7 June 2021

Water Security as Part of Non-Traditional Security: Threat - Implications for India

 Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Like oil or data, water is an integral part of the world’s economy. Although about 71 per cent of the earth’s surface is water-covered, the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water which is salt water. Freshwater, most of it is frozen in glaciers, accounts for the rest. That leaves less than 1 per cent of the world’s water available to support human and ecological processes. We withdraw 4.3 trillion cubic meters of freshwater every year from the earth’s water basins. We use it in agriculture, which accounts for 70 per cent of the withdrawals. Industry and households consume 19 per cent and 11 per cent, respectively. However, these percentages fluctuate widely across the globe. In the United States, industrial and agricultural usage is almost the same around 40 per cent. In India, agriculture uses 90 per cent of water withdrawals, while only 2 per cent is consumed by industry. Over the past century, rate of withdrawal of available freshwater resources have risen almost six times, outpacing global population growth.

China’s Nuclear and Missile Capabilities: An Overview

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Since China first conducted a nuclear weapon test in 1964, its nuclear doctrine has remained unchanged and is underpinned by two principles: a minimum deterrent doctrine and a No First Use (NFU) policy. China’s 2019 defence white paper states, “China is always committed to a nuclear policy of NFU of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.”

However, a recent U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) report claims that the scope of China’s nuclear modernisation and its lack of transparency “raise concern that China is not only shifting its requirements for what constitutes a minimal deterrence but that it could shift away from its longstanding minimalist force posture.” The data available show that China is modernising and expanding virtually every element of its nuclear forces, including each aspect of its nuclear weapons and missile, sea, and air delivery systems. What is not clear are China’s current and planned holdings of nuclear weapons, China’s future plans for deploying additional delivery systems, its commitment to some form of NFU, first preemption, or launch on warning, and the extent to which it will accept what might be called a form of ‘minimum assured destruction.

An Afghan tragedy: the Pashtuns, the Taliban and the state

Anatol Lieven
Source Link

It is an old cliché that the Pashtun highlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan are highly resistant to state authority, and old masters of ‘the art of not being governed’ (to use James Scott’s phrase). Like so many clichés, this has a real basis in historical fact. The old name ‘Yaghistan’ (the land of lawlessness, rebellion or dissent) was given to them by the people of the region, not by Western observers. This name, and what it indicates, also corresponds very closely to patterns in other Muslim tribal regions, first systematically analysed by Ibn Khaldun in the fourteenth century CE in the Maghreb.

As an index of the Afghan state’s failure to make its society ‘legible’ (in another phrase of Scott’s), it may be noted that in the whole of modern Afghan history there has never been a census that could be regarded as remotely reliable. As for Max Weber’s classic definition of a state as ‘a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory’, that has never been true of Afghanistan. Even when the Afghan state was at its strongest, local communities insisted, usually successfully, on keeping rifles, on conducting limited armed disputes with other kinship groups, and on executing their own members who violated traditional community norms.

Only in the late 1940s, as a result of the import of modern tanks and aircraft, did the Afghan state army become strong enough to defeat a general tribal uprising – and that superiority lasted a bare 30 years. It collapsed with the anti-communist revolts and army mutinies of the late 1970s, and since then, no Afghan state – not even the Taliban, which came closest – has successfully possessed a monopoly of organised armed force across the whole of Afghanistan.

The Security Challenges Facing Indonesia’s Submarine Cable Communication System

By Dedi Dunarto

In March, Indonesia’s Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs issued Ministerial Decision No. 14/2021 on the Flow of Pipelines and Submarine Cables Policy. The regulation updated the technical guidance for the organization of pipelines and submarine cables, indicating that Indonesia is steadily moving to improve underwater infrastructure management.

The decision clarified the arrangement of 217 corridors for submarine cables and pipelines, 209 beach manholes, and the four national landing stations in Batam (Riau Islands province), Kupang (East Nusa Tenggara province), Manado (North Sulawesi province), and Jayapura (Papua province), as well as the 186 submarine cables installed outside the existing corridors. It stated that pipelines and submarine cables must be reviewed every five years or as required to account for changing environmental conditions and natural disasters.

This submarine cable network constitutes the vital connecting tissue for electronic communications between far-flung parts of the vast Indonesian archipelago. One program currently being pursued by the Ministry of Information and Communication is the construction of the East Palapa Ring, which will connect the eastern Indonesian islands to the rest of the country. This will involve the placement of 4,450 kilometers of submarine cables, including 3,850 kilometers of fiber-optic cables. As this suggests, Indonesia’s telecommunications infrastructure is tightly intertwined with its management of the maritime domain.

Regional Responses to U.S.-China Competition in the Indo-Pacific

by Bonny Lin, Michael S. Chase, Jonah Blank

In long-term strategic competition with China, how effectively the United States works with allies and partners will be critical to determining U.S. success. To enable closer cooperation, the United States will need to understand how allies and partners view the United States and China and how they are responding to U.S.-China competition.

In this report, which is the main report of a series on U.S.-China competition in the Indo-Pacific, the authors define what U.S.-China competition for influence involves and comparatively assess U.S.-China competition for influence in six countries in Southeast Asia—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—as well as the roles of three U.S. allies and partners that are active in Southeast Asia—Australia, India, and Japan. The authors first explore why the United States is competing with China in the Indo-Pacific and what the two are competing for. They then develop a framework that uses 14 variables to assess relative U.S.-Chinese influence across countries in the Indo-Pacific. Drawing from interviews in all nine countries and data gathered, the authors apply this framework to assess how regional countries view U.S.-China competition in their respective countries and how China views competition in each of the regional countries. Finally, the authors discuss how the United States could work more effectively with allies and partners in Southeast Asia and beyond.

With Kazatomprom Deal, China Secures Nuclear Fuel Supply and Enhances Ties With Kazakhstan

By Gregory Xanthos

In April 2021, at the virtual global climate summit hosted by the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping declared his country’s intention to start reducing its coal power generation in 2026, and reach peak carbon emissions before 2030. The announcement followed the issuing of China’s 14th Five-Year Plan, published in March, in which Beijing laid out its objective to increase nuclear power generation from 50 gigawatts (GW) to 70 GW in just five years. Nuclear power is a key component of China’s plan to reduce its carbon emissions and win the global clean energy race. With 17 plants currently under construction, China is undertaking the world’s largest nuclear power plant building program. According to Luo Qi of China’s Atomic Energy Research Initiative, “By 2035, nuclear plants in operation should reach around 180 GW,” almost quadrupling China’s current nuclear power generation in 15 years.

On the heels of Xi Jinping’s announcement in April, China finalized a nuclear fuel deal with Kazakhstan’s national atomic agency, Kazatomprom, the largest uranium supplier in the world. State-owned China General Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC) and Kazatomprom formed a joint venture to build the Ulba Nuclear Fuel Plant, giving China a 49 percent stake in the plant for $435 million, and guaranteeing that CGNPC will purchase 49 percent of the plant’s production annually. The initial investment from CGNPC, and its subsequent purchases, will enable Kazatomprom to ascend the value-added ladder and operate along the entire front end of the nuclear fuel cycle. The agreement also guarantees a buyer for the new plant’s production in a world of unpredictable demand for uranium and its byproducts. After the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, nuclear power became politically controversial and global uranium prices collapsed. China and Kazakhstan’s proximity and shared border will facilitate overland supply by railroad, avoiding foreign jurisdictions and the potential security risks posed by transporting uranium through them.

China’s One-Way Diplomacy


LONDON – The late George Shultz, US Secretary of the Treasury under President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State under President Ronald Reagan, was one of the finest public servants in recent American history. When I was the last British governor of Hong Kong, he once offered me wise advice about dealing with the People’s Republic of China.

Shultz told me that, in his long experience in business and government, Chinese communists always tried to define other countries’ relationship with them entirely on their own terms. They wanted the rest of us to regard our ties with China as the political equivalent of a beautiful and priceless Chinese vase. They would allow us to look at or even touch it, provided we didn’t risk dropping it by saying or doing anything that they believed should disqualify us from the honor of Middle Kingdom’s favor.

In my experience, that is a pretty fair summary of Chinese attitudes. But it is not how sovereign states usually conduct their relations with each other.

Bilateral relationships are normally aggregates of the decisions that countries separately and jointly make to protect and advance their own interests. That includes the occasions when it suits each to accommodate the other side’s interests. There is sometimes a bit – or with friends, sometimes a lot – of give and take.

Deciphering Chinese Deterrence Signalling in the New Era

by Nathan Beauchamp-MustafagaDerek GrossmanKristen Gunness

In Xi Jinping's 'new era', Chinese ambitions are increasingly global, its behaviour is increasingly aggressive, and its military is increasingly a leading edge of national power. China is also changing its approach to deterrence signalling in this 'new era' as it leverages growing military capabilities and the availability of new communication channels.

This report is intended to help analysts and policymakers in Australia, the United States, and other countries better decipher Chinese deterrence signalling in this 'new era'. For China, deterrence (威慑, weishe) is not simply the objective of forestalling an adversary's undesired action, as in Western thinking—it also includes aspects of compellence, meaning that China often uses its military to coerce other countries to take actions Beijing desires. This report provides an analytic framework to interpret Chinese deterrence signalling and explores seven case studies of recent Chinese deterrence behaviour to illuminate what has stayed the same and what has changed in Chinese peacetime and crisis deterrence signalling.

The Limits on China’s Role in Syria

By Guy Burton, Nick Lyall, and Logan Pauley

Last week, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad was re-elected with 95 percent of the vote. He has been keen to portray the poll as a sign that the country is returning to normality after a decade of chaos and civil war. That is important if he wants to attract outside investment in order to rebuild the country.

Certainly, since the last presidential election in 2014, Assad has regained control over much of the country and its population, as shown by the fact that the number of registered voters has risen from 15.8 to 18.1 million. However, parts of the country did not participate, including the Kurdish autonomous region in the north and the opposition-held province of Idlib.

Assad’s victory was treated skeptically in Western countries, where officials have shared the Syrian opposition’s view that the poll was neither free nor fair. By contrast, Assad’s Russian and Iranian allies have endorsed the result. They were followed by Belarus and China.

The Chinese endorsement will be especially welcome for Assad as he looks to leverage it into a more tangible form of assistance. Previously, he has played up the Sino-Syrian connection as a way to demonstrate that he is not diplomatically isolated and that he has a number of potential partners to support his reconstruction efforts.

Israel’s Iron Dome Won’t Last Forever

By Seth J. Frantzman

In the recent war between Israel and Hamas, a cease-fire was achieved after 11 days of fighting. Both sides claimed victory, and both are expecting another round in the future. For Israel, a key to its success has been the Iron Dome air defense system, which uses radar and missiles to intercept rockets and other threats. This kept Israeli civilians relatively safe from the 4,340 rockets the Israel Defense Forces say were fired from Gaza. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz is scheduled to meet U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin today to seek up to $1 billion in emergency military aid to help replenish Iron Dome interceptors used in the war.

The recent conflict was different than previous wars in 2009, 2012, and 2014. It was also different than the two rounds of multiday fighting that took place in 2018 and 2019. What makes this round different is the unprecedented rocket fire Hamas unleashed and Israel’s diminishing returns when trying to counter Hamas.

Hamas and its backers in Iran think the recent war was a success. More than 60 rockets got through the Israeli air defense umbrella.

China Rips Off U.S. Multi-Domain Warfare Tactics


(Washington, D.C.) China’s habit of attempting to steal promising U.S. technological innovations and even appearing to copy U.S. design configurations and weapons platforms is well known, yet there now appears to be indications that the People’s Liberation Army is copying U.S. military multi-domain tactical warfare concepts.

For many years now, the U.S. military has been conducting specific multi-domain combat training operations and war preparations exercises to include landing Army helicopters on Navy ships, forming Multi-Domain task forces in the Pacific and firing land weapons at ocean targets. Based upon land-sea-air networking, the concept of operation is to find and hand-off targets, conduct joint attack operations and draw upon advantages and attributes specific to certain domain platforms such as fighter jets, surface ships and land artillery. In certain scenarios, the Army has explored the prospect of using land-based weapons for maritime attack, as many ground munitions have the guidance technology, range and explosive components to track and destroy moving ships at sea.

One senior Army weapons developer explained it to me this way … “it does not matter if the target of a land weapons is on land or at sea at the ocean,” meaning land-launched missiles, rockets and even artillery can fire from coastal areas out onto the ocean. This is particularly significant in areas such as the Pacific given the large amount of island chains and coastal areas in the Pacific.

White House Warns Companies to Act Now on Ransomware Defenses

By David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth
The White House warned American businesses on Thursday to take urgent security measures to protect against ransomware attacks, as hackers shift their tactics from stealing data to disrupting critical infrastructure.

The bluntly worded open letter followed a string of escalating ransomware attacks that stopped gasoline and jet fuel from flowing up the East Coast and closed off beef and pork production from one of the country’s leading food suppliers.

Anne Neuberger, the deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technologies, wrote that the Biden administration was working with partners “to disrupt and deter” attacks that deployed ransomware, a form of malware that encrypts data until the victim pays.

But she urged companies to adopt many of the same defensive steps that it has recently required of federal agencies and companies that do business with the government.

The message amounted to a rush effort to construct the kind of defensive infrastructure for cyberattacks on the United States that has been broadly discussed for years — but that companies have been slow to adapt, because either the threat seemed distant or the cost far too high.

JBS ransomware attack part of Russia's 'massive cyber warfare campaign' to undermine US: General Keane

By Yael Halon

Russian President Vladimir Putin is "most definitely" testing President Biden with Moscow-based cyberattacks targeting U.S. interests ahead of the upcoming U.S.-Russia summit, Fox News senior strategic analyst and retired Army Gen. Jack Keane told "The Story" Wednesday.

The latest ransomware assault this week shut down the U.S.-based meat plants of the world’s largest meatpacker, Brazil-based JBS, and the White House said a criminal group likely based in Russia is thought to be responsible for the ransomware attack.

"What is really happening here which is something the country has to come to grips here, particularly the government in dealing with this and also educate the American people, that Russia and our adversaries are conducting massive cyber-warfare campaigns to undermine Western democracies and disrupt the institutions in those democracies and the people's confidence in them with a particular focus on the United States," Keane explained.

The retired four-star general said Russia has allocated government resources and its military intelligence unit to engage in "significant government hacking like they did in our elections and they do with solar winds."

US meatpacking plants get back on stream after crippling cyber-attack

Alex Hern and Alexandra Villarreal

Meat-processing factories in the US run by the world’s largest company in that field are coming back on stream on Wednesday after a ransomware attack – as experts warned all corporate and local government leaders to be on the alert.

A cyber-attack on the meat processor JBS had forced it to halt all US operations while it scrambled to restore functionality. The attack, like other recent hacks, is believed to have originated in Russia.

JBS, which supplies more than a fifth of all beef in America, said all of its US beef plants were pushed offline on Sunday. The ransomware attack on the Brazilian-headquartered company’s networks also disrupted other operations across the US, as well as the company’s businesses in other countries, including Australia, but less severely.

The White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday the attackers were most likely a criminal organisation based in Russia. “The White House is engaging directly with the Russian government on this matter and delivering the message that responsible states do not harbour ransomware criminals,” she added.

Moscow and Tehran Dramatically Expanding Economic and Security Cooperation

By: Paul Goble

Among the most important developments since the end of last year’s fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been the dramatic expansion in consultations and cooperation between Russia and Iran. This development reflects their common opposition to border changes, shared concern about the expansion of Turkish influence in the South Caucasus and Central Asia, as well as their desire to do an end-run around Western sanctions by promoting north-south trade at a time when east-west trade has been curtailed. The complementary geopolitical calculations of the two countries have long been recognized (see EDM, March 24, 2020 and February 25, 2021; Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 3, 2021), but the extent to which Moscow and Tehran have sought to realize them, culminating in a decision two days ago (June 1) to expand bilateral military cooperation talks and Russian arms sales to Iran, have not.

Almost immediately after the November 2020 Karabakh war ceasefire declaration, both Russian and Iranian officials at a variety of levels launched a transparent effort to broaden and deepen links between the two countries. The rapid expansion of such contacts has been striking, beginning with sectoral economic ties, trade policy and efforts to resolve problems on the Caspian Sea. It subsequently extended to discussions about the possibility of including Iran as a member in the Eurasian Economic Community, receiving Russian assistance in building a trans-Iran canal system from the Caspian to the Persian Gulf, upgrading Iranian ports to expand trade with Russia, as well as modernizing the Iranian navy to reduce Russia’s need to maintain a large fleet in the Indian Ocean (Mcx.gov.ru, May 27; Kaspiyskiy Vestnik [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8], June 3; Tehran Times, May 8).

Report: Climate Change, Intelligence, and Global Security

Calder Walton, Paul Kolbe, Kristin Wood, Rolf Mowatt-Larssen

Executive summary
U.S. intelligence talks the talk about climate change, now must walk the walk

The U.S. Director of National Intelligence (DNI), Avril Haines, has stated that climate change needs to be at the center of U.S. foreign policy and national security. It is a threat multiplier that impacts every function of government and society: territorial integrity, economic well-being, social stability, and military capabilities are all impacted by climate change, directly and indirectly. However, in addressing climate change, the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is currently unsure of its mission space and hitherto has been relying on boilerplate responses to it. In an exclusive discussion, the U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, Secretary John Kerry, who should be a principal consumer of intelligence about climate change within the U.S. government, stated that the U.S. IC must deliver significantly more.

The increasing effects of climate change are arising at a moment when the nature of intelligence itself is undergoing a revolution—from the collection of hidden secrets to collation of non-obvious (but knowable) data frequently hiding out in the open. This watershed in intelligence and national security requires bold, innovative, ideas for the U.S. IC to adapt and anticipate security threats derived by climate change. It must establish its mission space and alter its own architecture to ensure it is providing its customers with intelligence about them needed. Its mission will not be about spies disseminating secrets to policymakers; rather, it will require a new intelligence and national security paradigm that must reach across society, allowing the general public to consume climate intelligence and hold policymakers to account.

Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy in Russia

Jeffrey Edmonds, Samuel Bendett
Source Link

The Russian leadership views the ability to innovate as one of the hallmarks of a great power and sees military innovation as essential to Russia’s overall defense posture in a changing threat environment. The goals of Russia’s artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous ecosystem are best understood within the context of Russia’s economic development and modernization efforts, and include those initiatives aimed at the improvement of the wellbeing of Russian citizens as well as the conditions for business and entrepreneurial activity. 

The following report details the Russian AI ecosystem and is part of a yearlong effort, conducted on behalf of the Department of Defense Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC), to understand the evolving field of AI and autonomy in Russia. While focusing on AI and autonomy, the report also seeks to place AI within the larger technological environment in Russia.

Infrastructure 4.0: Achieving Better Outcomes with Technology and Systems Thinking

The Infrastructure 4.0 project community was formed to encourage a more holistic, outcome-focused framing for infrastructure. Its members formulated the 13 recommendations presented in this White Paper, intended for decision-makers who seek to improve the adoption of emerging technologies into infrastructure development. The recommendations range from high-level strategies reflecting broad systemic commentary to tactical actions and concrete steps that can be taken by specific institutions and companies. By using technology as an enabler, with a focus on improving outcomes for people and nature, it is possible to ensure that infrastructure serves as a platform to connect the built environment, the natural world and human lives in a way that allows all three to thrive.

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blockchain

by Pavan Katkar

The technology underpinning contentious cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin) is widely known as blockchain. This dissertation explored the implications and applications of blockchain. By "implications" I mean what kinds of policy problems is it enabling, and by "applications" I mean what kinds of policy problems can we address using blockchain.

The first part of this dissertation explored some of the widely discussed policy problems associated with blockchain to find out that blockchain is not creating any new kinds of policy problems. However, it has the potential to scale up some specific law enforcement issues associated with transaction of illicit goods and services.

The second part of this dissertation conceptualizes a blockchain based ecosystem to demonstrate that this tool can be used in orchestrating an ecosystem geared towards mitigating large scale (n » 1) cyber attacks. This exploration led to the insight that if addressing a policy issue requires the alignment of economic incentives of multiple independent entities in a cooperative way, then blockchain can be quite an effective tool for that purpose.

Based on these analyses, this dissertation suggests that while blockchain (and cryptocurrencies) may be increasing the scale of some select law enforcement issues, there is no need for new policies as such; existing policies are robust enough to address those issues. Secondly, governmental and commercial organizations may benefit by exploring how to apply this tool in addressing complex policy problems that need coordination of multiple independent entities.

Jamestown Foundation

Low Fertility Trap Fears Cloud China’s Release of 2020 Census Data

Xi Jinping Stresses His Historical Preeminence in Preparation for the CCP Centenary

China's Bid to Dominate Electrical Connectivity in Latin America

Sustaining China’s Sovereignty Claims: The PLA’s Embrace of Unmanned Logistics

Sino-Australian Relations and the Bumpy Road to the G7 Summit

A Curse Worse than Cash


CAMBRIDGE – Ransomware – a type of malicious software that restricts access to a computer system until a ransom is paid – is not a good look for cryptocurrencies. Proponents of these digital coins would rather point to celebrity investors such as Tesla founder Elon Musk, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, star football quarterback Tom Brady, or actress Maisie Williams (Arya in Game of Thrones). But recent ransomware attacks, and cryptocurrencies’ central role in enabling them, are a public relations disaster.

The attacks include last month’s shutdown of the Colonial Pipeline, which drove up gasoline prices on the US East Coast until the company paid the hackers $5 million in Bitcoin, and, even more recently, an attack on JBS, the world’s largest meat producer. Such episodes highlight what for some of us has been a longstanding concern: difficult-to-trace anonymous cryptocurrencies offer possibilities for tax evasion, crime, and terrorism that make large-denomination bank notes seem innocuous by comparison. Although prominent cryptocurrency advocates are politically connected and have democratized their base, regulators cannot sit on their hands forever.

China’s ‘splinternet’ will create a state-controlled alternative cyberspace

Flavia Kenyon

Cyberspace is one huge, unregulated mess. A virtual wild west where sophisticated criminal gangs ply their trade alongside multinational companies, spy agencies, activists, celebrity influencers – and nation states. The question of who governs it is one of the biggest of our time.

Britain needs to be, if not quite ruling the waves, at least a global force for good in the expanding virtual world. The issue has never been so pressing. Six years ago, I acted for a coder in the biggest cyberfraud phishing case in the UK. The malware my client and others created was so sophisticated that the police could not decode it but were able to show it was used for fraud. The financial data harvested was stored on two servers, one in France and one in the US, and the lack of international cooperation meant law enforcement never got their hands on it.

The case is almost ancient history in cyber terms. Today, that same sort of malware is being used on a previously unimaginable scale in ransomware attacks targeting national infrastructures, such as the US oil pipeline operator Colonial last month, the NHS in 2017, and even the city of Baltimore.

A.I. Drone May Have Acted on Its Own in Attacking Fighters, U.N. Says

By Maria Cramer

A military drone that attacked soldiers during a battle in Libya’s civil war last year may have done so without human control, according to a recent report commissioned by the United Nations.

The drone, which the report described as “a lethal autonomous weapons systems,” was powered by artificial intelligence and used by forces backed by the government based in Tripoli, the capital, against enemy militia fighters as they ran away from rocket attacks.

The fighters “were hunted down and remotely engaged by the unmanned combat aerial vehicles or the lethal autonomous weapons systems,” according to the report, which did not say whether there were any casualties or injuries.

The weapons systems, it said, “were programmed to attack targets without requiring data connectivity between the operator and the munition: in effect a true ‘fire, forget and find’ capability.”

Drone Dilemma

By Anouk S. Rigterink

The United States’ use of airstrikes carried out by drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, to kill suspected terrorists abroad began during the George W. Bush administration but picked up speed during the Obama era. These strikes target high-value terrorist leaders as well as rank-and-file terrorists and terrorist infrastructure. Since 2004, the United States has reportedly launched over 14,000 such strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen alone.

On his first day in office, President Joe Biden ordered a review of this practice and announced that until the review is completed, all U.S. drone strikes outside active war zones must be authorized by the White House. The review will likely assess what conditions justify the authorization of a drone strike. How much certainty should the United States have that a drone strike will not cause civilian casualties? Are the military and the CIA obliged to report the number of casualties to the public? What level of threat must the target pose to justify a strike? But the review may not ask the most important question: Do drone strikes further the United States’ military and counterterrorism goals?

Evidence from the record of U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan indicates that such attacks—particularly those against terrorist leaders—may in fact work against those goals. Drone strikes that kill terrorist leaders may ultimately lead to more, not fewer, terrorist attacks. They also produce a staggering number of civilian casualties: some studies suggest a third of drone casualties are civilians, and others put that proportion even higher.

Could a new Chinese Hypersonic Missile Destroy U.S. Carriers with One Shot?


(Washington, D.C.) Could a Chinese-fired hypersonic weapon sink or destroy a U.S. aircraft carrier with a single shot, before ship commanders have an opportunity to defend against it?

The exact extent to which the Chinese DF-17 hypersonic missile can do damage, and the state of its progress toward possible operational service, may still remain somewhat unknown. However, saying the U.S. Navy is likely to take the threat very seriously, could probably qualify as an understatement.

Carrier defenses are increasingly layered, multi-domain and equipped with new avenues of protection to include EW, laser interceptors and aerial nodes able to network threat information to surface ships. The question is, just how much could some of these new defensive innovations succeed in finding, tracking and destroying an approaching hypersonic weapon.

An interesting report in The Drive’s Warzone, claims that the DF-17 “carrier killer” can hit speeds of Mach 10, a speed reported to be 7,600 mph. While the DF-17’s guidance system or ultimate range are not specified by the report, The Drive does say that the weapon is capable of “advanced maneuvers,” and posits that a single shot of the weapon could likely disable, sink or destroy a U.S. Ford-class carrier.