31 December 2021

Indian Space Association (ISpA): India on the Move in Space Domain

Maj. Gen. P K Mallick, VSM (Retd) 


Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 11 October, 2021, launched the Indian Space Association (ISpA), an industry body comprising various stakeholders of the Indian space domain.

The Prime Minister said, “ISpA is a premier industry association of space and satellite companies, which aspires to be the collective voice of the Indian space industry. It will undertake policy advocacy and engage with all stakeholders in the Indian space domain, including the government and its agencies. These reforms will provide opportunities for both industry and academia.”

The members of ISpA include government bodies Organisation (ISRO) and private telecom companies. The founding members include leading domestic and global corporations that have advanced capabilities in space and satellite technologies such as Bharti Airtel, engineering firm Larson & Toubro, and other companies such as Nelco of Tata Group, Sunil Bharti Mittal’s OneWeb, Mapmyindia, Walchandnagar Industries and Alpha Design Technologies and Ananth Technology Limited . Other core members include Godrej, Hughes India, Azista-BST Aerospace Private Limited, BEL, Centum Electronics, and Maxar India. The first few start-ups to become members include Astrome Technologies, Pixxel, Agnikul Cosmos, Digantra, and Skyroot Aerospace.

The Andaman and Nicobar Islands: New Delhi’s Bulwark in the Indian Ocean

Ashutosh S. Patki

In 2015, the Indian government drew up a 100,000 million Indian rupee plan funded by the Ministry of Shipping and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands administration to transform the Andaman and Nicobar Islands (ANI) into the country’s first maritime hub. In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the islands for the first time, inaugurating several development projects relating to connectivity, energy, and tourism, among other things. Most recently, he inaugurated the Chennai-Andaman and Nicobar undersea internet cable, which is set to provide a high-speed internet connection to seven remote islands of the ANI chain.

The islands have also seen the recent installation of 31 GPS strong motion sensors and accelerometers, SMS alerts dissemination systems, 13 Automated Weather Stations, State Emergency Operation Centers, and the commissioning of a solar power plant at Attam Pahad. The government of India under NITI Aayog’s “Holistic Development Program” for the islands has invited global players to invest in a wide-ranging social and infrastructure development program, including investments in resorts and other tourist infrastructure.

Critical Minerals for India: Assessing their Criticality and Projecting their Needs for Green Technologies

Rajesh Chadha & Ganesh Sivamani

Executive Summary

This working paper assesses the level of criticality of 23 select minerals for India’s manufacturing sector. Various indicators quantify the criticality along the dimensions of economic importance and supply risk. The paper projects India’s mineral needs for green technologies, including renewable electricity generation and electric vehicle manufacturing, in line with the country’s various climate change mitigation objectives over the next two decades.

Lithium, strontium, and niobium have relatively high economic importance, and heavy rare earth elements, niobium, and silicon have relatively high supply risks. The results of this projection exercise indicate that India is not equipped to meet its green technology requirements through domestic mining alone. Imports of minerals for domestic manufacturing or imports of the final product (embedded in these minerals) will be needed to meet its policy agenda on climate change mitigation.

Pakistan revamps education at the point of a gun

James M. Dorsey

A prominent religious scholar and former member of the state-appointed Council of Islamic Ideology that ensures that legislation conforms with Islamic law, Mr. Ghamidi calls a spade a spade in a country in which that can have dire consequences.

To be sure, Mr. Ghamidi can do so because he is no longer resident in Pakistan and therefore less vulnerable. Exile may deprive him of an in-country pulpit but makes his analysis and views no less relevant.

Most recently, Mr. Ghamidi did not shy away from holding responsible just about everyone in Pakistan -- the military, the legislature, the clergy, the government, and the intelligentsia – for the brutal torture, lynching, and mutilation by a mob in the eastern city of Sialkot of a 48-year old Sri Lankan textile factory manager, Priyantha Kumara, accused of blasphemy.

The government condemned the killing and arrested alleged perpetrators but appears oblivious to the underlying structures and policies that enable religious vigilantism.

Omicron Will Test China’s ‘Zero COVID’ Pandemic Strategy

Howard W. French

Last weekend, the number of new symptomatic COVID-19 cases in China hit a peak not seen since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. The spike was seen as significant enough to warrant locking down Xi’an, a city of more than 13 million people.

Here, as a writer, I feel a little ill-equipped to flesh out this news without some kind of dramatic accompaniment, so please imagine a drumroll. The reported new high for daily symptomatic cases in this country of 1.4 billion people was all of 164

Corridors of Power: How Beijing uses economic, social, and network ties to exert influence along the Silk Road

Samantha Custer, Justin Schon, Ana Horigoshi

This report analyzes Beijing’s efforts to cultivate economic, social, and network ties with 13 countries in South and Central Asia (SCA) over two decades. These ties foster interdependence with the PRC that have the potential to both empower and constrain SCA countries, while threatening to displace or diminish the influence of regional rivals such as Russia, India, and the United States. We marshal a robust set of qualitative and quantitative data to answer four critical questions: (i) How far does Beijing’s public diplomacy footprint extend within countries? (ii) To what extent does the PRC synchronize its economic and soft power tools in reinforcing ways? (iii) Is the PRC well-positioned to adapt its public diplomacy in the face of external shocks such as COVID-19? (iv) How do citizens in SCA countries view the PRC versus other great powers and do these attitudes diverge from their leaders? The answers to these questions provide an evidence base to inform contemporary debates about Beijing’s multi-dimensional influence playbook and how citizens respond to great powers jockeying for primacy in the region.

Americans must rally against the real threat to our democracy: China

Hugh Hewitt 

“I don’t like you,” Samuel L. Jackson yells at Bruce Willis in 1995’s “Die Hard With a Vengeance,” “because you are going to get me killed.” That sort of frustration likely sits near the root of what divides Americans as the year ends: a suspicion that the other side is going to ruin everything. Whatever the root cause, our current venom-based politics will cripple our country if only by diverting our eyes from the one genuinely existential threat: the Chinese Communist Party.

Make an early New Year’s resolution for your country’s sake: Even if you won’t put down your dueling sabers with the other side in our endless cultural and political wars, you will at least try to see that the real danger is China.

Elections in 1968, 1980 and 2004 were driven by unique national security concerns — the Vietnam War, the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan and a generalized feeling of incompetence in matters foreign, and of course 9/11. The elections of 2022 and 2024 might fall into this category if the country’s political and chattering classes reject both the tyranny of their extremes and the obsessions of social media and cable news. The country cannot afford another 15 years of self-absorption. We can’t afford five.

Saving a Water-Stressed Middle East

Neda Zawahri

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will be the most severely affected by climate change. A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecasts that this region will inevitably experience shorter and warmer winters, hotter and drier summers, and more extreme weather events. Combined, these changes will decrease domestic water resources. In a region already plagued by severe freshwater shortages, any decrease or variability in supplies is likely to intensify an escalating water crisis. Consequently, the region is considered one of the most vulnerable places in the world to the impact of climate change on domestic water resources.

The MENA region is also the world’s driest region. While it contains less than 2 percent of global renewable freshwater resources, it is home to around 6 percent of the world’s population. Twelve of the world’s most water-scarce states are located here, including Algeria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Jordan, Libya, Oman, the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen.

Major Power Rivalry and Multilateral Conflict Management

Richard Gowan

In a period of growing major power competition, senior U.S. policymakers may have little time for problems associated with civil wars and regional conflicts. Yet if those conflicts go unaddressed, some are liable to escalate into broader humanitarian and political crises and—depending on their location and the stakes involved—draw in the major powers to some degree. Even if the primary U.S. focus is now on China and Russia, a strong case can be made for investing in conflict management elsewhere to avoid unexpected foreign policy shocks.

Though the major powers will decide their policies on conflict-affected countries on a case-by-case basis, convening broader discussions of the evolution of conflict management and reinforcing international crisis management structures will be valuable. The United States should test China’s and Russia’s willingness to participate in more technical discussions of humanitarian affairs, peacekeeping, and related topics among the five permanent members of the Security Council (P5), with the goal of sketching U.S. priorities for subsequent higher-level meetings. The United States should also continue to look for ways to reinforce regional organizations—such as renewing talks on UN funding for African Union peace operations or staffing and logistical support to African regional mediators—which will have a significant or growing role in international conflict management.

While some U.S. observers remain wary of China’s growing interest in UN peacekeeping, these concerns should not be overstated. China’s role in peace operations remains limited and does not challenge U.S. strategic interests. Washington can afford to test Beijing’s interest in more cooperation in this field, possibly by proposing to work together on those areas, such as increasing the safety and security of peacekeepers, that Beijing has prioritized. This should begin with policy talks between respective diplomats in New York, and potentially continue with small common projects—such as joint safety training—in the field.

International humanitarian agencies such as the World Health Organization and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees will be at the forefront of conflict management efforts. The U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations should corral other major aid donors to address these problems together since the United States has a strong interest in developing more efficient aid mechanisms. The United States should also try to induce China to join these discussions and throw more money in the international pot.

The future of international conflict management will likely be messy and shaped by unforeseen events. U.S. initiatives alone will not resolve the fundamental drivers of current armed conflict or erase the problems of major power competition, but the United States can help multilateral institutions adapt to an uncertain future. It would be a mistake for the United States, China, and Russia to allow their overall differences to blind them to areas for cooperation, which can at least limit worsening instability in an era of heightened tensions.

This is the eighth 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.

U.S.-China technology competition

The scale and speed of China’s technological advancements in recent years have raised concerns in Washington and elsewhere over the implications for the United States’ overall economic competitiveness and its national security, as well as the impact on liberal values and good governance globally. There also has been growing concern about the fragmentation of the global technology sector, including the rise of divergent standards and norms, as the Chinese technology market increasingly decouples from those of the United States and the West more broadly.

To evaluate the merits of these concerns and identify potential policy remedies to them, Ryan Hass, Patricia M. Kim, and Emilie Kimball, the co-leads of the Brookings Foreign Policy project “Global China: Assessing China’s Growing Role in the World,” convened 10 additional Brookings scholars – Jessica Brandt, David Dollar, Cameron F. Kerry, Aaron Klein, Joshua P. Meltzer, Chris Meserole, Amy J. Nelson, Pavneet Singh, Melanie W. Sisson, and Thomas Wright – for a written exchange on the role of technology in U.S.-China competition. These experts, drawn from a range of disciplines, were asked to offer their best judgments on the implications of China’s growing technological capabilities and steps the United States could take to strengthen its own technological competitiveness and protect its values. The following are a few key takeaways from their exchange:

Here's the strategy to prevent China from taking Taiwan


With the recent revelations that China has built mockups of American warships in its interior desert, presumably for military training purposes, we should not need more reminders about the urgency of bolstering deterrence against a possible Chinese attack against Taiwan. For Beijing, undertaking such an attack, especially an all-out invasion, would be a cosmic roll of the dice. But war games and calculations we have conducted show that China’s armed forces might be able to pull it off.

For example, they might barrage Taiwan’s airfields and air defenses, ports, big ships, lines of communication and command/control systems with missile and air attacks before then loading up amphibious vessels for an assault on the island. With Taiwan’s air defenses suppressed, the amphibious assault could be followed up with an airborne invasion by paratroopers and transport helicopters. China might well also strike American forces and bases in the western Pacific, to include aircraft carrier battle groups, aiming to cripple any U.S. effort to defend Taiwan.

Too many of those forces and bases are vulnerable to such attacks, and planned improvements do not, in the main, do much to fix those vulnerabilities.

Report on U.S.-China Competition in East, South China Sea

The following is the Dec. 12, 2021, Congressional Research Service report U.S.-China Strategic Competition in South and East China Seas: Background and Issues for Congress.
From the report

Over the past several years, the South China Sea (SCS) has emerged as an arena of U.S.-China strategic competition. China’s actions in the SCS—including extensive island-building and base-construction activities at sites that it occupies in the Spratly Islands, as well as actions by its maritime forces to assert China’s claims against competing claims by regional neighbors such as the Philippines and Vietnam—have heightened concerns among U.S. observers that China is gaining effective control of the SCS, an area of strategic, political, and economic importance to the United States and its allies and partners. Actions by China’s maritime forces at the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea (ECS) are another concern for U.S. observers. Chinese domination of China’s near-seas region—meaning the SCS and ECS, along with the Yellow Sea—could substantially affect U.S. strategic, political, and economic interests in the Indo-Pacific region and elsewhere.

The Charles Lieber case reveals America’s scientific rivalry with China

Charles lieber, a renowned chemistry professor at Harvard, tried to avoid jail by lying to federal investigators about his work in China over the past decade. It may have seemed a reasonable if unethical gamble; the federal probe was investigating allegations that China was stealing scientific insights. No evidence suggests that Mr Lieber stole anything. But sometimes the cover-up is not just worse than the crime—it is the crime. On December 21st Mr Lieber was found guilty of lying to federal authorities and failing to declare both income earned in China and a Chinese bank account. He could face up to 26 years in prison and $1.2m in fines, though as a first-time offender he will probably not be punished so harshly. Still, Mr Lieber is 62 and has late-stage lymphoma. A few years behind bars could prove a life sentence.

His downfall is a cautionary tale. America’s intensifying geopolitical rivalry with China has made previously innocuous relationships with Chinese academics suspect. As in similar cases the Department of Justice (doj) has pursued, proving that Mr Lieber or his associates engaged in espionage was a tall order. His hubris made their job easier. Yet as the crackdown on Chinese economic espionage continues apace, American science could suffer.

It’s Biden’s Turn to Face Putin’s Ukraine Test

William A. Galston

President Barack Obama warned Vladimir Putin in March 2014 not to move Russian troops against Ukraine and told him that his country would face painful economic countermeasures if he ignored the warning. Mr. Putin ordered his special forces to seize the Crimean Peninsula two weeks later and soon claimed it as Russian territory.

Now it is President Biden’s turn to be tested by the Russian leader, and the stakes are even higher. Russia’s troops are massed at the Ukrainian border, and they appear ready to invade as soon as the order is given.

Mr. Putin has put his cards on the table. To eliminate the threat of armed conflict, he insists, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization must pledge never to admit Ukraine as a full member, and NATO must roll back the military assets it has deployed in Poland and the Baltics and in other nearby countries that don’t border Russia.

Mr. Putin is no fool. He knows that the U.S. and NATO cannot agree to his demands. This leaves two possibilities: Either he will use the West’s refusal as a pretext for invasion, or he will use the threat of invasion as leverage for diplomatic concessions he couldn’t otherwise obtain.

Why Is America Pushing Russia and China Together?

Joergen Oerstroem Moeller

Since 1972, it has been a cornerstone of U.S. foreign and security policy to divide China and Russia. Any attempt to form an understanding or even worse an alliance—tacit, written, or embryonic—directed against the United States should be derailed. President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger visited China in 1972 precisely to break up what was thought to be a Chinese-Soviet alliance.

Today, this policy has been effectively abandoned. U.S. foreign policy apparently now prioritizes issues that not only allow but push China and Russia into each other’s arms—notwithstanding well-known bilateral disputes and even confrontations. The two countries have never seen one another as natural friends. Military skirmishes over border disagreements have taken place. Russia, as one of the largest net exporters of fossil fuels, benefits from a high oil price. China, the biggest net importer, benefits from a low price. On the major issue of climate change, they disagree too. On December 13, 2021, Russia vetoed a UN Security Council resolution casting the climate crisis as a threat to international peace and security. China abstained. A month earlier at the UN Climate Conference, Beijing signed an agreement with the United States that, John Kerry, President Joe Biden's special envoy on climate, called “a road map for our future collaboration” to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Combating Terrorism Center (CTC)

The Oath Keepers and Their Role in the January 6 Insurrection

A View from the CT Foxhole: Brigadier Rob Stephenson, Deputy Commander, NATO Special Operations Headquarters

The Iron March Forum and the Evolution of the “Skull Mask” Neo-Fascist Network

Holding Women Accountable: Prosecuting Female Returnees in Germany

A Roadmap for Managing Disasters: How Climate-Vulnerable Countries Can Access Tech

Climate crises threaten to displace 1.2 billion people by 2050, with the cost of adapting to these new threats estimated to reach the range of $280 billion to $500 billion per year. Vulnerable people and regions, including sub-Saharan Africa, will be disproportionately impacted. Yet climate-vulnerable countries have received minimal funding for adaptation to date. Early-warning and early-action systems have an essential role to play in enabling effective disaster-preparedness and response efforts. As we outlined in the opening paper of our series on climate disasters and tech, tech-enabled solutions could potentially help to prevent $66 billion in loss and damage annually. The second paper in the series laid out exactly how these solutions can be used.

Early-warning and climate-information systems are essential for enabling effective disaster preparedness and response efforts, and data- and risk-informed decision-making relies on leveraging the various technologies that underpin these systems in the right ways and at the right time. Early warning and early action also require high-quality, accurate data to be collected and analysed for risk-informed impact forecasts and targeted-response action plans.

Terrorism Research Initiative (TRI)

Perspectives on Terrorism, December 2021, v.15, no. 6

A New Wave of Terrorism? A Comparative Analysis on the Rise of Far-Right Extremism

Extremist Exploitation of the Context Created by COVID-19 and the Implications for Australian Security

CBRN Terrorism Interdictions (1990-2016) and Areas for Future Inquiry

Myanmar’s Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA): An Analysis of a New Muslim Militant Group and its Strategic Communications

Linking the August 2017 Attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils to Islamic State External Security Apparatus Through Foreign Fighters

Granting Efficacy to the Religious Motives of Terrorists: A Reply to Schuurman’s Response to “Bringing Religiosity Back In, Parts I & II”

Counter-Terrorism Bookshelf: 8 Books on Terrorism & Counter-Terrorism-Related Subjects

Nina Käsehage (Ed.). Religious Fundamentalism in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Münster: Transcript, 2021

Bibliography: Hostage Takings and Extrajudicial Executions (Part 1)

Recent Online Resources for the Analysis of Terrorism and Related Subjects

Can Latin America and the Caribbean Trust China as a Business Partner?

Leland Lazarus and Evan Ellis

On December 7, a few days after the third China-Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Forum, the Chinese Foreign Ministry released the China-CELAC Joint Action Plan for 2022-2024. It laid out Beijing’s plans to expand cooperation over a range of areas, including defense, finance, trade, public health, and cultural exchanges.

On that same day, the regional Latin American news website Infobae reported that the Ecuadorian government was suing Chinese company Sinohydro for shoddy work on the Coca Codo Sinclair dam, which has seriously harmed the Ecuadorian environment and economy. Constructed in 2016, the dam has over 7,000 cracks, is causing erosion along the Coca River, and is running well below its promised capacity. The erosion has also forced two of Ecuador’s most important gas pipelines to shut down, potentially threatening Ecuador’s ability to fulfill its export contracts. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now working with the Ecuadorian government to mitigate the effects of the erosion.

U.S. and Russia Agree to Talks Amid Growing Tensions Over Ukraine

David E. Sanger

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration said on Tuesday that talks with Russia about tensions over Ukraine and a range of other issues would open on Jan. 10, in what American officials hope will mark a slow shift from a possible military confrontation on Ukraine’s eastern border to a resumption of diplomacy.

The announcement came shortly after Russia declared that 10,000 combat and special forces troops conducting exercises were returning to their barracks. But that move took place at some distance from Ukraine, and it was not clear whether the decision was part of the intense behind-the-scenes discussions underway to get Russia to pull back tens of thousands of troops at the border before serious diplomacy begins.

Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said last week at the Council on Foreign Relations that “meaningful progress at the negotiating table, of course, will have to take place in the context of de-escalation, not escalation.”

Putin’s Asymmetric Blind Spot


OPINION — Perhaps it is just a reckless Khrushchevesque opening gambit, but Russia’s recent security demands suggest that Vladimir Putin’s condition for avoiding military action against Ukraine is Western acquiescence in converting Ukraine into a Russian vassal state. Given he also demands NATO roll back deployments of personnel and equipment to its 1997 positions, before Poland or the Baltic republics joined the alliance, it is not just Ukraine he wants to see neutered.

Russian officials never hesitate to raise their country’s genuinely horrific suffering at the hands of the Nazis during World War II when justifying their need for a cordon sanitaire at their borders, but their historical self-righteousness is highly selective. What they fail to mention, but what Russia’s neighbors will never forget, is that in 1932-33, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin precipitated a politically driven famine, the “Holodomor,” which killed nearly 5 million Ukrainians. This was followed by the 1937-38 Anti-Kulak campaign (NKVD Order 00844), resulting in the execution of another 400,000 people. The concurrent anti-Polish campaign (NKVD Order 00485) resulted in the execution of 100,000 ethnic Poles, and the Anti-Latvian campaign (NKVD Order 49990) killed more than 16,000 Latvians. Over a 15-month period, these hundreds of thousands of non-Russians were executed for the alleged crime of being “anti-Soviet.” Most were dispatched by a gunshot to the back of the neck and buried in unmarked mass graves. Many thousands more were imprisoned or deported to Siberia or Central Asia.

The Geopolitics of Video Games

Elisabeth Braw

Holiday greetings. If you are one of the world’s 3 billion video gamers, you already know that gaming consoles are the perfect present—so perfect that retailers are struggling to keep up with demand this holiday season. Delays, not to mention the global semiconductor chip shortage, have affected the production of nearly every digital gadget. Long before Black Friday, retailers had to warn consumers that many consoles could quickly sell out, leaving many shoppers disappointed. But the world of video games faces more menacing geopolitics than supply chain disruptions.

Last year, gaming industry revenues were estimated at $159.3 billion, a 9.3 percent increase over 2019. The boom wasn’t just because the coronavirus pandemic forced people to stay home: Gaming studios are turning out increasingly sophisticated entertainment. It should come as no surprise that Chinese behemoths such as Tencent have started paying considerable attention, especially to the West’s successful studios. In fact, they are buying many of them. On just one day in July, Tencent acquired two gaming firms: one British and one Swedish.

Now Is The Time For NATO To Stand Up To Russia

John Bolton

Thirty years after the Soviet Union dissolved on December 31, 1991, events in its former space seem headed in the opposite direction. Despite initially remaining passive as the USSR split into fifteen independent states, Moscow has more recently steadily pursued a hegemonic agenda, increasingly bold and increasingly successful. It provoked hostilities (notably Ukraine) and exploited weaknesses (as in Belarus) possibly leading to outright re-annexation. Existing “frozen conflicts” (Armenia versus Azerbaijan, Moldova/Transnistria, and Georgia) remained frozen or became more severe. Less-visible Kremlin economic and political initiatives are afoot across Central Asia, and in Tajikistan, Moscow’s largest military base in the former USSR outside Russia itself, its border forces never left.

How and why the West misjudged what was brewing inside Russia following the USSR’s demise is already vigorously debated. After a widespread but sadly erroneous 1990’s optimism Russia would embrace Western institutions and values, hopes for constitutional, representative government are in retreat. Despite the collapse of Europe’s Communist regimes, communism and its ways persisted. The Cold War’s winners could not impose anything comparable to post-World War II denazification, so authoritarian memories, habits, and methods endured even without their prior ideological veneer. Outsiders collectively failed to appreciate that profoundly deep Russian sentiments of revanchism and irredentism persisted below the surface, seeking opportunities to make Russia’s “near abroad” much less “abroad.” History had not ended, notwithstanding the “peace dividend” bled from the U.S. and other NATO militaries.

What Putin Really Wants in Ukraine

Dmitri Trenin

As 2021 came to a close, Russia presented the United States with a list of demands that it said were necessary to stave off the possibility of a large-scale military conflict in Ukraine. In a draft treaty delivered to a U.S. diplomat in Moscow, the Russian government asked for a formal halt to NATO’s eastern enlargement, a permanent freeze on further expansion of the alliance’s military infrastructure (such as bases and weapons systems) in the former Soviet territory, an end to Western military assistance to Ukraine, and a ban on intermediate-range missiles in Europe. The message was unmistakable: if these threats cannot be addressed diplomatically, the Kremlin will have to resort to military action.

These concerns were familiar to Western policymakers, who for years have responded by arguing that Moscow does not have a veto over NATO’s decisions and that it has no grounds to demand that the West stop sending weapons to Ukraine. Until recently, Moscow grudgingly acceded to those terms. Now, however, it appears determined to follow through with countermeasures if it doesn’t get its way. That determination was reflected in how it presented the proposed treaty with the United States and a separate agreement with NATO. The tone of both missives was sharp. The West was given just a month to respond, which circumvented the possibility of prolonged and inconclusive talks. And both drafts were published almost immediately after their delivery, a move that was intended to prevent Washington from leaking and spinning the proposal.

Prospective Mining Conflicts: Adopt Sustainable Development

Rajesh Chadha & Ishita Kapoor


Mining is an important activity for the growth and development of the country. However, many of the regions with rich mineral resources in India are inhabited by some of the poorest communities. While the expansion of mining activities may benefit the affected local communities, it may harm them if their benefits do not offset the negative impact on their habitat and earnings. Mining can also have adverse environmental impacts. Some of the mining court cases discussed in this note are examples of poor implementation of the laws protecting the environment and the local communities. The growth and development of the mining sector must ensure benefits to the local communities and environmental protection.

Executive Summary

Air University Press

Journal of Indo-Pacific Affairs, Winter 2021, v. 4, no. 9

Asymmetric Competition in the Arctic: Implications for North American Defense and Security

Thailand’s Maritime Strategy National Resilience and Regional Cooperation

The US–Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership and the Key Role of Air Force Relations

Building Resilience: A New US Approach to East Asia

Challenges and Lessons Learned from the Projection of French Airpower in Afghanistan

Confluence of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific : How Japan's Strengths Can Shore Up American Weakness in the Pacific

The Coming of Quad and the Balance of Power in the Indo-Pacific

Why China Cannot Challenge the US Military Primacy

Australia's Role in the Quad and Its Crumbling Ties with China

Sieze the Data Initiative

Direct Military Conflict with China May Not Happen - and Why There are Worse Outcomes

What Putin, Xi and Khamenei Want

Aaron MacLean

Despite years of warning, the U.S. and its allies aren’t ready for the challenges created by a coterie of Eurasian autocrats. The habits of mind prevalent among democratic peoples and their leaders have left us vulnerable more than once, and thus bear some examination. The principal error is thinking that men like Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping and Ali Khamenei want what most Westerners want. They don’t.

The most immediate threat is that Mr. Putin will invade Ukraine or engage in related forms of reckless mischief. As during Mr. Putin’s seizure of Crimea in 2014, there is a sense of incredulity at his audacity, as well as confusion about his intentions. An unnamed senior administration official told reporters on Dec. 17: “The Russian people don’t need a war with Ukraine. They don’t need their sons coming home in body bags. They don’t need another foreign adventure. What they need is better healthcare, build back better, roads, schools, economic opportunity.”

The gratuitous reference to President Biden’s domestic agenda is laughable, but it reveals an inability to understand that Mr. Putin rates the material needs of the Russian people far below his own ambitions. He isn’t against salving Russia’s national pride through classic irredentist conquest, which may elevate his political standing more than economic growth.

Even those who recognize Mr. Putin’s hostile intentions are left speaking with a kind of Episcopalian disapproval. In 2014 then-Secretary of State John Kerry was mocked when he said of Mr. Putin: “You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext.”

Academic says Bitcoin is worse than a Ponzi scheme

Robert McCauley, a scholar from Boston College and Oxford, argued Monday that Bitcoin (BTC-USD) is worse than a Ponzi scheme because the eventual use case for the cryptocurrency remains unclear, while its high energy use makes it a "negative-sum game."

Expanding on a piece he published last week in the Financial Times, McCauley told CNBC that the approximately $20B spent on mining to date "is gone."

McCauley's case comes in two parts. First, he contends that the basic outline of Bitcoin trading resembles the structure of a Ponzi scheme, in that early investors are paid out by late-comers, with no economic value created in between.

Second, the Boston University non-resident senior fellow at Global Development Policy Center asserted that the expense related to maintaining the Bitcoin (BTC-USD) system, especially in electricity use, meant that it will cost society over the long run.

Security and Privacy Risks in an Era of Hybrid Work

Following the abrupt shift to remote work forced by the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies have transitioned their workforces into “hybrid” roles, with workers splitting their time between their offices and homes, as well as airports, co-working facilities, coffee shops, and other “third spaces.” Yet many issues regarding privacy and security in the hybrid environment have not been addressed.

A new white paper published by the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity (CLTC), Security and Privacy Risks in an Era of Hybrid Work, examines emerging privacy and security issues attached to hybrid work environments. The report was authored by five representatives from CLTC: Ann Cleaveland, Executive Director; Grace-Alice Evans, Non-Resident Fellow; Andrew Reddie, Research Director; Isaac Vernon, a student in the UC Berkeley School of Information and a Research Assistant at CLTC; and Steve Weber, Faculty Director.

Drawing on proceedings from a workshop convened by the Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, as well as interviews with security, policy, human resources, and other leaders from private firms and government agencies, the paper introduces a variety of key concerns with hybrid work, as well as high-level policy recommendations for industry and government.



In 2016, defense news sources reported that the Army was interested in developing a lightweight ground combat vehicle to accompany Infantry Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) and keep them relevant in large-scale combat operations (LSCOs) against a near-peer threat.1 Originally referred to as a light tank, Army officials named the new concept the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF); this approach was intended to dissuade servicemembers from viewing it as a tank-like vehicle and then employing it the same way as the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank (MBT). The development of the MPF presents an opportunity to bridge a capability gap that was created when the M551 Sheridan Armored Reconnaissance/Airborne Assault Vehicle (AR/AAV) retired from service. The M551 had earned admiration for its effective operational capabilities—and disdain for its technical shortcomings. As the MPF meets testing milestones and prepares to integrate into IBCTs, commanders at the brigade level and below must ensure the know-how to employ the platform correctly, or they will face a steep learning curve against adversaries, at the cost of Soldiers’ lives.2 The MPF’s tactical and strategic potential can better enable the IBCT to execute its mission set while augmenting its ability to defeat a larger spectrum of enemy capabilities. This paper will exam the purpose, relevant history, utility and future for the MPF to improve its prospects of being used appropriately.

2021: A Cyber Year To Remember

Emil Sayegh

Looking back on the events of 2021, it’s evident that cybersecurity was a key concern for businesses, organizations, and governments across the entire globe. It is helpful to look back and chronicle the key cybersecurity incidents that shaped the year. Here are a few:

• December 2020 – SolarWinds

• February – Florida Water System

• March – Microsoft Exchange

• March – CNA Financial

• April – LinkedIn

• May – Colonial Pipeline

Engaging with Online Extremist Material: Experimental Evidence

Zoey Reeve


Despite calls from governments to clamp down on violent extremist material in the online sphere, in the name of preventing radicalisation and therefore terrorism research investigating how people engage with extremist material online is surprisingly scarce. The current paper addresses this gap in knowledge with an online experiment. A fictional extremist webpage was designed and (student) participants chose how to engage with it. . A mortality salience prime (being primed to think of death) was also included. Mortality salience did not influence engagement with the material but the material itself may have led to disidentification with the ingroup. Whilst interaction with the material was fairly low, those that did engage tended to indicate preference for hierarchy and dominance in society, stronger identification with the ingroup, higher levels of radicalism, and outgroup hostility. More engagement with the online extremist material was also associated with increased likelihood of explicitly supporting the extremist group. These findings show that indoctrination, socialisation, and ideology are not necessarily required for individuals to engage attitudinally or behaviourally with extremist material. This study is not conducted on the dependent variable, therefore shedding light on individuals who do not engage with extremist material.

The Online Extremist Ecosystem

Heather J. Williams, Alexandra T. Evans, Jamie Ryan, Erik E. Mueller, Bryce Downing

In this Perspective, the authors introduce a framework for internet users to categorize the virtual platforms they use and to understand the likelihood that they may encounter extreme content online.

The authors first provide a landscape of the online extremist "ecosystem," describing how the proliferation of messaging forums, social media networks, and other virtual community platforms has coincided with an increase in extremist online activity. Next, they present a framework to describe and categorize the platforms that host varying amounts of extreme content as mainstream, fringe, or niche. Mainstream platforms are those for which only a small portion of the content would be considered inappropriate or extreme speech. Fringe platforms are those that host a mix of mainstream and extreme content—and where a user might readily come across extreme content that is coded or obscured to disguise its violent or racist underpinning. Niche platforms are those that openly and purposefully cater to an extreme audience.

PDF file 10.2 MB

Breaking Up Tech Is a Gift to China

Robert C. O’Brien

As of 2018, nine of the top 20 global technology firms by valuation were based in China. President Xi Jinping has stated his intention to spend $1.4 trillion by 2025 to surpass the U.S. in key technology areas, and the Chinese government aggressively subsidizes national champion firms. Beginning with the “Made in China 2025” initiative, Beijing has made clear that it won’t stop until it dominates technologies such as quantum computing, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and more. Last month the National Counterintelligence and Security Center warned that these are technologies “where the stakes are potentially greatest for U.S. economic and national security.”

Concerns about China’s expanding technological capabilities aren’t merely speculative, and extend into the military domain. Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China claimed to have built the world’s fastest programmable quantum computer, a machine that is some 10 million times faster than its closest competitor. Should the Chinese Communist Party assume the lead in quantum computing, the future of a free and open internet will be at significant risk. The U.S. military and intelligence community could lose its ability to communicate securely, as quantum computing can break even the most sophisticated codes in short order.

Erik Prince calls for upgrade of US hybrid conflict capabilities


Before Christmas, as war drums sounded louder on the Ukraine border and across the Taiwan Strait, Asia Times Publisher Uwe Parpart and Northeast Asia Editor Andrew Salmon sat down – at a distance of 13,000 km – with Erik Prince to explore whether there is a continuing strategic role for private military contractors.

Prince, a former US Navy SEAL officer, founded private military contracting firm Blackwater in 1997, but left his leadership role in 2009 and sold his holdings in 2010. In 2012, he founded Frontier Resource Group, a private equity fund investing in natural resource opportunities in frontier markets and geoscience projects – of which he remains the managing partner. In 2014, he followed suit by founding and listing Frontier Services Group (500 HK), an Africa-focused security, aviation, and logistics company partially owned by CITIC Group, an investment fund owned by the People’s Republic of China.

Changing Hearts and Brains: SOF Must Prepare Now for Neurowarfare

Dr. Shannon Houck, COL John Crisafulli, Lt Col Joshua Gramm, Maj Brian Branagan

The timeworn “changing hearts and minds” idiom may soon take on a more literal meaning as we confront the weaponization of neurotechnology. In December 2016, CIA officers and American and Canadian diplomats stationed in Havana, Cuba reported hearing pulsing sounds, sometimes accompanied by pressure sensations in their heads. Neurological symptoms followed – symptoms like headaches, dizziness, cognitive difficulties, fatigue, and hearing and vision loss.[i] Over 40 U.S. government employees were affected; 24 were diagnosed with brain damage. These were not isolated incidents. Similar reports have emerged from U.S. personnel in China, Russia, Uzbekistan, and CIA officers working in several different countries.[ii] Two separate cases in the Washington D.C. area are currently under investigation after U.S. officials suffered from the same sudden symptoms, one occurring in an Arlington suburb in 2019, and the other in the oval lawn of the White House in 2020.[iii] Most recently, media reports from April 2021 indicate that DoD officials briefed the Armed Service Committee, stating they are “increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of U.S. troops in places such as Syria, Afghanistan, and various countries in South America.”[iv]