26 November 2020

India keeps focussing on a future China threat. But just looking east is bad security policy


For the past decade, Western security commentaries have portrayed India as a natural member of East Asia’s political life. The impetus for this narrative began in November 2010 when President Barack Obama, in his address to a joint session of Parliament, urged India’s lawmakers to ‘not only “look East” but “engage East”’. In the ensuing years, American diplomats have prodded India towards a ‘Be East’ policy, perhaps reflecting impatience with the pace of India’s Pacific rendezvous. 

India, in fact, elected to look East back in the early 1990s, long before Washington’s courting began. And simply because the West has been encouraging this, does not mean that India should do the opposite. However, what India’s political and strategic community should debate is a geostrategy that is consistent with the geopolitical context of South Asia. 

It can be argued that by diverting India’s geostrategic attention eastwards, Washington has been attempting to re-orient Indian threat perceptions away from Pakistan. And it is not difficult to discern why. Drawing India’s strategic focus away from the subcontinent would enable Washington to maintain its South Asia policy of increasing investments in both India and Pakistan without their bilateral contradictions undermining its regional strategy. This pattern recurred throughout the Cold War, and continues to be a potential nuisance to US foreign policy. 

How India can get most out of Biden presidency

‘I want to go, it will be great theatre,’ is how US President Donald J Trump closed the debate amongst his advisors on visiting Singapore for a summit with Kim Jong-un, the Supreme Leader of North Korea. The president was unprepared and did not want a ‘big formal agenda.’ Needless to say, nothing big was achieved either. A few days later, finally arrested of the fact that North Korea had no intention of denuclearisation, Trump said: ‘we’re going to end being chumps.’ North Korea, he now argued, was a ‘waste of time.’ This was a point his confidantes had not failed to tell the deal-hungry leader many times over.

This is only a snapshot of how the Trump White House dealt with foreign affairs. It was not about disrupting global politics by design. It was about basing ground-shattering decisions on the basis of an instinct informed by showmanship, which then disordered years of thoughtful diplomacy.
US president-elect Joe Biden’s foreign policy mission is clear: ‘place America at the head of the table, leading the world to address the most urgent global challenges.’ The aim is restoration. The challenge is ecological in proportion. From climate change to a deal with Iran, and from non-proliferation to negotiating with Trump’s old ‘chump,’ Biden will first need to restore a framework for international politics to advance his declared goals.

China's tech authoritarianism too big to contain


A deluge of reports hit inboxes this week cataloging the risks China’s authoritarianism poses to Western democracies. The problem, they say, is that China may already be too big and too advanced in its technology to contain — at least for any one country alone.

Reports from the Halifax International Security Forum, the State Department and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Republican majority all agree that China’s goals and methods have changed quickly and that the U.S., EU and other democracies will fail to outmaneuver China by operating alone.

Samantha Hoffman, senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre said liberal democracies must coordinate if they want to address China’s “tech-enhanced authoritarianism.” That means avoiding a narrow public debate on spying, she said, and focusing instead on fundamental research (to avoid relying on tech developed in China) and more internationally agreed standards (so that China does not set the standards themselves),

China – Next Steps

By James Przystup

The United States-China relationship has entered a new era. The bipartisan consensus that guided China policy, from the Nixon opening through visions of a “Responsible Stakeholder,” has eroded. The strategic rationale that China’s entry into the WTO would advance economic reform and, over time, political liberalization has failed to meet its promise. 

Secretary of State Pompeo’s remarks at the Nixon Library in July 2020 – that the “age of inevitability is over” – underscored this reality.[1] A new relationship is now in the process of being defined. It will be one in which decades of U.S. pre-eminence will be challenged.

The Secretary is right to have called out China for its violation of human rights, economic thievery, and disregard for international law, but this gets us no closer to a strategy for dealing with China. 

Mapping and recalibrating Europe’s economic interdependence with China

Max J. Zenglein

Main findings and conclusions
China’s rapid development and its central role as a driver of globalization have resulted in expanding economic ties with the EU over the past two decades. Between 2000 and 2019, the volume of trade expanded nearly eightfold to EUR 560 billion.
China is now the EU’s second-most important trading partner behind the United States, bringing in consumer goods and freeing up disposable income for European citizens. At the same time, growing demand for European products made China a crucial export destination.

China’s increasing innovation power and dynamic market shape corporate decisions in Europe – and amplify their exposure to Chinese pressure. However, overall corporate dependence remains limited as markets in Europe and the US are as or even more important than the Chinese market for their business.

A sample of 25 EU companies from different member states and industries gives an impression of European corporate dependence on China: On average, these companies generated 11.2 percent of their revenue in 2019 in the Peoples’ Republic.

China Security Report

The international community keeps a close watch on China's security policy and its military trends. The Japanese public has been increasingly aware of the large impact of China's rising military (and economic) power that may have a huge impact on Japanese security. China, now the second largest economy in the world, has become an essentially important economic partner for Japan and other East Asian countries. At the same time, its rapid economic growth allows China to multiply its military spending and move forward with the modernization of the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The NIDS China Security Report analyzes the strategic and military trends of China. The report is originally published in Japanese, translated into English and Chinese.

Biden and Flournoy Have Clashed Over Policy in Past


Michèle Flournoy is widely considered to be a front-runner to become President-elect Joe Biden’s pick as secretary of defense, the first woman to serve in the post. But Flournoy, a highly regarded career defense official, hasn’t always been on the same side of policy debates as her future boss, and that could potentially affect the Biden administration’s future approach to security concerns around the globe.

The disagreements between the two in the past have ranged from the U.S. policy stance from Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria.
The disagreements between the two in the past have ranged from the U.S. policy stance from Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria.

In Afghanistan, while Biden as Barack Obama’s vice president advocated for a pared-down counterterrorism (CT) approach that would focus narrowly on eliminating al Qaeda, Flournoy argued for a broader and more troop-intensive counterinsurgency or COIN strategy that would combine military and civil tactics to win over the population. 

How to Defeat Disinformation: An Agenda for the Biden Administration

By Nina Jankowicz

The 2016 U.S. presidential election propelled the threat of disinformation to the forefront of public debate. Americans were shocked by Russian attempts to influence voters by spreading misleading narratives. They had never imagined that a foreign power might use social media and other modern technologies to interfere in their elections.

Four years later, it seems that foreign adversaries were not able to meaningfully disrupt the 2020 U.S. presidential election—the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) declared this recent election “the most secure in American history.” But disinformation continues to circulate widely in the country as President Donald Trump refuses to concede to President-elect Joe Biden. Conspiracy theories about the legitimacy of the election’s outcome course through social media, fill the airwaves of certain partisan outlets, and spill from the White House itself. The current impasse is a reminder that disinformation is not just an inchoate foreign

Blunt 2020 lessons for media, America

Jim VandeHei

All of us — and the media, in particular — need some clear-eyed, humble self-reflection as the dust settles on the 2020 election results. 
Here are a few preliminary Axios learnings.

The media remains fairly clueless about the America that exists outside of the big cities, where most political writers and editors live. The coverage missed badly the surge in Trump voters in places obvious (rural America) and less obvious (Hispanic-heavy border towns in Texas). 
Let’s be honest: Many of us under-appreciated the appeal of Trump’s anti-socialism message and the backlash against the defund-the-police rhetoric on the left.

The media (and many Democrats) are fairly clueless about the needs, wants and trends of Hispanic voters. Top Latinos warned about overlooking and misreading the fastest-growing population in America — but most didn’t listen. Hispanics will shape huge chunks of America’s political future, so a course correction is in order. 

Together or Alone? Choices and Strategies for Transatlantic Relations for 2021 and Beyond

In 2021, the United States and the nations of Europe will face challenges that threaten their way of life: a catastrophic pandemic, a deep economic recession, accelerating climate change, a rising China, growing technological competition, and emerging security threats.

These challenges test our ability to deliver on our promise to safeguard and enhance the lives of our people. They confront the transatlantic community at a time when many citizens on both sides of the Atlantic continue to question whether their governments are able to deliver for them. These are issues that transcend national borders. They cannot be successfully dealt with alone. They can only be resolved through concerted, cooperative international action. 

This Transatlantic Task Force report recommends concrete policy initiatives the United States and Europe can take together to manage our pressing shared problems. We make these recommendations, not because they will be easy to implement, but because they represent practical options to help address the key challenges we face.

Decoding President-Elect Joe Biden’s China Strategy

Matt Geraci

Key Takeaways
The heat of the election forced Joe Biden to project that he could be just as tough on China as Donald Trump. However, there were stark differences between Biden and Trump on how to handle the numerous economic, societal, and security issues pervading the U.S.-China relationship. Biden’s lengthy political career provides a lens as to how he has evolved on China and where his priorities have shifted.

As a Senator from 1972-2008 and member (and later Chair) of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Biden was instrumental in shaping the initial trajectory of the U.S.-China relationship since its normalization in 1979, particularly on trade.

Although Biden frequently co-sponsored or voted on legislation condemning Chinese human rights violations and security concerns, he, like many other Democrats and Republicans at the time, was quick to shift priorities in order to develop and maintain the rapidly growing economic relationship with China.

Turning the Tide: How Turkey Won the War for Tripoli

Jason Pack, Wolfgang Pusztai

The War for Tripoli, launched by Gen. Khalifa Hifter in April 2019, came to an abrupt end in June 2020 after extensive Turkish military capabilities were introduced to the theater at the beginning of the year. This research paper seeks to drill down into the military, logistical, and technological aspects of the war, highlighting the unique role of drones, soft-kill and hard-kill air defense technologies, private military contractors, and extraterritorial military professionals in determining its final outcome. 


The latest phase of Libya’s ongoing rounds of civil conflict, known as the War for Tripoli (April 2019-June 2020), came to an abrupt end after extensive Turkish military capabilities were introduced to the theater beginning in January 2020. Looking back with the benefit of hindsight to analyze what happened in Libya and compare it to similar civil wars, it is clear that the determinative factors that swayed the course of the War for Tripoli were novel military, technological, and diplomatic phenomena.

A Sea Change?: China's Role in the Black Sea

Michael O'Hanlon, Ivan Safranchuk, Igor Denisov, Vakhtang Charaia

Through its Belt and Road Initiative, China seeks to play a larger role in the Black Sea region. China has been wooing littoral states in hopes of securing new markets for its goods and investing in infrastructure projects. But some worry that there is more to Chinese actions in the region than meets the eye. The worry is that China will increase its political and diplomatic clout in a region that is considered vital for Russian interests and create tension between Moscow and Washington. 

Despite the uneasiness in the West about China’s increasing presence in the Black Sea, there is not enough focus on the issue in the scholarly debates in Western capitals. The MEI’s Frontier Europe Initiative aims to contribute to the debate on the role of China in the Black Sea. We hope the articles in this report will help to address several important unaddressed questions.


Dr. András Rácz

“Transatlantic Futures: Towards #NATO2030” collects articles that reflect on topical security issues of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Authors from the region and beyond discuss transforming regional security policies and realities towards NATO2030. Particular attention is devoted to the transatlantic link, Baltic defense, and the NATO-Russia relationship, as well as the role of other emerging elements and actors. DGAP’s Dr. András Rácz co-authored a piece on the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh.

The paper by DGAP senior fesearch fellow Dr. András Rácz and King’s College doctoral researcher Annamaria Kiss, which can be found on pages 73–86, argues that the recent war over Nagorno-Karabakh urgently reaffirms that perceptions of conflicts as “frozen” need to be adjusted.

The Realist Victory in Nagorno-Karabakh

Armenia’s accession to a Russian-mediated settlement with Azerbaijan over their long-running conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh to Armenians, on November 10 marks a major, perhaps irreversible, loss for Yerevan. But it is not just Armenian forces who stand defeated. It also marks the trouncing of a liberal approach to the region and the supremacy of realist power politics.

In mid-September, Yerevan held significant de jure Azeri territory outside the borders of the Soviet-era Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO)—today, it is at the mercy of Russian peacekeeping forces to maintain control of a rump Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia moved to agree to the terms after the symbolically and strategically significant citadel city of Shushi (Shusha in Azeri) was seized by Azeri forces. Under the deal, Azerbaijan will retain Shushi, granting them control of the heights over Armenian-controlled Stepanakert, as well as its other territory gains in the recent fighting. Furthermore, Armenian forces also have to evacuate from crucial districts outside the NKAO that the country has held since 1994, and access to the Armenian mainland will only be possible through a five-kilometer-wide corridor overseen by Russian troops.

Emmanuel Macron, think-tanker-in-chief

By Rym Momtaz

PARIS — When it comes to talking about foreign policy, Emmanuel Macron is definitely a world leader. But the more he talks, the more the French president also reveals his own shortcomings on the international stage.

Every time Macron gives a big interview or major speech, much of the French and European policymaking cosmos is impressed, even dazzled, by the grand strategic vision he sketches out with eloquence.

British analysts and journalists regret out loud that Prime Minister Boris Johnson — despite his classical education — still hasn’t delivered such an oratorical opus. German officials privately admit they sometimes envy Macron’s flair and pizzazz, which contrasts with the monochrome Angela Merkel. Even Baltic and Eastern European policymakers laud his intellectual prowess, if not his warm overtures to Russia.

Some of that reaction was in evidence again this week after Macron expounded on world affairs in a 12,000-word interview with Le Grand Continent, a journal published by a French think tank.

Yes, Islam Is Facing a Crisis. No, France Isn’t Helping Solve It.


“Islam is a religion that is in crisis all over the world today.” That is what the French President Emmanuel Macron said on Oct. 2, while announcing his “anti-radicalism plan.” Just two weeks later, on Oct. 16, a devotee of that radicalism killed and beheaded a high-school teacher, Samuel Paty, in a Paris suburb, merely for showing the infamous cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in his classroom. And soon after, three worshippers at a church in Nice were savagely murdered by another terrorist who seemed to have the same motivation: to punish blasphemy against the prophet of Islam.

In return, the French authorities initiated a crackdown on anything they deemed to be Islamism, and also projected the controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad on government buildings in France—only to provoke mass protests in various parts of the Muslim world.

Macron is doing little to resolve this crisis and could actually be inflaming it, because the sort of freedom he claims to defend is full of painful shortcomings and cynical double standards.

Harnessing Digital Technology for Africa's Economic Recovery and Transformation

With more than 100 new internet users per second, digitalisation in Africa is experiencing a period of unparalleled growth and development.

Since the onset of Covid-19, 57 per cent of organisations across sectors have increasingly adopted digital technology to thrive, recover and grow. As these trends accelerate due to Covid-19, it has the potential to contribute more than $1 trillion cumulatively towards Africa’s GDP (i.e. approximately 40 per cent of current GDP) over the next six years.

Six sectors are experiencing rapid digitalisation in Africa – finance, education, health, retail, agriculture and government –and this accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Companies and organisations in these sectors are associated with high levels of digitalisation measured by greater penetration of smartphones, adoption rates of cloud computing and "internet of things" technologies, automation of knowledge of work and higher internet bandwidth per user than other sectors. 

The TBI Globalism Study: Multilateralism Is Dead, Long Live Multilateralism!

Benedict Macon-Cooney

Covid-19 has shone a stark light on many of the failings of our current systems. Many developed nations – including the richest in the world – have been unable to meet the basic needs of their citizens, while global cooperation has been seen to be in an increasingly dark place. Some of this is a failure at the source: A lack of transparency and an asymmetric approach to responsibility meant China was slow to reveal the extent of the outbreak.

It’s not surprising, then, that in a survey conducted in 25 countries around the world for the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project – produced by YouGov in collaboration with researchers from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, as well as the University of Cambridge and the Guardian – we found there is a near universal belief that China hid the truth, meaning that the impact of the pandemic has been more severe than it would have been otherwise.

The End of Sanctuary

by Elvira N. Loredo, Karlyn D. Stanley, Ryan Consaul, Jordan R. Reimer, Anita Szafran

The United States has entered a new phase of global conflict in which adversaries might seek to delay or disrupt Army installations' ability to power project, mobilize forces, and conduct other wartime missions. As noted in the 2018 National Defense Strategy, "it is now undeniable that the homeland is no longer a sanctuary." Adversary actions might involve complex attacks that are conducted over an extended period of time and targeted at multiple continental United States (CONUS) installations, their surrounding communities, and critical communication nodes. To address this challenge, RAND researchers cataloged innovative and emerging threats to installations, identified deficiencies in the Army's current threat assessment methodologies, and developed a framework to assess potential solutions and the resources required to defend against these threats. The framework was presented to and discussed with a group of experts at an Army installation and at U.S. Army North.In practice, most of the threat and risk-assessment methodologies used by the Army focus on known threats. For example, emphasis is placed on terrorist attacks, active shooters, and cyberattacks. However, it is unlikely that future threats to power projection in a contested environment will mimic previous events. Although the assessments provide valuable information, they are not calibrated to measure how well Army installations would respond to a coordinated attack by a capable adversary employing a combination of effects. Significant changes need to take place to ensure that installations are adequately protected from a capable adversary's ability to disrupt CONUS installations' wartime missions.


In the dynamic world of technology and computer science, AI continues to offer a wide range of possible applications for enterprises and individuals. Unfortunately, the promise of more efficient automation and autonomy is inseparable from the different schemes that malicious actors are capable of.

For instance, criminals can use AI to facilitate and improve their attacks by maximizing opportunities for profit in a shorter time, exploiting new victims, and creating more innovative criminal business models while reducing the chances of being caught. Additionally, as AI-as-a-Service becomes more widespread, it will lower the barrier to entry by reducing the skills and technical expertise needed to employ AI.

All You Need to Know About Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)


Open Source Intelligence is produced using online resources - online magazines, social media, etc. Is there Open Source Intelligence about you?

Ever wondered how investigative journalists, government agencies or law enforcement agencies are able to compile some of the most obscure information?

You may have heard of a term called “open source intelligence” (OSINT). It probably sounds complex and outside your scope, but that is not the case.

What Is Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)?

First, we need to break the term down into two parts.

On the internet, “open source” refers to any information that is publicly available online. “Intelligence” means any information collected for a discreet, professional purpose. Together, they refer to information gathered from public resources on the internet.

NATO Experiments With Deceptive Tactics to Lure Russian Hackers


Imagine you’re a young cyber officer in the Russian military looking to break into the defended network of a NATO government. You identify a target, a person whose credentials you could steal to gain access to the network and then perhaps move from node to node, looking for sensitive information to exfiltrate. You send your target a phishing email. The target clicks the link. You’re in! But later on, you learn that the information you stole was meaningless and you may have exposed your own techniques or tools. Your adversary wanted you to succeed in the hack — to get information on you. 

This is the value of honeypots, a deceptive cybersecurity practice that NATO used as part of its most recent exercise, NATO Cyber Coalition, which took place in Estonia and other locations from Nov. 16 to 20.

The exercise, coordinated through Estonia’s Cyber Security Training Centre, brought in more than 1,000 participants. Previous exercises have strived to mimic real-world challenges, such as Russian hybrid warfare techniques. 

HALIFAX FORUM NEWS: Space Force Chief Pushes Back on Calls for Elimination of Service

By Yasmin Tadjdeh

Some progressive groups have recently called on President-Elect Joe Biden to eliminate the Space Force after he takes control of the executive branch Jan. 20. However, Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond pushed backed on the notion Nov. 21.

A memo signed by multiple progressive groups said the Space Force creates “unnecessary bureaucracy” and that the service focuses on the militarization of space over cooperation, according to SpaceNews. 

“Space fuels our American way of life, space fuels ... our American way of war,” he said. “Unfortunately, our adversaries, our competitors have chosen this to be a domain of warfare and weaponized space. And, therefore, it is absolutely critical — it's essential — that the Space Force continues to focus on being able to secure those vital national interests, not just for our nation but for the globe.”

The service was stood up in December 2019 and is the first new service branch since the Air Force was established in 1947. While the Space Force originally faced headwinds when it was first proposed by President Donald Trump in 2018, it now has bipartisan support.


We live in a world where radical right extremist violence is on the rise. 1 As recent terrorist attacks in the US, Europe and New Zealand have shown, ideas and messages propagated by radical right actors can inspire violent (and oftentimes deadly) political action.2 The pertinent question therefore becomes: how can governments, policy practitioners and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) respond to this? 

One weapon in the array of softer, upstream counter terror (CT) interventions are counter narratives, or narratives that aim to ‘[demystify] deconstruct or delegitimise extremist narratives’.4 Tracing its policy origins in the UK back to the development of the Home Office’s CONTEST counter terror strategy,5 such a policy intervention has more commonly been used against extreme Islamist groups. 6 The CARR-Hedayah Radical Right Counter Narratives toolkit is therefore attempting to foster best practice when using this methodology specifically in relation to violent forms of radical right extremism.