2 April 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.

India and Pakistan Pursue a Thaw in Kashmir—Again

Aryaman Bhatnagar 

In late February, India and Pakistan announced a cease-fire along their de facto border in the contested region of Kashmir. In a joint statement, the two countries’ military authorities said that there will be a “strict observance of all agreements, understandings and cease firing,” while also claiming they will seek to “address each other’s core issues and concerns” to ensure sustainable peace between the two long-time enemies.

The announcement essentially revives a 2003 cease-fire agreement along the Line of Control, or LoC, as the de facto border is known. It was followed on March 18 by a speech by Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, in which he called upon both countries to “bury the past and move forward,” generating some optimism among India-Pakistan watchers. ...

The Hail Mary of power-sharing in Afghanistan

Michael E. O’Hanlon and Omar Sharifi

Power-sharing with the Taliban is a concept at the heart of the Biden administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan, as it seeks the rapid formation of a new coalition government in an upcoming summit in Turkey. But the very notion strains credulity. Apparently, people are to believe that the group that took Afghanistan back to the stone ages in the 1990s, that then harbored and protected the perpetrators of 9/11, and that remains deeply in bed with al Qaeda will voluntarily form a new interim government with some elements of President Ashraf Ghani’s administration, or other Afghan political and civil society leaders—at precisely the moment when the United States, and thus NATO, seem ready to leave the scene.

Yet President Joe Biden’s idea sounds better than another ten or twenty years of forever war, in which government forces slowly but inexorably lose ground to extremists, while foreign forces try to stanch the bleeding. Biden seems half inclined to pull U.S. troops out of the country this year, partly out of frustration with Ghani’s approach to previous peace talks with the Taliban.


The best approach is to test both sides with concrete proposals for power-sharing. With the best of luck, they will then begin to compromise themselves, though the process may be slow. But even if that is not possible, then the reactions of the Taliban and the government will show us more about which side is trying harder for peace. Even in the absence of a successful deal, that could help Biden decide whether U.S. forces should stay or go. If the Afghan government shows more sincerity in the quest for peace than the Taliban, especially at first, then that will suggest that foreign forces should further delay their departure.

The geopolitics of Myanmar’s black swan coup


SINGAPORE – The brooding presence of Russia’s Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Fomin at the March 27 Army day in Naypyidaw was a striking indication of the challenges presented to Asia’s great power relations by Myanmar’s tumultuous coup.

On one level, Russia’s high-profile visibility at the event sent a strong signal that Moscow wants to be a player in the region, even if mainly on the back of arms sales.

But it also foreshadowed the possibility of proxy power machinations that could alter the geopolitics of the region, similar to the impact of prolonged crisis and instability in the Middle East.

The Myanmar coup is shaping up to be a geopolitical black swan. It has brought Russia into play in a bid to carve out a perch in Asia; highlighted India’s weakness as a pro-Western regional ally; and positioned China as the key to security while Western powers sit impotently on the sidelines as they gear up to contain Beijing.

The fact that all of Myanmar’s neighbors attended the military parade that day in the isolated Myanmar capital, a day on which the army killed more than 100 unarmed civilians, highlights the growing strategic divergence of major powers in the region as a result of the coup.

Hybrid Warfare: A New Face Of Conflict n South Asia – OpEd

By Amber Afreen Abid*

Hybrid warfare or hybrid threat seems to be the emerging modality in the changing nature of warfare. In the nuclear era, more attention has been given to the sub-conventional conflicts, because of the lethality of the nuclear weapons; the deterrence being created by the nuclear weapon states prevents other nuclear weapon states to wage a total war, and international legal bindings of prohibiting the use of nuclear weapons against non nuclear weapon states eliminates the probability of an all out war. Thus, the thrust of war has been envisioned by revisionist actors in the form of a new kind of warfare, predominantly through cyber-attacks and subversion, fake news campaign, sponsoring of proxy forces, or even through economic blackmail.

Hybrid warfare is a challenge, which brings into play an array of tactics and strategies thereby inflicting harm to the adversary, whilst exploiting the revolution in technological affairs. It targets the vulnerabilities of any society, with the aim to divide and dissuade the population, undermines the key institutions, and even deteriorates the bond between the states and international organizations. In a nutshell, hybrid warfare is a full-spectrum of war, which encompasses both physical and psychological aspects of the adversary.

Pakistan has also been the victim of hybrid warfare. Since inception, India has been trying to wage a war or indulge into a conflict with Pakistan, in one way or the other. India is sparing no effort in targeting the domestic fault lines of Pakistan, which encompasses all the political, social, economic and religious factors. They are leaving no stone unturned in defaming and maligning Pakistan in the international arena through its fake propaganda. Pakistani society is an amalgam of ethnic groups, sectarian faction, and cultural blocs, which is being exploited by India and is used as a fault line as a grey-zone in conflict. India is operating radicalized militant group in Pakistan and is supporting the dissidents in Baluchistan. Moreover, Afghanistan’s land is being exercised by India in its endeavor to destabilize Pakistan by operating terrorists’ organizations for launching sub-conventional warfare inside Pakistan.

Russia Finds Itself Marginalized Between China and a Reuniting West

By: Pavel K. Baev

The foreboding in Moscow of a new escalation of tensions with the West has given way to feelings of almost disappointing anticlimax. United States President Joseph Biden’s attestation of President Vladimir Putin as a “killer” was taken for a sure sign of a surge in confrontation (see EDM, March 18, 22). Instead, it was a plain statement of fact, and Biden indifferently shrugged off Putin’s challenge to have an open debate on contentious issues (Newsru.com, March 22). Putin’s subsequent photo-session with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in the Siberian taiga became a target of jokes rather than a meaningful political message (Meduza.io, March 21). Most importantly, the expected revision and reinforcement of the European Union’s strategy for relations with Russia was postponed (Kommersant, March 26).

The EU summit last Thursday (March 25) featured Biden’s video-address focused on rehabilitation of US-European relations and jointly countering Russia’s provocative and aggressive moves (Izvestia, March 26). The main theme of the summit, however, was devoted to the urgent need to address the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit some European states with deadly force, while the dynamics of vaccination has clearly been unsatisfactory, even if significantly faster than in Russia (Forbes.ru, March 9). A tantalizing opportunity, thus, seemed to open for Moscow to engage the EU on fighting the pandemic together; but instead, the Europeans called out Russia for engaging in unfair competition with Western vaccine manufacturers, which French President Emmanuel Macron even described as a new type of a world war (RBC, March 26). The Kremlin objected to the accusations, but its propaganda campaign promoting the Sputnik V vaccine, which is produced in quantities insufficient for domestic immunization but is nevertheless exported in symbolic amounts, fits in with other Russian subversive activities (RIA Novosti, March 26; Carnegie.ru, March 25; see EDM, March 25).

China—A Deadly ‘Infinite Game’: Army Chief McConville


WASHINGTON: A new paper from the Army chief of staff makes the case for the service’s role in great power competition short of war with Russia and China — from dueling tweets about a humanitarian-relief operation to major military deployments.

Gen. James McConville also does the joint world an intellectual service, because his paper makes it clear that open war itself is only one more kind of competition, not something set apart from it. That’s a major break with the vaunted 2018 National Defense Strategy, which defined “competition” as purely competition short of war and “conflict” as purely open, armed conflict – a distinction that has more to do with US law than how Beijing and Moscow actually operate.

For an official Army document to dare differ from Pentagon strategy, even on a matter of nuance, is surprising. What’s also surprising is how well-written and insightful The Army in Military Competition: Chief of Staff Paper #2 can be, for an official Army document. (We dissected the chief’s Paper #1, on multi-domain operations, last week).

The 2018 strategy sounded a call to arms on “great power competition” but begged the question of what it was, the new Army paper effectively admits. “The 2018 National Defense Strategy focused the Department of Defense on great power competition. There is a lack of consensus, however, regarding how that broad concept is translated to action,” Gen. McConville’s paper says drily. “Soldiers engaged in partnership activities, exercises, and other forms of forward presence indicate they sometimes have difficulty in describing the precise mechanism by which their actions translate to successful competition at the national level.”

Cleaning Up China’s Air: The Effectiveness of the EEP Plan in Beijing

James R. Masterson and Jingwen Wu

China’s economy has developed rapidly in the past 40 years since the reform and opening up. However, China’s irrational economic structure, low efficiency of resource utilization and serious environmental pollution have become important factors restricting the long-term healthy development of China’s economy. More importantly, pollution issues in China seriously affect the development of the regime due to public concerns in terms of health issues. In 2014, senior government officials said publicly that China would “declare war on pollution.” Since then, air pollution has improved to a certain extent, with PM 2.5 levels falling 23.6 percent from 2013 to 2015, but still falling far short of people’s expectations. In 2016, the Chinese government promised in the EEP plan to make up for the shortfall and strengthen environmental protection. The Five-Year Plan initially refers to the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) leading role in setting growth targets and launching reforms to map strategies for economic development. Since the 10th Five-Year Plan passed in 2001, all subsequent plans have included regulations and goals for protecting the environment within the agenda.

Internationally, with the rapid development of China’s economy it has developed into one of the largest economies in the world. Accordingly, it has become one of the countries with the most serious air pollution problems. In 2014, China surpassed the United States and became the largest emitter of the greenhouse gases in the world, accounting for 27 percent of global emissions. Environmental problems, especially air problems, are not a local problem but are a regional one. In a recent podcast for the Center for International Strategic Studies, Sandalow said that if China keeps the current rate of greenhouse gas emission, the global average temperature will rise by 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in 2030. As the biggest country responsible for climate change, the success or failure of China’s environmental policy objectives will have a great impact on the ability of global society to limit human-induced climate change. Examining the effectiveness of China’s environmental policy has global implications.

China’s Belt and Road Effort Demands a Multipart US Response

By Jennifer Hillman and DAVID SACKS

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is the country’s most ambitious foreign policy undertaking in modern times and is central to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s legacy. BRI, which dwarfs the Marshall Plan in scale, has funded and built roads, power plants, ports, railways, fifth-generation (5G) networks, and fiber-optic cables around the world. While BRI initially sought to connect countries in Central, South, and Southeast Asia with China, it has since transformed into a globe-spanning enterprise encompassing 139 countries.

Our independent Task Force report, chaired by Jacob J. Lew and Admiral (retired) Gary Roughead, evaluated the implications of BRI for U.S. interests and put forward a U.S. strategy to respond to it.

When Xi introduced BRI in 2013, he believed it could advance an array of Chinese economic, political, and geopolitical interests while filling a vital need in many countries for reliable sources of power and better infrastructure.

In theory, BRI has the potential to be a net positive in multiple respects, helping to close an infrastructure gap in developing countries while also smoothing transportation and logistics paths, and contributing to regional and global economic growth.

In practice, however, BRI’s risks outweigh its benefits. BRI undermines global macroeconomic stability by lending funds to unsustainable projects, thereby adding to countries’ debt burdens. It locks some countries into carbon-intensive futures by promoting coal-fired power plants, tilts the playing field in major markets toward Chinese companies, promotes exclusive reliance on Chinese technology, and draws countries into tighter economic and political relationships with Beijing.

Why China Could Decide To Invade Taiwan, And Soon

By R. Jordan Prescott

CORAL SEA (July 14, 2019) Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 3rd Class Ashley Folds, from New York, directs an F/A-18F Super Hornet from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102 into launch position on the flight deck aboard the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Ronald Reagan is participating in Talisman Sabre 2019, which illustrates the closeness of the Australian and U.S. alliance and the strength of the military-to-military relationship. It is the eighth iteration of this exercise. Ronald Reagan, the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, provides a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Janweb B. Lagazo/Released) 190714-N-CL027-1239

On March 23, U.S. Navy Adm. John Aquilino, President Biden’s nominee to be the next Indo-Pacific Command commander, testified during his confirmation hearing that the threat to Taiwan from an increasingly aggressive China is “closer than we think” and that the United States needs to be “prepared today” to defend its longtime ally. The admiral stated his assessment was opinion, not an assertion based on new intelligence or reporting. Indeed, he acknowledged one could only speculate as to when China would attack Taiwan – “today… six years… 2045.” China’s leadership, however, may conclude that the country’s demographic trends present a “now or never” moment.

China’s Demographics Nightmare

Nakasone Warns Adversaries Hack Unseen In US


WASHINGTON: Cyber Command chief Gen. Paul Nakasone told Congress today that America’s adversaries are brazenly “exploit[ing] a gap” in the structure of US cyber civilian and military authorities to attack the nation from within.

“US adversaries are demonstrating a changed risk calculus,” Nakasone said. “They are undertaking malign activities in cyberspace of greater scale, scope, and sophistication.”

This includes increasingly instigating cyber campaigns against US entities from the US’s own backyard, conducting domestic hacks partly from infrastructure that is geographically within the country, he testified. Operating inside the US puts threat actors beyond the purview and reach of CYBERCOM and the National Security Agency.

“We should understand what our adversaries are doing,” Nakasone told Congress. “They are no longer launching attacks from different parts in the world. They understand that they can come into the US, use our infrastructure, and there’s a blind spot for us not being able to see them.”

Nakasone said he sees two “critical areas” the US needs to address. Both contribute to the government’s lack of visibility into what’s happening across domestic networks.

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Upended Life as We Know It

The coronavirus pandemic has upended life as we know it with its devastating effects not only on health, but on domestic economies and multilateral trade, cooperation and aid. It has reframed domestic politics by crowding out other issues, with political performances measured against how successfully leaders have navigated their countries through the pandemic. Failure to do so has already toppled seemingly entrenched rulers, like longtime Surinamese President Desi Bouterse. Afraid of facing similar consequences, some governments have used the pandemic as a pretext for restricting free speech and stripping away the rule of law.

The pandemic has stalled economies and wiped out millions of jobs, leaving governments everywhere struggling to map out possible paths to recovery. There have already been calls for debt relief across the Global South. Saudi Arabia has been forced to implement harsh new austerity measures. And Spain, one of Europe’s hardest-hit countries, is experimenting with a minimum guaranteed income for its citizens. Now the second wave of the pandemic has caused further economic damage, requiring sustained government interventions to head off catastrophe.

In light of the restrictions imposed to stop the coronavirus’s spread, deeply embedded societal structures are suddenly receiving renewed scrutiny. Mounting inequality and crackdowns on civil rights in some countries have contributed to a surge in social protest movements and civil resistance. Frustrations with governments’ responses to the pandemic have encouraged broader reconsiderations of political and economic systems, and fueled calls to address legacies of police brutality, racism and colonialism. The pandemic has also raised important questions about the role religion can play in an emergency, as some faith communities contribute to the response, while others struggle against it. And it has also thrown into sharp relief the limits of state authority, as governments around the world struggle to provide relief in “ungoverned spaces.”

The U.K. Integrated Review: Defining What ‘Global Britain’ Actually Means

Lawrence Freedman 

In mid-March, the British government released its Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, titled, “Global Britain in a Competitive Age.” This was followed a week later by a more focused defense review. The two documents represent the end products of an exercise conducted by the government every five years, a combination of stocktaking, horizon-scanning and threat assessment, with some new policy announcements thrown in. This one began in 2020, but its completion was postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The headlines surrounding the latest review have focused on the announcements that the U.K. would increase the size of its nuclear stockpile and decrease the size of its army. The real interest, however, lies in the review’s broader attempt to reconceptualize what it means to be a middle power in the modern world.

Opinion – Digital Disinformation, Civic Disengagement and the Future of Democracy

Allison Muzyka

Democracy is at risk when citizens forget its value. Rising distrust in institutions and the increased digital world that proliferates disinformation create fragmented societies and citizens who do not participate. Disengagement, doubt, and absorption of polarizing facts reach today’s youth that the future democracies rely upon. Youth are no longer engaging in conventional civic activities and are absorbing political content online, often without understanding socio-political context or even what information can be trusted. The limited availability and efficacy of foundational civics education and minimal engagement with critical digital literacy skills are concerning. We should be more worried than ever about the future of democracy.

Research and surveys indicate that youth find their news online and turn to the Internet to express opinions on social and political issues, commonly writing political articles or blogs to share on social media. With unregulated social media being the source of civic and political information, quality is reduced, and disinformation spreads. Research shows that too much information made possible by massive increases in online availability can have people make worse decisions and even vote against their preferences. Relying on social media for information can lead to distorted understandings and beliefs regarding political events, particularly given the prevalence of bad actors spreading disinformation to disrupt and cause conflict in democracies.

As youth are more connected online, addressing digital literacy gaps is one of the best ways to safeguard the spread of disinformation. The Government of Canada argues its best defense against interference in democratic processes is “an engaged and informed public.” Research states that “media literacy training can be effective at reducing biases and improving peoples’ ability to evaluate the truthfulness of information.”

Terrorism in the North Caucasus: The Endurance of Russian and Chechen Tactics

Luke Seminara

This content was originally written for an undergraduate or Master's program. It is published as part of our mission to showcase peer-leading papers written by students during their studies. This work can be used for background reading and research, but should not be cited as an expert source or used in place of scholarly articles/books.

The now-dormant conflict between Russia and Chechnya has been a continuous cycle of resistance and reprisal.[1] Throughout the epochs of imperialism, socialism, and federation, the inhabitants of the North Caucasus have blunted the Russian spearhead through asymmetrical warfare. At the core of Chechen martial doctrine lies the practice of hostage-taking. Since Russia’s first incursions into the region, highlanders have made the exchange of abductees a prolific enterprise. Their imperial adversaries followed suit, using Caucasian methods to subdue Caucasian unrest. This continued trade of lives would be complemented by a trade of deaths in the nineteenth century, and during the Caucasian War, terrorism became a punitive measure employed by Chechens and Russians alike. The tit-for-tat atrocities committed by both Slavs and Caucasians served as the animus for warfare lasting well beyond the imperial era.

However, the events of the recent Chechen Wars appear to be beyond the scope of these historical tactics. Global media sources attributed the hostage crises at the Dubrovka Theater in 2002 and Beslan School Number One in 2004 to foreign Wahhabi militants. On the other hand, Putin’s consolidation of authority over domestic news outlets has led to an understatement of the state terrorism perpetrated by Russian forces.[2] Nonetheless, when trying to rationalize the macabre tactics of the recent Chechen Wars, we must examine the historical precedents of terrorism and hostage-taking in the Caucasus.

The Imperial Era

Conceptualising Europe’s Market Power: EU Geostrategic Goals Through Economic Means

Simon Pompé

This content was originally written for an undergraduate or Master's program. It is published as part of our mission to showcase peer-leading papers written by students during their studies. This work can be used for background reading and research, but should not be cited as an expert source or used in place of scholarly articles/books.

In 1991, former Belgian foreign minister Eyskens first described the European international power as “an economic giant, political dwarf and military worm.” This has become proverbial since many see the EU’s disunified external relations domain and lacking military integration as a source of weakness. In 2017, authoritative scholar Moravcsik countered: “Europe today is a genuine superpower and will likely remain one for decades to come. By most objective measures, it either rivals or surpasses the United States and China in its ability to project a full spectrum of global military, economic, and soft power.” Positioning itself in the middle between these two poles, this essay makes a conceptual argument that the EU is fundamentally an economic superpower that also disposes of significant political power. While military policies exist, they are overshadowed in importance. Thus, the essay subscribes to the concept of “Market Power Europe” (MPE), put forward by Damro (2012), bar some modifications.

To arrive at that conclusion, the essay first reviews the conversation around the character of the EU’s international power to demonstrate that the EU’s capacity to leverage its economic weight and externalise governance rules are central. The section also takes into account the variability of the concept of power. Second, a discussion of the MPE idea serves to conceptualise what kind of superpower, if any, the EU is. Finally, a case study of the EU’s confrontation with Russia over the 2014 Ukraine crisis illustrates the argument. Thus, the essay hopes to contribute a theoretically and empirically sound argument about what kind of power the EU is on the international stage.

The many camps of the European power debate: confusing the normative power

Geopolitics and the British Empire: Halford Mackinder’s Liberal Imperialism

Ben Richardson

The disciplinary roots of International Relations are being subject to postcolonial inquiry. One intellectual figure who requires such scrutiny is Halford John Mackinder, a founding father of geopolitics. Mackinder’s ideas, now over a century old, still retain influence. Perhaps most notably, it was his 1904 paper ‘The Geographical Pivot of History’ about the strategic importance of Eurasia that was keenly cited by hawks defending the United States’ occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. Like them, Mackinder also held imperial ambitions. His life’s work was dedicated to renewing the British Empire, which he feared would be overtaken by rival continental powers. True to his belief in the praxis of geographical knowledge and territorial statecraft, Mackinder also sought a career in politics. The first signs of this transition were in 1900 when he stood in the general election for a largely forgotten faction of the Liberal Party, the self-defined Liberal Imperialists. The story of his electoral misadventure helps illuminate the ideological context in which geopolitics emerged and the purposes to which it was put.

Mackinder began the new century as a man on the up. On 22 January 1900 he arrived triumphantly at the Royal Geographical Society to lecture on his ascent of Mount Kenya. Not only was he the first European to reach the summit, but the first to present his findings to the Society using colour photography. With its combination of national prestige and scientific advancement, the expedition fleshed out Mackinder’s reputation as a pioneering geographer. At this point he was known primarily for his scholarly contributions as principal of Reading College and reader at the Oxford School of Geography, both recently established thanks largely to his endeavours. During the spring he travelled around the country giving lectures on Mount Kenya and on 3 October – general election polling day – he was due to address incoming students at Reading Town Hall and receive scholarship applications for Oxford. But with just two weeks to go he tossed these plans aside and decided to stand for election himself in the midlands constituency of Warwick and Leamington.

North Korea’s new nuclear gambit and the fate of denuclearization

Evans J.R. Revere

With the Biden administration's North Korea policy yet unclear, Kim Jong Un and the North Korean regime are doubling down on their efforts to change the focus of U.S.-North Korea dialogue from denuclearization to arms control, writes Evans Revere. This piece originally appeared in the East Asia Forum.

In March 2012, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho told a group of U.S. experts and former officials that North Korea would not denuclearize until the United States removed its “threat.” He defined this as the U.S.-South Korea alliance, the presence of U.S. troops in South Korea, and the U.S. nuclear umbrella defending South Korea and Japan.

“If you remove the threat,” Ri said, “we will feel more secure, and in 10 or 20 years we will be able to consider denuclearization.” “In the meantime,” he declared, “we can sit down and engage in arms control talks as one nuclear power with another.”

Ri’s remarks provided valuable insight into North Korea’s strategy and goals at the time. Today, his words shed light on why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has doubled down on nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

Faced with a new U.S. president whose North Korea policy remains unclear, Kim Jong Un has decided to pre-empt the outcome of the ongoing U.S. policy review by ending all prospects of denuclearization and expanding his nuclear and missile capabilities instead. In doing so, Kim hopes to compel Washington to engage in “arms control talks” if it hopes to slow the North’s nuclear program.

In Suez Canal, Stuck Ship Is a Warning About Excessive Globalization

By Peter S. Goodman

LONDON — The world got another warning this week about the perils of its heavy reliance on global supply chains. As a single ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, shutting down traffic in both directions, international commerce confronted a monumental traffic jam with potentially grave consequences.

The troubled craft is not just any vessel. The Ever Given is one of the world’s largest container ships, with space for 20,000 metal boxes carrying goods across the sea. And the Suez Canal is not just any waterway. It is a vital channel linking the factories of Asia to the affluent customers of Europe, as well as a major conduit for oil.

The fact that one mishap could sow fresh chaos from Los Angeles to Rotterdam to Shanghai underscored the extent to which modern commerce has come to revolve around truly global supply chains.

In recent decades, management experts and consulting firms have championed so-called just-in-time manufacturing to limit costs and boost profits. Rather than waste money stockpiling extra goods in warehouses, companies can depend on the magic of the internet and the global shipping industry to summon what they need as they need it.

US Response to SolarWinds Cyber Penetrations: A Good Defense Is the Best Offense

Paul Kolbe

According to U.S. officials, Russia is the likely perpetrator of the SolarWinds cyber compromise of federal agencies, private sector firms, NGOs and academic institutions. The scale and impact brought accusations of a reckless and indiscriminate operation. Some politicians labeled this an act of war, while other commentators dismissed the SolarWinds compromise as espionage. Calls for retribution were widespread.

We know few details about the breadth, depth and impact of the SolarWinds cyber operation, though the scale was clearly massive with over 18,000 SolarWinds customers uploading malware-laden tools. But we do not know which companies and agencies have been affected, what information was compromised or whether damage occurred to any information systems. This lack of public disclosure likely represents caution in revealing what is known and not known, but also signals the difficulty of assessing just how bad we’ve been had.

So how should the U.S. respond?

A natural inclination will be to strike back in order to modify future Russian behavior and to introduce stronger cyber deterrence for other potential actors. Responses might include declaring Russian intelligence personnel persona non grata, indictment of perpetrators, targeted sanctions and execution of similar operations against select Russian systems. The aim would not just be punishment, but to change the risk-gain calculation for Russia, and others, when considering new cyber operations.

SolarWinds Hack: ‘The Truth Is Much More Complicated’


WASHINGTON: The threat actor behind the SolarWinds hack accessed the email inboxes of the Department of Homeland Security’s former acting director and key cybersecurity staff, as well as the schedules of top Department of Energy officials.

“If true, this is a serious breach of security, as these emails are often very revealing and contain hints to what any administration is up to,” said Adam Roosevelt, an intelligence expert, combat veteran, and CEO of the security firm AR International Consulting.

DHS is the federal agency charged with cyber defense of domestic networks. Even before today’s news, some were openly questioning how the agency failed to detect the SolarWinds campaign, which was discovered nine months after its inception and publicly disclosed by security company FireEye in December.

The news, first reported by the Associated Press, comes amid continuing fallout from the extensive cyberespionage campaign that has hit at least nine federal agencies and raises new questions about the lasting consequences of the campaign. We don’t know any details of what may have been stolen, altered, or viewed from DHS or DoE. But the AP did report that the duties of DHS staff whose emails were accessed “included hunting threats from foreign countries.”

The Complexity of Bilateral Relations

Andreas Ludwig

Bilateral relations, past and present, have always enjoyed the attention of IR scholars and practitioners dealing with questions about war and peace, conflict and cooperation, concepts of world order, regional integration processes, international institutions or the foreign policy of individual states. Yet, in the course of my research projects on various bilateral relationships, German-French (Ludwig und Mahrla, 2014), German-Namibian (Ludwig und Rothauge, 2019) and most importantly British-German relations (Ludwig, 2011; 2020) it quickly struck me how little understanding of the driving forces, processes and effects of bilateral dynamics we nevertheless still have in IR. I argue, this sobering state of affairs is not only due to the surprising neglect of bilateral relations in IR theory but also related to the more general fact that most IR scholars and (to a lesser extent) practitioners have so far neither embraced complexity (Boulton, Allen and Bowman, 2015) nor taken its challenges and consequences in global relations seriously enough – an issue first raised in IR some thirty years ago by eminent scholars like John Lewis Gaddis (1992-3), James N. Rosenau (1990) or Jack Snyder and Robert Jervis (1993).

In this sense, this article invites the reader to rethink our previous approach to the study of bilateral relations in IR. Following some remarks on the current state of the field, especially concerning the influence of the relational turn in IR theory, I then shortly sketch my understanding of complexity and the opportunity of renewing bilateral relations research that comes along with it. Not least, these reflections aim to foster IR’s awareness of the inherent complexity of its subject-matter and the embeddedness of human global relations within global life as a whole.

Bilateral Relations Research in IR

Project Force: AI and the military – a friend or foe?

Alex Gatopoulos

The accuracy and precision of today’s weapons are steadily forcing contemporary battlefields to empty of human combatants.

As more and more sensors fill the battlespace, sending vast amounts of data back to analysts, humans struggle to make sense of the mountain of information gathered.

This is where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in – learning algorithms that thrive off big data; in fact, the more data these systems analyse, the more accurate they can be.

In short, AI is the ability for a system to “think” in a limited way, working specifically on problems normally associated with human intelligence, such as pattern and speech recognition, translation and decision-making.

AI and machine learning have been a part of civilian life for years. Megacorporations like Amazon and Google have used these tools to build vast commercial empires based in part on predicting the wants and needs of the people that use them.

The United States military has also long invested in civilian AI, with the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), funnelling money into key areas of AI research.

However, to tackle specific military concerns, the defence establishment soon realised its AI needs were not being met. So they approached Silicon Valley, asking for its help in giving the Pentagon the tools it would need to process an ever-growing mountain of information.

The Army’s ‘new’ network isn’t actually new

Mark Pomerleau

The Army has outlined a different network design based on a series of programs and systems making the Army more lethal and faster. (U.S. Army)

Army leaders are stressing that the service’s latest network modernization effort will not lead to the creation of a new network or should even be thought of as a physical entity in and of itself.

Rather, the modernization effort, known as the integrated tactical network, is a concept that looks to use a series of existing systems – including radios, tablets and satellite communications capabilities – to enable greater connectivity to units battalion and below.

In a new approach the Army is calling the integrated tactical network, the service is seeking to enable greater mission command at lower echelons.

“What we’re doing, this isn’t a new network. We’re not replacing anything. What we’re doing is we’re basically taking program of record and we’re looking at injecting commercial off the shelf items to see where we can enhance or improve our capabilities,” Lt. Col. Brandon Baer, product manager, told reporters at the Army’s Network Integration Evaluation at Fort Bliss in late October.

Baer, as well as other officials have said the ITN’s goals include a more simplified network for general purpose soldiers and being able to field this simpler construct faster than the current procurement timeline.

What problem is the ITN solving?

Army Won’t Repeat Mistakes of FCS: Gen. Murray EXCLUSIVE


WASHINGTON: The Army’s drive for “decision dominance” through AI networks is not a repeat of the failed Future Combat System’s high-tech quest to “see first, shoot first,” the head of Army Futures Command says.

On FCS, Gen. Mike Murray said, the Army wrote a detailed wish list of performance requirements before it knew what was actually possible. Today, it’s diligently experimenting to see what’s possible with technology – technology that’s had more than a decade to advance since FCS was cancelled in 2009. Those advances should make it possible, military leaders say, to coordinate sensors, command posts, and weapons systems across land, sea, air, space, and cyberspace through an overarching Joint All-Domain Command & Control (JADC2) meta-network.

“We’re in the experimentation mode to understand what technology can and can’t do,” Murray told me and BD’s Theresa Hitchens in an exclusive interview. [Click here to read part I]. “I really do think that there are a lot of differences between the FCS experience and the path we’re on. [Today], I don’t think there is hubris. I think there’s actually humility.”

Or, as the Army Chief of Staff, Gen. James McConville, put it last week on a Brookings webcast: ““We don’t want to aim low – but we don’t want to aim too high either…. Where we are now, which is different than Future Combat Systems, is I think the technology is in a different place — and the things that we’re talking about are here already, the speed is there.”

A Marine Logistics Base May Be the Warehouse of the Future


In the warehouse of the future, nothing is ever lost. A massive web of 5G-connected sensors will track every object all the time everywhere, slashing the time required to manage and restock items. The Defense Department has awarded $13 million to a Virginia Tech-led team to build just such a smart warehouse for the Marine Corps. If it succeeds, it will be a prototype for other smart warehouses for DoD — and possibly other organizations around the globe.

Building an energy-efficient and secure warehouse network isn’t as simple as simply setting up a lot of antennas, according to Sachin Shetty, the executive director of the Center for Secure & Intelligent Critical Systems at Old Dominion University's Virginia Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation Center. Shetty says that current 5G network architectures can’t support the sort of sensor networks needed to locate objects with the required precision, nor are they resilient enough to cyber attack.

So Shetty’s team is figuring out new ways to link sensors through the next-gen networking technology.

“Our proposed 5G network enhancements will result in an efficient, secure 5G network architecture that will provide accurate tracking of warehouse assets, communication resilience in diverse channel conditions and near real-time information delivery,” he said.

Over the next three years, Shetty and his team will work with companies and academic institutions within the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative to create a resilient distributed positioning network, or RDPN, at the Marine Corps logistics base in Albany, Georgia. An RPDN uses distributed sensors to track items inside the warehouse with precision positioning. They’ll also create a distributed coherent multi-input, multi-output network, or DCM. This is a technique for boosting antenna strength by combining the signals from multiple short antennas, attached to 5G base stations, into a larger virtual antenna. That, in turn, enables much better connectivity between the network inside the warehouse and outside.