31 October 2021

Deterrence Theory– Is it Applicable in Cyber Domain?

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


The Deterrence Theory was developed in the 1950s, mainly to address new strategic challenges posed by nuclear weapons from the Cold War nuclear scenario. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union adopted a survivable nuclear force to present a ‘credible’ deterrent that maintained the ‘uncertainty’ inherent in a strategic balance as understood through the accepted theories of major theorists like Bernard Brodie, Herman Kahn, and Thomas Schelling.1 Nuclear deterrence was the art of convincing the enemy not to take a specific action by threatening it with an extreme punishment or an unacceptable failure.

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The PLA’s Developing Cyber Warfare Capabilities and India's Options

 Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)


Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it clear that his objective for China is to emerge as a ‘cyber superpower’. China wants to be the world’s largest nation in cyberspace and also one of the most powerful. The information technology revolution has produced both momentous opportunities and likely vulnerabilities for china. China is home of largest number of ‘netizens’ in the world. It also hosts some of the world’s most vibrant and successful technology companies. It also remains a major victim of cyber crime.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) believes that with the rise of the Information Age future wars will be contests in the ability to exploit information. Wars will be decided by the side who is more capable to generate, gather, transmit, analyse and exploit information.

India May Say ‘No’ to 2050 Net Zero Goal

Tarushi Aswani

With just a few days to go until the start of COP26, the next round of global climate talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, India is experiencing acute manifestations of extreme weather events across the length and breadth of the country.

In the north, Kashmir experienced early snowfall this year, which has claimed lives and destroyed livelihoods of farmers and others. Down south in Kerala, floods have devastated at least five districts in the state, displacing millions of people. Meanwhile in mountainous Uttarakhand floods have claimed over 50 lives. Other states in India are also experiencing unusual weather patterns.

Clearly, India is already experiencing the impact of climate change. Hotter summers and colder winters as well as extreme weather events have grown in frequency. Yet, India seems to be in no hurry to cut its carbon emissions. It may end up being an outlier in the upcoming COP26.

Learning the right lessons from Afghanistan


President Biden’s speech in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal from Kabul was intended to put the seal on a painful chapter in our nation’s history. In it, the president attributed the debacle in Kabul and the two decades of war that preceded it as an inevitable result of “nation building” — a pithy epithet that seemed to resonate with his audience.

In truth, the United States has had great success at nation building in the not-so-distant past. It was the same nation, after all, that devised the Marshall Plan, ensuring that a Europe devastated in the aftermath of World War II would experience an unprecedented period of peace and prosperity.

More recently, though on a much lesser scale, it was the U.S. that implemented Plan Colombia, which ended a 50-year civil war, led to a drastic drop in illicit drug production and enabled the Colombian government to exercise rule of law throughout the country. The real distinguishing features of both these successful attempts at nation building (though that was not the term used in either case at the time) was that they were both – as their titles suggest – actual plans.

Aid Cargo Destined for Afghanistan Stuck at Border

Catherine Putz

Around 100 metric tonnes of humanitarian aid intended for Afghanistan is reportedly still sitting in warehouses at the Termez Cargo Center in Uzbekistan. Russian and Uzbek media this week that a representative from the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said: “The cargo is still in Termez. The date of its delivery will depend on the receipt of import permits from the Afghan side, and this issue is being resolved by the UNHCR office in Kabul.”

On October 15, the first emergency airlift by UNHCR landed in Termez, Uzbekistan. Termez, on the Afghan-Uzbek border, is home to a major border crossing and a cargo hub, which Uzbek authorities have made available to help speed aid to Afghanistan.

At the time, UNHCR said of the shipments: “This and subsequent airlifts through Termez will deliver more than 100 metric tonnes of core relief items urgently needed to help Afghans prepare for the winter. Until trucked into Afghanistan, the consignments will be stored in Termez Cargo Centre.”

The New Challenges in Aid to Afghanistan

Anthony H. Cordesman

No one can dismiss the need to help Americans and other foreigners safely leave Afghanistan and to protect the Afghans who served the U.S. and other allied countries during the war. There also is a need to aid many of the Afghans who have become refugees outside the country and who often require extensive support to adapt to a new culture and economy as well as funds to live on until they can get the jobs they need to survive on their own.

The Afghans who had to leave Afghanistan, however, are only a small portion of the Afghans who need some form of aid and U.S. help. It is time to look at those who still remain in Afghanistan and the country’s deeper problems and needs. The United States needs to start planning now to provide the aid they will need during what may well be a decade long period of transition – and one where the U.S. may be able to persuade the Taliban to modernize and avoid any support of terrorism and extremist movements.

This paper focuses on the challenges in providing such aid. It addresses the scale of Afghanistan’s post-collapse economic crisis, and it examines the critical problems in Afghan governance and economics that must now be addressed. It looks at the uncertainties in the ways in which the Taliban may evolve and govern, and it suggests a number of ways the U.S. could best serve its strategic and humanitarian goals in providing aid.

Examining Extremism: Lashkar-e-Taiba

Michelle Macander

Lashkar-e-Taiba (LT) achieved global notoriety in November 2008 after orchestrating a series of bold attacks in Mumbai and laying siege to the city for over 60 hours. The strike, which killed 166 and wounded more than 300 people, hit India’s financial district and intentionally targeted Westerners, a Jewish cultural center, and symbols of India’s growing international clout. While the Mumbai attack gained LT an international reputation, the Salafi-jihadist group was active in South Asia for decades prior, predominantly targeting India. This piece outlines the history, ideology, organizational structure, and targets and tactics of LT. It provides a threat assessment that LT will remain committed to Pakistan’s annexation of Kashmir and is likely to pose a continuing threat to India and the region following the withdrawal of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.


LT, also known as “Army of the Righteous” or “Army of the Pure,” is a Sunni Muslim militant insurgent group based in Pakistan, whose primary aim is the liberation of Jammu and Kashmir from Indian control. LT has cultivated a reputation as a highly disciplined Salafi-jihadist organization, and it is one of the largest and most dominant groups focused on the disputed region of Kashmir. The group maintains a complicated relationship with its host country—while Pakistan has banned the group and its parent organizations, there is ample evidence that the state has used the group as a proxy against India since the mid-1990s.

Why the World Should Help Afghanistan


Afghanistan is facing one of the most complex humanitarian crises of its recent history. It is a convergence of the past 40 years of imposed conflicts of geopolitics, endemic poverty, climate change, the global economic recession due to COVID-19, and chronic foreign aid dependency, now at 40 percent. Consequently, 14 million Afghans face severe hunger, 3.4 million children suffer from acute malnutrition, 22.8 million need immediate relief aid, and 97 percent of all Afghans live below the poverty line.

Since Aug. 15, when the Taliban illegally and forcefully took over the government in Kabul, the humanitarian crisis has deteriorated further. Competent government employees have abandoned their jobs, leaving Afghanistan with an irreparable brain-drain. As a result, key service-delivery institutions no longer function and lack the resources to address the basic needs of an impoverishing population. The banking sector has ground to a halt and people are unable to withdraw their savings. Most international aid organizations and diplomatic missions have closed their development programs and evacuated their staff.

Afghanistan Teetering on the Brink of Economic Collapse

Christoph Reuter

Even during the last 20, turbulent years in Afghanistan, there were always a few certainties that the country could rely on. One of those was the price of bread: A small, 250-gram loaf has always cost 10 afghani, the equivalent of around 10 euro cents.

Over the years, even as the civil war spread across the country, suicide bombings rocked Kabul and billions of dollars disappeared into foreign accounts or were poured into the villas in Dubai and Istanbul built by senior government officials, the price of bread always remained the same.

And that price, according to a recent decree from the Taliban’s commission for the economy, must not change. Nobody knows where the commission is located or how it can be reached. But their threatening words were broadcast on television: It is forbidden to change the size of a bread loaf or the price charged for it.

Taiwan confirms U.S. military presence, says defending island is vital for democracy

Christian Shepherd and Pei Lin Wu

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen confirmed that American troops have been training the Taiwanese military, as tensions between Beijing and the self-governing island intensify over China’s fears of Taipei’s evolving relationship with Washington.

Tsai, who has ruled Taiwan as head of the Democratic Progressive Party since 2016, told CNN in an interview published on Thursday that U.S. military personnel were in Taiwan as part of a training program. She declined to give details of the numbers of troops involved.

The rare public acknowledgment, which comes after the Wall Street Journal reported that Marines have been in Taiwan for at least a year, drew an angry response from the Chinese state-backed tabloid Global Times, which accused Tsai of “pushing the mainland to decide to resolve the Taiwan question by force.”

The threat of military conflict with China has long loomed over Taiwan, but recent Chinese aggressions have set off new fears. Here’s what happens next. (Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)

If China Attacks Taiwan, What Will Europe Do?

Joris Teer and Tim Sweijs

Image the following scenario: It’s April 10, 2024 at 2:30 a.m. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convenes his cabinet to discuss an emergency request from the United States. After years of provocations, President Xi Jinping has acted: China is attacking Taiwan. President Joe Biden backs Taipei and sends the U.S. Seventh Fleet to the Taiwan Strait.

The risks are great. The situation is different from the crisis in 1996, when Bill Clinton ordered two carrier battle groups – at the time, the symbol of U.S. military dominance – sail through the Taiwan Strait to deter China. Beijing could do nothing but watch from the sidelines. This time, China has a home game advantage with its sophisticated missile arsenal threatening to sink U.S. aircraft carriers.

The United States invokes the AUKUS Pact, the three-year-old defense treaty between the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia. Biden asks the British aircraft carrier group to execute a relatively low-risk operation: a blockade of the Malacca Strait to throttle China’s oil supply and trade. The Dutch air defense frigate Zr.Ms. Evertsen is part of the British squadron. A nearby French aircraft carrier group and a German frigate receive the same request.

A Hypothetical Command Vision Statement for a Fictional PLA Cyber Command

Herb Lin

In 2018, U.S. Cyber Command (USCC) released its Command Vision statement for the organization, advancing officially for the first time “defend forward” and “persistent engagement” as new elements in the United States’ approach to advancing its security interests in and through cyberspace. Since then, much debate has ensued about the pros and cons of these concepts. But this debate has not included much discussion of one key aspect—what would be the impact of other cyber powers adopting these concepts in pursuing their own security interests?

As a thought exercise, the document below is the USCC Command Vision statement rewritten as though it were the basis for a document that the People’s Republic of China might adopt and issue. To first order, the new document simply replaces every reference to “U.S.” in the Command Vision statement with “China” or “Chinese.” Although the hypothetical document includes a bit of verbiage to make it more consistent with the different context in which the Chinese military operates, such as its role in serving the Chinese Communist Party with policies like military-civil fusion, nearly all of the words and sentences are taken directly from the USCC Command Vision statement. Changes from the USCC Command Vision statement in the hypothetical document below are indicated in bold.

China’s Foreign Minister Tries Again to Win Europe Back

Shannon Tiezzi

China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi is in Europe this week, hoping to stem a downward slide in China-Europe relations. He started his trip in Greece and will visit Serbia, Albania, and Italy from October 27 to 29, ending his trip just ahead of the G-20 Summit in Rome. (China’s President Xi Jinping will not be attending the Rome meeting in person, continuing his 21-month streak of avoiding international travel.)

Wang’s Europe tour following a trip to Qatar from October 25 to 26, where he met with a delegation of the Afghan Taliban’s interim government.

On October 27, Wang met with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias. The same day, Wang traveled to Belgrade, Serbia, for meetings with Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic and National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dacic.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin explained the logic behind Wang’s choice of destinations: “Greece, Serbia, Albania and Italy are important cooperation partners of China in Europe. China and these four countries boast profound traditional friendship, have close cooperation across the board and share fruitful outcomes in BRI cooperation.”

US, China, Russia Test New Space War Tactics: Sats Buzzing, Spoofing, Spying


WASHINGTON: China has demonstrated the ability to track and maneuver a satellite with a remarkably high degree of precision, allowing the Chinese military to spot a US satellite moving close and then to redirect its own satellite away from the US bird in little more than 24 hours, according to never-before-seen video recreations.

In a July 2021 incident, USA 271, a space surveillance satellite developed covertly by the Air Force and Orbital Sciences, approaches Chinese satellite SJ-20, the PRC’s heaviest and one of its most advanced satellites. The US satellite, part of the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSAPP), shadows the Chinese bird in parallel. But then the Chinese clearly detect the US satellite and rapidly move theirs away. (Pro tip: If you look closely, you can see how close the two satellites are by looking under “Ranges” in the video below.)

This is a rare glimpse into the often highly classified realm of nation-to-nation run-ins in space — and potential future space warfare tactics — made possible by COMSPOC, a company that provides space tracking and other information to private companies and governments. While the US military tracks objects in space, it restricts data about those with national security implications — especially US spy sats. COMSPOC provided several videos illustrating various interactions to Breaking Defense for this report.

Worsening global digital divide as the US and China continue zero-sum competitions

Cheng Li

The COVID-19 crisis has interrupted daily life and business routines across the world, caused a massive loss of millions of lives, and exacerbated economic disparities within and between countries. COVID-19 has also revealed fundamental challenges in the international order. As Kissinger has asserted, “the world will never be the same after the coronavirus.” One can reasonably expect that cynicism regarding regional and global integration, as well as radical populism, racism, ultra-nationalism and xenophobia, will likely continue to rise around the world.

At this critical juncture, it has become even more essential to examine the urgent challenges that the world confronts and to engage in global cooperation instead of devolving into constant contention and confrontation. One of the most urgent tasks for the international community is to overcome growing digital divides.

Digital divides in least developed countries (LDCs) have been particularly salient, as digitally disconnected populations have been left further behind during the pandemic. The U.S. and China, two superpowers in the digital era, should work in tandem with the international community to jointly combat digital divides and COVID-19.

Tensions in Tehran-Baku Relations: Iran’s New Transit Routes in Armenia and the Caspian Sea

Vali Kaleji

Although many observers assumed that the recent uptick in tensions between Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan (see EDM, October 6) would die down following the telephone calls between Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Jeyhun Bayramov (Al Jazeera, October 13), subsequent public remarks by the latter country’s President Ilham Aliyev again incensed Tehran. In his comments at an October 15 session of the Council of Heads of State of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Aliyev mentioned that Azerbaijan “has blocked a drug trafficking route from Iran through [the] Jabrayil district of Azerbaijan to Armenia and further to Europe” (Azernews, October 15). In reaction to this statement, Iranian Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani said that, “Ignoring the principles and requirements of the neighborhood and making false and unconstructive statements is not a sign of good faith and prudence” (Mehrnews, October 15). Weeks earlier, responding to an interview the Azerbaijani president gave to the Turkish outlet Anadolu Agency, Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson, Saeed Khatibzadeh, declared, “Aliyev’s remarks are surprising because they come at a time when Tehran and Baku have good relations based on mutual respect and there are normal channels through which the two sides can talk at the highest level” (Anadolu Agency, September 28).

The Syrian Civil War’s Never-Ending Endgame

The Syrian civil war that has decimated the country for 10 years now, provoking a regional humanitarian crisis and drawing in actors ranging from the United States to Russia, appears to be drawing inexorably to a conclusion. President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Iran and Russia, seems to have emerged militarily victorious from the conflict, which began after his government violently repressed civilian protests in 2011. The armed insurgency that followed soon morphed into a regional and global proxy war that, at the height of the fighting, saw radical Islamist groups seize control over vast swathes of the country, only to lose it in the face of sustained counteroffensives by pro-government forces as well as a U.S.-led coalition of Western militaries.

The fighting is not yet fully over, though, with the northwestern Idlib region remaining outside of government control. In early 2020, the Syrian army’s Russian-backed campaign to retake Idlib from the last remaining armed opposition groups concentrated there resulted in clashes with Turkish forces deployed to protect Ankara’s client militias. The skirmishes were a reminder that the conflict, though seemingly in its final stages, could still flare back up and escalate. The situation in the northeast also remains volatile following the removal of U.S. forces from the border with Turkey, with Turkish, Syrian and Russian forces all now deployed in the region, alongside proxies and Syrian Kurdish militias.

The Future Of Iran-EU Trade Is Not Bright

Saeed Ghasseminejad

Enrique Mora, the EU envoy coordinating the Iran nuclear talks traveled to Tehran recently in an attempt to convince the regime to return to the Vienna process.

The EU invested considerable political and diplomatic capital in the long process that led to the 2015 accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). EU leaders had tried hard to convince former President Donald Trump not to abrogate the deal, and they have again invested considerable effort, since Joe Biden’s election, to serve as a middleman between Tehran and Washington. All of this diplomacy invites an economic question: What can the EU expect to gain if trade and investment become possible in Iran with the lifting of US sanctions?

The history of Iran-EU trade over the last 15 years shows a downward trend, with a high degree of correlation with the severity of sanctions. When US-initiated secondary sanctions are in place, whether multilateral or unilateral, they quickly affect Iran-EU trade. EU states opposed the Trump administration’s unilateral maximum pressure strategy, but Trump’s sanctions had the same impact on Iran-EU trade as multilateral sanctions did prior to the JCPOA.

Niall Ferguson on why the end of America’s empire won’t be peaceful


“THE MULTITUDES remained plunged in ignorance… and their leaders, seeking their votes, did not dare to undeceive them.” So wrote Winston Churchill of the victors of the first world war in “The Gathering Storm.” He bitterly recalled a “refusal to face unpleasant facts, desire for popularity and electoral success irrespective of the vital interests of the state.” American readers watching their government’s ignominious departure from Afghanistan, and listening to President Joe Biden’s strained effort to justify the unholy mess he has made, may find at least some of Churchill’s critique of interwar Britain uncomfortably familiar.

Britain’s state of mind was the product of a combination of national exhaustion and “imperial overstretch”, to borrow a phrase from Paul Kennedy, a historian at Yale. Since 1914, the nation had endured war, financial crisis and in 1918-19 a terrible pandemic, the Spanish influenza. The economic landscape was overshadowed by a mountain of debt. Though the country remained the issuer of the dominant global currency, it was no longer unrivalled in that role. A highly unequal society inspired politicians on the left to demand redistribution if not outright socialism. A significant proportion of the intelligentsia went further, embracing communism or fascism.

America’s Crumbling Global Position

Bret Stephens

A “complex, coordinated and deliberate attack,” was how John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, on Monday described a recent drone assault on a U.S. military outpost in Syria that helps train local allies to fight ISIS. It was carried out with as many as five Iranian drones, launched by Iranian proxies, and conducted with Iran’s aid and blessing.

We’ll see if there’s any kind of U.S. response. The Biden administration is still desperate to get Iran back to the negotiating table to sign a nuclear deal that would free up billions of dollars in funding that Tehran can use to conduct more such attacks.

Also on Monday, The Times’s David Sanger reported that a Russian intelligence agency, the S.V.R., is once again engaged in a campaign “to pierce thousands of U.S. government, corporate and think-tank computer networks,” according to Microsoft cybersecurity experts. This comes just a few months after President Biden personally warned Vladimir Putin against renewing such attacks — while also going easy on the penalties the U.S. imposed for previous intrusions.

In Taiwan war game, few good options for U.S. to deter China

Dan Lamothe

The United States has “few credible options” to respond if China were to seize a set of islands administered by Taiwan in the South China Sea, underscoring the need for Washington and Taipei to build deterrence “against limited Chinese aggression,” according to the results of a war game conducted recently by foreign policy experts in Washington and the Asia-Pacific region.

The scenario was examined by the Center for a New American Security, a Washington-based think tank, and detailed in a report published Tuesday. It supposes that Chinese forces invade the Pratas islands, capturing the 500 Taiwanese troops who are based there and establishing a military outpost.

It’s a theoretical dilemma for the Pentagon that “many China-watchers view as increasingly plausible” — and one that “reinforces the need for regular planning exercises between Taiwanese and U.S. personnel,” the report says.

The report comes at a moment of heightened tension between Washington and Beijing, with the United States opposing China’s military expansion in the region and China calling on the Pentagon to cut ties with Taiwan. The standoff has spotlighted the challenge U.S. commanders would face in responding to an incursion of the islands without provoking a full-blown war.

Warfare and Geopolitics in Europe's Southern Neighbourhood: Implications for NATO

Camilla Vianini, Chloé Berger

Europe’s Southern neighbourhood has been for decades a highly unstable and contested region. The so-called Arab Spring has marked a particular turning point in the history of the region, accelerating the de-composition of the Middle Eastern regional security complex and fostering fragmentation in the South to an unprecedented degree. For the first time, all countries in the MENA region are involved, directly or indirectly, in one or more conflict(s), be it civil war, proxy war, state rivalries, etc. NATO’s Southern neighbourhood reflects the fundamental change of the international security environment, caused by multiple factors, such as the promotion of new forms of influence by global powers as well as the growing significance of non-state actors in international relations. These elements, which are not completely new in the regional arena, have acquired a new degree of complexity, affecting the stability of the region by favouring the dissemination of new dynamics of violence. NATO Allies have significant interests in that broad South that stretches from the Sahel to the Asian neighbourhood of the Arab Gulf. Defence capacity building and counterterrorism are important priorities for the security of many Allies. At the same time, the South is experiencing an increasing penetration of Russia and China, seeking to advance their economic interests and secure some geopolitical gains in the region. In the context of the NATO 2030 reflection and in preparation of the next NATO Strategic Concept, Allies might develop a more comprehensive definition of security, considering the changing nature of warfare and rethinking the Alliance’s approach to the South.

The Limits of Hard Power

Brig. Saleem Qamar Butt (Rtd)

While the preservation of American democracy should be a lodestar of any US foreign policy, having employed hard power over 200 times since the end of the Cold War, such events as Washington’s exit from Afghanistan and departures from Iraq, Syria, Libya and elsewhere, with their human, economic and political costs, have demonstrated the limitations of using excessive military force as a leading component of foreign policy.

Key Points

Soft power is hampered when policies, culture or values repel others instead of attracting them and, consequently, substitute hard power in its place, which mostly (and erroneously) appears to be a quick fix.

According to a Congressional Research Service estimate, the United States has employed hard power/military force over 200 times since the end of the Cold War.

The US foreign policy establishment is prone to panic and often blows potential threats out of proportion, thereby justifying military interventions that frequently prove counterproductive.

After a Year of Silence, Are EU Cyber Sanctions Dead?

Stefan Soesanto

One year ago, on Oct. 22, 2020, the Council of the European Union imposed its second, and so far last, EU cyber sanctions package in response to malicious cyber activities that constitute an external threat to the European Union or its member states. Though these sanctions were envisioned as a new tool to impose significant costs and bring about a change in policy or behavior from the sanctioned governments and individuals in cyberspace, they have failed in both substance and volume to achieve their strategic aims.

To date, only eight individuals and four organizations have been sanctioned by the European Union for various campaigns, including WannaCry, NotPetya, and the 2015 Bundestag hack. By comparison, since April 2015, the U.S. Treasury Department has imposed cyber-related sanctions on a combined 99 individuals and 59 entities, including 13 individuals and 19 entities in 2021 alone.

The limited EU response is not for lack of high-profile malicious cyber campaigns uncovered and attributed to foreign government agencies, groups and individuals that targeted EU member states. Instead, the imposition of EU cyber sanctions has been hampered by a lack of coordinated intelligence collection efforts, a focus on voluntary intelligence sharing, and a political process that likely undermines the creation of a common EU threat perception in cyberspace.

Experts React: COP26 Preview

Mixed News on Emissions

Joseph Majkut
Director, Energy Security and Climate Change Program

The Paris Agreement set long-term global climate ambition at keeping global warming well below 2°C, but under the Paris framework, countries must draw the map from here to there. Glasgow will show that the map is still incomplete.

The good news is that climate ambition has reduced expectations for emissions this decade. The UN Environment Program’s emissions gap report, released this past week, shows that current policies will see global emissions fall slightly from current levels to 55 gigatons of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gases (GtCO2) by 2030, and new pledges could see that number fall further to 50 GtCO2. If that is realized, it will represent a 15 GtCO2 fall from what would have been expected in 2010. Evaluating climate policies is an exercise in comparing counterfactuals, and countries can claim some success at Glasgow.

Libya’s Chaos Is a Warning to the World

Jason Pack

Ten years ago last week, many Libyan citizens and certain international politicians rejoiced in the toppling of strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi. Some mistakenly think they will soon be rejoicing again after United Nations-mediated elections slated for Dec. 24 bring Libya’s first post-Qaddafi non-interim government to power. There are many reasons to question such optimism, however. Developments in both the international system and in Libya over the last decade suggest that the forces promoting disorder and nationalist competition may trump those promoting order and international coordination.

A lot has changed in 10 years—and even more over the last 70 years. The independent and sovereign Libyan state was created by the United Nations from former Italian colonial possessions on Dec. 24, 1951. It was the culmination of a process whereby Anglo-American leaders coordinated a compromise solution that gradually received buy-in from rival powers.

Even the Soviet Union, Egypt, France, nascent African polities, and Italy—all of whom initially had different ambitions for Libya’s then-three provinces—embraced a unitary sovereign Libya, helping the young country get off to a fresh start. All of these actors calculated they would gain from a successful Libya. During the Cold War, rival powers sought to extend their spheres of influence to new territories; they did not seek to deliberately bring disorder to the world system.

Nordic Countries Aren’t Actually Socialist

Nima Sanandaji

Nordic countries are often used internationally to prove that socialism works. It’s true that social democratic parties are enjoying success in this part of the world. Yet while Nordic countries are seeing a partial comeback for social democratic parties, their policies aren’t in fact socialist, but centrist.

Nordic nations—and especially Sweden—did embrace socialism between around 1970 and 1990. During the past 30 years, however, both conservative and social democratic-led governments have moved toward the center. Today, the Nordic social democrats have adopted stricter immigration policies, tightened eligibility requirements for welfare benefit systems, taken a tougher stance on crime, and carried out business-friendly policies.

The Nordic welfare system that people like to point to as a flourishing example of socialism was developed around 1970, when there was a policy shift throughout Nordic societies toward higher taxes and generous public benefits. In the century preceding that turn, Nordic countries had combined small public sectors and free markets to achieve strong economic growth. From around 1870 to 1970, for instance, Sweden’s per capita GDP increased around tenfold, the highest growth rate in all of Europe. It was after this period of rapidly growing prosperity that there was a shift to high-tax policies. The public remained skeptical of direct tax raises, and the shift largely occurred through gradual rises in the indirect payroll tax.

Five points for anger, one for a ‘like’: How Facebook’s formula fostered rage and misinformation

Jeremy B. Merrill and Will Oremus

Five years ago, Facebook gave its users five new ways to react to a post in their news feed beyond the iconic “like” thumbs-up: “love,” “haha,” “wow,” “sad” and “angry.”

Behind the scenes, Facebook programmed the algorithm that decides what people see in their news feeds to use the reaction emoji as signals to push more emotional and provocative content — including content likely to make them angry. Starting in 2017, Facebook’s ranking algorithm treated emoji reactions as five times more valuable than “likes,” internal documents reveal. The theory was simple: Posts that prompted lots of reaction emoji tended to keep users more engaged, and keeping users engaged was the key to Facebook’s business.

Facebook’s own researchers were quick to suspect a critical flaw. Favoring “controversial” posts — including those that make users angry — could open “the door to more spam/abuse/clickbait inadvertently,” a staffer, whose name was redacted, wrote in one of the internal documents. A colleague responded, “It’s possible.”

The warning proved prescient. The company’s data scientists confirmed in 2019 that posts that sparked angry reaction emoji were disproportionately likely to include misinformation, toxicity and low-quality news.

A Brief History of Online Influence Operations

Jacob T. Rob, Jacob N. Shapiro

The Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Files series resumed last week, revealing that the platform took action against an online campaign to set up a new right-wing “Patriot Party” after the Jan. 6 insurrection. Earlier this month news outlets reported that a number of former employees excoriated the company’s content moderation practices in their departure emails. And on Oct. 25, a dozen news outlets released new stories based on yet more leaked Facebook documents. In congressional hearings on the initial Facebook leak, Sen. Richard Blumenthal succinctly captured the tone of the public sentiment, saying that “Facebook and Big Tech are facing a Big Tobacco moment.”

Salacious as these revelations may be, they raise a deeper question: How can it be that society depends on whistleblowers revealing internal studies that could not pass peer review for insight into the societal harms exacerbated by multibillion-dollar companies that hundreds of millions of Americans (and billions of people around the world) use for hours every week?

Deepfakes, Cryptocurrency and Mobile Wallets: Cybercriminals Find New Opportunities in 2022

SAN CARLOS, Calif., Oct. 26, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Check Point® Software Technologies (NASDAQ: CHKP), a leading provider of cyber-security solutions globally, released its cyber-security predictions for 2022 detailing the key security challenges that organizations will face over the next year. While cybercriminals continue to leverage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they will also find new opportunities for attack with deepfakes, cryptocurrency, mobile wallets and more.

Key highlights from the 2022 Global cyber-security predictions report include:

Fake news and misinformation campaigns return: Throughout 2021, misinformation was spread about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination information. In 2022, cyber groups will continue to leverage fake news campaigns to execute various phishing attacks and scams.

Supply chain cyber-attacks continue to increase: Supply chain attacks will become more common and governments will begin to establish regulations to address these attacks and protect networks, as well as collaborate with the private sectors and other countries to identify and target more threat groups globally.

Culture, Gender, and Women in the Military

Dr. Robert U. Nagel, Ms. Kinsey Spears, and Ms. Julia Maenza

Executive Summary
The increased number of women in the Armed Forces presents a timely opportunity to examine how the changing gender makeup of the US military affects operations and culture, what potential barriers exist, and what women’s participation means for compliance with international conventions such as the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda and International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

We conducted semi-structured interviews with former enlisted personnel, active and retired commissioned officers. The interviews, along with a comprehensive review of government and military policies, independent review reports, and academic literature, allow us to illustrate how the combination of an entrenched masculinized military culture and overreliance on Special Operations Forces (SOF) present an obstacle to women’s full integration, impeding the implementation of the WPS agenda and IHL compliance.

We recommend that the US Department of Defense address three central gender-related issues—the equal and meaningful inclusion of women, restrictive physical standards, and sexual assault—to achieve the goals of the 2020 Strategic Framework and Implementation Plan (SFIP).

30 October 2021

Deterrence Theory– Is it Applicable in Cyber Domain?

  Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


The Deterrence Theory was developed in the 1950s, mainly to address new strategic challenges posed by nuclear weapons from the Cold War nuclear scenario. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union adopted a survivable nuclear force to present a ‘credible’ deterrent that maintained the ‘uncertainty’ inherent in a strategic balance as understood through the accepted theories of major theorists like Bernard Brodie, Herman Kahn, and Thomas Schelling.1 Nuclear deterrence was the art of convincing the enemy not to take a specific action by threatening it with an extreme punishment or an unacceptable failure.

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Social Media in Violent Conflicts – Recent Examples

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


Alan Rusbridger, the then editor-in-chief of the Guardian in his 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture, stated, “News organisations still break lots of news. But, increasingly, news happens first on Twitter. If you’re a regular Twitter user, even if you’re in the news business and have access to wires, the chances are that you’ll check out many rumours of breaking news on Twitter first. There are millions of human monitors out there who will pick up on the smallest things and who have the same instincts as the agencies—to be the first with the news. As more people join, the better it will get. ”

The most important and unique feature of social media and its role in future conflicts is the speed at which it can disseminate information to audiences and the audiences to provide feedback.

It’s Time to Formalize an Alliance With India

Nikki Haley and Mike Waltz

In February, U.S. President Joe Biden declared, “diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy” and “we will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again.” Nine months into his presidency, the opposite has happened—and the United States’ adversaries are taking advantage of the situation.

Consider our allies: We witnessed ministers in the British Parliament publicly rebuke Biden in the aftermath of our disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal. France recalled its ambassador in an extraordinary move. We’ve isolated our Eastern European allies by capitulating to Germany over the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

Meanwhile, our adversaries are growing bolder, especially following the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal. An axis of terror is forming from Hamas to Iran to the Taliban. Pakistan has stepped up its engagement with Iran. China has increased its incursions into Taiwan’s air identification zone to record levels. Russia is increasing its influence in Belarus and further threatening Ukraine.

Tajikistan-Afghanistan Tensions a Hurdle for Russia-Taliban Relations

Syed Fazl-e-Haider

The governments of Russia and Pakistan are uneasy over the continued tensions between Tajikistan and the Taliban-led Afghanistan, and they are urging both neighbors to exercise restraint.

The exchange of fiery statements between Dushanbe and Kabul, combined with recent friction along the Tajikistani-Afghan border, have particularly stoked Moscow’s apprehensions. Russia has officially implored both sides to resolve any dispute in a mutually acceptable manner. After the Taliban deployed thousands of their fighters to Takhar, the northeastern province of Afghanistan, adjacent to Tajikistan, Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Alexei Zaitsev declared, “We observe with concern the growing tensions in Tajik-Afghan relations amid mutually strong statements by the leadership of the two countries” (Dawn, October 1).

In addition to Russia, Pakistan is also playing an active role in responding to the tense situation between Tajikistan and Taliban-led Afghanistan. On October 2, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan stepped in to defuse this ire by holding a telephone conversation with President Em­o­m­ali Rahmon of Tajikistan.“The two leaders agreed to remain in close contact with a view to further coordinating their efforts in support of peace and stability in Afghanistan,” said a statement issued from the prime minister’s office in Islamabad (Dawn, October 3).

America Needs an Independent Pakistan Policy

Touqir Hussain

At a House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on September 13, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Pakistan has a “multiplicity of interests, some that are in conflict with ours.”

Whether it was over Afghanistan or other issues, the United States has always lived with these conflicts, and the U.S. relationship with Pakistan has vacillated between conflict and cooperation. However, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, which has been defined by Washington’s short-term need for Pakistan’s cooperation to serve some critical security and strategic interests and Pakistan’s long-term need for American economic support and security assistance, has not come without cost. Even when their interests converged, their policies, perceptions, and politics often did not; They could not build the organizing principle of a long and lasting relationship based on a conceptual framework, shared vision, and continuity.

The pendulum gradually swings towards international engagement with the Taliban

James M. Dorsey

The Taliban and Pakistan, both viewed warily by the West and others in the international community, appear to be benefitting from mounting concerns about the humanitarian and security situation in Afghanistan.

The European Union, in a move that could put the United States in an awkward position, is close to reopening its mission in the Afghan capital and offering member states to use it as an operational base for their own diplomats.

The move would enhance European engagement of the Taliban but stop short of diplomatically recognizing the group as Afghanistan’s new rulers. The Taliban government has yet to win recognition from anyone in the international community.

The EU, its member states, and the United States had moved their diplomatic missions to the Qatari capital of Doha in August as they evacuated Kabul in the wake of the Taliban takeover of the city.

Maleeha Lodhi on the tortured Pakistani-American relationship


IN THEIR VERY first exchange after 9/11, Pakistan’s most senior leaders urged their American counterparts not to invade Afghanistan. Instead, they said, consider targeted action against al-Qaeda. In several high-level meetings that I attended then as Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Pakistani officials gave warning that military action would not work. America should distinguish between al-Qaeda, the group responsible for the terror attacks, and the Taliban, who needed to be engaged.

Traumatised by the tragedy, leaders in Washington were in no mood to listen. Twenty years later, when America at last withdrew from Afghanistan, it had learned the hard way how to end its longest war. Doing so required negotiating a deal with the Taliban, but this came many years after al-Qaeda had been crushed.

Although close US-Pakistan co-operation achieved the shared goal of eliminating al-Qaeda, the course of the war strained a relationship already characterised by cyclical swings between intense engagement and deep estrangement. Long before the terror attacks of 2001, geopolitical concerns had shaped America’s regional alignments and its priorities. Bilateral ties passed through different phases. First, in the cold war, came the goal of containing communism. Pakistan became known as America’s “most allied ally”. Then came the pressing need, after 1979, to roll back the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. A subsequent phase involved defeating al-Qaeda in the “war on terror”.

China’s Security Infrastructure Continues to Grow in Tajikistan

Catherine Putz

New details have emerged regarding plans for China to build a paramilitary base for Tajik forces in Tajikistan. Much remains unclear, particularly with regard to what Chinese and Chinese-built security infrastructure already exists in Tajikistan, but also about the latest developments. At the same time, any and all movement in this space draws considerable attention not just in the region but from further abroad.

On October 13, the Tajik news site Asia-Plus ran a story citing an “exchange of letters” between China and Tajikistan in which the Chinese side agreed to provide 55 million renminbi (around $8.5 million) for the construction of a paramilitary base under the Tajik Ministry of Internal Affairs. The letters had been sent to the Tajik parliament for approval. They reportedly outlined the project, to include 12 buildings. The Chinese side, the report said, would undertake responsibility for the survey and design, providing equipment (including office furniture and computers) and direction to engineering and technical personnel. Asia-Plus did not report on the planned location of the base.

How BRI Debt Puts China at Risk

Jessica C. Liao

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has once again become a lightning rod for criticism following AidData’s newly released report, which found China’s overseas lending was worth $843 billion, including $385 billion of “un- and under-reported debt.” Media headlines seized on BRI’s “hidden debt” and news articles evoked the “debt trap diplomacy” slogan that political pundits and the Trump administration popularized in commentary critical of BRI.

Whether Beijing seeks to use debt as a tool to expand its influence and leverage over other countries remains under debate. However, what is mostly absent from the current discourse on BRI is discussion on the historically high risk plaguing all international creditors and the specter of this risk for China as it faces new challenges in sustaining its debt-fueled state-led growth model. Understanding this point can help Washington turn its stale narrative on BRI into a more convincing argument and be more effective in persuading other countries, as well as China, to shift course on BRI.

‘It Did Circle the Globe’: US Confirms China’s Orbital Hypersonic Test


A hypersonic missile that China launched into space this summer “did circle the globe,” a U.S. official confirmed to Defense One, and the Pentagon is still working through the implications of the surprise test.

The July 27 launch, first reported by the Financial Times, took place as top U.S. military leaders were focused on the rapid fall of Afghanistan and then the 17-day sprint to evacuate more than 124,000 people from Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Senior leaders are now focused more directly on the launch and its implications, the U.S. official said.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television on Wednesday, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said of the hypersonic launch, “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention.”

Chinese Censorship Is Going Global

Suzanne Nossel

In late September, the businessman Bill Browder received an unusual alert from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office. Browder, an activist who champions sanctions against government officials complicit in human rights abuses in Russia and around the world, was warned not to travel to countries that honor extradition treaties with Hong Kong. The places he was warded off from included democracies such as South Africa and Portugal. British officials told the activist that, under the terms of a 2020 Hong Kong law, Browder could risk arrest, extradition, trial, and even punishment by the Chinese regime. Browder’s ostensible crime in such a scenario would be his public call for Britain to push back against human rights abuses in Hong Kong.

The ominous warning to Browder comes amid a quickening pattern of Chinese influence over free speech in the West. Two LinkedIn users recently reported that their accounts were disabled by the Microsoft-owned platform, apparently because they spotlighted work on human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region. After coming under pressure from rights groups, LinkedIn announced it would close down its service on the mainland due to concerns over free expression, offering Chinese users a stripped-down version of the networking site without social media features. Just this week Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter’s outspoken support for a free Tibet prompted the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to pull the team’s games from Chinese television.