25 July 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.

Afghanistan Confirms Top British General’s Efforts To Mend Ties With Pakistan

Sayed Salahuddin and Saima Shabbir

The professional head of Britain’s armed forces has been working to reset ties between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the efforts will bear fruit only after Islamabad abandons support for the Taliban, a senior Afghan official said on Monday.

As part of his shuttle diplomacy, Gen. Sir Nick Carter, Britain’s chief of defense staff, accompanied Pakistan’s top security chiefs, including Army Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, for talks with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and other government leaders in Kabul, on May 10.

Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence chief, accompanied Gen. Bajwa during the visit.

“Gen. Carter had come for the very purpose of mending ties between Kabul and Islamabad,” Dawa Khan Menapal, head of the Afghan government’s media center, told Arab News.

The US Withdrawal from Afghanistan Portends a Vacuum and Uncertain Future

Yoram Schweitzer,  Oded Eran

The impending United States withdrawal from Afghanistan fulfills the goals of the three administrations prior to the Biden administration to end the US role as liberator, policeman, and funder of this divided and riven country, which it entered following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The American offensive in Afghanistan achieved its initial objectives, attacking al-Qaeda and toppling the Taliban regime, but subsequently the US failed to prevent the Taliban's regaining power. The United States has vowed to respond harshly if it is attacked on its territory again, but Afghanistan's neighbors are looking toward the future with concern given the vacuum left by the withdrawal. Furthermore, the narrative that will be disseminated by the Taliban and al-Qaeda alike about the victory of the fundamentalist Islamic muqawama (resistance) over a superpower could be a source of inspiration to other organizations in various regions, including in the Middle East. Israel and its allies in the West should prepare for the possibility that Afghanistan will return to being a base for global terrorism and a model for emulation.

The Taliban Are Breaking Bad

Lynne O’Donnell

KABUL—The escalating war in Afghanistan is directly linked to the multibillion-dollar global trade in illicit drugs, as the Taliban seek to expand and consolidate control over the production and trafficking of narcotics and to diversify from heroin into methamphetamine, in what an Afghan counternarcotics officer called “a coming catastrophe for the world.”

Afghan and international counternarcotics experts said violence in Afghanistan has spiked in recent years alongside increased cultivation of opium poppies, used for heroin production, and ephedra, a plant that grows wild across the country and is being used to make methamphetamine. The officials described the Taliban as the world’s biggest drug cartel and said the group—which is fighting a fierce insurgency against the Afghan government—is using heroin transshipment routes to push methamphetamine into new markets in Australia, Asia, North America, Europe and Africa.

The relative costs of heroin and methamphetamine make meth an attractive diversification for the Taliban, who are said to earn around $3 billion annually trafficking opium and heroin produced principally in southern Afghanistan. Cesar Guedes-Ferreyros, the representative in Kabul for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said at least 85 percent of the world’s heroin is sourced to Afghanistan. In Australia, which alongside Japan is a major market for the Taliban’s new product, a kilogram of Afghan heroin is valued at around $250,000. By comparison, the cheaper-to-produce methamphetamine is worth $700,000 a kilo, experts said.

Russia to Hold Military Drills Near Afghan Border in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

Catherine Putz

Following military drills with Tajikistan last week, the commander of Russia’s Central Military District said on July 19 that Russia would hold drills with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in early August.

The flurry of activity comes in the wake of the Taliban’s pressing offensive across the border from Central Asia. In early July, the fight in Afghanistan drove more than 1,000 Afghan troops to flee into Tajikistan. While the Afghan troops have been repatriated, and the Taliban promised to keep to the Afghan side of the border, Central Asia and Russia aren’t sitting idle.

Russia’s 201st Military Base in Tajikistan is one of its most significant foreign bases, with an estimated 7,000 troops. Actually made up of three installations, the former Soviet base remained under Russian control after the collapse of the Soviet Union and through the Tajik Civil War. The base, formerly known as the 201st Motor Rifle Division, continued to patrol the Afghan-Tajik border until 2005, when Tajik forces took over that task. Moscow’s military presence in Tajikistan, previously set to expire in 2014, was extended to 2042 in 2013.

Greater Coordination in Central Asian Responses to Afghan Border Troubles

Umida Hashimova

When the first group of Afghan servicemen crossed into Tajikistan on June 21 and later to Uzbekistan on June 23 as the Taliban were making territorial gains, each Central Asian country reacted differently, despite experiencing the same security implications from the incursions.

Now Tajikistan’s approach seems to be converging with Uzbekistan’s as Dushanbe returned all the servicemen back to Afghanistan and announced additional measures to strengthen the border area with military troops. President Emomali Rahmon personally visited border guards to provide a morale boost. Turkmenistan’s response, however, remains fully uncoordinated. It chose the path of supposedly secret negotiations with the Taliban and denied news of Ashgabat militarily reinforcing its Afghan border with heavy equipment.

On July 5, Tajikistan ordered the mobilization of 20,000 military reservists for the reinforcement of country’s border with Afghanistan. Tajikistan’s president also visited two Afgan-Tajik border posts to check the readiness of military assets. He made speeches in what seemed to be an effort to stoke patriotic sentiments and emphasize the significance of the mission providing security on the border.

FAST THINKING: A turning point on Chinese hacking

The blame game just got serious. On Monday, the United States, NATO, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand jointly accused the Chinese government of hacking Microsoft Exchange servers earlier this year, among other malicious cyber activities. What does NATO’s buy-in mean for the world’s response to Chinese hacking? What tools do these allies have to fight back? Our experts messaged us (securely) with the answers.


Monday’s White House statement lays out how China’s Ministry of State Security collaborated with private hackers to execute a breach of Microsoft Exchange accounts that impacted more than 140,000 servers this spring, mostly of small and medium-sized businesses.

“Developing the public’s awareness of the relationships between Chinese state entities and criminal groups (and their often fuzzy delineation) is useful,” Trey says. “What’s less clear is how this reframing leads to concerted action on the international stage.”

China is still a long way from being a superpower

Gideon Rachman

Does China want to be a superpower? In the White House, at least, there seems to be little doubt. Rush Doshi, director for China on President Joe Biden’s National Security Council, has just published a book in which he argues that Beijing is pursuing a “grand strategy” to “displace American order” and become the world’s most powerful nation.

Superpower status is a source of national pride and brings significant economic and political benefits. But it also involves costs, risks and burdens. Just last week, nine Chinese nationals were killed in a terrorist attack in Pakistan, a country now firmly in Beijing’s sphere of influence. The call for reprisals in nationalist circles in China echoes the American reaction when terrorists have targeted US citizens.

The Chinese, like the Americans, are upset and confused that their efforts to bring peace and development, as they see it, have been met with violence. It is all faintly reminiscent of the lament of Rudyard Kipling, a poet who celebrated British imperialism but warned of, “The blame of those ye better/ The hate of those ye guard.”

Rapidly Implementing a Chinese Data Security Regime

Elizabeth Chen

The Cyberspace Security Review Office (网络安全审查办公室, wangluo anquan shencha bangongshi) of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC, 国家互联网信息办公室, guojia hulianwang xinxi bangongshi) launched a cybersecurity review of the Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing on July 2, days after it had listed on the New York Stock Exchange. On July 4, the CAC announced that it had found “serious violations of the collection and use of personal information” by Didi and banned the app on online platforms. The next day, the cybersecurity review office reported that it had launched similar investigations on “national security” grounds into the logistics apps Yunmanman (运满满) and Huochebang (货车帮), as well as the recruiting app BOSS Zhipin (BOSS直聘), which had all recently listed in the U.S. (South China Morning Post, July 5).

Media reports earlier this year indicated that Chinese regulators were increasing their focus on data security, targeting the American electric vehicle company Tesla over concerns that the company’s user data collection could infringe upon privacy and national security concerns. While Tesla refuted these claims, it also promised to develop a China-based data center and increase transparency to appease the Chinese government (CNET, May 24). It now appears that, in combination with an anti-monopoly campaign that has particularly targeted financial technology (fintech) companies such as Alibaba and Tencent, data security represents the latest field in which the state is seeking to tighten its control over a sector that was once notorious for its loose regulation. Didi, along with nine other industry leaders in on-demand transport services, was also cited by the powerful State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) in May (Caixin, July 5).

Iran and Israel’s Naval War Is Expanding

Anchal Vohra

Early this month, one Iranian and one Israeli tweet created a storm in the already troubled waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

On June 26, the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon wrote a vaguely worded tweet with a picture of an Iranian ship and said that Iran did not need America’s approval to send fuel to Lebanon. The tweet implied the ship carried fuel and was headed to Lebanon. Fearful of U.S. sanctions, Lebanon’s energy ministry quickly denied ever requesting to import Iranian fuel, but not before speculation was rife that an Iranian tanker was on its way to the port of Beirut.

Then, on July 6, IntelliNews, a blog on Israeli defense and intelligence affairs, tweeted that Iran had dispatched Arman 114, an Iranian-flagged ship carrying Iranian crude, to Lebanon. “Hezbollah is conducting a logistical operation to smuggle Iranian fuel into Lebanon,” the tweet read. A few days earlier, Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah had pledged to import fuel from its patron Iran to emerge as the savior of a country reeling under a devastating shortage of the essential commodity.

Iran and U.S. Strategy: Looking beyond the JCPOA

Anthony H. Cordesman

The Burke Chair at CSIS has released a new analysis on U.S. strategy with Iran, which shows that the U.S. must consider a range of critical issues that will not be solved by simply renewing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). This assessment provides figures on Iran’s current conventional strike capabilities, Iran’s older unguided delivery systems, a comparison between Iran’s aging Air Force and the Arab gulf countries’ air modernization, as well an annex containing the World Bank’s economic assessment of Iran.

It highlights the critical limits to the present structure of the debate over the JCPOA and Iran’s nuclear program. It also shows that Iran’s increasing ability to use its proxies and engage the U.S. in gray area warfare means that the United States must reshape its strategy to comprehensively engage Iran beyond the JCPOA.

The Biden Administration’s present focus on Iran as one of the main threats to U.S. national security is currently driven by its efforts to return to the JCPOA with Iran and to make it a fully functioning agreement.

Deception Is the Biggest Threat to American Security

John Ferrari & Hallie Coyne

And deep fakes are just the harbingers
Deceptive data is all around us. While some of it is less harmful than others, deception in defense has the potential to undermine all the technological improvements that are planned or have been already put into practice. The results have the potential to be life-threatening and could ultimately lead to the defeat of U.S. national security systems using artificial intelligence (AI).

Take, for example, deep fakes where the face or body of a person is altered digitally in a video. In May 2021, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a short report on these types of deep fakes, observing that such "forgeries generated with artificial intelligence (AI) — could present a variety of national security challenges in the years to come.” While CRS emphasized the political risks of deep fakes, including eroding public trust, and the blackmailing of public officials, deep fakes are just the beginning, or should we more aptly say, a continuation of other more urgent, broader, and more dangerous challenges for the future security of the United States.

Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions


“Trumpism without Trump” is what Beijing calls the Biden administration’s China policy. For once, Global Times, China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, has it about right.

In surprising ways, most of the Biden national security team is following the basic thrust of Trump administration China policies. Though the Biden roster includes personnel who served during the 16 Bill Clinton and Barack Obama years, the policies Beijing complains about were put in place during the single Donald Trump term.

Yet, it is hard to discern that reality as both sides offer minimal, grudging credit to their political rivals for being on the same policy wavelength. It seems that only Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his minions recognize the Trump-to-Biden policy continuity — and they don’t like it one bit.

They surely had different expectations when the coronavirus they originally called the “Wuhan virus” and “Wuhan pneumonia” hit the United States, halted Trump’s trade momentum, devastated the booming U.S. economy, and helped ensure Joe Biden’s victory. Chinese leaders thought the new president would show some appreciation and follow his natural accommodationist inclinations toward China.

WHO Warns of Deadlier Variants Taking World Back to 'Square One' of Pandemic


Failing the pandemic test, as World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus believes the world is, means even countries with high vaccination rates could once again find themselves back where they were in March 2020.

Ghebreyesus has long advocated for high-income countries to help fill inequities in health care by sharing vaccine doses with other countries' most vulnerable populations. Focusing on a country's own people and not the world's population allows for more mutations of the virus to pop up and in a global world, a deadly variant in one place poses a threat to everywhere.

"The more transmission, the more variants will emerge with the potential to be even more dangerous than the Delta variant that is causing such devastation now," Ghebreyesus said on Wednesday. "And the more variants, the higher the likelihood that one of them will evade vaccines and take us all back to square one."

Wealthy nations, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and countries throughout Europe have had success vaccinating more than 50 percent of their populations and some are pretty close to 70 percent, the minimum threshold expected to be necessary for herd immunity. However, countries throughout Africa and the Middle East are struggling to vaccinate even their high-risk populations, such as health care workers and the elderly.

Hoover Institution

Will America Defend Taiwan? Here’s What History Says

Realism And Deterrence In Cross-Strait Relations

Taiwan: Time For A Real Discussion

Poland and the EU — Irresistible Force, Meet Immovable Object

Chelsea Michta

Poland has escalated its standoff with the European Union (EU) over the rule of law. The outcome will mark a turning point for the entire 27-member bloc.

Last week the country’s Constitutional Court declared that an order by the EU’s Court of Justice (ECJ) to suspend the operations of a panel created to discipline judges violated Poland’s constitution. The Polish government has said it will not change the structure and functioning of the panel in response to the ECJ’s demands.

The ECJ first called for the panel’s suspension last year at the request of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. Created in 2018 as part of a broader effort by Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to reform the judiciary, the disciplinary body is formally independent of the Constitutional Court, though its critics maintain that it is subservient to the government. The Commission claims that the panel violates EU law because “its independence may not be guaranteed,” with “disciplinary liability” seen as a potential tool for political control.

Russia’s Corporate Soldiers: The Global Expansion of Russia’s Private Military Companies

Seth G. Jones

This report examines Russia’s growing use of private military companies (PMCs) to increase its influence through irregular means. In recent years, Moscow has expanded its overseas use of PMCs to countries such as Ukraine, Syria, Libya, Sudan, the Central African Republic, Madagascar, and Mozambique. Many of the PMCs operating in these countries, such as the Wagner Group, frequently cooperate with the Russian government—including the Kremlin, Ministry of Defense (particularly the Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU), Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and Federal Security Service (FSB)—and perform a variety of combat, paramilitary, security, and intelligence tasks. However, many of these PMCs have a poor track record—including operational failures and human rights abuses—and there are opportunities to exploit PMC vulnerabilities. Although Russian PMCs present only one of a variety of national security threats and challenges facing the United States, this report assesses that they warrant a more substantive and coordinated response from the United States and its partners.

The U.S. and China Are Both Failing the Global Leadership Test

Howard W. French

For just about anyone who spends time thinking about the future of the world, the fast-unfolding competition between the United States and China looms as one of the most important issues shaping both expectations and uncertainty over the near and medium term.

The rivalry between these two countries, which boast the biggest economies and most powerful militaries in the world, is ostensibly over global leadership. The international crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, however, has revealed another darker reality: Where it counts most—meaning for the well-being of the largest numbers of people in the world—there is no real leadership competition. What the ongoing crisis has revealed, instead, are the stark limitations of each of these global giants’ political systems and, above all, their fundamental selfishness. ..

How to Stop China From Controlling the Global Semiconductor Industry

RADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery, Trevor Logan
Source Link

The United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) of 2021, which passed the Senate in June, calls for $52 billion in appropriations over five years to support semiconductor manufacturing as well as research and development. As the White House explained back in March, U.S. leadership in key technologies is “critical to both our future economic competitiveness and our national security.” The White House and Congress are right to prioritize this issue, but investing tens of billions of dollars will be a waste if that investment is not part of a larger strategy to prevent China from stealing or buying its way to domination of advanced semiconductor manufacturing. If Beijing succeeds in this domain, it will likely try to force Western firms out of the market for advanced semiconductors while enabling Chinese intelligence to compromise key technology supply chains.

Semiconductors are the insulated materials that make possible the fabrication of the nano-scale microchips that inhabit all modern electronics. The most advanced manufacturing equipment uses increasingly small yet more powerful chips to store and process information. Microchips also enable computation-heavy tasks such as on-device artificial intelligence (AI), calculating missile trajectories for advanced weapons systems, and processing financial transactions for global trade.

Private Israeli spyware used to hack cellphones of journalists, activists worldwide

Dana Priest, Craig Timberg and Souad Mekhennet

Military-grade spyware licensed by an Israeli firm to governments for tracking terrorists and criminals was used in attempted and successful hacks of 37 smartphones belonging to journalists, human rights activists, business executives and two women close to murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, according to an investigation by The Washington Post and 16 media partners.

The phones appeared on a list of more than 50,000 numbers that are concentrated in countries known to engage in surveillance of their citizens and also known to have been clients of the Israeli firm, NSO Group, a worldwide leader in the growing and largely unregulated private spyware industry, the investigation found.

The list does not identify who put the numbers on it, or why, and it is unknown how many of the phones were targeted or surveilled. But forensic analysis of the 37 smartphones shows that many display a tight correlation between time stamps associated with a number on the list and the initiation of surveillance, in some cases as brief as a few seconds.

The Global Networks Working to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Peter Schmidt, Robert Muggah

Nuclear weapons are, without a doubt, the most indiscriminate and inhumane weapons ever conceived. Even a small-scale nuclear conflagration could have devastating global repercussions, which explains the extraordinary efforts to rein them in. They are also technically illegal: The recently concluded Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons is the first multilateral, legally binding agreement to ban their development, production, testing, stockpiling, use, and threat of use. Despite the treaty being quietly adopted in 2020 and entering into force this year, it is not universally supported. None of the world’s nine nuclear powers have signed or ratified the agreement. In the world of nuclear arms control, it turns out this is par for the course. Those who have such arms like to keep them. The only country that ever voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapons is Ukraine, which inherited them during the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Although only a few countries actually possess nuclear warheads, most states are involved in international measures to restrain their design, development, and deployment. The most important of these efforts is the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Negotiated between 1965 and 1968 and in force since 1970, the NPT was established to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and advance the goals of complete nuclear disarmament. It was extended indefinitely in 1995 and, despite the defection of North Korea in 2003, continues to hold up.

Free Trade Is Dead. Risky ‘Managed Trade’ Is Here.

Edward Alden

For three quarters of a century, the growth of world trade—which has spread prosperity to much of the planet, including hundreds of millions of people in the developing world—has been underpinned by a simple commandment: Thou shalt not discriminate. In the years after World War II, most nations agreed, for the first time in history, they would treat foreign-made goods the same from almost every country. The United States would, for example, charge the same tariff on a sweater imported from Italy as on one imported from Bangladesh and impose no additional discriminatory regulations. First, this powerful principle allowed many poor countries, such as Bangladesh, to grow by exporting goods. Later, when advances in communications and logistics pushed globalization forward, it allowed companies to spread production around the globe, confident they could make goods in almost any country and export them to any other under identical rules.

But the nondiscrimination principle is now under the most sustained assault it has ever faced. On issues from national security to labor rights to the environment, the world’s largest economies are deciding that nondiscrimination—the bedrock principle of free trade and globalization—must take a back seat to more pressing concerns. The most dramatic abandonment is about to hit: Last week, the European Union unveiled its “Fit for 55” plan to reduce carbon emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels by the end of this decade and to reach carbon neutrality by 2050—which will require the most sustained economic upheaval since the Industrial Revolution.

South Africa’s Twin Crises Are Feeding Each Other

Patrick Egwu

South Africa is coping with two crises at once—a political storm caused by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, whose followers have caused chaos on the streets, and a deadly new wave of COVID-19 that’s hospitalizing thousands of people a day. On July 3, South Africa hit a record 26,000 cases of COVID-19, one of the highest new daily totals reported since the pandemic started over a year ago.

The country has been battling a deadly third wave of the pandemic, following previous peaks during the first and second waves between April and December 2020. As of July 19, South Africa has recorded 2.3 million cases and 67,000 deaths since the pandemic started, according to the country’s Department of Health.

On June 27, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the country would move to adjusted alert level 4 of lockdown for 14 days as the country faced a rising number of COVID-19 infections. After the end of the two-week lockdown and with a continuous spike in cases, Ramaphosa addressed the nation again on July 11 and announced an additional 14 days of restrictions.

To Vaccinate the World, Supply Is Only Half the Issue

David Adler

On July 20, the World Trade Organization holds another Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Council meeting to consider waiving intellectual property protections for COVID-19 vaccines. But vaccinating the world will take more than just increasing supply. Vaccines need to be distributed and administered so they end up in people’s arms. Yet there is still limited global focus on this critical last mile problem.

The United States is a perfect case study of the importance of rollout planning and what can go wrong. It led the world in COVID-19 vaccine development and manufacturing, accomplished by Operation Warp Speed, in record time. But vaccine rollout was another story: The United States lagged behind both Israel and the United Kingdom in getting shots into people’s arms. Now, as the United States and the world consider ways to vaccinate every country, there is every reason to believe this rollout problem will reappear on a global scale. Even if the world manufactures an adequate vaccine supply—a very big if—this doesn’t mean afflicted countries will be able to effectively administer vaccines. Given ongoing deaths from COVID-19 in countries experiencing outbreaks as well as the flourishing of new variants that could breach existing vaccines, the consequences will be deadly.


Phineas Rueckert

Khadija Ismayilova’s home in Baku had become like a prison. In Azerbaijan, an oil-rich nation nestled next to the Caspian Sea that since 2014 has increasingly stifled free speech and dissent, Ismayilova’s investigations into the ruling family had made her a prime target of her own government.

The Azerbaijani investigative journalist knew she was constantly being watched – and had been told as much by friends and family who had been asked to spy on her.

The authorities had thrown the book at her: surreptitiously installing cameras in her home to film her during sex; arresting her and accusing her of driving a colleague to suicide; and eventually charging her with tax fraud and sentencing her to seven years in prison.

She was released on bail after 18 months and banned from leaving the country for five years.

How to Reach Net Zero


WASHINGTON, DC/BOGOTÁ – The science is clear: to avoid the most damaging effects of climate change, the world must reach net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions around mid-century. That means reducing human-caused GHG emissions to the lowest levels possible, and balancing any remaining emissions by permanently removing an equivalent quantity of GHGs from the atmosphere. Thereafter, the world must ensure that GHG removal exceeds emissions.

Achieving net zero will require a fundamental transformation of global energy and industrial systems, transport, and infrastructure, as well as of agriculture, forestry, and land use. The next 10-15 years are critical. While the world has many ambitious long-term climate targets, it lacks strategies to put the right investments and policies in place.

Moreover, effective and sustainable emissions reduction should also contribute to broad economic development, including by protecting workers, local communities, and human rights. The world should not reach net zero at the expense of vulnerable groups, but rather in a way that ensures a just transition for them.

Fixing the Global Tech Split


SINGAPORE – Heightened US-China tensions have raised the prospect of a deep global technology divide, potentially forcing other countries to choose which camp to join. There are plenty of grim scenarios involving irreconcilable splits between core technologies that power a wide range of products and services, from aircraft and automobiles to precision engineering for robotics and payment systems for e-commerce. Should these scenarios materialize, the world’s two largest economies will pour huge amounts of resources into a zero-sum race to control the cutting edge.

Both the United States and China understand the central role of technology in driving their economies and global development. They also know that mastering it, as well as safeguarding relevant intellectual property, can bolster their national security and geopolitical influence, with important feedback effects for their sustained growth and resilience.


John Spencer and Rich Hinman

Earlier this month, the Modern War Institute published an opinion piece, “The Tyranny of Battle Drill 6,” by retired Colonel Richard Hooker. In the article, Hooker argues that due to a culture of specialized urban tactics, conventional infantry soldiers should completely stop training to clear rooms. This is a dangerous position, one that skips over most of the context surrounding why the US Army prepares close-combat formations for urban warfare. In fact, the Army should be doing more to train its conventional infantry units for urban environments—including clearing rooms—not less.

Without Question, Infantry Will Have to Keep Clearing Rooms

The idea that infantry soldiers should stop training to clear rooms is just not informed by global trends, the Army’s history, or the character of modern warfare.

Mozambique’s Insurgency Requires a Multi-Pronged Response

Comfort Ero

A violent insurgency in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado is sparking fears that the area could become the next frontier for global jihadism in Africa. In recent years, young men, sometimes carrying the black flag of the Islamic State, have swept hundreds of thousands of people off their land in the natural gas-rich province. The militants’ attacks have often been marked by beheadings and mutilations, including of children.

All told, more than 3,000 people have been killed in the violence. Mozambican security forces have struggled to contain the insurgents, who in late March stormed the northern town of Palma, the gateway to multibillion-dollar natural gas projects that were being constructed with the investment of major multinational oil firms like France’s Total. The attack came only a few weeks after the U.S. State Department formally designated “ISIS-Mozambique”—also known as Ansar al-Sunna or Ahlu Sunna Wa-Jama, though many locals refer to it as al-Shabab, an Arabic term meaning “the youth”—as a terrorist organization.