Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners


Quotes of the Day:

"As soon as it has come to the point that the crowd is to judge what is truth, it will not be long before decisions are made with fists."
- Soren Kierkegaard

"There is never a time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment; the time is always now."
- James Baldwin

"The best way to predict the future is to invent it."
 - Alan Kay




1. Pentagon inspector general exploring how to better secure the ‘nuclear football’
2. National Security Is Stronger When Congress Is Involved. Here’s How We Get Back to the Table.
3. Enter and Clear a Room: The History of Battle Drill 6, and Why the Army Needs More Tactical Training like It—not Less
4. FDD | How to Stop China From Controlling the Global Semiconductor Industry
5. Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions
6. U.S. Life Expectancy Fell by 1.5 Years in 2020, the Biggest Decline in Generations
7. US official to visit China as diplomatic stand-off resolved
8. Trailblazing Admiral, Hall of Fame Female Diver Retires After Conquering ‘Fear of the Sea’ 
9. Deception Is the Biggest Threat to American Security
10. US blocking more Chinese students from its universities
11. China's borders will likely remain shut for months, but some may be wary of visiting even after they reopen
12. New Legislation Could Limit the President’s Control of Foreign Policy
13. How Diplomatic Snubs Highlight Frayed China-U.S. Ties
14. What Is the Fatemiyoun Brigade and Why Does It Make the Taliban Nervous?
15. Sun Tzu and Us
16. Renaming Military Bases Is “History Correcting Itself”
17. The Automation Gap in Biden’s Cybersecurity Order
18. Chinese Researcher Tang Juan’s Trial Reveals Beijing’s Espionage Strategy – OpEd
19. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command executive assistant, 31, pleads guilty to removing classified documents




1. Pentagon inspector general exploring how to better secure the ‘nuclear football’
A significant national security issue that seems to have been mostly overlooked or ignored when discussing the January 6th "event."

Pentagon inspector general exploring how to better secure the ‘nuclear football’
militarytimes.com · by Meghann Myers · July 20, 2021
As they moved to escape the Capitol on Jan. 6, protestors who had violently broken down the doors and through the windows of the building came within yards of then-Vice President Mike Pence and his team, and thus a briefcase containing the procedures to launch a nuclear strike in the event of the president’s incapacitation.
On Monday, the Defense Department inspector general’s office announced a project that will evaluate the procedures in place should a “nuclear football,” which travel at all times with both the president and vice president, be lost or compromised, according to a release.
“As the rioters reached the top of the stairs, they were within 100 feet of where the vice president was sheltering with his family, and they were just feet away from one of the doors to this chamber,” Del. Stacey Plaskett, a manager from then-President Donald Trump’s second impeachment, told senators during the trial in February.
Officials from U.S. Strategic Command, which is in control of nuclear capabilities, didn’t know at the time how close the football came to falling into the wrong hands, an official told CNN in February.
The DoDIG project aims to study the extent to which there are notification procedures for a lost or stolen football, and whether they need to be revamped, according to the release.
The IG did not announce how long the study will take or whether they’ve set a deadline, but according to the release, the goals of the project may be revised to include additional issues, should they come up.

militarytimes.com · by Meghann Myers · July 20, 2021



2. National Security Is Stronger When Congress Is Involved. Here’s How We Get Back to the Table.

Here is the link to the 47 page bill from Senators Murphy, Lee, and Sanders:  https://www.sanders.senate.gov/wp-content/uploads/National-Security-Powers-Act-2021.pdf?utm

Excerpts:
Finally, the National Security Powers Act would require that national emergencies be authorized by Congress after 30 days, and that such declarations — and the authorities they temporarily confer on the president — would have to be renewed annually (with a five-year total limit on states of emergency). To prevent another fake emergency being used to justify taking funds from our troops to construct a wall on the border with Mexico, the National Security Powers Act would also repeal Title III of the National Emergencies Act.
The commander in chief should always have the right to defend the United States and our armed forces under immediate threat of attack. But the country makes better national security decisions as a whole when Congress has a seat at the table. American democracy is stronger for it. President Joe Biden, perhaps more than any president in modern history, understands this. After all, it was Biden who stood up in 2007, after President George W. Bush proposed bombing Iran, and declared: “Except in response to an attack or the imminent threat of attack, only Congress may authorize war and the use of force.”
Congress should reform a system that gives us endless wars, unlimited arms sales, and ill-advised trade wars that leave America weaker in the world. Members of Congress owe it to the American people to ensure that these consequential decisions to bring American power to bear are made carefully, thoughtfully, and sparingly. Bold legislation like the National Security Powers Act is long overdue.

National Security Is Stronger When Congress Is Involved. Here’s How We Get Back to the Table. - War on the Rocks
warontherocks.com · by Sen. Chris Murphy · July 20, 2021
In early 2020, former Vice President Mike Pence made a curious argument on social media: According to Pence, Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani knew about al-Qaeda’s plans for the Sept. 11 attacks beforehand and worked to facilitate them. For those of us who have watched the executive branch, administration after administration, expand its authority to make war without congressional authorization, the intent was clear. Pence was trying to tie Iran to the 2001 attacks in order to justify starting a new war with Iran without coming to Congress for authorization first.
This phenomenon, of course, is not new. The entire Vietnam War was fought without an explicit declaration of war by Congress. But today, when the definition of enemies and the parameters of war are harder to define than ever, the pace of executive warmaking has become dizzying. In 2001, Congress passed an Authorization for Use of Military Force against those responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks. Since then, the executive branch has deployed combat-equipped troops to more than 20 countries for counter-terrorism missions and has stretched the logic of that authorization to justify operations in at least seven countries, including Syria, Somalia, and Niger. In not a single one of those deployments was there a comprehensive public debate about the wisdom of the decision.
Other major national security decisions are more frequently being made without public debate. Multi-billion dollar arms sales to oppressive regimes go forward without almost any input from voters. In 2017, President Donald Trump posed for a photo-op with the Saudi crown prince to tout $110 billion in arms sales to the country, even as the Saudi air force was pummeling civilian targets in Yemen. Before that, President Barack Obama presided over a massive scale-up of arms sales to Gulf countries unnerved by the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and Iran’s regional aggression, without almost any up or down votes in Congress on the sales.
Presidents declare vague “national emergencies” more frequently than ever — giving the executive branch massive, unchecked power. There are at least 123 statutory powers that become available to the president when he declares a national emergency, including a wide-ranging power to impose economic sanctions. Today, there are no fewer than 39 ongoing national “emergencies,” including those declared in connection with the war in Syria (since 2004); instability in Iraq (since 2003); Russian election meddling, cyberattacks, and aggression against Ukraine; charcoal exports from Somalia; and the use of child soldiers in the Central African Republic.
All of this expanding executive power should worry Americans. It certainly would have worried our founders. Our nation’s fathers knew that decisions about war and peace, and foreign entanglements, came with such grave consequences that public input was required. That is why the Constitution gave only Congress the power to send American troops to war, and that is why there’s a long list of congressional national security powers well before the executive branch ever gets its first mention in our founding document. The writers of the Constitution knew that it was dangerous to give such sweeping authorities to one person.
While both Democratic and Republican presidents have shared the task of expanding presidential emergency powers, the fault for congressional marginalization lies with our body, too. The era of permanent war and non-state antagonists makes declaring war more difficult and nuanced. Avoiding oversight of arms sales is convenient, absolving Congress of backbreaking work and allowing the legislative branch to simply armchair quarterback and provide 20/20 hindsight criticism when deals go wrong. Congress has done a pretty good job of making itself increasingly irrelevant over the years as it regards national security choices.
Congress should start clawing back its constitutional national security prerogatives. This task should start with updating the antiquated statutes that make real the powers given to the legislative branch by the Constitution.
The National Security Powers Act, the first modern, comprehensive outline of Congress’s national security powers, is the vehicle by which Congress can rein in this nearly blank check authority. Over the past year, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and I have met with advocates, experts, and scholars to craft a sweeping, but achievable, proposal to reset the foreign policy balance between the Congress and the executive branch.
On warmaking, the bill would require that any authorization for the use of force abroad be bound by specific objectives and geographic limits and be re-evaluated after two years. Congress could renew the authorization, but only by a vote of both chambers. If there’s a strong case to be made for that war to continue beyond two years, the administration should have to make it to the American public, and Congress should vote on the matter. No more endless wars. This bill replaces the current War Powers Act, closing loopholes long used by the president to circumvent Congress while also forcing members of Congress to stop abdicating its duties and take the tough votes on matters of war and peace.
With respect to arms sales, current law only applies to the biggest weapons transfers and requires Congress to pass a resolution of disapproval through both houses in just 30 days. That’s too limited and cumbersome. It should come as no surprise that Congress has never successfully stopped an arms sale through this process. But the National Security Powers Act would flip the script and require Congress to take a limited number of affirmative votes before the proposed sales could proceed. And we wouldn’t need to vote on every sale, just those that pose the highest risks, as in cases where the administration proposes to sell the most lethal or technologically advanced weapons to countries other than our NATO allies, Israel, and key defense partners in the Asia-Pacific region.
Finally, the National Security Powers Act would require that national emergencies be authorized by Congress after 30 days, and that such declarations — and the authorities they temporarily confer on the president — would have to be renewed annually (with a five-year total limit on states of emergency). To prevent another fake emergency being used to justify taking funds from our troops to construct a wall on the border with Mexico, the National Security Powers Act would also repeal Title III of the National Emergencies Act.
The commander in chief should always have the right to defend the United States and our armed forces under immediate threat of attack. But the country makes better national security decisions as a whole when Congress has a seat at the table. American democracy is stronger for it. President Joe Biden, perhaps more than any president in modern history, understands this. After all, it was Biden who stood up in 2007, after President George W. Bush proposed bombing Iran, and declared: “Except in response to an attack or the imminent threat of attack, only Congress may authorize war and the use of force.”
Congress should reform a system that gives us endless wars, unlimited arms sales, and ill-advised trade wars that leave America weaker in the world. Members of Congress owe it to the American people to ensure that these consequential decisions to bring American power to bear are made carefully, thoughtfully, and sparingly. Bold legislation like the National Security Powers Act is long overdue.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) is a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
warontherocks.com · by Sen. Chris Murphy · July 20, 2021



3. Enter and Clear a Room: The History of Battle Drill 6, and Why the Army Needs More Tactical Training like It—not Less

More on CQB and room clearing for the military.

Enter and Clear a Room: The History of Battle Drill 6, and Why the Army Needs More Tactical Training like It—not Less - Modern War Institute
mwi.usma.edu · by John Spencer · July 21, 2021
Earlier this month, the Modern War Institute published an opinion piece, “The Tyranny of Battle Drill 6,” by retired Colonel Richard Hooker. In the article, Hooker argues that due to a culture of specialized urban tactics, conventional infantry soldiers should completely stop training to clear rooms. This is a dangerous position, one that skips over most of the context surrounding why the US Army prepares close-combat formations for urban warfare. In fact, the Army should be doing more to train its conventional infantry units for urban environments—including clearing rooms—not less.
Without Question, Infantry Will Have to Keep Clearing Rooms
The idea that infantry soldiers should stop training to clear rooms is just not informed by global trends, the Army’s history, or the character of modern warfare.
The world is urbanizing at unprecedented speed and scale. In 1970, only 1.3 billion of the world’s 3.7 billion people were urban dwellers. By 2020, over 4.3 billion (56 percent) of the global population of 7.7 billion were living in urban areas. The UN estimates that by 2050 two-thirds of the world will be urbanized. Across Western Europe, the Americas, Australia, Japan, and the Middle East today, more than 80 percent of the population lives in urban areas. Rapid urbanization, globalization, the fall of super- and regional powers, and resource scarcity have all contributed to turning political violence, intrastate war, and conflict in general into an urban-dominated phenomenon. The era of urban warfare is already here.
Cities are the economic and political centers of gravity for nations and historically have been the culminating sites of state-on-state, peer warfare. Both state-sponsored and nonstate actors see fighting in urban terrain and embedding within civilian populations as an effective countermeasure against Western maneuver, fires, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The need for Army formations to close with and destroy enemy forces in buildings and rooms in support of the service’s mission statement—“defeating enemy ground forces and indefinitely seizing and controlling those things an adversary prizes most—its land, its resources and its population”—will only grow.
A Brief History of Room-Clearing Tactics and Battle Drill 6
The starting point of Hooker’s opposition is a video that went viral on social media in February 2021. The video shows soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division incorrectly conducting the infantry Battle Drill 6—“Enter and Clear a Room.” Despite Hooker’s argument against conventional infantry soldiers conducting room clearing, the soldiers in the video were not actually infantry soldiers. That might seem like a minor detail, but it becomes important when we examine the history and evolution of training on room clearing (using close-quarters battle tactics) done by the Army in the modern era.
Most urban warfare scholars attribute the beginnings of close-quarters battle (CQB, also sometimes called close-quarters combat) tactics to the failed raid to save Israeli Olympians in Munich in 1972. As Hooker notes, the CQB tactics developed and refined by counterterrorist units such as Special Forces Operational Detachment–Delta (SFOD-D) did pass into other special operations forces and eventually into conventional military units, both in the United States and around the world. What people often get wrong is that CQB is not the start of the US Army’s room-clearing tactics.
The US Army has a long history of doctrine reflecting its experience in urban environments. Sections of doctrine on urban warfare, to include tactics for use specifically in villages and towns, pre-date World War II, but post–World War II Army manuals are the ones that first start to codify room-clearing tactics. The Army had learned valuable lessons from its experiences in major World War II battles such as Aachen and Manila and in later city fights like Seoul during the Korean War and Hue in Vietnam.
In 1979, one of the Army’s first urban warfare–specific manuals—Field Manual (FM) 90-10, Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT)—described “how to attack and clear buildings” and is one of the Army’s first documented attempts to formalize tactics for room clearing using the lessons learned during and after World War II. The instructions were simple: Step 1, shoot door open. Step 2, toss grenade. Step 3, enter firing and search room.
Image source: FM 90-10, Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT) (1979)
In 1982, FM 90-10 subsequently spawned FM 90-10-1, An Infantryman’s Guide to Urban Combat, which had a section on how to conduct room clearing. It required an assault team of at least two soldiers. One would cook off a grenade and then throw it into the room. After detonation, one of the soldiers quickly entered and moved out of the doorway to one side or the other, sprayed the room with automatic fire, and then took up a position where he could observe the entire room while the other team member entered. A subsequent version of the manual issued in 1992—FM 90-10-1, An Infantryman’s Guide to Combat in Built-Up Areas—described room clearing more deliberately with commands like “next man in, left” (or right). The tactic still recommended a two-man team.
One of the first appearances of battle drills (they were previously called common patrolling tasks) was in the 1992 FM 7-8, Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad, which included Battle Drill 6, “Enter Building/Clear Room.” The drill called for large amounts of suppressive fire from the squad approaching the building, followed by, again, a two-man team (now specified to be the squad leader and team leader), one on either side of the door, throwing a grenade in and then entering. One soldier would go left, the other right, but now doctrine specified that the soldiers should only engage identified or suspected enemy.
There is one other document in which infantry battle drills, urban warfare content, and room-clearing tactics can be found—the US Army Ranger School Handbook (a book produced for Ranger School students, but which heavily influences both Ranger and conventional infantry units). The 1992 Ranger Handbook listed and described Battle Drill 6 in the same way that it appeared in FM 7-8. The 2000 Ranger Handbook did not include Battle Drill 6, but it did include a new chapter on close-quarters combat, which included the use of the “four-man stack” technique to clear rooms—an important change from the previous doctrinal guidance that room clearing should be done with only two soldiers.
In 2003, the Army introduced “Warrior Tasks and Battle Drills” that it wanted all soldiers deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan to train. “Enter and Clear a Room” quickly became required for all soldiers. This may seem odd but based on the nature of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was not just infantry soldiers that were conducting missions requiring room clearing. It was regular practice for non-infantry units—armor, cavalry, engineers, and others—to be given ownership of battlespace, requiring them to conduct urban operations, especially raids on insurgent or terrorist targets. One of the most frequent offensive missions soldiers were conducting were intelligence-driven raids on targeted individuals in mostly permissive and often urban environments (meaning situations where the entire urban area was not hostile and the unit had identified the known or likely enemy position) where the enemy was intermixed with civilians. The Army’s tactics matched its requirements in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations.
In the next update of FM 7-8, which came in 2007 and renamed the manual FM 3-21.8, all infantry battle drills were removed and a new section titled “Clear a Room” described the same method using a “four-man fire team” that was detailed in the 2000 Ranger Handbook. When battle drills were written back into infantry doctrine in the 2016 version of FM 3-21.8, Battle Drills 6 had returned but with a slight name change—“Enter and Clear a Room”—and described the four-man stack method.
More than Just Doctrine and More than Just a Single Drill
The bigger problem represented by the video of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers is not the soldiers doing Battle Drill 6 wrong, but the multiple noncommissioned officers standing above them not identifying the major safety violations and tactics errors. Those mistakes should have been corrected in dry and blank training sessions long before live rounds were loaded into weapons.
Sparked by special operations forces’ training priorities and reinforced by experiences in 1993 during Operation Gothic Serpent—better known as Black Hawk Down—in Mogadishu, Somalia, the special operations community created multiple urban warfare courses. These courses, which still exist today—like the Special Forces Advanced Reconnaissance, Target Analysis, and Exploitation Techniques Course (SFARTAETC), Special Forces Advanced Urban Combat (SFAUC), and others—ensure CQB skills in special operations soldiers and noncommissioned officers are core competencies.
While conventional Army units slowly adopted CQB tactics into infantry doctrine and drills—and after 2000 required all soldiers train the new Battle Drill 6—they did not establish a robust system to ensure the tactics were learned, taught, and standardized across the greater Army. Neither the conventional infantry community nor the entire Army ever produced a school like the ones attended by special operations forces to ensure standardization of the drills. There are instances where individual units created programs—such as, interestingly a 10th Mountain Division Urban Combat Leader Course—but these efforts usually only lasted a short duration before being closed. Army units did send soldiers to the special operations courses, but it was never enough to ensure the Army had the resident knowledge to accurately train the tactics across the entire force. So without properly trained cadre from some type of urban master trainer school, unit training was often influenced by word of mouth from individual experiences more than a standardized tactic. So, it was not just the lack of ammo and training time Hooker identified that led to situations of Battle Drill 6 being done incorrectly. Actually, there are plenty of infantry and Army units that train, resource, and execute the drill to high levels of proficiency. It does take adequate time and resources, but it also takes trained noncommissioned officers. Battle Drill 6 (or any other urban tactics the Army wants to use) is easy to do but hard as hell to do well. It requires extensive training, a lot of shooting, and tons of live-fire drills. There are no shortcuts here.
Another main point Hooker missed is that Battle Drill 6 is not just for counterterrorism operations in permissive environments. The cases made against Battle Drill 6 are usually made by people who are addressing it in a single context, absent its high-intensity doctrinal history and usefulness. Yes, the Army missions in Iraq and Afghanistan did include years of executing intelligence-driven, precision raids in mainly permissive environments requiring complete surprise, speed, and entry from multiple unexpected directions described in CQB tactics. But Battle Drill 6, when applied as part of a full program of urban warfare training, can be adapted to match higher-intensity situations in a fully combined arms approach.
Nostalgia Can Be a Dangerous Thing
The tactical approach that Hooker seems to favor resembles a reversion to the tactics outlined in FM 90-10-1 along with the conceptual framework and assumptions about urban combat that underpinned them. FM 90-10 and FM 90-10-1 envisioned a depopulated and wrecked cityscape with few rules of engagement (ROE) restrictions on the application of firepower. It is a mental picture that evokes the Battle of Aachen (where the attacking Americans’ catchphrase for the operation was “Knock ’em all down” as they arguably not only did not avoid collateral damage, but sought to cause it), Seoul, Hue, or even Stalingrad. (The likeness with Stalingrad in particular is perhaps not surprising as many of the tactics presented in FM 90-10-1 seem closely related to those pioneered by Soviet General Vasily Chuikov’s 62nd Army as they ground down and ultimately destroyed German Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus’s forces in what many believe to have been the European Theater’s key inflection point during World War II.)
The problem is that the apocryphal city in FM 90-10-1 bears little resemblance to the teeming, pulsing, complex cities that the Army has actually fought in over the last thirty years. It did not take long in the modern era for this dissonance to give way to CQB. It was not just urban doctrine that was changing, but the world in which soldiers were deployed—a world with cities like Panama City, Panama; St. George, Grenada; and Mogadishu, Somalia where US forces found themselves operating.
When US forces assaulted Panama City in 1989 during Operation Just Cause, infantry units stepped into the world where FM 90-10-1 tactics conflicted with modern realities. Infantry in Panama City, like those in subsequent city fights, encountered people—hundreds of thousands of them—intermingled with enemy forces who almost invariably treated uniforms or identifying articles as quaint anachronisms. The “chainsaw” approach Hooker espoused—whereby infantry act as a chainsaw, not a scalpel—was inappropriate then and it is even more so now. While there is an interesting and quasi-theological argument that responsibility for civilian casualties lies with the side that undermines noncombatant immunity by wearing civilian clothing and embedding itself in the population, it is a proposition unlikely to gain significant traction in the current information environment. Troops in all our fights over the last thirty years have sought to minimize civilian casualties through the application of precise firepower and have still been pilloried when noncombatants have been killed. It does not take much guesswork to anticipate the reaction of global and domestic audiences when they receive nearly instant news through digital feeds of city inhabitants encountering a US Army infantry “chainsaw.” Drafted in an era before advancement in night vision, precision guided munitions, drones, and a full suite of modern combined arms weapons and tactics, FM 90-10-1 techniques proved profoundly unsuitable and inadequate for high-intensity warfare in densely populated urban areas like Panama, Mogadishu, Baghdad, and others.
While Hooker is completely correct that infantrymen should not be conducting hostage rescues or using counterterrorism environments as their mental starting points for future urban battles, reverting to the tactics of FM 90-10-1 only works if everyone encountered in a building is a combatant. This is not an assumption soldiers can make.
Relatedly, while the now-infamous 10th Mountain video shows significant safety and tactics shortfalls, the previous FM 90-10-1 methodology was arguably no safer. Room clearing with those techniques—their heavy use of grenades and bursts of fire in every room—put prodigious amounts of minimally directed metal in the air in confined spaces, with predictable results. As Hooker accurately notes, real bullets ricochet and go through walls, and in the lightly constructed, ramshackle buildings common across the developing world, so do grenade fragments. To be sure, when infantry have identified an enemy-held structure, the first tool to defeat that enemy should not be stacking outside the door. As soldiers have learned in recent battle, all available firepower and tools are used before entry. But eventually, the room still has to be cleared.
The Amorphous Nature of Battle Drill 6
Hooker seems to view Battle Drill 6 as not merely a room-clearing technique, but as a mental shorthand for an overarching philosophy of urban fighting that (he seems to believe) applies unnecessary limits on American firepower and places young infantry soldiers at elevated risk by preventing the full application of US fires and combat multipliers. This is a common mistake.
Much of this initial reticence stemmed from a misunderstanding of what Battle Drill 6 is—and what it is not. Put simply, Battle Drill 6 is a room-clearing battle drill, period. It does not encompass the entirety of CQB or urban warfare doctrine, nor does it in itself make any prescriptions regarding ROE, schemes of maneuver, or using (or abjuring) various combat enablers.
It instead offers the leader a scalable set of options applicable across multiple levels of combat intensity. The use of grenades is not forbidden—in fact Battle Drill 6 states, “If the unit is conducting high-intensity combat operations . . . a Soldier of the clearing team cooks off at least one grenade (fragmentation, concussion, or stun grenade)” and CQB tactics as originally envisioned make extensive use of explosive breaches from surprise locations. There is nothing in Battle Drill 6 that prevents a commander from, to borrow Hooker’s example, putting a main gun tank round through an entry point. There is nothing that bans the use of artillery, mortars, attack helicopters, or close-air support. If, however, these methods and tools are not appropriate under the tactical circumstances, infantry room-clearing tactics simply offer the leader a fuller repertoire of techniques to use in conjunction with all available assets.
There is also no inherent contradiction between CQB doctrine and the kind of bold, aggressive, and firepower-intensive tactics embodied in the 2003 “Thunder Run” or the 2004 Second Battle of Fallujah. Tactics are adapted to the context of the situation. While soldiers and Marines during the Second Battle of Fallujah did adapt their entry methods by using tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, mortars, and artillery to attack enemy fighters in buildings, they still had to search and clear the rooms of over thirty thousand buildings—in fact, one hundred squads had over two hundred firefights inside rooms.
Hooker seems to have inflated Battle Drill 6 into a more extensive doctrinal artifice on which he then hangs a set of concerns about excessive restrictions on US firepower that endanger our troops. This seems to conflate doctrine and tactics with specific leader decisions about ROE and the use of fires. CQB does not automatically restrict these enablers, though. Again, Battle Drill 6 is a room-clearing technique, nothing more. And it is definitely better overall, when trained properly and with varying conditions, than the one it replaced.
The Battle Drill 6 After Next?
Ultimately, Hooker is presenting a false choice. He would clearly hope to avoid having infantry fight in grinding, casualty-intensive urban combat and views conventional infantry as unsuited for room clearing in particular. His views are understandable, and he is treading a well-worn path here—writers stretching back to Sun Tzu have cautioned commanders against fighting in cities. What was often unavoidable in even overwhelmingly agrarian societies such as China during its Warring States period is even more likely so in today’s rapidly evolving urban settings. While perhaps things like artificial intelligence and other future technologies may in the not-too-distant future reshape our tactical options, for the time being infantrymen will have to fight in cities and will therefore need to clear rooms.
The real question is not whether to do Battle Drill 6 or CQB or not to. It is whether we decide that Battle Drill 6 and CQB are not germane to how infantrymen will fight in cities. If not, then what will replace them? What would be our conceptual framework going forward? Hooker rightly considers Fallujah an unattractive model for future urban fights, but for the wrong reasons. Over 90 percent of the city of Fallujah was emptied of its civilian population before the battle. That is unlikely to be the situation in future warfare. But which model is more palatable and more likely to achieve our desired political and military end states? Even with more destructive tactics of first placing high explosives into known enemy structures, rooms still have to be cleared.
What are the alternatives to room clearing? Complete destruction of cities using wide area artillery and aerial bombings such as Aleppo or Grozny when enemies embed into urban terrain?
Among the few techniques Hooker offered as alternatives were to simply use high explosives to clear rooms or conduct tactical callouts. It is not clear that applying even more firepower will be any safer for our troops. World War II armies learned to their detriment that reducing a building to rubble did not always simplify its clearance but rather provided additional rubble fortifications to clear. Ironically, the callout (surrounding a building or entire village with known enemy inside it and waiting for them to come out—essentially besieging it) was developed during counterinsurgency operations where the environments were mostly permissive and the mission variables (mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available, time available, and civil consideration) permitted sitting around and waiting for a single enemy to walk out. These conditions are also unlikely to be present during future urban warfare. Furthermore, a stationary unit conducting a callout is also subject to outside counterattack, indirect fires, snipers, and even vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices.

These significant disagreements with Hooker’s position and reasoning notwithstanding, there is value in his opinions starting a needed conversation. His article highlights tough questions we should be asking as more and more warfare has moved into urban areas. Soldiers should not be exclusively training room clearing under conditions of permissive environments or counterterrorist operations. Battle Drill 6 should not be the mental starting point or ending point for preparing Army formation for the wide range of tactics and skills needed in high-intensity urban combat. Urban warfare is a combined arms fight and requires frequent, realistic training to standard, and it requires soldiers to adapt to conditions that force a variety of tactics.
The bottom line is that soldiers will have to continue to clear rooms. That will not go away. In fact, the need will likely increase. Battle Drill 6 is useful when trained correctly and to a standard proficiency level as a tool to build on and adapt. Soldiers in the next battle will be required to close the distance to buildings—many fortified—clear them, and hold them using many tactics, techniques, and procedures based on the enemy, ROE, and urban environments they encounter.
Urban combat is tough, bloody, and difficult. It cannot be avoided. Urban battles consume time, supplies, and soldiers at an alarming rate. In the modern operational environment, however, we are likely to see many more battles in cities, not fewer. Despite Hooker’s skepticism, Army urban warfare tactics have actually evolved to match the character of warfare after the end of the World War II. We can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater in room clearing. We must continue to train for the full range of combat in densely populated urban areas.
John Spencer is chair of urban warfare studies at the Modern War Institute, co-director of MWI’s Urban Warfare Project, and host of the Urban Warfare Project Podcast. He previously served as a fellow with the chief of staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group. He served twenty-five years as an infantry soldier, which included two combat tours in Iraq.
Rich Hinman is a 1988 USMA graduate and a retired infantry officer with twenty-eight years of active and reserve service. He is currently a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State serving in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or Department of State.
Image credit: Sgt. John Yountz, US Army
mwi.usma.edu · by John Spencer · July 21, 2021



4. FDD | How to Stop China From Controlling the Global Semiconductor Industry

Excerpts:
Domestic manufacturing, whether by U.S. firms or partner firms operating in the United States, is an important component of building trusted global supply chains. The other component is establishing agreements with allies and partners to boost their domestic production as well. Washington’s efforts to secure the rare earth supply chain through agreements with JapanAustralia, and Canada could serve as a useful model. The recent agreement by TSMC, the Taiwanese chip manufacturer, to build a foundry in Arizona is another good example.
Collectively, coordinated export restrictions and greater domestic and allied production not only would counter China’s strategy to influence companies and dominate key industries, but would also help address ongoing market shortages of semiconductors and graphics cards. Beijing’s efforts to dominate the global semiconductor industry through the acquisition of advanced manufacturing equipment pose a threat to U.S. economic prosperity and national security. If China can penetrate and dominate the sensitive semiconductor ecosystem, Beijing can hold parts of the semiconductor supply chain hostage to advance other strategic objectives that damage Western interests.

FDD | How to Stop China From Controlling the Global Semiconductor Industry

RADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery
CCTI Senior Director and Senior Fellow
Trevor Logan
Research Analyst

  
fdd.org · by RADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery CCTI Senior Director and Senior Fellow · July 20, 2021
The United States Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) of 2021, which passed the Senate in June, calls for $52 billion in appropriations over five years to support semiconductor manufacturing as well as research and development. As the White House explained back in March, U.S. leadership in key technologies is “critical to both our future economic competitiveness and our national security.” The White House and Congress are right to prioritize this issue, but investing tens of billions of dollars will be a waste if that investment is not part of a larger strategy to prevent China from stealing or buying its way to domination of advanced semiconductor manufacturing. If Beijing succeeds in this domain, it will likely try to force Western firms out of the market for advanced semiconductors while enabling Chinese intelligence to compromise key technology supply chains.
Semiconductors are the insulated materials that make possible the fabrication of the nano-scale microchips that inhabit all modern electronics. The most advanced manufacturing equipment uses increasingly small yet more powerful chips to store and process information. Microchips also enable computation-heavy tasks such as on-device artificial intelligence (AI), calculating missile trajectories for advanced weapons systems, and processing financial transactions for global trade.
Recognizing that leadership in semiconductors confers not only economic but also strategic advantages, China seeks to transform its economy so it can displace the United States and its allies as the market leaders in semiconductors and other critical technologies. To that end, since 2000, China has increasingly subsidized its semiconductor manufacturing sector with a reported $15 billion per year, growing its stake in the global market to over 20 percent in 2020.
While this investment is significant, the technology undergirding China’s domestic production capability still remains five to 10 years behind that of its democratic competitors, specifically in terms of the size of the microchips produced. The most advanced semiconductors are manufactured in the United States, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Germany, and the Netherlands. Three companies — America’s Intel Corporation, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corporation (TSMC), and South Korea’s Samsung Group — manufacture the finished product, but firms in the other countries on that list have significant stakes in the supply chain or manufacturing processes. China aims to reduce its dependence on imported chips by developing a robust domestic manufacturing capability.
Right now, China lacks chip manufacturing facilities capable of fabricating the kind of advanced semiconductors necessary for the demanding computational tasks of next-generation technologies. Beijing must obtain the necessary equipment from the West if China wants to catapult its semiconductor industry to the next level.
If China were to establish a microchip production capability on par with that of Western companies, one could expect Beijing to pursue unfair business practices, as it did in the telecommunications industry after Huawei established technological parity with foreign competitors. Such practices include controlling exports of raw materials, undercutting market prices, and otherwise undermining Western counterparts and driving them from the field. If this happened in the semiconductor industry, it would leave a vital supply chain open to compromise by Chinese intelligence officials, resulting in vulnerabilities that would have disastrous, cascading impacts for U.S. national security and the U.S. economy. Additionally, given the role that advanced semiconductor manufacturing has played in building China’s AI-enabled domestic surveillance system, greater Chinese control of the semiconductor market will only accelerate Beijing’s development of technology that it can use to facilitate human rights abuses.
In 2010, the world witnessed the danger of supply chain dependence on China: Beijing blocked rare earth exports to Japan to pressure Tokyo to back down from a territorial dispute with China in the East China Sea. Japan suffered the economic damage but then partnered with an Australian producer to develop a non-China-based supply chain. The United States and its allies cannot afford to allow China to dominate and manipulate the global semiconductor market in a similar manner.
Today, Beijing needs advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment such as extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography and argon fluoride immersion photolithography; access to advanced materials such as photomasks and photoresists; manufacturing software such as electronic design automation software; and licenses related to the intellectual property of chips designed by competing manufacturers. If unable to purchase this state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment, China would likely need over a decade to produce that equipment on its own, by which time the United States and its allies will likely have moved on to even more advanced production capabilities. Rather than develop its own products, China appears determined to buy its way to parity with Western manufacturers by making deals with Western companies.
In 2019, Advanced Semiconductor Material Lithography (ASML), a Dutch technology company specializing in EUV lithography tools, announced that it had reached a deal to sell equipment to the Chinese firm Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC). However, Washington intervened and pressured the Dutch government to shut the deal down.
Relying on an ad-hoc approach to identifying and disrupting impending deals that might transfer sensitive technology to China could easily fail. Instead, the United States and relevant allies and partners should forge a robust, formal agreement to identify the key technologies they need to protect and to restrict China’s efforts to import the equipment required for advanced semiconductor manufacturing. The Dutch government’s actions to block AMSL’s sale of EUV tools was an important first step. Tokyo provided critical help by assuring Washington that Japanese firms would not attempt to sell EUV tools to SMIC if the Dutch blocked the sale by ASML. There is a precedent for formalizing such cooperation through an official trade agreement, which the United States achieved in the field of nonproliferation via the Proliferation Security Initiative.
Additionally, the United States should increase funding for domestic production of semiconductors, as originally authorized by the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act, which Congress passed as part of the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, and which is now being funded in USICA and in the Biden administration’s infrastructure bill.
Domestic manufacturing, whether by U.S. firms or partner firms operating in the United States, is an important component of building trusted global supply chains. The other component is establishing agreements with allies and partners to boost their domestic production as well. Washington’s efforts to secure the rare earth supply chain through agreements with JapanAustralia, and Canada could serve as a useful model. The recent agreement by TSMC, the Taiwanese chip manufacturer, to build a foundry in Arizona is another good example.
Collectively, coordinated export restrictions and greater domestic and allied production not only would counter China’s strategy to influence companies and dominate key industries, but would also help address ongoing market shortages of semiconductors and graphics cards. Beijing’s efforts to dominate the global semiconductor industry through the acquisition of advanced manufacturing equipment pose a threat to U.S. economic prosperity and national security. If China can penetrate and dominate the sensitive semiconductor ecosystem, Beijing can hold parts of the semiconductor supply chain hostage to advance other strategic objectives that damage Western interests.
Mark Montgomery serves as senior director of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI) at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and as senior advisor to the chairmen of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission. Trevor Logan is a cyber research analyst at CCTI. They both contribute to FDD’s China Program. For more analysis from the authors, CCTI, and the China Program, please subscribe HERE. Follow Mark and Trevor on Twitter @MarkCMontgomery and @TrevorLoganFDD. Follow FDD on Twitter @FDD and @FDD_CCTI. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.
fdd.org · by RADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery CCTI Senior Director and Senior Fellow · July 20, 2021



5. Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions

Excerpts:
Biden can set his own standard if he takes two critical steps as the natural culmination of the transformative measures begun under Trump and mostly continued by his administration, neither of which were on Pence’s to-do list for Biden. First, to deter a fatal strategic miscalculation by China, Washington must make clear that it will defend Taiwan militarily against any Chinese attack or coercion. The “catastrophic” consequences for China would not be limited to the reputational and diplomatic realm, as Campbell recently seemed to imply.
Second, the Biden administration, playing on its own claim to superior multilateral and human rights credentials, needs to lead the kind of global effort toward regime change in China that Pompeo suggested in a speech at the Nixon Library a year ago: “General Secretary Xi is not destined to tyrannize inside and outside of China forever, unless we allow it. … [C]hanging the [Chinese Communist Party’s] behavior cannot be the mission of the Chinese people alone. Free nations have to work to defend freedom.”
If Biden’s team takes up that titanic challenge and helps bring about China’s rendezvous with democracy, he will stand with Ronald Reagan in the pantheon of American and global achievement.
Pence v. Biden on China: Competing but consistent visions
The Hill · by Joseph Bosco, opinion contributor · July 20, 2021

“Trumpism without Trump” is what Beijing calls the Biden administration’s China policy. For once, Global Times, China’s Communist Party mouthpiece, has it about right.
In surprising ways, most of the Biden national security team is following the basic thrust of Trump administration China policies. Though the Biden roster includes personnel who served during the 16 Bill Clinton and Barack Obama years, the policies Beijing complains about were put in place during the single Donald Trump term.
Yet, it is hard to discern that reality as both sides offer minimal, grudging credit to their political rivals for being on the same policy wavelength. It seems that only Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his minions recognize the Trump-to-Biden policy continuity — and they don’t like it one bit.
They surely had different expectations when the coronavirus they originally called the “Wuhan virus” and “Wuhan pneumonia” hit the United States, halted Trump’s trade momentum, devastated the booming U.S. economy, and helped ensure Joe Biden’s victory. Chinese leaders thought the new president would show some appreciation and follow his natural accommodationist inclinations toward China.
Instead, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have steered a more values-based and hard-nosed approach, consistent with the policies pursued by Trump administration officials. While Trump focused on critical trade talks with China, he empowered his team to advance equally ambitious national security and human rights goals.
As former Vice President Mike Pence said at the Heritage Foundation last week, “America’s new administration must stay the course, stay on the path that we forged: … built on realism and a recognition of the challenge that China poses … even as we reach out a hand to China in the hope that Beijing will reach back … with renewed respect for America.”
But the hope that the communist government would change its fundamental nature — which Richard Nixon also expressed when he “opened China to the world and opened the world to China” — remains unfulfilled after a half-century. Instead, as Pence said, “We face today … what may well be an emerging cold war with China.”
To confront this economic, military and ideological adversary, Pence said, America needs to be united: “Our elected leaders must build on the progress of the Trump-Pence administration … to check the ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party.”
True, the Biden administration should acknowledge and embrace their immediate predecessors’ initial success in reversing decades of bipartisan mismanagement of the U.S.-China relationship, while picking up where it left off. But veterans of the Trump administration and their supporters equally must acknowledge and credit the Biden team for mostly refusing to return to the failed Clinton-Bush-Obama engagement policies as many had feared.
Pence did note that the Biden group, led by Blinken and Sullivan, and U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai, “has maintained a few of our administration’s tough policies on China — for example, the tariffs [Biden] campaigned against in 2020, so far, remain in place.” But he also observed that Phase 1 of the trade deal must be followed up to press China on economic and political reform.
When Pence called for the creation of a U.S.-Taiwan trade agreement — which the Trump administration deferred until it nailed down the initial China deal — he might have noted that Tai already has started that process.
Nor does Pence mention that the Biden administration is advancing former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s elevation of quasi-official relations with Taiwan. Together, the Trump and Biden administrations’ approach effectively constitutes a One China, One Taiwan policy — despite Indo-Pacific Coordinator Kurt Campbell’s gratuitous revival of Clinton’s disclaimer, “We do not support Taiwan independence.”
The Navy under Biden is continuing expanded Freedom of Navigation Operations and transits of the Taiwan Strait. But neither administration has deigned to send a carrier task force through the Strait — only two have done so in 48 years, the last in 2007 under George W. Bush and his Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — while China routinely sends its carriers through those international waters and claims the Strait as its own territorial sea.
Pence said, “I call on the Biden administration to increase the number of Chinese companies prohibited from American investment by at least an order of magnitude.” In June, the administration did just that by adding 59 Chinese firms to the list of 26 originally banned under Trump.
Pence advocates several other initiatives the Biden team would be well-advised to adopt, such as insisting that the Securities and Exchange Commission de-list Chinese companies that flout the transparency and accountability requirements U.S. firms must meet. Most importantly, Pence urges Biden to honor the enhanced Trump-level defense budget to meet China’s security challenges in the South and East China Seas, Taiwan and elsewhere. Defense cuts explain why Pence says, “China senses weakness in this new administration.”
In 1994, two years into the Clinton administration, then-United Nations Ambassador Madeleine Albright was asked how long her boss could continue blaming Bush for the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Bosnia. She conceded that “the statute of limitations has about run out.” In a reverse twist, Biden’s diplomatic and national security team may wish for the end of Trump-Biden China policy comparisons so they can be judged on their own merits.
But after Trump’s momentous inflection point on China relations, Biden or any other president will inevitably be judged on what they do with the challenge and opportunity presented by this historic moment.
Biden can set his own standard if he takes two critical steps as the natural culmination of the transformative measures begun under Trump and mostly continued by his administration, neither of which were on Pence’s to-do list for Biden. First, to deter a fatal strategic miscalculation by China, Washington must make clear that it will defend Taiwan militarily against any Chinese attack or coercion. The “catastrophic” consequences for China would not be limited to the reputational and diplomatic realm, as Campbell recently seemed to imply.
Second, the Biden administration, playing on its own claim to superior multilateral and human rights credentials, needs to lead the kind of global effort toward regime change in China that Pompeo suggested in a speech at the Nixon Library a year ago: “General Secretary Xi is not destined to tyrannize inside and outside of China forever, unless we allow it. … [C]hanging the [Chinese Communist Party’s] behavior cannot be the mission of the Chinese people alone. Free nations have to work to defend freedom.”
If Biden’s team takes up that titanic challenge and helps bring about China’s rendezvous with democracy, he will stand with Ronald Reagan in the pantheon of American and global achievement.
Joseph Bosco served as China country director for the secretary of Defense from 2005 to 2006 and as Asia-Pacific director of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief from 2009 to 2010. He is a nonresident fellow at the Institute for Corean-American Studies and a member of the advisory board of the Global Taiwan Institute. Follow him on Twitter @BoscoJosephA.
The Hill · by Joseph Bosco, opinion contributor · July 20, 2021



6. U.S. Life Expectancy Fell by 1.5 Years in 2020, the Biggest Decline in Generations

 Triple threat: COVID, overdoses, homicide.

But no change to the leading threat: "Heart disease remains the nation’s leading killer, and the pandemic also kept many people with life-threatening symptoms from coming to hospitals because they feared contracting Covid-19, Dr. Lloyd-Jones said."

U.S. Life Expectancy Fell by 1.5 Years in 2020, the Biggest Decline in Generations
Covid-19, drug overdoses and homicides drove longevity down; Hispanic men suffered largest decline
WSJ · by Betsy McKay
“I myself had never seen a change this big except in the history books,” said Elizabeth Arias, a demographer at the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics and lead author of the report.

Life expectancy won’t recover to pre-pandemic levels in 2021, Dr. Arias and other population-health experts said, and could decline again if a new Covid-19 variant emerges that vaccines don’t protect against, some said. The highly transmissible Delta variant of the virus has pushed cases, hospitalizations and deaths up again recently, particularly in parts of the country where vaccination rates are low.
The full toll of the pandemic has yet to be seen, doctors and public-health officials said. Many people skipped or delayed treatment last year for conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, and endured isolation, stress and interruptions in normal diet and exercise routines.
“That has led to intermediate and longer-term effects we will have to deal with for years to come,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the department of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and president of the American Heart Association.
Life expectancy is a measure of a nation’s well-being and prosperity, based on mortality in a given year. Declines or stagnation in longevity can signal catastrophic events or deep problems in a society, researchers say. Life expectancy fell in the U.S. by 11.8 years in 1918, during a world-wide flu pandemic. Many victims were young.

The Covid-19 pandemic was responsible for most of last year’s decline. Covid-19 was either the underlying or a contributing cause of 385,201 deaths, according to the CDC, making the disease the nation’s third-leading cause of death in 2020. Many of those deaths could have been prevented with a stronger response to the pandemic, public-health and medical researchers have said. The nation’s top two killers are heart disease and cancer.
More deaths from homicide, diabetes and chronic liver disease—which is related to heavy alcohol use—also contributed to last year’s life expectancy drop, the CDC said. Pandemic lockdowns, recession and a backlash against police tactics contributed to a sharp rise in homicides in large U.S. cities that has continued in 2021, according to police, researchers, mayors and community leaders.
Life expectancy would have fallen even more, the CDC said, if not for decreases in mortality due to cancer, chronic lower-respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, and other factors.
The declines were largest for Hispanic and Black people, who as population groups were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. The largest drop for any cohort was 3.7 years, for Hispanic men, bringing their life expectancy to 75.3 years of age.

U.S. longevity had been largely stagnant since 2010, even declining in three of those years, due in part to an increase in deaths from drug overdoses, rising death rates from heart disease for middle-aged Americans and other public health crises.
“Getting back to where we were before the pandemic is a very bad place,” said Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine and author of a recent study comparing the effects of the pandemic on life expectancy in the U.S. and other high-income countries. “We’ve got a larger problem here.”
The pandemic took a greater toll on life expectancy in the U.S. than other advanced nations, Dr. Woolf said. Between 2018 and 2020, life expectancy decreased an average of 0.22 years in peer countries, he estimated, widening a longevity gap with those nations that was growing before the pandemic.
Drug-overdose deaths rose nearly 30% last year, driven by a proliferation of the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl as well as stress, isolation and reduced access to treatment during the pandemic, public-health experts said. One study published this month found a 28.3% decline in initiation of addiction treatment in California from March through October 2020.
The pandemic also had an effect on births, as the number fell last year to the lowest level in more than four decades, continuing a fertility slump and likely showing that the spread of a deadly virus dissuaded some women from pregnancy.

Firefighters and paramedics treated a patient in cardiac arrest because of a drug overdose in May of last year.
Photo: alex edelman/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
The CDC data also show wider disparities between men and women as well as racial and ethnic groups. Life expectancy for women was 5.7 years greater than for men in 2020, likely because more men have died of Covid-19, Dr. Arias said.
Hispanic and Black populations were most affected, due to exposure to the virus on the job, a lack of access to good healthcare, sometimes crowded living conditions and other factors, public-health officials and academics said.
Hispanic people in the U.S. have traditionally demonstrated an advantage in longevity. That gap shrank last year as life expectancy for that part of the population dropped three years. Covid-19 was responsible for 90% of the decline, according to the CDC.
One reason for the heavy toll among Hispanic people is that many who died were younger than those in other groups, said Theresa Andrasfay, a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Southern California Leonard Davis School of Gerontology who recently published a research letter on the pandemic’s effects on longevity by race and ethnicity.
A mortality gap that had been narrowing between white and Black populations widened, as life expectancy for Black people dropped 2.9 years to 71.8, the lowest since 2000, according to the CDC. Covid-19 was responsible for 59% of the decline, the CDC said. Drug overdoses, homicide and heart disease were among other contributing factors.
Life expectancy for white people dropped 1.2 years to 77.6 years in 2020, the lowest level since 2002. Covid-19 was responsible for 68% of the decline, the CDC said. Drug overdoses and chronic liver disease were also contributing factors.
Heart disease remains the nation’s leading killer, and the pandemic also kept many people with life-threatening symptoms from coming to hospitals because they feared contracting Covid-19, Dr. Lloyd-Jones said.
Write to Betsy McKay at betsy.mckay+1@wsj.com
WSJ · by Betsy McKay



7. US official to visit China as diplomatic stand-off resolved
 A small positive step perhaps. But I think China's political warfare strategy includes playing "hard to get."

US official to visit China as diplomatic stand-off resolved
amp.ft.com · by Demetri Sevastopulo · July 21, 2021
The US deputy secretary of state will visit China on Sunday after Washington and Beijing resolved a stand-off that had threatened to derail the first high-level meeting between the sides since senior officials met in Alaska in March.
Wendy Sherman will fly to Tianjin for a two-day visit that will include talks with Wang Yi, China’s foreign minister, according to US officials. She will be the most senior Biden official to visit China, on a trip that will take place four months after the first meeting between the countries erupted in an acrimonious public spat.
The veteran diplomat had been widely expected to visit China on the last leg of an Asia tour that will include stops in Japan, South Korea and Mongolia.
But the state department did not list China on her original itinerary after Beijing refused to grant a meeting with Wang, offering instead a less senior official, which the US interpreted as a snub.
“They have confirmed an in-person meeting with Wang Yi,” said a US official. “We would not have agreed to a visit . . . unless we were convinced we would have opportunities for substantive and constructive talks.”
The meeting will come at a difficult juncture in US-China relations, as Joe Biden strikes a tough stance over issues including Beijing’s crackdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, the persecution of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and military activities around Taiwan. Washington this week accused China’s Ministry of State Security, its intelligence agency, of enlisting criminal gangs to conduct cyber attacks on the US.
A second US official said the Tianjin meeting would follow on the Alaska summit, in which both sides outlined their views on a relationship that has deteriorated after the turbulent years of the Trump administration.
“We believe we need to be able to do things at the same time that maintain communication in order to show the People’s Republic of China what healthy and responsible competition looks like,” said the second US official.
Washington is seeking high-level engagement with both Chinese diplomats and military officials but has been frequently frustrated. Kurt Campbell, the top White House Asia official, recently said that Wang and Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy official who was also at the Alaska summit, were “nowhere near within a hundred miles” of President Xi Jinping’s inner circle.
The US did not disclose what Sherman and Wang would discuss. But the goal before the latest protocol kerfuffle was to hold several senor meetings that would pave the way for Biden and Xi to hold discussions at the G20 summit in Italy.
“Given the combination of current strains in the relationship, the recent lull in senior-level interactions and the possibility of a meeting between both leaders at the G20 . . . it makes sense that both sides would be motivated to get past protocol squabbles,” said Ryan Hass, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution think-tank and author of Stronger: Adapting America’s China Strategy in an Age of Competitive Interdependence.
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amp.ft.com · by Demetri Sevastopulo · July 21, 2021




8. Trailblazing Admiral, Hall of Fame Female Diver Retires After Conquering ‘Fear of the Sea’ 

Another great American retires. Every time I read a story like this I am reminded how great America is, has been, and will always be.

Trailblazing Admiral, Hall of Fame Female Diver Retires After Conquering ‘Fear of the Sea’ - USNI News
news.usni.org · by Gidget Fuentes · July 20, 2021
Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar and MCPON Russell Smith take a selfie following Bolivar’s retirement ceremony. US Navy Photo
NAVAL BASE CORONADO, Calif., — One of the first female divers in the Navy and one of the first Filipino-Americans to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy retired this weekend after more than 30 years in the service.
For most of her 36-year career, Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar has been a rarity in the Navy: A seasoned, female diver whose path into the Navy followed her father’s but which she made into her own from a life-changing experience in her early formidable years.
“When I was eight years old, I was a near-drowning victim and had to be resuscitated,” she said In an article in the 2016 edition of All Hands featuring Navy female divers. “From then on, I told myself I would conquer both the seas and my fear of the seas by learning more and becoming part of the underwater environment. I took swimming lessons and gradually eased my way back into the water… and eventually earned a degree in oceanography.”
Bolivar received that degree graduating in 1985 from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. In 1989, she became a Navy diving officer and later a special operations officer in the explosive ordnance disposal and diving-and-salvage community, completing deployments and operations supporting and leading diving and salvage missions.
Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, receives a Baltimore Ravens helmet during her retirement ceremony. US Navy Photo
“During her decades of service, to the Navy and to her country, Bette Bolivar… has made history as a trailblazer and as a highly respected, inspirational leader,” James Webb, former secretary of the Navy and Marine combat veteran, told the audience during her change-of-command and retirement ceremony on Friday.
Bolivar commanded the Safeguard-class rescue and salvage ship USS Salvor (T-ARS-52) from 1998 to 2000, and she was the first woman to command Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, which she led from 2003 to 2005. In 2005, she joined a small cadre of Navy female divers when she was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame.
In 2006, she deployed to Afghanistan for a 12-month tour with Task Force Palatin, serving as the officer-in-charge of the Counter Radio-Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare program supporting the counter-IED Task Force Palatin, according to her biography.
Former Secretary of the Navy Jim Webb speaks at Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar’s retirement on July 16, 2021. US Navy Photo
Like many women of her generation, Bolivar’s career path onto dive-and-salvage ships and into combat zones took hold after the Navy, from the mid-1980s to early 1990s, began opening more billets and assignments that long had been closed to women. While a lieutenant-junior grade, Bolivar was assigned to Webb’s SECNAV staff during a period when he had formed a task force whose work and resulting study led to the opening for women of more non-combat billets across the Navy.
It would be several years before the first women were assigned to combatant ships, with the first group of women joining the crew of the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) in 1994. “Women now command at sea. They serve in combat. They serve in the air. They serve on the sea. And they serve underneath the sea,” Bolivar said.
Her friendship with Webb grew over the years, and his keynote speech at the ceremony mirrored his presence at several of her previous change-of-command ceremonies. She credits him with supporting her desire for a Navy diving career, something which few women have attained to this day.
“It was his endorsement, on my lateral transfer package to the spec-ops community, which enabled me to be that deep-sea diver I always wanted to be,” Bolivar told the audience. Although petite in stature, her confident spunk and strong support from her family and friends help propel that package into what became a long diving career as the service opened and expanded opportunities for women to serve in operational billets.
She also hailed Webb’s support for the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which he had cosponsored. “It’s because of Sen. Webb that I would be able to use my GI Bill to attend the K9 Master Training Academy… for the next chapter of my life,” she said.
Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, commander, Navy Region Northwest, gets her one-star shoulder boards attached by her father, Ted Cereno Bolivar and sister, Jeni Bolivar-Ventresca, during her promotion ceremony held at COMPACFLT Boathouse on July 16, 2013. US Navy Photo
Bolivar joined Webb’s staff in 1987, a “ball of exuberance, of interest and of energy,” he said. “And as women’s opportunities increased, Bette jumped at the chance, dismissing an easier life and excelling in the Navy’s operational world: Basic diving officers school, special operations officer, commanding a salvage and rescue ship, commanding a mobile diving and salvage unit, and commanding an electronic warfare” team in Afghanistan.
Those, he said, are highlights of “a career dedicated to hands-on leadership, fearless action and tangible results.”
After her selection to rear admiral – another rarity for a diving officer – Bolivar led four of the Navy’s regional commands – Navy Region Northwest, Joint Region Marianas, Navy Region Southest and Navy Region Southwest, the latter which she assumed command in 2019. Each command, she noted, provide critical support to the Navy’s operational units and service members and families at dozens of regional installations.
Lt. Gov. Ralph Torres [left], and Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, then commander Joint Region Marianas [right], talk to Sgt. D.J. Camacho, a native of Saipan assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, assisting in Typhoon Soudelor relief efforts. Torres and Bolivar took an aerial tour of the island Sunday in an MV-22 Osprey from the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 (Reinforced) on Aug. 9, 2015. US Navy Photo
Webb, a novelist and former U.S. senator who served as Navy secretary from 1987 to 1988, noted Bolivar’s family legacy of military service. In 1953, her father, Ted Cereno Bolivar, enlisted as a steward – coming in through a highly competitive program – and later retired as a chief petty officer. Two brothers also served in the Navy. He praised her leadership and mentoring of her enlisted leaders throughout her career, several who served as side boys during the ceremony sending her off into retirement and return to civilian life.
“My master diver gladiators had a big influence on me,” Bolivar told the crowd.
A fellow 1985 Naval Academy classmate helped send her off into retirement.
Vice Adm. Ricky L. Williamson, the deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics (N4), spoke at the ceremony to fulfill a promise he and Bolivar made back when they were midshipmen to see off the other who was first to leave the Navy.
Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar, center, commander, Joint Region Marianas, gives the all clear signal to Navy Diver 1st Class Bobby Demay, a Sailor assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS-40), following diving operations at Alpha Pier on Polaris Point, Sept. 22, 2015. US Navy Photo
“You have superbly led and mentored numerous sailors,” Williamson told her, recounting her words motivating classmates – among them football players – through exhausting physical training during their midshipmen days nearly 40 years ago.
“You inspired them to get up. You inspired them to achieve things they thought were unachievable but most importantly you inspired them to be better.”
Williamson pinned on a Legion of Merit medal, awarded for her service as Navy Region Southwest’s commander. The award, though, came second in generating the excitement from gifts presented from the chiefs mess and wardroom, including a personalized Baltimore Ravens football helmet and a personal, video message from Ravens’ coach John Harbaugh.
The Chief Petty Officers Mess presented her with a Charge Book. “You have done more to empower the Chiefs Mess and to provide us an opportunity to lead than most any leader I’ve seen in my 33 years,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Russell Smith said, before appointing a beaming Bolivar as “Honorary Chief Petty Officer” and pinning on anchors onto her white dress shirt collar. “Navy chief, Navy pride!” she yelled.
Related
news.usni.org · by Gidget Fuentes · July 20, 2021



9. Deception Is the Biggest Threat to American Security

Some long dead general from CHina once said: "All warfare is based on deception."

Excerpts:
If the U.S. military continues to procure fewer weapons platforms due to a belief that AI enabled systems will provide an advantage, the associated risks must be understood as well. These AI enabled weapons systems can and will become the targets of deception that could render them useless. With the Navy building autonomous ships, the Army buying robots, and the Air Force already operating the equivalent of a flying computer with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, future deception of AI systems to compromise such advanced platforms could lead to our defeat. Again, bots today can overwhelm A.I. sensors and data collectors, giving the advantage to the deceiver.
The Department of Defense cannot and should not walk away from AI enabled systems on the battlefield. AI systems are here today, and U.S. adversaries, as well as non-state actors, will surely possess them as well. Both the Russians and the Chinese have openly stated that subversion, deception, and misinformation are part of a perpetual state of information warfare. They should be taken at their word. Publicly available records of such nefarious behavior are readily available, with recent examples including Russian intelligence services publishing false information questioning the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, along with China’s prominent use of bots to artificially inflate the social media impact of Chinese diplomats and state media.
The Department of Defense and policymakers in Congress must take immediate action to address the challenge. The Pentagon should create AI deception "red teams” to fool our systems first. Legislation can be updated to allow for a more robust use of AI deception in offensive operations. Acquisition processes should ensure deception-mitigation is built in from the start for military AI systems. We cannot try to retrofit deception-mitigation into AI systems. It will prove a fool’s errand, as demonstrated by today’s failing efforts to redesign “security-mitigation” into the internet.


Deception Is the Biggest Threat to American Security
realcleardefense.com · by John Ferrari
And deep fakes are just the harbingers


Deceptive data is all around us. While some of it is less harmful than others, deception in defense has the potential to undermine all the technological improvements that are planned or have been already put into practice. The results have the potential to be life-threatening and could ultimately lead to the defeat of U.S. national security systems using artificial intelligence (AI).
Take, for example, deep fakes where the face or body of a person is altered digitally in a video. In May 2021, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) published a short report on these types of deep fakes, observing that such "forgeries generated with artificial intelligence (AI) — could present a variety of national security challenges in the years to come.” While CRS emphasized the political risks of deep fakes, including eroding public trust, and the blackmailing of public officials, deep fakes are just the beginning, or should we more aptly say, a continuation of other more urgent, broader, and more dangerous challenges for the future security of the United States.
Flailing responses to the cyberattack that forced the shutdown of Colonial Pipeline, the East Coast’s most significant gasoline pipeline, emphasize the importance of undertaking risk mitigation efforts today. While the Colonial Pipeline outage disrupted markets, the company has almost no ability to retrofit effective new security measures that can withstand attacks by state actors or state-sanctioned actors due to the inherent flaws built into the internet’s routing system over forty year ago.
Had the attacks targeted AI systems for the U.S. military instead of the Colonial Pipeline, the threat could be existential, rendering our nation and our allies open to catastrophic attacks instead of just the inconvenience of a pipeline debacle. Similarly, retrofitting fixes will not be an option, particularly if we are either engaged in war or on the verge of a conflict.
Three concepts are useful for grasping the scale, scope, and character of what deception means in the context of military A.I. systems. First, Americans must confront the fact that information always has been and always will be weaponized. Second, deep fakes and the well-known explosion of fake news constitute just two versions of fake data. Focusing on those two subsets alone prevents decision-makers from appreciating the real threat posed by the exponential growth of active and passive deception across all types of data that feed national security systems. Third, creative solutions are required. The catch-all fix of making sure that human users validate the outputs of A.I. systems (“human in/on the loop”), for example, is not a feasible solution to counter the onslaught of deception operations that adversaries are likely to aim at the United States.
Nothing New
Deception is almost as old as history itself. During the siege of Troy, the Trojan horse dates back to 3,200 years ago, yet today malicious computer programs in emails are still referred to as Trojan horses. Similarly, Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu stated 2,500 years ago that “all warfare is based on deception,” a warning we should heed if for no other reason than we should assume that the Chinese military today follow his teachings. Sadly, there is no need to return to antiquity for examples of effective deception operations against America. In a report on deception during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) stated that it would be 40 years before American intelligence officials understood the mass of lies that hid the Soviet Union’s deployment of missiles because it was “on a scale that most U.S. planners could not comprehend.”
Still, Americans rely on democracy with a foundation of transparency and willful compliance with rules and norms. As such, the notion of participating in massive deception operations against an adversary's A.I. systems is complicated and runs counter to ideals prioritized in the United States. The desire of Americans to demonstrate the value of truth and law-abiding behavior is commendable but poorly suited to this era of global communications where deception operations on the other side of the world will inevitably infiltrate both U.S. national dialogues and AI-enabled weapons systems. The United States can no longer afford to avoid or ignore the challenge for the sake of keeping its hands clean.
Today, the unspoken biases of U.S. processes, systems, and national security professionals are based on the repulsion of fake news, guaranteed freedom of the press, and statutes meant to ensure that government does not deceive the governed. These ideals may hamper the United States from building programs of deception aimed at adversaries and limiting Americans' ability to fully understand the extent to which deception will hinder AI systems. Despite these tendencies, the United States must acknowledge that data will be weaponized, and the military cannot unilaterally disarm by forgoing the use of deception.
What is New is the Scale of Deception
The U.S. military is undertaking efforts to name and define various types of deception, supporting the contextualization of sub-categories such as fake news and deep fakes. Joint Pub 3.13.4 defines passive deception (M-Type) as hiding something that really exists, and active deception (A-Type) as showing something that is not real. Similarly, in their book Strategic Military Deception, Katherine Herbig and Donald Daniel describe A-Type deception as noise that creates ambiguity. Imagine AI web crawlers scraping news reports about the Japanese Ambassador's presence in Washington prior to Pearl Harbor as “noise,” or the ability of bots to create today's infinite noise anywhere in the electromagnetic spectrum that can and will overwhelm our sensors. In contrast, M-Type deception provides misleading information, such as that created by the Allies in Operation Bodyguard prior to the Normandy landings in World War II. Considering how both active and passive deception might undermine national security, A.I. systems forces officials to confront four key issues that must be addressed.
  • How should the DOD confirm that AI systems are being trained on real data, not fake insertions? The data used to train A.I. systems crucially informs and directs their function. If adversaries can insert fake data into AI training datasets, the efficacy of the entire AI system will be undermined. This also forces a second question: how should the United States be preparing or endeavoring to access and undermine the AI training data of adversaries? As we move to compromise our enemies’ AI systems, we will also need to address the risk of those systems “misbehaving” in unknown ways. This should inform how America tests its own AI systems and considers the opportunity cost of feeding fake training data to adversaries.
  • How should the DOD teach AI systems to “not be surprised”? In the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the Egyptian military successfully convinced the Israelis that their military preparations were connected to large-scale routine exercises, which they conducted twice a year since 1968. The Egyptians essentially created an alternative truth to retain the element of surprise. Accordingly, military AI systems must somehow be trained to “not be surprised” by well-planned feints. However, even if we do succeed in training our A.I. systems to avoid such surprises, human decision-makers must be willing to unleash AI weapons in the face of ambiguity.
  • How should the DOD protect AI systems from overwhelming noise and data? In the public and commercial space, denial of service attacks flood computer servers with more requests than they can handle. Were adversaries to levy a similar attack against a military AI system, the consequences could easily be devastating. While it is inconvenient to be without a commercial website for a few hours during one of these attacks, what happens when the sensors of an autonomous Navy ship are overloaded? It will always be easier to create and send data than it will be to process it, so advantages reside with the attacker.
  • Reliance on the fallback of "human in/on the loop" as a failsafe is probably a false sense of comfort. While the “human in/on the loop” is meant to protect against bad AI system behavior with a human validation of the outputs, military deception exists at the intersection of behavior and data. In the past, deception operations targeted the behavior of the human decision-maker. Going forward, however, adversaries will be able to target both the behavior of AI systems (as they make decisions on their own) and the actions of the “human in/on the loop.” With the exponential growth of data, no human will be able to sift through the data inputs or spot deceptive data.
Furthermore, relying on the human validation of AI system output sacrifices valuable decision time. Adversaries will not hesitate to seize split second advantages. A useful analog is high speed trading in the commercial world, where fractions of milliseconds are the difference between securities being traded or not traded. As ever faster and more advanced weapons such as hypersonic missiles become commonplace, AI systems and decision-making in milliseconds will be the difference between success and failure. Are we ready for this acceleration in decision-making?
The Stakes Are Increasing
If the U.S. military continues to procure fewer weapons platforms due to a belief that AI enabled systems will provide an advantage, the associated risks must be understood as well. These AI enabled weapons systems can and will become the targets of deception that could render them useless. With the Navy building autonomous ships, the Army buying robots, and the Air Force already operating the equivalent of a flying computer with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, future deception of AI systems to compromise such advanced platforms could lead to our defeat. Again, bots today can overwhelm A.I. sensors and data collectors, giving the advantage to the deceiver.
The Department of Defense cannot and should not walk away from AI enabled systems on the battlefield. AI systems are here today, and U.S. adversaries, as well as non-state actors, will surely possess them as well. Both the Russians and the Chinese have openly stated that subversion, deception, and misinformation are part of a perpetual state of information warfare. They should be taken at their word. Publicly available records of such nefarious behavior are readily available, with recent examples including Russian intelligence services publishing false information questioning the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, along with China’s prominent use of bots to artificially inflate the social media impact of Chinese diplomats and state media.
The Department of Defense and policymakers in Congress must take immediate action to address the challenge. The Pentagon should create AI deception "red teams” to fool our systems first. Legislation can be updated to allow for a more robust use of AI deception in offensive operations. Acquisition processes should ensure deception-mitigation is built in from the start for military AI systems. We cannot try to retrofit deception-mitigation into AI systems. It will prove a fool’s errand, as demonstrated by today’s failing efforts to redesign “security-mitigation” into the internet.
MG John Ferrari, US Army (ret.), is a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a former director of program analysis and evaluation for the U.S. Army, and the chief financial officer at QOMPLX. Hallie Coyne is a research assistant at AEI.
realcleardefense.com · by John Ferrari


10. US blocking more Chinese students from its universities

Excerpts:
They generally major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and have diplomas from or were previously enrolled in one of eight universities blacklisted for their alleged ties with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its affiliated bodies.
The blacklisted institutions include Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, aka Beihang, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Beijing Institute of Technology, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin Engineering University, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Nanjing University of Science and Technology.

It is almost impossible for Chinese students denied visas to see a policy reversal and go to the US as planned, even with a new tenant in the White House. \


US blocking more Chinese students from its universities
Biden maintains and seemingly expands Trump's ban on Chinese students perceived to be national security risks

asiatimes.com · by Frank Chen · July 20, 2021
A year-long ban on Chinese students receiving US study visas due to Covid-19 ended in May, but many are still being rejected by US authorities because of their reputed ties to military-linked Chinese universities and institutes – a ban enacted by the previous Donald Trump administration and continued under Biden.
These rejected students now refer to themselves as “victims of Proclamation 10043,” the executive order signed by Trump in May 2020 that suspended the entry of certain non-immigrant students and researchers from China, most seeking to pursue higher degrees and research in the US, on national security grounds.
They generally major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and have diplomas from or were previously enrolled in one of eight universities blacklisted for their alleged ties with China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and its affiliated bodies.
The blacklisted institutions include Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, aka Beihang, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Beijing Institute of Technology, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin Engineering University, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Nanjing University of Science and Technology.
It is almost impossible for Chinese students denied visas to see a policy reversal and go to the US as planned, even with a new tenant in the White House. Photo: WeChat
Trump’s proclamation said, “The PRC (People’s Republic of China) authorities use some Chinese students, mostly post-graduate students and post-doctorate researchers, to operate as non-traditional collectors of intellectual property.

“Thus, students or researchers from the PRC studying or researching beyond the undergraduate level who are or have been associated with the PLA are at high risk of being exploited or coopted by the PRC authorities and provide particular cause for concern.
“In light of the above, I have determined that the entry of certain nationals of the PRC seeking to enter the US pursuant to an F or J visa to study or conduct research in the US would be detrimental to the national interests.”
The US embassy in Beijing and consulates in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenyang have all reportedly rejected applications since the resumption of visa services for Chinese students beginning in May.
China News Service and Caijing Magazine report that a growing number of Chinese students are being rejected in a seemingly expanded enforcement of Proclamation 10043.
The reports said applicants from Chinese universities not blacklisted and with undergraduate degrees in literature, business and even art have also recently been turned away. US embassy and consulate interviewers have reportedly cited section 212(f) of the US Immigration and Nationality Act, which gives the US president and authorized persons carte blanche plenary powers to refuse entry to foreigners.

The Trump administration estimated in 2020 that the number of affected Chinese students could be around 5,000, a small fraction of the over 300,000 Chinese students enrolled in US universities in 2019.
There have already been more than 500 such visa rejections between January and July, according to reports.
It is said that about 500 Chinese students have been denied visas in 2021 as of this month. Photo: WeChat
Those denied visas include graduates from renowned institutions like Shanghai Fudan University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, Tongji University and University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, according to the Caijing report.
One Fudan graduate who originally planned to pursue his PhD in electronics in California told Asia Times that a US consulate immigration officer in Shanghai said he was sorry to reject the application and said the decision was a reflection of the prevailing climate between the two countries.
The student said he had hoped his visa could be granted now that there was a new president. Some of those rejected have sought to contact the Chinese Education Ministry and Beijing’s diplomats in the US, but so far with no result.

Beijing had earlier protested what it termed as Trump’s “malicious stigmatization” of Chinese students in the US when the proclamation first kicked in. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said this month that the US must stop its “groundless repression” of Chinese students.
Students who form concern groups on WeChat and Weibo are now finding themselves increasingly snubbed by compatriots who say they should be more patriotic and should not have applied to study in China’s No. 1 adversary in the first place.
American universities with large Chinese student bodies have petitioned the Biden administration to repeal the proclamation or at least make visa vetting more predictable. Many top US universities increasingly rely on foreign students, including from China, to pay full-fare tuition and thus keep their institutions financially afloat.
In a letter to US State Secretary Antony Blinken, Cornell University prodded the government to narrow the blacklist of Chinese entities and raised concern that consular officials may interpret policies in “an uneven and unpredictable manner that is creating tremendous uncertainty and confusion for international students and their US universities.”
Beijing’s renewed criticism of the proclamation means a small ray of hope for affected Chinese students, but concrete action by the Chinese government is lacking. Photo: Xinhua
The letter described consular officials’ implementation of the previous administration’s guidance as “capricious, unclear and excessive.”

China Education Daily and Caijing reported that some Chinese students were considering filing a collective lawsuit to annul what they see as Trump’s “discriminatory policy” and order a reassessment of all related visa applications.
A petition website has been set up for affected students to muster their ranks, which they claim far exceeds the previous Trump estimate that only 5,000 students would be affected. Another online survey seeks to gauge interest among affected students to pool money to sue the US government.
Trump’s presidential proclamation also enables the federal government to cancel visas already issued to Chinese students. Those from China on student visas who have their visas canceled can remain in the US but once they leave they must apply for new visas to re-enter.
Only students already in the US who have their visas invalidated will likely qualify to file a legal case in US courts.
Legal experts who have commented on the petition website say that related proceedings may take years to go through the courts and the federal government may appeal to contest any rulings to revoke the proclamation, meaning the complaint may need to go all the way to the Supreme Court to be resolved.
Read more:
Visa freeze puts Chinese students out in the cold
Fleeing virus, Chinese students scramble to get home
asiatimes.com · by Frank Chen · July 20, 2021



11. China's borders will likely remain shut for months, but some may be wary of visiting even after they reopen

Excerpts:

"The bottom line is that businesses should be aware that the risks faced in mainland China are now increasingly present in Hong Kong," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.

But long before the warning, some Americans and other Westerners with long-lasting professional ties with China had already grown wary of visiting both mainland China and Hong Kong.

Last month, online magazine ChinaFile said among 121 China-connected scholars, journalists, former diplomats and civil society workers it surveyed, only 44% said they planned to travel to China once coronavirus restrictions are lifted; 40% said they probably or definitely would not visit, while the rest were unsure.

Though not a scientific survey, the results nevertheless suggest a significant shift in attitudes among a group of prominent figures in the China field, most of whom would almost certainly have planned to travel to the country a year or two ago as part of their professional routines, it said.



China's borders will likely remain shut for months, but some may be wary of visiting even after they reopen
CNN · by Nectar Gan and Jessie Yeung, CNN
A version of this story appeared in CNN's Meanwhile in China newsletter, a three-times-a-week update exploring what you need to know about the country's rise and how it impacts the world. Sign up here.
(CNN)Last week, the Biden administration warned American companies about the risk of doing business in Hong Kong, citing Beijing's increasing crackdown on the city.
"The bottom line is that businesses should be aware that the risks faced in mainland China are now increasingly present in Hong Kong," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters.
But long before the warning, some Americans and other Westerners with long-lasting professional ties with China had already grown wary of visiting both mainland China and Hong Kong.
Last month, online magazine ChinaFile said among 121 China-connected scholars, journalists, former diplomats and civil society workers it surveyed, only 44% said they planned to travel to China once coronavirus restrictions are lifted; 40% said they probably or definitely would not visit, while the rest were unsure.
Though not a scientific survey, the results nevertheless suggest a significant shift in attitudes among a group of prominent figures in the China field, most of whom would almost certainly have planned to travel to the country a year or two ago as part of their professional routines, it said.
Read More
"Among those who replied they would probably or definitely not visit, reasons ranged from previous visa rejections to outright fear of detention for themselves and for the Chinese people they work with or interview, and concerns that restrictions on movement, research, or reporting would compromise the professional value of spending time in China," said ChinaFile, which is published by the Asia Society's Center on US-China Relations.
In the article, many respondents cited the ongoing detainment of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor as a primary source of their anxiety.
It's been four months since Kovrig and Spavor were tried behind closed doors and 953 days since they were detained, but Beijing has not released any news on either of the men.
Kovrig, an NGO worker and former diplomat, and Spavor, a businessman with a focus on North Korea, were detained following the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. Beijing has charged them with espionage, but most outside of China see their detention as retaliation for Meng's arrest and a bargaining chip to help leverage her release.
"It's bad enough to have to worry you'll be jailed in retaliation for whatever critical comments you made even years ago. It's much more unsettling to think you could be thrown in jail as a hostage simply because you hold an American passport, the way Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were thrown in jail as Canadian hostages, in retaliation for something my government did that the Chinese regime didn't like," wrote James Mann, a journalist and author on China.
For many, the continued detention of the two Canadian Michaels will likely serve as a chilling reminder of the risks associated with visiting China, even after it reopens its borders to the world.
And so far, Chinese authorities have shown little urgency in reopening. Unlike smaller economies that rely heavily on cross-border capital flows, outside talent or international tourism, Covid-19 border restrictions have not stopped China from roaring back into growth.
A closed border also gives the Chinese government more control on who they want to let into the country. Beijing expelled at least 18 foreign correspondents last year, and few Western outlets have been granted visas for new journalists to be based in China, according to the Foreign Correspondents' Club of China.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands of international students enrolled in Chinese universities have been barred from returning to the country, with many voicing frustrations on Twitter and tagging Chinese diplomats for help -- to no avail.
Given China's zero tolerance for Covid cases, it is likely that some restrictions might stay in place until the Beijing Winter Olympics next February, or even as late as the 20th Communist Party Congress next fall -- both politically important events of which Beijing wants to ensure absolute success.
Like elsewhere, the pandemic has changed China in many ways -- some of which might add to the concerns of foreigners who plan to visit.
Visitors will be greeted by expanded digital surveillance, which played a central role in China's successful containment of the virus. Their everyday movements will be tracked by a mandatory smartphone "health code" app, required for entry to office buildings, restaurants, shopping malls and train stations. Facial recognition cameras, already common in public places, have also proliferated in residential areas.
Meanwhile, nationalistic sentiment, which was already rising in China prior to the pandemic, has reached new heights.
Many Chinese are proud -- rightfully -- of China's ability to swiftly tame the outbreak, despite its initial mishandling. But Chinese officials and state media have also pushed the narrative that it is a further vindication of Beijing's rise -- and the West's decline.
But with the borders yet to fully reopen, it remains to be seen how much of the surging ultra-nationalism online will affect everyday actions and encounters.
Photo of the day

The more the better: China said on Tuesday it would allow tax deductions for expenses on children under 3 years old, and strictly regulate the after-school tutoring sector, as part of its efforts to raise the country's plunging birthrates by encouraging couples to have more children. The Chinese government announced on May 31 it would allow married couples to have up to three children, instead of two. This week, it further clarified that the change -- although not yet legislated -- has already been effective since the announcement, amid confusion over its implementation.
Deadly flooding hits central China
Heavy flooding and record rains devastated parts of Henan province on Tuesday, leaving terrified subway passengers clinging to ceiling handles inside flooded cars, trapped up to their necks in rising water.
At least 12 people have been confirmed dead in Zhengzhou, the provincial capital, where more than 20 centimeters (7.8 inches) of rain fell in one hour on Tuesday, according to the meteorological observatory.
All of the bodies recovered were taken from the city's subway system, according to authorities.
Footage broadcast by state news agency Xinhua and shared widely online shows passengers in Zhengzhou trapped inside a flooded subway car, packed tightly together as the water climbs higher. Outside the window, dark floodwater rips past, surging down the subway tracks.
It is not clear how many people were trapped on the subway and rescue efforts remain ongoing across Zhengzhou, a city of 12.6 million on the banks of the Yellow River.
More than 100,000 people have so far been evacuated from low lying areas of the city, with thousands of emergency personnel deployed to assist in the effort, according to state-run media.
The record breaking rains, and similar flooding incidents happening in other parts of the country, have alarmed scientists and officials -- raising questions as to whether China is prepared to deal with more extreme weather as the climate crisis deepens.
Chinese property giant tanks on debt crisis concerns
Fears among investors are growing over a debt crisis that has engulfed one of China's largest property developers.
Shares in Evergrande Group cratered a combined 25% on Monday and Tuesday in Hong Kong, wiping out some $5 billion in market value and sending the stock to its worst level in more than four years.
The plunge came after a Chinese court froze $20 million worth of bank deposits from Evergrande at the request of one of its creditors.
Evergrande said Monday that it would take legal action against the creditor for demanding the court freeze its assets.
The company's problems are many. Evergrande is one of China's most heavily indebted developers, with borrowings amounting to more than $100 billion by the end of 2020, according to its financial reports.
Given the sheer size of the company — and the fact that its huge debt is widely held in China by banks and retail investors — a default by Evergrande could pose significant risks to China's financial system.
Last month, Bloomberg reported that regulators had instructed major creditors of Evergrande to conduct a fresh round of stress tests on their exposure to the firm, to assess the potential hit to their capital and liquidity should Evergrande run into trouble.
Moody's and Fitch also both downgraded Evergrande's credit rating in June, citing its worsening financial conditions.
"The downgrade reflects Evergrande's weakened funding access and reduced liquidity buffer given its large debt maturities in the coming 12-18 months amid the tight credit environment in China and volatility in the capital markets," Cedric Lai, a vice president and senior analyst at Moody's, said in a statement at the time.
Shares of Evergrande have fallen 48% in Hong Kong since the start of this year.
-- By Laura He
Around Asia
  • A 16-year-old boy was due to be charged with murder by Singapore police on Tuesday after a 13-year-old boy was found dead with multiple wounds in a school bathroom along with an ax.
  • Britain said on Tuesday it would permanently deploy two warships in Asian waters after its Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier and escort ships sail to Japan in September through seas where China is vying for influence with the US and Japan.
  • Afghanistan is withdrawing its diplomats from Pakistan following the alleged abduction of the ambassador's daughter in the capital Islamabad, according to the Afghan foreign ministry.
  • Typhoon In-fa is intensifying over the northwestern Pacific Ocean as it begins to impact parts of Japan. The storm is expected to potentially lash Taiwan and parts of China by this weekend.
CNN · by Nectar Gan and Jessie Yeung, CNN


12. New Legislation Could Limit the President’s Control of Foreign Policy

Again, here is the link to the 47 page bill from Senators Murphy, Lee, and Sanders: https://www.sanders.senate.gov/wp-content/uploads/National-Security-Powers-Act-2021.pdf?utm

Excerpts:

Sanctions have become a more prominent policy debate within the left wing of the Democratic Party in recent years. But there’s a split between those who want to streamline the procedure, merely tweaking the way this economic weapon is wielded, and a growing coalition of policy-makers, progressives, and think tanks across the spectrum who say sanctions, even targeted ones, should be harder to use and maintain.

Despite the growing momentum around sanctions policy, Biden has refused to lift many of the Trump administration’s brutal sanctions, largely sticking to his Republican predecessor’s approach. Administration officials say they’re planning to overhaul their sanctions strategy, as the Treasury Department wraps up its review of US sanctions programs, offering the left a glimmer of hope. But only a glimmer. New sanctions are still being implemented on a regular basis, and Biden won’t budge on Trump-era sanctions he could easily rescind, like the ones strangling Cuba’s economy.

“People are not at all convinced that those are broken and need fixing,” the staffer added, ”and then you have the persistent problem in all of these cases that members of Congress don’t want to take tough votes.”


New Legislation Could Limit the President’s Control of Foreign Policy
Introduced by Senators Bernie Sanders, Chris Murphy, and Mike Lee, the bill would enable greater congressional oversight of US military action.
The Nation · by Aída Chávez · July 21, 2021
Senator Bernie Sanders, flanked by Senators Mike Lee and Chris Murphy, speaks in the Senate TV studio at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C., in 2018. (Mandel Ngan / AFP)
Yesterday, three senators, Democrats Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Mike Lee, a Republican from Utah, introduced the National Security Powers Act, a bill that attempts to reclaim authority over the president’s largely unchallenged power to initiate conflict, declare national emergencies, and enforce US sanctions regimes around the world. It comes as Congress continues an effort to repeal the 1991 and 2002 authorizations for the use of military force (AUMFs), both of which relate to Iraq.

The legislation would reform three major foreign policy areas: the War Powers Resolution, presidential authority over US weapons sales, and the executive branch’s emergency powers, which include the use of sanctions. Democratic Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts, who has long advocated for reforming war powers, is taking the lead on similar legislation in the House.
“The founders envisioned a balance of power between the executive and legislative branches of government on national security matters,” Senator Murphy said in a statement. “But over time, Congress has acquiesced to the growing, often unchecked power of the executive to determine the outline of America’s footprint in the world. More than ever before, presidents are sending men and women into battle without public debate, and making major policy decisions, like massive arms sales, without congressional input.”
The legislation would replace the 1973 War Powers Resolution with a new policy that has stronger reporting requirements and better-defined terms. The 60-day period that presidents are given to operate without congressional authorization under the War Powers Resolution would be shortened to 20 days; all existing AUMFs would be wiped out; and new requirements for future AUMFs would be set. It would also revise the Arms Export Control Act, requiring an affirmative vote in Congress to approve certain US sales of sophisticated weapons systems or weapons that reach a certain monetary threshold. At present, arms sales typically go through seamlessly, unless there’s a veto-proof majority in both chambers within 30 days. Members of Congress only ever weigh in if there’s a resolution of disapproval, like the one Senator Sanders recently introduced to try to halt the US sale of $735 million in precision-guided weapons to Israel by the Biden administration. The bill would similarly require Congress to approve a national emergency declaration, and provide specific emergency powers within 30 days. If any of these activities aren’t authorized by Congress, funding would automatically be cut off by a specific deadline.
This isn’t the first time the bipartisan trio of senators has confronted the Executive Branch’s imperial policies abroad, or tried to reclaim congressional authority in national security decision-making. Sanders, Murphy, and Lee teamed up in 2018 on legislation designed to end US support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, which has claimed thousands of civilian lives and resulted in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Their joint resolution, which passed with a 56 to 41 vote, marked the first time the Senate had ever used powers granted under the War Powers Act of 1973. (Ironically, Joe Biden signed on as a cosponsor of the War Powers Act during his first term in the Senate, before going on to defend US military action that bypassed the law he supported.) Aspects of the bill are based on Senator Lee’s ARTICLE ONE Act, which deals with the National Emergencies Act but only garnered Republican support. But it’s unclear whether the National Security Powers Act has a path forward on the floor, according to Senate aides familiar with the bill, as lawmakers were in the “initial phase” of talks with Democratic leaders.
One of the most consequential aspects of the proposed reform is what it would mean for US sanctions policy. The law that gives presidents the broad power to impose economic sanctions on countries, individuals, or other entities—the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)—is among the presidential emergency powers in question, as it falls under the National Emergencies Act.
IEEPA grants the president expansive economic powers to deal with any “unusual and extraordinary threat, which has its source in whole or substantial part outside the United States, to the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.” It forms the legal basis for most US sanctions programs. Congress originally passed IEEPA and the National Emergencies Act after Watergate and the Vietnam War, as part of an attempt to restrain executive powers. Since then, these laws have had the exact opposite effect. US presidents have been able to use a destructive economic weapon—killing and starving entire populations, wrecking economies for generations—with virtually no oversight. Sixty-five of the 71 national emergencies declared under the National Emergencies Act used IEEPA, and some of these sanctions, going as far back to the 1970s, are still active today. The Sanders-Murphy-Lee bill would require the renewal of emergencies to be approved by Congress after one year, and impose a five-year limit on states of emergency.
Last year, Minnesota Representative Ilhan Omar unveiled legislation to try to tackle the issue, ensuring congressional oversight over the use of sanctions by the executive branch through periodic assessments on the impacts of the sanctions and other checks on the president’s emergency powers. Her bill would automatically limit initial use of IEEPA powers to 60 days and later require Congress to vote to reapprove sanctions every six months, among other changes—a move that progressive foreign policy groups say would save lives abroad.
Reining in IEEPA powers is necessary, said one congressional staffer (who requested anonymity), because “members of Congress are not making informed decisions on sanctions. We’re not really looking at whether the tool works or not or what the actual impacts are.”
“Part of the point of doing more significant IEEPA reforms, including it in a bill like this, is to sort of force members to think more deeply about what policy it is that they’re proposing,” the staffer continued. “But as it is, you see it constantly. It’s like, there’s repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang or in Hong Kong. we must sanction it. Russia is building a pipeline in Europe we don’t like. We must sanction it. Turkey invaded Syria—we must sanction everybody involved. And that all happens as this sort of knee-jerk, feel good ‘we-gotta-do-something-and-we-don’t-wanna-invade, so sanctions is doing something.’”
Sanctions have become a more prominent policy debate within the left wing of the Democratic Party in recent years. But there’s a split between those who want to streamline the procedure, merely tweaking the way this economic weapon is wielded, and a growing coalition of policy-makers, progressives, and think tanks across the spectrum who say sanctions, even targeted ones, should be harder to use and maintain.
Despite the growing momentum around sanctions policy, Biden has refused to lift many of the Trump administration’s brutal sanctions, largely sticking to his Republican predecessor’s approach. Administration officials say they’re planning to overhaul their sanctions strategy, as the Treasury Department wraps up its review of US sanctions programs, offering the left a glimmer of hope. But only a glimmer. New sanctions are still being implemented on a regular basis, and Biden won’t budge on Trump-era sanctions he could easily rescind, like the ones strangling Cuba’s economy.
“People are not at all convinced that those are broken and need fixing,” the staffer added, ”and then you have the persistent problem in all of these cases that members of Congress don’t want to take tough votes.”
The Nation · by Aída Chávez · July 21, 2021




13. How Diplomatic Snubs Highlight Frayed China-U.S. Ties


Based on the Financial Times report today it seems that DEPSECSATTE may now meet with counterparts.


How Diplomatic Snubs Highlight Frayed China-U.S. Ties
Bloomberg News
July 21, 2021, 12:34 AM EDT
Forget about a summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping: The U.S. and China can’t even agree on the protocol for a meeting between senior diplomats. A spat over who on the Chinese side was an equivalent rank to U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman for her visit to Asia in July became the latest sign of how far relations have plummeted. The dispute betrays deeper concerns and mistrust as well as the murkiness of who’s really important in Beijing.
1. What happened with the visit?
Sherman halted her travel plans after being offered a meeting with Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng, whom the U.S. didn’t consider her counterpart, the Financial Times reported on July 16. The wrangle came two months after China’s state-backed Global Times criticized U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for snubbing an offer to speak with the defense minister. The newspaper cited a source that accused the U.S. of disregarding diplomatic protocol and committing an “unprofessional and unfriendly act” by instead seeking talks with the vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission.
2. How are counterparts determined?
There isn’t a perfect way, given differences in the two systems of government. The U.S. secretary of state (currently Antony Blinken) is one of the highest-ranking officials in the American government and fourth in the line of succession to the president. Out of deference to that standing -- and the overall importance of Beijing’s relationship with Washington -- China has traditionally granted visiting secretaries of state audiences with the Communist Party’s top diplomatic official and even the president himself. Nations use changes to such precedent as one way to express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the state of ties. The latest spat suggests both sides are seeking to recalibrate.
3. Who is each side’s top diplomat?
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Blinken, whose agency oversees American embassies around the world and is primarily responsible for foreign policy, is unquestionably the U.S.’s most senior diplomat. Things aren’t so clear in China, where positions in the Communist Party often hold more power than those in government. So while Wang Yi is the foreign minister, Yang Jiechi is the director of the party’s Central Commission for Foreign Affairs and also sits on the party’s 25-member Politburo, making him a higher-ranking official and thus the country’s “top diplomat.”
4. What are both sides saying about the spat?
Though China has not officially commented on a potential visit by Sherman, the Global Times shared an online commentary that accused the Americans of manipulating public opinion. The commentary said the U.S. leaked information to the media that portrayed the U.S. as “open and proactive” and China as “closed and arrogant.” Sherman told reporters the U.S. will engage with China “when it is in our interests, and will do so in a practical, substantive and direct manner.”
5. What’s the wider impact?
Some in the White House have expressed concern about a lack of access to key Chinese decision-makers. Kurt Campbell, the top official for Asia in the Biden administration, has said that even top diplomats are “nowhere near, within a hundred miles” of Xi’s inner circle. The dispute shows how much the relationship has changed in recent years, with China keen to assert its position and the U.S. wary of conversations that don’t produce results.
The Reference Shelf
— With assistance by John Liu, Lucille Liu, James Mayger, and Jing Li



14. What Is the Fatemiyoun Brigade and Why Does It Make the Taliban Nervous?


Excerpts:
The Iranian-backed Fatemiyoun Brigade is drawn from Shia Afghan refugees in Iran and also from members of the Hazara Shia minority inside Afghanistan. Hazaras currently make up 9 to 10% of Afghanistan’s total population of 38 million. Considered infidels by the Sunni Taliban and the target of deadly attacks since the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Hazaras have fled to Iran, where the government has recruited them to the militia.
Fatemiyoun members are “mostly in their 20s and 30s … motivated mainly by economic deprivation and vulnerabilities due to their migrant status,” per the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). According to media and human rights reports, Iran offered these refugees and their families payment, citizenship and other legal protections in return for serving in the brigade, although some refugees “report[ed] being coerced into joining with threats of arrest and deportation,” according to a report from the Middle East Institute. Iran is also known to have armed Fatemiyoun fighters in Yemen and Syria.
Estimates put the number of Fatemiyoun troops Iran deployed to Syria, to fight ISIS on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad, as high as 20,000 or even 50,000. In Leaving Afghanistan, sources told FRONTLINE that Iran is now sending Fatemiyoun back to Afghanistan, with thousands already in the country.
What Is the Fatemiyoun Brigade and Why Does It Make the Taliban Nervous?
PBS · by lila_hassan@wgbh.org
July 20, 2021
With the United States on track to pull all troops out of Afghanistan by August 31, Afghans and foreign powers are increasingly fearful the country will descend into civil war.
As peace talks with the Afghan government stagnate, the Taliban says it has secured control over approximately 80% of the country, surrounding most major cities.
In the new FRONTLINE report Leaving Afghanistan, correspondent Najibullah Quraishi investigated how Afghanistan’s neighbors — particularly Iran, through its proxy militia, the Fatemiyoun — are looking to fill the void as America withdraws.
Quraishi spoke to Taliban leaders and former fighters who claimed Iran is mobilizing the Shia Fatemiyoun within Afghanistan. In return, a Sunni Taliban leader told Quraishi he would target and kill Afghanistan’s Shia minority, accusing them of harboring Fatemiyoun fighters.
Here’s a closer look at who the Fatemiyoun are and why they make the Taliban nervous.
Who are the Fatemiyoun?
The Iranian-backed Fatemiyoun Brigade is drawn from Shia Afghan refugees in Iran and also from members of the Hazara Shia minority inside Afghanistan. Hazaras currently make up 9 to 10% of Afghanistan’s total population of 38 million. Considered infidels by the Sunni Taliban and the target of deadly attacks since the 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Hazaras have fled to Iran, where the government has recruited them to the militia.
Fatemiyoun members are “mostly in their 20s and 30s … motivated mainly by economic deprivation and vulnerabilities due to their migrant status,” per the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). According to media and human rights reports, Iran offered these refugees and their families payment, citizenship and other legal protections in return for serving in the brigade, although some refugees “report[ed] being coerced into joining with threats of arrest and deportation,” according to a report from the Middle East Institute. Iran is also known to have armed Fatemiyoun fighters in Yemen and Syria.
Estimates put the number of Fatemiyoun troops Iran deployed to Syria, to fight ISIS on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad, as high as 20,000 or even 50,000. In Leaving Afghanistan, sources told FRONTLINE that Iran is now sending Fatemiyoun back to Afghanistan, with thousands already in the country.
The Afghan government has not explicitly outlawed the Fatemiyoun and has made few public comments about the militia’s presence. Instead, Rahmatullah Nabil, the head of Afghanistan’s intelligence agency from 2010 to 2012 and 2013 to 2015, told Radio Free Europe in February 2020 the Fatemiyoun didn’t pose an “immediate threat to Afghan national security,” saying several thousand had returned.
USIP estimates the total number of Fatemiyoun fighters between 30,000 and 60,000.
Why did the U.S. designate the Fatemiyoun a terrorist organization?
In 2019, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the Fatemiyoun in Syria a terrorist organization “for providing material support” to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, alongside other groups that assisted Iran in Syria.
“The brutal Iranian regime exploits refugee communities in Iran, deprives them of access to basic services, such as education, and uses them as human shields for the Syrian conflict,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin at the time of the designation.
When FRONTLINE asked the U.S. State Department about its current position on Iran’s involvement in Afghanistan and the Fatemiyoun, a spokesperson responded: “Iran directs, trains, supplies and funds militia groups across the region to advance its interests, threaten U.S. partners and undermine regional stability.”
According to the spokesperson, “As President Biden said, the United States will reorganize our counterterrorism capabilities and substantial assets to prevent reemergence of terrorist threats, in Afghanistan or anywhere else.”
In a December 2020 interview with TOLO TV, a prominent Afghan television station, Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, refused to claim leadership over the Fatemiyoun in Syria but said they had begun to leave the country. “Maybe they are in Iran, or perhaps they are not in Iran,” he said, signaling they might already be in Afghanistan.
In the interview, Zarif said that if the Afghan government was “willing,” it could take control of the Fatemiyoun within Afghanistan, to “fight against Daesh [ISIS] and for the fight against terrorism and for the protection of Afghanistan security.”
Why does the Taliban fear the Fatemiyoun’s presence in Afghanistan?
The Taliban has had a historically hostile relationship with Iran and views the Fatemiyoun as Iran’s proxy. At the same time, the Hazaras and other ethnic groups in Afghanistan have begun taking up arms and forming militias.
Ibraheem Bahiss, a consultant with the International Crisis Group who analyzes peace and conflict developments in Afghanistan, told FRONTLINE the Hazaras have been the targets of many aggressors, including the Taliban and ISIS in Afghanistan, with little protection from the Afghan government.
“This makes the potential for a Hazara resistance against the Taliban that much more likely, in comparison to other groups,” Bahiss said.
According to Bahiss, while most Fatemiyoun are recruited from Afghan Shia refugees living in Iran, and most commanders have spent years in Iran, the majority of Fatemiyoun commanders and fighters appear to be ethnically Hazara.
“The fact that the Fatemiyoun are experienced veterans of the Syrian conflict and also have strong connections in the Iranian establishment make the potential of a Fatemiyoun-led Hazara resistance not only more likely but also more threatening,” Bahiss told FRONTLINE.
Iran has not publicly announced a policy toward the Fatemiyoun forces in Afghanistan, beyond Zarif’s statement on TOLO TV. And while reports from The Washington Post and Atlantic Council show Iran appearing to ease its stance toward the Taliban, Bahiss told FRONTLINE Iran has been agitated by the Taliban’s territorial gains in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the Taliban has not sought to establish ties with the Fatemiyoun.
“Inside Afghanistan, all the Hazaras are Fatemiyoun. I will kill Fatemiyoun and all others who are key players in the civil war in Afghanistan. I will kill thousands of Hazaras,” said the late Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi, one of the Taliban’s original leaders who was killed by an unknown assassin just over two weeks after FRONTLINE interviewed him for Leaving Afghanistan.
“Let it be a lesson in their history and to future generations,” Niazi said.
For the full story, watch Leaving Afghanistan when it premieres Tuesday, July 20. The two-part hour, also featuring India’s Rape Scandal, begins at 10/9c on PBS stations (check local listings), or stream it on FRONTLINE’s websiteYouTube and the PBS Video App.

Lila Hassan, Tow Journalism Fellow, FRONTLINE/Columbia Journalism School Fellowships
Email:
Twitter:
PBS · by lila_hassan@wgbh.org

15.   Sun Tzu and Us

Excerpts:

Three closing observations.
First, in Clausewitzian parlance, Beijing will try to impress upon Asians that it’s futile to buck China’s will or trust to American support. It will try to deflate morale, pointing to the improbability of victory. Meanwhile Beijing will stress to U.S. leaders the unacceptable costs to the United States of upholding its alliance commitments.
Two Clausewitzian approaches per alliance.
Second, look at your map. China’s prospects for alliance demolition look better to the south than to the north along the First Island Chain. Taiwan’s defense is in a parlous state. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte constantly flirts with abrogating the visiting-forces agreement with the United States and thus potentially denying U.S. forces access to Philippine soil. Heck, Duterte has threatened to cancel the U.S.–Philippine mutual-defense pact altogether.
Tough to guarantee Philippine security without boots on the ground.
Things are less bleak to the north, where the United States has been a resident power since 1945. Powerful U.S. ground, air, and sea forces call Japan and South Korea home. Nor are these mere “trip wire” forces. For instance, the U.S. Seventh Fleet, including one of just eleven U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, is based at Yokosuka and Sasebo in Japan. America has skin in the game of its northerly alliances in a way it does not to the south.
Furthermore, Japan and South Korea are serious economic powers that deploy armed forces of considerable heft. They are not passive playthings. They have a say in their own destinies.
And third, here’s some cheery news. China is an alliance-uniter as much as an alliance-divider. Xi’s China seemingly cannot restrain itself from bullying fellow Asians, whether it’s Taiwan to the east or nuclear-armed India to the west. Its domineering conduct is inducing Asians to make common cause with one another, with the United States, and with other friendly powers.
That’s the trouble with comporting oneself like a Hegemonic King: Over­bearing strategies may not work. China-watchers fret about a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” the notion that treating China like a foe will make it a foe. Yet China is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy all its own.
Xi Jinping: a divider and a uniter!



Sun Tzu and Us

July 15, 2021 2:08 PM
How China threatens U.S. alliances

B
eware, America. The United States has no strategic position in the Western Pacific without alliances, and its nemesis, China, is an alliance-breaker of long standing.
And by inclination. Two millennia ago, China’s homegrown master of all things military, the (perhaps apocryphal) general Sun Tzu, etched his hierarchy of strategic priorities on China’s way of diplomacy and warfare through his treatise The Art of War.

Foremost among Sun Tzu’s martial preferences: “What is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy’s strategy.” Failing that: “Next best is to disrupt his alliances.” Only then should the general join battle or lay siege to walled cities. If an antagonist’s strategy is its alliances, the commander and sovereign can pull off a diplomatic coup by sowing discord or apathy among a rival international fellowship.
The contender that fragments an opposing force can go after its individual elements one by one, simplifying its strategic and operational problems. Better yet, some adversaries may quit the field altogether — sparing the commander the effort of vanquishing them militarily.
Somewhere Sun Tzu is beaming.
 The Art of War is vague about how to put such ideas into practice, but the Chi­nese sage does make mention of the “Hegemonic King,” portraying this mythical figure as an archetype of martial statecraft. Such a warrior-king “overawes the enemy,” making his army and state so formidable that no one dares take league against him. The king “breaks up the alliances of All-under-Heaven and snatches the position of authority.”
If successful, the Hegemonic King wins without fighting, attaining what Sun Tzu calls “the acme of skill.” If forced to fight, the king “attacks a powerful state” to make it “impossible for the enemy to concentrate.” By striking first, hard, and unexpectedly against a single foe, he presents the opposing alliance with a fait accompli — a done deal — and dares the allies to undo it at frightful cost and hazard to themselves.
Allied leaders might despair of mounting a victorious counterattack. If so, the Hegemonic King will have scored a quick, decisive battlefield triumph. Winning a short, sharp war that conserves the state’s treasury and manpower — along with the territory and resources the sovereign wishes to make his own — is the next best thing to winning without fighting.
Let’s conjure up a Western scribe, the Prussian soldier-theorist Carl von Clause­witz, for a more detailed look at how Beijing might go about alliance-breaking in the Western Pacific. Clausewitz espies three ways for one competitor to best another. Its army can defeat its rival on some battleground and impose terms. This is the surest and swiftest route to victory. But, he adds, an enemy’s “inability to carry on the struggle can, in practice, be replaced by two other grounds for making peace,” namely, the “improbability of victory” and “its unacceptable cost.”

Clausewitz’s first method demands an actual trial of arms. The other two operate in wartime and peacetime alike. Consider the improbability of victory. Like Sun Tzu’s Hegemonic King, one contestant can make itself so strong and resolute militarily, economically, and diplomatically that it appears invincible. It overawes and disheartens opponents into submission. Allies desert what looks like a losing cause. The prospects of bloodless victory brighten.


Then there’s unacceptable cost. The contestant’s leadership can try to persuade an adversary’s leaders that they cannot attain their goals at a cost or risk that’s worth it to them, or that their goals are unaffordable — full stop. Allies that don’t prize the goal enough to spend lavishly on it may abandon it. Clausewitz, who fought against Napoleon, was a confirmed alliance skeptic. After all, he personally saw multiple coalitions dash themselves against the little emperor’s legions before one finally held together long enough to prevail.

Here’s his jaundiced view: “One country may support another’s cause but will never take it so seriously as it takes its own. A moderately sized force will be sent to its help; but if things go wrong the operation is pretty well written off, and one tries to withdraw at the smallest possible cost.” Partners can share the same goals, that is, but if one is less fervent about them than another, the alliance tends to be fissile. Some allies balk at paying the price for common goals.
When the going gets tough, the half-hearted look for the exit.

What does General Secretary Xi Jin­ping need to do to make himself a latter-day Hegemonic King? For starters, Xi and fellow Chinese Communist magnates must keep building their country into a regional superpower. They must amass wealth — and the military might that prosperity makes possible — until the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) appears unbeatable on China’s home turf. China can open new strategic vistas for itself by making itself overbearingly strong, much like Hegemonic Kings of old.
How will it put physical power to work? Unlike NATO, U.S. alliances in Asia are bilateral affairs. To loosen up ties between the United States and Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, or the Philippines during peacetime strategic competition, Chinese martial diplomacy aims to unnerve both part­ners in each arrangement. Beijing typically strives to split the allies’ view of their common interests while causing one or both to despair of the alliance’s future under the shadow of an all-powerful China.
Consider Taiwan first. Unifying with the island is China’s top geopolitical priority. Plus, the informal U.S.–Taiwan alliance should prove the easiest for Xi and company to crack. After all, U.S. presi­dential administrations since the 1970s have maintained a posture of “strategic ambiguity” toward Taipei. Washington arms the islanders under the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act (1979) while declining to say whether it would intervene by force in a cross-strait war.

The idea underlying the maybe-we-will, maybe-we-won’t approach is that demurring helps the United States both deter China from attacking and deter Taiwan from declaring independence from the mainland — and breaching a stated Chinese redline for war.
But ambiguity entails dire perils. Beijing could conclude that Washington would hesitate amid a Chinese assault on the island while U.S. leaders bickered among themselves about whether and how to keep their defense commitment. And time is what the PLA needs to conquer Taiwan — time to subdue the island before U.S. forces can mass on the scene to repulse aggression.
What solvents can China apply to the already tenuous U.S.–Taiwan alliance? It can try to overawe the Taiwanese into submission with its crushingly superior demographics, economic prowess, and military firepower. It routinely tries to dissuade the islanders from putting their faith in American saviors. In late June, Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang issued a blunt warning to Taipei, urging the leadership to be “soberly aware that the future of Taiwan lies in national reunification.” For good measure, he added that “any attempt to ‘rely on the United States for independence’ is doomed to failure.”

During an address on July 1 heralding the centennial of the Chinese Communist Party’s founding, Xi restated his “unshakable commitment” to gaining control of the island. Xi pledged to take “resolute action to utterly defeat any attempt toward ‘Taiwan independence.’”
In Clausewitzian fashion, Beijing is trying to dishearten the islanders — helping it win by default.
And the United States? Well, China can try to prove that succoring the island isn’t worth the likely costs to Americans. It can ask, in effect, why the United States would venture a war with a nuclear-armed superpower in behalf of a small island to which America has no formal obligation. It can also point to the likely damage to the United States’ superpower standing from a conflict that could cost it a sizeable fraction of its armed might. In this telling, America has little to gain and much to lose in the Taiwan Strait.
Washington might well tacitly agree. The White House would stand down because it believed the goal wasn’t worth the price or dangers of warfare. And China would have conscripted pitiless cost–benefit logic as its ally.

Mastering Taiwan would also be helpful for alliance-breaking elsewhere along the First Island Chain, the string of islands that runs southward from Japan, through Taiwan at its midpoint, and through the Philippine archipelago. It would drive a salient into the Western Pacific, letting PLA forces emplaced on the island flank Japan and Korea from the south and the Philippines from the north. It would also shatter America’s strategy for using forces entrenched along the island chain to confine China’s navy, mercantile fleet, and air force to the China seas.
A PLA navy and air force enjoying free access to the Western Pacific high seas could apply pressure on U.S. allies at will, and from all points of the compass. Once Manila, Tokyo, and Seoul saw Washington abandon Taipei, they would wonder whether they could trust it to keep its security pledges to them. If they concluded that Washington could not or would not uphold its commitments, they might grudgingly make their peace with Chinese suzerainty.
By discrediting American prowess and steadfastness, in other words, China could demoralize U.S. allies in East Asia — and the United States itself.
Three closing observations.
First, in Clausewitzian parlance, Beijing will try to impress upon Asians that it’s futile to buck China’s will or trust to American support. It will try to deflate morale, pointing to the improbability of victory. Meanwhile Beijing will stress to U.S. leaders the unacceptable costs to the United States of upholding its alliance commitments.
Two Clausewitzian approaches per alliance.
Second, look at your map. China’s prospects for alliance demolition look better to the south than to the north along the First Island Chain. Taiwan’s defense is in a parlous state. Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte constantly flirts with abrogating the visiting-forces agreement with the United States and thus potentially denying U.S. forces access to Philippine soil. Heck, Duterte has threatened to cancel the U.S.–Philippine mutual-defense pact altogether.
Tough to guarantee Philippine security without boots on the ground.
Things are less bleak to the north, where the United States has been a resident power since 1945. Powerful U.S. ground, air, and sea forces call Japan and South Korea home. Nor are these mere “trip wire” forces. For instance, the U.S. Seventh Fleet, including one of just eleven U.S. Navy aircraft carriers, is based at Yokosuka and Sasebo in Japan. America has skin in the game of its northerly alliances in a way it does not to the south.
Furthermore, Japan and South Korea are serious economic powers that deploy armed forces of considerable heft. They are not passive playthings. They have a say in their own destinies.

And third, here’s some cheery news. China is an alliance-uniter as much as an alliance-divider. Xi’s China seemingly cannot restrain itself from bullying fellow Asians, whether it’s Taiwan to the east or nuclear-armed India to the west. Its domineering conduct is inducing Asians to make common cause with one another, with the United States, and with other friendly powers.
That’s the trouble with comporting oneself like a Hegemonic King: Over­bearing strategies may not work. China-watchers fret about a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” the notion that treating China like a foe will make it a foe. Yet China is creating a self-fulfilling prophecy all its own.
Xi Jinping: a divider and a uniter!



JAMES HOLMES — Mr. Holmes holds the J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College and is a nonresident fellow at the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs.



16. Renaming Military Bases Is “History Correcting Itself”

One of the things that has made America great through history has been our ability to correct our mistakes.

Conclusion:
Those charged with deciding whether to rename military bases named for Confederate generals or remove Confederate statues could do worse than to read William Faulkner’s books. As his character Gavin Stevens, the lawyer in Requiem for a Nun (1951), remarks, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Should a member of the GAR be alive today to witness a Confederate statue coming down or a base being renamed, he would never view it as an injustice or affront to Southern heritage. He would view it as history correcting itself—finally.

Renaming Military Bases Is “History Correcting Itself”
cimsec.org · by Guest Author · July 19, 2021
By Bill Bray
In the past year or so, there seems to be more than usual public commentary about America’s past, particularly concerning racial and social justice. Some believe the past is being distorted and “canceled” to serve a progressive social agenda. Others believe as a nation we have never honestly reckoned with it. Still others seem to want to ignore or forget it. Move on.
As the Department of Defense Confederate naming commission continues its work and prepares to make its recommendations on what bases, buildings, sites, and perhaps even ships should be renamed, it is instructive to read and reflect on how humans understand and interpret the past. Social scientists and artists, among others, have long wrestled with this phenomenon. Both know that the past is not something we can simply know, as if we were looking at it objectively from a distance. Instead, it is something we never fully know or escape. To a large degree we interpret the past through what we want to believe, and that insistently informs how we think about the present.
However, acknowledging that we cannot fully know the past does not mean trying to know it is a hopeless endeavor. On the contrary, societies must never stop trying to understand their pasts. The quest for a strong, shared understanding of the past is an important component to living harmoniously together. The past can never be forgotten. Claiming otherwise is delusional or disingenuous. Forgetting is impossible. The past matters more than most realize or want to acknowledge. History is more than perspective. There are facts. But contemporary human experience is meaningless without memory—without a past. The past is in the present as oxygen is in water.
Critics who claim renaming U.S. military bases named for Confederate generals is tyrannical, “woke cancel culture” are—probably partially in ignorance—advancing a hypocritical argument deeply offensive to the thousands of Union Army, Navy, and Marine Corps veterans. Following the Civil War and well into the twentieth century, these men formed a veterans’ organization called the Grand Army of the Republic (there were GAR chapters across the northern states). While initially created to advocate for better veterans’ benefits, by the end of the nineteenth century the GAR chapters were engaged in a fierce public relations campaign to debunk the Lost Cause mythology narrative. They opposed pensions for Confederate soldiers, statues and memorials to Confederate generals in Washington and other northern states, and the display of the Confederate flag, among other things. While the term was not in use at the time, GAR members knew what many contemporary historians have since aptly demonstrated—the Lost Cause narrative was the greatest “cancel culture” campaign in American history.
Take, for example, this statement from the Michigan GAR in 1903 in response to the widespread practice of putting Lost Cause literature in Southern textbooks: “There is a sentiment which endeavors more or less to place the disloyalty of the South upon the same plane with the loyalty of the North, which aims to make an act of disloyalty less disgraceful. I have no use for such sentiment. It is only a matter of time when history will correct itself and place them in the true light on its pages as traitors.” In 1914, the department commander for the Indiana GAR wrote, “While I have long forgiven my ex-Confederate brother for the terrible mistake he made in trying to destroy this Union of ours . . . you should remember and never forget it, that there was a right and there was a wrong . . . a government that fails to recognize the difference between a patriot and a traitor, a defender and a destroyer, would and should pass from the earth.”
The GAR did not oppose forgiveness and reconciliation, only veneration built on a lie. They opposed what Major General Henry Thomas, a Virginian who stayed loyal to the Union, in writing to Ulysses S. Grant in 1868, called any effort to paint the “. . . crime of treason . . . with a counterfeit varnish of patriotism, so that the precipitators of the rebellion might go down in history hand in hand with the defenders of the government. . .” Sadly, just this year, the Confederate flag was brandished in the U.S Capitol during an attempted insurrection. History has still not corrected itself. Would it not be a wonder that the men of the GAR would be shocked that it has taken so long?
As the last of the Civil War veterans passed away in mid-century, the GAR had largely failed to counter the Lost Cause narrative and all that came with it for white and black Americans alike. For generations that came of age after World War II, including mine, in both the North and the South, the past was not understood independent of this narrative. It has infected both popular and academic literature. The long effort to resurrect the Confederacy as a noble cause has become part of the collective experience.
Thinking about the Past through Literature
One Southerner who would not be shocked at all began his writing career as this GAR campaign was in full fury. Perhaps no American writer dealt with the past more deftly and innovatively than William Faulkner. His technique of using inner dialogue across time—where past and present are intertangled and often indistinguishable, narratively—frustrates most first-time readers, but then, if they persevere, awakens them to how the past lives in all of us. Through so many unforgettable characters, Faulkner shows that experience is chaotic, disorienting, and often emotionally violent. Humans quickly order experience retrospectively to make sense of the world, a mechanism made possible only with memory—how they remember the past.
William Faulkner knew the past of his people well, but as an artist he was most interested in how they thought about the past, and how the past always lives in the present and determines the future. Past, present, and future are not neatly distinguished in the human mind, and Faulkner’s greatest achievement—the one that makes him perhaps the greatest writer in American letters—is how he demonstrated this narratively. In a 1956 interview with Jean Stein for The Paris Review, Faulkner remarked that, “The fact that I have moved my characters around in time successfully . . . proves to me my own theory that time is a fluid condition which has no existence except in the momentary avatars of individual people. There is no such thing as ‘was’—only ‘is.’ If ‘was’ existed, there would be no grief or sorrow.”
Most recently, Michael Gorra masterfully tackled how Faulkner dealt with how Southerners thought about the Civil War with his book, The Saddest Words: William Faulkner’s Civil War. With racial and social justice so prominent in the news today, no book from last year seems more relevant to me. It is an intricate blend of Civil War history, biography, and literary criticism.
As Gorra shows, Faulkner rarely includes Civil War scenes in his oeuvre, yet the war is always there, its traumas swirling just beneath the surface of both scenery and dialogue. Most of his characters know the Civil War only as a fragmented labyrinth of memories and myths passed down to them. They feel the past as their truth, while acknowledging, as Quentin Compson, one of Faulkner’s recurring characters, does in Absalom, Absalom!, that they do not fully understand their own history.
Readers of The Sound and the Fury (1929) know that Quentin kills himself on 2 June 1910, following his freshman year at Harvard. Absalom, Absalom! (1936) begins the year prior, in 1909, with a tortured Quentin discovering who he really is, a terrifying journey of self-awareness. Quentin is the past—an incarnation of the pathos of a region defeated and desperate for the balm of Lost Cause mythology. He bears the burdens of the racial divide that intensified following the failure of Reconstruction, and the rarely-acknowledged secret of Southern plantation heritage that would become the cardinal sin in the Jim Crow South—miscegenation.
Absalom, Absalom! appeared the same year Margaret Mitchell published Gone with the Wind, for which she would win the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Mitchell presented a highly romanticized, white-washed Civil War history to a still deeply racist country, and Americans loved it. While William Faulkner’s many flaws and contradictions regarding race are well documented, he, unlike Mitchell, was not popular with Southern segregationists. Complex depictions of the South’s post–Civil War reality were not their cup of tea. Faulkner was the far more courageous writer in never ceasing to search, through his literature, for what the Civil War really means for who we are and where we are going.
Those charged with deciding whether to rename military bases named for Confederate generals or remove Confederate statues could do worse than to read William Faulkner’s books. As his character Gavin Stevens, the lawyer in Requiem for a Nun (1951), remarks, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”
Should a member of the GAR be alive today to witness a Confederate statue coming down or a base being renamed, he would never view it as an injustice or affront to Southern heritage. He would view it as history correcting itself—finally.
Bill Bray is a retired Navy captain. He is the deputy editor-in-chief of the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings magazine.
Featured image: Gettysburg Battlefield National Park. Photo by U.S. National Park Service.
cimsec.org · by Guest Author · July 19, 2021



17. The Automation Gap in Biden’s Cybersecurity Order


Excerpts:
AI is already being used for defensive cyber operations to automate monitoring, detection, and response to actual attempted breaches. Offensive penetration testing is more technically challenging, but progress is already being made on developing AI tools that, for example, can carry out better network reconnaissance, that can operate with enhanced stealth to avoid detection, or that are more efficient in cracking passwords.
The costs of building AI testing programs for our own systems are not trivial—advanced password cracking to test the integrity of our network security, for example, requires significant computational power—but those costs will come down as technology progresses and the overall cost of compute falls. The real barrier to their adoption is conceptual: persuading budget appropriators that paying for prevention now is better and cheaper than paying for the cure later.
If the executive order is to be a watershed in this nation’s cyber defenses, rather than a missed opportunity at a critical moment, now is the time to embrace the power of AI to support our smartest minds in out-thinking even our most determined adversaries.
The Automation Gap in Biden’s Cybersecurity Order
Network defense in the 21st century requires AI-powered penetration testing.
defenseone.com · by Kevin Tonkin
The Biden administration’s cybersecurity executive order contains 37 pages of important new guidelines and requirements that will help protect our networks—but it remains silent on the critical issue of how automated testing must become a key part of that defense.
The order requires the federal government to accelerate migration to the cloud, adopt zero-trust architecture, and implement multi-factor authentication. It also demands supply chain vendors bake security “by design” into their software development process, and expects private-sector vendors to increase communication and collaboration with government agencies in order to harden cyber defenses.
All well and good. And to be sure, moving to the cloud can improve network security. Cloud service providers invest heavily in security innovation and provide a more homogenous and easily-secured footprint compared to on-premise infrastructure, much of it hobbled by years of security debt. Ultimately, however, security comes back to people, and people will always be prone to make mistakes.
Given the resources that America’s adversaries are pouring into their campaigns to find new ways to penetrate U.S. systems, a simple checklist of security best-practices will always leave us one step behind. We must think in terms of cyber readiness and become proactive, not just reactive—which means doing more than checking compliance boxes; we must also do our best to attack and defeat our own network defenses. It is the only way to keep ahead of adversaries who are doing the same. And we must do so continuously, matching the cadence of adversaries who, by one measure, are sending 36 million malicious emails a day—to the Defense Department alone!
We know that penetration tests and red team exercises are the gold standard of cyber defense. But these are expensive—far too expensive to keep a continuous eye on every corner of the U.S. military’s networks, let alone the rest of America’s systems. Machine-based automation is the sole path to reaching the scale required. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can automate and scale security testing methods to the point where they can take on much of the work of cyber defense. Automation can help ensure that software not only enters production in a secure state but remains that way over time. Only via automation can authorizing officials ensure that inadvertent changes to systems—so-called configuration drift—do not open glaring chinks in the armor. Finally by continually probing the changing application landscape, AI can help ensure defenses remain effective over time.
AI is already being used for defensive cyber operations to automate monitoring, detection, and response to actual attempted breaches. Offensive penetration testing is more technically challenging, but progress is already being made on developing AI tools that, for example, can carry out better network reconnaissance, that can operate with enhanced stealth to avoid detection, or that are more efficient in cracking passwords.
The costs of building AI testing programs for our own systems are not trivial—advanced password cracking to test the integrity of our network security, for example, requires significant computational power—but those costs will come down as technology progresses and the overall cost of compute falls. The real barrier to their adoption is conceptual: persuading budget appropriators that paying for prevention now is better and cheaper than paying for the cure later.
If the executive order is to be a watershed in this nation’s cyber defenses, rather than a missed opportunity at a critical moment, now is the time to embrace the power of AI to support our smartest minds in out-thinking even our most determined adversaries.
Kevin Tonkin is leads product management for Rebellion Defense’s cyber readiness products. Before joining Rebellion, Kevin led product and engineering at Coalfire, a global cybersecurity firm.
defenseone.com · by Kevin Tonkin


18. Chinese Researcher Tang Juan’s Trial Reveals Beijing’s Espionage Strategy – OpEd

Note this is originally from the Epoch Times.

Excerpts:

In June, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez dismissed the charge of lying to the FBI, because the FBI failed to advise Tang Juan that she did not have to answer their questions. Tang is still charged with lying about her ties to the Chinese military and the CCP. A conviction for false statements could bring five years in prison and visa fraud ten years, plus fines of $250,000 in both cases. The Chinese national has pleaded not guilty.

As her case plays out, Americans have cause to wonder why her visa was granted in the first place. A simple internet search turned up PLA and CCP ties for Tang Juan and others now facing charges. The court documents do not reveal which U.S. government officials granted the visas, and what they knew when they approved Chinese nationals with PLA and CCP ties.

Americans might also wonder why stealing information at the direction of the Chinese military did not result in charges of espionage. China clearly acquired valuable information from their agents at Stanford, Duke, and UC Davis. The United States gains little, if anything, from the exchange programs but calls are not ringing out to limit or end them altogether.

Chinese Researcher Tang Juan’s Trial Reveals Beijing’s Espionage Strategy – OpEd
eurasiareview.com · by K. Lloyd Billingsley · July 20, 2021
On July 26, Chinese national Tang Juan will face trial in U.S. Federal Court for lying about her ties to the Chinese military in order to gain access to American universities such as the University of California at Davis.
According to a federal criminal complaint filed on June 26, 2020, in the Eastern District of California, Tang applied for a non-immigrant visa on Oct. 28, 2019. She answered “no” to the question “have you served in the military?” and denied affiliation with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Tang was issued a J-1 visa on Nov. 5, 2019, to conduct research at UC Davis. The complaint provides evidence that a more thorough investigation should have been conducted before the visa was granted.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation found an April 14, 2019 article on a Xi’an, China, health care forum that showed Tang in a military uniform bearing the insignia of the Civilian Cadres of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. The FBI also found two other articles listing Tang’s employer as the People’s Liberation Army’s Air Force Medical University (AFMU), also known as the Fourth Military Medical University (FMMU).
According to a July 23, 2020 report in The Davis Enterprise, headlined “UC Davis researcher charged with visa fraud for hiding ties to the Chinese military,” Tang told the FBI she was required to wear the uniform and was unaware of the insignia’s meaning. On electronic media reviewed by the FBI, Tang wore a different People’s Liberation Army (PLA) uniform and an application for benefits identified her as a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
UC Davis officials told The Enterprise that Tang came to UC Davis through an exchange program with Xijing Hospital in the city of Xi’an. That institution dates to 1954 and includes “eight specialized medical centers of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).” The hospital’s exchange program works through the Chinese Scholarship Council, affiliated with China’s Ministry of Education.
At UC Davis, Tang worked in the Department of Radiation Oncology, and according to campus officials her work was “solely based in the research laboratory.” After leaving UC Davis at the end of June 2020, The Enterprise reported, “Tang fled to the Chinese consulate in San Francisco.” In late July, she left the consulate for a doctor’s appointment and was arrested by the FBI.

Tang Juan also emerged in the visa fraud case of Song Chen, according to July 20, 2020, court documents, “an active duty People’s Liberation Army (PLA) military scientist who lied to get into the United States, attempted to destroy evidence, and lied extensively to the FBI when interviewed.”
The documents also cite Wang Xin, a visiting researcher at the University of California at San Francisco arrested on charges of visa fraud. Wang was “in fact an active duty member in the PLA, at a level that roughly corresponded with the level of major in the United States.” Wang had “emailed UCSF research to his PLA laboratory,” and his supervisor in China tasked Wang “to observe and document the layout of the UCSF lab to replicate it when he returned to China.”
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The court documents refer to Tang Juan, also in the United States on a J-1 visa. So was a Chinese national identified as “LT,” who gained access to Duke University despite affiliations with “the PLA General Hospital and PLA Medical Academy.”
The cases are not isolated but “part of a program conducted by the PLA—and specifically, FMMU or associated institutions—to send military scientists to the United States on false pretenses with false covers or false statements about their true employment.” Evidence exists of “copying or stealing information from American institutions at the direction of military superiors in China” and “the PRC government instructing these individuals to destroy evidence and in coordinating efforts,” the court document said.
In June, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez dismissed the charge of lying to the FBI, because the FBI failed to advise Tang Juan that she did not have to answer their questions. Tang is still charged with lying about her ties to the Chinese military and the CCP. A conviction for false statements could bring five years in prison and visa fraud ten years, plus fines of $250,000 in both cases. The Chinese national has pleaded not guilty.
As her case plays out, Americans have cause to wonder why her visa was granted in the first place. A simple internet search turned up PLA and CCP ties for Tang Juan and others now facing charges. The court documents do not reveal which U.S. government officials granted the visas, and what they knew when they approved Chinese nationals with PLA and CCP ties.
Americans might also wonder why stealing information at the direction of the Chinese military did not result in charges of espionage. China clearly acquired valuable information from their agents at Stanford, Duke, and UC Davis. The United States gains little, if anything, from the exchange programs but calls are not ringing out to limit or end them altogether.
This article was also published in The Epoch Times
eurasiareview.com · by K. Lloyd Billingsley · July 20, 2021


19. U.S. Indo-Pacific Command executive assistant, 31, pleads guilty to removing classified documents


U.S. Indo-Pacific Command executive assistant, 31, pleads guilty to removing classified documents
Star-Advertiser · by Peter Boylan pboylan@staradvertiser.com July 20, 2021 Updated 11:17 pm · July 20, 2021
An executive assistant at U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Operation Center who was temporarily assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Manila pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to removing classified national security information and transporting it to an unauthorized location, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Asia Janay Lavarello, 31, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Chief Judge J. Michael Seabright to one count of knowingly removing classified information concerning U.S. national defense or foreign relations and retaining it at an unauthorized location, according to a news release.
Lavarello will be sentenced Nov. 4 and is facing up to five years in prison and other penalties. She is free on an unsecured bond.
“Protecting the national security of the United States is our highest priority, and failing to adhere to the most basic security practices, as this defendant did, is contrary to this critical priority,” said acting U.S. Attorney Judith A. Philips in a news release.
“Government employees are entrusted with a responsibility to ensure classified information is properly handled and secured. Asia Janay Lavarello failed in her duty when she removed classified documents from the U.S. Embassy Manila,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Steven B. Merrill said in a statement.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service also was involved in the investigation. “For those entrusted with safeguarding our national security interests, this case underscores the far-reaching ramifications of violating that trust,” said NCIS Special Agent in Charge Norman Dominesey in a news release.
Lavarello, a civilian U.S. Department of Defense employee since 2011, admitted to taking numerous classified documents, writings and notes relating to the national defense or foreign relations of the United States without permission. She served as an executive assistant at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii before accepting a temporary assignment working at the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines and Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo, the general headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Quezon City.
Throughout her time there she was a student at the National Intelligence University working on her thesis project, according to federal court documents. She attended classified meetings at the embassy every Wednesday and had multiple meetings throughout the week.
In Manila, Lavarello had access to classified computers and documents and attended classified meetings as part of her official duties. Authorities said that on March 20, 2020, she removed classified documents from the embassy, taking them to her hotel room before hosting a dinner party.
Among the guests were two foreign nationals and three Americans who worked at the embassy. DOJ did not list which countries the two foreign nationals were from, the release said.
During the party a co-worker found the documents in her bedroom, including items classified at the “secret” level. Lavarello’s assignment in the Philippines was terminated due to her mishandling of the documents. When confronted, she told her co-worker they were for her thesis, according to court documents.
Around March 28, 2020, Lavarello returned to Hawaii, and in June 2020 federal agents executed a search warrant at her workplace at the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command and found a notebook containing her handwritten notes of meetings she attended while working at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, according to the release.
The notes contained facts and information classified at the “confidential” and “secret” levels. Investigators determined Lavarello did not send the classified notebook via secure diplomatic pouch from the embassy to Hawaii as required. Instead, she personally transported the documents to Hawaii, unsecured, and kept the classified notebook at an unauthorized location until at least April 13, 2020.
Federal agents also discovered Lavarello included “secret” information from the classified notebook in a Jan. 16, 2020, email from her personal Gmail account to her unclassified U.S. government email account.
The charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000.
According to a plea agreement filed in the case, the government will not file charges against Lavarello related to false statements she made to the FBI and NCIS.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Mohammad Khatib and trial attorney Stephen Marzen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division are prosecuting the case.
Star-Advertiser · by Peter Boylan pboylan@staradvertiser.com July 20, 2021 Updated 11:17 pm · July 20, 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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