31 December 2018

The Welfare State Is Committing Suicide by Artificial Intelligence


Everyone likes to talk about the ways that liberalism might be killed off, whether by populism at home or adversaries abroad. Fewer talk about the growing indications in places like Denmark that liberal democracy might accidentally commit suicide.

As a philosophy of government, liberalism is premised on the belief that the coercive powers of public authorities should be used in service of individual freedom and flourishing, and that they should therefore be constrained by laws controlling their scope, limits, and discretion. That is the basis for historic liberal achievements such as human rights and the rule of law, which are built into the infrastructure of the Scandinavian welfare state.

Yet the idea of legal constraint is increasingly difficult to reconcile with the revolution promised by artificial intelligence and machine learning—specifically, those technologies’ promises of vast social benefits in exchange for unconstrained access to data and lack of adequate regulation on what can be done with it. Algorithms hold the allure of providing wider-ranging benefits to welfare states, and of delivering these benefits more efficiently.

Air Force to accelerate deployment of anti-jam satellite communications equipment

by Sandra Erwin

The Air Force is developing software and ground equipment to boost the protection of the Wideband Global satcom system. First in line for the upgrade are naval carrier strike groups. The Navy will get the new technology in 2022, about 18 months sooner than previously planned.

WASHINGTON — The Air Force is cyber hardening military satellite communications equipment amid worries that foreign hackers could infiltrate U.S. networks.

“Adversaries are getting better and more able to penetrate our unclassified or barely protected systems,” said Col. Tim Mckenzie chief of the advanced development division for military satellite communications at the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center.

The bulk of military satcom services are provided by the Air Force Wideband Global Satcom, or WGS, satellites and by commercial operators. All these systems require additional protection from cyber attacks, Mckenzie told SpaceNews in a recent interview.

Warfare is no longer limited to air, land and sea — but our military is


With the newly divided Congress preparing to take office, there will be a clear challenge to the president’s recent call to create a new branch of the military, the “Space Force.” While there are a lot of areas of government that are clearly ripe for partisan bickering, our nation’s defense should be spared that indignity. Let’s examine the call for this new uniformed service from a rational, not ideological point of view.

First of all, the Department of Defense is the largest organization on Earth. It has surpassed the $700 billion level, and is larger than the militaries of China, Russia, and all of Europe- combined. Last year’s plus-up, roughly $69B, was larger than Russia’s entire military budget. That’s right, we added the equivalent of Russia’s military, and then some, to our defense expenditures. Given the size of our alarmingly expanding deficit, the defense budget will be faced with contraction, probably sooner rather than later given the harsh realities of debt. This requires that we organize our military as efficiently as possible.

NEW IN 2019: Carl Gustaf is closer to a squad near you

By: Shawn Snow  

The top Marine wants to kit out every rifle squad with the 84mm recoilless rifle known as the Carl Gustaf and those launchers will start to find their way into the hands of Marines potentially by 2020.

The decision to supply the multimission Gustaf to the grunts was part of an effort by Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller’s modernization efforts to make the force more lethal.

Marine Corps Systems Command says the Corps plans to buy about 1,073 launchers and a contract should be awarded between March-April 2019.

“This is an Army led program and the Marine Corps will be leveraging their existing contract for the launchers,” Barbara Hamby, a spokeswoman with Marine Corps Systems Command said. “The earliest fielding is planned to begin either in the second half of fiscal 2020 or the first part of fiscal 2021,” Hamby said.

30 December 2018

US Exits Afghanistan, Dumps India

“I told you so”

Love to repeat what’s become my favourite line — I TOLD YOU SO!

Immediately after his nomination by the Republican Party as its presidential candidate I had written that once in the White House, Donald Trump would be so self-centered and concerned only with advancing America’s narrow interests that Delhi should pragmatically prepare to get out of its traditional policy of leaning on big powers — the Soviet Union pre-Cold War end and in the new century, the US — for the country’s strategic security. And begin relying on itself and its national resources for its own protection because it will be compelled by the emerging circumstances to do so anyway.

And hence, that Trump’s election would be a good thing because, finally, the value of self-reliance, especially in arms and national security, will be appreciated. (“Why Donald Trump is good for India”, Open magazine 20 July 2016, http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/politics/why-donald-trump-is-good-for-india).

China poised to become Pakistan’s new strategic benefactor


The United States’ top diplomat, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, visited Pakistan this month, along with the chairman the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford. This was the first high-level visit by US officials to the country after the new government in Pakistan assumed office. However, this visit failed to restore normalcy in bilateral relations.

Pakistan-US relations started deteriorating after President Donald Trump assumed office. In a New Year’s tweet, Trump blamed Pakistan for reciprocating $33 billion in US aid with deceit and lies. He threatened to cut down the aid to Pakistan and has made good his claim. Just a few days before Pompeo’s visit, the US announced it would cut $300 million in military aid to Pakistan.

Moreover, the new Pakistani government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan was contemplating applying for a financial bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). However, Pompeo opposes this proposed bailout package on the grounds that Pakistan would use the funds to repay Chinese loans.

China plagued by local government debt risks


Peering into the murky world of local government finance in China has become an art form. With limited data, building a big picture can at times resemble painting a masterpiece without mixing primary colors.

To illustrate the complexity of the problem, the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics conducted its annual survey on the 31 provincial-level regions on their assets and liabilities.

The results were released just before the festive season and they were startling.

High-tech and manufacturing hub Guangdong topped the poll when it came to transparency. The South China province scored 69.38 after supplying nearly 70% of the information requested by researchers from the university’s Public Policy Research Center.

Goodbye War on Terror, Hello China and Russia


With a large rise in U.S. defense spending and a new National Defense Strategy released in January, 2018 was the year the Trump administration left its mark on U.S. military policy.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis began reorienting the military away from the counterterrorism fight of the past two decades and toward competition with near-peers like Russia and China. The Pentagon began preparations to launch a new branch of the military, the Space Force. And top military officials declared the administration’s strategy in Afghanistan a success—even as the Taliban gained control of more and more swaths of the country. To cap off the year, President Donald Trump said he would withdraw all U.S. troops from Syria, drawing criticism from some lawmakers and experts who compared the decision to President Barack Obama’s hasty retreat from Iraq, and prompting Mattis to resign.

Chinese Economy, Transports And Weak Housing are Impacting Markets


The weak Chinese economic data sent US stocks careening lower last week as investor pessimism increased even though estimates for Q4 GDP growth increased. The Atlanta Fed GDP Nowcast changed from expecting 2.4% growth to 3% growth. This tracking estimate gets more accurate as the preliminary GDP estimate comes closer to being released. The issues with China shouldn't be surprising, but they still affected markets.

China's growth has been slowing for years, with only a slight uptick in 2017. There were some solid economic reports earlier this year because firms increased their business before tariffs were implemented. In that case, the tariffs actually boosted growth temporarily.


As China’s role as a major power in international affairs is growing, the Chinese government is becoming more active and more influential in the United Nations (UN). This is likely to have – or, in the eyes of some, already has – a significant impact on the UN’s (future) functioning. Growing Chinese influence is important for all UN members, and particularly so for Western countries, including the Netherlands, which strives to maintain and strengthen the international legal order as a principal foreign policy aim.

This report by Maaike Okano-Heijmans and Frans-Paul van der Putten, with contributions from Etienne Béchard, Louise van Schaik and Vishwesh Sundar, aims to provide a better understanding of the process currently underway. It does so, first, by analysing how and in which direction China’s involvement in the UN is evolving. Next, the discussion turns to the question of how China’s growing involvement is relevant to the setting and the developing of norms and standards within the UN. Finally, the authors explore where European countries and China have common interests, and where their interests are conflicting through presenting three case studies in three thematic areas, namely human rights, development finance and climate change.

Chinese Hybrid Warfare

Sergio Miracola

After Russia’s annexation of Crimea, a new military jargon appeared on the strategic studies scene: hybrid warfare. It has been used since then as a theoretical framework to depict a new way of conducting warfare. Unlike asymmetric warfare, which simply relies on the use of the so-called indirect approach – e.g. non-conventional means of war, such as terrorism, insurgency, and cyber warfare – hybrid warfare distinguishes itself for the simple fact that it envisages the multiple, simultaneous use of different types of operational systems, which range from the conventional to the unconventional spectrum. The key word that defines it at the operational and strategic level is “simultaneity.” In other words, hybrid warfare, to be such, requires the ability to exploit interoperability between different military as well as civilian sectors, all at the same time. Due to its highly flexible operational construct, hybrid warfare’s final objective is to deceive the opponent by merging both conventional and unconventional operations within the so-called “grey” areas, that is, blurry areas where it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish peacetime from wartime operations and vice versa.


By: Craig Kafura

Over the first two years of the Trump administration, the United States has simultaneously aggrieved Japan, a pivotal US ally in Asia, while also taking a more confrontational stance against China. This has raised broad concerns about the future of US involvement in Asia and the basis of support for the US-Japan alliance. While the American public is hesitant to get involved in a conflict between China and Japan, public support for US bases in Japan is at an all-time high, and Americans across party lines want to build strong relations with US allies in Asia.

Key Findings

Americans view the US-Japan relationship as an important one for the US economy (91%) and for US security (79%).

Across the political spectrum, Americans prefer closer ties with traditional allies (66%), even if doing so diminishes US relations with China. This is one of the few issues where the gap between Republicans and Democrats narrowed in the 2018 survey.

Brexit Britain will be just fine


LONDON — There’s some James Bond film in which a power-crazed baddie is planning to blow up the world and a timer has been activated. In the closing scenes at the villain’s lair, the countdown, complete with (inevitably) a Teutonic voice, begins: “Ten minutes und kounting! Nine minutes und kounting!”

Here in Brexit-crazed Westminster, that scene sounds all too familiar.

There are now fewer than 100 days until we are scheduled to leave the European Union on March 29. As European Commission bigshots like to say, "the clock is ticking."

Heaven knows what is going to happen: Will British Prime Minister Theresa May — still alive, and even a little stronger than she was a couple of weeks ago — elicit assurances from Brussels that will help her sell her Withdrawal Agreement deal to a skeptical House of Commons? Will pro-Remain MPs somehow force a second referendum that could stop Brexit? Will we sail out of the EU without a treaty?

The Rise of Illiberal Hegemony Trump’s Surprising Grand Strategy

By Barry R. Posen

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump vowed to put an end to nation building abroad and mocked U.S. allies as free riders. “‘America first’will be the major and overriding theme of my administration,” he declared in a foreign policy speech in April 2016, echoing the language of pre–World War II isolationists. “The countries we are defending must pay for the cost of this defense, and if not, the U.S. must be prepared to let these countries defend themselves,” he said—an apparent reference to his earlier suggestion that U.S. allies without nuclear weapons be allowed to acquire them.

Such statements, coupled with his mistrust of free trade and the treaties and institutions that facilitate it, prompted worries from across the political spectrum that under Trump, the United States would turn inward and abandon the leadership role it has played since the end of World War II. “The US is, for now, out of the world order business,” the columnist Robert Kagan wrote days after the election. Since Trump took office, his critics have appeared to feel vindicated. They have seized on his continued complaints about allies and skepticism of unfettered trade to claim that the administration has effectively withdrawn from the world and even adopted a grand strategy of restraint. Some have gone so far as to apply to Trump the most feared epithet in the U.S. foreign policy establishment: “isolationist.”

How the U.S. Approach to Cyber Conflict Evolved in 2018—and What Could Come Next

Kate Charlet

2018 was in many ways a watershed year for the United States in cyberspace. Washington revamped its cyber strategy. It loosened authorities for military cyber operators. It responded to large-scale global cyberattacks. And it dealt with chilling intrusions on its critical infrastructure. Looking back, though, what did all these changes mean, and how well did U.S. cyber policy fare?

Let’s start with the good news. In two particular areas—attribution and indictments—the United States has shown clear improvements in responding to inappropriate behavior in cyberspace. Over the past year, the Department of Justice significantly increased the pace of indictments against Chinese, Russian, Iranian and North Korean individuals for state-linked cyber activities. The department announced, for example, only one such indictment in 2014, but at least eight in 2018. Such steps, with some exceptions, are not usually enough to change national policies, and more data and analysis are needed to judge their real impact. In theory, though, and especially over the longer term, indictments and sanctions can make it harder for countries to recruit young talented hackers, who may not want to be restricted from travelling to or dealing financially with the United States and Europe.

Good Riddance to America’s Syria Policy


President Donald Trump’s sudden decision Wednesday to withdraw the roughly 2,000 U.S. troops stationed in Syria has set off an all-too-predictable debate between those who believe he is abandoning the sacred mantle of U.S. global leadership and those who believe that Syria is not a vital interest and that U.S. power should be deployed elsewhere or preserved for future contingencies. Hard-line hawks such as Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham and neoconservatives such as Max Boot were quick to denounce Trump’s decision, along with other establishment figures (and Trump critics) such as former CIA Director John Brennan. By contrast, libertarians on the right and noninterventionists on the left have embraced the move, despite their deep aversion to Trump himself and their concerns about most of his other policies.

What’s really at stake in Syria? Is Trump following in former President Barack Obama’s footsteps (as David Sanger of the New York Times suggests), and continuing a “retreat” from America’s previous engagement in the region? Or has Trump simply ordered a prudent redeployment of a very small U.S. force, thereby ending an otherwise open-ended commitment whose strategic purpose was unclear? What broader lessons, if any, should be drawn from this latest episode?

The Hazard of Environmental Morality


One pillar of conservative policy doctrine is that moral hazards should be avoided at all costs. Criticisms of universal health care, for example, are based on the idea that shielding individuals from some of the consequences of their decisions creates an incentive for riskier behavior. Many take the argument one step further, equating moral hazard with moral failing: government policy, the argument goes, makes people too dependent on handouts and crowds out personal responsibility.

The left is not immune to such lines of argument, either. On that side, the criticism typically focuses on policies that appear to free individuals from the responsibility of doing what’s right in the name of the common good. We all know, one argument goes, that we need to change our fossil-fueled lifestyles to stop climate change. Policies that encourage biking more and driving less, for example, are moral. Those that free individuals to do what they want (especially if it runs counter to the common good) are not.

Security Controls at DoD Facilities for Protecting Ballistic Missile Defense System Technical Information DODIG-2019-034

We determined whether DoD Components implemented security controls and processes at DoD facilities to protect ballistic missile defense system (BMDS) technical information on classified networks from insider and external cyber threats.

We conducted this audit in response to a congressional requirement to audit the controls in place to protect BMDS technical information, whether managed by cleared Defense contractors, or by the Government. Cleared contractors are entities granted clearance by the DoD to access, obtain, or store classified information, to bid on contracts, or conduct activities in support of DoD programs.

We analyzed only classified networks because BMDS technical information was not managed on unclassified networks. The classified networks processed, stored, and transmitted both classified and unclassified BMDS technical information. This is the second of two audits to determine whether the DoD protected BMDS technical information from unauthorized access and disclosure. On March 29, 2018, we issued a report on the effectiveness of logical and physical access controls in place to protect BMDS technical information at Missile Defense Agency (MDA) contractor locations. The report identified systemic weaknesses at the contractor locations concerning network access, vulnerability management, and the review of system audit logs.

Russia’s Cyber Strategy

Tim Maurer 

In 2009, Timothy Thomas, a Russia expert at the Foreign Military Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth in the US warned that “[p]erhaps more than any other country, Russia is alarmed over the cognitive aspects of cyber issues as much as their technical aspects”. This warning, delivered seven years before the hack of the Democratic National Committee in the United States, highlights that Moscow has taken a different, more comprehensive and integrated approach to information security compared to Western capitals’ focus on more technical network-centric cyber security. Outlined explicitly in doctrines and strategies over the past two decades, it is becoming increasingly clear how Russia is implementing this perspective in practice – quite successfully so far, one may add.1

Russia’s focus on the control of information dates back to the Soviet era, when the Bolsheviks sought to use mass media not to inform but to shape and mould the populace.2 In more recent times, the Russian government – as shown in official documents like the 2000 Information Security Doctrine – has linked information security to internal stability, arguing that the state should take a strong role in guarding against external interference.3 The doctrine defines information security as, “protection of [Russia’s] national interests in the information sphere defined by the totality of balanced interests of the individual, society, and the state.”4 Over the years, events like the colour revolutions in Ukraine and Georgia, the Arab Spring, and the 2014 ouster of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych have contributed to Russia’s heightened sense of threat in the information domain and have provided justifications for extensive domestic Internet surveillance and control.

How the U.S. Approach to Cyber Conflict Evolved in 2018—and What Could Come Next

Kate Charlet 

2018 was in many ways a watershed year for the United States in cyberspace. Washington revamped its cyber strategy. It loosened authorities for military cyber operators. It responded to large-scale global cyberattacks. And it dealt with chilling intrusions on its critical infrastructure. Looking back, though, what did all these changes mean, and how well did U.S. cyber policy fare?

Let’s start with the good news. In two particular areas—attribution and indictments—the United States has shown clear improvements in responding to inappropriate behavior in cyberspace. Over the past year, the Department of Justice significantly increased the pace of indictments against Chinese, Russian, Iranian and North Korean individuals for state-linked cyber activities. The department announced, for example, only one such indictment in 2014, but at least eight in 2018. Such steps, with some exceptions, are not usually enough to change national policies, and more data and analysis are needed to judge their real impact. In theory, though, and especially over the longer term, indictments and sanctions can make it harder for countries to recruit young talented hackers, who may not want to be restricted from travelling to or dealing financially with the United States and Europe.

How to Stop Losing the Information War


No one is in charge of messaging, counter-messaging, and coordinating America’s instruments of information power. Here’s a way to change that.

Russia “is waging the most amazing information-warfare blitzkrieg in the history of information warfare,” Gen. Philip Breedlove told NATO leaders at their 2014 summit. There’s no evidence that Moscow’s efforts have since slackened—nor that the United States is institutionally equipped to develop an effective response.

This was not always the case. During and just after the Cold War, the U.S. more than held its own in the sphere of information operations. And though the internet — and particularly social media — have greatly increased the speed and scale (and decreased the cost) of such operations, the experience of those years suggests a way to build and run an IO organization to lead them successfully.

Why the Pentagon’s cyber innovation could fall behind

By: Justin Lynch 

Silicon Valley is the home to the transistor and the birthplace of the IT industry. Boston is the home of prominent universities and technology companies such as Raytheon and Boston Scientific.

So where will the country’s hub of cybersecurity innovation reside? A new paper argues that a nucleus of new cybersecurity technologies may struggle to form in the United States.

Because the Department of Defense’s research facilities are dispersed throughout the country and located in smaller metropolitan regions, the Army is in danger of stagnating when it comes to technology innovation, a Dec. 18 paper in the Army’s Cyber Defense Review argued.

China in 2018: A surging PLA, a muscular foreign policy

HONG KONG: 2018 turned out to be a rather significant year for China and its relations with the rest of the world, with the nation finally receiving some pushback for its current trajectory in diplomacy, development and efforts to influence others. This article assesses some key developments from 2018, and looks ahead to what may be in store for 2019. 

Even as much of the Western world observed Christmas as 2018 drew to a close, China was doing its best to downplay or even ban the festival. In the city of Langfang in Hebei province, for example, Santa Claus, Christmas trees and decorative lights were banned. At the same time, many Christians wore black at final church services of the year to symbolize their protest against the growing persecution the government has initiated against the church. 

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) continues to plow on with its build-up and modernization. After shedding excess fat by cutting 300,000 troops, a process virtually completed in early 2018, more money is now available for cutting-edge equipment. A second aircraft carrier is ready to join Liaoning next year, and a third is already under construction. Many estimate that the PLA Navy will eventually acquire six carriers. 

5 biggest security vulnerabilities of 2018

By James Sanders

2018 brought massive, hardware-level security vulnerabilities to the forefront. Here's the five biggest vulnerabilities of the year, and how you can address them.

2018 was a year full of headaches for IT professionals, as security vulnerabilities became larger and more difficult to patch, since software mitigations for hardware vulnerabilities require some level of compromise. Here's the five biggest security vulnerabilities of 2018, and what-if anything-you can do to address them in your organization.

1. Spectre and Meltdown dominated security decisions all year

On January 4, the Spectre and Meltdown vulnerabilities allowing applications to read kernel memory were disclosed, and posed security problems for IT professionals all year, as the duo represented largely hardware-level flaws, which can be mitigated-but not outright patched-through software. Though Intel processors (except for Atom processors before 2013, and the Itanium series) are the most vulnerable, microcode patches were necessary for AMD, OpenPOWER, and CPUs based on Arm designs. Other software mitigations do exist, though some require vendors to recompile their programs with protections in place.



As the West becomes more and more secular, and the discoveries of evolutionary biology and cosmology shrink the boundaries of faith, the claims that science and religion are compatible grow louder. If you’re a believer who doesn’t want to seem anti-science, what can you do? You must argue that your faith—or any faith—is perfectly compatible with science.

And so one sees claim after claim from believers, religious scientists, prestigious science organizations and even atheists asserting not only that science and religion are compatible, but also that they can actually help each other. This claim is called “accommodationism.”

But I argue that this is misguided: that science and religion are not only in conflict – even at “war” – but also represent incompatible ways of viewing the world.
Opposing methods for discerning truth

The impact of artificial intelligence on international trade

Joshua P. Meltzer

Artificial intelligence (AI) stands to have a transformative impact on international trade. Already, specific applications in areas such as data analytics and translation services are reducing barriers to trade. At the same time, there are challenges in the development of AI that international trade rules could address, such as improving global access to data to train AI systems. The following provides an overview of some of the key AI opportunities for trade as well as those areas where trade rules can help support AI development.


Before proceeding to the impact of AI on trade, it is important to clarify what is meant by AI. More specifically, that there is a key difference between narrow AI such as translation services, chatbots, and autonomous vehicles and general AI—“self-learning systems that can learn from experience with humanlike breadth and surpass human performance on all tasks.” General AI raises broader existential concerns, such as how to align the goals of such a system with our own to prevent catastrophic outcomes,[1] but general AI remains a technology still to be developed in the distant future.

The Pentagon thinks cyber ops could be the next WMDs

By Justin Rohrlich

For years, the phrase “weapons of mass destruction,” or WMDs, referred to physical threats: Nuclear bombs, chemical attacks, and biological warfare.

US Department of Defense officials, however, are expanding the definition to include offensive cyber operations. They think the threat is so big, that they’re seeking ideas from academics, research institutions, and non-profit organizations on how to counter a possible cyber-armageddon. Earlier this week, the Pentagon’s Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction, or PASCC, issued a solicitation requesting white papers to help the US prepare for such attacks.

“A new perspective is needed to address this problem,” it wrote in the document. ”It should include independent organizations not anchored to traditional WMD definitional and doctrinal concepts.”

In other words, the Pentagon is looking for out-of-the-box thinkers.


This report is part of our upcoming Strategic Monitor 2018 - 2019, which monitors the international system and assesses risks to Dutch national security. Over the coming weeks additional research papers associated with this Strategic Monitor will be released. A synthesis report (in Dutch) will be published in January 2019.

The West currently faces a number of actors who employ a wide range of measures to influence, coerce, intimidate, or undermine its interests. Many of these measures are often collectively referred to as “political warfare”, a term originally coined by former U.S. State Department diplomat George F. Kennan in 1948.

This report by Danny Pronk defines political warfare as the intentional use of one or more of the traditional implements of national power (diplomatic, informational, military, and economic) to affect the political composition or decision-making within another state. It then analyzes political warfare as it is practiced today by the Russian Federation, and explores its consequences for the rules-based international order, before concluding that political warfare is simply the expression of international relations in today’s competitive and polarized world.

Egypt’s Sisi Has Established Brutal Authority, but Not a Secure Regime

Francisco Serrano 

CAIRO—To the many Egyptians who took to the streets in January 2011 to bring down former President Hosni Mubarak, Cairo is full of reminders of the country's post-revolution failures. Tahrir Square is once again a bleak traffic-laden roundabout; just next to it, the Egyptian Museum is associated with torture by the military after activists were detained and interrogated there following a protest in March 2011. Nearby, the downtown area of Maspero is notorious for the massacre of Coptic Egyptians. To the east, Rabaa al-Adaweya Square symbolizes the violent repression of those, many of them from the Muslim Brotherhood, who opposed the military coup that brought the current president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, to power in July 2013. 

Cairo’s charged urban geography frames the harshness of present-day Egypt. Since taking power, Sisi has used the security apparatus to eradicate dissent and eliminate any remnants of the civic space that emerged nearly eight years ago. Tens of thousands of Egyptians have been arrested. Cases of torture and forced disappearances have become common, and the use of military courts to prosecute civilians has widened

3D printing may be the future in Navy warship construction

The final piece of the underwater hull of the future aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy is lowered into place at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding on Sept. 28. The JFK is the second Gerald R. Ford-class flattop and the second aircraft carrier to be named after the 35th president. The 1,096-foot hull is longer than three football fields and more than 3,000 shipbuilders and 2,000 suppliers from across the country are supporting construction of the ship. (Huntington Ingalls Industries by John Whalen/Navy) 

Hour by hour, and layer by painstaking layer, the machine, a 3D metal printer built by 3D Systems, hums away.

“This build has over a thousand layers so it’s just slowly making its way through,” Dan Hebert, an engineer at Newport News Shipbuilding said. “It’ll take a little over a day. It runs continuously.”

Boko Haram Is Weakening, but Its Decline Will Be Violent and Uneven

Alex Thurston

Boko Haram, the Nigeria-based jihadi movement affiliated with the self-proclaimed Islamic State, has been in decline for more than two years, since it began to lose territory around Lake Chad under joint military pressure from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon. After retreating from major towns in northeastern Nigeria such as Bama and Mubi, Boko Haram now controls only certain remote rural areas in that corner of the country. But even though its strength peaked back in 2015, Boko Haram is still a major threat to Nigeria and its neighbors, as the group’s decline has been uneven and frequently punctuated by shocking attacks.

Consider the military situation on the ground, which has improved from the summer of 2015, when Boko Haram was conducting a fearsome campaign of revenge against Niger, Chad and Cameroon. One recent study found that in 2016, Boko Haram’s attacks fell by 29 percent compared with 2015, and the group inflicted 73 percent fewer casualties. Data for northern Cameroon show that after two deadly winters—2014-2015 and 2015-2016—Boko Haram has been less powerful. In December, Nigerian forces raided Boko Haram camps in Nigeria’s Sambisa forest, one of the sect’s last remaining bastions.

The End of the Democratic Century

By Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa

At the height of World War II, Henry Luce, the founder of Time magazine, argued that the United States had amassed such wealth and power that the twentieth century would come to be known simply as “the American Century.” His prediction proved prescient: despite being challenged for supremacy by Nazi Germany and, later, the Soviet Union, the United States prevailed against its adversaries. By the turn of the millennium, its position as the most powerful and influential state in the world appeared unimpeachable. As a result, the twentieth century was marked by the dominance not just of a particular country but also of the political system it helped spread: liberal democracy. 

As democracy flourished across the world, it was tempting to ascribe its dominance to its inherent appeal. If citizens in India, Italy, or Venezuela seemed loyal to their political system, it must have been because they had developed a deep commitmentto both individual rights and collective self-determination. And if Poles and Filipinos began to make the transition from dictatorship to democracy, it must have been because they, too, shared in the universal human desire for liberal democracy. 

GPS III and the demands of a dangerous new space age

By: Kelsey D. Atherton 

CAPE CANAVERAL — After an aborted launch Tues., Dec. 18, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully carried its payload into orbit Sun., Dec. 23. With the launch begins the installation of a new constellation of GPS satellites and a looming question over the entire enterprise: Can communications in space be secured by good satellite design alone?

“Launch is always a monumental event, and especially so since this is the first GPS satellite of its generation launched on SpaceX’s first national security space mission. As more GPS III satellites join the constellation, it will bring better service at a lower cost to a technology that is now fully woven into the fabric of any modern civilization,” Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, commander of the Space and Missile Systems Center and Air Force program executive officer for space, said in a released statement.

The Army wants new tools to sense, disrupt and protect signals

By: Mark Pomerleau  

The industry day will take place in January. (Staff Sgt. Armando R. Limon/Army)

The Army will be hosting members of industry in 2019 to discuss opportunities on signals intelligence and electronic warfare, according to a December 2018 notice.

The Signals Intelligence/Electronic Warfare (SIGINT/EW) Future Opportunities and Terrestrial Layer System (TLS) Industry Day will be hosted Jan. 23 at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.

Here's how the Army is fusing intelligence and electronic warfare.

29 December 2018

India and the World

Samir Saran

This Global Governance Working Paper is a feature of the Council of Councils (CoC), an initiative of the Council on Foreign Relations. Targeting critical global problems where new, creative thinking is needed, the working papers identify new principles, rules, or institutional arrangements that can improve international cooperation by addressing long-standing or emerging global problems. The views and recommendations are the opinion of the authors only. They do not necessarily represent a consensus of the CoC members, and they are not the positions of the supporting institutions. The Council on Foreign Relations takes no institutional positions on policy issues and has no affiliation with the U.S. government.
The Challenge

The future of global development and the shift to a new low-carbon growth model will hinge on the choices of the global south and, in particular, India. Home to over a billion individuals whose lifestyle demands and aspirations are rising quickly, India’s development choices require a unique urgency. It is the first large country to transition from a low- to middle-income economy in a fossil fuel–constrained world. And in the absence of aid and contributions from developed economies, India will have to develop its economy largely through its own political and financial arrangements.

Review of President Trump's South Asia Strategy


Over one year after the announcement of the Trump administration’s strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia, significant opportunity remains to improve efforts to achieve peace. In the Atlantic Council South Asia Center’s new report, Review of President Trump’s South Asia Strategy: The Way Ahead, One Year In, authors Dr. Bharath Gopalaswamy, Director, South Asia Center, Atlantic Council; Ambassador James Cunningham, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Atlantic Council; General David Petraeus, Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency; Dr. Ashley J. Tellis, Tata Chair for Strategic Affairs, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; Ambassador Husain Haqqani, Director for South and Central Asia, Hudson Institute; Mr. Manish Tewari, Distinguished Fellow, Atlantic Council; and Ms. Anita McBride, Executive in Residence, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University offer a list of recommendations to bolster the administration’s strategy and move toward a successful peace process in Afghanistan.

Western Nations Are Repeating the Mistakes of 1914

by Anatol Lieven

In their enthusiasm for a new cold war against China and Russia, the Western establishments of today are making a mistake comparable to that of their forebears of 1914.

This year saw the centennial anniversary of the end of the World War I, in which some sixteen million Europeans died, two great European countries were destroyed, and other countries were crippled. This year may also be seen by future historians as the last year of the period between the cold wars, when after twenty-nine years of relative quiet, the world’s major powers once again moved into positions of deep and structural mutual hostility.

World War I also engendered the dreadful scourges of Communism and Nazism, and thereby led to World War II, which very nearly finished off European civilization. As a result of these catastrophes, almost all of the political and cultural elites that led their countries into war in 1914 were swept away, and in the Russian and Austrian cases, destroyed. Historians differ concerning the precise balance of causes and of blame for the disaster of 1914, but on one thing all are agreed: nothing that the great powers could conceivably have gained from going to war remotely compared to what they risked losing.

The China Reckoning

By Kurt M. Campbell and Ely Ratner

The United States has always had an outsize sense of its ability to determine China’s course. Again and again, its ambitions have come up short. After World War II, George Marshall, the U.S. special envoy to China, hoped to broker a peace between the Nationalists and Communists in the Chinese Civil War. During the Korean War, the Truman administration thought it could dissuade Mao Zedong’s troops from crossing the Yalu River. The Johnson administration believed Beijing would ultimately circumscribe its involvement in Vietnam. In each instance, Chinese realities upset American expectations.

With U.S. President Richard Nixon’s opening to China, Washington made its biggest and most optimistic bet yet. Both Nixon and Henry Kissinger, his national security adviser, assumed that rapprochement would drive a wedge between Beijing and Moscow and, in time, alter China’s conception of its own interests as it drew closer to the United States. In the fall of 1967, Nixon wrote in this magazine, “The world cannot be safe until China changes. Thus our aim, to the extent that we can influence events, should be to induce change.” Ever since, the assumption that deepening commercial, diplomatic, and cultural ties would transform China’s internal development and external behavior has been a bedrock of U.S. strategy. Even those in U.S. policy circles who were skeptical of China’s intentions still shared the underlying belief that U.S. power and hegemony could readily mold China to the United States’ liking.