23 March 2021

How Pakistan Is Preparing to Kill India’s New Aircraft Carriers

by Robert Beckhusen

Here's What You Need to Remember: Essentially, this makes Indian carriers’ self-defeating, with the flattops existing primarily to defend themselves from attack rather than taking the fight to their enemy. Carriers are also expensive symbols of national prestige, and it is unlikely the Indian Navy will want to risk losing one, two or all three.

The Indian Navy has put out a proposal for its third aircraft carrier, tentatively titled the Vishal due to enter service in the latter 2020s. The 65,000-ton Vishal will be significantly larger than India’s sole current carrier, the Vikramaditya known formerly as the ex-Soviet Admiral Gorshkov, and the incoming second one, the domestically-built Vikrantwhich is expected to enter service later in 2018.

To see why Vishal is a big deal for the Indian Navy, one needs only to look at her proposed air wing — some 57 fighters, more than Vikramaditya — 24 MiG-29Ks — and Vikrant‘s wing of around 30 MiG-29Ks. While below the 75+ aircraft aboard a U.S. Navy Gerald R. Ford-class supercarrier, Vishal will be a proper full-size carrier and India’s first, as the preceding two are really small-deck carriers and limited in several significant ways.

The Indian Navy is also looking at an electromagnetic launch system for its third carrier, similar to the one aboard the Ford class. India’s first two carriers have STOBAR configurations, in which aircraft launch with the assistance of a ski-jump, which limits the maximum weight a plane can lift into the air. Typically this means that fighters must sacrifice weapons, or fuel thus limiting range, or a combination of both.

Al-Qaida Is Diminished, but Don’t Write Its Obituary Just Yet

Colin P. Clarke

Rumors began swirling last fall that al-Qaida chieftain Ayman al-Zawahiri had died of natural causes. With no confirmation, counterterrorism analysts and long-time al-Qaida watchers weighed in with various assessments of what it would mean for the terrorist organization if it had indeed lost its leader. Just last week, al-Qaida’s official media arm, al-Sahab, released a video perhaps intended to quell reports of Zawahiri’s demise, with audio clips of Zawahiri addressing the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. But because those messages failed to reference any specifically current events—his vague comments about Rohingya Muslims could apply to events in Myanmar over the past several years—it fueled further speculation that the septuagenarian terrorist leader was in fact dead. ..

Why Russia Is Hedging Its Bets in Afghanistan

Kirill Krivosheev

Moscow doesn’t see the current Afghan government as autonomous, and is trying to strike a balance between all the different forces at play there in order to retain its influence if one of those forces collapses.

It’s been a year since the United States and the Taliban reached their historic agreement on bringing peace to Afghanistan, but as expected, it has not led to any rapid results. Talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have been taking place in the Qatari capital Doha since last September, but the two sides have still not even managed to agree on the agenda.

The more time passes, the clearer it becomes that the main point of the agreement—the withdrawal of NATO troops from Afghanistan within fourteen months of its signing—won’t be achieved. The United States has reduced its contingent from 8,600 troops to 2,500, but has made it clear that it does not intend to withdraw the rest before May unless some miraculous solution is found to all the problems. The German government, which has the second largest contingent in Afghanistan, has already approved extending its mission there until 2022.

Everyone understands that the breakdown of the agreement on withdrawing troops will infuriate the Taliban and prompt a new outbreak of violence: Taliban fighters have said so openly. But the final word lies with the new U.S. president, Joe Biden, who intends to revise the deal, though to what extent is not yet known. The new administration’s policy on Afghanistan should become clearer on March 27 at a conference in Istanbul that Washington has called on both the Afghan government and Taliban to attend.

According to the Associated Press, under the terms of the new U.S. peace agreement due to be signed in Turkey, the Taliban must agree to uphold civil rights and break its ties with Pakistan (believed to be the Taliban’s main sponsor), while the Afghan government must accept the Taliban into its ranks as equal partners, and write a new constitution together. In other words, they must do in a couple of months what they have not been able to do over decades.

Is the Quad’s Revival a Threat to ASEAN?

By Rifki Dermawan

Last week’s first virtual summit of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue – commonly known as the Quad – signified the growing cooperation among its four members: the United States, Australia, Japan, and India. After a period in which the idea of the Quad fell into abeyance, the new-look “Quad 2.0” is fast emerging as an important part of a novel global security architecture, raising pressing questions about the future role and centrality of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Despite doubts about the possibility of deep and institutionalized collaborations among the Quad countries, the meeting indicated that the four powers are willing to cooperate on pressing issues of common concern, such as the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and the global impact of climate change, in addition to traditional security challenges. According to the joint statement issued at the close of the meeting, the four nations pledged to “redouble our commitment to the Quad engagement.”

This moment might well have been anticipated by China. The Chinese government has long viewed the Quad as an American-led attempt to contain and counter its global rise, and the grouping’s consolidation could well heighten further the tensions between the two superpowers. Despite the changeover of power in the U.S., President Joe Biden has so far given every indication that he would take a similar approach to China as his predecessor Donald Trump. Furthermore, the involvement of Australia, Japan, and India through the Quad could present a novel challenge for Chinese leader Xi Jinping. This approach, which emphasizes close cooperation between the U.S. and its strategic partners, has been outlined by Biden since last year as the basis of his strategy toward China.

China Finds Itself Under Fire in Myanmar


Myanmar security forces killed dozens of protesters in a brutal crackdown in one of Yangon’s biggest factory districts on Sunday, the bloodiest single incident since the military took power in a coup on Feb. 1. By the end of the day, multiple Chinese-owned businesses in Hlaing Tharyar had gone up in flames. Although the cause of the fires has not been established, workers said in the days leading up to the protest that if any blood was spilled, the factories would turn to ashes.

Chinese state media responded to the violence by focusing on the financial damage, enraging a population that already blames Beijing for allegedly supporting the coup—or at least doing little to condemn it. The attacks also seem to have strained China’s relationship with Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw. State-owned enterprises in Myanmar are pulling out nonessential employees, and state media has warned of “drastic action” if local authorities fail to protect Beijing’s interests. Martial law has now been declared in Yangon’s industrial outskirts, leading activists to fault China for escalating the situation and putting civilians at risk.

The incident underscores the complexity of China’s position in Myanmar. Although its leaders seem to have no qualms about working with an authoritarian government, they tend to prize stability above all else. The chaos that followed the coup instead threatens the regional superpower’s business interests, including major development projects signed off by the deposed democratic government. Meanwhile, protesters’ increasing animosity toward China may force it to clearly take a side in the conflict rather than straddling the fence and waiting for a winner to emerge.

Tense Talks With China Left U.S. ‘Cleareyed’ About Beijing’s Intentions, Officials Say

By Lara Jakes and Steven Lee Myers

ANCHORAGE — The Biden administration’s first face-to-face encounter with China ended Friday after a vivid demonstration of how the world’s two largest economic and technological powers are facing a widening gulf of distrust and disagreements on a range of issues that will shape the global landscape for years to come.

After an opening session on Thursday marked by mutual public denunciations, the two sides left an Anchorage hotel on Friday without any joint statement of their willingness to work together, even in areas where they both say they share mutual interests, from climate change to rolling back North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken argued that simply hearing how differently President Biden and President Xi Jinping of China, who celebrated a wary friendship a decade ago, were now pursuing their priorities was valuable.

“We certainly know, and knew going in, that there are a number of areas where we are fundamentally at odds,” Mr. Blinken told journalists after the Chinese diplomats left the venue without making any public statements or answering questions. “And it’s no surprise that when we raised those issues, clearly and directly, we got a defensive response.”

The extraordinary rancor aired by China’s top diplomats in Alaska reflected a newly combative and unapologetic China, one increasingly unbowed by diplomatic pressure from American presidential administrations.

Just as Washington’s views on China have shifted after years of encouraging the country’s economic integration, so have Beijing’s perceptions of the United States and the privileged place in the world that it has long held. The Americans, in their view, no longer have an overwhelming reservoir of global influence, nor the power to wield it against China.

How to deal with China

Last week China slapped down democracy in Hong Kong. The imposition of tight mainland control over the territory is not just a tragedy for the 7.5m people who live there, it is also a measure of China’s determination not to compromise over how it asserts its will. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, liberal values were ascendant around the world. The challenge from China will subject them to their greatest test since the early days of the cold war. What is more, as the economy of Hong Kong also shows, China is more tightly coupled with the West than communist Russia ever was. This presents the free world with an epoch-defining question: how should it best secure prosperity, lower the risk of war and protect freedom as China rises?

Hong Kong defies those looking for a simple answer. China has cut the share of directly elected legislators from 50% to as low as 22% and will require that they are vetted for “patriotism”. It is the culmination of a campaign to squash liberty in the territory. The leaders of the protest movement are in exile, in prison or intimidated by a security law imposed on Hong Kong in 2020. Censorship is rising and Hong Kong’s judiciary and regulators will face pressure to show their fealty. On March 12th the g7 group of democracies condemned China’s autocratic clampdown, which is a breach of the country’s treaty obligations. China’s diplomats replied with bombastic denials.

BREAKING: Army Leader Warns About Potential Land War with China

By Jon Harper

Textron artworkA future military conflict between the United States and China has traditionally been viewed as primarily an air and naval fight that would most likely occur in the Asia-Pacific. But the Army leader in charge of modernization said his service needs next-generation combat vehicles and other technologies to deter and, if necessary, win a potential ground war with Chinese forces.

The Pentagon views China as the “pacing threat,” Gen. John “Mike” Murray, head of Army Futures Command, said March 17 during remarks at the Association of the United States Army’s virtual Global Force Next conference.

“They're aggressively expanding their influence,” he said. “They have publicly been very clear about not only their modernization objectives, but also their regional and technological dominance objectives.”

Years ago during the Obama administration — which tried to “pivot” the U.S. national security community’s focus to the Asia-Pacific — the Air Force and Navy came up with an Air-Sea Battle concept to overcome enemy anti-access/area denial capabilities such as the arsenal of advanced air defenses and anti-ship missiles possessed by Beijing. Since then, a major role has been envisioned for the Army in a potential U.S.-China war in the region.

How to Craft a Durable China Strategy

By Evan Medeiros

As President Joe Biden takes office, the United States’ China policy and U.S.-Chinese relations are both undergoing a revolution. Neither will be the same again. Over the past four years, the Trump administration questioned and rejected a number of long-standing U.S. policies, often adopting disruptive alternatives with mixed results. These changes produced bilateral volatility and a rapid negative shift in both elite and public opinion—and across the political spectrum—on China. Not since President Richard Nixon’s visit in 1972 has such a fundamental shift taken place in American perceptions, strategies, and policies toward Beijing.

Now, the United States must forge a relationship with China defined by an uncomfortable and undeniable paradox: deep and complex interdependence on the one hand and rapidly diverging interests—regarding security, economics, technology, ideology, and more—on the other. Policymakers are questioning many of the fundamental ideas that once guided American policy, including the convergence of economic and political goals, the value of engagement, and the idea that cooperation can ameliorate competition and produce stability.

After the tumult, creativity, bombast, and activism of President Donald Trump’s approach to China, officials on the Biden team are faced with crafting a coherent strategy from the rubble and detritus of the last administration’s actions. They face a series of fundamental questions: What will a coherent and sustainable China policy look like as bilateral competition intensifies and diversifies? How will U.S. policymakers reconcile multiple and competing interests with China? Can the United States craft a strategy that achieves two contradictory goals—competition and cooperation—at the same time?

The Chinese Government’s Cover-Up Killed Health Care Workers Worldwide


It is widely known that when the new coronavirus emerged in December 2019, the Chinese government downplayed the pandemic threat for several critical weeks. Less commonly known is those same authorities deliberately sacrificed health workers to maintain their lies.

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) calculated cover-up enabled the coronavirus to go global. By silencing doctors, Beijing not only fueled this pandemic but also compromised the world’s ability to spot the next one.

Why the CCP decided to cover up the outbreak is unclear. It may have been a reluctance to cancel political meetings, a fear of public panic—especially around the Chinese New Year—the embarrassment of another pathogen being born on Chinese soil, or the simple instinct to squash bad news ingrained into officials in an authoritarian system.

This series looks at how many experts missed the mark in the early days of the pandemic—and what we can learn for next time.

Among experts: Social scientists thought they knew what impact the pandemic would have. They were very wrong.

In the U.S.: Public health experts thought they had a world-beating pandemic response in place. That overconfidence doomed 500,000 Americans.

Pandemics are like wars. The first casualty is truth.

China’s Neighbors Are Stronger Than We Think


For two decades, China has gotten its way in almost every dispute in its neighborhood. Advancing in the Himalayas, Southeast Asia, the South China Sea, and the East China Sea, China has become the main threat across a wide arc of the Indo-Pacific. Beijing’s defense spending is now more than six times as high as it was at the start of the millennium, according to independent SIPRI estimates. Over the last two decades, China has risen from sixth in the world to second in total defense spending—a spectacular increase.

Naturally, that has China’s neighbors worried. And just as naturally, those neighbors are now stirring in response.

If China’s near neighbors are the potential partners U.S. President Joe Biden is so eager to work with, they hardly need U.S. encouragement to raise their guard when it comes to China. A look around China’s borders shows that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) faces incumbent and emerging military competitors on all sides. Even assuming a Russia-China rapprochement—a prospect that is always more forthcoming than actual—China faces challenges all across what one might call the Indo-Pacific arc. These countries, stretching from India in the southwest to Japan in the northeast, would form an effective bulwark against Chinese expansionism even in the absence of explicit U.S. encouragement and support.

The Indo-Pacific arc is strongest at the ends and weakest in the middle. Japan’s Self-Defense Forces have a high reputation for technology and readiness. Countering China’s aircraft carrier building program, Japan is converting two existing helicopter carriers into fixed-wing aircraft carriers. Although the Japanese carriers will be much smaller than China’s, the Japanese carrier-launched fifth-generation F-35 stealth fighters will pack a much bigger punch. By comparison, the PLA Navy’s Shenyang J-15 is a less advanced fourth-generation fighter that has experienced serious technical problems.

Semiconductors and the U.S.-China Innovation Race

Semiconductors, otherwise known as “chips,” are an ­­essential component at the heart of economic growth, security, and technological innovation. Smaller than the size of a postage stamp, thinner than a human hair, and made of nearly 40 billion components, the impact that semiconductors are having on world development exceeds that of the Industrial Revolution. From smartphones, PCs, pacemakers to the internet, electronic vehicles, aircrafts, and hypersonic weaponry, semiconductors are ubiquitous in electrical devices and the digitization of goods and services such as global e-commerce. And demand is skyrocketing, with the industry facing numerous challenges and opportunities as emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced wireless communications, notably 5G, all requiring cutting-edge semiconductor-enabled devices. But the COVID-19 pandemic and international trade disputes are straining the industry’s supply and value chains while the battle between the United States and China over tech supremacy risks splintering the supply chain further, contributing to technological fragmentation and significant disruption in international commerce.

For decades, the U.S. has been a leader in the semiconductor industry, controlling 48 percent (or $193 billion) of the market share in terms of revenue as of 2020. According to IC Insights, eight of the 15 largest semiconductor firms in the world are in the U.S., with Intel ranking first in terms of sales. China is a net importer of semiconductors, heavily relying on foreign manufacturers—notably those in the U.S.—to enable most of its technology. China imported $350 billion worth of chips in 2020, an increase of 14.6 percent from 2019. Through its Made in China 2025 initiative and Guidelines to Promote National Integrated Circuit Industry Development, over the past six years, China has been ramping up its efforts using financial incentives, intellectual property (IP) and antitrust standards to accelerate the development of its domestic semiconductor industry, diminish its reliance on the U.S., and establish itself as a global tech leader. As U.S.-China competition has intensified, notably under the former Trump administration, the U.S. has been tightening semiconductor export controls with stricter licensing policies, particularly toward Chinese entities. Concerns continue regarding China’s acquisition of American technology through civilian supply chains and integration with Chinese military and surveillance capabilities.

Peace Dividend Widening the Economic Growth and Development Benefits of the Abraham Accords

by Daniel Egel, Shira Efron, Linda Robinson

The Abraham Accords have heralded a dramatic shift in the relationship between Israel and the Muslim nations of the world. Over the course of just four months, from August to December 2020, four nations—the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco—initiated diplomatic processes to normalize bilateral ties with Israel.

These accords represent a major political breakthrough. They also represent a possible new chapter in the region's development: away from conflict and toward a shared vision of economic prosperity. If these new relations evolve into deeper economic integration, we estimate that the economic benefits for Israel's partners in this endeavor could be particularly significant, creating approximately 150,000 new jobs for just the four current signatories. This number could grow to more than four million new jobs, and more than $1 trillion in new economic activity over a decade, if the accords grow to include 11 nations (including Israel) as some have speculated may be possible.

These are the world's best universities in 2021

Sean Fleming

MIT stays at the top for the ninth consecutive year in the QS World University Rankings.

The top 10 is made up of universities from the UK, the US and one from Switzerland.

The National University of Singapore, which is ranked 11th, is the highest placed institution outside of Europe or North America.

More Asian universities than ever before feature in the world’s top 1,000 universities, but the top 10 is dominated by US institutions, according to the latest QS World University Rankings.

From the 10 highest placed, five are from the US – including all of the top three. Of the remaining five, four are in the UK and one is in Switzerland. The highest placed outside of Europe or North America is the National University of Singapore, which was ranked 11th.

QS evaluates 5,500 universities for inclusion in its list of 1,029 of the most prestigious universities in the world - and there are 47 new entrants this year.

The “most impressive gains” were made by Asian universities this year, according to QS, with 26 institutions from the continent now featuring in the rankings.

The methodology assesses each institution on six metrics: reputation amongst academics and employers, international student ratio, international faculty ratio, faculty student ratio and citations per faculty.

What is digital sovereignty and why is Europe so interested in it?

Sean Fleming

"Now is the time for Europe to be digitally sovereign,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, and Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin say in a joint letter. “We have to foster the Digital Single Market in all its dimensions where innovation can thrive and data flow freely. We need to effectively safeguard competition and market access in a data-driven world. Critical infrastructures and technologies need to become resilient and secure. It is time for the digitization of governments in order to build trust and foster digital innovation.”

But what is digital sovereignty?

Digital sovereignty refers to the ability to have control over your own digital destiny – the data, hardware and software that you rely on and create. It has become a concern for many policy-makers who feel there is too much control ceded to too few places, too little choice in the tech market, and too much power in the hands of a small number of large tech companies.

The quartet of heads of state have weighed in alongside a growing number of calls for a rules-based system that allows for greater ownership of vital technology assets at a local, national, and regional level.

In an attempt to highlight the challenge Europe faces over having control over its digital destiny, the letter has highlighted three key areas:

1. Identifying Europe's potential strengths and strategic weaknesses in the tech sphere.

2. Widening the use of open markets and supply chains to avoid an over-reliance on proprietary systems.

3. Creating an evaluation framework to ensure technology use remains in line with broad European ideals of delivering social, scientific and economic benefits.

US likely needs to include vaccinating children to reach herd immunity, Fauci says

By Christina Maxouris, Eric Levenson and Maggie Fox

(CNN)Several more states on Thursday announced Covid-19 vaccines would be available to more people, news that came as the nation's top infectious disease expert said we might need to inoculate children to reach herd immunity.

But, Dr. Anthony Fauci said people are too focused on the thought of herd immunity -- the point at which enough people are protected against the virus to suppress spread -- for this novel coronavirus.

"I think we should be careful about wedding ourselves to this concept of herd immunity because we really do not know precisely, for this particular virus, what that is," Fauci told a Senate hearing.

Fauci, the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he has been estimating that anywhere between 70% and 85% of the population would need to be vaccinated or otherwise immune to the virus to get to the point of herd immunity.

"We don't really know what that magical point of herd immunity is, but we do know that if we get the overwhelming population vaccinated, we're going to be in good shape. We ultimately would like to get and have to get children into that mix," Fauci said during a hearing of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.

He said when high school students are vaccinated, the US might reach herd immunity.

More states are widening the number of people eligible to get vaccinated. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu said the residents 50 and older will be eligible as of Monday and the state plans to expand vaccine access to all citizens 16 and older "in just a matter of weeks."

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said beginning March 29 vaccination will be available to adults in sectors essential to economic recovery and starting April 9 all adults can get a shot.

TRANSCRIPT: ABC News' George Stephanopoulos interviews President Joe Biden

By ABC News

On Tuesday, March 16, 2021, ABC News' George Stephanopoulos interviewed President Joe Biden. The following is a transcript of the interview (this transcript has been edited for clarity):

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So you've set out your goals for the country. 100 million vaccine doses by next week, $100 million out the door. Every American eligible for the vaccine by -- adult American by May 1st. Something close to normal on July 4th. But tell everyone, when is everything going to be normal for Americans?

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, first of all, I won't even be able to meet the July 4th deadline unless people listen, wear masks, wash their hands and socially distance because not everyone by July 4th will have been vaccinated. There's enough vaccine -- I -- we-- we've been able to purchase enough vaccine, George, with a lotta -- a lotta heavy liftin' for over six hundred -- well over 600 million doses to take care of more than 300 million Americans, some of 'em single dose.

But I hope that what I'm reading about 30% of Republican men say they won't get the vaccine and people are talkin' about whether they ne-- I mean, you have to-- one, when-- when it's available to, get the vaccine, number one. Number two, stay socially distanced. Number three, wear a mask when you're out in public. And we'll get by this and we'll get by it much quicker than we otherwise --



GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: -- if President Trump told the Republican men to get a vaccine?

Integrated review: UK to lift cap on nuclear stockpile

The UK is set to reverse plans to reduce its stockpile of nuclear weapons by the middle of the decade, as part of a foreign policy overhaul.

The overall cap on the number of warheads will now increase to 260, having been due to drop to 180 under previous plans from 2010.

The UK will shift focus towards Indo-Pacific countries, described as the world's "growth engine".

And it pledges the UK will do more on the "systemic challenge" of China.

Outlining the strategy to MPs, Boris Johnson said the UK would have to "relearn the art" of competing against countries with "opposing values".

But he added the UK would remain "unswervingly committed" to the Nato defence alliance and preserving peace and security in Europe.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the Conservatives of overseeing an "era of retreat," with armed forces cuts "every year for the last decade".

The integrated review of foreign and defence policies, which runs to over 100 pages, has taken over a year and sets out UK priorities until 2030.

The UK nuclear stockpile is estimated to comprise 195 warheads, and had been due to fall to 180 by the mid-2020s under a 2010 defence review.

But the latest assessment says this ambition is "no longer possible" given the "evolving security environment" over the last decade.

OPINION: Biden hopes "alliance math" adds up to security and stability

By James L. Schoff

U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration are breaking out onto Asia's diplomatic stage in a big way, beginning with the first-ever leaders' meeting of the "Quad" (the United States, Japan, Australia and India) last Friday and followed by back-to-back foreign and defense minister meetings ("two-plus-two") this week in Tokyo and Seoul featuring Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Never have two-plus-twos been arranged so early in a new administration, and they were not held even once during the Trump administration with South Korea.

The purpose of these mathematical combinations is clear. As State Department spokesman Ned Price described, they are "to demonstrate in both word and deed" how the Biden administration believes that its alliances and partnerships are "a core source of strength" by which they can meet challenges collectively and create opportunities. Additionally, by making their first overseas trip to Asia, Blinken and Austin are signaling the importance they attach to the Indo-Pacific region because it offers the most opportunity for the United States and is home to its greatest challenge, China. Biden's approach can also benefit America's partners in Asia, but it will take effort by everyone, and even then a lack of complete unity will often mean that smaller bilateral and trilateral action is needed.

A New Framework for Dealing with Venezuela: From Democracy to Conflict Resolution


Venezuela is mired in a prolonged, multifaceted crisis, to which no solutions are in sight. In the wake of the country’s December 2020 parliamentary election, the EU needs to rethink some of the basic premises of its policy toward Venezuela. Instead of quarreling about which domestic actors and political institutions should be recognized as democratic, the EU should approach the country through a lens of conflict resolution. While a democracy-based framework divides the EU and a broad range of other external actors, a framework focused on conflict resolution may increase the chances of a more coordinated international response. That approach may be more likely to lead—eventually and indirectly—to some kind of inclusive political settlement in Venezuela.


On December 6, 2020, Venezuela held a parliamentary election, which was widely regarded as deeply flawed. Important parts of the opposition, including the party of Juan Guaidó, the then president of the National Assembly, refrained from participating in the vote. That led to both a very low turnout—around 30 percent—and a comfortable win for President Nicolás Maduro’s governing party, which secured 91 percent of the seats in the parliament.

Wolff is an executive board member and the head of the Intrastate Conflict research department at the Peace Research Institute Frankfurt.

The 'Cold War' diplomacy behind Covid-19 vaccines


The race is on to vaccinate Europeans, and it's a competition between East vs West. There's a reason the contest has been termed "a new Cold War". It just might not be the reason you think.

Most commentaries on the rivalry between vaccine-producing countries focus on influence and soft power.

The main goal of countries procuring vaccines is to save lives. But in a realpolitik world, relationships with source or donor countries also sustain alliances—which can be leveraged for other diplomatic priorities. This is the theory behind "vaccine diplomacy."

However, diplomatic leverage is only part of the story. Vaccine diplomacy is also about validating the underlying principles of those vaccine programs.

In other words, Russia and China aren't just selling vaccines—they're peddling a value set that undermines international norms. It is this ideological clash that makes the Cold War metaphor more apt than pundits realise.

The first principle endangered by the Russian and Chinese vaccination programs is transparency. In the case of Covid-19, this means openly sharing data within the medical community.

In contrast, Chinese state-run vaccine producers have failed to publish late-stage clinical trial data, and not a single one has allowed a scientific peer review of its vaccine.

Western leaders like Emmanuel Macron have criticised this lack of transparency, as have experts within China.

Artificial intelligence leads NATO’s new strategy for emerging and disruptive tech

Vivienne Machi

STUTTGART, Germany — NATO and its member nations have formally agreed upon how the alliance should target and coordinate investments in emerging and disruptive technology, or EDT, with plans to release artificial intelligence and data strategies by the summer of 2021.

In recent years the alliance has publicly declared its need to focus on so-called EDTs, and identified seven science and technology areas that are of direct interest. Now, the NATO enterprise and representatives of its 30 member states have endorsed a strategy that shows how the alliance can both foster these technologies — through stronger relationships with innovation hubs and specific funding mechanisms — and protect EDT investments from outside influence and export issues.

NATO will eventually develop individual strategies for each of the seven science and technology areas — artificial intelligence, data and computing, autonomy, quantum-enabled technologies, biotechnology, hypersonic technology, and space. But for the near future, the priority is AI and data, said David van Weel, NATO’s assistant secretary general for emerging security challenges.

The alliance expects to release an artificial intelligence strategy by this summer, he told Defense News in an exclusive March 4 interview. This effort comes on the heels of the U.S. Congress backing the creation of a national AI strategy in January as part of the country’s annual defense authorization bill.

Pentagon has new research center to link networks, communications

Andrew Eversden

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Defense launched a new center to research integrating computing and communications across the military’s large networked systems.

The decision to invest $7.5 million to create the research center at the University of California-Riverside is a step toward the department’s priority to connect the services across domains, sending targeting information and intelligence from any sensor to the best shooter.

The Center of Excellence in Networked Configurable Command, Control and Communications for Rapid Situational Awareness will conduct research on “large-scale networked systems for next-generation computing and communications,” according to the March 12 announcement. That entails research into how to seamlessly integrate the sensing, data analysis, communications and networking capabilities of systems and subsystems, the news release said.

“We are excited for the capabilities of University of California, Riverside to further enhance the Department’s efforts to conduct transformative research in these vital areas and their contributions to the defense technology base through the exploration of ideas,” said Jagadeesh Pamulapati, acting deputy director of research, technology and laboratories.

“The development of key fully networked command, control, and communication applications deepens our ability to solve science and technology challenges ranging from improving the performance of defense networks to accelerating sensing and computing research to further deter our adversaries in support of the DoD’s technology priorities.”

The risk of new military technologies must be properly assessed


Failure to think about new military technologies makes it more likely that these systems could be used in reckless ways and, if used, could lead to unplanned escalation. It is important to take this problem seriously, because we are in the early stage of a long- term arms race with advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), hypersonic missiles, cyber weapons, drones and the like.

In this regard, the Biden administration’s recent review of drone and cyber attack policies is a welcome development. So far, these particular technologies have been used against terrorists, insurgents and in other low-intensity conflict situations. Here, the risk of an “explosion” in escalation violence is low, since the enemy doesn’t possess weapons to do this. At most, mishaps can lead to unnecessary civilian casualties or killing the wrong individuals. Indeed, current reviews focus on exactly this criterion — namely, collateral damage.

This article argues for an added criterion: the likely impact on unwanted counter-escalation. The reason is that drones, cyber, AI, hypersonic missiles, anti-satellite attack and other advanced technologies are central to U.S long-term competition with China and Russia. Some of these technologies have spread to North Korea and Iran. These two nations, for example, already are major threats in cyber war, and both operate armed drones.

Here we see the new escalation problem facing the United States. Using these technologies against terrorists and insurgents, or to disrupt a weak power such as Iran’s uranium enrichment, the chances of a large eruption in violence by an enemy’s response are low. Terrorists and insurgents lack the weapons to strike back at the United States in a meaningful way.

Key Official: Defense Information Operations ‘Not Evolving Fast Enough’


The U.S. military isn’t keeping up with information-warfare threats from Russia, Iran, and China, defense officials told lawmakers on Tuesday, adding that the military needs to prioritize information operations, diversify its information-ops units, and relearn how to coordinate IO across units, forces, and services.

“We’re evolving as a country and a force from a heavy focus on counter...violent extremist organizations to a much more diverse threat environment where information is one of the tools they’re using,” said Christopher Maier, the acting assistant defense secretary for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict. “We’ve got to be able to play their game against them and beat them in some respects on their own playing field.”

Right now, the job of conducting information operations as part of broader military operations falls primarily to U.S. Special Operations Command or SOCOM. In April 2019, the command stood up a new Joint Web Ops Center to better tackle information operations.

The Army, too, is making information ops a key component of its future cyber operations. Last July, Lt. Gen. Stephen G. Fogarty, who leads the Army Cyber Command, or ARCYBER, outlined how the Army plans to integrate information operations into exercises and eventually operations over the coming decade. “Internally, ARCYBER will work to build information capabilities into combined arms teams with converged cyber, influence, and electromagnetic capabilities that deploy to bring immediate, turn-key informational combat power to maneuver commanders,” Fogarty wrote.

Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Market SWOT Analysis 2021: Palantir Technologies, Expert System, Exalead Dassault Systemes, Thales Group, Cybelangel, Intrinsic Technologies, Sail Labs Technology, Digimind, KB Crawl, Verint, Recorded Future, Datalkz,

By Anita Adroit

Introduction, Scope and Overview: Global Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Market

This elaborate research report through its in-depth market analysis practices is aiming at offering report readers with accurate, market specific synopsis of the industry, evaluating it across dynamics and touchpoint analysis.

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Proceeding further in the report, this systematically compiled research output based on elaborate primary and secondary research practices also shed light on the ongoing implications of COVID-19 that has rendered tangible dip in the aforementioned Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) market, thus also affecting growth spectrum in multiple perspectives.

According to meticulous primary and secondary research endeavors on the part of our in-house research experts, the global Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) market is poised to trigger remunerative growth, ticking a total growth of xx million USD in 2020 and is further likely to amplify growth through the forecast tenure, witnessing over xx million USD by 2026. Rigorous research suggests that the global Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) market shall maintain a lucrative growth trail in the coming years, clocking a robust CAGR of xx% through 2020-2026.