24 November 2021

Geopolitical Challenges Cloud Next Chapter in Xi’s Triumphalist History

John S. Van Oudenaren

The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Resolution on its first 100-years of history cements “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义 思想, Xi Jinping xin shidai Zhongguo tese shehuizhuyi sixiang) as the official ideology of China (CPC, November 11). A central premise of the document, which was adopted at the Sixth Plenum of the 19th CCP Central Committee held in Beijing last week, is that General Secretary Xi Jinping’s continued leadership is essential to consolidate the hard earned gains made by China over the last century (China Brief, November 12). The new historical account celebrates the Xi era as a time of triumph when the CCP and the Chinese people have “written the most magnificent epic in the thousands of years of the history of the nation” (People.cn, November 16). In a People’s Daily commentary, Xi observes that the CCP has always emphasized evaluating its history, and that a third resolution on party history is necessary to unify the nation in pursuit of “great new victories” (新的伟大胜利, xin de weida shengli) at this “critical juncture“ (People’s Daily, November 17). Achieving “new victories” alludes to the CCP’s second centenary goal of China becoming a “strong, democratic, civilized, harmonious, and modern socialist country” by 2049, i.e., a preeminent world power with a fully developed economy and control of Taiwan (CPC News, September 6, 2017).

Biden and Xi move back from the brink

DANIEL SNEIDER

The three-and-half-hour virtual summit meeting between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping did not, and could not, solve the fundamental problems that have driven the two great powers toward confrontation.

But both men clearly wanted to challenge the misperception that they are on the brink of conflict, and to prevent an unintended escalation of tensions that might become impossible to manage.

Nowhere was that goal more visible than on Taiwan, the one issue that poses the greatest risk of drawing China and the US into war. Xi and Biden spent considerable time discussing Taiwan, according to the US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Both men carefully restated their long-held positions – for China, strong opposition to any steps that would move Taiwan toward a declaration of independence. For the US, a line is drawn against “any effort to shape Taiwan’s future by anything other than peaceful means,” as Sullivan told the Brookings Institution after the meeting.

Work on ‘Chinese military base’ in UAE abandoned after US intervenes

Julian Borger

US intelligence agencies found evidence this year of construction work on what they believed was a secret Chinese military facility in the United Arab Emirates, which was stopped after Washington’s intervention, according to a report on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal reported that satellite imagery of the port of Khalifa had revealed suspicious construction work inside a container terminal built and operated by a Chinese shipping corporation, Cosco.

The evidence included huge excavations apparently for a multi-storey building and the fact that the site was covered in an apparent attempt to evade scrutiny.

The Biden administration held urgent talks with the UAE authorities, who appeared to be unaware of the military activities, according to the report. It said the discussions included two direct conversations between Joe Biden and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in May and August.

China’s Hypersonic Missile Test Does Not Change the Nuclear Calculus

Ananmay Agarwal and Ryan J A Harden

Although China's recent hypersonic missile test is evidence of significant Chinese technological advancement, it does not represent a paradigmatic shift in nuclear deterrence.

In October, the Financial Times reported that China’s hypersonic missile test over the summer represented a technological breakthrough for nuclear weapons. The operational proof-of-concept missile flew at Mach 6 and manoeuvred in such a way that it could bypass any modern defensive system. In response to the article, we penned a letter to the Financial Times outlining why the latest test does not change the nuclear calculus in an era of great power competition – at least not yet.

Fundamentally, the test does not alter nuclear deterrence, considering that an estimated 13,000 active nuclear warheads already exist. Nuclear-weapon states can still strike globally, albeit with less speed and an increased risk of interception vis-à-vis China’s latest capability. But even with China’s upgraded offensive ability that has yet to be productionised, we remain sceptical about how the tenets of mutually assured destruction magically vanish with the advent of one test.

Iranian Hackers Are Going After US Critical Infrastructure


ORGANIZATIONS RESPONSIBLE FOR critical infrastructure in the US are in the crosshairs of Iranian government hackers, who are exploiting known vulnerabilities in enterprise products from Microsoft and Fortinet, government officials from the US, UK, and Australia warned on Wednesday.

Ars Technica

This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED's parent company, Condé Nast.

A joint advisory published Wednesday said an advanced-persistent-threat hacking group aligned with the Iranian government is exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange and Fortinet’s FortiOS, which forms the basis for the latter company’s security offerings. All of the identified vulnerabilities have been patched, but not everyone who uses the products has installed the updates. The advisory was released by the FBI, US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the UK’s National Cyber Security Center, and the Australian Cyber Security Center.

Americans Must Answer Four Questions Before Confronting China

Sumantra Maitra

In a recent talk with the Lowy Institute, Jake Sullivan argued for a détente with China. Arguing that America recognizes that China is going to be a factor in the international system for the foreseeable future, Sullivan said that there should be effective and healthy competition with China. “We are not seeking a new Cold War, we’re not looking for conflict, what we’re looking for is effective competition with guardrails and risk-reduction measures in place to ensure that things don’t veer off into conflict. And also with the capacity to work together with China, where it’s in the common interests of our countries and in the interests of the world to do so,” Sullivan argued, adding that China is not going anywhere, but nor is the United States. A coexistence is, therefore, necessary, and rightly so.

What was not mentioned in that speech and subsequent conversation even once was the word “Taiwan.” And incidentally, the same day there were news reports about U.S. congressmen visiting the island nation. What was even more surprising was that a day from the talk, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the United States and allies will “take action” if Taiwan was invaded or any alteration of the status quo was done by force. “Blinken did not say what sort of action he was referring to,” the Reuters report noted, claiming immediately after that “Those remarks appeared to depart from a long-held policy of “strategic ambiguity,” not making clear how the United States would respond.” On the contrary, one must add, that everything in the last few days made it feel that the United States is not just ambiguous about China’s border question but is fundamentally rudderless. Ambiguity here is not a strategy, but a byproduct of cluelessness.

Biden-Xi Summit Only Highlights Fundamental Differences Between U.S. and China

Thomas Joscelyn
Source Link

Earlier this month, Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai went missing. Peng, an accomplished women’s doubles player, reportedly accused former Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of inappropriate sexual conduct during what was not always a consensual relationship. The accusation first appeared in a post on Peng’s verified account on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, on November 2. In about 20 minutes, the post had been taken down and Peng has not been seen in public since.

As Peng’s case garnered more attention, Chinese media produced an email that was purportedly written by her, claiming that the allegation against Zhang isn’t true and all is well. Few are buying it. The chairman of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA), Steve Simon, released a strongly worded statement casting doubt on the email. “The WTA and the rest of the world need independent and verifiable proof that she is safe,“’ Simon wrote. “I have repeatedly tried to reach her via numerous forms of communication, to no avail.”

American tennis star Serena Williams and other famous athletes also came to Peng’s defense. Williams tweeted that this “must be investigated and we must not stay silent.” Meanwhile, Simon says that the WTA is willing to forgo hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue if Peng isn’t located and her claims investigated. The WTA held nine tournaments in China in 2019, before the pandemic disrupted travel, and has focused much of its expansion efforts in the country the last several years.

2021 Annual Report to Congress


Topics this year include the CCP's ambitions and challenges at its centennial, China’s influence in Latin America and the Caribbean, the CCP's economic and technological ambitions, the Chinese government’s evolving control of the corporate sector, U.S.-China financial connectivity and risks to U.S. national security, China’s nuclear forces, Chinese military capabilities and decision-making for a war over Taiwan, Hong Kong’s government embracing authoritarianism, and a review of economics, trade, security, political, and foreign affairs developments in 2021.

Neither Summit, nor Sidebar: Assessing the Biden-Xi ‘Virtual Meeting’

Carla Freeman, Andrew Scobell,  Jennifer Staats

To address growing tensions between the United States and China, particularly over Taiwan, President Joe Biden and General Secretary Xi Jinping met virtually on Monday night (Tuesday morning in Beijing) for a three-hour discussion that covered a wide array of contentious issues. Both sides downplayed expectations for the session beforehand and have been relatively subdued albeit somewhat positive in their respective post-meeting statements and spins. Less formal than a summit and more structured than a sidebar, what if anything did the extended virtual top-level bilateral discussion achieve?

In assessing the results of the Biden-Xi meeting, it may be useful to consider how much was accomplished in three areas and provide some historical perspective. This assessment is necessarily preliminary because it is based upon publicly available knowledge which at this time is incomplete — namely what each side has chosen to say in front of the cameras and include in official statements in the immediate aftermath of the meeting.

Is Georgia the Next Target of Russia’s Black Sea Strategy?

Kamran Bokhari

As is evident from the Kremlin’s truculent behavior in Ukraine, Russia’s massive military power has direct implications for security in the Black Sea basin. But Moscow isn’t stopping there; it is determined to reverse the Western presence in Georgia, which is why Washington needs to enhance its ties with Tbilisi—a critical node in Western architecture for Trans-Caucasus security.

The U.S. Sixth Fleet’s flagship USS Mount Whitney entered the Black Sea on November 4 where it teamed up with the guided-missile destroyer USS Porter alongside U.S. Air Force F-15E fighter jets and the U.S. Navy’s P-8A anti-submarine spy planes as part of routine maritime operations with NATO allies and partners.

Earlier on November 2, the Russian Armed Forces’ Southern Military District announced that the Bal and Bastion coastal supersonic anti-ship systems conducted simulated launches from camouflaged positions in Crimea as part of “an exercise to destroy a mock enemy surface ship in the Black Sea.” A day earlier, Russian president Vladimir Putin emphasized the “need to further improve aerospace defense,” while warning about “the increasing numbers of NATO flights [and ships] close to Russia.”

Moscow’s Foreign Policy is Getting Increasingly Ideological

Ben Sohl

From the invasion of Ukraine to interference in elections across Europe and the United States, the last ten years have seen a dramatic escalation in the Russian Federation’s activity on the international stage. This increased activity has drawn renewed focus on the nature of the current Russian regime and led to a debate among analysts over the role of ideology in Russian grand strategy.

Representing the non-ideological side of the debate, Eugene Rumer and Richard Sokolsky write for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that “Russia, like any major power, seeks to expand its influence and weaken the position of its perceived adversaries. But there is little evidence that the Kremlin operates according to some master plan or coherent grand strategy to spread its ideology around the world.”

Yet non-ideological descriptions of Russian grand strategy ignore the way the Kremlin believes the global security environment has changed.

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

JEROME P. BJELOPERA, 

Abstract: Given that the U.S. national security establishment has taken up great power competition (GPC) as its primary concern recently, and terrorism has slipped from the top position, it is time for the security policy community to place terrorism within a new conceptual framework, one that combines terrorists, violent criminals, drug traffickers, insurgents, and others under the heading of violent non-state actors (VNSA). The framework might help order the non-GPC threat landscape for decision makers, facilitate comparative understanding of violent threats to the United States, and drive better-informed prioritization within national security.

In the last several years, the priorities of the U.S. national security establishment have shifted away from terrorism toward addressing great power competition (GPC). Threats from Russia and China deeply shaped both the 2017 National Security Strategy1 a and the 2018 National Defense Strategy,2 and GPC continues to influence major U.S. security decision making.3 The widely acknowledged importance of Russia and China—as well as other state actors—in the national security mix has not been accompanied by a reimagining of sub-state violent threats long dominated by terrorism. Twenty years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, it may be time for policymakers to re-conceptualize how they handle terrorism and other violent substate (non-GPC) concerns by grouping together terrorism and like threats.

The Pandemic’s Next Turn Hinges on Three Unknowns

SARAH ZHANG

Winter has a way of bringing out the worst of the coronavirus. Last year, the season saw a record surge that left nearly 250,000 Americans dead and hospitals overwhelmed around the country. This year, we are much better prepared, with effective vaccines—and, soon, powerful antivirals—that defang the coronavirus, but cases seem to be on the rise again, prompting fears of another big surge.

How bad will it get? We are no longer in the most dangerous phase of the pandemic, but we also have not reached the end. So COVID-19’s trajectory over the next few months will depend on three key unknowns: how our immunity holds up, how the virus changes, and how we behave. These unknowns may also play out differently state to state, town to town, but together they will determine what ends up happening this winter.

Here are the basic numbers: The U.S. has fully vaccinated 59 percent of the country and recorded enough cases to account for 14 percent of the population. (Though, given limited testing, those case numbers almost certainly underestimate true infections.) What we don’t know is how to put these two numbers together, says Elizabeth Halloran, an epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. What percentage of Americans have immunity against the coronavirus—from vaccines or infection or both?

The world is entering a new era of big government


“Keep your eye on one thing and one thing only: how much government is spending,” Milton Friedman once said. Today his eyes would be popping. Governments have spent $17trn on the pandemic, including loans and guarantees, for a combined total of 16% of global gdp. On current forecasts, government spending will be greater as a share of gdp in 2026 than it was in 2006 in every major advanced economy. America is about to put $1.8trn into expanding its welfare state; Europe is doling out a €750bn ($850bn) investment fund; and Japan is promising a “new capitalism”, with even more government largesse.

In the coming decades the state’s economic footprint will expand yet further. Four-fifths of the world economy is now subject to a net-zero emissions target, a goal that in Britain is projected to raise the government-debt-to-gdp ratio by 21 percentage points by 2050 as the state subsidises decarbonisation and growth slows. And many countries have ageing populations that will demand vastly more spending on health care and pensions.

THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY’S ECONOMIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL AMBITIONS: SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY, NEW MOBILITY, CLOUD COMPUTING, AND DIGITAL CURRENCY


Introduction 
In the 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP)* (2021–2025), the CCP articulates a vision for economic prosperity that ensures social stability and its paramount control while promoting a “modern socialist country.”1 While the 14th FYP builds on policy ambitions previously articulated by the Chinese government, one of its most significant changes is that it drops precise numerical growth targets. Instead, mounting socioeconomic challenges—from pollution to rising income inequality—are critical factors in motivating the CCP’s focus on delivering quality-of-life improvements. The 14th FYP also looks beyond its five-year remit to longer-term objectives, framing the 2021–2025 period as the latest stage in a longer economic and social development project mapped out to both 2035 and 2049

At the same time that it articulates an ambitious growth agenda, the CCP acknowledges overwhelming domestic obstacles. Achieving indigenous technological breakthroughs is a particularly urgent challenge, driven by the CCP’s perception that state-led innovation is an essential part of redirecting the market to fulfill political objectives and subsequently strengthen CCP security. As pressure from the international community around China’s practices increases, China’s policymakers are looking to assert greater control over the economy, shield its companies from foreign backlash, and direct investment toward high-priority needs such as food security and healthcare. To achieve these objectives, the CCP is rolling out a framework of in-centives to reward companies that follow government guidance and punish those that stray from it.

Big fish in small ponds: China’s subnational diplomacy in Europe

Roderick Kefferpütz

Main findings and recommendations

Largely bypassing EU institutions and national governments, China has steadily expanded its ties at the subnational level, striking up partnerships with countless regions and cities. This has led to increased Chinese investment, research and development (R&D) cooperation, and political and cultural exchanges. Regions and cities in Europe have predominantly welcomed and benefited from Beijing’s increased subnational interest and activities.

While in Europe subnational governance is primarily decentralized, with regions and cities acting autonomously, China’s provinces and cities are part of a highly centralized and unitary system. This puts European subnational actors at a disadvantage when facing Chinese counterparts.

China uses the subnational level to increase its influence, advance its strategic economic and political interests. In this context, European subnational actors that hope to benefit from Chinese investments, R&D cooperation, and cultural exchanges also face risks with regard to growing economic dependency, industrial espionage, technology transfer, and increasing political pressure and disinformation.

Chinese influences in Africa. 1. The political and diplomatic tools of the "great developing country"

Etudes de l'Ifri

China and Africa have enjoyed a strong relationship since the wave of African independences in the 1960s. Nevertheless, relations between China and Africa have significantly expanded since the late 1990s and have been fuelled by a growing discourse centred on a “win-win” partnership between China and Africa.

For many African governments, China represents a viable alternative to Africa’s traditional donors and trading partners. Similarly, China sees many opportunities in developing its relationships with Africa, especially in terms of raw materials and international influence.

However, these relations are also highly controversial and reveal that “Chinafrica” is not characterized by mutual interdependence, but instead by a renewed economic and financial asymmetry. Opposing a monolithic conception of “China’s presence” in Africa, this series of briefs this series made up of the interventions of some fifteen experts during three seminars held in April 2021, insists on the multiple “Chinese influences” on the continent, be they economic, political, diplomatic or security-related. Through a historical perspective, this series highlights the diversity of actors and sectors of cooperation involved in these relations.

This study focuses on the first axis of this series: the political and diplomatic tools of China’s African policy.

The Unpromising Geopolitics of a ‘Green’ Economy

Anand Toprani and John Bowlus

As the world transitions away from fossil fuels, what will the consequences be for global geopolitics and the stability of the international system?

To slow anthropogenic climate change, the world must roll back its consumption of hydrocarbons and transition to renewable, green-energy sources such as solar and wind to generate electricity and fuel transportation. The technologies necessary to harness these green sources require a variety of minerals and metals, which we cumulatively refer to as ‘critical’ minerals and are vital to the production of semi-conductors, lithium-ion batteries, solar panels and wind turbines, as well as non-energy technologies such as mobile phones, computers, robots and military hardware. Countries cannot grow economically and address climate change without these minerals, but a growing reliance on them will have a cascading series of political effects whose exact shape is unclear. Transitioning to green energy will undoubtedly make the world healthier, but will it also make it safer?

The answer depends on whom you ask and how freely and cheaply critical minerals can be produced, processed and acquired. China, thanks to its command of critical minerals supply chains, can keep prices artificially low, discourage new free market entrants from eroding its position, and temporarily hold developed economies hostage by limiting exports. More importantly, China’s capacity for mass producing green-energy technologies may allow it to capture the lion’s share of geopolitical benefits from the transition to green energy.

Weapons tests in space could shut down ATMs and ground your next flight


It was a great week for American infrastructure on the ground. It was a terrible one for the global infrastructure surrounding our planet. On Monday, President Biden signed a bill aimed at updating America’s aging bridges, roadways and drinking-water systems, among other projects. The very same day, the Russian military shot a projectile into space, smashing one of its own derelict satellites into a plume of debris and sending astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station scrambling into emergency shelter.

Upon impact, the Kosmos 1408 satellite broke into hundreds of pieces, each traveling faster than five miles per second and quickly spreading to altitudes between 125 and 500 miles above the Earth. At such high speeds, even tiny objects can pack a punch: Per an analogy offered by NASA, a marble-size piece of debris can strike with a force comparable to a bowling ball traveling at 300 mph. This new debris joins functioning satellites in low Earth orbit, whose numbers have rapidly risen in recent years thanks in large part to the private space industry.

If even a small bit of debris from Kosmos 1408 were to hit a satellite, the results could be catastrophic: Fragments of one destroyed spacecraft would strike other objects, creating more potentially destructive debris. Kessler Syndrome — a domino effect in orbit that could yield the loss of a large cross-section of satellites — looms closer to reality than before.

STRATEGIC FORESIGHT AND THE EU CYBER THREAT LANDSCAPE IN 2025


The member states of the European Union (EU) face an unprecedented challenge arising from cybercrime perpetrated by both non-state actors and well-resourced state actors. Europe’s industry suffers from industrial espionage and its foreign ministries from advanced persistent threats. In 2020, Germany even experienced what was described by some as the first death resulting from cyber means when a ransomware attack caused the unavailability of systems at a hospital. A patient was consequently turned away from Düsseldorf University Hospital and transferred to a different hospital, leading to her death.

To look beyond the present and provide an outlook into the future cyber threat landscape, the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) hosted several workshops in September 2021 with experts from industry, academia, European ministries, and international organizations. In addition to contemplating how a future cyber threat landscape might look, participants envisioned strategies and mechanisms that the EU could deploy to overcome the various challenges that lie ahead.

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

Yuan-Chou Jing, Yi-Ren Lai

Introduction
According to a recent Taiwan Ministry of National Defense (MND) report, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is strengthening its superior capabilities within the battlespace of the first island chain, and bolstering its deterrence capabilities beyond the second island chain in order to fully develop the ability to invade Taiwan by force (Central News Agency, August 31). A central assumption in the MND report is that the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) will conduct saturation strikes against critical military and political facilities in Taiwan during the initial phase of the war.

However, the PLA may be shifting toward a strategy against Taiwan that is not limited solely to saturation strikes, especially as Taiwan’s defenses against these kinds of attacks have improved [1]. For the PLARF, a far more cost-effective approach than eliminating all of Taiwan’s forces on the battlefield, is to launch a series of surgical strikes that paralyze its combat capabilities. As a result, the PLARF has improved its technology in an effort to develop its “effective damage” (有效毁伤, you xiao hui shang) capabilities (CCTV, December 17, 2017).

Hybrid Warfare in an Age of Wokeness

Srdja Trifkovic

I recently attended a two-day conference in Budapest on hybrid war entitled “The Role and Missions of Armed Forces in Below-Threshold Conflicts.” Hosted by the Hungarian Defense Forces (HDF) Transformation Command, a military think tank with the authority and responsibility to chart the modernization and innovation of the country’s military forces.

Contemporary security challenges include the significant, yet elusive, concept of hybrid war. Its ambiguity is illustrated by the fact that the strategic experts and high-ranking military officers who spoke at the conference could not quite agree on a suitable definition.

I, however, define hybrid warfare as the strategy deliberately pursued by a state, substate, or non-state actor which pursues optimal political objectives with the least possible violence, while maintaining some level of plausible deniability for its actions. In my keynote presentation at the conference, I illustrated this analytical framework by citing the strategies pursued in Afghanistan by the Taliban as a substate entity, and more importantly, by its indispensable abettor and state actor par excellence, Pakistan.

A DANGEROUS PERIOD FOR CROSSSTRAIT DETERRENCE: CHINESE MILITARY CAPABILITIES AND DECISION-MAKING FOR A WAR OVER TAIWAN


Introduction 
China’s leaders have historically been deterred from attacking Taiwan by the threat of U.S. intervention and their fears that a war would disrupt their economy and global standing. Decades of concerted modernization have resulted in a PLA that today either has or is close to achieving an initial capability to invade Taiwan—one that remains under development but that China’s leaders may employ at high risk—while deterring, delaying, or defeating U.S. military intervention. The PLA still suffers from significant weaknesses in joint operations and personnel quality but will continue working to address these shortfalls. The PLA’s progress toward building an invasion capability has already undermined cross-Strait deterrence by diminishing the credibility of the U.S. threat to deny the PLA its objectives through intervention. The overall state of deterrence is now undeniably more fragile than before and could fail entirely if certain specific conditions are met.

Cross-Strait deterrence continues to hold today, however, because Chinese leaders remain deeply concerned about the risks and consequences of a decision to invade Taiwan. Specifically, Chinese leaders are currently deterred by the inherent uncertainties of launching an invasion and fighting the U.S. military. They are also concerned about the damage a war could do to China’s economy and the possibility that an attack on Taiwan could prompt a U.S.-led coalition of countries determined to constrain any further growth of Chinese power and influence. As such, diplomatic and economic tools have also become increasingly important for maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

These Are the Top 10 War Movies as Picked by an Actual Combat Veteran

Dustin Gladwell

Among veterans, an enduring debate exists over, “What is the best war movie?” That question is harder than trigonometry to answer. How does anyone pick only one? This is my list of the top war movies: the definitive top 10 war movies of all time.

Picking a favorite is nearly impossible. Also just as difficult as picking the “best” war movie, or even several of the top war movies, especially as a military Veteran. With that in mind, luckily right now, since I am making the rules, I don’t have to pick only one. Or two. Or even three.

The military has a love/hate relationship with Hollywood. Hollywood has a love/hate relationship with the military. Hollywood usually gets it wrong, there is often a spin, or at other times, a seemingly political agenda. Yet at the same time, they love the amount of money that war movies deposit into their corporate bank accounts. Quite often, the war movies that civilians and the critics shape praise on are movies that veterans mock and scorn (Hurt Locker) At times, however, Hollywood gets it right. Some of the top war movies tell amazing stories about incredible people and events.

23 November 2021

India in Space Domain - Pathbreaking Developments

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


Introduction

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.

Deterrence Theory– Is it Applicable in Cyber Domain?

 Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Introduction 

The Deterrence Theory was developed in the 1950s, mainly to address new strategic challenges posed by nuclear weapons from the Cold War nuclear scenario. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union adopted a survivable nuclear force to present a ‘credible’ deterrent that maintained the ‘uncertainty’ inherent in a strategic balance as understood through the accepted theories of major theorists like Bernard Brodie, Herman Kahn, and Thomas Schelling.1 Nuclear deterrence was the art of convincing the enemy not to take a specific action by threatening it with an extreme punishment or an unacceptable failure.

Continue Reading..... 

Infrastructure Development in Tibet and its Implications for India

Suyash Desai

Introduction
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) considers Tibet an intrinsic part of Chinese territory, which it has controlled since the early 1950s. When the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) entered the region in 1951, Tibet was sparsely connected, both internally and with China proper. Today, it is well connected by a comprehensive network of highways, railroads, and air routes. This dual-use infrastructure (along with China’s recent military modernization and ongoing PLA reforms) helps China to manage the threats emanating from its unresolved border dispute with India, which is the PRC’s secondary strategic direction after Taiwan and the Western Pacific [1]. Infrastructure development also supports China’s efforts to maintain internal stability within the restive Tibetan region.

This article surveys the civilian infrastructure that China has built in Tibet over the last two decades, including roads, railroads and airports – all of which are dual-use in nature. In doing so, it also briefly discusses the implications of these developments for China’s unresolved border dispute with India.

Afghanistan-Pakistan Tensions Persist After the Taliban Takeover

Rupert Stone

As the United States prepared to withdraw from Afghanistan earlier this year, I wrote that Pakistan should fear a Taliban takeover of the country. In the case of a Taliban takeover, sanctions would likely be imposed on a Taliban regime, impairing trade and investment and giving the already massive Afghan drug trade a further boost.

Pakistan could also face heightened security risks from terror groups harbored by the Taliban, chiefly Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). I predicted that Islamabad’s assistance to the U.S. “War on Terror” and its attempts to pressure the Taliban at Washington’s behest had created bad blood that could rebound negatively on Pakistan if the militants seized power in Kabul.

And, indeed, the first three months of the new Taliban regime have been a rocky ride for Pakistan and Afghanistan’s new rulers. While Pakistan’s support for the insurgency ultimately succeeded in its aim of mitigating Indian influence in Afghanistan, the group’s victory is no panacea for the two state’s bilateral relations.

America Decided to Leave Afghanistan—Now Leave Them in Peace

Cheryl Benard

What went wrong in Afghanistan? How is it possible that we, a superpower bringing nothing but good things—education, development, democracy, equality—were driven out by a ragtag band with medieval views and hardly any resources? There are, undoubtedly, many factors that went into this debacle, but what killed the project is that it was never grounded in reality. It was a venture launched on a fantasy, conducted on wishful thinking, before ultimately concluding in a head-throbbing, stomach-churning hangover that is now causing us to make even more mistakes.

Almost every single premise that guided our Afghanistan policy was not only incorrect, but for each one, we knew or easily could have known the facts but chose to ignore them. We spent twenty years and two trillion dollars with our finger on the Override button. The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), our very own governmental watchdog agency, consistently waved giant red warning flags, documenting all the things that weren’t working, from aid projects to the military effort. We muzzled that watchdog. Did anyone ever read any of the reports? Can’t have. I will never forget the first one I read, expecting a bland government document, finding instead a precise and detailed account of a catastrophic failure unfolding, with names and dates and numbers that could not be ignored. But were.

Vietnam Needs to Bolster Its ‘Soft Balancing’ Against China

Pham Ngoc Minh Trang

“We reaffirmed that the 1982 UNCLOS is the basis for determining maritime entitlements, sovereign rights, jurisdiction and legitimate interests over maritime zones, and the 1982 UNCLOS sets out the legal framework within which all activities in the oceans and seas must be carried out.”

Since 1992, the year ASEAN first issued a Declaration on the South China Sea, the sentence above has only appeared in the 36th and 37th ASEAN Summit Chairman’s Statements in 2020 – when Vietnam was the chair of the organization.

While other ASEAN countries prefer to merely mention the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in their Chairman’s Statements, Vietnam was more decisive in confirming the role of UNCLOS as a solid and comprehensive basis for establishing a legal maritime order. This resolute position runs counter to China’s rhetoric when it comes to the South China Sea dispute.

Understanding China's Sixth Plenum

Nathan Levine

What’s Happening: China’s Communist Party has just concluded its most important event of the year: the Sixth Plenum of the 19th Central Committee. This meeting was especially significant because the Plenum passed a key resolution on Party history. Such history documents have only been produced twice before, by the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) most powerful previous leaders — Mao Zedong (in 1945) and Deng Xiaoping (in 1981) — to enforce an official line on the past in order to solidify control over the future direction of the Party. Xi Jinping's already strong hold on the party has been strengthened further with the Plenum — and he is now moving well beyond a period of power consolidation to the active deployment of that power across the board.

Key Takeaways for Xi Jinping: For Xi, the Plenum served to accomplish multiple key objectives at once. These can be sorted into three broad categories.

What are the Chinese after? Everything.

Danielle Pletka

In 2018, in the tiny northern Italian hamlet of Pordenone, a company known as Alpi Aviation SRL—a maker of light aircraft and mini-drones used by the Italian military in Afghanistan—was taken over by a new Hong Kong company named Mars Information Technology. That’s when the story, reported recently by the Wall Street Journal, gets interesting. Mars, Italian investigators have concluded, was a front company for two Chinese state and local government-owned firms, China Railway Rolling Stock Corp., or CRRC, and “an investment group controlled by the municipal government of Wuxi, a city near Shanghai.” What does a railway stock company and a local investment group want with an Italian drone maker?

The same thing the Chinese government wants all over Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and, most importantly perhaps, the United States: artificial intelligence technology, military technology and advanced avionics, surveillance equipment, energy supplies, and more. You name it, Beijing wants it, wants to own it, and much of the time, doesn’t want you to be sure exactly who is using it and what for.

Back to little Alpi. Italian authorities believe the Chinese buyers substantially overpaid for their majority stake in the firm. And a year after its first investment, the now Chinese-owned Alpi transferred a military drone to the PRC, lying on the shipping manifest about both the product (which was not a “radio-controlled airplane model”) and its destination (apparently not an import fair in Shanghai).

Beijing Behind Rise of Chinese Private Security Companies Worldwide

Asim Kashgarian

From Afghanistan to France, Chinese people have been attacked and even killed while living abroad. As security threats to Chinese companies, citizens, projects and investments along the Belt and Road development initiative continue, Chinese companies that used to hire local or Western private security companies have switched to employing more Chinese private security companies, experts said.

Niva Yau, researcher at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, told VOA that China's military reform in 2016 "pushed a lot of former military personnel into the private security sector."

As a result, according to Yau, Chinese private security companies in recent years are expanding to other countries along China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which builds infrastructure projects in Asia and Europe.

Prominent scientist who said lab-leak theory of covid-19 origin should be probed now believes evidence points to Wuhan market

Joel Achenbach

The location of early coronavirus infections in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, suggests the virus probably spread to humans from a market where wild and domestically farmed animals were sold and butchered, according to a peer-reviewed article published Thursday in the journal Science that is the latest salvo in the debate over how the pandemic began.

The article, by University of Arizona evolutionary virologist Michael Worobey — a specialist in the origins of viral epidemics — does not purport to answer all questions about the pandemic’s origins, nor is it likely to quell speculation that the virus might have emerged somehow from risky laboratory research.

Worobey has been open to the theory of a lab leak. He was one of the 18 scientists who wrote a much-publicized letter to Science in May calling for an investigation of all possible sources of the virus, including a laboratory accident. But he now contends that the geographic pattern of early cases strongly supports the hypothesis that the virus came from an infected animal at the Huanan Seafood Market — an argument that will probably revive the broader debate about the virus’s origins.

The WTA cares enough about Peng Shuai to stand up to China. Does anyone else?


It is a fact, a contemptible, milk-weak, sordid fact, that the members of the women’s tennis tour have more clean-principled steel when it comes to confronting China than executives at the International Olympic Committee, the NBA, Proctor & Gamble and the Oval Office, to name just a few shoulder-curlers, shrinkers and cringers who can’t seem to find their duty.

It has been two weeks since Peng Shuai, the 35-year-old tennis player who was once No. 1 in the world in doubles, posted a claim on the social media site Weibo that she was sexually assaulted by Zhang Gaoli, a former vice premier under Xi Jinping and top Communist Party leader. “Even if I’m destroying myself, like throwing an egg against a rock, or a moth flying into a flame, I will still speak out the truth about us,” the now-deleted post said. She has not been seen since. Search engines in China are scrubbed of her. Apparently even text mentions of her are flagged by state surveillance. Her social media account has disappeared. Meanwhile, Olympic sponsors and U.S. companies continue to funnel traitorous billions into abetting the coverups of the China president’s lurid regime.

The only organization that has shown any vertebrae on the matter of Peng’s disappearance is the Women’s Tennis Association. Coca-Cola? They’re apparently fine with the mysterious disappearance of a woman.