13 August 2020

A See-Saw Relationship: An Overview of Afghanistan’s Ties with India and Pakistan

Hargun Sethi

This content was originally written for an undergraduate or Master's program. It is published as part of our mission to showcase peer-leading papers written by students during their studies. This work can be used for background reading and research, but should not be cited as an expert source or used in place of scholarly articles/books.

Afghanistan has been a key player in Asian geopolitics owing to its geostrategic and geopolitical location. Being situated at the crossroads of the Middle East, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, it has been a transit and transport hub since the ancient Silk route. In the context of global affairs, its central location and borders with six other nations including Iran, Pakistan, China, Turkmenistan have made it a hot-bed for conflict and cooperation. In this regard, the withdrawal of Soviet forces from the Afghan Civil war has considerably changed Afghanistan’s role and position in the whole of Asia. Moreover, the emergence of various Mujahidin parties sponsored by neighbouring countries and interference from outside powers has turned Afghanistan into total havoc.

Amidst all the chaos, both the neighbouring countries of India and Pakistan have been vital for Afghanistan in restructuring and changing its political landscape. From providing military, diplomatic and financial support on part of the Indian side, to attempt to hold peace talks between insurgent groups and the government, while at the same time providing a safe haven to these extremist groups on the Pakistani side; the bilateral relationship with each of the two nations have been of prime importance in Afghanistan across various regimes since the late 1990s. 

CONVERGING CHINESE AND RUSSIAN DISINFORMATION COMPOUNDS THREAT TO DEMOCRACY

By Andrea Kendall-Taylor and David Shullman

In recent weeks the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) propaganda and disinformation blitz around COVID-19 has drawn increasing attention, and with good reason. In addition to promoting a narrative about Beijing’s global leadership around the pandemic, the Chinese government has adopted Russian disinformation tactics in promoting conspiracy theories purporting that COVID-19 originated in Europe, the United States, and beyond to distract from its failed initial response to contain the outbreak from spreading beyond Wuhan.

Several accounts of China’s information operations have noted the incorporation of Russian disinformation tactics. Yet the full significance of this development cannot be understood without appreciating the broader alignment between Russia and China. In other words, China’s adoption of Russian information operation techniques is about more than “authoritarian learning,” or the passive diffusion of such practices from one authoritarian regime to the next. Instead, Russia and China are deepening ties and increasing coordination on a range of economic, defense, technological, and political issues. These repeated interactions facilitate an intentional sharing of best practices and are building a foundation for sustained cooperation moving forward.

Xi Jinping Is Not Stalin

By Michael McFaul
In a series of speeches this summer, senior officials in the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump have cast the United States and China as antagonists in a new Cold War. Speaking to the Arizona Commerce Authority in June, U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien compared Chinese President Xi Jinping directly to the Soviet dictator in power when the actual Cold War began: “Let us be clear, the Chinese Communist Party is a Marxist-Leninist organization. The Party General Secretary Xi Jinping sees himself as Josef Stalin’s successor.”

A month later in California, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo gave a speech about Xi that President Harry Truman could have delivered about Stalin. “General Secretary Xi Jinping is a true believer in a bankrupt totalitarian ideology,” he said, adding that Xi’s ideology “informs his decades-long desire for global hegemony of Chinese communism.” Echoing American policymakers at the beginning of the Cold War, Pompeo framed the fight with Xi and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as one in which only one side ultimately could win: “If the free world doesn’t change . . . communist China will surely change us.” He later repeated his warning on Twitter, writing, “China is working to take down freedom all across the world.”

What Is The Future Of Chinese Tech Companies In The U.S.?


First, President Trump started a trade war between the U.S. and China. Now the two rivals seem to be at war over technology. In June, the U.S. designated telecom company Huawei a threat to national security. Today, the focus is TikTok. President Trump floated the idea of banning the social networking platform that millions of Americans use. TikTok's parent company in Beijing is considering selling to Microsoft. Adam Segal directs the Digital and Cyberspace Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations, and he joins us now to talk about the future of Chinese tech companies in the U.S.

Good to have you here.

ADAM SEGAL: Thanks for having me on.

SHAPIRO: You know, experts say TikTok does not harvest any more user data than Facebook does. So what makes the Trump administration so nervous about this platform?

SEGAL: I think two things. First, according to the 2017 national intelligence law in China, all Chinese companies, entities appear to have to cooperate with the intelligence services. So there's a fear that that data will be turned over to the Communist Party and to the Chinese government. I think also TikTok represents a symbol for the Trump administration of the first global social media company to emerge out of China, and it's a challenge to the U.S.'s domination of the Internet.

When it comes to the Internet, Trump prefers the Chinese model

Fareed Zakaria
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This week, the Trump administration explicitly announced its intention to work toward a new bipolar world of technology, carved up between the United States and China. The administration had already made clear that it would either ban the Chinese video app TikTok or force its sale to a U.S. company. Then it announced a sweeping “Clean Network” program, which seeks to ban virtually all Chinese information technology products — phone carriers, apps, cloud servers, even undersea cables.

Taken together, these efforts suggest a reversal of decades of U.S. policy. Instead of favoring a global Internet of open systems, open architecture and open communications, the United States now envisions a restricted Internet that is cordoned off by governments, with political considerations dominating economic or technological ones.

Let’s be clear. There are legitimate concerns about China’s technology strategy. The country has walled off its cyberspace like no other. The government can force any Chinese company to hand over data. And it routinely engages in international espionage to steal intellectual property, technology and data from other countries. (To be fair, the U.S. government is also in the cyberespionage business in a big way.)

Opinion – Europe and China’s Growing Assertiveness

Kareem Salem
Mounting tensions between the United States and China is increasingly testing Europe’s resilience. Both powers are stepping up pressure on European countries on issues and policies they consider vital to their strategic interests. This is particularly noteworthy regarding the role of Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei in providing 5G networks to European countries. In July, US National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, met with his European counterparts in Paris to urge the exclusion of Huawei from European 5G networks. Equally, the Chinese government has stepped up pressure on European countries, particularly Germany, not to exclude the Chinese operator from the development of the next generation of mobile internet. Earlier in the year, Chancellor Angela Merkel had resisted calls to exclude Huawei but is coming under increasing pressure within her cabinet to consider European suppliers.

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly accelerated and amplified tensions between the two powers. The emergence of the virus has seen Washington and Beijing engage in a frantic blame game over the origins of the pandemic. President Donald Trump has labelled COVID-19 the ‘Chinese virus’ while senior Chinese officials have argued that the US created the virus and planted it in China during the winter of 2019. The leader of the White House has gone even further withdrawing the US from the World Health Organisation in response to what he believes the WHO allegedly favours China. More recently, tensions have escalated further with both powers ordering the closure of their respective consulates. 

China And Iran Approach Massive $400 Billion Deal

Ariel Cohen
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China, sensing America’s internal political difficulties amidst social justice protests and a poor COVID-19 response, is taking off the gloves: Beijing is said to be in the final stages of approving a $400 billion economic and security deal with Tehran. In addition to massive infrastructure investments, the agreement envisions closer cooperation on defense and intelligence sharing, and is rumored to include discounts for Iranian oil. If finalized, the PRC would gain massive influence in this geopolitically critical region, and simultaneously throw a lifeline to the embattled Mullah Regime.

The United States is likely to push back against this partnership, which threatens US security and energy interests in the Middle East and Eurasia. It’s little secret that Washington’s foreign policy interest constantly clash with those of Tehran and Beijing.

In the 20th century the main political rival of the US was the Soviet Union, whose collapse in 1991 ushered in the unipolar world of the late 90’s and early 2000’s. In the 21st century that there is no question of America’s new ‘near’ peer competitor: the People’s Republic of China, a country with a much bigger economic base than the USSR ever had. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the flagship of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s global ambitions, is a powerful policy tool that puts US foreign policy influence to the test.

"The Security of Our Citizens Is at Stake"

by Michael Roth

Coronavirus does not care about ideology or geopolitics, and yet the pandemic has long been a catalyst for the rivalry between the major powers, throwing the complex geopolitical situation into sharp relief. The U.S., already in retreat, is mainly preoccupied with itself. Meanwhile, China is taking a tougher stance and is driving its global agenda forward with determination. This has brought home all the more clearly the fact that Europe must become more resilient and that it urgently requires a clear compass, also in terms of its approach to China.

The EU’s relations with China are complicated. China is both an important partner and an economic competitor. The country is the European Union’s second-largest trading partner for goods while the EU is at the top of the tree as far as China is concerned. Our economies are interconnected, and cooperating with one another is in our mutual interest. We can only be successful together with China, particularly when it comes to global issues such as combating epidemics, fighting climate change and resolving regional conflicts.

Tech Crisis with China


Chinese tech companies have fallen under the hammer of the Trump administration. Huawei, ZTE, Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu, Hikvision, and others all face sanctions and other measures intended to keep them out of the U.S. market and damage their global standing. These U.S. actions extend the growing restriction on tech transfer to China and might create a “tech rupture” between the two countries, but this was inevitable.

Q1: Why is the United States doing this?

A1: The United States is taking action against an aggressive and unconventional challenge from China. China’s leaders want to replace the international order set up after 1945 with one that is China-centric and led by China. According to the FBI and government agencies in Europe, Australia, and Japan, China is engaged in a massive espionage campaign against the United States and other Western countries to steal technology and give Chinese companies an economic advantage; it has started a global influence campaign to persuade the world of China’s technological prowess and inevitable rise; and it is home to the world’s largest domestic surveillance system, which relies on information technologies and apps to monitor Chinese citizens. China may be trying to extend this domestic surveillance system globally. These three activities all pose national security risks to the United States and friendly countries.

Can America Successfully Repel a Chinese Invasion of Taiwan?

by Daniel L. Davis 
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There has long been heated debate over whether the United States should defend Taiwan in the case of a Chinese invasion, but little consideration to whether it successfully can. An unemotional assessment of the military capabilities of both China and the United States reveals the odds are uncomfortably high that the U.S. forces would be defeated in a war with China over Taiwan. What’s worse, even achieving a tactical victory could result in a devastating strategic loss. That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t alternative strategies to effectively preserve U.S. interests and at an affordable cost. 

Few leaders in “establishment Washington” have taken the time to conduct a comprehensive analysis of the capabilities of the U.S. Armed Forces and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. Instead, decisionmakers routinely engage in seemingly cost-free rhetorical declarations about U.S. political preferences devoid of context. Policymakers have long argued to jettison the idea of “strategic ambiguity” that has underscored decades of America’s Asia policy, and outright declare that the United States would militarily defend Taiwan in the event of an attack. 

Slaughter in the East China Sea

BY MICHAEL PECK
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The year is 2030. Chinese troops seize a Japanese island in the South China Sea. Japan dispatches an amphibious task force to retake the island. Soon, U.S. warships and aircraft arrive, accompanying a Japanese flotilla. Their orders are to support Japan while trying to avoid combat with Chinese forces.

That plan soon falls apart. According to a wargame run by the Washington-based Center for a New American Security (CNAS), it is impossible for the U.S. military to step in without American and Chinese troops firing on each other.

The simulation, titled “A Deadly Game: East China Sea Crisis 2030,” was run on July 20 (you can watch the video here). And it had an unusual twist: It was crowdsourced through Zoom, with CNAS staff presenting options to the public participants who would then vote to decide which strategies the Chinese and U.S./Japanese teams would implement.

China’s Great Wall of Water

GIULIO BOCCALETTI
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LONDON – The East Asian monsoon is pummeling China this summer. As of late July, flood alerts had been issued for 433 rivers, thousands of homes and businesses had been destroyed, and millions of people were on the verge of becoming homeless. The water level of Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, has risen to a record-breaking 22.6 meters (74 feet), prompting authorities in the eastern province of Jiangxi (population: 45 million) to issue “wartime” measures. Chinese citizens have not been threatened with devastation on this scale in more than 20 years, and this is likely just the beginning.

From Latin America’s lost decade in the 1980s to the more recent Greek crisis, there are plenty of painful reminders of what happens when countries cannot service their debts. A global debt crisis today would likely push millions of people into unemployment and fuel instability and violence around the world.

Destructive floods are not new to China, which has been reckoning with its powerful rivers for thousands of years. Historically, political stability has often depended on governments’ ability to tame them. The last time China was crippled by catastrophic floods, in 1998, more than 3,000 people died, 15 million were left homeless, and economic losses reached $24 billion. Reflecting the floods’ political importance, the Chinese government rushed to implement new measures – from infrastructure investment to land-use reforms – to prevent such a disaster from recurring.

The Rise of Twitter Diplomacy Is Making the World More Dangerous

Alexi Drew 

In mid-July, 130 high-profile Twitter accounts were hijacked by a small group of hackers, apparently led by a teenager in central Florida. They were able to take over some of the social media service’s most prominent handles—including those of Kanye West, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk—and use them to scam hundreds of people out of a combined $118,000 in bitcoin. It was the biggest security breach in Twitter’s history, and a stunning embarrassment for the company.

The hack also entailed a high level of risk to users’ personal security. According to Twitter, the hackers were able to not only send messages from the 130 accounts they commandeered, but also gained access to the direct messages of 36 of them and downloaded the personal data from eight. Among the compromised accounts were a couple politicians whose use of the platform in official capacities made this hack even more worrisome for Twitter and the international community: @JoeBiden and @BarackObama

The Fragile Republic

By Suzanne Mettler and Robert C. Lieberman
When the U.S. president used his power to target immigrants, the press, and his political opponents, the sheer overreach of his actions shocked many citizens. Tensions among the country’s political leaders had been escalating for years. Embroiled in one intense conflict after another, both sides had grown increasingly distrustful of each other. Every action by one camp provoked a greater counterreaction from the other, sometimes straining the limits of the Constitution. Fights and mob violence often followed.

Leaders of the dominant party grew convinced that their only hope for fixing the government was to do everything possible to weaken their opponents and silence dissent. The president signed into law provisions that made it more difficult for immigrants (who tended to support the opposition) to attain citizenship and that mandated the deportation of those who were deemed dangerous or who came from “hostile” states. Another law allowed for the prosecution of those who openly criticized his administration, such as newspaper publishers.

Wargaming the Department of Defense for Strategic Advantage

by Elizabeth M. Bartels
Often when we think of the impact of wargames, we envision operational warfighting or strategic crisis management games. However, applying games to the internal policies of the Department of Defense can also offer strategic advantage. Defense acquisition, personnel, and management systems have long been seen as areas in need of reform, as costs and man-hours continue to increase over the years. Gaming new policies that govern these areas can offer early insights into potential stumbling blocks and provide leaders valuable feedback on decisions before major costs are incurred.

All games can be used to understand how humans make decisions in environments shaped by competition. Classically, we think about opposing “blue” and “red” players in conflict. But when it comes to managing the DoD, bureaucratic competition plays a major role in policy outcomes. For example, in acquisition policy, tensions between Congress and the DoD, between joint and service interests, and between government and commercial standard operating procedures, have long been cited as sources of delay and increased costs. Understanding how these actors might make decisions under a new system—and how decisions will intersect—is critical to implementing any new policy successfully. Here, games can be of clear value.

Re-Structuring American Foreign Policy Post-Trump

Morgan Bazilian
The foreign policy apparatus of the United States has a significant issue of hubris. It also has a structural problem. The two are deeply intertwined. While a lot can still happen in the next three months, it looks like Joe Biden’s team will win the presidency in November. Such a victory would signal not just consent for Biden and the Democratic party, but exhaustion at the last four years of endless dramas and politicization. That wellspring of exhaustion isn’t just from Trump, but from the American political system, and a key challenge for Biden will be to demonstrate at the outset he is different. One way to do that is to show that government actually works, and rely on careerists to fill a much larger portion of the foreign policy key positions at the Departments of State, Defense, and Treasury, both domestically and at embassies abroad. 

In making changes, a Biden administration should close pay attention to the growing phenomenon of corporate power and greed. That would be good for the republic and any hope of the U.S. regaining its integrity and global standing depends on it. The motivation for these changes, and for addressing short-termism are an ongoing challenge. If there is a genuine desire to bring the U.S. back to the international table, then it will require more than platitudes and strong language against the current approach. It will need to actively restructure the American approach to foreign policy.

COVID-19: Conspiracy Theories and Lacklustre Global Responses

Simbo Olorunfemi



Since the outbreak of COVID-19, a raft of conspiracy theories has been floating around. That is not unexpected. One, it is a pastime for some. Two, China is largely misunderstood by even the ‘informed’, not to talk of Western conspiracists with a worldview constrained by provincialism. But I seriously did not think that these wild conjectures would make it into the mainstream of public discourse, especially in our part of the world, with all sorts of elaborate, albeit misleading, narratives being woven around these theories. It is strange. Indeed, it has been a season for fake news, wild accusations and conspiracy theories such that the World Health Organisation raised alarm about an infodemic.

Some allege a conspiracy between China and the World Health Organisation to plunge the world into a crisis and work against President Donald Trump who actively promoted some of these theories. The virus was had been said to have been cultured in a laboratory and China accused of deliberately infecting the world with it. There was another theory linking the virus to the installation of 5G and some even went as far as setting fire on telecommunications masts in the UK in response. Embodying the confusion, a Nigerian professor was reported to have said:

You say that it is real, then show it to us that it is real. If you bring it outside, then we set a flat table and all the scientists are there, the reagents and the camera is before everybody. Then let’s see what COVID-19 is, whether it exists. I have asked severally, let them bring somebody that is positive to COVID-19 and someone that died from COVID-19, carry out an autopsy on the dead body, show me exactly what you are calling COVID-19 inside the body or the positive person of COVID-19.

Known Unknowns: Covid-19 and Biological Warfare

Michelle Bentley

Covid-19 has shone a spotlight on another, potentially global, threat: biological warfare. By highlighting the dangers and consequences of pandemic disease, Covid-19 raises questions about what it would mean if a virus like this were used deliberately as a weapon. While there is a long-standing fear that actors would use bioweapons, biological warfare has frequently struggled to find a place on the political agenda. The reason for this lies in what we know about the threat – or rather, what we don’t.

Biowarfare is a highly speculative risk. Aside from a few alleged incidences of weapons use – such as claims that Germany used anthrax and glanders to infect military livestock during World War I (Roffey, Tegnell, and Elgh 2002) – bioweapons have not been widely employed. Consequently, while biological arms are typically classified as weapons of mass destruction (see Bentley 2013 for further details on definition), there is little evidence as to whether they actually warrant such a dangerous label.

Furthermore, it is not possible to sufficiently test these weapons to find out – where this would require a type and level of human experimentation that exceeds what is considered ethically permissible and/or would risk triggering an international pandemic on a scale of Covid-19, or worse. As a result, actors cannot fully comprehend the physical effects of these weapons – not only in terms of public health and mass fatalities, but also the social disruption that they can cause.

Bill Gates on Covid: Most US Tests Are ‘Completely Garbage’


FOR 20 YEARS, Bill Gates has been easing out of the roles that made him rich and famous—CEO, chief software architect, and chair of Microsoft—and devoting his brainpower and passion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, abandoning earnings calls and antitrust hearings for the metrics of disease eradication and carbon reduction. This year, after he left the Microsoft board, one would have thought he would have relished shedding the spotlight directed at the four CEOs of big tech companies called before Congress.

But as with many of us, 2020 had different plans for Gates. An early Cassandra who warned of our lack of preparedness for a global pandemic, he became one of the most credible figures as his foundation made huge investments in vaccines, treatments, and testing. He also became a target of the plague of misinformation afoot in the land, as logorrheic critics accused him of planning to inject microchips in vaccine recipients. (Fact check: false. In case you were wondering.)

Exclusive audio of Steven's interview with Bill Gates drops on the Get WIRED podcast on Monday; subscribe here to make sure you don't miss it.

Water: A human and business priority

By Thomas Hundertmark, Kun Lueck, and Brent Packer
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Water is the lifeblood of humanity. With it, communities thrive. But, when the supply and demand of fresh water are misaligned, the delicate environmental, social, and financial ecosystems on which we all rely are at risk. Climate change, demographic shifts, and explosive economic growth all exacerbate existing water issues.

However, hope is not lost. Businesses can play a leading role in mitigating the water issue to limit not just their own risk but also the risk of all stakeholders relying on these systems. This can be accomplished by directing action through three spheres of influence: direct operations, supply chain, and wider basin health.

Water is as important to the world’s economy as oil or data. Though most of the planet is covered in water, more than 97 percent of it is salt water. Fresh water accounts for the rest, although most of it is frozen in glaciers, leaving less than 1 percent of the world’s water available to support human and ecological processes. Every year, we withdraw 4.3 trillion cubic meters of fresh water from the planet’s water basins. We use it in agriculture (which accounts for 70 percent of the withdrawals), industry (19 percent), and households (11 percent).

Reframing Globalization: COVID-19 and 21st Century Institutional Retreat

Carlos Frederico Pereira da Silva Gama
On March 30, 2001, US President George W. Bush announced the United States was leaving the Kyoto Protocol on global warming. Eventually, this move signalized the regime’s end. On July 7, 2020, President Donald Trump notified the United Nations that the US was leaving the World Health Organization during the COVID-19 epidemic (by then, with more than 10 million infections worldwide, 3 million-plus in the US). The move could further weaken an organization under fire since the announcement of an international health emergency earlier that year on January 30. Within days, the WHO launched an independent investigation on its handling of the epidemic, after admitting delays in releasing critical data and reviewing the possibility of airborne contagion. Across the two decades that set apart Kyoto’s demise from a new disease from Wuhan, international relations experienced a steady institutional retreat. The zeitgeist of a new century shows a reversal of the late-1990s hopes spurred by the end of the Cold War and Berlin Wall’s fall. In this sense, COVID-19 was no game-changer. It built upon already established trends.

Pulling Plugs: Two Decades on Retreat

International institutions had already been facing prolonged disillusions when COVID-19 set in. The arch of transformations that encompassed the end of the Cold War initially brought renewed enthusiasm for the institutional architecture built after World War II. The UN, the Bretton Woods institutions, and a plethora of regional organizations (among others) had roles (and budgets) expanded since 1989 – but burgeoning activities collided with ambivalent outcomes. By the turn of the century, governments from different tonalities of the political spectrum called for a retreat. Emerging powers (spearheaded by China, Russia, India, and Brazil) vocalized the lack of representativeness and efficiency of the Bretton Woods institutions after financial crises that roamed between 1994 and 2008. After shaking cobwebs from the Cold War decades by responding vehemently to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait (1991), the UN’s collective security system has not been triggered ever since – and became a matter of relentless strife.

Is It Possible to Avert Chaos in the Vaccine Scramble?

The Issue

The race for a Covid-19 vaccine is unprecedented in its scope, speed, scale, and urgency. The stakes could not be higher for the United States, which leads the world with over 4.8 million confirmed cases and over 155,000 deaths, as uncontrolled outbreaks proliferate across the country, triggering a worsening economic crisis and social strife. The stakes are no less profound for other countries. Together with improved diagnostics and therapeutics, a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine will be fundamental to ending the pandemic, restarting the world’s economy, and mitigating the cascade of crises, including extreme poverty, famine, civil unrest, and instability, that most acutely affect lower-income countries.
Introduction

The United States has thus far pursued a strictly nationalist approach, one fueled by ideology, escalating confrontation with China, and the 2020 presidential electoral cycle, focused overwhelmingly on procuring doses of the most promising vaccines for the entire U.S. population. Other powerful, wealthy countries are pursuing similar nationalist paths, determined to lock down vaccine supply for their sovereign purposes. But many of these same countries are simultaneously joining COVAX, a nascent international initiative to develop and equitably distribute Covid-19 vaccines to benefit all countries, rich and poor. Despite widespread interest, early progress in fundraising, and promising ongoing action to secure new commitments, COVAX is still short of the ample resources that are urgently needed.

The Master and the Prodigy

WILLIAM H. JANEWAY

CAMBRIDGE – In January 1922, a 19-year-old University of Cambridge undergraduate challenged a recently published work of philosophy by a fellow of King’s College, Cambridge, a man twice his age and well on his way to recognition as Britain’s leading public intellectual.

In the uninhibited style that is so characteristic of Cambridge argumentation, Frank Ramsey laid into John Maynard Keynes’s Treatise on Probability, which had proposed that there exists an objective probability relation between any two non-contradictory statements. Keynes had conferred on probabilities a status independent of anyone’s beliefs about the likelihood that the second statement would follow from the first. But Ramsey objected that, “There is no such probability as the probability that ‘my carpet is blue’ given only that ‘Napoleon was a great general.’”

Much would depend on this intellectual encounter, for Keynes came to accept Ramsey’s critique, and followed the younger man in accepting that necessarily fallible subjective beliefs about the future play a role in any decision to act. In turn, a deeply embedded theme running through Keynes’s 1936 masterwork, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, is that pervasive uncertainty informs all of our forward-looking actions. Decisions to invest resources today for more or less probable returns tomorrow are based on “long-term expectations” that are themselves inherently fragile. The implication is that a decentralized capitalist economy can fall short of employing all available resources, creating the need for the state to step in and “stabilize an unstable economy,” as the economist Hyman Minsky once put it.

Why Do HIV Vaccine Trials Keep Failing?

DENIS CHOPERA
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DURBAN – Yet another seemingly promising HIV vaccine has failed in clinical trials. According to Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the United States National Institutes of Health, which was conducting the trial, a vaccine is “essential to end the global pandemic.” But while the latest failure is a disappointment, it should come as no surprise.

From Latin America’s lost decade in the 1980s to the more recent Greek crisis, there are plenty of painful reminders of what happens when countries cannot service their debts. A global debt crisis today would likely push millions of people into unemployment and fuel instability and violence around the world.

To understand why, it is useful to go back to the beginning. Just over 12 years ago, two studies involving a vaccine candidate known as MRK-Ad5 were halted. The failure was comprehensive: the studies – STEP (which enrolled men and women in the Americas, the Caribbean, and Australia) and Phambili (including men and women in South Africa) – found that MRK-Ad5 failed to protect subjects against HIV infection. Worse, there was evidence that it may have increased the chances of acquiring HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Long before Zoom, British soldiers used technology to stay connected during World War II

By Sophie Atkinson

Zoom, Houseparty and Skype have become integral to life in the age of covid-19. Of course, it’s easy to become frustrated — video calls are hardly a convincing substitute for spending time together in person. But we are not the first to resort to technology to bridge the miles — the ability to stay connected through screens when circumstances force families apart goes back to World War II.

Just under 80 years ago, World War II’s so-called Forgotten Army — the British soldiers who fought alongside Allied Forces in India and Myanmar, also known as Burma, at the tail end of the war — turned to new technology for morale and much-needed social connections during the war. Their experiences show us just how valuable screen time can be, even if imperfect.

All of the British Empire became involved in World War II. India was critically important to the British, sending 2.5 million soldiers to fight under British command and supplying billions of pounds in financing. Japan invaded the neighboring British colony of Myanmar in 1942, cutting off a key supply line to China — and making Southeast Asia a major theater of the war. Eventually the Allies’ success restored Myanmar to British rule, although both it and India gained independence in 1947. Britain’s aim in fighting was to reclaim its lost colony (Myanmar) and prevent the Japanese invading an even bigger imperial prize, India.

12 August 2020

China's dams in Tibet may pose threat to India's water supply | Satellite images explain

Col Vinayak Bhat Abhishek Bhalla 
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China's rapid pace of dam constructions that includes at least eight new ones on the Brahmaputra River in Tibet has sparked concerns about the Chinese attempting to tame India's water supply. The proposed dams on the Yarlung Tsangpo river in Tibet are close to the Indian border in Arunachal Pradesh.

In this region, the Chinese have managed to construct three dams within a distance of 24 km on the Brahmaputra River over a period of 10 years. This construction of dams at an unprecedented pace and scale has taken place in Tibet's Sangri Lokha. Construction of a similar 'triplet dam' has been observed on the Nyang river near the town of Nyingchi in Tibet's Nyingchi county.

Lokha, also known as Shanan lies in the northeast of Bhutan and south of Lhasa while Nyingchi is further east, both bordering Arunachal Pradesh.

The China Challenge and America's Founding Principles

By Peter Berkowitz 
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Between June 24 and July 22, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, FBI Director Christopher Wray, Attorney General William Barr, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a series of speeches on the China challenge. In mid-July -- after the national security adviser’s and FBI director’s speeches but before the attorney general’s and secretary of state’s speeches -- the State Department’s Commission on Unalienable Rights released a draft report

The report examines the implications of the American Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the place of human rights in American foreign policy. Focusing on principles rather than concrete policy controversies, the report provoked considerably more partisan rancor than the series of speeches by high-ranking administration officials about the need for the nation to address the Communist Party of China’s resolute efforts to marshal its dictatorial powers to undercut American interests and transform world order. 

Perhaps the relatively restrained reception of the four speeches is a good sign: It may suggest an emerging national consensus about the urgency of the China challenge. Yet awareness of a daunting problem does not guarantee the capacity to deal with it effectively. The controversy over the commission’s report -- indeed, the indignation and scorn directed by many politicians, pundits, professors, and NGOs at the very idea of allocating taxpayer dollars to regrounding U.S. diplomacy in America’s founding principles and constitutional responsibilities -- reflects the nation’s disunity, a disunity that thwarts the planning and implementation of foreign policy. 

China’s Art of Strategic Incrementalism in the South China Sea

by Patrick Mendis Joey Wang

The neighboring South East Asian countries of the highly volatile and busiest waterways of the South China Sea (SCS) have overlapping claims of sovereignty. The largest and most powerful of these claimants is China, which asserts that the region within a vaguely defined Nine-dash Line, covering nearly 80 percent of the SCS is, by its historical rights, sovereign Chinese territory. 

This claim was rejected in July 2016 by the international tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague. The court concluded that the Nine-dash Line violates international law, not least the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). 

While the United States takes no position on the competing claims in the SCS, Washington flatly rejects Beijing’s claim and, for the second time in a month, deployed two Carrier Strike Groups in dual-carrier operations through the contested waters. Punctuating this position is US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who recently announced that China’s claims were “completely unlawful.” Similarly, Australia rejected the Chinese claims and declared at the United Nations in late July that Beijing’s consolidation of the Spratly Islands and the Parcel Islands were “invalid” as they were “inconsistent” with the UNCLOS. 

Banning TikTok and WeChat: Another Primer

By Robert Chesney 

On the evening of August 6, President Trump issued a pair of executive orders involving Chinese companies operating in the United States, one targeting TikTok and another targeting WeChat. As any teenager can tell you, some form of action against TikTok has been anticipated for a while. Indeed, I wrote a primer on the potentially-relevant legal frameworks for Lawfare on Sunday, August 2. Consider this a sequel, picking up the story where the primer left off.

1. Previously on Lawfare…

Of course, like any good sequel, we should begin with a look-back sequence. In my previous piece, I described two legal frameworks that might be the basis for some form of executive branch action against TikTok.

One of these involved the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS). CFIUS for months has been conducting a retrospective review of the propriety of the transaction in which the Chinese company ByteDance bought the Chinese company Music.ly—which it later rebranded as TikTok—a few years before. The committee has statutory authority to block (or impose conditions on) corporate transactions involving the foreign acquisition of “U.S. entities” where the committee determines there is sufficient threat to U.S. national security interests—and the phrase “U.S. entities,” it turns out, is defined so broadly in the statute that it reaches a foreign-owned company with a substantial U.S. business presence. CFIUS, in short, might one day have determined that ByteDance must divest itself of TikTok’s U.S. operations.

U.S. and allies must confront China's quest for world domination

By Nathan Picarsic and Emily de La Bruyere
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Here are things that have happened, so far, in 2020. The Earth recorded its hottest January ever. Australia burned. A pandemic killed more than half a million people and left their funerals unattended. Tens of millions of people, perhaps the largest social movement in U.S. history, took to the streets — and transformed, in the process, America’s perception of itself. Then, there were the murder hornets.

Here are other things that have happened, so far, in 2020. The second-largest financial contributor to the World Health Organization (WHO) lied for months about an emergent virus, allowing it to morph into a devasting global pandemic. Then, that same country reportedly stockpiled medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) while concealing the virus, leaving the rest of the world vulnerable.

Next, the authoritarian state subverted a democratic government in Hong Kong, violating an international treaty with the United Kingdom. After that, its ambassador to the U.K. tried, and failed, to explain away devastating footage of Beijing implementing a slow-motion genocide against a religious minority; of blindfolded, shackled Uighurs being loaded into trains.

China’s Emerging Middle Eastern Kingdom

BY MICHAEL DORAN AND PETER ROUGH
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American policymakers have long assumed that Chinese and American goals in the Middle East are largely complementary. Beijing, so the prevailing wisdom holds, is fixated on commerce, with a special emphasis on oil and gas. “China’s strategy in the Middle East is driven by its economic interests,” a former senior official in the Obama administration testified last year before Congress. “China … does not appear interested in substantially deepening its diplomatic or security activities there.” According to this reigning view, China adopts a position of neutrality toward political and military conflicts, because taking sides would make enemies who might then restrict China’s access to markets.

This oft-repeated shibboleth ignores clear signs that China is very actively engaged in a hard-power contest with the United States—a contest that the Chinese occasionally acknowledge and are capable of winning. In 2016, Xi Jinping toured the Middle East for the first time in his capacity as president of the People’s Republic of China, visiting Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran. Chinese propaganda hailed the trip as a milestone. The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a white paper on its Arab policy, the first of its kind. “We will deepen China-Arab military cooperation and exchange,” the paper read. “We will … deepen cooperation on weapons, equipment and various specialized technologies, and carry out joint military exercises.”

The US military has options against China

BY JAMES R. HOLMES

Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) is worried — worried about the U.S. Navy’s prospects during a war against Communist China in the Western Pacific. Last week, Sen. Gardner, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy, told the Washington Examiner that Chinese ballistic missiles could compel “all of our planning, all of our equipment, all of our systems” to “basically vacate” the region at outset of fighting. Both large bases and ships riding the waves, he noted, are vulnerable to missile attack.

Sen. Gardner joined a group of Republican lawmakers to coauthor the “STRATEGIC Act,” a bill aimed at restoring deterrence and U.S. combat supremacy. To oversimplify, the act’s framers envision spreading out U.S. bases across the region, deploying new weaponry to make things tough on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and rejuvenating U.S. alliances and partnerships around the exterior crescent that sweeps from Japan westward around the Asian periphery toward India. Their goal: to convince Chinese Communist Party (CCP) potentates that attacking America’s friends and allies would be a hopeless cause or, failing that, that the effort would cost China more than the gains were worth to Xi Jinping & Co.

Either way, Beijing should forego aggression.