1 January 2021

Biden Is Expected to Expand U.S.-India Relations While Stressing Human Rights

By Pranshu Verma and Jeffrey Gettleman

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has significantly invested in its relationship with India over the past four years, seeing the country as a crucial partner in counterbalancing the rise of China.

Military cooperation and a personal friendship between President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India — both domineering nationalists — have pushed New Delhi and Washington closer.

Now, as President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. is set to move into the White House, American diplomats, Indian officials and security experts are resetting their expectations for relations between the world’s two largest democracies.

On one hand, experts said, Mr. Biden’s administration will most likely pay more attention to India’s contentious domestic developments, where Mr. Modi’s right-wing party has been steadily consolidating power and becoming overtly hostile toward Muslim minorities. Mr. Trump has largely turned a blind eye.

Others believe that the United States cannot afford to drastically alter its policy toward New Delhi because the United States needs its help to counter China and increasingly values India as a military and trade partner.

CO20207 | End of Al Qaeda Era?

Raffaello Pantucci

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical and contemporary issues. The authors’ views are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email to Mr Yang Razali Kassim, Editor RSIS Commentary at RSISPublications@ntu.edu.sg.


The reported passing of more of Al Qaeda’s senior leadership marks the almost complete passing of a generation. Yet a series of attacks in Europe point to a threat now happening beyond directed terrorist networks. Thus while Al Qaeda might be withering, the problems driving its emergence in the first place persist.

Potential Joe Biden Administration and United States-Pakistan Relations

Touqir Hussain

The history of fluctuating United States (US)-Pakistan relations will face another watershed moment under a Joe Biden administration. By now, familiar issues will still weigh on the relationship but present new challenges and opportunities in a changed regional and global environment.

What would the United States (US)-Pakistan relationship look like under the likely presidency of Joe Biden? That would depend on his foreign policy. The US has literally been through a national convulsion at the hands of Donald Trump that has affected both its domestic and foreign policies. Much needs to be changed. But the US foreign policy cannot simply be reconstructed in the image of the pre-Trump era which had flaws of its own – the very flaws whose demonisation by Trump contributed to his victory in 2016.

For once, Trump’s disruptive tactics shook some of the long-held internationalist and interventionist assumptions of the American foreign policy establishment –liberal and conservative alike – which has led to endless wars, militarisation of foreign policy and a rise in the influence of globalist elites who gave primacy to personal and corporate interests over America’s interests, especially those of the working class. By accident or design, he ended up undermining public support for some of these “failed” policies. Trump is headed for defeat but some of his ideas will live on.

Impact of the RCEP on South Asia

Mohammad Masudur Rahman

South Asian countries like Bangladesh can benefit from free trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. Being the world’s second biggest apparel exporting country, Bangladesh has a huge skilled labour force to offer to the global market. Such agreements with important trading partners will not only ensure market access for both goods and services for the South Asian countries but also reflect transparency and accountability in the effort to attract foreign direct investment.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is the biggest trade deal in history. This regional block, comprising the 10-member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, accounts for not only one-third of the global economy – about US$26 trillion (S$34.7 trillion) of global output – but also one-third of the world’s young middle-income population – a market of 2.2 billion people.

It is argued that the RCEP will enable China to become the world’s largest economy in the future. Peter Petri of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Michael Plummer of Johns Hopkins University estimate the economic impact of the RCEP and conclude that real incomes are expected to increase by about one per cent in Japan, South Korea and China. The Chinese economy has already bounced back to its pre-pandemic position according to latest data published by the China Statistical Bureau. The RCEP will further help it to remain on the right track of trade growth. Most empirical studies show that China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam will benefit enormously from the deal. Several other countries have already demonstrated their interest in wanting to join the RCEP. These include Canada and Hong Kong.

The New China Scare

By Fareed Zakaria

In February 1947, U.S. President Harry Truman huddled with his most senior foreign policy advisers, George Marshall and Dean Acheson, and a handful of congressional leaders. The topic was the administration’s plan to aid the Greek government in its fight against a communist insurgency. Marshall and Acheson presented their case for the plan. Arthur Vandenberg, chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, listened closely and then offered his support with a caveat. “The only way you are going to get what you want,” he reportedly told the president, “is to make a speech and scare the hell out of the country.”

Over the next few months, Truman did just that. He turned the civil war in Greece into a test of the United States’ ability to confront international communism. Reflecting on Truman’s expansive rhetoric about aiding democracies anywhere, anytime, Acheson confessed in his memoirs that the administration had made an argument “clearer than truth.” 

Something similar is happening today in the American debate about China. A new consensus, encompassing both parties, the military establishment, and key elements of the media, holds that China is now a vital threat to the United States both economically and strategically, that U.S. policy toward China has failed, and that Washington needs a new, much tougher strategy to contain it. This consensus has shifted the public’s stance toward an almost instinctive hostility: according to polling, 60 percent of Americans now have an unfavorable view of the People’s Republic, a record high since the Pew Research Center began asking the question in 2005. But Washington elites have made their case “clearer than truth.” The nature of the challenge from China is different from and far more complex than what the new alarmism portrays. On the single most important foreign policy issue of the next several decades, the United States is setting itself up for an expensive failure.

A China Strategy

Edward Lucas

In an era of geopolitical competition, the West — the U.S.-led countries of the transatlantic alliance and their East Asian allies — lacks a strategy for dealing with its most formidable competitor: the People’s Republic of China (henceforth China). But the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a strategy for dealing with the West. It involves a long-term goal of “national rejuvenation”1 — making China the world’s most powerful country by 2050 — implemented with decisive leadership; a clear-eyed appreciation of Western diplomatic, economic, political, and social weaknesses; and effective means of exploiting them. These tactics, best characterized as “sharp power,”2 include censorship and manipulation of the information system, cyber operations, divide-and-rule diplomacy, leverage of trade and investment, and propaganda, plus military bluff and intimidation.

Under Xi Jinping, the Chinese party-state has its most powerful leader and its most centralized government since the Mao era. It has institutionalized ethnic and religious persecution at home and developed formidable offensive capabilities, including a blue-water navy, nuclear weapons, and ballistic missiles, which change the balance of power: in the Asia-Pacific region now, and globally soon. It conducts successful influence operations — overt and covert attempts to sway public opinion and decision-making in the heart of Western democracies. These include:


Dexter Roberts

The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security works to develop sustainable, nonpartisan strategies to address the most important security challenges facing the United States and the world. The Center honors General Brent Scowcroft’s legacy of service and embodies his ethos of nonpartisan commitment to the cause of security, support for US leadership in cooperation with allies and partners, and dedication to the mentorship of the next generation of leaders. The Scowcroft Center’s Asia Security Initiative promotes forward-looking strategies and constructive solutions for the most pressing issues affecting the IndoPacific region, particularly the rise of China, in order to enhance cooperation between the United States and its regional allies and partners. 

 “Asian telecommunication network connected over Asia, China, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, concept about internet and global communication technology for finance, blockchain or IoT, elements from NASA” by NicoElNino. ShutterStock. https://www.shutterstock. com/image-photo/asian-telecommunication-networkconnected-over-asia-1184978059 The Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) is a start-up incubated at the Atlantic Council and leading hub of digital forensic analysts whose mission is to identify, expose, and explain disinformation where and when it occurs. The DFRLab promotes the idea of objective truth as a foundation of governance to protect democratic institutions and norms from those who would undermine them. Dexter Roberts is a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Asia Security Initiative, housed within Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.

In Arab Monarchies, Absolute Rule May Be Dwindling

By Hilal Khashan

The Arab world’s eight monarchies are among the last remaining absolute monarchies on Earth. In some ways, they have proved surprisingly durable. Compared to Arab republics, Jordan, Morocco and the six countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait) escaped the Arab Spring uprisings relatively unfazed. But some of the Arab kingdoms are also facing new challenges that threaten to end decades of monarchial rule. The Role of Affluence In 2010, Tunisian street vendor Mohamad Bouazizi set himself on fire after a police officer assaulted him for parking his produce cart in an unauthorized spot. This event was the catalyst for the Arab Spring protests that spread through large parts of the Middle East. Despite the fact that the protesters were demanding democratic reforms, the spark for the movement was actually the region’s dire economic conditions. In Tunisia and Egypt, organized labor unions spearheaded the demonstrations and mobilized the public. In Syria, the uprising broke out in the southwest, a bastion of support for the Assad regime where the deteriorating economy reduced state welfare spending and alienated the population. (click to enlarge) However, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries managed to weather

The ISIS Files

In 2018, The New York Times and the George Washington University announced an exclusive partnership to digitize, translate, analyze, and publish over 15,000 pages of internal ISIS files obtained by Times investigative journalist Rukmini Callimachi and her Iraqi colleagues during embeds with the Iraqi army.

Extensive work has been done by the George Washington University to preserve and present the information contained in The ISIS Files in an accurate, accessible, secure, and impartial manner. The ISIS Files project will continue to publish new documents, released in thematic batches.Learn more about The ISIS Files

Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa Target

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies

A rise in highway ambushes by Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa pose a growing threat of isolation for Borno State’s 4 million residents.

Violent events linked to Boko Haram and its offshoot the Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) on Borno State’s main roadways have spiked almost sixfold (to 67 episodes) in the past year. Reported fatalities linked to highway attacks rose more than fourfold during this time (to 259 deaths).

Rethinking 2020: What’s Overlooked and What’s Overhyped

Damien Ma and Houze Song

In this exceptional year, much of our collective attention span was spent on the pandemic, the US election, geopolitical tensions, and social media paroxysms. When it came to US-China in particular, there simply wasn’t enough “China” as the bilateral dynamic was regularly filtered through the prism of the pandemic and the US election.

Focusing on the daily rigamarole obscured subtler, and ultimately more consequential, developments. Stepping back at the end of 2020, we want to highlight two overlooked and two overhyped trends that, in our judgment, will matter greatly to China’s political economy and for how it adjusts to a dramatically changed external environment.


1. Closing the Curtain on the GDP Obsession Era

Provinces Consecutively Not Meeting GDP Target Have Skyrocketed
Note: Shows provinces that have failed to meet growth target for consecutive years.

The signs have been there, but it wasn’t until 2020 that the writing clearly appeared on the wall: GDP growth will no longer hold sway over China’s development.

Vaccine Nationalism Will Prolong the Pandemic

By Thomas J. Bollyky and Chad P. Bown

For the second time in two decades, an international crisis looms over access to medicines. A small number of wealthy nations, including the United States, have spent billions of dollars locking up early supplies of the most promising novel coronavirus vaccines. If the United States exercises its option to buy 500 million more doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine, 94 percent of the projected supply of the first immunization authorized for public use will be spoken for through the end of 2021. By one recent estimate, nations representing just one-seventh of the world’s population have already reserved more than half of all the promising vaccine supplies. According to leaked internal documents, funding and supply concerns have placed COVAX, the global initiative to share coronavirus vaccines, at “very high” risk of failure. 

A fight over coronavirus vaccines would hardly be the first to rise from unequal access to medical treatments. Not too long ago, AIDS ravaged poor nations that were priced out of the market for lifesaving medications. The resolution to that crisis transformed global health, pumping billions of aid dollars into researching and developing treatments for the world’s poor and creating new donor-funded institutions to deliver those treatments. That restructuring, however, helped seed this latest battle over coronavirus vaccines—a collective action problem that aid dollars and public-private partnerships cannot resolve on their own.


No. 259: Russian Military Strategy

Author(s): Andrew Monaghan, Dmitry Adamsky, Michael Kofman, Pavel Sharikov 

The topic of this issue is “Russian Military Strategy.” In it, the authors challenge Western received wisdom about Russian strategy and aim to stimulate critical thinking. Andrew Monaghan critiques the West’s fixation on Russian hybrid warfare as outdated, while Dima Adamsky argues that Anti Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) is, contrary to Western conventional wisdom, nonexistent in the Russian lexicon. Michael Kofman unpacks these concerns further, questioning the scenarios for a Russian fait accompli in the Baltics envisioned by Western defense planning circles and challenging the claim that a Russian “fait accompli strategy” is even possible. Pavel Sharikov rounds out the issue by suggesting small steps that the US and Russia might take to enhance their cooperation on the nonmilitary use of cyberspace.


As President-Elect Joe Biden enters the White House, what are the opportunities for EU–US cooperation in the trade, high-tech and digital domains? Together with like-minded partners, the transatlantic partners aim for deepened and renewed engagement in the bilateral and multilateral context. They need to deliver on broadening multilateralism to new areas and, in certain cases, new approaches.

This Clingendael Report aims to contribute to a reorientation of the EU in the broad field of economic security, in the transatlantic context and with Japan, India and Australia.

The policies of European governments and businesses in the trade, high-tech and digital domains are undergoing profound change. Stakeholders are starting to act on the awareness that some geopolitical challenges, in particular concerning China, cannot be solved within the liberal–democratic mindset alone. Still, however, they do want to uphold – and update – the basic principles of the rules-based system.

This report adopts an ‘outside-in approach’ to discuss the many economic security challenges. It presents views and forward-looking suggestions by key experts from six countries: the United States, Germany, France, Japan, India and Australia.

All of the experts reflect on the same leading question:

What opportunities and challenges exist for cooperation, coordination and synergies between the US and the EU, and with like-minded partners in Asia, to address the shared challenge of a stronger and more assertive China?

Biden’s World? Views from the United States, China, Russia and the European Union

By Sven Biscop, Alexey Gromyko 

The COVID-19 pandemic prevented the annual joint seminars that since a few years the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Egmont – Royal Institute for International Relations organise in Moscow and Brussels. But the coronavirus cannot interrupt academic exchange; a dialogue that is more than ever necessary in a world of increasing tensions between the great powers. We continue our collaboration through this joint publication, therefore, for which we have invited prominent scholars from Russia and the European Union as well as China and the United States to share their analysis of the impact of Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential elections on international politics.


Florence Gaub

“History is littered with mistaken predictions about the future of warfare”: taking this observation as its premise, this Chaillot Paper takes a novel approach to exploring how future conflicts might unfold.

In contrast to traditional schools of conflict anticipation, which rely on science, history and deduction, it combines imagination with an analysis of past and present trends to paint a compelling picture of conflicts to come. This approach, which incorporates elements and tools drawn from science fiction and futuristic art and literature, also takes account of hitherto unknown factors and drivers of conflict – new technological developments, environmental changes, or ideologies yet to be born.

The volume presents 15 fictionalised scenarios that imagine how future conflicts might occur. These scenarios contribute to, and at times challenge, the existing body of assumptions concerning the genesis of conflict, its likelihood and how it might play out. Reflecting the creative and collaborative spirit that underlies this publication, the authors who devised these scenarios embarked on a truly innovative project taking them out of their comfort zone and into the realm of foresight.

Federal Agencies Need to Take Urgent Action to Manage Supply Chain Risks

Federal agencies rely on information and communications technology products and services to carry out their operations. The global supply chain for this technology faces threats, including from intelligence services and others who may seek to steal intellectual property, compromise integrity of the systems, and more.

We identified 7 practices for providing an agency-wide approach to managing these supply chain risks. For example, agencies should develop a process for reviewing potential suppliers. Of the 23 agencies we examined:Download 

Cyber Threats and NATO 2030: Horizon Scanning and Analysis

Authors:A. ErtanK. FloydP. PernikT. Stevens Eds.

NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) in cooperation with King’s College London and William & Mary, has published a new e-book ‘Cyber Threats and NATO 2030: Horizon Scanning and Analysis’, edited by A. Ertan, K. Floyd, P. Pernik, Tim Stevens.

The book includes 13 chapters that look ahead to how NATO can best address the cyber threats, as well as opportunities and challenges from emerging and disruptive technologies in the cyber domain over the next decade.

The present volume addresses these conceptual and practical requirements and contributes constructively to the NATO 2030 discussions. The book is arranged in five short parts, beginning with ‘Cyberspace Adversaries and NATO’s Response’. This part opens with two papers on Russian internet and cyber capacity. Juha Kukkola explores the strategic implications of Russian plans for a closed national network, identifying defensive and offensive advantages for Russia in the structural asymmetries thereby promoted. Joe Cheravitch and Bilyana Lilly draw attention to the constraints on Russian cyber capacity caused by domestic recruitment and resourcing issues and suggest how NATO might be able to leverage these limitations for its own cybersecurity objectives. Martin C. Libicki and Olesya Tkacheva offer a novel perspective on cyber conflict with an adversary like Russia, analysing the possibilities for horizontal escalation into other domains as well as in-domain vertical escalation, and the consequences for NATO doctrine and risk management.

Social Media Manipulation Report 2020

Antagonists, from foreign governments to terror groups, anti-democratic groups, and commercial companies, continually seek to manipulate public debate through the use of coordinated social media manipulation campaigns. These groups rely on fake accounts and inauthentic behaviour to undermine online conversations, causing online and offline harm to both society and individuals. As a testament to the continued interest of antagonists and opportunists alike to manipulate social media, a string of social media companies, researchers, intelligence services, and interest groups have detailed attempts to manipulate social media conversations during the past year. Therefore, it continues to be essential to evaluate whether the social media companies are living up to their commitments to counter misuse of their platforms. In an attempt to contribute to the evaluation of social media platforms, we re-ran our ground-breaking experiment to assess their ability to counter the malicious use of their services. This year we spent significant effort to improve our methodology further, and we also added a fifth social media platform, TikTok, to our experiment.

Autonomous Cyber Weapons and Command Responsibility

Russell Buchan

Autonomous cyber weapons have made their way onto the battlefield, raising the question of whether commanders can be held criminally responsible under command responsibility when war crimes are committed. The doctrine of command responsibility has a long history in international criminal law and comprises three core elements: the existence of a superior-subordinate relationship, the commander’s knowledge of the crime, and the commander’s failure to prevent or repress the subordinate’s criminal actions. This article unpacks the content of these elements and applies them to autonomous cyber weapons by treating them as being analogous to soldiers since they operate within an organized system of command and control. The article goes on to address the important question of whether autonomous cyber weapons as subordinates can commit crimes and then examines the element of causality for the purposes of command responsibility. This article also explains the nature of command responsibility and offers conclusions as to its utility in establishing accountability when war crimes are committed by autonomous cyber weapons.

CO20208 | AI Governance and Military Affairs – Neurotechnologies and Future Warfare

Jean-Marc Rickli

RSIS Commentary is a platform to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy-relevant commentary and analysis of topical and contemporary issues. The authors’ views are their own and do not represent the official position of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced with prior permission from RSIS and due recognition to the author(s) and RSIS. Please email to Mr Yang Razali Kassim, Editor RSIS Commentary at RSISPublications@ntu.edu.sg.


With recent developments in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and neurosciences, technology is increasingly becoming autonomous and intrusive. The growing reliance of technology as surrogate in warfare raises serious ethical and accountability issues.

A critique of geopolitics travelling South

Stefano Guzzini

The DIIS Working Paper ‘From the geography of politics to the politics of geography’ is the English version of the preface for the Brazilian edition of A return of geopolitics in Europe? The book originally published with Cambridge University Press was translated by Bárbara Motta and published at the University Press of the Universidade Estadual Paulista (Editora Unesp) in São Paulo.

The preface introduces the critical thesis of the political effect that the return of geopolitical thought had in Europe in the 1990s, well before 9/11. The rise of geopolitical thought can be linked to the disorientation, the foreign policy identity crises in many European countries when the end of the Cold War took away the stable coordinates of the post-1945 European security order. Its rise has, however, two pernicious consequences.

First, it reverses Clausewitz by making politics the prolongation of war by other means. In other words, it militarises politics, as Aron had already criticised during the Cold War.

Second, it essentialises physical and human geography, which justifies the homogenising of identities.

The book does not claim that this European experience is universal, but invites scholars in Brazil to contrast it with the specificities of their political discourse and practice, the different nature of foreign policy identity crises and processes of militarisation in Latin America.

Summary of Reports Issued Regarding Department of Defense Cybersecurity From July 1, 2019, Through June 30, 2020 (DODIG-2021-034)


The objective of this summary report was to: (1) summarize unclassified and classified reports and testimonies regarding DoD cybersecurity that the DoD Office of Inspector General (OIG), the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and other DoD oversight organizations issued from July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020 concerning DoD cybersecurity; (2) identify cybersecurity trends; and (3) identify the open DoD cybersecurity-related recommendations.

We issue this summary report to identify DoD cybersecurity trends based on the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), “Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity,” April 16, 2018 (NIST Cybersecurity Framework) for DoD management to review and consider implementing changes, as appropriate.


Federal agencies are required to use the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to manage their cybersecurity risk. The NIST Cybersecurity Framework consists of five functions—Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover—representing high-level cybersecurity activities that provide a strategic view of the risk management cycle for identifying, assessing, and responding to risk. In addition, the five functions include 23 associated categories, such as “Asset Management” or “Detection Process,” that provide desired cybersecurity outcomes. Each of the categories has up to 12 subcategories that further divide the categories into specific outcomes of technical and management activities, such as “data-at-rest is protected” or “notifications from detection systems are investigated.”

The DoD also uses the Risk Management Framework which provides an integrated enterprise-wide decision structure for managing cybersecurity risk for DoD information technologies.

DOD Needs to Address Governance and Oversight Issues to Help Ensure Superiority

The U.S. risks losing control of the battlefield if it doesn't control the electromagnetic spectrum, according to the Defense Department. This range of frequencies is critical for communications, navigation, weapons, and more.

Russian electromagnetic warfare forces, described by the Defense Intelligence Agency as "world class," have demonstrated effectiveness in real-world applications against U.S. and foreign militaries. China also has advanced capabilities.

Earlier strategies to help DOD improve its spectrum capabilities have fallen short. We are recommending ways to help DOD implement its most recently issued strategy.

DOD operations in every domain rely on ensuring control over the use of electromagnetic spectrum. Download

Journal of Advanced Military Studies VOL 11. NO 2

Matthew J. Flynn

Abstract: On 29 March 2019, a ceremony at Marine Corps University (MCU) marked the opening and full operational capability of the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity. The conception, birth, assignment of permanent staff, funding, and now-robust schedule of activities of the Krulak Center came after some years of gestation, providing a case study of organizational change. The Marine Corps has long valued innovation and creativity, but the impetus to establish such a center had its origins in the decennial accreditation process of MCU by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). This article looks at the early conceptualization of a Center for Applied Creativity (CAC), the organizational starts and stalls, the thoughts about goals and organization that came together for the Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Creativity, and finally the initial years of its activity.

Keywords: naval power, seapower, Rear Admiral Horatio Nelson, Napoleon, Trafalgar, continental system

Matthew J. Flynn, PhD, serves as professor of war studies at Marine Corps University, Quantico, VA. He specializes in the evolution of warfare and has written on topics such as preemptive war, revolutionary war, borders and frontiers, and militarization in the cyber domain. Dr. Flynn runs the website Newconflict.org, which is dedicated to examining the new conditions shaping global conflict.