19 September 2020


OTTAWA, ON (September 9, 2020): In 2018, an international lobby campaign advocating for an independent Khalistan successfully removed references to “Sikh (Khalistani) extremist ideologies and movements,” from the Ministry of Public Safety’s Public Report on the Terrorism Threat to Canada. In response, the federal government took the unprecedented step of amending its national security statement, placating a vocal domestic constituency, and replacing the original language with “Extremists who support violent means to establish an independent state within India.”

In the ensuing domestic debate, a more important issue was obscured. This was also the first time that Canada’s national security community elevated violent extremists advocating for an independent Khalistan into a top-five threat to Canadian national security.

In a new MLI publication, “Khalistan: A Project of Pakistan,” veteran journalist Terry Milewski researches the Khalistan movement and discovers its reality as a geopolitical project nurtured by Pakistan, threatening the national security of Canadians and Indians. This week, reports from India continue to demonstrate the threat that Pakistan-sponsored Khalistani terrorism poses.

It might seem surprising that 35 years after Khalistani extremists bombed Air India Flight 182, the deadliest attack on aviation before 9/11, that a new generation of violent extremists has now emerged in Canada and India. Given Pakistan’s continued campaign of agitation, “It’s clear who’s really driving the Khalistan bus: Pakistan,” writes Milewski. In truth, “the Khalistan movement has been going nowhere in the Sikhs’ home state.”

Exploring India's Strategic Futures

by Arzan Tarapore


This report uses a novel alternative futures methodology to demonstrate that India’s strategic preferences are not fixed but could vary discontinuously under different environmental conditions.


The method of major/minor trends developed in this report suggests that the roots of apparently surprising future behavior can be found in a close reading of a target state’s history. Using this method, the report outlines three unlikely but plausible alternative futures of India as a strategic actor. The first scenario envisions India as a Hindu-nationalist revisionist power hostile to Pakistan but accommodating of China; in the second, it is a militarily risk-acceptant state that provokes dangerous crises with China; and in the third scenario, India is a staunch competitor to China that achieves some success through partnerships with other U.S. rivals like Russia and Iran. These scenarios are designed not to predict the future but to sensitize U.S. policymakers to possible strategic disruptions. They also serve to highlight risks and tensions in current policy. POLICY IMPLICATIONS The scenarios yield at least three major analytic insights that are relevant for today’s policymakers: • India will continue to face difficult trade-offs in managing security threats from Pakistan

Indonesia-India Maritime Defence Relations: Time for a More Robust Partnership

Raj Mittal

Key Points

Indonesia and India, Asia’s largest democracies, are both expected to be major actors in the Asian Century.

Indonesia has the world’s fourth-largest population and a highly strategic geolocation, while India has the second-largest population and, arguably, the most-developed regional navy in the Indian Ocean.

During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2018 visit to Indonesia, the relationship between the countries was elevated to a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership”, with “Shared Vision of India-Indonesia Maritime Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific” as its component.

Indonesia, and to a lesser extent India, have jurisdiction over the major maritime choke points of the Malacca Strait, the Six-Degree Channel and the Sunda Strait, through all of which large volumes of maritime trade pass.

Both Indonesia and India are made uneasy by China’s activities in the East China Sea, the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean, and its ambivalence towards international law.

Recalibrating EU-India relations: A shift away from a trade-based partnership?

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India’s increasing global importance is uncontested, and it is clear that the significance of India-EU relations extends far beyond potential trade benefits. Both parties have an interest in stepping up as leading actors in the fight against climate change, as partners in sustainable connectivity, and in countering unconventional security threats.

Intensified cooperation in these new fields marks a broader shift from a trade-based relationship towards one driven by mutual geopolitical interest.

As the precedent of the trade negotiations suggests, cooperation in these fields may run into obstacles at a more detailed level, or because of underlying differences or the prioritization of trade and investment relations with China.

For Finland, stalling trade negotiations may continue to create disincentives for local export companies and investors. Nevertheless, the focus on sectors such as climate change and connectivity is complementary to Finnish core interests such as energy, infrastructure and high-tech, crucial fields for climate mitigation, transportation, and digitalization


In July 2020, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for an action-oriented agenda for the India-European Union partnership. Indeed, action has been sorely lacking in the bilateral relationship for some years. The EU and India have had a so-called Strategic Partnership in place since 2004, but it has been punching below its weight. Negotiations for a Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement (BTIA) that started in 2007 have stalled since 2013, and political relations overall have been marked by “benign neglect”. When the annual summits came to a halt in 2012, it was a clear symptom of this malaise in bilateral relations.


Chinese investment in the Maldives is a frequent subject of concern. The archipelagic nation is strategically located along major Indian Ocean shipping routes. Its former president has very publicly speculated that China is being allowed to buy up whole islands and extend loans that the government cannot afford. And media articles in India, long the most important external partner for the Maldives, often assume that prominent Chinese investments are a stalking horse for military access. The most frequently cited example of late is a resort development on Feydhoo Finolhu island. But the available data suggests these fears, and those surrounding other Chinese projects in the Maldives, are overblown.

Feydhoo Finolhu

Feydhoo Finolhu is a tiny islet just 0.5 square miles in area, located 3 nautical miles from the Maldivian capital, Malé. An undisclosed Chinese company received a 50-year lease to the island in December 2016 for a bargain price of $4 million. Its strategic location—the islet would be well positioned to monitor traffic to and from the nearby international airport on Malé, for instance—combined with the low price tag led to speculation that this was more than just a commercial development. The developer remains a mystery, which has only fueled the rumor mill. The company began dredging and landfill work to expand Feydhoo Finolhu in December 2017. That work accelerated the following year, leaving observers worried that the expansion was to make room for a wharf, airstrip, or some other facility with dual civilian and military uses. But that is clearly not the case.

Bangladesh’s Long Road Ahead in Countering Terrorist Fundraising

By Iftekharul Bashar

In early May, a Spanish court sentenced a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin to seven years in prison for financing and supporting terrorism. The convict, Ataul Haque, brother of the head of Islamic State’s technological wing (killed in a targeted U.S. drone strike in Syria in 2015), had reportedly sent 47,000 euros from Spain to Bangladesh via China using an informal channel known as “hundi.” The money, reportedly intended to finance the activities of the Islamic State in Bangladesh, was seized and its carriers and recipients had been arrested by Bangladeshi authorities in late 2015. Ataul Haque is one of many sources through which Bangladeshi militants have, and continue to, access financial resources.

Although external funding for terrorism, such as the case mentioned above, remains an important challenge, funding from internal sources in Bangladesh is no less important. The latter sources of terrorist fundraising in Bangladesh can be garnered through self-funding, criminal activities, and legitimate businesses. Funds raised from domestic fronts are arguably harder to detect, especially as they tend to be enmeshed within a broader and deeply entrenched economic ecosystem that includes legitimate businesses. Moreover, there are questions about who should respond to this insidious threat and how. While the first two categories seem to be generally known and being dealt with by the law enforcement agencies, legitimate businesses as a source of terrorism financing are still a grey area in terms of how they should be countered.

Self-funding or monthly contributions by group members are an important internal source of funding for Bangladeshi militant groups. This is applicable for both Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaida (AQ)-centric groups operating in the country. Monthly contributions or “yanat” can be as low as 10 Bangladeshi taka (12 cents); contributions depend on the financial capability of individual members. There are instances when members have contributed large donations for militant organisations. The 8 million Bangladeshi taka donation by Rokonuddin Khondoker, a pediatrician, is a case in point. Khondoker traveled with his family to Syria in October 2015 to work at an IS-controlled hospital in Raqqah. An ex-major from the Bangladesh Army, Jahidul Islam, also reportedly donated his full retirement benefits totaling 10 million Bangladeshi taka to Neo-Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (Neo-JMB), an IS-centric group in Bangladesh. Jahidul was later killed in a law enforcement raid at a militants’ den in Dhaka. Another individual, Tanveer Kaderi, donated to the Neo-JMB the sale proceeds of his apartment amounting to 10 million Bangladeshi taka.

The PLA’s Mask Diplomacy

Helena Legarda

PLA steps up activities in the East and South China Sea 

China keeps up pressure on Taiwan with military maneuvers 

Defense budget up 6.6 percent in 2020 

China marks 30 years of participation in UN peacekeeping operations 

China to join Arms Trade Treaty 

This China Global Security Tracker is part of the China Security Project, an innovative collaboration with the Mercator Institute for China Studies. The project explores China’s defence and security policy and initiatives to determine how and why China’s role in the international security arena is evolving.

Focus Topic: The PLA’s Covid-19 diplomacy, a peek behind the mask

Much has been written about China’s “mask diplomacy” during the Covid-19 pandemic. As the epicenter of the pandemic shifted from China to the rest of the world, China’s government sent planeloads of masks and medical supplies to hard-hit countries around the world. Beijing’s “mask diplomacy” sought to bolster China’s image as a responsible global power and was widely perceived as part of Beijing’s attempt to control the narrative around the pandemic and distract from its initial cover-up. But while all the attention focused on the Chinese government’s actions, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was carrying out its own, much quieter version of mask diplomacy. 

The new China consensus: How Europe is growing wary of Beijing

Janka Oertel 


Since the onset of the covid-19 crisis, there has been a new convergence of EU member states’ assessment of the challenges China poses to Europe.

The Sino-European economic relationship lacks reciprocity, and there are mounting concerns within the EU about China’s assertive approach abroad, as well as its breaches of international legal commitments and massive violations of human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

Overall, there is growing scepticism about the future trajectory of the relationship, which provides an opportunity for a more robust and coherent EU policy on China.

In its remaining months, the German Council presidency could use this momentum to create institutional structures to improve the EU’s capacity to act.

In doing so, it will be crucial to ease concerns about Franco-German dominance of the China agenda – especially those of eastern and southern European countries – while enabling all member states to become more engaged in shaping the EU’s future approach to China.


The relationship between EU member states and China is undergoing a transformation that the coronavirus crisis has accelerated. While efforts to enhance trade and other economic links continue to play a major role in the relationship – especially due to the financial impact of the pandemic – countries across Europe are becoming increasingly sceptical of Beijing’s intentions. They are debating reducing their dependency on China for supplies of critical goods, and are ever more concerned about the future of the relationship in a rapidly shifting geopolitical environment marked by growing US-China rivalry. The pandemic has moved the debate about China, which is heavily influenced by EU member states’ domestic political constellations and considerations, much closer to the centre of national and European policymaking.

Weaponizing the Belt and Road Initiative

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), launched by President Xi Jinping in 2013, is a massive international infrastructure program involving nearly 140 countries with over an estimated $1 trillion in projects related to energy, transportation, digital networks, and trade.

Chinese leaders frame the BRI as “win-win” cooperation focused solely on development and connectivity. Beijing has gone to great lengths to minimize BRI’s links to the People’s Liberation Army and to downplay the initiative’s geostrategic overtones. Nevertheless, many governments have become worried about ulterior motives behind BRI projects, many of which have dual-use commercial-military capabilities and are increasingly connected to Chinese digital technologies and networks and satellite systems.

The Asia Society Policy Institute’s – Weaponizing the Belt and Road Initiative – examines key BRI projects in the Indo-Pacific and explores relevant Chinese doctrine, the involvement of the People’s Liberation Army with BRI, and assesses the potential military and geostrategic advantages to China from BRI ports and other projects.

This project is led by ASPI Vice President for International Security and Diplomacy Daniel Russel, with support from ASPI Senior Program Officer Blake Berger. The project and the report benefitted from advisement from experts and officials in Singapore, Australia, Japan, Vietnam, China, and the United States as well as to the expert advisory group whose distinguished members generously shared their time and wisdom to support this effort.

Key Findings:

TikTok and WeChat

Fergus Ryan , Audrey Fritz & Daria Impiombato

What's the Problem?

While most major international social media networks remain banned from the Chinese market in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Chinese social media companies are expanding overseas and building up large global audiences. Some of those networks—including WeChat and TikTok—pose challenges, including to freedom of expression, that governments around the world are struggling to deal with.

The Chinese ‘super-app’ WeChat, which is indispensable in China, has approximately 1.2 billion monthly active users1 worldwide, including 100 million installations outside of China.2 The app has become the long arm of the Chinese regime, extending the PRC’s techno-authoritarian reach into the lives of its citizens and non-citizens in the diaspora.3 WeChat users outside of China are increasingly finding themselves trapped in a mobile extension of the Great Firewall of China through which they’re subjected to surveillance, censorship and propaganda. This report also shows how Covid-19 has ushered in an expanded effort to covertly censor and control the public diplomacy communications of foreign governments on WeChat.

A Case Study Of The PRC's Hypersonic Systems Development

Great Power Competition necessitates understanding with whom one is competing. It also requires understanding the breadth and depth that competition and how your competitor is progressing. Hypersonic systems are an emerging area of military technology with potentially transformative effects. Although different types of hypersonic systems have been in development and testing for more than 60 years, several countries, including the United States and China, have made significant advances in this area in recent years. This report is the next in the series of studies by the China Aerospace Studies Institute that seeks to lay the foundation for better understanding

the Aerospace Sector of the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

As the United States and its allies and partners continue to develop hypersonic systems of their own, as well as the doctrine and tactics that will support not only just their employment, but also how to counter those of an adversary, it is important to understand how the People’s Republic of China is progressing along its path. Drawing on Chinese-language government publications, news articles, authoritative writings on strategy and tactics, and academic studies, this report reviews the organizations and people responsible for developing hypersonic technology in China, the systems and facilities supporting their efforts, and specific hypersonic weapon systems known to be in service or under development in China.

China's Military-Civil Fusion Strategy

By Alex Stone, Peter Wood

Military-Civil Fusion (MCF), this term seems like a counterpart to the American term civil-military integration (CMI), but in reality it is far deeper and more complex. Whereas, according to the U.S. Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, America’s CMI is “cooperation between government and commercial facilities in research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and/or maintenance operations”, China’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy is a state-led, state-directed program and plan to leverage all levers of state and commercial power to strengthen and support the armed wing of the Communist Party of China, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).

China’s Military-Civil Fusion program is not new. Every leader since Mao Zedong has had a program to compel the “commercial” and “civil” parts of Chinese society to support the PLA. It has gone by different terms, Military-Civil Integration, Military-Civil Fused Development, etc. General Secretary Xi Jinping has elevated the concept to Military-Civil Fusion. But is all cases, it is the “Military” that comes first. Whereas in the United States there is a partnership for spin-off and spin-on technologies, with a goal of assisting commercial companies as well as the military, this is simply a happy coincidence when, and if, it happens in China.

Since Xi Jinping’s assumption of power, the role of the military, and the importance of MCF have markedly increased. General Secretary Xi has clearly switched the emphasis from Deng Xiaoping’s famous statement. While most remember the first part of Deng’s saying, “韬光养晦”, which is generally translated to “bide your time, and hide your capabilities”, most Americans, and westerners, seem to forget there was more in his dictum. The full quote is: “冷静观察, 稳住阵脚, 沉着应付, 韬光养晦, 善于守拙, 决不当头, 有所作为” It is the last four characters that now seem to have the emphasis, loosely translated- and achieve some goals/ get something done. This explains China’s growing assertiveness and emphasis on the final piece of Deng Xiaoping’s “Four Modernizations”, the military.

China Maritime Report No. 8: Winning Friends and Influencing People: Naval Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics

Timothy R. Heath

In recent years, Chinese leaders have called on the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) to carry out tasks related to naval diplomacy beyond maritime East Asia, in the “far seas.” Designed to directly support broader strategic and foreign policy objectives, the PLAN participates in a range of overtly political naval diplomatic activities, both ashore and at sea, from senior leader engagements to joint exercises with foreign navies. These activities have involved a catalogue of platforms, from surface combatants to hospital ships, and included Chinese naval personnel of all ranks. To date, these acts of naval diplomacy have been generally peaceful and cooperative in nature, owing primarily to the service’s limited power projection capabilities and China’s focus on more pressing security matters closer to home. However, in the future a more blue-water capable PLAN could serve more overtly coercive functions to defend and advance China’s rapidly growing overseas interests when operating abroad.

Central Asia’s Refineries Under Scrutiny

By Paolo Sorbello

Oil refineries in Central Asia are key local hubs. Analysts often pay attention to the export-oriented role of these countries, as most of the crude oil they produce is pumped and sold abroad. Yet, a closer look into the barrels of oil processed for domestic use and the elites controlling the refineries can better illustrate how Central Asia’s business and governments interact.

In Kazakhstan, the Atyrau refinery is one of three main hubs for processing oil. Kazmunaigas, the state-owned oil and gas company, controls the plant, built in 1945. The plant and the city are so intertwined that Kairat Urazbayev, the new mayor appointed in January, previously served as general director of the refinery. The refinery has long been linked to worsening environmental conditions, especially air and water pollution. Only in recent months was an air pollution monitoring system put in place. Air quality is now monitored both by the government and by local NGOs.

In August, the Atyrau oil refinery was subjected to an anti-monopoly investigation for assigning a service contract disregarding transparency procedures and causing inflation in the price of petroleum products. It is common knowledge that one of the country’s richest businessmen, Timur Kulibayev, the son-in-law of Kazakhstan’s first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, unofficially maintains close links with the management of the refinery.

Environmentally, hydrocarbon extraction in the Atyrau region has caused residents to worry several times in the past few months alone: The Atyrau refinery caught fire, while flaring at the Karabatan processing plant, the onshore facility that refines crude oil pumped from the giant offshore field of Kashagan, projected an ominous mushroom cloud that was visible from the city of Atyrau, 60 kilometers to the west.

The Sinatra Doctrine. How the EU Should Deal with the US–China Competition

Josep Borrell


To avoid becoming entrenched between the US and China, the EU should deal with them in its own way: it should look at the world from its own point of view, defending its values and interests, and using the instruments of power available to it


Everything in the relationship between the United States and China changed when, at the beginning of this year, they signed an agreement in Washington that was meant to pave the way to eventually end the trade war that had started in 2018. That promised has remained unfulfilled, however. Today, the rivalry between the two extends to everything, involving closures of consulates and mutual recriminations, reflecting the struggle for world geopolitical supremacy between the two big superpowers, as if we were in a new Cold War.

Was it the coronavirus that led to this change? While this unexpected, exogenous factor has nothing to do with ideologies, it has certainly acted as a catalyst for exacerbating an underlying rivalry that will become the predominant geopolitical trend in the post-virus era. 

The role of the European Union in such a scenario and the question of how it should deal with a China increasingly pursuing a strategy of global influence are issues of fundamental importance for our future. We can only answer this question positively if member states present a united front and make use of our Community instruments, in particular the power of our Single Market. Unity is vital in every area of our relationship with Beijing because no European country is capable on its own of defending its interests and values against a country the size and might of China. A balanced EU–China relationship is essential to address and eventually resolve major world problems, from pandemics to climate change, including the building of effective multilateralism.

Growing a Stronger Federal Cyber Workforce

Today, the U.S. government suffers from a significant shortage in its cyber workforce. Currently more than one in three public-sector cyber jobs sits open. Filling these roles has been a persistent and intractable problem over the past decade, in large part due to a lack of coordination and leadership. The Commission produced a number of policy recommendations to address this challenge and, in this white paper, hopes to further strengthen those recommendations and reemphasize the criticality of the cyber workforce challenge. The fundamental purpose of this paper is to outline the elements required for a coherent strategy that enables substantive and coordinated investment in cyber workforce development and calls for a sustained investment in that strategy.

This paper lays out five elements to guide development of a federal cyber workforce strategy:

Organize: Federal departments and agencies must have flexible tools for organizing and managing their workforce that can adapt to each organization’s individual mission while also providing coherence across the entirety of the federal government. To appropriately organize the federal cyber workforce, the CSC recommends properly identifying and utilizing cyber-specific occupational classifications to allow more tailored workforce policies, building a federal cyber service to provide clear and agile hiring authorities and other personnel management tools, and establishing coordination structures to provide clear leadership for federal workforce development efforts.

UN 2.0: Ten Innovations for Global Governance 75 Years beyond San Francisco

BY Banou Arjomand

The seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations (and the UN75 Declaration to be adopted by Member States) offers a unique opportunity to rethink how global affairs are managed, as the world recovers from the pandemic and its attendant financial, economic, and social consequences. As world leaders and global civil society together pursue the inextricably linked issues of “reform and recovery,” their interplay can generate political momentum for overhauling global governance on, heretofore, difficult and contested issues and renew a greater sense of shared global responsibility. This report aspires to inform and shape this important conversation.

Executive Summary

“The UN75 Declaration represents the start of a worldwide conversation and process, rather than an endpoint, for global governance innovation and renewal.”— UN75 Declaration Co-Facilitators, H.E. Ambassador Alya Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of The State of Qatar to the United Nations, and H.E. Ambassador Anna Karin Eneström, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the United Nations (correspondence with the authors, June 17, 2020)

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Nations and its Members States are facing one of the biggest challenges to con­front the world organization since its founding in 1945. Accompanying nearly half a million deaths and more than nine million people in­fected worldwide (at the time of writing) are the calamitous socioeconomic consequences felt by billions, with the heads of the International Monetary Fund and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicting that the world is headed toward a recession at least as bad as that of 2008–9.

Toward a More Proliferated World?

By Eric Brewer, Ilan Goldenberg, Joseph Rodgers, Maxwell Simon and Kaleigh Thomas

The United States and the international community have been relatively successful at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, but there are new reasons to question whether this track record will last into the future.

Working with partners, the United States has steadily built a framework of disincentives and barriers to prevent proliferation. These include: 1) international treaties and agreements that have erected legal, political, and normative barriers to the bomb; 2) U.S. security commitments to allies that dampen their own perceived need for nuclear weapons; and, 3) a set of tough penalties (e.g., sanctions) for those who get caught trying to build the bomb. In other words, the barriers to entry to the nuclear club are high, and those countries that want the ultimate weapon need to be willing to accept significant risks. This helps explain why, although many countries have explored or pursued nuclear weapons, only nine states have them today.

But several trends are eroding the foundation on which this formidable set of barriers rests. These trends are rooted in, and being shaped by, changes to the nature and structure of the international system: namely, the decline of U.S. influence and its gradual withdrawal from the international order that it helped create and lead for more than 70 years, and the concurrent rise of a more competitive security environment, particularly among great powers. These trends (detailed below) will have three broad implications for proliferation and U.S. policy. First, they stand to increase pressures on countries to seek nuclear weapons or related capabilities as a hedge. Second, they will almost certainly challenge the U.S. ability to effectively wield the traditional “carrots and sticks” of nonproliferation and counterproliferation policy and dilute the effectiveness of those tools. Finally, they could increasingly pit U.S. nonproliferation goals against other policy objectives, forcing harder tradeoffs.

Seven Trends that Will Shape the Future of Proliferation

Space Launch to Low Earth Orbit: How Much Does It Cost?

BY Thomas G. Roberts

ALTHOUGH SPACE LAUNCH VEHICLES often have vastly different characteristics from one another—including the orbital regimes into which they can place payloads, the spaceports from which they can be launched, and their likelihood of success or failure—they all share the same core mission: to safely place payloads into orbit around the Earth. Some critical differences between launch vehicles, like total lift capability and whether any of their components are designed to be reused, may lead to drastically different launch costs. This data repository compares costs between space launch vehicles by incorporating many vehicle characteristics into a single figure: the cost to launch one kilogram of payload mass to low Earth orbit (LEO) as part of a dedicated launch. 

In the interactive chart above, use the “Show Cost In” input field to toggle between current-year dollars and then-year dollars. Selecting “FY21 Dollars” inflates cost estimates to their dollar values in fiscal year 2021. Selecting “Then-Year Dollars” shows cost estimates for vehicles at the time of their first successful orbital launch. All adjustments for inflation in this data repository are made using the GDP Chained Price Index published by the Office of Management and Budget in Historical Table 10.1. In FY21 dollars, newer launch vehicles tend to offer lower costs than older launch vehicles, with a gradual decline from 1957 to 2005, and a steeper decline between 2005 and 2020. In then-year dollars, per-kilogram costs increased from 1957 to 2005 and generally decreased from 2005 to 2020. 

Henley Putnam University

Journal of Strategic Security, 2019, v. 13, no. 3

Made in China 2025: China’s Strategy for Becoming a Global High-Tech Superpower and its Implications for the U.S. Economy, National Security, and Free Trade

NATO’s Internal Deepening, Endurance, and Expansion: Economic Incentives and Gains as an Explanatory Complement to Realist Alliance Theory

Reshaping U.S. Smart Power: Towards a Post-Pandemic Security Architecture

Extending Humanity’s Reach: A Public-Private Framework for Space Exploration

From Security Sector Reform to Endemic Corruption: The Case of Afghanistan

Breaking the ISIS Brand Counter Narrative Facebook Campaigns in Europe

Academic offer of advanced digital skills in 2019-20

This work aims at supporting policy initiatives to ensure the availability in the EU27 of an adequate education offer of advanced digital skills in the domains of artificial intelligence (AI), high performance computing (HPC), cybersecurity (CS) and data science (DS). The study investigates the education offer provided in the EU27 and six additional countries: the United Kingdom, Norway, and Switzerland in Europe, Canada and United States in America, and Australia, with a focus on the characteristics of the detected programmes. It analyses the number of programmes offered in these domains, considering the distinction based on programme’s scope or depth with which education programmes address the technological domain (broad and specialised), programme’s level (bachelor programmes, master programmes and short courses), as long as the education fields in which these programmes are taught (e.g. Information and communication technologies, Engineering, manufacturing and construction, Business, administration and law), and the content areas covered by the programmes. The analysis is conducted for each technological domain separately, first addressing the features of the overall education offer detected in the countries covered by the study, and followed by an in-depth analysis of the situation in the EU27. Among the many results that this work provides, those associated to the most relevant insights can be listed as follows. First of all, the main role in the offer of advanced technological skills is held by the US, which leads in terms of number of programs provided in almost all combinations of technological domain, scope and level.

Tech cannot be governed without access to its data

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.

Why Do People Share Disinformation On Social Media?

Why do people spread disinformation online? Are they fooled by the disinformation, and spread it because they believe it is true? Do they know the information is fake but spread it anyway? How does the way disinformation is presented influence our likelihood of sharing it? And are some people more likely to share disinformation than others?

This brief summarises a research project commissioned by CREST in 2019 that explored some of the processes underlying the spread of false material on social media. It positions the research and findings within the broader literature relevant to online political disinformation and considers what we currently do and don’t know about the problem. It conceptualises disinformation as false material created and disseminated with the intent of deceiving others and causing harm and focuses specifically on the distribution of that material via social media platforms. This is distinct from other elements of online information operations, such as selective presentation of true material or other forms of polarising or ‘hyperpartisan’ communication.

21st July 2020 was notable for the publication of two reports from UK Parliamentary committees. The first was from the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS Committee, 2020) on ‘Misinformation in the COVID-19 Infodemic’, which expanded on ‘Disinformation and Fake News’ previously from the Committee (2019); pointed to significant real-world harms arising from the spread of false information; and discussed the role of hostile actors in generating it. The second was the long-awaited ‘Russia Report’ from the Intelligence and Security Committee (2020). While considerably broader in scope, it again noted the problem of political disinformation. It pointed to the use of social media as a tool of disinformation and influence campaigns in support of Russian foreign policy objectives.

The Best (Cyber) Defense Is a Good (Cyber) Offense


We are at war in cyberspace. While lawyers might quibble about the definitions of armed attacks and other niceties of international law, the fact of the matter is that, for around a decade, we've been in series of consistent—albeit small-scale—conflicts in cyberspace. These conflicts have intensified recently, particularly since the start of the COVID pandemic, and have had a massive impact on the American public and private sectors. One can hardly pick up a news magazine today without being assaulted by headlines about data breaches, ransomware, cyber-enabled financial crime or social media-spread misinformation and disinformation. Standing alone, cyber-enabled economic warfare conducted by China drains the American private sector of billions of dollars a year, with total damages estimated in the trillions. Former NSA Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander described this concerted effort as "the greatest transfer of wealth in human history," and former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-MI)—nearly a decade ago—called out the ongoing cyber economic war.

Even worse, in the last six years alone, we've seen our adversaries undertake attacks tantamount to acts of war. For example, we've seen North Korea and Iran engage in the affirmative destruction of data and the bricking of computer systems here in the United States. And the threat level continues to grow. Just last year, then-Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats told Congress that Iran is actively "preparing for cyber attacks against the United States and our allies" and is "capable of...disrupting a large company's corporate networks for days to weeks." During the same testimony, the DNI noted that "China has the ability to launch cyber attacks [in the U.S.] that [could] cause...disruption of a natural gas pipeline for days to weeks." Of course, we all know about Russia's wildly successful covert influence campaign that has undermined public confidence in our elections and rule of law institutions. While the Russian activities are likely to go down in history as among the most effective covert influence operations ever, what sometimes goes missed in all the election talk is the DNI's assessment that Russia is also actively "mapping our critical infrastructure with the long-term goal of being able to cause substantial damage," including by "disrupting an electrical distribution network for at least a few hours."