29 December 2020

Advantage at Sea: U.S. Maritime Strategy Focuses on China

By Andrew Erickson

Editor’s Note: We recently spoke with Dr. Andrew Erickson, a professor of strategy in the U.S. Naval War College (NWC)’s China Maritime Studies Institute (CMSI), to get his take on the newly released U.S. maritime strategy, Advantage at Sea.

First, give us a sense of your overall assessment of the new maritime strategy, Advantage at Sea. What does it do, why does it matter, and how could it shape future naval strategy for the United States?

The tri-service strategy offers a clear vision of the greatest challenges facing the United States and its vital interests, how the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard can best address them, and the prioritization that will be required to do so. This well-written document is exceptional in its provision of information, substantive analysis, and guidance. It explains how China poses the greatest challenges to American interests of any nation: “the most comprehensive threat to the United States, our allies, and all nations supporting a free and open system.” It explains how America’s Sea Services, front-line witnesses to this sea change, are best placed to address many of those challenges, and why this should be the top priority moving forward.

I could not help but notice the amount of attention is given to China’s maritime militia in the document. Does the new strategy, in your view, pay enough attention to this threat? Do we have the resources needed in the Asia-Pacific considering the size and scope of the threat presented by Beijing in this area?

Chinese Communist Party think tank staffer offered to pay for sources

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

A person on LinkedIn claiming to work for a think tank run by a high-ranking Chinese Communist Party department recently offered financial compensation for the names of my sources and for reports about the incoming Biden's administration's views on China.

Why it matters: It was a surprisingly clumsy attempt to gain insider information about the U.S. government's China policy, suggesting that amid a chill in U.S.-China relations and a global pandemic, it's gotten harder for people in Beijing to know what's happening in Washington.

Details: A couple of weeks ago, someone named Aaron Shen (沈岳 in Chinese) sent me a request to connect on LinkedIn. I accepted after I saw he claimed to be the assistant director of international liaison at the China Center for Contemporary World Studies — the in-house think tank of the International Department of the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee (IDCPC).
The IDCPC functions as the foreign affairs wing of the party.
The IDCPC's job is "to win support for China among foreign political parties," The Economist's Gady Epstein recently wrote. "As a party outfit it has considerable authority. It works closely with the foreign ministry and swaps personnel with it."

Hints of Chinese Naval Procurement Plans in the 2020s

By Rick Joe

This year has seen multiple major navies in the world establish their future long term procurement strategies, ranging from the U.S. Navy’s 500-ship plan for its fleet by the year 2045, to the U.K.’s plans for the Royal Navy post-2030, and the Indian Navy’s recent reinforcement for its aspirations for a third aircraft carrier. Indeed, ambitions for expansion appear to be in the cards worldwide for many major navies, both for the near future, and in the longer term beyond 2030 as well, despite the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thus it is somewhat appropriate that in recent weeks rumors emerged surrounding some of the naval procurement goals set as part of China’s recently concluded Fifth Plenum in late October surrounding the 14th Five-Year Plan (to be abbreviated hereafter as 14-FYP), that produces goals and strategy for the entire nation across the next five years from 2021 to 2025. This article will review the details of those rumors (as well as omitted information), in context of some recent predictions written by myself on the subject of future PLA Navy (PLAN) procurement. 

An Impending Slowdown?

Is Amazon the next anti-trust target after Alibaba?


While Chinese regulators prepare anti-monopoly measures against Internet giant Alibaba, the US House Judiciary Committee made nearly-identical accusations against Amazon.com, the dominant US online retailer and the world’s e-commerce pioneer. Both companies used their dominant market share to force merchants into exclusive deals that shut out competitors, regulators allege.

It’s not often that Chinese and American regulators attack the same problem in the same way, but the economics of Internet retailing raises the same problem in both countries. There’s a fuzzy line between what economists call “natural monopolies” due to the network effect, which gives a major player like Amazon, Facebook or Google huge advantages, and the predatory exercise of monopoly powers to crush competitors. Tech industry regulators around the world find themselves in the same boat, despite radical differences in regulatory systems.

Some Western commentators claim that a power struggle between China’s Communist leadership and entrepreneur Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, motivated the anti-monopoly crackdown on Alibaba and other Chinese tech giants. Chinese authorities postponed a planned $36 billion Initial Public Offering for Ma’s Ant Financial in early October after the billionaire clashed publicly with Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan.

[Bookmark] ‘Political Warfare, Strategies for Combating China’s Plan to ‘Win without Fighting”

by Kerry K. Gershaneck

Kerry K. Gershaneck’s book about Communist China’s efforts over the past seven decades to Political Warfare, Strategies for Combating China’s Plan to Win without Fighting as a whole will go down as a classic on texts about political warfare and how to combat it holistically. 

For readers who do not know what political warfare is, think of it as the use of all forms of pressure—political, economic, diplomatic, cultural, intelligence, military, and paramilitary—that one country exerts on another to do what it wants it to do short of actual prolonged fighting or combat. 

As Gershaneck makes clear, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses political warfare 24 hours a day, seven days a week, against every country, especially Japan and the United States, and even against its own people in order to protect its status domestically and promote by whatever means necessary China’s view of its place in the world internationally.

China has both the financial resources and the manpower to engage in political warfare on a global scale the likes of which some people are just now beginning to appreciate. It also clearly has the will. By some estimates, China could employ over 10 million people in its global propaganda and media influence efforts. This may sound excessive, but it is actually a conservative estimate.

The success of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)‘s political warfare can be seen in its ability now to block criticism in the United Nations of its human rights policies, its aggressive voice in its new Wolf Warrior diplomacy, its expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative, its ability to keep Taiwan out of international organizations, including the World Health Organization, and its cover-up of the origins of the Wuhan virus—all the while promoting to the world its own miraculous “success” in containing the virus and quickly rebuilding its economy.

Capitalism After the Pandemic

By Mariana Mazzucato

After the 2008 financial crisis, governments across the world injected over $3 trillion into the financial system. The goal was to unfreeze credit markets and get the global economy working again. But instead of supporting the real economy—the part that involves the production of actual goods and services—the bulk of the aid ended up in the financial sector. Governments bailed out the big investment banks that had directly contributed to the crisis, and when the economy got going again, it was those companies that reaped the rewards of the recovery. Taxpayers, for their part, were left with a global economy that was just as broken, unequal, and carbon-intensive as before. “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” goes a popular policymaking maxim. But that is exactly what happened.

Now, as countries are reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns, they must avoid making the same mistake. In

China's Propensity for Innovation in the 21st Century

by Steven W. Popper

Research Questions

How far will China be able to go toward achieving the pathbreaking innovation it seeks broadly across many sectors?

What information would be needed to better understand China's propensity for innovation and thus assess its trajectory in the coming decades?

How well might standard criteria for evaluation used in other technology-leading nations apply to a system affirmatively designed to follow a development path "with Chinese characteristics"?

The authors examine the propensity within China's innovation system to realize its potential as an innovating nation: What is the balance of systemic forces that incline toward seeing that the innovation assets China possesses lead to innovation outcomes? They lay out a conceptual framework for capturing the major activities, interactions, and flows that give rise to technological innovations. They use this framework to place within one matrix salient elements that appear in the global literature on innovation; the literature on innovation in China and on its political, economic, and social systems; the results from three case studies prepared for this report (pharmaceuticals, artificial intelligence, and distributed ledger technology); and three different inquiries into the nature and measurement of network organization. They then provide a determination of which cells in the matrix that result from placing these elements into the innovation framework might be most useful as windows into those aspects of China's innovation system dynamics that might be expected to affect innovation propensity and observed innovation outcomes.

A difficult year looms for the European Union


INTERNAL FRICTIONS, external worries and some long-anticipated farewells will be the order of the day for the European Union in 2021. A colossal amount of effort went into agreeing to issue €750bn ($888bn) in collective debt for the first time to allay a financial crisis, as covid-19 racked the continent. In 2021 EU politicians will learn that agreeing to borrow the money was the easy bit—agreeing how to spend it will be much harder.

Sceptical countries, such as the Netherlands, will keep a close eye on what governments are doing with the money; Spanish and Italian politicians will not appreciate other EU countries butting into their financial affairs. They will have to get used to it, though. Such debates are normally the purview of purely national politics. In 2021 they will start to take place on a European level.

Boris Johnson has 'got Brexit done'. With a deal that will please no one

Martin Kettle

Brexit was never fundamentally an economic project. It was always more about what it said on the ballot paper in 2016. Brexit was about ceasing to be a member of the European Union. Leavers understood that. Remainers, in contrast, still struggle with it. To a lot of remainers, Brexit had to be a proxy for something else: anti-immigrant feeling, maybe, economic disempowerment, or post-imperial nostalgia. Those issues were not irrelevant to Brexit, but they were never the main point.

Leaving the EU was an emotionally charged political proposition, not an economic one. It was a desire rooted in a vision of British sovereignty richly marinaded in a heady mix of nostalgia and bogus victimhood, fanned by Britain’s media, and which made the enormous error of confusing sovereignty with power. The reality of that error will come home to roost in the months and years ahead. But Brexit was never about the price of potatoes or cars. In the end, it wasn’t even about standing up for Britain’s one genuine shared diplomatic triumph of recent decades, the Northern Ireland peace agreement.

The initial hoopla on Christmas Eve about the trade deal with the EU must be seen from that perspective. Stupid headlines about a Merry Brexmas conceal the fact that what is being celebrated is in fact a thin deal and bad economic news for Britain. But economics has always been secondary in Brexit. Trade deals, like economic arrangements more generally, are not Brexit’s first-order objectives but its second-order consequences. If free trade had been the objective, Britain would have stayed in the single market and the customs union. It was nonsense for Boris Johnson to pretend on Thursday that the EU deal will create “a giant free-trade zone”. There was one there already. And this deal says little about services.

Europe After the Pandemic

By Antonia Colibasanu

Editor’s note: The following analysis is adapted from the forthcoming book, “Contemporary Geopolitics and Geoeconomics.”

For the European Union, two events were supposed to define 2020: Brexit and the looming 2021-27 budget, which includes the so-called Green Deal. As the new leadership in Brussels announced at the beginning of the year, these developments would set the course for a new “geopolitical” European Union. They would make the bloc stronger, removing uncertainty over losing a member and transitioning the economy to face 21st-century challenges. After a decade of instability, everyone in Europe looked to the visions laid out by the new European Commission and European Parliament as a chance for a fresh start.

The drivers for this focus on what the French call “strategic autonomy” – that is, restoring Europe’s independence as an economic, military and political actor – were manifold. Relations between the United States and Western Europe had become increasingly tense since Washington began exerting more pressure on NATO member states to increase their defense spending in 2009 to address the alliance’s growing imbalance. NATO operations in places like Libya highlighted how reliant Europe was on the U.S. for its security. In 2014, at the Wales summit, NATO members agreed to increase their national defense spending to 2 percent of economic output within a decade. But for Western Europe, in the face of an economic crisis that had ballooned into an existential crisis for the EU, and feeling no credible threats to national security, it was difficult for governments to justify placing spending on defense above other priorities.

How a Great Power Falls Apart

By Charles King

On November 11, 1980, a car filled with writers was making its way along a rain-slick highway to a conference in Madrid. The subject of the meeting was the human rights movement in the Soviet Union, and in the vehicle were some of the movement’s long-suffering activists: Vladimir Borisov and Viktor Fainberg, both of whom had endured horrific abuse in a Leningrad psychiatric hospital; the Tatar artist Gyuzel Makudinova, who had spent years in internal exile in Siberia; and her husband, the writer Andrei Amalrik, who had escaped to Western Europe after periods of arrest, rearrest, and confinement. 

Amalrik was at the wheel. Around 40 miles from the Spanish capital, the car swerved out of its lane and collided with an oncoming truck. Everyone survived except Amalrik, his throat pierced by a piece of metal, probably from the steering column. At the time of his death at the age of 42, Amalrik was certainly not the best-known Soviet dissident. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn had published The Gulag Archipelago, won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and immigrated to the United States. Andrei Sakharov had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which he was forced to accept in absentia because the Soviet government denied him an exit visa. But in the pantheon of the investigated, the imprisoned, and the exiled, Amalrik occupied a special place. 

Geopolitical Outcomes of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War

By Oleg Chupryna

The recent fierce fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia, just the latest in a prolonged conflict, has seemingly have come to an end. This bloody engagement, dubbed the ‘Second Nagorno-Karabakh War,’ lasted six weeks and ended in a truce brokered by Russia, which began on 10 November 2020. Armenia, as the losing side, agreed to return to Azerbaijan most of the territories which it occupied in the early 1990s as the result of the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh.

The centuries-long dispute between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis over the enclave last re-emerged in the late 1980-s during the final years of the Soviet Union, to which both Azerbaijan and Armenia still belonged. In 1988, Nagorno-Karabakh, which was mainly populated by ethnic Armenians, announced its secession from Azerbaijan and its intention to join Armenia. This led to a bloody war, by the end of which in 1994 Armenia fully occupied Nagorno-Karabakh and some other territories of Azerbaijan beyond the disputed enclave itself. Subsequent 25 year-long peace talks mediated by the United States, France, and Russia under the umbrella of the OSCE have failed to achieve a peace treaty.

The Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, apart from being a new phase in an old regional conflict, carries significant geopolitical significance. It manifests the multidimensional nature of the conflict and the complex dynamics governing the interplay of all interested parties, especially Russia and Turkey. As the war is over, at least for now, it is worth examining the primary geopolitical outcomes of the conflict.

Winners and losers in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War

The World Is Becoming More Equal

By Branko Milanovic

Opponents of economic globalization often point to the ways it has widened inequality within nations in recent decades. In the United States, for instance, wages have remained fairly stagnant since 1980 while the wealthiest Americans have taken home an ever greater share of income. But globalization has had another important effect: it has reduced overall global inequality. Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty in recent decades. The world became more equal between the end of the Cold War and the 2008 global financial crisis—a period often referred to as “high globalization.”

The economist Christoph Lakner and I distilled this trend in a diagram released in 2013. The diagram showed per capita income growth rates between 1988 and 2008 across the global distribution of income. (The horizontal axis has the poorest people on the left and the richest on the right.) The graph attracted a lot of attention because it

Should the U.S. Retaliate for Russia’s Big Hack?


The Russian hack of SolarWinds—which affected at least 18,000 of the firm’s customers, including several federal agencies—has revived a long, unsettled debate in national security circles: When Americans are hit with a massive cyberattack, should the U.S. government strike back?

At first glance, the answer seems obvious: Of course, we should strike back—an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth—or how else will we deter the hackers, and others like them, from striking again?

On reflection, though, the question turns more complicated. Compared with the rest of the world, the United States, in all aspects of its life, is much more thoroughly connected to computer networks. We have the most powerful and precise cyber-rocks to throw at other countries’ windows—but we live in a much glassier house. Therefore, retaliation could spark counterretaliation, and, at each cycle of escalation, we could get hurt more badly than our adversary does.

Biden Has a Long Way to Go to Restore America’s Human Rights Reputation

Frida Ghitis 

As the world watches the chaotic countdown to a new president in Washington, one anticipated policy shift after Joe Biden’s inauguration is causing anxiety in some quarters and optimism in others: the return of human rights to the global agenda.

Donald Trump’s open disdain for human rights was one of the earliest signs that his presidency would look like no other in the White House. Defending human rights around the world has always required a complicated balancing act, often—though not always—with a tradeoff between American interests and values. Under Trump, values consistently took a back seat. The only time he brought up human rights abuses was when he thought he could extract a personal political benefit, as in the cases of Cuba and Venezuela, whose human rights violations remain a top concern for voters in the key electoral state of Florida.

The approach will change under Biden. The incoming president is sure to disappoint some human rights activists, as have all his predecessors, but he will nonetheless bring a starkly different tone to foreign policy, one in which human rights will be discussed and even championed, both in private and in public.

Among many decisions, Biden will have to choose whether or not to rejoin the controversial United Nations Human Rights Council, a body where much of the membership looks like a who’s who of dictators and the worst human rights violators. The Trump administration withdrew from the council in 2018 after failing to push through standards for membership. That has left it even more exposed to bad actors, with China fortifying its position on the council to protect itself from scrutiny ahead of the expected change in tone from Washington.

Deterrence is America’s Best Response to Russian Cyber Intrusions

by Milton Bearden

Instead of launching the missiles, we might step back about a half-century to see what a genuine crisis looked and felt like, what it was like when the daggers were actually drawn, and what was done to calm things down.

As an Air Force voice intercept operator in East Asia, I often found myself bored by listening to the chatter on the Chinese Air Force frequencies. To break that boredom, I might spin the dials of my Collins receiver to an open frequency that would remind me, or anyone else listening in, just how dangerous the world was in the early 1960s. On that set frequency one would hear an ominous, yet somehow soothing American voice, a 1960s version of a Morgan Freeman, eerily repeating a message, again and again: 

That transmission was a reminder that about one-third of the intercontinental bombers of Strategic Air Command of the United States Air Force were airborne at any time awaiting orders. The “Sky King” transmissions provided those aircraft with the code that would either keep them in their peaceful orbits or launch them against their targets in the Soviet Union, or China, or North Korea—transportation hubs, power grids, water sources, dams, communications capabilities, the target list goes on.

On the Soviet side, the Long-Range Bomber Force had a smaller, but adequate number of aircraft airborne awaiting their orders to take out targets of “The Main Enemy”—United States. To understand the many issues in the early 1960s that kept the pot boiling you might add the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Berlin Crisis, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. This dangerous combination of events brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the highest levels of alert. A new phrase was coined for this condition by Herman Kahn of the Hudson Institute in 1962:

Facts and opinions about climate change

By Richard C. J. Somerville

When the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was founded, climate change science was in its infancy. There were no global climate models, no supercomputers, and no satellite remote-sensing data. Only a few visionaries understood that man-made increases in the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) might cause large global climate changes. The definitive summary of atmospheric science in the decade after World War II was the Compendium of Meteorology, a large multi-authored volume published in 1951 by the American Meteorological Society. Its article on climate change, written by the distinguished British climatologist C. E. P. Brooks, reflects the prevailing expert opinion of that time.

The article began with this statement:

“In the past hundred years the burning of coal has increased the amount of CO2 by a measurable amount (from 0.028 to 0.030 per cent), and Callendar (1939) sees in this an explanation of the recent rise in world temperature. But during the past 7,000 years there have been greater fluctuations of temperature without the intervention of man, and there seems to be no reason to regard the recent rise as more than a coincidence. This theory is not considered further.”

It is important to distinguish between facts and opinions. “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who said that, was a wise and accomplished American politician, sociologist, and diplomat. Like everybody, I know some facts, and I have some opinions. I will first summarize the facts that we have learned from the science of climate change. Then I will give some opinions about what people and governments should do.

How to protect the world from ultra-targeted biological weapons

By Filippa Lentzos

The potential reach of the state into our individual biology and genetic makeup is expanding at an unprecedented rate. Global responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have crystallized just how quickly and readily machines, algorithms, and computing power can be combined with biological data and used in technologies that subjugate bodies and control populations.

As the Chinese city of Wuhan went into lockdown, the authorities carried out large-scale remote temperature measurements of households in apartment complexes through drones equipped with infrared cameras. Drones were also used to patrol public places, tracking whether people were travelling outside without face masks or violating other quarantine rules. Chinese police forces debuted augmented reality (AR) smart glasses powered by artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, designed to recognize individuals with potential COVID-19 symptoms. The glasses have facial recognition capability to identify and profile individuals in real-time and can also record photos and videos. As Wuhan started to open up again, the authorities introduced “Health Code,” an app people were required to use when entering and exiting residential areas, supermarkets, subways, and taxis, among other spaces. The app stores your personal information, including your ID number, where you live, whether you have been with people carrying the virus, and what symptoms they had. As you touch in or out on entering or exiting, the app gives you a colour: green means you can go anywhere, yellow means you have to quarantine for 7 days, red for 14 days. The app also surreptitiously collects—and shares with the police—your location data.

And this type of surveillance wasn’t used just in China. A range of countries have adopted intrusive and coercive forms of surveillance and use of personal and biological data reminiscent of dystopian novels like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World. As other countries went into lockdown, surveillance cameras with facial recognition tracked quarantine evaders or gauged elevated temperatures of potentially infected individuals in crowds. Fine-grained location data transmitted from mobile phones determined how many people were obeying lockdown orders, fever-detecting cameras screened travellers arriving at airports, and algorithms monitored social media posts for signs of COVID-19’s spread. Contact-tracing apps, centrally storing user interactions, provide “social graphs” of who you have physically met over a period of time. “Immunity passports” or “risk free certificates” combine facial recognition technology with COVID-19 testing and medical records.

Contending with climate change: the next 25 years

By Robert Socolow

The centennials of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and the founding of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists are only 25 years ahead. When I think about the next 25 years, I see the people of this planet wrestling with a reality that has only recently emerged. For the first time in human history, we human beings, doing ordinary things, can alter our entire planet in ways that are harmful to ourselves. And every available strategy to work around these limitations is fraught, so we need to be clever and clearheaded and wary. Fitting on our planet, rather than bursting its seams, is going to be difficult. It will preoccupy many successive generations.

Climate is one of many examples of potential seam-bursting—others include arable land and fisheries—but climate is the one I have thought most about. We are vulnerable to environmental disruption because what makes us distinctly human is finely tuned to a planet that has been quite stable. An apt example is sea level rise. During Earth’s exit from the most recent ice age, from approximately 14,000 to 6,000 years ago, sea level rose 130 meters. But it has changed very little during the past six millennia, with the result that many of the world’s cities have been built at the edge of an unchanging sea. A mere two meters of sea level rise would require extensive changes to these cities and abandonment of some of them.

The largest agent of the climate portion of our newly challenging reality is the carbon dioxide that results when we burn fossil fuels. Because of their high energy density, it is economic to move fossil fuels over global distances by rail and ship and pipeline, enabling global markets. Costs are modest because the best geological sources are highly concentrated: thick seams of coal and expansive reservoirs of oil and natural gas. And the fossil fuels are abundant, in the sense that they could meet the world’s energy needs for centuries (although probably not for millennia).

Latin America’s Lost Decades

By Luis Alberto Moreno

During the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, in March 2020, Guayaquil, Ecuador’s business capital of some three million people, was in trouble. By a twist of fate, more than 20,000 Ecuadorians had just returned home from their seasonal vacations. Many had come from Italy and Spain, two coronavirus hot spots, with the earliest and most deadly outbreaks of COVID-19. President Lenín Moreno understood that the threat was serious but opted, at first, not to close the country’s airports, instead asking the returning travelers to self-isolate at home. “If people do their part, I think we can control this,” he told me at the time. 

But the travelers, many of whom were members of the city’s elite and middle class, mostly ignored the government’s request. Some attended a large wedding, which turned into a superspreader event. When the travelers and their families developed fevers and other symptoms, many sought and received treatment in the city’s generally good private health clinics. But by that point, they had already spread the virus to their maids, to taxi drivers, to the corner grocer—members of the city’s working class.

Many who were part of this “second wave” of the pandemic that struck Guayaquil’s working class had access only to the city’s overburdened public health system. Most did not have the option of doing their jobs from home and were more likely to suffer from preexisting conditions, such as obesity. By early April, hospitals and other city services were so overwhelmed that bodies began piling up on the sidewalks of Guayaquil, rotting in the tropical heat, covered only by a sheet or a blanket, for as long as six days before they were finally picked up. These sickening images circulated on television and social media all over the world. 

Intelligence cooperation in the modern world: Challenges and problems

By Sergey Naryshkin

In their effort to ensure their national interests, countries have traditionally used “intelligence diplomacy” with the foreign intelligence services of different countries officially working together on a bilateral or multilateral basis.

The world has accumulated considerable experience in pulling together the intelligence efforts of countries, not necessary allied ones, on various tracks of their shared interest. The results of this mutually-beneficial interaction convincingly testifies to the fact that such a partnership makes it possible to solve many tasks of an intelligence nature as well as those going far beyond the realm of “classical” activities by special services.

The experience of Russian foreign intelligence, which is now celebrating its 100th anniversary, is as interesting as it is instructive. Created on December 20, 1920, the Foreign Department of the Cheka, the first independent organizational structure from which all of this country’s foreign intelligence services come from, quickly established official contacts with a number of foreign intelligence services…

Back then, it was the foreign intelligence agencies that proposed signing “fair partnership” agreements with their Soviet colleagues, which is the best evidence of their acknowledgement of Russian intelligence as a strong, “useful” and reliable partner.

The US proposal made to the Soviet Union to join the two countries’ intelligence efforts during WW2 was another proof of the high status of the Soviet intelligence, and Washington’s realization of the importance of joining efforts against a common enemy. In less than a year and a half (1944 – the first half of 1945), the Soviet Union and the United States exchanged a slew of secret information of a proactive nature, which saved hundreds of thousands of human lives.

‘It’s going to take a lot of digging’: The Pentagon’s long search to see if anyone’s hiding in its networks

Andrew Eversden and Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON – The military and intelligence community is scrambling to conduct a daunting hunt across disconnected networks to assess potential damage from an extensive federal cybersecurity breach by suspected Russian hackers.

As it searches for lurkers, one complicating factor is that the cybersecurity arm of the Department of Homeland Security warned Thursday that hackers used other means to access government and business networks beyond a software platform from contractor SolarWinds, used by the Pentagon, the military and intelligence offices. That network management platform was “not the only initial infection vector,” the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency alert said.

The adversary was patient, well-resourced and used advanced techniques to mask its command-and-control communications, the agency said. All of those traits make crews’ search for damage or proof of a breach that much more difficult, officials told C4ISRNET.

No sign had emerged yet to indicate that the hackers had compromised the Pentagon’s unclassified or classified networks, but U.S. Cyber Command previously told C4ISRNET that the government’s most advanced cyber threat hunters stood ready for a rapid response if a breach is found.

The Digital Dictators

By Andrea Kendall-Taylor, Erica Frantz, and Joseph Wright

The Stasi, East Germany’s state security service, may have been one of the most pervasive secret police agencies that ever existed. It was infamous for its capacity to monitor individuals and control information flows. By 1989, it had almost 100,000 regular employees and, according to some accounts, between 500,000 and two million informants in a country with a population of about 16 million. Its sheer manpower and resources allowed it to permeate society and keep tabs on virtually every aspect of the lives of East German citizens. Thousands of agents worked to tap telephones, infiltrate underground political movements, and report on personal and familial relationships. Officers were even positioned at post offices to open letters and packages entering from or heading to noncommunist countries. For decades, the Stasi was a model for how a highly capable authoritarian regime could use repression to maintain control.

In the wake of the apparent triumph of liberal

Marine Corps builds tactical cyber force to help with growing threats

Mark Pomerleau
WASHINGTON ― With limited resources and increasing threats, experts at U.S. Cyber Command cannot conduct operations for everyone and protect everything.

As a result, the Marine Corps is spreading expertise and resources from high-end cyber warriors to the fleet as it builds prowess in the domain, with new cyber-focused careers for Marines and first-time tactical cyber forces.

The shift is a big one because presidential rules permitted only remote operations from Cyber Command for many years.

Streamlined authorities have paved the way for more operations from Cyber Command. Maturing cyber operations, authorities and doctrine are giving way to expanding the aperture to the tactical space, to include adopting new ways to conduct cyber operations, such as using electronic warfare methods. But tactical unit commanders need planners who understand the ins and outs of the domain and how to plug into the larger Cyber Command enterprise.

On the offensive side, the Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command — the service cyber component to Cyber Command — is sharing its knowledge with Marines who work in the field, training them to use computer systems and access certain capabilities to achieve their missions.

The most consequential cyber-attack in history just happened. What now?


The massive hack of government networks that came to light this month is “probably the most consequential cyber-espionage campaign in history,” an industry expert warns.

“I have never seen anything on this scale, for this long period of time, running undetected and penetrating so many high-profile victims,” explained Dmitri Alperovitch, former chief technical officer of the cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike. It was a “spectacularly successful operation.”

The extensive security breach affected the federal Treasury, Commerce and Homeland Security departments, among others. The hackers — believed by many experts to be Russian — piggybacked on software updates pushed out by the company SolarWinds, although the nation’s top cybersecurity agency believes other access points may have also been used.

“Here’s where the Russian [Foreign Intelligence Service] ruined Christmas: the only thing you can do, if you want to be secure, is basically burn your network to the ground and start all over again,” said Bruce Schneier, a security expert and fellow at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. “It is long, it is hard, it is painful, it is time-consuming; and even then you can’t be sure.”