4 November 2020

After the Border Clash, Will China-India Competition Go Nuclear?



Tong Zhao and Toby Dalton: China sees the United States as its primary nuclear rival—the only country that could pose an existential threat. To Chinese strategists, India lacks the will and the military might to pick a fight with Beijing. China has been modernizing its nuclear forces mainly to deter a U.S. nuclear attack. Beijing’s improving arsenal is more than large enough to deter a nuclear attack from India, whose nuclear arsenal is dwarfed by China’s, much less the United States’.

Since they don’t see India as a threat, few Chinese analysts focus on the China-India nuclear relationship. Beijing believes that New Delhi developed nuclear weapons in pursuit of deterrence and international prestige, not as a way to threaten China. Chinese leaders are confident that their country’s rising power will discourage India from fighting China and are therefore quite optimistic about the future of the bilateral relationship. To them, a nuclear conflict with India has seemed almost unimaginable.

Granted, some in India have claimed that China’s nuclear weapons forced India to develop nuclear bombs in the first place. China’s arsenal, they further argue, justifies India in seeking to improve its nuclear weapons and build more of them. But Chinese experts dismiss these claims as political excuses.

Rukmani Gupta: Despite China’s formidable military strength and U.S. security rivalry, the Indian military has not backed down along the countries’ contested border. As the latest standoff enters its fifth month, Chinese scholars may want to reevaluate their sanguine assessment that the disparities between the countries’ militaries will keep conflict at bay.
[N]either country has openly threatened the other with the use of nuclear weapons, but their nuclear status is an unspoken factor.

A new growth formula for manufacturing in IndiaOctober 30, 2020

By Rajat Dhawan and Suvojoy Sengupta

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the fragility of the world’s supply chains for medicines and medical products, food, energy, vehicles, telecom equipment, electronics, and countless other goods. Certain companies have begun to reconfigure their sourcing and manufacturing footprints for greater reliability and resilience, setting up more locations so that they don’t have to depend on just a few geographies. But some nations are not yet ready to take full advantage of these shifts.

India stands out as one such country: a potential manufacturing powerhouse that has yet to realize its promise. From fiscal year 2006 to fiscal year 2012, India’s manufacturing-sector GDP grew by an average of 9.5 percent per year. Then, over the next six years, growth declined to 7.4 percent. In fiscal year 2020, manufacturing generated 17.4 percent of India’s GDP, little more than the 15.3 percent it had contributed in 2000. (By comparison, Vietnam’s manufacturing sector more than doubled its share of GDP during the same interval.) And in the past 13 years, India’s manufacturing-sector share of employment increased by just one percentage point, compared with a five-point increase for the services sector.

As our colleagues argue in the McKinsey Global Institute report India’s turning point: An economic agenda to spur growth and jobs, developing globally competitive manufacturing hubs represents one of the biggest opportunities for India to spur economic growth and job creation this decade. This article offers a closer look at how to do that. We identify 11 manufacturing value chains with strong potential to operate in international markets, power growth, and provide long-term employment and skill pathways for millions. Their potential comes from several factors. First, these value chains are well positioned to capitalize on India’s advantages in raw materials, manufacturing skill, and entrepreneurship. Second, they can tap into four market opportunities: export growth, import localization, domestic demand, and contract manufacturing.

How the Taliban Outlasted a Superpower: Tenacity and Carnage

By Mujib Mashal

ALINGAR, Afghanistan — Under the shade of a mulberry tree, near grave sites dotted with Taliban flags, a top insurgent military leader in eastern Afghanistan acknowledged that the group had suffered devastating losses from American strikes and government operations over the past decade.

But those losses have changed little on the ground: The Taliban keep replacing their dead and wounded and delivering brutal violence.

“We see this fight as worship,” said Mawlawi Mohammed Qais, the head of the Taliban’s military commission in Laghman Province, as dozens of his fighters waited nearby on a hillside. “So if a brother is killed, the second brother won’t disappoint God’s wish — he’ll step into the brother’s shoes.”

It was March, and the Taliban had just signed a peace deal with the United States that now puts the movement on the brink of realizing its most fervent desire — the complete exit of American troops from Afghanistan.

The Taliban have outlasted a superpower through nearly 19 years of grinding war. And dozens of interviews with Taliban officials and fighters in three countries, as well as with Afghan and Western officials, illuminated the melding of old and new approaches and generations that helped them do it.

China “Pwns” Us: How the Chinese Are Buying Up America

By Alex Horsman

The People’s Republic of China isn’t exactly a favorite of the American public. Since the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak of early 2020, Americans are questioning whether or not all of that cheap plastic junk from Wal-Mart doesn’t come with a hidden cost.

It’s not just about the virus: There is also the spectre of deindustrialization, which has been a social disaster for the United States, particularly the rust belt. What’s more, Tucker Carlson and others reported during the early days of the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak that the United States was dependent on China for basic medical supplies, such as penicillin. 

Carlson’s comments are incredibly important, especially when we begin drilling down further into just how reliant the United States is on China: 97 percent of all antibiotics and 80 percent of all active ingredients in American pharmaceuticals come from China. In 2017 alone, the United States imported a whopping $4.6 billion in foodstuffs from the People’s Republic of China.

The corporate press has largely been silent on this matter, which isn’t surprising: They have a long history of sympathy for the People’s Republic of China and virtually all enemies of America and liberty. But there is also a deep presence by the People’s Republic of China in the United States, both in our media and in our economy, specifically in the real estate market. 

China Set To Beat US, Russia Again In Space Launch Race


WASHINGTON: China has launched more satellites than any other country this year as of Sept. 30, according to a report by Bryce Space and Technology. This puts China on track to win the space launch-rate race three years in a row.

Through the third quarter of 2020, China has launched a total of 29 satellites. (We added up the totals using Bryce’s first, second and new third quarter reports.) In the third quarter alone, China launched 14 sats.

The US by contrast has launched 27 total, launching 10 this quarter. If it wasn’t for commercial firm SpaceX — which primarily has been launching its own Starlink constellation designed to provide world-wide Internet from space — the US would be far behind China. In fact, SpaceX, with 15 total launches, is second only to China’s state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), which has sent 25 rockets into space, as the most active launch provider so far this year, Bryce has found.

Russia comes in a distant third behind the other two major space powers, having launched only eight sats through the end of September.

However, while China is launching at a higher rate than other countries, the PRC suffers a higher rate of launch failure than most other launching states, according to a study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). The study, How is China Advancing its Space Launch Capabilities, note that: “Although China has made great strides in developing its capabilities, its overall launch and payload tallies lag those of more established space powers like the US.”

China Has the V-Shaped Recovery of Which Trump Can Only Dream

By Yukon Huang

This month, China released its third-quarter economic indicators, including a GDP growth rate of 4.9 percent. The figures confirmed that the country is on track for an economic recovery after the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the whole of 2020, the IMF forecasts, China’s GDP will grow by nearly 2 percent—much lower than last year’s 6.1 percent but healthier than the 4 to 8 percent declines expected for the U.S. and eurozone economies. In fact, China is the only major economy that can expect GDP growth at all this year.

Although U.S. President Donald Trump has been touting a V-shaped recovery for the United States, especially after quarterly economic data released this week indicated the start of a rebound after sharp declines, it is China whose economy is actually beginning to climb the hill. The question is how sustainable the growth is, and what it will mean for the global economy.

China’s V-shaped recovery is mostly coming from accelerating industrial production and robust export growth. To a lesser extent, more modest but sustained growth in infrastructure investment and housing construction has also played a role. In contrast, the West’s nascent recovery has been driven more by household consumption financed by government social programs. That is, the United States is channeling funds directly and indirectly to individual households through unemployment insurance and through support for specific industries such as airlines and restaurants in an effort to protect jobs. Europe also has comprehensive national programs to sustain employment and income levels. As a result, retail sales, for example, in the United States and Europe have rebounded back to pre-pandemic levels while China has still a ways to go.

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).

Chinese military UAVs have spread across the world: as of March 2019, the PRC had already become the world’s leading exporter of combat UAVs (SIPRI, August 21; South China Morning Post, March 12, 2019). This has included capturing markets in which the United States might have previously enjoyed near-exclusive access; as well as arming countries and factions to which the United States has denied sales of UAVs. At an arms conference in 2018, China’s customer list for the CH-5 included Algeria, Nigeria, Jordan, Zambia, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, and Myanmar (Foreign Policy, May 10, 2018). More recently, in July 2020 the PRC sold six CH92-A UAVs to Serbia, a NATO ally and the first European country to deploy Chinese military drones (Bloomberg, August 4). Furthermore, outside the list of China’s direct customers are those who receive Chinese UAVs through intermediary purchasers—as one side in the Libyan civil war has done through the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Center for Complex Operations (CCO)

The Essence of the Strategic Competition with China

Rediscovering a Strategic Purpose for NATO

The Evolution of Authoritarian Digital Influence: Grappling with the New Normal

Quantum Computing’s Cyber-Threat to National Security

No Competition Without Presence: Should the U.S. Leave Africa?

China’s Strategic Objectives in a Post-COVID-19 World

International Competition to Provide Security Force Assistance in Africa: Civil-Military Relations Matter

Don’t Trust Anyone: The ABCs of Building Resilient Telecommunications Networks

Is China Expansionist?

America's Foreign Enemies Mostly Hope for a Joe Biden Win; Allies Are Divided

Nations around the world are watching the U.S. election with almost the same intensity as Americans at home, and while they can't vote, they have passionate rooting interests.

During his four years in the White House, President Donald Trump has been accused of having a soft spot for the dictators of America's enemies. Do those countries return the love? As the 2020 election looms, the leaders and citizens of both America's allies and rivals are hoping for outcomes that may be surprising. With the exception of North Korea, most U.S. adversaries such as Cuba, Iran, China and Venezuela are hoping for a Joe Biden win, while America's allies are split. Germany, Japan and Australia would like to see Biden in the White House; India, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.K. hope Trump remains in power. The former vice president's chief asset appears to be his predictability: with few exceptions, even the nations hoping for a second Trump term think they can work with a Biden administration. And for some countries, like Russia, the optimal outcome is neither Biden nor Trump, but chaos.

Here's how other countries would vote if they could, and why.

Why Trump Can’t Afford to Lose

By Jane Mayer

The President was despondent. Sensing that time was running out, he had asked his aides to draw up a list of his political options. He wasn’t especially religious, but, as daylight faded outside the rapidly emptying White House, he fell to his knees and prayed out loud, sobbing as he smashed his fist into the carpet. “What have I done?” he said. “What has happened?” When the President noted that the military could make it easy for him by leaving a pistol in a desk drawer, the chief of staff called the President’s doctors and ordered that all sleeping pills and tranquillizers be taken away from him, to insure that he wouldn’t have the means to kill himself.

The downfall of Richard Nixon, in the summer of 1974, was, as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein relate in “The Final Days,” one of the most dramatic in American history. That August, the Watergate scandal forced Nixon—who had been cornered by self-incriminating White House tape recordings, and faced impeachment and removal from office—to resign. Twenty-nine individuals closely tied to his Administration were subsequently indicted, and several of his top aides and advisers, including his Attorney General, John Mitchell, went to prison. Nixon himself, however, escaped prosecution because his successor, Gerald Ford, granted him a pardon, in September, 1974.

No American President has ever been charged with a criminal offense. But, as Donald Trump fights to hold on to the White House, he and those around him surely know that if he loses—an outcome that nobody should count on—the presumption of immunity that attends the Presidency will vanish. Given that more than a dozen investigations and civil suits involving Trump are currently under way, he could be looking at an endgame even more perilous than the one confronted by Nixon. The Presidential historian Michael Beschloss said of Trump, “If he loses, you have a situation that’s not dissimilar to that of Nixon when he resigned. Nixon spoke of the cell door clanging shut.” Trump has famously survived one impeachment, two divorces, six bankruptcies, twenty-six accusations of sexual misconduct, and an estimated four thousand lawsuits. Few people have evaded consequences more cunningly. That run of good luck may well end, perhaps brutally, if he loses to Joe Biden. Even if Trump wins, grave legal and financial threats will loom over his second term.

An Open World Is in the Balance—and on the Ballot

Stewart M. Patrick 

As Americans cast their ballots Tuesday, and indeed for the millions who already have, they are voting for the future not just of their own country, but of the open world that the United States helped create. A distinctive element of this global order, particularly since the fall of the Berlin Wall, has been the removal of many restrictions on cross-border flows of goods, money, ideas and even people. Under every American president since the Cold War, until Donald Trump, the United States championed global integration as a motor of prosperity, a bulwark of peace and—at least implicitly—a source of solidarity. It is that open world that is on the ropes today, thanks to disillusionment with globalization, Trump’s nativist and anachronistic “America First” policies and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, which has dramatically curtailed cross-border exchanges.

During globalization’s heyday, a new, frictionless world seemed to have arrived, as miraculous as the lost world before 1914 about which John Maynard Keynes famously reminisced in his 1920 treatise, “The Economic Consequences of the Peace.”

“The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole Earth, in such quantity as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery upon his doorstep. He could at the same moment and by the same means adventure his wealth in the natural resources and new enterprises of any quarter of the world…. He could secure forthwith, if he wished it, cheap and comfortable means of transit to any country or climate without passport or other formality…. [He] could then proceed abroad to foreign quarters, without knowledge of their religion, language or customs, bearing coined wealth upon his person…. But most important of all, he regarded this state of affairs as normal, certain and permanent — except in the direction of further improvement.”

Keynes’ larger point, of course, was that global integration could easily be reversed, as it had been during the Great War and its immediate aftermath. The next two decades would bear this out, as surging populism and nationalism led many nations to tighten their borders and, during the Great Depression, erect discriminatory and protectionist barriers to commerce and adopt beggar-thy-neighbor monetary policies. These actions fragmented the international economy and, ultimately, hastened the world’s descent into an even more destructive war. It was only in the aftermath of these catastrophes that the United States and its partners spearheaded the creation of new multilateral institutions as the foundations of an open world. ...

The State of and Prospects for Space Governance: A Critical Deliberation

Finn Robinsen

The current conditions of the international system permeate the degradation of effective multilateral governance and encourage unilateral norm-shaping and bilateral governance arrangements between state actors in outer space. Moreover, the divergence between the United States, Russia and China across issues of celestial resource use, legal principles, militarisation, and norm shaping has promoted escalatory geopolitical strategic narratives and obstructed the effective international governance of space. This paper offers a critical deliberation on the state of space law and governance. It does not offer solutions, but underlines the stagnation, failure and prospects – both positive and negative – for the contemporary governance of space.

The following examination of space law will begin by summarising the custodian institutions and treaties as well as the multilateral system which upholds them and how stagnation threatens to diminish its ability to address new challenges. Following, the Conference on Disarmament (CD), its shortcomings and the escalatory geopolitical narratives used by states to permit militarisation will then be critically addressed. The role of non-state groups, their successes and continued efforts in codifying space law and maintaining the principles of the treaties through norm shaping agreements will be discussed. Finally, the takeover of governance by great spacefaring powers will be considered, how their unilateral norm shaping, coalition building, and bilateral agreements are an attempt to disproportionately alter the governance of space.

The investigation asserts the thesis that great powers are exploiting the stagnation of effective multilateral governance, the failure of the CD and the consequent militarisation of space to unilaterally shape space governance. Non-state stakeholders are increasingly influential in the development of space law, while the ability to participate in governance by non-space fairing nations is in decline. The future of space governance is increasingly less international and characterised by coercion, coalition building and the pursuit of hegemony.

Securitising the War On Terror

Malgorzata Odolczyk

When it comes to discussing the events of September 2001 between the members of my family, my mother always recalls how when she first saw coverage of the attacks in the television. For a longer while she thought she was watching just another action movie. It was only as she received a call from my father when she realised that the footage of planes crushing into a skyscraper or people jumping out of the windows desperately trying to save their lives, was in fact live footage from New York City, Pennsylvania and Washington, D. C. The series of events which certainly resembled a film more than the reality set in motion a process of deep changes in the consciousness of the mainstream public, introducing multiple sets of institutional practices (including military and intelligence operations, special government bodies or legislation) as well as an accompanying discursive project (Jackson, 2005). Although the atrocity of terrorism is undeniable and utterly horrendous, the method of dealing with it is an issue of contestation for many. According to Bonafede (2002, p. 162) state practice post-9/11 shifted towards a loosening of the proportionality regulation on the right to self-defence in terms of responding to international terrorism. Some important questions to consider here, include for instance whether the events of September 11 justify the extent of US military interventions around the globe? Was the American government still acting within the bounds of self-defence? Certainly those and many other questions are terribly difficult to give a simple answer to, as the concept of proportionality in international relations is deeply complex. This essay shall argue that the ‘war on terror’ was not a proportionate way to combat terrorism. It served as a mean of securitising global terrorism as a threat significant and dangerous enough to legitimise the extraordinary use of force undertaken by the American government. The formalisation of terrorism as a war can thus be considered as a crucial mode of naturalising a new social reality which allows for the use of extraordinary measures, effectively suspending the normal political functions of a state. This essay will make use of the securitisation theory developed by the Copenhagen School, which I shall elucidate in line with an analysis of the discourse of Bush’s administration, making use of the Foulcauldian concept of discourse, understood as a powerful set of assumptions, expectations or explanations, which define mainstream social or cultural reality through language and practices (Hodges, 2011).

How a U.S.-China War Could Someday Be Stopped

by Kris Osborn

U.S. and Chinese military leaders have just completed the first “Crisis Communications Working Group” video teleconference intended to prevent war. 

“Crisis Communications” was the declared focus on the discussions, according to a Pentagon statement.

“The two sides agreed on the importance of establishing mechanisms for timely communication during a crisis, as well as the need to maintain regular communication channels to prevent crisis and conduct post-crisis assessment,” the Pentagon report said. 

A Chinese-government backed newspaper also welcomed the announcement, reporting that U.S. military leaders were “cautious and reasonable” because they were aware of how horrible a U.S.-China war would be. 

Are these U.S. and Chinese remarks merely shallow comments? Or do they represent some kind of measurable or significant step forward? No real way to know, as both sides have talked before only to see tensions and near-crises emerge shortly thereafter. 

The Global Times, a pro-Chinese tabloid, also criticized President Donald Trump for what it claimed were efforts to seek an escalation in U.S.-China tensions for political reasons to create an “October Surprise.” Would some kind of sudden engagement, confrontation or military crisis with China distract voters or lead them to favor a Trump presidency? Such an unanticipated scenario, it seems, could play either way politically, as many might wish to quickly make an immediate change to avert the catastrophe of major war.

“Although some officials in the Trump administration want to create an ‘October surprise’ by using US-China tensions, they are unlikely to risk a war with China, so military provocations by the US might be reduced,” the Chinese paper states. 

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

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.

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 telecom sector in 2020 and beyond

Philipp Nattermann: The biggest impact that the COVID-19 crisis has had so far on the telecom industry has been that the industry has become ever more central to how modern society operates. Think about how many people had the need to work from home and to log into the system—videoconferencing has been booming; file sharing has been booming.

Karolina Sauer-Sidor: For me, public health has been one of the key examples of how telecom operators have stepped up to the challenge and supported the transition. They have supported creation of contagion heat maps. They’ve even partnered with organizations to create virtual clinics. The initiatives and measures that used to take months—for example, creating a partnership—are now taking just a couple of days or, maximum, a couple of weeks.

Philipp Nattermann: An example of great resilience from a telco in this crisis is Telecom Italia. It moved from having its call-center agents working in the physical call center, which is the only place they had ever worked, to having 3,500 call-center agents working from home. And within 72 hours, I believe, the entire group of 7,000 agents were working from home.

Expanded services and stronger connectivity

Karolina Sauer-Sidor: Businesses are currently working differently, and this requires new products and a new sales-and-service model to support the digitization of multiple industries. This includes a faster shift to the cloud, as well as to an as-a-service model. We see a much greater demand for both artificial intelligence and automation services.

The End Of Oil Is Near, Or Maybe Not

by Roger Blanchard

The “The End of Oil?" article describes weak oil demand in recent years although it should be stated that global oil consumption increased over 5 million barrels/day from 2015 to 2019. A major factor for weak oil demand growth in recent years is the increasing level of inequality in the U.S. and world. There is an increasing population that can’t afford to buy oil distillates, or the devices that use them. Oil distillates offer the ability to avoid manual physical effort which people tend to select when they can afford to.

“The End of Oil?" article emphasized the increase in global oil production in recent years. Most of that production increase was associated with unconventional oil resources such as shale oil in the U.S. and oil sands in Canada. The problem with those unconventional oil resources is that they are considerably more expensive to produce compared to conventional oil. Conventional oil production is declining over much of the globe which has forced oil companies to move to unconventional resources.

The author describes oil majors, like ExxonMobil and Chevron, as getting into the shale oil business in recent years. That is not a wise business decision but due to the lack of new conventional resources to exploit.

The U.S. oil production increase over the last 15 years was achieved with huge financial losses for the oil industry. The author states that the breakeven price for shale oil is around $50/barrel but for much of the last decade, the price of oil was above $50/barrel and the industry was consistently losing money. The situation can only get worse when the industry has to rely on marginal drilling acreage in the future.

How to Avoid a Space Arms Race

by John Lauder, Frank G. Klotz, William Courtney

On September 22, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed that leading space powers agree to prohibit the “stationing” of weapons in space and the “threat or use of force” against space objects.

There's hardly anything new in Putin's pronouncement. As far back as 1985, the USSR called for a ban on “space strike weapons.” Moscow has sounded variations on the same theme, often aided and abetted by China, ever since. Both nations share a common desire to curb the U.S. technological prowess in developing advanced space capabilities, especially those that might be applied to missile defense or anti-satellite operations.

Ironically, both Russia and China are actively developing and testing a variety of technical approaches to threaten U.S. and allied space assets in the event of a crisis or conflict. Twice this year, Russia has tested different systems capable of destroying U.S. satellites.

These developments are worrying. U.S. economic and national security have grown increasingly dependent on the global communications, precision navigation, weather forecasting, and overhead imagery provided by on-orbit systems. It is difficult to imagine, for example, how the U.S. military could operate as effectively as it has over the past two decades without unfettered access to the information derived from and transmitted through space.

Think Tanks in the Era of Truth Decay

by Michael D. Rich

We are living through a moment of crisis that will define who we are as a nation; yet we can't even agree on what's real and what's rumor. Our political discourse too often amounts to opinions about opinions, shouted across a cable-television split screen. Asked to describe their feelings toward the federal government, a majority of Americans say either “frustrated” or “angry.”

All of this points to a civic disease that I've been calling “Truth Decay,” and that has enfeebled our response to everything from climate change to domestic terrorism to a global pandemic. It's the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life, and it cuts much deeper than any political party or demographic. It's why nonpartisan think tanks like RAND are as important now as they have ever been.

I've always said that RAND is an idea as much as a research institute—a belief that the best way to solve the most complex and difficult problems is to begin with facts and objective analysis. In our early days, that meant figuring out how to put a satellite into orbit, or how to manage the threat of global nuclear war. Today, it means saving lives and livelihoods from COVID-19, building a more just and equitable society, and responding to the ever-changing threats of an ever-accelerating world. Our goal throughout has been to make communities safer and more secure, healthier and more prosperous.

At RAND, we have never shied away from a problem because it is too difficult or too complex. We've made countering Truth Decay one of our highest priorities because it is both, and because it threatens the very foundations of our democracy.

The Third World War May Already Be Happening … Online


Australia, the summer of 2020 – China allegedly performs a calculated attack on primary Australian government resources. In response to this unprecedented provocation, the Australian prime minister does not send fighter jets. No bombs or missiles are launched. The people called to arms are not trained in hand-to-hand combat, but every one of them can tilt the balance in historic, decades-long conflicts: hackers.

It is no secret that in the 21st century, cyber threats are often as dangerous as bombs. A well-planned attack could shut down a city and cause massive financial losses, injuries, and even deaths. In the APAC region, digital threats reveal increasing diplomatic destabilization. Only several months ago, violent incidents on the Ladakh region border between China and India reportedly led to Chinese DDoS attacks on Indian sites. Similar incidents allegedly occurred in disputes between India and Nepal, North Korea, and Pakistan. Cyber violence could be the result of armed conflict, or it could very well lead to one. In the next years, we will see them playing a crucial part in conflicts already in place, as well as future points of friction. But why, exactly, did cyber-attacks become such a go-to modus operandi for countries and nations in recent years?

Both the best option and the last resort

“Cyber activity offers governments unique advantages over traditional warfare,” says Evan Davidson, VP of Asia Pacific Japan at SentinelOne. “From a contemporary point of view, the digital front is far superior to the historic battlefields of the 20th century. Using cyber-based reconnaissance, governments can collect valuable information faster, from the safety of their own country. The lives of their agents are in far less of a risk, too. The possibilities are incredibly varied, from military to trade secrets and intellectual property. China, India, North Korea, and other military superpowers have been employing those methods for years.

America’s Cultural Institutions Are Quietly Fueled by Russian Corruption

By Casey Michel, David Szakonyi

Over the past four years, a number of post-Soviet oligarchs have made headlines for their direct involvement in U.S. politics. By some counts, nearly a dozen oligarchs landed in the crosshairs of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, with several more coming under scrutiny during President Donald Trump’s recent impeachment saga.

These oligarchs’ financial activities in the United States, however, are by no means limited to politics or connections to political interference campaigns. Instead, they extend to a range of philanthropic activities, much of which has gone previously unreported.

A new database compiled by the Anti-Corruption Data Collective reveals that seven of these post-Soviet oligarchs connected to interference efforts have donated between $372 million and $435 million to more than 200 of the most prestigious non-profit institutions in the U.S. over the past two decades. The list of recipients covers the gauntlet: from prestigious think tanks like the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations, to world-renowned universities such as Harvard and the University of Southern California, to cultural icons such as the New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Although some of these donations have been previously reported, our research offers the most complete overview of the role of post-Soviet oligarchs in the largely opaque world of philanthropy. To pull back the curtain, we pulled together information from private companies such as NOZA (which aggregates data on donations to U.S.-based foundations, think tanks, universities, and other organizations) as well as IRS 990 forms and annual reports over the past two decades. (There are no allegations of any illegality in any of the donations, and the authors are happy to share specific examples upon request.)

Russia Watches as Karabakh War Reaches Decisive Turning Point

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

For more than a month now, Armenian and Azerbaijani forces have been fighting for the disputed territory of Karabakh and surrounding Armenian-occupied districts. Thousands of soldiers on both sides have perished, and at least hundreds of civilians have been killed and injured. But there has still been no letup in the violence, despite efforts by the great powers to impose a ceasefire.

The Karabakh conflict was effectively frozen for over 26 years, since May 1994, when Moscow forcefully mediated a ceasefire agreement the first time. Over the ensuing decades, bloody skirmishes erupted periodically on the line of conflict (LoC) established in 1994. A particularly heavy Azerbaijani-Armenian flare-up erupted in April 2016, known as the “Four-Day War.” But overall., the LoC did not change much throughout the years.

The Minsk Group, a Karabakh conflict mediation body within the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), was created in 1992; but it has been essentially dormant over the past several years. Russia—a co-chair of the Minsk Group and a dominant power in the region—was active in trying to promote a solution to the Karabakh problem. In 2011, during a Russo-Azerbaijani-Armenian summit in Kazan, Russia, an agreement seemed close. Yet after Vladimir Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012, Russian interest seemed to fade, as the country became distracted by other issues and the overall escalation of its confrontation with the West. Still Moscow continued to maintain a semblance of trying to preserve the Azerbaijani-Armenian balance of power. Russia sold large quantities of weapons to both sides—for cash to oil-rich Azerbaijan and on credit to poor Armenia, a member of the Moscow-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and Eurasian Economic Union. In 2016, Russia intervened diplomatically in the Four-Day War, effectively forcing both sides to accept a ceasefire. When the latest clashes erupted, on September 27, 2020, many foreign governments expected and hoped that Moscow would again act decisively to refreeze the Karabakh conflict—perhaps with some adjustments to the LoC.

Dissuasion in Cyberspace: The Limitations of Classical Deterrence Theory

Sarah M. Koch

In 2011, a top federal laboratory in the United States was forced to disconnect from the Internet when administrators discovered that data was being siphoned from a server.[1] In 2014, two Chinese hacks into U.S. Office of Personnel Management databases compromised sensitive information on more than 22.1 million people. U.S. officials said it was “highly likely” that every security clearance application since 2000 had been exposed.[2] In the spring of 2017, a mysterious hacking group called the Shadow Brokers released alleged NSA tools. This trove included EternalBlue, which exploited a previously unknown Windows vulnerability. Hackers then used EternalBlue in two high-profile ransomware attacks only months later.[3]

Western society’s connectivity is accompanied by a new national security risk: cyberattacks. To a degree almost unimaginable a decade earlier, disruptive and destructive cyberattacks have become central to multi-domain warfare in interstate conflict. Our critical infrastructure, banking, and military systems rely on connectivity in cyberspace. Paradoxically, those who are at the forefront of these emerging technologies are also the most susceptible to attack.[4] For this reason, nations such as the United States face many peer or near-peer competitors in the domain of cyber warfare.[5] As cyberattacks by state and non-state actors continue to increase in frequency and severity, cyberattack prevention continues to become more central to national security policy. However, cyberattacks can rarely be deterred. Threat of punishment is the universal deterrence mechanism, but punishment will play a lesser role in the cyber domain. As Richard Clark and Robert Knake argue, “Of all the nuclear strategy concepts, deterrence theory is perhaps the least transferable to cyber war.”[6]

Ultimately, cyber must be distinguished from both nuclear and conventional kinetic conflict. The constant evolution, paradoxes, and indisputable uniqueness of cyber warfare leave strategists with an unclear picture as they pursue appropriate deterrence policies for cyberattacks. Policy experts have identified four potential mechanisms of deterrence and dissuasion in cyberspace: threat of punishment, denial by defense, entanglement, and normative taboos. However, for concept “purists,” only the first mechanism constitutes deterrence.[7] In response, Martin Libicki constructed a ladder of appropriate retaliatory responses: diplomatic, economic, cyber, physical force, and nuclear force.[8] Under a strategy grounded in a multi-domain ladder of retaliation, nuclear weapons could serve as a retaliatory strike after devastating, non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure. In theory, such a strategy would create a deterrent dynamic for potentially crippling cyberattacks. In reality, its efficacy remains far from clear.

Blockchain hackers have stolen over $13.6 billion in 330 hack events

Alex T. 

According to data analyzed by the Atlas VPN team, over a lifetime, hackers stole $13.6 billion through 330 blockchain hacks.

Blockchain is a distributed ledger technology that allows data to be stored on thousands of servers worldwide while allowing anyone on the network to see everyone else's entries in near real-time. Blockchain is primarily used for recording transactions made with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. However, it has many other applications as well.

Most successful in terms of the number of breaches were hacks targeting EOS DApps. EOS DApp providers faced 117 breaches, which make up almost 36% of all blockchain-related breaches. Together they amounted to $28.28 million in losses or approximately $241,785.8 per single breach.

EOS DApps are decentralized applications based on the EOS blockchain. Founded in 2017, EOS msart contract platform was created to provide a user-friendly and business-friendly infrastructure for creating DApps.

Next up are hacks aimed at cryptocurrency exchanges. In total, hackers launched 87 successful attacks aimed at crypto exchanges, collectively netting $4.82 billion or a whopping $55.41 million per hack.