24 May 2021

China’s Cyber-Influence Operations

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd) 

The digital era has transformed the way we communicate. Using social media like Facebook and Instagram, and social applications such as WhatsApp and Telegram, one can be in contact with friends and family, share pictures, videos, messages, posts and share our experiences. Social media has become an effective way of influencing human society and behavior, and shaping public opinion. By sharing a post, tweeting an idea, contributing a discussion in a forum and sharing a sentimental picture, we can influence others and sometimes convince into with our opinion.

Use of cyber tools and methods to manipulate public opinion is called ‘Cyber Influence Operation’. In the present day, many countries use cyberspace, especially the social media, to accomplish Cyber Influence Operations as a part of Information Warfare. Most of these operations are done covertly. It is difficult to differentiate between legitimate or malicious influence operations. Continue Reading..... 

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. 

What Is Mucormycosis, The Fungal Infection Affecting COVID Patients in India?

by Monica Slavin Karin Thursky

This week we’ve seen reports of an infection called mucormycosis, often termed “black fungus”, in patients with COVID, or who are recovering from COVID, in India.

Fungal infections can be devastating. And in this case mucormycosis is adding to the burden of suffering in a country already in a deep COVID crisis.

As of March this year 41 cases of COVID-19-associated mucormycosis had been documented around the world, with 70% in India. Reports suggest the number of cases is now much higher, which is unsurprising given the current wave of COVID infections in India.

But what is mucormycosis, and how is it linked with COVID-19?

Can Imran Khan Change the Course of Saudi-Pakistani Relations?

By Niha Dagia

The decades-long relationship between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is treading on thin ice. Riyadh is looking to diversify its oil-dependent economy by further engaging with other South Asian countries while Islamabad struggles to expand relations with its long-standing partner beyond security cooperation and cultural ties.

In the latest attempt to revive the relationship, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia today for a three-day visit with Saudi leadership. Ahead of Khan, Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, reached Riyadh on Tuesday to lay the groundwork for a fresh start.

The Pakistani army’s media wing said Bajwa discussed regional security and bilateral defense, among other matters, in meetings with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and others. Meanwhile, Tahir Ashrafi, Khan’s special aide on religious harmony, told Foreign Policy talks will cover a green deal; enhanced trade cooperation; and collaborations in media, information, and cultural exchange. He said they will also discuss a joint strategy against terrorism.

Opinion – Emerging Patterns of Trade in the Indo-Pacific

Balasubramanian C

With a paradigm shift from ‘Asia-Pacific’ to ‘Indo-Pacific’, the term has seen proliferation in academic, geopolitical and geo-economic discourse and an array of different policies and strategic approaches from various countries. The notion of ‘Indo-Pacific’ has assumed a new rallying point for major stake holders – the US, China, Japan, India, Australia and others – to articulate their strategic postures. On a visit to India in 2007, the then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke of a ‘Broader Asia’ in the ‘Confluence of Two Seas’. Indo-Pacific despite differing perceptions is now a geopolitical & geo-economic reality. While there is talk of a broader ‘Indo-Pacific’, encompassing the Indian Ocean as well as the Pacific Ocean, this is not yet reflected in the geopolitics of trade. The question that arises in our minds is how far are we from an Indo-Pacific order?

Trade has been at the heart of Asia’s engine of economic growth over the last 50 years. Japan, followed by the famously called four Asian Tigers of South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, and then – largest of all – China, pursued its development strategies based on the export of manufactured products to the US, Europe and rest of the world. The nature of trade has changed since the 1990s. Trade within Asia is now greater than trade from Asia to the rest of the world.

China's Disappeared Uyghurs: What Satellite Images Reveal

One million Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, maybe more, have vanished into a sprawling network of camps and prisons in China's far west. Chinese officials at first denied the camps even existed. Then they claimed they were for training workers, or for re-educating potential radicals. Then they said it didn't matter—everyone had graduated and was free to go.

Satellite data reviewed by RAND tell a different story. They show bright-lit compounds in the desert dark, wall after wall of barbed wire, and a sudden rush to build what appear to be fortified preschools.

“This gives us clear evidence of what's happening on the ground in western China,” said Katherine Pfrommer, a quantitative analyst at RAND who helped review the images. “In such a denied area, it's hard to know how conditions are changing and evolving. Satellite images gave us a way to get that information.”

The United States has described what is happening to the mostly Muslim Uyghurs as a genocide. Starting in 2016, China launched a campaign of repression, banning Muslim names, forbidding long beards. It transformed the vast Uyghur homeland of Xinjiang into one of the most sophisticated surveillance states in the world, bristling with police checkpoints and facial-recognition cameras. Then people began to disappear.

The origin of COVID: Did people or nature open Pandora’s box at Wuhan?

By Nicholas Wade 

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives the world over for more than a year. Its death toll will soon reach three million people. Yet the origin of pandemic remains uncertain: The political agendas of governments and scientists have generated thick clouds of obfuscation, which the mainstream press seems helpless to dispel.

In what follows I will sort through the available scientific facts, which hold many clues as to what happened, and provide readers with the evidence to make their own judgments. I will then try to assess the complex issue of blame, which starts with, but extends far beyond, the government of China.

By the end of this article, you may have learned a lot about the molecular biology of viruses. I will try to keep this process as painless as possible. But the science cannot be avoided because for now, and probably for a long time hence, it offers the only sure thread through the maze.

The virus that caused the pandemic is known officially as SARS-CoV-2, but can be called SARS2 for short. As many people know, there are two main theories about its origin. One is that it jumped naturally from wildlife to people. The other is that the virus was under study in a lab, from which it escaped. It matters a great deal which is the case if we hope to prevent a second such occurrence.

North Korea Is China's Weapon | Opinion


On April 30, the Biden administration revealed how it will handle North Korea. Americans should not be optimistic.

"Our policy will not focus on achieving a grand bargain, nor will it rely on strategic patience," White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said to reporters on Air Force One, indicating that President Biden had rejected both Obama-style neglect and Trump-style engagement.

In words that could mean anything or nothing at all, Psaki referred to consultation with "allies and partners at every step along the way," "practical progress" and a "calibrated practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy."

Unfortunately, the White House completed its North Korea policy review before wrapping up its China one. Moreover, it has yet to name an ambassador to China and, perhaps more important for North Korea, has not filled a crucial sanctions-enforcement post at the Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security.

It makes little sense to announce a North Korea policy without first figuring out what to do about China. China, after all, exercises great influence over the North's ruling Kim family and can, as a practical matter, require the North Koreans to do what it wants.

Yes, it is true that North Korean officials loathe the Chinese. Many analysts say this means the People's Republic of China can no longer order around the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as a pseudo-satrapy.

Congressional testimony: How the Pentagon can fight information warfare

By Matt Field 

Herb Lin, a cybersecurity expert and a member of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ Science and Security Board, told a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee last week that foreign disinformation campaigns are one form of what he characterized as an existential threat to US society and democracy: cyber-enabled information warfare. The Pentagon, however, is, Lin suggested, poorly positioned to protect the public from the threat.

“Our information warfare adversaries have weaponized our constitutional protections, our minds, and our technologies against us,” Lin told the subcommittee. “Cyber-enabled information warfare has the potential to destroy reason and reality as the basis for societal discourse and to replace them with rage and fantasy.”

At a broad level, Lin said, the Pentagon isn’t set up to implement a necessary whole-of-government or whole-of-society response to information warfare. For a host of legal and regulatory reasons, Lin said, the Pentagon couldn’t effectively take on campaigns like the Kremlin-backed effort to promote disinformation about the 2020 presidential election on social media and on US television. The distinction between foreign and domestic information is less clear now, he said, and “effective efforts against the Russian activities will inevitably have collateral effects against American activities.”

There are ways for the Department of Defense to fight the information war, Lin told Congress. The Pentagon, he said, “is well positioned to address the cyber-enabled information warfare threat for at least one important segment of the US populace—the US armed forces and their families.”

George Will: Jack Reed is crucial to national security. How will he handle it?

WASHINGTON — After graduating from West Point in 1971, Sen. Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat now in the first year of his fifth term, jumped out of airplanes for the 82nd Airborne. Today, he is the most important person concerning the nation’s increasingly imperiled security. As chairman of the Armed Services Committee, he must plan for the increasing speed of change in military technologies, including cyber, and precise and maneuverable hypersonic (speeds more than Mach 5) weapons. These make parachutes, and even the planes that Reed jumped from, seem as prehistoric as spears.

Today’s most expensive U.S. weapons platform, the F-35 strike fighter, of which the Defense Department currently plans to purchase almost 2,500 in the next half-century, was conceived, Reed says, in the 1990s. It has a projected 66-year service life. Really? Granted, the B-52, which came into service in 1955, is still flying, some with crews a third of the age of their aircraft. But is this a template for 21st-century defense planning, given the velocity of change? What Reed requires of his congressional colleagues and of military and defense industry planners — particularly those who author projections encompassing more than half a century — is imagination. James Stavridis understands this.

Colonial Pipeline attack ratchets up ransomware game

by Lance Whitney

On Friday, Colonial Pipeline Company discovered that it had been hit by a ransomware attack. Responsible for delivering gas, heating oil and other forms of petroleum to homes and organizations, the company accounts for 45% of the East Coast's fuel. The attack forced Colonial Pipeline to shut down certain systems, temporarily stopping all pipeline operations.

In a statement released on Sunday, the company said that it hired a third-party cybersecurity firm to investigate the attack and contacted law enforcement as well as federal agencies, including the Department of Energy. Beyond dealing with the incident itself, Colonial Pipeline is under the gun to get its operations back online safely and securely.

"The Colonial Pipeline operations team is developing a system restart plan," the company said. "While our mainlines (Lines 1, 2, 3 and 4) remain offline, some smaller lateral lines between terminals and delivery points are now operational. We are in the process of restoring service to other laterals and will bring our full system back online only when we believe it is safe to do so, and in full compliance with the approval of all federal regulations."

If the pipeline is down for just a couple of days, customers and consumers should be spared any economic or supply issues. But, an attack with longer-term repercussions could trigger higher gas prices and even shortages. More importantly, the incident shows the impact of critical infrastructure as a victim of a cyberattack.

What Biden should do about the Balkans

Hamza Karčić

As United States President Joe Biden passed his first 100 days in office, it appeared that his administration was putting foreign policy lower on its agenda of priorities to focus on domestic issues. But perhaps the expected receding of the pandemic in the coming months due to the success of his vaccination drive could provide space for the president to pay more attention to foreign policy as well.

While Biden seems to have focused on reaching a new deal with Iran and ending the US’s “forever war” in Afghanistan, one region where he can strike an easy foreign policy win is the Balkans. Unlike in Afghanistan and Iraq, this part of Europe is where American military intervention in the 1990s is considered a success.

Three decades ago, the Balkans captured then Senator Biden’s attention. He was firmly critical of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic’s wars of conquest and actively supported US military action in both Bosnia and Kosovo. For this reason, Biden’s election last November was widely celebrated in both countries and brought high expectations for renewed positive US involvement in the region.

Congress can’t ‘take foot off the gas’ on DoD electronic warfare

Mark Pomerleau

WASHINGTON — If it weren’t for recent congressional mandates placed into law, the Department of Defense would not have made significant improvements to its electronic warfare enterprise, one top lawmaker asserted.

“We have had to force this on the services and the Joint Staff … if it wasn’t for Congress, none of this would be done,” Rep. Don Bacon, R-Nebraska, a former one-star Air Force electronic warfare officer, said during a May 11 virtual event hosted by the Hudson Institute.

Bacon noted there are some reports and reviews that are still two years overdue to Congress, emphasizing “my take way here is Congress cannot take our foot off the gas on this.”

Russia war threat: 2000 US & UK troops in largest air assault on Baltic states for decades


More than 2,000 soldiers parachuting from 20 aircrafts landed in darkness just miles from Vladimir Putin’s borders in Estonia, Romania and Bulgaria during a secret part of the sensitive war games, called Swift Response. Russian forces had tracked the planes – which included six US C-17s carrying 200 British Paras – with interception units on the Baltic border. They then mounted a mass jamming operation aimed at forcing commanders to abandon the exercise.

But the effort failed when the US deployed three special C-130 Hercules “air interdiction” aircraft , codenamed “Ghostrider” and packed with directional infrared countermeasures and a team of cyber experts capable of jamming any computer network.

The Russian electronic attack took place as the multi-national force joined a larger Nato exercise, Defender Europe, which boasts 30,000 troops from 26 nations and aims to reinforce the Baltic States.

Last night one senior US military source said:“The Russians are very capable and are constantly testing their systems. Their aim was to shut down the link between the ground and the aircraft which would have forced us to abandon the jump, but they failed.

Britannia Unchanged Post-Brexit

Ariel Shangguan

In 2012, a group of Conservative MPs wrote the now-infamous book, Britannia Unchained, where they claimed to have examined the conditions for Britain to thrive amid increasingly intense global competition. They made a case about the decline in UK economic competitiveness and argued that, in order for Britain to “level up”, it had to embark on a more “aspiring” form of economic liberalism. This means to “reward hard work” by “tackling welfare dependency” and “overhauling marginal tax rates”—even if that means to shred workers’ rights and social protections. Understandably, the book received considerable criticisms: Jon Cruddas wrote that the proposal was “extreme and destructive”, and The Financial Times called it an “anti-worker book”. Paul Owen then concluded that it might be better to rename the book “Britannia Unhinged”.

Little did people know that the phrase “Britannia unhinged” could gain a new level of meaning in the matter of a few years. Nearly nine years since the publication of the new Conservative manifesto, five since the UK voted to leave the EU, issues concerning the future of the UK post-Brexit have consumed almost every waking moment in British life. The arduous journey of negotiating a trade deal with the EU took four and a half years; but even after finally signing the trade deal, news headlines have been dominated by a series of disruptive incidents that were caused by nothing but the UK government’s lack of foresight in the coming social and political adaption. Foreign coverage of Brexit is often concomitant with a sense of confusion and astonishment, while political commentators in the UK struggle to find words to justify the constant chaos. For many who are witnessing the Brexit drama unfolding in front of their eyes, this country that was once admired for its pragmatism really seems to have gone mad.

Operation Guardian of the Walls: The Need for an Integrated Multi-Front Strategy

The State of Israel is engulfed in a multi-front event: religious-nationalist ferment in Jerusalem, rioting in mixed Jewish-Arab communities, continued hostilities with Hamas and the Gaza Strip terrorist groups, and violence on the Israeli-Lebanese border. This array of events unfolded in way that ostensibly suggested a new Palestinian strategy: a campaign to protect Muslim holy sites and to prevent Palestinians being dispossessed of their homes. Hamas did not unleash this campaign, but it elected to ride the wave of disturbances that erupted in Jerusalem – on the Temple Mount /al-Aqsa compound, at Damascus Gate, and in Sheikh Jarrah. The organization presented Israel with an ultimatum and carried out its threat when Israel did not meet its demands, launching rockets at Jerusalem and barrages deep within the Israeli interior, and in addition it encouraged the incitement that inflamed the Arab street in Israel with a view to undermining coexistence in the country.

The new features of the multi-front confrontation include: multiple active elements on the Palestinian side – in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, in the West Bank, and mixed cities and towns in Israel; the firm linkage between various active arenas, with the main motivating force being religious nationalism; and the broad and simultaneous spread of events. Hamas seeks to position itself as the leading element in the Palestinian camp, the manager of a multi-front and multi-dimensional campaign, in active terms and clearly in cognitive terms of public perception.

Is a New War in the Middle East About to Erupt?

by Mark Episkopos
Militants in Gaza fired rockets into Israel on Monday, prompting retaliatory strikes from the Israeli Defense Forces. Jerusalem announced earlier that it had killed three Islamic Jihad commanders and another commander from Hamas. “Those who were eliminated were responsible for rocket fire by Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), including in the most recent round of escalation,” read a joint statement from the Israeli military and internal security service. The Israeli government added that it killed sixteen members of Hamas, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noting “This is just the beginning. We'll hit them like they've never dreamed possible.” Shortly following the announcement, Hamas launched a new rocket barrage at the Israeli city of Ashdod and is reportedly preparing to strike the Tel Aviv area.

Both sides have reported numerous civilian casualties, with at least sixty-five dead in Gaza as of the time of writing. Hundreds of rockets have been fired from the Gaza strip, in what is the heaviest fighting between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 Gaza War. The Hamas and PIJ arsenal includes hundreds of rockets with ranges of under 100 km and dozens of rockets in the 100-160 km range, the latter being able to cover swathes of Israel. The militants have reportedly fired 500 rockets alone at a chain of towns on Israel’s coast, killing several civilians; much of the population of Tel Aviv has been evacuated into shelters.

The End of Israel’s Illusion


TEL AVIV – The sudden eruption of war outside and inside Israel’s borders has shocked a complacent nation. Throughout Binyamin Netanyahu’s 12-year premiership, the Palestinian problem was buried and forgotten. The recent Abraham Accords, establishing diplomatic relations with four Arab states, seemed to weaken the Palestinian cause further. Now it has re-emerged with a vengeance.1

Wars can be triggered by an isolated incident, but their cause is always deeper. In this case, the trigger, the eviction of Palestinians in favor of Israeli nationalists in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem, touched all the sensitive nerves of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel’s occupation of East Jerusalem, its humiliating control of access to the Al-Aqsa mosque, the ever-present memory of the 1948 Nakba (the displacement of 700,000 Palestinians when Israel was founded), and the grievances of Israel’s Arab minority are all fueling the current flare-up.

Vaccine Licensing, Production, and Global Distribution


MILAN – At this point in the pandemic, the key question is whether vaccine production can be ramped up quickly enough to allow most people to be vaccinated relatively soon. But implicit in that question is another: whether and under what circumstances it is appropriate to suspend domestic and internationally agreed intellectual-property rights. The matter is being discussed in the World Trade Organization now that US President Joe Biden’s administration has surprisingly come out in support of a COVID-19 waiver, exposing a rift between Western governments.

Most agree that if any set of conditions justifies a waiver, this pandemic surely meets them. The millions of lives threatened by the virus ought to trigger a shared sense of humanity. And vaccination is a public good, because everyone’s safety ultimately depends on everyone else’s. In some cases, governments have co-invested with companies in vaccine development, strengthening the case for mandatory licensing. But whatever we do to provide it must not produce adverse or unintended consequences that could impair our responses to future crises of this kind.

How COVID-19 has fundamentally changed clinical research in global health

Jay J H Park, Robin Mogg, Gerald E Smith, Etheldreda Nakimuli-Mpungu

COVID-19 has had negative repercussions on the entire global population. Despite there being a common goal that should have unified resources and efforts, there have been an overwhelmingly large number of clinical trials that have been registered that are of questionable methodological quality. As the final paper of this Series, we discuss how the medical research community has responded to COVID-19. We recognise the incredible pressure that this pandemic has put on researchers, regulators, and policy makers, all of whom were doing their best to move quickly but safely in a time of tremendous uncertainty. However, the research community's response to the COVID-19 pandemic has prominently highlighted many fundamental issues that exist in clinical trial research under the current system and its incentive structures. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only re-emphasised the importance of well designed randomised clinical trials but also highlighted the need for large-scale clinical trials structured according to a master protocol in a coordinated and collaborative manner. There is also a need for structures and incentives to enable faster data sharing of anonymised datasets, and a need to provide similar opportunities to those in high-income countries for clinical trial research in low-resource regions where clinical trial research receives considerably less research funding.

The Age of Impunity : And How to Fight It

By David Miliband

President Joe Biden has been blunt about the enormity of the challenge that his and other democratic governments face in this era of rising authoritarianism. “This is a battle between the utility of democracies in the twenty-first century and autocracies,” he said in his first White House press conference. “That’s what’s at stake here. We’ve got to prove democracy works.”

Values are back, and not only on the domestic front. Biden’s administration will place greater emphasis on defending human rights around the world, including in China and Russia. He wants humanitarian need to figure in military strategy and has withdrawn U.S. support for offensive measures by the Saudi-led coalition fighting against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, which is now home to the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. He wants the United States to live up to its legal and moral commitments and has restored some rights to asylum seekers.

For all this, there are good reasons to be grateful. Former President Donald Trump’s commitment to deals rather than values emboldened autocrats around the world. Civilians killed in war were not Trump’s concern. Nor were refugees driven from their homes or journalists imprisoned in

Supply Chains and National Security—the Lessons of the COVID-19 Pandemic

by Bradley Martin

National power relies on globally efficient and intertwined supply chains. These highly interconnected supply chains are a fact of life, bringing benefit and vulnerability. Supply chain vulnerability stretches across whole sectors of the U.S. economy and is a national security issue in that sense: a set of interests that if disrupted could directly affect the health and well-being of the United State and its allies.

The response to COVID-19 was an example of a supply chain crisis in medical equipment and support infrastructure that involved no malign actors at all, simply a disease that impacted supply chains across the world in multiple ways. The rapid development of COVID-19 vaccines stands as a remarkable scientific and medical achievement, but the overall response to the pandemic faced supply chain challenges, even in the absence of a competitor bent on creating and exploiting supply chain vulnerability.

Globalization’s Coming Golden Age

By Harold James

The thought that trade and globalization might make a comeback in the 2020s, picking up renewed vigor after the pandemic, may seem far-fetched. After all, COVID-19 is fragmenting the world, destroying multilateralism, and disrupting complex cross-border supply chains. The virus looks like it is completing the work of the 2008 financial crisis: the Great Recession produced more trade protectionism, forced governments to question globalization, increased hostility to migration, and, for the first time in over four decades, ushered in a sustained period in which global trade grew more slowly than global production. Even then, however, there was no complete reversal or deglobalization; rather, there was an uncertain, sputtering “slobalization.” In contrast, today’s vaccine nationalism is rapidly driving China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States into open confrontation and sowing bitter conflict within the EU. It is all too easy to extrapolate and see a future of “nobalization”—globalization vanishing in a viral haze.

Over the past two centuries, the course of trade and globalization has been shaped by how governments and people have responded to such crises. Globalization comes in cycles: periods of increasing integration are followed by shocks, crises, and destructive backlashes. After the Great Depression, the world slid into autarky, nationalism, authoritarianism, zero-sum thinking, and, ultimately, war—a series of events often presented as a grim parable of the consequences of globalization’s reversal. Yet history shows that many crises produce more, rather than less, globalization. Challenges can generate new creative energy, better communication, and a greater willingness to learn from effective solutions adopted elsewhere. Governments often realize that their ability to competently deliver the services their populations demand requires answers found abroad.

Exceptional New Normal': IEA Raises Growth Forecast For Wind And Solar By Another 25%

by Simon Evans, Carbon Brief

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has raised its forecast for the global growth of wind and solar by another 25% compared to figures it published just six months ago.

Furthermore, the IEA's "renewable energy market update" forecasts nearly 40% higher growth in 2021 than it expected a year ago, putting wind and solar on track to match global gas capacity by 2022.

The Paris-based agency says a "huge" 280 gigawatts (GW) of renewable capacity - primarily wind and solar - was installed globally last year, some 45% higher than the level in 2019, after the largest annual increase in more than 20 years.

This "exceptional" level of annual additions will become the "new normal" in 2021 and 2022, the IEA says, with the potential for further acceleration in the years that follow.

Revisiting the case for no first use of nuclear weapons

By Gareth Evans 

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a presentation the author gave at an international webinar hosted by the Geneva Centre for Security Policy and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament on 29 April 2021.

No first use is back on the global nuclear weapons campaign agenda, supported internationally by organizations like Global Zero and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. The issue has also been given new life in the United States by the election of an evidently sympathetic President Biden and the reintroduction into Congress by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Adam Smith of their No First Use Act. Although the case for no first use has been well made before by Scott Sagan, Morton Halperin, and others, including Ramesh Thakur and John Holdren in this journal, it is timely, accordingly, to revisit the arguments that make it so compelling a policy choice.

A nuclear-armed state is said to have a no-first-use policy when it makes an explicit declaration that it will not use nuclear weapons either preventively or preemptively against any adversary (nuclear-armed or not) and keeps them available only for use or threat of use by way of retaliation following a nuclear strike against itself or its allies. A less robust, but still meaningful, formulation of essentially the same idea is a declaration that “the sole purpose of the possession of nuclear weapons is to deter the use of such weapons against one’s own state and that of one’s allies.” This was the formula President Obama was prepared to embrace in 2010 until, unhappily, he was dissuaded by some of his NATO and Asia Pacific allies—and it is the position that President Biden still seems to support.

Colonial Pipeline hack gas shortage warns of worse future cyberattacks

By Marc Ambinder

Last Friday, cyber extortionists penetrated the networks of the company that controls the fuel pipeline serving half of the United States. The company shut down its industrial systems as a precaution, only starting the process of turning them back on late Wednesday. That’s scary, as the lines of people on the east coast waiting to fill their tanks can attest.

But if you’re looking for a way to put this incident in its proper, even more frightening context, look to the testimony Brandon Wales, the acting director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency gave to Congress on Tuesday. CISA, part of the Department of Homeland Security, is in charge of protecting critical infrastructure from cyberattack. But after an attack on some of the country’s most infrastructure, potentially affecting hundreds of millions of people and dollars, Wales said his agency has yet to receive “technical data” about what’s actually happening.

How commercial satellite constellations fit into the Army’s future tactical network designs

Andrew Eversden

JOINT BASE MYER‐HENDERSON HALL, Va. — The U.S. Army will begin implementing advanced satellite communications technology to increase network resiliency as part of its next iteration of tactical network tools.

Adding low-Earth orbit and medium-Earth orbit capabilities commercial satellite constellations into the service’s tactical network repertoire is part of the service’s effort to shift to dispersed battlefields, instead of the fixed fiber communications and forward operating bases that defined the last two decades of war in the Middle East.

As part of the service’s next delivery of tactical network tools, known as Capability Set ’23, Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications-Tactical will use “existing” MEO capabilities, considered more mature than LEO, to support the new battlefield communications, according to Rich Hoffman, lead electronics engineer for SATCOM at the C5ISR Center.

PEO C3T and the Network Cross-Functional Team officials hosted reporters at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall this week for a presentation of new network tools, including new tactical radios, satellite terminals and command post network infrastructure.

Military re-learns the importance of electronic warfare (EW)

Jamie Whitney

The need to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum never has been higher for the U.S. military since the end of the Cold War. By using electronic warfare (EW), branches under the Department of Defense (DOD) umbrella can go on the attack and protect American warfighters and military resources.

This fall, the DOD unveiled its Electromagnetic Spectrum Superiority Strategy, which outlines how the U.S. military aims to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum when it is challenged by peer and near-peer adversaries.

“The Department is transitioning from the traditional consideration of EW as separable from spectrum management to a unified treatment of these activities as Electromagnetic Spectrum Operations (EMSO),” Secretary of Defense Mark Esper wrote in the foreword to the publication released in October 2020. “Consequently, this 2020 Department of Defense EMS Superiority Strategy builds on essential objectives from the 2013 DOD EMS Strategy and the 2017 DOD EW Strategy, and takes the Department another critical step forward in implementing the 2018 National Defense Strategy. This Strategy seeks to align EMS resources, capabilities, and activities across the DOD to support our core national security objectives while remaining mindful of the importance of U.S. economic prosperity. Additionally, this Strategy lays the foundation for a robust EMS enterprise, prepares EMS professionals to leverage new technologies, and focuses on strengthening alliances to achieve the Department’s vision of Freedom of Action in the Electromagnetic Spectrum.”

Fighting over War: Change and Continuity in the Nature and Character of War

Frederik Munch Wrist

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.

How to define and treat war phenomenologically has been one of the most vexing problems occupying the minds of scholars and statesmen throughout history. The very ubiquity of military conflict as an aspect of human interaction between societies has spawned questions as wide-ranging as the causes of war, how to prevent war, and significantly what exactly we understand as war. All of these can be combined into the overarching meta-historical question of whether and how, war is subject to change, and if so, what components are specifically subject to change?