26 June 2021

The PLA’s Developing Cyber Warfare Capabilities and India's Options

 Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it clear that his objective for China is to emerge as a ‘cyber superpower’. China wants to be the world’s largest nation in cyberspace and also one of the most powerful. The information technology revolution has produced both momentous opportunities and likely vulnerabilities for china. China is home of largest number of ‘netizens’ in the world. It also hosts some of the world’s most vibrant and successful technology companies. It also remains a major victim of cyber crime. 

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) believes that with the rise of the Information Age future wars will be contests in the ability to exploit information. Wars will be decided by the side who is more capable to generate, gather, transmit, analyse and exploit information.

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.

New Highs in Narcotics From Myanmar Flooding Assam

Rajeev Bhattacharya

Narcotics seized by Assam Police during a crackdown on the drug trade in May 2021.Credit: Assam Police

Among the many trends discernible from the ongoing crackdown on narcotics in India’s northeastern state of Assam is the deluge of different varieties of drugs that are coming in from Myanmar.

As many as 441 people, including peddlers, were arrested by the police and 264 cases registered over a period of three weeks in the crackdown on the narcotics trade that began in May in Assam. The seizures included cannabis, heroin, synthetic drugs (Yaba), brown sugar, opium, and prescription drugs such as Phensedryl and sleeping pills.

Although police have not yet released figures of the total amount confiscated so far, prescription drugs and brown sugar appear to have topped the list.

Joe Biden Has Abandoned Afghanistan. No Summit Can Change That.

Michael Rubin

On Friday, President Joe Biden will meet with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, head the High Council for National Reconciliation, at the White House. White House Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the summit “will highlight the enduring partnership between the United States and Afghanistan as the military drawdown continues.” She reiterated U.S. commitment to support “to support the Afghan people, including Afghan women, girls and minorities” and “to ensure the country never again becomes a safe haven for terrorist groups who pose a threat to the U.S. homeland.”
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Biden’s team may seek to project an image of order and optimism to America’s forthcoming withdrawal from Afghanistan, but it will not work.

President Donald Trump often shot from the hip in his efforts to craft foreign policy strategies. His aides then scrambled retroactively to apply logic or a doctrine to his efforts. Biden entered office as the anti-Trump, promising to return professionalism and process to American foreign policy.

Avoiding Disaster in Afghanistan: The Regional Dimension

Richard Olson

The U.S. decision to withdraw all military forces by the 20th anniversary of 9/11 increases the likelihood that the four-decades-long civil war in Afghanistan will intensify, at least in the short term. If the United States seeks to preserve its interests in Afghanistan (principally, blocking the recrudescence of terrorist networks and preserving the social, economic, and political gains of the past 20 years) it needs to support active diplomacy with Afghanistan’s neighbors to cement a fragile regional consensus that a settlement to the conflict is in everyone’s interests. In this scenario, the region should pressure the Taliban to exercise military restraint and negotiate seriously with the republic.


The war in Afghanistan can be thought of as comprising three interlocking circles. The innermost circle is the conflict among Afghans that has been ongoing since at least April of 1979. The intermediate circle involves the regional states, many of whom have intervened in Afghan affairs since 1979 (and indeed before). Finally, the outer ring constitutes the involvement of international forces since October 2001.

Suga’s Olympic-Sized Gamble

Kazuhiro Maeshima

Japanese politicians are often driven to act by gaiatsu—the Japanese word for “external pressure”—and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga got a welcome dose of it in Cornwall, England, last week when his fellow G-7 summiteers endorsed holding the Olympic Games in Tokyo next month.

The G-7’s backing helped offset the Japanese public’s negative reaction to the crude and offensive gaiatsu coming from International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials, who in recent weeks have arrogantly insisted that the games will go forward no matter what—never mind the danger from COVID-19. The IOC statements embarrassed Suga and the government, making it seem as if the Japanese had no say in the matter, and only caused a backlash against the games.

So now it looks highly likely that Suga will go ahead with the games, which are scheduled to begin July 23. But if political tightrope walking were an Olympic sport, the prime minister would no doubt be competing in that event—because that’s exactly what Suga is facing at home in the coming months. And he won’t have a net to catch him if he falls.

Disinformation, Annexation, & Deterrence: Why the CCP Is More Likely to Subvert Taiwan Than Invade

Libby Lange, Doowan Lee

Over the past year, Taiwan has been brought to the forefront as a pressing international relations issue. From its handling of the coronavirus pandemic to supporting pro-democracy movements in the region, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has become one of the most internationally recognized leaders from the island nation. This renewed focus on Tsai’s leadership has also invited much ire from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has renewed its stated policy of reunifying Taiwan with the mainland. Subsequently, national security professionals have actively contemplated different scenarios about how the CCP would invade Taiwan. Some of the most astute cross-strait observers have voiced quite pessimistic analysis about how Taiwan would defend against a full-scale invasion from the CCP. While analysts focus on military means the PLA may employ to invade Taiwan, most miss the significance of disinformation and cyber subversion the CCP exploits to set the conditions for a political annexation much like what happened in Crimea. This possibility of political annexation is not entirely new to Taiwan observers. However, most defense analysts rather focus on the paramilitary aspect of the Crimea crisis than non-kinetic operations taking place in the cyber and information domains.

It's Time to Wargame Against an AI-Enabled China


The U.S. military, whose wargames generally feature fictitious adversaries that closely resemble today’s Russian and Chinese forces, must start training for the faster-moving conflicts enabled by artificial intelligence and other emerging capabilities, two top military leaders said this week. And the ersatz enemies in these games should be unconstrained by U.S. ethical limits on AI in combat.

“The speed with which our adversary will likely engage, it's going to be faster than anything we've seen,” said Lt. Gen. Dennis Crall, who heads the Joint All Domain Command and Control, or JADC2, effort for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

And unlike the United States, the enemy may well use armed robots programmed to fire without human oversight, he said at the Defense One Tech Summit.

“They may just simply put a machine-only solution to a firing solution, which may have errors and mistakes. And maybe they'll take that risk.”

Discourse Wars and ‘Mask Diplomacy’: China’s Global Image Management in Times of Crisis

Stefan Müller, Samuel Brazys, Alexander Dukalskis

States try to influence how they are perceived abroad. Doing so helps them achieve foreign policy goals, alleviate pressure to change their domestic political systems, and influence international norms to be more conducive to their interests. In times of crisis the need to avoid a negative image may see states mobilize resources and networks to change the global narrative about a particular event. This paper tackles broader questions about authoritarian image management and the global response by investigating if, due to Covid-19’s origin in the country, China was blamed for the pandemic and if Beijing’s public “mask diplomacy” efforts mitigated this damage. Using novel data on the media tone of 1.3 million statements mentioning China and Covid-19, we evaluate how media tone in a country compares to periods of peak Covid-19 deaths before developing a further novel database of unique “mask-diplomacy” events from around the world. Using both fixed-effects and a multiperiod difference-in-differences approaches, we find that media tone on articles about China in the context of Covid-19 is significantly more negative during periods of higher deaths, but that mask diplomacy efforts offset, to some degree, these impacts.

Chinese Security Firms Spread along the African Belt and Road

Paul Nantulya

Since 2012, over 200,000 Chinese workers relocated to Africa to work on China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR, yī dài, yī lù, 一带一路), commonly known as the Belt and Road Initiative, bringing the number of Chinese immigrants on the continent to 1 million. There are over 10,000 Chinese companies in Africa, including at least 2,000 state-owned enterprises (SOEs). Chinese SOEs have a major stake in African construction projects, generating over $40 billion in revenue annually.

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences notes that 84 percent of China’s Belt and Road investments are in medium- to high-risk countries. Three hundred and fifty serious security incidents involving Chinese firms occurred between 2015 and 2017, from kidnappings and terror attacks to anti-Chinese violence, according to China’s Ministry of State Security. This has placed a premium on security to safeguard these investments and a growing demand from executives of Chinese SOEs for a more robust Chinese security presence on the ground. While the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been averse to maintaining a large presence in Africa due to a host of reputational and logistical factors, China is not confident that African security forces can do the job.

A Credible Deterrent to Chinese Cyber Attacks

Norman Friedman

With the use of cyber weapons of various kinds, the world seems to be in a new kind of strategic era. For the first time in many decades, there are strategic weapons that can be used without destroying the world. Low-level cyber warfare seems to go on constantly. It is almost always strategic, in the sense that it touches places anywhere in the world. It generally seems much less destructive than any nuclear weapon. However, it seems clear a cyber attack could have such horrific physical consequences that it might justify a nuclear response. But short of a nuclear strike, what credible response could the United States pose to deter an adversary from launching a crippling cyber attack? In the case of China, it would be a cyber attack against its social credit system.

A deterrent must be a credible threat to exact sufficient damage to convince an enemy to avoid some kinds of cyber attacks or activities. The U.S. government already is painfully aware that cyber weapons are being used against the nation. Probably nearly all readers of this article, for example, were affected by the successful penetration of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which gave the attackers full access to the U.S. government’s files on personnel clearances. It is difficult to imagine dropping a nuclear bomb on Beijing in retaliation, but without a credible threat of retaliation, China pays far too little in cost.

The Iraqi Opinion Thermometer

Dr. Munqith Dagher, Karl Kaltenthaler
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The Burke Chair at CSIS is presenting findings on Iraqi public opinion in 2021 on democracy and governance. The Iraqi Opinion Thermometer (IOT) poll conducted in April 2021 aims to determine whether the state of public opinion in the country is conducive to a sustainable and well-functioning pluralistic democracy.

The research is conducted by an affiliate of the Burke Chair, Munqith Dagher, alongside Karl Kaltenthaler in partnership with IIACSS. Dr. Munqith Dagher is the CEO and founder of the Independent Institute of Administration and Civil Society Studies (IIACSS) research group (Al-Mustakella) in Iraq and a Gallup International board member. Dr. Karl Kaltenthaler is the Director of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies at the University of Akron.

IIACSS was established in 2003 and conducted the first poll in the history of modern Iraq. Interviews were completed on tablets through a specialized program (CAPI) and through computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI).

Iran at a crossroads: Three scenarios

Marwan Bishara

Amid strong speculation about Iran approaching a renewed agreement with world powers over its nuclear programme, the country elected its new president, Ebrahim Raisi. The new head of government will have the opportunity to revive the Iranian economy, improve diplomatic relations, and strengthen geopolitical outreach in the Middle East and beyond.

Governing is prioritising, and the choices the new president is presented with could not be starker or more consequential at this critical juncture.

How this hardline conservative chooses his priorities and manages the potential windfalls from the nuclear deal will go a long way in shaping the future of his country and the Middle East.

This is especially important because the presidential elections lacked basic democratic legitimacy in the eyes of the majority of Iranians, who did not show up at the polls after the regime had manipulated the process in favour of Raisi.

In fact, the 60-year-old Raisi is expected to succeed the like-minded, but sick and ageing octogenarian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who by definition, rules supreme in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran-U.S. Nuclear Talks on a Hair Trigger

Michael Hirsh

Perhaps the most jarring irony of the monthslong negotiations to restore the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran is that both Tehran and Washington badly want to make it happen—yet, in the end, may not be able to.

Why? Deepening mistrust is one reason: a toxic suspicion of the other side exacerbated by the orchestrated election last week of Ebrahim Raisi, a hard-liner with a murderous history who is to replace moderate Hassan Rouhani as Iran’s president in August. Although Raisi said he wants to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the 2015 nuclear deal is known, he and the Iranian regime are now making impossible demands. In particular, Tehran is now insisting on something U.S. President Joe Biden cannot deliver: a guarantee that no future U.S. administration will withdraw from the deal as Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, did.

Another reason for renewed skepticism is things have changed so much on the ground for both sides. Biden is unwilling to roll back all the sanctions imposed by Trump. And Tehran is so far advanced in its technical development, especially its new, much faster IR-9 centrifuge—which it is now testing—that its “breakout” timeline for a bomb has shrunk considerably, possibly already rendering the JCPOA moot.

Iran Bets on Religion, Repression and Revolution

Bret Stephens

In the summer of 1988, Iran’s supreme leader, Ruhollah Khomeini, ordered the secret executions of thousands of political prisoners. Iran then denied reports of the slaughter, calling them “nothing but propaganda” based on “forgeries.” It also ruthlessly suppressed efforts by the families of the disappeared to find out what had happened to their relatives, including the location of their burial sites.

More than 30 years later, the world still doesn’t know how many prisoners were murdered, though a landmark 2017 report from Amnesty International put the minimum number at “around 5,000.” Other reports suggest a figure as high as 30,000.

But one point is not seriously in doubt: Among the handful of Iranian leaders most involved in the “death commissions” was Ebrahim Raisi. At the time of the massacres, Raisi, the son of a cleric and the product of a clerical education, was deputy prosecutor general of Tehran, later rising to become Iran’s chief justice. In 2018 he called the massacres “one of the proud achievements of the system.”

Israel Installs High-Powered Laser on Civilian Plane for Intercepting Rockets


Israel has successfully tested an airborne laser that can shoot down drones in a breakthrough that could complement the defense system which intercepted thousands of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip last month.

Head of military research and development at Israel's defense ministry, Brig. Gen. Yaniv Rotem, said a prototype laser was mounted on a civilian Cessna plane and shot down drones in various locations over the Mediterranean Sea in recent days.

"The ability to intercept and destroy threats from the air is groundbreaking," Rotem told reporters, "Israel is among the first countries to use such capabilities."

The prototype developed with Elbit Systems and the Israeli Air Force (IAF) was praised by Rotem as a "technological achievement," which provided a "critical step for further development," The Jerusalem Post reported.

During the tests, drones from around half a mile away were shot down, and Israel hopes to deploy a system in the future with a much greater range to intercept rockets, mortar rounds, and drones.

What the Biden-Putin summit reveals about future of cyber attacks - and how to increase cybersecurity

The summit between US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, Switzerland, on 16 June brought together two superpowers that play a significant role in the global cyber arena.

Biden brought up the recent attacks on the Colonial Pipeline in the US and said he would take action against any Russian cyber attacks. Putin denied that Russia was responsible for any cyber attacks against the US. The two leaders agreed to begin cybersecurity talks.

Why does the Biden-Putin summit matter for cybersecurity?

The meeting represented a watershed moment for the prominence of cybersecurity on the global agenda. Not only will it ensure that cybersecurity remains a recurring agenda point in future bilateral discussions between these two nations, but it will also be a prompt for other nations to reflect upon their cybersecurity posture, given that cyber threats transcend national borders.

BREAKING: Pentagon Launches New AI Data Initiative

Yasmin Tadjdeh

The effort — known as the DoD AI and Data Acceleration initiative, or ADA — is meant to rapidly advance data and AI-dependent concepts such as joint all-domain command and control, or JADC2, said Hicks.

“The ADA initiative will generate foundational capabilities through a series of implementation experiments or exercises, each one purposely building understanding through successive and incremental learning,” she said at the virtual DoD AI Symposium.

In order for the Pentagon to be “AI-ready,” it needs to have a strong data foundation and it must view information as a strategic asset, Hicks said.

“Data enables the creation of algorithmic models, and with the right data we are able to take concepts and ideas and turn them into reality,” she said. “We will ensure that DoD data is visible, accessible, understandable, linked, trustworthy, interoperable and secure.”

U.S. Competitiveness: Where Do We Stand? What Do We Do Now?

Richard Elkus Jr.

Gordon Moore, a former co-founder of both Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel, famously predicted in 1965 that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit could be doubled every 18 months to two years, thereby increasing computational power of the device exponentially. At the same time, the relative cost of that computing power could be halved. Moore’s Law turned out to be amazingly accurate. The implications were astounding. Those products and markets affected by this exponential increase in computational power tied to the development of integrated circuits (semiconductors) produced technological advances that heretofore could not have been imagined. As a result, the products and markets influenced by this increased ability to process information expanded exponentially.

But there was a downside. The investment in monetary and human capital required to achieve the results of Moore’s Law goes up exponentially as well. These costs were to be borne by the exponential growth in new products designed to replace existing products and markets. But if a nation is not able, for whatever reason, to maintain and grow its required technological infrastructure, and therefore is not able to participate in these new growth markets, the cost to try and catch up later quickly becomes overwhelming to its economy. As such, Moore’s Law (which became a guiding factor in the investment in the semiconductor industry) tied a nation’s investment history to its future.

John Bolton Blasts Biden Reviving Iran Nuclear Deal As 'Dangerous Fantasy'


President Joe Biden is pursuing the restoration of a nuclear agreement with Iran due to a "near religious" fixation with the previous Democratic administration that struck the deal in 2015, former national security advisor John Bolton has said.

Bolton has described the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as "flawed" in a view that chimes with the warning by National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), which warned the Biden administration against restoring the Obama-era agreement abandoned by former President Donald Trump.

The view of Bolton, who served under Trump, follows the declared Iranian presidential election victory of Ebrahim Raisi last week in a ballot criticized internationally. Rights and opposition groups have condemned the human rights record of Raisi, the hard-line head of the country's judiciary.

Bolton told conservative news outlet Newsmax that there was "no evidence" that Iran had made any strategic decision to ease up on its nuclear program.

Shifting gears: Geopolitics of the global energy transition

Robert J. Johnston

Driven largely by technological advancements and policies aimed at decarbonization, the prospect that oil demand will peak in the not-too-distant future has become a topic of debate in energy circles over the past several years. So-called “peak demand” would have significant geopolitical and geoeconomic consequences for oil-producing and importing nations alike. Oil resources have afforded leverage to producing nations, even though many of these countries do not have diversified economies and are highly dependent on oil revenues for the majority of their budgets.

The new Global Energy Center report, “Shifting gears: Geopolitics of the energy transition,” by Robert J. Johnston, examines major geopolitical questions and impacts related to the prospect of a peak in oil demand that include the likely redistribution of oil market share between major producers; the potential for failed states or material internal political instability in major oil-producing countries; and the geopolitical impact of peak demand on major oil-consuming nations. The report explores two scenarios to assess the varying speeds at which such a transition might take place: the International Energy Agency’s 2019 Sustainable Development Scenario, and the even more transformational Production Gap Report Scenario from the United Nations Environmental Program. In assessing these scenarios, “Shifting Gears” provides an Oil Market Transition Resilience Index to establish a benchmark by which to evaluate the geopolitical resilience of countries in a peak demand scenario, while also exploring the potential benefits for oil-importing countries.

In Historic Shift, Biden Aligns Allies on China

Daniel Baer

U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to Europe last week was rightly heralded as a success. Biden played the role of a national symbol more than U.S. presidents usually do: A long-lost friend returned to the global stage, just as he promised his country would do. And who could ignore the expressions of relief—even joy—on the faces of global leaders. It was the return of the prodigal superpower.

But Biden’s trip was more than just a family reunion. At the G-7, then at NATO, and finally at a summit with the European Union, Biden made a coordinated and consistent push on some key policy objectives: tackling the coronavirus pandemic, laying the foundations for a fair economic recovery, addressing cyberattacks and emerging technology challenges, and dealing with the challenges to democratic values, economic fairness, peace, and security that increasingly emanate from China. That last theme—how to handle China—was the most politically sensitive and likely the most difficult to negotiate with partners.

Even before his often racism-laced response to the coronavirus pandemic, former U.S. President Donald Trump had launched a unilateral trade war and frequently indulged in fiery rhetoric about China. In addition to warning about the economic consequences of a tit-for-tat tariff war, many who shared concerns about China’s increasing assertiveness and unfair trade practices pointed out that Trump’s approach was doomed to be ineffective. If the United States wants to put pressure on China, the critics said, it needs to work with partners and allies rather than going it alone. But instead, Trump alienated many of them—repeatedly attacking NATO, petulantly snubbing German Chancellor Angela Merkel by withdrawing U.S. troops, and imposing new tariffs on European partners.

Ethiopia Faces a Famine Resurgence

Christina Lu

Nearly four decades ago, a devastating famine ripped across Ethiopia, leaving an estimated 1 million people dead.

Now, the United Nations says the country is on the brink of another famine, which could potentially rival the scale of the catastrophe Ethiopia experienced in the 1980s—that is, if nothing is done. The crisis—which threatens at least 350,000 Ethiopians, if not millions more—would be the worst experienced in a single country in the past decade. It comes as a result of a seven-month civil war that has claimed the lives of thousands of people and forced the displacement of an estimated 2 million.

“There is famine now in Tigray,” said Mark Lowcock, the top humanitarian official for the U.N., before later telling Reuters: “Food is definitely being used as a weapon of war.” A prolonged conflict could risk further destabilizing the region and plunging the country—and its neighbors—deeper into crisis.

How did we get to this point?

Assumptionitis in Strategy

Mie Augier, Sean F. X. Barrett, and William Mullen


Former Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis identified a lack of strategy and strategic thinking in the United States’ national security policy discourse. This problem is complex, multifaceted, and caused by a number of factors, including a lack of understanding of what strategy is, and is not, and how to educate strategists, an inability or unwillingness to identify and understand core strategic issues, the tyranny of the present, and a fickle public. This article alleviates some of the challenges of living in a strategy-free mode by focusing on the development of strategic thinking and strategies that are based on empirically realistic assumptions consistent with decision making and behavior in the real world. Relying on assumptions, both implicit and explicit, that are false, unrealistic, or assume away the difficult parts of problems results in what might be called “assumptionitis.”[2] Assumptionitis undermines useful strategic analysis, much less policy recommendations, because it is unlikely the real world will unfold in ways consistent with this kind of analysis. Optimistic assumptions regarding the reaction of the Iraqi people and the conditions that would prevail following the 2003 invasion, for example, crippled the effort to effectively plan for, and cope with, post-invasion Iraq.[3] There is no easy cure for assumptionitis, but empirically-grounded, interdisciplinary thinking can make our assumptions more realistic and, thus, strategies more meaningful.

Just How Stable Is North Korea?

Robert E. Kelly

North Korea is once again having food shortages. This is by now a well-known problem, and the government is at least admitting it this time. When North Korea last experienced major food insecurity—in the late 1990s—then-leader Kim Jong Il refused to admit it, as around one million people starved to death around him. Thankfully, current leader Kim Jong-un is admitting reality. This means he is more likely to do something about it. This Kim is no reformer, but at least he seems to care about the state of the economy more than his reclusive, disinterested father.

The cause of this latest round of food insecurity is apparently the weather. The same excuse was used twenty-five years ago. Somehow weather variations do not provoke famine alerts in neighboring South Korea, where I live. The real reasons, as always, are almost certainly political—staggering misgovernment and corruption.

B3W: Building an Alternative to the BRI or Falling Into the Same Trap?

Francesca Ghiretti

Build Back a Better World (B3W) is billed as “a values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership led by major democracies to help narrow the $40+ trillion infrastructure need in the developing world, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.” Launched at this year’s G-7, the B3W enshrines an argument that has long been circulating amongst analysts first, and then governments: The world needs a (better) alternative to Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Even though the idea has been around for a long time, and gained steam as enthusiasm for the BRI turned into skepticism, the absence of initiative and support from the United States has left it unsubstantiated until now. The Trump administration and its disengagement from world affairs as well as growing hostilities with allies has kept a multistakeholder alternative to the BRI in the drawer. The fragile cooperative environment of the Trump years might have left the stage to a much more proactive and enthusiastic administration, but skeptics of the creation of an alternative to BRI highlight concerns that go well beyond inter-alliance frictions. The prime question is where the money will come from. According to official documentation: “Through B3W, the G7 and other like-minded partners will coordinate in mobilizing private-sector capital in four areas of focus—climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality—with catalytic investments from our respective development finance institutions.”

Finding an alternative to the Belt Road Initiative: Statesman contributors

Aditya Gowdara Shivamurthy and Shreya Gulati

NEW DELHI (THE STATESMAN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Launched in 2013, with over 100 participating countries, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a development strategy that aims to connect China to Europe, by reviving historical trade routes.

The strategy is to develop transport and trade infrastructure by providing loans and aid to certain developing countries, with less regard for the recipients' governance and democratic norms.

Thus, China became a valuable partner for several poor and developing countries that were desperate for investment and loans.

Having borrowed more than they can repay, several of these states are now being dragged into the Chinese debt trap and sphere of influence.

Achieving Diversity in Tech Is Mission Critical

Emily Taylor

Speaking at a session I moderated last month at CyberUK, the British government’s flagship annual cybersecurity event, Anne Neuberger spoke about her extraordinary path, which led her from attending gender-segregated night classes to becoming U.S. President Joe Biden’s deputy national security adviser for cyber and emerging technology.

“I grew up in a community where women are discouraged from going to college, as part of a focus and a belief that women’s roles are in the home,” said Neuberger, who was raised speaking Yiddish in a traditional Hasidic community in New York. “So to be true to the community and the values I was raised with and also to take first steps toward my own dreams, I attended a women-only night school [and] worked during the day.” ...


Garri Hendell

Who will do the important but unglamorous military work needed to succeed against the challenges of tomorrow?

In an abandoned coal mine in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, the Global Seed Vault stores duplicate examples of the seeds that make up the world’s agricultural heritage. With a relatively small staff the Crop Trust that operates the vault safeguards this essential biodiversity against a future calamity. It’s not sexy, it’s not profitable, but it is important work focused on avoiding a future apocalypse.

What if the work needed to adequately protect the Nation against the threat of future conflict required similarly unsexy work? What if those efforts were actually counterproductive to a service’s near-term funding goals? Who will do the important but unglamorous military work needed to succeed against the challenges of tomorrow?

It has been argued elsewhere, convincingly, that the Navy/Marine Corps team is best suited to safeguarding America’s interests and global stability in times of peace (reflected in the now-discarded “Global Force for Good” tagline). The Air Force has always sold itself—grotesquely, in some cases—as the post-WWII guarantors of strategic stability. The Space Force is now out there trying to figure out what to wear, trying to dominate high orbit, and competing for funding with its parent service, the past master of the budget wars up until this point.

The Changing Nature and Implications of Russian Military Transfers to China

Paul N. Schwartz

Executive Summary
Russian-Chinese military transfers have increased sharply since 2015. These have been highlighted by a series of important arms transactions, including landmark contracts in 2015 for the sale of Su-35 combat aircraft and S-400 air defense systems worth $5 billion, followed by a series of important transactions involving the transfer of helicopters, submarine technology, and aircraft engines. Joint technology projects have been especially important due to their expansion into new areas such as missile defense, taking on greater strategic importance. Together with an increase in combined exercises, joint air patrols, and key leader engagements, the resumption of large-scale arms transfers has contributed to a growing military convergence between Russia and China while enhancing their strategic partnership. These transfers are also advancing China’s military expansion in the western Pacific, helping to tilt the regional balance more in China’s favor.

The resumption of large-scale arms transfers has contributed to a growing military convergence between Russia and China while enhancing their strategic partnership.