Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes:

“However repugnant the idea is to liberal societies, the man who will willingly defend the free world in the fringe areas is not the responsible citizen-soldier. The man who will go where his colors go, without asking, who will fight a phantom foe in jungle and mountain range, without counting, and who will suffer and die in the midst of incredible hardship, without complaint, is still what he has always been, from Imperial Rome to sceptered Britain to democratic America. He is the stuff of which legions are made. His pride is in his colors and his regiment, his training hard and thorough and coldly realistic, to fit him for what he must face, and his obedience to his orders. As a legionary, he held the gates of civilization for the classical world; as a blue-coated horseman, he swept the Indians from the Plains; he has been called United States Marine. He does the jobs—the utterly necessary jobs—no militia is willing to do. His task is moral or immoral according to the orders that send him forth.”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson in Boston c. 1838 called not surprisingly "War". 

"I would hope that all educated citizens would fulfill this obligation—in politics, in Government, here in Nashville, here in this State, in the Peace Corps, in the Foreign Service, in the Government Service, in the Tennessee Valley, in the world. You will find the pressures greater than the pay. You may endure more public attacks than support. But you will have the unequaled satisfaction of knowing that your character and talent are contributing to the direction and success of this free society." 
- John F. Kennedy

“If a faction consists of less than a majority, relief is supplied by the republican principle, which enables the majority to defeat its sinister views by regular vote. It may clog the administration, it may convulse the society; but it will be unable to execute and mask its violence under the forms of the Constitution.”
-James Madison, Federalist 10



1. Why wiping out Hong Kong's opposition may have cost China a whole generation in Taiwan
2. Opinion | The U.S. must defend itself from the omicron variant — without resorting to lockdowns
3. Opinion | The newest coronavirus variant is raising alarms. The pandemic is not over.
4. Russia-Ukraine border: Why Moscow is stoking tensions
5. Four Psychological Mechanisms That Make Us Fall for Disinformation
6. America must prepare for war with China over Taiwan
7. Russia Has Bigger Plans Beyond Ukraine and Belarus
8. Australia Needs Asymmetric Capabilities to Counter China in Indo-Pacific, Former Australian Official Says
9. China Is Closing Another Major Bridge to Taiwan
10. Why medium-sized autocracies are projecting more hard power abroad
11.  U.S. lawmakers say Taiwan "on the rise" as they ignore China warnings to visit country
12. Afghan Teachers Defy Taliban by Secretly Schooling Teenage Girls
13. Expand Five Eyes to Nine? That's Four Too Many
14. US no longer names foreign troops on Taiwan as trigger for China conflict
15. How to Deter Russia Now






1. Why wiping out Hong Kong's opposition may have cost China a whole generation in Taiwan
Beware of second and third order effects?

Excerpts:

In 2013, then-Taiwan President Ma proposed the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, which would have opened up key Taiwanese industries -- including banking, health care and communications -- to investment from mainland China. The trade pact sparked concerns that closer economic integration with Beijing could damage Taipei's autonomy.

"Regional economic integration is an unstoppable global trend. If we do not face this and join in the process, it will only be a matter of time before we are eliminated from the competition," Ma said.

Lin, then a graduate student at National Taiwan University, subsequently led the 2014 Sunflower Movement, which successfully forced Ma's government to scrap the trade deal. The three-week long protest saw student activists occupy Taiwan's legislative building in the island's largest demonstrations in decades.

Today, Lin regularly advises President Tsai on key policies. He said Taiwan should reduce its economic reliance on China by building more partnerships with the United States, Japan, and the rest of the world.

"We should be aware that China is a country that often uses economic means to interfere in the politics of other nations," he said. "We will continue to interact economically with China in the future, but we must also keep our distance to minimize the impact of supply chain restructuring or China's internal instability to Taiwan."





Why wiping out Hong Kong's opposition may have cost China a whole generation in Taiwan
CNN · by Eric Cheung, CNN
Taipei, Taiwan (CNN)In just five years, Lin Fei-fan went from charging into Taiwan's legislature and occupying the building with hundreds of students to a senior job for the island's ruling party.
But his story could have been very different if he lived in Hong Kong, where student activists once brought the financial hub to a standstill as they took to the streets to demand democracy and freedoms.
Lin says he could only watch from afar as nearly all pro-democracy figures in nearby Hong Kong, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) southwest of Taipei were arrested or fled overseas in the year since Beijing imposed a controversial national security law in response to mass pro-democracy protests in the city.
"If I were in Hong Kong, I think I'll probably be in jail," said Lin, the 33-year-old deputy secretary-general of Taiwan's governing Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The recent events in Hong Kong have given Lin greater determination to defend Taiwan's sovereignty, he said -- and he is not alone.
Sunflower Movement activist Lin Fei-fan delivers a speech in front of Taiwan's Parliament on March 27, 2019 in Taipei, Taiwan.
Read More
As authorities in Hong Kong arrested pro-democracy supporters, including opposition politicians and newspaper editors, a growing number of people in Taiwan have reflected upon the island's future relationship with mainland China.
Since the Hong Kong protests broke out in 2019, more than 32% of respondents in Taiwan preferred a move toward formal "independence" -- twice as many as in 2018 -- according to a survey by Taiwan's National Chengchi University in June.
Fewer than 8% of respondents favored "unification" with mainland China, while most wanted to maintain the status quo -- an arrangement by which Taiwan remains self-ruled, without an official declaration of independence.
Samuel Li, a student in the city of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan said Beijing's crackdown on Hong Kong had escalated his distrust of the Communist regime.
"It reinforced my thoughts on the Chinese government in (that) they don't really do what they say. They always break their promises," he said. "I really wish that Taiwan could remain as it is today."
Escalating tensions
Mainland China and Taiwan have been governed separately since the end of the Chinese civil war more than 70 years ago, when the defeated Nationalists retreated to the island.
Taiwan is now a flourishing multi-party democracy but the mainland's ruling Chinese Communist Party continues to view the island as an inseparable part of its territory -- despite having never controlled it.
Today, relations between Taipei and Beijing are at their lowest point in decades. In October, China's military sent a record number of warplanes into the air around Taiwan while Chinese diplomats and state-run media warned of a possible invasion unless the island toes Beijing's line.
But it hasn't always been this way. In fact, for much of the past 30 years, the possibility of conflict had seemed remote. Beginning in the early 1990s, many Taiwanese firms moved manufacturing operations to the mainland, where labor was cheaper, and authorities were hungry for outside investment to fuel economic growth.
Ties further flourished after the turn of the century. Taiwanese pop music and television became wildly popular on the mainland, and Chinese tourists flocked to visit Taiwan, promoted by state media as China's "treasure island."
A woman holds Taiwanese flags in front of the Presidential Palace before the National Day celebration starts in Taipei, Taiwan, on October 10, 2021.
In 2015, then-Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou held a historic meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Singapore -- but only as leaders of their respective political parties, the Nationalists and Communists. They vowed to reduce hostility, and Ma's party agreed that both Taiwan and mainland China belong to the same country and favored closer economic cooperation.
However, relations deteriorated quickly after 2016, when Tsai Ing-wen from the traditionally pro-independence DPP won a landslide presidential election in Taiwan. Tsai has repeatedly highlighted and defended Taiwan's sovereignty, calling on Beijing to respect the wishes of the Taiwanese people.
In an interview with CNN last month, Tsai said the threat from Beijing is increasing "every day."

"China's plan towards the region is very different from before," she said. "It is more ambitious, more expansionist, and therefore things that were acceptable to them then may not be acceptable to them now."
In 2019, Beijing proposed a "One Country, Two Systems" formula for Taiwan, similar to that used to govern Hong Kong since its handover from Britain to China in 1997.
Under the agreement, Hong Kong was guaranteed to maintain a high degree of autonomy from the mainland government after its return to Chinese rule.
But since then, Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp and human rights activists have accused Beijing of betraying its promise and eroding democracy and civil liberties in the city, particularly in the wake of the 2019 protests and the imposition of the security law.
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen waves as Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng looks on during a ceremony at the Chiayi Air Force in southern Taiwan on November 18, 2021.
Speaking to CNN in October, Tsai said her citizens had rejected the model. "The Taiwanese people have said clearly that they do not accept 'One Country, Two Systems' as the formula that can resolve cross-strait issues," she said.
In January 2020 -- more than six months after the Hong Kong protests broke out -- Tsai won re-election by a significant margin over her Nationalist opponent Han Kuo-yu, who favored closer economic ties with Beijing. Political observers have attributed her victory in part to her support for the Hong Kong protests.
Austin Wang, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas who specializes in Taiwanese politics, said Beijing's crackdown in Hong Kong has played an important role in how Taiwan's younger generation views China.
"In the past, many Taiwanese were OK with 'One Country, Two Systems' because China promised that people's day-to-day life will remain the same. But the situation in Hong Kong suggests the opposite," he said.
"I think the issue is trust. When Taiwanese people regard China as not trustworthy, all promises or incentives rendered by China are discounted."

Taiwan holds ceremony for advanced F-16V fighter jets 02:11
Economic interdependence
But despite rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait in recent years, both Beijing and Taipei cannot afford to completely cut ties.
Last year, mainland China was Taiwan's largest trading partner and accounted for 26% of the island's total trade volume, according to Taiwan's Bureau of Foreign Trade.
Meanwhile, mainland firms are reliant on Taiwan -- particularly the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) -- for its super-advanced semiconductor chips as China competes with the US in a technology race.
While the world's attention has often focused on Beijing's growing military threat over Taipei, Wang said many Taiwanese people also recognized the island's economy depends on its relationship with the mainland.

"Taiwanese people indeed realize the importance of cross-strait economic cooperation, and Taiwan's economy highly depends on China," he said.
"Nevertheless, Taiwanese people are also cautious about how much China can exploit this reliance for political gain."
In 2013, then-Taiwan President Ma proposed the Cross-Strait Service Trade Agreement, which would have opened up key Taiwanese industries -- including banking, health care and communications -- to investment from mainland China. The trade pact sparked concerns that closer economic integration with Beijing could damage Taipei's autonomy.
"Regional economic integration is an unstoppable global trend. If we do not face this and join in the process, it will only be a matter of time before we are eliminated from the competition," Ma said.

Memories of the 'Sunflower Movement' 01:24
Lin, then a graduate student at National Taiwan University, subsequently led the 2014 Sunflower Movement, which successfully forced Ma's government to scrap the trade deal. The three-week long protest saw student activists occupy Taiwan's legislative building in the island's largest demonstrations in decades.
Today, Lin regularly advises President Tsai on key policies. He said Taiwan should reduce its economic reliance on China by building more partnerships with the United States, Japan, and the rest of the world.
"We should be aware that China is a country that often uses economic means to interfere in the politics of other nations," he said. "We will continue to interact economically with China in the future, but we must also keep our distance to minimize the impact of supply chain restructuring or China's internal instability to Taiwan."
CNN's Will Ripley and Gladys Tsai contributed reporting from Taipei.
CNN · by Eric Cheung, CNN


2. Opinion | The U.S. must defend itself from the omicron variant — without resorting to lockdowns
How the times have changed. 

For those who know the Greek Alphabet.

Martin Kulldorff
@MartinKulldorff
News of new Nu variant, but WHO is jumping the alphabet to call it Omicron, so they can avoid Xi.




Some would argue the original COVID should have been designated as the Xi valiant.

Opinion | The U.S. must defend itself from the omicron variant — without resorting to lockdowns
The Washington Post · by Megan McArdleColumnist Today at 4:11 p.m. EST · November 26, 2021
Americans sat down to their Thanksgiving tables on Thursday with deep gratitude that two years of pandemic finally seemed to be winding down. On Friday, they woke to news that the World Health Organization would identify a new “variant of concern,” called “omicron.”
The strain appears to be bad news, though it’s not yet clear how bad. It may be responsible for an “exponential rise” in new cases in South Africa, and it appears to have a lot of mutations in the spike protein that could affect transmissibility, or allow the virus to evade the immunity we’ve already acquired from vaccination or prior infection.
Stock markets cratered, and a number of countries slapped bans on travel from southern Africa. Israel, which has already identified a case in a traveler from Malawi, is on the brink of declaring a state of emergency.
It’s now time for us to shake off our collective food coma and figure out what we’re going to do — not just about omicron but also other variants that may eventually follow. We’re living in the era of persistent pandemic. We need policies that let us live through it, while still actually living.
That strategy can’t be “everyone go back home again and stay there.” The costs of further lockdowns would be heavy, from eating disorders and opioid overdoses to small-business failures and school kids falling behind. Besides, pandemic fatigue is setting in even in blue states. We must be more selective in our policies, opting for anti-covid measures that disrupt daily life as little as possible. And we should look for ones that sidestep contentious political battles, such as mask mandates.
Fortunately (or rather, unfortunately), there are a lot of effective strategies the United States still hasn’t exploited effectively, such as better ventilation and updating building codes to require it.
We can also re-implement policies we have used to good effect. Travel bans such as the one the Biden administration announced Friday can’t stop variants from penetrating our borders, but they can slow new strains down and give us time to ramp up other mitigations, such as variant-tailored booster shots. Germany’s BioNTech says it takes about two weeks to determine whether a variant is evading the company’s vaccines — and that, if so, BioNTech could ship an updated vaccine within 100 days. A travel ban can buy us some time to protect our populations before the new variant really hits.
Of course, that’s assuming our regulators can operate at the speed of virus. Historically, the Food and Drug Administration’s preferred pace has been closer to a stately crawl. After the testing debacle early in the pandemic, it’s become a mite more spritely, but things are still moving slower than they should.
Antiviral treatments that seem to massively cut the risk of severe complications are now available. But though Britain has already approved molnupiravir, Merck’s antiviral treatment, the FDA won’t rule until at least Nov. 30. Paxlovid, Pfizer’s candidate, works so well that its trials were halted early because it was deemed unethical to keep giving the control group patients placebos. Why, then, is it ethical for the FDA to make others wait until it gets around to approving?
The FDA’s caution has still left us behind other countries in key respects, notably rapid testing. With a new variant about, we should be able to break out rapid home test kits to keep our social gatherings from turning into superspreader events. But backlogs at the FDA, combined with an insistence on precision over speed, have left the United States unable to do so on the necessary scale. Tests are too expensive to use frequently, if you can find them at all.
We need home testing kits so cheap and plentiful that everyone has piles of them everywhere. Heck, give them away in boxes of cereal. That means the FDA should approve tests even if they’re a little less accurate. If that’s not enough to make test kits ubiquitous, the U.S. government should stand up something like an Operation Warp Speed for testing.
Too, the government should improve its own tracking game. The United States ranks 28th in the world in terms of its capacity to track variants through genomic sequencing; we ought to be first. We also need to clean up our vaccination data, which is a mess. After we’ve fixed our own problems, we should spread the wealth around, helping poorer countries do more testing and tracking. While we’re at it, let’s further subsidize production of more vaccines for the rest of the world, because the fewer infections, the fewer chances the virus has to mutate.
None of this is beyond our capacities. And none of it requires everyone to self-exile for another two years. What it takes is an administration, and a public health establishment, that are willing to demand as much change from themselves as they have from everyone else over the past 18 months.
The Washington Post · by Megan McArdleColumnist Today at 4:11 p.m. EST · November 26, 2021


3. Opinion | The newest coronavirus variant is raising alarms. The pandemic is not over.

Opinion | The newest coronavirus variant is raising alarms. The pandemic is not over.
The Washington Post · by Editorial Board Yesterday at 2:38 p.m. EST · November 26, 2021
Remember the promise of normalcy by July Fourth? How can it be that now — after Thanksgiving, after so much sacrifice and waiting, after the arrival of vaccines, after months of sweaty masks, distancing and isolation — that another wave of pandemic infection is upon us? In Europe, lockdowns are returning. In some hot spots such as Minnesota and Michigan, hospital wards are again overflowing. A worrying new variant is raising alarms. What happened?
It’s not all bad. The vaccination campaign has put at least one dose in the arms of more than 231 million Americans; those over 65 years old are 86.1 percent fully vaccinated, and the rollout is now reaching the youngest, too. Schools went back to in-person learning this fall, mostly without massive disruption. Despite angry outbursts, it was possible to find resilience and patience everywhere. Face masks have become commonplace; health-care systems and workers fought to save lives amid immense stress and exhaustion; the economy rebounded.
But the pandemic is the unwelcome guest who won’t leave. The delta variant, for reasons still unclear, surges at different places over time. A few months ago, it was rampaging in Florida and the South; now it is in the Upper Midwest. Delta’s behavior is hard to figure. It can set off a precipitous surge, then decline almost as suddenly, as happened in India. Or it can zoom up to a plateau, and stay there, as in Britain. “It is not fitting into a neat bow-tied package of seasonality and predictability,” says epidemiologist Michael Osterholm of the University of Minnesota.
The latest jolt came Friday over a new variant, omicron, spreading fast in South Africa and designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization, which said it has a “large number of mutations.” It will take time to determine if the variant is more transmissible than delta, or more virulent, but it is a worrisome development.
In the United States, the pandemic is being fueled by the unvaccinated: 47 million adults and 12 million eligible teenagers. New daily cases nationwide have been on the upswing for three weeks. Michigan, which had as few as 102 new daily cases at one point in the summer, now has a seven-day average of more than 7,000. At Spectrum Health, a system of 14 hospitals and other health-care facilities in western Michigan, 86 percent of the hospitalized covid patients and 90 percent of those in intensive care units are unvaccinated, many with underlying conditions as well.
Increasingly, waning efficacy of the vaccines is giving the virus room to spread. A study of more than 780,000 patients in the Veterans Health Administration from February to October showed vaccine effectiveness fell from 87.9 percent to 48.1 percent. Because older and immune-compromised people were vaccinated first, their immunity is declining first as well, leading to a growing share of hospitalizations, but younger vaccinated age groups will also experience waning immunity as they reach the six-month mark. The phenomenon should compel all adults to get a booster shot.
One thing is certain: Vaccines work. The virus remains with us, but it does not have to kill.
The Washington Post · by Editorial Board Yesterday at 2:38 p.m. EST · November 26, 2021
4. Russia-Ukraine border: Why Moscow is stoking tensions

Excerpts:
Instead, they see the Kremlin sending a message that it's ready to defend its "red lines" on Ukraine: above all, that it must not join Nato.
"I think for Putin it's really important. He thinks the West has begun giving Ukraine's elite hope about joining Nato," political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya at R.Politik told the BBC.
"The training, the weapons and so on are like a red rag to a bull for Putin and he thinks if he doesn't act today, then tomorrow there will be Nato bases in Ukraine. He needs to put a stop to that."
Ukraine's desire to join the security bloc is nothing new, nor is Russia's insistence on vetoing that ambition in what it sees as its own "back yard".
But Moscow has been rattled recently by the Ukrainian military using Turkish drones against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine; the flight near Crimea of two nuclear-capable US bombers was an extra irritant.

Russia-Ukraine border: Why Moscow is stoking tensions
BBC · by Menu
By Sarah Rainsford
BBC Moscow correspondent
Published
1 hour ago
Russian troop build-up: View from Ukraine front line
When Russia wanted the US to sit up and take notice last April it sent tanks towards the Ukrainian border. The show of force worked: President Joe Biden called Russia's Vladimir Putin and in June the two men met in Geneva.
But whatever they agreed about Ukraine at their summit, something has since gone awry.
In recent weeks, Russian tanks have been moving west towards Ukraine once again, prompting fresh, even starker warnings from US intelligence circles that a cross-border offensive could be on the cards.
Image source, Maxar via Reuters
Image caption,
This build-up of Russian forces was spotted some 300km (185 miles) from Ukraine
Moscow insists that's "anti-Russian" hysteria, and most analysts agree there's no rationale for Russia openly entering - and massively escalating - the conflict in Ukraine, where it backs separatist forces but always denies a direct role.
'Red rag to a bull'
Instead, they see the Kremlin sending a message that it's ready to defend its "red lines" on Ukraine: above all, that it must not join Nato.
"I think for Putin it's really important. He thinks the West has begun giving Ukraine's elite hope about joining Nato," political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya at R.Politik told the BBC.
"The training, the weapons and so on are like a red rag to a bull for Putin and he thinks if he doesn't act today, then tomorrow there will be Nato bases in Ukraine. He needs to put a stop to that."
Ukraine's desire to join the security bloc is nothing new, nor is Russia's insistence on vetoing that ambition in what it sees as its own "back yard".
But Moscow has been rattled recently by the Ukrainian military using Turkish drones against Russian-backed forces in eastern Ukraine; the flight near Crimea of two nuclear-capable US bombers was an extra irritant.
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Russia has been angered by Ukraine's use of Bayraktar drones
There's also concern that the so-called Minsk agreements, a framework for ending Ukraine's seven-year-old conflict that's too contentious to actually implement, could be jettisoned for something more favourable to Kyiv.
'Signal Putin wants to send'
In April, Russia found that demonstrative military deployment worked well so it's repeating the trick.
"Our recent warnings have indeed been heard and the effect is noticeable: tensions have risen," President Putin told Russian diplomats last week. He argued that tension needed sustaining to force the West to reckon with Russia, not ignore it.
"If the military movements [close to Ukraine] are explicit, then this is not about direct military action - it's about a signal Putin wants to send," Andrei Kortunov, head of the RIAC think-tank in Moscow, told the BBC.
The signal to Ukraine is not to try anything rash, he believes, like seizing back control of the Donbas.

For the West, Mr Kortunov says Russia's message is to stop its "infiltration" of Ukraine with Nato infrastructure, including new kinds of weapons.
"That's definitely a matter of concern for Moscow," he argues.
This week, Russia's external intelligence agency, the SVR, evoked the 2008 Georgia war, in a statement on Ukraine.
It recalled the "high price" paid by then Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who sparked all-out conflict with Russia by attempting to regain control of the separatist region of South Ossetia, which is backed by Moscow.
Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Russian troops invaded Georgia in 2008 when it tried to recapture a breakaway region
"The Georgian scenario is on the table and could be used in Ukraine," Tatiana Stanovaya argues. "That doesn't mean Russia is preparing it; that there's no way back. I think it's just an option for now, not a decision," she says.
'We're not invading'
Ukraine itself at first dismissed US talk of an unusual troop build-up, though it has since joined the chorus of concern.
According to its head of military intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, around 90,000 Russian troops are now deployed in the vicinity of Ukraine - fewer than during similar tensions last spring.
He believes they could launch an attack from several directions early next year.
On Friday, Ukraine's president made clear his country had no plans for an incursion into the Donbas.
EPA/PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE
When I say we're definitely not invading anyone, we're sure of it... so the Russian president also has to declare publicly 'we have no plans' - Russia isn't preparing to invade
Volodymyr Zelensky
President of Ukraine

Others are sceptical.
"Russia would definitely like to send the signal that if forced to fight, it will fight," Mr Kortunov reasons. "But I don't see what can be accomplished by a direct military offensive against Ukraine."
"No matter how it goes, the collateral damage will be much more significant than any possible gain."
So it's possible Mr Putin is hedging his bets.
"My suspicion is that this is contingency planning," was security expert Mark Galeotti's conclusion in his podcast In Moscow's Shadow.
He suggests the Kremlin is "creating all sorts of opportunities", and no firm decision has been taken.
But he too doubts that Moscow wants open conflict, bringing more sanctions and a total rupture in relations with the West.
"A vicious war in Ukraine could shatter the unity and legitimacy of the Russian regime," warns Mark Galeotti. "The good news is that I suspect the regime… understands that."
On balance, he believes the Kremlin will find reasons not to escalate the situation.
Tanks for talks
There are also signs that, once again, what Moscow really wants to achieve with its tanks are more talks with the US: another summit of the two presidents.
It's a risky way of conducting diplomacy, but for Mr Putin the stakes are high.
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The two leaders met in Geneva in June
"At a meeting between Putin and Biden, neither will give clear commitments but there may be some tacit understanding on how far the US is ready to go in increasing its military support to Ukraine," Mr Kortunov argues. "That's not impossible."
Russian sources say such talks could happen in the coming weeks, perhaps remotely at first. The White House hasn't yet confirmed that.
"Whilst Putin has a flicker of hope that he can do a deal with Biden, he won't take any rash steps. But if he thinks it's all doomed, he could do the worst things we can imagine," Tatiana Stanovaya warns.
As long as the Russian leader has that hope, then she believes "things won't be so awful".
Sarah Rainsford was expelled as BBC Moscow correspondent at the end of August after being designated a security threat.
BBC · by Menu




5. Four Psychological Mechanisms That Make Us Fall for Disinformation
Pretty common sense. So why are we vulnerable?

Is there a technological solution? I think not. The burden is on us as individuals, as citizens, and as critical thinking animals.

Conclusion:
The U.S. government is already working on technological means of thwarting state and nonstate actors spreading disinformation in and about the United States. And an increasingly robust conversation about legislative action might force more aggressive removal of disinformation from social media platforms. Our analysis, suggests another path that merits additional attention: empowering individual citizens to reject the disinformation that they will inevitably encounter. Our work outlines two promising categories of techniques in this vein. One is to provide preventive inoculation, such as warning people about the effects of disinformation and how to spot it. The other is to encourage deeper, analytical thinking. These two techniques can be woven into training and awareness campaigns that would not necessarily require the cooperation of social media platforms. They could be simple, low-cost and scalable. A comprehensive approach to breaking the cycle of disinformation will address not only where disinformation messages are sent, but also where and how they are received.


Four Psychological Mechanisms That Make Us Fall for Disinformation
cna.org · by CNA

By Megan McBride
November 26, 2021

As humans evolved, we developed certain psychological mechanisms to deal with the information surrounding us. But in the 21st century media environment, where we are exposed to an exponentially growing quantity of messages and information, some of these time-tested tools make us dangerously vulnerable to disinformation.
Today, messages of persuasion are not just on billboards and commercials, but in a host of non-traditional places like in the memes, images and content shared online by friends and family. When viewing an Oreo commercial, we can feel relatively confident that it wants to persuade us of the cookie’s excellence and that the creator is likely Nabisco. The goals of today’s disinformation campaigns are more difficult to discern, and the content creators harder to identify. Few viewers will have any idea of the goal or identify of the creator of a shared meme about COVID-19 vaccines. And since this content appears in less traditional locations, we are less alert to its persuasive elements.
In a recent CNA study, we examined how, in this disorienting information environment, normal information-processing and social psychological mechanisms can be exploited by disinformation campaigns. Our report, The Psychology of (Dis)Information: A Primer on Key Psychological Mechanisms , identifies four key psychological mechanisms that make people vulnerable to persuasion.
Initial information processing: Our mental processing capacity is limited; we simply cannot deeply attend to all new information we encounter. To manage this problem, our brains take mental shortcuts to incorporate new information. For example, an Iranian-orchestrated disinformation campaign known as Endless Mayfly took advantage of this mental shortcut by creating a series of websites designed to impersonate legitimate and familiar news organizations like The Guardian and Bloomberg News. These look-alike sites were subject to less scrutiny by individual users who saw the familiar logo and assumed that the content was reliable and accurate.
Cognitive dissonance: We feel uncomfortable when confronted with two competing ideas, experiencing what psychologists call cognitive dissonance. We are motivated to reduce the dissonance by changing our attitude, ignoring or discounting the contradictory information, or increasing the importance of compatible information. Disinformation spread by the Chinese government following the 2019 protests in Hong Kong took advantage of the human desire to avoid cognitive dissonance by offering citizens a clear and consistent narrative casting the Chinese government in a positive light and depicting Hong Kong’s protestors as terrorists. This narrative, shared via official and unofficial media, protected viewers from feeling the dissonance that might result from trying to reconcile the tensions between the Chinese government’s position and that of the Hong Kong protestors.
Influence of group membership, beliefs, and novelty (the GBN model): Not all information is equally valuable to individuals. We are more likely to share information from and with people we consider members of our group, when we believe that it is true, and when the information is novel or urgent. For example, the #CoronaJihad hashtag campaign leveraged the emergence of a brand new disease — one that resulted in global fear and apprehension — to circulate disinformation blaming Indian Muslims for the its origins and spread.
Emotion and arousal : Not all information affects us the same way. Research demonstrates that we pay more attention to information that creates intense emotions or arouses us to act. That means we are more likely to share information if we feel awe, amusement or anxiety than if we feel less-arousing emotions like sadness or contentment. Operation Secondary Infektion, coordinated by the Russians, tried to create discord in Russian adversaries like the U.K. by planting fake news, forged documents and divisive content on topics likely to create intense emotional responses, such as terrorist threats and inflammatory political issues.
Despite their impact on the spread of disinformation, these mechanisms can be generally healthy and useful to us in our daily lives. They allow us to filter through the onslaught of information and images we encounter on a regular basis. They’re also the same mechanisms that advertisers have been using for years to get us to buy their cookie, cereal or newspaper. The current information environment, however, is far more complex than it was even 10 years ago, and the number of malicious actors who seek to exploit it has grown. These normal thought patterns now represent a vulnerability we must address to protect our communities and our nation.
The U.S. government is already working on technological means of thwarting state and nonstate actors spreading disinformation in and about the United States. And an increasingly robust conversation about legislative action might force more aggressive removal of disinformation from social media platforms. Our analysis, suggests another path that merits additional attention: empowering individual citizens to reject the disinformation that they will inevitably encounter. Our work outlines two promising categories of techniques in this vein. One is to provide preventive inoculation, such as warning people about the effects of disinformation and how to spot it. The other is to encourage deeper, analytical thinking. These two techniques can be woven into training and awareness campaigns that would not necessarily require the cooperation of social media platforms. They could be simple, low-cost and scalable. A comprehensive approach to breaking the cycle of disinformation will address not only where disinformation messages are sent, but also where and how they are received.
In addition to the full report, The Psychology of (Dis)information: A Primer on Key Psychological Mechanisms , a companion report, The Psychology of (Dis)information: Case Studies and Implications, looks in detail at the real-world examples cited above, and explores the national security implications of this analysis.
Megan McBride is a research analyst in CNA's Center for Stability and Development.
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cna.org · by CNA

6. America must prepare for war with China over Taiwan
Excerpts:
If China were to attack Taiwan, they likely would use a massive cyber and electronic warfare attack to paralyze the island. They would combine this with missile strikes against key military and government centers to decapitate Taiwan’s leadership. The PLA also would use special forces assaults and airborne and sea landings to attempt to rapidly defeat Taiwan. Prolonging effective Taiwan resistance until U.S. forces arrive should be a key goal of U.S. security policy.
President Biden on at least three occasions has said the U.S. would defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China. His administration needs to articulate to the American people why Taiwan’s defense is critical to the United States and deploy the resources needed to deter China from attacking Taiwan.
Accordingly, the United States needs to reinforce our military forces in the region, work with Taiwan to quickly transform it into a real prickly porcupine that is resilient so it can hold out for an extended period of time, and ensure we have ironclad allied commitments permitting the U.S. to use bases on allied countries’ territory. Time is not on our side. We must act now.

America must prepare for war with China over Taiwan
The Hill · by David Sauer, opinion contributor · November 24, 2021
China’s massive investment in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) may show China is preparing to fundamentally change the status quo and preparing for possible war with the United States over Taiwan. To deter China, the United States must rapidly build up its forces in the Pacific, continue to strengthen military alliances in the region to ensure access to bases in time of conflict, and accelerate deliveries of purchased military equipment to Taiwan.
Taiwan is of vital geopolitical importance to the United States. Its thriving democracy is one of the freest societies on the planet. As World War II U.S. Navy Adm. Ernest King said, Taiwan is the “cork in the bottle” for Japan. Whoever controls Taiwan will control Japan and the Republic of Korea’s shipping lifelines. Chinese control of Taiwan will give it enormous influence over both Japan and Korea, fundamentally altering the strategic calculus in East Asia and give China its long sought-after opportunity to Finlandize both countries.
Perhaps most importantly, Taiwan is the center for advanced semiconductor production; the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) boasts that it has the most advanced foundry in the world. Chinese control of TSMC would provide it enormous economic benefit and would result in the world being dependent on an authoritarian regime for advanced semiconductors — and all that would mean for the integrity of supply chains. Advanced semiconductors are the petroleum of the digital age. America must not let an authoritarian regime bent on supplanting the United States seize these vital production facilities.
Time is not on our side. Taiwan Minister of Defense Chiu Kuo-Cheng testified before his Congress on Oct. 6 that, “By 2025, China will bring the cost attrition to its lowest. It has the capacity now, but it will not start a war easily, having to take many other things into consideration.” As Chiu states, China probably already considers it has the capability to seize Taiwan.
China’s calculus about using force against Taiwan is a complex one, involving — but not limited to — internal stability, Taiwan developments and military dynamics. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has created a popular nationalist narrative that the great rejuvenation of the Chinese people will be achieved through unification with Taiwan. Chinese President Xi Jinping has been focused on annexing Taiwan. He likely will achieve an unprecedented third five-year term as president during the fall 2022 Party Congress, allowing him the internal political freedom to use force to achieve his unification goal.
Xi will strive to ease tensions in Sino-American relations to ensure a successful Winter Olympics in Beijing in early 2022 and through his selection again as the head of the party in fall 2022. Once his position is secured, Xi will ratchet up pressure on Taiwan in advance of the Taiwan presidential election in early 2024, leaving 2023 as a potentially dangerous year.
Beijing does not want Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen to be succeeded in early 2024 by her vice president, Lai Qing-te. Lai is a popular politician who is deeply committed to human rights and Taiwan sovereignty and nationhood. The prospect of his succeeding Tsai undoubtedly would cause Beijing to accelerate its efforts to take Taiwan.
Taiwan has been trying to transform itself into a “prickly porcupine” with indigenous production of asymmetric weapons, as well as purchases of new U.S.-made systems. Based on announced weapon sales agreements, many of these new U.S. made systems will not be active in the Taiwan services until the mid- to late-2020s, giving Beijing a window to try to take Taiwan in 2023 or 2024. Speeding up delivery of key asymmetric systems may help change Beijing’s calculus.
Taiwan needs to prepare its people for conflict, ensuring it has enough emergency supplies to survive a Chinese onslaught. Increasing Taiwan Security Services resources to gather intelligence on China, as well as to investigate and disrupt China’s efforts to further develop and use fifth-column forces in Taiwan, is also urgently needed.
Senior U.S. military officers have been shocked by the PLA’s rapid transformation. The U.S. armed forces are trying to change to better fight the PLA in the Pacific but face difficult logistics and force projection issues in a Taiwan scenario. The sheer size of the Pacific Ocean makes it vitally important the U.S. has allied commitments to use bases in the region in a time of conflict. Mending relations with the Philippines in the post-Duterte era to get access to Clark Airbase and Subic Bay might be beneficial. Ensuring the use of U.S. bases in Japan in time of conflict is essential.
Nevertheless, geographic space and logistical issues will make a timely U.S. military response difficult; it may take several weeks for the U.S. to have sufficient forces in the region to challenge the PLA in the battle space around Taiwan. Having more forces stationed in the Pacific may help speed a U.S. response.
If China were to attack Taiwan, they likely would use a massive cyber and electronic warfare attack to paralyze the island. They would combine this with missile strikes against key military and government centers to decapitate Taiwan’s leadership. The PLA also would use special forces assaults and airborne and sea landings to attempt to rapidly defeat Taiwan. Prolonging effective Taiwan resistance until U.S. forces arrive should be a key goal of U.S. security policy.
President Biden on at least three occasions has said the U.S. would defend Taiwan if it were attacked by China. His administration needs to articulate to the American people why Taiwan’s defense is critical to the United States and deploy the resources needed to deter China from attacking Taiwan.
Accordingly, the United States needs to reinforce our military forces in the region, work with Taiwan to quickly transform it into a real prickly porcupine that is resilient so it can hold out for an extended period of time, and ensure we have ironclad allied commitments permitting the U.S. to use bases on allied countries’ territory. Time is not on our side. We must act now.
David Sauer is a retired senior CIA officer who served as chief of station and deputy chief of station in multiple overseas command positions in East Asia and South Asia.
The Hill · by David Sauer, opinion contributor · November 24, 2021

7. Russia Has Bigger Plans Beyond Ukraine and Belarus
Excerpts:
For those still not making the cut, NATO must decide how to protect our interests and deter Russia, while acknowledging that, by definition, the remaining grey-zone states are more vulnerable than NATO members (as all six are now at risk from unrelenting Kremlin efforts). While we grapple with these fateful decisions, NATO should tell Russia (yet again) that military changes to the status quo are unacceptable. After years of similar rhetoric, whether Putin will believe us is uncertain.
Once decided, NATO should begin unraveling the “frozen conflicts” and other entanglements Russia has imposed on prospective new NATO members. One case that should be a priority is eliminating the Trans-Dniester Republic, an artificial entity entirely dependent politically on Russia. Pressuring Moscow for the full reunification of Moldova would divert Putin’s attention from Ukraine. Another distraction would be increasing international attention to Georgia’s seized provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The West’s failure to stand up to Russia’s 2008 attack on Georgia led directly to Russia’s later seizure of Crimea and the Donbass. Returning the favor to Moscow would alleviate stress on Ukraine, and also highlight the pattern of Russian behavior NATO needs to reverse.
Obviously, there is much more to do. Clearly, merely assuming defensive postures against belligerent Kremlin moves is neither the grey zone’s road to peace and security nor NATO’s. Especially in the wake of the catastrophic U.S.-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, now is the Alliance’s time to show it is alive and well in its own heartland. The message to Moscow should be: there are no easy days ahead.
Russia Has Bigger Plans Beyond Ukraine and Belarus
19fortyfive.com · by John Bolton · November 26, 2021
During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, after learning Nikita Khrushchev had broken his commitment not to deploy nuclear-capable ballistic missiles on the island, John F. Kennedy called Khrushchev a “f*cking liar” and an “immoral gangster.” Hours later, JFK told his senior advisors, “we certainly have been wrong about what he’s trying to do in Cuba.”
So too with Vladimir Putin and Ukraine. Despite wide-ranging debate in the West, Russia’s objectives remain obscure, as do Putin’s and Alexander Lukashenko’s goals in next-door Belarus. In fact, Putin is pursuing a macro strategy throughout Russia’s “near abroad,” while the West’s approach is micro. Never forget Putin’s lamentation about the USSR dissolving, or that thirty years ago observers said of now-Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, “he’s not a Communist, he’s a czarist.”
Moscow is probing the entire “grey zone” between NATO’s eastern border and Russia’s western border: not just Ukraine and Belarus, but also Moldova and the Caucasus republics. Moldova’s “frozen conflict” with the Russian-created Trans-Dniester Republic; Russia’s ongoing occupation of two Georgian provinces; and Moscow’s recent pro-Azeri intervention in its conflict with Armenia, all demonstrate the Kremlin’s hegemonic or outrightly annexationist policies entangling the six grey-zone states. (The five Central Asian former Soviet republics face their own Russia problems, worthy of separate consideration.) Treating each conflict singly rather than strategically falls into Putin’s trap.
The Kremlin’s wider perspective is exemplified by its increases in Black Sea naval drills, and rising complaints about the U.S. Navy’s “provocative” presence there. Black Sea dominance would threaten not only Ukraine but also Georgia, intimidate NATO members Bulgaria and Romania, and induce angst in Erdogan’s increasingly erratic Turkey. Which of the several Russian threats are imminent and which less so is unclear, as in 1962 when Kennedy feared Khrushchev was holding Berlin hostage to dissuade a strong U.S. response to Russia’s Cuban adventurism.
The West’s collective inability to muster effective opposition policies underscores our nearsightedness. Confronted with widespread Kremlin misbehavior, Washington is responding by agonizing whether NATO exercises are the issue. Coming from Joe Biden, this is ironic, recalling Trumpian solicitude for Kim Jung-un’s criticism of U.S.-South Korean joint exercises, while belittling Kim’s far more serious threats.
Meanwhile, Europe continues navel-gazing. Berlin’s new governing coalition’s agreement doesn’t mention NATO’s pledge that members spend at least 2% of GDP on defense, but strikingly supports more cooperation among EU militaries, a long-standing European chimera. The new Franco-Italian Quirinale Treaty similarly commits to strengthening EU defense strategy instead of stressing NATO.
This persistent inattention and introversion obviously give Putin substantial maneuvering room for hybrid-warfare tactics suiting Moscow’s interim objectives, particularly on sequence and timing, and setting the stage for future struggles. Today, new provocations may come sooner rather than later not because of Russian strength, but because it fears impending political or economic weakness. An aggressor can conclude it has only temporary advantages, thus encouraging striking before the balance shifts. Even worse, Putin could be coordinating with Chinese President Xi Jinping, with one regime’s rhetoric (say, China on Taiwan) intended to divert attention from the threat in Europe, in exchange for similar reciprocal aid from Putin to Xi later. Or vice versa.
Effective Western responses must recognize Moscow is pursuing a broader, more-interrelated, longer-term agenda than we have heretofore acknowledged. Even if Putin is improvising as he goes, and he almost certainly is, it is to seize targets of opportunity as they arise, manifesting Russia’s nimbleness, unfortunately, not strategic uncertainty. So, while increased military assistance to Ukraine, shutting down Nord Stream II, boycotting Russian oil, and other diplomatic and economic sanctions are all warranted, they will never be enough.
Washington must move beyond reacting to Russian provocations one by one, and through NATO, not the EU. Russia’s game, while whole-of-government in implementation, is far more politico-military than economic. NATO’s central geostrategic question is how to deal with the grey zone as an integrated problem-set. The Alliance’s eastern expansion never adequately considered where to stop, or the consequences for states left beyond NATO’s treaty guarantees, in the grey zone. The immediate task is not levying blame for this history, but deciding now which grey-zone countries are serious NATO candidates, loosening whatever grip the Kremlin has on them, and preventing new constraints from being imposed (such as a potential coup in Ukraine). Moscow must unambiguously hear both our intentions and our will to achieve them.
For those still not making the cut, NATO must decide how to protect our interests and deter Russia, while acknowledging that, by definition, the remaining grey-zone states are more vulnerable than NATO members (as all six are now at risk from unrelenting Kremlin efforts). While we grapple with these fateful decisions, NATO should tell Russia (yet again) that military changes to the status quo are unacceptable. After years of similar rhetoric, whether Putin will believe us is uncertain.
Once decided, NATO should begin unraveling the “frozen conflicts” and other entanglements Russia has imposed on prospective new NATO members. One case that should be a priority is eliminating the Trans-Dniester Republic, an artificial entity entirely dependent politically on Russia. Pressuring Moscow for the full reunification of Moldova would divert Putin’s attention from Ukraine. Another distraction would be increasing international attention to Georgia’s seized provinces, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The West’s failure to stand up to Russia’s 2008 attack on Georgia led directly to Russia’s later seizure of Crimea and the Donbass. Returning the favor to Moscow would alleviate stress on Ukraine, and also highlight the pattern of Russian behavior NATO needs to reverse.
Obviously, there is much more to do. Clearly, merely assuming defensive postures against belligerent Kremlin moves is neither the grey zone’s road to peace and security nor NATO’s. Especially in the wake of the catastrophic U.S.-NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, now is the Alliance’s time to show it is alive and well in its own heartland. The message to Moscow should be: there are no easy days ahead.
Ambassador John R. Bolton served as national security adviser under President Donald J. Trump. He is the author of “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.” You can follow him on Twitter: @AmbJohnBolton.
19fortyfive.com · by ByJohn Bolton · November 26, 2021

8.  Australia Needs Asymmetric Capabilities to Counter China in Indo-Pacific, Former Australian Official Says

We all need more asymmetric capabilities to counter Chinese asymmetric capabilities.


Australia Needs Asymmetric Capabilities to Counter China in Indo-Pacific, Former Australian Official Says - USNI News
news.usni.org · by John Grady · November 26, 2021
Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Hobart (DDG 39) executes a live missile firing off the coast of Hawaii during Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) on Aug. 25, 2020. RAN Photo
Australian political leaders have refocused Canberra’s attention on developing more asymmetric capabilities necessary to fighting a war far from its shores against “high-end competitor” China, a former senior national security adviser to its foreign minister said Tuesday.
John Lee, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, described the security situation regarding Taiwan and in northeast Asia “a lot bleaker” than they were five years ago when, for the first time, maritime concerns dominated an Australian defense white paper.
He added it was “not unrealistic to have a conflict” over self-governing Taiwan in five or six years and any war there would not be confined to the island. China regards the island as a province and has been escalating tensions over its future to include threats of invasion.
Later, Lee said that China, despite its air and immediate naval superiority over Taiwan, “can’t land troops there at an acceptable cost” right now.
By 2020, the Australian government recognized the need to “acquire capabilities to shape and deter” events far from its shores. Adding impetus to the drive to look at national security through a new lens was the increasingly icy relations between Canberra and Beijing over high tariffs and embargoing goods. That same year, the Chinese embassy also presented the Australians with 14 grievances. They ranged from Australia’s anger over how Beijing handled the pandemic to banning telecommunications giant Huawei from its domestic 5G market, to Canberra’s closer military relations with Japan.
Australians in government and the general public were repulsed by the threats “of explicitly punishing [Australia] for your actions.” Lee said nine of the 14 points concerned domestic decisions.
Lee said this was the decision-making framework that led Australia to seek an agreement with the United States and United Kingdom to build nuclear-powered submarines and, more importantly to Canberra, share advanced technologies ranging from cyber to artificial intelligence to unmanned, undersea warfare and hypersonics.
Asymmetric capabilities like unmanned and undersea technologies could be available within a few years. The submarines will take decades to build.
“We’re not in the same league as the Americans and Chinese” when it comes to high-end warfare, but Australia can be an “asymmetric power” to confound Beijing’s planning, Lee said. China has invested heavily in anti-access/area denial technologies to keep the U.S. and its allies at bay in a conflict.
The Chinese “for 30 years have messed up American thinking” on operating freely in the Indo-Pacific region, Lee said, noting Australia can play that role of upending Beijing’s military planning with advanced asymmetric capabilities from drones to undersea technologies.
With that in place, Lee said the Australian government’s existing contract with France to buy diesel-electric submarines and its own existing fleet that could only “operate around our periphery” would not address China’s ambitions to dominate the Indo-Pacific.
“Leasing has to be an option” to fill the timeline gap in undersea readiness, but the submarine does not necessarily have to be an American Virginia-class boat. “We need to learn how to operate them” and maintain them, he said.
Bryan Clark, the Hudson Institute event’s moderator, said another option could be having Australian submarine crews enter the American training pipeline to build a cadre of operators for the future. “Shipyards are backed up” with necessary nuclear maintenance work on existing U.S. aircraft carriers and submarines and would have little time to overhaul vessels destined for Australia.
Upending Beijing’s thinking on security is critical, Henry Sokolski, the executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, said in describing “the long cool war” between China and the democracies. For years, the Chinese have been “interested in breaking up alliances [like those with Australia, Japan and South Korea] and getting into our [United States’ and allies’] minds.”
“We need to work with our other allies [to build trust], so they don’t go their own ways,” he said. An example of that could be coming from South Korea, which wants to acquire nuclear-powered submarines and also wants to be able to enrich uranium for use in civilian power generation.
As for the U.S., that means “we’re really going to have to take more risks” in collaboration with allies in technology transfer. Washington needs to be “thinking much more clearly on things that matter” when deciding what technology it won’t share, rather than automatically pulling down security concerns to block deals that could benefit both parties.
“We need another AUKUS” for allies, “but not submarines,” Sokolski said. Specifically, he suggested closer cooperation between the European Space Agency, the U.K., Japan and the U.S. to “know what’s going on in space” and also among the democracies with Japan on advanced computing where “it is far ahead of us.”
If steps like those were taken, he said they would “Make AUKUS Great Again.”
Related
news.usni.org · by John Grady · November 26, 2021

9. China Is Closing Another Major Bridge to Taiwan



China Is Closing Another Major Bridge to Taiwan
The last cohort of people who can span the divide between Beijing and Taipei are being scared away.
By Tim Culpan +Get Alerts
November 25, 2021, 5:30 PM EST



For the past decade, political, economic and cultural ties between China and Taiwan have withered under the strain of an increasingly assertive Beijing and a Taipei that refuses to bend under its will.
Yet one part of the relationship has held together well: The pragmatic businesspeople on both sides toiling behind the scenes to help each other make money while often acting as a backchannel for politicians who can’t risk speaking to each other, let alone meet. Now, it appears even that connection is being severed by China’s failure to understand the machinations of democracy.
Beijing has said it will punish businesses and political donors with links to anyone backing Taiwan independence, Bloomberg News reported. In practical terms, that means an individual or entity that dares show support for the governing Democratic Progressive Party is persona non grata.
Far Eastern Group, a Taipei-based conglomerate that includes cement, textiles and telecommunications, was fined for alleged infractions relating to environmental protection, labor standards and product quality across five different Chinese provinces, the official Xinhua News agency wrote Monday. Those fines total 474 million yuan ($74 million), Zhu Fenglian, a spokeswoman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office told reporters Wednesday. Two of Far Eastern’s listed group companies outlined 88.6 million yuan of those penalties in Taiwan exchange filings.
But comments from the TAO, the Chinese ministry that governs its cross-strait relations, speak to the broader motive.
“Businesses and financial sponsors associated with supporters of Taiwan independence will be penalized according to law,” Zhu told reporters earlier this week when asked whether Far Eastern’s punishment was for such connections.
Far Eastern made donations to both the ruling DPP and the opposition Kuomintang in the lead-up to last year’s presidential election, Taipei-based Wealth Magazine reported, citing government statistics. Far Eastern declined to respond beyond its exchange filing, Bloomberg News reported. 
The choice to target Far Eastern is interesting. In April 2009, its Far EasTone Telecommunications Co. was at the heart of what was expected to be a new era of open trade and investment across the Taiwan Strait. In a landmark deal, state-controlled China Mobile Ltd. agreed to take a 12% stake in the Taipei-based telco. Taiwan’s Taiex index climbed by the largest amount in 18 years as investors anticipated a flood of dealmaking.
But that was a different era, when power was held by the KMT, the nationalist party that fled to Taiwan after defeat by Mao Zedong’s communists in the Chinese civil war. Then-President Ma Ying-jeou’s legacy of nurturing closer relations, including strengthened business ties, with the mainland would be marred by the 2014 Sunflower Movement against policies perceived to be pandering too much to Beijing. The DPP’s Tsai Ing-wen won elections in 2016 and 2020 in large part due to growing sentiment that China doesn’t hold Taiwan’s interests at heart. 
Tsai has walked a fine line. To the irritation of many party supporters, she strategically hasn’t advanced an independence agenda, a fact not publicly acknowledged by China. But her refusal to embrace Beijing’s one-China stance, an issue that her predecessor and the KMT were willing to discuss, has led Chinese leaders to ban select officials from visiting the mainland and to belittle countries that show support for Taiwan. Exchanges on the political, cultural and economic level have suffered. 
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The relationship has been held together by the business connections that still function with a degree of normalcy. Factories owned by Taiwan companies continue to churn out products in China. Over a million Taiwanese businesspeople — known as Taishang — live in or travel to the mainland to manage operations and close deals, even during the pandemic, which has seen travelers face mandatory quarantines upon arrival at both sides. Taipei-based Foxconn Technology Group, best known for making Apple Inc.’s iPhones, was heralded last week by state-run China Daily as being the largest single overseas contributor to China’s economy.

And, yes, like in most democracies, companies can — almost need to — participate in politics. Foxconn’s founder Terry Gou even unsuccessfully attempted to become the KMT’s presidential candidate. Donations are common — sometimes going to both parties to cover all bases, a common practice in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean that firms giving to the DPP are pro-independence, as China is asserting. 

By punishing corporations such as Far Eastern for getting involved in democracy, Beijing may well achieve a short-term objective in ensuring executives dare not aid and abet the DPP. In the long run, such measures reiterate what businesspeople from Taiwan have known for years: China is a politically risky place to operate and they ought to look elsewhere.
China would be the bigger loser. As it seeks to become technologically independent from the West, its government and corporations can learn a lot from the thousands of engineers and managers from Taiwan who live and work locally. Scores of Chinese tech companies are staffed with talent lured from leaders like  Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and United Microelectronics Corp. 
Yet such harsh reactions mean that every time a Taiwan company’s board of directors chooses where to build its next factory, the likelihood decreases that it will be China. Beijing still has a chance to build a fruitful relationship with Taipei, nurture affinity and gain valuable knowledge. Acting harshly risks scaring away the last cohort of people willing and able to build a bridge across the increasingly cavernous divide.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:
Tim Culpan at tculpan1@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Patrick McDowell at pmcdowell10@bloomberg.net

10. Why medium-sized autocracies are projecting more hard power abroad

Excerpts:
None of this is good for global stability. The world would be safer if America were more engaged, not less. But that is for a different leader: this one is addressed to the medium-sized meddlers themselves. Each case is different, but most of these newly assertive countries will find that the costs of adventurism outweigh the benefits. Wielding hard power is expensive, and hard to do effectively.
Turkey has gained swagger and territory, but alienated nearly all its allies. Saudi Arabia is stuck in a quagmire in Yemen. The UAE’s missions failed not only in Yemen but in Libya, too. Pakistani colonels gloated over President Joe Biden’s hasty retreat from Afghanistan. The Taliban are friendly with Pakistan and hostile to India. But Kabul’s new rulers have no idea how to govern. Afghanistan is in economic meltdown and their ruthless, exclusive approach could provoke another war on Pakistan’s doorstep.
The men who run all these countries no doubt see things differently. Autocrats love having an external enemy, and sometimes believe their own propaganda. So they will keep up their military meddling. But they will often blunder, as even great powers do, and in the end this may bring them down.
Why medium-sized autocracies are projecting more hard power abroad
And why this is alarming
Nov 25th 2021
TALK ABOUT geopolitics and people think of great-power rivalry: America v the Soviet Union or, more recently, China. Fair enough. Great powers are, as the name suggests, important. But as America retreats from its role as globocop, it has opened space for medium-sized powers to become more assertive.
Turkey has occupied a chunk of Syria, sent troops to Libya, helped Azerbaijan vanquish Armenia and dispatched its navy in support of dubious claims to Mediterranean waters. Iran backs militias that prop up Syria’s despot, have a chokehold on Lebanon and were accused this month of trying to murder Iraq’s prime minister with an explosives-laden drone. Pakistan helped a group of misogynistic jihadists take over Afghanistan. Belarus hijacked a plane and has been giving migrants bolt-cutters and ordering them to cut through Poland’s border fence. Cuba trains Venezuelan spooks. Saudi Arabia bombs Yemen. Medium-sized menaces are on the march. They are making the world more confusing and more dangerous.
The leaders of such countries do not all have a free hand. Belarus’s dictator has lately become a Russian puppet; Pakistan is hugely in debt to China; everyone is wary of direct military confrontation with America. But for the most part they are pursuing their own agendas, not those of a great-power sponsor. They are promoting what they see as their national interests or, in many cases, their own selfish ones.
Some have national-security concerns. Turkey wanted a buffer zone in Syria to stop Kurdish fighters setting up bases near its border. Pakistan was afraid of Indian influence in Afghanistan. Egypt is meddling in Libya because it wants to avoid chaos there. But other less respectable motives are also common.
Some leaders, mostly autocrats, are venturing abroad to distract attention from their dire record at home. Turkey’s president has presided over economic blight and political repression, but Turks cheer his artfully televised military victories. Likewise, the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and Pakistan all hide their failings behind a vigorously waved national flag.
Profit plays a role, too. Some leaders offer arms and loans to war-scorched countries on the understanding that their own firms will be first in line for contracts to rebuild them. The financial beneficiaries are often the leader’s cronies, not his people.
A final motive, and perhaps the most important, is that autocrats tend to support other autocrats. Cuba’s mambo-dancing Marxist rulers have little in common with Iran’s austere mullahs, but they all support Venezuela. Regimes under American sanctions trade with each other to survive. Despots swap tips on how to crush democrats and coup plots. Sometimes, all these motives are combined. An autocrat may send troops to help another autocrat, dress it up as a patriotic war, and win construction deals later that oil his patronage machine.
The results have been catastrophic. In Venezuela medium-sized menaces have propped up a regime under President Nicolás Maduro so corrupt and inept that the economy has shrunk by 75%. In Ethiopia arms and cash from medium-sized meddlers gave its prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, the confidence to wage all-out war on domestic rebels, causing tens of thousands of deaths and forcing millions to flee their homes. All around the world, the fraying of American deterrence and the American security guarantee are prompting neighbours to look more fearfully at their traditional foes, and to re-arm.
None of this is good for global stability. The world would be safer if America were more engaged, not less. But that is for a different leader: this one is addressed to the medium-sized meddlers themselves. Each case is different, but most of these newly assertive countries will find that the costs of adventurism outweigh the benefits. Wielding hard power is expensive, and hard to do effectively.
Turkey has gained swagger and territory, but alienated nearly all its allies. Saudi Arabia is stuck in a quagmire in Yemen. The UAE’s missions failed not only in Yemen but in Libya, too. Pakistani colonels gloated over President Joe Biden’s hasty retreat from Afghanistan. The Taliban are friendly with Pakistan and hostile to India. But Kabul’s new rulers have no idea how to govern. Afghanistan is in economic meltdown and their ruthless, exclusive approach could provoke another war on Pakistan’s doorstep.
The men who run all these countries no doubt see things differently. Autocrats love having an external enemy, and sometimes believe their own propaganda. So they will keep up their military meddling. But they will often blunder, as even great powers do, and in the end this may bring them down. ■
This article appeared in the Leaders section of the print edition under the headline "March of the midsized menaces"

11. U.S. lawmakers say Taiwan "on the rise" as they ignore China warnings to visit country


U.S. lawmakers say Taiwan "on the rise" as they ignore China warnings to visit country
Newsweek · by Isabel van Brugen · November 26, 2021
A member of the second U.S. congressional delegation to visit Taiwan this month said Friday that the self-ruled island is "on the rise," as Beijing demanded the group "call off" their trip.
"I'm midway through my visit to Taiwan & this much is clear: this place is on the rise," Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat from Michigan and a former U.S. intelligence official said on Twitter.
"The fortitude & determination of the people, led by their dynamic (frankly, kick-ass) President, is downright inspiring — and I don't inspire easily. Democratic values still & always matter," she added.
Slotkin and four other members of the U.S. House of Representatives arrived in Taiwan for a brief visit on Thursday at a time when Beijing has ramped up political and military pressure on the democratically governed island, including through a show of force over Taiwan's air defense zone.
China Dispels Taiwan War Rumors With Threats of Legal Consequences
Read more
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims the self-ruled island of Taiwan as a province of China. Taiwan has its own ruling party, constitution, and military. In a speech in October, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said he would achieve "reunification of the nation," and called Taiwan's independence a "serious hidden danger to national rejuvenation."
Other members of the delegation are Democrats Mark Takano, chairman of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Colin Allred, Sara Jacobs and Republican Nancy Mace, the de facto U.S. embassy in Taiwan said, noting that the lawmakers are due to leave the island on Friday.
"The congressional delegation will meet with senior Taiwan leaders to discuss U.S.-Taiwan relations, regional security, and other significant issues of mutual interest," the Taipei branch of the American Institute in Taiwan said in a statement.
Shortly arriving in Taiwan on Thursday, Slotkin said that her office received a message from the Chinese Embassy telling her to abandon the trip.
"When news of our trip broke yesterday, my office received a blunt message from the Chinese Embassy, telling me to call off the trip," Slotkin wrote on Twitter.
"But just as with other stops, we're here to learn about the region and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to our hosts, the Taiwanese," she added. "I'm looking forward to an informative trip."
China Says U.S. Will Embarrass Itself by Platforming Taiwan at Biden Summit
Read more
It marks the second trip by U.S. lawmakers to the island this month. On November 9, members of the Senate and House of Representatives traveled to Taiwan for a low-profile diplomatic visit, meeting Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen on November 10.
During a press briefing on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said Beijing was "strongly dissatisfied" about the lawmakers' visit.
"They are sending a seriously wrong signal of supporting the Taiwan independent separatist forces," he said.
During a meeting with Tsai on Friday morning, Takano said Washington's commitment to Taiwan is "rock solid."
U.S. commitment to the island "has remained steadfast as the ties between us have deepened," he said.
"Taiwan is a democratic success story, a reliable partner, and a force for good in the world," Takano added.
Earlier this month, Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri unveiled a bill that aims to bolster Taiwan's ability to defend itself against a potential attack by China, citing warnings from Taiwanese and U.S. officials that "China may try to invade Taiwan over the next few years."
"We must do everything in our power to help Taiwan urgently strengthen its defenses," Hawley said in a statement. "If China's recent actions have shown anything to the world, it's that Beijing will stop at nothing in its quest to dominate the Indo–Pacific and then the world. We must not let them succeed."
Although Washington maintains a decades-long foreign policy known as "strategic ambiguity," it is required to provide the Taiwan with military equipment for its self-defense under the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA).

House Homeland Security Committee member Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) questions witnesses during a hearing on 'worldwide threats to the homeland' in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill September 17, 2020 in Washington, DC. Slotkin said on Friday that the self-ruled island of Taiwan is “on the rise,” during a visit with four other lawmakers. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Newsweek · by Isabel van Brugen · November 26, 2021

12. Afghan Teachers Defy Taliban by Secretly Schooling Teenage Girls
Resistance comes in many forms. Education is among the most important.

Afghan Teachers Defy Taliban by Secretly Schooling Teenage Girls
Three months after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan, girls haven’t been allowed in public school beyond sixth grade in Kabul and other cities
WSJ · by Margherita Stancati | Photographs by Paula Bronstein for The Wall Street Journal
When the Taliban started reopening public schools in September, they banned girls from attending beyond the sixth grade. Since then, middle and high schools in a few provinces have reopened to girls, but in Kabul and most of the country they remain shut.
“If they just sit at home they will get depressed or addicted to their phones,” Fawzia said. “We need to give them hope that one day schools will reopen.”
The Taliban leadership has so far espoused a more moderate attitude toward women and girls compared with their rule in the 1990s. Taliban officials say schools for older girls will reopen in Kabul and elsewhere once appropriate gender-segregation arrangements are made.
Yet three months after the Taliban seized control of the country, many Afghans wonder if those promises to reopen schools will be kept.
“It’s clear from their past behavior how they feel about women’s education. They don’t want to empower women through education. Their goal is to keep women in their homes,” said Axana Soltan, who fled Afghanistan as a child when the Taliban were last in power and runs an NGO in the U.S. that advocates for the education of Afghan girls.
In the 1990s, Fawzia, a mother of five, tutored her eldest daughter and other children at home. She is now one of many teachers holding secret classes for teenage girls. Other teens are blending in with younger students at schools, while their teachers hope the Taliban won’t notice or care.
The willingness of parents, teachers and students to resist the de facto education ban is a measure of how much Afghanistan has changed in the past two decades. It signals there would be strong opposition, particularly in cities such as Kabul, to a return of harsh social rules imposed in the past.
The Taliban had banned television in the 1990s, but most Afghans can now access the internet, including online classes. Expectations also have changed.
“When the Taliban first came 20 years ago, the level of education in the country was very low. Many women were satisfied with basic literacy classes. Now, the education level is high,” said Farhat, 22, who asked only her first name be used. She is helping her mother, Fawzia, teach the teenage girls, including a younger sister, in their living room, but “small classes like this can’t fix the problem,” she said. “Schools must reopen.”
Pashtana Durrani, an Afghan educator, is setting up secret classes for girls in science, technology, engineering and math. “If we lose momentum there will be no female doctors, engineers, no midwives,” she said.

A few private schools in Kabul hold clandestine classes for older girls.
Around 100 teenage students in southern Afghanistan are enrolled for a mix of online and in-person teaching, Ms. Durrani said. She hopes to expand the program to other parts of the country, including where girls’ schools have reopened.
The Taliban have said they would respect the rights of women within the framework of Islam, but haven’t explained what limits they will set. Images of women outside many shops have been painted over, and women have been barred from many workplaces, including all government jobs.
“We are committed to giving girls the right to education. Islam has given them that right. But there are some issues that go against our customs and Islamic values. Once those issues are fixed, we will let girls go to school,” said Akef Muhajir, spokesman for the Taliban’s newly established Ministry for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, which occupies the former ministry of women’s affairs. “We’re trying to do it as soon as possible.”
The Taliban say male teachers shouldn’t be allowed to teach female students, requiring the recruitment of more female teachers. They also say transportation must be arranged to ferry teenage girls between home and school. All that requires money the Taliban government doesn’t have. Most teachers, like other civil servants, haven’t been paid in months.
How the Taliban provides education to girls is seen as a benchmark for international assistance. The Taliban are pressing for the release of more than $9 billion in Afghan central-bank assets held by the U.S.
“One of the problems regarding the reopening of girls’ schools and universities is economic,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, the chief Taliban spokesman. “If you impose sanctions on us, you are further disrupting the process.”
Washington is committed to providing humanitarian aid to Afghanistan but is reluctant to directly support the new government unless the Taliban respect women’s rights, U.S. officials said. Legal constraints mean the frozen assets can’t be easily released, the officials said.

Female students outside the Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jelani Madrassa in Kabul.
“We will need to find ways to continue supporting the Afghan population without benefiting the Taliban,” a State Department spokesperson said. “This won’t be easy.”
Off limits
The Taliban’s draconian treatment of women helped turn Afghanistan into a pariah state in the late 1990s. All girls were barred from education, and most jobs were off-limits to women. Women appearing in public had to be covered from head to toe and accompanied by a male guardian. Rule-breakers were beaten and detained by religious-police squads.
Fawzia, the teacher, was mostly confined at home. She recalled the time a religious-police officer berated her for not covering her face: “He asked my husband: ‘Why is your wife’s face not covered?’ I was so scared, I quickly covered my face with my head scarf.”
The Taliban lashed her husband as punishment, she said. After that, she only left her home wearing a head-to-toe blue burqa.
Fawzia learned of an undercover school for girls around that time and brought her 7-year-old daughter. “It took place in a center for Quranic studies, she said. “Nobody outside knew they actually taught English.”
While literacy rates have greatly improved in the past 20 years, Afghan girls are still behind: 40% completed primary school compared with 70% of boys, according to 2019 United Nations data. Access to education is especially limited in impoverished rural areas, where there are few schools for boys or girls.
In May, three bombs targeted a high school in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood of western Kabul, killing more than 90 people, most of them teenage girls. Islamic State was suspected. The group is a foe of the Taliban and seeks to exterminate Afghanistan’s Shiite minority.
Yasamin recalled the school building shaking when the first bomb hit. The 16-year-old girl ran outside and scrambled over a wall lined with barbed wire to escape. The attack ended her desire to study. “It was my father who insisted that I return to school because my future depends on it,” she said.
The high school had reopened for a few weeks before the Taliban took control of Kabul. With the high school now closed to female students, Yasamin, who asked only her first name be used, spent her days at home until her parents discovered that some private schools were secretly enrolling teenage girls.

Yasamin, 16 years old, reads an English book at a private school secretly enrolling older girls in Kabul.
Photo: Paula Bronstein for The Wall Street Journal
Nasser, 28, is the headmaster of one in a Shiite neighborhood of western Kabul. Initially, he stuck to the rules, he said: No girls beyond sixth grade. Then he started receiving calls from parents. He figured the Taliban were too busy to notice if older girls attended classes.
On Sept. 6, roughly a week after the school reopened, Nasser let families with older daughters know that the teens could return. Now, 50 girls from seventh grade to 10th grade attend, including Yasamin.
“If the Taliban find out what I am doing, they will punish me severely. But I take responsibility for my actions,” said Nasser, who asked to be identified only by his first name. “I have no fear. I want girls to continue their studies.”
Last month, two Taliban fighters responsible for security in the neighborhood knocked on the school’s gate. It turned out “they just wanted to introduce themselves,” Nasser said, and weren’t interested in looking inside.
Yasamin, a sophomore, has attended classes for more than a month. “It’s unthinkable to ban girls from education in the 21st century,” she said. “It’s a fundamental right.”
Months ago, she wanted to be a judge “because in Afghanistan we live in a society where women’s abilities are ignored and where their rights are violated every day,” Yasamin said. Under Taliban rule, she isn’t sure what she will do.
A religious school, or madrassa, in Kabul that allowed girls through the 10th grade reopened two days after the Taliban took the city. Mullah Ibrahim Barakzai, who founded and runs the school, attended by students of both Sunni and Shia sects, said he saw no reason to ask for permission.
“The students and teachers are all female. That’s why there is no issue.” he said. “We do not need to ask the Taliban for permission to pray. We do not need to ask them for permission to study the Quran. Women have the right.”

Female students praying during class at the Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jelani Madrassa in Kabul.
Photo: Paula Bronstein for The Wall Street Journal
He established the madrassa three years ago with the aim of persuading conservative families to enroll their girls. The school teaches English, chemistry and physics, in addition to Islamic studies.
The Taliban are yet to revise the national school curriculum, which is expected to focus more on Afghan history and Islamic studies.
‘I said goodbye’
The last time Fawzia met her female students in a school building was on Aug. 10, five days before the fall of Kabul. Her 9th-grade students had just completed the last of their first-term exams.
“This may be the last day that you go to school because the Taliban are coming.” she recalled warning them.
Her students asked what would happen to them under the Taliban.
“Maybe they have changed, and they will let you continue your studies,” she told them. “If not, you can study at home and still learn.”
On Aug. 14, hours before the Afghan republic collapsed, Fawzia went to her school for the last time, to submit the exam papers she had graded.
“I said goodbye to my colleagues, and we promised to stay in touch,” Fawzia said. As she headed out, she said, “I looked at the school one more time and asked myself whether or not I would ever see it again.”
A few weeks later, she got a call from the dean at her school. The Taliban had ordered the teachers to start work at primary schools.
Fawzia now spends mornings teaching 7- and 8-year-old boys. Then she returns home to spend her afternoon teaching the older girls in secret.
“Studying at home is just not the same as studying in school,” her 16-year-old daughter Malahat said. “It’s not just about studying. I miss my classmates.”

Girls at the Shaikh Abdul Qadir Jelani Madrassa in Kabul during a break between classes.
—Ehsanullah Amiri and Yaroslav Trofimov contributed to this article.
Write to Margherita Stancati at margherita.stancati@wsj.com
WSJ · by Margherita Stancati | Photographs by Paula Bronstein for The Wall Street Journal



13. Expand Five Eyes to Nine? That's Four Too Many

Interesting rationale. Aki Peritz says out loud what few will say out loud about spying on others.
Expand Five Eyes to Nine? That's Four Too Many
The proposed expansion would force the original members to stop spying on the new ones.
defenseone.com · by Aki Peritz
The U.S. Senate is expected to take up the must-pass defense authorization bill right after the Thanksgiving break. When they do, they should strip out the very bad idea of expanding the historic “Five Eyes” intelligence agreement between the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, to become a “Nine Eyes” partnership that includes India, Germany, Japan, and Korea.
The idea was put forth by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., the Armed Services Subcommittee for Special Operations and Intelligence chairman. Gallego said earlier this month that including these nations would allow the United States to better confront China, while also opening up the English-speaking club to a wider group of nations. He suggested that there are base cultural factors at play that are “just xenophobic about sharing information with largely Asian, non-Anglo nations.”
Beyond the fact that the “Nine Eyes” concept was used in 2015’s James Bond movie Spectre, expanding the formal relationship will not actually improve America’s China-focused intelligence. In fact, it might paradoxically undermine a successful, decades-old secret partnership.
Following World War II, looking over a Europe threatened by Stalin’s Red Army, the United States and the UK agreed to share signals intelligence via the UKUSA Agreement. This was later expanded to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and thus “Five Eyes” was born. One of the lesser-known national security successes of the Cold War, it was reportedly so sensitive that the Australia’s Prime Ministers didn’t know about it until the 1970s. The agreement’s particulars were only declassified in 2010.
Five Eyes is not only an intelligence-sharing agreement among five countries, but also an agreement not to spy on each other. It’s hard to overstate how radical a departure this was from the rest of history where it was reasonably assumed that everyone was spying on everyone else.
Five Eyes meant America doesn’t have to worry if the wily British were spying on us, and vice versa. After all, Britain had cracked State Department codes during World War I—that’s how London intercepted the Zimmerman Telegram, where Germany had promised a neutral Mexico to take back U.S. territories if it entered into the war on Berlin’s side. We can therefore deploy finite resources elsewhere. This mutual relationship has paid great dividends, especially when thwarting terrorist mega-plots at home, as I’ve written about in Disruption: Inside the Largest Terrorism Investigation in History. They were able to save thousands of lives in mid-2006—a feat which would have run into difficulty had the U.S. not consistently shared critical intelligence with the British, and they us.
Intelligence cooperation is, as former MI5 Director General Stephen Lander once opined, “…at heart manifestations of individual state power and of national self‐interest.” A nation doesn’t enter one unless it receives something worthwhile. It’s thus unclear what benefit the United States receives from expanding Five Eyes that it doesn’t already generate from pre-existing relationships. America already shares reams of military intelligence with many nations and has done so for decades.
These are generally, but not always, called General Security of Military Information Agreements, or “GSOMIA”. As former Assistant Secretary of Defense Randy Schriver noted, GSOMIA is “an agreement through which [countries] can share information directly — sensitive intelligence information — and do so in a timely way, as fast as technology can move information.” The United States has signed many of these, and maintains a database on them. Even Japan and Korea, despite long-held suspicions and friction over trade and history between the two, have an intelligence-sharing relationship. It is in each nation's best interest to have a formal mechanism to share information on common adversaries, such as North Korea.
Furthermore, do policymakers seriously believe the United States should cease collecting intelligence on India? It’s a nuclear-armed economic powerhouse that has entered into multiple conflicts with its neighbors. The United States already signed an agreement in October 2020 to share geospatial intelligence with Delhi to great fanfare—both the secretaries of state and defense flew to the subcontinent to sign the document.
And what about our close American ally Germany? Wouldn’t the United States ruthlessly want to know what the leader of Europe’s largest economy is thinking, especially during times of political and economic turbulence? Shouldn’t American leaders have access to the best information in order to make the most informed decisions? And by the way—Berlin is likely collecting intelligence on us, too.
Benjamin Franklin famously wrote, “Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead.” Expanding Five Eyes means greater opportunities for America’s adversaries to gain closely-guarded secrets and methods. The more people know, the more likely someone will steal or leak them. During the Cold War, East Germany had thoroughly penetrated West German intelligence services, recruiting perhaps 6,000 assets by the time the Berlin Wall came down. Providing sensitive intelligence to Germany during that time thus often meant it ended up in the hands of America’s adversaries. The United States should try to avoid the equivalent from happening in the 21st century.
While Gallego’s heart is likely in the right place, expanding Five Eyes will create headaches for limited return.
defenseone.com · by Aki Peritz
14. US no longer names foreign troops on Taiwan as trigger for China conflict

Excerpts:

Each year, the assessment has sought to identify China’s red lines across the Taiwan Strait flash point. Last year’s 2020 edition featured seven scenarios: “Taiwan’s formal declaration of independence; Undefined steps towards Taiwan’s independence; Taiwan’s internal turmoil; Taiwan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons; Indeterminate delays in resuming unification dialogue in the Taiwan Strait; Foreign intervention in Taiwan’s internal affairs; and, foreign troops stationed in Taiwan.”
This year, however, the final scenario was dropped, leaving the six other “circumstances in which the People’s Republic of China has historically indicated it is considering the use of force.”
When asked why this particular circumstance was omitted from the latest review, Pentagon Army spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Meiners told me. news week he currently had “nothing to add to what’s in the report.”
“The report speaks for itself,” he added.


US no longer names foreign troops on Taiwan as trigger for China conflict
community99.com · by Rakesh
The latest Pentagon report on the Chinese military has omitted the scenario of foreign troops being deployed to Taiwan from a list of actions the US military believes could spark conflict from China.
The development comes amid media reports and statements by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen suggesting that a small contingent of US troops was already present on the self-governing island, sparking the ire of Beijing, which Taiwan claims as part of its territory.
The document, called the “Report on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China,” was published Wednesday and marks the final installment of an annual series that has been running since 2000, with the sole exception of 2001.
Each year, the assessment has sought to identify China’s red lines across the Taiwan Strait flash point. Last year’s 2020 edition featured seven scenarios: “Taiwan’s formal declaration of independence; Undefined steps towards Taiwan’s independence; Taiwan’s internal turmoil; Taiwan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons; Indeterminate delays in resuming unification dialogue in the Taiwan Strait; Foreign intervention in Taiwan’s internal affairs; and, foreign troops stationed in Taiwan.”
This year, however, the final scenario was dropped, leaving the six other “circumstances in which the People’s Republic of China has historically indicated it is considering the use of force.”
When asked why this particular circumstance was omitted from the latest review, Pentagon Army spokesman Lt. Col. Martin Meiners told me. news week he currently had “nothing to add to what’s in the report.”
“The report speaks for itself,” he added.

US Army Green Berets with 1st Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), descend on a drop zone next to members of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force after being flown from Yokota Air Base, Japan as part of Exercise Forager 21 on July 30. Taiwan officials have said US troops have trained Taiwanese counterparts in Guam, and that a contingent of Green Berets are reportedly training Taiwanese troops on their own island.
Specialist Thoman Johnson/US Army Pacific Public Affairs Office
The report notes, as in most previous iterations, that the circumstances proving a potential stumbling block to Chinese intervention “have evolved over time.”
The language “Foreign troops stationed in Taiwan” was first introduced in 2009 and has appeared in every report since except 2015, when prospects of Beijing taking action against Taipei were different than in other years.
The scenario describing “undefined steps towards Taiwan’s independence” was first shown in 2006 and the scenario involving “infinite delays” in cross-border ties in 2004. The two rules regarding nuclear weapons and internal unrest premiered in 2002 and the formal declaration of independence and foreign intervention have been seen since the debut report.
China has vowed to reclaim Taiwan, with officials saying they prefer diplomacy but never renounce the use of force.
The island’s sovereignty has been a matter of contention since a civil war ended in 1949 with a Communist victory on the mainland that forced nationalists into exile in Taiwan, where a rival government was formed. International recognition was initially divided, but over the decades diplomatic relations increasingly favored the People’s Republic, and the US finally shifted its relations in 1979.
Since then, however, the US has maintained an unofficial relationship with Taiwan, both through political contacts and military aid. These ties saw a resurgence under former President Donald Trump and have continued to tighten under President Joe Biden, although his administration has vowed to stick to the commitments enshrined in the formative agreements reached by Washington and Beijing more than four decades ago.
After Tsai appeared to publicly acknowledge the presence of US troops in Taiwan during an interview with CNN last month, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian urged the US to abide by these earlier commitments.
“The One-China principle is the political foundation of China-US relations,” Zhao told reporters at the time. “On the Taiwan issue, the US should abide by the One-China principle and the terms of the three joint China-US communiqués, rather than something unilaterally made up of itself.”
He expressed China’s opposition to “official and military ties of any kind between the US and the Taiwan region”, as well as to any “US interference in China’s internal affairs”. He also accused American warships that occasionally pass through the Taiwan Strait of having “strung their muscles” to make provocations and foment problems that sent gravely wrong signals to the ‘Taiwan Independence Forces’ and promote peace and security. stability in the Taiwan Strait.”
“The reunification across the Straits is a predominant historical trend and the right course of action, while ‘Taiwan independence’ is a decline leading to a dead end,” Zhao said.
He then lashed out at Tsai’s Democratic Progress Party, accusing it of taking steps toward independence. Such actions, he argued, “cannot change the ironclad fact that Taiwan is part of China, nor will it shake the international community’s universal and steadfast commitment to the One-China principle.”
“Those who forget their heritage, betray their motherland and try to divide the country will not have a happy ending,” Zhao said. “The search for ‘Taiwan independence’ leads to a dead end. So is supporting ‘Taiwan independence’. No country and no one should underestimate the determination, will and ability of the Chinese people to support their national sovereignty and territorial integrity, otherwise they will be defeated again.”
Despite these warnings, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng recently acknowledged the findings of an article in the local Apple Daily that alleged Taiwanese Marines had trained with US counterparts on the US Pacific island territory of Guam.
Commenting on this report, Meiners said: news week on Tuesday: “I have no comments on specific operations, assignments or training, but I would like to emphasize that our support for and defense relationship with Taiwan remains in line with the current threat from the People’s Republic of China and is consistent with our obligations under the Taiwan Relations Act and our One China Policy.”
The US has long been deliberately ambiguous about whether to intervene in a conflict between China and Taiwan. Last month, at a city hall event, Biden said his administration had “a commitment” to do so, but the White House quickly backtracked on the president’s comments, clarifying that “there is no change in our policy.”
This article has been updated until Involving further remark by Pentagon spokesman you.s. Army Lieutenant Colonel Martin Meiners.

Amphibious armored vehicles attached to an army brigade of the People’s Liberation Army Eastern Theater Command fire at fake targets on an undisclosed beach during exercises in this photo, published Aug. 31. The US military has identified the Eastern and Southern Theater Commands and the frontline troops in a hypothetical conflict between China and Taiwan.
Zeng Bingyang/Chinese People’s Liberation Army
community99.com · by Rakesh


15. How to Deter Russia Now
Excerpts:
If Putin is seriously contemplating military action against Ukraine, the United States and its allies will need to move quickly to convince him to reconsider. That means spelling out the huge price Russia will pay for renewed aggression, but also offering Putin a diplomatic path to deescalation on terms that Ukraine could accept.
The costs should include a major ramping-up of Western sanctions, termination of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that connects Russia and Germany, and freezing the offshore financial holdings of Putin and his cronies (more on sanctions below). Washington could also threaten to cancel the next planned Biden-Putin summit and to suspend or downgrade the level of talks on strategic stability and cyber security.
In concert with its NATO allies, the United States should make clear that we will continue to support Ukraine militarily consistent with its sovereign right to defend itself, rejecting Russian efforts to make this a new red line.
In the short term, to deny Russia a quick victory, Washington should accelerate delivery of systems that could degrade Russia’s military effectiveness and increase the costs of an invasion such as additional Javelins, air defense systems, coastal defense, electronic warfare systems, counter-artillery and counter-battery radars, and stepped-up intelligence sharing.
​Conclusion:
A strong, unified US and European policy toward Putin’s Russia has the best chances of warding off an attack on Ukraine. Even Putin may hesitate to act in the face of US and European solidarity. The Kremlin may regard Germany as especially important, and a strong German stance could change Putin’s calculus.
To get to the better relationship with Russia that the United States and Europe both seek, they must first deal with Russia as it is. Fortunately, many of these good steps are underway, especially on the part of the United States and United Kingdom, which is ramping up its military cooperation with Kyiv. Relations between the West and the Kremlin are rough, and they’re likely to get worse before they get better. Transatlantic steadiness and determination now is the best way to get to a better place.​
How to Deter Russia Now
By Daniel Fried, John E. Herbst, Alexander Vershbow
atlanticcouncil.org · November 24, 2021

War drums are beating in Europe. For the second time this year, Moscow is assembling up to 100,000 troops and military hardware on its border with Ukraine. The Biden administration judges that there is a real possibility that Russian President Vladimir Putin may decide to launch a new invasion of Ukraine in the next 2-3 months despite the high costs Moscow would incur.
Alarmed at the prospect of a potential Russian escalation, Washington dispatched CIA Director Bill Burns to warn of the severe consequences of such a step. When that mission produced no notable results, Washington made its concerns public. Secretary of State Antony Blinken took advantage of a press conference with visiting Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba to scold Moscow for its military build-up, raise the possibility of a major new Russian offensive, and express strong support for Ukraine.
With Blinken in the lead, Washington has been consulting closely with allies. The results have been notable as NATO and then France and Germany jointly issued statements of support for Ukraine in the face of new aggression. Equally important, the United States has been asking its European allies and partners what they might do in terms of sanctions on Russia and military assistance to Ukraine if Moscow strikes again.
We are not predicting that Moscow will strike as this may be an elaborate bluff, but the Kremlin is putting itself in a position to strike and Putin’s rhetorical attacks on Ukraine and NATO have provided the justification the Kremlin would use for military action.
Putin may hope to scare the West, without the use of force, into scaling back its support for Ukraine, and to convince Ukrainian leaders that they must give up their dreams of Euro-Atlantic integration and accept Russian diktat. Indeed, he may hope Western leaders will persuade Kyiv to accept Russia’s terms in future negotiations, just as they persuaded Ukraine not to use its then weak military to fight Moscow’s seizure of Crimea in 2014.
Putin has upped the ante by drawing a new red line, in addition to his longstanding opposition to Ukrainian NATO membership. In recent weeks, Putin has declared that NATO’s military presence in Ukraine and allies’ arming and training of Ukrainian armed forces are tantamount to de facto military integration of Ukraine into the Alliance and therefore an unacceptable threat to Russia as well.
Moreover, beyond Putin’s purported security concerns, Ukraine is a highly emotional issue for him. His statements and pseudo-historical writings make clear that he resents Ukraine’s independence, questions its legitimacy as a sovereign state, disputes Ukrainians’ existence as a separate people, and is outraged by Kyiv’s refusal to accept Russian hegemony. He has made new territorial claims against Ukraine, arguing that Soviet leaders “robbed” Russia of its historic lands.
Putin may feel that, despite the high costs of an invasion, he has no choice but to go for broke, since further delay could guarantee that Russia loses Ukraine forever. This is not just a question of military security; Putin may fear that Ukrainian democracy, the rule of law, and resulting prosperity, if the Ukrainians can get there, would threaten Putinism in Russia through the power of example.
The best way to deter Moscow is to clearly lay out the cost of such a strike, while offering Putin a diplomatic way out. The Biden administration is off to a good start in communications to Moscow and cooperation with Europe. We offer here our thoughts on what concretely the United States, NATO, and the EU should do to dissuade Moscow from escalating and, ultimately, convince Putin to seek a reasonable political solution.
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Convincing the Kremlin to Pull Back
If Putin is seriously contemplating military action against Ukraine, the United States and its allies will need to move quickly to convince him to reconsider. That means spelling out the huge price Russia will pay for renewed aggression, but also offering Putin a diplomatic path to deescalation on terms that Ukraine could accept.
The costs should include a major ramping-up of Western sanctions, termination of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that connects Russia and Germany, and freezing the offshore financial holdings of Putin and his cronies (more on sanctions below). Washington could also threaten to cancel the next planned Biden-Putin summit and to suspend or downgrade the level of talks on strategic stability and cyber security.
In concert with its NATO allies, the United States should make clear that we will continue to support Ukraine militarily consistent with its sovereign right to defend itself, rejecting Russian efforts to make this a new red line.
In the short term, to deny Russia a quick victory, Washington should accelerate delivery of systems that could degrade Russia’s military effectiveness and increase the costs of an invasion such as additional Javelins, air defense systems, coastal defense, electronic warfare systems, counter-artillery and counter-battery radars, and stepped-up intelligence sharing.
Washington’s commitment to help Ukraine resist Russian aggression could be reinforced by steps to increase the rotational presence of US and NATO forces inside Ukraine at training ranges and naval bases. Looking to the longer term, NATO could agree that ensuring Ukrainian forces have the capabilities and training to deter Russian aggression will be a top priority under the new NATO Strategic Concept to be adopted in 2022.
A robust set of sticks along these lines may be enough to convince Putin to pull back from the brink. Indeed, they are the foundation of any successful deterrence policy. But we may be more likely to change Putin’s calculus (and secure allied support) if these sticks are accompanied by a US-Ukrainian diplomatic initiative aimed at jump-starting the stalled negotiations on Donbas.
Such an initiative would give Moscow the opportunity to raise its concerns directly with the United States regarding the status of Russia’s clients in eastern Ukraine, but without compromising Ukraine’s vital interests. It would preserve the objectives of the Minsk Agreements, restoring genuine Ukrainian sovereignty and self-rule over the occupied territories, while preventing Moscow from turning them into a Russian-controlled Trojan horse like the Transnistrian republic in Moldova.
As part of such an initiative, the United States could agree to become a full participant in the talks, alongside France and Germany, who have been unable to broker a solution on their own.
The United States would agree with Kyiv on red lines before entering the talks, such as no implementation of the political aspects of the Minsk Agreements without Russian compliance with its never-fulfilled military obligations (permanent ceasefire, withdrawal of foreign forces and heavy weapons, disbandment of illegal militias); no local elections in the Donbas with Russian and proxy forces still present; and special status for the Donbas after elections to be based on the Ukrainian law on decentralization (since the Minsk Agreement does not support Russian demands for a Donbas veto over Ukrainian foreign policy).
On the contentious issue of when to restore Ukrainian control of the international border, which Russia insists must come at the end of the process, the United States and Ukraine would offer as a compromise the internationalization of the occupied territories as a transitional measure. This would include a neutral peacekeeping force to take the place of Russian-led forces and militias inside Donbas and an interim international civilian administration to replace the self-declared people’s republics. The international presence would restore normal governance, establish professional local police forces, oversee the return of refugees, and organize local elections in conditions consistent with OSCE standards.
Although Russia may be slow to engage on the initiative, it would demonstrate US and Ukrainian readiness for a genuine compromise to end the war in eastern Ukraine. It would be consistent with the Minsk framework but introduce implementation mechanisms that are absent from the original Minsk documents.
If Russia agreed to end the Donbas conflict on this basis and implemented its side of the deal in good faith, the United States and its allies would be able to scale back the provision of lethal weapons to Kyiv. Such an agreement would open the way to the lifting of Donbas-related sanctions and resumption of cooperation between Russia and NATO that could help defuse Russian anxieties about Ukraine’s relationship with NATO over the longer term.
Eurasia Center events

Options for Tightening Sanctions
To discourage a Russian attack and strengthen a diplomatic offer, the United States and likeminded allies including the EU, UK, Canada and key European national governments should prepare new sanctions options that are strong enough to hurt but not so strong that they cannot be used.
Happily, the Biden administration appears to be doing just that, consulting with its allies on a fast track to develop options. Sanctions options exist that will hurt the Russian economy with costs that will mount over time and put pressure on and expose Putin’s own circle of corruption. Sanctions options that may appear extreme under current conditions would appear in a different light should Russia launch major new military action against Ukraine.
Sanctions can work in unexpected ways, if sustained and integrated with a consistent policy of resisting aggression and responding to constructive moves if these are made. The sanctions already imposed on Russia since 2014 have done significant damage to its economic growth.
Two general categories of sanctions options are available: economic (so-called sectoral) sanctions and individual sanctions. The most impactful sectoral sanctions have been financial. Escalatory options include full blocking sanctions against big state banks and investment agencies. Sectoral sanctions could be broadened to new areas such as mining, metals, shipping, and insurance. State-owned companies in these sectors could also be targeted for full blocking sanctions.
In addition, the July 21 US-German Joint Statement on energy security (and Nord Stream 2), though sometimes criticized as a concession to the Kremlin, includes agreement on a new, important sanctions option: limits and sanctions on Russian energy exports to Europe should Russia commit further aggressive acts against Ukraine.
The United States and its allies imposed individual sanctions on Russians after 2014: against officials responsible for the attack or aspects of it, and against Putin’s circle of corrupt cronies. The United States and Europe should return to and intensify efforts to target individuals including oligarchs, cut-outs, bag men, and other Putin “wallets” who are instrumental to Putinism. As one Russian democratic dissident put it, Putinism requires Russia to be without the rule of law so Putin and his circle can steal from it, but also requires the West to respect the rule of law so that Putin’s cronies can park their ill-gotten gains there in relative safety. The West need not make that game easier. (More detail on the various options can be found here.)
Diplomatic Solidarity
In 2014, it took the United States and Europe three months after Moscow began its war in the Donbas to impose strong sanctions on Russia. While late, that reaction, and Ukrainians’ courageous resistance to Russian forces in the Donbas, may have convinced Putin to pull back from additional military action and to scale back, at least temporarily, his territorial designs on Ukraine.
But now Putin is testing whether he can strangle Ukraine again without paying a heavy price. He may think he sees signs of weakness: the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ensuing frictions with NATO allies; US eagerness to see progress with Russia on contentious issues where none exists (e.g., in cyber, despite cyber-attacks originating from Russia on US oil infrastructure); high natural gas prices; and a sluggish response to the Russian use of gas as a weapon against Ukraine and Europe (e.g., Russia withholding additional gas deliveries to Europe until the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is approved for operation).
The United States and Europe have the means and responsibility to disabuse Putin of the notion that they are weak or lack options to deal with Kremlin aggression. They need to act in solidarity in support of Ukraine, not reacting to Putin’s threats by signaling a panicky desire to ease tensions on Putin’s terms.
To that end, the United States and Europe should:
  • Stand with the Ukrainians in rejecting Putin’s preferred outcome for settling the Ukraine conflict on his terms, such as a federalized Ukraine with a Russian-controlled Donbas having the power to veto national policy.
  • Intensify diplomatic efforts based on the Western, not Kremlin, interpretation of the meaning of the Minsk framework. That framework contains elements that would allow Putin to claim that some Russian interests (e.g., some measure of local autonomy for Donbas) have been respected while not compromising Ukrainian sovereignty as Putin desires as a maximum objective. The benchmark should be Ukrainian legislation on decentralization.
  • Signal to the Kremlin that a desire for “stable and predictable” relations will not cause the West to turn a blind eye if Putin acts militarily or uses energy pressure against Ukraine (or if his client Alyaksandr Lukashenka acts against Poland, Lithuania, and Europe using migrants).
  • Urgently provide Ukraine additional arms and training to defend itself and thus deter a Russian attack.
  • Accelerate efforts to help Ukraine with coal and gas supplies this winter and intensify efforts, already included in the US-German joint statement, to integrate Ukraine’s electricity grid with Europe.
  • Keep pressing Ukraine to strengthen its sovereignty by building up its rule of law, curbing its own oligarchs, and creating a prospering, free Ukraine that could be an inspiration to Russians and an effective challenge to Putinism.
A strong, unified US and European policy toward Putin’s Russia has the best chances of warding off an attack on Ukraine. Even Putin may hesitate to act in the face of US and European solidarity. The Kremlin may regard Germany as especially important, and a strong German stance could change Putin’s calculus.
To get to the better relationship with Russia that the United States and Europe both seek, they must first deal with Russia as it is. Fortunately, many of these good steps are underway, especially on the part of the United States and United Kingdom, which is ramping up its military cooperation with Kyiv. Relations between the West and the Kremlin are rough, and they’re likely to get worse before they get better. Transatlantic steadiness and determination now is the best way to get to a better place.
Daniel Fried is the Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council and a former US ambassador to Poland.
John E. Herbst is the senior director of the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center and a former US ambassador to Ukraine.
Alexander Vershbow is a distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, a former US ambassador to Russia, and a former deputy secretary general of NATO.
16. How Beijing’s Disinformation Campaign threatens International Security in the Post-Truth Era
A fascinating essay and analysis.

How Beijing’s Disinformation Campaign threatens International Security in the Post-Truth Era
moderndiplomacy.eu · by Sze-Fung Lee · November 25, 2021


Published
2 days ago
on
November 25, 2021
Ever wonder how disinformation could have shaped the next information warfare in the post-truth era? With the continuous advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) and our overwhelming reliance on social media, the potential ramifications provoked by state-sponsored disinformation campaign could be disastrous. Indeed, given its relative low cost, low barriers with easy access to basically anywhere that allow free flow of information, disinformation serves as a perfect strategy in the new era of hybrid warfare.
Indeed, western countries have been noticing an alarming surge in political polarization with a pattern of declining public trust for mainstream media, implying the increasing susceptibility of the public to fake news. While this kind of information warfare is likely to dominant future warfare as technological advancement continue to upsurge, the liberal democratic structure of the western societies that enables freedom of speech provides fertile ground for adversaries, especially dictated regime to exploit. This article focused primely on China, its ideology, and reasons to deploy disinformation as part of its grand strategy, as well as the tactics Beijing would likely to use in the upcoming information warfare.
Hybrid Tactics as the Grand Strategy—and Disinformation
First announced by the Central Military Commission (CMC) in 2003, the “Three Warfare”—which included the coordinated use of strategic psychological operations, overt and covert media manipulation, as well as legal warfare designed to manipulate strategies, defense policies, and perceptions of target audiences abroad-— acted as political guidelines and mutually reinforcing strategies for the People’s Liberal Army (PLA). While the Three Warfare primely aims at exploiting the adversary’s weaknesses to disrupt their opposition to PRC’s agendas, Chinese hybrid warfare has much more potential destruction with the integration of other hybrid tactics such as clandestine diplomacy and irregular warfare.
As a matter of fact, the nature of liberal society and democratic structure makes it difficult to resist hybrid warfare—western nations’ domestic politics could be readily usurped by Beijing’s use of disinformation and geo-economic influence, since the system are “protected by the very same liberal values that these hybrid means are designed to subvert”. Hybrid warfare thus constitute the best strategy for Beijing to weaken opponents’ counterbalancing potential. Free media, for instance, which represents a basic value of liberal democracy, provided sufficient room for hybrid interference. Whilst freedom of speech allows free flow of information, free press is susceptible to fake news and propaganda conducted by coordinated disinformation campaigns, which conceivably result in a delegitimization of the media’s credibility, as well as an internal division among different target audience. In addition, the echo chamber and filter bubbles effect constituted by the news feed algorithm further reinforce information consumption pattern and thus further generates political polarization and potential social turmoil such as the United States capital attack on Jan 6th, 2021. The nature of fake news, indeed, has constituted its easy deployment with great effectiveness.
The Ultimate Nightmare—Deep Fakes for Disinformation campaign
Constructed by machine learning techniques, deep fakes—images, videos and sound records that mimics one’s speech or action, of which that person had never did or said in reality—are backed by a specific type of deep learning method named as the Generative Adversarial Networks (GAN), where two self-supervised algorithms automatically “learn” from each other. In such method, one algorithm (the generator) produces a synthetic image of a person whereas the other algorithm (the discriminator) reviews the level of authenticity of that image and provides feedback to the former. Generator takes “advises” from discriminator and thus being able to improve every time it creates new image. After thousands and thousands of training cycles, GAN’s algorithms would be either skillful in producing synthetic images or differentiate images’ authenticity. Due to the constant evolvement of AI and its technological sophistication, deep fakes are hence extremely hyper-realistic and difficult to be detected by human eyes. Therefore, when deployed as a form of disinformation, deep fakes could bring disastrous implications from democracies to international security.
In relations to Beijing’s strategy, the use of deep fakes could be deployed from the fabrication of public figures and ordinary citizens.
First, deep fakes that aim at politicians, celebrities, and key opinion leaders (KOL) will have an agenda of defamation and/or shaping public opinion. Take the presidential election in 2020 as an example. Both Trump and Biden were being accused of having sexual misconduct during their election campaign. What if, there is a deep fake video portraying such criminal behaviors released the night before election? How would this have reshaped public opinion on their suitability of candidacy? Given the difficulty to debunk fake news in real time, one could only speculate the extent of damage caused to his/her reputation and the country’s democratic system.
Internationally speaking, deep fakes does not only have the potential to damage diplomatic relations but also generating intra and inter-state warfare. What if, a deep fake video illustrating U.S. president stating that America’s nuclear umbrella will no longer shelter her allies? Or Washington is planning on withdrawal of NATO, that collective defense is just a political discourse? How devastated will it be to the alliance relations and U.S. government’s credibility? Such reputation loss is often irreversible, regardless of the authenticity of the news being verified afterwards or not.
In addition, AI-generated people could be used as “witnesses” to create the illusion of “truth” for disinformation. In fact, certain private companies are already offering disinformation as services, including automated and human-curated accounts, as well as trolling and other AI services. These campaigns are often deployed for a certain political actor, according to an Oxford study in 2020.
Moreover, other forms of AI system including Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) which can generate text that synthesize human writings, could bring fake news and information warfare to the next level, especially when it comes to complexed international politics. Together with the use of hyper-realistic deep fakes, fake accounts, personal statements, and opinion pieces would appear to be authentic—further blurring the line between truth and post-truth, meanwhile, undermining confidence in traditional media and state’s authority.
Perceptibly, the integrated use of private companies’ and state-sponsored disinformation—for instance, the 50-cent army, a notorious internet trolls employed by the CCP, which is responsible for about 450 million fake posts and comments every year masquerading themselves as ordinary citizens in attempt to sway public opinion in favor of Beijing—would be heavily deployed as part of the disinformation campaign/ strategy in the next information warfare.
Tailored-made disinformation
The second characteristics of China’s present (and future) disinformation would be tailored-made to certain target groups, especially its diaspora Chinese community. Overseas Chinese’ tendency to “stick to themselves and form distinct diaspora communities within their settling countries” had paved way for Beijing to exert its surveillance, control, and manipulation on its people, regardless of their physical geographical location. And the spread of disinformation could be effortlessly accomplished through these significant features.
For instance, The Foreign Influence Registry Act (Bill C-282) introduced by Canada’s former Conservative MP Kenny Chiu was being deviously altered as fake news that are deliberately personalized for the Chinese audience. By portraying the Chinese community as the targeted groups and “victims” of the bill, these disinformation campaigns attempt to generate a perception that the introduction of the bill is correspond to racial discrimination against the community; thereby drawing an equal sign (albeit casual assumption) between the foreign influence registry act and the suppression of pro-China opinion, as well as control and surveillance on organizations and individuals in the overseas Chinese community. Such rhetoric is indeed a discourse of danger and insecurity regardless of its truthfulness (the Chinese race being discriminated, free speech, business, and cultural exchange opportunity on the line)—it helps construct the “Chinese identity” by composing binary opposition of “us versus them”—thus provoking a certain degree of pro-Chinese sentiment and nationalism, especially for those who have always been in a more pro-Beijing stance.
Moreover, dissemination of fake news through via the use of social media like WeChat, WhatsApp, increases the sense of familiarity which consequently surge one’s susceptibility to disinformation. Such propagation would be difficult to debunk given the fact that it is spread through community channels and end-to-end encryption communication apps.
Perceivably, China will be utilizing disinformation campaign by tailoring to certain target groups. Chinese diaspora community would inevitably be one of them as Beijing seeks to mobilize them in operation of actions that is in favor of the central authorities. The other likeliness would be agitators and organizations that have the potential to provoke political unrest. The latter is particularly alarming—especially if (when) deep fakes are tailored to spark radical actions of certain target group, which includes but not limited to far-right groups and extremists—the consequences could be riots and social turmoil, and if not impossible, a civil war.
If you want peace, prepare for war
The nature of disinformation makes it easy to be deployed with great effectiveness but at a relatively low cost. Whilst social media algorithm facilitates echo chambers and filter bubbles which conveniently trap users in reinforced information consumption patterns, the psychology of disinformation often puts people in vulnerable position as mere repeated exposure would be able to surge one’s susceptibility to fake news.
Nevertheless, the world has been witnessing more frequent and intensified disinformation campaign. State-sponsored yet covert disinformation campaign could even take advantages of its clandestine nature to deny responsibility while causing chaos in the other side of the planet by generating political polarization and thus social tear.
Certainly, merely a riot or even a civil war would not bring the U.S. down. But the time bought via such disinformation campaign and social turmoil could be. What if, such chaos is generated in times of China’s pre-emptive strike to the island? The use of fake news is only a part of Beijing’s hybrid warfare, of which included much more complexed strategies such as the integration of a satellite assault to blackout BMD system in space warfare, and other use of unorthodox methods like Chinese Maritime Militia (“little blue man”) in East and South China Sea.
These situations, although hypothetical, are not impossible. Yet these potential dangers have already been undermining public’s confidence in traditional media and state’s authority, let alone when being seriously tailored and deployed in wartime. As Taiwan’s president Tsai has noted, “Taiwan does not seek military confrontation……But if its democracy and way of life are threatened, Taiwan will do what never it takes to defend itself.” Akin to Taipei’s situation, like-minded democracies that hope for peace and stability must align and prepare for this information warfare as it is fundamentally threatening our liberal democratic society, as well as international security.
After all, from a realist perspective—if you want peace, prepare for war.
Disinformation, as a form of fake news, is regarded as “false, incomplete, or misleading information that is passed, fed, or confirmed to a target individual, group, or country”. For details, see Shultz, R. H. and Godson, R. (2018). Dezinformatsiya: Active Measures in Soviet Strategy, Washington, D.C.: Pergamon-Brassey, 1984, p.41. and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2018, p.7; Theohary, 2018, p.5.
Greifeneder, R., Jaffé, M., Newman, E. and Schwarz, N., 2021. The Psychology of Fake News. New York: Routledge.
Raska, M. (2015). ‘China and the “Three Warfares”’. The Diplomat. Available at https://thediplomat.com/2015/12/hybrid-warfare-with-chinese-characteristics-2/
Miracola, S. (2018). ‘Chinese Hybrid Warfare’, Italian Institute for International Political Studies. [online] Available at: https://www.ispionline.it/en/pubblicazione/chinese-hybrid-warfare-21853 [Accessed 30 Apr. 2019].
Wigell, M. (2019). Hybrid interference as a wedge strategy: a theory of external interference in liberal democracy. International Affairs, 95(2), pp.255-275.
Ibid.
Greifeneder, R., Jaffé, M., Newman, E. and Schwarz, N., 2021. The Psychology of Fake News. New York: Routledge.
Chesney, R. and Citron, D. (2019). ‘Deep Fakes: A Looming Challenge for Privacy, Democracy, and National Security’. California Law Review, Vol. 107, pp.1753-1819.
Rossler, A. et al. (2019) “2019 Ieee/cvf International Conference on Computer Vision (iccv),” in Faceforensics : Learning to Detect Manipulated Facial Images. IEEE, pp. 1–11. doi: 10.1109/ICCV.2019.00009.
Hsu, K., Sangvikar, D. Zhang, Z. and Navarrete, C. (2020). ‘Lucifer: New Cryptojacking and DDos Hybrid malware Exploiting high and critical vulnerabilities to infect windows devices.’ Palo Alto Networks: Unit 42. 24 June 2020.
Wallace, A. (2020). “Major Data Breaches in 2019.” Toronto Sun. Available at https://torontosun.com/news/world/major-data-breaches-in-2019
GPT is an artificial intelligence system built by OpenAI, an AI research organization based in California.
Kreps, S. and McCain, M. (2019). ‘Not Your Father’s Bots—AI Is Making Fake News Look Real’. Foreign Affairs.
The number is going up every year according to study.
Farrell, H. (2016). ‘The Chinese Government fakes nearly 450 million social media comments a year. This is why.’ Washington Post. Available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/05/19/the-chinese-government-fakes-nearly-450-million-social-media-comments-a-year-this-is-why/
Forsby, A. (2011). ‘The Non-Western Challenger? The Rise of Sino-Centric China’. Danish Institute For International Studies Report.
Today Commercial News. (2021). ‘Please spread the message: Conservative MP Kenny Chiu proposed <The Foreign Influence Registry Act> to suppress the Chinese community’. Available at https://todaycommercialnews.com/canada/49207# (〈請廣傳! 保守黨國會議員趙錦榮提「外國勢力註冊」法案打壓華人社區〉,加拿大商報,2021年09月09日)
Bramham, D. (2021). ‘Daphne Bramham: Conservatives face ugly barrage over party’s China policy’. Vancouver Sun. Available at https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/daphne-bramham-conservatives-face-ugly-barrage-over-partys-china-policy
Greifeneder, R., Jaffé, M., Newman, E. and Schwarz, N., 2021. The Psychology of Fake News. New York: Routledge.
Old Latin saying “Si vis pacem, para bellum” (If you want peace, prepare for war)
Informal navy constituted by the Chinese “citizens”.
Tsai, I. W. (2021).’ Taiwan and the Fight for Democracy—A force for Good in the Changing International Order’. Foreign Affairs. Available at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/taiwan/2021-10-05/taiwan-and-fight-democracy
Related

Sze-Fung Lee is a freelance journalist and a researcher at the Global Studies Institute in Hong Kong. She holds a master degree in International Security at the University of Warwick. Her research interests are in security policy, hybrid warfare, nuclear proliferation, and the politics of Hong Kong.


moderndiplomacy.eu · by Sze-Fung Lee · November 25, 2021




V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
Subscribe to FDD’s new podcastForeign Podicy
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
Subscribe to FDD’s new podcastForeign Podicy
FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

If you do not read anything else in the 2017 National Security Strategy read this on page 14:

"A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation. For generations, our society has protected free press, free speech, and free thought. Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data. The American public and private sectors must recognize this and work together to defend our way of life. No external threat can be allowed to shake our shared commitment to our values, undermine our system of government, or divide our Nation."
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