14 March 2021

India and China Need More Than a Border Pullback to Mend Fences

Anubhav Gupta 

Along the waters of Pangong Lake, high up in the Himalayas, there was a slackening of shoulders and a collective sigh of relief on Feb. 11. After nine months of tense military confrontation, which included the first deadly clash in decades between Indian and Chinese troops along their disputed border, the two sides began withdrawing from their positions on the southern and northern banks of the lake as part of
a phased, synchronized military disengagement.

By mitigating the risk of another skirmish or accident, the move has brought Beijing and New Delhi back from the brink in their border standoff. The successful disengagement was followed up on Feb. 20 with a tenth round of meetings between the Indian and Chinese commanders in the region. Five days later, Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar spoke by phone with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, affirming the disengagement as “a significant first step,” according to an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesperson. The two sides also unveiled plans to establish a diplomatic hotline to aid in future crisis management. .

China’s Himalayan Salami Tactics


NEW DELHI – Emboldened by its cost-free expansion in the South China Sea, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s regime has stepped up efforts to replicate that model in the Himalayas. In particular, China is aggressively building many new villages in disputed borderlands to extend or consolidate its control over strategically important areas that India, Bhutan, and Nepal maintain fall within their national boundaries.

Underscoring the strategic implications of China’s drive to populate these desolate, uninhabited border areas is its major buildup of new military facilities there. The new installations range from electronic warfare stations and air defense sites to underground ammunition depots.

China’s militarized village-building spree has renewed the regional spotlight on Xi’s expansionist strategy at a time when, despite a recent disengagement in one area, tens of thousands of its troops remain locked in multiple standoffs with Indian forces. Recurrent skirmishing began last May after India discovered to its alarm that Chinese forces had stealthily occupied mountaintops and other strategic vantage points in its northernmost Ladakh borderlands.

China’s newly built border villages in the Himalayas are the equivalent of its artificially created islands in the South China Sea, whose geopolitical map Xi’s regime has redrawn without firing a shot. Xi’s regime advanced its South China Sea expansionism through asymmetrical or hybrid warfare, waged below the threshold of overt armed conflict. This approach blends conventional and irregular tactics with small incremental territorial encroachments (or “salami slicing”), psychological manipulation, disinformation, lawfare, and coercive diplomacy.

In One Afghan District, Peace From 8 A.M. to 5 P.M.

By Thomas Gibbons-Neff, Taimoor Shah and Fahim Abed

PANJWAI, Afghanistan — For a brief moment in a small patch of southern Afghanistan, the war has stopped.

After weeks of negotiations, the mayor of Panjwai, a sizable district in the strategically important Kandahar Province, said a 10-day cease-fire would begin Sunday morning.

There was no formal announcement or major decree, nor was there any involvement from the international community. Instead, the cease-fire in Panjwai was the culmination of a grass-roots movement led by farmers and townspeople exhausted after more than 40 years of war and the recent escalation of fighting in their district.

Their success in brokering the cease-fire offered a clear example of how local communities, driven by despair, have engineered their own ways to stop the fighting — even if it is just for a few hours — as Afghan and Taliban negotiators continue to struggle to find a way forward during peace talks in Qatar.

By Sunday morning, signs of the cease-fire were clearly visible in Panjwai. Barbed wire that usually blocked the road from nearby Kandahar city had been moved aside. Cars no longer had to cross hundreds of yards of sand and gravel before rejoining the pavement. Almost every stall in the district’s bazaar was open.

Opinion: Why staying in Afghanistan is the least bad choice for Biden

by Madiha Afzal and Michael O'Hanlon

The White House reportedly has a new idea on how to try, after watching peace talks in Qatar between the Afghan government and the Taliban flounder over the past year. It is proposing an international summit including Afghan leaders and the Taliban. The initial goal would be to create an interim power-sharing government, which would buy time for more comprehensive peace talks thereafter. This would also allow the United States and NATO to keep their small military footprint in place for a while longer, beyond the May cutoff that some believe the February 2020 deal between Washington and the Taliban requires.

Unfortunately, this diplomatic Hail Mary is very unlikely to produce a quick accord. Whatever leverage President Biden can generate over Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, including the implied threat of a quick U.S. and NATO troop departure, the Taliban is unlikely to accept the demand for a 90-day reduction in violence. Its leaders are also unlikely to agree to meaningful power-sharing — especially if they sense we are already halfway out the door.

Thus, Biden will still likely have to decide: Do we stay or do we go? We believe that the correct answer is to stay. As difficult as it is to remain in this longest war, the most likely outcome of pulling out of Afghanistan would be very ugly, including ethnic cleansing, mass slaughter and the ultimate dismemberment of the country.

The Shrinking Chinese State


In many ways, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration marks an about-face from his predecessor’s. But on China, their positions are remarkably similar. Both see the country as a strategic threat and a great-power rival. The public broadly agrees, believing that the rise of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his ultra-nationalistic ambitions represent a major danger.

The image of an increasingly powerful China was underscored during recent China Communist Party gatherings, commonly referred to as the “two sessions.” During the events, which Xi used to launch China’s 14th Five-Year Plan and kick off celebrations of the party’s centenary, the message was clear, namely that China’s success in controlling the pandemic and reviving growth exemplifies the superiority of its system over the chaos of liberal democracy.

The scene hit home that, although the U.S.-Chinese conflict has thus far been largely limited to the economic arena—trade war and skirmishes over Big Tech—the underlying problem is still that of a very politically powerful state. And it is that same state’s influential role in the economy, a perceived reversal of China’s recent experiments with market-based economics, that the United States has chafed against.

But this unease over the role the Chinese state and its proxies play in the economy may not be justified. If the state’s role in a society is measured in terms of government expenditures relative to GDP, then China actually pales in comparison to other major economies. In fact, government expenditures as a share of China’s GDP average a bit more than 30 percent in recent years, much lower than one might expect for an ostensibly socialist economy. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development average is closer to 50 percent for its economies. Much, though not all of the difference, is due to the smaller role that social programs play in China’s government expenditures and that state-owned enterprises provide some public services that do not appear on government accounts.

Preparing for Retaliation Against Russia, U.S. Confronts Hacking by China

By David E. Sanger, Julian E. Barnes and Nicole Perlroth

WASHINGTON — Just as it plans to begin retaliating against Russia for the large-scale hacking of American government agencies and corporations discovered late last year, the Biden administration faces a new cyberattack that raises the question of whether it will have to strike back at another major adversary: China.

Taken together, the responses will start to define how President Biden fashions his new administration’s response to escalating cyberconflict and whether he can find a way to impose a steeper penalty on rivals who regularly exploit vulnerabilities in government and corporate defenses to spy, steal information and potentially damage critical components of the nation’s infrastructure.

The first major move is expected over the next three weeks, officials said, with a series of clandestine actions across Russian networks that are intended to be evident to President Vladimir V. Putin and his intelligence services and military but not to the wider world.

The officials said the actions would be combined with some kind of economic sanctions — though there are few truly effective sanctions left to impose — and an executive order from Mr. Biden to accelerate the hardening of federal government networks after the Russian hacking, which went undetected for months until it was discovered by a private cybersecurity firm.

The issue has taken on added urgency at the White House, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies in recent days after the public exposure of a major breach in Microsoft email systems used by small businesses, local governments and, by some accounts, key military contractors.

In 2018, Diplomats Warned of Risky Coronavirus Experiments in a Wuhan Lab. No One Listened.


Josh Rogin is a columnist for the Global Opinions section at the Washington Post. He is the author of Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the Twenty-First Century, from which this is adapted.

On January 15, in its last days, President Donald Trump’s State Department put out a statement with serious claims about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic. The statement said the U.S. intelligence community had evidence that several researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology laboratory were sick with Covid-like symptoms in autumn 2019—implying the Chinese government had hidden crucial information about the outbreak for months—and that the WIV lab, despite “presenting itself as a civilian institution,” was conducting secret research projects with the Chinese military. The State Department alleged a Chinese government cover-up and asserted that “Beijing continues today to withhold vital information that scientists need to protect the world from this deadly virus, and the next one.”

The exact origin of the new coronavirus remains a mystery to this day, but the search for answers is not just about assigning blame. Unless the source is located, the true path of the virus can’t be traced, and scientists can’t properly study the best ways to prevent future outbreaks.

The original Chinese government story, that the pandemic spread from a seafood market in Wuhan, was the first and therefore most widely accepted theory. But cracks in that theory slowly emerged throughout the late winter and spring of 2020. The first known case of Covid-19 in Wuhan, it was revealed in February, had no connection to the market. The Chinese government closed the market in January and sanitized it before proper samples could be taken. It wouldn’t be until May that the Chinese Centers for Disease Control disavowed the market theory, admitting it had no idea how the outbreak began, but by then it had become the story of record, in China and internationally.

Why the Chinese Communist Party Sees Tibetan Monks as ‘Troublemakers’

By Apa Lhamo

An exile Tibetan Buddhist nun wearing a face mask as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus walks past a prayer wheel in Dharmsala, India, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.Credit: AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia

The Tibetan freedom movement is at a critical juncture. The Dalai Lama will turn 90 in five years. In November and December, two poignant photos of His Holiness overlooking the snowclad Dhauladhar mountains, pointing his finger at the mountains in one and using binoculars in the other, were posted on his Instagram account. Looking at these photos metaphorically, His Holiness’ yearning to see his homeland is perceptible, like many other Tibetans who left their home behind decades ago. Unfortunately, the path home has not grown any shorter for Tibetans in exile.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is seemingly in no hurry to unknot its “nets in the sky, traps on the ground” approach to control and surveillance over Tibetans. Neither is China amenable to re-negotiations with the Tibetan leadership-in-exile.

During his meeting with the Dalai Lama in 1954 in Beijing, Chairman Mao Zedong whispered that “religion is poison.” Almost seven decades later, this notorious message continues to haunt the sleep of the CCP leadership. Religion – more specifically, Tibetan Buddhism – remains an intrinsic part of Tibetan life. Monastic institutions attract more legitimacy than local communist authorities in Tibet and reverence for Buddhist leaders, especially the Dalai Lama, is palpable. For many Tibetans, even those under CCP rule, religion and Tibetan national identity are inextricable.

Opinion: Unless America acts now, China could trounce it in artificial intelligence

“AMERICA,” WRITE the authors of a congressionally commissioned report on national security and artificial intelligence, “is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI era.” This dire message comes with similarly alarming specifics: the United States’ armed forces could lose their competitive advantage within 10 years; the U.S. edge in scientific talent threatens to erode imminently; the most sophisticated microchips are produced at a single plant only 110 miles from the United States’ primary foe in the battle for technological supremacy.

China is determined to claim victory in this contest, and its leaders have developed myriad plans across the whole of its society to realize their aim. Meanwhile, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence assesses, the United States hasn’t developed anything of much coherence. The writers call for a Technology Competitiveness Council in the White House to change that from the top down. The task, they anticipate, will take hefty investment in the usual suspects such as software research and development and hardware manufacturing capability: The report makes ambitious recommendations for a $32 billion infusion into research and development as well as $35 billion into microchip fabrication. A challenge is to promote innovation without simply padding private sector profit on the one hand or stifling private sector nimbleness on the other.

Xi’s Gambit: China Plans for a World Without American Technology

By Paul Mozur and Steven Lee Myers

China is freeing up tens of billions of dollars for its tech industry to borrow. It is cataloging the sectors where the United States or others could cut off access to crucial technologies. And when its leaders released their most important economic plans last week, they laid out their ambitions to become an innovation superpower beholden to none.

Anticipating efforts by the Biden administration to continue to challenge China’s technological rise, the country’s leaders are accelerating plans to go it alone, seeking to address vulnerabilities in the country’s economy that could thwart its ambitions in a wide range of industries, from smartphones to jet engines.

China has made audacious and ambitious plans before — in 2015 — but is falling short of its goals. With more countries becoming wary of China’s behavior and its growing economic might, Beijing’s drive for technological independence has taken on a new urgency. The country’s new five-year plan, made public on Friday, called tech development a matter of national security, not just economic development, a break from the previous plan.

The plan pledged to increase spending on research and development by 7 percent annually, including the public and private sectors. That figure was higher than budget increases for China’s military, which is slated to grow 6.8 percent next year, raising the prospect of an era of looming Cold War-like competition with the United States.

Pacific Commander Warns China Likely To Move On Taiwan; Guam A Target


WASHINGTON: The head of the Indo-Pacific command believes China might try to annex Taiwan “in this decade, in fact within the next six years,” as part of its massive military buildup in the region.

Adm. Phil Davidson told the Senate Armed Services Committee that China is “accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order,” which they’ve long said that they want to do by 2050. “I’m worried about them moving that target closer. Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before that, and I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in the next six years.”

One way to support Taiwan is through “persistent arms sales,” which were accelerated by the Trump administration, and could continue under the Biden team given its public comments on the need to contend with the Chinese buildup and incendiary rhetoric when it comes to the independent island.

U.S. Cites Threat to Carriers From Chinese Anti-Ship Missile

(Bloomberg) -- China’s military executed a coordinated test launch of its top anti-ship ballistic missile into the South China Sea last August to send an “unmistakable message,” the head of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Admiral Phil Davidson told a Senate panel on Tuesday.

“These mid-range, anti-ship ballistic missiles are capable of attacking aircraft carriers in the western Pacific,” Davidson said, identifying the DF-21D as the missile tested. “Their employment during a large-scale PLA exercise demonstrates the PLA’s focus on countering any potential third-party intervention during a regional crisis.”

Addressing the Senate Armed Services Committee, Davidson signaled that the use of the missile, even if in a drill, was a turning point for the People’s Liberation Army.

“Notably, the PRC is not merely developing advanced weapons systems but is increasingly employing them in training and exercise scenarios to hone PLA warfighting skills and send an unmistakable message to regional and global audiences,” Davidson said.

The DF-21D is central to China’s strategy of deterring any military action off its eastern coast by threatening to destroy the major sources of U.S. power projection in the region, its carrier battle groups. The then-head of Naval Intelligence Vice Admiral Jack Dorsett told reporters in January 2011 that the Pentagon had underestimated the speed at which China developed and was fielding the DF-21D.

Carrier Destroyers

Iran and Saudi Arabia Battle for Supremacy in the Middle East

The struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance in the Middle East has insinuated itself into nearly every regional issue, fracturing international alliances and sustaining wars across the region, while raising fears of a direct conflict between the two powers that could involve the U.S.

Saudi Arabia has ramped up its regional adventurism since Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful son of King Salman known as MBS, was appointed crown prince in 2017. And it has cracked down on its domestic critics, including the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. That had little effect on the crown prince’s close ties to the Trump administration, though. Determined to undermine the Iranian regime, the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal with Tehran and used reimposed sanctions to suffocate Iran’s economy, bringing the two countries to the brink of war in January 2020. President Joe Biden has promised to reengage diplomatically with Iran—and to make respect for human rights a central pillar of his foreign policy. The potential implications for U.S. partners in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, are significant, although to date Biden has not radically changed America’s policies in the region.

The Middle East is rife with other ongoing conflicts, including a civil war in Yemen that has fueled one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, another in Syria whose bloody endgame seems to be dragging on endlessly, and one in Libya that has seen a respite since a cease-fire was implemented in October. These conflicts exist on two levels: domestic battles for control of the countries’ futures, and proxy wars fueled by the regional powers, as well as Russia and—in the case of Libya—France.

Iran Is Starting to Want the Bomb


On Feb. 8, Iranian Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi, in an interview with Iranian state television, made a veiled threat about his country’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon. “The supreme leader [Ayatollah Ali Khamenei] has explicitly said in his fatwa that nuclear weapons are against sharia law and the Islamic Republic sees them as religiously forbidden and does not pursue them,” Alavi
said. “But a cornered cat may behave differently from when the cat is free. And if they [Western powers] push Iran in that direction, then it’s no longer Iran’s fault.”

The unprecedented public threat captured wide media attention. Domestic critics, particularly hard-liners, slammed President Hassan Rouhani’s intelligence minister for harming Iranian interests by undermining Khamenei’s religious edict against weapons of mass destruction. Middle East watchers abroad focused on the fatwa factor as well, mostly to demonstrate Iranian leaders’ untrustworthiness. Others construed Alavi’s statements as a “pressure” tactic to spur the Biden administration into rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear accord—officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—or otherwise lifting sanctions.

All these responses misunderstand the real significance of Alavi’s “cornered cat” threat. The whole debate over Khamenei’s fatwa banning nuclear weapons has always been much ado about nothing; it never really mattered in the first place for either side. (The very fact that world powers engaged in marathon talks with Tehran from 2013 to 2015 to verifiably curb its nuclear program in exchange for economic relief confirms as much.) Far more important is what the comment reflects about an ongoing shift in Iran’s thinking about the bomb. Wide swaths of Iranian society, among the public and policymakers alike, seem to increasingly see the weapon not just as an ultimate deterrent but as a panacea for Iran’s chronic security problems and challenges to its sovereignty by foreign powers.

Iran and Saudi Arabia Battle for Supremacy in the Middle East

The struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia for dominance in the Middle East has insinuated itself into nearly every regional issue, fracturing international alliances and sustaining wars across the region, while raising fears of a direct conflict between the two powers that could involve the U.S.

Saudi Arabia has ramped up its regional adventurism since Mohammed bin Salman, the powerful son of King Salman known as MBS, was appointed crown prince in 2017. And it has cracked down on its domestic critics, including the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. That had little effect on the crown prince’s close ties to the Trump administration, though. Determined to undermine the Iranian regime, the Trump administration pulled out of the nuclear deal with Tehran and used reimposed sanctions to suffocate Iran’s economy, bringing the two countries to the brink of war in January 2020. President Joe Biden has promised to reengage diplomatically with Iran—and to make respect for human rights a central pillar of his foreign policy. The potential implications for U.S. partners in the Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia, are significant, although to date Biden has not radically changed America’s policies in the region.

The Middle East is rife with other ongoing conflicts, including a civil war in Yemen that has fueled one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, another in Syria whose bloody endgame seems to be dragging on endlessly, and one in Libya that has seen a respite since a cease-fire was implemented in October. These conflicts exist on two levels: domestic battles for control of the countries’ futures, and proxy wars fueled by the regional powers, as well as Russia and—in the case of Libya—France.

Army War College

Providing Stability and Deterrence: The US Army in INDOPACOM

Transforming the US Army for the Twenty-First Century

Are US Civil-Military Relations in Crisis?

Beyond Huntington: US Military Professionalism Today

Seeing in Stereo

Charting a Different Course

Managerial Aspects of Command

The Joint Force and Lessons from 1971

Academe and the Military

Soviet Economic Reform—Surprisingly Prescient

Moscow in the Middle East

US Army Reforms in the Progressive Era

Coalition Warfare—Echoes from the Past

Friday’s Quad Summit Will Show if It’s Just a Talking Shop


When presidents and prime ministers get together for a group meeting, what do they talk about? Only the fly on the wall knows for sure—or in the case of the upcoming Quad leaders’ summit, maybe the hackers. On Friday, U.S. President Joe Biden will hold a virtual meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The online teleconference of the group—which some consider a fledgling security alliance against China—is bound to be a tempting target for Chinese, North Korean, and Russian cyber-espionage.

Or is it? Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters that the Quad leaders would focus on issues including “the threat of COVID,” “economic cooperation,” and “the climate crisis.” Pressed for further details, she reiterated these three core issues. There seems no reason not to take the stated agenda at face value. But if that’s all the Quad leaders will be talking about, the spies might as well sit this one out. Even if it were a public Zoom event, there would be little intelligence value in dialing in.

The COVID-19 pandemic, trade, and climate are all important issues, but they’re not Indo-Pacific issues. There’s nothing about them that requires high-level cooperation among the region’s leading democracies. There’s only one issue that affects the Indo-Pacific region as a region—the one issue that even makes the Indo-Pacific a meaningful regional concept—and that’s maritime security. China, North Korea, and even Russia threaten the secure integration of the Indo-Pacific region on, over, and under the seas. As an alignment of powerful regional democracies, the Quad can effectively counter regional revisionism by these powers. Indo-Pacific maritime security is the one issue that makes the Quad the Quad.

How Strategic Ambiguity on Taiwan Benefits the United States

Gary Sands

Despite the setback of Covid-19, the economic, political, and military power China has amassed to date has emboldened the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership to not only crush pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, but to punish Australia economically, confront India militarily, and arbitrarily lock up ethnic Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and Kyrgyz in Xinjiang.

Now that the promises made under the “one country, two systems” proposal to Hongkongers in their return to China have been revealed to be empty, the CCP has turned its focus on the most important piece of Chairman Xi Jinping’s “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”—that of “reunifying“ Taiwan, a self-ruled island nation claimed but never ruled by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

On an almost daily basis over the last several months, China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has flown sorties across the de facto median line of the Taiwan Strait (at levels not seen in thirty years) and into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). Politically, the frequency and size of the sorties are calibrated to signal the CCP’s anger whenever Washington publicly shows support for Taiwan, coupled with a face-saving need to convince the Chinese public it is actively pursuing “reunification.” Militarily, the sorties help the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to gather intelligence on Taiwan’s wartime readiness and the potential U.S. military response, while increasing maintenance and fuel costs (over $1 billion in 2020) for Taiwan’s fighter jets. The CCP is also engaged in psychological warfare, using the daily sorties to wear down both military and civilian morale. Last year, Taipei scrambled its fighter jets over 3,000 times to intercept the incursions—which many analysts consider the most serious threat since the PLA fired ballistic missiles into waters near Taiwan in 1996.

Will the U.S. Come Taiwan’s Defense?

Remote C.I.A. Base in the Sahara Steadily Grows

By Eric Schmitt and Christoph Koettl

WASHINGTON — Deep in the Sahara, the C.I.A. is continuing to conduct secret drone flights from a small but steadily expanding air base, even as the Biden administration has temporarily limited drone strikes against suspected terrorists outside conventional war zones, such as Afghanistan, while it weighs whether to tighten Trump-era rules for such operations.

Soon after it set up the base in northern Niger three years ago, the C.I.A. was poised to launch drone strikes from the site.

But there is no public evidence that the agency has carried out anything but surveillance missions so far. The base was added to a small commercial airport largely to pay closer attention to southwestern Libya, a notorious haven for Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and other extremist groups that operate in the Sahel region of Niger, Chad and Mali.

The expanding capabilities at the base indicate that the C.I.A. would be ready to carry out armed drone strikes if the high-level review permits them.

In the meantime, the agency’s surveillance and reconnaissance missions appear to proceed, within the temporary constraints on strikes.

The Biden Economic Boom Has Arrived

by Jacob Heilbrunn

The Biden Boom has begun. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development predicts that the United States will see 6.5 percent GDP growth in 2021—a mark that would eclipse most postwar presidents. Harry Truman set the record with 8.6 percent growth in 1950. President Obama only compiled 2.6 percent in 2015, his best year. President Trump’s top year was 3 percent in 2018—and worst was a whopping minus 3.7 percent in 2020.

With his $1.9 trillion stimulus plan, Biden is set to juice the economy for the next two years. The legislation includes a raft of measures that ensure a return to the era of big government, something that American voters appear to object to in theory but not in practice. It’s both an economic and political victory for him. If he wants to thank anyone for it, Biden should lavish his appreciation on Trump. Absent Trump’s meddling in the Georgia elections, the Democrats would likely not have won two Senate races and control of the chamber. None of Biden’s successes, including confirmation of most of his cabinet choices, would be possible without control of the Senate.

With a Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Republicans would have been able to rerun the obstructionist playbook that worked well against Obama. While McConnell was unable to prevent Obama from being reelected, he managed to tie him up in legislative knots after the GOP rolled to victory during the mid-term elections. This time Republicans are counting on being able to replicate their success in 2010. But a roaring economy might well impede their ability to triumph in either the House or Senate.

The Declining Market for Secrets

By Zachery Tyson Brown and Carmen A. Medina

For nearly three-quarters of a century, the United States intelligence community has supplied American military and political leaders with information and analysis intended to help them make better decisions about critical national security concerns. During the Cold War—when the United States and the Soviet Union went to extraordinary lengths to reveal as little as possible about themselves and learn as much as possible about each other—the most valuable information was inevitably secret information. The spy planes, listening posts, and other “sources and methods” that were contrived to extract this information were expensive to develop and maintain, and the elaborate security architecture that evolved to protect them endures to this day.

Since the end of the Cold War, however, that closed intelligence architecture has increasingly become an impediment to the timely communication of information. In an era of abundant data, rapid change, and novel threats to American interests, the frictionless communication of ideas and facts is arguably more important than protecting the tools used to gather them. Today’s national security leaders—inundated with potentially useful information yet compelled to work within a system that restricts its flow—are often driven to seek more convenient sources elsewhere.

How Artificial Intelligence Can Slow the Spread of COVID-19

A new machine learning approach to COVID-19 testing has produced encouraging results in Greece. The technology, named Eva, dynamically used recent testing results collected at the Greek border to detect and limit the importation of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases among arriving international passengers between August and November 2020, which helped contain the number of cases and deaths in the country.

The findings of the project are explained in a paper titled “Deploying an Artificial Intelligence System for COVID-19 Testing at the Greek Border,” authored by Hamsa Bastani, a Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions and affiliated faculty at Analytics at Wharton; Kimon Drakopoulos and Vishal Gupta from the University of Southern California; Jon Vlachogiannis from investment advisory firm Agent Risk; Christos Hadjicristodoulou from the University of Thessaly; and Pagona Lagiou, Gkikas Magiorkinis, Dimitrios Paraskevis and Sotirios Tsiodras from the University of Athens.

The analysis showed that Eva on average identified 1.85 times more asymptomatic, infected travelers than what conventional, random surveillance testing would have achieved. During the peak travel season of August and September, the detection of infection rates was up to two to four times higher than random testing.

“Our work paves the way for leveraging [artificial intelligence] and real-time data for public health goals, such as border control during a pandemic,” the paper stated. With the rapid spread of a new coronavirus strain, Eva also holds the promise of maximizing the already overburdened testing infrastructure in most countries.

UNDP Memo Echoes Ethiopian Talking Points on Tigray


The United Nations’ top development agency said in a memo to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres that leadership in Ethiopia’s Tigray region deserves much of the blame for provoking the federal government’s bloody offensive against the Tigrayans, appearing to suggest that a military crackdown that has driven half a million people from their homes and fueled allegations of mass atrocities may have been justified.

The confidential memo—signed by Achim Steiner, the administrator of the U.N. Development Program (UNDP)—says that “all sides” in the East African conflict bear a share of responsibility for the bloody government offensive on the northern Ethiopian region of Tigray, with federal forces receiving backing from the Eritrean armed forces and militias from Ethiopia’s Amhara ethnic group.

The four-page memo points to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, Ethiopia’s former ruling political party, as provoking the Ethiopian government offensive by attacking and seizing Ethiopia’s Northern Command headquarters in Tigray in early November 2020, in what would have been an “act of war everywhere in the world, and one that typically triggers military response in defense of any nation,” according to the Feb. 16 memo, which was obtained by Foreign Policy.

A ‘Crazy Huge’ Hack


Last week, the U.S. government announced that hackers had broken into Microsoft’s Exchange email service in January, targeting thousands of government agencies and businesses across the country. Since then, alarm has only grown as the true scale and scope of the attack has come into focus.

The number of suspected targets now dwarfs even those victimized during last year’s massive SolarWinds attack, the breach of security software used by scores of government agencies. While the perpetrators of SolarWinds are thought to be Russian, this time China has emerged as the prime suspect. But just what were the attackers after, and what can be done to stop the next hack before it occurs?

To get answers to these and other questions, FP’s editor at large Jonathan Tepperman spoke on Tuesday with Chris Krebs, who led the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency from 2018 to November 2020 (when he was fired by then-President Donald Trump for disputing Trump’s claims of election fraud). Their conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

Intel Still Needs Humans In Age Of AI: Lt. Gen. Potter


WASHINGTON: The Army’s intelligence corps is embracing big data and artificial intelligence – but it has to balance that with preserving old school human skills at the same time, Lt. Gen. Laura Potter said Wednesday.

The intelligence force is furiously busy. It is creating new hybrid Intelligence/Electronic Warfare Battalions supporting Army divisions, meeting the unique intel needs of the new Multi-Domain Task Forces, and fielding the TITAN ground terminal and TLS signals intelligence/electronic warfare vehicle, said Potter, the service’s deputy chief of staff (G-2) for intelligence. But the impact of artificial intelligence is arguably the most fundamental change.

Given the overwhelming volume of both public and classified information that only AI can sort through, “we’re not going to be successful without it,” Potter said. But at the same time, she said, “it is not going to allow us to replace a human analyst.”

Even in a high-end conflict – with target data, jamming signals, and long-range missiles flying through the air every instant – you’re going to need someone who can step back from feeding the targeting machine and think about the big picture. That could well include thinking through how you’re going to stop the shooting.