15 April 2021

Exclusive: A billion for every chip-maker who 'makes in India,' sources say

By Sankalp Phartiyal, Aditi Shah

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India is offering more than $1 billion in cash to each semiconductor company that sets up manufacturing units in the country as it seeks to build on its smartphone assembly industry and strengthen its electronics supply chain, two officials said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ drive has helped to turn India into the world’s second-biggest mobile manufacturer after China. New Delhi believes it is time for chip companies to set up in the country.

“The government will give cash incentives of more than $1 billion to each company which will set up chip fabrication units,” a senior government official told Reuters, declining to be named as he was not authorised to speak with media.

“We’re assuring them that the government will be a buyer and there will also be mandates in the private market (for companies to buy locally made chips).”

How to disburse the cash incentives has yet to be decided and the government has asked the industry for feedback, said a second government source, who also declined to be identified.

Governments across the world are subsidising the construction of semiconductor plants as chip shortages hobble the auto and electronics industries and highlight the world’s dependence on Taiwan for supplies.

India also wants to establish reliable suppliers for its electronics and telecom industry to cut dependence on China following border skirmishes last year.

Chips made locally will be designated as “trusted sources” and can be used in products ranging from CCTV cameras to 5G equipment, the first source said.

But the sources did not say whether particular semiconductor companies have shown interest in setting up units in India.

Top Conflicts to Watch in 2021: Increasing Violence in Afghanistan

by Laurel Miller

Laurel Miller is director of the Asia program at the International Crisis Group and former acting special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Department of State.

Although the war in Afghanistan is already one of the world’s deadliest, the risk is high that it might intensify in 2021. A nascent, fragile peace process has not diminished the violence experienced by Afghans, and an uptick in targeted assassinations has sent shock waves through urban areas, even though a U.S.-Taliban agreement signed in February 2020 diminished the Taliban threat to U.S. personnel. That agreement produced the launch of peace talks among Afghans in September, after months of delay. It also committed the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to a total withdrawal of forces by May 2021, and the Taliban to preventing Afghan territory from being used by transnational terrorist groups to threaten the United States and its allies. Currently, the parties’ wait-and-see posture toward the incoming Biden administration—watching particularly for signals of commitment, or not, to the February deal—is slowing the talks. An Afghan political settlement by May is virtually impossible, and an increase in violence and the potential collapse of the peace process was identified as a top concern for U.S. policymakers in this year’s Preventive Priorities Survey.

There are two main scenarios for increased violence. First, if the United States withdraws all forces this year without a political settlement, the peace process would collapse and the scramble for power that would ensue would likely lead the country into a bloodier, multi-sided civil war. Second, if the United States blows past the May deadline without reaching a new timeline understanding with the Taliban—or decides to maintain an indefinite, even if small, military mission—then the Taliban would once again contest the U.S. presence and violence would likely rise. In either of these two scenarios, the disappointment of regional countries that are expecting the United States to leave and the Taliban to gain a share of legitimate power would probably manifest in increased support to the insurgent group. If the peace process plods along during 2021, then more or less a status quo level of violence is most likely; the Taliban probably will not agree to a ceasefire until they secure significant political benefits in exchange. The best scenario for violence reduction would be dramatic progress in the peace process, but this is the least likely scenario for 2021.

Sketching Synergies in Pakistani-Qatari Relations

Arhama Siddiqa

The ink on the Al-Ula agreement between Qatar and the blockading Gulf countries had not yet dried when a flurry (1) of high-level visits started between Pakistan and Qatar. On 30 January 2021, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, along with other military officials paid a two-day visit to Qatar where he met with Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani. During the trip, matters pertaining to regional geopolitical topics as well as increased collaboration on the defence and security front were discussed. Following this trip, an exchange of visits between the two sides increased, all poised towards greater socio-economic integration as well as energy cooperation. In tandem, a 10-year liquefied natural gas (LNG) agreement being dubbed the “lowest-ever publicly disclosed price under a long-term contract in the world” (2) was also signed in February 2021 between the two countries.

It is also important to mention that recent changes in the Gulf, particularly the softening stance of many Gulf countries towards Israel has somewhat decreased Pakistan’s relevance as a security denominator in the Gulf region. Islamabad’s outright refusal to recognise Israel has opened doors for India which forms a perfect nexus with Israel in various sectors including defence and technology. Moreover, Prime Minister Modi’s efforts to strengthen links with the Gulf is increasingly evident in arenas where it was deemed that Pakistan previously had a stronghold such as the export of manpower and even in the military domain following the Indian Chief’s “historic visit” in 2020. (3)

The increased sojourns between Pakistan and Qatar have raised questions as to the driving force or forces behind the visits, particularly in the backdrop of Pakistan’s souring relations with its once leading partner Saudi Arabia. Some academics have conjectured that the primary purpose of the increased outreach is a growing awareness in Islamabad of Pakistan’s diminishing relevance in the Gulf security architecture – something they are trying to rectify by creating a niche in other avenues. Due to a number of strategic convergences, Qatar offers the most viable and sustainable route.

Pakistani-Qatari ties: an overview

The German Marshall Fund of the United States

Since Turkey joined NATO in 1952, its relationship with the United States has been of a strategic nature. The 9/11 terror attacks against the United States by Al-Qaida reinforced their cooperation in the fight against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, with Afghanistan another theatre where the two have been comrade-in-arms. They have worked side by side in all operations and missions in Afghanistan, and this will be the case in the coming years too. It is, therefore, no coincidence that the Biden administration has asked Turkey to host a summit meeting on Afghanistan next month.

From the outset Turkey and the United States put their soldiers in harm’s way in Afghanistan. At every critical stage they enhanced their cooperation to achieve a lasting peace. Turkey led the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) twice and supported it until it expired. It also undertook the Kabul Command as part of Resolute Support Mission as well as the operation of the Kabul International Airport.

On March 7, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sent a letter to President Ashraf Ghani emphasizing the urgent need to achieve peace in Afghanistan. He clarified that the Biden administration’s policy is still under review, but the peaceful settlement of the conflict remains a priority. The letter informed Ghani of the plan to hold a UN-facilitated conference in Turkey, in which international and regional stakeholders will try to reach a negotiated settlement and an agreement on an immediate ceasefire. Attached to the letter was a roadmap for power-sharing, and notably for a “peace government.” Turkey’s government subsequently announced the conference would be convened in April.

After Brexit and Huawei, UK must weigh big bet on chips


When it comes to chip shops, the UK looks spoilt for choice. Some 19 "fabs" that produce semiconductors of one variety or another are sprinkled across the land, from Glenrothes in Scotland to Plymouth in the southwest.

It is even better served by designers of high-end silicon chips used in the most sophisticated gadgets. "We have the second-highest number of design companies outside the US," says Andy Sellars, the strategic development director at the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult, a not-for-profit research and technology association that advises industry and government on semiconductor strategy.

Cambridge-based Arm, which designs processors used in most of the world's smartphones, is perhaps the UK's shiniest semiconductor asset. But other design jewels include Imagination Technologies, XMOS and Graphcore. Based in Bristol, the latter is working on what Sellars describes as the world's most complex microprocessor. "It is an AI microprocessor with 59 billion transistors," he says. "The chip in your phone has about 2 billion, and so this is about 30 times the complexity."

Competing with China: Lessons From the Belt and Road

by Jennifer Hillman and Alex Tippett

The following is a guest post by Jennifer Hillman, senior fellow for trade and international political economy, and Alex Tippett, research associate for international economics, at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Jennifer Hillman and David Sacks are codirectors of the CFR-sponsored Independent Task Force on a U.S. Response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is co-chaired by Jacob J. Lew and Gary Roughead.

A massive global investment program led by the Chinese state, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) creates significant risks for the United States’ economic and security interests. As our recent Independent Task Force report outlines, to effectively respond to BRI the United States must first become more competitive with China.

Many of the advantages long enjoyed by the United States are starting to decline, particularly in high-tech areas like artificial intelligence (AI). In a few areas, like high-speed rail and 5G, the United States is already outmatched. To counter BRI, the United States has be able offer its partners a compelling alternative to Chinese products, technology, and investment. Last week, President Biden suggested that the United States should, along with its partners, pursue a large-scale infrastructure initiative to rival BRI. For such an initiative to be successful, however, the United States will have to take assertive steps to rebuild its own competitiveness.

That effort should begin at home and be focused on three critical areas: 1) research and development, 2) immigration, and 3) technology and tech standards. It must then move to support U.S competitiveness through actions abroad, particularly through stepped up commercial diplomacy and a reenergized trade agenda.

Chinese Billionaires Made Fortunes Abroad

by Katharina Buchholz

Members of the Chinese diaspora turned into billionaires are making up a significant portion of the ultra-rich in several Asian countries. According to the recently released 2021 Hurun Rich List, ethnic Chinese are making up around 65 percent of U.S. dollar billionaires residing in Singapore, 45 percent of those living in the Philippines and almost a quarter of Indonesia's and Malaysia's billionaires. The number of Chinese diaspora billionaires was somewhat lower in Thailand at approximately 10 percent.

Chinese diaspora billionaires are only a small group compared to those residing in China, however. Hurun counted more than 1,000 billionaires living in China, ahead of 696 in the U.S., 177 in India and 141 in Germany. Even in the U.S., the impact of the super-rich Chinese was visible as they made up almost 3 percent of all U.S.-based billionaires - or 19 out of 696.

When Clean Energy Is Powered by Dirty Labor


On June 20, 1979, President Jimmy Carter inaugurated a revolutionary fixture on the White House’s roof: 32 solar panels that would help heat the mighty mansion. Nearly 42 years later, the rooftop panels are long gone—but using solar power is no longer seen as quirky or pioneering. In fact, President Joe Biden has made clean energy a pillar of his new $2 trillion infrastructure plan. There’s just one problem: The West has allowed its solar panel industry to be wiped out by cheaper Chinese rivals—and those rivals primarily make key parts of their panels in Xinjiang, whose manufacturing is tainted by the use of forced labor. The West is stuck between dirty energy and dirty labor. But there’s a solution.

“A generation from now, this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people,” Carter said in 1979, introducing the panels made by the pioneering firm InterTechnology/Solar Corp. in Warrenton, Virginia.

His prediction was accurate—in contradictory ways. Today, Carter’s solar panels are a museum piece. In 2010, one of the White House solar panels joined fellow specimens at the Solar Science and Technology Museum in the Chinese city of Dezhou, where it was received by Huang Ming, chairman of the solar power giant Himin Solar Energy. Another of the panels is at the Smithsonian. But solar energy has also turned into an exciting adventure as the industrialized world and the developing world alike try to avert climate disaster.

Solar energy has turned into an exciting adventure as the industrialized world and the developing world alike try to avert climate disaster.

The story of the White House solar panels is, in fact, the story of how the West lost an innovative and vital industry it initially dominated. Consider some figures: Between 2006 and 2013, China’s global share of production of photovoltaic (PV) cells, solar panels’ key component, grew from 14 percent to 60 percent. The European Commission later noted that in 2013, “Asia as a whole accounted for more than 80% of the world’s production share and Europe held only 3% (while in 2008 Europe’s global share was 26% and Asia’s 63%).”

China pledged to cut emissions. It went on a coal spree instead.

By Michael Standaert 

China’s National People’s Congress meetings, which ended earlier last month, were shrouded in both a real and figurative haze about how strong its climate ambitions really are, and how quickly the country can wean itself from its main source of energy: coal.

During the Congress, air pollution returned to Beijing with a vengeance, hitting the highest levels since January 2019, as the economy hummed out of the pandemic. Steel, cement, and heavy manufacturing, predominantly backed by coal power, boosted China’s carbon dioxide emissions 4 percent in the second half of 2020 compared to the same pre-pandemic period the year before. At the same time, the goals in the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan on energy intensity, carbon intensity, and renewables were hazy as well, little more than vague commitments to tackle carbon dioxide emissions.

Coal remains at the heart of China’s flourishing economy. In 2019, 58 percent of the country’s total energy consumption came from coal, which helps explain why China accounts for 28 percent of all global carbon dioxide emissions. And China continues to build coal-fired power plants at a rate that outpaces the rest of the world combined. In 2020, China brought 38.4 gigawatts of new coal-fired power into operation, more than three times what was brought on line everywhere else.A total of 247 gigawatts of coal power is now in planning or development, nearly six times Germany’s entire coal-fired capacity. China has also proposed additional new coal plants that, if built, would generate 73.5 gigawatts of power, more than five times the 13.9 gigawatts proposed in the rest of the world combined. Last year, Chinese provinces granted construction approval to 47 gigawatts of coal power projects, more than three times the capacity permitted in 2019.

Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: The CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms

By Albert Zhang, Jacob Wallis and Zoe Meers

This report explores how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), fringe media and pro-CCP online actors seek—sometimes in unison—to shape and influence international perceptions of the Chinese Government’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including through the amplification of disinformation. United States (US) based social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, along with Chinese-owned TikTok (owned by Chinese company ByteDance), are centre stage for this global effort.

The Chinese Government continues to deny human rights abuses in Xinjiang despite a proliferation of credible evidence, including media reporting, independent research, testimonies and open-source data, that has revealed abuses including forced labour, mass detention, surveillance, sterilisation, cultural erasure and alleged genocide in the region. To distract from such human rights abuses, covert and overt online information campaigns have been deployed to portray positive narratives about the CCP’s domestic policies in the region, while also injecting disinformation into the global public discourse regarding Xinjiang.

The report’s key findings:

Since early 2020, there’s been a stark increase in the Chinese Government and state media’s use of US social media networks to push alternative narratives and disinformation about the situation in Xinjiang. Chinese state media accounts have been most successful in using Facebook to engage and reach an international audience.

How China Lends: A Rare Look into 100 Debt Contracts with Foreign Governments

Anna Gelpern , Sebastian Horn , Scott Morris , Brad Parks and Christoph Trebesch

This paper is co-published by AidData at William & Mary, the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

China is the world’s largest official creditor, but we lack basic facts about the terms and conditions of its lending. Very few contracts between Chinese lenders and their government borrowers have ever been published or studied. This paper is the first systematic analysis of the legal terms of China’s foreign lending. We collect and analyze 100 contracts between Chinese state-owned entities and government borrowers in 24 developing countries in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Oceania, and compare them with those of other bilateral, multilateral, and commercial creditors. Three main insights emerge. First, the Chinese contracts contain unusual confidentiality clauses that bar borrowers from revealing the terms or even the existence of the debt. Second, Chinese lenders seek advantage over other creditors, using collateral arrangements such as lender-controlled revenue accounts and promises to keep the debt out of collective restructuring (“no Paris Club” clauses). Third, cancellation, acceleration, and stabilization clauses in Chinese contracts potentially allow the lenders to influence debtors’ domestic and foreign policies. Even if these terms were unenforceable in court, the mix of confidentiality, seniority, and policy influence could limit the sovereign debtor’s crisis management options and complicate debt renegotiation. Overall, the contracts use creative design to manage credit risks and overcome enforcement hurdles, presenting China as a muscular and commercially-savvy lender to the developing world.

Consolidation in the semiconductor supply chain poses risks of future disruptions

Will Hunt, Remco Zwetsloot

CSET submitted this comment to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security on how to address concerns about the security of semiconductor supply chains in regions where natural disasters, geopolitical events or other factors might cause serious disruptions. Download Full Comment

“Many critical parts of the semiconductor supply chain are highly consolidated, often in a single or small number of suppliers or countries,” CSET’s Will Hunt and Remco Zwetsloot write. They submitted this comment in response to a public request from the Bureau of Industry and Security for information and comments related to “the capabilities of the U.S. microelectronics industrial base to support the national defense, in light of the global nature and interdependence of the supply chain with respect to manufacture, design, and end use.” Supply chains are concentrated mainly in the US and allied countries, but some supply chain segments, such as leading-edge logic chip manufacturing, have consolidated in regions posing higher risks of natural disasters, geopolitical events, or other disruptions.

To address these concerns, Zwetsloot and Hunt argue:

Dead Draw or Winning Position? Reassessing U.S. China Strategy on the Chessboard

Andrew Schwartz: Welcome to the Asia Chessboard, the podcast that examines geopolitical dynamics in Asia and takes an inside look at the making of grand strategy. I'm Andrew Schwartz at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Hannah Fodale: This week, Mike is joined by Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace to reevaluate U.S.-China strategy and determine what makes a successful theory of victory. The two start by going back in time to when Ashley was working on the rise of China in the nineties, when he argued that China's rise was not a fluke and would impact Asia dramatically in the future. Given that competition is inevitable, the US must maintain multipolarity in Asia, create constraints on Chinese action in the region and work with allies and partners like Japan and India.

Mike Green: Welcome back to the Asia Chessboard. I'm joined today by a good friend and one of the big strategic thinkers of our time in the United States, Dr. Ashley Tellis, Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment and the Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs. We served together in the Bush NSC, where he was one of the original architects of the strategic partnership with India, worked on East Asia, South Asia, strategic affairs, and we'll get to all of that. But first Ashley, welcome. And people are always curious on this podcast, how did you get here? Not in the studio, in your house in Virginia, but how did you get to be Ashley Tellis, working on strategy, working on Asia, at Carnegie?

Ashley Tellis: Well first let me start by thanking you Mike, for having me on this podcast. It's a pleasure to be here. And let me also pay contributions to all your work in public service, particularly with respect to U.S. relations with Asia.

China's System: Face to Face - In their Own Words

This book closely focuses on studying, propagating, and implementing the spirit of the 4th Plenary Session of the Party’s 19th Central Committee and provides an in-depth explanation in simplified terms of major issues regarding upholding and improving the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and advancing the modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance, from an authoritative, correct viewpoint, in a refreshing, simple style of writing with a vivid, lively format. This book can be used as important auxiliary reading material by the broad masses of cadres, and by young scholars to study theory and to carry out education on formal policy.

The Next War in the North: Scenarios, Strategic Alternatives, and Recommendations for Israel

Orna Mizrahi, Udi Dekel, Yuval Bazak

In recent years, the northern arena has emerged as Israel’s primary military challenge. The entrenchment of the Iranian-led Shi’ite axis in Syria and Lebanon, attempts by Iran and its proxies to make inroads toward Israel’s border with Syria, and Hezbollah’s growing strength in Lebanon are all factors contributing to increased friction and cause for concern regarding the next war in the north. One thing is certain: a war on the northern front will be unlike all previous wars. as the conflict is likely to include the Lebanese arena, Syria, and possibly even western Iraq.

This memorandum presents the ­findings of a project conducted by the Institute for National Security Studies with the participation of INSS researchers, military and intelligence experts, and former high-ranking IDF commanders who analyzed the gamut of issues that require consideration in advance of the next war in northern Israel. Taking a long-term perspective, it looks at how threats may emerge and outlines the dilemmas, possible alternatives, and opportunities that exist for Israel in the different scenarios, with the aim of assisting the defense establishment and decision makers in Israel in their strategic and operational planning.

The authors do not proclaim that war is nigh, nor do they suggest that war is inevitable. Indeed, the common assumption today is that Iran and Hezbollah do not have an interest in war with Israel in the near future. Nonetheless, it is essential that Israel prepare for the possibility of an escalation of the conflict, whether triggered by a change of circumstances, as the result of a deterioration, or due to an erroneous assessment by any side.

Blackout Hits Iran Nuclear Site in What Appears to Be Israeli Sabotage

By Ronen Bergman, Rick Gladstone and Farnaz Fassihi

A power failure that appeared to have been caused by a deliberately planned explosion struck Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment site on Sunday, in what Iranian officials called an act of sabotage that they suggested had been carried out by Israel.

The blackout injected new uncertainty into diplomatic efforts that began last week to salvage the 2015 nuclear deal repudiated by the Trump administration.

Iran did not say precisely what had caused the blackout at the heavily fortified site, which has been a target of previous sabotage, and Israel publicly declined to confirm or deny any responsibility. But American and Israeli intelligence officials said there had been an Israeli role.

Two intelligence officials briefed on the damage said it had been caused by a large explosion that completely destroyed the independent — and heavily protected — internal power system that supplies the underground centrifuges that enrich uranium.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a classified Israeli operation, said that the explosion had dealt a severe blow to Iran’s ability to enrich uranium and that it could take at least nine months to restore Natanz’s production.

A Guide to Global COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Claire Felter

Governments, multilateral organizations, and private firms have spent billions of dollars to develop effective vaccines for the new coronavirus within one year.

Close to a dozen vaccines—including ones by Pfizer and BioNTech, Moderna, and Sinopharm—are already being distributed, with hundreds of millions of people inoculated so far.

Vaccines go through rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness before they are approved for public use, a process that typically takes years.


A year into the pandemic of the COVID-19 coronavirus disease, the global effort to develop and distribute an effective vaccine has already produced several promising options. The accelerated development of multiple vaccines is unprecedented; the process typically takes eight to fifteen years.

Now, the immunization of a critical mass of the world’s population—which is crucial for getting the pandemic under control—is up against a new set of challenges, including dangerous new strains of the virus, global competition over a limited supply of doses, and public hesitation about the vaccines.

What is the status of COVID-19 vaccine distribution?

Russian Mercenaries in Great-Power Competition: Strategic Supermen or Weak Link?

Along with China, Iran, and North Korea, Russia is one of a handful of strategic competitors posing a substantial threat to U.S. strategic interests.

Russia has now interfered to some extent in at least three democratic elections in the United States. Russian hackers are probably responsible for the recent SolarWinds attack on U.S. government agency networks. Russia has been aggressively undermining U.S. interests in proxy wars in Syria, Libya, and across the African continent, and it is backing the Taliban against the United States in Afghanistan.

Russia has been taking every opportunity to undermine U.S. interests and security, while the United States has strictly limited its responses. As of early 2021, Russia appears to have the upper hand. In the wake of the Trump administration's diplomatic rapprochement, U.S.-Russian relations may be ripe for rebalancing.

On February 4, 2021, President Biden stated that “the days of the United States rolling over in the face of Russia's aggressive actions—interfering with our elections, cyberattacks, poisoning its citizens—are over.” In defense of U.S. national interests, Biden said he would “not hesitate to raise the cost on Russia and defend our vital interests and our people.” Given this new (or perhaps return-to-status-quo) approach, how should the Biden administration think strategically about countering Russia in global competition?

Russian leaders, diplomats, intelligence, and military officers have excelled at finding cracks in the edifices of American power. What are Russia's vulnerabilities, and how could they be exploited to help reverse the present imbalance? How could the United States raise costs on Russia without unnecessarily raising the risks of all-out war? We argue that one of Russia's perceived high-end capabilities may in fact be one of its most exploitable vulnerabilities.

Russia's worst-kept secret is its increasingly heavy reliance on private security contractors—really, mercenaries—to maintain a Russia-favorable global status quo and to undermine its competitors' interests. This reliance on mercenaries stems from a known capability gap. RAND has shown that while its military ground forces are locally dominant, Russia's military has strictly limited ability to project ground power worldwide. It has almost no organic ability to project and sustain ground power more than a few hundred kilometers beyond its own borders. Russian strategic lift is anemic compared to Soviet-era lift. Available forces are often tied down in one of the many frozen conflicts that ring Russia's western and southern borders.

A Dark Pandemic Year Could Still Portend a Brighter Future

By Charles Kenny

At last, the United States appears to be entering the recovery phase from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects. A national vaccination drive is already significantly reducing mortality. The administration of President Joe Biden has announced a sweeping infrastructure bill to follow its $1.7 trillion stimulus package, together likely to lift many economic indicators, from gross domestic product to child poverty. And China is even further along: that country had largely controlled viral spread by March 2020, and its output bounced back by the fourth quarter of last year.

Green shoots in the world’s two largest economies are signs that the world as a whole might be poised for a strong recovery from the deepest peacetime recession since the Great Depression. There are many developments that could derail this trajectory—among them, new vaccine-resistant virus variants or a new Cold War. But many indicators suggest that a decade that opened in tragedy could very well conclude on a far happier note.

The global pandemic is very far from over—indeed, the daily number of new cases reported worldwide is still considerably higher than it was for most of last year, and the true disease burden likely far surpasses the count of confirmed cases. That said, the vaccine rollout is on target to be the fastest ever, and its success will fast-track global recovery in the economy alongside health.

America Can—and Should—Vaccinate the World

By Helene Gayle, Gordon LaForge, and Anne-Marie Slaughter

After a virtual “Quad summit” last Friday, the leaders of the United States, India, Japan, and Australia announced that they would cooperate to deliver one billion vaccine doses in the Indo-Pacific, directly countering China’s lead in distributing vaccines to the region. The agreement brings together Indian manufacturing and U.S., Japanese, and Australian financing, logistics, and technical assistance to help immunize hundreds of millions of people by the end of 2022. Headlines over the weekend proclaimed that the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden was preparing to catch up in global vaccine diplomacy. Yesterday the administration took a further step in this direction, leaking to reporters that it would lend four million AstraZeneca doses to Mexico and Canada.

These initiatives come not a moment too soon. In tackling the worst global crisis of a lifetime, the United States has so far been upstaged. Russia and China have aggressively marketed and distributed their vaccines to foreign countries, largely to advance foreign policy goals. Russia is using the jab to bolster its image and investment prospects and to drive a wedge between EU countries. China is donating doses to gain leverage in territorial disputes and expand its influence under the Belt and Road Initiative. Both Moscow and Beijing have moved to undercut the United States in its own backyard by supplying vaccines to Latin America.

The Biden administration is right to want to take the lead in vaccinating the world, for a host of reasons both self-interested and altruistic. But it should not fall into the trap of trying to beat Russia and China at their own game—handing out vaccines to specific countries based on their geostrategic importance and the amount of attention they are receiving from rival powers.

Conflict And Competition: Limited Nuclear Warfare And The New Face Of Deterrence

By Gerald Brown 

15-kiloton nuclear artillery shell fired from a 280mm cannon at the Nevada Proving Grounds on May 25, 1953 as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole.

“Nuclear weapons seem to be in almost everybody’s bad book, but the fact is that they are a powerful force for peace. Deterrence is most likely to hold when the costs and risks of going to war are unambiguously stark. The more horrible the prospect of war, the less likely war is. Deterrence is also more robust when conquest is more difficult. Potential aggressor states are given pause by the patent futility of attempts at expansion.”

John Mearsheimer, “Why We Will Soon Miss the Cold War,” The Atlantic, August 1990

Since the detonation of Little Boy and Fat Man ended the war in the Pacific, nuclear weapons have occupied an increasingly critical place in international politics. The weapons captured both awe and terror across the globe, sending policymakers and scholars scrambling to discover how to properly manage and exploit this new power. Through no small effort, the world has not only seen an era without the further use of these weapons in war but one without great power conflict—a precarious period of relative peace through deterrence.

However, to pretend that such peace was born automatically is folly. Such logic runs counter to humanity’s history of conflict and warfare. The current international landscape is changing greatly; as the world slides towards a multipolar world and return to great power politics, it must re-address the notion of nuclear conflict and deterrence in the modern world if peace is to be maintained. The use of nuclear weapons has become increasingly likely in the modern-era due to two primary reasons:

Nuclear multipolarity and state competition, resulting in an increasing number of competing, nuclear-armed states with historical tensions, leading to instances of escalation and the security dilemma between multiple actors.

Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons? Proliferation Models as Concurrent Pressures on a State

By Maj Scott Curtice 

Major Curtice applies three theoretical models of nuclear proliferation and argues that they are more accurate when used in conjunction with each other than separately. Nuclear proliferation, Curtice states, occurs when Domestic Politics-Positive and Normative-Positive pressures are greater than their negative counterparts when a state is facing a security threat. By using India as a theoretical model, Major Curtice demonstrates how threats from neighboring countries, as well as internal political perspective shifts, changed the country from championing nuclear disarmament to conducting nuclear tests in just one decade. [Maj Scott Curtice / 2021 / 34 pages / ISSN 2687-7260 / AU Press Code: WF-82]

Defending 2020: What Worked, What Didn’t, and What’s Next

Jessica Brandt, Bradley Hanlon

The 2016 presidential election served as a wakeup call to the threat of authoritarian interference, and in the years since, many segments of American society—from the federal government to private companies and civil society groups—have taken valuable steps to prepare for and counter it. Congress and the Executive Branch stood up a new government agency and multiple coordinating bodies to protect election infrastructure, while social media platforms have instituted policies to restrict the manipulation of advertisements, label misleading and false content, and slow the spread of disinformation. Working together, civil society instituted new cross-sector coordination mechanisms for election security. Yet longstanding vulnerabilities—including crippling political polarization and underfunded election jurisdictions—persist. A series of high-profile failures to prosecute the solicitation of foreign interference in U.S. elections further threaten to solidify a dangerous new norm.

Meanwhile, the threat landscape is growing more dynamic. New actors, including China and Iran, have taken an interest in adopting elements of Russia’s information manipulation playbook. And that playbook is itself evolving. In 2020, Russia and Iran took active steps to influence U.S. voters, engaging in information operations—at times augmented by cyberattacks—to denigrate candidates, sow chaos and division, and reduce trust in democratic institutions.1 New players, including Cuba, Venezuela, and other, non-state actors also took steps to influence voters and attack election infrastructure.

Inside the Fight for the Future of The Wall Street Journal

By Edmund Lee

The Wall Street Journal is a rarity in 21st-century media: a newspaper that makes money. A lot of money. But at a time when the U.S. population is growing more racially diverse, older white men still make up the largest chunk of its readership, with retirees a close second.

“The No. 1 reason we lose subscribers is they die,” goes a joke shared by some Journal editors.

Now a special innovation team and a group of nearly 300 newsroom employees are pushing for drastic changes at the paper, which has been part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire since 2007. They say The Journal, often Mr. Murdoch’s first read of the day, must move away from subjects of interest to established business leaders and widen its scope if it wants to succeed in the years to come. The Journal of the future, they say, must pay more attention to social media trends and cover racial disparities in health care, for example, as aggressively as it pursues corporate mergers.

That argument has yet to convince executives in the top ranks of the company.

The Journal got digital publishing right before anyone else. It was one of the few news organizations to charge readers for online access starting in 1996, during the days of dial-up internet. At the time, most other publications, including The New York Times, bought into the mantra that “information wants to be free” and ended up paying dearly for what turned out to be a misguided business strategy.

As thousands of papers across the country folded, The Journal, with its nearly 1,300-person news staff, made money, thanks to its prescient digital strategy. While that inoculated The Journal against the ravages wrought by an array of unlikely newcomers, from Craigslist to Facebook, it also kept the paper from innovating further.

An intelligence forecast and the Doomsday Clock coincide. For better or worse.

By John Mecklin

The National Intelligence Council released a new and grim report this week that made me immediately wonder, “Where have I seen this before?”

“Global Trends: A More Contested World” is the latest in a series of reports that the council, part of the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence, has issued every four years since 1997. In it, the council’s Strategic Futures Group “assesses the key trends and uncertainties that will shape the strategic environment for the United States during the next two decades.”

The trends are unsettling, to say the least. Just consider the first two sentences of the report’s introduction: “During the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the world of its fragility and demonstrated the inherent risks of high levels of interdependence. In coming years and decades, the world will face more intense and cascading global challenges ranging from disease to climate change to the disruptions from new technologies and financial crises.”

For those without the time to read the report’s 156 pages, The Washington Post offers a first-rate summarization that includes these two eye-opening paragraphs:

Cyber World War: The People’s Republic Of China, Anti-American Espionage, And The Global Cyber Arms Race

By Joshua E. Duke

“O divine art of subtlety and secrecy! Through you, we learn to be invisible, through you inaudible; and hence we can hold the enemy’s fate in our hands.”

– Sun Tzu, c.500 BC

The flood gates of the information age have been blasted open forever. Short of global electrical failure, robots taking over the world, or mankind’s evacuation of the planet, global connectivity, instant communications, and massive information accessibility are here to stay, along with all the dangers and benefits related. The internet and network connectivity have become too integrated within the basic daily functions of societies and nations for information services to be overly regulated or censored, and as the world becomes perpetually more dependent on networks to function, more technologically adept generations grow up with the entire history of human knowledge at their fingertips. The entire cyber warfare enterprise of Computer Network Attack (CNA) and Computer Network Defense (CND) is blossoming, along with telecommunications and other vital industries, which means more and more people will be trained in these areas, in addition to information technology and computer sciences. As people are trained to operate in a network-centric world, more of the world will be under a perpetual threat from cyberattacks, and more people will be employed to defend it.

The global cyber arms race is in full swing, and American leadership is necessary to ensure the future of freedom of thought and individuality in cyberspace. The alternative is a sharp contrast, centered around the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) communist censorship and propaganda machine, combined with their allies around the world, intent on securing ultimate power and crushing the United States in the process. This article examines the physical and cyberspace dangers posed by the PRC and its allies, detailing a long-term strategic trend of anti-American actions taken in recent history that have not been adequately addressed or publicized. This article begins with an examination of a variety of actions the PRC has taken against America over multiple decades and the extent of their success. An interconnected multinational web of espionage, cyber warfare, and targeted actions designed to collapse the United States is then exposed, highlighting the need for renewed American leadership in cyberspace and on the world stage. Any action taken against any entity with the purpose of degrading their capabilities, manipulating them, or spying on them, using the realm of cyberspace as the primary conduit, is cyber warfare. A short explanation of cyber warfare basics is provided at the end of this article, with examples of what the cyber battlespace consists of.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Titan Rain Hackers