14 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.

Afghanistan’s rapid collapse is part of a long, slow U.S. defeat

Ishaan Tharoor

The collapse seems so sudden. In the space of a few blistering summer months, Taliban forces have swept across much of Afghanistan.

One after the other, provincial centers across the country’s north and west are being captured by the insurgents as government resistance melts away. When the militants on Thursday seized the city of Ghazni, it was the 10th provincial capital to fall in a week. Then, in what would be a stunning blow to the beleaguered government of President Ashraf Ghani, Taliban forces appeared to take over the major cities of Herat and Kandahar, as well as Lashkar Gah, capital of southern Helmand province, according to my colleagues.

Now, with Kabul in its crosshairs, the Taliban finds itself in arguably its most powerful position since 2001, before it was ousted from power by the U.S.-led invasion. Reports are already coming in from areas under Taliban control of militants carrying out attacks on civilians and forcing young women into marriages. Meanwhile, the Afghan military — built through years of U.S. training and significant financial support — is reeling and demoralized. In city after city, soldiers surrendered or deserted their posts. In some instances, the Taliban drove off with U.S. military equipment, including weapons and vehicles.

U.S. Asks Taliban to Spare Its Embassy in Coming Fight for Kabul

Lara Jakes

WASHINGTON — American negotiators are trying to extract assurances from the Taliban that they will not attack the U.S. Embassy in Kabul if the extremist group takes over the country’s government and ever wants to receive foreign aid, three American officials said.

The effort, led by Zalmay Khalilzad, the chief American envoy in talks with the Taliban, seeks to stave off a full evacuation of the embassy as they rapidly seize cities across Afghanistan. On Thursday, the State Department announced it was sending home an unspecified number of the 1,400 Americans stationed at the embassy and drawing down to what the agency’s spokesman, Ned Price, described as a “core diplomatic presence” in Kabul.

The embassy also urged Americans who were not working for the U.S. government to immediately leave Afghanistan on commercial flights. The Taliban’s march has put embassies in Kabul on high alert for a surge of violence in coming months, or even weeks, and forced consulates and other diplomatic missions in the country to shut down.

It might still be possible to save Afghanistan

“Anegative outcome, a Taliban automatic military takeover, is not a foregone conclusion,” Mark Milley, America’s most senior soldier, intoned last month while reiterating America’s support for the embattled Afghan government. General Milley is right: such a takeover is not quite inevitable, despite the departure of American troops. But it is growing more likely by the day—in large part because America, whatever its generals say, is doing too little to help.

Ideally, America would not be withdrawing its forces at all. For several years, with only a few thousand troops who sustained few casualties, it had managed to maintain a stalemate between the Afghan government and the Taliban, thanks largely to air power. Yet last year, when Donald Trump was president, America struck a deal with the Taliban. In exchange for a promise from the militants not to harbour international terrorists, it undertook to withdraw from Afghanistan completely. Never mind that the insurgents refused any kind of ceasefire; never mind that they offered nothing more than indirect negotiations with the American-backed government in Kabul; Mr Trump wanted a quick end to the 20-year deployment, and President Joe Biden has stuck by that callous decision.

Security Alert: U.S. Embassy Kabul, Afghanistan

U.S. Embassy in Kabul

Location: Throughout Afghanistan

The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to leave Afghanistan immediately using available commercial flight options. If you cannot afford to purchase an airline ticket at this time, please contact the U.S. Embassy at KabulACS@state.gov for information regarding a repatriation loan. If you are a U.S. citizen and delaying your departure while you await an immigrant visa for a spouse or minor child, please contact us immediately. Given the security conditions and reduced staffing, the Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is extremely limited even within Kabul. Please review, “What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis.”

The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens that on April 27, 2021, the Department of State ordered the departure from U.S. Embassy Kabul of U.S. government employees whose functions can be performed elsewhere due to increasing violence and threat reports in Kabul. The Travel Advisory for Afghanistan remains Level 4-Do Not Travel due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict, and COVID-19. Domestic flights and ground transportation routes outside of Kabul are severely limited and subject to cancellation or closure.

Pentagon Sends 3,000 Troops to Secure Kabul Airport as US Evacuates Embassy Staff, Interpreters


The U.S. is sending 3,000 additional troops to Kabul to secure the airport, speed the evacuation of U.S. embassy staff, and get Afghans who helped U.S. forces over the last two decades out of Afghanistan, as the Taliban continues its rapid advance across the country.

Three infantry battalions that are already deployed to the Middle East “are on the way now” and will be on the ground in Kabul within the next 24 hours, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters Thursday. In addition, an infantry brigade combat team from Fort Bragg, North Carolina—roughly 3,500 additional troops—will be sent to Kuwait in case additional forces are needed.

“The president has ordered the reduction of civilian personnel at our embassy in Kabul, and the acceleration of the evacuation of Afghan special immigrant visa applicants from the country,” Kirby said.

The Pentagon is also preparing to send additional airlift to assist.

How to Avert A Disaster in Afghanistan

Michael O'Hanlon

Dozens of Afghanistan’s four hundred or so districts have fallen to the Taliban since spring. Six of the country’s thirty-four provincial capitals have fallen in the last week. The United States and NATO partners are now virtually gone from the country, except for a few hundred Turkish and U.S. troops guarding the airport as well as key embassies in the capital city, Kabul. Like Rome and Saigon before it, will Kabul soon fall? Will the Taliban take general control of the country—just as, with the exception of pockets of the nation’s north, it did in the late 1990s? The Central Intelligence Agency seems to think so; a recently leaked report from Langley apparently argues that the government of President Ashraf Ghani may collapse in the course of this year.

Alas, President Joe Biden’s regrettable decision to remove the remaining three thousand or so U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan, and to pull them out fast this year, has put the country’s future in doubt. To be sure, things were bad before. But they are much worse now. Whether or not a Taliban-run Afghanistan would ever become a sanctuary again for Al Qaeda or related terrorists, we would have to work very hard to ensure that was not the case—meaning Biden may wind up having to spend more time and resources on Afghanistan after our departure than was the case before. Millions of Afghans, including women and minorities and intellectuals and reformers and U.S. friends, now face greater peril than ever.

An uneasy limbo for US-Pakistan relations amidst the withdrawal from Afghanistan

Madiha Afzal

Six months into the Biden administration, amid the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and increasing violence on the ground there, the U.S.-Pakistan relationship stands in uneasy limbo. Pakistan has indicated repeatedly that it wants the relationship to be defined more broadly than with regard to Afghanistan — especially based on “geo-economics,” its favored current catch-all for trade, investment, and connectivity — and has insisted that it doesn’t want failures in Afghanistan to be blamed on Pakistan. At the same time the U.S. has made it clear that it expects Pakistan to “do more” on Afghanistan in terms of pushing the Taliban toward a peace agreement with the Afghan government. Pakistan responds that it has exhausted its leverage over the Taliban. The result is a relationship with the Biden administration that has been defined by Pakistan’s western neighbor, as has been the case for U.S.-Pakistan relations for much of the last 40 years. And the situation in Afghanistan may define the future of the relationship as well.

As U.S. Leaves Afghanistan, History Suggests It May Struggle to Stay Out

Ben Hubbard

BEIRUT, Lebanon — After grueling years of watching United States forces fight and die in a faraway land, the president appealed to growing war weariness among voters and brought the troops home.

Not long after, an extremist group stormed through areas the Americans had left, killing civilians, seizing power and sweeping away billions of dollars’ worth of American efforts to leave behind a stable nation.

That’s what happened after President Barack Obama withdrew American forces from Iraq in 2011: the jihadists of the Islamic State established an extremist emirate, prompting the United States to dispatch its military, yet again, to flush them out.

It is also now a possible scenario in Afghanistan, where President Biden’s order to shut down America’s longest war has led to swift advances by the Taliban, the same extremist group the United States invaded Afghanistan to topple after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Cambodia: China’s ‘Belt And Road’ Dam Is A Rights Disaster, Says HRW

A large-scale, Chinese-financed hydroelectric dam in northeastern Cambodia, completed in 2018, has undermined the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Indigenous and ethnic minority people, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Tuesday. The Lower Sesan 2 dam, one of Asia’s widest dams, flooded large areas upstream of the confluence of the Sesan and Srepok Rivers, two tributaries of the Mekong River.

The 137-page report, “Underwater: Human Rights Impacts of a China Belt and Road Project in Cambodia,” documents economic, social, and cultural rights violations resulting from the Lower Sesan 2 dam’s displacement of nearly 5,000 people whose families had lived in the area for generations, as well as impacts on the livelihoods of tens of thousands of others upstream and downstream. Cambodian authorities and company officials improperly consulted with affected communities before the project’s start and largely ignored their concerns. Many were coerced into accepting inadequate compensation for lost property and income, provided with poor housing and services at resettlement sites, and given no training or assistance to secure new livelihoods. Other affected communities upstream and downstream of the dam received no compensation or assistance.

Tibet Question : Options for China and Implications for India

Dr. Adityanjee

The events in Tibet following the March 10th demonstrations on the 49th anniversary of Dalai Lama’s historic flight from Lhasa to India in 1959 will continue to have reverberations internationally for some time to come. Despite restoring public order and peace by using brute force, the Chinese government has failed miserably to quell the suppressed feelings of Tibetans. It is likely that Tibetan resistance will continue unabated albeit it may take more novel forms of protest. The Beijing Olympics will definitely fuel the fire of Tibetan cries for self-determination and independence as from a Tibetan perspective it would be now or never kind of strategic opportunity. Although the six million Tibetans are ill-equipped militarily to take on the most powerful Communist Chinese empire, the timing of these protests is “historically correct” and has the potential to fundamentally alter the future geopolitical events in the whole of Central Asia. The governor of TAR in China has already declared “peoples’ war” on the Tibetan protesters. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has declared these protests as a life and death issue for China. He squarely blamed Dalai Lama for organizing these “premeditated, well-orchestrated and well-planned violent protests” to sour the Olympics. Wen Jiabao has expressed appreciation of the “correct” steps taken by the Indian Friends in New Delhi. Dalai Lama has lamented the Indian government’s tendency to genuflect to Chinese interests as supreme while offering to resign if violence spreads.

China’s Nuclear Forces Swell: A Tri-Polar World?

Dean Cheng

For the last three decades, the Chinese military has been undertaking a systematic modernization of the People’s Liberation Army. While the conventional force modernizations have garnered most of the attention, recent revelations of a major Chinese missile silo construction effort in the west indicate that the nuclear component of the PLA has been modernizing as well.

The array of both nuclear and conventional missiles in the Chinese inventory has steadily expanded. In addition to two dozen or so DF-31 ICBMs, the Chinese have been adding the DF-41, a mobile system that is expected to field China’s first MIRVs (multiple independent reentry vehicles). This will substantially increase the number of warheads Beijing has aimed at American targets, while also making it harder for the U.S. to target them.

Add to this the recent discovery of around 100 silos in China’s Gansu province, and another hundred silos in Xinjiang. China’s construction of some 250 missile silos would be consistent with the overall expansion of the PLARF, which includes increasing the number of MRBMs, IRBMs, and ICBMs. At the same time, it would mark at least an order of magnitude expansion of China’s intercontinental warheads, from perhaps two dozen to more than 250 (which would not include the mobile DF-41s). Should China decide to place MIRVs atop these various new missiles, the Chinese could begin to approach Russian and American warhead numbers (each is allowed to deploy 1,500 warheads).

China Threat To Sink An American Carrier: All Talk Or a Serious Possibility?

James Holmes

Here's What You Need to Remember: If Beijing believes—rightly or wrongly—that a sudden strike would work, and that it would elicit the desired political effect, then the leadership might roll the iron dice.

Last year, firebrand People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Admiral Luo Yang declared that sinking two U.S. Navy supercarriers and killing 10,000 sailors is a splendid idea because Americans can’t stand battle casualties and will abandon the Western Pacific if struck a hammerblow. He posits a military cause and a strategic and political effect: land a heavy military blow and your antagonist will make the political decision to quit the battlefield.

Gee. You usually have to consult the likes of Osama bin Laden or Hideki Tojo for that caliber of strategic foresight and insight. They too knew that America always flees shrieking after suffering a sneak attack. The idea that the United States is irresolute appears graven on many foreign strategists’ minds.

Defeat, Not Merely Compete

Scott W. Harold

Over the past two decades, the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has made rapid advances in building up new capabilities and operational concepts. Aerospace power has been a core feature of the PLA's rapid modernization. In particular, since 2004, the PLA Air Force has pursued a service strategy aimed at developing the capacity to "simultaneously prosecute offensive and defensive integrated air and space operations." This report explores the extent to which the desire to "compete" with the U.S. Air Force (or other advanced air forces) shapes PLA thinking about the development of military aerospace power. It examines how China selects between the options of "copying" foreign powers and "innovating" its own solutions to various operational military problems, as well as which areas China chooses to not compete in at all.

Turkish Pipeline to Nakhchivan Shakes up Power Relations in South Caucasus

Paul Goble

One of the most important consequences of the November 2020 and January 2021 joint Armenian-Azerbaijan-Russian declarations ending the latest round of fighting between Yerevan and Baku was a commitment to the reopening of transportation corridors in the South Caucasus region. These accords sparked hopes in Armenia that it would be able to end its isolation on the ground and in Azerbaijan that it could open a corridor between Azerbaijan and its non-contiguous autonomous republic of Nakhchivan. But Armenia’s lack of resources to act independently as well as its opposition to the construction of any corridor through Syunik province (referred to by Azerbaijan as Zengezur) lest it cost Armenia its land bridge to Iran have combined with Moscow’s inability or unwillingness to force the issue. That situation has led to a cooling of hopes for progress on the restoration of most of the agreed-upon transportation corridors. Indeed, these dashed hopes have led to suggestions that the lack of progress may spark a new round of fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan and force Russia to insert even more “peacekeepers” to keep the two sides apart (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, May 31; Windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com, June 2).

Turkey Conducting Targeted Killings Of PKK Leaders In Iraq: What’s Next? – Analysis

Ömer Faruk Cantenar*

Northern Iraq has long been a safe haven for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is a Kurdish militant group recognized as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the United States, and European Union. The group has been waging an armed struggle in Turkey since 1984. Turkish air and land operations have routinely targeted the PKK in the mountainous region of northern Iraq, near the border with Turkey. The most recent iteration of these operations, titled Operations Claw-Lightning and Claw-Thunderbolt, began in April and is currently ongoing (Pençe-Şimşek ve Pençe-Yıldırım) (Terrorism Monitor, May 7). In mid-May, in addition to these ground operations, Turkey initiated a new campaign of targeted operations that have killed several prominent PKK figures in northern Iraq. This piece aims to analyze Turkey’s recent focus on targeted killings, often referred to as “personality strikes,” in the country’s fight against the PKK and to elaborate on potential future targets. [1]
Turkey’s First ‘Personality Strikes’ in Northern Iraq

To Avoid Attack, U.S. Forces Are Spreading Out. But They’re Still Broadcasting Their Positions.

David Axe

The U.S. armed forces are working hard to develop new methods of spreading out troops, planes and ships in order to make it harder for, say, Russian or Chinese forces to target them with long-range missiles.

But there’s a problem. As long as the U.S. military continues to rely on quick and voluminous information-sharing, its distributed operations could be vulnerable to electronic monitoring and disruption.

“Disruption” in this case also meaning “getting blown up.”

Fortunately for dispersed American forces, however, there’s at least one old-fashioned radio type that could help mitigate the missile risk.

The U.S. Air Force last month organized a trial run of a comms kit at a pop-up air base.

Why America Loses Wars

George Friedman

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is moving to its inevitable conclusion. The Taliban, the radical Islamists the U.S. was fighting, are taking back control of the country, one city at a time. Put differently, the United States has lost the war it fought for the past 20 years. There are those who want to continue to fight, but I doubt that another 20 years will bring victory considering that the definition of success is vague and wildly ambitious. The goal was to transform an ancient and complex society from what it was to into what we wanted it to be. Defeating a country comprising warring factions and imposing peace and a new culture was beyond Washington’s reach.

This is not the first war the U.S. has lost since World War II, and given the overwhelming military power of the United States, it must be explained. To explain it, we must begin with World War II, in which the United States was confronted with a conflict initiated by Japan and Germany. The United States responded by defining war as eliminating the enemy’s military and shattering the enemies’ society by destroying their industrial plants and cities. Victory required the enemy’s defeat and a social and moral transformation of the defeated.

The U.S. Still Makes for a Tough Competitor Against China

Howard W. French

During the 17 days of the just-completed Tokyo Olympics, many American publications eschewed counting medals in ways that emphasized the winning of gold, preferring a broader tabulation that emphasized total medals won. In this manner, the United States was able to maintain a healthy lead over its biggest rival, China, throughout the Games.

In the final day or two, though, when the United States eked out the slimmest of leads over China in gold medals won as well, the emphasis in many newspaper reports suddenly shifted. Team USA had won the Summer Games by this narrower measure, and suddenly it suited the Games’ concluding narrative just fine. ...

US Commander Offers Strategies For Deterring Aggression From China And Russia

David Vergun

The commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command described threats from Russia and China and ways to mitigate those threats.

Air Force Gen. Glen D. VanHerck spoke Tuesday at the Space & Missile Defense Symposium, in Huntsville, Alabama.

Besides battling wildfires, hurricanes, cyberattacks and COVID-19, NORAD and Northcom are engaged in deterring threats from China and Russia, he said.

“We’re in strategic competition with two strategic competitors, both nuclear armed. We’ve never been there before, and we’re economically intertwined with one of them,” he said, referring to China and Russia.

“Russia has created capabilities to hold the homeland at risk,” he said. Moscow believes it can threaten the homeland below the nuclear threshold using long-range cruise missiles and hypersonics. Those types of missiles are not designed for regional conflict in Europe. Their long-range characteristics mean that they are designed for use against the United States.

Biotechnology Greed Is Prolonging The Pandemic. It's Inexcusable.

Jag Bhalla

Did greed just save the day? That’s what British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed recently. “The reason we have the vaccine success," he said in a private call to Conservative members of Parliament, “is because of capitalism, because of greed."

Despite later backpedaling, Johnson’s remark reflects a widely influential but wildly incoherent view of innovation: that greed - the unfettered pursuit of profit above all else - is a necessary driver of technological progress. Call it the need-greed theory.

Among the pandemic’s many lessons, however, is that greed can easily work against the common good. We rightly celebrate the near-miraculous development of effective vaccines, which have been widely deployed in rich nations. But the global picture reveals not even a semblance of justice: As of May, low-income nations received just 0.3 percent of the global vaccine supply. At this rate it would take 57 years for them to achieve full vaccination.

Ex-GCHQ cyber chief: Wars still can’t be lost by cyber alone


Former British GCHQ cyber chief Marcus Willett said on Tuesday that, “I do not think wars can be lost in cyberspace alone.”

Speaking as part of a virtual conference to discuss an International Institute for Strategic Studies [IISS] report on cyber capabilities and national power, Willett explained that nightmare scenarios where “red buttons can just be pressed by leaders” to use a doomsday cyber weapon to destroy an adversary are “a long way off.”

Explaining further, he said even if a state would “go all out to destroy the critical national infrastructure of an opponent – this is much more easier said than done.”

Reframing Russia’s Afghanistan Policy

Ivan Ulises Klyszcz

As the deadline for the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan looms, the Taliban has gone on the offensive, capturing over fifty additional districts in the country since May 2021. Several hundred Afghan soldiers have fled the country crossing to its neighbours to the north, with several thousand civilians reportedly applying for visas in Uzbekistan. The government of Uzbekistan has established refugee camps in anticipation of a large influx of people crossing the border in the coming months. Tajikistan’s government, meanwhile, has called on its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to help secure its border with Afghanistan.

One external actor looking closely as these developments unfold is Russia. While less involved in Afghanistan than the U.S. has been since 2001, Russia has been a fixture in the Afghan civil war for decades. Most well known of Moscow’s recent overtures have been its peace initiatives. Recently, in March 2021, Russia hosted a peace conference between the Afghan government and the Taliban. Whether the Russian settlement plan of an interim government with Taliban participation will succeed remains to be seen. But its eventual fate does not negate the fact that Russia has been a lingering presence in the country.

The Carbon Price Conundrum


WASHINGTON, DC – With less than three months until the United Nations climate change summit (COP26) in Glasgow in November, formal and informal discussions and pre-negotiations are now in full swing. A new US administration recognizes the urgency of the situation, and there is much broader political support globally for ambitious climate policies. The world still has a chance to limit global warming to below 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

But as a major new assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows, the race between climate change and emissions reductions remains tight. Limiting the damage already done will require the use of all available tools and broad global participation. As two recent carbon-pricing-related proposals demonstrate, however, there remain important differences between approaches to reach those goals.

The 2015 COP21 summit in Paris did not seek a binding international treaty that would impose policies on countries. Accordingly, the approach enshrined in the Paris climate agreement allowed for countries to declare their own voluntary emissions-reduction goals – Nationally Determined Contributions – and climate policies, with the understanding that these would become more ambitious over time.

Will the EU Shake off Its Lethargy Over the Protracted Conflicts in the Black Sea Region? (Part Five)

Vladimir Socor

Romania’s proposals, seconded by ten European Union member states, regarding the protracted conflicts in the Black Sea region (see Parts One through Four in EDM, July 29, August 4, 5, 9), encourage Brussels to play a more active role in the South Caucasus, including regarding the post-conflict situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

The European Union was never involved in mediating a solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over Karabakh. Instead, France appropriated what could have been the EU’s seat on the Minsk Group’s triple co-chairmanship (Russia, the United States, France). Each co-chairing country played its own part in discrediting the Minsk Group’s mediation, French President Emmanuel Macron’s contribution being his vocal pro-Armenian partisanship before, during and after the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war (see EDM, November 25, December 1, 3, 7, 2020 and January 28, February 1, 2021).

The Minsk Group’s demise has helped (inter alia) lift the taboo on international organizations stepping onto each other’s turf. The European Union had for 25 years mechanically endorsed the Minsk Group from outside the process, thereby deferring to the Minsk Group’s progenitor and mandate-giver, namely the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Visiting the region recently, however, European Council President Charles Michel offered the EU’s own services as mediator. “The EU is ready to play an honest broker’s role between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in addition to the Minsk Group’s efforts,” Michel announced, later adding, “We respect the Minsk Group, but this does not mean that the EU cannot contribute its own ideas, assistance and experts” (Armenpress, July 17; Azertag, July 18; EurActiv, July 19). The Minsk Group, however, will never play its former role again, leaving that role vacant for the European Union to step into.

Public Opinion on War and Terror

John Mueller

As people sort through offerings on display, they pick and choose which ideas to embrace and which threats to fear. Some ideas become salient or even go viral while others stir no interest whatever. People can accept cues from those seeking to “manipulate” them—such as public officials, party leaders, opinion elites, the media, and advertisers. They can let themselves be affected by social and group influences or identities. They can respond to facts. They can apply rough, but ready, preexisting heuristics or attitudes, or “core” or “gut” values. Or they can simply succumb to whim and caprice.

This paper, mostly applying public opinion trend data, briefly illustrates the dynamic by assessing the public reaction in the United States to three episodes: First, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, focusing particularly on the fact that anxieties about terrorism persist despite reasonable expectations that they would have waned. Second, the extensive alarm inspired in the United States by the rise in 2014 of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Third, the 2003 Iraq War, evaluating the degree to which the George W. Bush administration was able to manage public opinion before and during the war, with some comparisons with public opinion on other wars, particularly the 1991 Gulf War.

Can Russia and China Edge the United States Out of Kazakhstan?

Temur Umarov

Wedged between Russia and China—the two biggest powers in Eurasia—Kazakhstan also manages to play the role of the United States’ biggest partner in Central Asia. In maintaining consistently good relations with Russia, China, and the United States all at the same time, Kazakhstan is performing a unique diplomatic balancing act. Yet as the confrontation worsens between the global powers, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for Kazakhstan to maintain that geopolitical balance without getting drawn into the fray.

Kazakhstan is unquestionably one of Russia’s greatest allies. It unfailingly takes part in all of Moscow’s integration projects, such as the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited Kazakhstan twenty-eight times during his long reign: more than any other country.

At the same time, Kazakhstan is also China’s main partner in Central Asia, and a key participant of Beijing’s grand regional initiatives. It was in Kazakhstan that the Chinese leader Xi Jinping first announced the launch of the land part of China’s epic Belt and Road Initiative.

Why National Security Agencies Must Analyze Climate Risks

Antonio Busalacchi, Sherri Goodman

July marked the initial deadline for the Pentagon and other federal agencies to draw up plans for potential climate risks, under an executive order by President Biden. Such plans are an essential first step, but the greater challenge for national security agencies is to continue to redirect their focus to changing climate conditions that pose a complex, two-pronged threat: social and political instability overseas and damage to U.S. infrastructure.

Climate change is accelerating geopolitical tensions in many regions of core strategic interest to the United States. Increasingly destructive storms, rising seas and the melting Arctic are fueling global tensions, with nations bracing for mass migrations of displaced people and vying to take advantage of newly accessible natural resources. Changing climate patterns have become a catalyst for internal conflicts and international unrest, with severe droughts playing a role in setting the stage for the Syrian civil war and shrinking lake levels in Lake Chad contributing to widespread violence across the four African nations of the lake’s basin.

Switzerland: The Safest Of Havens (Part I) – OpEd

Claudio Grass

The covid crisis, and especially the destructive governmental responses to it, have wreaked havoc with the global economy and with our societies. However, the chaos and the widespread uncertainty that prevailed over the last year and a half also served as a useful reminder of the importance of stability, legal predictability and limited state powers.

A great number of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs) seem to have recognized the value of a jurisdiction that has a solid track record of demonstrating respect for private property rights and individual liberties. This why Switzerland has once again emerged as an immensely popular destination for the ultra-rich and their assets.
Back on top

After the intense pressure applied by the US to dismantle banking secrecy laws, especially under President Obama, a lot of Swiss banks saw their clientele diminish. In the years that followed, demand for Swiss banking services continued to be anemic as many wealthy Westerners were concerned about further escalations in the war against privacy and financial sovereignty waged by many of their own governments too. At the same time, Switzerland saw an inflow of assets from many ultra-rich clients from developing nations and from Asia, that helped its banks weather the storm.

Africa: New Playground For Crypto Scams And Money Laundering – Analysis

Richard Chelin*

Africa has the smallest crypto currency economy globally, but the market is growing steadily. The legitimate use of cryptos can boost commerce on the continent, particularly among individuals, small businesses and entrepreneurs. These were the users responsible for most of the recent increases in crypto transfers recorded in Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya.

But Africa must prepare for the threats that come with digital currencies – notably crypto scams, organised crime and financial crimes such as money laundering or crypto laundering.

The world’s biggest crypto scam in 2020 was perpetrated in South Africa by Mirror Trading International. Using a Ponzi scheme, hundreds of thousands of victims were swindled out of US$588 million in Bitcoin. In April 2021, South Africa was again in the news with an even bigger crypto hack – this time by a company called Africrypt, whose two founders stole US$3.6 billion from investors in a matter of hours.

A Hotter Future Is Certain, Climate Panel Warns. But How Hot Is Up to Us.

Brad Plumer and Henry Fountain

Nations have delayed curbing their fossil-fuel emissions for so long that they can no longer stop global warming from intensifying over the next 30 years, though there is still a short window to prevent the most harrowing future, a major new United Nations scientific report has concluded.

Humans have already heated the planet by roughly 1.1 degrees Celsius, or 2 degrees Fahrenheit, since the 19th century, largely by burning coal, oil and gas for energy. And the consequences can be felt across the globe: This summer alone, blistering heat waves have killed hundreds of people in the United States and Canada, floods have devastated Germany and China, and wildfires have raged out of control in Siberia, Turkey and Greece.

But that’s only the beginning, according to the report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of scientists convened by the United Nations. Even if nations started sharply cutting emissions today, total global warming is likely to rise around 1.5 degrees Celsius within the next two decades, a hotter future that is now essentially locked in.

The Changing Landscape of European Cloud Computing: Gaia-X, the French National Strategy, and EU Plans


It is estimated that, with the ongoing digital transformation, the global volume of data will be multiplied by five by 2025. Cloud technologies are playing a central role in facilitating this growth.

Today, non-European service providers host 80% of European data. This situation has been called into question over the past few years. For nearly a decade, but especially from 2018 onward, digital sovereignty – in particular, sovereignty over data – has been seen as a necessary response to the privacy and cybersecurity concerns of Europeans, whether individuals, governments, or industry. Europe has sought to build its own governance framework for data and to develop European cloud solutions.

European initiatives in the cloud sector - even if they are not fully coordinated - illustrate in a rather practical fashion what the sometimes-hazy terms of data sovereignty can entail. When it comes to cloud computing, at a minimum it means storing and processing data in Europe, according to European law, and fostering a diverse digital ecosystem that gives customers the choice among various suppliers and data protection regimes.

How open-source software shapes AI policy

Alex Engler

Open-source software quietly affects nearly every issue in AI policy, but it is largely absent from discussions around AI policy—policymakers need to more actively consider OSS’s role in AI.

Open-source software (OSS), software that is free to access, use, and change without restrictions, plays a central role in the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI). Across open-source programming languages such as Python, R, C++, Java, Scala, Javascript, Julia, and others, there are thousands of implementations of machine learning algorithms. OSS frameworks for machine learning, including tidymodels in R and Scikit-learn in Python, have helped consolidate many diverse algorithms into a consistent machine learning process and enabled far easier use for the everyday data scientist. There are also OSS tools specific to the especially important subfield of deep learning, which is dominated by Google’s Tensorflow and Facebook’s PyTorch. Manipulation and analysis of big data (data sets too large for a single computer) were also revolutionized by OSS, first by the Hadoop ecosystem and later by projects like Spark. These are not simply some of the AI tools—they are the best AI tools. While proprietary data analysis software may sometimes enable machine learning without the need to write code, it does not enable analytics that are as well developed as those in modern OSS.

Get Ready for the Future of Artificial Intelligence in the War Realm

Kris Osborn

Enemies planning to attack often deliberately move in short, unexpected spurts to elude detection, emerge from undetectable areas and often use decoys or dummies to confuse overhead drones and surveillance planes. Insurgents, enemy vehicles, dismounted fighters and even some aircraft try to vary their patterns, change routines and regularly take specific steps to reduce their chances of being seen by drones.

This is why there is so much work now taking Processing Exploitation Dissemination (PED) to a new level using artificial intelligence (AI) to sift through hours of video data and identify those critical moments of importance to commanders. The PED process, which regularly faces the challenging task of organizing massive volumes of incoming data from electro-optical/infrared cameras and infrared sensors, increasingly draws upon advanced computer algorithms to bounce new information against an existing database and perform analytics to support fast decisionmaking.