9 December 2021

A New Chapter in U.S.-China LNG Relations

Nikos Tsafos

The United States and China have always had a complicated relationship when it comes to liquefied natural gas (LNG). But after several false starts, and a few twists, the United States is now China’s second-largest LNG supplier, and several Chinese companies have signed up to buy U.S. LNG on a long-term basis. This is a major turn. And it is a sign that the commercial logic tying these two geopolitical rivals together is strong and will persist alongside and, sometimes, despite of their broader political animosity.

History of a Complicated Relationship

The early signs were that the United States and China would trade LNG. In November 2010, a Chinese company (ENN) was among the first to sign up to buy LNG on a long-term basis from a U.S. export project. But that deal was never finalized and none came to succeed it until February 2018. In the intervening years, Chinese companies signed long-term contracts to purchase LNG from every conceivable supplier—but not the United States.

It is unclear why Chinese companies avoided the United States. Maybe they attached a risk premium to U.S. supply that others did not. Maybe they wanted a clearer signal from Beijing to proceed. Or maybe the Chinese government wanted a clear signal from Washington that such deals would be allowed (Washington would counter that such a message was delivered). Either way, eight LNG projects have come online or are under construction in the United States, but very little of that capacity has had any Chinese buyers, investors, or financiers.


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 

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.

Benchmarking critical technologies. Building an evidence base for an informed critical technologies strategy

Kitsch Liao, Dr Samantha Hoffman and Karly Winkler

What’s the problem?

Technology policy formulation has recently gained a renewed importance for governments in the era of strategic competition, but contextual understanding and expertise in deciding where to focus efforts are lacking. As a result, decision-makers might not understand their own national strengths and weaknesses. It’s difficult to judge whether a country’s R&D outputs, no matter how advanced, and its development of production capacity, no matter how significant, align with the country’s intended strategic objectives or can be used effectively to achieve them.

The ability to measure the relative strengths and weaknesses of a country by weighing specific strategic objectives against technical achievements is of paramount importance for countries.

This is especially true as nations seek to resolve supply-chain resilience problems underscored by the Covid-19 pandemic. China’s rejection of the Quad’s vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific, willingness to use economic coercion and the resulting strategic competition, call further attention to multiple technology sectors’ heavy reliance on a single source. A solution must be found that can exploit synergy across multiple technology sectors among collaborating countries while ensuring supply-chain resilience.

IP21018 | India and Afghanistan: Constructing Strategic Options

Sinderpal Singh


The Taliban’s ability to wrest control of Kabul in mid-August 2021 surprised and alarmed several governments. India’s leaders seemed particularly stunned, and Indian analysts bemoaned the grave setback to broader Indian interests. The event was viewed as a major victory for Pakistan, with comparisons drawn to the Taliban victory in 1996. China’s seeming public endorsement of the Taliban’s seizure of power in Kabul further entrenched this view within India.

Following these early apprehensions, however, there have been more sanguine observations on the longer-term implications for India arising from the Taliban’s capture of Kabul. These can be grouped into three main points. The first relates to India’s expanded options in the context of the changing geopolitics within the Middle East as they relate to Afghanistan. The second speaks to the change in Pakistan’s role within the United States’ regional strategic calculus. The third observation relates to the challenges involved in constructing a new political settlement in Afghanistan, which could work to India’s advantage by the hold-up of international recognition for the Taliban.

The Return of the Taliban and the Revival of Jihadist Extremism

Jang Ji-Hyang

The Failure of U.S. State-building and the Fall of Kabul

In August 2021, four months after the United States government announced its plan to withdraw its last troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban seized Kabul and the Afghan government collapsed almost overnight. Twenty years ago, the U.S. started the war in Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban regime, but it failed in its subsequent state-building efforts after the war. The Afghan government, which was backed by the U.S. but lacked legitimacy and capacity, monopolized international aid and formed a huge corruption cartel.

The dramatic fall of the Afghan government was due to widespread corruption and distrust in society. Domestic dissatisfaction had reached a tipping point and explosive internal pressures were barely being contained. In the absence of an accurate reading of public opinion in the opaque Afghan society, the omens of the regime’s downfall were difficult to detect. The sudden collapse shocked the U.S., the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission (RSM), the Afghan government and citizens, and even the Taliban.

What Afghanistan Teaches Us About Evidence-Based Policy

Corinne Graff, Ph.D.

Even as the debate over the lessons learned by the U.S. government in Afghanistan continues, several clear conclusions have emerged. One is that U.S. agencies repeatedly underestimated the time and resources needed to support a nation wracked by decades of war, while they failed to follow a consistent plan for civilian recovery efforts. U.S. personnel also lacked the training needed to be successful in the field, and monitoring and evaluation efforts did not receive the policy attention required to enable course corrections and learning.

Local Afghan police in Kakeran, Afghanistan, Feb. 18, 2013. While some militias the U.S. helped create to protect areas from the Taliban are operating as hoped, others have a reputation for abuse and banditry. (Bryan Denton/The New York Times)

While these gaps certainly all had a role in undermining efforts to stabilize Afghanistan over the past two decades, one finding stands out not only because it has been repeatedly identified as an obstacle to U.S. policy in Afghanistan and elsewhere, but because it would be relatively easy — and inexpensive — to fix: the U.S. government’s poor understanding of the conflict environments in which it operates.

A Deeper Dive into AUKUS: Risks and Benefits for the Asia-Pacific


This special report offers a detailed analysis on the new AUKUS agreement, specifically the proposed submarine programme – where the US has agreed to share sensitive design details of its Naval Nuclear Propulsion Programme enabling Australia to build nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) – and the provision that these SSN be armed with US Tomahawk submarine-launched land-attack cruise missiles (TLAM).

The authors – Dr. Tanya Ogilvie-White, APLN Senior Research Adviser and Rear Admiral (ret.) John Gower, former commander of two British submarines and former Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Nuclear & Chemical, Biological) in the UK Ministry of Defence – consider the proposed submarine programme and potential challenges; the national perspectives of the AUKUS partners; of China, South Korea, Russia, France, the Five Eyes and NATO; and proliferation risks including nuclear breakout and SSN technology transfer by other nuclear armed powers.

The report, entitled “A Deeper Dive into AUKUS: Risks and Benefits for the Asia-Pacific” acknowledges the potential benefits of closer trilateral defence cooperation between Australia, the US and the UK, and offers recommendations to deal with its negative aspects. Chief among the latter are the escalation risks posed by cruise missiles, and lasting damage to the nuclear non-proliferation regime caused by the transfer of nuclear-powered submarines, which could backfire on the AUKUS partners, the region and the world by unintentionally increasing nuclear proliferation pressures.

The report identifies several risks related to the AUKUS pact. These include:

Eroding the rules. At the top of the list of concerns is the damage AUKUS could do to the international regime that controls the spread of nuclear weapons. If US and UK assistance to Australia’s nuclear-submarine programme is seen as flouting the rules, it could exacerbate divisions among regime members and weaken commitments that have helped slow the spread of nuclear weapons technology. At worst, this could embolden the pro-nuclear weapons lobby in states that are reviewing their nuclear options, including in South Korea, where pro-nuclear voices have been getting louder.

Arms racing & submarine proliferation. The submarine deal could also prompt other states to rethink their submarine ambitions, potentially unleashing fresh proliferation dynamics among the world’s SSN (nuclear-powered attack submarine) aspirants. The resources and technology required to build and operate these vessels is prohibitive for most states, but the announcement that the US and UK are willing to assist Australia could encourage copycat behaviour, with potential suppliers such as China and Russia willing to assist other states.

Escalation dangers of cruise missiles. The transfer of Tomahawk cruise missiles to Australia highlights two issues: a potential broadening of the risks of cruise missiles and a weakening of the export control regime that deals with sensitive missile technologies (the MTCR). The missiles sold to Australia will be armed with conventional warheads, but even so, their use would increase the risk of miscalculation and escalation to nuclear war. This is because, in future, if the US deploys nuclear cruise missiles that are under development (the SLCM-N), neither China nor the DPRK could be certain whether a cruise missile launched from an American or Australian submarine was nuclear armed until it detonated, prompting a counter launch before the missile strikes.

Unvarnished power politics. Broader geo-strategic implications need careful consideration. One is the possibility that the AUKUS pact could accelerate the trend towards unvarnished power politics in the Asia Pacific, particularly if it drives China and Russia closer together and ASEAN members further apart.

The report proposes seven measures to help mitigate these risks:

Increasing international awareness of Australia’s legislation, which prohibits the development of nuclear weapons and uranium enrichment facilities, would help reassure other countries that Australia remains serious about its nuclear non-proliferation commitments.

An early decision to use lifetime reactor cores (which would be sealed into the reactor for the lifetime of the submarine and would not need refuelling), would help address concerns about the diversion of nuclear material from the naval reactors into a nuclear weapons programme.

Immediate initiation of work with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to develop new monitoring arrangements would increase confidence that Australia intends to use its nuclear reactors for naval nuclear propulsion only.

A US commitment to champion a voluntary moratorium on the deployment of new nuclear cruise missile capabilities and a commitment to engage in bilateral and regional dialogue on decommissioning current types in service, would address escalation risks. By initiating this, the US would help demonstrate joint AUKUS commitment to the security of all Asia-Pacific peoples – an essential step and a shared responsibility that would help dissipate some of the fear and anger generated by the abrupt and poorly-handled AUKUS announcement.

Steps to repair and recommit to the MTCR (including a pledge by AUKUS partners not to further erode export controls on the most sensitive technologies that could be used to deliver nuclear weapons) would help reduce arms racing dynamics.

Reinvigorating regional diplomacy would prove AUKUS partners are committed to peace and security in the Asia-Pacific. Priorities should include resuming the stalled DPRK nuclear negotiations; working inclusively with states in the region to create a Northeast Asian security architecture; reinforcing ASEAN’s security-building role in Southeast Asia and the wider region; respecting and upholding the nuclear-weapon-free zones in Southeast Asia and the Southwest Pacific; and reassuring states across the Asia-Pacific that their AUKUS-related safety and security concerns are being addressed, including Indonesian and Malaysian concerns over the movement of nuclear-powered vessels through territorial waters.

A strong joint statement on upholding the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) ahead of the delayed 2020 Review Conference would help reduce the diplomatic fallout from AUKUS, particularly if this opportunity is used to add detail and substance to the AUKUS pledge that “Australia remains committed to fulfilling all of its obligations as a non-nuclear weapons state, including with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The New Space Race: Risks and Opportunities

Giorgio Petroni

Abstract. For some years, various countries have been engaged in a race for the militarization of 'outer space' and the creation of new space forces. This race is having consequences on technology, war strategy, and international relations.

Research questions. What are the programs and resources allocated to the new Space Forces? What new technologies will future wars be fought with? What new risks are being created? Is it possible to slow down the new space race and transform this effort into economic and social opportunities?

Methodology. An analysis of the six countries that currently have the most experience in space activities is carried out. The analysis concerns objectives, organizational structures, and size of the resources allocated to R&D in new military technologies. The sources of data and information are from scientific literature, documents of the ministries of defense, reports of parliamentary commissions and bodies of the armed forces.


Although quantum computers’ current abilities are more demonstrative than immediately useful, their trajectory suggests that in the coming decades quantum computers will likely revolutionize numerous industries—from pharmaceuticals to materials science—and eventually undermine all popular current public-key encryption methods, and plausibly boost the speed and power of artificial intelligence (AI). What’s more, China has recently emerged as a major player in quantum computing.

Why Booz Allen Wrote This Report

Many organizational leaders and chief information security officers (CISO) lack insight into the practical importance of quantum computing and how to manage related risks. They don’t know how and when the technology might become useful—and how it might shape the behavior of threat actors such as China, a persistent cyber adversary of government and commercial organizations globally and a major developer of quantum-computing technology. This report describes (1) the state of quantum-computing maturity globally and in China, (2) possible quantum-computing uses and their development timeframes, and (3) the assessed influence of the uses on Chinese threat activity.

Jamestown Foundation

China Brief

Australia-China Tensions Simmer Amid Trade War and AUKUS

Early Warning Brief: Did Xi Jinping Secure “Leader for Life” Status at the Sixth Plenum?

Evolving Missions and Capabilities of the PLA Rocket Force: Implications for Taiwan and Beyond

Geopolitical Challenges Cloud Next Chapter in Xi’s Triumphalist History

Development in Tibet and its Implications for India

Terrorism Monitor

Assassination Attempt against Prime Minister Al-Khadimi Highlights Intra-Shia Divisions in Iraq

Emerging Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Threats from Europe’s ‘Garage Extremists’

Pakistan’s Deal with Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan: Statesmanship or Surrender?

China turning inward? China has always been a civilisation unto its own

Lance Gore

The pandemic and China's zero-Covid policy have led some in the West to caution against the danger of China turning inward, closing its border to the world, building a man-made bubble, and adopting a closed nationalist discourse. But academic Lance Gore says China has always been a civilisation unto its own, and it now has both the means and reasons to decouple from the Western-led capitalist system to some extent, so as to pursue its own path of building socialism with Chinese characteristics. This might bring some benefits to China but could also lead to their misreading of the world in the long run, and cause it greater pain when its efforts to lead and galvanise are not reciprocated.

China has always been a civilisation unto its own. Its isolation at one end of the Eurasian continent is perhaps the reason that it is the only one of the four great ancient civilisations that have persisted to this day. The Middle Kingdom mentality is deeply embedded in the national psyche.

Stacking the Deck: China’s Influence in International Technology Standards Setting

Daniel Russel and Blake Berger

Beijing’s declared goal of becoming a “cyber great power” manifests itself in policies aimed at rivaling or surpassing the West in the competition to develop next-generation technology and to promote its global adoption.

An under-appreciated aspect of this effort has been the deliberate strategy to increase China’s influence within international standards development organizations (SDOs). Through various tactics, Beijing has significantly enhanced its ability to gain approval of its own proposals and to resist those that it does not favor. Beijing has lobbied hard for key roles in the bureaucracy of international SDOs. And while the Belt and Road Initiative has been the focus of much research, including the Asia Society Policy Institute’s (ASPI) “Navigating the Belt and Road” series, far less attention has been given to its technological artery, the Digital Silk Road (DSR), which supports the export of Chinese telecommunication technologies and other high-tech systems.

The ASPI report, Stacking the Deck: China’s Influence in International Technology Standards Setting, examines how the DSR policies, the PRC’s standardization strategy, and Beijing’s advocacy in the United Nations and standards development bodies aim to produce geostrategic, commercial, and technological advantages for China. This report further explains how these strategies not only serve the PRC’s commercial interests, but also bolster its push for “cyber sovereignty” instead of the free flow of ideas, information, and data. Lastly, this report offers actionable policy recommendations for governments, including the U.S., for protecting a merit-based international standardization system and a free and open internet.

Austin Warns Against Over-Hyping Recent Chinese Weapons Tests


SIMI VALLEY, CALIFORNIA — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin cautioned national security leaders and industry executives against over-hyping recent Chinese weapons tests—but also called for deeper ties between the Pentagon and large and small technology companies to counter China.

In a Saturday speech titled “The China Challenge” at the 2021 Reagan National Defense Forum, a gathering of defense leaders, lawmakers, and private industry executives here, Austin said China’s recent hypersonic launch and its gains in nuclear weapons, cyber, and space should be met “with confidence and resolve—not panic and pessimism.”

“We’re clear-eyed about the challenge that China presents, but China’s not 10 feet tall,” Austin said after his speech in a discussion with Fox News’ Bret Baier. “This is America. We have the greatest industry, the greatest innovators in the world and we’re going to do what’s necessary to create the capabilities that help us maintain the competitive edge going forward.”

Will Taiwan tensions explode?

Chris Hughes

What might a Taiwan crisis look like? China ups its inflammatory rhetoric, shoots missiles close to the island’s ports, mobilizes massive armed forces along the Strait and conducts amphibious assault and live-fire exercises near the islands under Taiwan’s control.

In response, the United States orders in a carrier group, to confront the Chinese Navy’s most modern destroyers, attack submarines and warplanes. The world waits anxiously for the first shot to be fired.

This drama has happened before. It would be a repeat of the crisis during the run-up to Taiwan’s first presidential election in 1996. Having lived in Taiwan for several years, I was worried at the time. More experienced voices, however, assured me that this was only theatrics aimed at swaying voters away from supporting candidates China perceived as promoting the island’s independence.

Sure enough, there was no war and President Bill Clinton was soon rebuilding relations, even though Taiwan’s voters had defied China.

What is the Role of Cyber Operations in Information Warfare?

Emilio Iasiello

Subject Area Keywords

Cybersecurity, Information operations, International security, War studies


Much attention has been focused on the potential consequences of cyber attacks against critical infrastructure and the use of cyber weapons as an asymmetric equalizer. However, as a capability considered to be under the larger umbrella of an information operations (IO)/information warfare (IW) campaign, how significant a weapon is cyber for the strategist in an information environment? As observed in recent IO/IW campaigns targeting U.S. elections in 2016 and 2020, lack of any discernable disruptive cyber attacks may have provided an answer to this, as a cyber power purposefully elected not to implement attacks. Instead, cyber espionage was used, and even at that, played a minor complementary role in the larger effort. This calls into question the efficacy of cyber as an instrument of IO/IW, and the true nature of its role in more strategic soft-power operations. This paper argues that cyber is at best a supportive enabler of campaigns where information is the catalyst to achieve strategic results, reducing cyber attacks as tools best used for signaling, punishment, or implemented in first strike scenarios.

The Future of Digital Spaces and Their Role in Democracy


Those who worry about the future of democracy focus a lot of their anxiety on the way that the things that happen in online public spaces are harming deliberation and the fabric of society. To be sure, billions of users appreciate what the internet does for them. But the climate in some segments of social media and other online spaces has been called a “dumpster fire” of venom, misinformation, conspiracy theories and goads to violence.

Social media platforms are drawing fire for their role in all of this. After the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, a congressional panel requested that Facebook, Google, Twitter, Parler, 4chan, Twitch and TikTok release all records related to misinformation around the 2020 election, including efforts to influence or overturn the presidential election results. In September 2021, a five-part series in The Wall Street Journal exposed details that seem to show that Facebook has allowed the diffusion of misinformation, disinformation and toxicity that has resulted in ethnic violence and harm to teenage girls and has undermined COVID-19 vaccination efforts. And The Journal’s source, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, followed up by telling the U.S. Senate that she had gone public with her explosive material “because I believe that Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.”

A New Chapter in U.S.-China LNG Relations

Nikos Tsafos

The United States and China have always had a complicated relationship when it comes to liquefied natural gas (LNG). But after several false starts, and a few twists, the United States is now China’s second-largest LNG supplier, and several Chinese companies have signed up to buy U.S. LNG on a long-term basis. This is a major turn. And it is a sign that the commercial logic tying these two geopolitical rivals together is strong and will persist alongside and, sometimes, despite of their broader political animosity.

History of a Complicated Relationship

The early signs were that the United States and China would trade LNG. In November 2010, a Chinese company (ENN) was among the first to sign up to buy LNG on a long-term basis from a U.S. export project. But that deal was never finalized and none came to succeed it until February 2018. In the intervening years, Chinese companies signed long-term contracts to purchase LNG from every conceivable supplier—but not the United States.

It is unclear why Chinese companies avoided the United States. Maybe they attached a risk premium to U.S. supply that others did not. Maybe they wanted a clearer signal from Beijing to proceed. Or maybe the Chinese government wanted a clear signal from Washington that such deals would be allowed (Washington would counter that such a message was delivered). Either way, eight LNG projects have come online or are under construction in the United States, but very little of that capacity has had any Chinese buyers, investors, or financiers.

Combating Terrorism Center (CTC)

CTC Sentinel

An Assessment of Taliban Rule at Three Months

A View from the CT Foxhole: General Richard D. Clarke, Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command

Commentary: Placing Terrorism in a Violent Non-State Actor Framework for the Great Power Competition Era

“Without Us, There Would Be No Islamic State:” The Role of Civilian Employees in the Caliphate

Four Scenarios for the Iran Nuclear Deal

Riccardo Alcaro

After a hiatus of over five months, negotiations to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),[1] commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, have finally resumed in Vienna. Struck in July 2015 by Iran and a group of six powers – France, Germany and the UK plus China, Russia and the US, as well as the EU (E3/EU+3)–, the JCPOA placed limits on Iranian nuclear activities, while also introducing a highly intrusive inspection regime by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The deal is in a comatose state due to former US President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally pull out of the agreement and re-adopt all sanctions on Iran in May 2018. In response, since May 2019 Iran has progressively reduced its compliance with its non-proliferation obligations under the deal.[2]

More akin to an empty shell than anything else, the agreement still remains formally in place, especially thanks to the E3/EU’s resolve to keep it afloat after 2018[3] and Iran’s choice not to abandon it altogether – the Iranians maintain that their progressive breaches of the JCPOA’s limits are justified by the US’s unilateral withdrawal and the fact that Iran never received the economic benefits it was promised. Iran does have a point, as the extraterritorial reach of US “secondary” sanctions has indeed dried out most streams of legitimate trade between Iran and Europe, Russia and (less so) China.

To Tackle Climate Change, Keep Fossil Fuels in the Ground

Stewart M. Patrick

The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change contains a curious omission: The phrase “fossil fuels,” which appears nowhere in the nearly 7,200-word document. Nor do the terms “coal,” “oil” or “natural gas,” despite these resources being responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions. That lacuna was no accident. It reflects the decision by national governments, reinforced by industry lobbyists, to focus emissions reduction efforts on reducing the demand for fossil fuels, rather than limiting fossil fuel supply by discouraging or even prohibiting their extraction in the first place.

In other words, as climate activist Tzeporah Berman points out in a powerful new TED talk, the world has been targeting, regulating and constraining emissions but not the production of the fuels that generate them. The results of this demand-side approach have been, frankly, underwhelming. Even accounting for the limited progress made at last month’s U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, average global temperatures are on track to rise at least 2.4 degrees Celsius by the end of the century, far above the Paris Agreement goal of keeping warming at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile, governments continue to spend trillions of dollars supporting and subsidizing a fossil fuel industry it has promised to transition away from. At its current pace, by 2030, the world will have produced double the amount of fossil fuel it should if it hopes to meet the Paris agreement’s goal.

Global Views of Biden’s Democracy Summit


Later this week, U.S. President Joe Biden will convene leaders from over one hundred countries spanning the world’s regions to discuss the decline of global democracy—and announce commitments for renewing democracy domestically and internationally. But each participant faces its own democratic challenges, including, as Biden notes, the United States. What do different countries and regions make of the summit? And what would it take for the summit to succeed?


Zainab Usman: The Summit for Democracy comes at a crucial moment for Africa. The continent is reeling from the socioeconomic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and has limited access to vaccines—less than 8 percent of the continent is fully vaccinated—undermining efforts to kick-start its post-pandemic economic recovery. This immediate challenge is compounded by long-running issues around conflict in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa amid rising geopolitical tensions among rival global powers. Seventeen African countries out of fifty-four—just under one-third—have been invited to the summit.

A Region of Flashpoints? Security in the Indo-Pacific

The Indo-Pacific mega-region is home to the world’s most fluid, complex, and dangerous security environment. Lingering traditional security flashpoints (Taiwan Strait, North Korea, territorial disputes) are exacerbated by the rise of China and the US–China great power competition.

At the same time, non-traditional security threats such as piracy and transnational crime, as well as climate change–related challenges, resource depletion, and pandemics are becoming key risks, already claiming many lives in the region. Finally, hybrid warfare practises, including disinformation, lawfare, cyberattacks and grey-zone situations are becoming commonplace, adding another layer of complexity.

While Europeans may not be expected to act on hard security matters, they will have an important role to play as the champions of a multilateral, rules-based order, to uphold liberal principles and set up international norms and standards in particular to support the governance of common goods. Navigating this complex security environment, the European Union will have to think outside the box and creatively engage in flexible, formal, and less-formal co-operative arrangements in order to demonstrate its value-added as a stabilising force for the region. This brief aims to shed light on the main security trends that are likely to shape security developments in the Indo-Pacific out to 2030, with a view to better informing policy makers in implementing the EU strategy in the region.

Towards a data-centric great game: New challenges for small states in contemporary power politics

Technology is taking centre stage in power politics. In particular, the ability to refine and utilize data increasingly correlates with the transforming global distribution of power.

The world is gravitating towards US and Chinese hubs of refined data. The convergence of data towards these two hubs accelerates the divergence of states into the haves and have-nots of data, and is likely to result in a realignment of partnership systems.

Standards which enable data convergence also create forms of governance and regulatory spaces that challenge the shape and dynamic of traditional global governance.

While recent Finnish security reports recognize the importance of new technologies and the cyber domain, data-centricity is not fully embraced either in policy or in practice.

As the technology sector grows in significance, new forms of relationships between states as well as public and private organizations need to be envisioned and established.

Winning the Digital War: Cyber Ideology and the Spectrum of Conflict

Matthew Flynn

Subject Area Keywords

Civil war and internal conflict, Cybersecurity, Democracy and democatization, Governance and rule of law, Ideology, Information operations, International security, National security, Peace studies, Security policy, Social media, Social movements, War studies


Cyberspace allows ideology to dictate who wins a war. That technological medium has marginalized violence to such an extent that a belligerent must make a cognitive effort a priority. That focus means humanity has at last reached a coveted threshold where ideas determine a war’s outcome. This article traces that evolution along the “spectrum of conflict,” a military categorization encompassing all of war. This act of reductionism must confront cyber realities that alter an understanding of war as one driven by acts of violence. This feat means a digital peace finds an equal footing with war arising from a cyber ideological conflict. That conflict rests on cyber rebellions derived from an online interface contested in content but able to withstand the pull of government oversight. Stripped of violence as an absolute defining war, cognitive war becomes of paramount importance as a broad intellectualism compels a state of war. Ideology comes less from a meaning shaped by political context and more from online access impacting political norms. This contest in cyberspace means winning the digital war requires an open interface to pressure authoritarian regimes into reform, all the while allowing for much of this same friction that arises in states favoring democracy. Finding that balance arrests the endless process of war as the chief means of human interaction.

These are the top 10 emerging technologies of 2021

Mariette DiChristina, Bernard Meyerson

The 10th anniversary edition of the World Economic Forum’s Top 10 Emerging Technologies Report lists new technologies poised to impact the world in the next three to five years.
Experts convened by the World Economic Forum and Scientific American highlight technological advances that could revolutionize agriculture, health and space.
Self-fertilizing crops, on-demand drug manufacturing, breath-sensing diagnostics and 3D-printed houses are among the technologies on the list.

At COP26, countries committed to new, ambitious targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions this decade. Delivering on these promises will rely on the development and scale up of green technologies.

Two such technologies – the production of “green” ammonia and engineered crops that make their own fertilizer – both aiming to make agriculture more sustainable, made it onto this year’s list of emerging tech.

Top 10 Emerging Technologies

From breath sensors that can diagnose disease to wireless charging of low-powered devices, this year’s list of top emerging technologies is packed with inspiring advances related to the environment, health, infrastructure and connectivity. Experts whittled down scores of nominations to a select group of new developments with the potential to disrupt the status quo and spur real progress.

Have you read?

A century since scientists proposed that excess carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere would cause it to retain heat and cause planetary warming, a global effort is underway to drive decarbonization in all aspects of daily life. Governments and industries have made seminal commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

Meeting those commitments will, over the next three to five years, demand unprecedented innovation and scaling to industrial levels of nascent technologies such as: mass energy storage, low/no carbon chemical sources, revitalized rail transport, carbon sequestration, low carbon agriculture, zero emission vehicles and power sources, as well as agreed-upon compliance monitoring on a global scale.

Crops that make their own fertilizer

Today the world uses more than 110 million tons of nitrogen fertilizer to enhance crop production annually. What if crops could capture nitrogen on their own, "fixing" it to themselves in the form of ammonia as legumes such as soy and beans do? Being one of the top emerging technologies, researchers now aim to coax other crops such as corn and other cereals to also self-fertilize.

In one approach, researchers are working to emulate the symbiotic molecular communication between legumes and bacteria to create root nodules—legumes’ natural fertilizer factories. In another, soil bacteria that normally colonize cereal roots (but don’t normally create nodules) are taught to produce nitrogenase, a key component that converts atmospheric nitrogen to plant-compatible ammonia.

Diagnosing diseases with a puff of breath

Soon, testing for disease could be as simple for patients as exhaling. New breath sensors can diagnose diseases by sampling the concentrations of the more than 800 compounds contained in human breath. For instance, elevated amounts of acetone in human breath indicate diabetes mellitus. The sensors look for changes in electrical resistance as breath compounds flow over a metal-oxide semiconductor. Algorithms then analyze the sensor data.

While this emerging technology needs refinements before it can become widespread, in a March 2020 study in Wuhan, China, sensors achieved a remarkable 95 percent accuracy in COVID-19 detection and 100% sensitivity in differentiating patients.

Testing for disease by breathing.Image: Reuters/Chen Lin

Making pharmaceuticals on demand

Medicines today are generally made in large batches, in a multi-step process with different parts dispersed in locations around the world. It can take months to complete the process, involving hundreds of tons of material, which creates some challenges in consistency and reliable supply. Advances in microfluidics and on-demand drug manufacturing now enable a small but increasing number of common pharmaceuticals to be made as needed.

Also called continuous-flow manufacture, the process moves ingredients via tubes into small reaction chambers. The drugs can be made in portable machines in remote locations or field hospitals, with doses tailored to individual patients, a remaining challenge is reducing the high cost of this emerging technology.

Energy from wireless signals

The Internet of Things (IoT) is comprised of billions of electronic devices leveraging Internet connectivity for some aspect of their functionality. IoT sensors, often extremely low power devices that report data critical to our daily lives, are a challenge to keep charged, as batteries are of finite life and, once deployed, local environments often may not allow physical contact.

With the advent of 5G now providing wireless signals of adequate power, a tiny antenna within IoT sensors can “harvest” energy from such signals. A precursor of this emerging tech has long been in use in automated “tags” that are powered by radio signals emitted when drivers pass through toll stations.

5G will help power the Internet of Things. Image: Reuters/George Frey

Engineering a longer “healthspan”

The percentage of the global population aged 60 and over will nearly double, from 12 to 22 percent, between 2015 and 2050, predicts the World Health Organization. Aging is associated with both acute and chronic ailments such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and heart disease.

Researchers have shown an early understanding of aging’s molecular mechanisms, which could help us lead lives that are not just longer, but healthier as well. Using omics technologies (which can simultaneously quantify all gene activity or the concentration of all proteins in a cell, for instance) and insights from epigenetics, researchers can identify biological markers that are strong predictors of disease—presenting targets for proactive therapies.

Ammonia goes green

To feed the world, crops often require fertilizer produced from ammonia—lots of it. Synthesizing ammonia for fertilizer involves an energy-intensive method called the Haber-Bosch process, requiring a massive supply of hydrogen. Much of hydrogen today is produced by electrolysis, the splitting of water molecules employing electrical power, or by the high temperature cracking of hydrocarbons. The energy required to drive both methods currently results in the release of huge amounts of greenhouse gases.

As renewable energy sources are now becoming prevalent, a “green” variant of hydrogen is being created without the release of greenhouse gases. In addition to eliminating excess atmospheric carbon, green hydrogen is free of contaminating chemicals that would otherwise be incorporated when using fossil fuels as a source, that purity enabling more efficient catalysis to promote ammonia production.

Biomarker devices go wireless

Nobody likes needles. However, numerous common acute and chronic conditions require frequent blood draws large and small to monitor biomarkers important in tracking progress in cancer treatments, diabetes, and other conditions. Advances in low power wireless communications, as well as novel chemical sensing techniques employing both optical and electronic probes, are enabling the continuous, non-invasive monitoring of critical medical information.

More than 100 companies have deployed or are developing wireless biomarker sensing devices across a spectrum of applications, with a focus on diabetes given its global prevalence. Wireless connectivity adds the virtue of data being instantly available, if needed, for a remotely located medical professional to intervene.

Wireless connectivity adds the virtue of data being instantly available. Image: Getty/LPettet

Houses printed with local materials

Fabricating homes using massively scaled 3D printers is already seeing limited deployment in the U.S. and other developed nations. In the developing world, where limited infrastructure makes shipping in materials a challenge, recent demonstrations using 3D printers take a leap ahead by employing locally sourced materials, clay, sand and local fibers to print structures—eliminating roughly 95% of material requiring transport to a building site.

This emerging technology could provide rugged shelters in remote regions, where housing needs are dire and no viable transport networks exist. The result could be a game changer for nations that are often otherwise left behind.

Space connects the globe

Sensors in the Internet of Things (IoT) can record and report vital information about weather, soil conditions, moisture levels, crop health, social activities, and countless other valuable data sets. With the recent advent of countless low-cost microsatellites in low earth orbit able to capture such data globally and download it to central facilities for processing, the IoT will enable unprecedented levels of global understanding—encompassing previously inaccessible developing regions devoid of traditional Internet infrastructure.

Challenges such as lower-power secure data links and the issue of short-lived low earth orbit satellites remain, but steady progress promises global deployment in the coming three to five years.

Next Generation Soldier. Executive summary

Alessandro Marrone and Karolina Muti

Over the next years, ongoing and future technological innovations, especially related to information communication technology (ICT), artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud will have an increasing impact on Western armies. The soldier will remain the army’s primary element, but will need to be more and better connected in a secure way with the various assets at disposal, also learning the lessons from previous and often disappointing efforts towards net-centric or network-enabled capabilities. Moreover, innovations will be significant in terms of lethality, mobility, power generation and protection, as well as in training. Within the broader strategic and technological context, the US, France, Germany, Italy, Israel and the UK are important cases to consider, together with developments within NATO and EU frameworks. The conclusions outline a number of common themes and challenges, with a view to the way ahead particularly for Italy and other European allies.

NFTs: A New Frontier for Money Laundering?

Allison Owen and Isabella Chase

In 2021, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have seen their popularity skyrocket. An NFT is a unique digital token which is used to represent an asset, usually digital artwork, a piece of music or an item in a computer game. The NFT can be held by its owner, traded, and sold for cryptocurrency or even real-world fiat currency, as occurred when the world’s most expensive NFT artwork was sold for $69 million in March 2021.

NFTs, especially for digital art, have come into existence for a number of reasons. First, they provide an unchangeable record of ownership for any item represented in a digital format. This concept is important because as more of the world moves online, individuals will increasingly want to ‘own’ assets in their digital environment. If desired, the owner of the NFT can also trace previous transactions to determine the origin of the item and prove authenticity. Second, NFTs provide their creators with the ability to earn royalties long after the original sale of the asset.

Both of these attributes make NFTs especially attractive to digital artists who want to prove the authenticity of their work and who in the physical world would only receive payment for the initial sale of their work. While these attributes may encourage more artists to move online, they might also encourage criminals and money launderers who abuse the traditional art market to do the same.

Henley Putnam University

Journal of Strategic Security

Improving the Civil-Military Relationship: Diversity and the U.S. Army

New Under the Sun? Reframing the Gray Zone in International Security

The Gray Legion: Information Warfare Within Our Gates

What is the Role of Cyber Operations in Information Warfare?

Winning the Digital War: Cyber Ideology and the Spectrum of Conflict

Old Wine, New Bottles: A Theoretical Analysis of Hybrid Warfare

Timothy Van der Venne
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In recent years, the term hybrid war has taken a conspicuous place in strategic discourse as the latest buzzword indicating yet another revolution in military affairs (Mahnken & Maiolo, 2008; Murray & Mansoor, 2012; Fridman, 2018; Klijn & Yüksel, 2019). Numerous analysts and academics have identified Russia’s operations in eastern Ukraine in particular as a wholly “new way of waging war” (Bachmann & Gunneriusson, 2015, p.199), alleging that the Russian mix of conventional and unconventional forces alongside the prolific use of cyber tools and information technology constitutes a break in modern strategic practice (Mahnken & Maiolo, 2008; Murray & Mansoor, 2012; Jordan et al., 2016; Fridman, 2018). Historians, on the other hand, have pointed to the overarching continuity in historical warfare, showing that hybridity in war has been successfully exploited as far back as the Peloponnesian Wars (Heuser, 2010; Murray & Mansoor, 2012). Matters of continuity and discontinuity notwithstanding, throughout the abounding new literature on hybrid warfare, there has been no rigorous analysis of its place within the broader pantheon of strategic theory – while such an approach can help military practitioners and analysts understand the strategic significance and theoretical pedigree of modern hybrid warfare(Gray, 1999; 2005; Murray & Mansoor, 2012; Klijn & Yüksel, 2019).

How Ride-Share Apps Collect and Store Data: A National Security Risk?

Elisabeth Braw

Concerns about ride-share companies have largely focused on physical risks to passengers. However, ride-share apps collect enormous amounts of data – a fact which has so far received minimal attention. This data includes ride details, address books and search history, with some apps also tracking the riders after they leave the car.

This raises concerns about how the data is stored and managed. The most obvious concern is that hackers can gain access to it. More serious, however, is the threat that authoritarian governments can demand access to the data to, for example, track specific citizens or groups in other countries. China poses a particular concern, as its new Personal Information Protection Law gives the government significant power over data collected by Chinese companies. This paper explores the emerging security threats from ride-share data collection and provides suggestions for further areas of enquiry.