14 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 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..... 

5G and the Contested China-India Border

By Tenzin Dalha

China today is one of the biggest spenders on research and development (R&D) in the world. In 2020, China’s spending on R&D increased by 10.3 percent to 2.44 trillion renminbi ($378 billion), accounting for 2.4 percent of its GDP. In March 2021, during the annual session of the National People’s Congress, Premier Li Keqiang announced that Beijing will aim to increase the nationwide R&D spending by more than 7 percent annually.

One focus of China’s R&D push is the latest fifth generation, or 5G, wireless technology. The advent of 5G is expected to boost wireless connectivity and communications, thus enabling a new wave of innovations and offering greater bandwidth network capacity. G technology is also expected to be a step-change in mobile networking, promising exponentially faster download speeds and data-sharing in real time and reduced network latency. Li set a goal for China to get 56 percent of the country on 5G networks this year, and China is aiming to complete the installation of 5G network infrastructure during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period.

The Withdrawal from Afghanistan by US and Allied Forces

By Luke Hunt

Veteran Australian war correspondent Lynne O’Donnell has returned to Afghanistan to cover the withdrawal of U.S. and allied forces, two decades after the troubled country was invaded following the al-Qaida attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

The Taliban and the government of Ashraf Ghani are positioning themselves for renewed struggle, and O’Donnell says Afghans are worried about their future amid a sharply reduced U.S. military presence.

Between 2009 and 2017, O’Donnell was bureau chief in Kabul for The Associated Press and the French news agency AFP. She now writes for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, Tortoise Media, and the South China Morning Post.

She holds an MA in War Studies from King’s College London, where she is a research fellow of the war studies department and a visiting research fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience.

Taliban Map Out Future Vision for Afghanistan

By Lynne O’Donnell

Postwar Afghanistan, in the eyes of the Taliban, will be a law-abiding country, a member of the community of nations, open for business, and at peace with itself, its neighbors, and the rest of the world. But the sexes will be strictly segregated, women will be forced to wear hijabs, and freedom of speech and expression will become memories. This is the Taliban’s vision for a post-conflict Afghanistan, as explained by the group’s spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid. In the meantime, he said in an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy, the insurgents will continue to fight to establish what he calls an “Islamic government.”

As the United States packs up its military presence in Afghanistan, planning to end its involvement on the 20th anniversary of the event that started it, the 9/11 attacks, the government of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani is locked in a fierce war with the Taliban militants. While both sides continue to engage in a peace process, previously brokered by former U.S. President Donald Trump, in the Qatari capital of Doha, little progress has been made. The Taliban, who have gained legitimacy as a political player with a big voice in the future of the country, don’t recognize the Afghan government as legitimate, referring to it only as the “Kabul administration” and blaming it for lack of progress in peace negotiations.

U.S. Weighs Possibility of Airstrikes if Afghan Forces Face Crisis

By Helene Cooper, Eric Schmitt and Thomas Gibbons-Neff

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is considering seeking authorization to carry out airstrikes to support Afghan security forces if Kabul or another major city is in danger of falling to the Taliban, potentially introducing flexibility into President Biden’s plan to end the United States military presence in the conflict, senior officials said.

Mr. Biden and his top national security aides had previously suggested that once U.S. troops left Afghanistan, air support would end as well, with the exception of strikes aimed at terrorist groups that could harm American interests.

But military officials are actively discussing how they might respond if the rapid withdrawal produces consequences with substantial national security implications.

No decisions have been made yet, officials said. But they added that one option under consideration would be to recommend that U.S. warplanes or armed drones intervene in an extraordinary crisis, such as the potential fall of Kabul, the Afghan capital, or a siege that puts American and allied embassies and citizens at risk.

A Most Adaptable Party

Ian Johnson

In February the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, held a gala reception at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing to announce a momentous accomplishment: the elimination of extreme rural poverty in China. The grand event—in an enormous ballroom with hundreds of dignitaries flown in from around the country—was carefully timed to kick off a year of celebrations to mark the Chinese Communist Party’s founding one hundred years ago. A country that many people once saw as synonymous with poverty had achieved the unattainable, Xi declared, creating a “miracle” that will “go down in history.”

Evoking history was more than self-congratulatory. For a party that aims to guide China toward domination of the future—especially in crucial industries such as electric vehicles, renewable energy, and artificial intelligence—the first priority is controlling the past. In its telling, history brought it to power and, because it rules so well by doing things like eliminating poverty, history has decided to keep it there. For the Chinese Communist Party, history is legitimacy.

THE LONGER TELEGRAM: Toward a new American China strategy

Today the Atlantic Council publishes an extraordinary new strategy paper that offers one of the most insightful and rigorous examinations to date of Chinese geopolitical strategy and how an informed American strategy would address the challenges of China’s own strategic ambitions.

Written by a former senior government official with deep expertise and experience dealing with China, the strategy sets out a comprehensive approach, and details the ways to execute it, in terms that will invite comparison with George Kennan’s historic 1946 “long telegram” on Soviet grand strategy. We have maintained the author’s preferred title for the work, “The Longer Telegram,” given the author’s aspiration to provide a similarly durable and actionable approach to China.

The focus of the paper is China’s leader and his behavior. “The single most important challenge facing the United States in the twenty-first century is the rise of an increasingly authoritarian China under President and General Secretary Xi Jinping,” it says. “US strategy must remain laser focused on Xi, his inner circle, and the Chinese political context in which they rule. Changing their decision-making will require understanding, operating within, and changing their political and strategic paradigm. All US policy aimed at altering China’s behavior should revolve around this fact, or it is likely to prove ineffectual.”

Why the United States Can’t Touch Iran’s Atlantic-Bound Warships

By Cornell Overfield

Last week, Politico reported the movement of two Iranian warships apparently on their way to the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. national security officials expressed concern that these ships were bound for Venezuela with cargoes that violate U.S. sanctions on Caracas. Already, Sen. Marco Rubio has called for the United States to prevent the ships’ arrival. However, any U.S. action against these vessels would be unlawful and undermine a core tenet of the international order: sovereign immunity. The costs of direct action would be severe, exposing the United States to charges of hypocrisy toward the rules-based order and potentially opening U.S. naval vessels to similar treatment by adversaries.

Caracas and Tehran have grown close over the past decade as each has found relief in the other as a safety valve from U.S. sanctions. Trade in oil has been particularly important for the duo, and the United States and its allies have, in recent years, interdicted several cargo vessels under flags of convenience suspected of ferrying Iranian oil in violation of U.S. and European Union sanctions. This time is different. These vessels are part of the Iranian navy. Under international law, Tehran can channel rapper MC Hammer and tell the United States, “you can’t touch this.”

Operation Guardian of the Walls: Two Parallel Dimensions and Three Stark Surprises

Itai Brun

Israel hit Hamas hard, but the Israeli public was frustrated by the ongoing rocket fire, the IDF's inability to prevent it, and the lack of a decisive and unequivocal Israeli victory. This dissonance is the outcome of three surprises experienced by the Israeli public in the course of the campaign: the fact that the political echelon chose (yet again) to deter Hamas and not to vanquish it; the inability of the IDF's offensive operations to stop the rocket fire; and the military’s difficulty in explaining and demonstrating its significant achievements. These surprises are the result of a continued failure by the political and military leadership to explain to the public both Israel’s chosen strategy and current nature of military conflicts. In advance of future confrontations, time now should be used to review and coordinate expectations with the public, clarify the rationale behind the chosen Israeli strategy, forge an effective way to explain military achievements, and openly discuss the characteristics of war in the current era.

Throughout Operation Guardian of the Walls, Israel’s Prime Minister, Minister of Defense, Chief of Staff, and other senior IDF officers reiterated the massive, unprecedented damage inflicted on Hamas and estimated that by the end of the campaign it would lead to strengthened Israeli deterrence. In doing so, they conveyed strong satisfaction with how the operation was managed and the results of the IDF's offensive activity. And indeed, Hamas was hit hard, but the Israeli public was frustrated by the steady rocket fire, the IDF's inability to prevent it, and the lack of a clear and unequivocal Israeli victory. On all the media outlets, every additional rocket barrage from Gaza was perceived as a sign of the IDF's failed attack on Hamas. In the current conflict, the pace of events accelerated over that of previous conflicts, and therefore the familiar feeling of a wasted opportunity appeared earlier this time.

For Netanyahu, like Trump, Only ‘Fraud’ Can Explain His Defeat

TEL AVIV — For Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel is witnessing “the greatest election fraud in the history of the country.” For Donald Trump, defeat last November was “the crime of the century.” The two men’s language overlaps, it seems, because their overwhelming sense of invincibility is confounded by democratic process.

Naftali Bennett, a right-wing nationalist, will take office as Israel’s prime minister Sunday, if approved by parliament, but Mr. Netanyahu’s raging assault on his likely successor shows no sign of relenting. He has said there is a “deep state” conspiracy.

Mr. Netanyahu accuses Mr. Bennett of conducting a “fire sale on the country.” A “government of capitulation” awaits Israel after a “stolen” election, he says. As for the media, it is supposedly trying to silence him through “total fascism.”

Although it appears that a peaceful democratic transition in Israel will take place, nothing is certain.

Deterrence, US grand strategy, and the wisdom of Bob Gates

Michael E. O’Hanlon

The Biden administration is now working on its national security strategy, a basic set of concepts and priorities that should guide the nation over the next four years of foreign policymaking. At a time of great demands at home, it may be tempted to look primarily inward in developing that strategy. However, it needs to be careful not to go too far in that direction. America’s basic role in the global security order today is sound and does not require radical adjustment.

In the debate over U.S. national security policy and American grand strategy, those who favor restraint and offshore balancing sometimes argue for dismantling some or most existing American alliances. Former President Donald Trump seemed to share that view. The restrainers and balancers are on solid ground when they question the idea of any further alliance expansion — notably, to Ukraine, Georgia, or other former elements of the Soviet Union. They should keep this refrain up at a time when some in Congress and elsewhere are unwisely trying to bring Ukraine into NATO as a response to greater tensions between Ukraine and Russia. But the offshore balancing argument is much less compelling when it extends to the proposition that we should dismantle existing security pacts, and effectively retrench or withdraw from certain key parts of the world.

Pacific Commanders Want More Money for Biden’s Asia Pivot

By Jack Detsch

The Pentagon’s top military command in the Asia-Pacific region is asking Congress to add nearly a billion dollars to its budget request to strengthen missile defenses, bolster American allies and partners in the region, and to look at more robust forward bases for U.S. troops to prepare for a possible military contingency in the region, according to internal budget documents obtained by Foreign Policy.

In total, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (Indopacom) is asking for almost $890 million to be added to the Biden administration’s $5.1 billion budget request for the Asia-focused command, including $231 million in funding for air and missile defenses at American military installations in Guam–within range of China’s improving rocket and missile forces–and $114 million to improve robust U.S. training ranges in Alaska and Hawaii in order to digitally link up with American forces conducting drills in the Western Pacific, which could someday extend to Washington’s allies in the region.

Biden Talks a Big Game on Europe. But His Actions Tell a Different Story.

“Today is a good day for Denmark and for transatlantic cooperation,” exulted Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod at a news conference in Copenhagen with U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken, “because today, America is back.”

This warm transatlantic sentiment has reverberated across Europe since Joe Biden assumed the presidency. And the optimism extends both ways: Biden has embraced the “America is back” slogan, and the new administration has lavished Europeans with early visits. Next week, Biden’s first overseas trip of his Covid-constrained presidency will be a virtual orgy of European summitry, including NATO, G-7, U.S.-EU and U.S.-Russia meetings in London, Cornwall, Brussels and Geneva.

Biden will no doubt seize these opportunities to once again tell European allies that America is back. He will intone the sacred words of transatlantic solidarity and repeatedly reaffirm America’s eternal commitment to the Atlantic Alliance. Gone are the days when the U.S. president would declare that the European Union was “worse than China” or threaten to withdraw U.S. protection if European governments didn’t “pay up.” As Kofod’s manifest joy implies, the relief in European capitals is profound.

What’s the Point of the G-7?

By Emma Ashford, Matthew Kroenig

Matthew Kroenig: Hi Emma. As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted, it’s exciting to see that people are starting to travel again. I notice more happy sightseers on social media; my wife and I just booked a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for later this summer; and Air Force One is wheels up on its way to Europe.

In U.S. President Joe Biden’s first overseas trip, he will visit the United Kingdom for the G-7 summit, Brussels for meetings with NATO and the European Union, and then over to Geneva for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin. That gives us a lot of material to debate. Where should we begin?

Emma Ashford: Well, you know what it’s like. Summer in Washington always concentrates the mind—mostly on the possibility of getting out of town as soon as possible. And despite the best efforts of the ongoing cicada insurgency (which actually grounded the presidential press plane!), it looks like Biden has successfully departed for Europe.

Invisible and Vital: Undersea Cables and Transatlantic Security

Pierre Morcos, Colin Wall

In October 2020, allied defense ministers received a confidential report on a pressing challenge that often receives less attention than it is due: the vulnerability of transatlantic undersea cables. Sometimes described as the “world’s information super-highways,” undersea cables carry over 95 percent of international data. In comparison with satellites, subsea cables provide high capacity, cost-effective, and reliable connections that are critical for our daily lives. There are approximately more than 400 active cables worldwide covering 1.3 million kilometers (half a million miles).

After the October meeting of allied defense ministers, and in the months since, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) underscored the need for the alliance to monitor and protect this critical infrastructure. However, despite the proliferation of public statements underlining the importance of protecting them, collective action to enhance their security has so far been lacking. A number of measures could be taken by allies to effectively protect subsea cables harnessing the full potential of their bilateral cooperations, NATO, and the European Union, in close coordination with the private sector.

Big Automakers Are Underplaying Surprising News: LFP Batteries Are Back

Steve LeVine

Last week, Ford CEO Jim Farley made a big splash with his plans to go digital, mine data, and leverage connectivity. Ford was going to “lead the electric revolution” with an “ion boost” and reduce its battery costs by 40% by the middle of the decade, with more to come. Ford shares ended the week up 9%, and 70% for the year.

Buried in Farley’s presentation was a significant but almost unremarked-upon shift by the company: Some Ford electric vehicles, particularly those meant for construction and other punishing businesses, would spurn tried-and-true battery formulations relying on large proportions of nickel and cobalt. Instead, Ford would power its larger pickups and other vehicles with a long-ago discarded battery chemistry called LFP, short for lithium-iron-phosphate, that contains none of the usual metals.

The announcement came two months after Volkswagen made a similar disclosure: In March, its CEO, Herbert Diess, said the Germany automaker would use LFP for its cheaper, entry-level EVs. And last October, Tesla CEO Elon Musk was the first major EV-maker to go this direction, announcing that not his workhorse NCA batteries, but LFP would go into standard-range Model 3 sedans assembled in China and sold in Europe.

Russia Drops the US Dollar — The End of the US Dollar Hegemony Over the World Is Getting Closer

Sylvain Saurel

At the beginning of June 2021, we have just learned very interesting news in terms of geopolitics and the world economy: Russia has just dropped the US dollar.

The Russian Minister of Finance has just declared that the National Wellbeing Fund, its oil fund, will completely divest from its exposure to the US dollar, which still amounts to 40 billion dollars.

Russia’s plan is now to move into the Chinese yuan, the euro, but also gold:

“Today we have about 35% of NWF investments in dollars. We’ve decided to get out of dollar assets completely, replacing investments in dollars with an increase in euros and gold.”

As a reminder, Russia’s National Wellbeing Fund has an approximate size of 120 billion dollars. The decision taken by Russia is therefore significant from an economic point of view but also a geopolitical point of view.

Purges and Professionals: the Transformed Russian Regime

Tatiana Stanovaya

Few would contest that the Russian regime has taken on a new character. The resetting of the clock on presidential terms, the attempt on the life of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, and the avalanche of new bans and repressive measures all show that the mechanisms of the political system in Russia have dramatically changed.

So far, the most obvious result of the regime’s transformation is the ramping up of repression and crackdown on the non-system opposition. But important changes are also taking place inside the power system, and their consequences will soon be felt.

One of the main new characteristics of the Russian regime is the lack of coordination among its key elements. The overall conservative trend has grown stronger, but political control from above has grown weaker, and the decisionmaking process has become fragmented. The old system of overseeing domestic policy in Russia, which had enabled the Kremlin to organize the political playing field according to its needs, no longer exists.

That system began to fall apart back in 2016, with the appointment of Sergei Kiriyenko as curator of domestic policy. Attempts to build manageable competition were replaced with bureaucratic administration, and deals with ultimatums.

Leaning on Journalists and Targeting Sources, for 50 Years

By David E. Sanger

The warning, on White House stationery, came from the general counsel to President Donald J. Trump, and the wording was pretty stark.

“We understand that The New York Times may soon print an article regarding the North Korean ballistic missile program,” Donald F. McGahn II wrote to The Times in the opening months of the Trump administration. He acknowledged that there had been extensive discussion of the article with Mr. Trump’s national security advisers and a range of intelligence officials. But, he said, “we remain concerned that the article could include classified information, might harm the national security of the United States, and would come at a particularly sensitive time for U.S.-China relations.”

Mr. McGahn did not explicitly threaten to go to court to stop the article from appearing — at that stage he was asking only for a delay so that H.R. McMaster, newly appointed as Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, could engage in discussions.

But inside the legal department of The Times, there was debate about whether the new president — who had called the press the “enemy of the people” — would try to re-litigate the Pentagon Papers case and slap The Times with prior restraint to prevent publication. Or would he seek to prosecute reporters under the century-old Espionage Act? No one knew.

Forward Thinking on artificial intelligence with Microsoft CTO Kevin ScottJune 10, 2021 | Podcast

By James Manyika and Michael Chui

In this episode of the McKinsey Global Institute’s Forward Thinking podcast, MGI’s James Manyika explores the implications of artificial general intelligence (AGI) for jobs, particularly in rural America, with Kevin Scott, Microsoft’s chief technology officer and author of Reprogramming the American Dream: From Rural America to Silicon Valley—Making AI Serve Us All (HarperCollins, 2020).

Michael Chui: We’ve been hearing for a long time that robots are coming for our jobs. Now, with widespread global unemployment due to COVID-19, that sounds even more ominous. But what if robots and AI could, in fact, help with recovery? Well, it’s possible. For instance, in some rural parts of the US, artificial intelligence and machine learning are making these regions more economically viable.

One of the big topics we analyze at the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) is artificial intelligence, how it’s impacting work, and what that means for society.

In this episode of Forward Thinking, we’ll hear an interview with one of the leading technology strategists in the world: Kevin Scott. Kevin is the chief technology officer and vice president of artificial intelligence and research at Microsoft. He also has a new book out called Reprogramming the American Dream.

5 Tips To Protect Your Data From Increasing Cybersecurity Attacks

Bryan Robinson

After the cyber attack on Colonial Pipeline and other businesses, lawmakers urge companies to toughen their cyber defenses. Many smaller businesses, remote workers and ordinary consumers lack a two-factor authentication for appropriate protection, according to a new study. Since 71% of the American workforce has gone remote, protection from cyber warfare is essential.

VPNoverview surveyed over 1,000 full-time remote employees about their cyber security requirements for work, who’s paying for them, how seriously they take online security and whether or not they’ve experienced a cybersecurity threat. The results showed that as many workers moved from corporate offices to home offices during the pandemic, cybersecurity ultimately became more lax. Two in five remote employees experienced data breaches during the pandemic. Larger companies tended to be more likely to require certain security measures. The use of two-factor authentication and VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), for instance, increased proportionately with company size. That said, 43% of cybersecurity threats globally target small businesses, as they are often unable to utilize as many defensive resources as larger companies.

Top 8 Google Chrome Extensions for Writers

Rafal Reyzer

Imagine a writer from the pre-digital era. A Hemingwayesque figure secluded in a Mediterranean study, producing short sentences at a tiny desk, with a typewriter as their means of channeling creative imagination.

These serene times are long gone, and the modern writer inhabits a completely different world. Thirty browser tabs are open, Slack notifications are raging, and social media updates are demanding attention.

That doesn’t mean that this new work paradigm is bad – it’s just different. Plus, now you have access to fantastic Google Chrome extensions that can make your life so much easier. Let’s take a look at the best among them.

What 5G Will Actually Do for the U.S. Military


Imagine a city where self-driving electric cars anticipate when and where their passengers will need a lift long before the vehicle is called. Batteries to shore up energy shortfalls arrive before they are needed. City managers know the exact placement and condition of every city asset, and theft is immediately detected. There is no traffic, because every vehicle is in constant communication with every other car and traffic light. The residents know there will never be any delay in the services they need because the city around them functions as a perfect, seamless organism just beyond their perception.

That internet-of-things enabled city of the future looks a lot like the experiments with ubiquitous 5G cellular networking the military is doing today.

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Brandon Newell, the director of the Navy’s SoCal Tech Bridge, leads what he calls a 5G living lab. His experimentation, culminating in a demonstration later this month, looked at how 5G cellular connectivity across a base would unlock new uses for self-driving vehicles, greater energy efficiency on base, and even better teaming between drones and ground robots.

Professional military education is getting a China-focused upgrade

Meghann Myers

As the services away from the counter-terror asymmetric conflict doctrine of the past 20 years, the Pentagon has mandated a change in the way troops are prepared to lead in a new era.

With that in mind, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has tasked his under secretary for personnel and readiness to update professional military, and civilian, education “to align the department with the prioritization of China,” a senior defense official told reporters on Wednesday.

“... to ensure that the department has the people that we need to compete effectively,” the official said.

The official did not elaborate, but it stands to reason that updated PME would focus more on adversaries with equipment and leadership structure more resembling that of the U.S., versus the insurgent groups troops have been fighting since 9/11.