23 September 2020

Recovery, Resilience, and Adaptation: India From 2020 to 2030


The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated existing geoeconomic, geopolitical, and strategic fault lines. Albeit widespread, the coronavirus has impacted countries differently, which are differentially equipped to deal with its consequences. While developed economies can afford to prioritize surviving the pandemic and getting back to pre-pandemic living standards, emerging economies like India must treat recovery as a necessary opportunity to remedy the long-standing problems with their economies. If left untreated, these problems could precipitate into other crises and might keep India from capitalizing on opportunities that lie outside its borders.

The following text is a framing note. It is not a research paper in the conventional sense. We present Carnegie India’s view on the challenges that India faces at this critical moment in world affairs, and outline a framework for India to tide over the current crisis (recovery), invest in institutions and structures for the future (resilience), and thrive in the following decade in a world that is unlikely to resemble the previous ten years (adaptation).

Rajesh Bansal is a senior adviser at Carnegie India. His research focuses on financial technologies, particularly electronic payment systems, electronic cash transfers, and digital financial services to enable inclusive development. He leads the center’s technology and society program.

Indigenisation and Not Injured Stance is the Answer to Snooping by China, Writes Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda

Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda

The revelation that a small Chinese company called Shenzhen Zhenhua Data Technology collected online and social media data of 10,000 influential Indians, including political leaders, was greeted with a great deal of shock. A few days later, there is a growing narrative that since this data is from open sources, it has limited utility, and the leak is, therefore, not very worrying.

Both these reactions somehow miss the big picture. It should come as no shock that there is a concerted effort by various countries to collect personal and other critical data about countries (both hostile and friendly). It must also be clearly understood that this data has enormous national security implications.Advertisement

Attempts to classify individuals by their emotions and use them to influence choices were turned into a sophisticated art by technology companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. To drive up revenues, depending on what you were viewing, Facebook fed you more and more of similar content. It then auctioned your viewing habits to various advertising companies who used this to sway your commercial decision.

As social media proliferated explosively and became the main source of news, the algorithms crafted by the technology companies created a parallel world of sorts. Facebook investor Roger McNamee’s observed that the platform’s “algorithm exists to maximize attention, and the best way to do that is to make people angry and afraid”.Advertisement

The World Wonders

By August Cole and P. W. Singer

ISHIGAKI ISLAND, JAPAN – As the Hasagawa limps into harbor, the damage to the Japanese warship is about all that can be confirmed of the reported battle 250 miles offshore. The vessel’s shredded and pitted metal deck resembles the coral reefs over which China, Japan, and the United States seem poised to start a global conflict the likes of which has not been experienced in three generations.

A senior intelligence official with a U.S. ally in the Asia-Pacific region said all sides are using extensive information campaigns to shape perceptions of the incident, making it difficult to authenticate the details of the potential powder keg.

What is known is that the Hasagawa, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol vessel, had been monitoring fishing areas and reefs in contested waters. Japan and China have overlapping claims to the area, with an increasing number of “near miss” incidents during the past years between their forces at sea and in the air.

Two U.S. Navy sources explained that at some point during the mission, the Hasagawa and a Chinese fishing vessel collided. After the collision, the Hasagawa reportedly was fired on by other members of the Chinese flotilla. While technically civilian vessels, these ships have been said to be operating under control of the People’s Liberation Army Navy and have been used to push China’s maritime claims. 

The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Michael Murphy, which had been conducting a freedom of navigation mission in the region, reportedly came to the aid of the Hasagawa. The Michael Murphy attempted to shield the damaged Japanese ship, and the incident escalated as Chinese naval vessels rushed to assist their compatriots.

Integration of the Central Asian Republics: the ASEAN example

Juheon Lee, Aleksey Asiryan and Michael Butler

Since the Soviet Union’s collapse, several attempts at regional cooperation among the newly formed Central Asian republics—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan—have failed or achieved limited results. Despite many benefits of cooperation, the region’s dire economic circumstances, continuation of traditional trade relations, unresolved ethno-territorial conflicts, and external power competition made integration difficult to achieve. Three decades after the Soviet Union’s demise, Central Asia remains at the nexus of geopolitical interests of great powers. The presence of Russia, which has traditionally seen former Soviet Central Asia as its own sphere of influence, is challenged by China’s rise as the dominant economic force in the region. China’s inroads into Central Asia through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) are changing the region’s dynamics. Dubbed the “New Great Game,” the field is not only limited to Russia and China. In February 2020, the United States (US) published a new strategy for Central Asia to better handle Afghanistan issues and keep rising China and revanchist Russia in check. In addition, the European Union (EU)’s new Central Asia strategy, adopted in 2019, aims to improve its position in the region and address its strategic interests in energy security. Several other regional actors, such as Turkey and Iran, consider Central Asia of strategic importance for their shared historical and cultural heritage.

However, it would be erroneous to view the region exclusively through the lens of great power politics. While the Central Asian republics are still struggling for political stability and economic development, Uzbekistan’s recent shifts in foreign policy direction toward greater regional cooperation could change regional dynamics. The rekindling of regional ties and tangible improvements in inter-state relations may lead to further integration and give Central Asia a voice amid great power politics. Can the Central Asian republics cooperate with one another for the region’s collective security and economic prosperity? What can these countries do to avoid being marginal players and to have their own voices, at least in regional matters? This article seeks an answer by focusing on the example of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN is not led by great powers but has survived and continuously expanded its role for the past five decades in the East Asian region. The paper explores the possibility of ASEAN-style regionalism in Central Asia.

Asking the Right Question As China Rises

By Bonnie Kristian

China is building its military, a recent Pentagon report to Congress argued, with the goal of becoming a "world-class" force over the next three decades.

Beijing “has not defined exactly what it means by its ambition to have a world-class military,” said Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, in remarks timed for the report's publication. "Within the context of China's national strategy, however, China will likely aim to develop a military by mid-century that is equal to, and in many cases superior to, the United States' military or that of any other great power that the Chinese view as a threat."

This conclusion can hardly surprise anyone who has tracked China's path over the past few decades. With the population and, increasingly, the wealth of a great power, Beijing wants the military heft of a great power, too. This isn't a good thing, but at this point, it may be inevitable, as may Chinese dominance of its near abroad.

The proper question for U.S. foreign policy, then, is not, “How do we stop the rise of China?” (Answer: We can’t, at least not at anything close to an acceptable risk or cost.) The question is, “How do we live with the rise of China?” Or, more bluntly, “How do we navigate great power rivalry without falling into an avoidable conflict that in the worst-case scenario could end the world as we know it?”

These questions are far too big to fully answer here, but recent headlines offer a useful negative object lesson. Recently, the State Department declassified Reagan-era diplomatic cables concerning U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which purchases American military equipment as part of its deterrence of mainland Chinese takeover. The publication does not mark a change in U.S. policy per se, but it does formally reveal Washington’s “Six Assurances" to Taiwan before considered a “loosely-kept secret” undoubtedly known to Beijing.

America's Indo-Pacific Vision Is Becoming a Reality—Because of China

by Derek Grossman

The Trump administration's Indo-Pacific strategy has received a significant boost in recent months toward achieving its goal of keeping the region “free and open” from Chinese coercion. Ironically, China itself has been doing the boosting.

Beijing's rising assertiveness against Hong Kong, Taiwan, and counter claimants in the East and South China Seas, and now even against India along the Himalayas, has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific and beyond that China's muscular approach is an unwelcome development in the region.

Several concerned nations are already deepening security ties with each other and the United States in order to mitigate the threat. If Beijing continues to ramp up its assertiveness, additional countries are likely to follow suit, leaving China further isolated.

Take, for instance, the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, comprising Australia, India, Japan, and the United States All four nations have repeatedly affirmed the importance of maintaining a rules-based international order and norms of behavior. Their security cooperation is deepening.

On July 1, Australia's defense ministry released a strategic update and force structure plan aimed at countering China. A few days later, China and India agreed to end a military standoff along their disputed land border, but the damage has been done. Now even India's most ardent China supporters are hardening their positions. Then, on July 14, Tokyo released its annual defense white paper slamming China's relentless and unilateral attempts to “change the status quo by coercion in the sea area around the Senkaku Islands.”

Four Scenarios for Geopolitical Order in 2025-2030: What Will Great Power Competition Look Like?

Samuel Brannen

CSIS’s Risk and Foresight Group created four plausible, differentiated scenarios to explore the changing geopolitical landscape of 2025-2030, including the potential lasting first- and second-order effects of Covid-19. The scenarios center on the relative power and influence of the United States and China and the interaction between them, along with detailed consideration of other major U.S. allies and adversaries within each of four worlds.

Each scenario narrative was informed by deep trends analysis and subject-matter-expert interviews. CSIS’s Dracopoulos iDeas Lab brought to life the scenarios in four engaging videos designed to test policymakers’ preconceived notions about the defense and security challenges facing the United States and its allies in the second half of this decade. This research was sponsored by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Strategic Trends Division.

Figure 1: Scenario Axes

Opinion – The Sino-Iran 25 Years Agreement: Why, and Why Now?

Roie Yellinek

One of the major questions about the Sino-Iran 25 years agreement is: why now? And why do the Chinese need this agreement at all? This paper will answer this question. But first a brief about the agreement, the detailed revealed in an 18 pages proposed document obtained by The New York Times last July. It started with “Two ancient Asian cultures” ,and with these words the sides want to emphasize the long history of the relationship between them and by this to try blocking any future accusation that they do it only to undermine the US attempts to isolate Iran. In addition, this opening aims to send a Chinese message to the Iranian people that on top of sanctions, low oil prices, the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the Middle East, the accidental downing of a Ukrainian airliner, Beijing is standing alongside Tehran as “a traditional partner”. On the Iranian side, the Iranian people are exhausted and they just want to know that something good is going to happen at some point.

Rouhani government must show some achievements after more than seven years of office and the Sino-Iranian agreement might be a way for them to say to its people to just wait a little bit more because things will get better. And things in Iran may indeed be better, as the leaked information reveals that one of the terms of the agreement stipulates a Chinese investment of almost $ 400 billion in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries in Iran. Despite this, the deal is so controversial that even some of Iran’s politicians and government media have criticized it. For example, a headline in the newspaper Arman Melli claims that Iran is not Sri Lanka, while an article in the newspaper Hamdeli daily asked whether Iran will become a Chinese colony.

The agreement would vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects in Iran. In exchange, China would receive a regular and heavily discounted supply of Iranian oil over the next 25 years. Furthermore, it will deepen the military cooperation, and even potentially giving China a foothold in a region that has been a strategic preoccupation of the US for the last decades, which holds a major naval basis there. It is not a new phenomenon and, for example, in December 2019 the two sides together with Russia conducted a four-day joint naval exercises in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. And almost 10 years ago the Major General Zhang Zhaozhong commented that China will not hesitate to protect Iran even with a third world war.

If You Want to Keep Talent Out of China, Invest at Home

By Ryan Fedasiuk

Many Americans first heard about China’s Thousand Talents Plan when FBI agents led Charles Lieber out of his Harvard office in handcuffs earlier this year. The world’s leading chemist, Lieber mentored hundreds of students and chaired Harvard’s Chemistry Department while allegedly deceiving the university about his connections to the Wuhan Institute of Technology and Thousand Talents.

Lieber’s arrest alerted the U.S. public to China’s long-standing efforts to recruit overseas scientists. By itself, participating in a talent recruitment program does not constitute a crime—but some participants concealed their affiliations with Chinese universities and double-dipped into the purses of American research institutions. Facing heightened scrutiny, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) issued a gag order on any references to the Thousand Talents Plan, its largest and most infamous talent recruitment initiative, before rebranding it entirely in 2018. But China’s recruitment efforts have only expanded and grown more sophisticated since the reinvention of Thousand Talents.

Today, applicants for any of the hundreds of national and local Chinese award programs may register, apply, and be matched directly with prospective employers through a single online recruitment portal. Overseas Chinese experts who return to the country may be exempt from its draconian hukou system, which normally governs where people may live and work. Some are paid signing bonuses on the order of $145,000, with the promise of national distinction, work visas for their family members, and tenure track positions at world-class universities in China. The bottom line is that the CCP’s efforts to poach science and technology professionals are becoming more appealing and accessible, at the same time that Chinese experts are feeling undervalued and unwelcome overseas.

How to cope with China’s ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomats?

Roland Jacquard 

A new expression has recently appeared in the media and international diplomatic circles: ‘wolf warrior’ a term for the new and very assertive Chinese diplomats, who use Twitter and other social media platforms to prey on any person, legal or physical, which criticizes China or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This aggressive Chinese diplomacy has drawn particular attention in recent times due to China’s strenuous efforts to distance itself from any association with Covid-19 or accusations of responsibility for the spread of the virus. But the phenomenon is not entirely new. Because, for years, Chinese diplomats have tended to be more and more aggressive.

Many of them are rewarded with important positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, clearly indicating that their contribution to ‘fearlessly champion’ China’s cause abroad has the support of the top leadership.

A classic example of a ‘wolf warrior’ is Lijian Zhao, who till August 2019 was China’s Deputy Chief of Mission in its embassy in Islamabad. While in Pakistan, Zhao initially started using Twitter to effectively publicize the benefits of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the flagship project under Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative.

Initially tweeting as ‘Muhammad’ Lijian Zhao, probably to attract the attention and gain support of Pakistani social media users, Zhao suddenly dropped ‘Muhammad’ from his name in April 2017, days after the China government issued an order banning several Islamic names, a move directed at Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The Chinese diplomat, during his stay in Pakistan, used Twitter to openly criticize India and the US, while lauding the depth of Pakistan-China friendship, forcefully defending China’s positions on various issues and eulogizing the CCP.

This New, Narrow Vision for the Middle East Isn’t Really About Peace

Frederick Deknatel 

Imagine a different Middle East. “Were all outstanding hostilities resolved, border formalities simplified and roads unblocked, one might breakfast beside the Mediterranean in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, drive up to the Syrian capital of Damascus for lunch, race south to Jordan’s Amman for tea, make Jerusalem for an early dinner, and be back beside the Mediterranean for a stroll before bed in Tel Aviv.”

That might have seemed like a fanciful vision when John Keay, a British writer and historian, sketched it out in 2003, in his book “Sowing the Wind: The Seeds of Conflict in the Middle East.” He was underscoring the small geographic size of that core of the region, the source of decades of conflict. But it was hardly a new vision. Indeed, the promise of the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, beyond an independent Palestine coexisting with Israel, was of a more normal Middle East, where borders could be crossed easily and countries could become defined not by their barriers but by their openness and proximity to each other. ...

This New, Narrow Vision for the Middle East Isn’t Really About Peace

Frederick Deknatel

Imagine a different Middle East. “Were all outstanding hostilities resolved, border formalities simplified and roads unblocked, one might breakfast beside the Mediterranean in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, drive up to the Syrian capital of Damascus for lunch, race south to Jordan’s Amman for tea, make Jerusalem for an early dinner, and be back beside the Mediterranean for a stroll before bed in Tel Aviv.”

That might have seemed like a fanciful vision when John Keay, a British writer and historian, sketched it out in 2003, in his book “Sowing the Wind: The Seeds of Conflict in the Middle East.” He was underscoring the small geographic size of that core of the region, the source of decades of conflict. But it was hardly a new vision. Indeed, the promise of the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s, beyond an independent Palestine coexisting with Israel, was of a more normal Middle East, where borders could be crossed easily and countries could become defined not by their barriers but by their openness and proximity to each other. ...

Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impacts

By Jonathan WoetzelDickon PinnerHamid SamandariHauke EngelMekala KrishnanBrodie Boland, and Carter Powis

After more than 10,000 years of relative stability—the full span of human civilization—the Earth’s climate is changing. As average temperatures rise, climate science finds that acute hazards such as heat waves and floods grow in frequency and severity, and chronic hazards, such as drought and rising sea levels, intensify (Exhibit 1). In this report, we focus on understanding the nature and extent of physical risk from a changing climate over the next one to three decades, exploring physical risk as it is the basis of both transition and liability risks.

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Confronting climate risk

After more than 10,000 years of relative stability—the full span of human civilization—the Earth’s climate is changing. Since the 1880s, the average global temperature has risen by about 1.1 degrees Celsius, driving substantial physical impact in regions around the world. As average temperatures rise, acute hazards such as heat waves and floods grow in frequency and severity, and chronic hazards such as drought and rising sea levels intensify. These physical risks from climate change will translate into increased socioeconomic risk, presenting policy makers and business leaders with a range of questions that may challenge existing assumptions about supply-chain resilience, risk models, and more.

To help inform decision makers around the world so that they can better assess, adapt to, and mitigate the physical risks of climate change, the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) recently released a report, Climate risk and response: Physical hazards and socioeconomic impact. (For more on the methodology behind the report, see sidebar “About the research.”) Its focus is on understanding the nature and extent of physical risk from a changing climate over the next three decades, absent possible adaptation measures.

This article provides an overview of the report. We explain why a certain level of global warming is locked in and illustrate the kinds of physical changes that we can expect as a result. We examine closely four of the report’s nine case studies, showing how physical change might create significant socioeconomic risk at a local level. Finally, we look at some of the choices most business leaders will have to confront sooner than later.

Our hope is that this work helps leaders assess the risk and manage it appropriately for their company. The socioeconomic effects of a changing climate will be large and often unpredictable. Governments, businesses, and other organizations will have to address the crisis in different and often collaborative ways. This shared crisis demands a shared response. Leaders and their organizations will have to try to mitigate the effects of climate change even as they adapt to the new reality it imposes on our physical world. To do so, leaders must understand the new climate reality and its potential impact on their organizations in different locales around the world.

10 Hard Realities About the U.N. on Its Troubled 75th Anniversary

Stewart M. Patrick 

The opening of the 75th United Nations General Assembly finds international cooperation in crisis and the U.N. in the crosshairs. Many critiques, especially from the United States, focus on the institution itself, as if it were somehow disembodied from the interests and policies of its major member states. The U.N.’s troubled anniversary is an opportune moment not only to reassess its strengths and weaknesses, but also to temper expectations of what multilateralism can possibly deliver when the U.N.’s leading members turn it into a geopolitical football—or are absent without leave. With these ends in mind, I offer the following 10 propositions.

There are many United Nations. Broad-brush critiques of the U.N. often gloss over the distinct institutional components of the U.N. system, ignoring the relative strengths and weaknesses of each and their utility to the United States. The most important of these are a U.N. Security Council dominated by permanent members, where little gets done without U.S. assent; a General Assembly, with universal membership, that possesses budgetary but little other authority beyond the ability to pass symbolic resolutions; the U.N. Secretariat, which can be a bastion of cronyism but whose performance depends strongly on who is secretary-general; and the multiple specialized and technical agencies, from the International Atomic Energy Agency to the World Food Program, some but not all of which do indispensable work. ...

Can coastal cities turn the tide on rising flood risk?

By Jonathan Woetzel, Dickon Pinner, Hamid Samandari, Hauke Engel, Mekala Krishnan, Brodie Boland, and Peter Cooper

Climate change is increasing the destructive power of flooding from extreme rain and rising seas and rivers. Many cities around the world are exposed. Strong winds during storms and hurricanes can drive coastal flooding through storm surge. As hurricanes and storms become more severe, surge height increases. Changing hurricane paths may shift risk to new areas. Sea-level rise amplifies storm surge and brings in additional chronic threats of tidal flooding. Pluvial and riverine flooding becomes more severe with increases in heavy precipitation. Floods of different types can combine to create more severe events known as compound flooding. With warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, 11 percent of the global land area is projected to experience a significant increase in flooding, while warming of 2.0 degrees almost doubles the area at risk.

When cities flood, in addition to often devastating human costs, real estate is destroyed, infrastructure systems fail, and entire populations can be left without critical services such as power, transportation, and communications. In this case study we simulate floods at the most granular level (up to two-by-two-meter resolution) and explore how flood risk may evolve for Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Bristol (See sidebar, “An overview of the case study analysis”). Our aim is to illustrate the changing extent of flooding, the landscape of human exposure, and the magnitude of societal and economic impacts.

Russian-German Relations: Back to the Future

Berlin is ending the era launched by Gorbachev of a trusting and friendly relationship with Moscow. Russia, for its part, no longer expects anything from Germany, and therefore does not feel obliged to take into account its opinion or interests.

The poisoning of the opposition activist Alexei Navalny has become a turning point in Russo-German relations. The details of the incident are still largely unclear, but what is clear is that it has prompted Berlin to make a crucial decision for German foreign policy: it will no longer follow a special policy toward Russia. Berlin will not try to understand the other side’s motivation or strive for mutual understanding and at least basic cooperation. Nor will it act as an interpreter of Russian political language, or take it upon itself to communicate the position of its allies to Moscow.

This special role performed by Germany and its chancellor in recent years is now a thing of the past. From now on, Germany will have the same attitude to Russia as all the other countries in Western Europe. At the level of rhetoric, this will mean unflinching opposition from Berlin to Kremlin foreign and domestic policy, harsh criticism of specific steps taken by Moscow, and strong solidarity with the countries of Eastern Europe. At the economic level, many now expect the cancelation of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. At the diplomatic level, we will likely see a significant restriction of official contact and possibly a suspension of dialogue at the top level.

Paths to Destruction

by Brian Michael Jenkins

Research Questions

What is the collective profile of Americans traveling or attempting to travel abroad to join jihadist groups?

Among Americans associated with terrorism or terrorist organizations, are there significant differences in the demographics or backgrounds that propelled some to go abroad and some to instead join the jihadist movement at home?

What can the collective profile of America's jihadists reveal about the dimensions and nature of the terrorist threat, the statistical profile of those who respond to jihadist recruiting appeals, the effectiveness of the U.S. response to the threat, and the results of that response?

Combating terrorism continues to be a focus of the U.S. government, and homegrown terrorists are a major concern. In this report, the author examines hundreds of U.S. residents who have traveled or attempted to travel to foreign lands to join or otherwise support terrorist organizations. The focus of the analysis is on the individuals' characteristics and what their collective demographic profile can reveal about who is going abroad to join jihadist groups. Along with the analysis described in the author's 2017 piece, titled The Origins of America's Jihadists, the findings in this report provide insight into the dimensions and nature of the terrorist threat, the statistical profile of those who respond to jihadist recruiting appeals, the effectiveness of the U.S. response to the threat, and the results of that response.

Opinion – Selecting the Next UN Secretary-General

Ben Donaldson

Five years ago the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution (69/321) that brought an end to 70 years of shadowy, P5-dominated Secretary-General appointments. The new process saw candidates’ names, vision statements and CVs published, and member states and civil society given the opportunity to quiz candidates at the General Assembly. Such improvements in turn bolstered the authority of the President of the General Assembly (PGA) and allowed for public scrutiny, making it much harder for the Security Council to dominate. While the incumbent, Mr António Guterres, has not publicly stated his availability to serve a second term, recent speeches laying out ambitious plans for a new social contract hint strongly at a vision for another five years in office.

As we reach the point when the next selection process is due to start, there needs to be careful attention on how to apply this process fairly and transparently to a situation where a sitting Secretary-General is competing for a second term in office. There are also opportunities to learn from the lessons of the 2016 race and refine things, such as the farcical Security Council practice of holding secret ballots on candidates only for the results to be immediately leaked on social media or the confusion around the practice of nominating candidates.

The new President of the General Assembly (PGA), Volkan Bozkir, will be key if positive reforms are consolidated and built on. Through resolution 69/321 (and last year’s 73/341) he has authority to work with the Security Council to trigger the race and outline the forthcoming process. Based on the 2016 precedent, this would see the PGA join with the President of the Security Council to call for the nomination of candidates this December, candidates quizzed on their vision statements in the Assembly in the summer, the Security Council voting on candidates in the Autumn and the eventual appointment of the successful candidate around October 2021.

Can Robots Write Articles? A Closer Look at Software Generated Writing

by Alexandra Louise Uitdenbogerd

I know that my brain is not a “feeling brain”. But it is capable of making rational, logical decisions. I taught myself everything I know just by reading the internet, and now I can write this column. My brain is boiling with ideas!

Read the whole thing and you may be astonished at how coherent and stylistically consistent it is. The software used to produce it is called a “generative model”, and they have come a long way in the past year or two.

But exactly how was the article created? And is it really true that software “wrote this entire article”?

How machines learn to write

The text was generated using the latest neural network model for language, called GPT-3, released by the American artificial intelligence research company OpenAI. (GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer.)

OpenAI’s previous model, GPT-2, made waves last year. It produced a fairly plausible article about the discovery of a herd of unicorns, and the researchers initially withheld the release of the underlying code for fear it would be abused.

US Air Force adds electronic warfare to new intel, cyber office

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Air Force’s fresh intelligence and cyber entity at the Pentagon is adding electronic warfare to its profile, continuing to build out a more robust information warfare portfolio.

In 2019, the deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance added in cyber effects operations when creating the A2/6. It’s leader, Lt. Gen. Mary O’Brien, said Tuesday that while cyber and ISR are the primary focus, there are other capabilities that must converge to deliver effects in the information environment.

“It’s imperative to be able to influence the entire electromagnetic spectrum to get after our priorities,” she said Sept. 15 during a panel as part of the virtual Air, Space and Cyber Conference. “Along those lines, earlier this year the Air Force decided to realign the Air Force spectrum management office form Air Combat Command. Starting on 1 October, the Air Force spectrum management officer … is going to be on the A2/6 team.”

The mission of the spectrum management office is to both defend assets in the electromagnetic spectrum and ensure spectrum access for the Air Force and Defense Department activities in support of global missions, O’Brien said.

The brain-computer interface is coming and we are so not ready for it


if you were the type of geek, growing up, who enjoyed taking apart mechanical things and putting them back together again, who had your own corner of the garage or the basement filled with electronics and parts of electronics that you endlessly reconfigured, who learned to solder before you could ride a bike, your dream job would be at the Intelligent Systems Center of the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University. Housed in an indistinct, cream-colored building in a part of Maryland where you can still keep a horse in your back yard, the ISC so elevates geekdom that the first thing you see past the receptionist’s desk is a paradise for the kind of person who isn’t just thrilled by gadgets, but who is compelled to understand how they work.

Securing Cyberspace

Michael Nelson, George Perkovich

Traditional approaches to governing have never gotten a handle on cyberspace. There are too many actors and there is too much information, from too many sources, moving too quickly across too many jurisdictions. Bad actors further compound the problem, and discord among the big powers prevents the international community from cooperating effectively.

Although most software and digital infrastructure is commercially owned and operated, technology companies lack the legitimacy, breadth of interests, and public policy impulse to make life online safer and more civil. It’s not enough to have Facebook rules, or Google rules, or Alibaba and Huawei rules. And it certainly won’t help if bureaucrats in Beijing, Brussels, or Washington try to divide and conquer the digital political economy, pushing the rest of the world into one bloc or another.

Technology companies lack the legitimacy, breadth of interests, and public policy impulse to make life online safer and more civil.

It’s clear a new approach is needed. Strengthening cyber civilization will require hybrid strategies that channel the inventiveness of market forces to further security, development, human rights, and rational discourse.

The Future of Warfare: Q&A with Raphael Cohen

What will the next decade of warfare look like for the United States? A team of RAND researchers sought to answer that question for the U.S. Air Force, examining trend lines and interviewing experts on four continents.

The United States has an uninterrupted record when it comes to making such predictions, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates once quipped: Since Vietnam, “we have never once gotten it right.” To make their findings more reliable, the researchers took a much more holistic approach. They considered not just technological or force changes, but also how global politics, economics, and the environment will shift and evolve between now and 2030.
Raphael “Rafi” Cohen oversaw the project as the associate director of the Strategy and Doctrine Program in RAND Project AIR FORCE. He's a specialist on defense strategy and force planning, the lead author of reports on topics ranging from Israel's wars in Gaza to the citizen soldiers of the National Guard. He's also a military intelligence branched lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve who served two combat tours in Iraq.

How did you start looking at the future of warfare?

The Air Force has a requirement to produce a new strategy every couple of years, and they do a strategic assessment as part of that. If you think about the time they need to build new forces or introduce new systems, they really need to look at least a decade out. That sort of long-term, visionary planning is really what RAND was created for, and so they gave that task to us.

Tanks have rarely been more vulnerable

Tank battles are rare these days. Crews that wish to prove themselves can turn instead to the Tank Biathlon, part of the International Army Games—a sort of Olympics with guns—organised each year by Russia. On September 5th Russian tanks raced and blasted their way to victory over teams from China, Belarus and Azerbaijan.

A century after its debut at the Battle of the Somme, the tank—an armoured vehicle typically equipped with a cannon on a turret—remains the backbone of most armies. The International Institute for Strategic Studies (iiss), a think-tank, counts over 5,000 in Europe, and 54,000 globally.