12 October 2020

Dead in the Water: India’s Push Into the Seas Is Unlikely to Help Matters on Land

By Abhijnan Rej

Hard times call for creative, resourceful thinking – in everyday life as well as high international politics. As the India-China crisis along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) enters its sixth month, New Delhi’s strategic community is once again back at the drawing board, trying to figure out a way to restore a semblance of strategic parity with China, if not dislodge the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) from its newly-occupied positions in Ladakh. It has become evident that neither diplomacy nor economic threats have made the PLA budge a bit. At the same time, prolonged, and perhaps permanent, heat along the LAC will sap India’s defense resources and serve as a potent reminder from China about who has the upper hand in the relationship.

One way out, some in India have argued, is to refocus the country’s strategic attention away from land and on to the seas. While this is not a new argument – the idea of “theater-switching” is especially common among serving and retired Indian naval officers, for obvious reasons – it has once again appeared in circulation. And, at the face of it, it is an attractive idea. New Delhi’s continental dilemma – as I have argued in these pages – threatens to permanently box the country in as a frontier power, and more so whenever it tries to decisively break free from it. Why not stop fretting about the 4,338-kilometer long disputed borders with China and Pakistan, and instead look toward the Indo-Pacific? Why not complicate China’s life in the maritime theater?

Alas, this line of thinking is unlikely to fructify due to problems with the very constituents of strategy. Any strategy is a way to align (often limited) means to set goals. India’s limited military resource base, stickiness in its allocation priorities, as well as inter-service bureaucratic rivalry hobble the “means” end of the chain, while the “ways” to attain the goal of deterring Chinese grey-zone coercion and salami-slicing along the LAC themselves remain unclear, irrespective of any future growth of the military-resource base.

India, Japan finalise key cyber-security deal to boost cooperation on 5G, AI

Rezaul H Laskar

India and Japan have finalised an ambitious agreement on cyber-security to boost cooperation on 5G technology and critical information infrastructure, and the two countries pledged on Wednesday to work for a free and open Indo-Pacific with diversified supply chains.

The readouts issued by India and Japan after a meeting between external affairs minister S Jaishankar and foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi in Tokyo made no mention of China, though many of the issues discussed by them appeared to be a response to Beijing’s actions across the region.

The proposed cyber-security agreement will promote cooperation in capacity building, research and development, and security and resilience in critical information infrastructure, 5G, internet of things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), the external affairs ministry said.

“Recognising the increasing role being played by digital technologies, the two ministers highlighted the need for robust and resilient digital and cyber systems and in this context, welcomed the finalisation of the text of the cyber-security agreement,” the ministry said. 

All US Troops In Afghanistan To Withdraw By Christmas, Trump Tweets


All U.S. troops currently serving in Afghanistan will return to the United States by Christmas, President Donald Trump said in a shocking tweet Wednesday night just hours after his national security advisor said that the United States would draw down its forces in Afghanistan to 2,500 by early next year.

“We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!” Trump tweeted, about 90 minutes before the vice presidential debate was scheduled to begin. 

Trump and other officials previously have said that the number of United States troops in Afghanistan would be down to between 4,000 and 5,000 troops around November, and that any subsequent withdrawal would be conditions-based. 

But Trump has made it clear that he wants the United States out of Afghanistan, rarely speaking publicly about what “conditions” would be necessary to carry out that withdrawal and instead emphasizing the length of the conflict and complaining that U.S. soldiers are acting as “police” in the war torn country. Former and current administration officials have described him as eager to pull out by November in order to fulfill a key campaign promise from the 2016 election. 

Empire of Graveyards


Recently, I had an interesting talk with an Afghan friend in Austria who left Afghanistan with his family almost two decades ago. Most of his childhood friends, it seems, have joined the Taliban to fight a war that they were literally born into. My friend wasn’t from Kabul or any other cities where the fall of the Taliban was cheered 19 years ago when the U.S. invasion began. He was born in Maidan Wardak, a province 40 minutes south of the capital that is largely controlled by militants even now. 

A war begun to oust the Taliban is ending with a whimper almost two decades later, with those same Taliban poised for some sort of power-sharing agreement with Kabul. After decades of war and heartbreak and broken promises and shattered lives, so little seems to have changed in Afghanistan. I’ve spent my life trying to figure out why.

It all started on Sept. 12, 2001, the day after the World Trade Center was destroyed. My elementary school teacher in Austria asked me about the terrorists who attacked New York City, a place I’d never been. 

“Do you know why they did that?” she asked. I had no answer. I was 9 at the time. People made fun of me, saying al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was my uncle. Friends at school cheered the upcoming war. “They will bomb your people,” they said. (They weren’t wrong.)


Sophia Besch , Ian Bond , Leonard Schuette

COVID-19 has worsened tensions between China and the US, and Europe risks being caught in the middle. The EU faces the difficult task of managing its complex relations with Beijing and Washington in a way that protects the rules-based global order from further harm. This paper considers what the EU can do to reduce the risks of a China-US conflict and mitigate the effects of their bilateral confrontation, and what it should do to protect its own interests against pressure from both sides.

In the early post-Cold War period, the relationship between the EU, the US and China seemed to be mutually beneficial. That is no longer the case: both the EU and the US have tense relations with Beijing. But Donald Trump’s hostility to the EU has made it harder for the West to manage those strains jointly.

Trump’s hostility to multilateralism has given Xi Jinping the opportunity to exercise considerable influence in the global system. China’s role creates a dilemma for the EU, which is instinctively multilateralist but sees that China’s priorities and values do not coincide with its own The EU and the US depend on China for many critical products, but the dependency is mutual: China has not yet mastered all the technologies it needs to become self-sufficient. China is seeking to acquire some of those technologies by investing in Western companies and acquiring their intellectual property.

China’s military power is beginning to match its economic power. Its goal is to have forces by 2049 that can fight and win global wars. China’s strategy of ‘military-civil fusion’ is designed to incorporate innovative civilian technologies into military systems. The US and European states are seeking to tighten export controls to slow down China’s defence and security modernisation.

US Pushes Quantum Tech as Rivalry With China Intensifies

Abhijnan Rej

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy launched an official website for the National Quantum Coordination Office (NQCO), as well as released a new community-inputs based Quantum Frontiers Report that will shape U.S. R&D efforts in the crucial emerging quantum information science (QIS) and technology, on October 7. “With the launch of Quantum.gov, the White House has created an online home for the National Quantum Coordination Office and a new digital hub for the growing quantum community to connect with wide-ranging activities underway across the Federal Government,” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios noted. The NQCO was established after the National Quantum Initiative Act became law in December 2018.

The official website has a useful collection of resources around QIS, both technical reports as well as strategy documents, not to mention a smart logo involving the Dirac notation in quantum mechanics. As the press release accompanying the website’s launch notes, “[i]t will serve as a one-stop-shop for key strategic documents and reports, agency programs, and NQCO initiatives.”

So far, the National Quantum Initiative involves 16 different federal agencies and offices, including all the national security ones. In fact, while U.S. economic edge as well as national security benefits are the stated reasons for pursuing an interagency coordination office around QIS, there is little doubt that the Trump administration’s push for quantum technologies stem from heightened strategic, commercial, as well as military competition with China.

Many worry that China’s quantum push could translate to a geopolitical edge for the country. And this is not entirely unfounded. In 2018, for example, Chinese scientists filed 492 patents on quantum tech, a little more than twice as many as their American counterparts.

U.S. Steps Up Efforts to Counter China’s Dominance of Minerals Key to Electric Cars, Phones

By Alistair MacDonald

Tech Decoupling: China's Race to End Its Reliance on the U.S.The tech battle between the U.S. and China has battered TikTok and Huawei and startled American companies that produce and sell in China. WSJ explains how Beijing is pouring money into high-tech chips as it wants to become self-sufficient. Video/Illustration: George Downs/The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. government is ramping up efforts to secure minerals critical to modern technology but whose supply is dominated by China—a stranglehold that miners warn could take years to break.

In recent years, the U.S. and other Western nations have invested in projects and approved licenses to mine these resources—essential for the production of electric vehicles, cellphones and wind turbines—an effort these countries are now accelerating given how far they still trail China.

Last week President Trump signed an executive order declaring a national emergency and authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act to speed the development of mines. The law was used earlier this year to speed production of medical supplies amid the pandemic.

On Monday, Ireland-based TechMet Ltd. said the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, a state-funded lender and investor, had made a $25 million investment in its projects that produce and recycle resources like battery metals nickel and cobalt.

How to Stop the Export of Authoritarianism


Human rights are in trouble. Since 1945, the world’s nations have enshrined in major U.N. treaties a broad set of precepts that now serve as global norms. Though implemented unevenly and imperfectly, individual liberty, constraints on government power, democracy, and the rule of law are widely accepted principles that enjoy high levels of popular approval. Even where rights are flouted, governments have increasingly donned accoutrements such as elections, trials, and participation in human rights reviews, not wanting to be seen to defy the system entirely. Now, though, the global rights regime itself is in jeopardy—threatened by rising authoritarian powers.

No government threatens the international human rights system like China’s ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Despite having signed onto certain international agreements, it has never been willing to guarantee rights to free expression, fair trials, religious liberty, or freedom from torture and forced labor. Beijing also rejects the role of human rights watchdogs, including nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and independent journalists.

U.S. policymakers once predicted that China’s economic integration with the West would force it to open up. Free enterprise, it was assumed, would also lead to a freer society. That’s not what happened in practice. In fact, China’s economic and military rise has only deepened the conviction of Beijing’s party leaders that authoritarianism is essential to economic prosperity and civic stability. A quick glance at Beijing’s abuses—whether it’s brutally snuffing out discrete ethnic identities such as the Uighurs in Xinjiang; overseeing mass censorship and intrusive social controls; stifling the activities of foreign organizations, foundations, and media; or effectively canceling democracy in Hong Kong—reflects just how little the government is now constrained by global human rights norms, external pressures, or popular sentiments.

China’s Global Image Plummets After Coronavirus

By Amy Mackinnon, Darcy Palder, Colum Lynch

Public attitudes toward China have turned sharply sour over the past year, according to a new report published on Tuesday by the Pew Research Center, amid widespread criticism of China’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Despite China’s shift to an aggressive posture through its new “Wolf Warrior”, style of diplomacy, over two-thirds of people in 14 major countries said they had no confidence in Chinese President Xi Jinping to do the right thing with regards to world affairs. More than three out of five on average said China had done a bad job in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak. The most negative views of China’s coronavirus performance came from the three nations in close proximity that were surveyed, Japan, South Korea, and Australia. 

China’s new approach may not be winning friends abroad, but it may not be meant to.

“The Wolf Warrior diplomacy doesn’t work well in the Western context, but it’s often oriented toward domestic audiences within China because it makes China seem stronger and withstanding Western pressures,” said Maria Repnikova, a professor at Georgia State University who focuses on China. 

Macron Wants to Start an Islamic Revolution


On Friday, French President Emmanuel Macron unveiled his plan to tackle what he termed Islamist separatism, with the dual objectives of healing social divisions and fighting violent extremism. He is not the first French president to promise a new French Islam; successive governments have done so since the 1980s. But Macron, who took office in 2017 following two years of bloody terror attacks in France and is now heading into a 2022 election campaign, wants to succeed where his predecessors have failed.

In a country that holds a strict vision of secularism, or laïcité, at the heart of its national identity, and where controversies over Islam are a fixture of daily life—from interminable controversies over the hijab to a recent fixation on alleged polygamy—top-down attempts to manage religion are a tough sell. Critics say Macron’s proposed law, which French parliament will begin debating in December, will alienate some of France’s estimated 6 million Muslims; others point to thorny legal issues that will complicate its implementation.

Macron’s plan focuses on limiting foreign influence and investing in a new generation of French imams, with a certification process based in France. Because laïcité bars the state from interfering with religious affairs, France has relied on what’s known as “consular Islam” to manage Muslim institutions. Algeria finances the Grand Mosque of Paris, for example, which distributes funds to affiliated mosques across the country. Turkey, Algeria, and Morocco have exported imams to France; in 2015, then-President François Hollande signed a deal with the Moroccan monarchy to train French imams at a center in Rabat. Turkey, in particular, has invested in religious and cultural organizations across France, particularly under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

A Weak Economy Won’t Stop Turkey’s Activist Foreign Policy


Since the resumption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh last week between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Ankara’s rhetoric has differed dramatically from that of the rest of the international community. The United Nations, the European Union, and even Russia and Iran have called for a cease-fire. Turkey, on the other hand, expressed unequivocal support for Azerbaijan, and said that without a sustainable solution, a cease-fire is meaningless.

The government’s statement underlined that Turkey would fully support Azerbaijan with unwavering solidarity and “stand by Azerbaijan whichever way it prefers.” Turkey’s stance illustrates a broader change in Turkish foreign policy that is driven by lost trust in international diplomacy, a greater willingness to get directly involved in regional conflicts with a view to acquiring relevance and influence, and an urge to capitalize on the domestic popularity of these moves.

Turkey’s position on Nagorno-Karabakh can firstly be explained by the close emotional and identity ties linking Turkey and Azerbaijan. Turks and Azerbaijanis speak closely related languages and consider themselves part of a greater Turkic family extending all the way to Central Asia. In addition, Turkey has been firm in its criticism of the international community’s stance.

Improving Pandemic Preparedness: Lessons From COVID-19

Authors Thomas J. Bollyky and Stewart M. Patrick

The United States and the world were caught unprepared by the COVID-19 pandemic despite decades of warnings of the threat of global pandemics and years of international planning. The failure to adequately fund and execute these plans has exacted a heavy human and economic price. Hundreds of thousands of lives have already been lost, and the global economy is in the midst of a painful contraction. The crisis—the greatest international public health emergency in more than a century—is not over. It is not too early, however, to begin distilling lessons from this painful experience so that the United States and the world are better positioned to cope with potential future waves of the current pandemic and to avoid disaster when the next one strikes, which it surely will.

This CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force report seeks to do just that, framing pandemic disease as a stark threat to global and national security that neither the United States nor the world can afford to ignore again. It argues that future pandemic threats are inevitable and possibly imminent; policymakers should prepare for them and identify what has gone wrong in the U.S. and multilateral response. One of the most important lessons of this pandemic is that preparation and early execution are essential for detecting, containing, and rapidly responding to and mitigating the spread of potentially dangerous emerging infectious diseases. As harmful as this coronavirus has been, a novel influenza could be even worse, transmitting even more easily, killing millions more people, and doing even more damage to societies and economies alike.

Why Low Interest Rates Hurt Retirees

Retirees took another wallop from COVID-19 with the Federal Reserve’s announcement two weeks ago that it expects to hold interest rates near zero at least until 2023 because of the pandemic. That spells lower returns for retirement accounts, and it adds to the underfunding of pensions that has worried retirees for many years now.

The implications of lower returns on investments are that retirees may save less, dip into their retirement savings, and start collecting Social Security benefits earlier than planned, according to Olivia S. Mitchell, Wharton professor of business economics and public policy and executive director of the School’s Pension Research Council.

“Low returns from the market are essentially a tax on retirees,” Mitchell said in a recent episode of the Wharton Business Daily show on SiriusXM. (Listen to the podcast above.)

“In the good old days, people used to ladder their bonds, put a little bit of money in the market, and try to live off those returns,” Mitchell noted. (A bond ladder refers to investments in bonds with varying maturities so that a portfolio does not get locked into one type of bond.) “This is not feasible any longer. In fact, it’s even worse, because those lower nominal returns are in many cases negative in real, or inflation-corrected, returns.”

Retirees may respond to the prospect of low returns by saving less, Mitchell said: “If you’re not rewarded for deferring your consumption as much, then why do it?” Their savings would fall especially in tax-qualified retirement plans, she predicted. The tax-qualified feature is helpful for those who aim to build an asset base over time with interest and other returns on their investments, while they are in relatively lower tax brackets. But now, “those build-ups are simply not happening the way that people had planned,” she said. “If people do save, they’ll probably save less overall, and they will tend to save in other non-tax favored accounts like bank saving and checking accounts, where you’re lucky if you’re earning half a percentage point.”

Desperate Times

Disaster Relief: Why the Poor Need Higher Priority

For the poor, like Yamileth Centeno, problems compound when disaster strikes. The electrician from Lake Charles, Louisiana, lost her job in the pandemic and was living on her $222 unemployment check when Hurricane Laura hit, destroying her car and rental home.

“I’m at zero,” Centeno told Buzzfeed last month.

Research has shown that poor cities and towns such as Lake Charles, which had a 23% poverty rate before the storm, are often the slowest to recover from disaster because they receive the least amount of federal aid. Low-income groups and communities of color are disproportionately affected, often lacking insurance, access to credit and the resources to apply for what little aid is available. That’s why scholars who study disaster recovery are advocating for better federal policies — and greater funding — to help the most vulnerable communities and citizens prepare and rebound from hurricanes, fires, floods and other catastrophes.

“There’s an assumption that federal disaster aid will make these people whole, but it actually doesn’t. It’s difficult to access, insufficient and often delayed, so we have a real challenge in helping these families post-disaster,” Carolyn Kousky, executive director of the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, said during an interview with the Wharton Business Daily radio show on SiriusXM. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page.)

In their first online policy collaboration, the Risk Center and The Urban Institute brought together experts who agreed on several recommendations to prioritize the poor in disaster recovery:

Simplify the application process.

Secrets and spies: Behind the doors of the UK's most enigmatic government agency


THEY CALL IT 'THE DOUGHNUT:' 180 metres in diameter, this massive circular building in Cheltenham houses GCHQ, the government’s intelligence, cyber and security agency. It’s here that some of the country’s greatest hackers, technophiles and spooks ply their trade in espionage. 

As you’d expect, media visits are rarer than hen’s teeth. When National Geographic UK is invited, the security protocol is reassuringly stringent: a sort of Checkpoint Charlie in the Gloucestershire suburbs.

Once our ID has been checked at the main entrance, we drive at snail’s pace through no less than three security gates before parking at the visitor’s entrance. Here we undergo a body and bag x-ray search and are photographed for our security passes. Much more follows in the same spirit before we find ourselves inside the main building. It's enough to say even the craftiest of criminals couldn’t sneak into this fortress.

Why is the United States losing the information war?

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — The United States is losing an ongoing information war because it’s failing to pivot from the counterterrorism fight of the last decade, according to former top government officials.

Nation state actors are waging a persistent information war against the United States and its allies as a means to undermine democratic institutions and sow discord among citizenry.

“I think the United States is being strategically defeated in the information environment. We’re not even holding our own. We’re being defeated. We’re being outmaneuvered, we’re being outflanked, we’re being out persuaded,” Michael Nagata, a retired three-star general who spent most of his career in the special operations community and served as director of strategy for the National Counterterrorism Center, said Oct. 2 during a virtual presentation at a National Defense Industrial Association conference.

The DoD must ingrain information warfare and influence operations to disarm malign activities in the gray zone and competition space.

The stakes for this information war are much greater than those in the war on terror, former officials contend.

“A lot of guys on [Capitol] Hill, they like to pass bills that … are buying lots of guns and not much butter. This [information warfare capability] is the butter, this is not flashy, it’s not something that you can put in a parade, but it’s as important and in this day and age maybe even more so,” Karen Monaghan, former department chief for Russia at the CIA, said at the same event.

What Happens When Presidents Get Sick?


We have all been living with the uncertainties of the coronavirus for nearly eight months. Now the twin COVID-19 diagnoses of President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have propelled the United States—which was already suffering from political bewilderment—into a fraught new reality. This reality has two dimensions. In human terms, the United States has entered uncharted waters. Presidential couples have gotten sick before: In the early 1990s, for example, both President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush struggled with Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder, at the same time—though the disease was treatable and both went on to live very long lives. President Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan also both got sick, with cancer, during their White House years—but these health scares did not occur at the same time. Never before has a first couple been simultaneously threatened as seriously as today.

Despite White House chief of staff Mark Meadows’s statement Friday that Trump was experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms, and the president’s transfer later in the day to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, in all likelihood no one—not even Trump—will know the severity of his illness for some time. Besides the emotional toll this uncertainty will exact, Trump’s diagnosis raises a whole set of other, thorny questions about leadership and how to ensure the continuity of government. If that didn’t make the moment alarming enough, all this is also happening in the last month of a bitterly contested presidential election campaign.

Turkey’s Caucasus Adventure Risks Another Crisis in NATO

By Robbie Gramer, Jack Detsch

The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh has fueled a fresh fight within NATO, with alliance members pushing Turkey to dial back its aggressive foreign policy and support a cease-fire in the Caucasus.

As the conflict over the disputed territory has escalated over the past week, leaving over 200 people dead and hundreds more injured, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Turkey to defuse the situation, given its decades of support for Azerbaijan. “We are deeply concerned by the escalation of hostilities. All sides should immediately cease fighting,” Stoltenberg said during a visit to Ankara, the Turkish capital, on Monday. “I expect Turkey to use its considerable influence to calm tensions.”

But Turkey has dug in its heels, defying a joint call from the United States, France, and Russia for an immediate cease-fire in Nagorno-Karabakh. “We look at the calls coming from around the world, and it’s ‘immediate cease-fire.’ What then? There was a cease-fire until now, but what happened?” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu on Tuesday during a visit to Azerbaijan. 

The False Promise of Regime Change

By Philip H. Gordon

Since the 1950s, the United States has tried to oust governments in the broader Middle East once every decade, on average. It has done so in Iran, Afghanistan (twice), Iraq, Egypt, Libya, and Syria—a list that includes only the instances in which the removal of a country’s leaders and the transformation of its political system were the goals of U.S. policy and Washington made sustained efforts to achieve them. The motives behind those interventions varied widely, as have Washington’s methods: in some cases sponsoring a coup, in others invading and occupying a country, and in others relying on diplomacy, rhetoric, and sanctions.

All these attempts, however, have one thing in common: they failed. In every case, American policymakers overstated the threat faced by the United States, underestimated the challenges of ousting a regime, and embraced the optimistic assurances of exiles or local actors with little power.

Hoover Institute

U.S. Troop Deployments in Germany 

America—A European Power No More? Shifting Tectonics, Changing Interests, And The Shrinking Size Of U.S. Troops In Europe 

Is It Wise To Pull Out And Redeploy 12,000 U.S. Troops From Germany? 

Return Of Forces From Germany?

Tanks vs. Drones Isn’t Rock, Paper, Scissors

By Jacob Parakilas

In this image taken from a footage released by Armenian Defense Ministry on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2020, Armenian forces destroy Azerbaijani tank at the contact line of the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan.Credit: Armenian Defense Ministry via AP

In the first days of the new war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the Azeri military claimed a number of destroyed tanks and other armored fighting vehicles. Those strikes seem to have been made — and filmed — by a Turkish-designed armed drone, the Bayraktar TB2. With armed drones bearing anti-tank ordnance increasingly cheap, accessible and capable, does it spell the end of the tank’s century of battlefield dominance?

Two decades ago, the U.S. rushed the first armed drones into service for its post-9/11 campaigns. They carried no more than two Hellfire missiles and were propelled by an engine producing less power than a contemporary Toyota Camry. But what they had was endurance: a drone could circle its target for hours on end before striking, whereas a high-performance jet or attack helicopter would have to return to base for fuel and crew rest in a fraction of that period. This was a crucial factor in the irregular campaigns the U.S. employed them in, where the targets had little or no anti-aircraft capability. Most strategists, however, assumed that in a high-end war, drones flying lower and slower than a Second World War fighter plane would be shredded by an adversary with integrated air defenses.

But as the control systems have become more reliable and components more affordable, drones are increasingly seen as a relevant capability for regular warfare as well, especially since there is no danger of a pilot being captured or killed. Cheap unmanned combat aerial vehicles may not have the stealthy features of a 5th-generation fighter, but they are small and quiet enough to evade notice from personnel on the ground. And air defenses can be overcome with specialist suicide drones, like the IAI Harop, which have been used in Nagorno-Karabakh as far back as 2016.

House Lawmakers Condemn Big Tech’s ‘Monopoly Power’ and Urge Their Breakup

By Cecilia Kang and David McCabe

WASHINGTON — House lawmakers who spent the last 16 months investigating the practices of the world’s largest technology companies said on Tuesday that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google had exercised and abused their monopoly power and called for the most sweeping changes to antitrust laws in half a century.

In a 449-page report that was presented by the House Judiciary Committee’s Democratic leadership, lawmakers said the four companies had turned from “scrappy” start-ups into “the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons.” The lawmakers said the companies had abused their dominant positions, setting and often dictating prices and rules for commerce, search, advertising, social networking and publishing.

To amend the inequities, the lawmakers recommended restoring competition by effectively breaking up the companies, emboldening the agencies that police market concentration and throwing up hurdles for the companies to acquire start-ups. They also proposed reforming antitrust laws, in the biggest potential shift since the Hart-Scott-Rodino Act of 1976 created stronger reviews of big mergers.

“Our investigation leaves no doubt that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation and safeguards our democracy,” Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and chairman of the judiciary committee, and David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and chairman of the antitrust subcommittee, said in a joint statement.

Infographic Of The Day: The State Of 5G Networks Worldwide

Today's infographic covers where we are on the roadmap towards 5G becoming mainstream, and which regions are leading the way in connectivity.



The Fates, it sometimes seems, prefer extreme outcomes. While humans usually reject predictions of futures dramatically changed from the present, information technology has produced a never-ending stream of upheavals in the economy, warfare, our very way of life. Thus, cyberspace in 2030 could be a very different place than it is today, for good or ill. How we deploy artificial intelligence and machine learning to attack and to defend networks will make the difference.

Today cyberspace is a hostile environment. Most corporations and governments have security operations centers (SOCs) that look like hospital emergency rooms doing triage, as they are hit by thousands of automated and human-directed attacks every day. To deal with this problem, Silicon Valley startups have created yet more software to prioritize security incidents and automate operational responses. Even with the added software, however, humans cannot always act with the speed and discernment necessary to respond to attacks and remediate vulnerabilities.

One reason humans cannot react quickly enough is that they are already competing against attackers which aren’t human, but rather machine-learning algorithms that have incorporated all of the tricks known to hackers and deploy those techniques at machine speed. Think of it as cyber AI that goes on the offensive. After observing network features from the outside, offensive bots make educated guesses about a network’s vulnerabilities, persistently try every attack technique until they penetrate the perimeter defenses, and then drop a payload. The payload, lines of self-executing code, defeats internal protections, finds the targeted information, and extracts it. Or, rather than merely stealing data, the algorithm may be designed to eat data, encrypt data in a ransom scheme or cause machines to malfunction or self-destruct.

Why Armenia and Azerbaijan Are on the Brink of War

By Jeffrey Mankoff

On September 27, significant fighting broke out between the militaries of Armenia and Azerbaijan, two states that have been locked in an intractable conflict over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh since the last days of the Soviet Union. Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding regions have seen periodic outbursts of violence in recent years, but the current fighting is the most serious since Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a cease-fire in 1994.

Domestic political factors in both countries militate against compromise. The international context surrounding the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has also shifted in ways that complicate efforts to peacefully address the underlying dispute. In particular, Turkey’s growing involvement in a conflict in which Russia has long been the dominant player risks both giving the protagonists—especially Azerbaijan—an incentive to keep fighting and opening up a new front in the Turkish-Russian rivalry that has already engulfed Syria, Libya, and to a lesser extent Ukraine.

Worth Preserving: US Military Posture in Germany


NATO represents one of America’s greatest grand strategic assets, and the U.S.-German bilateral relationship serves as a key pillar for the alliance and for stability and security on the European continent. Yet President Donald Trump’s approach to Germany and the U.S. military posture there has inflicted unnecessary damage to the bilateral relationship and the unity of NATO. To support U.S. national security objectives, the United States should retain a robust military presence in Germany while seeking to address political divisions between Washington and Berlin, which only help Moscow.

The 2018 U.S. National Defense Strategy declared that “[l]ong-term strategic competitions with China and Russia are the principal priorities” for the Pentagon, requiring increased investments due to “the magnitude of the threats” both countries pose to the United States. In that effort, the United States has no more important asset than the NATO alliance. The NDS accordingly describes efforts to fortify the alliance as one of the Pentagon’s top priorities. “A strong and free Europe, bound by shared principles of democracy, national sovereignty, and commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is vital to our security,” the NDS says. Article 5, of course, declares that “an armed attack against one” NATO member “shall be considered an attack against them all.” By convincing Moscow that the alliance has sufficient unity, political will, and military capability to protect every member, NATO has deterred the Kremlin from conducting a military attack on any NATO country for more than seven decades.