29 March 2021

Defining China’s Intelligentized Warfare and Role of Artificial Intelligence

 Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd), Consultant, VIF

China feels that U.S. is its main adversary ... China is trying to match U.S. technological capabilities with its own strength in AI as a leap frog technology and a new concept of war ... But there will be lot of problems in implementing this concept of Intelligentization Warfare to reality. However, President Xi Jinping has thrown the gauntlet, and it is up to the U.S. the other adversaries and the rest of the world to follow this concept keenly.

Armenian-Azerbaijani Conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh: Geopolitical Implications

 Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd), Consultant, VIF

The geostrategic sensitive region of region of Nagorno-Karabakh lies at an intersection of political, ethnic and religious borders of Iran, Turkey, Russia and Georgia. On September 27, 2020 the war broke out with Azerbaijan launching an offensive retake Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding previously Azerbaijani-populated regions. The war was won by Azerbaijan.

Russia brokered a peace deal with Armenia and Azerbaijan agreeing to a Russian-mediated settlement to end the six-week war. The cease-fire is seen as a victory in Azerbaijan and as a capitulation in Armenia. Russia’s leading role in stopping the fighting also shows that Moscow continues to be the most influential player in the southern Caucasus.

This monograph provides the background of the conflict, its geopolitical dimensions, details of the cease fire deal and the role of different stakeholders in this conflict.

50 Years After Independence, Bangladesh Bursts Into Geopolitics


As Bangladesh marks the 50th anniversary of its declaration of independence from Pakistan, there is widespread admiration for its remarkably successful economic and social transformation. Less noted are the profound geopolitical consequences of Bangladesh’s economic rise, including a shift in South Asia’s center of economic gravity to the east and the reintegration of an eastern subcontinent that was once divided by animosities and barely penetrable borders. Today, Bangladesh is on the cusp of a second liberation—one that would end its relative isolation and allow Dhaka to play a stronger role in the region and beyond, seeking new maritime possibilities in the Indo-Pacific.

As it stepped out into the world in 1971 amid a bloody independence war with Pakistan, few in the world gave it a chance to survive, let alone thrive. For decades, it was one of the world’s most destitute countries, synonymous with famine, deprivation, and disease. But sustained high growth rates in the last few years have accelerated Bangladesh’s economic development. The country is on a firm trajectory to graduate out of the category of least developed countries by 2026 and likely to jump into the 25 largest economies worldwide by 2030. International development institutions praise Dhaka’s success in reducing poverty, improving life expectancy, enhancing literacy rates, and empowering women.

The recognition of Bangladesh’s economic transformation is not, however, accompanied by an appreciation of its growing geopolitical significance. For far too long, when we think about South Asian geopolitics, the focus has been entirely on India and Pakistan. The India-Pakistan academic establishment, media commentariat, and think-tank industry—myopically focused on the tick-tock between New Delhi and Islamabad over Kashmir, nuclear weapons, terrorism, and Afghanistan—sucks attention away from the rest of the region.

India Romances the West


In affirming that the “Quad has come of age” at the first-ever summit of the Quadrilateral Dialogue with the United States, Japan, and Australia last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sent an unmistakable signal that India is no longer reluctant to work with the West in the global arena, including in the security domain. The country’s new readiness to participate in Western forums marks a decisive turn in independent India’s world view. That view was long defined by the idea of nonalignment and its later avatar, strategic autonomy—both of which were about standing apart from, if not against, post-World-War-II Western alliances. But today—driven by shifting balance of power in Asia, India’s clear-eyed view of its national interest, and the successful efforts of consecutive U.S. presidents—India is taking increasingly significant steps toward the West.

The Quad is not the only Western institution with which India might soon be associated. New Delhi is set to engage with a wider range of Western forums in the days ahead, including the G-7 and the Five Eyes. Britain has invited India to participate in the G-7 meeting in London this summer, along with other non-members Australia and South Korea. Although India has been invited to G-7 outreach meetings—a level or two below the summits—for a number of years, the London meeting is widely expected to be a testing ground for the creation of a “Democracy Group of Ten,” or D-10.

In Washington today, there are multiple ideas for U.S.-led technology coalitions to reduce the current Western dependence on China. Two initiatives unveiled at the Quad summit—the working group on critical technologies, and the vaccine initiative to supply Southeast Asia—underline the prospects for an Indian role in the trusted technology supply chains of the United States and its partners.

Tensions Mount Between Afghan Government, Powerful Warlord

By Rahim Faiez

Tensions are mounting between Afghanistan’s government and a powerful local warlord, with deadly clashes erupting in a rural province between his fighters and government troops. The fear is that the violence could be a harbinger of more chaos as U.S. troops head toward the exits.

The government has launched an assault in central Maidan Wardak province, vowing to punish the warlord, Abdul Ghani Alipoor, after the defense minister accused his fighters of shooting down a military helicopter last week, killing nine personnel.

It’s the latest in a long history of frictions with Alipoor that are increasingly turning bloody. In January, security forces killed at least 11 civilians when they opened fire on protesters, including many Alipoor supporters, in the province’s Behsud district.

Alipoor holds widespread loyalty among ethnic Hazaras, a mainly Shiite community who are a minority in Afghanistan but make up most of the population in Maidan Wardak. Alipoor is one of the many warlords backed by heavily armed militias who hold local power across Afghanistan. The government is allied with some them, but others, like Alipoor, are in frequent confrontation with Kabul, resisting its control.

These warlords are a potential wild card as Afghanistan enters a new phase after decades of war. The United States has committed to removing the last of its troops — though whether it will meet a May 1 deadline remains unclear. It is trying to push the government and the Taliban into a peace deal to ensure the country does not collapse into greater violence or an outright Taliban takeover after the U.S. pullout.

That is proving difficult enough amid continued Taliban offensives. Many fear the warlords could also lash out if they see their many, often conflicting interests being harmed in the peace process.

China’s Myanmar dilemma grows deep and wide


CHIANG MAI – Soon after 17-year-old medical student Khant Nyar Hein was shot and killed during an anti-coup demonstration in Yangon’s Tamwe township on March 14, his mother posted on social media that although her family is ethnically Chinese they do not support the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Ethnicity also came into play in Mandalay when a 19-year-old woman was shot by a Myanmar army sniper on March 3. Widely circulated pictures of the Sino-Myanmar woman, known as Angel, taken just moments before she was killed showed her in a T-shirt with the slogan “Everything will be OK.”

Kyal Sin, or, in Chinese, Deng Xia Ji, is now widely viewed as a fallen hero in the nationwide resistance against Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s military coup and an increasingly lethal crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, with at least 250 killed and thousands arrested.

Unlike Western countries, China’s response to the coup has been mainly muted. Protesters have taken critical aim at China’s portrayal of the democracy-suspending coup as a “cabinet reshuffle”, with thousands of protesters in front of the Chinese embassy expressing their displeasure with Beijing’s perceived support of the coup regime.

China, along with Russia, has also blocked attempts led by Western nations at the UN Security Council to take collective action against Myanmar’s military coup makers and their deadly crackdown on unarmed protesters. That stance, some suggest, lit the flames that attacked and torched several Chinese-owned factories and properties in Yangon earlier this month

It’s Time to Prepare for U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan


When the Biden administration took office, it faced two unpalatable policy choices in Afghanistan: withdraw all remaining U.S. troops by May 1, as stipulated in an agreement inked with the Taliban in Doha a year ago, and risk increased destabilization or stay beyond the deadline and watch the Taliban tear up its accord with Washington and scuttle a nascent peace process between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

The Biden administration has sought to circumvent this Catch-22 situation by pursuing two alternative options. One is to negotiate a brief extension of the May 1 deadline, thereby buying U.S. President Joe Biden time to produce more favorable conditions—especially reductions in violence—for peace negotiations and an eventual U.S. withdrawal. The other is to propose a new peace plan that establishes a violence reduction accord and accelerates negotiations on a political settlement—all in a matter of weeks.

Both initiatives are worth trying, but each one will be highly difficult to achieve. Additionally, given the large amount of policy bandwidth required to achieve just one of these ambitious goals, devoting extensive energy to both of them actually makes success more unlikely for either of them. Accordingly, if Washington isn’t successful, it should plan for a withdrawal as soon as is logistically possible.

Unfortunately, recent reports indicate that Biden is considering keeping troops in Afghanistan until November—with no indication that the Taliban has agreed to that or that the administration has even pitched an extension to the Taliban. Neither Kabul nor the Taliban has committed to the peace plan.

At China’s Borders, “Vaccine Passports” Just Got Real


The idea of vaccine passports to reopen travel after the pandemic has been kicking around since nearly the beginning of COVID-19’s spread. But on March 15, China added a new wrinkle to the discussion, when it announced, through embassies in about 20 countries, that it would specifically facilitate visas for those who had received a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine (negative COVID-19 tests and quarantines are still requirements).

This move, coming on top of other ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions, has caused particular alarm in countries like India, where the Chinese vaccine is not available. Hundreds of thousands of expatriate workers, students, and family members currently stranded in Australia, Greece, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States are in the same boat.

“If the China government can accept [World Health Organization]-assessed vaccines, it’ll be helpful to the resuming of air travel,” said a 30-year-old Indian professional who is still trying to return to his job in the automotive industry in Shanghai and requested anonymity. Fourteen months after he returned to India, his visa and invitation letter expired. Like many, he’s had a pay cut; however, he is better off than some friends who are not being paid at all since they cannot report to work back in China. Now, expatriate workers like him are considering whether to access the China vaccine through a third country like the United Arab Emirates. That would be expensive and time-consuming but perhaps necessary.

The Logic of China’s Vaccine Diplomacy

By Ivana Karásková and Veronika Blablová

Since May 2020, when Chinese President Xi Jinping announced at a World Health Assembly meeting that China considered its COVID-19 vaccines to be a “global public good,” China has been busy offering its products to the world. But it does not necessarily follow that Chinese vaccines would be provided for free. Even less so does China treat its customers equally. Some countries received vaccines in the form of donations, while others purchased them or were offered a loan to buy them – an alternative aimed primarily at the Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The situation is akin to spring 2020, when the outbreak of the pandemic and the lack of protective medical equipment prompted many countries to court China. Already during the first wave of the coronavirus epidemic, China attempted to improve its image through “mask diplomacy,” posing as a part of the solution, rather than the source of the problem. “Vaccine diplomacy” can be understood as a natural extension of this process.

However, unlike last spring, China is no longer the sole provider of a scarce resource. Instead, China is having to compete with various other vaccine producers. In addition, the producers have to deal with “borders” erected by medical regulatory institutions as the requirements for vaccines are stricter in comparison to regulations on masks and other protective material. In order not to clash directly with the mRNA vaccines produced by Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna, bound mostly for developed countries, Chinese vaccines based on inactivated virus were first offered to its neighbors, the developing world, and countries in the semi-peripheries.

Influence-enza: How Russia, China, and Iran Have Shaped and Manipulated Coronavirus Vaccine Narratives

Bret Schafer


When Vladimir Putin announced last August that Russia had granted regulatory approval for Sputnik V, the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, it signaled—albeit perhaps prematurely—not only a potential turning point in the fight to end the coronavirus pandemic but also a new phase in the global contest to shape and at times manipulate information around the virus and its origins, treatments, and potential cures.

That vaccines have become the latest flashpoint in the coronavirus-era battle of narratives is hardly surprising. Since the outbreak of the virus forced much of the world into lockdown last March, Russia, China, and Iran have used a combination of public diplomacy, propaganda, and overt and covert disinformation campaigns to portray their respective responses to the pandemic as superior to those of the West.

Vaccine diplomacy is a natural extension of these efforts. The ability to develop and distribute an effective vaccine is, like mask diplomacy before it, an effective tool for autocrats to blunt domestic and international criticism and to showcase the competency and generosity of their respective governments. But with more than a half-dozen vaccines in early or limited use, vaccine narratives are more than an exercise in self-promotion; they are a tool to open enormous diplomatic and economic opportunities for vaccine-producing countries. The stakes are therefore elevated, as attempts to win the hearts, minds, and deltoids of global publics—particularly those in developing countries—is as much about market dominance as it is about soft power.

China Is ‘Danger Close’ to US in AI Race, DOD AI Chief Says


The Pentagon must move faster to standardize its data, adopt cloud services and integrate AI into operations if it is to keep ahead of China’s prowess in artificial intelligence, the head of the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center, or JAIC, said Tuesday. Beijing is accelerating its Made in China 2025 effort and aims “to be dominant in the AI space in 2030,” Lt. Gen. Michael Groen told a National Defense Industrial Association audience. He noted that Pentagon budgeteers are currently building five-year Program Objective Memorandums out to 2027. “You know, to a Marine, that’s danger close,” Groen said.

Groen said that integrating networks across the Defense Department and pressing forward with new enterprise-level cloud capabilities and common data standards was going to be key to helping the U.S. military stay ahead.

“If we are not in an integrated enterprise, we’re going to fail,” he said. “If we’re still flying in hard drives [to remote bases] because it's more efficient to fly in a hard drive then connect our networks, that’s a symptom that we’re not where we need to be,” he said.

Groen also devoted a large part of his talk to the Pentagon’s ethical guidelines for AI, which are more detailed and restrictive than many similar lists used by industry players — and certainly more so than any list China’s military has made public. He rebuffed suggestions that these guidelines and restrictions were slowing the development and deployment of AI tools, arguing that only ethical systems will garner the trust of commanders in the field.

China Hits Back at Western Sanctions


The highlights this week: Beijing issues sanctions against Western politicians and diplomats, authorities censor coverage of a mysterious explosion in a village near Guangzhou, and China grapples with vaccine diplomacy woes.

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China Issues Sanctions Against U.S. Allies

China responded to coordinated sanctions by the United States, the European Union, Canada, and the United Kingdom against Chinese officials involved in atrocities in Xinjiang with its own targeted figures, ranging from German politicians to Swedish researchers. Beijing’s move is a significant escalation, especially in its scattershot approach.

Here’s why: The Chinese sanctions go after U.S. allies, especially in the EU, more so than U.S. figures themselves. One target is the Germany-based Mercator Institute for China Studies, the largest China-focused think tank in Europe. China is presumably attempting to pull countries away from what it sees as a U.S.-led bloc against Beijing and to dissuade the EU from further sanctions, which it hasn’t deployed against China since 1989.

Already, Beijing’s move has derailed the controversial Comprehensive Agreement on Investment between the EU and China, and caused 281 German lawmakers to sign a fiery statement.

Trump Got China All Wrong. Now Biden Is Too.


Of all the Trump administration’s many foreign-policy missteps, its confrontational stance on China was perhaps the most ungainly. Spurts of negotiation on trade and intellectual property were followed by escalating tariffs on Chinese imports that were paid by U.S. companies. These provoked retaliatory Chinese actions that necessitated tens of billions of dollars of aid to U.S farmers decimated by the collapse of Chinese agricultural purchases. Tough talk by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, about Chinese human rights transgressions fell with a thud because of Trump’s inability to muster international support. His threats were made even more toothless by the U.S. withdrawal from the multilateral Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Even if one agreed that the United States needed to stand up to China on some issues, Trump’s approach only succeeded in increasing animosity and reducing Chinese investment and purchases from the United States. It changed the basic parameters of the two countries’ relationship not a whit. The trade deficit remained astronomical (not necessarily a bad thing but which Trump cited as a reason for his policies), factories remained offshore, there was no end to China’s human rights violations, and China’s influence increased globally.

Now, U.S. President Joe Biden appears to be adopting large swaths of Trump’s policies and even many of the former president’s basic presumptions, namely that China is the United States’ main adversary and that even though there are many areas of mutual interest and cooperation between the two, competition is the hallmark of an increasingly tense relationship.

The UK’s new model forces

Another case of ‘more with less’? IISS analysts take a detailed look at what the UK’s Defence Command Paper will mean for the ability of the country’s armed forces to deliver on global ambitions.

Defence in a Competitive Age’, published on 22 March, is the second in a triptych of defence and security policy documents to be released by the United Kingdom government. Previous defence reviews have been characterised as ‘over-ambitious and underfunded’, and the government’s message is clearly that things are different this time. However, despite an injection of extra money, balancing resource and demand may prove as difficult as ever unless defence procurement and particularly the control of cost growth improve.

This second document is intended to address how the UK armed forces will be ‘modernised’ to meet all the military elements of the government’s more overarching Integrated Review, grandly titled ‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age’, released last week. The 22 March Defence Command Paper, as it is also known, outlines plans to achieve this by implementing cuts to both personnel and ‘legacy’ equipment in the Army and Royal Air Force in particular, to be replaced in some areas by new capabilities in, for example, space and cyberspace.

While much of the analysis of developing challenges appears sound, and in line with the thinking of others, not least the United States, some of the proposals for transformational changes lack real detail, making judgements on the trade-offs involved difficult. A key element of the Integrated Review was a UK ‘Indo-Pacific tilt’. Here, China’s rising power and assertiveness are certainly highlighted as concerns, but the challenge from Russia gets at least as much attention, with the disruptive potential of Iran, North Korea and non-state actors also on the agenda.

More on the maritime

Suez Canal could be blocked for weeks by 'beached whale' ship

By Yusri Mohamed, Gavin Maguire, Florence Tan

The 400 metre Ever Given, almost as long as the Empire State Building is high, is blocking transit in both directions through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels for oil and refined fuels, grain and other trade linking Asia and Europe.

Late on Thursday, dredgers were still working to remove thousands of tonnes of sand from around the ship’s bow.

The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said earlier that nine tugs were working to move the vessel, which got stuck diagonally across the single-lane southern stretch of the canal on Tuesday morning amid high winds and a dust storm.

“We can’t exclude it might take weeks, depending on the situation,” Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, one of two rescue teams trying to free the ship, told the Dutch television programme “Nieuwsuur”.

A total of 206 large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain have backed up at either end of the canal, according to tracking data, creating one of the worst shipping jams seen for years.

The blockage comes on top of the disruption to world trade already caused in the past year by COVID-19, with trade volumes hit by high rates of ship cancellations, shortages of containers and slower handling speeds at ports.

Jamestown Foundation

Terrorism Monitor, March 12, 2021, v. 19, no. 5

U.S. Withdrawal or Disengagement from Somalia? Assessing Somalia’s and Kenya’s Concerns

Iran’s Fuel Smuggling Paranoia in the Baluchistan Border Region

The Syrian National Army and The Future of Turkey’s Frontier Land Force

US military says a third of troops opt out of being vaccinated, but the numbers suggest it's more

By Oren Liebermann and Ellie Kaufman

(CNN)Despite a massive effort by the Pentagon to promote the safety and efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, the US military's opt-out rate for vaccinations may be far higher than the 33% figure defense officials have used publicly.

Conversations with military medical officials and service members, as well as data from several bases and units around the country, suggest the current rejection rate may be closer to 50%.

"I think the true opt-in rate right now would probably be around 50-ish percent," said a military healthcare source about numbers on a military base of some 40,000 active duty troops. The source spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss vaccinations.

A second military healthcare source covering a different region told CNN of the same trend. Those percentages are "consistent" with what they're seeing, the source told CNN.

The acceptance rate at Fort Bragg, one of the military's largest bases with about 57,000 military personnel, was just below 60%, an army official said Friday. It was below 50% last month, but it has been slowly rising.

The Defense Department has approximately 2.2 million service members operating around the globe. For every 10% drop in the acceptance rate, that's 220,000 individuals opting not to receive a vaccine, a number potentially large enough to affect force readiness. Last year, the military experienced a handful of high profile outbreaks, including one aboard an aircraft carrier deployed in the Pacific.

What the Navy’s War on Sleep Deprivation Teaches Us about Cultural Change


The Navy says it has successfully shifted its surface warfare officers’ culture of sleep deprivation, leading to healthier sailors and fewer aviation mishaps. As Defense Department leaders attempts to foment larger-scale culture shifts like those around sexual harassment and mental health, what pointers can they take from the fleet?

Within SWO culture, sleep deprivation was a point of pride, Adm. William Lescher, vice chief of naval operations, told the House Armed Services Committee during a hearing Tuesday.

“I as an aviator would get up and have my crew rest and make sure I had a circadian rhythm before I would fly,” said Lescher, a Navy helicopter pilot. “My teammates across the passageway did not have the same discipline, and there were times when, in the SWO culture, it was a point of pride to operate sleep-deprived.”

But Lescher said that military aviators weren’t getting enough sleep either. He noted the work of the National Commission on Military Aviation Safety, created through the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act out of concern for an increase in military aviation mishaps. The commission identified and reported on 6,000 noncombat aviation mishaps from 2013 to 2020. While many of the mishaps could be categorized as minor, in total the incidences resulted in 224 deaths and costs of $11.6 billion.

Is Bitcoin Too Big to Fail?


Just before the last bitcoin bubble popped, around the time socialite Paris Hilton issued her own "digital token" and idealists and amateurs across the globe were still tipsy on the idea of circumventing Wall Street, central banks and the usual billionaires with new digital currencies, Mike Novogratz was finishing up a talk at a cryptocurrency conference in New York City.

Novogratz, a former Goldman Sachs executive turned bitcoin advocate, had given many such speeches before, usually to an audience of staid financial types. This time, however, he stepped off the stage to a mob of millennials and a rock star's greeting. "Literally pictures, pictures, pictures," he says. "Everybody wanted a selfie. Some girl came up and started quaking, 'Can you sign this?' It was really weird."

"So I started selling."

It was a smart move. By 2019, bitcoin, a famously volatile digital currency, had dropped to less than $4000. In recent months, however, it has once again started a steep upward trajectory. It rose from $11,000 in September to $24,000 in December, passed $40,000 in January and hit $61,000 in March—more than three times its 2017 peak and 19 times its most recent low in 2019—raising fears of yet another bubble.

But this time around, things are different in at least one respect: It's not just the hoi polloi who are powering the cryptocurrency's rise. The financial establishment has also added its considerable fuel to the bitcoin rocketship.

More ‘Wolf Warrior’ Diplomacy, Please

Judah Grunstein

If anyone was still holding out any hopes that the change of administrations in Washington would cool down tensions with China, last week’s first meeting between the Biden administration’s two top foreign policy officials and their Chinese counterparts should put them to rest. In a
no-holds-barred exchange of remarks in front of reporters before the private discussions began, both sides lambasted each other with a litany of grievances, perceived slights and criticisms.

The Chinese delegation’s willingness to forcefully challenge the American side in such a public forum serves as further confirmation, if any were still needed, that the days when China would seek to hide its strength and bide its time are over. Beijing has clearly concluded that the United States is a global power in decline, and that the time is ripe for China to press its perceived advantages.

In reading the American press these days, it’s hard not to get the sense that many observers in the U.S. agree with that assessment. Of course, American declinism is an old pastime in the U.S., as close as the country gets to a national religion. But after four shambolic years of Donald Trump’s presidency and a year into America’s failed pandemic response, the current mood, as reflected in much of the commentary and analysis of the U.S.-China rivalry, seems to be one of resignation and shaken confidence.

Where to Draw the Line in the Eastern Mediterranean


Turkey and Greece’s escalating Eastern Mediterranean conflict, based on an old maritime boundary dispute, is becoming a geopolitical nightmare for NATO and the European Union. On Feb. 21, France sent its nuclear aircraft carrier to operate for several months in the Eastern Mediterranean as a show of force in support of Greece. Athens, disappointed with many of its other EU partners’ conciliatory approach to Turkey, has mobilized an unprecedented level of military support from Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. A defiant Turkey, which maintains 30,000 troops in the northern part of ethnically divided Cyprus, now insists the EU member nation be partitioned to create an independent Turkic state.

The conflict is tearing at the fabric of Europe and eroding NATO solidarity. Brussels and Washington need to draw the line with Ankara and Athens on their maritime boundary dispute before it is too late. But where?

At issue for Turkey is the EU-recognized Seville map’s maritime boundaries of the Eastern Mediterranean. Named after an EU-commissioned map study by the University of Seville, it drew maximal boundaries for Greece and Cyprus at Turkey’s expense by using the coast of every inhabited Greek island no matter how small and no matter how close to the Turkish coastline. Particularly contentious was the Seville map’s use of Kastellorizo, a very small island just one mile from the Turkish coast, in defining the Greece-Turkey maritime boundary.

The Double-Edged Sword of Oil, Energy and Mining in International Politics

Despite concerns over the environmental impact of industrial mining and the contribution that fossil fuels make to global warming, resource extraction continues to be a major source of revenue for both developing countries and wealthier nations alike. In fact, the amount of resources being pulled from the earth has tripled since 1970, though the global population has only doubled in that time.

Global efforts to reduce carbon emissions as part of climate change diplomacy notwithstanding, fossil fuels remain among the most prized extractives, for a simple reason: Global demand combined with the wealth they generate have historically given some countries, including members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, outsized global influence.

The lucrative contracts associated with the extractive sector help to explain why resource extraction remains central to many developing countries’ strategy to grow their economies. But the windfalls don’t come without risks, most prominent among them being the “resource curse” that can plague countries that fail to diversify their economies to generate alternate sources of revenue. Corruption can also thrive, especially when government institutions are weak. When the wealth generated from resource extraction isn’t fairly distributed, it can entrench a permanent elite, as in Saudi Arabia, or fuel persistent conflicts, as in the Democratic Republic of Congo. And the environmental damage caused by the extractive industries has decimated local communities and driven social protest movements around the world.

International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT)

Chapter 20: The Role of Intelligence in the Prevention of Terrorism (Early Warning – Early Response)

Chapter 21: Prevention of Low-tech, Lone Actor Terrorist Attacks: The Case of the United States, 1970s - 2019

Chapter 22: Prevention of Gun-, Knife-, Bomb- and Arson-based Killings by Single Terrorists

Making the National Cyber Director Operational With a National Cyber Defense Center

By James N. Miller, Robert Butler 

The Biden administration has doubled down on cybersecurity, adding two senior positions in the Executive Office of the President: a new deputy national security advisor for cyber and emerging technology and a new national cyber director. To avoid churn within the administration and confusion elsewhere, the administration should clearly define the roles of these two positions. Perhaps the most critical role for the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD), one unsuited for the deputy national security advisor, is to lead interagency planning and operational coordination for cyber defense; it should fulfill this role through a new National Cyber Defense Center (NCDC).

The United States needs a proactive whole-of-nation cyber defense campaign to bolster national security in the face of adversaries’ sustained efforts to steal U.S. intellectual property, sow disinformation, gather sensitive intelligence, and prepare to disrupt or destroy U.S. critical infrastructure through cyberspace. This cyber defense campaign should have four key elements: cyber deterrence, active cyber defense, offensive cyber actions in support of national cyber defense, and incident response. Planning and coordinating such a cyber defense campaign is an inherently interagency task, but it would fit poorly in the National Security Council (NSC) because of the NSC’s past difficulties with operational roles and its staff ceiling of 200. Such interagency planning and coordination would also fit poorly in the departments of Homeland Security, Defense, or Justice, or in the intelligence community, because none of these institutions has the full range of authorities necessary to the task.

How to reverse three decades of escalating cyber conflict

by Jason Healey and Robert Jervis

This article has been adapted from The Escalation Inversion and Other Oddities of Situational Cyber Stability with the permission of the Texas National Security Review.

Cyber conflict has not yet escalated from a fight inside cyberspace to a more traditional armed attack because of cyberspace. In part this is because countries understand there are some tacit upper limits to escalation above which the response from the offended country will be war. Unfortunately, this happy state may not last: Cyber conflict and competition are intensifying, increasing the chances of escalation into a true global crisis.

Gauging the intensity of cyber conflict requires measuring both inputs (traditionally expressed in terms like the number of troops committed to the fight, which is less obvious in cyber but can be estimated by the size and number of cyber organizations) and outputs (the cyber operations that have significant impact, like the suspected Russian SolarWinds hack). It helps if there is a clear causal link between cyber incidents, but this is not necessary if the direction and magnitude of the vector are consistent over a long period of time—in this case, thirty years.

Charting the intensification of cyber conflict over thirty years

In 1988, countries did not have major cyber organizations. Within the US Department of Defense (DoD), there were small groups planning and conducting offensive operations. Yet there was no dedicated civilian defensive team in the United States until the creation of the Computer Emergency Response Team, funded by the DoD in November 1988. There were significant incidents—such as the Morris Worm of 1988 and a case known as the Cuckoo’s Egg of 1986, in which KGB-backed German hackers stole information on US ballistic missile-defense technologies. But however shocking at the time, those incidents were still quite modest in scope, duration, and intensity.

Are Facebook, Google and Twitter the New United Nations? | Opinion


Publishing certain words on Facebook can lead you to suspension, no matter the context. Nudity? Even your elbows can be the source of censorship.

Some songs that are critical in nature of political or religious topics, posted originally on YouTube, can also cause suspension if posted on Facebook. The company says they respect democracy and freedom of speech. That may be true, but their rules for what can and cannot be posted are shady at best.

Facebook is an online platform for billions of people, whose users sometimes do not realize that by using the app they are using the internet. In developing countries, the common practice of zero rating, when a carrier provider allows its clients to access certain services, such as Facebook's WhatsApp without consuming their internet data, further helps to perpetuate the myth that Facebook is the internet in itself. People never need to leave Facebook or its subsidiaries. Public discourse ends up gated within Facebook's walls, which by default becomes a guardian of democracy.

In Myanmar, several accounts linked to the military were restricted for spreading "misinformation" following a coup. That is, to some extent, good ... but should Facebook even have such power?

Maybe not, but Facebook (and other giants like Google and Twitter) have too much power on their hands.

Lawmakers call on Biden to make COVID vaccines mandatory for the military

Geoff Ziezulewicz

A group of lawmakers is calling on President Joe Biden to make the COVID vaccines mandatory for all military members.

Calling unvaccinated troops “a critical threat to our national security and public health,” U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif., sent a letter to the White House Wednesday urging Biden to issue a “waiver of informed consent” that would force troops, if ordered, to get the vaccines as soon as they were eligible.

“Vaccinating every eligible servicemember will improve readiness and have an immediate and positive impact on the communities in which they serve,” Panetta wrote. “Requiring DOD to obtain informed consent prior to vaccination is not only harmful to our national security, but contrary to the best interests of servicemembers, their families, communities and colleagues.”

The letter, co-signed by six other congressional Democrats, cites testimony by military officials last month that roughly a third of servicemembers had thus far declined the COVID-19 vaccines.

A December report from the nonprofit advocacy group Blue Star Families found that just 40 percent of active-duty troops planned to get the vaccine, while 49 percent planned to decline it and 11 percent were undecided.

Here's why 1 in 3 service members are declining the vaccine.



A couple of years ago at the Beijing Xiangshan Forum, a senior executive at one of China’s largest defense companies claimed that “mechanized equipment is just like the hand of the human body.” He continued, “In future intelligent wars, AI systems will be just like the brain of the human body.” More recently, the People’s Liberation Army sought broad participation from young technology-savvy inventors in an AI challenge-style competition to develop the best algorithms to direct joint military forces in a realistic fight over a disputed island territory — in other words, Taiwan.

We should not be surprised. China believes that AI-enabled “intelligentized combat operations” will be central to surpassing the United States in the emerging military-technical revolution. It is developing new warfighting concepts to harness big data, swarm intelligence, automated decision-making, and autonomous unmanned systems and robotics in ways that could give it a decisive military advantage on the battlefield. China is also investing heavily in supporting technologies like quantum computing and 5G, and is leveraging its approach to military-civil fusion to focus its brainpower and resources on bringing these concepts to life. We assess that, in the big picture, the military-civilian fusion is generally working for China as a successful stratagem.