28 February 2021

Did India Just Win at the Line of Actual Control?


On Feb. 10, after nine rounds of high-level military talks, India and China began partially disengaging from what was the bloodiest (if not the longest) crisis on the Sino-Indian border in the last 50 years. Although Indian and Chinese troops continue to lock horns at multiple sites in eastern Ladakh, a disengagement process in the Pangong Tso lake region has witnessed the return of troops and armor to their permanent bases. The two sides have also declared the contested territory as a buffer zone between the two armies.

India must be pleased. This outcome means that it was able to force Chinese troops out of what New Delhi believes is its side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that divides the two countries. India, in short, has repeated the military success it achieved during the Doklam crisis in 2017, when the two faced off over China’s attempt to build a road and both sides eventually withdrew their troops.

The latest showdown originated in May 2020, when the Chinese army prevented Indian soldiers from patrolling up to their claim lines and established permanent structures on its own side. Both in terms of geography and numbers, China’s intrusion was neither local nor limited. The country had used the fog of the coronavirus pandemic to amass around 60,000 troops, according to some estimates, close to the border in direct contravention of the rules of engagement along the LAC. Beyond endangering the status quo, the apparent incursion and the deaths of 20 Indian soldiers in the Galwan Valley in June was also embarrassing for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had sought to initiate a high-level dialogue with Chinese President Xi Jinping after the Doklam crisis.

Senate Armed Services chair expects 'some extension' of troops in Afghanistan


The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Wednesday he expects “some extension” of the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan beyond May, when a deal with the Taliban calls for a full U.S. withdrawal.

“In the short run … I would expect some extension,” Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) told reporters Wednesday. “Even operationally, I think the military would make the case they need more time, even if they're coming out.”

Under a deal with the Taliban negotiated by the Trump administration, all U.S. troops are supposed to withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1 if the insurgents uphold certain counterterrorism commitments.

U.S. military officials say the Taliban hasn't upheld its end of the deal, though former President Trump continued to draw down, leaving just 2,500 troops there by the time he left office.

With the deadline fast approaching, the Biden administration has said it is reviewing the agreement and has yet to make a decision about whether to withdraw by May, but Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin appeared to signal last week it is leaning toward staying.

“The violence must decrease now,” Austin told reporters Friday.

What’s Behind the Planned Uzbekistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan Railway?

By Hugh Ollard

From the first tracks laid in 1879 at Gyzylarbat, northwest of the capital of modern-day Turkmenistan, locomotive transport has always been central to Central Asia due to the region’s distance from the open sea. Although first set down amid the expansion of the Russian Empire, today, railways have a central role in the economic planning of the Central Asian states, especially in Kyrgyzstan and double-landlocked Uzbekistan.

Afghanistan Expansion

In Tashkent on February 2, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, and Afghanistan agreed to a roadmap for the building of a 573-kilometer route from Mazar-e-Sharif to Peshawar, via Kabul. This project, at an estimated cost of $5 billion, will open Pakistani seaports on the Arabian Gulf to Uzbekistan and continue Afghanistan’s gradual integration into the Central Asian economic system.

Within Uzbekistan, the agreement has been hailed as the “event of the century” by the chairperson of the Senate, Tanzila Narbaeva, who called it another example of Uzbekistan “actively pursuing an open and pragmatic foreign policy.”

However, such a potentially momentous accord needs to be couched in the realities of the region. There are immense infrastructural and logistical difficulties ahead for the proposed railway. The agreed route traverses the Hindu-Kush range and tops out at a whopping 3,500 meters, which would make it one of the highest railroads in the world if completed. This ambitious route design will test the supply of materials while the ability to attract laborers and companies to work in Afghanistan will not be an easy task either.

How Effective are the Tactical Nuclear Weapons of Pakistan?

Shantanu K. Bansal

The Hatf-IX (Nasr) is supposed to be Pakistan’s primer TNW that has a range of about 60kms. It is reported that the missile has been extended to the range of 70 kms.

While ignoring the complexities been involved in making and maintaining TNWs besides eminent threat of these weapons to be captured by some terrorist group as it is said that such weapons would mostly be deployed at forward positions, under local military commanders during the possible war. It is now widely believed that even if Pakistan military resorts to the use of TNWs in the response to India’s military manoeuvre, it can hardly be capable of strengthening defence for itself.

Biden Wants to Compete With China. Here’s How.


After dismissing the notion that China posed a major threat to the United States as a candidate, U.S. President Joe Biden is now steeling the country for a long-term competition he considers among the United States’ most consequential challenges. To that end, Biden pitched Congress an economic recovery package that includes huge investments in infrastructure, job creation, and manufacturing as a bulwark against Chinese advances in transportation and technology.

Greater investment in the United States’ economic foundation is long overdue and would likely strengthen the middle class—one of Biden’s top campaign pledges. But it’s not clear that it will produce the winning ticket in a strategic competition with China, which drives top-down industrial policy across a broad array of sectors through state-managed firms. Washington’s battle with Beijing is not one of investment or even innovation—it is one of conviction and values. What are the United States’ animating principles?

Last week, in his first foreign address as president—to the virtual Munich Security Conference—Biden sought to enlist U.S. allies in Europe and Asia to the competition, pledging to renew the United States’ “enduring advantages” over China. Chief among them: revitalizing the United States’ alliances and recommitting to its democratic values at home while defending them abroad.

China chases semiconductor self-sufficiency

Yvette To, CityU

A priority in the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 14th Five-Year Plan (2021–25) is to strengthen China’s autonomy in semiconductor production. This is in response to US sanctions restricting the supply of chips containing US technology to China. The trade war is a reminder for Chinese leadership that it can no longer rely on imports and must develop in-house core technology and pursue technological leapfrogging, especially in essential components such as semiconductors.

China’s demand for modern and emerging technologies is on the rise. Semiconductor imports increased to over US$300 billion in 2019 and were the country’s largest import item. China supplies just 30 per cent of its chips domestically. Chip production is a complex process involving different components and manufacturing stages. China has made progress in chip design — Huawei successfully developed its in-house premium-tiered chip, Kirin, for its 5G equipment and flagship smartphones. By some measures, Kirin is as competitive as chips made by commercial rivals Qualcomm and Samsung.

China’s real problem lies in its ability to manufacture high-end chips. Semiconductor fabrication requires high precision. The most powerful chips pack as many transistors as possible into increasingly smaller and more efficient chips. Huawei designs its own high-end chipsets but cannot produce them in-house. Not even China’s largest chipmaker, the state-backed Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC) has this capability. Huawei’s Kirin chipsets are made by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) using US technology and equipment.

China likely to attack Taiwan within five years, panel told

By Rachel Oswald

Deterring China from invading Taiwan is becoming increasingly complicated and tenuous as a result of Beijing’s growing military capabilities and its continued isolation of the self-governing island, regional experts are warning a congressional commission.

“Cross-strait deterrence is arguably weaker today than at any point since the Korean War,” said Oriana Skylar Mastro, a fellow at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies who specializes in Chinese military policy. She was speaking at a virtual hearing Feb. 18 before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, which was examining U.S. deterrence policies aimed at preventing a future attack on Taiwan by Beijing.

“Impressive military modernization on the part of China, U.S. failure to build robust coalitions to counter Chinese regional aggression, and [Chinese President] Xi Jinping’s personal ambition, all have coalesced to create a situation for Beijing in which the benefits of using force more and more are becoming so high that they outweigh the costs,” she continued.

Previously, it was thought the greatest possibility of military conflict over Taiwan, a democracy of nearly 24 million people, would occur if a Taiwanese leader formally declared independence from China, which might then respond by mounting a maritime invasion across the Taiwan Strait in an attempt to reverse the declaration and seize the island. But times have changed.

Real war: China to change the way it fights


The noose, shall we say, is slowly tightening.

America, now angered and awakened, is slowly turning all of its military might in one direction, for one reason — the containment of China.

The US Marines are revamping their entire purpose to island hopping in the Pacific, while the US Navy plans to put ship killer missiles on every one of its destroyers.

More Navy carrier groups are also plying the South China Sea, openly taunting Xi Jinping’s so-called “Wolf Warrior” footing. And more will come.

F-35 fighter groups are expanding, and the US Air Force, once content to maintain long-range bombers at home, are repositioning them — yep, in the Pacific theater.

Oh, and the US Army? They are looking at advanced laser weapons, new missile systems and the latest technology in multi-domain warfare, as it too, takes aim straight at Beijing.

Then there are the allies — Australia, the United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and even Germany and France.

Competition With China Shouldn’t Dictate U.S. Foreign Policy

Ali Wyne

One of former President Donald Trump’s principal legacies was to elevate the attention that U.S. foreign policy accords to China. His administration argued that America’s erstwhile “engage but hedge” approach had failed and that it was time to take a tougher line. The results of his policies, though, suggest that adopting an overly China-centric U.S. foreign policy is mistaken.Listen to this article:

Pursuant to its more confrontational approach, the Trump administration imposed steep tariffs on Chinese exports and, having concluded that Beijing’s technological progress posed a particularly pressing threat to U.S. national security, took a number of steps to thwart the expansion of Chinese telecommunications giants, particularly Huawei. While those measures did set back the company’s global ambitions and limit China’s ability to import the semiconductor chips that are increasingly essential to contemporary innovation, Trump’s broader effort to slow Beijing’s resurgence did not succeed. Indeed, China is now more deeply embedded in the global economy than it was before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Competition With China Shouldn’t Dictate U.S. Foreign Policy

Ali Wyne 

One of former President Donald Trump’s principal legacies was to elevate the attention that U.S. foreign policy accords to China. His administration argued that America’s erstwhile “engage but hedge” approach had failed and that it was time to take a tougher line. The results of his policies, though, suggest that adopting an overly China-centric U.S. foreign policy is mistaken.Listen to this article:

Pursuant to its more confrontational approach, the Trump administration imposed steep tariffs on Chinese exports and, having concluded that Beijing’s technological progress posed a particularly pressing threat to U.S. national security, took a number of steps to thwart the expansion of Chinese telecommunications giants, particularly Huawei. While those measures did set back the company’s global ambitions and limit China’s ability to import the semiconductor chips that are increasingly essential to contemporary innovation, Trump’s broader effort to slow Beijing’s resurgence did not succeed. Indeed, China is now more deeply embedded in the global economy than it was before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Getting the China challenge right

David Dollar and Ryan Hass

The Trump administration had an incoherent and inconsistent policy toward China that failed to deliver on its promises. An alternative response to the China challenge would require taking four critical steps. First, the United States must strengthen its own economy through reforms and investments that are beyond the scope of this paper but are detailed elsewhere in Brookings’s Blueprints for American Renewal & Prosperity. Second, the U.S. should work with allies in Asia and Europe to push China to continue opening its economy and developing 21st century rules for new aspects of trade. Chinese trade is more important to our allies than it is to the American economy. So while it will be tempting to try to decouple from China, decoupling is a losing strategy down the road since America’s partners would not follow suit, and the U.S. would end up isolated. Third, the U.S. needs to counter China’s assertiveness with its neighbors through a strong military presence and call out China for its undermining and violations of international rules and norms. Fourth, the U.S. needs to work with China on issues where there is common interest, especially on climate change, global public health, support to poor countries, and nuclear nonproliferation. What makes the relationship especially complicated is the need to work closely with China on some issues while countering it in other domains. For the United States, China is a partner, competitor, and challenger all at the same time.


America’s relationship with China will be the most complex and important aspect of foreign policy for the next generation. China is the largest trading nation, the second largest economy, and with a population four times larger than that of the United States, it only has to grow moderately to surpass U.S. GDP by 2035 or 2040. Much of the Chinese economy is open and competitive, providing trading and investment opportunities for American firms as well as for partners in Asia and Europe. But of the major global economies, it is also the most statist, with a large state-enterprise sector and extensive government intervention in the form of protections and subsidies. Together with economic prowess, China has developed a military that, though still not as advanced as the U.S. military, is clearly second in the world, and increasingly capable of concentrating forces in ways that would strain America’s ability to respond directly to contingencies along its periphery. With that rising military might has come growing Chinese assertiveness in disputes with neighbors (Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and India).

Trans-Atlantic Collaboration on China

How can the United States and Europe most effectively combine efforts to meet the many challenges posed by China’s rise? The authors of a new Paul Tsai China Center paper provide concrete and practical recommendations for achieving this crucial goal in the areas of trade and investment, technology, human rights, climate change, pandemic plans, and reform of international institutions. The paper, "A Roadmap for U.S.-Europe Cooperation on China," is written by Paul Gewirtz, Potter Stewart Professor of Constitutional Law and Director, Paul Tsai China Center; Ryan Hass; Susan Thornton; Robert Williams; Craig Allen; and David Dollar.

Developing effective trans-Atlantic collaboration on China requires a realistic understanding of how European leaders think about and approach China. Toward that end, a primary focus of the authors’ work over the past year has been intensive interactions with a broad cross-section of current European officials and experts who work on China policy. European officials generally share President Biden’s view that leverage with China will be much enhanced if like-minded allies and partners work collaboratively to address common challenges and opportunities. Nonetheless, they have also been very candid in expressing their views about likely convergences and divergences between the U.S. and Europe concerning policies toward China. The recommendations in this paper take account of these important realities.

Industrial Policy, Trade, and Clean Energy Supply Chains

This report is the first of two examining the potential impact of trade disputes, national security concerns, and industrial policies on clean energy supply chains. The report traces the history of clean energy manufacturing and trade over the last 15 years, focusing on solar photovoltaics (PV), wind, and lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs). It chronicles how governments helped develop these technologies, and how those actions created trade disputes, especially as China's role in these industries expanded.


The following case studies by BloombergNEF were commissioned by the CSIS Energy Security and Climate Change Program to inform this report and its project. We are making these publicly available for those looking for a deeper dive into our research and analysis.

This report is made possible by the Climate Imperative Foundation and general support to the CSIS Energy Security and Climate Change Program.

The world’s greatest peril – WEF makes an astonishing revelation

By Raikishori Ganguly

The pandemic sounded a cacophonous wake-up call for the global population and despite the despair it caused, it also set into perspective what a real worldwide crisis looks like and how it affects the economy, businesses and overall lives of the people inhabiting the planet. Now, in the light of this crisis, people are taking impending crises possibilities more seriously.

However, in spite of the devastation it has caused, an article by World Economic Forum (WEF) stated that Novel Coronavirus is not the greatest risk facing the world right now. WEF highlighted that according to the report titled “Scientists’ Warning on Affluence” published by a team of scientists from UK, Switzerland and Australia, currently, affluence is greatest threat to our world.

In the context of the impending climate change crisis, the environmental research report warned that only upping the efficient use of resources will not be enough to bring substantial changes, rather true sustainability can only be achieved by bringing significant lifestyle changes.

Overconsumption has been underlined by many international leaders as a major contributor to existential environmental problems, such as pollution, loss of biodiversity and climate change. Professor Tommy Wiedmann, the lead author of the report, opined that technology alone can’t solve these problems and to drive real transformation, people must change their affluent lifestyles and curtail overconsumption, and complement it with structural alterations.

John Bolton Says Trump Invited Kim Jong Un on Air Force One As He Thought It'd Be 'Really Cool'


Former President Donald Trump offered North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un a ride on Air Force One because he "thought it would be really cool," according to Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton.

Bolton made the remarks during a Wednesday interview with Bloomberg, confirming a similar account of the unusual offer from former deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger. Bolton, who accompanied Trump on the trip, said that he remained silent while listening to the former president make the "spur of the moment" proposal to Kim following their fruitless Vietnam summit in 2019.

"I was there and I heard it and I didn't respond at all, because I was biting my tongue to avoid saying what I thought the response should be," Bolton said. "It was a typical Trump offer on the spur of the moment. He thought it would be really cool to take Kim back home to Pyongyang. He didn't think about any of the potential consequences or anything else."

"I think Kim was as taken aback as I was, that may have been a rare moment of agreement between the two of us," added Bolton. "Fortunately, he said 'no,' so we never had to worry about the consequences."

Pottinger first revealed the offer during a recent interview for the BBC documentary series Trump Takes On The World. The offer is said to have come as the leaders were preparing to leave the summit just after a breakdown in negotiations, with Trump later saying that he had no choice but to "walk" after failing to reach an agreement on denuclearization and lifting sanctions.

Joe Biden's Backing of Neera Tanden Could Cost Him Key Political Capital, Experts Say


President Joe Biden is sticking with his pick to lead the Office of Management and Budget (OMB)—despite growing opposition from lawmakers to Neera Tanden's nomination to the Cabinet position.

Tanden, who would be the first South Asian woman to lead OMB, has been under fire over her past tweets and comments aimed at lawmakers.

In another sign of trouble for Neera Tanden's nomination to lead the budget office, two Senate committees delayed votes Wednesday on her confirmation.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday declined to comment on potential fallback options, saying "there's one candidate to lead the budget department and that's Neera Tanden."

Asked Wednesday whether Tanden had offered to withdraw her nomination, Psaki said: "That's not the stage we're in." She added that "it's a numbers game, it's a matter of getting one Republican to support her nomination."

But experts warned against Biden dragging out Tanden's nomination, arguing that he could risk losing political capital he will need to pass much of his legislative agenda over the next four years.

‘Diplomacy Is Back’: Linda Thomas-Greenfield Is Confirmed as Biden’s U.N. Envoy

By Pranshu Verma and Rick Gladstone

WASHINGTON — Shortly after Linda Thomas-Greenfield was announced as President Biden’s pick for ambassador to the United Nations, she introduced the American public to a new phrase: “gumbo diplomacy.”

The term, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said, explained her professional philosophy developed over more than three decades in the Foreign Service: Diplomacy is driven by relationships, and talking about difficult topics while chopping onions for a gumbo sauce can break barriers and foster success, she said.

Now, with the Senate confirming Ms. Thomas-Greenfield on Tuesday by a vote of 78 to 20, her diplomatic approach will be taken to the United Nations, as she calls for American resurgence in a global body from which the United States retreated during the Trump administration.

“America is back,” Ms. Thomas-Greenfield, 68, said when Mr. Biden announced her nomination in November, echoing a phrase used by the president. “Multilateralism is back. Diplomacy is back.”

Ms. Thomas-Greenfield will have to plunge immediately — and publicly — into the U.N.’s work. Her confirmation came just as the United States is about to assume the presidency of the 15-member Security Council, the organization’s most powerful body, for March, under a rotating system. In that role, she will run the council’s meetings and announce its decisions.

America Is Not ‘Back.’ And Americans Should Not Want It to Be.

By Stephen Wertheim

President Biden and the first lady, Jill Biden, reviewing the readiness of military troops at the U.S. Capitol last month. After four years of Donald Trump, the impulse to return to familiar habits is understandable.Credit...David Tulis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

“America is back,” President Biden has declared in every major foreign policy speech he has given since taking office. He means to restore what he sees as the essence of global leadership — the United States joining with allies to “fight for our shared values” — that his predecessor defiled. Back, then, is America’s quest to order the world in the name of democracy, human rights and the American way.

After four years of Donald Trump, the impulse to return to familiar habits is understandable. But those habits, especially the moralization of one country’s armed dominance, have proved destructive. What matters is whether the Biden administration will actually make America — No. 1 in armed force and arms dealing — less violent in the world. In that regard, Mr. Biden’s larger vision, of the United States dividing the globe into subordinate allies and multiplying adversaries, and shouldering the burdens toward both, remains troubling, no matter how high-minded his rhetoric or diplomatic his actions.

Mr. Biden has signaled some improvement so far. He has cut off Washington’s support for “offensive operations” in Yemen and related arms sales to Saudi Arabia, reversing the awful policy initiated by President Barack Obama and intensified by President Trump. He has taken steps toward re-entering the nuclear agreement with Iran, essential for avoiding future wars.

'A reckoning is near': America has a vast overseas military empire. Does it still need it?

Kim Hjelmgaard

MANAMA, Bahrain – After weeks at sea, hundreds of young Americans shed their military uniforms for baseball caps and T-shirts and poured forth from the main gates of the heavily fortified U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet base, a major hub for U.S. naval forces in the Middle East.

The aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln had just docked in Bahrain, a small Arab island nation on the southwestern coast of the Persian Gulf. The disembarking U.S. service members were intent on cutting loose for a respite from their national security mission patrolling one of the world's busiest and most volatile shipping lanes.

About 200 miles to the east, across a body of water that has seen many tense naval encounters and acts of sabotage, sat America's longtime adversary Iran.

It was November 2019.

A few months later, the U.S. and Iran would nearly enter into an open confrontation after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps fired ballistic missiles at two Iraqi military bases housing U.S. soldiers. The attack was retaliation for the Pentagon's assassination of senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani.

For the sailors, Bahrain's "American Alley" was a taste of home: a thoroughfare of fast-food restaurants and shops catering to Westerners. The sailors clutched iPhones and Starbucks coffee and fended off attempts by locals to sell them watches and other trinkets.

From Development to Democracy, Africa Is a Continent of Contradictions

It makes sense that a continent that is home to 54 countries and 1.2 billion people would also house a mass of contradictory developments. Africa features several of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a burgeoning middle class. But much of the continent remains mired in debt, wracked by conflict, disease or terrorism, and plagued by elites clinging to power. Now, although the human cost of the coronavirus pandemic has so far been less catastrophic than many feared, its economic impact could undo much of the continent’s growth over the past two decades.

Even during the years when economies across Africa expanded, many people were driven to migrate—either within Africa or to Europe and even South America—because of humanitarian catastrophes or because economic opportunities were not coming fast enough for everyone. Those who remained behind at times succeeded in disrupting the status quo. Civilian-led reform movements toppled regimes in Algeria and Sudan in 2019, and recent examples of independent courts overturning fraudulent elections—as well as other signs of democratic institutions taking hold in previously corrupt or authoritarian states—offered hope for the health of democracy in Africa. Yet, a rash of recent elections marred by fraud and violence, including several involving incumbents seeking constitutionally dubious third terms, confirms that the phenomenon of long-ruling authoritarian leaders—known as “presidents for life”—remains a problem.

How Joe Biden Can Galvanize Space Diplomacy

by Stephen J. Flanagan and Bruce McClintock

The potential for future conflicts to originate in outer space, or for terrestrial conflicts to extend there, has grown as various governments are developing an array of counterspace weapons. The explosion of commercial space activity has also raised the risk of damaging incidents in space.

These developments have renewed interest in the role that international norms of responsible behavior could play in enhancing safety and security in the space domain. Those norms can range from informal “rules of the road” that evolve from practice to international political agreements or even legally-binding measures.

But previous efforts to establish norms have had limited results. The Biden administration has an opportunity, working with like-minded allies and partners, to galvanize nascent international efforts.

The most recent U.S. National Space Policy (PDF) released in early December calls for U.S. leadership in “promoting a framework for responsible behavior in outer space, including the pursuit and effective implementation of best practices, standards, and norms.”

The National Space Policy echoed the Defense Space Strategy Summary (DSS) (PDF) released in June 2020. The DSS acknowledges that one of the challenges in advancing space norms is that “international understanding and agreement of what constitutes unsafe, irresponsible, or threatening behavior in space is nascent.” Recent talks between the United States and Russia regarding space stability confirmed that there is still a lack of agreement between key space powers on norms.

Britain's GCHQ cyber spies embrace the AI revolution

By Guy Faulconbridge

AI, which traces its history back to British mathematician Alan Turing’s work in the 1930s, allows modern computers to learn to sift through data to see the shadows of spies and criminals that a human brain might miss.

GCHQ, where Turing cracked Germany’s naval Enigma code during World War Two, said advances in computing and the doubling of global data every two years meant it would now fully embrace AI to unmask spies and identify cyber attacks.

The world’s biggest spy agencies in the United States, China, Russia and Europe are in a race to embrace the might of the technological revolution to bolster their defensive and offensive capabilities in the cyber realm.

“AI, like so many technologies, offers great promise for society, prosperity and security. Its impact on GCHQ is equally profound,” said Jeremy Fleming, the director of GCHQ.

The Cheltenham-based Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) - the British equivalent of the NSA - is publishing a paper “Pioneering a New National Security: The Ethics of AI” confirming its full use of the technology.

Military re-learns the importance of electronic warfare (EW)

Jamie Whitney

The need to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum never has been higher for the U.S. military since the end of the Cold War. By using electronic warfare (EW), branches under the Department of Defense (DOD) umbrella can go on the attack and protect American warfighters and military resources.

This fall, the DOD unveiled its Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy, which outlines how the U.S. military aims to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum when it is challenged by peer and near-peer adversaries.

“The Department is transitioning from the traditional consideration of EW as separable from spectrum management to a unified treatment of these activities as Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO),” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wrote in the foreword to the publication released in October 2020. “Consequently, this 2020 Department of Defense EMS Superiority Strategy builds on essential objectives from the 2013 DOD EMS Strategy and the 2017 DOD EW Strategy, and takes the Department another critical step forward in implementing the 2018 National Defense Strategy. This Strategy seeks to align EMS resources, capabilities, and activities across the DOD to support our core national security objectives while remaining mindful of the importance of U.S. economic prosperity. Additionally, this Strategy lays the foundation for a robust EMS enterprise, prepares EMS professionals to leverage new technologies, and focuses on strengthening alliances to achieve the Department’s vision of Freedom of Action in the Electromagnetic Spectrum.”

Tracking Cyber Warfare Patterns

Jayshree Pandya

Humans are pattern seekers and pattern trackers, and from patterns, we derive meaning. If we can’t track cyber warfare patterns, how well will we identify the survival and security risks coming our way?


Along with geospace, aquaspace, and space, cyberspace is now a contested common, and its use as a digital battleground to wage digital warfare is rapidly strengthening. This rapidly shifting landscape of warfare — where emerging cyberweapons have become more deadly than real battlefield weapons — is becoming a cause of great fear.

Keeping up with the rapidly intensifying complexity of uncontrolled warfare in cyberspace is a challenge facing not only for nation’s military but also individuals and entities across nations: its government, industries, organizations, and academia (NGIOA).

We must evaluate the on-going cyber warfare as it becomes integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) and facial recognition technology. Considering its scope of overall entanglement with geospace, aquaspace, and space, the facelessness of enemy soldiers in the cyber domain, and the leveling of attack capabilities, we are entering an era where it seems a new model of cyber warfare governance is required.

Acknowledging this emerging reality, Risk Group initiated a much-needed discussion on “Cyber Warfare” with, Retired Colonel Prof. (Dr.) Don Welch, the Chief Information Security Officer, and Acting CIO and VP for Penn State on Risk Roundup.

Disclosure: I am the CEO of Risk Group LLC.

Toward an Information Operations Kill Chain

By Bruce Schneier 

Cyberattacks don’t magically happen; they involve a series of steps. And far from being helpless, defenders can disrupt the attack at any of those steps. This framing has led to something called the “cybersecurity kill chain”: a way of thinking about cyber defense in terms of disrupting the attacker’s process.

On a similar note, it’s time to conceptualize the “information operations kill chain.” Information attacks against democracies, whether they’re attempts to polarize political processes or to increase mistrust in social institutions, also involve a series of steps. And enumerating those steps will clarify possibilities for defense.

I first heard of this concept from Anthony Soules, a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee who now leads cybersecurity strategy for Amgen. He used the steps from the 1980s Russian “Operation Infektion,” designed to spread the rumor that the U.S. created the HIV virus as part of a weapons research program. A 2018 New York Times opinion video series on the operation described the Russian disinformation playbook in a series of seven “commandments,” or steps. The information landscape has changed since 1980, and information operations have changed as well. I have updated, and added to, those steps to bring them into the present day:

Step 1: Find the cracks in the fabric of society—the social, demographic, economic and ethnic divisions.

Central Banks Edge Toward Money’s Next Frontier in Digital World

By Carolynn Look, Joanna Ossinger, and Christopher Condon

Money is edging closer toward its biggest reinvention in centuries as central banks start to embrace the creation of digital currencies.

With modern technology and even the coronavirus facilitating a global shift toward cashless economies, and alternative concepts such as Bitcoin taking hold, monetary policy makers are acting to ensure they don’t fall behind.

That might one day mean central banks could make currencies directly available electronically for people to spend with their smartphone, backed by the integrity of the state. Before that comes to pass, a power struggle will play out over the future of money, raising issues ranging from privacy to social equality and financial stability.

Central Banks and Digital Currencies

“The whole effort is defensive,” said David Dollar, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. Central banks are “trying to get back into the key position to control currency and the money supply.”

The most proactive country is China, conducting real-world trials of a digital yuan, partnering with the SWIFT global transactions system, and cracking down on payment services like Jack Ma’s Alipay to reassert supremacy over its currency. Elsewhere, officials from Frankfurt to Washington are watching closely, pondering experiments of their own.

27 February 2021

Chinese Intransigence in Ladakh: An Overview

Major General PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

China and India are heirs to the two oldest civilisations of the world. Both emerged in their present form after World War II. India became independent in 1947 and the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949. They share one of the world’s longest borders, about 3488 kms, across the Himalayas. Both are nuclear weapon states. China’s missiles can reach anywhere in the world. India’s latest Agni series missiles can reach Beijing comfortably. On border issues there have been instances where the security forces were facing each other in contested areas and were increasingly indulging in fistfight, pushing and shoving etc in very difficult terrains. On Jun 15 this year in a brutal, savage skirmish when, fists, rocks, rods, baton, spikes, knuckle-dusters and nail-studded clubs and wooden clubs wrapped in barbed wire were used in a post at Galwan on Indian side of Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh sector at an altitude of 4,250 meters. This type of battle used to be fought in medieval times. Armies fight with bayonets and close quarter battles in extreme situations when all other means of fighting ends.

How Did India Manage to Build an Advanced Fighter Jet Like the Tejas?


India’s biennial military aircraft show, Aero India, went off without a hitch in early February in the southern Indian tech capital of Bengaluru. Despite the travails of pandemic-era traveling, the United States sent a deputy undersecretary, a Navy admiral, and three Air Force generals. It also sent a nuclear-capable B-1B bomber. But the real star of the show was what escorted the U.S. aircraft in the sky: an Indian-built Tejas fighter jet. With a name that means “radiant” in the ancient Sanskrit language, the Tejas is the first supersonic multirole fighter aircraft designed and built entirely in India.

How has a relatively poor country like India that is more famous for call centers than for precision manufacturing managed such a dramatic technological leap? In a word: cooperation. India is keen to build defense-industry partnerships with more advanced countries, and—even more importantly—advanced countries are keen to partner with India. Not only does it have one of the world’s largest military procurement budgets and a large pool of talented engineers, but India also has a strong tradition of rule of law that protects intellectual property and ensures the enforceability of contracts—in stark contrast to China, which is fast losing access to many advanced Western technologies. That makes India a better partner for international technology companies that it, for now, still depends on.

With the Tejas, India joins an elite group of countries that have demonstrated the capacity to develop and manufacture so-called fourth-generation fighters: combat aircraft characterized by electronic fly-by-wire control systems, onboard situation awareness displays, and over-the-horizon strike capabilities. The United States led the way in the late 1970s with the dual-engine F-15 and single-engine F-16, while China began producing similar fourth-generation fighters only in the early 2000s. With the F-22 and F-35, the United States has since begun to produce fifth-generation fighters—adding stealth capacity among other advances—while other countries, including India, are eager to catch up.

Did nuclear spy devices in the Himalayas trigger India floods?

Soutik Biswas

In a village in the Indian Himalayas, generations of residents have believed that nuclear devices lie buried under the snow and rocks in the towering mountains above.

So when Raini got hit by a huge flood earlier in February, villagers panicked and rumours flew that the devices had "exploded" and triggered the deluge. In reality, scientists believe, a piece of broken glacier was responsible for the flooding in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, in which more than 50 people have died.

But tell that to the people of Raini - the farming mountain village with 250 households - and many don't quite believe you. "We think that the devices could have played a role. How can a glacier simply break off in winter? We think the government should investigate and find the devices," Sangram Singh Rawat, the headman of Raini, told me.

At the heart of their fears is an intriguing tale of high-altitude espionage, involving some of the world's top climbers, radioactive material to run electronic spy systems, and spooks.

It is a story about how the US collaborated with India in the 1960s to place nuclear-powered monitoring devices across the Himalayas to spy on Chinese nuclear tests and missile firings. China had detonated its first nuclear device in 1964.

"Cold War paranoia was at its height. No plan was too outlandish, no investment too great and no means unjustified," notes Pete Takeda, a contributing editor at US's Rock and Ice Magazine, who has written extensively on the subject.

The Emerging India-China Competition in Afghanistan

Aryaman Bhatnagar 

For much of the past couple of decades, Afghanistan has been a rare exception to the strategic competition between India and China in South Asia. New Delhi never believed it could be the preeminent power in Afghanistan, unlike in other nearby countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal. Following the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, India was happy to engage with Kabul under Washington’s security umbrella, while taking solace in China’s initial unwillingness to get more involved. A joint desire for a peaceful and stable Afghanistan even seemed to raise the possibility of cooperation between the two rivals.

But with India now recalibrating its China policy due to the recent military standoff along the two countries’ disputed border in the Himalayas, prospects for the two countries’ cooperation in Afghanistan are unlikely to materialize anytime soon. And with the U.S. withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan while regional powers jostle for greater influence there, India will be more concerned about China’s role in Afghanistan than at any point in the past.

‘This is the Darkest Moment’: Afghans Flee a Crumbling Country


KABUL—The dusty city below and its snow-capped mountains whizzed by in a blur. Clutching his light blue passport, Jawad Jalali’s eyes filled with tears as the roaring engines lifted the plane higher into the sky. Leaving Afghanistan wasn’t easy for the 30-year-old photojournalist.

“War is so ugly,” he said. “It takes everything from you. Your job, your security, your hopes, and your dreams.”

After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the United States is on the verge of packing up and leaving—and it isn’t the only one. The past year, and especially recent months, have seen unprecedented violence across the country and particularly in Kabul. Since September 2020, Afghanistan has seen around 200 assassinations, an Afghan security official said. Journalists have been singled out, with 132 violent incidents in the last year, according to the Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee, with seven Afghani journalists killed and another 18 injured. Nationwide, terror attacks on civilians and Afghan security forces are as bad as they’ve been since the 2001 U.S. invasion.

Last year alone, more than 3,000 civilians were killed, according to the United Nations. Civilian casualties have surged since the start of peace negotiations between the Taliban and Afghan government.

Residents in Kabul are now accustomed to waking to the sounds of yet another explosion, often magnetic sticky bombs attached to cars and then detonated. They try to suss out the patterns of attacks, avoid rush hours, or simply stay home.

Afghanistan: Will Biden Cave to the Forever War Party?

by Cheryl Benard

As is customary when a new administration takes the reins in Washington, policies of the previous administration are now under review, among them the Afghan Peace Talks. All such reviews must examine whether a policy makes sense for the U.S. national interest; whether it is in accord with the values of the party just elected; if no, what better alternatives exist; and if yes, whether the current implementation approach is solid.

As the future of the Afghan peace talks hangs in the balance, many experts and would-be experts from think tanks, media, and academia are seeking to influence the decision. However, their recommendations reveal two major and astonishing blind spots. First, they seem to be dismissing the lessons of the last twenty years. And second, they listen to and interact with only one of the sides in this conflict, the Afghan government side.

In accord with our agreement on the cessation of conflict, reached with the Taliban in early 2020, we are on a path to bring home almost all of our troops by May 1. But many “experts” are now suggesting that we should void that agreement to instead maintain or even increase our military presence. Do they know what they are saying? If we don’t honor our agreement with the Taliban, there is only one outcome: the war resumes and, since they will somewhat justifiably feel tricked, it is likely to intensify. How is that a good idea? Where have these people been for the past twenty years? It can hardly be said that we haven’t tried a military solution, and in every possible variant. We had not one, but two military surges. We disarmed the local militias. That didn’t help, so we rebuilt and re-armed them. We focused on areas where things were going comparatively better, on the theory that success could spread out from there. When that failed, we focused instead on the most difficult areas, on the theory that if we could handle those the rest would follow. We studied the lessons of other counterinsurgencies. We sent out teams of soldiers who had medical or farming skills, to combine community engagement with military presence. Under General David Petraeus, we dispatched the so-called human terrain experts, until some of them were tortured and killed.

Exclusive: Taliban Warns Biden Going Back on Afghanistan Deal 'Causes Problems'


The Taliban has warned that President Joe Biden should live up to peace deal commitments made by the United States under his predecessor, or risk complicating the already precarious situation in Afghanistan.

As the May 1 deadline approaches that was set in that agreement struck a year ago this month by President Donald Trump with the organization officially known as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan for a total U.S. troop withdrawal, Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem urged the U.S. to stick to its word.

"There is no doubt that adherence to the agreement and its provisions will contribute greatly to ending the war and solving problems, because it was the result of tremendous efforts," Naeem said in a statement sent to Newsweek.

He said Washington risks a setback for the burgeoning intra-Afghan peace process if it doesn't follow through on the agreement.

"Just as commitment will help in solving problems, so lack of commitment not only does not help in solving problems, but also causes problems and increases them," Naeem said. "Therefore, it is necessary for all parties concerned to abide by the agreement."

The United States and China Are Fighting Over the Dalai Lama’s Reincarnation Plans


For Westerners, the Dalai Lama is a Nobel Peace Prize winner. For Tibetans, he’s a spiritual leader. But for the Chinese government, he’s a “wolf in monk’s robes” and a “splittist.” Those insults have sped up since this past December, when it was reported that the contentious omnibus U.S. spending bill included a peculiar provision: the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020 (TPSA).

Introduced to their respective legislative bodies by Democratic Rep. James McGovern and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, the TPSA supplants the similarly bipartisan Tibetan Policy Act of 2002. The new act is an overdue update. It covers a range of issues, including emphasizing environmental protection of the fragile Tibetan plateau, which is often referred to as the Third Pole because of its massive ice fields; encouraging the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights for American businesses engaged in Tibet; conditioning the establishment of new Chinese consulates in the United States on an establishment of a U.S. consulate in Lhasa; and acknowledging the role of the Central Tibetan Administration.

But the most politically significant provision is the assertion that the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation process should be left solely to the Dalai Lama’s and Tibetan Buddhist community’s wishes, and that Chinese officials who interfere in the process will face Magnitsky sanctions.