3 October 2020

China-India Tensions Put New Delhi at the Margins of the SCO

By Phunchok Stobdan

High in the mountains of Ladakh, Asia’s economic giants India and China came to blows in June in their disputed border area, the deadliest incident between the two countries in over 40 years. Signs have also emerged that China is aligning with its all-weather ally Pakistan to drive India out of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a turn of events that would shift the balance of power in Eurasia as New Delhi prepares to host the SCO summit in November.

India desperately sought to join this forum back in 2005. The SCO charter’s ideals, neatly packaged as the “Shanghai Spirit,” appealed to India’s own desires for joint solutions to regional challenges and a spirit of good-neighborliness. New Delhi sought to leverage the SCO to expand its political and economic ties with Eurasia, and to enhance connectivity and promote cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

Strategically, the SCO was valued by India as a way of balancing its ties with the United States, while simultaneously keeping China’s regional ambitions in check.

New Delhi was finally admitted to this club of ex-Communist countries in 2017 with Russia’s help, but along with rival Pakistan. Three years in however, India finds itself faced with a geopolitical paradox: The desire to remain involved in a de facto anti-American organization while simultaneously bridging relations with Washington in the face of a more assertive China.

China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: Debt-Trap or Game Changer?

Arif Rafiq

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC, has been the focus of heated debate among observers of Asia — and, in particular, South Asia — since its announcement in 2013. Proponents of the project in China and Pakistan describe CPEC as a “gamechanger” that will uplift Pakistan and adjacent areas of China and perhaps even reshape the economic geography of the region. Critics of CPEC in India, the United States, and other Western countries portray it as a Chinese or Chinese-Pakistani strategic project with an economic facade.

The reality of CPEC, however, is far more complex. To address these misconceptions, here’s a primer on CPEC that responds to frequently asked questions about the initiative.

What Is CPEC?

CPEC has been billed as a “$62 billion” economic connectivity initiative linking China’s landlocked western region of Xinjiang with Pakistan’s Arabian Sea ports: Karachi, Port Qasim, and Gwadar. (The CPEC “routes” are depicted in the map below.) Beijing has described CPEC as a “flagship project” of its broader Belt and Road Initiative or BRI. However, the size of CPEC remains in flux. And its relationship to the Belt and Road is unclear.

What is Behind Pakistan's Recent Civil-Military Spat?

by Abdul Basit

Following the Pakistani joint opposition’s multi-party conference on September 20, which also featured the Pakistan Muslim League (N), PML-N, chief Nawaz Sharif’s hard-hitting speech against the military, civil-military tensions have come to a head again. After a year-long silence, Sharif came out all guns blazing against the military, labeling it “state above the state.” His speech has triggered a national debate on the future course of Pakistani politics.

While firing salvos at the military, Sharif side-stepped the incumbent Prime Minister Imran Khan, maintaining his real fight is against the former for rigging the 2018 election to bring Khan to power. Sharif also blames the military for his lifetime disqualification by Pakistan’s Supreme Court over corruption charges.

In retaliation, the army’s spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar has disclosed two meetings of Sharif's emissary and the PML-N leader Muhamad Zubair with the army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa pertaining to the former’s political and legal matters. Both meetings took place on Zubair’s request, who has acknowledged meeting Gen. Bajwa, but denied requesting relief for Sharif or his daughter and heir-apparent Maryam Nawaz. Though the disclosure of these meetings has seriously dented the PML-N’s political narrative, it has exposed the military’s continued interference in politics as well.

The Façade of Chinese Foreign Policy Coherence

Ian J. Lynch

The spectre of great power competition with a rising China has prompted a sprawling debate in the United States. For decades, American engagement with China sought to make Beijing a “responsible stakeholder” in the U.S.-led international order.[1] Reflecting shifting consensus in Washington, the 2017 National Security Strategy declared this strategy a failure, but the unpredictability of President Donald Trump has undermined attempts to implement an alternative.[2] As the United States seeks to craft a new grand strategy to cope with China’s evolving behaviors, it will be important to incorporate a fine grain analysis of the motivating factors behind Chinese foreign policies.


The common perception that China’s centralized state leadership is empowered to pursue Chinese dominance over international affairs is tempting, but illusory. Its actions abroad are better understood as a manifestation of the Chinese leadership’s responses to various, and occasionally conflicting, domestic political, economic, and social pressures. For example, President Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, enshrined in the Chinese Communist Party’s Constitution in 2017, signals China’s intent to be a major power, but the initiative is less coherent and centralized than it appears. Xi’s launch of his vision for the Belt and Road in 2013 is more accurately described as the rebranding of a host of disparate and pre-existing projects than the launch of a new strategic initiative.[3] Assuming China’s foreign policy is fundamentally driven by a grand strategy to engage and win great power competition may lead to ineffective responses from the United States and other international competitors.

China Is Winning Latin America’s Support During Pandemic

By Sarah White

China has become a permanent geopolitical player in Latin America. A key region in China’s foreign policy, there is at least as much brand awareness in Latin America of Alibaba as of Amazon, and of Huawei as of Apple.

The United States still views the rest of the Western Hemisphere as its historic backyard and tends to take its hegemony in the region for granted. But China’s activities in Latin America Have long showcased the growing global reach of Beijing's ambitions.

The region is an integral part of Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to extend its influence through investments in public infrastructure projects ranging from roads to nuclear reactors. As payment, it issues loans that governments sometimes are unable to pay back.

Still, many countries are satisfied with the work that China has done. In anticipation of loans and projects promised by China, some have severed relations with Taiwan to formally establish them with Beijing.

Between the incoherent response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, and the Trump administration’s ambivalent foreign policy in the region, signs point to the coronavirus as an opportunity for China to further deepen its ties with Latin American countries.

Are Private Chinese Companies Really Private?

By Stephen Olson

China has often been criticized for a lack of transparency, especially with regard to its economic and trade policies. While in many cases these criticisms are valid, it belies the fact that in other instances, China is remarkably open and transparent about its intentions and ambitions. 

Such is the case with China’s “Opinion on Strengthening the United Front Work of the Private Economy in the New Era,” recently released by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (and further elaborated on by President Xi Jinping himself). This document tells us in no uncertain terms that Chinese private companies will be increasingly called upon to conduct their operations in tight coordination with governmental policy objectives and ideologies. The rest of the world should take note.

A Different Vision of “Private” Business

The 5,000 word “opinion” aims to ratchet-up the role and influence of the CCP within the private sector in order “to better focus the wisdom and strength of the private businesspeople on the goal and mission to realize the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” The objective is to establish a “united front” between business and government and facilitate the “enhancement of the party’s leadership over the private economy.” According to the plan, “private economic figures are to be more closely united around the party,” thereby achieving “a high degree of consistency with the Party Central Committee on political stand, political direction, political principles, and political roads.”

Steal the Firewood from Under the Pot : The Role of Intellectual Property Theft in Chinese Global Strategy

Capt. Scott Tosi

In September 2015, the United States and China reached an agreement in principle that specified, among other stipulations, that “neither the U.S. or the Chinese government will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property [IP].”1 However, less than two years later, China’s use of cyber-enabled IP theft was outlined bluntly in the 2017 National Security Strategy, which stated that “every year, competitors such as China steal U.S. intellectual property valued at hundreds of billions of dollars.”2 This snapshot of cyber-enabled IP theft represents a broader issue of IP theft by China that spans a wide range of methods and means. According to estimates, China’s total annual amount of IP theft ranges from $225 billion to $600 billion; moreover, China is responsible for 50 to 80 percent of all IP theft occurring against the United States.3

Chinese IP theft has broad implications for the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense (DOD), particularly as U.S. strategic focus shifts from counterinsurgency to large-scale combat operations among great powers.4 IP theft of Army and DOD equities and research and development threatens U.S. military technological superiority in future decades as China states it “will upgrade our military capabilities,” so “that by the mid-21st century our people’s armed forces have been fully transformed into world-class forces.”5

Early Chinese IP Theft: Hide Our Capacities and Bide Our Time

China’s systematic targeting of foreign IP began at the outset of its modernization under Deng Xiaoping in 1978, when it implemented the Four Modernizations (agriculture, industry, science and technology, and defense). China elicited economic and technological development from the United Nations Development Programme and World Bank that same year, and within a decade it began sending millions of Chinese students abroad to study. Four Modernizations included two major efforts designed to establish science and technology industries within China. The first, the National High-Tech Research and Development Program, sought to emphasize science and technology at Chinese universities under the direction of a central government committee and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The second, the Torch Program, sought to bring back thousands of Western-trained Chinese academics.6 Together, these programs served as the government’s early attempt to centralize science and technology research and development within the Communist Party of China (CCP) and the PLA in order to establish the early forms of the state-owned enterprises (SOE) that work hand-in-hand with the CCP, PLA, and foreign private enterprises to acquire technology.

Where Trump Went Wrong on North Korea Nuclear Diplomacy

After more than two years at the forefront of the international agenda, North Korea denuclearization efforts have faded from view, leaving little progress to show for it. Critics say the Trump administration took a flawed approach to the negotiations—and the U.S. trade war with China didn’t help. Meanwhile, North Koreans continue to suffer.

Ending North Korea’s nuclearization efforts moved to the forefront of the international agenda soon after U.S. President Donald Trump took office in 2017, and stayed there for more than two years. But despite a period of improved relations between North and South Korea and two unprecedented face-to-face meetings between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, no clear progress was made toward denuclearizing North Korea. It has now largely faded from view as a priority for the Trump administration.

Trump framed the meetings and his personal relationship with Kim as a promising start to a potential breakthrough, and subsequently claimed that he single-handedly avoided war with North Korea. But critics point to the lack of headway in the failed talks, which they blame on the Trump administration’s flawed approach to the negotiations. For his part, Kim has refused to even begin drawing down the program that is essentially his regime’s only bargaining chip unless the international community drops its sanctions. Hard-liners in Washington, on the other hand, would like to see meaningful steps toward denuclearization before they lift any restrictions.

Derek H. Burney: 'Watershed moment': U.S. facing dual nuclear threats from China and Russia

Derek H. Burney

U.S.-China relations are reaching new levels of acrimony and concern. On the campaign circuit, President Donald Trump blames China exclusively and persistently for the dire economic fallout from what he calls the “China virus.” China’s U.N. ambassador fired back on the latest salvos, saying “Enough is enough. You have created enough troubles for the world already.” The rancorous public exchanges between the two governments are troubling and reveal deep strains in the relationship that extend well beyond the pandemic. In fact, the most deep-seated threat today is on the military front.

China is rapidly expanding the scope and scale of its land, maritime and air power. Artificial islands being constructed illegally in the South China Sea are intended to ensure China’s air and surface dominance and to undermine America’s role as a regional security partner.

Even more ominous is China’s increasing nuclear weapons capability. Admiral Charles Richard, Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command and responsible for the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal, reported to Congress earlier this month that, while China’s nuclear capability is modest with a little more than 200 nuclear warheads, it is expected to double this decade. He added pointedly that “China now has the capability to directly threaten our homeland from a ballistic missile submarine. That’s a pretty watershed moment.”

It’s Time to Offer Washington Innovative Solutions for Dealing with China

By Bonnie Girard

Washington is awash with people and organizations that do research on China. 

In fact, in the seemingly elusive search for strategies to handle the U.S.-China relationship to the advantage of the United States and her allies, Washington has seen a proliferation of organizations that report to the White House, Congress and the extended U.S. government and military establishment on how to deal with China. Indeed, there are hundreds running into the thousands of think tanks, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), government-funded organizations, universities, associations and other non-profits whose sole purpose it is to research and report to the public and the U.S. government on an astonishing range of issues. Washington being Washington, it is not surprising that a major focus of this research activity is foreign policy, and that China in turn generally comes in at the top of the agenda.

The raison d’etre of all of this research, and the accumulated money and brain power that feeds into it, is ostensibly to give those who legislate, develop and execute the overall behavior of the U.S. toward China very specific tools to protect and advance U.S. and allied interests in the face of Beijing’s increasingly aggressive and ambitious foreign policy.

All too often, however, ably researched and written reports – most of which describe and detail China’s increasing instances of bad-actor, bad-faith behavior – fall short of making dynamic, action-point based recommendations to directly counter, confront, and if necessary, condemn egregious Chinese Communist Party (CCP) behavior that flouts international norms and rules, and infringes on individual rights. 

The U.S. Army Has Big Plans for Electronic Warfare

by Kris Osborn

The Army is working quickly with industry to pursue massive, far-reaching weapons integration with electronic warfare (EW) systems to improve defenses, prevent enemy jamming and identify and disrupt enemy communications. 

Part of bringing this to fruition is related to ongoing Army work to rapidly improve EW weapons by drawing upon increased artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. One Raytheon effort, developed to align with Army requirements, uses analytics and advanced automation to organize, detect, emit and thwart a complex array of electronic signatures. The program, called Electronic Warfare Planning and Management Tool (EWPMT), seeks to address and advance the Army’s interest in AI-driven EW and spectrum management.

Raytheon’s growing emphasis upon EW has been leveraged for many years now, as the firm worked on the Navy’s next-generation Jammer program, a new multi-frequency EW weapon intended to empower maritime air attack with jamming and anti-jam technology. This emphasis is also seen in a number of recent Raytheon business deals, including a recent $500 million deal between Raytheon and Cobham Advanced Electronic Solutions. 

“Cobham will provide electronic warfare systems and aerospace support for Raytheon Technologies’ key missile, radar and space programs. The agreement supports 12 programs within Raytheon Missiles & Defense, Raytheon Intelligence & Space, and Collins Aerospace businesses,” a Raytheon statement said. 

How Low Earth Orbit Satellites Will Help America Win the Next War

by Kris Osborn

During a recent military exercise, a armored combat vehicle in the Arizona engaged in a “direct fire” mission to destroy an enemy tank target, after receiving targeting cues via radio from an overhead surveillance drone, mini-drone and helicopter. In addition, that combat vehicle received informational details and locations specifics on the target first from fast-moving, low-altitude satellites operated in Washington State. 

The Army’s Project Convergence 2020, a live-fire experiment in the Arizona desert to prepare the service for accelerated, high-speed attack, was a success. The test leveraged advanced satellite connectivity to quickly find and transmit target data across large portions of the United States, demonstrating new levels of cross-domain attack.

A series of smaller, faster, lower-altitude Low Earth Orbit satellites operating from Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington state sent targeting information to live attack experiments in real time happening at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz., bringing new dimensions to high-speed, long-range targeting. 

“What you saw here was the first phase of information being fed by LEO satellites. That is what was going through Washington state into a surrogate ground control station. Then that ground station was sending data,” Maj. Gen. John George, Commanding General of the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command, Army Futures Command, told The National Interest on the ground at Yuma. 

Networked Drones: The U.S. Army's Next Super Weapon?

by Kris Osborn

Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona - There are many now-underway tactical adjustments being pursued by the Army as it adapts to new technologies and seeks to transform into a new era of warfare. Among these are the drones, lightning-fast sensing and shooting, air-ground-sea-space attack coordination, and lots of networked weapons systems.

“I think what you are going to see is really the depth and range of the battlefield. It will be a joint-forces fight across hundreds and thousands of miles,” Gen. James McConville, Chief of Staff of the Army, told me during Project Convergence 2020 at Yuma Proving Grounds, Ariz. 

The live fire event, which included drone-to-drone networking, AI-enabled sensor-to-shooter pairing in seconds, satellite targeting, drone-fired missiles, direct-fire armored vehicle attacks and long-range destruction of enemy air defenses, was intended to experiment with transformational forms of nearly instant targeting and multi-domain networking. 

“We believe we are going to be contested in every single domain which will change how we operate, not just on land but in the sea, air, cyber and space. We will be operating cross-domain. If you look at some of the systems we have, they are going to operate on the ground, they are going to operate in the air and some of them are going to be dependent upon space to get the effects that we need,” McConville said. 

Europe’s Double Bind


BERLIN – COVID-19 has made a mockery of the world’s great powers. US President Donald Trump promised to “make America great again,” but his administration’s handling of the pandemic has been anything but great. Chinese President Xi Jinping has often spoken of a “Chinese dream,” yet his own response to the crisis has relied on algorithmic authoritarianism. And Europeans who often pay lip service to multilateralism have met the pandemic with closed borders and national solutions, rather than leading a global response.

In fact, in Europe’s case, COVID-19 is forcing a deeper reckoning. The post-Cold War dream of a rules-based international order with Europe at the center is in tatters, and the European Union is now being buffeted by both philosophical and geographical shocks. Philosophically, Europeans are confronting the fact that raw power, not rules, is the main factor determining today’s global dynamics. Over the past three years, Europeans have watched their two biggest trading partners transform from champions of globalization into the leading exponents of “decoupling.”

Because neither America nor China wants a conventional war, both have taken to weaponizing regional and global institutions. While the United States has politicized what were once seen as public goods – including the financial system, interbank transfers, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, and the Internet – the Chinese are increasingly using state aid and strategic investments to manipulate markets and undercut the West in key areas.

The DoD needs data-centric security, and here’s why

By: Drew Schnabel 

The U.S. Department of Defense is set to adopt an initial zero-trust architecture by the end of the calendar year, transitioning from a network-centric to a data-centric modern security model.

Zero trust means an organization does not inherently trust any user. Trust must be continually assessed and granted in a granular fashion. This allows defense agencies to create policies that provide secure access for users connecting from any device, in any location.

“This paradigm shift from a network-centric to a data-centric security model will affect every arena of our cyber domain, focusing first on how to protect our data and critical resources and then secondarily on our networks,” Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, director of the Defense Information Systems Agency and commander of the Joint Force Headquarters-Department of Defense Information Network, said at a virtual conference in July.

To understand how the DoD will benefit from this new zero-trust security model, it’s important to understand the department’s current Joint Information Environment, or JIE, architecture; the initial intent of this model; and why the JIE can’t fully protect modern networks, mobile users and advanced threats.

Beyond IR’s Ivory Tower

By Cullen Hendrix, Julia Macdonald, Susan Peterson, Ryan Powers, Michael J. Tierney

For years, prominent international relations (IR) scholars have openly criticized the field for privileging “rigor over relevance,” offering little practical advice to those who live and work outside the ivory tower. For example, Stephen Van Evera, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, argues that traditional academic disciplines and incentives promote a “cult of the irrelevant”—“an internal discussion of arcane questions that the wider world is not asking.” On the other hand, scholars such as Ido Oren and Adam Elkus reject the idea that political scientists should make themselves policy-relevant and argue that doing so biases political science by encouraging academics to cater to the “whims of elite governmental policymakers.”

Are these concerns well founded—are IR scholars too removed from the policy world? Or should we worry that academics are distorting their findings for policy audiences?

In 2019, the Sie Center for International Security and Diplomacy at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies and the TRIP Project at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute collaborated on a survey to gauge IR scholars’ perceptions of policy engagement within their field. The results of the survey, from 971 respondents at U.S. colleges and universities, reveal that IR scholars are more engaged than the “cult of the irrelevant” discourse suggests. The findings highlight a significant gap in perceptions between IR scholars and their employers regarding the importance of engagement for promotion and tenure, with many scholars saying that universities should value policy-engaged activities more than they do.

‘Between a Rock and a Hard Place’: War-Weary Syrian Americans Want Resolution

By Jack Detsch

President Donald Trump won Michigan in 2016 by about 11,000 votes. There are roughly 27,000 Syrian Americans in Michigan—but they’re torn over who to vote for and watching both campaigns carefully with an eye on foreign policy, making this slice of the American electorate crucially important.

For well over a century, Syrian Americans have been lured to Michigan, first drawn to Henry Ford’s Model-T plants and then a halt to federal immigration quotas that allowed Syrians to flee the wars of the 1960s. For these voters, the problem is vexing: Trump has done little to nothing to stop the carnage in a Syrian civil war that has claimed as many as 600,000 lives, yet a Joe Biden administration could promise more broken red lines and has hinted at accommodation with the Bashar al-Assad regime to rebuild the country.

“There is no Syrian I know that doesn’t have family that didn’t get killed by Assad, imprisoned by Assad, or disappeared by Assad,” said Ismael Basha, the head of Americans for a Free Syria, who fled his homeland for the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills in the 1980s fearing persecution from Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Assad.

Trump pulled U.S. troops out of Syria (except those needed to “take the oil”), while some voters perceive that Biden has been ambivalent about his willingness to stand up to Iran’s proxies in places like Syria.

A Potentially Deadly Blow to NATO

President Trump’s recent announcement of large troop reductions in Germany should be seen for what it is: a potentially deadly blow to NATO’s solidarity. The decision, reportedly made without notification or consultation with the German government, allies, Congress or the Pentagon, was supposedly driven by Germany’s failure to pay its “fair share.” The fallout will shake NATO to its core. 

In this debate, facts matter. In 2014, following Russia’s intervention in eastern Ukraine, all NATO allies agreed to “work towards” spending 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. Overall, the Alliance has made impressive progress since then, raising defense spending by tens of billions of dollars. Last year, our European allies spent $302 billion on defense, more than quadruple the Russian defense budget. In terms of soldiers, tanks, combat aircraft, and warships, their holdings far exceed Russia’s. For our part, only a small fraction – perhaps 10 percent—of U.S. combat forces and defense spending are located in or aligned towards Europe. 

As for Germany, the country has since 2014 raised its defense spending by 36 percent to $49.3 billion — the largest defense budget increase among the world's top 15 states. At 2 percent, Germany alone would outspend Russia on defense. No other ally pays a higher share of NATO’s Common Operating Budget. As Europe’s strongest economic and political power, Germany matters. There is no NATO without an engaged and respected Germany.

To be sure, Germany can do better. German military readiness is poor, and the fees that Bonn charges the U.S. to base forces in Germany can and should be renegotiated. German cooperation with Russia on Nord Stream II will only increase European dependence on cheap Russian energy, weakening Ukraine through loss of transit fees. U.S-German trade relations do include inequities and imbalances that deserve fair and reasonable solutions. These friction points reflect the reality that Chancellor Merkel presides over a governing coalition that includes the Social Democrats, a left-of-center party that controls the important finance, foreign affairs and labor ministries. To do what Trump demands – now, immediately – would drive Merkel from office. That is not a reasonable demand to make of a sovereign ally. 

What’s Wrong With the Clean Network Initiative? China Can’t Join It

by Robert K. Knake

This week, the Council on Foreign Relations released a Council Special Report I wrote on Weaponizing Digital Trade. In it, I argue that the United States should create a digital trade zone and use its market power to promote online freedom and cybersecurity as a counter to China’s growing influence in the digital realm.

In the run up to its publication, several members of the advisory board have asked me what the difference is between what I am proposing and the State Department’s Clean Network Initiative. The short answer is that there are no terms under which China could join Clean Network.

Spearheaded by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, the Clean Network Initiative was launched to little fanfare in early August. At this stage, it is more rhetorical than real, mostly focused (justifiably) on keeping Huawei out of U.S. and allied 5G networks by cajoling allies to use non-Chinese suppliers as they build out their networks. The vision for the Clean Network, however, is not far off from what I am proposing. What the initiative lacks are the tools to make it a reality.

In its messaging, the “clean” concept could prove to be dangerous, mirroring language that the Chinese government itself has used to justify censorship. What we need is not necessarily a clean network but a “trusted” one where democratic countries commit to not censor traffic, agree to shared privacy protections, and strengthen mechanisms for resolving cross-border cybercrime. Countries that agree to meet these commitments would be part of a digital trade zone where data would be freely exchanged and in which member countries would source both hardware and software from other member countries.

Weaponizing Digital Trade

Robert K. Knake

“China, Russia, and other authoritarian regimes are working to limit what information flows in and out of their national borders while constantly surveilling internet users inside their networks,” he warns. “If the United States is unable to develop a competing vision, a decade from now the internet as we know it will no longer be recognizable.”

“More and more countries are being drawn into the Chinese model of state-controlled networks that limit privacy, build in the capacity for censorship, and provide the backbone for the surveillance state,” Knake explains. By forming a digital trade zone among democracies, “the United States and its allies can create a compelling alternative to the authoritarian web,” he writes.

The author makes a number of recommendations for the U.S. government to create a digital trade zone, including:

Establish a treaty organization to coordinate cybersecurity and law enforcement efforts. “Working with Canada and Mexico, the United States could establish such an organization under the auspices of USMCA [United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement], work out its functions, and then seek to draw in other countries to participate.”

Create a shared tariff and sanctions policy. “Trade zone members should agree to jointly sanction nonmember states that harbor cybercriminals or participate in banned activities.”
Create sustained funding for collective efforts. “The agreement should require each member state to contribute annual payments to the treaty organization.”

Army Wants New Mega-Jammer In 2023: TLS-EAB


WASHINGTON: The Army officially asked industry today to help take a big step towards repairing the Army’s long-neglected EW corps and countering Russian and Chinese jamming – and it’ll have an unexpected missile defense dimension as well.

Boeing and Lockheed are still building rival prototypes for the Army’s next-generation cyber/electronic warfare vehicle, the Terrestrial Layer System set to enter service in 2022. The new system, known as TLS-EAB — will be TLS’s much bigger brother. The service has set a pretty brisk schedule, talking of fielding something by the end of 2023.

The original-flavor TLS, aka TLS-BCT, will fit on an 8×8 Stryker armored vehicle and accompany frontline Brigade Combat Teams. TLS-Echelons Above Brigade will fill a pair of heavy trucks, probably Oshkosh FMTVs, Army officials unveiled today:

One truck will carry sensors, transmitters, and a tethered drone or aerostat to detect enemy signals, triangulate their locations for artillery and airstrikes, and disrupt them electronically with a combination of jamming, wireless hacking, and deceptive signals. It’ll be crewed by eight soldiers, four specializing in cyber/electronic warfare and four in signals intelligence. There will likely be sub-variants, for example with a division-level system designed to frequently relocate, while a Multi-Domain Task Force might accept a less mobile version with more range and power. But overall, this long-range offensive cyber/EW/SIGINT capability is essentially a supersized version of what the TLS-BCT will do, albeit operating over much greater distances.

Out: ‘information warfare.’ In: ‘information advantage’

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — Army Cyber Command is moving away from “information warfare” as a concept, opting instead for “information advantage," which leaders hope will create what they describe as “decision dominance.”

Army Cyber Command has spent two years integrating cyber, electronic warfare and information operations with new units under the banner of information warfare in order to offset adversary capabilities.

While the command thought the right concept was “information warfare,” commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Fogarty said over time, the right concept has evolved to something more like information advantage.

This information advantage will lead to “decision dominance.”

“Decision dominance is a desired state in which a commander can sense, understand, decide and act faster and more effectively than an adversary,” Fogarty said during the virtual CEMAlite Conference Sept. 29 hosted by the Association of Old Crows. “That allows the commander to gain and maintain position of relative advantage. This is not only the cyber domain, it’s not only in the [radio frequency] spectrum, but it’s in the larger or the greater information environment.”

Fighting Reported Along the Armenian-Azerbaijan Border: Is a War Possible?

by Peter Suciu

The decades-old conflict that has been simmering in the Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan has flared up with dozens of deaths being reported as the two sides have engaged in new fighting over control of the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The area is recognized as being part of Azerbaijan, but has been under the control of ethnic Armenians since a war between the two former Soviet republics ended in 1994.

The United States recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as Azerbaijani soil, but the disputed territory is controlled by an Armenian-backed government called the Artsakh Republic.

The territory has an ethnic Armenian majority but was part of Soviet Azerbaijan from 1921 to 1991. It first attempted to break away from Azerbaijani rule amidst ethnic violence during the breakup of the Soviet Union, leading to war between the newly-independent republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The 30 Years Off-and-On War

The first round of fighting began even before the break-up of the Soviet Union, with both sides engaging in guerrilla warfare beginning in 1988. With the fall of the Soviet Union it became the full-blown Nagorno-Karabakh War—and was noted for a strange mix of support from various powers. The Soviet Union initially supported Azerbaijan, while Russia later supported Armenia and then the de-facto independent Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh). Turkey supported Azerbaijan while the former Soviet state also receive arms from Israel and the Ukraine.

Minding the Digital Economy’s Narrowing Gaps


MILAN – Informational asymmetries between buyers and sellers have long been known to impair market performance. But thanks to digital technology and the large, accessible pools of data that it generates, these informational gaps are closing, and the asymmetries are declining.

Until recently, market formation has been circumscribed by physical and geographical boundaries. A prerequisite for a market to form is that buyers and sellers are able to find each other, and this process has traditionally been accomplished in physical spaces like bazaars, stock exchanges, stores, or dealerships (albeit with intermediaries using phones and fax machines to facilitate transactions). Things started to change with eBay, the original model for many online marketplaces. Suddenly, geographical boundaries no longer operated as insurmountable barriers between widely dispersed buyers and sellers.

Arguably, freeing markets from geographical constraints has had the greatest impact on market access for remote populations. In many places globally, and for subsets of potential consumers everywhere, online channels can be the only practical option for accessing a wide range of goods and services, including primary health care and education. This applies to both the demand and the supply side. And because consumers enjoy expanded access to goods and services, sellers and producers can scale up dramatically to meet the increased demand. In China, for example, the digital expansion of the potential market for small and medium-size enterprises was a major impetus for much of Alibaba’s development, demonstrating how digital technologies, together with the rapid growth of the mobile Internet globally, can drive more inclusive growth patterns.

As Turkey’s Economy Goes, So Goes Its Ambitions

By Caroline D. Rose

Turkey’s economy is in dire straits. In September, the Turkish lira fell to a 20-year low as investors withdrew billions from Turkey’s currency bond and stock market. In a scramble to keep its currency afloat, the government has blown through almost half the foreign reserves it had at the beginning of the year. With little liquidity left and its largest banks on the brink of collapse, Ankara has realized that its current strategy of fueling economic growth through cheap borrowing cannot hold.

The country has been here before, of course. Just two years ago, it burned through its foreign reserves to protect the lira’s value and hid its debt problem behind defaults and bailouts. But this time is different. Turkey is drawing from far fewer reserves, relying only on Qatari currency swaps to keep them afloat, and its banking sector is depleted. Unless it fundamentally reforms its decrepit institutions – or receives a generous bailout – its economy is in trouble.

Economic duress can be an agent of change in any country, but in Turkey, with its history of coups and complicated relationship with secularism and Islamism, the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, has even more cause for concern because of the potential geopolitical consequences it carries. Turkey has been quickly expanding its regional presence and influencing the behavior of neighboring countries through aggressive action in the Eastern Mediterranean and in northern Syria. But now that the coronavirus pandemic has slammed an economy already in trouble – and with an election just two years away – the ruling party will change its strategy, focusing its foreign policy closer to home and prioritizing regime survival at all costs.