16 December 2020

China’s Combative Nationalists See a World Turning Their Way

By Chris Buckley

In one Beijing artist’s recent depiction of the world in 2098, China is a high-tech superpower and the United States is humbled. Americans have embraced communism and Manhattan, draped with the hammer-and-sickle flags of the “People’s Union of America,” has become a quaint tourist precinct.

This triumphant vision has resonated among Chinese.

The sci-fi digital illustrations by the artist, Fan Wennan, caught fire on Chinese social media in recent months, reflecting a resurgent nationalism. China’s authoritarian system, proponents say, is not just different from the West’s democracies, it is also proving itself superior. It is a long-running theme, but China’s success against the pandemic has given it a sharp boost.

“America isn’t that heavenly kingdom depicted since decades ago,” said Mr. Fan, who is in his early twenties. “There’s nothing special about it. If you have to say there’s anything special about it now, it’s how messed up it can be at times.”

China’s Communist Party, under its leader, Xi Jinping, has promoted the idea that the country is on a trajectory to power past Western rivals.

India Needs a More Transparent Approach To Space Situational Awareness


The recent, barely avoided collision between India’s Cartosat 2F and Russia’s Kanopus V satellites highlights the need for transparent space situational awareness (SSA) in India.

Information about the close call only became public after a tweet by Roscosmos – the Russian state space corporation – that went into specifics about the incident. The response of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s chairman K. Sivan makes it clear that India does not publicly discuss such events, and resolves them by coordinating with other space agencies.

Indeed, Earth’s orbits are getting crowded with both active satellites and with junk. To keep its satellites working and achieve its long-term goals in space, India will need a more transparent and permissive approach to SSA. This will achieve the dual task of mitigating the dangers of accidents and boost India’s demonstrated capabilities in space.

Some of the immediate changes to the approach of ISRO and the Department of Space can include accepting inputs from credible but informal sources as supplemental streams of data, releasing non-sensitive SSA data from own assets, and encouraging scholarship on SSA from Indian space professionals made accessible to the world.

The trouble with opacity

U.S. Reinforces Commitment to Secure, Stable, Democratic, and Self-Reliant Afghanistan at 2020 Conference

The United States participated in the 2020 Afghanistan Conference on November 23-24, the sixth quadrennial gathering to coordinate international development support for Afghanistan. The conference was hosted virtually by the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, the Government of Finland, and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan. At the conference, the United States emphasized its commitment to a secure, stable, democratic, and self-reliant Afghanistan that is at peace with itself and its neighbors, and underscored the following:

The United States has announced the availability of up to approximately $600 million in civilian assistance for Afghanistan for calendar year 2021. We were pleased to pledge $300 million in civilian assistance today, with an amount of up to approximately $300 million also available in the near term depending on our assessment of progress in the peace process. Future assistance beyond 2021 is planned at comparable levels provided there is consistent progress on transparency and accountability, as well as on the peace process, on the part of the Afghan government.

The United States will continue to support Afghanistan Peace Negotiations. All sides must seize this historic opportunity for peace and commit to a reduction in violence that will enable these talks to succeed. Future assistance decisions will reflect progress made in these negotiations.


by Michael Krepon

The state of nuclear danger in Southern Asia, as elsewhere, depends fundamentally on the state of political relations between rivals. Rivals can and do cooperate as well as compete with each other. In an oversimplified way, we can measure the degree of competition and cooperation along two axes.

One axis measures the steps taken to strengthen nuclear deterrence. Weapons that do not threaten do not deter. The very essence of nuclear deterrence is therefore threatening. Deterrence is typically strengthened in ways that make threats of use more credible. The more credible threats become, the steeper this axis of nuclear danger rises.

The second axis measures steps taken to provide reassurance that leaders are not inclined to use these threatening weapons. Reassurance requires effective diplomacy and a willingness to either resolve differences or at least to hold them in abeyance. Measures that signal diplomatic reassurance can at least partially offset growth in nuclear danger along the first axis.

China's rise exposes the 'myth' of the liberal global order

Stan Grant
Source Link

Why do we hear so much about the liberal global order, when the truth is, it never existed? It was never a global order and it was not liberal.

The phrase itself is a modern invention coming into vogue really only in recent decades, yet it is presented as holy writ.

In the past few weeks, this mythical order has been invoked as a means of dealing with a disruptive, authoritarian China.

Australia's top diplomat, Frances Adamson, has said we need to reinforce a resilient, flexible and open system that can sustain peace in a more complex and competitive geopolitical era.

Adamson, the head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told the Australian National University's National Security College that we have entered an uncomfortable period for liberal democratic nations like Australia, but that the solutions are still found in global order.

Early Warning Brief: Beijing’s Blunt Message to President-elect Joe Biden

By: Willy Wo-Lap Lam


The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has sent a polite but blunt message to the incoming administration of U.S. President-elect Joseph R. Biden, urging the resumption of high-level ties while at the same time showing off China’s military and economic might. In his belated congratulatory message to President-elect Biden, PRC President Xi Jinping, who is also General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), said that it was in the common interest to “promote [the] healthy and stable development” of bilateral relations. “We hope both countries [will] uphold the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation,” Xi added (Xinhua, November 25). The nationalistic party tabloid Global Times said with cautious optimism that a Biden presidency might “bring changes to deteriorating bilateral relations that have been trapped in a vicious circle under the Trump administration” (Global Times, November 8).

Chinese Foreign Policy Experts Weigh In

Jin Canrong, associate dean of the Renmin University School of International Studies in Beijing, predicted that Biden would usher in a “buffer period” for China-U.S. relations,” adding that, “relations may still worsen, but not as quickly.” Professor Jin said that “Biden will be more moderate and mature in handling foreign affairs” (Business Standard, November 9). However, most Chinese experts do not expect the Biden team to relax on the issue of tariffs (which now affect some $370 billion worth of Chinese imports), or lift sanctions on dozens of PRC corporations. “It’s too early to make a call [over Biden’s trade policies on China] and we should keep watching,” said Xu Hongcai, a senior scholar at the Beijing-based think tank, the China Association of Policy Science (SCMP, December 4).

Huawei’s Global Advancement of Alternative Internet Protocols

By: Justin Sherman


Huawei, the large international telecommunications company headquartered in Shenzhen, China, made headlines in May 2020 with its development of a “NEW IP Framework.” The technical document proposed a new framework for a “future Internet protocol” to address shortcomings of the original Internet Protocol’s (IP) design and to “tackle aforementioned challenges and fulfill the requirements of future applications” (Huawei Technologies, May 2020). Huawei’s proposal for a new IP came amid increased Chinese government and company activity in the international standards-setting space—the forums in which technical experts introduce, develop, and adopt (or reject) voluntary, consensus-driven technical rules governing how the internet operates. Huawei’s NEW IP proposal thus underscores the need to better understand Chinese firms’ global advancement of internet standards, including the push to replace the use of open, interoperable, multi-stakeholder-driven protocols currently in use around the world.

Ongoing global contestation over the internet’s shape, behavior, and regulation does not just involve changes at the content level of the internet stack, even if changes to internet content are a stark example of how the internet’s behavioral functionality and user experience differ from one country to another. To give an example, changes at the content level of the stack could include legal prohibitions on accessing certain websites or technical prohibitions on accessing certain mobile applications in a given country. Technical standards are a central element of this contestation as well. Technical standards inform which internet policies are technologically feasible, and conversely, the alteration of technical standards can influence the feasibility of internet policies and practices. Surveillance, censorship, and internet control are all domains where the Chinese government has advanced repressive policies domestically. It is in this broader context that the Huawei NEW IP proposal, focused on internet standards alteration on the global level, merits further evaluation.

Open and Interoperable Internet Protocols

Tibet Railway Network Speeding Up to the Indian Border

By: Sudha Ramachandran


The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is set to begin construction on a strategic stretch of railway between Ya’an city in the southern province of Sichuan and Nyingchi (Linzhi) city in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR, also commonly referred to as Tibet). The Ya’an-Nyingchi railway line (628 miles) comprises the middle sector of the Sichuan-Tibet railway line project (1,012 miles) which links the prefecture-level provincial capital cities of Chengdu and Lhasa. With the Chengdu-Ya’an section (87 miles) of the railway line complete and operational since December 2018, and the 270 miles of the Lhasa-Nyingchi stretch expected to be ready for use next year, the Ya’an-Nyingchi leg remains the only one left to build. This last phase is also anticipated to be the most difficult, due to complex geological conditions and a fragile ecological environment, Additionally, the Ya’an Nyingchi railway section will run through one of the world’s most active seismic regions (The Tribune, November 8). Construction is expected to take ten years, finishing in 2030 (Global Times, November 8).

When completed, the Chengdu-Lhasa railway will hook Tibet onto China’s massive rail network. It will be the second railway line to do so; a railway connecting Qinghai province’s Xining city and Lhasa began operations in 2006. Completion of the Chengdu-Lhasa railway project is important for the Chinese government. Speaking ahead of the project’s commencement, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary Xi Jinping highlighted the railway’s importance, describing it as “a major step in safeguarding national unity and a significant move in promoting economic and social development of the western region” (Xinhua, November 8). Xi emphasized the key role that the project plays in the CCP’s plans for governance of the TAR and its strategy for securing national unity and stability in the border areas, and accordingly called for workers to speed up work on the Ya’an-Nyingchi line while carrying out construction in a “scientific, safe, and eco-friendly way” (Ibid).

What to expect in year two of the pandemic


FOR MUCH OF 2020 the public rhetoric around the pandemic was combative. Politicians and health officials talked about “hammering” the novel coronavirus and “squashing” towering epidemic curves. But the pesky clump of RNA that, in a few months, has killed hundreds of thousands of people, tanked the global economy and wiped out years of progress on poverty has kept marching on. Though vaccines will emerge, reaching every corner of the world with them will remain an aspiration. So a more conciliatory tone is in order. In 2021 humanity will continue to adapt to living with the virus—in ways that make the coexistence less taxing.

The basics will remain the same. Masks and avid hand-washing will still be necessary. People will give others a wider berth in public spaces without even thinking about it. But as the pandemic enters its second year, be prepared for changes in three areas: testing, quarantine rules and the guidelines for social distancing.

China launches ‘gray-zone’ warfare to subdue Taiwan


TAIPEI – Months after eliminating a popular challenge to its rule in Hong Kong, China is turning to an even higher-stakes target: self-governing Taiwan. The island has been bracing for conflict with China for decades, and in some respects, that battle has now begun.

It’s not the final, titanic clash that Taiwan has long feared, with Chinese troops storming the beaches. Instead, the People’s Liberation Army, China’s two-million-strong military, has launched a form of “gray zone” warfare. In this irregular type of conflict, which stops short of an actual shooting war, the aim is to subdue the foe through exhaustion.

Beijing is conducting waves of threatening forays from the air while ratcheting up existing pressure tactics to erode Taiwan’s will to resist, say current and former senior Taiwanese and U.S. military officers. The flights, they say, complement amphibious landing exercises, naval patrols, cyber attacks and diplomatic isolation.

The risk of conflict is now at its highest level in decades. PLA aircraft are flying menacingly towards airspace around Taiwan almost daily, sometimes launching multiple sorties on the same day. Since mid-September, Chinese warplanes have flown more than 100 of these missions, according to a Reuters compilation of flight data drawn from official statements by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. The data shows that in periods when political tension across the Taiwan Strait peaks, China sends more aircraft, including some of its most potent fighters and bombers.

Moscow Concerned About Turkish Influence on the Gagauz

By: Paul Goble

Turkey’s success in the South Caucasus is echoing across the former Soviet space as well as inside the Russian Federation itself; and not surprisingly, Moscow is worried. Azerbaijan is now openly an ally of Turkey and has Turkish military forces on its territory, something Russia had previously said it would never allow. Three of the four Turkic-majority countries in Central Asia—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan—have taken note of the change in the balance of forces in the region in Turkey’s favor and are increasingly looking toward Ankara for guidance. And some Turkic nations inside the Russian Federation, Volga Tatars in particular, have organized pro-Azerbaijani and pro-Turkic demonstrations, which, despite their small size, troubled the central authorities in Moscow (Vestnik Kavkaza, November 29). Except for Azerbaijan, of course, these all represent overwhelmingly long-term challenges. Central Asian countries are not about to make any dramatic geopolitical shifts unless and until additional robust transportation links through the Caucasus make that compelling; whereas the Turkic peoples within the Russian Federation, however strongly they may identify with such pan-Turkic impulses, have few possible outlets for acting on them.

Nonetheless, there is at least one Turkic nationality in the post-Soviet space where Turkish involvement could present Moscow with a more immediate challenge. That is the Gagauz, an Orthodox Christian Turkic nation of 200,000 in southeastern Moldova that Moscow has exploited over the past 25 years, in combination with separatist Transnistria, to put pressure on Chisinau. Russian influence over the Gagauz provided an important bit of leverage for Moscow to oppose any domestic Moldovan moves against the Russian language and to ensure that Moldovans restrain themselves from thinking about uniting with Romania, something that could bring North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces deeper eastward (see EDM, June 5, 2018; Nezavisimaya Gazeta and, January 29, 2019; Windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com, January 30, 2019).Gagauzia (red) in Moldova (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Perceptions of Russia in Azerbaijan: Challenge for Moscow’s Peacekeeping Mission

By: Rahim Rahimov

Last September, the Russian Dossier Center investigative project, funded by opposition leader and former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky, published a controversial report on the country’s “soft power” policies toward the South Caucasus based on leaks from the Kremlin and Russian special services. The study reveals Moscow’s concerns and difficulties with developing pro-Russian civil society organizations inside Azerbaijan in contrast to inside Armenia and even staunchly pro-Western Georgia. According to the report, Azerbaijani non-governmental organizations (NGO), including those serving ethnic Russians, are not readily willing to promote Russian interests or help boost Moscow’s influence locally (Dossier.center [1], [2], 2020). In this light, the Azerbaijani public’s mixed reaction to the sudden, midnight announcement of the deployment of a Russian peacekeeping contingent to Karabakh, as part of the Moscow-brokered November 9 accord to stop the war between Yerevan and Baku, once again highlighted the complexities of how Russia is perceived in Azerbaijan (Facebook.com/karimliali, Twitter.com/RuslanAsad, EurasiaNet, November 10; Daily Sabah, November 18).

Three historical tragedies of the last 100 years underpin critical Azerbaijani views of Russia—with each having a significant Karabakh/Armenian component. First, Russian-Bolshevik forces invading from the north overthrew the short-lived first Azerbaijani republic (1918–1920) while Azerbaijan’s army was focused on a war with Armenia around Karabakh. Second, on January 20, 1990, Soviet troops carried out a massive, armed crackdown on peaceful protesters in Baku, killing around 150 civilians. Moscow’s position on the again brewing Karabakh conflict, which was widely regarded in Azerbaijan as favoring Armenia, had been a catalyst for the January protest rallies. Third, the Russian military is perceived as a main culprit in the Khojali massacre of February 25/26, 1992, the First Nagorno-Karabakh War’s (1988–1994) bloodiest single event, when over 600 Azerbaijani civilians were killed overnight. Azerbaijan formally attributes the perpetration of those killings to Armenian forces and the 366th Motorized Regiment of the former Soviet military units dislocated in the region (Meclis.gov.az, February 27, 2017; President.az, October 10, 2020). Crucially, Azerbaijanis understand the fact that the Soviet Union had officially ceased to exist in December 1991, with the Russian Federation legally succeeding it before the tragedy occurred.

2020: The Year the COVID-19 Crisis Brought a Cyber Pandemic


Ask almost anyone what the top global story was for 2020, and they will likely start with the COVID-19 pandemic. But there is much more to this story. 

2020 will also be remembered as the year that security events exploded and cyberincidents transformed society in numerous ways. Consider this small sample of headline stories:

The magnitude (breadth, depth and height) of this overall online set of Internet trends has revealed many positive benefits. For example, numerous people are enjoying the quality of life benefits received in the move to working from home.

Sino-Russian Cooperation in Outer Space: Taking Off?

By: Richard Weitz


China and Russia are the two most influential space players besides the United States. Whereas in the past NASA was Moscow’s partner of choice, many influential Russians now look to China as their main future partner. Sino-Russian cooperation regarding global positioning and navigation satellites, space exploration, and space security has been growing and will likely continue.

From Fear to Favor

Many of China’s space exploration capabilities are based on former Soviet technologies. For example, China’s space launch vehicles originated from Soviet ballistic missile technologies, and China’s Shenzhou spacecraft resembles the design of the Russian Soyuz. Furthermore, the Soviet Union and, for a while, the Russian Federation provided early help to the PRC’s embryonic civil and commercial space program (Beiwei 40˚, May 3, 2016). For example, Russians trained some early Chinese astronauts, and Russian space launch vehicles launched several Chinese satellites. Nonetheless, for some two decades starting in the mid-1990s, the Russian government grew cautious about cooperating with China’s space program for fear of creating a formidable space competitor as well as antagonizing the United States, Moscow’s then-most important space partner.

In December 2006, the head of Russia’s Federal Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov, announced that Russia, while willing to collaborate on scientific exploration missions, would no longer transfer space technology to China. Though Russia was still launching many more space vehicles that year than the PRC or the United States, Perminov observed that, “The Chinese are still some 30 years behind us, but their space program has been developing very fast,” and “they are quickly catching up with us” due to enormous spending on the Chinese space program, which even by then had had a higher budget and a larger number of personnel than Russia (Taipei Times, December 28, 2006). As a sign of the seriousness of their concerns, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had in the previous month arrested the general manager of the TsNIIMASH-Export Company for selling unapproved technology to the All China Import-Export Company of Precision Machine Building that China could use to create missile delivery systems (One India, May 25, 2007). In 2014, the Russian state corporation for space activities, Roscosmos, determined that Russia could not supply advanced rocket engines to China due to Beijing’s exclusion from the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), a non-binding framework to restrict advanced missile technology transfers (Pravda, April 19, 2016).

Russia’s ‘Peacekeeping’ Operation in Karabakh: Foundation of a Russian Protectorate (Part Two)

By: Vladimir Socor

Russian troops deployed to Upper (“Nagorno”) Karabakh exceed by far the number stipulated in the November 9 armistice agreement (see EDM, November 12, 13) due to the additional deployment of Russia’s Humanitarian Response Center personnel. This supplementary manpower is drawn mainly from military or militarized institutions—Ministry for Emergency Situations, Ministry of Defense, Federal Security Service (FSB)—the numbers of which have yet to be disclosed (see Part One in EDM, December 8). That personnel, augmenting the “peacekeepers,” has taken charge of civil-administration tasks in Upper Karabakh (post-conflict reconstruction, infrastructure maintenance, distribution of humanitarian assistance).

The “peacekeeping” troops’ commander is a three-star general, Rustam Muradov, with another flag officer (Major General Andrei Volkov) as chief of staff. Such a high-ranking command looks disproportionate to the official number of 1,960 “peacekeepers.” Prior to this mission, Muradov served as Russia’s chief representative on a joint armistice observation center in Ukraine’s Donbas, then as a combat commander of Russian forces in Syria (Hero of Russia award for the victory in Deir ez-Zor). Muradov is a native of Dagestan and an ethnic Tabarasan (Kavkazsky Uzel, November 12).

Although Russia does not officially recognize the Karabakh “republic,” Russia’s “peacekeeping” and “humanitarian-response” missions do cooperate with the de facto authorities (as Russia also does in the unrecognized Transnistria, and did in Abkhazia and South Ossetia long before recognizing them officially). Such cooperation with the de facto authorities is not only well-nigh inevitable for practical considerations but also politically useful, as it helps to entrench the de facto authorities and advance their eventual acceptance on the international level.

Russian Prepares for Total War With the West

By: Pavel Felgenhauer

According to the pro-Kremlin pollster FOM, the majority of Russians (53 percent) consider the threat of nuclear war “real,” with most believing the main threat is coming from the United States. Some 39 percent of Russians do not believe in an impending nuclear war with the West. But in the age bracket from 46 to 60 years old, some 63 percent of Russians consider the threat of nuclear war both real and imminent (Gazeta.ru, December 7). Since Russia’s forcible takeover of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014, relations between Moscow and the West have deteriorated and, today, remain about as frigid as they were during most of the Cold War. Of course, the actual beginning of the confrontation dates back much further. Notably, President Vladimir Putin delivered his infamously combative speech at the February 2007 Munich Security Conference, where he spelled out his vision of the US and its allies as a hostile force bent on undermining Russia and its deserved place in the world. It took years for Washington to acknowledge that Putin was serious and not just engaging in a public relations stunt for internal consumption. Russian rulers are, indeed, quite convinced that only by deploying superior conventional and nuclear military forces, can Russia deter or at least survive a looming all-out war with the US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies.

In the run-up to the November 3, 2020, US presidential elections, Moscow and Washington attempted to agree to a last-minute prolongation of the New START strategic nuclear arms control treaty, scheduled to expire on February 5, 2021. The deal would have involved also signing a supplementary political declaration that both sides freeze all nuclear weapons, including those not covered by New START, as well as pledge to begin new ambitious arms control negotiations that, the US insisted, would have to include China. This effort failed, with both parties blaming the other. The main US negotiator in the collapsed New START prolongation effort—Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control Ambassador Marshall Billingslea—reportedly called on “future US administrations” not to prolong the strategic arms control treaty without a verifiable “freeze” of non-strategic nuclear weapons or without China becoming involved in further arms limitation talks. Moscow has agreed, in principle, to declare a one-year nuclear pause but without verification, and it has avoided calling for the inclusion of China in any future negotiations without Beijing’s consent, which is not forthcoming (Militarynews.ru, December 9).

Why the World Should Root for the EU in Brexit Talks


In words now coming back to haunt him, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson once said that negotiations with the European Union on the terms of Britain’s departure from the bloc would let Britain have its cake and eat it too. The United Kingdom, he insisted, would walk away with a trade deal that preserved unfettered access to the continent’s market of 450 million consumers, while freeing the U.K. from pesky European rules, regulations, and standards. The only problem is that EU negotiators don’t seem to want to give away their half of the cake. As talks remain deadlocked and a hard deadline of Jan. 1, 2021, is fast approaching for Britain to crash out of the EU, the rest of the world should be rooting for Europe to hold on to its share.

It is easy to dismiss the too long-running Brexit show as an internal European affair—of deep interest to companies doing business there, of slightly less interest to European citizens, and of little consequence to anyone else. That would be a mistake. For one, there will be short-term economic costs—and if Britain has a hard exit with no new trade rules in place, it could send shock waves around the globe. The British economy is expected to shrink by 4 percent over the next decade, and there will likely be massive short-term disruptions in trucking and air freight, possibly leading to widespread shortages.

But there is also a larger stake for the world. If Brussels folds in the negotiations, it will mark of the end of the last, best hope for restraining the race to the bottom in global trade.

2021 Could Be the Year of Free Trade


In the Western Hemisphere, 1994 was the year of trade. The United States, Mexico, and Canada integrated their economies by inking the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the United States held the first Summit of the Americas with the objective of striking a hemisphere-spanning trade deal (the so-called Free Trade Area of the Americas). Over a quarter century later, the recent U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) has modernized and replaced NAFTA, but the broader free trade agenda in the Western Hemisphere has stalled. In 2021, the United States will once again host the triennial Summit of the Americas—and it must put free trade squarely back on the agenda.

For Washington, it is not always obvious why the Americas (aside from neighboring Canada and Mexico) deserve its focus in matters of trade. The region has struggled to grow at the rapid pace seen in other developing regions. The GDPs of the other countries of the hemisphere, including Canada and Mexico, barely add up to one-third of the United States’. The grand prize for U.S. trade negotiators has always been a large multilateral trade deal with Asia and, to a lesser extent, with Europe.

Yet those targets seem further and further off. Even beyond the limitations of the Trump administration, a possible European trade deal will remain entangled in disagreements over defense spending and Europe’s recent propensity to aggressively regulate U.S. technology firms. And in Asia, the United States forwent the opportunity for a grand bargain when the Trump administration scrapped the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in just its first weeks in power. Even if a Biden administration were to revive the TPP immediately—there may be too much water under the bridge for that to happen—the deal may be insufficient by itself to position the United States to compete with China, which is not a TPP signatory. At best, the deal would allow the United States to match China’s recently concluded Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) with countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and many close U.S. allies, such as Australia and Japan. From their inception, the TPP and RCEP were rivals, and in many ways the United States would be returning to the scene too late.

The Future Of The U.S. Dollar

The US Dollar Is Still in First Place

The role of the US dollar in international finance is well established. The greenback is still the main global reserve currency and makes up about 60% of central bank reserves. In Forex markets around 80% of commercial transactions involve dollars. This is the present situation.
The Future

There have been numerous articles about the future of the US dollar, and the topic is being discussed in a lively fashion.

It is well known that the US is deep in debt, and in fact the US federal debt is $27.4 trillion ( U.S. National Debt Clock : Real Time ). This means that the US federal debt to GDP ratio is 128.58%. These figures have to be taken into account when examining future prospects for the US currency. It is not only the huge trade deficit that counts.

The background and history of the dollar as a global currency, a topic of interest to many, has been treated in a long article, “The Dollar’s Place in the World Is Shifting Over Time”, by Lyn Alden Schwartzer in Seeking Alpha, 4th December 2020, which has garnered 500 comments. That shows that the subject is of great interest.

Bearish on the US Dollar

What would a no-deal Brexit mean?

SINCE BRITAIN left the European Union in January, the two sides have continued to trade just as they did when Britain was a member. This period ends on December 31st, with or without a deal on the future terms of commerce—and as time ticks away without agreement, the risk of no-deal rises. What would be the consequences?

Even if there is a last-gasp deal, it will be “thin”, at best similar to the free-trade agreement (FTA) between Canada and the EU. The British government’s own modelling suggests that under such an accord, Britain’s GDP will be 5% lower in 15 years than it would have been had the country stayed in the EU. With no deal, the cost rises to 8%. Other forecasts are similarly gloomy. The independent Office of Budget Responsibility reckons that no-deal will cut next year’s GDP by an additional 2%, on top of the costs from shifting to an FTA.

International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT)

ICCT Journal Special Edition: Evolutions in Counter-Terrorism

Why Communication and Performance are Key in Countering Terrorism

The Foreign Fighters Phenomenon in the European Union: Profiles, Threats and Policies

The Turner Legacy: The Storied Origins and Enduring Impact of White Nationalism’s Deadly Bible

The Practitioner’s Guide to the Galaxy – A Comparison of Risk Assessment Tools for Violent Extremism

Re-Offending by Released Terrorist Prisoners: Separating Hype from Reality

The Importance of the Nuclear Triad

The Triad Has Stood the Test of Time For more than six decades, the United States has emphasized the need for a nuclear force that credibly deters adversaries, assures allies and partners, achieves U.S. objectives should deterrence fail, and hedges against uncertain threats. Since the 1960s, these objectives have been met by the U.S. nuclear Triad through forces operating at sea, on land, and in the air. 

Today’s nuclear Triad consists of: 

14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) armed with 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles 

400 land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) 

60 nuclear-capable heavy bomber aircraft capable of delivering gravity bombs and cruise missiles 

These strategic forces are enabled by a secure nuclear command and control system and supplemented by a small number of non-strategic nuclear forces that provide an ability to forward-deploy. Complementary Attributes for Robust Deterrence Each leg of the Triad provides unique and complementary attributes. Collectively, the Triad is intended to ensure that no adversary believes it could launch a strategic attack under any circumstances that eliminates the U.S. ability to respond and inflict unacceptable damage.

Telecom Security During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic not only highlighted the importance of electronic communication networks and services for the EU’s society and economy, but it also triggered major changes and challenges in their use in the EU and worldwide. In this paper, we look at the role telecom providers played in ensuring the security and resilience of the services and networks during the pandemic highlighting good practices that providers and authorities implemented to help alleviate the pandemic’s impact on the sector. As general takeaway, services and networks have been resilient during the crisis, despite major changes in usage and traffic. Moreover, the perception of consumers shifted: electronic communication networks are now considered as a lifeline for citizens and crucial for the economy and society.

Artificial intelligence in war: Human judgment as an organizational strength and a strategic liability

Avi Goldfarb and Jon Lindsay

Artificial intelligence has the potential to change the conduct of war. Recent excitement about AI is driven by advances in the ability to infer predictions from data. Yet this does not necessarily mean that machines can replace human decisionmakers. The effectiveness of AI depends not only on the sophistication of the technology but also on the ways in which organizations use it for particular tasks. In cases where decision problems are well-defined and plentiful relevant data is available, it may indeed be possible for machines to replace humans. In the military context, however, such situations are rare. Military problems tend to be more ambiguous while reliable data is sparse. Therefore, we expect AI to enhance the need for military personnel to determine which data to collect, which predictions to make, and which decisions to take.

The complementarity of machine prediction and human judgment has important implications for military organizations and strategy. If AI systems will depend heavily on human values and interpretations, then even junior personnel will need to be able to make sense of political considerations and the local context to guide AI in dynamic operational situations. Yet this in turn will generate incentives for adversaries to counter or undermine the human competencies that underwrite AI-enabled military advantages. If AI becomes good at predicting the solution to a given problem, for instance, a savvy adversary will attempt to change the problem. As such, AI-enabled conflicts have the potential to drag on with ambiguous results, embroiled in controversy and plagued by crises of legitimacy. For all of these reasons, we expect that greater reliance on AI for military power will make the human element in war even more important, not less.

The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime

The Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), in partnership with McAfee, presents The Hidden Costs of Cybercrime. As the global losses from cybercrime approach $1 trillion, this report focuses on the costs of cybercrime that organizations may be less aware of, such as opportunity costs, downtime and damaged staff morale. After surveying 1,500 decisionmakers in government and businesses, the report also assesses the internal challenges in adequately facing these threats.

This report is made possible by support from McAfee Corp.DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

War Powers: What Are They Good For?

By Richard Fontaine, Loren DeJonge Schulman and Stephen Tankel


In March, in a joint resolution, Congress directed the president to terminate military hostilities against Iran unless authorized by Congress. The vote represented a relatively rare example of congressional efforts to reassert authority over the use of American force. Predictably, however, President Donald Trump vetoed the measure, and Congress lacked the votes to override. During recent decades, such has often been the end result of legislative efforts to limit presidential war making.

The 1973 War Powers Resolution took effect when Congress’s actual powers to declare war, appropriate funds, and organize the armed forces were at a low point. Yet the executive branch began dealing blows to the legislation almost immediately upon its passage. Congressional aspirations to equal partnership in the conduct of American conflicts have long gone unsatisfied. Consecutive administrations have expanded the executive branch’s authority to use military force, and Congress has often become sidelined in the process. This reality stems partly from the inclination of many lawmakers to avoid tough votes on the use of force. The current legislative battle rhythm also does not lend itself to the type of deliberation envisioned by the nation’s founders when they made Congress a co-equal branch on matters of war. The nature of warfare has changed as well. New technologies, the evolution of operational concepts and partnerships with other forces, and the ways in which adversaries now challenge the United States further complicate questions about the proper scope of congressional authority over use of force decisions.

The current legislative battle rhythm also does not lend itself to the type of deliberation envisioned by the nation’s founders when they made Congress a co-equal branch on matters of war.