2 December 2021


Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Microsoft released its second annual Digital Defense Report, covering July 2020 to June 2021. This year s 134 pages report is quite detailed, with sections on cybercrime, nationstate threats, supply-chain attacks and Internet of Things attacks. The report includes security suggestions for organizations with remote workforces. It has a section describing the use of social media to spread disinformation. The report is a compilation of integrated data and actionable insights from across 

India in Space Domain - Pathbreaking Developments

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


India is now a major spacefaring nation. Initially, the Indian space programme was focused primarily on societal and developmental utilities. Today, like many other countries, India is compelled to use space for several military requirements like intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Hence, India is looking to space to gain operational and informational advantages.

India has had its fair share of achievements in the space domain. It includes the launch of the country’s heaviest satellite, the GSAT-11 which will boost India’s broadband services by enabling 16 Gbps data links across the country, GSAT-7A, the military communication satellite and the launch of the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk III-D2, the GSAT 29. The Anti-Satellite (ASAT) test is an intrinsic part of today’s geopolitics and the national security context.

IMF Deal With Pakistan Would Revive $6 Billion Bailout

Munir Ahmed

The International Monetary Fund said Monday that weeks of talks with Pakistan have produced a preliminary agreement toward reviving a $6 billion economic bailout for the Islamic nation.

Pakistan and IMF originally signed the accord in 2019, but the release of a key installment had been on the hold since earlier this year. That’s when the fund expressed reservations about a delay in Pakistan’s compliance with conditions of the bailout.

The IMF statement Monday said that under latest proposal, the fund would disburse about $1 billion to Pakistan, bringing the total disbursement out of the $6 billion bailout to about $3 billion since 2019, according to the statement.

The talks this month yielded an agreement “subject to approval by the Executive Board, following the implementation of prior actions, notably on fiscal and institutional reforms,” the IMF statement said.

Such an approval by IMF’s executive board is considered a formality.

Muzzammil Aslam, a spokesman at Pakistan’s finance ministry, also confirmed the latest development, saying the staff-level agreement was reached between Pakistan and IMF after 45 days of discussion.

Pakistan’s Truce With TTP Militants Could Be a Double-Edged Sword

Arif Rafiq

On Nov. 8, the Pakistani government and the violent jihadist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, announced a preliminary one-month cease-fire. While the development was shrouded in secrecy, it has potentially major implications for the future of jihadism in South Asia.

The agreement—brokered by the Haqqani Network, a group of militants that are designated as terrorists by the United States—gave the Pakistani state respite from a campaign of violence waged by the resurgent, reconsolidated TTP, which maintains loose ties with the Afghan Taliban but is a separate entity. The group’s attacks on security forces along the border with Afghanistan have intensified since 2019.

Both sides stood to gain from the deal. Islamabad got some breathing space as it adjusts to heightened uncertainty in neighboring Afghanistan, which faces a potential economic collapse after the Taliban took power in August. Likewise, the TTP had an opportunity to regroup. Like previous cease-fires between Islamabad and the TTP, this one could simply allow the militant group to grow.

Threatening Taiwan Gets China More Than Invading It Would

 A.A. Bastian

When responding to threats against Taiwan, U.S. leaders generally assume that Chinese leaders actually want to annex the island—as a recent report by the congressionally mandated U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission concluded. And Beijing has expressed numerous times that it considers any means justified in taking Taiwan. But over the last few decades, threatening Taiwan has been advantageous for China, often gotten it what it wanted, and has been more fruitful—and far less costly—than seizing the island by force would have been.

In March 2000, I walked along a normally busy street in Taipei as dusk deepened into night, unaware that lights were flickering off in office buildings, shops emptying, and the crowd far thinner than usual. A man striding across my path paused and then pointed to the serene sky and asked why I wasn’t more anxious when China might attack at any moment. His words stick with me less than the concern that wrinkled his face. I didn’t share his fear. As the daughter of an Air Force pilot, I was confident in the U.S. military’s preparedness, partnerships, and force strength and in its deterrence power. But for him, and many others, the threat was still very real — and that’s useful for Beijing.

A New Chinese National Security Bureaucracy Emerges

Joel Wuthnow


An intriguing aspect of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s political consolidation was the establishment of a Central National Security Commission (CNSC; 中央国家安全委员会, Zhongyang guojia anquan weiyuanhui ) at the end of 2013. The CNSC seemingly empowered Xi, who was put in charge of the new body, and through a permanent staff structure, perhaps set the stage for more effective strategic planning and crisis response [1]. Over the last few years, subordinate National Security Commissions (NSCs) have been installed at all tiers of the party structure down to the county level. The CNSC thus sits atop a new organizational hierarchy that strengthens Xi’s ability to set the agenda and improves the party’s ability to coordinate national security affairs. While the system’s political utility for Xi is clear, its role in improving crisis response at the local level could be constrained by several factors.
Revisiting the CNSC

The CNSC fits into a larger construct known as the “national security system” (国家安全体系, Guojia anquan tixi) that has been developed during the Xi era to protect the party from domestic and foreign threats. The ideational core of the system is the “holistic national security concept” (总体国家安全观, zongti guojia anquan guan) that Xi outlined at the first CNSC meeting in April 2014 (Xinhua, 2014). The concept’s key characteristic is that the party cannot think of security in narrow, traditional terms (China Brief, 2015). Rather, the concept must be defined more broadly to encompass diverse areas such as cybersecurity, biosecurity, energy security, and counterterrorism, many of which involve interactions between domestic security and the outside world—Xi mentioned 11 areas in total. Other changes complemented the implementation of this emerging security system, including reforms to the People’s Armed Police (PAP), new laws on espionage, NGOs, and cybersecurity [2], and a formal “national security strategy” (国家安全战略, Guojia anquan zhanlüe). In November 2021, the Politburo deliberated the second such “strategy,” which will cover 2021-2015; an earlier document was approved in 2015 (Xinhua, 2021).

Why Little Lithuania Is Taking On Mighty China

Pax Sinica

Just a few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine that one of the most fiercely anti-Chinese countries in the world would turn out to be little Lithuania, yet in the last year its relationship with China has deteriorated more than that of any other country in Europe. Vilnius has slammed Beijing for its treatment of the Uyghurs, for its repression of protests in Hong Kong, and for trying to use investment in infrastructure to strengthen its influence on the European market. The tension culminated this month in Vilnius allowing Taiwan to open a representative office there.

Various explanations have been put forward for this drastic turn against China in Lithuanian foreign policy, from a mission to uphold democratic values around the world to the desire to keep up with the latest trends in Washington. Indeed, both of these motivations play a role in the Lithuanian leadership’s actions. Yet just as important is Lithuania’s traditional fear of Russia. Paradoxically, Vilnius now considers criticism of Beijing to be one of the most effective forms of defense against Moscow.

The first signs of worsening relations between Lithuania and China appeared in 2019, when the Lithuanian Department of State Security first named China in its annual report on threats to the country. At around the same time, President Gitanas Nauseda spoke out against raising Chinese investment to develop Lithuania’s ports.

Can Cold War History Prevent U.S.-Chinese Calamity?

Li Chen and Odd Arne Westad

In February 1961, at the outset of his presidency, John F. Kennedy wrote a personal letter to the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. While deploring the overall state of affairs in relations between the two countries, the new president argued that “if we could find a measure of cooperation on some of these current issues this, in itself, would be a significant contribution to the problem of insuring a peaceful and orderly world.” Kennedy went on to explain how the two leaders could achieve such cooperation:

I think we should recognize, in honesty to each other, that there are problems on which we may not be able to agree. However, I believe that while recognizing that we do not and, in all probability will not, share a common view on all of these problems, I do believe that the manner in which we approach them and, in particular, the manner in which our disagreements are handled, can be of great importance…. I believe we should make more use of diplomatic channels for quite informal discussion of these questions, not in the sense of negotiations …, but rather as a mechanism of communication which should, insofar as is possible, help to eliminate misunderstanding and unnecessary divergencies, however great the basic differences may be.

Where Xi's China is heading

Fareed Zakaria

Their country, home to one of the greatest and most ancient civilizations in the world, long a leader in science and technology, was largely isolated from the great wave of military and technological advancement that began in the West in the 16th century. It was late coming to the powerful economic gains that began with the industrial revolution in the 18th century. It was dominated by outside powers during the 19th century.

And for the last century — when this Chinese couple's parents and grandparents were alive — China suffered through a collapsing Qing dynasty, civil wars, a brutal occupation by Japan, a prolonged battle between the forces of Chiang Kai Shek and Mao Zedong.

Mao won that struggle but then plunged the country into 30 years of highly charged, revolutionary experiments, from the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution, all of which failed.

By the late 1970s, China was an exhausted, impoverished, isolated country, with a revolutionary regime whose Red China cause had lost any global relevance. This Chinese couple's parents were among the poorest people in the world, with the fewest options.

Israel, Jordan, and the UAE’s energy deal is good news

Bruce Riedel and Natan Sachs

This week in Dubai, Israel, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed Israel and Jordan’s biggest energy and water deal since the neighbors made peace 27 years ago. If implemented, this will be a diplomatically transformative deal for a region facing some of the worst consequences of climate change, as noted by U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry, who was also present at the signing. While the scope is very modest in terms of global mitigation of climate change, it will have a huge impact on Jordan’s effort at climate adaptation.

The deal is the product of intense three-way negotiations. The idea was initially proposed by EcoPeace Middle East, an Israeli-Jordanian-Palestinian non-governmental organization, which outlined a desalinated water-energy community between Israel, Jordan, and Palestine as part of a proposal called a “Green Blue Deal for the Middle East.” (The Palestinian director of EcoPeace discussed water security at a Brookings conference, “The Middle East and the New U.S. Administration,” in February 2021).

The normalization of relations between Israel and the UAE was part of the Abraham Accords in August 2020. These agreements allowed for Israeli-Emirati negotiations to take place and for Emirati funding and technical know-how to be involved via an Emirati government-owned firm, Masdar. This company would construct a large solar power facility in Jordan, which would produce electricity by 2026. All the electricity produced would be sold to Israel for $180 million dollars per year, contributing, modestly, to Israel’s goals for increasing its renewable energy and diversifying its energy sources that primarily include large reservoirs of natural gas in the Israeli exclusive economic waters. Masdar, the Emirati company, would split the proceeds with Jordan. In return, Israel has committed to provide desalinated water from its Mediterranean coast, perhaps via a new separate desalination facility, to produce 200 million cubic meters of water for Jordan, in a significant boon to Jordan’s water supply.

Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan Sign Agreement On Gas Swap – Reports


The agreement was signed on November 28 in the Turkmen capital, Ashgabat, on the sidelines of a regional economic summit.

Under the swap deal – which boosts an existing agreement – Iran will receive gas from Turkmenistan and deliver the same amount to Azerbaijan, Iranian Oil Minister Javad Owji told Iranian state media.

“Turkmenistan will sell 5-6 million cubic meters of gas per day to Azerbaijan under the trilateral agreement,” Iranian state TV quoted Owji as saying.

Owji also said Iran was moving to resolve a lingering gas debt dispute with Turkmenistan. Ashgabat claimed in 2016 that Iran owed at least $1.5 billion for gas it had received from Turkmenistan. Iran disputed the figure.

“We will soon pay the first installment to clear the gas debt that we owe to the Turkmen side, after talks that were held earlier,” Owji said, without giving the amount of the debt.

Iran has the world’s second largest reserves of natural gas after Russia. With most of its major gas fields located in the country’s south, Iran has imported natural gas from neighboring Turkmenistan since 1997 for distribution in its northern provinces, especially during the winter.

The new deal was signed on the sidelines of the summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization. The organization comprises all five Central Asian countries –Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan — as well as Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Iran: Water And Freedom Uprising – OpEd

Khalil Khani

Iran is located at the same historical and geographical place for thousands of years. Its ingenious people have lived in this majority arid and semiarid land for generations. they have established an amazing civilization with a sustainable management of their natural ecosystems exemplary for the world and massively contributed to humanities, arts, architecture, culture and science.

Now, the country is faced with massive water shortage due to the missmanagement, corruption, and water plundering of the ruling Clerical Regime. The Regime officials and some of its foreign and domestic experts trying hard to portray this severity to drought, climate change and global warming instead of notorious Iran’s water mafia, which protesting farmers are calling for its abolishment.

Iran’s water resources have been depleted due to massive over extraction of underground water resources and IRGC affiliated companies building of dams, regardless of their usefulness for the nation, without any environmental considerations, and farming of water intensive crops, which are again under the control of affluent IRGC members, elite clerics or foundations under the supervision of Iran’s Supreme Leader. Farmers hit by water shortages are fleeing their villages to live in shacks and sub-standard settlements on the outskirts of cities.

Report – Havana Syndrome: American Officials Under Attack

Sean Power,Michael Miner 

In September 2021, the CIA recalled its Vienna station chief reportedly over his response to a series of “anomalous health incidents” experienced by over two dozen personnel. These incidents mark the latest entry in a series of mysterious afflictions more commonly referred to as “Havana Syndrome.” Since 2016, over 200 U.S. diplomats, intelligence officials, and their family members across the globe have reported similar experiences of severe headaches, vertigo, and other cognitive difficulties while in their homes or hotel rooms on assignments. The effects can persist for years, leading to early retirement, impacting quality of life, and harming close-knit communities that represent Washington abroad and provide America’s first line of defense.

The initial U.S. government response to Havana Syndrome lacked coordination across agencies and left many victims without adequate medical care. Senior officials questioned whether the symptoms were the result of deliberate attacks but did little to investigate other explanations even as the frequency of incidents increased. Some suggested the victims were simply experiencing mass hysteria. The Biden administration and CIA Director William Burns have redoubled their efforts to uncover the cause of Havana Syndrome and provide care to affected officials, but the U.S. government’s policy response options remain limited by the nature of an opaque threat with no definitive attribution. How the White House and partners in Congress identify and respond to these aggressive actions will have policy implications in the years ahead.

‘No Decisions, No Changes’: Pentagon Fails to Stick Asia Pivot

Jack Detsch

The Biden administration’s long-anticipated review of the global U.S. military footprint, most of which will remain out of public view, is being panned on Capitol Hill for failing to move ahead with a Pentagon pivot toward dealing with a resurgent China.

Defense officials unveiled the Global Posture Review, an audit of the Pentagon’s troop and weapons outlays around the world, in classified briefings on Capitol Hill earlier Monday. But aides left the briefings unclear that the nearly 10-month review did much to move the needle, after the Defense Department has been hamstrung by internal fights about whether to move more U.S. troops to the Pacific.

“The Global Posture Review appears to be almost a year’s worth of make-work,” a congressional aide familiar with the findings told Foreign Policy. “No decisions, no changes, no sense of urgency, no creative thinking. Lots of word salad.”

Senior defense officials cautioned that the first year of a new U.S. administration was not the time to be rolling out major strategic-level changes, though President Joe Biden has signaled a renewed commitment to Asia. They insisted that those details were still to come in the Biden administration’s upcoming National Security Strategy and other reviews.

Lina Khan’s Battle to Rein in Big Tech

Sheelah Kolhatkar

In the spring of 2011, a recent Williams College graduate named Lina Khan interviewed for a job at the Open Markets Program, in Washington, D.C. Open Markets, which was part of the New America think tank, was dedicated to the study of monopolies and the ways in which concentration in the American economy was suppressing innovation, depressing wages, and fuelling inequality. The program had been founded the previous year by Barry Lynn, who believed that monopolies posed a threat to democracy, and that policymakers and much of the public were blind to this threat. Unlike the practice at other think tanks, which publish research reports and white papers, Lynn, a former reporter and editor, disseminated the program’s findings directly to the public, through newspaper and magazine articles.

The study of antitrust law was far from fashionable; since the nineteen-eighties, the field had been dominated by a world view that favored corporate conglomeration, which was acceptable, mainstream experts believed, as long as consumer prices didn’t rise. Lynn was seeking a researcher without any formal economics training, who would come to the subject with fresh eyes. Khan had studied the 2008 financial crisis and was interested in the effects of power disparities in the economy. She checked out Lynn’s book, “Cornered: The New Monopoly Capitalism and the Economics of Destruction,” from the library and skimmed it the night before her interview. “When she walked in that door, she had no idea what this entailed or what she would become,” Lynn told me. “She was just a fantastically smart person who was very curious.”

A Persistent Crisis in Central America

For years, Central America has contended with the violence and corruption stemming from organized crime and the drug trade. More recently, the countries of the region also found themselves in former U.S. President Donald Trump’s line of fire, due to the many desperate Central Americans who make their way across Mexico to seek asylum at the United States’ southern border.

The steady stream of outward migration is driven by ongoing turmoil, particularly in Nicaragua and the Northern Triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. The three Northern Triangle countries rank among the most violent in the world, a legacy of the civil wars in El Salvador and Guatemala, which destabilized security structures and flooded the region with guns. In that context, gangs—often brought back home by deportees from the U.S.—have proliferated, and along with them the drug trade and corruption, fueling increasing lawlessness. Popular unrest has done little to produce political solutions, leading many of the most vulnerable to flee.

Fighting The Last (Cold) War – OpEd


The argument goes as follows: The United States lost the war in Vietnam in 1975. Less than two decades later the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Empire in eastern Europe collapsed, and then the Soviet Union itself imploded. The US had won the Cold War. Therefore, there is no reason to overate China’s rise and failures of US strategy and leadership in Syria, Afghanistan, the South China Sea, and elsewhere. America still can restore its luster and reassert its global predominance, just as it did after 1975. Sure, the country faces serous internal divisions, but these also existed in the 1960s and 1970s. China may seem powerful but it faces serious economic problems that will limit its capability to challenge the American hyperpower. Pessimists were wrong when they predicted the Japan of the 1970s and 1980s would overtake the US as the world’s leading innovator and they will be wrong now when they make the same predictions about China. The US and Democracies in general are resourceful and resilient and, with the right leadership and policies, once again can regain their balance and retain their teleological power.

Every now and then, the term “cognitive dissonance” comes up in common parlance. It refers to the experience facing information or events that upend a person’s or a community’s core beliefs and self-confidence. This is an emotional as well as rational process and leads to anxiety as well as a crisis in logic.

Major Power Rivalry and the Management of Global Threats

Bruce Jones

Before the COVID-19 crisis, there were good reasons to believe that the major powers—the United States, China, India, Japan, Russia, and the leading European states—would put aside their growing geopolitical rivalry to manage shared global threats, and that cooperation would leaven their rivalry and create ballast against otherwise escalating tensions. As the scale of damage from the pandemic and accumulating costs of climate change have become clear, progressive American voices have taken the argument further and argued that cooperation with countries such as China and Russia to tackle shared challenges should displace geopolitical competition altogether.

These positions assume that cooperation on global issues will endure because of deep common interests, and that tackling shared problems can forge a degree of trust among rivals. They also assume that domestic politics in the United States and Europe can sustain a strategy that incorporates cooperation with China and Russia, even though public opinion increasingly views both countries—whose leaders continue to tighten their internal controls and expand their international ambitions—with concern.

At the other end of the spectrum, the tragedy of great power politics—or the rise of tensions even when interests could be shared—could impede efforts to make serious progress on climate change or prevent the next financial crisis or pandemic. This credible prospect demands hard thinking about how to structure negotiations on global issues during periods of sustained distrust.

Unfortunately, the history of cooperation among great powers on global issues and major power interests does not suggest that working together will lessen tensions. Even when great powers share interests on issues such as transnational threats and nuclear proliferation in the abstract, their actual policy responses are closely linked to specific and underlying territorial and security dynamics. What’s more, on climate change, while general interests in avoiding climate catastrophe overlap, more specific and immediate interests in adaption and the development of markets for energy transitions diverge sharply.

Global issues are too important to be left to the dynamics of great power rivalry. They should not be thought of in terms of cooperation, but instead should be approached as matters of collective negotiation in which distrust is the baseline condition. This would entail independent verification of commitments and drawing from the psychology of negotiating arms control agreements during the Cold War. Closer collaboration among Western powers, though hard, will increase leverage. Working with mistrusted adversaries to avoid disastrous outcomes is not as attractive as cooperation, but it is a more viable pathway to sustained policy results.

This is the seventh Discussion Paper in the Managing Global Disorder series, which explores how to promote a stable and mutually beneficial relationship among the major powers that can in turn provide the essential foundation for greater cooperation on pressing global and regional challenges.

Hunt for the ‘Blood Diamond of Batteries’ Impedes Green Energy Push

Dionne Searcey and Eric Lipton

KASULO, Democratic Republic of Congo — A man in a pinstripe suit with a red pocket square walked around the edge of a giant pit one April afternoon where hundreds of workers often toil in flip-flops, burrowing deep into the ground with shovels and pickaxes.

His polished leather shoes crunched on dust the miners had spilled from nylon bags stuffed with cobalt-laden rocks.

The man, Albert Yuma Mulimbi, is a longtime power broker in the Democratic Republic of Congo and chairman of a government agency that works with international mining companies to tap the nation’s copper and cobalt reserves, used in the fight against global warming.

Mr. Yuma’s professed goal is to turn Congo into a reliable supplier of cobalt, a critical metal in electric vehicles, and shed its anything-goes reputation for tolerating an underworld where children are put to work and unskilled and ill-equipped diggers of all ages get injured or killed.

Improving Joint Operational Concept Development within the U.S. Department of Defense

Paul Benfield and Greg Grant

Executive Summary

For the first time in nearly four decades, the DoD is developing joint warfighting concepts designed to counter advanced military rivals—specifically China and Russia. The last such effort took place at the height of the Cold War in the late 1970s and early 1980s to address the strategic and operational challenges posed by the Soviet Union’s conventional advantage on Europe’s Central Front. Now, as the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) emphasizes, the joint force must “prioritize preparedness for war” which includes developing “innovative operational concepts” for military advantage.1 As operational concepts are fundamentally visions of future war that guide future force design and development, the joint force first must answer the question of how it intends to fight future wars before it tries to answer questions of what it needs to fight with.

Yet, if the DoD is going to move to “joint concept driven, threat informed capability development,” it faces a considerable challenge in that its joint concept development and experimentation process is fundamentally broken.2 While the post–Cold War era has witnessed repeated efforts to develop joint operational concepts, the process fails to yield innovative warfighting approaches to guide future force and capability development. Instead, the process produces concepts that seem almost intentionally designed not to drive significant change. These concepts are not truly “joint,” but rather lowest-common-denominator assemblages of existing service concepts that privilege service priorities. Any innovative joint ideas that make it through the development process are so watered-down and vague that they fail to provoke change (and thus threaten the interests of key stakeholders). In this environment, individual service concepts win out over joint concepts and drive investment priorities.

Testing The Waters: Russia Explores Reconfiguring Gulf Security – Analysis

James M. Dorsey

Russia hopes to blow new life into a proposal for a multilateral security architecture in the Gulf, with the tacit approval of the Biden administration.

If successful, the initiative would help stabilise the region, cement regional efforts to reduce tensions, and potentially prevent war-wracked Yemen from emerging as an Afghanistan on the southern border of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf of Aden and at the mouth of the Red Sea.

For now, Vitaly Naumkin, a prominent scholar, academic advisor of the foreign and justice ministries, and head of the Institute of Oriental Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences, is testing the waters, according to Newsweek, which first reported the move.

Last week, he invited former officials, scholars, and journalists from feuding Middle Eastern nations to a closed-door meeting in Moscow to discuss the region’s multiple disputes and conflicts and ways of preventing them from spinning out of control.

The First Fractures Become Apparent in Berlin

Markus Becker, Markus Feldenkirchen, Matthias Gebauer, Milena Hassenkamp

Christian Lindner is a master of the cleverly chosen tactical quote. In his speeches and appearances, the head of the business-friendly and market-oriented Free Democratic Party (FDP) frequently cites authors, philosophers and other intellectuals to buttress his positions and appear cultivated – and, of course, to grandstand just a bit. Recently, Linder has even discovered a fondness for quoting Social Democrats.

It’s late on Wednesday afternoon and Linder is sitting in his corner office with a view of the German parliament building, the Reichstag – and he seems happier with himself and the world than he has been for quite some time. He has just presented the new governing coalition deal together with the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens, and he is now sitting down with DER SPIEGEL to discuss just how satisfied his party is with the 177-page agreement.

"A child falls in the Wupper River in winter," Lindner holds forth, and is at risk of drowning. "A man jumps into the icy waters, swims to the child, brings the little boy back to shore and lays him in his mother’s arms."

Lindner makes a brief dramatic pause before getting to the punchline.

The Dangerous Instability of Europe’s Borderlands

Nigel Gould-Davies

Tensions have gripped the European Union’s eastern borderlands many times over the past two decades. But those of the past two weeks are unprecedented. For the first time, all three Eastern Slavic states — Belarus, Russia and Ukraine — are simultaneously involved. And the range of issues in play — military power, energy trade and migrant flows — is wider than ever. The region has become complex, unpredictable and increasingly dangerous.

Two factors drive this. First, despite his suppression of last year’s nationwide demonstrations, Alexander Lukashenko knows that Belarus is not stable. Infuriated and threatened by the West’s sanctions and refusal to recognise him as president, he is seeking to intimidate rather than, as after previous crackdowns, restore relations with the West. The artificial migrant crisis, and empty threat to cut gas transit, reveal the futile desperation of an insecure despot whose judgement is deserting him. The Belarusian regime, long a dictatorship, is becoming a pariah.

Russia’s Move

George Friedman

Russia is not a trustful country – for good reason. Germany invaded it twice in the 20th century, France invaded it once in the 19th century, and Sweden once in the 18th century. These were not the nibbling incursions that Europe was used to, but deep penetrations meant to capture the Russian heartland and permanently subordinate it. Each century saw an assault on Russia that threatened its existence. It’s hard to forget something like that, and it’s hard for Russia not to be suspicious of moves on its periphery. There is nothing in Russian history to cause its leaders to think otherwise.

This attitude makes Russia a threat to its neighbors. The West saw the collapse of the Soviet Union as Russia simply giving independence to foreign countries. The Russians, stunned by what had happened, were prepared to view it this way as well. Moscow assumed the best from the West. It assumed that the newly independent countries would be neutral and would therefore not be a threat to Russia. The dynamics of history are not so orderly, and over time the Ukrainian government and Russia drifted closer. This threatened to undermine the Western vision of the post-Soviet world – as well as the expectation of many Ukrainians.

Rare Earth Elements: Where in the World Are They?

Nicholas LePan

Rare earth elements are a group of metals that are critical ingredients for a greener economy, and the location of the reserves for mining are increasingly important and valuable.

This infographic features data from the United States Geological Society (USGS) which reveals the countries with the largest known reserves of rare earth elements (REEs).
What are Rare Earth Metals?

REEs, also called rare earth metals or rare earth oxides, or lanthanides, are a set of 17 silvery-white soft heavy metals.

The 17 rare earth elements are: lanthanum (La), cerium (Ce), praseodymium (Pr), neodymium (Nd), promethium (Pm), samarium (Sm), europium (Eu), gadolinium (Gd), terbium (Tb), dysprosium (Dy), holmium (Ho), erbium (Er), thulium (Tm), ytterbium (Yb), lutetium (Lu), scandium (Sc), and yttrium (Y).

Scandium and yttrium are not part of the lanthanide family, but end users include them because they occur in the same mineral deposits as the lanthanides and have similar chemical properties.

EXCLUSIVE: Pentagon weighing reorganization of AI, data offices


WASHINGTON: In an effort to streamline processes and create a cohesive approach to the use of artificial intelligence and data, the Pentagon is considering a reorganization of three key technological offices, multiple sources tell Breaking Defense.

Under the proposed plan, the three offices in question — the Defense Digital Service (DDS), the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) and the office of the Chief Data Officer (CDO) — would remain largely independent, but would all report up to a new individual, tentatively named the Chief Data & AI Officer.

Proponents of the move argue it will give a clearer reporting structure for three offices that were stood up with great fanfare but have yet to deliver expected results. Having someone in charge of oversight for the three teams, as opposed to the current structure where DDS and JAIC report directly to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks while the CDO reports to the Chief Information Officer, should also provide a more cohesive understanding of overlapping work.

Interview: Stanford’s Herbert Lin on “Cyber Threats and Nuclear Weapons”

John Mecklin

As the United States modernizes its nuclear forces in coming decades, it will upgrade the computer and communications technology associated with them. Much of such technology now controlling US nuclear weapons was produced before the rise of the Internet. Newer technology will improve aspects of command, control, and communications related to the US nuclear arsenal. But if not carefully planned, the updating of nuclear technology could also increase risk in distinct ways that cyber policy expert and Bulletin Science and Security board member Herbert Lin explains in the following interview.

A senior research scholar for cyber policy and security at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, Lin sat down with Bulletin editor in chief John Mecklin recently to discuss his new book, Cyber Threats and Nuclear Weapons. During the interview, Lin explains why the nuclear modernization effort could actually increase the chances that adversaries could misread US intentions, with potentially disastrous results.

John Mecklin: I guess we’ll start with nuclear modernization. You clearly see that as US nuclear forces are modernized, the computer systems are all going to be modernized. And you see some potential danger there in terms of cyberattack and intrusion. Why don’t you explain the danger you see.

War Between Russia and Ukraine: A Basic Scenario?

Ivan Timofeev

Concern is growing in the Western media over Russian military activity in the southwestern theatre. There are opinions that Russia is preparing a military campaign against Ukraine. The supposed goal is to break the deadlock of the Minsk Agreements, to impose further coexistence conditions on Kiev and its Western partners, to prevent the US and NATO from “developing” the territory of Ukraine for military purposes, and also to reformat the country’s political system and its state structure. Such rumours are spreading quickly, causing alarm among the political leaders of foreign countries as well as latent, albeit tangible fears in the business community. However, it is still premature to consider such a development as a baseline scenario.

Several circumstances speak in favour of the military scenario outlined by foreign commentators. The first is the recent experience of the Russian armed forces and the political consequences of their use. Moscow intervened in Georgia’s conflict with Abkhazia and South Ossetia in 2008, quickly changing the situation and recognising the two autonomies as independent states. In 2014, Russia carried out a lightning-fast operation in Crimea, creating conditions for the subsequent referendum on reunification. Later, the Ukrainian army was defeated in Donbass, and the political consequence was the formation of the LPR and DPR. In 2015, Moscow radically changed the military situation in Syria by deploying a compact but highly effective air group. The political result has been the preservation of power in the hands of the Assad government and the defeat of a number of terrorist groups. All these events indicate that Russia is ready to use force suddenly, in a concentrated manner and at the same time to seek concrete political changes.

Ukraine Is Back On Russia’s Agenda – Analysis

Emil Avdaliani

There is a growing danger of a major Russian military move into Ukraine. Nevertheless, the constraints remain significant, making a full-scale Russian military endeavour risky. Instead, a limited military incursion with the aim of achieving the decentralisation of Ukraine is more probable.

Ukraine is back on Russia’s agenda. Recent months have seen an unusually coordinated set of diplomatic and military moves aimed at testing Kyiv’s resolve for self-defence and the West’s willingness to support Ukraine’s sovereignty. There is a growing belief among analysts that Russia is seriously contemplating making a major move in Ukraine. Tens of thousands of Russian troops amassed along Ukraine’s border remain a continuous reminder of what Moscow could do.

Western reactions betray fear and concern. This month, CIA Director Bill Burns visited Moscow, where he warned Russian officials about military steps against Ukraine. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has visited Kyiv, while Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov visited Washington to meet US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. Moreover, even generally more reluctant officials in Paris and Berlin warned Russia of ‘serious consequences’ if an escalation takes place.

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