22 October 2020


by Manpreet Sethi


China has been a nuclear-weapon state for slightly more than five decades. Beijing has approached nuclear deterrence from a minimalist perspective, eschewing large stockpiles and launch-on-warning or launch-under-attack postures even when faced with two antagonistic superpowers. Embracing no–first-use and emphasizing the political nature of the weapon, China has maintained a low nuclear profile and a relaxed pace of modernization. Over the last decade, however, Beijing’s nuclear modernization programs have picked up in speed and variety, including operationalization of the new Jin-class nuclear-powered submarines; deployment of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs); and perhaps maneuverable re-entry warheads atop its missiles; dual-use cruise missiles; research and development of hypersonic missiles; and the fast-expanding use of space capabilities to improve intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). How far these developments will take China from its long-articulated minimalist deterrence strategy is unclear.

India is about to complete two decades as a nuclear armed state. This period has been spent operationalizing its nuclear deterrent: building a modest stockpile of an estimated 110-120 warheads, testing and inducting missiles of variable ranges, and moving toward a tentative triad capability with its first nuclear-powered submarine, the INS Arihant. These activities are based on a nuclear doctrine that India’s National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) drafted in August 1999, and which was subsequently endorsed, retaining most of its features, by the Indian government in 2003. The doctrine made it clear that India would develop “sufficient, survivable, and operationally prepared nuclear forces, a robust command and control system, effective intelligence, and early warning capabilities”1 to ensure “maximum credibility, survivability.”2 Survivability was emphasised through a “combination of multiple redundant systems, mobility, dispersion and deception.”3 Under this plan, India has built a credible arsenal and a set of requisite capabilities to satisfy its concept of credible minimum deterrence (CMD).

The Strategic Implications of Chinese UAVs: Insights from the Libyan Conflict

By: Ryan Oliver


In recent years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has emerged as a leading producer of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) platforms for both commercial and military use, and its technologies are being used in unprecedented ways. For example, as the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold in the early months of this year (China Brief, January 17; China Brief, January 29), UAVs started to appear in the skies across China. Public officials employed these UAVs to monitor the population, and to enforce restrictions (such as mandatory wearing of masks) intended to slow the spread of COVID-19 (Global Times, January 31). UAVs have also been used to monitor water levels and property damage amid the severe flooding that China has experienced this summer (China Brief, July 29; CGTN, August 15). Such innovative—if sometimes controversial—practices reflect China’s growing capabilities in the field of UAV technology.

Beyond its domestic employment of commercial UAVs, the PRC has also made rapid progress in the development and sale of military UAVs, which are increasingly prevalent in contemporary conflicts. China’s growth in this field reflects comments made by President Xi Jinping in 2016, when he emphasized that UAVs are a critical element of combat on the modern battlefield (PRC Defense Ministry, March 14, 2016). Chinese UAVs, such as the CH-5 Rainbow (彩虹-5, Cai Hong-5), reportedly operate at relatively low altitudes with more modest payloads than comparable U.S. systems. Newer UAVs in development, such as the forthcoming Wind Shadow (风影, Feng Ying), aim to expand the capabilities of China’s indigenous systems (Janes, August 4).

The Russia-China Nuclear War of 1969 (That Almost Happened)

by Kyle Mizokami

In 1969 the two pillars of the communist bloc, the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China, nearly went to full-scale war. Years of deteriorating ties between the two countries, once the staunchest of allies, finally led to skirmishing on the long mutual border between the two countries. While tensions were eventually de-escalated, what if the two countries had gone to war?

On March 2, 1969 Soviet troops patrolling Damansky Island (Zhenbao) on the Ussuri River came under fire from Chinese troops. The attack, just 120 miles from the major Soviet city of Khabarovsk, killed fifty Soviet troops and wounded many more. The Moscow believed that the attack was premeditated, with Beijing bringing in a special combat unit to ambush Soviet forces. Alleged atrocities against wounded Soviet troops made the Soviet leadership furious.

Soviet border guards counterattacked Chinese forces in and around the island on March 15, according to the CIA killing “hundreds” of Chinese troops. Clashes continued through the spring and summer, and by August, CIA director Richard Helms had informed the press that the Soviet leadership had been discreetly inquiring with foreign governments about their opinion on a preemptive strike on China.

While the crisis between the Soviet Union and China was eventually de-escalated, what if it hadn’t? The Soviet Union regarded China’s leadership, as Robert Farley has pointed out, as “abjectly insane,” and may have wanted to nip a festering problem in the bud (whether that would have increased security in the long term is another question). While China did not appear to want war nor have the resources to prosecute one, the Soviets indeed had the option of doing so.

Using Technologies to Stand for Freedom in Hong Kong

By Joshua Wong

Joshua Wong launched the Scholarism movement as a 14-year old Hong Kong student to stop Chinese authorities from creating a national education curriculum that he and his fellow students feared would lead to an indoctrination of communist teachings and the loss of freedom of thought. His work became the subject of a Netflix documentary and placed him on TIME’s list of most influential teens. The 23-year old remains a leading democracy activist in Hong Kong. In fact, since this interview took place in late August, Chinese authorities detained and released him for his leadership role.

Wong, the author of I Am Not A Hero, spoke with Lindsay Lloyd, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of the Human Freedom Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute, Chris Walsh, Senior Program Manager in the Human Freedom Initiative, and William McKenzie, Senior Editorial Advisor at the Bush Institute, about the challenges to political and personal freedom in Hong Kong. The challenge includes the threat of individuals being jailed for protesting China’s crackdown on individual liberties in his city. Wong explained how the national security law China implemented this summer hopes to silence the voice of Hong Kongers. And he detailed how citizens are using technologies to resist the clampdown, including erasing their digital footprints. An excerpt from his interview, which has been edited for length and clarity, is included in the accompanying video.

Let’s start with an overview of the situation on the ground in Hong Kong, some background on Beijing's national security law and its meaning, and what is happening to you personally.

We are all aware how Beijing ignores the promise of one country, two systems in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. And since the protests in the summer of 2019 until now, almost 10,000 Hong Kongers have been arrested during the protest movement. In a city of seven million people, this ratio is extremely high.

Sinology and the rise of China today

Author: Wang Gungwu, NUS and ANU

The first Sinologists I met in the 1950s were Europeans working in the Orientalist tradition. They had inherited two centuries of scholarship on the languages and cultures of North Africa and Asia but were by this time primarily interested in China. There were very few scholars in the field and some of their work served the needs of European imperial powers. The best of them enriched our knowledge of the Eurasian continent.

During the 19th century, Western admiration for Chinese civilisation gave way to condescension and curiosity about how it became irrelevant so quickly. Most Chinese scholars rejected this Orientalist perspective, maintaining that their heritage was invaluable and that lessons from the past could help them deal with present challenges.

Sinology dominated Western studies of China until shortly after World War II, when a new communist China was seen as an enemy during the Cold War. The United States began providing new funding to encourage US social scientists to collaborate with sinologists, not least to find out how China’s past was relevant to its modernisation ambitions.

Where the European powers saw their modern achievements establish universal standards for civilisation, China’s political elites felt their country’s future still depended on key parts of their distinctive value system. That faith was tested when civil war and Japanese invasion came together to destroy the Nationalist regime. Efforts to develop a modern Chinese scholarship came to nothing. Instead, the past was rewritten to fit a Marxist-Leninist framework and the study of China entered a state of confusion.

Could Army AI Identify New, Unknown Russian & Chinese Tanks? Maybe Soon

by Kris Osborn

(Washington D.C.) What happens if Russia or China builds a new secret tank or heavy armored vehicle that even the most advanced U.S. databases are not able to recognize? What if a weapon attacks U.S. forces that is simply not in any known threat library? Does the U.S. military have any recourse with which to make a fast, informed, combat-sensitive decision? What kind of munition should be used to counterattack? What kind of ammunition does the new threat fire? What is its range and scope? Are there AI-enabled computer programs now equipped to confront some of these challenges likely to present problems for U.S. commanders operating long-range sensors?

The answer is: maybe. If not now, not too far away, according to Army drone and robotics requirements writers now tracking threats and technical trends in autonomy and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 

“Using AI, a small unit UAS (drone) identifies an enemy tank, asks other sensors to confirm and then reports back to a platoon leader, giving him various courses of action with which he can make a decision,” Col. Sam Edwards, Director of Robotics Requirements, Capability Development Integration Directorate, Ft. Benning, Ga., told Warrior in an interview. 

Also, what if, as Edwards also posited, the enemy tank is not recognized by an AI-capable database? This is where analytics comes in; a complex series of AI-informed algorithms would assess a range of additional variables to make a determination, to include analysis of the various configurations and components of known tanks, surrounding context, heat signature or even previous circumstances presenting similar dynamics. 

With Friends Like These

On Friday, the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan flew to Moscow for ceasefire talks. A “humanitarian ceasefire” was announced earlier this week, but at the time of writing appears to have broken down. “Let those holding talks in Moscow know that it’s our territory and we won’t be making any concessions,” Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev remarked of the prospects for peace on Friday, foreshadowing this week’s renewed violence. Currently at an advantage, Azerbaijan has little incentive to return to the negotiating table.

In the past, when tensions around Nagorno-Karabakh flared up, neither side gained sufficient advantage to force the other side into concessions. By default or design, Moscow has ended up as an arbiter. This time, however, Turkey seems to be tipping the scales in Azerbaijan’s favor, with the other two regional powers, Russia and Iran, pleading for peace. In an unlikely turn, Western leaders today find themselves in the unlikely position of being more aligned with governments in Moscow and Tehran than their own NATO ally.

Aggressively backing Azerbaijan is in line with Turkey’s increasingly assertive, interventionist foreign policy developed under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Turkey has pursued unilateral military interventions in Syria and Libya, pressured Greece and Cyprus over expanding maritime borders, and is now backing Azerbaijan’s territorial cause in the South Caucasus. Its military interventions in Syria and Libya have been condemned by many European countries, and with French leadership, the EU has threatened Turkey with sanctions over the Mediterranean maritime border dispute.

The security guarantees afforded by its NATO membership may be emboldening Turkey to use military force when it knows that deterrence keeps adversaries at bay. Especially in the South Caucasus, it’s conceivable that Turkey’s strategists are calculating they can escalate conflicts without fear of Russia directly retaliating on Turkish soil. Early last week, Turkey’s foreign minister was downright dismissive of Russian calls for an immediate ceasefire on his visit to Baku.

Turkey Transfers Drone Warfare Capacity to Its Ally Azerbaijan

By: Can Kasapoglu

During the fierce clashes along the Karabakh front, which erupted on September 27, Azerbaijan demonstrated advanced drone warfare capabilities, showcasing its defense-technological edge over Armenian forces. Interestingly, the Azerbaijani drone campaign strongly resembled Turkey’s Operation Spring Shield against the Syrian Arab Army back in early 2020. Apparently, Ankara has not only transferred unmanned aerial systems (UAS) to its natural ally in the South Caucasus but also a complete robotic warfare doctrine and concept of operations (CONOPS).

Turkey’s Operation Spring Shield was launched following the February 2020 joint strike by the Russian Aerospace Forces and the Syrian Arab Air Force against the Turkish contingent in Idlib. The attack claimed the lives of 36 Turkish troops (Hurriyet, February 29). Spring Shield’s CONOPS was designed to compensate for the absence of large maneuver units on the ground to execute land warfare tasks, as well as the lack of manned aircraft in the Syrian skies. The military planning, instead, was based on drone warfare and an innovative CONOPS, focusing on the integration of land-based fire-support (artillery and multiple-launch rocket systems) and unmanned aerial systems (YouTube, February 28). The operational art intended a high tempo to overwhelm the Syrian Arab Army. In doing so, surgical strikes by Turkish drones systematically targeted the Syrian mobile air defenses, most notably, the Russian-manufactured Pantsir short-to-mid-range mobile surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. Meanwhile, heavily massed Turkish land-based fire-support weaponry, along with the buildup of the 2nd Field Army (İkinci Ordu), intensively hit Syria’s northern deployments. Turkish artillery and rocket fires operated in close coordination with drone warfare assets, providing intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR).

America Is Clearly in Decline. But It Can Be Reversed.

by Hans Binnendijk

Soviet analysts during the Cold War measured national power using holistic measures which they called the global correlation of forces. This dynamic assessment often included not just relative military power but less tangible factors like alliance cohesion, economic sustainability, national unity, morale and will, and a winning strategy. The less tangible aspects of the Cold War correlation of forces ultimately led the Soviet Union to collapse. 

These global trends are turning against the United States, a process that has accelerated during the past four years. The decline is still reversible—but only if the United States acts wisely. 

Under Trump, America’s policy towards its two principal great power adversaries, China and Russia, has been erratic. Forced together, they are now partnering more closely than at any time since the Sino-Soviet split some six decades ago. Together their military spending measured in terms of purchasing power parity is now almost equal to American’s military budget. 

The military technology gap that opened widely in America’s favor in the 1980s is rapidly closing. The Chinese navy is modernizing rapidly and now it reportedly has more combat ships than the United States. America’s space and cyber assets are increasingly threatened. Together Chinese and Russian deployed strategic and intermediate-range nuclear warheads outnumber America’s. The risk of great-power conflict has increased during these past four years.

How the U.S. Army Is Getting Ready to Wage Electronic Warfare

by Kris Osborn

Raytheon’s EWPMT can operate out of a laptop or server stack configuration and the technology is now being finalized as part of a multi-function terrestrial layer for platforms such as Stryker vehicles. It is also built to sustain functionality in a GPS-denied environment and merge with newly emerging technologies designed to solidify Positioning, Navigation and Timing variables. To meet these requirements, EWPMT uses a chat function with technology to geolocate operational positions. The software can be set to provide “automated alerts” for users and also enable what’s called machine-to-machine interface wherein platforms can increasingly network signal-specific data across a dispersed battlefield. 

“We need to support the breadth of all the types of EW systems and the types of waveforms they may produce. We offer a software development kit for developmental purposes to adapt to many different sensors. We can also add hardware,” Jeffrey Polhamus, Product Line Lead, Multi-Domain Battle Management, Raytheon Intelligence and Space, told The National Interest in an interview.

For instance, EWPMT is engineered to discern which emissions or frequencies were hostile from within an otherwise crowded electromagnetic field, analyze the multi-frequency signal data against a known database in seconds, and render problem-solving, organized analysis to human decision makers amid fast-changing combat operations. 

Israel–UAE–Bahrain diplomacy: old divisions overtaken by new agendas

John Raine

It has already reinforced divisions across the Middle East, but what will be the long-term significance of the recognition of Israel by the UAE and Bahrain? John Raine explains the competing agendas at play and the dividends on offer.

Despite the fanfare, the full significance of the formal recognition of the state of Israel by the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrain will only be felt over time. Unlike the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and Jordan in 1994, and the subsequent warming of relations with some Gulf states, these accords are not part of a wider peace process to which they might lend impetus, and the other benefits they promise will depend on the vigour with which parties pursue the new opportunities and overcome in-built constraints.

In one respect, however, the immediate impact is discernible: it has reinforced divisions within the Arab world and Middle East into two discrete and rivalrous blocs, which were already apparent prior to the signing of the accords. The first is led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and includes Egypt and Bahrain, while the second, less coherent grouping contains Qatar, Syria, Turkey and Iran. They are divided over, principally, attitudes towards Iran and Islamist political groups, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood, both of which the first bitterly opposes and the second supports. The second bloc includes Bashar al-Assad’s Syria: although he hates the Brotherhood, deeply distrusts Turkey and courts Gulf engagement and support, he remains aligned and indebted to Iran. The bloc also includes large numbers of Arabs in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq, who are part of Iran’s regional network of partners and militias.

Emirati and Bahraini normalisation with Israel has introduced a new dynamic. It would be overstating its success to say that the UAE–Saudi-led bloc has recruited Israel to its cause, but these nations have deepened their strategic alignment with Israel and are now positioned to reap defence and security benefits from Israel as their partner. While Israel will continue to manage bilateral relationships with Russia and Turkey, it has made a clear, strategic choice about which partners, and which competing visions of the Middle East, it prefers.

‘Weaponized truth’: How the US military plans to compete in the crowded information space

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — Investing in information warfare capabilities is as important as updating military platforms, according to Col. Myles Caggins, the director of public affairs for the U.S. Army’s III Corps.

“Senior leaders need to embrace that public-communication warfare is important, and then have the policies that provide the resources to equip our words warriors and our soldiers with what they need,” he said during a virtual presentation Oct. 15 as part of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual meeting.

To quickly thwart and defeat adversarial messages and campaigns in the information space — which includes social media and, more broadly, the internet — the Defense Department must invest in its information professionals and their tools just as it does in updating its tanks and planes, the officer argued.

Caggins recently concluded a tour in the Middle East serving as the spokesman for the global coalition combating the Islamic Statet group in Iraq and Syria. At the AUSA event, he shared lessons learned about fighting in the information environment, which includes a host of both state and nonstate actors.

Legislation mandated the department designate a person — dubbed the principal information operations adviser — to counsel the defense secretary on information operations.

The Afterlife of Empire

by Robert D. Kaplan

NEVER BEFORE has imperialism been so condemned as now. European colonialism continues to constitute a raw and living memory in the collective minds of its hundreds of millions of victims and their descendants, even while each and any aspect of racism is noisily condemned in the United States. Empire, in other words, has come to represent the world-historical face of racism writ large. It might seem that empire has no future in today’s globalized world, where one culture cannot simply appropriate other cultures as its exotic and “privileged terrain,” to quote the late Columbia University professor Edward W. Said, whose brilliant 1978 book, Orientalism, has for decades served as something of a call-to-arms for leftist intellectuals across the globe who remain livid about Western domination of the developing world. But has empire truly been consigned to a dark age? In a formal sense, certainly. No government official anywhere dares refer to his country’s foreign policy as imperial. Yet in a functional and operational sense, especially as we enter an age of great power conflict, imperialism lurks behind the scenes as an organizing principle of geopolitics, difficult as it may be to admit. Retired Oxford historian John Darwin explains that because natural resources and geographical fortune have never been evenly distributed, making the building of ethnically-based states problematic, empire—in which a number of different peoples fall under the sway of a common ruler—“has been the default mode of political organization throughout most of history.” Empires may leave chaos in their wake, yet it is also true that they have arisen as a solution to chaos, allowing us to set our lands in order, observed Luo Guanzhong, the fourteenth-century Chinese writer and historian. If this all seems a bit antiquarian, just look with clear eyes at today’s world.

THE MUSCULAR actions beyond their borders of the three principal contenders for global dominance— China, Russia, and the United States—are imperial in spirit if not in name. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the British East India Company in reverse, going from east to west rather than from west to east. BRI’s network of roads, railways, pipelines, and ports across Eurasia is grounded in geopolitical, mercantile, and military— that is, in imperial—logic, and follows the pathways of the medieval Tang and Ming dynastic empires. Russia’s attempts at undermining the countries of its near-abroad—from the Baltic states and Belarus, through the Balkans and Ukraine, to the Levant—is a naked attempt to recreate the contours of the Soviet empire and its shadow zones. Meanwhile, the United States maintains decades-old alliance structures, however frail, throughout Europe and the Far East; not to mention military bases in the Middle East and elsewhere. In terms of its challenges and frustrations overseas, America is in an imperial-like situation, and can only be compared to other world empires in modern history, like the British and the French.

Vibes in the Middle East | Opinion


In the movie, the WWII commandos evade the enemy, scale the mountain, enter the fortress, plant the explosives designed to wreck the guns used against Allied forces and escape to a safe place to watch the effects. But there are no effects, and no blast. One team member berates the explosives expert, who calmly replies, "It is the accumulation of little vibrations that does it." And indeed, in short order—and in the nick of time—the accumulated vibrations crumble the side of the mountain, washing away the guns that threatened the Allied advance.

It isn't always that—sometimes, it is Hiroshima and Nagasaki—but the old Middle East appears to be crumbling bit by bit, decision by decision.

Two fundamental propositions underpinned the old Western (i.e., State Department) view of the Middle East: that the Palestinians had to be satisfied before the Arab states could make peace with Israel; and that this was, in large measure, due to the adamant and sometimes violent "Arab Street" that would rise up against conservative Arab leaders if the Palestinians were unsatisfied, or the status of Jerusalem changed.

The move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem produced hardly a ripple. Resolution of Israel's Golan border was met with yawns.

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. 

To Prevent Proliferation, Stop Enrichment and Reprocessing in the Middle East


If Washington is serious about blocking the further spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, it must apply a firm rule: no spent reactor fuel reprocessing or uranium enrichment—by anyone in the region. Uranium enrichment allows production of bomb-grade uranium, and spent fuel reprocessing extracts plutonium, the other important nuclear explosive.

Washington insiders, including nuclear lobbyists and nuclear enthusiasts within the Trump administration, oppose such a restriction. The nuclear power industry is still dangling deals before receptive Middle Eastern rulers, notably the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, and pressing Congress to allow accommodative “agreements for cooperation” with Middle Eastern countries to make the deals more attractive. Although the United Arab Emirates accepted the gold standard—obligating it to forgo enriching or reprocessing—Saudi Arabia, with more on its mind than the generation of electricity, detests this condition. Middle East experts claim it is offensive to Riyadh’s pride, and Washington should therefore take a softer approach.

The problem is, softer approaches are inconsistent with nonproliferation. Even proponents of relatively lax nuclear deal-making admit there is a “security dimension” to the Saudi interest in nuclear power.

Even proponents of relatively lax nuclear deal-making admit there is a “security dimension” to the Saudi interest in nuclear power. It leaked this summer that the Saudis secretly contracted with China to help the kingdom mine and process uranium, which suggests interest in an independent fuel cycle. Combined with the brutality the world knows the crown prince is capable of, and his proven dishonesty, the U.S. government should not even be thinking of supplying Saudi Arabia with nuclear technology.

Milley Speaks Out — and Trump Stays Mum


In June, he publicly apologized for taking part in President Trump’s controversial walk across Lafayette Square after police had used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear protesters from the area. In July, he slammed the Confederacy as “treason,” even as Trump was embracing symbols of the failed secessionist movement. And then in an interview with NPR on Sunday, he cast doubt on announcements by Trump and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien that the United States was severely cutting its troops in Afghanistan in the coming months, saying that “Robert O'Brien or anyone else can speculate as they see fit.”

By any measure, it’s a remarkable string of public pronouncements in an administration not known to brook dissent from senior officials. And yet, multiple White House officials told Defense One they have heard no hint of any grumbling from the Oval Office about Milley — and the president, known for airing his feelings about his own officials on Twitter, has given no public hint of dissatisfaction. If there is a single member of Trump’s administration who seems to be able to get away with contradicting the president, it’s the blunt-talking Princeton graduate Trump selected over the apparent front-runner to be his top military advisor.

Milley has also been perhaps the most clear-spoken defense official in the Pentagon’s efforts to steer clear of the toxic partisan politics surrounding the 2020 election. As fears have grown that there will be civil unrest on or after election day, Milley has sought to articulate the limitations of any role the military might play in quelling it. Those full-throated replies have earned the approval of even Democratic members of Congress. 

Europe’s Awakening to China’s Tech Dominance

As the European countries navigate the risks of Chinese 5G, it is time to reconsider tech independence in other sectors critical to national security and privacy protection. But China’s growing tech dominance poses even more fundamental challenges to Europe. To become a global tech power in its own right, the European Union must take unprecedented measures to allow its market to innovate at scale. To compensate for its loss of world regulatory power, the EU must lead the effort among like-minded democracies against the predominance of Chinese technology in the global standardization bodies.

Navigating Chinese 5G

In contrast to the United States, Europe only fully woke up to the dangers of Chinese technology during the COVID-19 crisis. A growing number of European countries have decided against Huawei as a 5G-network provider, which gives reason for cautious optimism about the collective will to protect critical infrastructure from Chinese tech suppliers. In short, Chinese tech suppliers cannot be trusted because of the illiberal nature of the People’s Republic. Other than the additional financial cost, there is little argument against protecting sectors vital to national security and personal data protection.

An increasing number of countries are deciding against using Huawei, which gives hope that most of Europe will reach a safe harbor. Norway, Denmark, and the Netherlands are examples where telecom providers are phasing out their current contract with Chinese companies while phasing in trusted suppliers to roll out 5G. France joined this group of countries by giving its telecom operators three to eight years to phase out. Additionally, the United Kingdom moved to ban all Chinese equipment by 2027 under US pressure. Similarly, Czechia, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, and Romania have all committed to limit the role of Chinese suppliers.

The United States Isn’t Doomed to Lose the Information Wars


The stakes in this year’s U.S. presidential election are arguably higher than they were in 2016. Yet fears about foreign interference in U.S. elections have only grown in the past four years. Instead of traditional weapons, foreign adversaries are once again turning to social media in their attempts to undermine the upcoming election, and 2020 alone has seen a rash of disinformation about the coronavirus, political unrest, and election integrity. According to a new Gallup/Knight Foundation study, 4 in 5 Americans are concerned that false information will sway the vote in November.

This problem isn’t going unnoticed by the U.S. government. In fact, the current U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) and National Defense Strategy, which have traditionally focused on conventional military might, highlight the importance of information warfare in international conflicts and in undermining the legitimacy of elections. Despite this, the United States still doesn’t have a clear strategy to combat information warfare.

Meanwhile, authoritarian states are ramping up their use of disinformation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s clear that China and Russia—the two countries that pose the gravest threats to the United States, according to the NSS—are using aggressive information warfare tactics to exploit the pandemic and to erode and undermine the liberal international order. While the United States is slowly responding to the onslaught of propaganda, these efforts fall far short of what is necessary to compete effectively with China and Russia in the long term.

In the past couple of decades, the information environment has become one of the main battlegrounds of great-power competition. That’s because information warfare has the power to shape not only public opinion but also perceptions about how states are competing in key issue areas, such as public health and international development. In effect, major powers are using information warfare to sow domestic discord and distrust on their adversaries’ soil, rendering governments unable to focus on external threats.

The Time Bomb at the Top of the World


SAN DIEGO – It is hard to imagine more devastating effects of climate change than the fires that have been raging in California, Oregon, and Washington, or the procession of hurricanes that have approached – and, at times, ravaged – the Gulf Coast. There have also been deadly heat waves in India, Pakistan, and Europe, and devastating flooding in Southeast Asia. But there is far worse ahead, with one risk, in particular, so great that it alone threatens humanity itself: the rapid depletion of Arctic sea ice.

Having survived an attempt on his life, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is eager to get back to work. It is now clearer than ever that President Vladimir Putin's regime is morally irredeemable and in a state of decay.0Add to Bookmarks

Recalling an Alfred Hitchcock movie, this climate “bomb” – which, at a certain point, could more than double the rate of global warming – has a timer that is being watched with growing anxiety. Each September, the extent of Arctic sea ice reaches its lowest level, before the lengthening darkness and falling temperatures cause it to begin to expand again. At this point, scientists compare its extent to previous years.

Artificial Intelligence Cold War on the horizon


Welcome to POLITICO’s new Global Public Tech Spotlight — an extension of the Global Translations newsletter. Each week we track major issues facing the globe. Sign up here.

The United States is the world’s leading force in artificial intelligence (AI), for now, but China is rapidly catching up making partnerships among democracies critical to staying ahead of China’s capabilities. Alongside those competitive and security tensions, the world lacks a common rulebook for the ethical use of AI.

Speaking at a POLITICO AI Summit on Thursday, Eric Schmidt, chairman of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence and former CEO at Google, said the U.S. urgently needs a national AI strategy based on the principle of "whatever it takes." Schmidt said Americans could not relax on AI issues because even consumer AI innovations have the potential to be “used for cyber war” in ways that aren’t always evident or anticipated. Schmidt has previously warned against "high tech authoritarianism."

While the U.S. has lacked central organizing of its AI, it has an advantage in its flexible tech industry, said Nand Mulchandani, the acting director of the U.S. Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. Mulchandani is skeptical of China’s efforts at “civil-military fusion,” saying that governments are rarely able to direct early stage technology development.

Tensions over how to accelerate AI are driven by the prospect of a tech cold war between the U.S. and China, amid improving Chinese innovation and access to both capital and top foreign researchers. “They’ve learned by studying our playbook,” said Elsa B. Kania of the Center for a New American Security.

Dilemmas and opportunities in the cyber winter


What does the future of cyberwarfare with Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas look like? What about increased cyber cooperation with the US and how to handle cyber challenges from powerhouses like Russia and China?

The Jerusalem Post has exclusively obtained a sneak peek copy of former deputy National Security Council chief Chuck Freilich’s book on cyber and national security, expected to come out by mid-2021, and interviewed him regarding the key issues.

Most publications on national cybersecurity zone in on one or two narrow issues.

Part of what is unique about Freilich’s upcoming book, which he coauthored with Prof. and IDF Col. (ret.) Gabi Siboni and Prof. Matthew Cohen, is how comprehensively they treat the menu of cyber and national security dilemmas and opportunities.

Generally, Freilich believes that it is critical to define cyber victory or cyber “defeat” of an adversary as “maintaining cyber superiority” and reducing the adversary to tolerable levels of aggression.

The former NSC deputy chief writes that, “unlike nuclear and some other weapons, cyber weapons are instruments of coercive power that can be used in a first strike. They can also be used... to force a country, such as Iran, to realize that it had no choice but to compromise, or cease major offensive operations.”

White House Strategy Names 20 Emerging Technologies Crucial to National Security

By Aaron Boyd

The White House on Thursday rolled out a new strategy to obtain and retain global superiority in world-changing emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, data science and space tech, among others.

While the U.S. has been a technology leader for much of the last century, that supremacy is being challenged today.

“American leadership in [science and technology] faces growing challenges from strategic competitors, who recognize the benefits of S&T and are organizing massive human and capital resources on a national scale to take the lead in areas with long-term consequences,” according to the newly released National Strategy for Critical and Emerging Technologies.

The document promotes a “market-oriented approach” rather than “state-directed models,” which the administration claims “produce waste and disincentivize innovation.” At the same time, the strategy enables the government to “protect ourselves from unfair competition,” citing China and Russia, specifically.

“Strategic competitors, such as the [People’s Republic of China] and Russia, have adopted deliberate whole-of-government C&ET efforts and are making large and strategic investments to take the lead,” the strategy states. “As a result, America’s lead in certain C&ET sectors is declining. The United States will take meaningful action to reverse this trend.”

The strategy—developed by the National Security Council—melds with the National Security Strategy and “unifies the United States government effort to maintain worldwide C&ET leadership with our allies and partners,” it states.

The administration plans to bucket each critical technology into one of three tiers, putting the full force of the government behind the highest priority areas. For remaining technologies, the government will “contribute as a peer with allies and partners in high-priority C&ET areas, and manage technology risk in other C&ET areas,” the strategy states.

War in 2035: Robot Armies, Self-Driving Tanks and More

Kris Osborn

Robot armies on attack, self-driving tanks and massive, long-range, computer-enabled sensors and natural camouflage technology are just a few of the many dynamics expected to characterize warfare in 2035, a set of circumstances now under close and careful examination by teams of Army scientists looking to anticipate the wars of tomorrow.

“Our core focus areas include AI, robotics and autonomy underpinned by network and data technologies,” Col. Stephanie Ahern, Secretary of the Army Initiatives Group Chief, told reporters on October 14.

The effort, called “Team Ignite,” is lodged within Army Futures Command. It is a collaborative endeavor involving scientists, engineers, academics, concepts experts, and weapons requirements writers to explore the realm of the possible in terms of research, emerging technologies, maneuver formations, and new tactics, techniques, and procedures.

“We have a good view of the future operating environment and are refining our understanding of what it will be in 2035 and beyond. There are some general characteristics of things that will pose challenges to the way we operate. At the classified level, we are looking at threat levels and the evolution of those threats over time. Gen. Murray (Gen. John Murray, Army Futures Command) started a series of future threat deep dives to see very specific threats into the future. We focus on an understanding of where we are with technologies and are conducting dive reviews of seventeen technology areas with partners from other services,” Maj. Gen. John A. George, Commander, Combat Capabilities Development Command, Army Futures Command, told reporters at the 2020 Association of the United States Army Annual Symposium.

Army to Outfit 110 Active Brigades with Fitness Experts to Boost Soldier Performance

By Matthew Cox

The U.S. Army is launching an effort to increase soldier performance by outfitting active brigades with special teams of fitness coaches, nutritional specialists and physical therapists by 2026.

The Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) strategy is designed to work with unit leaders and individual soldiers to hone performance and decrease the risk of injuries, which can affect combat readiness, officials from the Center for Initial Military Training (CIMT) said Thursday.

The goal of the service-wide effort is to outfit 110 active-duty brigades with performance teams and a dedicated training facility, a long-term effort that will require 500 uniformed personnel, 700 Army civilians and 1,900 contractors.

In fiscal 2021, the Army has budgeted $110 million for 28 brigades to receive H2F performance teams. After that, up to 18 brigades will be resourced each year through fiscal 2026, according to Maj. Gen. Lonnie Hibbard, commander of the CIMT, which is overseeing the effort.

"If you look at the number of active-duty soldiers who are medically non-deployable, that equates to being short about nine brigade combat teams ... that can't deploy," Hibbard told reporters Thursday at a virtual roundtable during the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting. "If we can reduce these non-availability rates for our soldiers just by 1%, the cost savings alone will pay for the cost of this program."