22 January 2021

Takshashila Strategic Assessment: China, India and Doklam in 2020


India’s conciliatory stance towards China in the aftermath of the 2017 Doklam crisis has led to a deterioration of the strategic situation at the India-Bhutan-China trijunction. Our analysis uses satellite imagery to show that:

With China being prevented from extending its constructions westward following the 2017 crisis, the axis of Chinese activity has shifted towards Southeast Doklam.

From 2019 onwards, China began to build roads and permanent structures along the Amo Chu River in Bhutan. This is a clear repetition of China’s South China Sea strategy of occupying territory through unilateral constructions.

The new sites are strategically significant, allowing China to potentially outflank Indian positions and threaten the Siliguri Corridor, acting as a permanent “threat in being” to India’s political leadership.

In the absence of a more decisive stance, India risks even more territorial incursions by China, which will further alienate traditional allies such as Bhutan.

Takshashila Discussion SlideDoc – India’s Opportunity to Displace China in Global Supply Chains


This assessment proposes a mix of two approaches that the Indian government should adopt in order to attract investments from companies looking to exit China.

The first, a geostrategy-led approach, entails working with like-minded partners, particularly focussing on sectors with national security implications. The second, a case-by-case approach, involves identification of sectors in which India enjoys comparative advantages and adoption of targeted measures to attract foreign investment in them.

We argue that political trust and security concerns are likely to play a far greater role in economic decisions for States and companies in the post-COVID world. Given this, these approaches not only leverage emerging geopolitical trends but also harness India’s comparative strengths in key sectors. This makes them easier to pursue in the near term, with greater chances of achieving demonstrable success.Download the Discussion SlideDoc in PDF

After the foundational agreements: An agenda for US-India defense and security cooperation

Joshua T. White

The U.S.-India defense and security relationship has continued to deepen, aided by robust political commitments in both countries and converging concern about growing Chinese assertiveness across the Indo-Pacific. The United States and India have expanded their defense activities and consultations, and recently concluded two additional so-called “foundational defense agreements,” capping off a nearly two-decade effort by U.S. policymakers to formalize the legal sinews of operational defense cooperation. This positive trajectory is, however, by no means guaranteed to continue apace. There are rising concerns in the United States about India’s fiscal limitations, its ties with Russia, its ponderous response to a pattern of Chinese provocations on its border, and its drift toward illiberal majoritarian politics. In addition, the Biden administration will likely seek, for good reason, to rebalance the bilateral relationship away from a disproportionate focus on security issues in order to address a wider array of topics including global health, energy and climate change, and technology cooperation.

In light of these dynamics, this paper presents a practical agenda for the next phase of the U.S.-India defense and security relationship — one that builds incrementally on the progress that has been made, responds to the changing regional security environment, and accounts for both governments’ political and capacity constraints. It begins by arguing that the United States can do more to articulate its key priorities in engaging India on security issues: first, supporting India’s rise as a constructive global leader and counterweight to Chinese influence; second, limiting China’s ability to coerce India and other states in South Asia; and third, mitigating the risks, and enabling de-escalation, of inevitable India-Pakistan and India-China crises. It also makes a case for charting reasonably ambitious defense and security goals and avoiding crude conditionalities that would likely prove counterproductive.

US policy toward Afghanistan: Consider the trade-offs, including with other policy areas

Vanda Felbab-Brown

The research reported here was funded in part by the Minerva Research Initiative (OUSD(R&E)) and the Army Research Office/Army Research Laboratory via grant #W911-NF-17-1-0569 to George Mason University. Any errors and opinions are not those of the Department of Defense and are attributable solely to the authors.

When it takes office on January 20, the Biden administration will face an urgent foreign policy choice: whether to abide by the U.S.-Taliban Doha agreement of February 2020 and withdraw the remainder of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by May 2021. The existence of diplomatic and legal wiggle-room in the agreement — based on so-called interconnectedness (i.e. binding linkages) among the four key points of the agreement and the interpretation of compliance — are tangential to how the Taliban will react. The decision about the May 2021 deadline will have a profound impact on U.S. policy in Afghanistan and beyond.

The decision comes, of course, amid a range of other crises on the new administration’s front burner. But the Afghanistan decision will operate on an extremely tight timeline. A North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) meeting of defense ministers takes place in the middle of February and, understandably, U.S. allies are clamoring to know more about the future of the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. If the United States decides to keep forces there beyond May, will it seek to negotiate a time-limited extension with the Taliban, or simply force its continued military deployment on the Taliban? And for how long — the length of time it takes to achieve a peace deal that both the Afghan government and the United States like? Or will the United States try to keep an open-ended counterterrorism force in Afghanistan, perhaps even beyond an eventual peace deal?

NATO allies rightly want to avoid a U.S. military exit that fails to simultaneously lift their forces out, leaving them vulnerable without the logistics and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities that the United States alone has brought to the war. Thus, the mid-February timeline is fundamental for NATO’s decisionmaking and forces. Unlike some other looming foreign policy challenges, Biden’s Afghanistan policy will be subject to intense political spotlight.

China 5G still immature, says think tank


The next two to three years are critical for China's ambitions to become a global leader in 5G, according to a leading think tank.

The state-backed China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) says despite the huge buildout and takeup, China's 5G is still immature.

In a new white paper on China's 5G outlook, CAICT said the key to 5G was its ability to expand the industrial Internet.

It said the industrial Internet would ultimately be driven by network capabilities, terminals and system products.

But it warned that the 5G rollout was still far from complete, while supporting industries for 5G applications were immature and "the cross-industry ecosystem," essential for the convergent nature of 5G, was yet to be established.

However, it concluded that "overall, China's 5G commercial development is still in a favourable period over the next two to three years."

Companies' willingness to invest remained high, supportive government policies were paying dividends and enterprise acceptance of 5G would gradually increase, it said.

"We must fully grasp this period of opportunity to accelerate 5G network construction and applications," the white paper said.

With innovation and industry development driving 5G technology and services, China could "truly become a leader in new-type infrastructure," making new technologies such as AI, big data and cloud computing widely available.


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:

Organizations Linked to Chinese Military Are a Cash Cow for American Colleges

Yuichiro Kakutani and Jack Beyrer 

Chinese military-linked entities, including those behind extensive cyber attacks and espionage, funneled at least $88 million into U.S. universities over the course of six years, according to a Washington Free Beacon review of federal records.

Some of America's most prestigious universities have cashed lucrative checks from Chinese institutions that directly threatened national security. Duke University operates a joint-campus in China with Wuhan University, a public university that repeatedly carried out cyber attacks on behalf of the Chinese military. Northwestern University and the University of California Irvine have together received more than $4 million in research funding from an entity controlled by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, a Chinese defense contractor that used stolen designs of American F-35 fighters to build planes for the Chinese military.

Institutions controlled by the Chinese government—state-owned enterprises, state-controlled public universities, government-controlled nonprofits, and other sources—collectively donated at least $315 million to American colleges between 2014 and 2019. More than a quarter of the contributions—27 percent—came from either state-owned defense contractors or public universities that closely partner with the Chinese military to conduct defense research.

The expenditures indicate that the Chinese government is a much bigger player in U.S. academia than previously thought. State-backed entities often avoid scrutiny as their government ties are not immediately obvious. The $315 million sum, based on federal disclosures, is likely a conservative estimate of Chinese influence peddling on campus. A Department of Education audit found that U.S. universities failed to disclose more than $6.5 billion in foreign funding from China and other countries in recent years.

Why Precision Guided Missiles Weren’t Enough to Defeat ISIS

by Robert Farley 

Here's What You Need To Remember: There are at least some reasons to suspect ISIS may prove a tougher nut than the previous regimes that have collapsed under a PGM onslaught. For one, ISIS cadres appear more dedicated and more combat-hardened than the Gaddafi Loyalist forces of 2011 or the 2001 era Taliban.

How has the growth of the Precision-Guided Munitions (PGM) complex changed the balance of international power? More specifically, how has the U.S. military’s embrace of this system of weapons affected its ability to accomplish U.S. national goals? The president’s decision to pursue the war against ISIS strictly through the means of airpower and seapower makes the question particularly relevant. The United States will fight ISIS with precision-guided munitions, and apparently little else. It’s worth asking how effective they are in accomplishing national ends. The answer, it turns out, is surprisingly mixed.

The Question

Last year, Barry Watts contributed an outstanding article to The National Interest on ways in which the PGM has matched, exceeded, and fallen short of expectations based on a much longer monograph for the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment, Watts concentrated on differences between the expectations of early “Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)” theorists and the actual record of U.S. PGM use. Watts also asked why other countries have been so slow to develop their own systems of support for the use of precision-guided munitions.

New Polar Strategy Must Focus On China’s Long March To Antarctica

Craig Hooper

The rushed release of the U.S. Navy’s Arctic Strategy this month served up a welcome warning that “China’s growing economic, scientific, and military reach, along with its demonstrated intent to gain access and influence over Arctic States, control key maritime ports and remake the international rules based order” is a threat to all in the Arctic Region. Unfortunately, as the U.S. government rushes to focus on the North Pole, Antarctica, a far greater geo-strategic prize, is being ignored, left to the tender mercies of aggressive Chinese expansionism. China’s long march to the South Pole merits far more attention from America’s strategic tastemakers as good management of this challenge today will do a lot to prevent a far greater crisis a decade or two from now. 

China is a relative newcomer to Antarctica, becoming a consultative member of the Antarctic Treaty only in 1985. China was embraced as it entered the Antarctic. Chile, Australia, the United States and other countries helped China, hosting Chinese scientists, providing logistical support, and sharing best practices with the new arrival. The collaborative Antarctic Treaty System got China off to a good, safe start in the unforgiving South. But the once-dutiful newcomer, after benefiting from the collegial support of longstanding Antarctic Treaty System stakeholders, is now busy de-legitimizing the consensus-based Antarctic Treaty in ways great and small. China is thinking ahead, and preparing for 2048, when central aspects of the Antarctic Treaty will open for a potentially catastrophic renegotiation. 

World War 3: Russia and China could spark 'uncontrollable war' across globe - UK warning

Ciaran McGrath

General Sir Nick Carter said ongoing clandestine activity by hostile states had the clear potential to boil over with terrifying consequences. The United States' nuclear arsenal was targeted by hackers in a coordinated attack last month, the country's National Nuclear Security Administration has confirmed, with Senator Mitt Romney comparing the situation “to a Russian bomber flying undetected over the country”.

He also criticised the Trump administration’s failure to respond to the attack, which he blamed on operatives of Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin.

General Sir Nick, speaking on Into The Grey Zone, a new Sky News podcast which debuted on Saturday, said cyber activities had to potential to "light a fuse" if it were either misunderstood or escalated

He added: “If you look back over history, it's those moments of miscalculation which often precipitate what ends up being an uncontrollable state of war.

“And that's the bit that we really, really have to watch.

"So on the one hand, we might wake up one day and discover that we are in a police state and all of our freedoms have been denied us. That's one end of it.

“The other end of it is that our opponents will have found a way to unravel our democracy from inside.

A Step Toward a Post-Merkel World: Her Party Picks a New Leader — Again

By Katrin Bennhold

BERLIN — Germany took a first step into a new political era on Saturday, choosing the next leader of Angela Merkel’s conservative party ahead of fall elections that will decide who succeeds her as chancellor.

In normal times, Armin Laschet, the longstanding Merkel ally who was elected to head her Christian Democratic Union, would almost certainly succeed her as chancellor of Europe’s most powerful country.

But these are not normal times.

A big year looms in German politics. Ms. Merkel has been the dominant political force and a face of stability in the country for more than 15 years. She has served as leader of Germany and a leader of Europe, steering the continent through successive crises. On her watch, Germany rose to be a dominant political and economic force in Europe for the first time since World War II.

Identifying a suitable successor for a chancellor who has been celebrated as a guardian of the Western liberal order has proved difficult. A first attempt failed a year ago after Ms. Merkel’s handpicked heir found herself so overshadowed by the chancellor that she decided not to seek the nomination.

At a time of exceptional fragility in United States democracy, violently on display in the riot at the Capitol last week, many inside and outside Germany are awaiting Ms. Merkel’s departure with some trepidation.

Biden Doesn’t Need a New Middle East Policy

By James F. Jeffrey

As with the past eight U.S. presidents, much of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy was dominated by the broader Middle East. Despite talk of ending “forever wars” and pivoting to Asia, core national interests have repeatedly drawn the United States back to the region.

In many ways, Trump’s priorities in the Middle East differed little from those of his two predecessors: eliminating weapons of mass destruction, supporting U.S. partners, fighting terror, and facilitating the export of hydrocarbons. In other ways, however, his administration—in which I served as envoy for both Syria and the coalition to counter the Islamic State (also known as ISIS)—oversaw a notable paradigm shift in the U.S. approach to the region. Both U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama pursued transformational campaigns in the Middle East based on the erroneous belief that by burrowing politically and militarily into

National Security in an Age of Insurrection


Last week’s insurrection at the U.S. Capitol was the greatest national security crisis our country has faced in many decades. This may surprise Americans who have long been taught that “national security” means combating foreign threats and projecting U.S. influence abroad. No foreign power has attacked, and relatively few Americans died. Yet the American nation itself—its democratic core—was left destabilized and profoundly insecure. It should now be obvious that domestic dysfunction, not foreign hostility, is the real existential danger. This fact requires a wholesale rethinking of U.S. military, intelligence, and diplomatic priorities. National security experts must finally reconsider what “the nation” really is and what “securing” it really means.

Since 1945, U.S. national security strategy has undergone several distinct shifts: from the Cold War to the unipolar moment; from the war on terror to “great power competition.” I had a front row seat to the most recent shift as a former special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. Yet despite their differences, all these strategies reflected the same basic bargain between U.S. citizens and their government. Americans agreed to spend extraordinary amounts of money, human capital, and political attention on managing the world beyond their borders. In return, they hoped to expand and preserve their own prosperity and freedom.

The Battle of Capitol Hill

by Brian Michael Jenkins

What happened in Washington Wednesday—a mob assault on the Capitol while electoral votes were being officially accepted—was a predictable possibility. Democracy held, but security failed, spectacularly.

We need to be better prepared for future acts of political violence. This will not end on Inauguration Day.

Although there are disturbing reports and photos of an officer taking a selfie with members of the crowd, or standing by while inadequate security barriers were breached, the Capitol Police were clearly outnumbered. No reinforcements arrived until long after the mob poured into the building. Security and the response appeared improvised.

It could have been a massacre. For weeks, anonymous internet users have talked about smuggling guns into the District of Columbia, an observation that had been publicized in the news media. When the security barriers were breached, no one knew whether some of the attackers were carrying concealed weapons. Had even a few been armed and determined to kill, it would have turned the congressional chambers into a killing field. Instead of trashing offices, the intruders could have taken elected officials hostage; it was only in October that the FBI thwarted a plot by right-wing extremists to hold the governor of Michigan hostage.

Biden is off to a great start. But there’s a lot of work to be done on climate.

By John Morales

 My one most important piece of advice to President Biden about climate change is to reengage the international community. This goes beyond rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. The United States has to reclaim the mantle as a global leader on climate action. If we lead, others will follow.

Our country’s history of international climate engagement is decidedly contentious. Bruising home-turf battles over an early attempt at a carbon tax—the so-called BTU tax, defeated in Congress in 1993—led to a much too timid climate agenda for the Clinton administration. The United States initially refused to commit to binding greenhouse gas emission reductions during the international community’s first efforts on climate change mitigation—the Kyoto treaty negotiations. In 1997, just a few months prior to the United States finally agreeing to sign the Kyoto Protocol, the US Senate unanimously passed the Byrd-Hagel Resolution which opposed any international agreement that did not require developing countries to commit to legally binding greenhouse pollution reductions if developed countries did. Any hope for the Senate to officially ratify Kyoto was dead-on-arrival. George W. Bush, who early on in his administration refused to acknowledge the growing scientific consensus on global warming and opposed all efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions, finally pulled the plug on US involvement in Kyoto in 2001.

Hope was the operative word when Barack Obama took office in 2009, having promised to address a broad range of environmental problems. But his first term was spent dealing with the Great Recession and economic recovery. Political capital was expended in the effort to pass the Affordable Care Act, and much like in the early days of the Clinton administration, President Obama was handed a bruising climate blow when his landmark climate change legislation died in the Senate in 2010. International engagement on climate wasn’t just tepid, it was arguably a failure. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) in Copenhagen concluded in December 2009 with no binding treaty to curtail greenhouse pollutants—thanks in good part to the US delegation’s too-little-too-lateapproach.

Why Biden should abandon the great power competition narrative

By Sharon Squassoni

More than most presidents-elect, Joe Biden must hit the ground running in January to “build back better.” Taming the pandemic and its effects on the US population and economy is just the start; Biden will need to address the many other lasting effects of the Trump presidency, especially when it comes to nuclear weapons. A quick extension of the New START treaty is an obvious and needed step toward a resumption of dialogue with Russia about nuclear weapons. Another important step Team Biden should consider is to jettison the “great power competition” narrative that Trump officials and supporters have popularized.

From a dusty incantation in realist international theory circles, great power competition became a cliché during the Trump administration (Friedman 2019). Appearing in multiple strategy documents, including the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, the phrase is shorthand for the struggle for dominance among the United States, Russia, and China in economic, political, military, and technological arenas. A key assumption underpinning the cliché: That the competition is zero-sum, meaning that one country’s loss is the other’s gain. Beyond that, great power competition is such an amorphous construct that it has become the defense policy equivalent of Pepe the Frog—a crudely defined and therefore infinitely malleable vessel for a few good but many, many bad aims.

The allure of bumper-sticker foreign policy is clear. Psychologically, it is more comfortable to focus on one or two major, discrete threats than to think comprehensively about global terrorism, climate change, or even viruses like the novel coronavirus. Great power competition feels like the shabby but comfortable slippers of the Cold War, during which the bad guys were obviously bad and very easy to spot. But most analysts—even those with Realpolitik sensibilities—understand that Russia and China are quite different countries, that 21st-century trilateral competition is a different ballgame than the bilateral Cold War, and that one can have a Realpolitik point of view without succumbing to the zero-sum despair of a great power competition that leads to another nuclear arms race.

How Joe Biden can use confidence-building measures for military uses of AI

By Michael C. Horowitz, Lauren Kahn

Perhaps no technology holds global imagination concerning the future of military power more than artificial intelligence (AI), in both positive and negative ways. Anticipating the impact of AI systems on the security environment, in 2018, the United States Department of Defense launched the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). The center is one of several US military initiatives designed “to seize upon the transformative potential of artificial intelligence technology” (DOD 2019) and assist the American military in preparing for future wars filled with autonomous systems and algorithms.

While it is still true that most military uses of AI are closer to concept than reality, many countries, including Russia and China–competitors seeking to challenge US conventional military superiority–are seeking to incorporate ever-greater levels of autonomy into their military operations.

Nuclear Notebook: United States nuclear weapons, 2021

By Hans M. Kristensen, Matt Korda

At the beginning of 2021, the US Defense Department maintained an estimated stockpile of 3,800 nuclear warheads for delivery by 800 ballistic missiles and aircraft. Most of the warheads in the stockpile are not deployed, but rather stored for potential upload onto missiles and aircraft as necessary. Many are destined for retirement. We estimate that approximately 1,800 warheads are currently deployed, of which roughly 1,400 strategic warheads are deployed on ballistic missiles and another 300 at strategic bomber bases in the United States. An additional 100 tactical bombs are deployed at air bases in Europe. The remaining warheads—approximately 2,000—are in storage as a so-called hedge against technical or geopolitical surprises. Several hundred of those warheads are scheduled to be retired before 2030. (See Table 1.)

Amid U.S. Political Uncertainty, Israel and Iran Go Head-to-Head

Israel will escalate pressure on Iran in the final days of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, increasing the risk of Iranian retaliation -- particularly in proxy theaters like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and potentially Yemen. On Jan. 12, Israel conducted a widespread series of strikes against at least 15 Iranian-linked targets along the Iraqi-Syrian border, reportedly killing at least 23 people and injuring dozens more. A senior U.S. intelligence official said that Israel conducted the strikes based on intelligence provided by the United States. The strikes targeted facilities that stored Iranian weaponry, which the U.S. official claimed served as a pipeline for components of Iran’s nuclear program. The Iranian-linked, Afghan-dominated militia Fatemiyoun was also one of the targets.

The U.S. Adds Chinese Oil Giant CNOOC to Its Export Blacklist

The U.S. Commerce Department added the Chinese National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) to its entity list on Jan. 14, effectively cutting off China’s third-largest oil company from U.S. exports. The move highlights the South China Sea’s importance to U.S. strategy, which will likely continue -- though not necessarily expand -- under U.S. President-elect Joe Biden. The Trump administration has significantly increased pressure on CNOOC in recent months, beginning in December when it added CNOOC to a separate U.S. Pentagon list of companies that are either owned by or controlled by the Chinese military, which will force certain U.S. investors to divest from CNOOC’s shares by mid-November. Just hours before the Commerce Department’s announcement, the S&P Dow Jones announced it was removing CNOOC from impacted indices to comply with a Jan. 13 presidential order banning U.S. investment into designated Chinese military-linked companies. As a result, major U.S. exchanges will likely delist..

Inside Joe Biden’s Foreign-Policy Worldview


December 1970 must have seemed an inauspicious moment to launch a new magazine on international affairs. The fighting in Vietnam ground on, even expanding into Cambodia and Laos, with little to show for U.S. President Richard Nixon’s policy of Vietnamization. Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger’s moves toward detente with the Soviet Union and the opening with China had not yet borne much fruit. Humanitarians had been shocked and disillusioned by the multiyear civil war over Nigeria’s Biafra region, which had resulted in half a million to 2 million civilian deaths by 1970. Amid anxiety over inflation, Washington was just months from suspending the dollar’s full link to the price of gold—a pillar of the Bretton Woods institutions that had sustained U.S. postwar economic primacy.

If it was an odd moment for the creation of Foreign Policy, it was just as strange a time for a young lawyer only just elected to county council in Delaware to begin telling colleagues he wanted to run for the U.S. Senate—to work on foreign policy and oppose the Vietnam War.

But Foreign Policy is very much still with us—and so is Joe Biden. Fifty years after the U.S. president-elect assumed his first elective office on the New Castle County Council, he is at once the most widely traveled, and best known to his fellow world leaders, incumbent in the history of the presidency. (Yes, Thomas Jefferson also traveled a lot but only on one continent.) Unlike many of his predecessors, Biden has been looking to engage more in U.S. foreign policy, rather than less, throughout his life in politics. Yet he is not generally regarded as a hero, or even a central player, in our retelling of the last 50 years of U.S. national security.

America and the World: How to Build Back Better


To mark the occasion of Foreign Policy’s 50th birthday, FP’s Jonathan Tepperman sat down recently with Fareed Zakaria—the author, CNN host, and one of today’s leading thinkers on international affairs—to discuss the moment of the magazine’s creation, the many similarities between then and now, what the last 50 years have taught us about U.S. strategy, and where the country should go from here. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and concision.

Jonathan Tepperman: Foreign Policy was founded as a journal in the winter of 1970-1971. Reading through the first issue today, one can’t help but be struck by the parallels to the present moment. In that issue’s introduction, FP’s founders, Samuel P. Huntington and Warren Demian Manshel, write about how “an era in American foreign policy, which began in the late 1940’s, has ended” and then go on to say they “think this is a good time for new—and … more constructive—controversies concerning the revision of goals, the reconsideration of means, and the reformulation of the responsibilities of the United States in a world which is rapidly reformulating itself.”

The backdrop for their writing, which they allude to, is the crumbling of what had been the key U.S. foreign policy of the postwar era, namely containment—the effort to hem in the Soviet Union—and the need to build a new consensus around a new approach.

That first issue also reveals a lot of other important things about the early 1970s. The United States was being rocked by new and confusing forces and had lost its nerve; the mood was grim. Graham Allison wrote in the issue that “we have already entered the twilight zone of American political and military influence in the world.” In other words, 50 years ago, FP’s writers were already preoccupied by the idea that the United States was in decline and that Washington’s whole strategy for dealing with the rest of the world no longer worked and had to be reinvented. Everything was up for grabs, and FP’s task was to create a new foreign-policy consensus and a new foreign-policy establishment. Doesn’t that sound a lot like today?

Fareed Zakaria: It’s an intriguing parallel. It reminds me of that old saying sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, “History never repeats itself, but it rhymes.” This feels like one of those rhyming moments.

The Return of Containment


One of the most successful U.S. foreign policies of the last 50 years may well have been containment, which the United States used from 1947 until the end of the Cold War to block the expansion of Soviet power and influence. Today, as pundits and politicians talk about a new cold war erupting between the United States and China and Russia, it’s worth asking whether some version of containment could once again make sense for the coming decades as well.

To be sure, there are vast differences in the nature of the threat facing the United States in the 1950s and that today. But there are plenty of reasons to give the policy a second look, too. And an approach that relies more on the positive aspects of the original policy—promoting multilateral cooperation, eliminating trade barriers, and adopting market principles among allies—than the negative ones, such as military deterrence and economic embargoes, could go a long way toward securing U.S. interests.

AI and the Future of Cyber Competition

Wyatt Hoffman

As states turn to AI to gain an edge in cyber competition, it will change the cat-and-mouse game between cyber attackers and defenders. Embracing machine learning systems for cyber defense could drive more aggressive and destabilizing engagements between states. Wyatt Hoffman writes that cyber competition already has the ingredients needed for escalation to real-world violence, even if these ingredients have yet to come together in the right conditions.Download Full Report

As artificial intelligence begins to transform cybersecurity, the pressure to adapt may put competing states on a collision course. Recent advances in machine learning techniques could enable groundbreaking capabilities in the future, including defenses that automatically interdict attackers and reshape networks to mitigate offensive operations. Yet even the most robust machine learning cyber defenses could have potentially fatal flaws that attackers can exploit. Rather than end the cat-and-mouse game between cyber attackers and defenders, machine learning may usher in a dangerous new chapter.

Could embracing machine learning systems for cyber defense actually exacerbate the challenges and risks of cyber competition? This study aims to demonstrate the possibility that machine learning could shape cyber operations in ways that drive more aggressive and destabilizing engagements between states. While this forecast is necessarily speculative, its purpose is practical: to anticipate how adversaries might adapt their tactics and strategies, and to determine what challenges might emerge for defenders. It derives from existing research demonstrating the challenges machine learning faces in dynamic environments with adaptive adversaries.

America must bolster cybersecurity


Cybersecurity experts are still assessing the Solar Winds hack and recent penetrations into government and corporate information systems around the world. Already, seven lessons for leaders stand out.

First, this issue is mostly about Russia. While the United States has played up the China espionage threat in recent years, the sobering reality is that Russia has conducted the gravest cyberattacks against the United States. These have included espionage, criminal actions, and political subversion, in addition to signaling capacity to infiltrate and inflict harm for deterrent purposes. China certainly raises serious concerns, but Russia is far more aggressive in what it dares do against the United States.

Second, American cybersecurity vulnerability is permanent, as no matter how much the United States has tried, the level of its digital dependence, pace of technology innovation, number of networked players, and human frailties, combined with a business culture that rewards greater efficiency, virtually ensures that it will never haec total robustness. Natural disasters, human errors, technical failures, criminal actions, and hostile operations will continue to buffet the American digital infrastructure.

Third, American cyberspace dominance is now lost. The National Security Agency and Central Intelligence Agency used to enjoy unmatched digital capabilities to spy and run many covert operations. They still possess far superior capabilities, however, barriers to entry are low and enable even Iran and North Korea to compete in this contest, as well as sophisticated criminal groups and government proxies. Further, Russia has formidable skills along with audacity and higher tolerance for failure.

Liberal democracies must worry about the power that Twitter, Facebook, Google have


The controversy over social media and Big Tech platforms banning US President Donald Trump and his supporters is not about free speech. It is about political power.

The right to free speech is only enforceable against the State. It is not enforceable against private entities — like private firms or individuals — however big or important they might be. It would have been a violation of the freedom of speech had an arm of the US government banned Donald Trump. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple and Amazon are private firms and are free to do whatever they please — provided it is not illegal — on their platform. Users who don’t like it have the freedom to leave the platform and head elsewhere. While we can have debate on the Big Tech companies’ wisdom and sense of judgement in banning Trump and de-platforming Parler, the pro-Trump social media network, we cannot deny them the right to do as they please on their private property.

At a time when “free speech” is kicked around as a partisan political football than a universal principle that a free society must uphold, it’s very important to emphasise that the right to free speech protects citizens from their government. Why so? Because unlike big media and Big Tech, the government has a monopoly over the legitimate use of force. You don’t want the person authorised to use the big stick to also be the one to determine what you can or cannot say. That is why liberal democracies, including our own, make fundamental rights enforceable by the citizen against the government. If the editors of ThePrint refuse to publish my article, they are not violating my right to free speech. If, however, the government censors my article, it violates my right. Let’s take it even further — if every publisher in the world refuses to publish my article, it is still not a violation of my right to free speech. There is no right to being heard.

The power of Big Tech