23 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.

After raising hopes, India puts off framing cryptocurrency policy

Mimansa Verma

There is no end to the uncertainty in India’s cryptocurrency sector as the country seems to have delayed, once again, framing a law that will signal its policy approach to the rapidly growing field. The government is reportedly considering changes to the proposed bill.

The legislation has been in the works for more than a year now. It had been listed for the ongoing winter session of parliament, which ends on Dec. 23, and was also listed in the budget and monsoon sessions earlier this year.

The reasons cited for the delay include the need for wider consultation due to the evolving cryptocurrency regulation across the globe.

This is in consonance with prime minister Narendra Modi’s comment at the virtual Summit for Democracy hosted by US President Joe Biden on Dec. 11. “We must also jointly shape global norms for emerging technologies like social media and cryptocurrencies so that they are used to empower democracy, not to undermine it,” Modi had said.

Islamic World Pitches Ways to Aid Desperately Poor Afghans

Kathy Gannon

The acting foreign minister in Afghanistan’s Taliban-run Cabinet, Amir Khan Muttaqi, center, arrives for the extraordinary session of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Council of Foreign Ministers, in Islamabad, Pakistan, Sunday, December 19, 2021.Credit: AP Photo/ Rahmat Gul

Islamic countries scrambled on Sunday to find ways to help Afghanistan avert an imminent economic collapse they say would have a “horrendous” global impact.

The hastily called meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in Islamabad ended with a promise to set up a fund to provide humanitarian aid through the Islamic Development Bank, which would provide a cover for countries to donate without dealing directly with the country’s Taliban rulers.

In a press conference at the end of the summit, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also described what he called good news from the United States, whose special representative on Afghanistan, Tom West, attended the summit.

The Afghans America Left Behind

Eliza Griswold

In July, 2001, Zarmina Faqeer, a sixteen-year-old Afghan refugee living in the Pakistani border town of Peshawar, learned that the BBC radio soap opera “New House, New Life” was seeking an actress for one of its lead roles. Faqeer, who was compact and scrappy, had little interest in fame. “It wasn’t about the glamour,” she told me recently. “It was the salary.” Her family had fled Afghanistan on foot in 1985, when she was six months old, during the Soviet occupation; her father, a wheat farmer, carried her over the snowy Hindu Kush mountains to safety. He found work in Peshawar as a security guard, and his wife had five more children. He died in 1995, and the family moved into a single room in the children’s school. Now, six years later, Faqeer had got a job as a middle-school teacher to support her family, earning about five dollars a month. An actress, she thought, had to make more than that.

On the day of the BBC’s open auditions, she took a bus across town. Eight women and girls sat waiting to try out, all of them poised and evidently experienced. Faqeer read her lines, but kept shrinking away from the microphone, and the director threatened to kick her out unless she stopped moving. Afterward, Faqeer cried as she walked back to the bus stop, cursing herself for wasting rupees on the fare. She didn’t have a mobile phone, so she’d given the director the number of the school’s crackly landline. A couple of weeks later, the principal summoned her to his office: the BBC was on the phone, and said she’d got the part.

Is There Any Solution to Myanmar’s Rohingya Crisis?

Sebastian Strangio

In the 10 months since the Myanmar military’s seizure of power tipped the nation into a toxic, nationwide political emergency, another serious crisis – that facing the Rohingya refugees of Bangladesh – has largely been consigned to the margins of international attention.

More than 1 million mostly Muslim Rohingya civilians have been entrapped, limbo-like, in the rambling refugee camps that surround the town of Cox’s Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh, since fleeing in scorched-earth military offensives in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in 2016 and 2017. While a solution was remote even before the coup, the new crisis has further compounded their troubles, complicating any resolution to the refugee emergency, while also distracting international attention away from what might be done to resolve it.

A special rapporteur of the United Nations said on Sunday that despite the country’s current troubles, the world should not forget the massive humanitarian crisis next door in Bangladesh, nor the Myanmar armed forces’ ultimate responsibility for creating it.

One Book Reveals the Future of the Chinese-American Conflict

James Jay Carafano

Here's What You Need To Remember: Ambassador Middendorf delivers a seminal book for understanding military competition in an era of great-power competition. No one who is serious about the future security, prosperity and freedom of America should neglect this essential read.

Ambassador Bill Middendorf makes one unambiguous argument in his new book, The Great Nightfall: Why We Must Win the New Cold War. America won’t survive and thrive in an era of great-power competition without a strong, dominant military. There is one reason for that. China.

The Great Nightfall lays out the threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party. It also makes a compelling argument for the kind of military the U.S. needs to match the dangers posed by Beijing.

Middendorf has given a full lifetime of service to the nation, from his days at sea during World War II to diplomatic assignments and government posts. Among the latter, a turn as Secretary of the Navy. He was instrumental in designing the naval forces that completely outmatched the Soviets during the Cold War. Today, he remains America’s maritime Henry Kissinger, the nation’s preeminent thinker on naval modernization.

Is China Building a New String of Pearls in the Atlantic Ocean?

Bonny Lin, Jude Blanchette, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., Mvemba Phezo Dizolele
Source Link

On December 5, the Wall Street Journal reported that China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is seeking to establish a permanent military facility in the Central African nation of Equatorial Guinea. While the Equatorial Guinean government has so far denied the reports, U.S. defense officials have raised concerns about the possible plan. If the reports are true, and if China is able to construct a military base on the Atlantic Ocean, it would mark an important step forward in the PLA’s strategy to expand its global power projection capabilities and would add to China’s current effort to build a global network of dual-use facilities that could be transformed into forward operating bases.

Xi Jinping has been taking on China's capitalists. Here's why that will change in 2022

Laura He

Hong Kong (CNN Business)One year ago, Chinese leader Xi Jinping pledged to spend 2021 reining in "disorderly" private businesses that were growing too powerful and taking on too much risk.

The sweeping regulatory crackdown that followed accomplished just that, claiming some high-profile casualties along the way. But the economy is now looking a lot shakier than it was, and Xi doesn't seem ready to rock the boat any further in the new year.

The curbs on tech, finance, education and entertainment hammered stocks and at one point wiped out trillions of dollars worth of value from Chinese companies on global markets. They also triggered huge layoffs among many companies, pressuring the job sector even as it tries to recover from the pandemic.

Further regulations on property firms that began last year have piled on the pain for major developers who were already carrying too much debt. Real estate — which accounts for nearly a third of China's GDP — is now in a deepening slump, with big players on the brink of collapse.

Buying Influence: How China Manipulates Facebook and Twitter

Muyi Xiao, Paul Mozur and Gray Beltran

Flood global social media with fake accounts used to advance an authoritarian agenda. Make them look real and grow their numbers of followers. Seek out online critics of the state — and find out who they are and where they live.

China’s government has unleashed a global online campaign to burnish its image and undercut accusations of human rights abuses. Much of the effort takes place in the shadows, behind the guise of bot networks that generate automatic posts and hard-to-trace online personas.

Now, a new set of documents reviewed by The New York Times reveals in stark detail how Chinese officials tap private businesses to generate content on demand, draw followers, track critics and provide other services for information campaigns. That operation increasingly plays out on international platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which the Chinese government blocks at home.

The documents, which were part of a request for bids from contractors, offer a rare glimpse into how China’s vast bureaucracy works to spread propaganda and to sculpt opinion on global social media. They were taken offline after The Times contacted the Chinese government about

How Loitering Munitions Can Help Counter China


An effective military response to China requires “small but lethal, low signature, mobile and relatively simple-to-maintain” forces, positioned “close-up and forward,” according to a new U.S. Marine Corps operational concept and recent comments by Commandant Gen. David Berger. One of the best ways to increase small-unit lethality and counter anti-access/area-denial, or A2AD, challenges is to develop, procure, field, and integrate more loitering munitions. Allies such as Israel that produce world-class LMs can help.

Sometimes referred to as “suicide drones,” LMs are a cross between missiles and surveillance drones. They vary in size and capability: some can loiter for just 15 minutes, while others can fly for hours and reach targets a thousand kilometers away. They carry cameras to identify targets—either independently or by transmitting images to their operator—and a warhead that detonates on impact. LMs typically have low radar, visual, and thermal signatures that help them evade air defenses. They can be carried by vehicles— some even by individuals—making them easier to transport, operate, and maintain than larger drones or aircraft.

Saudi Arabia Is the Middle East’s Drug Capital

Anchal Vohra

Three drug busts in quick succession over the last month have revealed the extent of Saudi Arabia’s drug problem. First, in a rare gesture of cooperation, the Syrian government confiscated over 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds) of addictive amphetamines known as Captagon that had been stashed in a pasta shipment intended for Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital. A few days later the Saudi authorities seized over 30 million tablets of the intoxicant hidden in imported cardamom. Then, in mid-December, Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces foiled an attempt to smuggle four million Captagon pills to Riyadh via Jordan, this time hidden in coffee bags.

Captagon busts have become a regular affair inside Saudi Arabia. Research suggests that the pills, tiny in size and easy to make, are being mass produced in Syria and Lebanon fueled by Saudi demand. Saudi Arabia has become a lucrative market for drug traffickers and emerged as the capital of drug consumption in the region.

Captagon is the new rage in the wealthiest Arab nation. It is a mood enhancer that keeps you awake and euphoric but causes lasting health hazards. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC], between 2015 and 2019 more than half of all Captagon seized in the Middle East was in Saudi Arabia. It first became popular in the region during the Syrian crisis, when fighters popped the pills to endure long battles. But as time went by and the United States imposed sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his coterie, the drug trade created its own shadow economy. The Syrian government is accused of being actively involved in drug trafficking or at least of profiting from and turning a blind eye to it. Syria, and areas under the control of Iran-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon, have become major production hubs of the drug. Just last year, the value of seized pills that originated in Syria was estimated to be $3.46 billion; in contrast, in 2019, the combined exports of Syria and Lebanon were worth less than $5 billion.

A Strategic Response to China’s Economic Coercion

Emily Kilcrease, Emily Jin, and Rachel Ziemba

A small nation in the Baltic with a GDP of $56 billion, Lithuania has provoked the ire of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) recently by allowing Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the country. This, in addition to asking its officials to abandon Chinese-made cell phones over censorship allegations and its departure from a PRC-led regional forum, has touched on Beijing’s geopolitical redlines. Beijing has responded with punitive economic measures. The PRC has downgraded its ties with Lithuania, blocked Lithuanian exports (though recently they were unblocked), and threatened retaliation for multinational companies that did not sever ties with the Baltic country. Is it puzzling that Beijing’s economic coercion on Vilnius seems needlessly aggressive and alienating? Well, it shouldn’t be.

As we demonstrate in a new report released by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), the PRC has been ramping up the use of coercive economic measures in the last few years, as coercive economic statecraft has become a more crucial component of its general foreign policy. It has an expansive toolkit of coercive tools, which cuts across economic and political domains and often includes both official and more off-book measures. Off-book coercive economic actions include targeted actions that press on economic interests of specific entities and typically fall outside the realm of official policies, such as boycotts encouraged through state propaganda. Smaller economies and those that are deeply integrated with the PRC economy may be most vulnerable, but the companies and citizens of major economies, including the United States, have also been targets.

Biden Taps Billionaire Campaign Donors for Ambassador Posts

Robbie Gramer

U.S. President Joe Biden is tapping wealthy campaign donors, including many with no prior diplomatic experience, as U.S. ambassadors despite past efforts from the Democratic Party’s progressive flank to end the longstanding practice.

In recent months, Biden has named deep-pocketed donors, wealthy billionaire supporters, and election campaign funding “bundlers” for ambassador posts to countries such as Greece, Kenya, Argentina, Belgium, Slovenia, Malta, and Canada—continuing a practice both Democratic and Republican presidents alike have carried out for decades but that became a point of contention during the campaign.

Former diplomats and ethics experts as well as members of Biden’s own party have criticized the practice of tapping wealthy campaign donors with no prior diplomatic experience as ambassadors, saying it weakens U.S. foreign policy and effectively amounts to a form of institutionalized corruption.

Biden pledged to rebuild the State Department after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s era, a White House spokesperson stressed in response, underlining the administration’s plans to restore the historic balance of appointing career diplomats to roughly 70 percent of ambassador posts, with 30 percent going to political appointees. (Under Trump, the ratio shifted to about 55 percent career diplomats and 45 percent political appointees.)

Competition and Cooperation in the Maritime Domain

Competition over the world’s maritime resources and territorial disputes over maritime borders are becoming increasingly prominent in international affairs. At the same time, depleted fish stocks and polluted waters make the question of how countries can collectively manage maritime resources a central one, particularly in discussions over climate change.

Against the backdrop of heightened competition in the maritime domain, China has been rapidly modernizing and expanding its naval capabilities thanks to an unprecedented shipbuilding effort. By contrast, the U.S. Navy is struggling to meet its ambitious goals toward expanding its fleet while nevertheless maintaining a demanding operational tempo.

Meanwhile, the resources that lie beneath the ocean’s surface are increasingly at risk of overexploitation. Illegal fishing is devastating already diminished global stocks and may soon present a severe crisis to countries whose populations depend on seafood for their diets. In the South China Sea, competition over fishing rights as well as offshore oil and gas reserves has been a major driver of tensions and conflict.

The maritime domain highlights the tensions between national sovereignty and transnational challenges, between the ocean’s littoral regions as exclusive economic zones and the high seas as a global commons. While often ignored in coverage of international affairs, it features prominently in bilateral, regional and multilateral diplomacy, particularly when it comes to resolving boundary disputes.

Germany’s New Government Weighs a More Forward-Leaning Foreign Policy

Aaron Allen

On Dec. 8, former Chancellor Angela Merkel officially passed the baton to her successor, Olaf Scholz, after 16 years as Germany’s leader. Scholz now heads the three-party coalition between his center-left Social Democrats, or SDP, the pro-environment Greens, and the pro-market Free Democrats, or FDP. Known as the Ampelkoalition—or “traffic light coalition,” in reference to each party’s official colors, which correspond to the color sequence of a traffic light—this heterodox configuration’s “Dare More Progress” coalition agreement offers a roadmap to confront the challenges facing the German people. Domestic issues such as digitalization, the phasing out of coal and increasing the minimum wage were front and center in the pact.

It is, however, the coalition accord’s vision of Germany’s role in the world that, while seeking continuity with the Merkel era, could provide the opportunity for a potential reorientation. The central question arising from the pact is, Will Europe’s most populous and prosperous country finally assume a greater leadership role in the world?

Putin's Ukraine Formula


STOCKHOLM – As reports pile up about Russia’s military mobilization on Ukraine’s border and the Kremlin’s diplomatic demands, questions abound. What is going on? What will come next? Will Russia invade?

In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin is following an eight-year-old script.

In the fall of 2013, Putin’s government launched a multifaceted offensive to prevent Ukraine, Moldova, and Armenia from signing free-trade agreements with the European Union. That set off a gradually deepening crisis that would profoundly alter Ukraine’s domestic politics, Russia’s position in Europe, and the future of NATO. Less than a year later, Russia annexed Crimea and embarked on a barely disguised effort to dismantle the rest of Ukraine. The Kremlin then launched two more incursions into eastern Ukraine to save the separatist statelets that it had managed to set up there.

Since then, 14,000 people have died in this low-level “frozen” conflict. The EU and the United States regularly renew their sanctions on Russia, and the United Nations General Assembly regularly condemns Russia’s behavior and reaffirms the sanctity of state borders. Not only did Putin fail to derail the EU-Ukraine free-trade agreement; he also managed to transform Ukraine from a friendly neighbor into a country that regards Russia as dangerous and hostile. Invading other countries is a historically proven way to make lasting enemies.

Ships Don’t Lie: Blockchain and a Secure Future for Global Shipping

Emily Benson, Lexie Judd
Source Link

In an era of internet jokes morphing into cryptocurrencies with multibillion-dollar market cap values and non-fungible tokens offering the next evolution in art collecting, the now omnipresent blockchain technology has been met with both confusion and creativity. Across the business world, it has been revolutionary as a trustworthy solution for digitization, but some sectors have been quicker to adopt it than others. For shipping, an industry considered “behind the curve” when it comes to technological advancements and environmental sustainability, blockchain implementation offers it the opportunity to be towed into a new, more resilient era.

Q1: What is blockchain?

A1: Blockchain is a public, digital ledger that tracks all transactions and movements of assets in real time. Each transaction, or “block,” is permanently recorded on a “chain” that is accessible to all authorized users, which confirms the timeline and order of actions. Sometimes referred to as distributed ledger technology (DLT), blockchain has three essential components: decentralization, immutability, and transparency. Blockchain data is not housed in a central location, allowing it to operate in real time. As every new block is added, the network is immediately updated, and the recent movement is made visible to all users. Transactions on the blockchain are also immutable, meaning they cannot be altered or reversed. New blocks verify and secure the previous block, strengthening the chain with each new transaction and supporting the reliable transparency of the data stored.

That Was the Year That Was

William Alan Reinsch
Source Link

As the end of the year approaches, it’s time to take a look backward at the year that was. In a future column, I’ll take a look ahead at 2022.

In one important, but unfortunate, respect, it was a year where the president kept one big promise—to give top priority to the domestic economy and dealing with the pandemic. He did that at the expense of dealing with trade, but it is hard to fault his priorities. Covid-19 and the economy would be at the top of anybody’s list. The consequence, however, was a missed opportunity—increased trade can make an important contribution to economic growth. The administration compounded that omission with a surprising lack of interest in increasing market access generally, so that even when they did talk about trade, it was not usually about improving market access and increasing exports.

Instead, they talked about labor and the environment and a trade policy for the middle class. In the past, I’ve written about what I think of that (not much), but for a wrap-up column, the administration should be measured by its own standards, not mine. Even there, however, they fall short. It is fair to say that the labor provisions of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) have been successful thus far, although it is too early for a definitive judgment. But those provisions were negotiated by the previous administration, albeit with a heavy assist from Katherine Tai, the current U.S. trade representative, and the administration so far has done little to propagate the same ideas elsewhere, either in new trade agreements or in revisions to old ones.

The EU’s Defense Ambitions: Understanding the Emergence of a European Defense Technological and Industrial Complex


Is the European Union (EU) about to rise as a defense technological actor on the world stage? According to conventional wisdom, attempts at greater European integration in security and defense were not likely to amount to much, given that such policy fields have long been considered the reserved domain of the EU member states or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). This working paper goes beyond this traditional state-centered approach by looking at past and recent institutional efforts to consolidate European security and cooperation on defense industry and technology. Such efforts have continued despite the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, owing to the bloc’s willingness to become a stronger security and defense actor on the global stage.

The timing of this shift was facilitated by a set of circumstances that triggered a new European defense momentum. Contributing factors include the geopolitical pressures of Brexit, an unreliable transatlantic partner in the United States, concerns within European defense industries regarding dwindling national defense budgets and fierce global technological competition in high technology areas, and the European Commission’s growing supranational role in security and defense. This impetus was also facilitated by the privileged relationship between various EU institutions, European defense industrial actors, transnational interest and lobby groups, and organized expert bodies. In this respect, the defense industry and high-level expert and interest groups have occupied a central position in shaping EU policy processes, funding priorities, and security and defense research programs.

New Satellites Will Change the Face of Warfare

Kris Osborn

The United States Space Force is working with industry partners to architect a new generation of weather satellites capable of “seeing” through smoke, sand, heavy clouds, snow, and other weather obscurants to greatly expand opportunities for success and efficiency in military operations.

General Atomics Electromagnetic Systems in engineering a new spacecraft capable of introducing paradigm-changing technology able to achieve otherwise impossible targeting and attack missions. GA-EMS is supporting the USSF Space Systems Command Electro-Optical Infrared Weather System (EWS) satellite program.

“The GA-EMS EWS spacecraft will now be able to provide extended operations, direct broadcast of weather data to tactical users, and increased reliability to meet mission requirements,” Scott Forney, president of GA-EMS, said in a company statement. “This pivot, from solely an on orbit sensor demonstration program to now include residual operational capabilities, illustrates the confidence in GA-EMS’ design to perform as needed and ensure the USSF can continue to provide critical weather information to warfighters around the globe.”

5 tech trends that will impact businesses well beyond 2022

Allen Bernard

This year's Looking Glass report from Thoughtworks highlights ways in which technology will impact everything from how we interact with the world to the role it plays in going green.

Understanding the impact of technology on businesses and society at large is hard. This year's annual Thoughtworks Looking Glass report attempts to put a broad range of technologies into perspective so business leaders can get an idea of where tech is taking them.

The report takes a holistic approach to analyzing the impact of 100 current and emerging technologies. Broken out into sections called lenses, the report "offers industry leaders recommendations on how to best compete and become disruptors themselves."

"We use the lenses in the Looking Glass to help make sense of all of the individual trends with the lenses akin to the big 'storylines' that we think will be important," said Michael Mason, Thoughtworks global head of technology. "What's interesting is to also consider the lenses in combinations. If we overlay the evolution of the human-machine experience with an explosion in AI, what ramifications will that have for a particular industry or organization? Whilst we offer some of these combinations in the report, this exercise is also a good one for readers to use to stimulate their thinking."

AI and the Future of Disinformation Campaigns

Katerina Sedova, Christine McNeill, Aurora Johnson  and Aditi Joshi

The age of information has brought with it the age of disinformation. Powered by the speed and data volume of the internet, disinformation has emerged as an insidious instrument of geopolitical power competition and domestic political warfare. It is used by both state and non-state actors to shape global public opinion, sow chaos, and chip away at trust. Artificial intelligence (AI), specifically machine learning (ML), is poised to amplify disinformation campaigns—influence operations that involve covert efforts to intentionally spread false or misleading information.

In this series, we examine how these technologies could be used to spread disinformation. Part 1 considers disinformation campaigns and the set of stages or building blocks used by human operators. In many ways they resemble a digital marketing campaign, one with malicious intent to disrupt and deceive. We offer a framework, RICHDATA, to describe the stages of disinformation campaigns and commonly used techniques. Part 2 of the series examines how AI/ML technologies may shape future disinformation campaigns.

Space acquisition shop set for another re-org, following Congress-backed SWAC model


WASHINGTON: While Space Force’s fledgling Space Warfighting Analysis Center (SWAC) initially faced pushback on Capitol Hill, a number of key members of Congress have been won over in recent months — to the point where it is now seen as a ray of hope for long-stalled space acquisition reform.

Meanwhile, yet another reorganization of the central service body for developing and buying new satellites and space systems — reimagined as Space Systems Command in August and led by Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein — is in the works, a number of sources said. Though a Space Force spokesperson said that re-org is “pre-decisional,” the sources said SWAC provides a model for what the new organization will look like — more proof of the SWAC’s success.

Rep Jim Cooper, chairman of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, said in an interview last week that the SWAC’s first (classified) industry day on Oct. 27 was a “very promising development.”

The state of AI in 2021

AI adoption and impact

A majority of survey respondents now say their organizations have adopted AI capabilities, as AI’s impact on both the bottom line and cost saved is growing.

Findings from the 2021 survey indicate that AI adoption is continuing its steady rise: 56 percent of all respondents report AI adoption in at least one function, up from 50 percent in 2020. The newest results suggest that AI adoption since last year has increased most at companies headquartered in emerging economies, which includes China, the Middle East and North Africa: 57 percent of respondents report adoption, up from 45 percent in 2020. And across regions, the adoption rate is highest at Indian companies, followed closely by those in Asia–Pacific. As we saw in the past two surveys, the business functions where AI adoption is most common are service operations, product and service development, and marketing and sales, though the most popular use cases span a range of functions. The top three use cases are service-operations optimization, AI-based enhancement of products, and contact-center automation, with the biggest percentage-point increase in the use of AI being in companies’ marketing-budget allocation and spending effectiveness.

Anti-5G necklaces found to be radioactive

Necklaces and accessories claiming to "protect" people from 5G mobile networks have been found to be radioactive.

The Dutch authority for nuclear safety and radiation protection (ANVS) issued a warning about ten products it found gave off harmful ionising radiation.

It urged people not to use the products, which could cause harm with long-term wear.

There is no evidence that 5G networks are harmful to health.

The World Health Organization says 5G mobile networks are safe, and not fundamentally different from existing 3G and 4G signals.

Mobile networks use non-ionising radio waves that do not damage DNA.

Despite this, there have been attacks on transmitters by people who believe they are harmful.

The Great Military Rivalry: China vs the U.S.

Graham Allison, Jonah Glick-Unterman

Executive Summary

A quarter-century ago, China conducted what it called “missile tests” bracketing the island of Taiwan to deter it from a move toward independence by demonstrating that it could cut its ocean lifelines. In response, in a show of superiority that forced China to back down, the U.S. deployed two aircraft carriers to Taiwan’s adjacent waters. Were China to repeat the same missile tests today, it is highly unlikely that the U.S. would respond as it did in 1996. The reason why is that if U.S. carriers moved that close to the Chinese mainland, they could now be sunk by the DF-21 and DF-26 missiles that China has since developed and deployed.

About the military rivalry between China and the United States in this century, our three major findings are these. First, the era of U.S. military primacy is over: dead, buried, and gone— except in the minds of some political leaders and policy analysts who have not examined the hard facts. As former Secretary of Defense General James Mattis put it starkly in his 2018 National Defense Strategy, “For decades the U.S. has enjoyed uncontested or dominant superiority in every operating domain. We could generally deploy our forces when we wanted, assemble them where we wanted, and operate how we wanted.” But that was then.

U.S. Military Forces in FY 2022: Space, SOF, Civilians, and Contractors

Mark F. Cancian

This paper is part of U.S. Military Forces in FY 2022. Military forces include the Space Force (fully established but still defining itself), Special Operations Forces (shifting their strategic focus), Department of Defense (DOD) civilians (still growing because of linkage to readiness), and contractors (a permanent element of force structure despite some criticism).

Key Takeaways

U.S. Space Force

Major elements of the U.S. Space Force (USSF), such as a service headquarters, appropriations accounts, training and educational commands, operational headquarters, and systems command, have been established. The shape of the acquisition organization and related acquisition processes are major unresolved questions.

Personnel and organizations continue to transfer to the new service, though there may be controversy about remaining transfers as the Army and Navy seek to retain some space capabilities.

A Large Number of Small Things: A Porcupine Strategy for Taiwan

James Timbie, Adm. James O. Ellis Jr.
Source Link

In his July 1, 2021 speech at Tiananmen Square to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party, General Secretary Xi Jinping reiterated the party’s commitment to what it calls “reunification” with Taiwan.1 To that end, the People’s Liberation Army has upped the range and intensity of its gray-zone activities, including frequent intrusions into airspace and waters in close proximity to Taiwan. Xi has also made explicit that “We make no promise to abandon the use of force, and retain the option of taking all necessary measures.”2 The high end of the range of such measures would be an attempt to take Taiwan by force.

Distributed, survivable, and affordable defenses could greatly complicate an attempt to invade Taiwan by the People’s Liberation Army. Taiwan’s expensive conventional platforms are useful to counter gray-zone incursions and they have political and industrial benefits as well. But they are unlikely to survive the initial strikes of any cross-strait invasion. Implementation of a strategy that includes a large number of small things could leverage Taiwan’s geographic and technological advantages, exploit the People’s Liberation Army’s vulnerabilities, and help to deter an attempt to take the island by force.

The Role of Value Systems in Conflict Resolution

Abbas Aroua, Jean-​Nicolas Bitter, Simon J. A. Mason

There is no such thing as a “religious conflict,” “environmental conflict,” or “economic conflict” as conflict is always multifaceted, multi-causal and shaped by multiple interactions in a system. A further challenge when seeking to understand and address conflict and prevent violence is the socially constructed and subjective nature of what is seen as the driving or “root cause” of a conflict. Indeed, conflict often entails a disagreement on the causes of conflict. Conflict parties often have different views of the “root causes” between themselves and also often view “root causes” differently from third parties – the reason why many mediators try to avoid the term “root cause” altogether. This conundrum – the complexity of causal interactions, as well as subjective-objective intermingling in conflict analysis – has led to situations in which value systems – be they secular or religious – are often either under- or over-emphasized.

In a scenario of under-emphasizing the role of value systems, an actor is likely to see tangible factors such as poverty, poor governance, physical insecurity, and lack of rule of law as the “root causes” of the conflict. Accordingly, considering religious or secular value systems when addressing such conflicts may be seen as irrelevant or even counterproductive, as it leads to ignoring the real “root causes” of the conflict, namely the tangible, material, and empirically measurable factors. Some Western, secular policies seeking to prevent violence and address conflict are characterized by this tendency.

In a scenario of over-emphasizing the role of value systems, in contrast, an actor is likely to adopt an essentialist view, according to which value systems are seen to drive conflict independently of the given context and the tangible conflict issues and governance reality that different communities are facing. Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis is an example, but some religious peacebuilding approaches also reflect this tendency.