11 August 2021

Social Media in Violent Conflicts – Recent Examples

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Alan Rusbridger, the then editor-in-chief of the Guardian in his 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture, stated, “News organisations still break lots of news. But, increasingly, news happens first on Twitter. If you’re a regular Twitter user, even if you’re in the news business and have access to wires, the chances are that you’ll check out many rumours of breaking news on Twitter first. There are millions of human monitors out there who will pick up on the smallest things and who have the same instincts as the agencies—to be the first with the news. As more people join, the better it will get. ”

The most important and unique feature of social media and its role in future conflicts is the speed at which it can disseminate information to audiences and the audiences to provide feedback.

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.

Addressing Climate Change in the Mekong-Ganges Region

Lohita Solanki

Following the 11th Mekong Ganga Cooperation (MGC) meeting on July 21, the foreign ministers of the MGC’s six member countries (Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam) agreed on the need to increase cooperation on sustainable water resource management. The ministers pledged to enhance technical cooperation in water resource management, share experiences, enhance human resource development, and improve the capacity of integrated water resource management systems. The need to prioritize climate change-related issues in the Mekong-Ganges basin was first addressed in the 10th MGC ministerial meeting, in which the foreign ministers decided to focus on climate change as a new area of cooperation, particularly stressing water resource management as the starting point.

According to the MGC plan of action adopted in 2019 for 2019-2022, steps regarding climate change were to be followed by undertaking collaborative projects in the areas of climate change adaptation, flood and drought management, disaster mitigation, and water resource management. India for its part offered to organize trainings and workshops for MGC countries’ professionals at the National Institute of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj. This marked a fundamental change for the MGC, whose initial purpose, when it was formed in November 2000, was to focus on four traditional areas of cooperation: tourism, culture, education, and transport and communications.

US B-52 bombers and gunships sent into action in Afghanistan in attempt to stop Taliban advance on key cities


A US Air Force B-52 after aerial refueling from a KC-135 Stratotanker in the US Central Command area of responsibility, December 30, 2020. Senior Airman Roslyn Ward

The Taliban has been seizing territory across Afghanistan as US-led forces withdraw.
The US has sent B-52 bombers and Spectre gunships to stop the Taliban advance on three key cities.
The move shows how Afghan forces are still reliant on the US for military equipment and support.

The US has sent B-52 bombers and Spectre gunships to Afghanistan in a bid to stop Taliban insurgents who are marching towards three key cities.

The B-52s are flying into Afghanistan from an airbase in Qatar, hitting targets around Kandahar, Herat, and Lashkar Gah in Helmand province, sources told The Times.

The move comes amid an increasingly dire situation in Afghanistan, as the Taliban continues to seize territory across the country as US-led forces withdraw.

Don’t lose Afghanistan

James Cunningham, Hugo Llorens, Ronald Neumann

Staging a major military offensive. Ignoring calls for peace negotiations. Threatening women and executing prisoners and civilians.

Given the Taliban’s behavior lately, US President Joe Biden’s decision to rapidly withdraw US forces from Afghanistan appears increasingly questionable. While it’s not certain the Afghan resistance to the Taliban will crumble, a catastrophic outcome is still possible. Abandoning a courageous people as they attempt to fight back could leave millions of Afghans vulnerable to Taliban repression.

That’s why we recommend a course correction involving redoubled efforts to support the Afghan security forces—particularly through airpower, which is immediately critical—as well as the vigorous implementation of US promises of continued security, economic, humanitarian, and diplomatic support.

With continued limited engagement, which is the approach the United States is currently taking in Iraq, it is not too late to avoid complete state collapse and more chaos in the region. But the US government must act swiftly and resolutely in Afghanistan and in mustering global support.

As cities fall in Afghanistan, the propaganda war grows

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN (NYTIMES) - First, a remote provincial capital in Afghanistan's south-west fell. The next day, it was a city in Afghanistan's north. By Sunday (Aug 8), Talban fighters had captured three more cities, including their biggest prize yet, the major provincial capital of Kunduz.

All the while, the Afghan central government has acknowledged very little of it.

In three days, at least five provincial capitals have been seized by the Taleban, in a ruthless land offensive that has led many local officials to abandon their posts and flee the cities they run.

But the nation's government, still trying to promote the impression that it has the upper hand against the Taleban, has been relatively silent on the enormous losses suffered across the country.

With Militias in Herat, ‘We Are Caught Between Bad and Worse’

Lynne O’Donnell

HERAT, Afghanistan—Taliban insurgents are fighting to penetrate deeper into this historic city in western Afghanistan after already taking nearly all the districts in the province. For now, they are being held off by 75-year-old warlord Ismail Khan and his 2,000-person militia, which—like other civilian militias across the country—is providing the first real pushback against the insurgents.

As the battle rages, bullets ricochet off the shuttered shops and huge sandbag fortifications around Khan’s compound. Men sit and stand around, chat, drink tea, and stroke their weapons. The uniformed soldiers among them keep their counsel and return fire.

Khan has long been despised for alleged human rights abuses committed at the height of his power as a soldier and mujahid leader fighting the Soviet occupation and the Taliban’s 1996 to 2001 regime. But he has won newfound admiration for joining his men with Afghan security forces against the insurgents in a last-ditch effort to hold the city.

How Pakistan Could Become Biden’s Worst Enemy

Michael Hirsh

In a gamble pitting hope against history, U.S. President Joe Biden and his team are banking that the resurgent Taliban will agree to a negotiated peace deal in Afghanistan and the militant group’s longtime state sponsor, Pakistan, will press them to share power with the Afghan government.

But many experts say such hopes are delusional, and history will likely triumph in the end: Pakistan and the Taliban leadership—which is still headquartered in Pakistan—will continue to have each other’s backs on the battlefield as well as at the negotiating table. In short, Pakistan wants the Taliban to win—or at least is unwilling to do much to prevent this from happening.

“Pakistan is supporting the Taliban’s offensive. Without Pakistani logistical support, the Taliban could not undertake the massive nationwide attack it is pursuing,” said Bruce Riedel, who served as a senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to four U.S. presidents. “The ISI [Pakistan’s powerful intelligence service] is already pleased it has ejected all the foreign troops from Afghanistan. The goal now is to induce panic in the Afghan government and army.”

The Nagging Question in the Indo-Pacific

Phillip Orchard

Senior U.S. diplomats were fanned out across the Indo-Pacific last week. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin toured Southeast Asia, outlining to circumspect U.S. partners a vision for “integrated deterrence” and, in Manila, tending to a festering wound at the heart of U.S. regional strategy. This followed Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s visits to Seoul and Tokyo, indispensable U.S. allies whose resentment for each other is a big problem for the U.S. alliance structure. Her boss, Antony Blinken, dropped by India to continue transforming the “Quad” from a reluctant talk shop to a coalition with teeth. Meanwhile, at home, the annual bureaucratic donnybrook over the Pentagon’s budget is in full swing, with profound debates over how best to sustain U.S. naval supremacy in the Indo-Pacific (How many ships? What type? What role for unmanned ships?) appearing nowhere close to resolution.

The flurry of activity can be tied to a single, nagging question: Can China win? Or, can China’s developing capabilities – hypersonic missiles, warships, cyberweapons, space and information domain assets, and so forth – nullify Washington’s naval superiority, particularly in China’s front yard? What happens if China succeeds simply in making it too costly for the U.S. to risk a fight?

Strait of Emergency?

Rachel Esplin Odell and Eric Heginbotham; Bonny Lin and David Sacks;

Oriana Skylar Mastro’s article “The Taiwan Temptation” (July/August 2021) is one of many recent articles that warns of the growing risk of Chinese aggression in the Taiwan Strait. Such articles have become so common that they have created something of an invasion panic in Washington—one that is damaging to both the United States’ and Taiwan’s interests. Anxiety about impending Chinese aggression was part of what drove Washington in recent years to weaken its long-standing “one China” policy by lifting some restrictions on official interactions between it and Taiwan. It also undergirds recent calls for Washington to abandon its policy of “strategic ambiguity” about whether it would defend Taiwan against a Chinese attack.

Although Mastro does not explicitly endorse these policy changes, she does suggest that the United States has no good options for preventing a Chinese assault on Taiwan, implying a false equivalence among the various approaches available to Washington. In reality, the risks are less imminent and more manageable than she suggests. The United States can maintain stability in the Taiwan Strait by bolstering Taiwan’s self-defense capabilities and adopting a lighter and more distributed—and thus less vulnerable—force posture in the Asia-Pacific. At the same time, Washington should strengthen its “one China” policy, reinforce strategic ambiguity, and refrain from making unconditional commitments to Taiwan.

Why Did China Crack Down on Its Ed-Tech Industry?

Lizzi C. Lee

The Chinese regulatory authorities have been keeping investors on the edge of their seats this year. Domestic fintech firms were among the first targeted by Beijing. Next came ride-hailing and food delivery. Now ed-tech giants have rounded out the lineup.

To understand the latest development, it is crucial to unpack the chronic love-hate relationship between Chinese parents and China’s private tutoring industry, says Zak Dychtwald, founder of the advisory firm Young China Group. “There’s enormous pressure on parents and children to give their kids a head start and to get them into the best school possible.”

It all starts with the idea of “the project of childhood,” defined as the laser-focused drive to get ahead early in life, where having a leg up early on can define a child’s competitiveness from the middle school market, the high school market, the college and professional market, to the marriage and housing market, before reaching full circle as their offspring undergo the same ritual.

Does The World Have The Will To Stop Xi Jinping?

Robert Wilkie

There is an old Soviet tale about Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko. At lunchtime, he would retreat into his office and stare at the map of the world. The map was centered on the Soviet Union. The old Bolshevik would just glare at it as if it were a giant chessboard awaiting Moscow’s next move.

One can imagine similar scenes playing out in Zhongnanhai, with Chinese President Xi Jinping contemplating a map showing a communist Middle Kingdom as the epicenter of a new world order.

Xi believes that he is a revolutionary leader with an opportunity to join Chairman Mao and Deng Xiaoping in the Chinese pantheon. To accomplish this, he must dethrone the United States as the world’s most powerful nation.

Centenary of the Chinese Communist Party Part One: Centenary Propaganda and Chinese Socialism with Xi Jinping Characteristics

Steven W. Lewis

Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), President of the People’s Republic of China, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission, is indisputably just such a “world-historic personage.” To see how powerful he is, one need only look at China’s main state newspapers in recent years to see days when the entire front page was covered with stories about what Xi Jinping thinks about this issue or that policy, or watch state television news to see report after report about Xi Jinping’s speeches and travels throughout China. Xi is widely believed to be China’s new leader for life, having eliminated or marginalized his rivals at the top of the party, so much so that he has no obvious successors, and he has already paved the way to become general secretary for at least a third five-year term at the National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in November 2022. Xi has directed state propaganda to refer to him as the ideological “Core Leader” of the Chinese Communist Party, thereby creating the perception that he should be viewed as the legitimate ideological successor of the People’s Republic of China’s greatest leader, Chairman Mao Zedong, originator of the Chinese Marxism known as Maoism. Unlike his predecessors at the 80th and 90th anniversaries of the founding of the CCP, who gave their addresses in the nearby gigantic Great Hall of the People, on July 1, Xi took full advantage of the COVID precautions requiring large gatherings to be held outdoors to hold his centenary speech looking down from atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace, wearing the same grey Sun Yatsen suit that Mao was wearing in the giant portrait hanging just below him. He looked out across tens of thousands of cheering party members in the giant square below to the enormous Mausoleum of Mao in the distance. Observing all of this outsized pageantry and brutalist symbolism must make learned Chinese Marxists wonder, however—following Marx’s famous invocation of Hegel’s notion of the role of historic personages—is Xi Jinping the tragedy, or is Xi Jinping the farce?

A New Revolution in the Middle East

Jon B. Alterman

No region of the world is more immersed in the consequences of global climate change than the Middle East. The region accounts for about 30 percent of global oil production, and oil revenues drive government revenues in the region—either because the countries produce oil, or because the countries produce a labor force that works in oil-exporting countries and sends money home. Because of oil revenues, Middle Eastern governments can afford to employ large percentages of their own populations, and they do. As the world turns away from oil as an energy source, the economics of the Middle East will change profoundly.

At the same time, the Middle East is subject to the consequences of climate change. The region is already desperately water poor—nine of the ten most water-poor countries are in the Middle East. Drought is pushing farmers off their land, the region’s many coastal cities are threatened by sea level rise, and rising summer temperatures increasingly combine with humidity to put human survival at risk.

That is to say, the Middle East is embedded on both sides of the climate change issue. As global consumption patterns change, the Middle East will change profoundly; as the climate changes, the Middle East will change profoundly as well.

The Syrian Civil War’s Never-Ending Endgame

The Syrian civil war that has decimated the country for 10 years now, provoking a regional humanitarian crisis and drawing in actors ranging from the United States to Russia, appears to be drawing inexorably to a conclusion. President Bashar al-Assad, with the backing of Iran and Russia, seems to have emerged militarily victorious from the conflict, which began after his government violently repressed civilian protests in 2011. The armed insurgency that followed soon morphed into a regional and global proxy war that, at the height of the fighting, saw radical Islamist groups seize control over vast swathes of the country, only to lose it in the face of sustained counteroffensives by pro-government forces as well as a U.S.-led coalition of Western militaries.

The fighting is not yet fully over, though, with the northwestern Idlib region remaining outside of government control. In early 2020, the Syrian army’s Russian-backed campaign to retake Idlib from the last remaining armed opposition groups concentrated there resulted in clashes with Turkish forces deployed to protect Ankara’s client militias. The skirmishes were a reminder that the conflict, though seemingly in its final stages, could still flare back up and escalate. The situation in the northeast also remains volatile following the removal of U.S. forces from the border with Turkey, with Turkish, Syrian and Russian forces all now deployed in the region, alongside proxies and Syrian Kurdish militias.

The Plight of the Foreign Policy Realists

Sumantra Maitra

The International Institute for Strategic Studies recently published an article titled Misplaced Restraint: The Quincy Coalition Versus Liberal Internationalism in Survival, its house journal. The article’s authors, Daniel Deudney and G. John Ikenberry, fire broadsides at what they call a profoundly deficient “understanding of the wellsprings of American success in the twentieth century,” by a group of domestic libertarians, foreign policy realists, and anti-imperialist left, under the banner of “restraint.” This group of restrainers is changing the conversation because they are “haunted by the Iraq war” and their “unifying objective is avoiding another Iraq War and curtailing American military interventions,” according to Deudney and Ikenberry. The authors argue that the restrainers are “united in opposing the project of American liberal internationalism, manifest in a system of rules, institutions and partnerships that the United States has built and led over the last seventy years.”

DHS goes to Black Hat. US cyber czar urges that the US make itself a "harder target."

At a glance.

DHS goes to Black Hat.

US cyber czar urges that the US make itself a "harder target."

Cybercrime bill introduced in the US Senate.

CISA's VDP seems to be working.

Mayorkas and Easterly pitch Federal jobs, collaboration at Black Hat.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called on Black Hat conference participants to share their “creativity,” “ideas,” and “boldness” with the Government, according to CyberScoop, as the nation “navigate[s] a path that has not yet been mapped.” Touting the forthcoming Cyber Talent Management System, which aims to plug holes in the Federal talent pipeline with relaxed prerequisites and better pay, Mayorkas said, “What’s at stake here is nothing less than the future of the internet, the future of our economic and national security, and the future of our country.”

Op-Ed: How the U.S. can deter ransomware attacks


Just 10 years ago, ransomware was the domain of mostly small-fry hackers encrypting files to squeeze a few hundred dollars out of random individuals. Today it’s an urgent issue of national security.

As President Biden said in late July: If the U.S. ends up in “a real shooting war” with “a major power,” a “cyber breach of great consequence” will be to blame.

Cybercriminals have been escalating their attacks for years — locking up the computer systems of police stations, city governments and hospitals. But the ransomware attack in May on the operator of the largest petroleum pipeline in the U.S. — which disrupted gasoline supplies in much of the country — is one of many cyberassaults that are tiptoeing closer to an act of war.

Ideological Competition With China Is Inevitable—Like It or Not

Nathan Levine

As rancorous U.S.-China talks in late July demonstrated, tensions between the two superpowers have continued to escalate. Beijing has declared the relationship “is now in a stalemate and faces serious difficulties.” U.S. President Joe Biden has increasingly characterized strategic competition with China as part of a broader conflict between democracies and autocracies in the 21st century. This has prompted dissenters in Washington and around the world to decry the prospect of the two countries slipping into an ideological competition reminiscent of the Cold War.

Such warnings tend to come from two main camps. Political progressives warn defining the standoff as a Cold War-style ideological contest will divide the world, distract from efforts to address social issues at home, and make it harder to fight climate change. Realist-leaning foreign-policy thinkers, on the other hand, believe framing the U.S.-China relationship in ideological terms is extraneous to the core issues of great-power competition and could also alienate important U.S. allies and partners.

Who Assassinated Haiti’s President? The Mystery Gets Murkier

Drew Hinshaw, Ryan Dube, Kejal Vyas and Juan Forero

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti—After he climbed the bloodstained staircase, Carl Henry Destin found a baffling scene.

The Haitian president lay dead on the floor, with multiple gunshot wounds. Every drawer was flung open, and papers were scattered as if someone had been searching for something.

“The bedroom had been totally ransacked…documents everywhere,” Mr. Destin said. “There were a lot of witnesses, but they didn’t want to talk.”

Mr. Destin, a judicial officer often tasked with logging evidence at a murder scene, counted dozens of bullet holes and their locations at the presidential residence. He was struck by the chaos of the scene and the thin recollections from the bystanders who described little more than hearing the clatter of gunfire.

Outside, police frantically halted traffic as they searched for Colombian mercenaries they said had been running through the narrow streets of the hillside neighborhood.

Two Years into CPTPP

Kati Suominen

Series Introduction
In 2018, 11 countries—Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam—came together to sign the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The agreement deepened the liberalization of trade in goods and services among the members and broke new ground addressing digital trade issues via a comprehensive e-commerce chapter. However, to date, little is known about the impact of the CPTPP in general and its e-commerce provisions in particular on trade, investment, and e-commerce in the CPTPP region.

This five-part series seeks to provide early insight into the CPTPP’s potential effects by looking at trade and investment flows in the CPTPP region in the past few years, exploring the views of firms in the CPTPP region on the agreement and especially its e-commerce chapter, and presenting preliminary findings on the CPTPP’s unique impacts relative to other factors that have shaped trade and e-commerce patterns in the region, such as other recent trade agreements, trade wars, and the Covid-19 crisis. Much more data and analysis will be needed to establish how the CPTPP is shaping its members’ trade flows; this series looks to raise fresh hypotheses for such future research by exploring early patterns.

Violent Extremism in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons From the Rise of Boko Haram

Audu Bulama Bukarti

On 26 July 2009, Boko Haram launched its first series of attacks on several police stations across northern Nigeria, culminating in a four-day standoff with security forces that ended with the death of hundreds of its members including founder and first leader, Muhammed Yusuf. As surviving members went underground to plan a deadly insurgency, Nigerian authorities expressed confidence that the group had been defeated. The following summer, Boko Haram returned under new leadership with an official name and a fresh mode of operation that would prove to be far more sophisticated and lethal than the original.

Over the past 12 years, Boko Haram has grown into one of the most influential and dominant terrorist groups in the world. Though the group has gained notoriety for its violence and mass kidnappings in Nigeria’s North East, Boko Haram is today a transnational threat that has sustained an insurgency despite both regional and international military counterterrorism efforts. Around the Lake Chad Basin, including in Niger, Cameroon and Chad, the militants of Boko Haram stage daily attacks and raids. This is further complicating efforts to manage other conflicts across the Sahel, creating a complex jihadist problem encasing either side of West Africa.

UN Climate Change Panel's Damning Report: "Code Red For Humanity"

Chetan Bhattacharji

The United Nation's Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, of which India is one of the 195 members, has released its sixth assessment report today. Scientists are observing changes in the Earth's climate in every region and across the whole climate system. Some of the changes already set in motion - such as continued sea level rise - are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. Yet drastic and rapid cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can limit climate change, but nations have to agree to do this. Even if by some miracle nations agree, when they meet in Glasgow, UK, later this year, on immediate, and drastic cuts it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize although benefits for air quality would come quickly. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the IPCC's assessment - the most detailed review of climate science ever conducted - "code red for humanity".

Here are the 10 points of the IPCC climate change report:

1. The world is warming faster. Global heating is on track to hit 1.5 degrees Celsius around 2030, a decade earlier than projected in 2018, according to the bombshell report.

Haiti Can Solve Its Own Problems, if Foreign Powers Would Let It

Vincent Joos

Three weeks after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, and a week after being sworn in as prime minister, Ariel Henry held his first Cabinet meeting on July 28. It did not go well. In an effort to distance himself from the unpopular Moise administration, Henry attempted to revoke a 2020 presidential decree creating a national intelligence agency, which had been widely criticized as an unaccountable secret police that could potentially spy on Moise’s political opponents.

But in response to Henry’s proposal, the Cabinet’s secretary-general, Renald Luberice, submitted a letter expressing his opposition to dismantling Moise’s agenda, in which he invoked the memory of the recently slain president and the necessity to continue his work. Ultimately, Henry backed off.

The episode illustrates just how challenging the road forward will be for Henry as he tries to organize new elections “as quickly as possible.” Beyond the divisions within his own government, Henry faces many overlapping crises. First, violent gangs, many of which had forged ties with Moise and his allies, control entire neighborhoods of the capital, Port-au-Prince, fueling a wave of violent crime that has displaced thousands of residents. On June 30, journalist Diego Charles and activist Antoinette Duclair were shot and killed by unidentified men on a motorcycle—part of a long string of assassinations of pro-democracy figures going back to 2018.

Present at the Creation of a Climate Alliance—or Climate Conflict

Adam Tooze

As news pours in almost daily about extreme weather events, the climate crisis is taking on a more and more manifested reality. Meanwhile, the clock of climate diplomacy is ticking too. The long-awaited United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, is now less than 100 days away. If there is to be progress at the conference, positions need to be confirmed and coordinated. Originally scheduled to open only days after the 2020 U.S. election, it is fortunate in a sense that COVID-19 forced its postponement. This allows U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration to play a more constructive role. But not only are the G-20 environment ministers unable to agree, but even between the Europeans and the Biden administration, hopes of climate harmony are proving premature.

The United States and the European Union have both separately raised the promises they made in Paris in 2015. But on how to achieve their goals, they are at odds. Former U.S. President Donald Trump’s climate denial and crude economic nationalism have been banished—at least, for now. Instead, what the world is witnessing is a trans-Atlantic tussle over preeminence in climate policy. The resurgent claim to leadership on the part of the Biden administration clashes with the EU’s famed regulatory power. So much so that following the latest EU package’s announcement, there is talk of a carbon trade war. Will the White House or the “Brussels effect” prevail?

Jamestown Foundation

Historic Chinese Flooding Highlights Outstanding Infrastructure Problems

Xi Jinping Issues Tough Warnings to Enemies Within the Party

What the 2020 Chinese Census Tells Us About Progress in Hukou Reform

Recent Trends in Sino-Israeli Relations Bely Lasting Warm Ties

China’s Hypersonic Missiles: Methods and Motives

Artificial Intelligence and the Past, Present, and Future of Democracy

Mathias Risse

Located at the intersection of political philosophy, philosophy of technology and political history, this essay reflects on medium and long-term prospects and challenges for democracy that arise from AI, emphasizing how critical a stage this is. Modern democracies involve structures for collective choice that periodically empower relatively few people to steer the social direction for everybody. As in all forms of governance, technology shapes how this unfolds. Specialized AI changes what philosophers of technology would call the materiality of democracy, not just in the sense that independent actors deploy different tools. AI changes how collective decision making unfolds and what its human participants are like (how they see themselves in relation to their environment, what relationships they have and how those are designed, and generally what form of human life can get realized). AI and democracy are not “natural allies:” it takes active design choices and much political will for AI so serve democratic purposes.

Remote Working and (In)Security

Georgia Crossland

Remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic has had, and continues to have, a great impact on the workforce. Through interviews with senior cyber security professionals, this research explored how the traditional dynamics between employees and leadership have adapted in such times, responding to a rapidly evolving cyber threat landscape, as well as an unpredictable period for organisations and employees in terms of wellbeing and remote working culture. Focusing on the transition to remote working, cyber security, the psychological contract (relationship between employees and employers) and employee wellbeing, the research highlighted several key themes:

Organisations have taken different approaches to security risk management. While some employers relaxed corporate device policy and displayed increased trust in employees to 'get the job done', other employers increased restrictions, occasionally to the perceived detriment of productivity and collaboration. 

Remote working has increased worry associated with insider threats. Through shadow IT practices, inadequate remote working security controls or mitigations, and decreased visibility of remote working environments, participants suggested that there are more opportunities for employees to, deliberately or unwittingly, to expose organisations to risk.

The Case for Establishing a Digital Geneva Convention

Dan Lohrmann

Let’s start with a question: What do all of these activities have in common?

Stopping ransomware from devastating consequences.

Protecting critical infrastructure from cyber attacks.

Policing illegal cyberspace activities.

Bringing global cyber criminals to justice.

Holding nation-states accountable for online criminal activities.

International rules for war in the 2020s and beyond.

While there are many potential answers to this question, a growing number of international experts believe that these issues call for a new "Digital Geneva Convention" to address a growing global mess in cyberspace that is having very real impacts in the daily lives of individuals, companies and governments around the world.

Risky Business: Future Strategy and Force Options for the Defense Department

Stacie Pettyjohn, Becca Wasser and Jennie Matuschak

Executive Summary
Despite the overarching strategic priorities laid out by the Biden administration and initial indicators provided by the Department of Defense (DoD), it is unclear how the next National Defense Strategy (NDS) will prioritize threats and the primary role of the U.S. military. Will the DoD clearly preference China (and to a lesser extent Russia)? Or will it hedge and try to more equally meet the expanded list of threats detailed in the Interim National Security Strategic Guidance? Is the Pentagon’s priority to compete below the threshold of armed conflict, or is it to prepare to defeat a great-power adversary in a large-scale war to strengthen deterrence? Answering these questions is critical to developing a clear strategy that emphasizes the right priorities, activities, and resources.

To consider the next defense strategy and the tradeoffs associated with different options, we developed three possible strategies—high-end deterrence, day-to-day competition, and full-spectrum competition—that alter the factors highlighted above and reflect the Biden administration’s stated priorities.