29 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.

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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.

Facebook Dithered in Curbing Divisive User Content in India

Sheikh Saaliq and Krutika Pathi

Facebook in India has been selective in curbing hate speech, misinformation, and inflammatory posts, particularly anti-Muslim content, according to leaked documents obtained by The Associated Press, even as its own employees cast doubt over the company’s motivations and interests.

From research as recent as March of this year to company memos that date back to 2019, the internal company documents on India highlight Facebook’s constant struggles in quashing abusive content on its platforms in the world’s biggest democracy and the company’s largest growth market. Communal and religious tensions in India have a history of boiling over on social media and stoking violence.

The files show that Facebook has been aware of the problems for years, raising questions over whether it has done enough to address these issues. Many critics and digital experts say it has failed to do so, especially in cases where members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are involved.

Pakistan: TTP And Insidious Intent

Sanchita Bhattacharya

On October 20, 2021, two soldiers and two Police officers were killed when their vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, in the Bajaur District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.

On September 30, 2021, two persons, including a Pakistan Army Captain and a TTP ‘commander’ Khawaza Din aka Sher Khan were killed during an Intelligence-Based Operation (IBO) in the Tank District of KP. According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), after receiving information about the presence of TTP terrorists in the area, the Security Forces (SFs) were conducting an operation.

On August 29, 2021, terrorist fire from across the border in Afghanistan killed two Pakistani soldiers in the Bajaur District of KP. The TTP claimed responsibility for the attack in a Telegram message.

Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan Again Signals its Street Power

Niha Dagia

For the past few years, autumn in Pakistan has been synonymous with protests challenging the writ of the Pakistani state.

This year isn’t any different – except that it took just a weekend of protests to coax the Imran Khan government to negotiate a deal with the far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP).

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said on Sunday that the government would initiate a parliamentary debate over the expulsion of the French ambassador, which followed comments by President Emmanuel Macron last year that many viewed as Islamophobic, and would release all jailed TLP activists. In return, the TLP has agreed to limit its protests to sit-ins, rather than marching toward Islamabad.

Ironically, the seeds of this style of protest were sown by the very target of last week’s demonstration: Prime Minister Imran Khan. Back in 2014, Khan, along with the expatriate religious leader Tahi ul Qadri of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), used the same strategy of sit-ins and marches in their attempt to topple the Nawaz Sharif government.

The Ignorance of Political Islam Continues to Doom Western Policy in Afghanistan

Julian Spencer-Churchill

The current controversy over whether to recognize and constructively engage the odious Taliban regime or isolate it continues to be guided by a general ignorance by secular Western elites of the important role of religious legitimacy in political Islam. Secular and progressive policymakers fail to recognize that political Islam is not doctrinally monolithic nor is it static and that the Taliban's hardline variant of Islamic governance is ephemeral and will not survive in Kabul. Unlike the Taliban of the 1990s, which exchanged legitimacy for peace, the contemporary regime will come under pressure to modernize, which opens up significant policy opportunities for aid donors.

The catastrophically abrupt collapse of the Western-backed government in Kabul confirmed a complete lack of Western understanding of the dynamics of how to create political legitimacy in a traditional Muslim state. Secular state efficiency was never going to be sufficient because in Islamic societies, religious and political legitimacy are indistinguishable. The military campaign and provision of services, however effectively executed, should have been accompanied by a third campaign of ideas. NATO’s failure to address the issue of political Islam in Afghanistan doomed its efforts to failure and continues to haunt western policy.

Hezbollah Has No Choice but Escalation

Oz Katerji

After a week of violence and bloodshed on Beirut’s streets failed to disrupt the investigation into Beirut’s port blast, Hezbollah’s bellicose leader, Hassan Nasrallah, had little more than intimidation and absurd exaggerations to offer in his televised speech last Monday evening. But with the militia leader having played nearly all of his cards with no success at stopping an investigation that threatens the heart of Hezbollah’s power, an already badly battered Lebanon is entering a deeply dangerous crisis. Nasrallah, himself, dubbed the violence on Oct. 14 that left seven people dead, including multiple gunmen and a mother of five children who was shot dead in her own home, a “dangerous and critical new stage” for Lebanon. He should know, given his direct responsibility for this escalation.

More than 200 people were killed and 6,500 wounded when hundreds of tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the port for years exploded following a warehouse fire on Aug. 4, 2020. The blast devastated large parts of Beirut, worsening an already brewing and catastrophic economic crisis.

Over a year later, no officials have been convicted of any crimes related to the blast despite significant evidence of corruption and criminal negligence at play. Today almost 75 percent of Lebanon’s population live in poverty. Ordinary Lebanese were already on their knees before the blast crushed them entirely.

Isis-K insurgency jeopardises Taliban’s grip on Afghanistan

Amy Kazmin

Two months after the Taliban seized power, violence, death and fear still stalk Afghanistan. US troops might have departed but the new Islamist rulers in Kabul are now threatened by an insurgency launched by Islamic State-Khorasan Province, an Isis-inspired jihadi movement that has deep ideological differences with the Taliban.

Since the Taliban takeover in August, Isis-K has mounted a series of suicide bomb attacks, including at the Kabul airport and at two Shia mosques, as well as assaults on Taliban convoys, which have killed hundreds. Analysts have warned of further violence as Isis-K tries to prevent the Taliban from consolidating their grip on Afghanistan.

Isis-K’s more hardline stance has proved attractive to disgruntled Taliban fighters. Dismayed at the new regime’s reluctance to impose tougher restrictions on women and its diplomatic overtures to countries such as the US, China and Russia, former Taliban members have switched allegiance to Isis-K.

As “New Cold War” Fears Rise, China Touts Ties to Southeast Asia

John S. Van Oudenaren

China is sharply critical of the US-India-Japan-Australia quadrilateral security dialogue (the Quad), and the recently launched Australia-US-UK agreement (AUKUS), charging that these evolving security groupings are destabilizing Asia and the world. Per Beijing, “closed and exclusive cliques” (搞封闭排他的小集团, gao fengbi paitai de xiao jituan) like the Quad stem from the US and its security partners’ lingering “Cold War mentality”(冷战思维, lengzhan siwei) as opposed to China’s self-proclaimed non-hegemonic approach to world affairs that follows the path of “peaceful, open, cooperative and common development.” (和平发展、开放发展、合作发展、共同发展的道路, heping fazhan, kaifang fazhan, hezou fazhan, gongtong fazhan de daolu). (Global Times, May 19; FMRPC, March 23; Xinhua, September 22, 2020). In a retort to US President Biden’s September UN General Assembly claim that the US does not seek a new Cold War, the state-affiliated Global Times countered that Biden’s “actual policy” is to “shift culpability for the onset of the new Cold War to China and other parties.” (Global Times, September 22).

To press the case that the US and its security partners are driving a “New Cold War” in Asia, China plays on Southeast Asian states’ general anxieties over the increasingly competitive security environment in the region. Beijing has also promoted the notion that the Quad and AUKUS will supplant, rather than compliment, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) centrality in regional affairs. For example, in a September 29 call with the Foreign Ministers of Brunei and Malaysia, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi claimed that AUKUS would harm the Asia-Pacific region in five ways. Wang asserted that the defense pact: 1) heightens the risk of nuclear proliferation; 2) contributes to a regional arms race; 3) undermines regional peace and prosperity that is central to the ASEAN way; 4) violates the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty that Canberra has signed, and runs counter to the spirit of the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone treaty; and 5) revives a Cold War mentality and ushers in an era of “geopolitical zero-sum games” (People’s Daily, September 29).

China’s loss can be the rest of Asia’s gain


SEOUL – COVID-19 has exposed the myriad weaknesses of cross-border value chains. Once the backbone of globalization, now they are associated with vulnerability to disruption.

Thanks to the pandemic, value chains are being reconfigured with a focus on resilience. At the same time, China’s changing role in the global economy is forcing companies to reconsider it as a manufacturing hub. The world’s factory has reinvented itself as the world’s investor. Increasing digitalization of production and ongoing trade tensions with the United States have also contributed to an exodus of companies from China.

The departures include firms from a wide range of countries and industries. U.S. toymaker Hasbro closed its Chinese factory in favor of facilities in Vietnam; Japanese electronics giant Sony has transferred operations to Thailand; and South Korea’s Cotton Club is relocating production to the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia. Even Chinese firms are leaving the country for less expensive destinations. Wage rates in China are more than double those in Vietnam and close to 70% of those in South Korea. Labor shortages also have made it difficult to keep manufacturing costs down.

Early Warning Brief: Factional Strife Intensifies as Xi Strives to Consolidate Power

Willy Wo-Lap Lam

More evidence has emerged of a ferocious power struggle between China’s supreme leader, President Xi Jinping and powerful factions and personages including former Vice-President Zeng Qinghong and current Vice President Wang Qishan. Not-so-subtle instances of in-fighting among these influential figures and their cliques have emerged in the wake of the revelation last month by the semi-official NetEase and Sohu websites that several senior officials in the political-legal apparatus (政法系统, zhengfa xitong), which includes the police, the secret police and the courts, had plotted “sinister and treacherous” (不轨, bugui) actions against a top party leader, generally thought to be Xi (See China Brief, September 23). (These articles have since been deleted from the Internet).

The factional back-stabbing has worsened even as the economy battles strong headwinds. In the wake of the near-bankruptcy of Evergrande Group, one of the largest real-estate conglomerates in the world, more property and financial firms are reportedly unable to service their multi-billion yuan debt burdens. The total national debt reached 335 percent of GDP at the end of last year, while external debt alone has breached the $2.68 trillion mark (SAFE.gov.cn, September 30; Hong Kong Economic Times, November 19, 2020). Apart from the infrastructure sector, local government investment vehicles are estimated to have incurred loans of 53 trillion yuan ($8.23 trillion) through the end of 2020, up from 16 trillion yuan ($2.5 trillion) in 2013. Moreover, China faces an energy shortage that is partially caused by depleted coal supplies. On the foreign-policy front, trade talks with the U.S. have yet to be reopened, and the Biden administration is persevering with efforts to build a coalition of like-minded nations to counter China’s increasingly aggressive behavior in areas including in the Taiwan Straits, the East China Sea and South China Sea (Asia.nikkei.com, October 4; Times of India, September 27).

A Chinese Starlink? PRC Views on Building a Satellite Internet Megaconstellation

Brian Waidelich

Billions of people around the world depend on the internet each day to make government, commercial, or personal transactions, and millions more users are being added each year. However, high-speed, reliable, and affordable internet services are not yet accessible to everyone. As Zhang Monan, a researcher at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges’ Belt and Road research group, assesses, developing countries’ dearth of internet infrastructure constitutes a “digital divide” separating them from the global high-tech economy (Economic Daily, August 19).

Most of the world’s internet traffic travels through fiber-optic cables, which achieve economies of scale in urban areas but are expensive to lay in less populated regions. Some of the demand for internet services in remote regions and from mobile platforms (such as aircraft and ships) is met by satellites in high-altitude geostationary and medium Earth orbits, but their services are costly and their latency (the time required for a signal to travel between a satellite and Earth) is high.

Russia and China: A Mutually Exaggerated Strategic Partnership?

Pavel K. Baev

Below the surface, not everything is smooth in China-Russia relations, but it can be difficult to see past the exaggerated plaudits generated by powerful propaganda machines on the unique closeness of the two strategic partners. Only a few keen observers picked up on a remarkable discrepancy in the respective Chinese and Russian press-services readouts of an August 25 phone conversation between President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin. According to the Kremlin, “the conversation was held in the traditionally friendly and trust-based atmosphere” (Kremlin.ru, August 25). In addition to standard praise for the relationship, the Chinese transcript asserted that Russia “unswervingly supports China’s legitimate positions of safeguarding its core interests on issues related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and the South China Sea” (Fmprc.gov, August 25). The Russian version of the exchange contains no indication of such support, and two weeks later, the Foreign Ministry found it necessary to clarify that Russia’s position on the South China Sea is unchanged, and that Moscow does not take sides in the dispute as a matter of principle (Mid.ru, September 10). This minor but embarrassing misunderstanding signals a lingering estrangement that both sides find convenient to conceal. No particular disagreement is behind this trend, but it is indicative of a partnership that is based more on transactional interplay of political moves driven by ambitions of autocratic leaders than on the reliable overlap of respective national interests.

Tightening Up

In what many observers have termed a “regulatory crackdown,” a wave of new legal restrictions and bans on business, technology, and entertainment has broken across China over the past several months, with what appears to be escalating velocity and force. Most recently, new rules have hit companies involved in everything from how Chinese consumers can borrow, invest, and spend their money to how they educate their children, travel around their cities, and shop for insurance, and even what they watch on TV. Some of these new rules have been in the making for some time, some seem designed to address quite divergent government goals, but their rapid enactment has led many analysts—including those connected to the Chinese state—to view them as part of a single campaign.

What is the best way to understand the connections among these new strictures? How do they relate to Xi Jinping’s leadership, how should they be understood to relate to governance goals in China more broadly, and to what extent will they succeed in achieving their intended ends? —The Editors

China’s Maritime Resource Grab Creates an Opening for the United States

Jordan McGillis & Anthony Kim

The island of Borneo sits more than 1,000 miles due south from mainland China across a vast expanse of the sea. That distance, however, hasn’t stopped the People’s Republic from treating Borneo as its own backyard. The three countries that share the island—Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei—now find themselves on the receiving end of the same trademarked Beijing resource grab that has, to greater publicity, threatened the Philippines and Vietnam.

China’s ever-growing appetite for oil and gas under Xi Jinping has sparked new resource appropriation. China consumes 50% more oil and 100% more natural gas than it did just 10 years ago, and it is surging south to lay claim to offshore fields that promise to satisfy its demand.

The most recent provocations at the edge of China’s so-called nine-dash line include the deployment of large Chinese maritime survey ships scoping the Malaysian and Indonesian Exclusive Economic Zones off the coast of Borneo, as well as the harassment of Malaysian oil and gas development by China Coast Guard nautical vessels and aircraft.

China celebrates 50 years of being in the UN -- and it's determined to keep Taiwan out

Jessie Yeung

Hong Kong (CNN)Fifty years ago today, representatives from around the world convened at the United Nations headquarters in New York for a history-shifting vote.

By the end of the day, the Republic of China (ROC), a government that fled to Taiwan after losing the Chinese civil war in 1949, was out of the global organization. Instead, the People's Republic of China (PRC), the Communist government that took power in the mainland, was recognized as the "only legitimate representative of China" and admitted into the UN as a permanent member of the veto-wielding Security Council.

It was a major blow for the Nationalist government, which had been one of the founding members of the UN and contributed to the Allied victory in World War II. As the delegation from Taipei walked out of the general assembly hall that night, its foreign minister warned bitterly that the decision would threaten peace everywhere. "This is dangerous nonsense," he said.

How a Rising China Has Remade Global Politics

As much as any other single development, China’s rise over the past two decades has remade the landscape of global politics. Beginning with its entry into the World Trade Organization in December 2001, China rapidly transformed its economy from a low-cost “factory to the world” to a global leader in advanced technologies. Along the way, it has transformed global supply chains, but also international diplomacy, leveraging its success to become the primary trading and development partner for emerging economies across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

But Beijing’s emergence as a global power has also created tensions. Early expectations that China’s integration into the global economy would lead to liberalization at home and moderation abroad have proven overly optimistic, especially since President Xi Jinping rose to power in 2012. Instead, Xi has overseen a domestic crackdown on dissent, in order to shore up and expand the Chinese Communist Party’s control over every aspect of Chinese society. Needed economic reforms have been put on the backburner, while unfair trade practices, such as forced technology transfers and other restrictions for foreign corporations operating in China, have resulted in a trade war with the U.S. and increasing criticism from Europe.

Turkey Lands on Anti-Money Laundering Watchlist — Again

Aykan Erdemir, Toby Dershowitz

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the Paris-based global money laundering and terror financing watchdog, added Turkey to its “grey list” on Thursday, placing Ankara alongside 22 other jurisdictions, including Pakistan, Syria, and Yemen, under increased monitoring. This designation shows yet again that NATO member Turkey continues to offer a permissive jurisdiction for terror finance, sanctions evasion, and money laundering under the 19-year rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party. FATF President Marcus Pleyer summed up Turkey’s situation by saying that “serious issues remain” in the country’s financial operations aimed at combatting money laundering and terrorist financing.

The 39-member FATF was founded in 1989 to defend the integrity of the international financial system. Turkey has been a member since 1991. FATF first put Turkey on its grey list in 2011. In 2012, Turkey came close to being blacklisted, as FATF warned Ankara that the watchdog “will initiate discussions on Turkey’s membership” if “adequate counter terrorist financing legislation has not been enacted by October 2012.” FATF’s “black list,” which currently includes only two countries, Iran and North Korea, designates high-risk jurisdictions against which the watchdog “calls on all members and urges all jurisdictions to apply enhanced due diligence” and “counter-measures to protect the international financial system.”

Joe Biden Can’t Spend His Way Out Of The Supply Chain Crisis

Scott Lincicome and Ilana Blumsack

Although most of the discussion surrounding current U.S. port and supply chain bottlenecks has focused on the economy and Americans’ holiday shopping plans, some are using the situation to sell the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package now before Congress. That bill directs nearly $12 billion in taxpayer funding to U.S. seaport infrastructure and billions more in general infrastructure grants for which ports are eligible.*

Given that American ports lag their global peers in terms of both efficiency and size, such advocacy makes some superficial sense. Dig a little deeper, however, and you see that, while U.S. port automation and expansion would surely be worthwhile, the infrastructure bill is not the way to do it – and might actually make things worse.

First, there is little to indicate that the ports need federal (U.S. taxpayer) money. American seaports are not operated by the federal government but are instead owned and managed by state or local boards and authorities. These authorities levy user fees on ships, in addition to receiving state funding, to help support their activities, which often include maintenance and infrastructure projects. As our colleague Chris Edwards has noted, state and local governments have been swimming (pun intended!) in tax revenues in 2021 and have already received tens of billions of dollars in federal pandemic‐​related funds that they didn’t need. State governments and port authorities are thus already more than capable of funding new port infrastructure, and many port authorities are, in fact, doing just this: railroad expansion at the Port of Charleston, for example, has already received over $200 million in funding from the State of South Carolina.

The United States Needs to Get Serious

Stephen M. Walt

A great power with an ambitious global agenda should take the task of leadership seriously. It takes more than just spending money on the world’s most expensive military establishment; political leaders need to either know a lot about the world or listen carefully to people who do.

People with key foreign-policy responsibilities need to focus on what is in the U.S. national interest and not on personal enrichment. A serious global power would engage with allies and adversaries as needed, but it would be wary of letting foreign governments buy influence and would take supposed advice from self-serving foreign representatives with an appropriate level of skepticism. Its diplomats would be trained professionals with deep knowledge of the countries in which they were appointed rather than wealthy amateurs who happened to have donated a lot of money to a presidential campaign.

A serious great power would spend more time developing effective and coherent strategies than on debating what to call them. And a truly serious great power would hold people accountable and refrain from reappointing or paying much attention to former officials who had repeatedly failed to deliver and whose judgment had been deficient on more than one occasion.

The Pentagon’s Office Culture Is Stuck in 1968

Zachery Tyson Brown and Kathleen J. McInnis

The Pentagon is a curious place. It is the heart of a colossal machinery of war and security, a $700 billion-plus behemoth. You might expect, then, that the headquarters of the U.S. Defense Department would be cutting-edge itself, staffed with world-class talent making split-second decisions while working on futuristic projects all to protect the nation. Kind of like Apple, but with lasers.

As anyone who has walked the Pentagon’s musty corridors—or struggled with its paperwork—knows, though, the reality is very different. It is as if former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s Pentagon had been preserved in aspic when he resigned way back in 1968, leaving behind a living museum to the workplace culture and administrative processes of the Mad Men era. And while much has changed in the intervening half-century, much has stayed exactly the same.

The department remains rigidly hierarchical, in sharp contrast to modern organizations that have long embraced flatter organizational structures that facilitate faster—and often, better—decisions. It remains obsessed with protocol, where modern organizations have become not only more casual but more diverse, inclusive, and dynamic—all of which facilitates creativity instead of dampening it. It remains burdened by the strict adherence to slow, sequential processes, while more contemporary workplaces have learned that parallel, simultaneous, and asynchronous methods dramatically speed their delivery of value.

Pentagon AI Chief Responds to USAF Software Leader Who Quit in Frustration


SEA ISLAND, Georgia—Weeks after the Air Force’s first chief software officer resigned in frustration, a top military official says Nicholas Chaillan was wrong to assert that China is gaining advantage while the Pentagon moves too slowly to develop software.

“I think that there’s no one that can match the United States military in the amount of tactical innovation, that tactical pre-decision making” use of AI, said Lt. Gen. Michael Groen, who leads the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.

Groen did acknowledge that China has a massive advantage in hoarding some types of data, specifically data on Chinese citizens. That isn’t the same thing as having a battlefield advantage, he said.

Afghanistan Fallout: An Invitation To America’s Enemies

Lance Hackney

The United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan was a watershed event in 21st-century geopolitics. In leaving Afghanistan, President Biden intended to free the US from unwanted and far-flung obligations. But the end of American presence in Afghanistan will invite a new host of challenges for American policymakers. Our disastrous finale in Afghanistan will stand as an invitation to aggression for America’s enemies.

The immediate damage caused by our shambolic withdrawal was splashed across news headlines for all to see: The abandonment of American citizens and Afghan allies; millions of people left behind to Taliban misrule; billions of dollars in military equipment handed over to an avowed enemy of western values. But the longer-term effects will soon be felt as well.

The US has shown a total lapse in geo-strategic competence, combined with a political surge of neo-isolationism. This combination will put tremendous pressure on our rivals to test American resolve. Our allies, particularly those who are geographically vulnerable like Ukraine and Taiwan, must reassess whether they can stake their survival on US commitments. The world is watching to see whether the fiasco in Afghanistan was a blunder or a signal of the end of American resolve in foreign affairs.

Ignoring Sanctions, Russia Renews Broad Cybersurveillance Operation

David E. Sanger

SEA ISLAND, Ga. — Russia’s premier intelligence agency has launched another campaign to pierce thousands of U.S. government, corporate and think-tank computer networks, Microsoft officials and cybersecurity experts warned on Sunday, only months after President Biden imposed sanctions on Moscow in response to a series of sophisticated spy operations it had conducted around the world.

The new effort is “very large, and it is ongoing,” Tom Burt, one of Microsoft’s top security officers, said in an interview. Government officials confirmed that the operation, apparently aimed at acquiring data stored in the cloud, seemed to come out of the S.V.R., the Russian intelligence agency that was the first to enter the Democratic National Committee’s networks during the 2016 election.

While Microsoft insisted that the percentage of successful breaches was small, it did not provide enough information to accurately measure the severity of the theft.

Forecasting Time

George Friedman

Around November each year, we at GPF begin our forecasting process for the coming year. In a real sense, we are always forecasting, as our analysis may be about current realities but always with an eye on what these events portend for the future. However, on Nov. 1, each analyst is required to state in a few lines what they believe will happen in the next year.

The brevity is what differentiates our method from others. Most geopolitical forecasts include so many caveats that success is guaranteed. Given that we have already analyzed virtually every notable event this year, on Nov. 1, we move to using declarative sentences and taking risks.

There is always the danger of the banal. History is a continuum, and in many cases the only thing we can say is that next year will be pretty much like last year and the year before. That’s also worth discussing. Sometimes we have to speak to ongoing and well-established crises, and see what turn they will take. Other times we must identify a major event in a place that had been stable. That’s what we love to do, but believing we see something that really isn’t there is the bane of our profession, as is the desire to crouch in safety by saying nothing. It’s our profession, and it beats working the loading docks.

Getting Diplomacy Back on Track in Western Sahara

Riccardo Fabiani

After two years of diplomatic deadlock, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has appointed a new envoy for Western Sahara, a territory disputed between Morocco and the pro-independence Polisario Front, which represents the ethnic Sahrawi population of the territory. The recent designation of seasoned Italian-Swedish diplomat Staffan de Mistura marks a much-delayed and critical step forward in a standoff that, if left untreated, risks spreading instability elsewhere in the region.

The temperature has been rising of late in this often-overlooked conflict. In November 2020, fighting flared up between Morocco and the Polisario Front. A month later, President Donald Trump threw fuel on the fire and jeopardized the traditional U.S. role as a neutral broker between the parties by recognizing Moroccan sovereignty over the territory in exchange for Morocco normalizing its relations with Israel. Since then, Rabat and the Polisario have hardened their respective positions. De Mistura should seize the momentum behind his appointment to offer fresh ideas and a series of confidence-building measures to guide the two sides back to the negotiating table.

Redefining Terrorism in the 21st Century

CPT David M. Tillman

The history and evolution of terrorism is one of great complexity, spanning centuries rather than decades. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that “[t] errorism remains a contested term, with no set definitions for the concept or broad agreement among academic experts on its usage” (Ward, 2018). However, many believe that recognizing terrorism is akin to Justice Potter Stewart’s concurring opinion regarding the recognition of obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio (1964) - “I’ll know it when I see it.” Although there is a multitude of definitions, many experts[1] agree that terrorism has two distinguishing elements – violence and a political dimension or motive (Burgess, 2015). This much can be discerned by the definitions of Bruce Hoffman and Louise Richardson of Georgetown University and Oxford University, respectively (Ward, 2018). However, by analyzing this phenomenon through the prism of the military’s Strategic Framework, we can reduce the elements of terrorism down to the ends, ways, and means (Eikmeier, 2007). [2] [CC3]

Most modern definitions of terrorism only account for the ends and ways while completely neglecting the means. Fortunately, there are many different state and non-state agencies who have a vested interest in combatting terrorism, providing us with a bevy of more nuanced definitions, that when aggregated provide a holistic analytical framework. According to the Global Terrorism Database (2019), terrorism is a deliberate act of violence or threat thereof by a non-state actor, which includes two of the following three elements:

Connected world: An evolution in connectivity beyond the 5G revolutionFebruary 20, 2020 | Discussion Paper

Ferry Grijpink, Eric Kutcher, Alexandre Ménard, Sree Ramaswamy, Davide Schiavotto

The promise of 5G has captured the attention of business leaders, policy makers, and the media. But how much of that promise is likely to be realized anytime soon?

With the first true high-band 5G networks already live, we set out to gain a realistic view of how and where connectivity could be deployed and what it can enable over the next 10 years. But 5G is not appearing in isolation. A new discussion paper, Connected World: An evolution in connectivity beyond the 5G evolution (PDF–10.3MB), takes a more expansive look that ranges from fiber and satellites to Wi-Fi and short-range technologies.

To illustrate what is possible, this research looks at how connectivity could be deployed in mobility, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail. The use cases we identified in these four commercial domains alone could boost global GDP by $1.2 trillion to $2 trillion by 2030. This implies that the value at stake will ultimately run trillions of dollars higher across the entire global economy.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Zachary Basu

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

Driving the news: The National Counterintelligence and Security Center has launched a campaign to warn U.S. companies and researchers about foreign intelligence threats to these sectors, which the Chinese and Russian governments are targeting through international collaborations, talent recruitment and espionage:

Apple is killing Google in one key area

Jack Wallen

The Pixel 6. The mere mention of the name gives me equal parts excitement and frustration. I haven't been so excited for the release of a phone in a very long time, while simultaneously feeling as though I might forever shake my head at how a release went down. Google absolutely failed the release of its latest flagship phone, the Pixel 6, which should go down as a historic shame (at least within the realm of the tech sector), but will barely register as a blip on the radar of consumers around the world.

Let me explain.

The day of the Pixel 6 release was upon me. I watched the Google event because I had to report on the details of the new phone. During the event, I shifted between the Google speakers and the Play Store, hoping I could be one of the lucky ones to pre-order the exact Pixel 6 I wanted.

The Army's New Electronic Warfare Stryker Vehicle Will Be a Triple Threat

Sebastien Roblin

Modern battlefields course with massive quantities of signals traffic: radio control links to remotely command drone aircraft and ground vehicles, communications networks keeping soldiers at the frontline in touch with distant higher headquarters, and active radar emissions reflecting off of hostile aircraft and incoming missiles.

Electronic warfare (EW) is the dark wizardry that seeks to turn these indispensable sensor and communications links against their users. Transmissions can be listened in on to gain compromising intelligence (COMINT) or used to identify what units are in a theater (electronic intelligence or ELINT). Electromagnetic sensors called Electronic Support Measures (ESM) can even geo-locate a transmitter’s position precisely enough for targeting with deadly attacks. Electronic Attack capabilities (jammers) can drown out communications and blind radars when they’re needed most. Even offensive hacking can disrupt or mislead adversary systems.


Andrew Milburn

President Joe Biden’s speech in the wake of the US withdrawal from Kabul was intended to put a seal on a painful chapter in the nation’s history.

“I was not going to extend this forever war,” Biden said, while attributing the chaotic departure of US forces from Kabul and the two decades of war that preceded it to a misguided focus on nation building. “We’ve developed a counterterrorism over-the-horizon capability,” Biden insisted, “that will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on the direct threats to the United States in the region and act quickly and decisively if needed.”

It was a narrative well suited for an American public jaded by US involvement in wars that many see as a tiresome distraction from domestic issues. But the assumption underlying this narrative—that technology now offers the opportunity to keep extremism at bay without the messiness of commitment—is fundamentally flawed. The idea that the United States can destroy its enemies and restore stability from a distance, without risk, is naturally an appealing prospect for any administration. But it remains, in reality, a tantalizing chimera. Now that the imbroglio of Afghanistan is over, it is time to set the record straight—before US foreign policy loses its way yet again.

US Army faces hard choices under Unified Network plan

Carlo Munoz

Senior US Army leaders are girding themselves for a series of potentially painful divestitures of legacy network communication platforms and systems to clear the way for implementation of the ground service's new Unified Network strategy.

The plan to clear out networked communication, command, control, computers, intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance (C4ISR) equipment, rooted in older or outdated technologies, in line with the new network strategy “is all aimed at ensuring that we have a multidomain capable [force] by 2028”, said US Army Lieutenant General John Morrison, deputy chief of staff of the service's Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, and Information Technology (C5IT) directorate.

“It is a much shorter [timeline] than you would originally see ... and when you take a look at the plan, it is pretty light because we want to get to a point where we iteratively modernise [networks] as technologies and capabilities change,” he said regarding the rapid modernisation pace outlined by the Unified Network strategy. “I am not quite sure what the network will look like in 2035 ... but we do know the network that we need to ensure, we have a multidomain capable force by 2028,” Lt Gen Morrison noted during an October briefing in Washington, DC.

Army CIO: ‘Going Digital Is A Mindset; It’s A Culture Change’


WASHINGTON: Pushing the Army though a vast digital transformation is a challenge not just because the technological problems are “complex,” but because it requires a basic shift in the service’s culture and mindset, the Army’s chief information officer said today.

“We have to change how we operate internally,” Raj Iyer said during the JADC2’s Data Dilemma virtual event hosted by C4ISRNET webcast. “The changing pace of technology means we have to adapt some of our bureaucratic practices to be more agile. This takes time, but we can’t just give up on it.”

Iyer was echoing key parts of the Army’s Digital Transformation Strategy, which was published Wednesday and quotes Iyer as saying, “Going digital is a mindset, it’s culture change.”

“It’s about how we can fundamentally change how we operate as an Army through transformative digital technologies, empowering our workforce, and re-engineering our rigid institutional processes to be more agile,” the report says.



Why Jacob Helberg’s The Wires of War: Technology and the Global Struggle for Power is worth reading?

Jacob Helberg, the former global lead for news policy at Google, debuts with a chilling study of how “techno-totalitarian” regimes are seeking to control the hardware and software of the internet. In The Wires of War: Technology and the Global Struggle for Power, he documents the spread of fake news by Russia’s Internet Research Agency during the 2016 presidential election and explains how advances in artificial intelligence, data collection, and “synthetic media,” or “deepfakes,” could make similar propaganda campaigns more disruptive and harder to spot. Even more threatening, in Helberg’s view, China’s efforts to gain “back-end” control of the internet by manufacturing cellphones, building 5G networks, and influencing international standards and regulations.

Battle between the ears: Chinese media warfare


Can the People’s Republic of China (PRC) invade and conquer Taiwan? Experts differ, but 99% of the current debate considers only the military balance – and whether the PLA has the weapons, hardware, and capabilities to get ashore, defeat Taiwan’s military and force Taiwan to surrender.

The military match-up is important, but it misses half the picture – and half of the PRC’s strategy against Taiwan.

Kerry K Gershaneck’s new book, Media Warfare: Taiwan’s Battle for the Cognitive Domain (The Center for Security Policy, paperback $14.99), details and explains a key portion of that other half: the PRC’s use of media warfare to psychologically fracture and demoralize Taiwan and make conquest easier or, even better, to have Taiwan give up without a fight.

Now a professor at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, Gershaneck knows the topic well, having vast Asia experience and hands-on strategic communications experience at all levels of the US government, as well as a particularly useful counterintelligence background. In 2020 he published a seminal work on PRC Political Warfare: Political Warfare: Strategies for Combating China’s plan to “Win without Fighting.”