19 October 2020

How Will Indian Americans Vote? Results From the 2020 Indian American Attitudes Survey


As the 2020 presidential election in the United States approaches, Indian Americans are unexpectedly in the spotlight thanks to their growing affluence and influence in political circles and Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris (who is of partial Indian origin) as his running mate.

But significant attention is also being paid to Indian Americans because a narrative is emerging that the apparent courtship between U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, compounded by concerns over how a Biden administration might manage U.S.-India ties, will push Indian Americans to abandon the Democratic Party in droves.

Sumitra Badrinathan is an advanced PhD student in political science at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies misinformation, media effects, and political behavior, and employs survey and experimental methods in her work.

This study finds no empirical evidence to support either of these claims. The analysis is based on a nationally representative online survey of 936 Indian American citizens—the Indian American Attitudes Survey (IAAS)—conducted between September 1 and September 20, 2020, in partnership with the research and analytics firm YouGov. The survey has an overall margin of error of +/- 3.2 percent.

The data show that Indian Americans continue to be strongly attached to the Democratic Party, with little indication of a shift toward the Republican Party. In addition, Indian Americans view U.S.-India relations as a low priority issue in this electoral cycle, emphasizing instead nationally salient issues such as healthcare and the economy. As the political behavior of Indian Americans in the United States gains influence, this study provides an empirically robust and analytically nuanced picture of the diversity in attitudes of this important demographic.

Between 2000 and 2018, the Indian American population grew by nearly 150 percent, making it the second-largest immigrant group in America today. The community’s elevated levels of educational attainment and household income render its members valuable campaign contributors and potential mobilizers. And in select swing states, the Indian American population is larger than the margin of victory that separated Hillary Clinton and Trump in the closely contested 2016 presidential race.

Growing Sectarianism Can Challenge Lasting Peace in Afghanistan

By Said Sabir Ibrahimi

As the peace talks continue between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Doha, Qatar, the Taliban have resorted to sectarian positioning that has the potential to derail lasting peace in the country.

Last February, the United States and the Taliban signed a peace deal, two main elements of which are the withdrawal of U.S. troops and the beginning of the intra-Afghan peace talks, which finally started a month ago. 

The process is slow and the Afghans and the international community are anxious for results. The two sides have been discussing a “code of conduct,” or guidelines on how the “real” negotiations should proceed. One of the hurdles is the Taliban’s insistence on using the Sunni Hanafi fiqh (jurisprudence) as “a guide to all aspects of the terms and conditions.” Taliban’s insistence on the supremacy of Sunni Hanafism has alarmed Afghan Shias, who have long been marginalized.

After the toppling of the Taliban regime in 2001, the Shias of Afghanistan (mostly ethnic Hazaras) not only gained constitutional rights but also assumed public offices and took up government positions. Shias participated in politics, making their way to the Afghan parliament and several government institutions, including the office of the second vice president under President Hamid Karzai and President Ashraf Ghani. The Shia Personal Status Law became part of the Afghan legal system, allowing Shias to have the freedom to be judged by their own laws – Jafari fiqh. In other words, Afghanistan has worked to achieve legal Shia-Sunni parity, which is now at risk because of sectarian posturing by the Taliban and other groups.

America should stay in Afghanistan until an intra-Afghan deal is reached — not forever

Madiha Afzal

October 7 marked the 19th anniversary of the start of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. There is no doubt that the costs of this war to America and to Afghans have been enormous, and it’s time for it to wind down. It is also clear that the only way out is a negotiated peace, taking the form of two agreements: one struck between America and the Taliban (which was signed in February, and for which the Trump administration deserves credit), and another between the Taliban and the Afghan government (for which talks are currently underway in Doha). Most can agree on those basic principles.

Yet the discussion in Washington on policy options for Afghanistan — beyond the unhelpful campaign rhetoric and unexpected pronouncements from President Trump — is usually framed as a binary choice between two extremes. At one end, it’s argued that in order to guarantee any semblance of human rights or democracy in Afghanistan, we would have to stay there indefinitely, consigning another generation to fighting an unwinnable war half a world away. But, the argument adds, we actually have no responsibility to guarantee these values and principles in Afghanistan via a troop presence: Do we, after all, use troops to enforce democracy or women’s rights in any country where those are deficient or threatened? At the other end, it’s argued that we should abide by the U.S.-Taliban deal — the best that we could get, the argument goes — and withdraw all troops by May 2021 as long as counterterrorism commitments are met, as the letter of the February 29 deal dictates. Presented in this binary way, it seems obvious that it’s better to leave by May 2021, regardless of progress (or lack thereof) on the intra-Afghan deal.

But this choice is a false one. It misses the third option: that America stay in Afghanistan until an intra-Afghan peace deal is reached, and condition its full troop withdrawal on the achievement of that deal. That is not the same thing as staying forever. It likely means we would need to keep a few thousand troops in Afghanistan beyond May 2021. The intra-Afghan negotiations that began in Doha on September 12 are complicated, painstakingly slow, and should not be rushed. America is helping that process, and Pakistan is involved as well. Though U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad said recently that a deal between the Afghans may take months, not years, analysts argue that once the pressure of a U.S. election has passed, the process will probably take several years. It may stall, or stop and start.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Likely to Visit Sri Lanka Amid China’s Renewed Push There

By Prarthana Basu

On October 8, a high-powered Chinese delegation headed by the Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission Office and former ambassador to the United States, Yang Jiechi, visited Sri Lanka as part of his four-legged visit, which included the United Arab Emirates, Algeria, and Serbia. This was the first visit by the Chinese delegation to South Asia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had led to curbs on international travel. It’s notably that Yang chose to start with Sri Lanka.

The resulting benefits of the meeting between Yang and the Rajapaksa brothers – Mahinda, Sri Lanka’s prime minister, and Gotabaya, the country’s president – were significant as it strengthened economic cooperation and bolstered strategic ties between the two countries. The meeting presumably also provided an opening for China to clarify its intentions behind the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in the island country, after Alaina Teplitz, the U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka, called out the nature of these projects and the opaque tender processes behind them.

On October 11, following Yang’s visit, China announced it would provide a $90 million grant to Sri Lanka for development in the medical care sector, water supplies, and education in the rural areas of the country, where the struggle for such amenities still remains. The Chinese Embassy in Colombo released a statement saying that the grant would “contribute to the well-being of (Sri Lankans) in the post-COVID era.”

As China and Sri Lanka celebrate their successes post Yang’s visit to the country, the U.S. was quick to reassert its commitment to the country. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will visit Sri Lanka en route to New Delhi in the coming weeks, as noted by the Sunday Times. Pompeo’s travel plans signal that the U.S. is concerned about the growing closeness between Sri Lanka and China, and does not want its interests there jeopardized.

Why Trump’s Anti-China Policy Falls on Deaf Ears in Southeast Asia

By Dino Patti Djalal

In recent months, the world has witnessed a curious development in U.S. foreign policy: the emergence of a very hawkish, hostile and confrontational policy toward China.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has given a series of speeches attacking China. His speeches present some new themes: they aim specifically at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), they frame China as an ideological threat (constantly referring to “Communist China,” not just China) and they adopt a blanket (rather than a la carte) attack against China: on the coronavirus, trade, investment, technology, TikTok, the World Health Organization, the South China Sea, Chinese companies and students, democracy, human rights, climate change – the list goes on. It seems that for the Trump administration, it has become a taboo to say anything remotely positive about China. Indeed, as Pompeo stated, “securing our freedom from the CCP is the mission of our time and America is in a perfect position to lead.”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, at Munich Security Conference this year, also calls China “the biggest threat to world order,” and affirmed that Washington’s principal security concern had shifted from Russia to China.

During his speech at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly last month, President Donald Trump came out throwing punches at Beijing. Trump spent one-third of his 7-minute speech attacking China explicitly – on the “China virus,” trade and the environment – and spent only 34 seconds on the most pressing challenge facing the world: COVID-19. It was the wrong message, to the wrong audience, at the wrong time. By contrast, it was noticed that China’s President Xi Jinping, who spoke at the same podium, did not attack the U.S.

Why China’s Coronavirus Propaganda Campaign Has Come Up Short

Frida Ghitis 

Earlier this year, as the coronavirus seemed to abruptly explode out of China and engulf the globe, Chinese authorities launched a propaganda campaign to try to turn the pandemic into a political win for Beijing. Months later, as governments around the world still struggle to contain COVID-19, with new waves and spikes from India to Europe to the United States, the time has come to take a tally of China’s efforts. The results are stark, showing some gains for the Chinese regime but also some major failures in the one area where Beijing had hoped to leverage the pandemic to its global advantage.

Back in March, I highlighted the propaganda campaign as it was being spearheaded by Chinese leader Xi Jinping. It was a two-pronged effort, aimed at both domestic audiences and the rest of the world. I wrote then that, with the pandemic under control at home and suddenly overwhelming China’s Western rivals, “the stage is set for China to project a triumphant air and get to work on crafting its public relations message for both domestic and international consumption.” ...

All Roads Need Not Lead To China


SINGAPORE — It all starts with roads. Upon the conclusion of China’s civil war in 1949, China began a decades-long campaign to push westward into restive and contested terrain. Roads and railways began to inch westward along the Yellow River and through the narrow Gansu corridor, the ancient northern Silk Road passageway between the more inhospitable Mongolian and Tibetan Plateaus, into Xinjiang, land of the Muslim Uighurs, terrain labeled East Turkestan on many maps that depicted the Anglo-Russian maneuverings of the fabled 19th-century “Great Game.” By the time the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Chinese roads were well positioned to expand across once frozen Cold War borders and reshape the trade relations of the half-dozen newly independent Central Asian republics. China’s plan to win the new Great Game was to build new Silk Roads. 

Throughout China’s turbulent decades under Mao Zedong, the same domestic power play was unfolding in Tibet. When Tibetans resisted the convulsive campaigns of the Great Leap Forward, their 1959 uprising was crushed and the Dalai Lama fled into exile in India. In the 1962 Sino-Indian war, China seized parts of India’s Arunachal Pradesh (which China considers part of “South Tibet”) as well as Aksai Chin, a disputed region in the western Himalayas abutting India’s state of Ladakh. 

Buddhist Tibet and Muslim Xinjiang are China’s two largest provinces, yet they are mutually distinct cultural universes. The only thing that connects them is a road: the Western Highway, Highway 219, which goes through Tibet along the Nepali border, over Aksai Chin’s rugged passes and then descends into Xinjiang’s forbidding Taklamakan Desert. 

In 1962, the construction of this highway kindled the first Sino-Indian War. In 2020, road-building again sparked a conflict between the two countries, this time in Aksai Chin. China claims it was responding to two changes India recently made to the decades-old status quo: First, declaring Ladakh a Union Territory directly governed by New Delhi (something people in Ladakh wanted), and second, building roads in disputed areas near the ambiguous Line of Actual Control that stretches from the Karakoram Pass, which connects China to Pakistan, and the shimmering blue of Pangong Lake, which extends from Ladakh into Aksai Chin and Tibet. 

Has China Peaked Already?


SINGAPORE — In November 2006, the Chinese public was held rapt by a 12-part documentary series titled “The Rise of the Great Powers.” Curated by a team of respected Chinese historians, each episode revealed the pathways major empires took to reach the zenith of their global influence, including the United Kingdom, Japan, Russia and the United States. At the time, China was viewed — both at home and abroad — as Asia’s central force and a future superpower, but not the main geopolitical story — especially as the U.S. was in full “hyper-power” mode, deep into its indefinite occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. This was all the more reason for the Chinese to sit back and cautiously study how nations could become so powerful as to extend their might all across the planet. 

“The Rise of the Great Powers” achieved its central objective: to socialize and legitimize the notion that it was China’s turn to rise into the pantheon of history’s superpowers. And China has clearly followed the documentary’s lessons to a tee: practice import substitution, force technology transfer, amass currency reserves, hoard precious metals, deploy merchant fleets, lend prodigiously, install infrastructure far and wide, build a powerful military, protect your supply chains, buy off elites in colonies and client states, and so forth. If world history were a game of Risk, then every century, the board is reset and another player gets its turn to rule the world. The scale is finally weighted in China’s favor. 

Or maybe not. If history really did repeat itself, we’d marvel at our own predictability. But this time could also be very different. We have amassed enough history to preventively alter the course history seems to be taking us on. It is said that Westerners reason in linear terms and Easterners in circular concepts. Neither though seems to grasp complexity, in which every collision of forces, every action and reaction, produces fractal outcomes that recirculate and ripple through the system. What if, rather than confidently repeating the past, China is mistakenly repeating the present?

How Are China’s Land-based Conventional Missile Forces Evolving?

Conventionally armed (non-nuclear) missiles have become an increasingly important component of military power. They can be employed to deter threats or project power hundreds or thousands of kilometers away. As part of sweeping efforts to modernize the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), China has developed one of the most powerful land-based conventional missile arsenals in the world. China’s conventional missile forces have significantly reshaped the security landscape in the Indo-Pacific region, and the US and other regional actors are steadily adapting their own capabilities in response.
China’s Growing Conventional Missile Arsenal 

China’s land-based conventional missile capabilities have developed significantly over the last several years. According to the US Department of Defense (DoD), China’s missile forces in 2000 “were generally of short range and modest accuracy.” In the years since then, China has developed the world’s “largest and most diverse” arsenal of ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles.1

The PLA Rocket Force, which maintains and operates China’s land-based conventional and nuclear missiles, has fielded multiple new missile systems over the last several years.2 Many of these missiles are capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear payloads. The analysis on this page focuses on China’s conventionally armed missiles, and therefore excludes intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and certain other systems that only carry nuclear warheads.3

Made in Germany, Co-opted by China

Executive Summary

In 2015, China’s State Council announced “Made in China 2025” (MIC2025), a sweeping plan for China to become a “manufacturing great power,” seize the “commanding heights” of global manufacturing, and win the “new industrial revolution.”1 MIC2025 is the first installment of a three-part, three-decade series. That series is itself an extension of decades of Chinese industrial plans, strategies, and projects that comprise Beijing’s larger “Go Out” strategy, a long-standing program to deploy Chinese companies and institutions internationally. MIC2025 aligns closely with its predecessor plans under Go Out, including the 2006 “Medium- and Long-Term Plan for Science and Technology Development” and the National Development and Reform Commission’s 2013 “Strategic Emerging Industries” initiative.2

All of these initiatives reflect parallel ambitions and use similar tools to accomplish them. Beijing aims to capture the modern networks, technical standards, and technology platforms that will form the foundation of the 21st-century global economy. Doing so demands advanced technological and industrial capacity. However, Beijing does not seek to out-innovate its competitors through direct competition on a level playing field. Rather, China exploits partnerships with foreign companies, governments, and institutions to siphon technology. Those technologies and international partnerships enable Beijing to export and shape networks, standards, and platforms that lock in enduring advantages for China.3

Simply put, Beijing seeks to “leapfrog” the world’s developed countries. Its ability to do so hinges on Germany. MIC2025 targets Germany first as a source of technology, second as a partner through which to export standards favorable to China, and third as a competitor for the lead in the current industrial revolution. China focuses on fields in which Germany excels,4 including the automotive, machinery manufacturing, chemical, medicine, and electronics sectors as well as new energy and environmental technologies.5 China also targets areas where Germany has influence over global standards, such as banking, new energy vehicles, and energy. China also prioritizes emerging fields in which global leadership has yet to be established, such as 5G and financial technology.

America’s Iraqi Embassy Is a Monstrosity Out of Time


Two weeks ago, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened to close the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. He was responding to ongoing attacks against the building and the Iraqi government’s apparent inability to do much about it.

It’s hard to judge whether there are other ways for the United States to protect the embassy—or whether Pompeo’s threat is designed to achieve some other diplomatic end. But the embassy should be shut down regardless. Whatever the motivations for Pompeo’s idea, it’s a good one on the merits.

To the extent that any Americans think about Iraq or the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad these days, they likely envision a building, but it is much more than that. The compound, which is only slightly smaller than Disneyland, features 20 office buildings, six apartment blocks, and various amenities for the staff, which at one time numbered 16,000. The tab for the complex’s completion was $750 million. It is the physical manifestation of American hubris in Iraq. And, unlike Disneyland, no dreams came true there.

The next administration should shut down the compound and hand it over to the Iraqis. The grounds would make a fine addition to the University of Baghdad.

Analog Threats in a Digital World

By Jacob Parakilas

North Korea may not be good at providing democracy or public goods to its citizens, but when it comes to militarized mass spectacle, few countries can compete. This year’s military parade was no exception: Unusually staged at night, it featured flyovers of combat aircraft lit in bright LED lights, marching battalions of soldiers, formations of rocket artillery and main battle tanks, and of course, a large collection of short, theatre, and long-range ballistic missiles.

The star of the show — previewed by North Korean statements — was a new road-mobile, liquid-fueled intercontinental ballistic missile, the biggest such weapon in the world, which was rolled out on a brand new off-road transporter-erector-launcher (TEL). The rollout of a new ICBM — indeed, the entire parade — was a distinctly analog intervention into a world where defense and security budgets and analytical energy have increasingly been directed towards concepts which are much more difficult to visualize: cybersecurity, information warfare, network-centricity and so on.

Indeed, the aesthetic of a North Korean military parade is nothing if not a throwback. The display of hardware is modeled after a Soviet Victory Day parade. And of course what might be termed strategic pageantry is much older than that. The Royal Navy has been sailing past monarchs for hundreds of years, Roman legions paraded through the capital to celebrate victories, and that probably isn’t the oldest example. The U.S. is uncomfortable with military parades, as Donald Trump can testify, but the overt display of military hardware is a regular feature in American life.

US Appoints New Special Coordinator for Tibetan Affairs

By Abhijnan Rej

The United States has appointed a new special coordinator for Tibetan issues, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on October 14. Assistant Secretary of State responsible for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Robert A. Destro will now also serve concurrently in that position. The United States’ decision to appoint a designated point person for Tibet comes amid sky high tensions with China.

“Special Coordinator Destro will lead U.S. efforts to promote dialogue between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Dalai Lama or his representatives,” among other activities, Pompeo’s statement notes, consistent with long-standing U.S. position.

In particular, the special coordinator’s position supports the 2002 Tibetan Policy Act. The Bush administration had appointed the first such special coordinator for Tibetan issues in May 2001. The position had remained unfilled, however, since January 2017.

A 2019 amendment and reauthorization of the 2002 act was passed by the House of Representatives in January this year. Reacting to the news, China had noted that it was “indignant at and firmly opposed to it.” However, given that the bill hasn’t completed the legislative process yet, it is effectively dead as of now.

The Underappreciated Power

By Mireya Solís

In an era of renewed great-power competition that Washington has framed as an all-out, zero-sum battle between “the free world” and a menacing China, East Asia’s other great power, Japan, has gotten short shrift. Japan does not aspire to superpower status, and its limitations are well known: demographic decline, a deflationary economy, and self-imposed restrictions on the use of force abroad. But it would be a mistake to write off Japan as a has-been. It boasts a resilient democracy and a successful track record of adjusting to economic globalization. For decades, Japan has been a leader in infrastructure finance in developing countries. And it has acquired sterling credentials as a leader on free trade. When it comes to the use of economic engagement as a diplomatic tool, Japan—not the United States—is China’s peer competitor. 

Today, Japan’s leaders are facing a number of tests. Can they

A 21st-Century Reality Is Dawning on NATO


Last week, Jens Stoltenberg delivered a remarkable speech in Bratislava. It could have been one of the speeches one so often hears from officials at security conferences, one about how the West should buy more tankers and fighter jets so as to better deter Russia. Instead, NATO’s Secretary-General spoke about ports, electricity grids, and telecommunications. 

“Our militaries cannot be strong if our societies are weak, so our first line of defence must be strong societies,” he told the Globsec audience. 

Yes! NATO has realized that national security threats come in many guises. The realization is to be saluted. It will make the lives of the hundreds of millions of people who live on NATO territory more secure – and it will make the alliance more relevant.

Stoltenberg is, forgive the pun, a warhorse. Perhaps one has to be if one’s job is to hold together a military alliance as diverse as NATO. Stoltenberg meets lots of leaders of member states, NATO partner countries, and countries wishing they were members. He travels around the world to soothe certain leaders’ egos. He meets with leaders of the West’s rivals. And he speaks at countless conferences. The subject is often Russian aggression, potential WMD use by Iran and North Korea, or arms control. But in Bratislava, Stoltenberg told the audience that “our first line of defense must be strong societies able to prevent, endure, adapt and bounce back from whatever happens.” 

Russian Satellite and Chinese Rocket at 'Very High Risk' of Colliding, Could Make Big Mess in Space


Experts say there is a "very high risk" that two large pieces of space junk—a defunct satellite and on old rocket part—could collide on Thursday evening.

LeoLabs, a California-based company that tracks space debris, said their modeling suggests the satellites will miss each other by less than 82 feet, but that there is up to a 20 percent chance of a collision.

The combined mass of both objects, which are in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of around 615 miles, is roughly 2.8 metric tons, the company said.

Orbital debris is defined as any man-made object orbiting our planet that no longer serves a useful function. It can include non-functional spacecraft, abandoned launch vehicle stages and other junk produced by space missions.

These bits of space junk travel at very high speeds—up to 18,000 miles per hour, or faster than a speeding bullet. This speed means that despite their tiny size, they pose a significant risk to spacecraft and astronauts in orbit.

To date, their have been surprisingly few collisions in low-Earth orbit (LEO.) But experts are growing increasingly concerned as the number of satellites and the quantity of orbital debris grows.

On Transparency and Foreign Funding of U.S. Think Tanks


The Department of State maintains close ties with the academic community, think tanks, and various external sources of expertise in foreign affairs to advance the interests of the United States. We welcome diverse views when doing so. We are mindful, however, that some foreign governments, such as those of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Russian Federation, seek to exert influence over U.S. foreign policy through lobbyists, external experts, and think tanks.

The unique role of think tanks in the conduct of foreign affairs makes transparency regarding foreign funding more important than ever. To protect the integrity of civil society institutions, the Department requests henceforth that think tanks and other foreign policy organizations that wish to engage with the Department disclose prominently on their websites funding they receive from foreign governments, including state-owned or state-operated subsidiary entities.

Disclosure is not a requirement for engaging with such entities. Department staff will, however, be mindful of whether disclosure has been made and of specific funding sources that are disclosed when determining whether and how to engage. This policy is distinct from disclosure requirements under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), 22 U.S.C. 611 et seq.

We hope one day soon that U.S. efforts to promote free and open dialogue about economic and personal liberty, equal citizenship, the rule of law, and authentic civil society, will be possible in places such as China and Russia.

In Search of a Solution to Russia’s Strategic Problem

By George Friedman

Russian President Vladimir Putin described the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical catastrophe in history. Though it may not be true of all of history, it is certainly true of modern Russian history, because it cost Russia what it needs most: strategic depth. Until 1989, Russia’s western border was effectively in central Germany. The Caucasus shielded Russia from the south. Central Asia was a vast buffer against South Asia and potentially China. The Russian heartland, in other words, was secure from every direction.

The fall of the Soviet Union pulled its western border back behind the Baltics, Ukraine and Belarus. Russia retained the North Caucasus but lost the South Caucasus – Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia. Central Asia broke down into independent states. This contraction of Russia represented not only a diminution of size but a decreased distance between potential enemies.

Russia inevitably sought to redraw the borders before a serious threat emerged. That no serious threat existed gave Russia some time. But for a country like Russia, insecurity can manifest quickly. Germany went from being a national wreck to an existential threat in less than a decade. The Russians had to increase their strategic depth, but they had to do so without triggering the attack they feared before their depth was increased.

To Defend Its Interests at Home and Abroad, America Must Vote Trump Out

At the same time, nonpartisan does not mean disinterested. Over the past 14 years, we have published articles defending and supporting the foreign policy decisions of Republican and Democratic administrations alike. But in so doing, we have always referred to a certain vision of international politics and global order as our standard for judgment. As our mission statement also puts it, WPR seeks to strike a balance between realism and liberal internationalism, “combining an effort to see the world as it is with a preference for diplomacy and multilateralism in support of a rules- and norms-based global order.”

By any criteria, the choice in next month’s presidential election is a very clear one between a candidate who holds that vision in contempt and another who, however imperfectly, defends it.

Under the circumstances, then, and given what we believe is at stake both for the U.S. and the world, we feel the need to make an exception to our long-standing policy and state our position to our readers.

We believe that in his four years as president, Donald Trump has already done considerable harm to the U.S., its interests and the global order that best serves those interests.

We further believe that another four years of his presidency would do irreparable damage to America’s domestic political cohesion, its ability to advance and defend its interests in the world, and its ability to play a productive and stabilizing role on the global stage.

WTO says EU can put tariffs on $4 billion of US goods


GENEVA (AP) — International arbitrators said Tuesday that the European Union can impose tariffs and other penalties on up to $4 billion worth of U.S. goods and services over illegal American support for plane maker Boeing. The move further sours transatlantic ties at a time when the coronavirus has doused trade and savaged economies.

The ruling by the World Trade Organization arbitrators, which could inflame Trump administration criticism of the Geneva-based body, amounts to one of the largest penalties handed down by the WTO.

It comes a year after another ruling authorized the United States to slap penalties on EU goods worth up to $7.5 billion - including Gouda cheese, single-malt whiskey and French wine - over the bloc’s support for Boeing rival Airbus.

Now the EU can have its own turn at trade punishment, and has already been considering which American products it could target. A preliminary list that the bloc has released suggests it could go after a wide range of products including frozen fish and shellfish, dried fruit, tobacco, rum and vodka, handbags, motorcycle parts and tractors.

In the past in trade disputes, the EU has sought to roughly match products affected by previous American sanctions — such as by hitting U.S. distillers if French wines were targeted. The bloc could aim for areas where Boeing planes or parts are made.

5 questions with the commander of a special ops signal battalion

Andrew Eversden

FORT BRAGG, N.C. — The U.S. Army’s special operations forces have benefited from new waveform capabilities thanks to a push by the service to modernize the its tactical network.

The effort is led by the Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team and Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical. Lt. Col. Brian Wong, once the Network CFT’s chief of market research, now commands the 112th Special Operations Signal Battalion, but he still communicates with his old colleagues about the tactical network.

“There’s a lot of just people coming together to solve, frankly, very similar problems, just different applications and the mission set. I often argue that 70-80 percent of our problems in special operations with communications is very similar to the conventional side,” Wong said. “How we apply it in the mission sets we use it in, are really what differentiate it, and so we can partner on how we hunt for technology, how we prototype it, experiment with it [and] provide feedback."

C4ISRNET sat down with Wong in late September at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to discuss the special operations community’s work with the tactical network team, how the SOF community’s needs differ from those of the conventional Army, and how his previous role at the Network CFT helps him in his role commanding soldiers.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

The Important Difference Between Cybersecurity And Cyber Resilience (And Why You Need Both)

Bernard Marr

Cyber threats like hacking, phishing, ransomware, and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks have the potential to cause enormous problems for organizations. Not only can companies suffer serious service disruption and reputational damage, but the loss of personal data can also result in huge fines from regulators.

Take British Airways as an example. In 2019, the airline was fined more than £183m by the UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) after customer data was compromised in a cyber-attack. Customer details, including name, address, logins, and payment card, were harvested by hackers – affecting half a million customers in total. The fine, which amounts to around 1.5% of British Airways’ global 2018 turnover, was the first proposed by the ICO under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Cyberattacks like this are hitting the headlines with increasing frequency. But while a company the size of British Airways can, in theory, swallow such a huge fine and cope with the aftermath, for other businesses, the effects of a cyber-attack can be permanent and devastating. This is why all companies need to invest in cybersecurity and cyber resilience.

What’s the difference between the two?

In a nutshell, cybersecurity describes a company's ability to protect against and avoid the increasing threat from cybercrime. Meanwhile, cyber resilience refers to a company's ability to mitigate damage (damage to systems, processes, and reputation), and carry on once systems or data have been compromised. Cyber resilience covers adversarial threats (such as hackers and other malicious actors), as well as non-adversarial threats (for example, simple human error).

The Man Who Speaks Softly—and Commands a Big Cyber Army


Growing up, he was reared on his father Edwin's recollections of December 7, 1941: how Edwin, then age 14, was eating a bowl of cornflakes with Carnation powdered milk when he saw Japanese Zeros racing past the family's screen door on Oahu on their way to attack Pearl Harbor. They were so close that Edwin, who would grow up to become an Army intelligence officer, could see one of the pilots. “I can still remember to this day,” Edwin would recall years later, “that he had his hachimaki—his headband—around, goggles on.”

Decades later, Paul himself experienced another disastrous surprise attack on America at close range: He was working as an intelligence planner inside the Pentagon on the clear September Tuesday when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building. He remembers evacuating about an hour after the attack and looking over his shoulder at the giant column of black smoke rising from the building where he went to work every day.

Over the next 15 years, as America waged the resulting war on terror, Paul Nakasone became one of the nation's founding cyberwarriors—an elite group that basically invented the doctrine that would guide how the US fights in a virtual world. By 2016 he had risen to command a group called the Cyber National Mission Force, and he was hard at work waging cyberattacks against the Islamic State when the US suffered another ambush by a foreign adversary: the Kremlin's assault on the 2016 presidential election.

Intelligence, Cyber, and EW Evolve for All-Domain Operations

By Breaking Defense

The Defense Department has begun implementing a vision for what it calls All-Domain Operations, which intertwine the five warfighting domains—land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace—in a way that battle data is shared instantly over secure networks and out to the tactical edge. 

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. John Hyten described all-domain operations as combining “space, cyber, deterrent, transportation, electromagnetic spectrum operations, missile defense — all of these global capabilities together … to compete with a global competitor and at all levels of conflict,” speaking to Breaking Defense earlier this year.

An important element in realizing the promise of all-domain operations is bringing together data collected through signals intelligence (SIGINT), electronic intelligence (ELINT), and communications intelligence (COMINT). To address that need, Leonardo DRS has recently refreshed its platform-based intelligence, cyber, electronic warfare, and space (ICEWS) business line with a variety of products optimized for ultra-low size, weight, and power (SWaP).

“All-domain operations break down the stovepipes that we’ve seen for so many years and can give the Army a tactical advantage by reducing the long delay between intelligence collection and when that data could be used tactically,” said Tom Gorsuch, director of business development for Leonardo DRS’ ICEWS business. “That means you can make decisions with actionable intelligence that can affect your EW operations from a single operator to a brigade combat team. SIGINT, ELINT, COMINT, offensive cyber, and electronic warfare can all be interconnected to shorten the timeline.”

In drone era, tanks must adapt to last longer

Lt Gen DS Hooda (retd)

The fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan has occupied little attention in the Indian media, but it is proving to be of great interest to the military community. As the war erupted over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, both sides put out video footage showing tanks being destroyed by drones and precision artillery strikes.

The Azerbaijan military has deployed an array of drones, both for surveillance and attack. The latter, also known as ‘kamikaze’ drones, loiter over the battlefield, acquire targets like tanks and crash into them. On display were both Israeli and Turkish drones that have been obtained in large numbers by Baku over the past few years.

Both sides have claimed that hundreds of tanks, along with air defence launchers, artillery guns and other military equipment have been destroyed in the fighting. While it is difficult to assess the losses accurately, there is no doubt that drones have played a large role. The Armenian defence ministry statement that it has shot down 107 enemy drones indicates the extensive use of drones in the fighting.

The drone-vs-tank battle being witnessed in Nagorno-Karabakh is not a first. In February, 33 Turkish soldiers were killed in a Syrian airstrike on Idlib in northern Syria. In retaliation, Turkey unleashed a fierce offensive, primarily using drone-launched missiles and precision artillery strikes. In three days of fighting, Turkey claimed to have knocked out more than 100 armoured vehicles and killed over 2,000 soldiers.