio tapes have Trump declaring, “I don’t want to create panic, as you say, and certainly I’m not going to drive this country or the world into a frenzy. We want to show confidence. We can show strength.” Trump’s money quote: “I always wanted to play it down.”

The one official who comes out well is national security adviser Robert C. O’Brien, informing Trump at the outset in late January that the coronavirus would be the greatest threat he would confront in his presidency: “this is going to be the roughest thing you face.”

Clements Center Fellows on Post-Pandemic National Security: A Viral New World

By Archit Oswal & Madison Lockett , Peter Denham , Nicholas Romanow 

A Lesson from the COVID Economic Shock by Archit Oswal

Over the course of two days, Halliburton, an oil services company, laid off 1,000 employees at its corporate headquarters in Houston. Ever since oil prices fell through the basement, my father, a senior manager at the company, knew that this day would come. Knowing that his senior position would not exclude him from the upcoming layoffs, he braced for the worst.

Many of these reductions will be permanent, but they only hint at the larger story. As COVID-19 destroys global demand for the commodity, once known as "black gold," countries that depend on oil revenue to cover their budgets must now contend with the frightening consequences of a prolonged depression in oil prices. Middle Eastern oil producers will struggle to carry out plans for economic diversification that require lofty oil prices. Countries with challenging economic and political situations before the pandemic now face catastrophe. Venezuela, Nigeria, Libya, and Iraq could see heightened social unrest in the coming months as their already feeble governments run out of money. Without loans from the IMF or rich countries, all four countries and others like them face economic disaster.

My father survived the mass layoffs at Halliburton, but many of his counterparts around the globe weren't as lucky. COVID-19 and the subsequent economic meltdown prove that economies oriented towards the production of a single commodity shoulder massive risks that threaten global economic stability. After the Cold War, economic liberalization promoted by our government incentivized some countries to specialize in the production of a single good or commodity. While economically efficient, liberalization also encouraged lopsided economic development, thereby creating vulnerabilities that opportunistic rivals can exploit during an unexpected crisis. Because well-diversified economies strengthen the global economy by withstanding shocks better than their highly specialized counterparts, we must temper our desire for narrowly efficient markets by committing to economic diversification in the developing world. 

Higher education in the UK is morally bankrupt. I’m taking my family and my research millions, and I’m off

Ulf Schmidt

As academics in England prepare for their strange new semester, I have been making the most of the familiar countryside of the idyllic North Downs in Kent. This summer, the picnics and the walks have been bittersweet: after more than 25 years in the UK, I am leaving to take up a professorship at Hamburg University in Germany.

Why am I am going back to the country of my birth? England no longer feels like home. Instead, since the Brexit vote of 2016, I have felt like a “leaver” in a waiting hall. Now I am going, and the emotional cost will take a long time to come to terms with.

I was from Germany, but I no longer feel I am from there. My seven-year-old son was born in England. His first language is English – he is English through and through. He loves fish and chips; he knows all the players in the England football team (although he’s quite a fan of Wales as well). Now we are going to Germany, and it’s life-changing and daunting for us all.

Europe’s Global Test

Rosa Balfour

The coronavirus pandemic could give birth to a more autonomous and strategic EU. But the bloc must resolve its internal tensions and find its place in an increasingly fragmented world.

It took a virus to bring Europe out of its recent interregnum—a time when, as Antonio Gramsci wrote in his Prison Notebooks, “the old is dying and the new cannot be born.” Post–Cold War optimism had led to a major step toward political unity in the 1992 Treaty on European Union. But the EU, unable to continue reforming, was then haunted by unfinished business throughout the crisis-ridden 2010s. It was left brittle, lame of mission, and bereft of the United Kingdom.

After the coronavirus pandemic, the continent will be different. Global instability will force Europeans to find comfort in the relative resilience of their own system, bolstered by a coronavirus recovery plan approved in late July 2020. The EU can seek opportunities from the freefall of global leadership to find new allies and a different space in the world.

But rhetoric about a “Hamiltonian moment” is misleading: European integration is not following the linear trajectory imagined by its founding fathers to become the United States of Europe. EU leaders bounced back during their summer 2020 marathon summit, but the hard-fought negotiations revealed persistent fractures. Still, the first steps toward transformation were taken.

Europe’s success will depend on its ability to reinvent its democratic processes and renew its engagement in the world.

Europe will be hard-nosed in countering its economic recession, exploiting domestic and international opportunities. In the long term, Europe’s success will depend on its ability to reinvent its democratic processes and renew its engagement in the world.

The Devil Is in the Data

By Alex Engler 

In the late 19th century, chemist Harvey W. Wiley analyzed the health effects of processed foods, alerting the nation to how contaminated they were. His 50-year campaign led to the Food and Drugs Act, the Meat Inspection Act, and, eventually, our modern standards of food safety. But a reformer akin to Wiley would be stymied by the technology sector today. Many observers agree that it’s long past time to implement more regulation and oversight on the tech sector. Yet the practices of these companies are obscured to reporters, researchers and regulators. This information asymmetry between the technology companies and the public is among the biggest issues in technology policy.

Users themselves often have little window into the choices that tech companies make for them. Increasingly more of the web is bespoke: Your feeds, search results, followers, and friends are yours and yours alone. This is true offline, too, as algorithmic tools screen job applicants and provide personalized medical treatments. While there are advantages to these digital services, this personalization comes at a cost to transparency. Companies collect enormous volumes of data and feed them through computer programs to shape each user’s experience. These algorithms are hidden from view, so it is often impossible to know which parts of the digital world are shared.

And it’s not just users who are operating in the dark. Many of the practices of technology companies are also obscured to the government institutions that should be providing oversight. Yet it is impossible to govern algorithms with anecdotes, so this needs to change. Government agencies need to be able to access the datasets that drive the tech sector.

15 skills LinkedIn say will help you get hired in 2020 - and where to learn them

It can be difficult to discern which skills companies are prioritizing, and what makes your résumé — but not another — stand out to recruiters. This common gripe among job seekers is why LinkedIn uses its vault of business data to create a job market road map each year.

This year, the company used data from 660+ million professionals in its network and 20+ million job listings to determine the hard and soft skills that are most in-demand (and most likely to get a candidate hired) in 2020.

To define the most in-demand skills, LinkedIn focused on skills that are in high demand relative to their supply. Demand was measured by identifying the skills listed on the LinkedIn profiles of people who are getting hired at the highest rates. Only cities with 100,000+ LinkedIn members were included in LinkedIn's evaluation, according to the company.

Below, we compiled the most in-demand hard and soft skills of 2020, according to LinkedIn. The online courses we listed to help you build these skills — LinkedIn Learning, Udemy, Coursera, and edX — are among the most popular and inexpensive options available today.

Coursera and edX allow you to take classes from the top universities in the world, like Harvard, MIT, Stanford, Oxford, and more, for a fraction of the cost. You can audit nearly all of these courses for free, but auditing typically doesn't include graded homework or full access to course materials. You also don't receive a certificate of completion when you audit, which you can add to your résumé, CV, and LinkedIn profile. Enrollment fees for these online courses typically range from $30-$160.

Anduril’s New Drone Offers to Inject More AI Into Warfare

THIS SPRING, A team of small drones, each resembling a small, sensor-laden helicopter, scoured a lush stretch of wilderness near Irvine, California. They spent hours circling the sky, seeking, among other things, surface-to-air missile launchers lurking in the brush.

The missiles they found weren’t enemy ones. They were props for early test flights of a prototype military drone stuffed with artificial intelligence—the latest product from Anduril, a defense-tech startup founded by Palmer Luckey, the creator of Oculus Rift.

The new drone, the Ghost 4, shows the potential for AI in military systems. Luckey says it is the first generation that can perform various reconnaissance missions, including searching an area for enemy hardware or soldiers, under the control of a single person on the ground. The vehicle uses machine learning (the method behind most modern AI) to analyze imagery and identify targets, but it also relies on more conventional rules-based software for critical control and decisionmaking among swarm teammates.

Luckey says the drones can carry a range of payloads, including systems capable of jamming enemy communications or an infrared laser to direct weapons at a target. In theory the drone could be fitted with its own weapons. “It would be possible,” he says. “But nobody’s done it yet.”

Hyten: New Warfighting Concept to Erase Battlefield Lines

By Connie Lee

A new warfighting concept due to be delivered by the end of the year will do away with the traditional concept of “battlefield lines,” said Air Force Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. 

Earlier this year, Defense Secretary Mark Esper tasked the Pentagon with developing new warfighting ideas for engaging in future conflicts that incorporate all battle domains and address threats outlined in the National Defense Strategy. This will require the services to restructure its forces and change the way they operate.

The development process is still in the experimentation phase, Hyten said Sept. 9 at the Department of Defense Artificial Intelligence Symposium and Exposition, which was held virtually due to COVID-19 safety concerns. However, the upcoming concept is beginning to take shape, he noted.

"We're about there and we're starting to understand what that [concept] really is," he said.

The upcoming document — which is slated to be released in December — will be unique in that it changes the way the military will operate by eliminating lines on the battlefield such as fire support coordination lines, he noted. Instead of designating areas for each of the service’s operations, fires will come in from multiple domains, he said.

Not in my backyard: Land-based missiles, democratic states, and Asia’s conventional military balance

Frank A. Rose

On August 2, 2019, the United States formally withdrew from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. It occurred in response to a Russian violation: the illegal deployment of a ground-launched cruise missile, the 9M792. However, Russia’s violation was not the only factor for Washington. As a non-signatory to the INF Treaty, China’s major build-up of its regional ballistic and cruise missile force has seriously eroded the U.S. conventional military advantage in East Asia.

In response to the threat posed by China’s missile force, some experts have proposed that the United States and its allies deploy ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles of their own as a way to re-establish a more favorable conventional military balance in the region. There are significant military benefits to such a proposal: Ground-based systems are highly survivable, cost effective, and would help increase magazine capacity.

But the political challenges associated with deploying ground-launched missile systems in democratic states are significant. A more effective strategy would be for the United States and its allies to: 1) improve their air- and sea-based cruise missile capabilities in the region; 2) advance pragmatic arms control and risk reduction measures aimed at enhancing dialogue and limiting Chinese missile capabilities; and 3) enhance the resiliency of their critical infrastructure, especially space and cyber systems.


Over the past decade, China has significantly improved its military capabilities, especially those designed to prevent potential adversaries from projecting power into the region. As Lieutenant General Robert Ashley, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), testified to Congress in 2018: