28 October 2020

Building a healthcare ecosystem in India: A conversation with Shobana Kamineni

Changing how a country of 1.4 billion people approaches healthcare—amid a global pandemic—is not a task for the fainthearted. Yet Shobana Kamineni, executive vice-chairperson of India’s Apollo Hospitals, has built a healthcare ecosystem that comprises more than 7,000 physicians and 30,000 other healthcare professionals. By mid-2020, six months after launch, Apollo 24/7, Apollo’s holistic digital health platform, had enrolled 4 million people, with around 30,000 downloads a day.

In August 2020, during the Southeast Asia 2020 Virtual Congress of the McKinsey HealthTech Network, moderated by McKinsey senior partner Axel Baur, Kamineni discussed the travails of establishing a healthcare ecosystem at such scale. A condensed and edited version of Kamineni’s remarks and the subsequent discussion follows.

Insights amplified by COVID-19

Today we’re entering a new era defined by insights and discoveries that elevate the greater well-being of the human on this planet. The information age has moved now to the age of insights, and I want to bring out five insights that the pandemic has amplified.

The greatest shift in the pandemic is undoubtedly toward digital health, and my first insight concerns telehealth. Customer adoption has skyrocketed, from 11 percent of US customers using telehealth in 2019 to 46 percent now using telehealth to replace canceled healthcare visits. In India, 50 million Indians accessed healthcare online from March to May 2020, with 80 percent of all telemedicine users and patients using it for the first time.

Surprise! India Is Leaping Ahead in Clean Energy

By Vivek Wadhwa

No country will contribute more to the rise in global carbon emissions than India. Energy consumption among its 1.4 billion people is rising fast, with 65 percent of the country’s electrical power currently generated from coal. The world’s filthiest fossil fuel—of which India consumes more than the United States and Japan combined—will “remain ingrained under the fingernails of the nation” because of “politics, economics, and the complications of generating electricity.” So said the Economist in a 2018 briefing.

The British magazine’s briefing perfectly encapsulates the widespread view of India as climate policy’s problem child. But the conventional wisdom couldn’t be more wrong. Little noticed in the West, India is undergoing a green-energy revolution—exceeding targets, breaking records, and quickly making the age of cheap clean energy a reality.

Because of the dominance of India’s coal industry, few experts ever expected India to be on track to significantly exceed two key commitments to the Paris Agreement. One is India’s pledge to increase the share of power-generation capacity that doesn’t use fossil fuels to 40 percent by 2030; today, generation capacity from renewable, hydroelectric, and nuclear sources already reaches 38 percent, putting India on track to comfortably exceed its target. The other commitment is to reduce carbon emissions by 33 to 35 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2030. Today, India looks likely to reduce emissions by as much as 45 percent by 2030, far surpassing its Paris target.

India has set its own ambitious renewable-energy goals—and is exceeding even them. Its fossil-fuel power-generation capacity is presently about 230 gigawatts (GW), of which 205 GW come from coal. When, in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced plans to build 175 GW of new renewable-energy capacity by 2022, the announcement was met with skepticism. After all, India at the time only had renewable generating capacity of 34 GW. According to Amitabh Kant, CEO of the government policy think tank NITI Aayog, India has already installed 89 GW of renewable power capacity and will achieve Modi’s 175 GW target as planned.

Our secret Taliban air force

Wesley Morgan

Army Sgt. 1st Class Steve Frye was stuck on base last summer in Afghanistan, bored and fiddling around on a military network, when he came across live video footage of a battle in the Korengal Valley, where he had first seen combat 13 years earlier. It was infamous terrain, where at least 40 U.S. troops had died over the years, including some of Frye’s friends. Watching the Reaper drone footage closely, he saw that no American forces were involved in the fighting, and none from the Afghan government. Instead, the Taliban and the Islamic State were duking it out. Frye looked for confirmation online. Sure enough, America’s old enemy and its newer one were posting photos and video to propaganda channels as they tussled for control of the Korengal and its lucrative timber business.

What Frye didn’t know was that U.S. Special Operations forces were preparing to intervene in the fighting in Konar province in eastern Afghanistan — not by attacking both sides, but by using strikes from drones and other aircraft to help the Taliban. “What we’re doing with the strikes against ISIS is helping the Taliban move,” a member of the elite Joint Special Operations Command counterterrorism task force based at Bagram air base explained to me earlier this year, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the assistance was secret. The air power would give them an advantage by keeping the enemy pinned down.

Last fall and winter, as the JSOC task force was conducting the strikes, the Trump administration’s public line was that it was hammering the Taliban “harder than they have ever been hit before,” as the president put it — trying to force the group back to the negotiating table in Doha, Qatar, after President Trump put peace talks there on hold and canceled a secretly planned summit with Taliban leaders at Camp David. Administration officials signaled that they didn’t like or trust the Taliban and that, until it made more concessions, it could expect only blistering bombardment.

Sri Lanka’s Changing Relationship to Chinese Loans

By Umesh Moramudali

The recent visit of Yang Jiechi, a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo member and previously China’s foreign minister, to Sri Lanka sparked interest among many. To begin with, Sri Lanka’s opposition raised concerns about the visit of the Chinese delegation amid a global pandemic and the delegation not being subject to usual quarantine practices. These concerns were followed by the widely speculated Chinese debt trap narrative in light of the discussions held between Sri Lankan leaders and the Chinese delegation. Those discussions were largely about economic corporation between two countries – and of course the Chinese loans and investments.

Subsequent to these discussions, China provided 600 million renminbi ($90 million, or 16.5 billion Sri Lankan rupees) in grant assistance in an agreement signed by Wang Xiaotao, chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA). Local newspapers reported that during the visit of the Chinese delegation, there were discussions about obtaining a $500 million syndicated loan from China Development Bank (CDB).

A unique feature of a syndicated loan, or Foreign Currency Term Financing Facility (FTFF) as it is also known, is that the loan is not attached to a project, thus the Sri Lankan government has the liberty to use the loan money at their will. This is contrary to project loans, in which loan money should be strictly used only for project purposes. Hence, a project loan does not provide a way out from a balance of payment crisis in the short term. Often, when Sri Lanka has faced balance of payment (BOP) issues, they seek the support of the IMF, which provided short-term loans to strengthen foreign reserves, thereby assisting Sri Lanka to manage immediate BOP issues.

This scenario of seeking China’s financial support can be seen as an indication of shifting debt dynamics between Sri Lanka and China. It doesn’t mean that Sri Lanka would stop borrowing from China or significantly reduce obtaining Chinese loans, but it does indicate a change of the nature of Chinese loans obtained by Sri Lanka.

Mind the Gap: How Southeast Asia Can Make the AI Leap

By Mark Manantan

Southeast Asia is rapidly experiencing an artificial intelligence (AI) awakening. A study by EDBI and Kearney on the state of AI readiness in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines revealed an increasing momentum on the adoption of AI use-cases in various industries. Indonesia’s recent launch of a National Strategy for AI exemplifies this growing realization about the potential economic benefits of AI for the region. If Southeast Asia gets AI right, it could add $1 trillion to its GDP by 2030.

But underneath the spectacle and promise of AI in Southeast Asia, embracing this new technology requires a deeper degree of introspection. The region must first confront the three debilitating challenges it continues to ignore, which are integral to its emergence and advancement as a data-driven economy: inadequate investments in research and development (R&D); fragmented data governance; and weak cybersecurity.

First, a cursory glance at the R&D expenditure on AI in Southeast Asia shows a stark divide. On this front, Singapore leads the pack. Aiming to transform itself into the region’s AI hub, the city-state’s R&D investments totaled $68 per capita in 2019. In contrast, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia had committed less than $1. 

In the current value chain of machine learning, one of the subfields of AI, Southeast Asia is falling behind. The U.S., Japan, China, the U.K., Germany, and South Korea occupy the top-tier spots in terms of algorithmic training able to harvest data in order to make sophisticated predictions about the future. Meanwhile, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines are relegated at the lower end of the value chain, characterized by capital- and labor-intensive tasks of data collection, data storage, and data preparation. The U.S. is unmatched in algorithmic training due to its computing power, enabled by bespoke semi-conductors, followed by Japan, South Korea, Germany, and the United Kingdom.

Thailand’s Protesters Want the World to Know #WhatsHappeningInThailand

By Jake Black

A recent escalation in the tensions between Thailand’s student-led protest movement and its military-backed government has generated concern about potential further clashes if a compromise is not reached soon. Protest leaders have been taking to social media in an effort to bring international attention to their struggle as their movement grapples with challenging new circumstances.

Activists have increasingly been publishing content in English and other languages – including Chinese, Indonesian, Japanese, and Korean – across various social media platforms, using hashtags like #WhatsHappeningInThailand, in an attempt to garner international support and put pressure on the Thai authorities to refrain from using violence against protesters.

Such hashtags have been used by the activists for several months now, but their use increased sharply after a police crackdown on October 16, when water cannon were used against protesters defying newly imposed state of emergency measures. These scenes marked a significant escalation by police, who had largely refrained from interfering in protests since the movement began earlier this year.

The movement initially saw protesters expressing their frustration with the government, but its scope grew in August when some activists began calling for reform of the monarchy, a demand that has since been taken up by the movement more broadly. Discussion of the monarchy has long been a taboo topic in Thailand, where a lese-majeste law criminalizes criticism of the royal family, carrying prison sentences of up to 15 years.

Amid US Criticisms, China Offers Mekong Nations Access to Crucial River Data

By Sebastian Strangio

China has agreed to provide the Mekong River Commission (MRC) with year-round hydrological data, following through on a promise made by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in August.

According to an MRC statement, the agreement was signed on October 22 between China’s Ministry of Water Resources and the four-nation commission during a one-day virtual MRC Dialogue Partners Meeting. The meeting is held once a year between the MRC – which counts Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand as members – and its two upstream dialogue partners, China and Myanmar.

Since 2002, China has shared water level and rainfall data during the annual June-October flood season, but will now share data from the whole year. Dr. An Pich Hatda, the MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer, hailed the agreement as “a landmark in the history of China-MRC cooperation.” He added: “The increased regulation of the basin and the opportunities and challenges it brings calls for greater data and information sharing, improved water release notifications, coordination of operations, and enhanced early warning systems.”

The agreement comes after a year in which China’s development of the upper Mekong, known in China as the Lancang, has come under close international scrutiny. In particular, critics allege that China’s 11 large hydropower dams on the upper Mekong have exacerbated droughts in the lower Mekong countries by preventing much-needed water from flowing downstream. This year, the river has been hit by a severe drought, which has resulted in record low fish catches in some downstream countries. This followed on the heels of a previous record dry-spell in 2016.

The 5 Faces Of Chinese Espionage: The World’s First ‘Digital Authoritarian State’


Chinese spies are different from those of most other wealthy and developed countries where the majority of spies are highly trained, with some serving under diplomatic cover and others operating under what the US Intelligence Community calls Non Official Cover (NOC).

Chinese intelligence operations are the first in modern times to use, as a foundation, the whole of society. Because of this, China’s espionage tactics are sometimes artless, operating with little in the way of standard spy-fare, (encrypted communication, dead drops, etc.) instead relying on an overwhelming volume of espionage operations conducted by all manner of citizen and a sort of impunity inherent in the lack of substantive penalty for when a Chinese agent is discovered, a study I recently published analyzing 595 cases of intelligence collection efforts sanctioned and abetted by the Chinese Communist Party.

Beijing has evolved to become the world’s first ‘digital authoritarian state’. Its creativity and ability to combine all the elements of ‘societal power,’ including espionage, information control, industrial policy, political and economic coercion, foreign policy, threat of military force, and technological strength challenges the world’s rules-based international order.

Recent Chinese espionage cases such as Kevin Mallory, Edward Peng, Ron Rockwell Hansen, and Dickson Yeo show improvements in the handling ‘tradecraft’ of intelligence assets.

Why China Wants a Coronavirus Vaccine So Badly

by William Wang Holly Snape
Source Link

Hundreds of people have been queueing in the city of Yiwu in eastern China in recent days to get an experimental vaccine for COVID-19. Although the vaccine is yet to complete its clinical trials, it was reportedly given to hundreds of thousands of people in the past few months, and is now being offered under an emergency use licence to the general public.

Around the world, as first waves pass and new waves close in, a coronavirus vaccine has become a focus of hope. For China, quick progress on the vaccine is a matter of both domestic and international politics.

In early October, the Chinese government announced it would join the WHO Covax initiative for global cooperation on developing, producing and distributing a vaccine.

This was not simply a public relations move in a game of one-upmanship with the US – which refused to join Covax. Instead, it forms part of the Chinese authorities’ overall approach to the vaccine, which is informed by the need to tread a path between managing international tensions and presenting the strength of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-led system domestically.

Despite a new flare-up of COVID-19 in the eastern port city of Qingdao, China’s official line is that the country has already achieved “strategic success” in beating the virus. There is some truth to that. China’s proactive, stringent control measures have received significant praise, including from the World Health Organization (WHO). And yet, suspicion and doubt remain over the early days of China’s response to the epidemic.

China's influence operations offer a glimpse into the future of information warfare

By Olivia Solon and Ken Dilanian
While U.S. intelligence experts generally agree that Russia is better than any other country at spreading disinformation to undermine voter confidence leading up to the election, security experts have been preoccupied with a longer-term threat. They fear that the Chinese government's disinformation operations pose a far more insidious menace to democracy that will continue well past Election Day.

Scholars studying the efforts say the Chinese are growing bolder and more brazen, often taking pages from what used to be seen as Russia's playbook in discrediting the United States. It's a pattern so troubling to global intelligence officials that last week, Ken McCallum, the incoming intelligence chief of the British domestic security service, MI5, said that if Russia's influence operations are like bad weather, China's growing operations are like climate change — far more destructive.

"We are in a competition between democratic systems and autocratic systems of government," said Laura Rosenberger, director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy, part of the nonprofit German Marshall Fund of the United States, who follows the changing dynamics. "China has grown in its geopolitical and economic clout and is trying to portray itself as a system that is equally legitimate to democratic governance. That is fundamentally in opposition to U.S. interests."

While Chinese government officials vigorously deny that they are interfering in the presidential election, they also stress that they plan to preserve their reputation on the global stage.

Why China Needs an Arctic Policy 2.0

By Nengye Liu

On January 26, 2018, China published its first ever Arctic Policy White Paper. The publication of China’s first Arctic policy was largely a response to international calls for transparency about China’s policy goals in the Arctic. It is a well-written document, and assures the Arctic states that China will follow existing international law applicable in the Arctic, so as to pave the way for China’s expanding presence in the region.

Nevertheless, nearly three years later, it is sad to say that the traditionally low-intensity, more cooperative Arctic is gradually becoming an arena for geopolitical competition between the United States and China. U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo slammed China repeatedly during the 2019 Arctic Council Ministerial Meeting in Rovaniemi, Finland, warning about China’s challenge for the region. This was accompanied by the Trump administration’s approval to build more polar ice-breakers in 2020. In the meantime, China is becoming more and more active in the Arctic, such as opening up a new science observatory in Iceland in 2018, hosting the first Arctic Circle China Forum in Shanghai in May 2019, sending its second ice-breaker to the North Pole in 2020, and investing heavily in the Yamal LNG Project.

Why is U.S.-China competition intensifying after China published its Arctic policy? And why are concerns still being raised by other Arctic states about China’s intentions in the Arctic? Is it just because the Chinese regime cannot be trusted? I believe the reason goes deeper. Most suspicions about China’s role in the Arctic stem from the concern that China may break the rules. For example, even though most parts of the Arctic are already under national jurisdiction, it is popular to theorize that China would blatantly violate the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and turn the Arctic into another South China Sea with extensive maritime claims.

The root of anxieties from Arctic states regarding China’s rise, which they may or may not be conscious of, is not about rules at all, but order. The existing rules-based order in the Arctic, underpinned by UNCLOS, has a hidden power structure. Within this power structure, the Arctic states take the drivers’ seat or “stewardship” role in governing the region, which should of course be the case. A rising China, a major power from outside the region, will inevitably shake the existing power structure. A shifting order may then be legitimized by the future development of international law.

Can Russia Steer the Endgame in Nagorno-Karabakh to Its Advantage?

Asbed Kotchikian 

Until late last month, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh had been mostly frozen, with occasional skirmishes, for over a quarter of a century. One notable exception was the April 2016 “four-day war,” a brief but intense period of fighting that left over 200 people dead and was followed by claims of victory from both sides. The recent fighting that erupted on Sept. 27 has been much more intense; over 600 soldiers have been killed on the Armenian side alone, along with scores of civilians and an undisclosed number of Azerbaijani personnel.

While the fighting is officially between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian population, in reality, it includes neighboring Armenia, which effectively administers the self-declared and unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Another direct belligerent, albeit an unofficial one, is Turkey, which in recent months has conducted joint military exercises with Azerbaijan and has been providing it with military and technical assistance for many years.

There are several reasons why the conflict has flared up again. First is the lack of progress by the so-called Minsk Group, which was set up in 1992 under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to mediate a permanent peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Co-chaired by France, the United States and Russia, the Minsk Group is increasingly seen in the region as ineffectual. Frustration with the lack of progress in resolving the conflict has been more visible among Azerbaijani leaders, who have been arguing for decades that their country’s territorial integrity is being violated by Armenia. Authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh counter that the enclave’s majority ethnic-Armenian population is merely exercising its right to self-determination.

U.S. Foreign Policy Never Recovered From the War on Terror

By Matthew Duss

In a 1996 essay in Foreign Affairs, the conservative authors William Kristol and Robert Kagan proposed a U.S. foreign policy of “benevolent global hegemony.” Scoffing at former President John Quincy Adams’s maxim that America “goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy,” they asked, “But why not? The alternative is to leave monsters on the loose, ravaging and pillaging to their hearts’ content, as Americans stand by and watch.” In Kristol and Kagan’s view, it was the United States’ responsibility to sally forth and slay—an argument they reprised years later as two of the biggest advocates for the Iraq war.

The last two decades have revealed the folly of this hubris. With the declaration of its global “war on terror” after the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States went abroad in search of monsters and ended up midwifing new ones—from terrorist groups such as the Islamic State (or ISIS), born in the prisons of U.S.-occupied Iraq; to destabilization and deepening sectarianism across the Middle East; to racist authoritarian movements in Europe and in the United States that feed—and feed off of—the fear of refugees fleeing those regional conflicts. Advocates of the war on terror believed that nationalist chauvinism, which sometimes travels under the name “American exceptionalism,” could be stoked at a controlled burn to sustain American hegemony. Instead, and predictably, toxic ultranationalism burned out of control. Today, the greatest security threat to the United States comes not from any terrorist group, or from any great power, but from domestic political dysfunction. The election of Donald Trump as president was a product and accelerant of that dysfunction—but not its cause. The environment for his political rise was prepared over a decade and a half of xenophobic, messianic Washington warmongering, with roots going back into centuries of white supremacist politics.

The United States has an opportunity to change course. But doing so will require honestly accounting for the destruction that the current course has wrought. The United States will have to reckon with the scale of the disaster it has helped inflict on the world—and on itself—through three presidencies. To that end, the next administration should undertake a comprehensive review, along the lines of the 9/11 Commission or the 2006 Iraq Study Group, to explore the consequences of U.S. antiterrorism policy since 9/11: surveillance, detention, torture, extrajudicial killing, the use of manned and unmanned airstrikes, and partnerships with repressive regimes. The review should include perspectives outside of the usual national security circles, such as those of nongovernmental and grassroots advocacy organizations, minority communities that have experienced the most severe domestic effects of U.S. antiterrorism policies, and civilians in countries where the United States has waged war.

Baku’s Successes on Battlefield Echoing Among Azerbaijanis of Iran

By: Paul Goble

Ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran, who dominate the northwest quadrant of that country and by some estimates make up a quarter to nearly half of the overall population, have been energized by Azerbaijan’s military advances into Armenian-occupied Karabakh. They are holding rallies throughout northwestern Iran and even in Tehran, burning trucks thought to be carrying Russian military cargo to Armenia, demanding that the Armenian-Iranian border be closed, collecting money to support the Azerbaijani army, and insisting, “We are not on the side of Azerbaijan: We are Azerbaijanis.” (Turantoday.com, September 29, October 15; Amerikaninsesi.org, October 14).The Azerbaijan district of Iran (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The reaction of Iranian Azerbaijanis to Baku’s battlefield successes has both short-term and long-term consequences. On the one hand, it helps to explain the Iranian position on the current conflict—Tehran backs Moscow’s call for an immediate and effective ceasefire. But on the other hand, it raises the likelihood of new restrictions on Iran’s Azerbaijani population. In the short term, this increased ethnic mobilization has sparked concern in Tehran that if the Republic of Azerbaijan is too triumphant in its military campaign, that will create domestic problems for Iran, including more demands for Azerbaijani autonomy within the Islamic Republic (Valdaiclub.com, October 9; see EDM, October 21)—something the central government only grudgingly and minimally extended over the last several years. In a more extreme case, further victories in Karabakh by Baku’s forces, might lead to new demands by Azerbaijanis in Iran for secession and union with Azerbaijan north of the Aras River.

That latter fear—one of Tehran’s worst nightmares and which some in the West have occasionally suggested could be exploited against the Iranian government—has intensified over the last few weeks because of certain declarations made at Azerbaijani gatherings in multiple Iranian cities. “Today,” speakers at these rallies have said, “Southern Azerbaijan [that is, the ethnic-Azerbaijani-populated districts of northwestern Iran] has yet again shown its unity with the North [Republic of Azerbaijan].” And that unity reflects not just small groups of Azerbaijani intellectuals but enormous numbers of ordinary people who see their future as one with the Republic of Azerbaijan rather than with the Islamic Republic of Iran (Vk.com/turkunsesi, accessed October 22).

Farmers Support Trump

by Willem Roper

Farmers and agricultural workers across the U.S. have been hit hard over the past few years, facing extreme financial struggles related to China tariffs, historic flooding and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these difficulties, new data shows most farmers don't blame President Trump and instead plan to vote for him again in the upcoming election.

According to a survey of 5,000 U.S. farmers by the Farm Journal, 85 percent said they plan to vote for Trump to be reelected to a second term in November. Just 12 percent said they plan on voting for Joe Biden, while roughly 3 percent were still undecided. Other polls measuring farmers’ pulse on the election show similar large leads for Trump, with many larger than they were in 2016.

Trump’s involved history with farmers and ranchers during his first term has yielded mixed results for the industry. His trade deals with China have opened the door for more exports and international trade, but tariffs implemented in response to tariffs made by Trump have notoriously cost farmers billions of dollars in revenue. Generally, while Trump’s involvement in the agriculture industry has caused markets to fluctuate greatly, his overarching stance against environmental regulations is what keeps many farmers interested in his second term. Couple that with Biden’s intentions to reinstate environmental regulations and perhaps create new ones related to his plans to combat climate change, and you have many within the farming and agriculture industry feeling safer sticking with a Trump presidency.

DOD Must Rethink, Prioritize Strategic Deterrence


The nation has not seriously considered the possibility of engaging in competition through a crisis or possible direct armed conflict with a nuclear-capable armed adversary in more than 25 years, Navy Adm. Charles "Chas" A. Richard, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said today.

The commander spoke virtually in a keynote address to the International Security at the Nuclear Nexus seminar hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"Given Russia and China's expanding capabilities in increasingly aggressive behavior, and those posed by nuclear North Korea and possibly Iran, we must reinvigorate the national conversation on the importance of strategic deterrence," he said.

During the last 30 years, however, the Defense Department has focused on capabilities-based development and planning, because there was no existential threat, he said. "Our post-Cold War experiences of operating in uncontested domains are over. Our adversaries took advantage of this period, emboldened … their aggressive behavior, expanded their capabilities and reconsidered their tactics and strategies." 

But, as the commander in charge of employing strategic deterrence capabilities for the nation and U.S. allies, Richard said he simply doesn't have the luxury of assuming a crisis conflict or war won't happen. 

"I know I painted a pretty sobering picture, but I really want to highlight the reality in front of us. It's also important to understand how our modernization programs support and integrate with our efforts to rethink how we do strategic deterrence," he noted.

Microsoft President Warns Of Cyberattack 'Onslaught'

Microsoft’s president Brad Smith has issued a blunt warning about the state of cyber security and the threats being faced online.

He named a number of nation states as being responsible for malicious cyberattacks targeting elections and the domestic politics of other countries.

Earlier this week the US and UK published details about the latest malicious cyber activities by Russia, which had targeting the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Rogue states

The US Department Of Justice also this week officially charged six Russian GRU officers over the “worldwide deployment of destructive malware and other disruptive actions in cyberspace.”

And now Brad Smith told a gathering of security and defence officials on Wednesday that democracies around the world are under a constant barrage of cyberattacks that must be identified, called out and stopped.

According to Reuters, Smith was speaking at the Atlantic Future Forum.

Sustaining America’s Role in the World Demands Renewal at Home


The last four years have demonstrated that Washington cannot sustain its leadership role in the world without popular support for that ambition at home. In fact, the election of U.S. President Donald Trump has often been read as a protest by the U.S. middle class against the burdens of global leadership. The United States’ unparalleled ability to shape global affairs in recent decades allowed its leaders to promote globalization and trumpet its accompanying gains, but they were too inattentive to the costs borne by key constituencies at home. Stagnant household incomes for the American middle class attest to this: over the first decade and a half of this century, middle-class household incomes grew only from $78,056 in 2000 to $78,442 by 2016. These worrisome trends predated the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, which has clearly made things worse.


While Trump’s disregard for U.S. global leadership is lamentable, it will be difficult even for a new administration to recover influence abroad if it does not do far more to support its middle class at home. In 2017, in an effort to decipher what a middle class–focused foreign policy might look like, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace convened a task force of former officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations. The effort included hundreds of interviews and in-depth surveys of three representative states: Ohio, Colorado, and Nebraska.

The message was unambiguous—and contradictory to the “America First” policies of recent years: the American middle class does not reject U.S. global leadership. On the contrary, it supports active international engagement and recognizes the security and economic benefits that have flowed from U.S. primacy. But in our view, administrations of both parties have not done enough to adapt to the changing needs of—and stresses on—the middle class. What the American public seems to want more than anything else is enlightened international leadership by Washington that is anchored by more and smarter investments at home and a domestic economy that provides more Americans with opportunity and hope for a better future.

America’s Language of Mass Destruction Convinces Nobody

By Doug Bandow

U.S. President Donald Trump was reportedly upset with North Korea’s latest military parade, especially the many missiles and mobile launchers. He seems unlikely to return to the “fire and fury” days of 2017, but renewed missile testing by Pyongyang is the logical next step for the large new intercontinental ballistic missile that was dramatically unveiled—as is an unpredictable response from Trump.

The threat of military action has become a constant of U.S. foreign policy toward the North. Retired Gen. Vincent Brooks, a recent commander of U.S. Forces Korea, argued for continuing to threaten military action against North Korea. Presidents should insist that “all options are on the table,” he contended. He didn’t want war, he emphasized, but the threat should be part of the mix.

The presumption of the “all options are on the table” school is that such threats scare foreign leaders, deter them from taking provocative actions, and cow them into accepting American demands. The reality, however, has always been very different.

Over the years, a stream of policymakers have proposed military strikes on North Korea. Presidents long have implicitly or explicitly threatened preventive war. Both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump reportedly came close to ordering strikes.

Why Indian Americans Matter in U.S. Politics

By Safiya Ghori-Ahmad, Fatima Salman

In the last decade, Democrats and Republicans in the United States have come to see Indian Americans as a demographic of growing influence. Although they make up just 1 percent of the electorate, Indian Americans comprise the second largest immigrant group in the United States (after Mexican Americans). And their numbers are expanding rapidly: According to the U.S. census, between 2000 and 2018 the Indian American population grew by nearly 150 percent. The community is also the highest-earning ethnic group in the country, with a median income of $100,000 in 2015—nearly double the national average that year. Accordingly, Indian Americans have been tapped as a donor-base for both parties, contributing nearly $10 million towards the Democratic ticket in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential elections.

In the 2020 presidential election, the Trump and Biden campaigns have made concerted efforts to air television advertisements targeting the Indian American voter. Competing Trump and Biden ads, in Hindi and several regional dialects, are running amid Bollywood films and telenovela-style Indian shows on popular South Asian networks in the United States such as TVAsia and Sony Entertainment TV.

By picking Kamala Devi Harris as his running mate—the California senator had an Indian mother and a Jamaican father—the Biden campaign has mobilized significant support from the Indian American community. Harris is vocal about her biracial identity, embracing her Indian roots, the impact of which is most visible at fundraisers. At a single fundraising event in September, the Biden Victory Fund raised a record-breaking $3.3 million from the Indian American community.

The Post-American Order

By Kori Schake

The 2016 election was hardly the first time that the U.S. political system alarmed many of the United States’ partners broad. After the election of 1832, the British complained that the United States was governed by “demagogues and non-entities,” and versions of that grievance have been repeated regularly by allied leaders since. Yet this time is different. During the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States’ friends have, for the first time, begun to hedge their bets in clear and consequential ways. A second term for Trump would accelerate such moves, with the result of transforming the international order for good.

Even before the start of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, support for the United States had plummeted to historic lows. Over the past six months, Washington has shown both indifference to the magnitude of suffering among its own citizens and sharp-elbowed selfishness in its approach to global cooperation on

The Police Can Probably Break Into Your Phone

Jack Nicas

In a new Apple ad, a man on a city bus announces he has just shopped for divorce lawyers. Then a woman recites her credit card number through a megaphone in a park. “Some things shouldn’t be shared,” the ad says, “iPhone helps keep it that way.”

Apple has built complex encryption into iPhones and made the devices’ security central to its marketing pitch.

That, in turn, has angered law enforcement. Officials from the F.B.I. director to rural sheriffs have argued that encrypted phones stifle their work to catch and convict dangerous criminals. They have tried to force Apple and Google to unlock suspects’ phones, but the companies say they can’t. In response, the authorities have put their own marketing spin on the problem. Law enforcement, they say, is “going dark.”

Yet new data reveals a twist to the encryption debate that undercuts both sides: Law enforcement officials across the nation regularly break into encrypted smartphones.

That is because at least 2,000 law enforcement agencies in all 50 states now have tools to get into locked, encrypted phones and extract their data, according to years of public records collected in a report by Upturn, a Washington nonprofit that investigates how the police use technology.

At least 49 of the 50 largest U.S. police departments have the tools, according to the records, as do the police and sheriffs in small towns and counties across the country, including Buckeye, Ariz.; Shaker Heights, Ohio; and Walla Walla, Wash. And local law enforcement agencies that don’t have such tools can often send a locked phone to a state or federal crime lab that does.

Our Brave New (Cyber) World, According to David Sanger

by Zack Brown

When Virginia’s voter registration site went down on the last day before the deadline, David Sanger’s phone was ringing off the hook. 

“Everyone thought, ‘Are the Russians in the registration system?’” said Sanger, national security correspondent at the New York Times and author of the best-selling book, “The Perfect Weapon,” which was the subject of a newly released HBO documentary

They weren’t, as it later turned out. The system failure was traced to an accidentally clipped fiber optic cable in a nearby roadside utility project. “It was a perfectly innocent explanation,” Sanger explained in a recent interview with the podcast Press the Button. “But you can see what people’s minds go to.” 

To Sanger, this gut reaction is symptomatic of a new era in geopolitical competition in which cyberwarfare is increasingly taking center stage. In such an environment, where actors operate anonymously—even invisibly—and attribution can be exceedingly difficult, the mere rumor of foul play is often enough to sow widespread doubt and paranoia. Sanger calls this phenomenon the “perception hack.” 

“Essentially you do something fairly small, but the fact that you have done it makes people think that you’ve got a much broader attack underway,” he said. “You don’t need to get into every registration system in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania. All you need to do is get into a couple of cities and towns that are badly protected, and then word gets out.” 

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Army Looks to Disperse Command Posts to Boost Survivability

By Stew Magnuson

The Army in recent months has been experimenting with breaking up and dispersing its forward-deployed command posts to make them more survivable.

Army leaders have been concerned about the survivability of command posts that are placed close to battle zones since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. During that conflict, Russian forces were able to quickly find and destroy Ukrainian command posts by using a combination of unmanned aerial vehicles and electronic signature detection.

The Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Center — a component of Army Futures Command’s Combat Capabilities Development Command — led a series of experiments beginning this summer to break command posts up into a series of dispersed nodes. This is a different approach to previous efforts that had the command post all in one place, but concentrated on tearing it down and packing it up quickly before an enemy attack, Tyler Barton, survivable command posts project lead, said during a briefing with reporters Oct. 22.

Both approaches are still on the table, Barton said. Combatant commanders can choose the best option based on the circumstances, he added.

“Command posts are incredibly important to the Army formation,” Barton said. “However, they're in a tough spot now with needing to do the complex operations they will need to do in the … multi-domain operating environment [where] they will also be under a lot of stress from adversary capabilities to try to target and destroy them.”

Nagorno-Karabakh Proves Drones Beat Expensive Tanks

by Malcolm Davis

The distant conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh has already provided a sharp lesson on how future battles might be fought.

The war has been most visibly characterised by ‘kill cam’ footage of drones attacking armoured fighting vehicles, including main battle tanks, as well as unprotected infantry, with devastating effect.

It’s not widely understood in the West, but this conflict has the potential to escalate into a wider regional war, dragging Turkey and potentially Russia more overtly into the fighting.

The use of armed drones isn’t new, of course. Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) armed with Hellfire missiles were used extensively in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Australia is acquiring the armed MQ-9B Sky Guardian.

What’s different in the current conflict in the Caucasus is the use of low-cost ‘loitering munition’ systems bought from allies. Each drone costs far less than a crewed platform or a fully reusable UAV. In the future, rapid manufacturing technologies will allow them to be acquired at low cost and used in large swarms. That’s a potential game-changer for land warfare.

This has generated debate on whether expensive and technologically sophisticated armored vehicles can survive in future battles against masses of cheap ‘suicide drones’. Is the tank, which first emerged on the battlefields of the Western Front in 1917, now approaching the twilight years of its military utility?