6 October 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.

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.

India’s Fog of Misunderstanding Surrounding Nepal–China Relations



India’s postindependence ties with Nepal were predicated on the intimate cultural and historical links between the two countries. As India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, noted, “though Nepal was an independent country, it was very closely allied to India in culture and tradition and we did not look upon it as a foreign country.” New Delhi also regarded China as an “interloper” in Nepal in 1950 who threatened India’s security and interests in the region, ignoring at least a century of Sino-Nepali history centering around Tibet. This paper argues that New Delhi’s close relationship with Nepal, bound in history and culture, and the misperception about China’s relations with Nepal before 1950 have contributed to a skewed understanding of Sino-Nepali relations. The Working Paper looks at the impact that New Delhi’s misperceptions of Sino-Nepali relations, termed the “fog of misunderstanding,” has had in the context of the triangular relations between China, India, and Nepal.

The paper is divided into four sections arranged chronologically. The first section looks at the historical Sino-Nepali relationship from the mid-eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries. It establishes that this early relationship was centered on Tibet. While the Gorkha kings of Nepal sought to preserve their trade privileges in the region, the Chinese were concerned about the security of their southwestern frontier. Notably though, Beijing’s concern with security does not appear to have extended into any desire to conquer Nepal. This section also touches upon British India’s policy toward Nepal in the nineteenth century, and the subsequent approach that the government of independent India took in the first few years, without an adequate appreciation of Kathmandu’s history with China. As a consequence, India developed a suspicious attitude toward Beijing’s desire to re-establish ties with Kathmandu after the Chinese Civil War, and shaped its policy toward Nepal with this factor in mind.

The U.S. Military Needs to Learn How to Train Auxiliary Armies

Bret Devereaux

America’s war in Afghanistan is now over, but the war over the war has only just begun. The sudden collapse of the Afghan National Army and the Afghan National Police looms large in these new debates among policy wonks, politicians, and journalists. Images of captured U.S. equipment in the hands of the triumphant Taliban brought bitter reminders of Islamic State soldiers celebrating in American armored vehicles after Iraqi security forces suddenly collapsed in 2014. How could these security forces, which the United States had spent so much time and resources training and equipping, collapse so quickly?

As for why the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police failed, the frequent answer in much of the reporting has been consistent: “corruption.” The same explanation was offered for the collapse of Iraqi security forces in 2014. Corrupt leaders at all levels diverted funds; recorded so-called ghost soldiers on the rolls to enrich their friends, relatives, and associates; and sold weapons to all comers—even the enemy. Consequently, ammunition ran short, vehicles failed for lack of maintenance, and units were often understrength, underpaid, and deeply demoralized. Collapse and defeat, often against substantially more poorly equipped but more cohesive and highly motivated foes, predictably followed. There is a temptation to attribute these failures to the particular place and people, to say that this is merely an Afghan or Iraqi problem. But this isn’t a new phenomenon; many of the same criticisms were made of the poor performance of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam before its collapse.

'Military' planes are spotted landing at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan


There have been multiple reports of military planes arriving at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, just hours after images emerged showing that power was restored to the base for the first time since US forces evacuated the stronghold in July.

Images circulating on social media appear to show the airbase's floodlights blazing in the distance, amid reports that several military planes have taken off and landed at the base in recent hours.

Several sources suggest that the aircraft are Chinese, given the Taliban are not thought to possess the expertise needed to power the base or maintain and fly several military aircraft.

It comes after Yun Sun, director of the China Program at the Stimson Center think tank, said China would likely be very interested in occupying the airbase following the US pullout.

The Failure in Afghanistan Is Worse Than in Vietnam

William Lloyd Stearman

Many have compared America’s defeat in Afghanistan to Vietnam. But the comparison is unfair to Vietnam. The U.S. became involved in Vietnam primarily to counter the communist threat to Southeast Asia. In 1955 President Eisenhower placed the communist threat to Vietnam in the broader context of the threat to the entire region. He said a communist victory in Vietnam would lead to other communist takeovers in Southeast Asia, with countries toppled like a row of dominoes.

Southeast Asian leaders reported that our deploying combat troops to Vietnam beginning in May 1965 greatly encouraged their successful resistance to communist threats. The region didn’t fall—a strategic accomplishment.

What few know or appreciate is that South Vietnamese forces came very close to winning the war in 1972. All U.S. combat troops had been withdrawn as a result of Vietnamization. Hanoi was looking forward to a quick victory over South Vietnamese ground forces and launched its Easter Offensive, using divisions equipped with Soviet heavy tanks, long-range artillery, surface-to-air missiles and other modern weapons. They were opposed by South Vietnamese army and marine troops.

A U.S. Military Base Needs to Make 13,000 Afghan Evacuees Feel at Home

Ben Kesling

Afghan adults, mostly men—some in traditional clothes, others in Western attire—walked through the grass inside a fenced-off perimeter or milled about streets that run between barracks built decades ago. Children played soccer or Frisbee in grassy areas. American military police sauntered down the streets like cops on the beat, returning waves and hellos from people sitting on barracks stoops.

Sameer Amini once worked at the embassy in Kabul and arrived in the U.S. about a month ago with his wife and two children.

“We have a space to sleep, we have toiletries, we have hygiene, medical, food,” he said. “Obviously, it’s not a home, but as a temporary home, as a transit area, we have everything that we are saying we should have.”

U.S. military police patrol Fort McCoy, one of the U.S. bases hosting Afghan who are being processed for resettlement.

In other buildings, children cut out construction paper in an activity area while others took English-language lessons in a co-ed classroom. Older boys and young men ferried plastic bags full of boxed meals to their families’ barracks.

,,Strategika no. 75 America after Afghanistan

Hoover Institution

Our Revels Now Are Ended

Afghanistan Post-Mortem

Dented, Not Damaged: The American Empire After Afghanistan

Graveyard of Narratives

The Afghanistization Of America

A Lost War: A Conversation With Victor Davis Hanson And H. R. McMaster On Afghanistan’s Past, Present, And Future

Fleeing Afghanistan

Who Will Trust Us after Afghanistan?

The ‘Forever War’ Hasn’t Ended

Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3) in Asia Pacific

Since the start of the Cold War, serious incidents with the potential to escalate to nuclear war have occurred on average once every three years between nuclear–armed states. In each case, NC3 has been integral to the cause of the crisis, contributing to the risk of possible nuclear use. This continues into 2021.

This new report by APLN research director Dr. Peter Hayes, examines the NC3 systems of six nuclear–armed states: the United States, Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Dr. Hayes argues that understanding how these systems work and how they interact is a critical component in the discourse over weapons of mass destruction in the Asia-Pacific.

Key points:

Nuclear command, control and communications (NC3) systems are integral to ensuring that nuclear weapons are always available for instant, deliberate use but also never used mistakenly against an adversary. These systems are harder to identify and to characterize than nuclear or missile test sites, nuclear fuel cycle or warhead production factories, or nuclear delivery sites and platforms.

Is Ukraine Really Pivoting Towards China?

Yurii Poita
Source Link

Recent rapprochement between Ukraine and China has given rise to doubts about Kyiv’s geopolitical positioning, even as President Zelensky achieved his long-sought White House audience in early September.

However, Kyiv’s recent overtures to China should not be seen as a return to a multi-vector policy, a pivot to China, or even as using the ‘Chinese card’ as an attempt to attract Washington’s attention. Instead, these moves reflect Ukraine’s interest in pragmatic cooperation in select fields, while guarding riskier aspects away from Chinese engagement.

Ukrainian-Chinese “Rapprochement”

Observers of Ukrainian foreign policy would be remiss not to have noted the signs of improving ties between Kyiv and Beijing this year.

Perhaps most illustrative of the recent thaw was Kyiv’s retraction of its signature from a UN statement condemning China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang in June. Reports claimed that the about-face was a result of pressure from China, citing threats to cancel the previously planned delivery of 500,000 doses of the COVID-19 SinoVac vaccine. The Chinese MFA conversely welcomed Ukraine’s decision, stating it “reflects its spirit of independence and respect for facts.”

China's Loans Leave Developing Nations With $385 Billion In 'hidden Debts', Reveals Study

Bhavya Sukheja

A new study claimed that China’s Belt and Road Initiative has caused dozens of countries to accumulate $385 billion in “hidden debts” to Beijing. AidData, an international development research lab based at Virginia’s College of William & Mary, revealed that the debt had slipped through the scrutiny of international lenders such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The study said that the “hidden debt” is due to an increasing number of deals struck not directly between governments through central banks but through often opaque arrangements with a range of financing institutions.

Hence “the debt burdens were kept off the public balance sheets,” the study said.

It added, “Chinese debt burdens are substantially larger than research intuitions, credit rating agencies, or intergovernmental organisations with surveillance responsibilities previously understood.”

Evergrande Is a Convenient Villain for Xi

Richard McGregor

The “controlled demolition” of the debt-laden property giant Evergrande, as Chinese netizens have dubbed the company’s slow-motion collapse, is providing a real-time stress test of dearly held beliefs about China’s party-state.

Super smart officials, bucketloads of money, sheer force of government power: The awesome qualities that many Western hedge fund managers and other China fans ascribe to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) should ensure, so the familiar narrative goes, that it can manage its way out of this crisis, as it has in the past.

They may yet be right. The coming-collapse-of-China brigade and their willingness to latch onto the smallest hints of trouble in the country have had them crying wolf far too often with predictions of the party-state’s imminent demise.

It was Beijing’s financial regulators, after all, who bought this crisis on.

A 3D deep dive into the India–China border

Nathan Ruser & Baani Grewal

India–China border tensions have become one of the Indo-Pacific’s defining territorial disputes. Over three decades of confidence-building measures and border agreements ended in June 2020 with the deaths of Indian and Chinese soldiers in Ladakh. Despite multiple rounds of tactical and diplomatic talks in 2020–21, the military stand-off between the two Asian powers is currently at a stalemate. Before the Ladakh crisis, a 2017 stand-off between Indian and Chinese troops in Doklam highlighted the ongoing risk of an unsettled border.

The Chinese military’s activities on the contested border have been one of the key drivers behind the shift in the Indian public’s and government’s assessments of India’s relationship with China. The result has been a faster convergence in regional security and strategic policy directions. One obvious manifestation of this is the growing Quad partnership between New Delhi, Tokyo, Canberra and Washington. Events and activities on and around this contested border are important to understand, not only for regional dynamics but also because of the risk of conflict and escalation.

China’s New Direction: Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Policy

China is in a greater state of flux in its domestic politics and foreign policy than in any time since the reform era began. China’s domestic and foreign policies have become more autocratic at home and confrontational abroad, with more changes coming. The resulting challenges to the United States and the world posed by China are numerous and rapidly evolving. In response, America and other countries will need to keep revising their strategies toward China.

In a new report, “China’s New Direction: Challenges and Opportunities for U.S. Policy,” leading U.S. experts on China weigh in with insights on major changes in China and recommendations for U.S. policy going forward.

“The defining challenge facing the U.S., its allies and its partners is understanding how China under Xi Jinping is evolving in the face of changing domestic needs and external pressures,” the report says. “Accordingly, a major policy risk is that the U.S. will misread or misinterpret what is happening in China and will either overestimate or underestimate the threat China now poses.”

America the Humble

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart

At the United Nations last week, President Joe Biden contended that the United States now stands at “an inflection point in history” during which “relentless war” is being replaced by “relentless diplomacy.” He also pointed out that “many of our greatest concerns cannot be solved or even addressed through the force of arms.” This could mark a notable departure from the last 20 years, when military ventures largely defined U.S. foreign policy.

Impelled by an overwhelming desire to hunt down those responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the United States launched military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, where it toppled regimes that had little or nothing to do with 9/11. Initially successful at that task and eventually accompanied by rhetoric about spreading democracy and stability in the Middle East, the wars soon devolved into extended counterinsurgency (or counteroccupation) operations that have resulted in the deaths of more than 100 times as many people as perished on 9/11.

Upgrading US public diplomacy: A new approach for the age of memes and disinformation

Marta Churella, Wren Elhai, Amirah Ismail, Naima Green-Riley, 


This report outlines a set of principles and actions to strengthen the State Department’s public diplomacy institutions, domestically and abroad. We chose not to define what the specific ends of public diplomacy should be—we believe public diplomacy should support overall US foreign policy goals and that the country’s democratically accountable leaders should define those goals. However, regardless of the policies US leaders prioritize, the United States needs public diplomacy institutions that can set meaningful strategic goals, design and evaluate programs using data and evidence, customize messaging and programs for hundreds of distinct overseas audiences, and connect meaningfully with audiences in the United States. We believe that spending time and effort on building processes and institutions that can do all of this is the best hope for a State Department that will be able to communicate effectively around the world and demonstrate the impact of its efforts at home.

This report is being published in collaboration with fp21, a think tank dedicated to transforming the processes and institutions of US foreign policy.

It is the result of a unique collaboration between nine current and former State Department employees. Read more about their innovative process on fp21’s blog.

The contributors to this piece all participated in our non-official or personal capacities. The views expressed are our own and not necessarily those of the US government. Our recommendations were crafted with the State Department in mind, although we recognize public diplomacy is a function other US government institutions also perform. Some of the issues identified here may also apply to those other institutions.

The Swamp Grew – Even Under President Donald Trump

Adam Andrzejewski

Everyone from Ronald Reagan (1983) to Nancy Pelosi (2006) to Donald Trump (2016) issued calls to "drain the swamp."

However, in a new oversight report by OpenTheBooks.com, Mapping The Swamp, A Study Of The Administrative State, we found that the federal agency payrolls continued to grow unabated.

President Trump was holding the headcount of the executive agencies roughly flat through at least 2018. Then, the pandemic driven spending caused a massive federal hiring spree in FY2020.

2021 Diversity Green Card Lottery Winners To Be Shut Out Because Of Visa Deadline

Andy J. Semotiuk
Source Link

Not all is well with America’s image following its recent withdrawal from Afghanistan. Now that image is about to take another blow because of the way it has been handling this year’s Diversity Green Card Lottery winners in their bid to come to America under that program.

A Final Court Hearing

Only a few days remain for the State Department to issue the remaining immigrant visas to the winners of the Fiscal Year-2021 Diversity Green Card Lottery program. Out of 55,000 FY-2021 Diversity Visas (DV) allotted by Congress, so far the State Department has issued less than 14,000. In the absence of an intervention by the court or Congress, the remaining visas will expire at the end of September 2021 and the immigration path for tens of thousands of DV-2021 winners will end. In the case of Goodluck v. Biden in the California U.S. District Court, attorneys for over 22,000 plaintiffs and family members will have a final opportunity to address their key concerns about the expiry of the rights of the lottery winners this week. A video conference before U.S. District Court Judge Amit Mehta has been scheduled for Monday, September 27th, 2021 for that purpose. The hearing will be accessible to the public at 11 AM EST here.

Biden’s Proposed IRS Bank Account Snooping Authority Runs Into State Resistance

Patrick Gleason

A White House or Congress can propose all manner of controversial policies, as is occurring now, but state lawmakers can fight back in a number of ways. Such resistance is now underway in the Maine Legislature, with lawmakers in other states likely to follow suit.

A resolution introduced in the Maine House of Representatives today, September 22, urges U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R), Angus King (I), and the rest of the Maine congressional delegation to oppose President Joe Biden’s proposal to empower the IRS to monitor aggregate transactions going into and out of personal and business bank accounts whose value or total transactions exceed $600 in value, which ensnares the majority of active bank accounts. As the new state resolution filed by Maine Representative John Andrews points out, “President Joe Biden wants the IRS to have automatic access to information about every Americans' bank account as well as every PayPal, Venmo, and CashApp account, even if without any accusations of wrongdoing.”

“This is unprecedented Federal intrusion into the financial lives of every day Americans,” said Representative Andrews. “It is an expansion of the surveillance state and it is time to pushback. As state legislators it is our duty to stand up, be proactive and protect those we represent. This resolution should be filed and supported in every statehouse in the nation. Legislators need to be bold and find ways in their state statutes to legislatively nullify this unconstitutional abuse of power.”

The U.S. Military’s Biggest Enemy Isn’t Russia Or China Anymore

Jason Beardsley

The Russian ad featured tough-looking men doing situps, jumping out of airplanes, and cocking rifles on a snow-covered battlefield. The Chinese ad showed infantrymen firing rounds as they ran next to advancing tanks.

The U.S. Army video was a cartoon about a woman with two moms who marched for equality and joined the Army so she could “shatter some stereotypes.”

Those of us who served in the U.S. military hated the comparison, but not because we oppose diversity. I was in the Navy and Army Special Forces, and I can tell you the U.S. military has been diverse for decades. In a tight spot, none of us care if the trained soldiers next to us are men or women, gay or straight, or how many moms they have. All we want are skilled warriors who love America and have our back when the bullets start flying.

What worried us is a possible lack of focus. It’s becoming more apparent that the leadership is more interested in a military that looks a certain way rather than one that wins wars. Is it so worried about diversity that it might lose sight of the military’s purpose? Are the optics of diversity and inclusion becoming the mission?

The Next Generation EU: Opportunity and risk

Josep Mª Lloveras Soler

The COVID-driven crisis has created favourable conditions to complete the euro’s construction and push towards its unrealised convergence objective through reform and investment. If this opportunity is missed, circumstances are unlikely to be so propitious in the future. This paper will examine a number of related topics to demonstrate this: the objectives and structural problems of the euro; the debt crises starting in 2008 and the subsequent EU response; the COVID-driven crises and the corresponding EU reaction. Each deserves their own separate paper, and are outlined here only by way of background.

Next Generation EU (NGEU) – the COVID-19 recovery package at the centre of the new EU policy response – has been hailed as a “Hamiltonian moment”, with reference to the first US Secretary of the Treasury who replaced individual states’ debts with US federal debt. As the NGEU enters its implementation phase, it is time to question the value of such a claim. This paper will explore the novelties and transformative potential of this instrument. Specific reference is made to Spain, as it may constitute a test case for the success of the initiative.

Understanding Hypersonic Weapons: Managing the Allure and the Risks

The debate concerning hypersonic weapons has gained increased attention in recent years as the United States has poured billions of dollars—and plans to pour billions more—into accelerating the development of hypersonic weapons and as China and Russia make headway in developing and deploying their own such weapons. The Pentagon is funding no less than eight prototype hypersonic weapons programs with the aim of fielding an initial capability of at least some of those by 2022.

The U.S. rush to field hypersonic weapons merits a more critical examination by the Biden administration and Congress given the many unanswered questions about their rationale, technical viability, cost-effectiveness, and escalatory risks. It is past time for Congress to demand these answers before the military begins fielding the weapons in great numbers.

This new report outlines the scope of the unanswered questions about the case for hypersonic weapons, details the underappreciated risks to stability posed by the weapons, assesses the viability of arms control as a tool to reduce these risks, and suggests recommended action items for Congress to better its understanding about the Pentagon’s plans for the weapons, eliminate potential redundancies in weapons capabilities, and mitigate stability risks.

Our International Institutions Are Failing Us (Or Are We Failing Them?)

Christine McDaniel
Source Link

Economists, analysts and other writers who have long looked to the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report for key data on country rankings recently learned the numbers were manipulated. These were data irregularities, according to the World Bank. This is devastating news because its self-proclaimed mission is to “provide a wide array of financial products and technical assistance, and help countries share and apply innovative knowledge.” What’s worse is that the person who reportedly oversaw the manipulation of the rankings now heads the International Monetary Fund.

Then there’s the new head of the World Trade Organization, who is rumored to already be over the job and threatening to quit due to the inability of the organization to move anything forward. The mission of the WTO is to deal with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function “is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.” Willing participants have signed on to eliminate tariffs on high tech goods and increase potential for market access in government procurement, but the most pressing trade issues of the current day—overfishing, intellectual property and cyber theft, and subsidies—seem beyond its reach.

The Information Operations Episode

I’ll be honest.

I didn’t want to like this episode. I was hoping there would be something in there that just turned me off completely or gave me an opportunity to stand on my soapbox and rant.

When information can travel globally at the tap of a finger, irregular warfare professionals must contend with an ever-changing environment. How does strategic messaging tie into operations on the battlefield? How can we build a more information-savvy force? And how can information act as both weapon and warfighting space?

Too bad.

It was a great episode and it’s clear the guests Dr. Rafi Cohen and Brent Colburn know what they’re talking about.

They didn’t sing the praises of information warfare as a panacea to all of our problems.

India should invest in ever more sophisticated cyber armaments

Nitin Pai

A century ago, the declaration of war was a formal exercise. Diplomats in frock coats would turn up at chancellories to first serve ultimatums and subsequently to hand-deliver notices of war. Some would even insist on reading them out aloud for the benefit of bemused recipients, who would then make arrangements for the safe departure of the enemy’s embassy. These age-old courtesies were abridged by the time of World War II and terse telegrams replaced frock coats. The advent of the Cold War, nuclear weapons and proxy wars of the 20th century put an end to the custom of formal war declarations. In recent times, an incoming missile or fighter aircraft announces war. Even so, we are used to wars that have a starting point and an end date.

Not anymore. Information warfare is an ongoing affair. Cyber warfare, its technical aspect, has already been militarized. It is global and continues regardless of whether or not states are in armed conflict. We cannot pinpoint the date, month or even the year it started. And, unfortunately, we also cannot say when it will end, if ever. States have no choice but to wage it. Gloomy as this sounds, at least so far the pursuit of politics through these other means has avoided large scale bloodshed that characterized armed conflicts of the Industrial Age.

The Pacific Fusion Centre: the challenge of sharing information and intelligence in the Pacific

Dr David Brewster

The Pacific Fusion Centre: the challenge of sharing information and intelligence in the Pacific examines the Australian-sponsored Pacific Fusion Centre (PFC) which is due to open permanent offices in Vanuatu later this year.

The PFC was set up in 2019 as an outcome of the 2018 Boe Declaration with the mandate of providing strategic intelligence to Pacific Island states to assist in high-level policy formulation on human security, environmental security, transnational crime and cybersecurity. The report argues that the impact of these assessments may be limited, including due to the open-source nature of the information.

There are also widespread misperceptions about the PFC’s role. Unlike regional information fusion centres elsewhere in the region, the PFC will not produce actionable intelligence on specific security threats. For example, identifying vessels that are engaged in illegal fishing or smuggling people, arms or drugs.

The Pacific still sorely needs a regional centre to fuse and share actionable intelligence in the maritime domain. Australia needs to consider how it can best move to fill this important intelligence gap.

The Report concludes that the PFC may be a useful soft-power initiative, but the Pacific still sorely needs a regional information fusion centre to produce and share actionable intelligence in the maritime domain.

Cyber defense across the ocean floor: The geopolitics of submarine cable security

Justin Sherman

Executive summary

The vast majority of intercontinental global Internet traffic—upwards of 95 percent—travels over undersea cables that run across the ocean floor. These hundreds of cables, owned by combinations of private and state-owned entities, support everything from consumer shopping to government document sharing to scientific research on the Internet. The security and resilience of undersea cables and the data and services that move across them are an often understudied and underappreciated element of modern Internet geopolitics. The construction of new submarine cables is a key part of the constantly changing physical topology of the Internet worldwide.

Three trends are increasing the risks to undersea cables’ security and resilience: First, authoritarian governments, especially in Beijing, are reshaping the Internet’s physical layout through companies that control Internet infrastructure, to route data more favorably, gain better control of internet chokepoints, and potentially gain espionage advantage. Second, more companies that manage undersea cables are using network management systems to centralize control over components (such as reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers (ROADMs) and robotic patch bays in remote network operations centers), which introduces new levels of operational security risk. Third, the explosive growth of cloud computing has increased the volume and sensitivity of data crossing these cables.

Code as Contract

Rob Caudill and John Speed Meyers

Open source code is used increasingly across the entire federal government and the U.S. military. But a new digital rubicon is looming: the use of open source code as a condition within U.S. Defense Department and intelligence community software acquisition contracts.

A 2003 survey conducted by The MITRE Corporation found, even then, that the Defense Department used over 100 free and open source software applications. The National Security Agency and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, among others, now also maintain public GitHub accounts, websites for sharing and accepting open source code.

Before contract officers lock their doors and hide under their desks, the notion of open source code should be defined. Open source software can be freely accessed, used, changed and shared by anyone. An open source software contract extends this idea by requiring a government contractor to provide or maintain open source software—to be managed on a web-accessible code hosting site such as GitHub or GitLab and made searchable via code.gov—as a contract deliverable. Such open source code contracts within the military and intelligence software contracting community are sufficiently rare to be essentially nonexistent. What little data that does exist paints a similar picture. Although federal source code policy requires that agencies open source at least twenty percent of all new custom code created from 2016 to 2019, the Defense Department has open sourced less than 10 percent of its new custom code during that period, earning a “noncompliant” status.

How to Help Myanmar Before It’s Too Late

Charli Carpenter

The military coup that deposed Myanmar’s civilian government in February has created an escalating humanitarian crisis and left the country teetering on the brink of civil war. As the junta continues to target the population with violence, including torture and sexual assault, the opposition movement has also begun to question the effectiveness of its largely peaceful protests, especially in the absence of international support for the pro-democracy struggle.

In a WPR article earlier this week, Prachi Vidwans noted that this is precisely the kind of situation where the United Nations can do the most good if it were to act early, but where it is the least likely to do so. Indeed, as I told Vidwans in an interview for the article, “the U.N. does really poorly in supporting nonviolent resistance movements before they become violent or engaging in preventive diplomacy when violence is about to break out.”

It is reasonable to conclude, as Vidwans did in her article, that “the truth is that there is not much more that the international community could realistically be doing to help.”

Military Review,

Army University Press

Leadership Remarks about Indo-Pacom Activities

The Question: Why Would China Not Invade Taiwan Now?

The Long March: A Generational Approach to Achieving the People’s Republic of China Strategic Objective to Annex Taiwan

Extract from “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2019”

Steal the Firewood from Under the Pot: The Role of Intellectual Property Theft in Chinese Global Strategy

Extract from “The FBI and the National Security Threat Landscape: The Next Paradigm Shift”

Extract from “China’s Impact on the U.S. Education System”: Staff Report

Pivot Out of the Pacific: Oil and the Creation of a Chinese Empire in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

The People’s Bank of China’s Monetary Armament: Capabilities and Limitations of Evolving Institutional Power


China’s One Belt, One Road Initiative and Its International Arms Sales: An Overlooked Aspect of Connectivity and Cooperation?

China’s Maritime Militia and Fishing Fleets: A Primer for Operational Staffs and Tactical Leaders

The Strategic Significance of the Chinese Fishing Fleet

Competing with China for a Free and Open Indo-Pacific

Contemporary China: In Conflict, Not Competition

Chinese Soft Power: Creating Anti-Access Challenges in the Indo-Pacific

Economic Warfare: China’s Financial Alternative to Military Reunification with Taiwan

How to Counter China’s Disinformation Campaign in Taiwan

Preparing for the Future: Marine Corps Support to Joint Operations in Contested Littorals

Taiwan and the U.S. Army: New Opportunities amid Increasing Threats

Understanding the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force: Strategy, Armament, and Disposition

The Impact of Base Politics on Long-Range Precision Fires: A Closer Look at Japan

Drive Them into the Sea

Deterring the Dragon: Returning U.S. Forces to Taiwan

Extract from Rear Admiral Luo Yuan’s Speech at the 2018 Military Industry Ranking Awards Ceremony and Innovation Summit

System Rivalry: How Democracies Must Compete with Digital Authoritarians

Ambassador (ret.) Eileen Donahoe

Artificial intelligence (AI) may still hold the potential to solve some of the world’s most intractable problems and help fulfill the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but when it comes to risks to privacy and civil liberties, AI already has been a game changer in favor of authoritarian states. AI-enabled tools have turbocharged every pre-existing form of repression including: mass and targeted surveillance, censorship, and the spread of propaganda. Contrary to the original expectation that it would be impossible for repressive states to control the open internet, AI has facilitated a whole new level of state control over communications infrastructure and the information realm. Its technological advantages include scaled capacity to scan for forbidden content and filter out dissenting views. In the other direction — the production of ideas — autocrats have found new ability to control public narratives and shape civic discourse with AI-generated and amplified content. New social engineering tools, such as China’s social-credit system, mold citizens’ motivations and behaviors. Beyond violating privacy and civil liberties, these systems have the potential to destroy, in significant part, human agency and human dignity.

The larger threat posed by all these AI-enabled technologies is that they are facilitating the spread of digital authoritarianism: an encompassing techno-social system and governance model that involves control and security for the state as opposed to liberty and security for citizens. Rather than view the challenge as a series of discrete apps used for repression, democracies should see digital authoritarianism through the lens of system rivalry and recognize that they face competition from a powerful, repressive governance model spreading around the world.