22 September 2021

Deterrence Theory– Is it Applicable in Cyber Domain?

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


The Deterrence Theory was developed in the 1950s, mainly to address new strategic challenges posed by nuclear weapons from the Cold War nuclear scenario. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union adopted a survivable nuclear force to present a ‘credible’ deterrent that maintained the ‘uncertainty’ inherent in a strategic balance as understood through the accepted theories of major theorists like Bernard Brodie, Herman Kahn, and Thomas Schelling.1 Nuclear deterrence was the art of convincing the enemy not to take a specific action by threatening it with an extreme punishment or an unacceptable failure.

Cyber Weapons – A Weapon of War?

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

The character of warfare has changed fundamentally over the last decade. In the past, it was essential for an adversary nation or insurgent to physically bring weapons to bear during combat. That requirement is no longer a necessity. In cyber operations, the only weapons that need to be used are bits and bytes. In this new era of warfare, logistics issues that often restrict and limit conventional warfare and weaponry are not impediments. This new weaponry moves at the speed of light, is available to every human on the planet and can be as surgical as a scalpel or as devastating as a nuclear bomb.

Cyber attacks in various forms have become a global problem. Cyber weapons are low-cost, low-risk, highly effective and easily deployable globally. This new class of weapons is within reach of many countries, extremist or terrorist groups, non-state actors, and even individuals. Cyber crime organisations are developing cyber weapons effectively. The use of offensive Cyber operations by nation-states directly against another or by co-opting cyber criminals has blurred the line between spies and non-state malicious hackers. New entrants, both nation-states and non-state actors have unmatched espionage and surveillance capabilities with significant capabilities. They are often the forerunners for criminal financial gain, destruction and disruption operations. Progressively, we see non-state actors including commercial entities, developing capabilities that were solely held by a handful of state actors.

Why Russia, US officials are rushing to Delhi, after keeping India away from Afghan talks


Media and strategic experts are agog with speculation as Russian and American intelligence top dogs visit India, almost stepping on each other’s toes as they tread the corridors of power. The visits are even more interesting given that both Russia and the US had chosen to keep India at arm’s distance during negotiations on the Afghanistan issue, and now seem to be eager to get New Delhi to come on board. Not that this was likely to be the only issue with either.

With the upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting on 16-17 September, and the very first ‘in person’ Quadrilateral summit meeting in the same month, things are going to get interesting.

Afghanistan and trouble ahead

Russia’s Secretary of Security Council Nikolai Patrushev is officially here for a consultation on Afghanistan, a follow-up to a telephone call between President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier. The visit with his counterpart NSA Ajit Doval is obviously an indicator that all is not entirely well with Moscow’s pro-Taliban position, which it has taken ever since the group fought off not only an ‘Islamic State’ segment in the far north, but also so badly shook up the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, so as to leave it a shell of its former self. Moscow has long accused the US of arming such elements, pointing to movement of helicopters in the border areas. In turn, the US accused Russia of ‘grossly exaggerated’ claims of Islamic State cadres, a statement that is quite at variance with its present stance on the IS as the biggest threat to itself.

When Cyber War Becomes War

Emil Sayegh

As the spectacle of the disorderly U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan nauseates most Americans, the idea that the U.S. is involved in another potential war caught the attention of many as President Biden shared a warning about cyberattacks leading to a “real shooting war” in a recent speech at the Office for the Director of National Intelligence. The remarks illustrate the significance of the ongoing cyberattacks that have been specifically linked to sources out of China, Russia, Iran, and groups associated with ISIS. The remarks further highlight those threats against the country and infrastructure are on an exponential rise and the nation now considers a tangible military response to a cyber attack as a potential and appropriate course of action. Organizations are now thrust at the front lines of this international confrontation, and it is up to organizations themselves to prepare not only to protect themselves, but also show up with a patriotic mentality of protection for the sake of the nation.

Along the Modern Battle Trail

U.S. Over-the-Horizon Capability for Afghanistan

John Venable

President Biden and his Administration’s spokesmen state that the U.S. will rely on an “over-the-horizon” (OTH) capability to identify threats and “act quickly and decisively if needed.” OTH capabilities can readily service intelligence collection and logistical resupply, but offensive capabilities rely on the ability to find and then strike targets before they move. OTH operations are framed by regional access, assets, their capabilities, and their limitations. With the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, U.S. OTH capabilities are very limited, and non-clandestine operations will likely rely on satellites, U-2s, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and strategic airlift platforms for the foreseeable future.


The over-the-horizon capability for U.S. assets to identify and strike threats quickly in Afghanistan is limited, constrained primarily by airspace access issues.

Kill chain success, from threat identification to target engagement, will be hampered by the distances and transient times required of all weapons systems.

Optical intelligence collection by satellites and the U-2 will be hampered by regional weather, as will all aspects of MQ-9, fighter, and bomber employment.

The Issue

President Biden and his Administration’s spokesmen state that the US will rely on an “over-the-horizon” (OTH) capability to identify threats and “act quickly and decisively if needed.” OTH capabilities can readily service intelligence collection and logistical resupply, but offensive capabilities rely on the ability to find and then strike targets before they move. OTH operations are framed by regional access, assets, their capabilities, and their limitations. With the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan, U.S. OTH capabilities are very limited, and non-clandestine operations will likely rely on satellites, U-2s, unmanned aerial systems (UAS), and strategic airlift platforms for the foreseeable future.

Regional Access

Landlocked Afghanistan borders China, Iran, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan.

Access via overflight of Iran and China is not viable, nor is access through Turkmenistan likely.
Northern access through or overflight of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan is possible.
Pakistan access is politically episodic; overflight is required for access from the Persian Gulf.

Aircraft carriers based in the Persian Gulf have fighters with precision strike capability.

Fighters, bombers, tankers, strategic airlift, RQ-9s, and U-2s are or can be based in the UAE.

Fighters, bombers, tankers, strategic airlift, and RQ-9s are or can be based in Qatar.

Persian Gulf–based Tomahawk cruise missiles, range ~ 1,000+ NMs, fly at ~ 550 MPH.

Airlift/resupply and tanker aircraft are or can be based in Turkey and Romania.

Satellites and U-2s can cover all of Afghanistan and offer near-real-time intelligence.

Space-based sensors can cover all of Afghanistan and offer near-real-time intelligence.

Gulf-based MQ-9 UAS can loiter over/recon/strike any part of Afghanistan for 8-plus hours.

Time from UAE to northern/central Afghanistan: 5 hours/4 hours; Qatar: 6 hours/5 hours.

Sea-based fighters: launch to arrive over Northern Afghanistan ~ 2 hours; Central ~1.5 hours.

Qatar/UAE fighters: launch to arrive over Northern Afghanistan ~ 3 hours; Central ~2.5 hours.

Tomahawk missiles: launch to impact Northern Afghanistan ~ 1.5 hours; Central ~ 1 hour.

Combat radius of bombers/Strategic airlift platforms allows complete coverage of Afghanistan.

Timing same as fighters; enable strikes and resupply in support of SOF/opposition forces.
Pakistan can deny Persian Gulf–based aircraft access to/return from Afghanistan at any time.

The closest U.S. air base is 1,500-plus miles from an Uzbekistan or Tajikistan entry.

Overflight of Kazakhstan may be required for overflight of Uzbekistan or Tajikistan.

Overflight approval and tolerance for missions against the Taliban may be hard to secure.

Air Force and Navy fighters require Air Force tanker support to strike targets in or loiter over Afghanistan.

Very limited ability to recover downed aircrew elevates hostage potential and political risk.

Launch and transient times for all weapons systems including the MQ-9 hinder strike success.

Optical U-2/satellite sensors and MQ-9 employment are hampered by regular cloud cover.

Bottom Line: Satellites and U-2s deliver viable ISR capability, and unmanned MQ-9s are the most viable strike platform. All OTH options are limited by access, transient times, and/or weather.

‘Red Roulette’: Tell-All Book Reveals the Dark Underbelly of China’s Gilded Age

Lizzi C. Lee

Whitney Duan was once the poster woman for China’s rags-to-riches narrative of business success. But she went missing in 2017 following reports that she facilitated business dealings with family members of China’s then-Premier Wen Jiabao and other senior Communist Party officials.

Four years after Duan’s mysterious disappearance, her ex-husband and business partner, Desmond Shum’s tell-all book, “Red Roulette: An Insider’s Story of Wealth, Power, Corruption, and Vengeance in Today’s China” is quickly shaping up to be the new must-read among observers of Chinese elite politics. The book so startled Beijing that it elicited two consecutive phone calls from Shum’s ex-wife, who is now in detention, in a last ditch effort to scuttle its publication.

Although the specific details of Shum’s accounts are almost impossible to verify, multiple business and diplomatic sources who have overlapped with Duan and Shum’s business undertakings in Beijing said the gist of Shum’s narratives fit with what transpired during that period.

American Power After Afghanistan

Jessica T. Mathews

For 30 years, since the end of the Cold War, the United States has searched unsuccessfully for a purpose for its now unrivaled global power. No other country (or combination of countries in the European Union) equals its combined military, economic, and political strength. Yet the United States has used this rare moment in history poorly, trying and discarding various rationales for a global role after experience has revealed their inutility or unpopularity. It first tried the all-encompassing role of “indispensable nation,” then the role of shaper and main pillar of a liberal world order, principal prosecutor of a global “war on terror,” protector and promoter of democratic governments (including regime change by force), and, finally, leader of the democratic side in a global contest between democratic and authoritarian governments. Throughout, Washington grew more and more reliant on the use of military power and, through lack of use, lost confidence in concerted diplomacy as a means of dealing with adversaries.

The existential threat of the Cold War had masked deep disagreements about the United States’ appropriate global posture. Ever since, debate has veered inconclusively between those who believe that U.S. interests are global and demand aggressive, often unilateral, leadership on.

Implications of Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan

Arvind Gupta

The recent developments in Afghanistan do not augur well for global or regional stability. The region has become highly unstable with the return of the Taliban. The likelihood of terrorism and radicalisation emanating from Afghanistan engulfing the rest of the world has increased several folds. The regional power vacuum created by the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan is likely to create further turbulence in the region.

The Taliban regime that has wrested power is not legitimate. There has been no power-sharing agreement; the interim cabinet they announced is not inclusive; a large number of its members are on the UN global list of terrorists. Many of them have bounties on their head. The Taliban’s worldview, rooted in medieval ideologies, directly challenges the current world order.

The jihadi terror landscape has come alive after the Taliban take over. The attack on Kabul airport by Islamic State-Khorasan is a trailer of what may be expected. Ironically, the very forces who fought the Taliban for twenty years and spent treasure and blood, have brought them back to power and now face the threat from resurgent jihadism.

Calculations in Kabul


After initially offering to secure and run Kabul airport, Turkey is now trying to find a role for itself after the Taliban’s sweeping victory in Afghanistan and the massive civilian and military evacuation that ended on August 30. At this point, however, it is not clear how much Ankara can achieve in the country and at what price.

On the margins of the NATO summit in Brussels last June, Turkey launched the idea of taking control of Kabul airport after the departure of U.S. and other NATO troops, in order to secure access to the Afghan capital. The ambitious offer was undoubtedly motivated by the need to patch up its relationship with the Biden administration and, at least in part, to offset the hugely negative consequences of Turkey’s purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system.

However daring the Turkish proposal was, and however valuable it was for the U.S. administration at the time, the idea is now off the table in its initial form, and this for a simple reason: the Taliban’s unmitigated military and political victory means they have no incentive to compromise with NATO countries. Despite the preexisting relations between the Taliban and Turkey, and despite the Turkish refusal to take a combat role in NATO’s operations in Afghanistan during the past 20 years, the Taliban consider Turkish forces to be NATO forces and will not accept that their soldiers and equipment be present in Kabul, even if it is only to secure the airport.

S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies

Counter Terrorist Trends and Analysis (CTTA)

Post-Taliban Takeover: How the Global Jihadist Terror Threat May Evolve

The American Exit, the Fall of Afghanistan and the Indian Dilemmas

The Taliban’s Ascendance in Afghanistan: Implications for Pakistan

Rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan: Security Implications for Bangladesh

The Islamic State’s (IS) Critique of the US-Taliban Deal: A Case Study of IS’ Telegram Channels


Ezgi Yazici with Doga Unlu and Kursat Gok

Key Takeaway: Turkey is evaluating the changing security environment and the emerging Taliban government to strike a minimal-risk balance between Ankara’s ambitions and constraints. Turkey evacuated its troops from Afghanistan on August 27 after months-long negotiations with US and Taliban representatives to retain a security role in the country after NATO’s departure. However, Turkish officials are still signaling their intent to adopt a political and security role in Afghanistan and to become the Taliban’s primary interlocutor with the West.The Turkish government will likely remain committed to playing a stabilizing role in Afghanistan—primarily through non-military channels—to promote its international standing as an influential regional power.

The Turkish Armed Forces left Afghanistan, but Ankara is poised to play key security and diplomatic roles in the country. Turkish officials announced the evacuation of the Turkish military contingency from the Kabul Airport on August 25, 2021, despite separate discussions with the United States and the Taliban for Turkey to continue running the Kabul International Airport.[1] Top Turkish officials had argued that the Turkish forces could continue to manage the security and operations of the airport as they had since 2015 if the Taliban so desired.[2] Ankara also pivoted to establishing relations with the Taliban through the Turkish Embassy in Qatar at least as early as August 15, when the Taliban reached Kabul, in a likely bid to maintain and expand the Turkish role in Afghanistan.[3] The bulk of Turkish forces left Afghanistan by August 27 under reported Taliban pressure, but the Turkish Embassy is continuing its operations as of September 3.[4] Recent statements by both the Taliban and Ankara indicate that Turkey is exploring ways to help run the Kabul Airport and support the new Taliban government.[5]

Is the AUKUS alliance meaningful or merely provocation?

Dr Beyza Unal

The announcement mentions developing joint capabilities and information and technology sharing across the UK, US, and Australia and picks up on cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, and quantum communications.

As part of this defence agreement, the UK, US, and Australia are aiming to protect the undersea fibre optic cables that provide part of the military and civilian communication for the West. Both Russia and China possess cyber and submarine technology. They could tap into these cables, allowing for eavesdropping and collecting data through cyber means. It is a matter of national and of NATO Alliance’s security to protect undersea cables.

The cross-section of quantum, artificial intelligence and cyber is equally significant because quantum communication technologies would allow new types of encryption, and thus would make eavesdropping obsolete. Similarly, with artificial intelligence and machine learning applications, the parties could detect known cyber threats to undersea cables.

El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law Is a Farce

David Gerard

On June 5, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele declared that bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency, would become legal tender in El Salvador. A few days later, the Bitcoin Law was passed, to take effect Sept. 7. Businesses would be required to accept bitcoin for all payments.

Bitcoin was originally created to be a form of money outside government control. Using bitcoin as a government-endorsed currency had a number of obvious issues: Cryptocurrency has a stupendous money-laundering problem, the price of bitcoin is incredibly volatile, and cryptocurrencies remain difficult and unwieldy to use.

Building a payment system that users trust takes time. You need to run pilot programs and fix the sort of problems that only show up in production. Deploying a system from scratch at national scale in just three months with no testing is a recipe for disaster—especially when that system is an electronic payments system in an economy that still largely ran on physical cash (U.S. dollar notes) and held widespread distrust of banks and a strong memory of the rushed dollarization of 2001.

But in an echo of the Silicon Valley model—“Move fast and break things”—the government tried to sell speed and totality as an advantage. One government figure said: “We can do this slowly, or we can just put it on the people and people will learn. If they’re forced to do it, they’ll learn and they’ll learn quickly.”

Taiwan is 'sea fortress' against China, minister tells U.S. audience

TAIPEI, Sept. 15 (Reuters) - Taiwan is a "sea fortress" blocking China's expansion into the Pacific and is willing to share with other democracies its knowledge of countering Beijing's efforts to undermine it, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told a U.S. audience on Wednesday.

The United States, like most countries, does not have formal diplomatic ties with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, but is the democratically ruled island's most important international backer and arms supplier.

China has stepped up military and diplomatic pressure against Taiwan since President Tsai Ing-wen first won office in 2016, seeking to force Taipei to accept Beijing's sovereignty claims, to the alarm of both Taipei and Washington.



The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is faced with the challenge of preparing for future warfare during peacetime as a force that lacks contemporary operational experience. Among the methods through which the PLA seeks to enhance its combat readiness are sophisticated wargaming and realistic, force-on-force exercises. Chinese military leaders regard wargaming (bingqi tuiyan, 兵棋推演) as an important technique by which to “learn warfare from the laboratory” for training purposes and to promote insights on the dynamics of future combat. This style of learning is complemented by the PLA’s study of military history and emulation of the experiences and innovations of foreign militaries, including through creating “blue forces” that simulate potential adversaries against which to train. Beyond improving its current capabilities and readiness, the PLA also aspires to achieve an edge in military competition, seeking to “design” the dynamics of and develop capabilities for future warfare.

Wargaming is part of a cycle of military learning and experimentation that involves and informs exercises against opposing forces (OPFOR), as well as a range of other styles of training. While this report does not provide a comprehensive assessment of the PLA’s current training methods, our analysis examines select aspects of the PLA’s computerized wargaming and employment of blue (i.e., simulated adversary) forces in the context of the continuing transformation of PLA training. Over time, the PLA has improved the realism of its “actual combat training” (shizhan hua xunlian, 实战化训练) and undertaken exercises in increasingly challenging battlefield environments. The lessons learned from wargaming can be tested in exercises, and the outcomes of exercises can shape the design for wargames.

Limits to Alliances: In China, the United States and Its Allies Are Just Not Aligned

David Moschella


Throughout his campaign and administration, President Biden has stressed the need for America and its allies to work together to counter the rise of China and preserve a democratic world order. It’s an appealing message for the post-Trump era. The United States and its allies face many common challenges from China: supply chain dependencies, economic competitiveness, state-sponsored capitalism, human rights violations, greenhouse gas emissions, intellectual property (IP) theft, Belt and Road investments, “wolf warrior diplomacy,” increasing censorship, a rising military, a new space race, the origins of COVID-19, and more.

But while global attitudes toward China are hardening and there are many areas where cooperation makes sense, the interests of the United States and its allies are not aligned in many of the most important areas. Europe, the Asia/Pacific region, and the developing world have significantly less incentive to confront China than America does. Only India and the United States are closely aligned on the essential issues, and even this could easily change.1 Given these differences, the modest results of the recent G7 and NATO summits are not surprising. The key to meeting the challenge from China is for America to get its own house in order. America’s rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan has only reinforced this reality.

War With China? The Economic Factor That Could Trigger It

George Calhoun

The Pentagon undoubtedly draws up various scenarios for how conflict between China and the U.S. might develop. Most of them would involve a Chinese move against Taiwan. But Taiwan and China have co-existed in intense but bloodless antagonism for seven decades without tipping into real war. The crucial question is: What would trigger an actual Chinese military adventure?

I can answer that question.

To step back – If there is to be a war, an open war, with China – and we may stipulate that this scenario is at the far end of the spectrum of possibilities, and yet not an impossibility – if there is to be a war, it will not arise from Western outrage at human rights violations in Xinjiang, or Chinese outrage at Western outrage, or cyber-crime, or technology theft, or currency manipulation, or security crackdowns in Hong Kong, or indignities visited upon the Filipinos or the Vietnamese or the Australians.

China's nuclear build-up: The great distraction


President Biden is reviewing America’s nuclear posture. By January, we should know what he thinks about U.S. nuclear weapons, what policies should govern them and how many we need. Congress is watching closely, and the Senate and House of Representatives are sure to debate the results; they always do.

But this year will be different. A new player has entered the field — China.

China is modernizing its nuclear forces. The recent discovery of three intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silo fields in remote regions west and north of Beijing point to a big build-up of weapons and a different strategy for their use. Since acquiring nuclear weapons from the Soviets, the Chinese have taken the stance that they would not build up a large and highly alert force but instead would be ready to retaliate. This “second strike deterrence posture” has served them well, but now the Chinese seem to have decided it is not enough.

Biden, a Lifelong U.N. Advocate, Needs the Institution More Than Ever

Michael Hirsh

When Joe Biden steps up to the podium for his first speech as U.S. president to the U.N. General Assembly, he’ll have to do a lot more than dispel the memory of his predecessor, Donald Trump. Biden faces an international credibility crisis of his own at a time when he needs the United Nations more than ever.

Though a lifelong multilateralist, Biden has faced criticism of his largely unilateral military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which left the country to the Taliban after a two-decade-long, billions-of-dollars effort by U.N. agencies and a 46-nation coalition to save it from extremism and poverty.

It’s also clear that Biden has little choice but to work closely with the world body on critical issues from COVID-19 to climate change, as well as the U.N.’s role in preventing a humanitarian catastrophe in Afghanistan and an Iranian nuclear weapons program. And the president knows it, aides say.

avily Policed ‘Justice For J6’ Rally Brings Sparse Crowd – And Minimal Violence – To Capitol

Andrew Solender

The Capitol Police estimated between 400 and 450 people were inside the police perimeter at the protest, though a good portion of the crowd was composed of journalists and cameramen.

With a massive inter-agency security presence in and around the Capitol, there was minimal violence and, according to Capitol Police, four arrests: one for possession of a knife, another for possession of a firearm and two for outstanding warrants.

Matthew Braynard, who organized the rally and claims those arrested in connection to the January 6 attack on the Capitol are “political prisoners,” urged attendees to treat the police and media with respect, which drew a mix of support and jeers from the crowd.

Braynard and other speakers also said they were only there to support non-violent Capitol Riot defendants, though at times there were chants for Ashli Babbitt, who was shot and killed Jan. 6 while attempting to breach the House chamber.

The U.S.-China Trade War Has Become a Cold War


What began as a trade war over China’s unfair economic policies has now evolved into a so-called cold war propelled by differing ideologies. U.S.-China bilateral relations took a nosedive in 2018 when then U.S. president Donald Trump’s obsession with trade deficits led him to impose punitive tariffs on China. The tariffs were followed by restrictions on both China’s access to high-tech U.S. products and foreign investments involving security concerns and by allegations of unfair Chinese commercial practices.

Despite pleas from the U.S. business community to ease tensions, U.S. President Joe Biden so far has amplified his predecessor’s policies by strengthening anti-China alliances and implementing additional sanctions. Biden now characterizes the U.S.-China conflict as “a battle between the utility of democracies in the twenty-first century and autocracies.”

But the logic underpinning the U.S. trade war was flawed, and the more recent, politically driven restrictions are counterproductive given the damaging long-term economic consequences for both sides. Nonetheless, there have been few signs to date that Biden is likely to change course. In the meantime, then, Europeans may be in a better position for productive give-and-take discussions with China on economic policymaking.

9/11 and Iraq: The making of a tragedy

Bruce Riedel

Twenty years after the al-Qaida attack on September 11, 2001, the United States is still involved in a war in Iraq that it started. President George W. Bush was obsessed with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and deliberately misled the American people about who was responsible for the 9/11 attack.

I was in the White House on September 12, 2001, on the staff of the National Security Council. I recently came across my pocket diary for 2001. In it, I wrote brief notes on each day’s activity in the White House where I was senior director for the Near East. I met with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice every day and Bush almost as frequently because of the second intifada. We were constantly trying to contain the violence and prevent a wider regional conflict. In reviewing the diary I was intrigued by two notes.

On September 14, I was with Bush when he had his first phone call after 9/11 with British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Bush immediately said he was planning to “hit” Iraq soon. Blair was audibly taken aback. He pressed Bush for evidence of Iraq’s connection to the 9/11 attack and to al-Qaida. Of course, there was none, which British intelligence knew.

“War is interested in you”: Balancing the promise and peril of high-tech deterrence

Melanie W. Sisson

Twenty years ago, I sat in a classroom on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with around 40 peers. We were concentration-shopping — the ritual through which students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) received presentations by faculty explaining the various courses of study available to them. This particular session was devoted to international security policy, and the content was being delivered by its then-director, the venerable Dick Betts. I remember very clearly watching Betts step behind the lectern to make the following statement with frank and unsentimental seriousness: “You may not be interested in war. But war is interested in you.” Some number of people tittered at what I presume they found to be the melodrama in the moment; the following Tuesday was September 11, 2001.

Betts’ caution reminds us that violent conflict has been a feature of all of human history and so we ought to understand it and to prepare for it. It also alerts us that war is opportunistic, that it can start and spread as a result of accidental events, seemingly mundane decisions, and a conspiracy of circumstances that arise when we are arrogant or inattentive.

The United States’ 20-year-long intervention in Afghanistan is a painful example of a failure to heed Betts’ warning in both ways. It is evidence that the United States has yet to let go of a mistaken set of beliefs about what brute force war can, and cannot, achieve. And, too, it is difficult to review the chronology of choices the U.S. government made in Afghanistan without seeing a steady accumulation of opportunities for the war to expand in space, to change in character, and to extend over time. This is not mission-creep — it is war doing what war does.

The post-Cold War environment was permissive of these misunderstandings and missteps, and relatively lenient in its imposition of costs on the United States. Those days are over. The consequences of misapplying brute force, and of neglecting or mistaking how to actively guard against war, will be harsh and unforgiving during a period of aggressive competition among powerful states.

This change is not lost on the defense community today, and there is a considerable amount of attention being given to the conjoined matters of how to prepare for great power war and how to prevent it. Both concerns arise specifically from worries about China’s intentions over Taiwan and about Russia’s designs on NATO’s eastern front. These scenarios have brought deterrent strategies back into fashion, and momentum is gathering behind the idea that deterrence is best achieved by amassing high-tech conventional warfighting superiority.

History informs us, however, that deterrence is never as logical, straightforward, and simple in practice as it seems it should be. Machine learning, autonomy, hypersonics, and other advanced technologies doubtless should and will be brought into military use but doing so doesn’t ensure deterrent effect, and neither is seeking to deter China and Russia selfsame as guarding against war. To the contrary, to the extent that the United States does not adequately account for how its own approach to integrating these technologies into its deterrent strategies can cause misperception, instability, and miscalculation, it does not minimize opportunity for war — it creates it.

This is never more true than during periods of flux and transition, when policymakers are subjected to the unsteadying influences of broken patterns, unusual events, and an inability to discern trends or anticipate future trajectories. Periods of rapid and pronounced technological change make deterrence especially tricky, as the possible applications of new tools used in new ways are many and their implications uncertain.

All of these dynamics are not just present but pronounced today, and we should be wary of their interaction with our defense strategy. Enhancing our warfighting capabilities with advanced technologies doesn’t guarantee deterrent success, and it won’t improve our skill at distinguishing between what brute force can and can’t achieve. It might, in fact, degrade it — having a fancier hammer, after all, might tempt us to see more nails rather than fewer, or to believe the hammer can do a scalpel’s job. So too might the promise of emerging technologies lure us into making a series of choices that individually seem innocuous under the banner of deterrence but that accrue to create mistrust and foment international instability.

An era of great power competition will not accommodate confusion about the uses and limitations of brute force, nor will it treat gently decisions made from ego, optimism, or wishful thinking. Wise defense strategy must now emerge from worst-case scenario planning, where strategies are based not on assumptions about what deters war but rather are tested for failures that might cause it. Emerging technologies cannot be pursued as panaceas, but must be chosen selectively to balance their benefits to us with the risks and threats they pose to others and to international stability. To do otherwise is either to forget or to willfully neglect the lessons of Afghanistan and to believe, mistakenly, that we can manage the consequences of war once again being interested in us.

UN calls for facial recognition and artificial intelligence moratorium

The UN Human Rights Office report analyses how AI, including profiling, automated decision-making and other machine-learning technologies, affects people’s privacy rights. The report details how AI systems rely on large data sets, with information about individuals collected, shared, merged and analyzed in multiple ways. It also cites the risk posed by data breaches as a serious privacy issue.

“Artificial intelligence can be a force for good, helping societies overcome some of the great challenges of our times. But AI technologies can have negative, even catastrophic, effects if they are used without sufficient regard to how they affect people’s human rights,” Bachelet said.

The report calls for increased transparency from developers, marketers, operators and users of AI systems.

The Center Cannot Hold Will a Divided World Survive Common Threats?

Thomas Wright

Before the COVID-19 pandemic began, Washington was coalescing around a new bipartisan consensus: great-power competition, especially with China, ought to be the main organizing principle of U.S. foreign policy. For some, the pandemic called that notion into question by suggesting that transnational threats pose an even greater danger to the American public than ascendant rival powers. Skeptics of great-power competition, such as Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, argued that the United States should seek to de-escalate tensions with China so that the two countries can work together to manage borderless risks such as pandemics and climate change.

But the debate over whether great-power competition or transnational threats pose the greater danger to the United States is a false one. Look back at strategic assessments from ten years ago on China and Russia, on the one hand, and those on pandemics and climate change, on the other, and it is clear that Washington is experiencing near-worst-case scenarios on both. Great-power rivalry has not yet sparked a hot war but appears to be on the brink of sparking a cold one. Meanwhile, the worst pandemic in a century is not yet over, and the climate crisis is only accelerating.

Big Data & Data Analytics Market in National Security & Law Enforcement to 2026 - ResearchAndMarkets.com

The report forecasts that Big Data and Data Analytics industry revenues will grow at a 2019-2026 CAGR of 11.62% and reach $17.27 billion by 2026.

The use of big data and data analytics by Homeland Security, Defense, Public Safety organizations and intelligence agencies is on the rise, mostly because the world is becoming more digital and connected. This is creating new opportunities, not only for data collection and storage, but also for intelligence processing, exploitation, dissemination, and analysis. Big data and data analytics technologies can increase the investigative capabilities of intelligence organizations in many relevant aspects, including: war on crime & terror, defense from cyber-attacks, public safety analytics, disaster and mass incident management, and development of predictive capabilities. All fields of Intelligence benefit from big data growth including Osint Market, Sigint Market, Cyber defense activities, financial investigations.

Direct threats to the national security and public safety of countries are on the rise and have evolved from large-scale nation-to-nation conflicts to more pinpointed and contained conflicts. These threats, such as lone-wolf attacks, terrorism, natural disasters, organized crime, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and cybercrime have changed the way nations are dealing with their national security issues. These new security threats and risks to the national safety of nations will force homeland security and public safety organizations to adopt new technologies and systems that are better equipped to deal with more advanced modes of operations as well as the massive amounts of data that they generate and can be used against them.

As governments and agencies adopt new technologies as part of their digital modernization programs - from automation to AI to 5G-enabled edge devices they all understand that the success of these efforts depends upon fueling this digital infrastructure in a secure manner with the vast flow of data available from external sources, internal systems, and connected sensors and platforms. Whoever is able to reach data superiority and leverage (big) data will gain critical advantages. Therefore, big data and data analytics have become a cornerstone for operations for intelligence, police, first responders, military and even border control operations for the last years. These organizations have all been dealing with data collection, analysis, and dissemination for years. However, today, advanced big data analytics as well as AI is changing the way they are monitoring, gathering, and analyzing sources and transforming them into a much more data-driven, precise, and efficient organization.

Climate-Tech to Watch: Enhanced Geothermal Systems

Linh Nguyen


An enhanced geothermal system (EGS) produces carbon-free power by harnessing the earth’s heat from far below the ground. An EGS accesses the heat by injecting water at high pressure from wells on the surface. The water creates fractures in deep rock formations, and the rocks, in turn, heat up the water. The water is then pumped back up, carrying enough heat to produce steam for power generation. EGS promises to harness the inexhaustible heat of the earth’s crust to help power the world for generations to come.

Figure 1: An enhanced geothermal system