1 February 2021

Is the China-India Border Dispute Shifting East?

By Bérénice Guyot-Réchard and Kyle Gardner

Media reports of a violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers at the Naku Pass in north Sikkim on January 20 have raised the specter of an eastward shift in the nine-month border standoff between the nuclear-armed neighbors. A clash between soldiers at the Naku Pass last May preceded the deadliest and longest standoff between the two countries in decades. Much of the past year’s border tensions have centered on the shared border’s western end, in Ladakh, more than one thousand miles west of Sikkim. But these latest reports suggest that tensions may be returning to the eastern sections of the 3,488-kilometer long disputed border. The confrontation could get more unstable if it spreads even further east, in Arunachal Pradesh, where just last week satellite images surfaced showing a Chinese-built village within India’s boundaries.

China and India’s antagonism along the Himalayas is a centuries-old story. Both countries want a fixed boundary line in the Himalayas; yet the physical geography, cultural landscape, and political history of the world’s greatest mountain range has made any straightforward demarcation impossible.

Is ‘Global Britain’ inimical to India?

As the United Kingdom (UK) charts its global path in the post-Brexit era, signals about India emanating from there have been overshadowed by news about the havoc that the new strain of Covid-19 is causing. Yet, the signs are unmistakable.

One day, a group of members of the UK Parliament lobbies the government on the farmers’ agitation in India; the next day, a discussion is held in the House of Commons on the situation of minorities in India; then there is a debate among parliamentarians on the “political situation in Kashmir”.

In India, not many have connected the dots, dismissing them as trivial pursuits of distant politicians, primarily from the Opposition Labour Party, pandering to their constituents. Can there be more to this?

Enter Chatham House. The century-old institution is formally known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs. An independent policy institute, it draws the name from its location — an 18th-century building, which was occupied in the past by several British prime ministers. One of its three current Presidents is a former Prime Minister — John Major. Chatham House reports are a vital resource for leaders and influence policymakers in the UK government, the private sector and civil society. A recent offering, Global Britain, Global Broker, authored by long-time director and chief executive, Robin Niblett, offers a plethora of recommendations about the UK’s future global role.

Farm Protests in India Are Writing the Green Revolution’s Obituary

By Aniket Aga

In September 2020, India’s Narendra Modi government
parliamentary procedures to push through three bills that eased restrictions on private players in agricultural markets. The move enraged farmers—especially in the northwestern state of Punjab, an epicenter of the Green Revolution since the 1950s. After protesting in vain for two months, tens of thousands of Punjab farmers began a march to New Delhi in late November. The Modi government responded by deploying paramilitary troops armed with water cannons and tear gas shells, and protected by barricades, concertina wires and deep trenches dug into freeways at the borders of the capital city.

The demonstrations have since spread across the country and represent the largest-ever mobilization of farmers in independent India. They have already claimed over 70 lives; many have died of the cold and some have committed suicide as a political statement. The standoff is not just about the repeal of the three laws, but also includes the demand that the state guarantee minimum support prices (MSPs) for all public and private purchases of produce. In a broader perspective, however, this agitation is writing the obituary of the Green Revolution.

The Green Revolution—essentially the promotion of capital-intensive industrial agriculture—was more of a Cold War stratagem than a humanitarian initiative, as recent histories have forcefully argued. After independence in 1947, peasant movements led by communists had mounted fierce pressure on the Indian National Congress, the ruling political party, to redistribute land from landlords to peasants.

Afghanistan Wanted Chinese Mining Investment. It Got a Chinese Spy Ring Instead.


The arrest in Kabul on Dec. 10 of an alleged Chinese espionage ring has prompted Afghanistan to recalibrate its relationship with China, its resource-hungry giant neighbor to the east. Afghan government officials said that the country has terminated oil and gas contracts with China and is seeking to renegotiate the terms of a massive mining concession that has been nearly dormant since it was inked by China more than a decade ago.

The Afghan officials said they busted an alleged Chinese espionage ring operating in Kabul to hunt down Uighur Muslims with the help of the Haqqani network, a terrorist outfit linked to the Taliban. A senior security official said the ring had been operating for six or seven years. Afghan authorities have cooperated with China in the past on the detention and deportation of Uighurs suspected of terrorist activity, but officials said they were shocked at China’s duplicity.

“Is this the behavior of a friend?” said one. Another source said the presence of the Chinese cell—widely reported by Indian news outlets, though notably not by Afghan or international media—was revealed to Afghan authorities by Indian intelligence.

The arrest has prompted Kabul, which is seeking to put its economy in order as it faces an uncertain future with the unfolding peace process, to use the incident as “leverage” against Beijing, one official said, especially in terms of renegotiating multimillion-dollar mining concessions.

The arrest has prompted Kabul to use the incident as “leverage” against Beijing.“We have put them on notice—make progress on the contract or we will reissue the tender. This sector is very important to the Afghan economy and it’s time to get moving,” one of the officials said. “We want to make progress on major national projects. It has been many, many years, we have given (China) security, and we need to see returns and economic benefits.”

Why Attempts to Build a New Anti-China Alliance Will Fail


Australia, India, Japan, and the United States have perfectly legitimate concerns about China. It will be uncomfortable living with a more powerful China. And it’s equally legitimate for them to hedge by cooperating in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, informally known as the Quad. Unfortunately, the Quad will not alter the course of Asian history for two simple reasons: First, the four countries have different geopolitical interests and vulnerabilities. Second, and more fundamentally, they are in the wrong game. The big strategic game in Asia isn’t military but economic.

Australia is the most vulnerable. Its economy is highly dependent on China. Australians have been proud of their remarkable three decades of recession-free growth. That happened only because Australia became, functionally, an economic province of China: In 2018-2019, 33 percent of its exports went to China, whereas only 5 percent went to the United States.

This is why it was unwise for Australia to slap China in the face publicly by calling for an international inquiry on China and COVID-19. It would have been wiser and more prudent to make such a call privately. Now Australia has dug itself into a hole. All of Asia is watching intently to see who will blink in the current Australia-China standoff. In many ways, the outcome is pre-determined. If Beijing blinks, other countries may follow Australia in humiliating China. Hence, effectively, Australia has blocked it into a corner.

The Digital War: US-China Tech Competition in the Biden Era

By Mercy A. Kuo

Trans-Pacific View author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Winston Ma – adjunct professor at NYU School of Law and Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum (WEF) and author of newly published “The Digital War: How China’s Tech Power Shapes the Future of AI, Blockchain and Cyberspace” (Wiley 2021) – is the 256th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Describe the strategic context of the digital war.

In May 2017, China hosted the historic Go match between the world champion and the artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm AlphaGo, designed by Google’s DeepMind Lab. The Wuzhen showdown was ripe with suspense and symbolism: human vs. machine, intuition vs. algorithm, tradition vs. modern – and, China vs. U.S. The AI machine’s straight 3-0 win over best human player stunned China’s internet industry.

Perhaps a coincidence, but months after the Wuzhen Go match, China’s central government released an “AI Development Plan,” calling Chinese AI to be the world’s undisputed leader by 2030. During the last few years, Chinese tech companies have proven their mettle by catching up to global rivals in the smartphone and fourth-generation (4G) technology. Now in the age of 5G, China is one of the most interesting innovation centers in the world, just like Silicon Valley. The current China-U.S. tech competition is a closer match than the Go game years ago.

Copy Cat: Even China Wants a Highly-Networked Military

by Kris Osborn

China’s visible effort to steal specs, copy U.S. platform designs and in many instances closely replicate U.S. weapons systems is both well documented and widely known. However, a less visible yet equally significant aspect of this phenomenon may well be found in apparent Chinese efforts to mirror U.S. military tactics and modernization strategies.

The United States has for many years now been developing and emphasizing multi-domain operations with a mind to how new technologies are creating synergies, opening up data sharing networks and inspiring fast-moving and sweeping tactical adjustments to modern warfare preparations. U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force multi-domain task forces have been operating in the Pacific for several years now, exploring new realms of joint combat interoperability, tactics and strategies.

During Project Convergence in the Fall of last year, U.S. Army ground forces succeeded in exchanging key targeting specifics with overhead F-35Bs in what was a breakthrough air-to-ground and ground-to-air multi-service connectivity demonstration.

Now, surprise surprise a Chinese newspaper is reporting that the PLA is now linking its Army and Air Force units into a single, unified combat alert duty in an effort to connect air defense radar and communications with PLA ground brigades.

“Thanks to the integration, the Army air defense brigades have become key nodes in Air Force early warning systems, as Army radars are more accurate and make up for blind zones of the Air Force’s early warning network, the report said, noting that the Army also gained a longer detection range that enabled troops to find enemies and prepare for attacks earlier, as the Air Force shares all intelligence through the network,” the Chinese-backed Global Times reports.

What is Holding China Back from Becoming a Military Superpower?

by Michael Peck

Here's What You Need To Remember: “China has the firm resolve and the ability to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will never allow the secession of any part of its territory by anyone, any organization or any political party by any means at any time.”

China’s new defense white paper has been eagerly awaited by Western analysts searching for clues to Beijing’s national security strategy.

The 2019 white paper (the last one was in 2015) lays out general principles of China’s defense policy. It avows the new face of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Cyberwarfare, more flexible command and control, long-range naval operations. Change the names and numbers, and you could be forgiven for thinking this was a planning document from the U.S. military or an American thinktank.

But before we fear the onslaught of the Dragon, take a look at the problems that the white paper says China’s military must solve.

The most glaring is corruption, which has led to numerous senior officers being punished for crimes such as selling promotions. “China’s armed forces are tightening political discipline and rules, investigating and dealing strictly with grave violations of CPC discipline and state laws,” the white paper says. “China’s armed forces punish corruption in strict accordance with CPC [Communist Party] discipline and relevant laws, and rectify any malpractice in key construction projects and the procurement of equipment and material...They have worked to implement full-spectrum audit, intensify the audit of major fields, projects and funds, and perform strict audits over the economic liabilities of officers in positions of leadership. Active efforts have been made to monitor the cost-effectiveness of applied funds, conduct whole-process audit, and combine civil and military efforts in auditing.”

Which Companies Are Winning in China?

When Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos visited China in 2007, he expected that one day soon China would be a double-digit percentage of Amazon’s sales. Yet, by 2019, Amazon, the most powerful and successful e-commerce company in the world, had quit China.

In Winning in China: 8 Stories of Success and Failure in the World’s Largest Economy, Wharton global fellow Lele Sang and Wharton vice dean of entrepreneurship and innovation Karl Ulrich explore the successes and failures of several well-known companies, including Amazon, Hyundai, LinkedIn, Sequoia Capital, and InMobi, as more and more businesses look to reap profits from China’s 1.4 billion consumers.

Sang and Ulrich recently sat down with Brett LoGiurato, senior editor of Wharton School Press, to discuss their new book and what it takes to succeed in the world’s second-largest economy.

An edited transcript of the conversation appears below.

Brett LoGiurato: Can you both first talk about your initial interest in China and how that grew into this collaboration?

Lele Sang: I was a journalist covering business and politics in China. One of my reporting topics was the development of multinational corporations in China.

Karl Ulrich: I had been interested in China for a long time. I made my first trip to China in 2006, but I’d never really done much professionally there. And Lele actually just stopped by my office and said, “I want to write a book about tech companies’ failures in China.” And I said, “Lele, that sounds pretty interesting, but it sounds kind of like a downer, and are there really no companies other than tech companies who’ve tried to enter China?” That’s what led us to this topic of looking at all kinds of companies and both successes and failures of foreign companies in China.

Beijing’s Welcome Gift to Biden: More Threats and Tensions


If China is seeking a reset of relations with the Biden administration, it has a strange way of showing it. Instead of backing off from some of its more menacing behavior, Beijing is doubling down. Not only is the Chinese military buzzing Taiwan with 13 fighters and bombers, but Beijing has taken dangerous steps to escalate tensions in the South and East China Seas.

Little noticed in Washington, Beijing last week greeted the new U.S. administration with a dubious and unprecedented new law that throws a monkey wrench into U.S.-Chinese relations and increases the likelihood of a confrontation in the South China Sea. Beijing’s new so-called coast guard law, which takes effect on Feb. 1, explicitly allows the China Coast Guard to fire on foreign vessels, board and inspect ships in waters claimed by Beijing, and destroy any structures built by other states in the disputed Paracel and Spratly island chains. But it doesn’t stop there. The law also asserts the right to declare “temporary exclusion zones” to prevent ships from innocent passage through the vast waters illegally claimed by China. The law could also spur confrontation in the East China Sea, where Beijing claims the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, called Diaoyutai by China.

How domestic economic reforms in China can ease tensions between Washington and Beijing

David Dollar

China’s well-known story of spectacular growth, at around 10% annually for 40 years, is coming to an end because of both domestic and global factors. In analyzing China’s prospects for the next several decades, three particular challenges are striking: the shift from a labor-surplus to a labor-scarce society; the shift from investment to innovation as the primary source of growth; and the shift in China’s global position from a rising power to an established power.

Rapid aging is probably China’s biggest domestic challenge. The population over 65 will increase from 200 million today to 400 million by 2049, while the overall population will decline slightly. Within this group, the most rapid rise will be in the population 85 and older: from fewer than 50 million today to over 150 million in 2049. The challenge of taking care of the elderly is compounded by China’s rural-urban divides.

Most of the elderly live in the countryside, though often their working-age children have moved to cities as migrant workers. Since rural health systems are weaker than urban ones, taking care of the elderly will require more permanent migration to cities plus strengthened rural service delivery. China needs to scrap the hukou household registration system that limits permanent migration and to unify rural and urban pensions, health insurance, and educational systems. This will be good both for social objectives and the efficient use of labor.

Lagging but motivated: The state of China’s semiconductor industry

Christopher A. Thomas

With advanced semiconductors key to powering a wide range of potentially transformative technologies, cutting edge computer chips have become a heated area of geopolitical competition for the 21st century. Despite their importance, semiconductors represent a rare area in which the Chinese economy is dependent on the rest of the world—rather than the other way around. Every year, China imports more than $300 billion of semiconductors, and most, though not all, major American semiconductor companies pull in at least 25% of their sales from the Chinese market.

This mutual dependence has benefitted the technology sectors in both countries. Every major Chinese technology company relies on U.S. chips: Tencent or Alibaba would not be the powerhouses they are today if they had relied on Chinese microprocessors during their formative years or had developed and manufactured their own. Many U.S. companies, meanwhile, have benefited from Chinese customers, markets, and innovations. The scale and cost reductions enabled by system and device manufacturing based in China and Asia more broadly has helped make information technology ubiquitous. Despite the harsh rhetoric on both sides of the Pacific, American semiconductor companies and their Chinese counterparts today are working together on hundreds, if not thousands, of product designs and joint technology development efforts.

Yet these collaborations have not prevented semiconductors from becoming a central faultline in tensions between the United States and China. In a post-COVID, post-Trump world, many in Washington would like to see the American economy less dependent on China and are exploring new restrictions on imports of Chinese hardware and exports of both cutting-edge semiconductors and the equipment required to manufacture them. Meanwhile in Beijing, Chinese officials are pursuing a clearly stated, though ambiguously defined, goal of “technology independence,” as articulated in the 14th five-year plan outlined last year.

The Qatar Blockade Is Over, but the Gulf Crisis Lives On


On Jan. 5, representatives of the six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) congregated at a summit in the Saudi city of al-Ula. Officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Qatar sought to end their rancorous three-and-a-half-year dispute over Qatar’s drift toward Iran and restore much-needed cohesion to the GCC, which also includes Kuwait and Oman. The GCC summit was a resounding success. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt lifted their blockade on Qatar and
restored diplomatic relations with the country. Qatar also suspended its World Trade Organization case against the UAE’s economic isolation efforts.

Although the end of the Qatar blockade is a positive development, the Gulf crisis is far from over. The reconciliation at the GCC summit was triggered by fatigue from the blockade and by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s desire to rebrand his tarnished image with the new U.S. administration. It occurred without any compromises from Qatar on its support for Islamist movements or any display of contrition from Saudi Arabia or the UAE for the blockade’s destabilizing consequences for the Middle East

The focus on symbolism over substance at the GCC summit bodes poorly for the organization’s long-term cohesion. Mistrust between Qatar and the blockading states, an ongoing rivalry between the UAE and Qatar, sharp divergences in policy toward Iran and Turkey, and geostrategic contestation in Africa could reheat the Gulf crisis in the near future. These unresolved sources of friction within the GCC are likely to sharpen during Joe Biden’s presidency and present numerous challenges for his administration.

No Bread, No Peace


Apopulation’s access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food has been a core state interest since time immemorial. In the Bible, Joseph rose to power after resolving Egypt’s food shortages; as early as perhaps the Zhou dynasty, numerous Chinese emperors lost the “mandate of Heaven,” or the right to rule, when they failed to address famines; during the Cold War, the United States made the strategic decision to launch Food for Peace programs, which provided easier access to food, mostly to its allies.

All these instances show a simple truth: Access to food and national security are tightly connected. The latest reminder of this came on Oct. 9 when the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize to the World Food Programme for its efforts to combat hunger. The committee also drew a clear connection between hunger, war, and peace, adding that the WFP should be commended for “bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”

Toward a Climate-Driven Trade Agenda

International trade and climate change have traditionally been considered two distinct issues for the global community to address. However, as the climate crisis gains more attention, policymakers reach deeper into their toolboxes to confront it. A better understanding of the relationship between global trade rules and climate policy is necessary to build a positive climate-driven trade agenda. This paper explores that relationship, explains its significance for policymakers, and offers actionable recommendations to lay the foundation for a climate-driven trade agenda.DOWNLOAD THE REPORT

This report was made possible by support from the Hewlett Foundation.

What Is So Foreign About Foreign Influence Operations?


The Lines in the Sand paper series, produced by Carnegie’s Partnership on Countering Influence Operations, uses multiple perspectives to analyze difficult policy questions and key challenges related to combating influence operations. The series seeks to draw lines in the sand to help industry leaders and government policymakers at the forefront of these efforts to develop effective countervailing policies.


Influence operations are increasingly seen as a threat to democratic societies because they can corrupt the integrity of political deliberation. As individuals engage in debate on social media, political deliberation becomes vulnerable to potentially destructive forms of interference. Many debates on what to do about influence operations emphasize that these operations constitute what is deemed to be a foreign threat. But does the notion of foreignness, viewed in isolation, constitute a helpful lens for distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate influence operations?

Ultimately, the lens of foreignness is only helpful when applied to a narrow set of cases. One sensible way of reviewing when the concept of foreignness can be useful in distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate influence operations is to consider three separate conceptions of how to determine what counts as foreign: foreign states, foreign citizens, and foreign interests. In the first case, influence operations are seen as threatening acts directed at a targeted state by foreign states, using behaviors seen as analogous to acts of war. In the second instance, influence operations are considered threatening acts conducted by foreign citizens that undermine domestic democratic systems in a targeted state. In cases of the third sort, influence operations are viewed as acts aimed at advancing foreign interests through the illegitimate employment of soft power.

Our Amazing Clean Energy Future Has Arrived


Its attention consumed by pandemics and politics, the world has overlooked an undeniable silver lining: the arrival of the green future. Almost without exception, renewable energy is now cheaper than that produced from fossil fuels. Prices of battery packs for electric vehicles and solar panels continue to plunge, and adoption is increasing exponentially. The 2020s will be the decade in which the planet finally closes the chapter on destruction and pollution by fossil fuels and enters a new realm of clean and nearly free energy. And this changes everything.

The evidence of a great green wave is now overwhelming. According to BloomergNEF, in 2020 the world spent half a trillion dollars on renewable power, electric vehicles, and other clean technologies and got a lot more for this investment than it ever used to. The average cost of lithium-ion battery packs, critical to electric vehicles, plunged from more than $1,100 per kilowatt-hour a decade ago to below $140 in 2020. Some factories in China dropped their prices below $100. Although lithium-ion battery prices are not on a Moore’s Law curve of decline, they are dropping at an inflation-adjusted rate of roughly 13 percent per year—halving over four years.

As the expanding market enables economies of scale, prices will continue to fall, and renewable energy adoption will increase. This will also accelerate the move to electric and hybrid vehicles, as is already occurring in China, Europe, and the United States. In Germany, the share of vehicles that use electricity (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and fully electric vehicles) soared from less than 3 percent in 2016 to nearly 25 percent in 2020. To be sure, this exponential adoption is still driven by generous government subsidies, but as the market continues to expand, that will soon no longer be necessary.

Taking Trump Down Has Exposed Social Media’s Inherent Contradictions


Recent events have forced leading American tech firms into a precarious choice: side with the outgoing president whose self-serving, divisive, and false messages fueled a riot, or with the incoming one who has emphasized his desire to bring the country back together?

In the weeks preceding the alarming events of Jan. 6, when supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, the president persistently and falsely suggested that the November 2020 presidential election had been rigged and stolen from him by Democratic opponent Joe Biden. But Trump had a ready-made audience for falsehood: nearly 90 million followers on Twitter, as well as other forms of social media engagement including videos relating to the Capitol riot uploaded online.

As such, there has been tremendous pressure on leading internet companies to take a strong stand against Trump, who favored the internet above all other forms of communication. Stated in those terms, it feels obvious that companies should take down Trump’s content—which many have equated to “siding” with Biden and the liberal faction. This appears to be the only option that simultaneously protects the safety, security, and democratic interests of the public.

But there have still been stark differences among the firms. Facebook is still holding off from a permanent ban, most noticeably. While Twitter and others have thrown him off their platforms for good, Facebook has only suspended him “indefinitely”—a position that Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg took plenty of flak for. These differences—and the last-minute nature of the action—suggest the decision wasn’t an easy one.

And it isn’t easy. A ban of any prominent individual—let alone the single most powerful man in the world—creates internal staff consternation and public controversy for internet platforms, especially those with names recognizable to the everyday consumer. Such bans implicate the inherent nature of internet platforms coming to serve as platforms, entities that operate a basic service enabling social interaction as a general utility for global society.

The Greatest Humanitarian You’ve Never Heard Of


Glory is not always won under the klieg lights. The novelist Graham Greene wrote that “true glory is a private and discreet virtue, and is only fully realized in solitariness.” Likewise, the golden age of U.S. diplomacy was not only a matter of celebrated victories, such as Henry Kissinger’s secret trip to China in 1971 or James Baker’s negotiations to reunify Germany in 1990. It was also about the many small and lonely achievements that occurred in the far-flung corners of the globe by the middle ranks of a talented and dedicated foreign service.

The Good American: The Epic Life of Bob Gersony, the U.S. Government’s Greatest Humanitarian, Robert D. Kaplan, Random House, 544 pp., $30, January 2021

For nearly 40 years, during the Cold War and after, Robert Gersony, a son of Jewish Holocaust refugees, a high school dropout, and a Vietnam veteran, worked as a State Department consultant in virtually every war and disaster zone on Earth. Living alone out of a sleeping bag, he conducted dozens to hundreds of interviews with refugees in each place, drafting reports that always made foreign policy smarter and more humane, often dramatically so. His reports from the bush and from the deserts of the developing world reached the highest levels of the bureaucracy. Never seeking promotion, he was a solitary individual battling the vast, impersonal forces of conflict and bureaucratic inertia—and often succeeding at it.

European Strategic Autonomy’s Growing Pains

Judah Grunstein 

If “European strategic autonomy” were a hashtag, it would be trending. But it’s a phrase that has as many different meanings as there are people using it. At the most basic level, it refers to Europe’s ability to defend and advance its interests in a global arena increasingly characterized by strategic competition among great powers. How and in what areas it should do so, though, and to what ends, are the subject of a high-stakes debate still taking shape.

The recently concluded investment agreement between the European Union and China highlights how the concept of European strategic autonomy has moved beyond the security realm from which it emerged. This broader approach applies a geopolitical lens to how the EU should wield its already considerable geo-economic power. But the rush to finalize the deal in the weeks before Joe Biden’s incoming administration took office also suggests that, in demonstrating a greater willingness to pursue and defend its interests uninhibitedly, the EU is still clumsily growing into its newly adopted posture.

The irony of the debate over Europe’s ability to act alone when necessary is that it has always been framed by its relationship with the United States, and often driven by the state of trans-Atlantic ties at any given moment. For obvious reasons, that debate took on added significance, and urgency, during the four years of Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump’s hostility to NATO resurfaced longstanding debates about European defense spending and preparedness, while highlighting for many observers—particularly French President Emmanuel Macron—the need for an autonomous European defense capability, whether as a European pillar within NATO or under EU auspices.

Made in the U.S.A.: Socialism for the Rich. Capitalism for the Rest.

By Thomas L. Friedman

Donald Trump ran up budget deficits in his first three years to levels seen in our history only during major wars and financial crises — thanks to tax cuts, military spending and little fiscal discipline. And he did so prepandemic, when the economy was already expanding and unemployment was low. But now that Joe Biden wants to spend more on pandemic relief and prevent the economy from tanking further, many Republicans — on cue — are rediscovering their deficit hawk wings.

What frauds.

We need to do whatever it takes to help the most vulnerable Americans who have lost jobs, homes or businesses to Covid-19 — and to buttress cities overwhelmed by the virus. So, put me down for a double dose of generosity.

But, but, but … when this virus clears, we ALL need to have a talk.

There has been so much focus in recent years on the downsides of rapid globalization and “neoliberal free-market groupthink” — influencing both Democrats and Republicans — that we’ve ignored another, more powerful consensus that has taken hold on both parties: That we are in a new era of permanently low interest rates, so deficits don’t matter as long as you can service them, and so the role of government in developed countries can keep expanding — which it has with steadily larger bailouts, persistent deficit spending, mounting government debts and increasingly easy money out of Central Banks to finance it all.

The massive SolarWinds hack and the future of cyber espionage

Brad Howard

In December, cybersecurity firm FireEye discovered that it had been compromised by a sophisticated hack. SolarWinds, an IT firm that FireEye used, was the victim of a supply-chain attack that gave hackers access to potentially thousands of targets, including FireEye.

“The SolarWinds hack was and really is and continues to be one of the biggest espionage campaigns recently discovered,” said Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University.

Microsoft, Google and several U.S. government agencies were among those compromised by the intrusion.

“What’s unique about this or special about this particular intrusion is that they use the access they got by compromising SolarWinds itself to insert malware into the build process,” said Jacob Williams, founder of Rendition InfoSec. ”This then allowed them to target SolarWinds [and] customers that deployed this back door update.”

The repercussions of the SolarWinds hack are still being unraveled. As the Biden administration settles in, it will have to contend with the aftermath of this hack, and work to prevent future security lapses that can endanger national security.

Regulate Social-Media Companies


The events of January 6 showed existing approaches to quell disinformation and incitements to violence on social media platforms have failed, badly. Even though the companies that run these platforms are displaying a new willingness to police them, up to and including banning the worst offenders, claims that U.S. tech companies can self-regulate and moderate dangerous content comprehensively should be regarded with extreme skepticism. So too, Twitter’s recent launch of Birdwatch, a crowd-sourcing forum to combat misinformation, is a welcome measure but at best a partial and imperfect solution to a far more systemic problem. Instead, it is time, at long last, to regulate.

These reforms must extend beyond stronger antitrust regulation and enforcement against Big Tech companies, which are worthwhile, but do little to restructure fundamentally how social media platforms operate. New rules must be introduced for the algorithms that decide what users see and for the data these companies collect for themselves, as well as data scraping by third parties.

Algorithms designed and implemented by social media companies, particularly artificial intelligence algorithms, use what people click on and respond to in a bid to increase traffic and help advertisers—serving up more of the same content to appease users and the platforms’ pockets. For instance, Twitter uses AI to promote to users the ‘best’ tweets and content deemed “more relevant” into users’ timelines, and reportedly, the introduction of the algorithmic timeline has helped Twitter add millions of new users. Since people are more likely to engage with content, whether true or false, that reinforces their own biases and fears, there are strong incentives for social media companies to present such content and maximize their growth and profits.

Don’t Share ALL The Data: Army CDO


You have to catalog your data, figure out what really matters and is authoritative, excise what’s unreliable or irrelevant, and then experiment to figure out what different decision-makers at different levels really need to do their jobs, said David Markowitz, who became CDO last fall. If you don’t prioritize, he warned, then trying to share everything will overwhelm users and networks alike.

That’s especially true for frontline units, because they can’t trail fiber optic cables from the battlefield back to giant server farms: They have to rely on tactical wireless networks that high-tech adversaries like Russia or China will attack.

“It is one thing to build data services within a cloud environment where you have very large bandwidth; it’s another at the tactical edge that may be disrupted in a near-peer environment,” Markowitz said. “[The goal is] getting the right level of data, accessibility and data services that won’t clog that tactical edge.”

Army Chief Data Officer David Markowitz addresses the AFCEA NOVA “Army IT Days” conference.

Army Seeks Security For ‘Smart’ Base Networks


FORT CARSON, Colo. — Two Polaris GEM automated shuttles, custom-configured by Perrone Robotics using their TONY (TO Navigate You) autonomy kit, will operate as Fort Carson post shuttles beginning in mid-September. (Courtesy photo)

ALBUQUERQUE: Data-driven “Smart Cities” networks could make Army bases more efficient, safe, and livable — but the Army needs to make sure they aren’t as vulnerable to cyber attack as civilian Internet of Things technologies have proven to be.

Our installations are not a safe haven,” said Andrew Nelson, director of the Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s International Research Office in London, at an AFCEA NOVA conference today. “Particularly as we incorporate more technology and smart-cities infrastructure, we’re introducing vulnerabilities to the installation via cyber-physical threats we previously haven’t had to deal with.”

Acknowledging the risks from the start is crucial if the Army is to proceed with its new Installations Strategy, which was published in December 2020 and emphasizes the risk that stateside bases will be attacked. It’s much easier to build safeguards in from the beginning than to try to bolt them on after the fact.