30 January 2019

The Pentagon’s Cybersecurity Is Falling Behind

Andrew Mayeda

The Trump administration will press China to prove it can keep promises in talks this week aimed at ending the trade war, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, as the U.S. ratcheted up legal pressure on one of the biggest examples of Chinese technological might.

In a sign of the importance the White House is placing on the talks, President Donald Trump is expected to meet China’s top trade negotiator, according to Mnuchin at a briefing Monday in Washington. The round of talks Wednesday and Thursday will cover U.S. demands for structural changes to China’s economy and Beijing’s pledge to buy more American goods.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the nation’s top trade negotiator, had already arrived in Washington by Monday local time, the state Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday. PBOC governor Yi Gang and Vice Finance Minister Liao Min are among the delegation members, Xinhua said.

How the intel community could use machines and AI

By: Mark Pomerleau 

The intelligence community has unveiled its multi-pronged plan to compete in the increasingly digital and data-centric world.

The strategy, titled “Augmenting Intelligence using Machines (AIM)” and released Jan. 16, outlines how the intelligence community will adjust its investments, personnel and practices to better incorporate associated technologies

“To meet its vision of ensuring intelligence advantage, the IC must adapt to the rapid global technological democratization in sensing, communications, computing, and machine analysis of data,” Sue Gordon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, said in the document. “These trends threaten to erode what were previously unique [IC] capabilities and advantages; going forward, we must improve our ability to analyze and draw conclusions from IC-wide data collections at scale.”

Trouble Awaits Any Military Intervention in Venezuela


Many lower-level Venezuelan military personnel could desert their positions if ordered to crack down on opposition demonstrators.

At the same time, the country's armed forces could quickly muster a hasty defense to resist any outside intervention intent on overthrowing the government.

Any intervening force would face numerous challenges, including difficult terrain, logistical issues, guerrilla attacks and the prospect of fighting beleaguered but well-equipped Venezuelan forces.

With the United States and much of Latin America recognizing Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president — declaring President Nicolas Maduro's government as "illegitimate" in the process — it appears that the country is heading toward a chaotic, violent transition of power. As the stakes rise, so does the possibility that Venezuela could witness an external military intervention (an option that Washington has so far refused to take off the table in its desire to see the back of Maduro), particularly if Caracas responds with mass violence against opposition protesters. But despite the weakened state of Venezuela's armed forces, any military intervention in the country is unlikely to be a simple and seamless affair.

Army Secretary Says Talent Reform Is Top Priority For 2020

By SYDNEY J. FREEDBERG JR.

Army Secretary Mark Esper addresses the Talent Management Task Force he created to overhaul the cumbersome, centralized military personnel bureaucracy.

PENTAGON: With equipment modernization now in overdrive, Army Secretary Mark Esper is shifting his focus to the human beings that will use the new weapons. In a media roundtable Thursday afternoon, he promised top-to-bottom reviews of both the Army’s cumbersome, centrally-managed personnel system – “my top priority for this year” – and how the force should reorganize for a major multi-domain war against Russia or China.

Esper outlined a long list of initiatives from recruiting to training to electronic warfare. But I’d identify three major lines of effort (my formulation, not his) that will run in parallel and then converge circa 2024, when a new breed of troops will man new kinds of combat units equipped with new technologies: talent & training, concepts & units, and money & modernization.

Climate Change Is a Threat to Military Security


This is a guest post by Benjamin Silliman, research associate for Energy Security and Climate Change at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released a congressionally-mandated report detailing the challenges climate change poses to the U.S. military. Citing increased exposure recurrent flooding, drought, desertification, wildfires, and thawing permafrost, the report highlights how climate change affects U.S. military readiness to respond to national security emergencies.

The report includes a list of selected events where mission related activities at military installations were compromised due to environmental vulnerabilities as well as a brief list of policies taken to mitigate future damages. To quantify the extent to which the military is threatened by climate change, the report tracked seventy-nine priority American domestic installations chosen by their critical operational roles. While the public report was circumspect on details given the sensitive strategic nature of the subject, it did identify climate change as an important and tangible threat to the U.S. military.

29 January 2019

India Becoming Transit Route For Drugs Entering Bangladesh

By Kamran Reza Chowdhury

Methamphetamine tablets made in Myanmar that were traditionally smuggled through southeastern Bangladesh are coming across the border from India, Bangladeshi officials told BenarNews.

Meanwhile, local law-enforcement authorities confirmed that smuggling rose sharply during the past three years in Cox’s Bazar district, where 14 suspected drug dealers, including five Rohingya, were shot dead by police this month. Cox’s Bazar, located in the southeastern corner of Bangladesh, borders Myanmar and is home to hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees.

Despite recent statements from Bangladeshi officials that they had demolished a drug network in the district, evidence suggests that smuggling routes shifted north in response to an anti-drug crackdown in Bangladesh. In October 2018, the government of the South Asian country approved a draft law allowing the death penalty for drug offenses.

Our Longest War Is Still an Important War

By Michael E. O’Hanlon

President Trump may be a controversial and disruptive president. But in regard to Afghanistan, his frustration with the 17-year war differs little from the sentiments of President Barack Obama or most of the rest of us. Reportedly, he has asked for a precipitous cut of up to half the 14,000 American troops serving there, early this year.

That would be a mistake. There is still a strong case to sustain America’s longest war — especially if we redefine it, away from nation-building and toward something more like an enduring partnership with the Afghan people against regional and global extremism. Indeed, Washington should stop looking for an exit strategy and view Afghanistan as one pillar in a broader regional web of capabilities against Al Qaeda, the Islamic State and related movements that show few signs of dissipating. Over time, we can gradually reduce our forces, but we will want selective intelligence and military capabilities in South Asia for many years to come.

Jan 24, 2019 | 13:00 GMT 6 mins read Tracking Jihadist Movements in 2019: The Taliban and Grassroots Militants


Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have come to dominate the global jihadist movement, but they certainly do not have a monopoly on this brand of militancy. And in terms of actual state-building, one group — the Taliban — exercised control over a large area long before either al Qaeda or the Islamic State ever grabbed pockets of territory. The Afghan-based movement, in fact, presents a unique case study: Though it shares both al Qaeda and the Islamic State's aim of establishing a state governed by an austere vision of Islam, it remains largely nationalist in its aims, choosing to limit its struggle to Afghanistan. For years, the Taliban have retained a close relationship with al Qaeda (after all, it hosted and protected the latter's founder, Osama bin Laden, at the time of the 9/11 attacks), yet they are not a franchise of the transnational movement. In fact, al Qaeda's leadership has even pledged allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada.

With Afghanistan entering a critical year, let's take a look at the Taliban's likely course of action in 2019.

War On Drugs: How To Win In Philippines, Bangladesh – Analysis

By Iftekharul Bashar*

The counter-narcotics efforts of the Philippines and Bangladesh can be successful only if a comprehensive and long-term approach is taken.

The increase in drugs-related crimes in the Philippines and Bangladesh has pushed both governments to adopt a hard-line approach to get rid of the scourge of drugs. Though human rights groups often criticise the tough anti-narcotics measures, undoubtedly there is popular support for it in both the countries.

Since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, he has made it clear that war on drugs is his top priority. Likewise, Bangladesh under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina started its crackdown on drugs in mid-2018. However it seems neither the Philippines nor Bangladesh has been successful in eradicating the scourge. Both countries need to adopt a comprehensive and long-term approach.

Spite Won’t Beat China in Africa

By Lina Benabdallah

When Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi touched down in Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Gambia, and Senegal in January, he was not there to cut the ribbon on the new roads and bridges that have been at the center of U.S. attention toward Chinese efforts in Africa. Wang’s trip, like many others made by Chinese leaders in the last three decades, was intended to reinforce the layers of networks and relationships that have been spun between Chinese and African diplomats, military officers, party officials, journalists, and civil servants.

Beijing says it respects all African countries as important partners regardless of size or power—as long as they disavow Taiwan—and its diplomatic practices do a lot to reinforce that. Since 1990, Chinese foreign ministers have made a point of picking Africa for their first trip of the new year.

Revolution or evolution? Xi Jinping and the future of China’s foreign policy


The future of U.S.-China relations has not been so uncertain since before the normalization of relations in 1979. There are acute differences over fundamental issues, ranging from governance models to economic practices to human rights to strategic issues.

Because this spike in tensions has coincided with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s consolidation of power, many in the United States associate the downturn in relations with Xi. The prevailing narrative in the United States is that President Xi is determined to take China in a new direction, a direction that many experts on China describe as increasingly illiberal at home and aggressive abroad.

To critically assess this narrative—which could have profound policy consequences—Tarun Chhabra of the Brookings Project on International Order and Strategy and Ryan Hass of the Brookings John L. Thornton China Center have assembled nine experts who are compelling, new voices in the field of China studies in both academia and the policy world.

Three charts show how China’s AI industry is propped up by three companies

by Karen Hao

Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent, the three Chinese tech giants loosely equivalent to Google, Amazon, and Facebook, are not just developing and deploying AI themselves. Their deep pockets have also funded a broad range of AI companies, focused on everything from smart cities to finance to education.

Last week, Chinese media outlet Huxiu.com published a graphic that illustrates the full extent of their involvement across China’s AI industry. (The graphic is quite complicated, so I translated it into three bar charts below. Here is also an English translation of the article it originated in, courtesy of Jeffrey Ding, who writes the ChinAI newsletter.) It revealed that BAT invests in 53% of the nation’s 190 major AI companies. This may not surprise those of you who closely follow China’s AI ecosystem. But it’s quite a different topology for those more familiar with Silicon Valley’s.

China Appears to Block Microsoft’s Bing as Censorship Intensifies

By Paul Mozur and Karen Weise

SHANGHAI — Under China’s president, Xi Jinping, the last vestiges of the global internet have slowly disappeared from an online world that had already shut out Twitter, Google and Facebook.

Now one of the last survivors, Microsoft’s Bing search engine, appears to have joined them — even though the American company already censors its results in China.

The Chinese government appeared to block the search engine on Wednesday, in what would be a startling renunciation of more than a decade of efforts by Microsoft to engage with Beijing to make its products available. If the block proves to be permanent, it would suggest that Western companies can do little to persuade China to give them access to what has become the world’s largest internet market by users, especially at a time of increased trade and economic tensions with the United States.

Trump, Huawei, and the Politics of Extradition

By Chimène Keitner

On December 1, Canadian police, acting at the request of U.S. authorities, arrested Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou during a layover in Vancouver. A judge in New York had issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest on August 22, alleging that between 2010 and 2014, Meng had conspired to commit bank fraud by concealing links between Huawei and two shell companies that it used to conduct business in Iran, enabling Huawei to access the dollar-based financial system in violation of U.S. secondary sanctions. Washington is now seeking Meng’s extradition to the United States.

The arrest was a bombshell. Huawei is the world’s largest manufacturer of telecoms equipment, and Meng is the daughter of the company’s founder and chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, a former military engineer believed to be well connected within the Chinese Communist Party. Beijing was outraged. In an op-ed for a Canadian newspaper, the Chinese ambassador accused Ottawa of “western egotism and white supremacy” and of “mocking and trampling the rule of law.” The Chinese government arrested two Canadian citizens in China on national security charges, apparently in an attempt to put pressure on Canada. It may be working—just yesterday, the Canadian Ambassador to China told Chinese-language media that Meng has a “strong case” and that her extradition to the United States “would not be a happy outcome.”

Questioning The Reasons For U.S. Involvement in the Middle East


The security environment in the Middle East may be the most complex on earth, with an intricate, volatile and sometimes shifting mixture of destabilizing forces and hostilities. There are deadly power struggles within and between nations. And behind it all is the Middle East’s massive oil production, on which the global economy depends. 

The United States first ventured into the Middle East early in the Cold War and has remained heavily involved, particularly since the 1970s. Over the decades, America’s policies and partnerships in the region have evolved, but the basic reasons for U.S. involvement in the Middle East remained consistent: preventing a hostile power from using the region’s petroleum reserves as a weapon. To achieve that objective, the U.S. used direct applications of military power when necessary but relied heavily on local allies, from Egypt to the Gulf states, bolstering them with security assistance and weapons sales.

Sorry, Britain, You’re Just Not That Important for Europe

BY SIMON TILFORD

Most Continental Europeans are deeply bored by the endless theater of British politics and just want the Brexit issue resolved one way or another. A small minority in Europe, however, is deeply invested in the outcome—though its preferred outcomes are diametrically opposed. Many business leaders and liberals worry that Brexit will leave the European Union poorer, less open economically, and less likely to develop the kind of strategic mindset required for Europe to start taking care of itself. Conversely, for many federalists and other supporters of a “ever closer union,” Brexit will free the EU of a vexing member state that has thwarted the closer integration essential to meeting the challenges facing the bloc.

These Europeans’ views obviously reflect differing visions for the future of the EU. But they have one thing in common: They greatly exaggerate the implications of a Britain-free EU.

Animosity Between Iran and Europe Could Derail Efforts to Save the Nuclear Deal

Frida Ghitis

Relations between Iran and the European Union seemed to enjoy something of a honeymoon just after President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the United States out of the 2015 agreement limiting Tehran’s nuclear program. But it is becoming increasingly evident that any warm feelings engendered by a joint commitment to preserve the Iran deal and stand against Trump have cooled significantly. Europe and Iran are now growing farther apart amid accusations that the Islamic Republic is engaging in behavior that Europe cannot countenance. The nuclear deal itself could ultimately collapse in the acrimony.

Last May, when Trump announced the U.S. was unilaterally withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA—the awkwardly named agreement that was the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy—Europe, along with Russia and China, vowed that they remained determined to prevent the deal from unraveling. A few months later, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, leaders gathered with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and issued a statement reaffirming their vow

Populists Keep Winning the Messaging War in Europe Over Migration

Laura Kupe

European leaders gathered twice last year to try and develop an EU-wide approach to the still-divisive issues of migration and the integration of refugees, and both times they failed to reach any consensus, yet again. Building on public anxieties around migration, far-right populist parties succeeded in sowing more discord across the continent, with many centrist and liberal politicians having difficulty formulating a response. 

The effectiveness of these anti-migrant and even nativist campaigns was evident with the controversy over the adoption of the United Nations’ Global Compact on Migration last month in Morocco. The compact initially enjoyed support from all U.N. members, including the United States, when its drafting process was launched in 2016. But the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the compact more than a year ago, claiming that numerous provisions in the agreement were “inconsistent with U.S. immigration and refugee policies.” 

Can Kim Jong Un Bring North Korea In From the Cold?


For nearly a quarter-century, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the North Korean regime's continued survival has baffled observers. When North Korea’s founding leader Kim Il Sung died, North Korea entered a period of famine that lasted three years and killed hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of North Korean citizens. Yet the regime carried on under his son, Kim Jong Il, and his grandson, Kim Jong Un, currently leads the country, making it the only communist regime to practice hereditary leadership succession—not once, but twice. 

So how has the North Korean regime remained in power for more than 60 years under the unbroken leadership of three generations of the Kim family? To evaluate the future prospects of North Korea—be it gradual evolution, sudden transformation or collapse—it is critical to understand how the hereditary leadership system has developed historically, its current state and its future prospects.

Alternate forms of Brexit and their implications for the United Kingdom, the European Union and the United States

PDF file 1.4 MB 

Whether Brexit is judged to be success or not will depend to some degree on its economic impact. Much of the debate in the UK around Brexit has been focused on a 'hard' or 'soft Brexit', which relates to whether the UK should leave the Single Market and the Customs Union. However, there are a range of different trade opportunities and arrangements that could happen between the UK and European Union (EU), and other countries, such as the U.S., post-Brexit.

The chosen trade arrangement will largely depend on the UK's negotiations with the EU. This will involve a complex set of talks between both parties involving multiple issues. The Brexit negotiations appear to be particularly challenging for the UK, as it attempts to disentangle its current ties with the EU, while also negotiating arrangements for a future UK–EU trading relationship.

As the INF Treaty Spat Heats Up, Russia Shows Off a Missile


What Happened: The Russian military presented its 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile — the weapon at the center of a dispute between Moscow and Washington — to a crowd of Russian and foreign officials on Jan. 23. With the show and tell, the Kremlin is aiming to demonstrate that the missile is not, as the United States has claimed, in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

Russian officials said the 9M729 cruise missile, also known as the SSC-8, has a range of just 500 kilometers, which is within the restrictions imposed by the INF Treaty.(VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Why it Matters: Russia made the presentation of the 9M729 after the country's negotiators offered to provide the United States with more details as to why the missile did not infringe upon the INF Treaty, only for the United States to politely decline. Russia's case rests on a single number on an infographic that claims the range of the missile is less than 500 kilometers, but the United States has claimed that the missile traveled beyond this distance — which would violate the INF Treaty — during initial tests in 2010-2011. 

Trump to China: ‘I Own You.’ Guess Again.

By Thomas L. Friedman

Early in the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” a Chinese-Singaporean father admonishes his young kids to finish their dinner, saying, “Think of all the starving children in America.” I’m sure that everyone of my generation in the theater laughed at that joke. After all, we’d all been raised on the line: “Finish your dinner. Think of all the starving children in China.”

That little line contained within it many messages: The first, which any regular traveler to China’s biggest urban areas can tell you, is that rich China today — its luxury homes, cars, restaurants and hotels — is really rich, rich like most Americans can’t imagine.

The second is that this moment was destined to be a test of who will set the key rules of the global order in the 21st century: the world’s long-dominant economic and military superpower, America, or its rising rival, China. And this test is playing out with a blossoming full-scale trade war.

Trump’s Rhetoric Is Raising the Risk of Right-Wing Terrorism

By DANIEL BYMAN

Politics quickly eclipsed horror after Robert Bowers allegedly gunned down 11 worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue in October. The shooting, the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history, almost immediately became intertwined with Donald Trump’s divisive presidency. While the president appropriately condemned a “wicked act of murder” and anti-Semitism in general, he also quickly veered toward his own domestic political agenda, telling reporters that the shooting was not related to permissive gun laws and, in fact, “if they had some kind of a protection inside the temple, maybe it could have been a very much different situation, but they didn’t. And he was able to do things that unfortunately he shouldn’t have been able to do.”

Progressive Jews in Pittsburgh expressed their anger at the president, circulating a petition asking him not to visit the city because he had failed to condemn white nationalism and had targeted minorities in general. Trump then, of course, tweeted against the “Fake News” media for how they were covering the story.

Trump’s Foreign Policy Is No Longer Unpredictable

By Thomas Wright

It has become a commonplace to describe the foreign policy of U.S. President Donald Trump as unpredictable. But doing so mischaracterizes the man and the policy. In fact, although Trump’s actions may often be shocking, they are rarely surprising. His most controversial positions—questioning NATO, seeking to pull out of Syria, starting trade wars—are all consistent with the worldview he has publicly espoused since the 1980s.

The unpredictability of this administration originated not in Trump’s views but in the struggle between the president and his political advisers on the one hand and the national security establishment on the other. Until recently, these two camps vied for supremacy, and it was difficult to know which would win on any given issue.

US Military Eyes Tiny Nuclear Reactors for Deployed Troops

BY PATRICK TUCKER

The Strategic Capabilities Office wants to fund prototypes, picking up on decades of intermittent research

Getting fuel to remote operating bases is a big problem for the U.S. military. In 2008, during the height of combat in Iraq, the Government Accountability Office estimated that more than 900,000 gallons of fuel went to bases for basic power needs like lighting and refrigeration (on top of the 6.7 million gallons the military burned that year in jets and ground vehicles.) The U.S.military’s Strategic Capabilities Office has put out a request for information about small nuclear reactors that could deploy to the sorts of hillside forward bases U.S. troops set up in places like Afghanistan.

According to the request for “Project Dilithium,” the reactor should fit on a truck and a C-17 aircraft and generate from one to 10 megawatts of electric power for three years without refueling. Soldiers have to be able to stand it up in 72 hours and take it down in a week. It’s got to be meltdown-proof. The office is looking to fund three different prototype designs and will then select a winner from among them.

What Is Happening in Venezuela? How It Got Here and Why It Matters

By Megan Specia

Just two weeks after President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela was sworn in for a second term, an opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, declared himself the interim president, directly challenging the country’s leadership.

Tens of thousands of protesters rallied across the country on Wednesday in support of Mr. Guaidó, and the United States, Canada and many Latin American countries quickly recognized him as the legitimate head of state.

Mr. Maduro, in return, severed remaining diplomatic ties with the United States and ordered its embassy personnel out of the country within 72 hours, a deadline the Americans said they would ignore.

“I am the only president of Venezuela,” Mr. Maduro told the country, speaking from the balcony of the presidential palace on Wednesday. “We do not want to return to the 20th century of gringo interventions and coups d’état.”

The steam has gone out of globalisation

WHEN AMERICA took a protectionist turn two years ago, it provoked dark warnings about the miseries of the 1930s. Today those ominous predictions look misplaced. Yes, China is slowing. And, yes, Western firms exposed to China, such as Apple, have been clobbered. But in 2018 global growth was decent, unemployment fell and profits rose. In November President Donald Trump signed a trade pact with Mexico and Canada. If talks over the next month lead to a deal with Xi Jinping, relieved markets will conclude that the trade war is about political theatre and squeezing a few concessions from China, not detonating global commerce.

Such complacency is mistaken. Today’s trade tensions are compounding a shift that has been under way since the financial crisis in 2008-09. As we explain, cross-border investment, trade, bank loans and supply chains have all been shrinking or stagnating relative to world GDP (see Briefing). Globalisation has given way to a new era of sluggishness. Adapting a term coined by a Dutch writer, we call it “slowbalisation”.

Why a Global Economic Downshift, No Matter How Small, Matters


Recently, a number of signs have emerged that the global economy, which had been running hot over the past few years, is cooling off. One of the latest comes in the form of a Jan. 21 quarterly report from the International Monetary Fund, which has lowered global economic growth projections by 0.2 percent for 2019 and 0.1 percent for 2020.

A 0.4 percent downshift in growth expectations over a six-month period marks a significant adjustment. As Stratfor laid out in the 2019 Annual Forecast, geopolitical risks abound for the global economy, a forecast that is running true thus far. But despite the indications and the continued adjustments in the IMF outlook, Stratfor still believes that the global economy will avoid a crisis. Although "there is cause for concern," as we put it, we do expect a soft landing for the economy in 2019. Nevertheless, certain regions face a heightened risk of economic trouble, and we will continue to watch many of them closely.

In areas of Europe in particular, the IMF update indicated a more significant decline in expected growth ahead. It dropped its 2019 outlook by 0.6 percent for Germany and by 0.4 percent for Italy. Added to that is the raft of weaker economic data coming out of the China and the partial U.S. government shutdown, which by White House calculations, could cut domestic economic growth by 0.13 percent for each week that it continues.

Venezuela's on a Road to Nowhere Good

By Reggie Thompson

The United States and Venezuela's government opposition will increase pressure on the administration of President Nicolas Maduro in an attempt to further divide the country's ruling elites.

U.S. punitory measures, such as an oil import ban, will drive some military officers and key officials to consider pushing Maduro from office to avoid heavier sanctions and ease internal competition for scarce revenue.

The severity of Washington's approach, combined with the Venezuelan government's reluctance to voluntarily step down, make a violent exit for Maduro increasingly likely.

Venezuela is heading toward a chaotic, violent transition of power. The government is fighting a losing battle against declining oil output and its own voracious political elites. Low oil prices, high government spending and extreme corruption destroyed Venezuela's energy sector — the country's sole source of export revenue. Without vast sums of oil money to line their pockets — and fund populist social programs — Venezuela's powerful political leaders have no choice but to compete for what's left of the revenue. And what's left will not be enough to keep all of them happy for long. Irreconcilable differences are fast emerging. Impelled by U.S. sanctions and more intense opposition protests, divisions among the country's rulers are widening. The key questions to ask at this stage are how will members of the Venezuelan government settle their differences — and when.

‘Nearly all’ American networks will be susceptible to cyberattacks

By: Justin Lynch 

When it comes to cybersecurity, the four-year prognosis laid out by the Untied States intelligence community is stark.

“Nearly all information, communication networks, and systems will be at risk for years to come,” the 2019 national intelligence strategy reads. The strategy, which was releasedJan. 22 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, is a four-year road-map for the American intelligence community.

While the strategy touches on other topics, such as counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation, cybersecurity is listed as a top priority.

“As the cyber capabilities of our adversaries grow, they will pose increasing threats to U.S. security, including critical infrastructure, public health and safety, economic prosperity, and stability,” the document reads.

Data Privacy Rules In The EU May Leave The US Behind


France made headlines on Jan. 21 for fining Google US$57 million - the first fine to be issued for violations of the European Union’s newly implemented General Data Protection Regulations. GDPR, as it’s called, is meant to ensure consumers’ personal information is appropriately used and protected by companies. It also creates procedures to sanction companies who misuse information.

According to French data privacy agency the National Commission on Informatics and Liberty (CNIL), which levied the fine, Google didn’t clearly and concisely provide users with the information they needed to understand how it was collecting their personal data or what it was doing with it. Additionally, CNIL said Google did not obtain user consent to show them personalized advertisements. For its part, Google may appeal.

GDPR Compliance Brings Other Benefits: Cisco Study

By Eduard Kovacs

Companies that are ready for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have reported shorter sales delays and fewer or less serious data breaches, according to Cisco’s 2019 Data Privacy Benchmark Study.

The study uses data collected for Cisco’s Annual Cybersecurity Benchmark Study, for which over 3,200 security professionals from around the world were surveyed. Privacy-related questions were addressed to more than 2,900 of them.

The Data Privacy Benchmark Study shows that organizations that have invested in customer privacy requirements, mainly to become GDPR compliant and to avoid fines and penalties, are seeing some benefits beyond GDPR compliance.

According to Cisco, 59% of respondents said their organization had met GDPR requirements and 29% expect to become compliant within one year.

6 Tech Leaders on What They Fear the Most

By LAURIE SEGALL


Techies pride themselves on their optimism. It couldn’t be any other way. After all, Silicon Valley was built on the idea that technology is a force for good. In the nearly nine years I’ve spent covering tech, we’ve watched these dreamers and idealists transform society. Underlying it all is the notion that information wants to be free, that the more we share, the better off we are. That was the deal we made with companies that promised to connect the world.

Does the U.S. Face an AI Ethics Gap?

by Benjamin Boudreaux

Members of Congress, the U.S. military, and prominent technologists have raised the alarm that the U.S. is at risk of losing an artificial intelligence (AI) arms race. China already has leveraged strategic investment and planning,access to massive data, and suspect business practices to surpass the U.S. in some aspects of AI implementation. There are worries that this competition could extend to the military sphere with serious consequences for U.S. national security.

During the prior Cold War arms race era, U.S. policymakers and the military expressed consternation about a so-called “missile gap” with the USSR that potentially gave the Soviets military superiority. Other “gaps” also infected strategic analysis and public discourse, including concerns about space gaps, bomber gaps, and so forth.

Echoes of gap anxiety continue today. The perspective that the U.S. is in an AI arms race suggests another gap—an AI “ethics gap” in which the U.S. faces a higher ethical hurdle to develop and deploy AI in military contexts than its adversaries. As a result of this gap, the U.S. could be at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis countries with fewer scruples about AI.

‘Businesses Will Not Be Able to Hide’: Spy Satellites May Give Edge From Above

By Cade Metz

An image of San Francisco taken by a satellite launched into orbit last year by the Finnish company Iceye, one of the companies turning high-altitude surveillance into a business.CreditIceye

SAN FRANCISCO — In October, the Chinese province of Guangdong — the manufacturing center on the southern coast that drives 12 percent of the country’s economy — stopped publishing a monthly report on the health of its local factories.

For five consecutive months, this key economic index had shown a drop in factory production as the United States applied billions of dollars in tariffs on Chinese exports. Then, amid an increasingly bitter trade war between the United States and China, the government authorities in Beijing shut the index down.

28 January 2019

US confirms its envoy held talks with Taliban in Qatar


The United States has confirmed that its envoy met the Taliban in Qatar as Washington seeks to negotiate an end to the 17-year-old war in Afghanistan.

Zalmay Khalilzad, US special representative on Afghan reconciliation, on Tuesday, met Taliban representatives in the Qatari capital Doha, the US State Department said.

"We can confirm that Special Representative Khalilzad and an inter-agency team are in Doha today talking with representatives of the Taliban," a State Department spokeswoman said, adding that the talks were taking place over two days.

The Taliban and the US envoys have officially met four times since July, in an attempt to find a negotiated settlement to the war in the embattled country.

However, Wednesday's comments mark the first time the US State Department has confirmed his meetings directly.

The meeting came even though the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on Tuesday against an Afghan intelligence base in central Wardak province.

Levantistan and The Confederacy of Afghanistan: How Redrawing the Map Can End America’s Wars

Michael Gladius

Nation-state borders are not sacrosanct. Exchanging land for peace is always a viable option, and this could provide a solution to America’s involvement in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Although multiple solutions are available, we will focus on two: merging nations and fragmenting nations. Merging nations would entail merging Iraq with Syria, and merging Afghanistan with Pakistan. Fragmenting nations would break up the two nations into numerous smaller nations, as happened to Yugoslavia, albeit peacefully.

Merging Nations: Pros and Cons

Merging Iraq with Syria, and Afghanistan with Pakistan, would have three main advantages. First, they would allow former state-aligned insurgents to become part of the governing process. Syria is ruled by the Ba’ath Party, and the Ba’ath in Iraq played a crucial role in the formation and success of ISIS. Merging the two states would allow the Ba’ath party in Iraq to merge with the Syrian Ba’ath, and their expertise could be useful in helping Assad manage his new territory. In Afghanistan, the Paki government has been a partner with the Taliban from the start, and a merge would permit the Taliban to become a partner of Pakistan’s government. Pakistan fears India, and the possibility that Afghanistan might align with India, creating a two-front war. Pakistan’s military is the only force holding the country together, and they see Afghanistan as their strategic depth. Understanding this explains much of their conduct since 2001. Merging the two countries would merely make it official.

US may offer FTA to Pakistan to assist in ending Afghan war: Report


ISLAMABAD: The US may offer Pakistan a free trade agreement (FTA) in return for its assistance in ending the Afghan war, a media report said on Thursday.

Dawn reported from Washington that official sources said that US Senator Lindsey Graham, who visited Islamabad this week, is believed to have discussed this idea with Pakistani leaders.

Graham first proposed offering an FTA to Pakistan, after a recent visit to Afghanistan.

"If we can go to Pakistan and put a free trade agreement on the table to get the Pakistanis to push the Taliban to the peace table, and you can end the Afghan war," he said.

Graham, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is considered President Trump's closest ally in Congress and the US media say that the president often uses him to float ideas that he wants debated publicly.