Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see" 
- Henry David Thoreau

"I wish to preach, not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort, of labor and strife; to preach that highest form of success which comes, not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph." 
- Theodore Roosevelt

"Without courage, you cannot practice any of the other virtues." 
- Maya Angelou

1. Secretary of Defense Remarks at the 40th International Institute for Strategic Studies Fullerton Lecture (As Prepared)
2. After Years of Chinese Influence, U.S. Tries to Renew Ties in Southeast Asia
3. 'Matrix hurt, and still worries us,' says Hidilyn's mother
4. Analysis | China may be having a harder time with Biden than with Trump
5. Joe Biden Says He’s Ending Forever Wars. He Isn’t.
6. ‘We Will Not Flinch’: Austin Promises U.S. Will Continue to Bolster Taiwan’s Self-Defense
7. Facebook and tech giants to target attacker manifestos, far-right militias in database
8. Iraq wants American firm to replace Exxon, prime minister says
9. White House seeking $1 billion to help resettle Afghan allies
10. Foreign Policy Returns to Normal, for Both Better and Worse by John Bolton
11.  ‘We’re better than that’: Austin speaks about ‘un-American’ discrimination against Asians
12. FDD | Cyber Hygiene 101 for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses
13. Far more world leaders visit China than America
14. France, US losing civilian control of their militaries
15. Royal Navy defies China en route to South China Sea
16. Not Your Grandfather’s Counterinsurgency: The United States Must Prepare for Radically New Forms of Nonstate Violence
17. Biden zigzags on China policy






1. Secretary of Defense Remarks at the 40th International Institute for Strategic Studies Fullerton Lecture (As Prepared)
The central focus of the Biden foreign policy:
Together, this region can rebuild from the pandemic… and move forward to an even brighter future, in an even stronger rules-based international order.
And that means more security… more stability… more prosperity… more resilience… and more openness.
We’re proud to renew a longstanding, bipartisan belief… that our partnerships are especially vital in times of great challenge and change.
We do not see enough administration officials discuss B3W but the SECDEF does here:

And after COVID-19, we don’t believe that the goal should just be to return to the way that things were. We stand ready to work together, as President Biden says, to “build back better.”


And the key DOD concept is going to be integrated deterrence. We all need to get smart on this and discuss the concept.

Now, President Biden has made clear that the United States will lead with diplomacy. And the Department of Defense will be here to provide the resolve and reassurance that America’s diplomats can use to help prevent conflict from breaking out in the first place. As I’ve said before, it’s always better to stamp out an ember than to try to put out a blaze.
So deterrence remains the cornerstone of American security. And for decades, we have maintained the capabilities, the presence, and the relationships needed to ward off conflict and to preserve the stability that lies at the heart of our shared prosperity.
Yet emerging threats and cutting-edge technologies are changing the face and the pace of warfare. So we are operating under a new, 21st-century vision that I call “integrated deterrence.”
Now, integrated deterrence means using every military and non-military tool in our toolbox, in lock-step with our allies and partners. Integrated deterrence is about using existing capabilities, and building new ones, and deploying them all in new and networked ways… all tailored to a region’s security landscape, and in growing partnership with our friends.
I would offer this for integrated deterrence:

Emerging DOD concept:
SECDEF: "To make that clear today, we'll use existing capabilities, and build new ones, and use all of them in networked ways — hand in hand with our allies and partners," he said. "Deterrence still rests on the same logic — but it now spans multiple realms, all of which must be mastered to ensure our security in the 21st century.” https://www.defense.gov/Explore/News/Article/Article/2592149/defense-secretary-says-integrated-deterrence-is-cornerstone-of-us-defense/
A construct:


Secretary of Defense Remarks at the 40th International Institute for Strategic Studies Fullerton Lecture (As Prepared)
Good evening, everyone. It’s great to be here in Singapore, and it’s an honor to be giving what I’m told is the 40th Fullerton Lecture. IISS has done an outstanding job enriching our dialogue about the Indo-Pacific. And James, thanks to you and John for all that you’ve done to make this event possible. It’s also great to see Senior Minister Teo and Minister of Defense Ng —thank you both for your hospitality.
Now, we are meeting in difficult times… but we’re working with our friends so that we all come out of the pandemic stronger than before.
I’m here to represent a new American administration, but also to reaffirm enduring American commitments. And above all, I want to talk about the strategic imperative of partnership.
You know, I learned a core lesson over four decades as a soldier, in peace and in war: Nobody can go it alone, at least not for very long. We are far stronger, and for far longer, when we come together than when we let ourselves be split apart.
And the United States and this region are more secure and more prosperous when we work together with our allies and partners.
Together with our friends, we face a range of challenges in this region that demand common action. There are transnational threats, like the pandemic and the existential threat of climate change… the specter of coercion from rising powers… the nuclear dangers from North Korea… the struggles against repression inside countries such as Myanmar… and leaders who ignore the rule of law and abuse the basic rights and dignity that all people deserve.
We will meet those challenges together.
In the days ahead, I’ll travel from Singapore to see my counterparts in Vietnam and the Philippines. I’ve come to Southeast Asia to deepen America’s bonds with the allies and partners on whom our common security depends. Our network of alliances and friendships is an unparalleled strategic asset. And I never take an ally for granted.
Together, this region can rebuild from the pandemic… and move forward to an even brighter future, in an even stronger rules-based international order.
And that means more security… more stability… more prosperity… more resilience… and more openness.
We’re proud to renew a longstanding, bipartisan belief… that our partnerships are especially vital in times of great challenge and change.
All of our countries have suffered from Covid-19, and it is still taking a terrible toll.
Yet the Indo-Pacific has been tested before. Our recent history has been marked by grave crises—and by inspiring efforts to tackle them in common purpose.
We’ve seen it over and over again, from the aftermath of World War II… to the frost of the Cold War… to the panic of the 1997 financial crisis… to the ravages of the 2004 tsunami. Yet at so many key junctures, the countries of the Indo-Pacific resisted the temptation to turn inward… and instead forged strong ties, and built a more inclusive, and secure, and prosperous region.
Today, amid this merciless pandemic, we stand together at another hinge moment… and we face another choice between the power of partnership and the dangers of division.
I am confident that—through our collective efforts—the Indo-Pacific will again rise to the challenge. And America will be right at your side, just as an old friend should.
And after COVID-19, we don’t believe that the goal should just be to return to the way that things were. We stand ready to work together, as President Biden says, to “build back better.”
So the central question for us all is: How can we unite to recover and to rebuild? And how do we work hand in hand to forge a more resilient regional order?
We think that the answer involves three components—and all of them are rooted in the imperative of partnership.
First, the most urgent task is recovery. We must redouble our fight against COVID and raise up a safer, healthier, and more prosperous future.
Second, we must look further ahead… and invest in the cooperation, and the capabilities, and the vision of deterrence that will meet the security challenges here in Southeast Asia and across the Indo-Pacific.
And third, we must recommit ourselves to the great, long-term project of coming together as Pacific states to build a free and open region… one that stretches toward new horizons of partnership, prosperity, and progress.
Let me talk a bit more about those three areas.
First, recovery. We must focus on the fundamentals: working urgently together to tackle the COVID crisis and to restore the region’s economic dynamism.
The pandemic has reminded us how deeply our world is interwoven. Today, a threat to global health anywhere is a threat to security everywhere.
So the United States has been rushing urgently needed assistance across the Indo-Pacific. That includes testing equipment, oxygen supplies, PPE, ventilators, and storage for vaccines.
And my team has been pushing hard to find other ways to help… including providing logistics support, establishing mobile clinics, and offering new military medicine training.
But global recovery requires global vaccination. So we are rushing life-saving vaccine doses to the region. President Biden has committed to deliver more than 500 million shots world-wide over the next year, and the Indo-Pacific is a top priority. You know, in just the past two months, we have shared some 40 million doses throughout the region, including Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Now, the vaccines developed in the United States are medical miracles. They’re incredibly effective at saving lives and preventing serious illness. And you know what… They’re free. No conditions. No small print. And no strings attached. Because this is an emergency. And that’s what friends do.
So we’ll keep working to end this plague… for everyone, and everywhere. And we’ve watched with admiration as countries across this region have come together to fight it.
When India was besieged, its friends stepped up. We salute Singapore for rushing to the scene, with two C-130s carrying some 250 oxygen cylinders. And Singapore has three new vaccine-production facilities planned or under construction, which will help more rapidly deploy vaccines throughout the region in future crises.
Meanwhile, through the Quad’s vaccine initiative, India, Japan, Australia, and the United States have committed to producing and delivering a billion vaccine doses, right here in the Indo-Pacific.
And South Korea is aiming to produce up to a billion vaccine doses this year. To help, the United States and South Korea have established a comprehensive Global Vaccine Partnership.
The pandemic is still raging. The road to recovery will be long. Yet these partnerships reflect our common determination and our common humanity.
And that brings me to the second way that our teamwork can create an even stronger region… and that is by coming together to tackle current and emerging challenges in the region that is the highest strategic priority for the Department of Defense.
Now, President Biden has made clear that the United States will lead with diplomacy. And the Department of Defense will be here to provide the resolve and reassurance that America’s diplomats can use to help prevent conflict from breaking out in the first place. As I’ve said before, it’s always better to stamp out an ember than to try to put out a blaze.
So deterrence remains the cornerstone of American security. And for decades, we have maintained the capabilities, the presence, and the relationships needed to ward off conflict and to preserve the stability that lies at the heart of our shared prosperity.
Yet emerging threats and cutting-edge technologies are changing the face and the pace of warfare. So we are operating under a new, 21st-century vision that I call “integrated deterrence.”
Now, integrated deterrence means using every military and non-military tool in our toolbox, in lock-step with our allies and partners. Integrated deterrence is about using existing capabilities, and building new ones, and deploying them all in new and networked ways… all tailored to a region’s security landscape, and in growing partnership with our friends.
And so together, we’re aiming to coordinate better, to network tighter, and to innovate faster. And we’re working to ensure that our allies and partners have the capabilities, the capacities, and the information that they need.
With our friends, we are stepping up our deterrence, resilience, and teamwork, including in the cyber and space domains.
We’re working with our hosts here in Singapore to enter a new phase in cyber-defense cooperation. We’re partnering with Japan to deploy new sensors in space to better detect potentially threatening behaviors… and exploring similar opportunities with other friends.
And I’m especially pleased that Singapore has chosen to invest in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. That’s going to boost our collective capabilities… and open up new opportunities for high-end combined training.
Integrated deterrence also means working with partners to deter coercion and aggression across the spectrum of conflict… including in the so-called “grey zone” where the rights and livelihoods of the people of Southeast Asia are coming under stress. That’s why we’re working to strengthen local capacity and to bolster maritime-domain awareness, so that nations can better protect their sovereignty… as well as the fishing rights and the energy resources afforded them by international law.
Meanwhile, we’re improving interoperability across our security network. And that includes more complex exercises and training. In Japan, for example, we recently wrapped up an ambitious, large-scale exercise… in which U.S. and Japanese forces together conducted the first successful firing of a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System in Japan.
And we recently held the exercises known as Pacific Vanguard and Talisman Sabre off the coast of Australia, together with Japan, Australia, and the Republic of Korea. That underscored our ability to carry out integrated, high-end maritime operations with our allies.
I’m especially encouraged to see our friends building stronger security ties with one another, further reinforcing the array of partnerships that keeps aggression at bay.
Meanwhile, we are working with Taiwan to enhance its own capabilities and to increase its readiness to deter threats and coercion… upholding our commitments under the Taiwan Relations Act, and consistent with our one-China policy.
At the same time, we’re moving to enhance our combined presence in the Indo-Pacific with other close partners and allies. Take Britain’s historic deployment of a carrier to the Pacific. The HMS Queen Elizabeth is sailing through this region as the flagship of a multi-nation carrier strike group that includes a U.S. destroyer and a U.S. Marine Corps F-35 squadron.
All that brings me to the final way in which we can move forward together toward the future that this region deserves.
And I speak as a representative of an Indo-Pacific country… with vital interests that are best served by a stable, open, and prosperous region.
Our strategic partnerships can carry us all closer to the historic common project of a free and open Pacific, at peace with itself and with the world… a stronger, more stable regional order where countries resolve disputes amicably and uphold all the rights of all their citizens.
To bring that day closer, we are working through old alliances, and through new partnerships, and through regional and multilateral channels—from ASEAN to the Quad to the U.N. Security Council.
We have long sought to create space for Indo-Pacific countries to realize their highest aspirations and safeguard the rights of their citizens. And these joint efforts with our friends rely on more than just intersecting interests. They draw strength from common principles.
And that means a deep belief that countries must remain sovereign and free to chart their own destinies.
A profound commitment to transparency, inclusion, and the rule of law.
A dedication to freedom of the seas.
A devotion to human rights, and human dignity, and human decency.
An adherence to core international commitments.
And an insistence that disputes will be solved peacefully.
Yet this region has witnessed actions that just don’t line up with those shared principles.
Beijing’s claim to the vast majority of the South China Sea has no basis in international law. That assertion treads on the sovereignty of states in the region. We continue to support the region’s coastal states in upholding their rights under international law. And we remain committed to the treaty obligations that we have to Japan in the Senkaku Islands and to the Philippines in the South China Sea.
Unfortunately, Beijing’s unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law isn’t just occurring on the water. We have also seen aggression against India… destabilizing military activity and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan… and genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.
Now, these differences and disputes are real. But the way that you manage them counts.
We will not flinch when our interests are threatened. Yet we do not seek confrontation.
So let me be clear: As Secretary, I am committed to pursuing a constructive, stable relationship with China… including stronger crisis communications with the People’s Liberation Army. You know, big powers need to model transparency and communication. And we hope that we can work together with Beijing on common challenges, especially the threat of climate change.
Yet even in times of competition, our enduring ties in Southeast Asia are bigger than just geopolitics. As Prime Minister Lee has counseled, we are not asking countries in the region to choose between the United States and China. In fact, many of our partnerships in the region are older than the People’s Republic of China itself.
That’s why we are expanding our important work with countries throughout the Indo-Pacific and with ASEAN itself, a critical body that brings the region closer together… offering everyone a voice, and building deeper habits of cooperation.
And I’ll say personally that I’m proud that my predecessors and I have attended every single meeting of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting-Plus… a venue that is increasingly central to the region’s security architecture.
ASEAN is also showing its ability to lead on the region’s most important issues. And we applaud ASEAN for its efforts to end the tragic violence in Myanmar. The Myanmar military’s refusal to respect the inalienable rights of the Burmese people, and to defend their basic well-being, is flatly unacceptable. A military exists to serve its people—not the other way around. And so we call on the Myanmar military to adhere to the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus and to forge a lasting peace.
As ASEAN plays its central role, we are also focusing on complementary mechanisms in the region. I know how pleased President Biden was to host the first Quad Leaders’ Summit in March. And structures like the Quad make the region’s security architecture even more durable.
We’re also taking a leading role again at the U.N. Security Council. That includes enforcing its critical resolutions about nuclear dangers on the Korean Peninsula. And we’re taking a calibrated, practical approach that leaves the door open to diplomacy with North Korea… even while we maintain our readiness to deter aggression and to uphold our treaty commitments and the will of the Security Council.
Our partnerships draw strength from our shared belief in greater openness… and our belief that people live best when they govern themselves. Now, our democratic values aren’t always easy to reach. And the United States doesn’t always get it right. We’ve seen some painful lapses, like the unacceptable and frankly un-American discrimination that some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have endured in my country in recent months.
I believe that we’re better than that. Far better. But we aren’t trying to hide our mistakes. When a democracy stumbles, everyone can see and hear it. It’s broadcast in loud and living color, and not hushed up by the state.
Our openness gives us the built-in ability to self-correct… and to strive toward a more perfect union. And when we come up short, when we stray from our Constitution’s wisdom, we have a pretty good track of record of owning up and trying to do better. Even in times of challenge, our democracy is a powerful engine for its own renewal. We’ve embarked upon an ambitious program to “build back better” after the pandemic. And President Biden likes to tell the world leaders he meets with that it’s “never, ever, ever been a good bet to bet against America.”
Ladies and gentlemen, what ties all of this together is one simple insight: When we work hand-in-hand with our friends, we are stronger and more secure than we could ever be on our own. And that’s what guides my approach to this most important region as Secretary of Defense.
Our alliances are an unmatched and unrivaled source of strength and security.
Our countries share the shores of the Pacific. But we also share an understanding of the power of partnership.
Geography has made us neighbors, as President Kennedy once put it. But vision and values have made us friends.
As a fellow Indo-Pacific country, we believe that the next chapter in the story of this region can be an inspiring one… a time where, as President Biden likes to say, hope and history rhyme.
So we stand together with you… as your allies, your partners, and your friends. Because we know that no one can go it alone. And we are confident that together, we can build a better and brighter future for all of our children.
Thank you very much.



2.  After Years of Chinese Influence, U.S. Tries to Renew Ties in Southeast Asia

The Philippines is a challenge with Duterte as president and if his daughter succeeds him it will likely continue to be a challenge.

Mr. Austin said Washington was “not asking countries in the region to choose between the United States and China.” He said that the United States was not seeking confrontation with China, but stressed, “We want to make sure we deter conflict in every case and every opportunity.”
Going forward, a major challenge for American officials will be curbing Chinese influence in the region, especially in countries like Philippines, a treaty ally with which China has made significant progress in recent years.
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has rarely criticized China for its expansionism in the South China Sea. On Monday, during his State of the Nation address, he called himself a “good friend of President Xi.”
...
On Monday, Mr. Duterte implied that he did not see the United States as a reliable partner in defending the Philippines.
Mr. Austin said on Tuesday that he planned to discuss extending the longstanding military pact between the Philippines and United States during his coming visit. The pact, which allows Washington to move troops and equipment in and out of the country, is now in limbo.
Mr. Duterte previously sought to end the treaty, but reversed himself last year, saying he would maintain it. Many analysts had interpreted the about-face as a sign that the Philippine leader was worried about China’s growing military assertiveness.
After Years of Chinese Influence, U.S. Tries to Renew Ties in Southeast Asia
The New York Times · by Sui-Lee Wee · July 27, 2021
Lloyd J. Austin III, the American defense secretary, became the first high-ranking official in the Biden administration to travel to a region that has long received close attention from Beijing.

Lloyd J. Austin III, the U.S. defence secretary, in Washington last month. China has been cultivating Southeast Asia with visits, loans and, most recently, coronavirus vaccines.Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

By
July 27, 2021, 11:03 a.m. ET
SINGAPORE — Lloyd J. Austin III, the American defense secretary, sought on Tuesday to reassure Southeast Asian nations that the United States was still invested in the region despite a monthslong absence by top officials in a part of the world that has been aggressively courted by China.
Speaking at a lecture in Singapore organized by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a British think tank, Mr. Austin said, “I’ve come to Southeast Asia to deepen America’s bonds with the allies and partners on whom our common security depends.”
Mr. Austin’s visit is the first by a U.S. cabinet member to Southeast Asia since President Biden took office in January.
In Washington, there is a growing awareness that China has been cultivating Southeast Asia with visits, loans and, most recently, coronavirus vaccines.
China has doled out more than 190 million vaccines in Southeast Asia, most of them sold, according to a calculation of figures provided by Bridge Consulting, a Beijing-based research company.
During his lecture, Mr. Austin pointed out that the United States had donated roughly 40 million doses in the past two months to the region free and with “no strings attached.”
Murray Hiebert, a senior associate of the Southeast Asia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said, “Part of the effort here is to let the region know that the U.S. still sees it as very important — that it’s not going to lie down and let China roll over the region.”
“And so it’s really an attempt to play catch up after a slow start,” he added.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, left, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan in Tokyo in March. Mr. Blinken’s decision not to visit Southeast Asia was seen by some as a snub.Credit...Pool photo by Eugene Hoshiko
American officials have indicated that there will be renewed interest in the region, given Mr. Biden’s focus on Asia as a linchpin of his foreign policy agenda. Analysts say there could be a flurry of diplomatic efforts in the months ahead. Mr. Austin is also set to travel to the Philippines and Vietnam on his trip.
In recent months, several Southeast Asian officials have been perturbed by the lack of face-to-face engagement from their American counterparts, particularly in light of China’s ramping up its diplomatic efforts in the pandemic. (Mr. Austin was scheduled to appear in Singapore at a regional defense meeting in June, but organizers had to cancel at the last minute because of a surge in Covid-19 cases in the city-state.)

Several Southeast Asian analysts viewed Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s decision to visit Japan, India and South Korea, but not Southeast Asia, as a snub.
“It seemed to reinforce the perception that Southeast Asia has always been paid lip service: that this is an important region to the Indo-Pacific, but it is, in practice, still being treated as an afterthought,” said Collin Koh, a research fellow at the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore.
Mr. Blinken tried to hold a video conference with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, in May. But the ministers were kept facing a blank screen for 45 minutes because of a technical glitch. The meeting had to be postponed and rescheduled for earlier this month.
A vaccination program in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Monday. Beijing has launched a push to extend its influence across Southeast Asia, including by offering vaccines.Credit...Willy Kurniawan/Reuters
For the past decade, Beijing has engaged in a massive push to extend its political and economic influence across Southeast Asia. China is now the region’s most important trading partner. Since January 2020, senior officials, including Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, have traveled to the region at least five times.
The United States has failed to introduce any large economic projects in Southeast Asia after the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement was nixed by former President Donald J. Trump. It has also excluded itself from one of the world’s biggest trade pacts, proposed by Southeast Asia: the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which China has enthusiastically embraced.
On his most recent visit to Southeast Asia in January, the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, arrived in Indonesia with a planeload of vaccines. He offered to help build a high-speed railway linking Jakarta, the capital, and the neighboring city of Bandung, under China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
William Choong, a senior fellow specializing in the Indo-Pacific at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, a research center based in Singapore, said, “They consider Southeast Asia to be an important peripheral region to China, so they have played a long game.”
“And they’ve upgraded their relationship with ASEAN to a new level,” he added.
Southeast Asia is home to one of the world’s most strategic waterways, the Strait of Malacca. The region also includes the many contested reefs and shoals of the South China Sea, a major pressure point between Beijing and several Southeast Asian countries. Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have all accused China of military incursions in the area.
A Filipino fisherman in the South China Sea this year. The area is a major pressure point between Beijing and several Southeast Asian countries.Credit...Jes Aznar for The New York Times
Some leaders are trying to pursue a delicate balancing act between China and the United States, wary of Beijing’s intentions in the region, yet mindful of their economic interdependence. Many of them say that they cannot afford to adopt Mr. Biden’s anti-China stance, but still look to the United States to support them in their disputes with Beijing.
Mr. Austin said Washington was “not asking countries in the region to choose between the United States and China.” He said that the United States was not seeking confrontation with China, but stressed, “We want to make sure we deter conflict in every case and every opportunity.”
Going forward, a major challenge for American officials will be curbing Chinese influence in the region, especially in countries like Philippines, a treaty ally with which China has made significant progress in recent years.
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has rarely criticized China for its expansionism in the South China Sea. On Monday, during his State of the Nation address, he called himself a “good friend of President Xi.”
“When the pandemic struck, the first country I called for help was China,” Mr. Duterte said. He recalled how he had told Mr. Xi that the Philippines had no vaccines and was unable to develop one. Mr. Xi responded by sending 1.5 million doses, he said.
President Xi Jinping of China, left, with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines in Beijing in 2019. Mr. Duterte has called himself a “good friend” of his Chinese counterpart.Credit...Pool photo by Greg Baker
“You cannot repay that with money, but I have a debt of gratitude,” Mr. Duterte said. “You can be sure I will be your friend. A true friend and die for you.”
On Monday, Mr. Duterte implied that he did not see the United States as a reliable partner in defending the Philippines.
Mr. Austin said on Tuesday that he planned to discuss extending the longstanding military pact between the Philippines and United States during his coming visit. The pact, which allows Washington to move troops and equipment in and out of the country, is now in limbo.
Mr. Duterte previously sought to end the treaty, but reversed himself last year, saying he would maintain it. Many analysts had interpreted the about-face as a sign that the Philippine leader was worried about China’s growing military assertiveness.
Jason Gutierrez contributed reporting from Manila, and Elsie Chen contributed research from Seoul.
The New York Times · by Sui-Lee Wee · July 27, 2021


3. 'Matrix hurt, and still worries us,' says Hidilyn's mother

This is a great Olympic story for the Philippines. Hidilyn Diaz is a Philippine Air Force NCO and she is from Zamboanga where many of us from 1st Special Forces Group (and other SOF units) have served over the years.

But while this is a feel good news story (that she was the first gold medal winner ever for the Philippines and defeated her Chinese opponent), this article really provides some insights into the complex Philippine political environment. I hope Diaz is not again accused of conspiring against Duterte:

Excerpt:

Dried-eyed the morning after, Emelita spoke of her concerns that with her daughter’s rising popularity, she might be mistakenly accused again of conspiring against the Duterte administration.


'Matrix hurt, and still worries us,' says Hidilyn's mother
Hidilyn Diaz's mother Emelita barely slept the night right after her daughter bagged the gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics because of mixed feelings of joy and anxiety.
Emelita said on Tuesday, July 27, that she was overjoyed but worried at the same time that her daughter's new sports celebrity status would come at a price – that she would find herself in some destabilization plot matrix again just like in 2019.
Dried-eyed the morning after, Emelita spoke of her concerns that with her daughter’s rising popularity, she might be mistakenly accused again of conspiring against the Duterte administration.
In 2019, presidential legal adviser and then-presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo released a diagram that showed Diaz as among those supposedly plotting against President.
Panelo has denied linking Diaz to the supposed destabilization plot, and presidential spokesman Harry Roque said neither he nor his office had anything to do with the matrix.
But Emelita was nervous and, with a shaky voice, told reporters in Chavacano: “Soldao si Hidie. Na pais su loyalty. Nunca le queda parte del matrix."
(Hidie is a soldier. Her loyalty is to the country. Never will she be part of the matrix).”
The 30-year-old Diaz holds the rank of Airwoman Sergeant.
Emelita, 58, said the matrix hurt her, her daughter, and their family. Until now, she said, she still feared for her daughter's life and their family's security.
“Que ver: ultimo cuando ya usa mi marido t-shirt que ya dale con ele tiene design de Magdalo, ya habla ya kay de Magdalo ele," said Emelita with a heavy sigh.
(Think of this: even my husband was already spoken of as someone with links to the Magdalo group just because he wore what was designed like a Magdalo t-shirt.)
Her husband, Eduardo Sr., never wore that t-shirt again as a result. When they faced reporters on Tuesday, he wore a shirt that bore the logo of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).
Emelita said several military officers vouched for her daughter then. Despite Panelo's denials, she said their wounds have not yet healed, not even with the windfall resulting from Diaz's Olympics victory.
Eduardo and Emelita said they valued their reputation, and their daughter’s good name was more important to them.
Emelita said Hidilyn called up from Tokyo on Monday night while the entire family celebrated her big win.
“Cuando ya mira kami kay ya gana le, bien alegre kami. Saltando, pero llurando na alegria. Ya rindi kame gracias con el Señor una na todo. Ya reza kami primero," she said.
(When we saw that she won, we were very happy. We were jumping and crying in joy. We gave thanks to God. We prayed first.)
“Gracias, Mang, na prayers de tuyo (Thank you, ‘Mang, for your prayers),” Emelita quoted Hidilyn as telling her.
It was a brief call, Emelita said, but enough for her and her husband to tell their daughter how she did her family and country proud.
She said Hidilyn ended the call with these words: “Durmi ya yo. Cansao ya yo (I’ll sleep now. I’m very tired).” – Rappler.com



4. Analysis | China may be having a harder time with Biden than with Trump

Hmmm... An interesting assessment. 

Excerpts:

Indeed, some notable Chinese commentators contend that China is in an even tougher place with Biden in the White House, as the United States tries to build a more united front with European and Asian partners after four years of Trump’s erratic “America First” agenda. As Sherman left China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to India and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin embarked on a tour of Southeast Asia.
“Biden’s administration is isolating China with a multilateral club strategy,” Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the New York Times. “This strategy has brought about much more difficulties to China’s economic development and pressure on China’s diplomatic relations than Trump’s unilateral strategy.”

Analysis | China may be having a harder time with Biden than with Trump
The Washington Post · by Ishaan TharoorColumnist Today at 12:00 a.m. EDT · July 27, 2021
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman attends a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday in Tianjin, China. (U.S. Department of State via AP)
On Monday, the United States' second-most senior diplomat met with Chinese counterparts in the port city of Tianjin. Ahead of Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s visit to China, U.S. officials said the aim of this round of discussions — the second face-to-face talks between senior officials from both countries since President Biden took office — was to set “guardrails” around the increasingly fractious Sino-U.S. relationship and “keep the channels of communication open.” Coming out of the meetings, it wasn’t quite clear what markers had been laid down amid a testy airing of grievances.
In exchanges with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Vice Foreign Minister Xie Feng, Sherman laid out Washington’s many concerns with Beijing, from its campaigns of repression in Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet to the recent determination by the United States, the European Union and other world powers that hackers affiliated with the Chinese government have participated in a broad array of malicious cyber activities.
Sherman said that her administration welcomed “stiff competition” with China, but did not seek conflict. But she insisted to reporters after the meetings that China, which bristles over Western criticism of its human rights record, could not place itself above reproach. “We do expect … [Chinese officials] to understand that human rights are not just an internal matter, they are a global commitment which they have signed up for” under U.N. conventions, Sherman told the Associated Press.


 
Sherman also raised the matter of the pandemic and China’s conspicuous lack of cooperation with the World Health Organization’s efforts to understand its roots, an issue that is both a sensitive subject for Beijing and a source of political anger for U.S. lawmakers. “Last week, Beijing announced it would not cooperate with the WHO’s follow-up research plans,” reported my colleague Eva Dou. “Biden has supported the WHO plan, while also ordering U.S. intelligence agencies to search for evidence of how the pandemic started.”
 
Sherman’s Chinese interlocutors were similarly tough-minded. At the first meetings in Alaska in March, Wang used his bully pulpit to launch an attack on perceived American hypocrisy and the failings of U.S. democracy. This time, Xie accused the Biden administration of stoking future conflict. “The United States wants to reignite the sense of national purpose by establishing China as an ‘imaginary enemy,’” Xie was quoted as saying by state media. “As if once China’s development is suppressed, U.S. domestic and external problems will be resolved, and America will be great again, and America’s hegemony can be continued.”
Implicit in Xie’s comment is Beijing’s assessment that, contrary to what Republicans in Washington routinely claim, there’s little daylight between Biden’s current approach on China and that of his predecessor. In its first six months in power, the Biden administration has slapped sanctions on Chinese officials involved in the crackdown on Hong Kong, placed export controls on certain Chinese technology firms and extended Trump-era measures to prevent U.S. investment in Chinese companies that deal with the country’s military. Meanwhile, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai has barely budged from the adversarial path taken by the Trump administration, while drawing Chinese ire by backing Australia in its own trade disputes with Beijing.
Indeed, some notable Chinese commentators contend that China is in an even tougher place with Biden in the White House, as the United States tries to build a more united front with European and Asian partners after four years of Trump’s erratic “America First” agenda. As Sherman left China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to India and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin embarked on a tour of Southeast Asia.


 
“Biden’s administration is isolating China with a multilateral club strategy,” Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, told the New York Times. “This strategy has brought about much more difficulties to China’s economic development and pressure on China’s diplomatic relations than Trump’s unilateral strategy.”
 
For all their “wolf warrior” bravura, China’s diplomats and political elites seem to be losing the PR battle. A recent Pew Research Center survey found majorities in many countries in Europe and Asia harbor increasingly unfavorable views of the country, a consequence both of the impact of the pandemic as well as distaste for China’s authoritarian politics. Analysts suggest that, internally, the Communist regime is coping with growing underlying tensions. President Xi Jinping is reshaping the country’s political system in his image, dismantling presidential term limits and accumulating tremendous personal power. But there’s no apparent succession strategy in place and China’s leadership faces mounting challenges with a slowing economy and a graying population.
Beijing’s elites, of course, are quick to point to American shortcomings. They routinely describe U.S. behavior as a reflection of a “Cold War mentality” and the flailing of a nation that doesn’t recognize its own decline on the global stage. “The United States has declared its comeback, but the world has changed,” Le Yucheng, a vice minister of foreign affairs, said in a recent interview with a Chinese news site. “The United States needs to see these changes, adapt to them, and reflect upon and correct its mistakes in the past.”
U.S. officials also see the tussle with China in grand historic terms. “There will be periods of uncertainty — perhaps even periods of occasional raised tensions,” Kurt Campbell, the White House’s top Asia hand, said at an event earlier this month hosted by the Asia Society. “Do I believe that China and the United States can coexist peacefully? Yes, I do. But I do think this challenge is going to be enormously difficult for this generation and the next.”
The Washington Post · by Ishaan TharoorColumnist Today at 12:00 a.m. EDT · July 27, 2021


5. Joe Biden Says He’s Ending Forever Wars. He Isn’t.

Quite a critique:
So, the Biden administration is talking a big game on ending America’s so‐called endless wars. But this is little more than messaging. Below the surface, and largely outside the view of the American people, Biden is continuing the military mission in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Similarly, after declaring an end to U.S. offensive support for Saudi operations in Yemen, Biden made clear that “We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people” from “missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian‐supplied forces in multiple countries.” In plain language, that means the United States will continue to be militarily entangled in Yemen. And, apparently, Biden will continue to bomb Somalia, as he did twice last week.
Putting an antiwar gloss on ongoing War on Terror policies may be good politics, but it won’t achieve what Americans, at least in part, elected Biden to do.
Joe Biden Says He’s Ending Forever Wars. He Isn’t.
19fortyfive.com · by ByJohn Glaser · July 27, 2021
President Joe Biden is playing hide the ball with America’s Forever Wars. In his public pronouncements, he depicts his administration as diligently rolling back the numerous post‐9/11 U.S. military misadventures. He delivered a number of speeches declaring an end to the U.S. war in Afghanistan and specifying a timeline for a withdrawal of U.S. troops by September. In April, the administration reached a tacit agreement with the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al‐Kadhimi to officially conclude the U.S. combat mission in Iraq. “There will be no U.S. military forces in a combat role by the end of the year,” says a Biden senior official.
This public rhetoric is profoundly misleading. Biden certainly knows that bringing an end to these far‐flung “counter‐terrorism” missions is popular with the electorate. That may explain the eagerness to portray his administration’s approach as one of ending endless wars, as the slogan goes. But it is not true.
In Afghanistan, it looks like most U.S. forces will be withdrawn soon, although a substantial contingent of forces will remain to guard the U.S. embassy. That said, officials have made clear—somewhere beneath the headlines and the prime time coverage—that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan will continue indefinitely. In withdrawing from Afghanistan, the administration sought basing access in neighboring Central Asian countries, and U.S. military assets are being repositioned just outside Afghanistan to enable continued support of the Afghan Armed Forces. Aid to the U.S.-backed Kabul regime will also continue. In other words, the United States will continue a combat role in Afghanistan to defend Kabul from the Taliban. This week, General Kenneth McKenzie put it plainly: “The United States has increased airstrikes in support of Afghan forces over the last several days and we’re prepared to continue this heightened level of support in the coming weeks if the Taliban continue their attacks.” This is not an end to America’s longest war.
As for Iraq, the lofty talk of ending the combat mission hardly seems to match the facts. The public rhetoric is therefore bizarrely contradictory. Officials emphasize that they will “formally end the combat mission and make clear there are no American forces with a combat role in the country,” but that U.S. troop levels will not change, and may even increase. The roughly 2,500 U.S. forces in Iraq will remain there in order to continue assisting Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS and facing other local threats. As a CNN report noted, these changes to the U.S. mission in Iraq “could come on paper only.” When pressed by a journalist, a senior official promises that “it’s far more than semantics” but “I am not going to get into details of what capabilities there are, what capabilities we intend to have in the training/advisory role” and “I’m just not going to talk about numbers at all.” In short, the mission in Iraq continues and the administration believes the exact number of U.S. troops to be deployed in Iraq and what their exact mission will be is none of the American people’s business.
The U.S. military mission in Syria—which suffers from a deeply confused strategic rationale and a genuine lack of legal authority—will also continue unabated. In the same exchange cited above, an unnamed senior official makes this crystal clear. Here’s a brief transcript excerpt:
Q: I’m wondering if you anticipate a similar kind of shift in mission [in Syria]. Or has that shift already been completed? Do you anticipate any change in the U.S. mission there?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t anticipate any changes right now to the mission or the footprint in Syria…In Syria, we’re supporting Syrian Democratic Forces in their fight against ISIS…that’s something we’ll continue.
So, the Biden administration is talking a big game on ending America’s so‐called endless wars. But this is little more than messaging. Below the surface, and largely outside the view of the American people, Biden is continuing the military mission in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Similarly, after declaring an end to U.S. offensive support for Saudi operations in Yemen, Biden made clear that “We’re going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people” from “missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian‐supplied forces in multiple countries.” In plain language, that means the United States will continue to be militarily entangled in Yemen. And, apparently, Biden will continue to bomb Somalia, as he did twice last week.
Putting an antiwar gloss on ongoing War on Terror policies may be good politics, but it won’t achieve what Americans, at least in part, elected Biden to do.
John Glaser is director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute. His research interests include grand strategy, U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, the rise of China, and the role of status and prestige motivations in international politics.
19fortyfive.com · by ByJohn Glaser · July 27, 2021


6.  ‘We Will Not Flinch’: Austin Promises U.S. Will Continue to Bolster Taiwan’s Self-Defense

Excerpts:
In Singapore, Austin would not say whether he agreed with Davidson’s 2027 assessment but warned of China’s leader, “Mr. Xi [Jinping] has been vocal about what his interests are going forward. And I think we have to, we have to take him for his word.”
“We'll stay focused on helping Taiwan to defend itself or having the capabilities to defend itself going forward,” Austin said.
“As secretary I am committed to pursuing a constructive, stable relationship with China, including strong crisis communication with the People’s Liberation Army. You know, big powers need to model transparency and communication,” he said.
In his remarks, Austin also highlighted how Western militaries have increased activities in the region, including Tuesday’s sail near the South China Sea by a British carrier strike group that included the U.S. destroyer Sullivans, a U.S. Marine Corps F-35 squadron, and three ships from the Singapore Royal Navy.The secretary promised that the West will continue to help countries strengthen their capabilities and counter China’s rapid expansion and influence into their trade routes, fisheries, and security partnerships.
‘We Will Not Flinch’: Austin Promises U.S. Will Continue to Bolster Taiwan’s Self-Defense
In Singapore, defense secretary chides Beijing for “aggression...coercion...genocide” but says he wants a “constructive, stable relationship with China.”
defenseone.com · by Tara Copp
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States will continue to help Taiwan and other allies in the Pacific defend themselves against aggression from China even as he said a new, more transparent relationship with Beijing is desired.
“We will not flinch when our interests are threatened yet we do not seek confrontation,” Austin said at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore on Tuesday, during his second overseas trip to the Pacific.
The United States is trying to balance a relationship with China as a peer competitor but also as a potential threat. Austin’s visit comes at a pivotal time for the U.S. military, one day after President Joe Biden announced the second withdrawal of forces deployed in legacy counterterrorism missions, this time from Iraq.
Administration officials argue the military must downsize forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to free up those assets to focus on the Pacific. It is part of a larger belief that future U.S. security threats will revolve around cyber, space, and resource conflicts with China and Russia, and less so with the terrorism threats that have emanated from the Middle East, North Africa, and Southwest Asia for the last two decades.
To that end, Austin said, the U.S. and allies in Asia were increasing their networks and capabilities “to deter coercion and aggression across the spectrum of conflict.”
“We’re working to ensure that our allies and partners have the capabilities, the capacities, and the information that they need.”
If a conflict with China does arise, it could be over the defense of Taiwan, and U.S. military leaders have been rapidly trying to overhaul warfighting concepts and weapons systems to be better prepared for such a fight.
In March, just before his tenure as U.S. Indo-Pacific Command chief ended, Adm. Phil Davidson told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he believed previous intelligence estimates that China would seek to seize Taiwan by 2050 were outdated based on the rate of China’s military buildup.
“I worry that they’re accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order,” Davidson told the lawmakers. “Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before then. And I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years,” making a potential attack likely as early as 2027.
In Singapore, Austin would not say whether he agreed with Davidson’s 2027 assessment but warned of China’s leader, “Mr. Xi [Jinping] has been vocal about what his interests are going forward. And I think we have to, we have to take him for his word.”
“We'll stay focused on helping Taiwan to defend itself or having the capabilities to defend itself going forward,” Austin said.
“As secretary I am committed to pursuing a constructive, stable relationship with China, including strong crisis communication with the People’s Liberation Army. You know, big powers need to model transparency and communication,” he said.
In his remarks, Austin also highlighted how Western militaries have increased activities in the region, including Tuesday’s sail near the South China Sea by a British carrier strike group that included the U.S. destroyer Sullivans, a U.S. Marine Corps F-35 squadron, and three ships from the Singapore Royal Navy.The secretary promised that the West will continue to help countries strengthen their capabilities and counter China’s rapid expansion and influence into their trade routes, fisheries, and security partnerships.
“Unfortunately, Beijing's unwillingness to resolve disputes peacefully and respect the rule of law isn't just occurring on the water,” Austin said. “We've also seen aggression against India, destabilizing military activity and other forms of coercion against the people of Taiwan, and genocide and crimes against humanity against Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.”
“Now, these differences and disputes are real, but the way that you manage them counts,” Austin said.
It's a delicate balance, even as China presses on nations in the region, it also serves as the main trading partner to many of them.
At the beginning of his prepared remarks, Austin said, “Today, amid this merciless pandemic, we stand together at another hinge moment… and we face another choice between the power of partnership and the dangers of division.”
In the same speech, as many U.S. defense secretaries have said before, he later said, “We are not asking countries in the region to choose between the U.S. and China.” .
Austin is scheduled to continue his Asia visit to Vietnam and the Philippines, two key stops in the U.S. mission to keep China in check.
defenseone.com · by Tara Copp

7. Facebook and tech giants to target attacker manifestos, far-right militias in database
I fear this will not end well. The targeted organizations will harden their resolve. Trying to police speech, ideas, and ideology just is not going to work and it is unlikely to achieve the effects that advocates desire.


Facebook and tech giants to target attacker manifestos, far-right militias in database
Reuters · by Elizabeth Culliford
1/5
A militia member with body armor and a Three Percenters militia patch stands in Stone Mountain as various militia groups stage rallies at Stone Mountain, Georgia, U.S. August 15, 2020. REUTERS/Dustin Chambers/File Photo
July 26 (Reuters) - A counterterrorism organization formed by some of the biggest U.S. tech companies including Facebook (FB.O) and Microsoft (MSFT.O) is significantly expanding the types of extremist content shared between firms in a key database, aiming to crack down on material from white supremacists and far-right militias, the group told Reuters.
Until now, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism's (GIFCT) database has focused on videos and images from terrorist groups on a United Nations list and so has largely consisted of content from Islamist extremist organizations such as Islamic State, al Qaeda and the Taliban.
Over the next few months, the group will add attacker manifestos - often shared by sympathizers after white supremacist violence - and other publications and links flagged by U.N. initiative Tech Against Terrorism. It will use lists from intelligence-sharing group Five Eyes, adding URLs and PDFs from more groups, including the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and neo-Nazis.
The firms, which include Twitter (TWTR.N) and Alphabet Inc's (GOOGL.O) YouTube, share "hashes," unique numerical representations of original pieces of content that have been removed from their services. Other platforms use these to identify the same content on their own sites in order to review or remove it.
While the project reduces the amount of extremist content on mainstream platforms, groups can still post violent images and rhetoric on many other sites and parts of the internet.
The tech group wants to combat a wider range of threats, said GIFCT's Executive Director Nicholas Rasmussen in an interview with Reuters.
"Anyone looking at the terrorism or extremism landscape has to appreciate that there are other parts... that are demanding attention right now," Rasmussen said, citing the threats of far-right or racially motivated violent extremism.
The tech platforms have long been criticized for failing to police violent extremist content, though they also face concerns over censorship. The issue of domestic extremism, including white supremacy and militia groups, took on renewed urgency following the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Fourteen companies can access the GIFCT database, including Reddit, Snapchat-owner Snap (SNAP.N), Facebook-owned Instagram, Verizon (VZ.N) Media, Microsoft's LinkedIn and file-sharing service Dropbox (DBX.O).
GIFCT, which is now an independent organization, was created in 2017 under pressure from U.S. and European governments after a series of deadly attacks in Paris and Brussels. Its database mostly contains digital fingerprints of videos and images related to groups on the U.N. Security Council's consolidated sanctions list and a few specific live-streamed attacks, such as the 2019 mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.
GIFCT has faced criticism and concerns from some human and digital rights groups over centralized or over-broad censorship.
"Over-achievement in this takes you in the direction of violating someone's rights on the internet to engage in free expression," said Rasmussen.
Emma Llanso, director of Free Expression at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said in a statement: "This expansion of the GIFCT hash database only intensifies the need for GIFCT to improve the transparency and accountability of these content-blocking resources."
"As the database expands, the risks of mistaken takedown only increase," she added.
The group wants to continue to broaden its database to include hashes of audio files or certain symbols and grow its membership. It recently added home-rental giant Airbnb (ABNB.O) and email marketing company Mailchimp as members.
Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York; Editing by Kenneth Li, Lisa Shumaker and Rosalba O'Brien
Reuters · by Elizabeth Culliford


8. Iraq wants American firm to replace Exxon, prime minister says

An interesting development.

Excerpts:
Exxon, which in 2019 had looked poised to move ahead with a $53 billion project to boost Iraq's oil output, has been seeking to sell its 32.7% stake in one of Iraq's biggest oilfields, West Qurna 1.
"Exxon Mobil is considering exiting Iraq for reasons that are to do with its internal management practices, decisions, and not because of the particular situation in Iraq," Kadhimi told a small group of reporters in Washington after talks with President Joe Biden.
"When Exxon Mobil departs, we will not accept its replacement to be other than another American company," he added, speaking through a translator.
Kadhimi did not specify which American companies might be interested. Chevron Corp (CVX.N) also operates in Iraq.
Iraq wants American firm to replace Exxon, prime minister says
Reuters · by Reuters
1/3
The logo of Exxon Mobil Corp is shown on a monitor above the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, December 30, 2015.
WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - Iraq's Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said on Monday he wants another American company to replace Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) when it exits Iraq.
Exxon, which in 2019 had looked poised to move ahead with a $53 billion project to boost Iraq's oil output, has been seeking to sell its 32.7% stake in one of Iraq's biggest oilfields, West Qurna 1.
"Exxon Mobil is considering exiting Iraq for reasons that are to do with its internal management practices, decisions, and not because of the particular situation in Iraq," Kadhimi told a small group of reporters in Washington after talks with President Joe Biden.
"When Exxon Mobil departs, we will not accept its replacement to be other than another American company," he added, speaking through a translator.
Kadhimi did not specify which American companies might be interested. Chevron Corp (CVX.N) also operates in Iraq.
In May, Iraq's Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar said the country was considering purchasing Exxon's West Qurna stake through state-owned Basra Oil Co. read more
When contacted by Reuters, Exxon said in a statement that it had entered into an agreement with Petrochina (601857.SS) and China's offshore oil and gas major CNOOC Ltd to sell its West Qurna interest in January 2021.
Exxon added that Indonesia's Pertamina has since exercised its right to purchase the interest that would have been sold to CNOOC.
The statement also said Exxon has filed for arbitration against Basra Oil over Exxon's sale of the West Qurna stake. It did not mention a sale to a U.S. firm.
"The sale aligns with ExxonMobil’s strategy to focus on advantaged assets with the lowest cost of supply, including developments in Guyana, Brazil and the U.S. Permian Basin," the statement said.
Securing foreign investment is critical for Iraq, the second-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Oil revenue represents at least 95% of Iraq's income.
Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Christian Schmollinger
Reuters · by Reuters

9. White House seeking $1 billion to help resettle Afghan allies

White House seeking $1 billion to help resettle Afghan allies
The Hill · by Jordan Williams · July 27, 2021

The White House is seeking $1 billion to help resettle Afghan personnel who worked with the U.S. military, according to multiple reports.
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News that the request was made last Friday. The money would be divided between the Defense Department and State Department, and $25 million would go to Health and Human Services’s Office of Refugee Resettlement.
The money would cover temporary shelter, resettlement and other necessities.
CNN reported that the request has bipartisan support, and could be included in a security supplemental funding package that is being negotiated on Capitol Hill. This package will reportedly be primarily intended to secure the Capitol after the Jan. 6 riot.
Asked about the request, a senior administration official told The Hill "we are working closely with both sides of the aisle on how we can further support those brave Afghans who have supported our work in Afghanistan."
The reported funding comes amid heightened urgency from both sides to relocate Afghan personnel whose lives are at risk for their work as translators or other duties supporting the U.S. military during the 20-year war.
Civilian casualties in the first half of 2021 reached record levels amid an increase in killings and injuries since the U.S. and international military forces began withdrawing, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration said last week that it plans to send the first group of 2,500 Afghans that are in the “very final stages” of applying for Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) to to Fort Lee, Va., which includes 700 SIV applicants and their family members. They’re only expected to stay at Fort Lee for approximately one week.
The House passed the Allies Act, legislation aimed at expediting visas for Afghans who helped the U.S. military.
The Hill · by Jordan Williams · July 27, 2021

10. Foreign Policy Returns to Normal, for Both Better and Worse by John Bolton

Excerpts:

In reality, the two political parties are simply returning to their traditional stances. Mr. Trump’s posture on Beijing was confused and inconsistent, from yearning for “the biggest trade deal in history” to imposing tariffs when the chimerical deal disappeared. He criticized the Wuhan origin of the coronavirus when politically advantageous but never censured China on North Korea, Hong Kong, human rights or much else.
...
One might say these aren’t real policy realignments, only evidence of the opposition doing what comes naturally: opposing. Internal divisions also remain, primarily among Democrats, facing their left wing’s foreign-policy onslaught, especially regarding Israel. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump’s influence is receding in Republican national-security circles, and it won’t be back, as further demonstrated by issues beyond China and Russia.
Mr. Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, thereby effectively implementing what Mr. Trump wanted and would certainly have done in a second term, has met with near-total Republican rejection in Congress. This is a reversion to the norm.
On North Korea, no clear Biden policy has yet emerged. In public, his approach so far looks much like President Obama’s “strategic patience,” which led to eight years of Pyongyang’s progress toward deliverable nuclear weapons. At least it comes without Mr. Trump’s showboating summit diplomacy, which did little but provide photo-ops to one of the world’s worst dictatorships.
Ironically, on issues where Mr. Trump closely followed traditional Republican lines—Iran, Venezuela and Cuba—Mr. Biden is having trouble reverting to the Democratic norm. Despite frantic efforts to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the president may be realizing how abject his surrender to Tehran would be, and may be backing off. And if he wants a prayer of carrying Florida in 2024, Cuba and Venezuela policies that look like Mr. Obama’s are sure losers.

Foreign Policy Returns to Normal, for Both Better and Worse
Republicans are suddenly tougher than Democrats on Russia and China. The Trump era is truly over.
By John Bolton
July 27, 2021 6:37 pm ET






The politics of American foreign policy are reverting to their modern norms, illustrated by two recent Biden administration decisions and the attendant reactions. Donald Trump’s idiosyncrasies and the Democratic opposition produced some aberrations in the traditional positions of the two major parties, confounding allies and adversaries alike. Now, Republicans and Democrats are essentially reverting to the status quo ante.
Last week, responding to Chinese hacking of Microsoft’s email systems, Washington orchestrated pronouncements by European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organization members condemning the attacks. The statements, however, were not uniformly critical of Beijing’s actions.
These statements amounted to little more than what diplomats call “a stiff note.” More significantly, at least publicly and to date, there have been no retaliatory measures: no sanctions (unlike after recent cyberattacks by Russian entities) and no cyber response. The White House press briefer uttered the palpably false words “We are not holding back.” Of course they were, and Beijing understood it.
Mr. Biden also acquiesced to the completion of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline. The administration had previously said it opposed the project, even while waiving sanctions that could have crippled it. (Mr. Trump also had opportunities to stop the pipeline, but didn’t.) Mr. Biden’s final surrender means the U.S. is done trying to stop Nord Stream 2.
In both cases, there was immediate criticism. Republicans were dismayed by Mr. Biden’s flaccid answer to China’s cyberattacks and incandescent about Nord Stream 2. Had these same decisions been made by Mr. Trump, Democrats would have taken the offensive, accusing Mr. Trump of coddling Xi Jinping and reprising the clamor about “Russian collusion.”
In reality, the two political parties are simply returning to their traditional stances. Mr. Trump’s posture on Beijing was confused and inconsistent, from yearning for “the biggest trade deal in history” to imposing tariffs when the chimerical deal disappeared. He criticized the Wuhan origin of the coronavirus when politically advantageous but never censured China on North Korea, Hong Kong, human rights or much else.
Mr. Trump didn’t take a “hard line” on China; he was as opportunistic there as on everything else. No one can say with confidence what a second Trump term would have brought. Nonetheless, seeing Mr. Biden’s weakness, Republicans re-emphasized their opposition to China’s growing economic, political and military threat.
Even under Mr. Trump’s helter-skelter decision making, his Republican advisers repeatedly recommended strict sanctions against Russia, which he often approved, albeit unhappily. Republican officials also recommended and obtained U.S. withdrawal from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces and Open Skies treaties, and a tough negotiation approach to any renewal of the New Start Treaty. Mr. Trump’s absence empowers congressional Republicans to express themselves with full force against Mr. Biden’s supine position on the pipeline.
One might say these aren’t real policy realignments, only evidence of the opposition doing what comes naturally: opposing. Internal divisions also remain, primarily among Democrats, facing their left wing’s foreign-policy onslaught, especially regarding Israel. Nonetheless, Mr. Trump’s influence is receding in Republican national-security circles, and it won’t be back, as further demonstrated by issues beyond China and Russia.
Mr. Biden’s decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan, thereby effectively implementing what Mr. Trump wanted and would certainly have done in a second term, has met with near-total Republican rejection in Congress. This is a reversion to the norm.
On North Korea, no clear Biden policy has yet emerged. In public, his approach so far looks much like President Obama’s “strategic patience,” which led to eight years of Pyongyang’s progress toward deliverable nuclear weapons. At least it comes without Mr. Trump’s showboating summit diplomacy, which did little but provide photo-ops to one of the world’s worst dictatorships.
Ironically, on issues where Mr. Trump closely followed traditional Republican lines—Iran, Venezuela and Cuba—Mr. Biden is having trouble reverting to the Democratic norm. Despite frantic efforts to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the president may be realizing how abject his surrender to Tehran would be, and may be backing off. And if he wants a prayer of carrying Florida in 2024, Cuba and Venezuela policies that look like Mr. Obama’s are sure losers.
Only six months into Mr. Biden’s term, politics are reverting to familiar contours. Mr. Trump is increasingly visible only in the rearview mirror.
Mr. Bolton is author of “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir.” He served as the president’s national security adviser, 2018-19, and ambassador to the United Nations, 2005-06.
Appeared in the July 28, 2021, print edition.

11. ‘We’re better than that’: Austin speaks about ‘un-American’ discrimination against Asians
This is what makes America great and we should all embrace this. There should be no political divide over this statement.

America’s willingness to admit its flaws “gives us the built-in ability to self-correct, and to strive towards a more perfect union,” Austin added. “And when we come up short, when we stray from our Constitution’s wisdom, we have a pretty good track record of owning up and trying to do better.”
‘We’re better than that’: Austin speaks about ‘un-American’ discrimination against Asians
Stars and Stripes · by David Choi · July 28, 2021
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visits Fort Wainwright, Alaska, July 24, 2021. Alaska was the first stop of seven-day trip that includes Singapore, Hanoi, Vietnam and Manila, Philippines. (Chad McNeeley/Defense Department)

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, speaking in Singapore on Tuesday, recognized discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, but said that while the U.S. “doesn’t always get it right,” admitting its flaws is a unique characteristic of democracy.
Delivering the Fullerton Lecture at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Austin also emphasized the importance of partnerships and transparency in the international community, namely countries in Southeast Asia.
“Our partnerships draw strength from our shared belief in greater openness, and our belief that people live best when they govern themselves,” he said.
But “our democratic values aren’t always easy to reach” and the U.S. “doesn’t always get it right,” the defense chief added.
“We’ve seen some painful lapses, like the unacceptable and frankly un-American discrimination that some Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have endured in my country in recent months,” Austin said.
Reports of anti-Asian hate crime rose dramatically in major cities during the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2020, according to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernadino.
The compilation of policing data, published in June, found that Asian hate crime reports in that period rose 262% in New York City, 80% in Los Angeles and 60% in Boston.
The university published a separate analysis in March that found anti-Asian hate crime in 16 of the largest U.S. cities had risen 145% in 2020. The analysis noted that “the first spike” of reports occurred in March and April “amidst a rise in COVID cases and negative stereotyping of Asians relating to the pandemic.”
Vivid descriptions of attacks from across the country did not go unnoticed by the international community.
United Nations representatives expressed their “serious concern” after finding “racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian-Americans have reached an alarming level across the United States since the outbreak of COVID19.”
In one of several cases cited by the U.N., “an older white man pushed a seven-year-old biracial (half-white, half-Asian) girl from her bike in the park and yelled at her white dad: ‘Take your hybrid kids home because they’re making everyone sick.’”
Referencing anti-Asian discrimination in the U.S., Austin said: "I believe that we’re better than that. Far better than that.
“We aren’t trying to hide our mistakes. When a democracy stumbles, everyone can see and hear it. It’s broadcast in loud and living color, and not hushed up by the state.”
America’s willingness to admit its flaws “gives us the built-in ability to self-correct, and to strive towards a more perfect union,” Austin added. “And when we come up short, when we stray from our Constitution’s wisdom, we have a pretty good track record of owning up and trying to do better.”
President Joe Biden signed legislation in May to address the rise of hate crime against Asian Americans. The bill aims to make hate crime reports more accessible to law enforcement officials and is expected to expedite reviews of hate crimes in the country.
David Choi

Stars and Stripes · by David Choi · July 28, 2021


12. FDD | Cyber Hygiene 101 for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses
Conclusion:

SMBs will continue to face constant threats from malicious cyber activity. Meanwhile, the trend toward remote work and digitalization of operations will only further expand the attack space for businesses. However, according to a 2021 survey, only 18 percent of SMBs were confident that they are prepared for a cyberattack. Going forward, efforts to mitigate risk must match the threat. Whether an SMB relies on a managed service provider or conducts its own security efforts, cybersecurity is a critical challenge that requires the attention of the company’s senior leadership. Successful cybersecurity requires investments across three lines of effort: people, processes, and technology. The list of solutions above is not all-inclusive, but a cyber hygiene plan rooted in these recommendations stands a greater chance of success in an increasingly risky cyber environment.

FDD | Cyber Hygiene 101 for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses
ADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery
CCTI Senior Director and Senior Fellow
Theo Lebryk
Intern
fdd.org · by RADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery CCTI Senior Director and Senior Fellow · July 28, 2021
Introduction
Industry reports and surveys paint a frightening picture of the cybersecurity landscape for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs): Between 2019 and 2020, cyber intrusions increased by 400 percent around the world, while the FBI received up to 4,000 cyberattack-related complaints per day. Forty percent of cyberattacks target SMBs, and up to half of all SMBs experience a breach each year. In 2020, the total cost of ransomware payments was $350 million, a 311 percent increase from the previous year. In 2020, the average cost of repairing a data breach was $2.64 million for companies with fewer than 500 workers. A report on critical infrastructure SMBs found that 46 percent of hacked companies lost customers and 59 percent reported losses in daily productivity because of a breach. No wonder 60 percent of small businesses go out of business within six months of a cyber incident.
SMBs are often unprepared to respond to cyberattacks. Nearly two-thirds of SMB CEOs confess that their companies lack an active, up-to-date cybersecurity strategy. This report consolidates advice from industry and the U.S. government on cyber best practices. It provides SMBs a high-level overview of how to integrate investments in people, processes, and technologies to mitigate the risk of the most common types of cyberattacks. For a more comprehensive list of industrial cybersecurity standards and technological controls, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies has also released a “Comparison of Cybersecurity Guidance for Critical Infrastructure Sectors.”
Cyber Hygiene: People, Processes, and Technology
All businesses face a choice when it comes to technology management, cybersecurity, and risk acceptance: Should the company employ a dedicated, in-house security operations center or outsource these tasks to a managed service provider? In general, outsourcing is the cheaper and more practical solution for SMBs. Regardless of who manages security functions, however, businesses have to understand the risks that stem from the combination of people, processes, and technologies, and weigh their tolerance for those risks.
Cyber hygiene entails persistent due diligence and comprehensive due care. Due diligence is the continual evaluation of security practices; due care is the action taken to ensure security. While the practices listed below should help reduce risk, it is equally important for businesses to be ready to adapt to new exploits presented by the adversary. It is worth noting, then, that enterprise cybersecurity is as much about mindset as it is about any single person, process, or product.
People
Cyberattacks cut across the targeted organization, meaning that every employee needs to understand his or her role in preventing attacks. Employees are both the primary line of defense against cyberattacks and often the weakest link targeted by malicious actors. In fact, IBM estimates that human error contributes to 95 percent of security breaches. The best technology in the world today still cannot always prevent employees from clicking on a phishing scam or stop security professionals from neglecting to install a critical security update.
Therefore, businesses should train and educate all of their employees on the importance of:
Using Secure Passwords
Reports indicate that 81 percent of cyber breaches involved weak or reused passwords. Increasing password complexity and incorporating additional good password habits make it harder for hackers to access accounts, sign into other accounts that share the same password, and establish persistent access to computer networks and devices. Some examples of good and poor password habits include:

Avoiding Email Scams
According to the cybersecurity company Proofpoint, 88 percent of organizations worldwide experienced spear-phishing attempts in 2019. Spear phishing is the act of sending emails containing malware to individuals, often appearing to be sent from a trusted email account. By carefully inspecting the source of the email, or the email sender, and not clicking on suspicious links or download prompts, users can avoid falling victim to email-based scams and attacks.
Practicing Good Physical Security Habits
In addition to monitoring cybersecurity threats from external sources, SMBs should also be vigilant about physical threats to technology assets. A recent study reported that almost 30 percent of businesses do not regularly conduct regular reviews of physical security as part of their cybersecurity practices. Employees should be reminded never to leave a computer unlocked or unattended in a public setting.
Updating Software
In a 2019 survey, 60 percent of respondents reported breaches as a result of “unpatched” software for which a patch was available for download. Employees should turn on automatic updates where possible and follow guidance from system administrators to ensure updates are safely incorporated into the network environment. Additionally, employees should not download software from unknown sources and should verify the update’s authenticity with network administrators before proceeding with the download.
Practicing Safe Browsing
When possible, employees should avoid using public Wi-Fi, which attackers can use to steal passwords or company information. When employee use of public Wi-Fi is unavoidable, the businesses should provide a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt traffic. Additionally, any URL can potentially be used to install malware on a device, so employees need to be careful not to browse untrusted websites and should never disclose passwords over unsecure sites. Browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla FireFox, and Microsoft Edge warn users that a website is unsecure by placing an open lock by the URL.
Practicing Safe Social Media Habits
Social media can provide hackers with a significant amount of information, including names, birthdays, spouse and pet names, and places of employment. Given that much of this information is often used to create usernames and passwords, it is highly valuable to hackers. By avoiding the disclosure of personal information over social media and using password managers to increase password complexity, employees can make it more challenging for hackers to access their accounts.
Backing up Data
The recent uptick in ransomware attacks has shown that a failure to back up data can significantly impact a company’s ability to withstand a cyberattack. Regularly backing up files and programs, either through cloud services or through physical hard drives, will facilitate recovery efforts from cyberattacks such as ransomware. For larger companies, sophisticated network configuration can render ransomware ineffective.
Processes
A number of frameworks provide high-level ways of ensuring good cybersecurity. These include the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST’s) Cybersecurity Framework, the Center for Internet Security’s Security Controls, and the International Organization for Standardization’s 27001 document, as well as industry-specific security frameworks.
Every framework consists of a set of “controls,” which are processes or best practices to secure an organization’s assets. These controls can be grouped into methods used to plan for, protect against, detect, respond to, or recover from attacks. Organizations should have clear policies and procedures on cybersecurity. These policies should include designating people in charge of tasks to oversee a set of predetermined steps to be taken throughout the response and recovery process.
Anticipating and Preventing Attacks
To plan for attacks and anticipate threats, companies should conduct threat modeling. This entails analyzing a company’s digital infrastructure, identifying threats, ranking which threats are most important, and determining countermeasures.
Analyzing a company’s infrastructure means breaking down a network and understanding how each individual section operates. With the network’s architecture in mind, businesses can examine every section of it and identify weaknesses as part of a systematic vulnerability assessment. The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency provides free scanning and assessments to most businesses upon request. Penetration testing (a term often used synonymously with “red teaming”) is the practice of stress testing a system by utilizing a dedicated team to attempt to break into the system or exploit potential vulnerabilities. This testing can further identify weaknesses in the network.
Businesses can also participate in information sharing schemes to better understand recent developments in the threat landscape. The U.S. government promotes membership in Information Sharing and Analysis Centers (ISACs) and Information Sharing and Analysis Organizations (ISAOs). These institutions allow firms in similar sectors to collaborate and share information about relevant threats. ISACs are geared toward larger businesses with in-house cybersecurity defense capabilities. ISAOs are more suitable for small businesses but may not provide as frequent or high-quality information.
Having identified potential threats, teams should evaluate the costs of improving defenses. The reality of cybersecurity for SMBs is that there are more threats than an SMB can feasibly defend against. Therefore, the threat modeling framework is a tool to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of threats so an organization can prioritize where to spend its resources.
Detecting Threats
Network administrators need to know as soon as possible when their company has been hacked. A 2020 IBM report found that the average breach goes undetected for 207 days. The report also found that detecting and containing a breach in under 200 days saved the hacked organization $1.12 million on average. Businesses should set up tools to detect suspicious activity, especially around high-priority assets. For instance, any changes to sensitive files should be logged and flagged for network administrators.
Meanwhile, employees throughout an organization should know the common signs of a cyberattack. These include unexpected installations on a device; frequent browsing redirects or pop-ups while browsing the web; changed or broken passwords; and disabled anti-malware, task manager, or registry editor programs.
Responding to Threats
Based on the threat modeling’s results, SMBs should establish protocols for reacting to attacks. All employees should know the protocol for how to report and take initial steps when they become aware of a breach. Each attack demands a slightly different response, but the short-term response to a cyberattack generally involves isolating the affected parts of the system, revoking the access or privileges of compromised users, purging the hacker from the system, and alerting law enforcement and any affected parties. While there currently is no national breach-notification law, states have their own data-breach notification laws, and regulated industries may have additional reporting requirements. Accordingly, SMBs need to develop procedures and policies in line with these requirements.
Recovering From Attacks
On the software side, the most common step toward recovery is restoring computers to a previous backup. Online guides can provide instructions on how to restore prior working states. These instructions are especially helpful in the event of a ransomware attack.
Recovering from business interruption is more complicated. Cyber insurance is becoming increasingly common for businesses of all sizes, but SMBs have still been slow to purchase cyber insurance. A 2020 study found that more than half of all SMBs lack cyber insurance despite the prevalence of cyberattacks affecting them.
A recent Government Accountability Office report noted that while demand for cyber insurance policies has continued to increase year over year, the cost of insurance premiums increased 10 to 30 percent in the third and fourth quarters of 2020. The increase in premiums is reportedly attributed to higher losses from the increasing number of cyberattack insurance claims. The increase in price has effectively shifted cyber insurance policies from an affordable $1,000 investment for a basic policy to a price that is likely out of reach for some SMBs. Even if affordable, these basic insurance policies may not provide coverage for revenue lost while fixing a breach. Needless to say, cyber insurance is not a substitute for other best practices.
Technology
There is no single software suite that will work for every business. Businesses need to weigh their specific needs, risks, and constraints when purchasing technologies. Businesses must also ensure their employees can easily adapt a given technology to their work. This means clear company policies, easily installable software, and basic training so employees know how to use the tools and products provided. For example, a password manager is useless if employees never use it or if they use it only to fill in the same password over and over again. While not exhaustive, the following list provides 12 technologies that can assist SMBs in their cybersecurity efforts.
Password Managers, Single Sign-On, and Multi-Factor Authentication
Password managers generate random, hard-to-guess passwords. They require an employee to remember only a single secure password to access the full collection of advanced passwords for all his or her accounts. Most modern web browsers have built-in password managers that can generate and store hard-to-guess passwords.
Single sign-on is a similar solution in which employees need to log in only once to access an entire suite of apps for a set period of time.
Multi-factor authentication means requiring verification from a second “factor,” which may be either a separate login step or a physical token. Even if attackers guess a password, they will still need to get access to the second factor, which makes it harder to gain unauthorized access to the targeted network.
Access Control
Most networks have some form of built-in login or access-control system to keep out unauthorized users. Businesses should configure their login systems so that users cannot use weak passwords and will get locked out after a certain number of failed attempts. Accounts and devices should be configured to lock automatically after a certain period of inactivity. Companies should also consider configuring their access-control systems to apply other security measures, such as preventing logins from foreign countries or unusual locations. Finally, employees should have access only to the information they need for their jobs. For instance, most employees should not be able to access or alter sensitive customer information.
Most often, a dedicated network administrator determines how to configure the network. Therefore, it is especially crucial that network administrators practice good cyber hygiene, as an attack that compromises an administrator potentially gives the attacker control over the entire network. Administrators should use their administrator accounts only when necessary; they should have a separate account for all other functions, such as browsing the web.
Firewalls, Intrusion Prevention Systems, and Endpoint Protection Platforms
Most networks should have comprehensive schemes to prevent malicious cyber activity from ever reaching a computer or device (known as an endpoint). At a minimum, this means employing a standard firewall that filters out malicious traffic.
Many companies employ multiple layers of protection, such as an intrusion prevention system underneath the main firewall. These systems provide a second line of defense in filtering out malicious traffic and can alert administrators to any suspicious activity.
Endpoint protection platforms serve a similar function by scanning files and checking them against extensive, externally maintained threat databases to prevent malware from ever reaching the computer.
The precise differences between firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and endpoint protection platforms are less important than the general need for products that can filter out malicious traffic. As businesses grow and encounter more sophisticated attacks, their endpoint security should also become more sophisticated. However, everyone, from the smallest businesses to individual contractors, should have at least some software to filter out harmful traffic.
Anti-Malware
Malware is short for malicious software, which is specifically designed to damage data or a computer system. It is software used to disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information, or gain access to private computer systems. Malware typically comes in the form of malicious code hidden in computer systems and is often installed without the knowledge or consent of the computer’s owner, using viruses, worms, or trojan horses. Anti-malware is software that scans incoming files and downloads to prevent a user from being infected. It should regularly scan the computer to find any malware that slipped past that first line of defense. Anti-malware software uses techniques such as signature-based detection, behavior-based detection, and sandboxing to protect systems from malicious software. The value of anti-malware applications goes beyond simply scanning files for viruses. Anti-malware programs can also detect advanced forms of malware and offer protection against ransomware attacks.
VPNs and Zero-Trust
Many companies use VPNs to encrypt and help authenticate remote traffic. VPNs operate by creating a tunnel between a user and the network. Instead of having data go directly from the user to the end location, VPNs act as a middleman, encrypting traffic between the two parties to make it harder for attackers to intercept or impersonate a user.
However, cybersecurity experts increasingly see VPNs as insufficient protection against unauthorized traffic. They instead recommend building zero-trust networks, which do not give automatic access to the network merely through a VPN. Zero-trust networks operate under the mantra “never trust, always verify.” No user or device is trusted by default, meaning that even within a network, users must constantly verify their identity. This paradigm helps isolate and identify breaches but is still a relatively new phenomenon. Therefore, transitioning toward a zero-trust network will likely take time for many organizations.
Data Loss Prevention
Data loss prevention (DLP) software is the opposite of a firewall: It ensures sensitive data does not leak out into the broader internet. Many cybersecurity software providers (such as McAfee, Norton, et cetera) can bundle DLP, firewalls, data sanitization, and anti-malware software all in one. DLP software monitors business-critical data and identifies violations of policies defined by the SMB. If violations are identified, DLP software provides alerts and other protective actions to prevent end users from accidentally or intentionally sharing data that could put the SMB at risk. DLP software and tools monitor and control endpoint activities, filter data streams on business networks, and monitor data in the cloud to protect data at rest or in motion.
Email Protection Systems and Anti-Phishing Tools
Most email providers supply baseline spam filtering either by default or for purchase. Adding additional software on top of what the email provider offers can mitigate phishing attacks. Specifically, email protection systems should have:
  • Sender Policy Framework: Limits the number of internet protocol (IP) addresses using a business’ domain, to prevent email spoofing.
  • Domain Keys Identified Mail: Uses a digital signature to ensure no one tampers with an email after it is sent.
  • Domain-based Message Authentication Reporting and Conformance: Verifies if a sender is legitimate, and manages the policy governing how to handle illegitimate emails.
Data Sanitization Tools
File recovery software can retrieve files that are merely deleted from a disk or drive. Companies can use a variety of free and paid tools to clean or purge sensitive data more securely so that the data do not fall into the wrong hands. If all else fails, companies should have a policy of physically destroying hardware that previously housed sensitive material. Most cloud providers will automatically sanitize deleted data, but it is important to check their policies. Furthermore, for cloud services that can be synced to local computers, deleting the cloud copy does not guarantee that the local copy has also been securely deleted. Therefore, companies should avoid syncing highly sensitive data to multiple local hosts if that data may need to be deleted quickly.
Security Information and Event Management Systems
To properly monitor a network and detect breaches, IT professionals should employ a security and event management (SIEM) system. This software logs activity across the network. Attackers looking for persistent access to a network will often attempt to erase log files because their activity may appear in the log as anomalous activity. Thus, it is important that SIEM systems are configured to mitigate attackers’ ability to cover their tracks.
DNS Security
The domain name system (DNS) translates human-readable domain names (such as www.example.com) into computer-friendly numeric addresses (such as 12.345.67.890). Compromising the DNS opens the door to a variety of attacks, from stealing information to impersonating sites to redirecting users to malicious sites. Within an organization, DNS compromises pose a threat to any device connected to both the internet and the internal network.
DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC), DNS over HTTPS (DOH), and Protected DNS (PDNS) provide enhanced protections against common DNS attacks while browsing the web. DNSSEC uses encryption to ensure that DNS queries are not altered (meaning no one can maliciously redirect traffic unbeknownst to the user). DOH also uses encryption to secure the DNS, but this time to prevent hackers from spying on DNS queries. PDNS works by configuring a policy for detecting malicious IP addresses to prevent users from landing on a malicious site even after the URL has been translated from a human-readable domain into a computer-readable address.
DNS Registrars
Companies with websites need to ensure that users of their sites are not subject to DNS attacks. Normally, companies purchase domain names through a domain name registrar. While purchasing a domain name can be very cheap for some providers, businesses should consider investing in enterprise-level registrars that can guarantee better security. These providers offer more comprehensive protection against misspelled URLs and are better at protecting against common DNS attacks.
Secure Socket Layer Certificates
Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates enable encryption between a website and the user, making it more difficult for hackers to steal private customer data passed over the web. These certificates also verify a website’s identity and ownership to users. In most browsers, sites with SSL certificates have a closed padlock as well as text notifying the user that the site is secure. It is in an SMB’s best interest to obtain an SSL certificate so that customers visiting its website do not turn away after receiving a message that the site is not secure. SMBs can obtain an SSL certificate by going through registration and verification by a certificate authority.
Conclusion
SMBs will continue to face constant threats from malicious cyber activity. Meanwhile, the trend toward remote work and digitalization of operations will only further expand the attack space for businesses. However, according to a 2021 survey, only 18 percent of SMBs were confident that they are prepared for a cyberattack. Going forward, efforts to mitigate risk must match the threat. Whether an SMB relies on a managed service provider or conducts its own security efforts, cybersecurity is a critical challenge that requires the attention of the company’s senior leadership. Successful cybersecurity requires investments across three lines of effort: people, processes, and technology. The list of solutions above is not all-inclusive, but a cyber hygiene plan rooted in these recommendations stands a greater chance of success in an increasingly risky cyber environment.
fdd.org · by RADM (Ret) Mark Montgomery CCTI Senior Director and Senior Fellow · July 28, 2021


13. Far more world leaders visit China than America

A lot of interesting data. I think there are lots of ways to interpret it. And of course quantity has a quality all its own (I doubt Stalin meant it in this context).


Far more world leaders visit China than America
If leadership diplomacy was an Olympic sport,
Beijing beats Washington to the gold medal.
lowyinstitute.org · by Neil Thomas
In April, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga became the first foreign leader to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House. Suga’s trip marked the return of leader-level travel to Washington after the Covid-19 pandemic. Suga told reporters that his team was so excited to meet their American counterparts that “we ended up not even touching our hamburger steak.”
During the pandemic, a new dynamic of “strategic competition” has crystallized between the United States and China. Both Washington and Beijing are courting supporters for their rival efforts to shape economic, political, and territorial norms. Suga’s trip to the United States, for example, saw Tokyo agree to unusually direct language opposing Chinese “force and coercion” in the Indo-Pacific.
However, despite Biden’s early invitation to Suga, the United States trails China significantly in attracting world leaders to its shores. That’s according to a new dataset counting visits to the two countries by foreign heads of state and government from 1990–2019. Records of US travel by world leaders are kept by the US State Department, while travel to China can be tracked through China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the official mouthpiece People’s Daily. The data include visits for multilateral meetings, such as the United Nations General Assembly in New York or a Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit in China, which often incorporate bilateral elements and reflect the United States and China’s overall engagement with global affairs.
US President Joe Biden in the Oval Office of the White House (Adam Schultz/White House Photo/Flickr)
These visits matter because they are good proxies for diplomatic priorities. Foreign trips by national leaders require extensive preparation and demand a sizeable allocation of the scarcest political resource: attention. And “face-to-face” visits help the US or Chinese president to build trust and deepen cooperation with counterparts. That more leaders visit China than the United States suggests that Beijing outcompetes Washington on this measure of diplomatic influence.
Beijing is the hot ticket for the world’s politicos. In 2019, the year before Covid-19 halted most travel, 79 foreign leaders visited China, while only 27 called on the United States. More world leaders have visited China than the United States in every year since 2013, a sharp turnaround from the American dominance of the early post-Cold War era.
During the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, when the United States was the sole superpower, there were an average of 65.8 and 60.5 visits by world leaders each year, respectively. That number jumped to 71.8 for George W. Bush, as Washington waged a “global war on terror”, more than three times the figure for China’s president at the turn of the century, Jiang Zemin. Yet, as China’s economy took off after its accession to the World Trade Organisation in 2001, world leader visits to China doubled under Jiang’s successor Hu Jintao.
A few more White House invitations for leaders in Africa, Asia, and South America would certainly help.
Visits to the United States declined in Barack Obama’s administration, as financial crisis, so-called “forever wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan, and domestic divisions sapped the appeal of US leadership. Meanwhile, Xi Jinping, who became China’s president in 2013, pushed an activist foreign policy that supercharged Beijing’s economic diplomacy and saw an average of almost 87 world leaders visit China each year.
China’s lead widened dramatically under Donald Trump, whose “America First” philosophy neglected diplomacy and alienated allies. From 2017 to 2019, Trump received less than one-third as many visits by world leaders as did Xi, with 82 trips to the United States, compared to a whopping 272 to China. The United States had never been less popular.
Where do these leaders come from? Analysing the data by region reveals a sea change in international diplomacy over the past three decades. In the 1990s, national leaders from every region visited the United States far more than they did China. The United States remained the more attractive destination during the 2000s, although leaders from Asia and Oceania, two regions increasingly drawn into China’s economic orbit, began to visit there more often.
Then travel to China exploded. In the 2010s, compared to the United States, China received more than triple the number of visits by Asian and Oceanian leaders, more than double the number by African leaders, and almost double the number by Eastern European leaders. Even leaders from North and South America, the US’s diplomatic backyard, slightly preferred China. Only Middle Eastern and Western European leaders made more trips to the United States.
Notably, in the last decade, the leaders of many US allies and partners visited China more often than the United States, including those of South Korea, Germany, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and New Zealand. French leaders visited both countries equally often, while Japan was the only Asian country whose leaders visited the United States more than China. British, Italian, and Australian leaders also prioritised the United States, but by narrowing margins.
Countries whose leaders made the most visits to the US and China, 2010⁠–⁠19
United States Visits China Visits Israel 18 Cambodia 23 Japan 15 Pakistan 21 Jordan 14 Laos 18 Italy 13 Russia 17 Canada 12 Kazakhstan 16 France, Ireland 10 North Korea 15 Australia, South Korea, UK 9 Kyrgyzstan 14 Germany, Mexico 8 Mongolia, Myanmar, South Korea, Vietnam 13 China, India, Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore, Turkey, Ukraine 7 Germany, Singapore 12 Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Iraq, Norway, Pakistan, Qatar, Spain 6 Sri Lanka, Tajikistan 11 Afghanistan, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Egypt, New Zealand, Peru, Russia, Vietnam 5 France, Malaysia, Serbia, Thailand 10 Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Tunisia 4 India, Uzbekistan 9
Sources: US Department of State; China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs; People’s Daily.
More travel by world leaders to China is both a symptom of the country’s growing power and one of its causes. The need for countries to build commercial ties with China, where the government holds sway in many sectors, surely requires extra diplomatic legwork. Yet China’s economy was 30 per cent smaller than the US economy in 2019, while China attracted almost double the visits by world leaders, suggesting that business alone does not explain this gap.
Beijing recognizes that attention and effort can go a long way in diplomacy, and that leader visits tend to produce more bilateral agreements, investment and aid. A country has no more influential a diplomat than its leader, and every visit by a foreign leader to China provides a unique opportunity for Xi Jinping to advance Beijing’s foreign policy goals.
Xi also devotes significant attention to boosting China’s international convening power.
That’s also one reason why Xi has multiplied the budgetexpanded the consular footprint and bolstered the political clout of his Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This investment in diplomacy helps Xi convince other leaders to visit China, to back Beijing’s positions in global affairs, and to join Chinese initiatives, such as Xi’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a sprawling infrastructure development strategy.
Xi also devotes significant attention to boosting China’s international convening power. Regular meetings of the BRI Forum, China International Import Expo, and Forum on China-Africa Cooperation draw dozens of world leaders. And especially from developing countries who want to emulate China’s growth and whom China leans on for numbers in one-country, one-vote institutions such as the United Nations General Assembly.
Beijing’s engagement of the developing world is a key element of its response to Joe Biden’s attempt to build economic blocs, supply chains, and other multilateral groupings that contest Chinese influence. As such, if Biden wants to fulfill his pledge to “renew American leadership” in the world, he’ll need to sustain and expand his nascent revival of US diplomacy. World leaders from Japan, South Korea, Germany, Israel, Ukraine, Jordan, and Afghanistan have already visited Biden, while none have been to Beijing since before the pandemic. A few more White House invitations for leaders in Africa, Asia, and South America would certainly help.
lowyinstitute.org · by Neil Thomas



14.  France, US losing civilian control of their militaries

Wow. Quite a thesis by the author. I am not sure I agree with the American analysis (and I cannot speak to the French situation).

Excerpts:
Public opinion appears to back the position of the dissident generals and military personnel in France. Indeed, a number of French officials have grudgingly acknowledged the threat to the polity posed by an internal Islamist threat.

The situation in the US with regard to its own renegade generals is reversed: Public opinion in the US most certainly does not back the subversion of policies intended, primarily but not only, to end the forever wars.
To put it plainly: Even though insubordinate, the retired French generals and active-duty military personnel are seeking to save the country they serve from what they see, and not without reason, as a very real internal security threat.
The situation in the US is rather different. America’s renegade generals, in connivance with hawkish political appointees, have been working against both public opinion and the orders of the past two presidents to wind down a series of fated-to-fail interventions that are inimical to US national security, even as they are waged in its name.
France, US losing civilian control of their militaries
The principle of civilian control of the military is being challenged in very public ways in both democratic countries
asiatimes.com · by More by James Carden · July 28, 2021
The sensitive question of civilian control of the armed forces is one that Western nations such as the United States and France must continue to confront so long as they wish to be considered functioning democracies.
The principle of civilian control has been challenged in very public ways over the past few months.
This spring, the French political establishment was rocked by two open letters from current and former members of the military, both warning that France was on the brink of civil war.
It is worth considering this same matter in contexts far afield from France – not least in the US. What is the relationship among the Western democracies between their armed forces and the institutions that are supposed to impose political authority over them?
More than 1,000 mostly retired members of the French military, including 20 retired generals, signed the first letter, published in the rightist magazine Valeurs Actuelles in the last week of April.

“The hour is late, France is in peril, threatened by several mortal dangers,” it warned. These included “Islamism” and “hateful and fanatical partisans [who] seek to foment a racial war.”
The French establishment, to whom the letter was directed, was outraged – appearing as it did on the 60th anniversary of the failed 1961 coup by French generals who opposed Charles de Gaulle’s efforts to negotiate France’s withdrawal from Algeria, a colony formally integrated as a département of metropolitan France more than a century earlier.
French Prime Minister Jean Castex called the generals’ letter “an initiative against all of our republican principles, of honor and the duty of the army.”
In short order a second letter appeared in defense of the authors of the first, also in Valeurs Actuelles. In it, a self-described group of active-duty servicemen and women warned, “If a civil war breaks out, the military will maintain order on its own soil … civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well.”
Within days of its release, the second letter garnered more than 250,000 online signatures from the public.

A French naval officer in front of the Vendémiaire frigate. Photo: Twitter
The French political establishment is not wrong in seeing some parallels to the events of April 1961.
According to a contemporary account by journalist and editor Jean-Marie Domenach, beginning in the late 1950s, as it became clear that France’s position in Algeria was unsustainable, the French Army “took on the shape of an autonomous power, not in order to support a political party or the aspirations of a dictator, but on the contrary in order that it could remain faithful to its mission to carry out to the very end the orders which it had received, to save the nation from itself, to protect the West even if it did not know its peril.”
The same might be said not just of today’s dissident French generals but also of America’s own increasingly renegade military establishment, which now sees its role as protecting its prerogative to wage a never-ending global war on terror, never mind what the elected civilian leadership of the country has to say about it.
While little noted in the corporate press, what we have seen in recent years is a serious erosion in civil-military relations that extends back at least as far as 2009.
US president Barack Obama’s attempt in the early days of his administration to wind down the war in Afghanistan was met with swift resistance from the military and the national-security establishments, of which he was ostensibly in charge.

Secretary of defense Robert Gates conspired with the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen, and the head of Central Command at the time, General David Petraeus, to railroad Obama, the civilian commander-in-chief, into sending upwards of 30,000 more troops into the unwinnable war in Afghanistan.
As the debate over Afghanistan troop levels raged inside the administration, another incident of military insubordination came to light by way of the late reporter Michael Hastings, who revealed in a noted Rolling Stone piece that General Stanley McChrystal and his staff in Kabul were openly, indeed flamboyantly contemptuous of the civilian leadership in Washington.
At the time, David Obey, chairman of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee, noted that McChrystal joined “a long list of reckless, renegade generals who haven’t seemed to understand that their role is to implement policy, not design it.”
Over the course of the past three US administrations, civilian control of the military has eroded in large part because of the appointment of former and current generals and admirals to what have historically been (with the forgivable exception of George Marshall) civilian cabinet positions.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. Photo: AFP / Mandel Ngan
These recent and troubling appointments include Admiral Michael Hayden as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Admiral James Clapper as director of national intelligence, General Petraeus as CIA director, General James Mattis as secretary of defense, and General Lloyd Austin, also as secretary of defense.

Under president Donald Trump, the military (with the encouragement of hawkish civilian advisers such as former national security adviser John Bolton) took a page from the Gates/Mullen/Petraeus playbook and thwarted Trump’s orders to withdraw American troops from Syria.
Some former Trump officials, such as James Jeffrey, the egregious special envoy to Syria during Trump’s final years in office, have spoken openly of their role in undermining the president’s order to withdraw.
And in May it came to light that, in response to Trump’s direct presidential order for a complete withdrawal of American troops from Somalia and Afghanistan, issued in December 2020, the chairman of the joint chiefs, Mark Milley, along with national security adviser Robert C O’Brien and acting defense chief Christopher Miller, again undermined the president.
Indeed, in a disturbing echo of the aforementioned piece by Jean-Marie Domenach describing the mindset of the treasonous French generals in 1961, Axios reports that US generals under Trump “fundamentally disagreed with the president’s worldview. They were personally invested in Afghanistan. And several would come to see it as their job to save America and the world from their commander-in-chief.”
These matters noted, there is a key difference between the situation in France today and the situation in the US.
Public opinion appears to back the position of the dissident generals and military personnel in France. Indeed, a number of French officials have grudgingly acknowledged the threat to the polity posed by an internal Islamist threat.
American soldiers on the tarmac of the Bargam airbase. – All US and NATO troops have left the facility, signalling the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan by September 11 this year. Photo: AFP / Jimin Lai
The situation in the US with regard to its own renegade generals is reversed: Public opinion in the US most certainly does not back the subversion of policies intended, primarily but not only, to end the forever wars.
To put it plainly: Even though insubordinate, the retired French generals and active-duty military personnel are seeking to save the country they serve from what they see, and not without reason, as a very real internal security threat.
The situation in the US is rather different. America’s renegade generals, in connivance with hawkish political appointees, have been working against both public opinion and the orders of the past two presidents to wind down a series of fated-to-fail interventions that are inimical to US national security, even as they are waged in its name.
This article was produced in partnership between The Scrum and Globetrotter, which provided it to Asia Times.
asiatimes.com · by More by James Carden · July 28, 2021


15. Royal Navy defies China en route to South China Sea

Excerpts:
Expanded naval deployments by the US and its allies will make it increasingly difficult for China to dominate adjacent waters and intimidate smaller rival claimants as well as neighbors, including Taiwan.
Last year, Beijing warned London against any major naval deployments to its adjacent waters, accusing the European power of turning Asian waters into a “battleground for big power competition, or a sea full of roaming warships.”
With the UK pressing ahead nonetheless with its massive naval deployment, Chinese experts and state-backed media outlets are up in arms.
Invoking China’s “Hundred Years of Humiliation” during the “Opium Wars” with European powers, Global Times has accused the UK of trying to rekindle “colonial days by sending navy to South China Sea.” “This carrier strike group is worthless. It is built for nothing but to coordinate with the US,” Chinese commentator Song Zhongping told the state tabloid.
“An old saying in China goes that if you want to punish someone, you need to consider saving face for his big brother. However, what China will do is just the opposite: China will make it clear to the US that London will be punished by acting like Washington’s running dog in provoking Beijing,” the PLA-trained engineer and military expert warned.
Royal Navy defies China en route to South China Sea
UK carrier strike group has arrived in Asian waters, a deployment Chinese media says confirms Britain's role as America's 'running dog'
asiatimes.com · by Richard Javad Heydarian · July 27, 2021
In what seems like more than a coincidence, the United Kingdom’s (UK) largest naval contingent in recent memory has conducted unprecedented drills off the coast of Singapore just hours before the US Secretary of State Lloyd Austin’s much-awaited address at Singapore’s annual Fullerton Forum.
This week saw the UK’s Carrier Strike Group, led by the 65,000-tonne carrier aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, and the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) hold joint naval exercises close to the hotly disputed South China Sea.
This was the first time that the Royal Navy’s 5th generation Carrier Strike Group exercised alongside the RSN, which has been rapidly expanding its security cooperation with the US and other allied powers in recent years. Just days earlier, the British contingent conducted joint drills (July 21-22) with the Indian Navy in the Bay of Bengal.
Over the coming weeks, the British naval contingent is expected to pass through China’s adjacent waters, from the South China Sea to the Taiwan Straits, en route to Japan, a fellow US ally. To assert its often underappreciated status as a “resident power” in the Indo-Pacific, Britain has also announced that it will permanently deploy at least two warships for operations across the region.
Since May, the HMS Queen Elizabeth-led Carrier Strike Group has been on a transoceanic voyage covering 40 countries across 26,000 nautical miles in order to project a post-Brexit “Global Britain.”

The Pentagon has warmly welcomed the British naval deployment as an expression of the European power’s “commitment to an interconnected network of allies and partners, who mutually cooperate and support freedom of navigation and a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.”
For China, which has vehemently opposed any large-scale European naval presence in the region, Britain is simply part of an emerging US-led counter-alliance aimed at containing the Asian superpower’s naval ambitions.
The new British aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth is en route to the region on her first operational deployment. Photo: AFP / Glyn Kirk
In a strongly-worded editorial, the state-backed Chinese tabloid Global Times lashed out at Britain as “Washington’s running dog” and warned of “strong countermeasures” if the UK carrier group dares “to provoke the Chinese People’s Liberation Army in the South China Sea.”
China’s trepidations, of course, are not entirely unfounded. Top British officials have increasingly made it clear that they are committed to deepening military cooperation with China’s regional rivals. The upshot is the gradual yet steady emergence of a de facto “Quad Plus” alliance, as Quadrilateral Security Dialogue powers of Australia, India, Japan and the United States rapidly expand naval cooperation with so-called like-minded European and Southeast Asian powers.
Earlier this year, the newly-appointed British High Commissioner to India, Alex Ellis, underscored his country’s commitment “[to] working closely with India, Japan, US and Australia in this region.”

During his bilateral meeting with the US Secretary of Defense Austin in early July, British Defense Minister Ben Wallace emphasized the need for growing strategic coordination among like-minded powers. A week later, ahead of his meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Kishi Nobuo in Tokyo, Wallace reiterated the need for allies to “stick together” in face of shared threats, especially China.
“Following on from the strike group’s inaugural deployment, the United Kingdom will permanently assign two ships in the region from later this year,” announced the British defense chief in a joint announcement with his Japanese counterpart shortly after.
The UK’s Carrier Strike Group’s deployment across the Mediterranean and the broader Indo-Pacific region this year carries major strategic implications, especially for China.
It provides London a prized opportunity to flex its naval muscle, test its newly-furbished HMS Queen Elizabeth carrier and enhance interoperability and defense diplomacy with major allies and strategic partners across vital chokepoints.
Over the past few months, the British naval contingent conducted joint drills with allies across the Mediterranean Sea and Horn of Africa. Before edging towards the South China Sea, the British naval contingent conducted drills with the Indian Navy during the Exercise Konkan in the Bay of Bengal, which featured as many as 4,000 personnel, 10 warships, two submarines and close to 20 aircraft.

“This enables both forces to advance their interoperability and cooperation ahead of further exercises when the [UK carrier strike group] returns to the Indian Ocean in the autumn,” the British High Commission said in a statement.
Naval officers atop the United Kingdom’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier headed for the South China Sea. Photo: Twitter
“The joint endeavor provides tangible security to our friends and a credible deterrence to those who seek to undermine global security. An Indian warship will also exercise with the Royal Navy off the coast of the UK in August,” the statement added.
During its return voyage, the UK Carrier Strike Group is also slated to participate in the Five Power Defense Arrangements’ Bersama Gold exercise, also known as Bersama Lima, the annual air and sea exercises among the UK and fellow Commonwealth nations of Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Crucially, the UK naval contingent includes US destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), a US Marine Corps Fighter Attack Squadron, and Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805), which reflects an unprecedented degree of interoperability among multiple allies.
For the first time since the end of World War II, US F-35B fighter jets took off from Britain’s HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier during joint combat missions in the Middle East against transnational terrorist targets.

In another big first, the USS Ronald Reagan and the HMS Queen Elizabeth strike groups conducted joint exercises in the Indian Ocean earlier this month.
“Our team was proud to operate alongside the UK Carrier Strike Group during this unique opportunity to hone the full scope of our mutual capabilities,” said the commander of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, Rear Admiral Will Pennington, in a statement, following the dual-carrier exercises between the two allies.
“By operating together at sea, we deepen our coalition partnerships and extend our global reach throughout the region’s critical waterways,” the top US naval official added.
Growing naval interoperability between the US and UK, best demonstrated through multiple unprecedented exercises in recent months, has raised the prospect of regularized multilateral Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs) across the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits.
Just days into the Biden administration’s term in office, the two allies signed a new joint US-UK declaration, which paved the way for expanded and more aggressive joint operations across the Indo-Pacific.
Down the road, Washington hopes to enlist a growing number of other allies into its regularized FONOPs, which aim at directly challenging Beijing’s excessive claims around artificially created islands in the South China Sea.
This US Navy photo shows the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the amphibious assault ship USS Boxer, and ships from the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group under way in formation while conducting security and stability operations in the US 7th Fleet area of operations on October 6, 2019, in the South China Sea. Photo: AFP / Erwin Jacob V Miciano / Navy Office of Information
Expanded naval deployments by the US and its allies will make it increasingly difficult for China to dominate adjacent waters and intimidate smaller rival claimants as well as neighbors, including Taiwan.
Last year, Beijing warned London against any major naval deployments to its adjacent waters, accusing the European power of turning Asian waters into a “battleground for big power competition, or a sea full of roaming warships.”
With the UK pressing ahead nonetheless with its massive naval deployment, Chinese experts and state-backed media outlets are up in arms.
Invoking China’s “Hundred Years of Humiliation” during the “Opium Wars” with European powers, Global Times has accused the UK of trying to rekindle “colonial days by sending navy to South China Sea.” “This carrier strike group is worthless. It is built for nothing but to coordinate with the US,” Chinese commentator Song Zhongping told the state tabloid.
“An old saying in China goes that if you want to punish someone, you need to consider saving face for his big brother. However, what China will do is just the opposite: China will make it clear to the US that London will be punished by acting like Washington’s running dog in provoking Beijing,” the PLA-trained engineer and military expert warned.
asiatimes.com · by Richard Javad Heydarian · July 27, 2021



16. Not Your Grandfather’s Counterinsurgency: The United States Must Prepare for Radically New Forms of Nonstate Violence

Some good thoughts from Steven Metz.

Nonstate violence is not going away. Revolutions, resistance, poltical violence, insurgency, terrorism and civil war and the conditions that cause them will be ever present.

Conclusion: 
Will future insurgencies look precisely like this? Probably not. But some characteristics from the description above are highly plausible given general international security trends. Yet, the nations and security forces of the world are unprepared. Current US and multinational COIN doctrines remain mired in first-wave thinking, treating insurgency as something that occurs in remote hinterlands to be defeated by increasing local security force capability and undertaking economic and political reform. There are no security organizations or concepts specifically designed to defend against hyperdispersed, strategically swarming insurgencies using multivector and multidomain attacks to weaken power and authority structures by broadband and protracted cost imposition.
The United States needs an organizational catalyst to begin futures-based analysis, research, wargaming, experimentation, and concept development. This should include monitoring the real-world evolution and adaptation of insurgency-based organizations. While the US military needs to play an important role, it cannot dominate the effort given that future insurgency will increasingly unfold outside of the military realm. Therefore, the catalytic organization must be housed somewhere other than the Department of Defense—perhaps as a component of the National Security Council that emulates the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment, focusing on strategic futures and integrative, long-range strategic concepts. The knowledge, forecasts, and concepts created by this organization could then be operationalized and used for capability development by other organizations, including the Department of Defense.
But time is short. If the architects and thought leaders of US security do not move beyond the legacy approach to insurgency—assuming its future will look much like its past and thus can be addressed through the same methods—then as the third wave matures and the fourth wave emerges, the United States could be dangerously unprepared. Hard thinking, analysis, and research done now can lower the risks of having to develop concepts, organizations, and strategies while under fire.
​Per the second paragraph above we need an organizational catalyst. Congress has attempted to provide one with the current NDAA Sec 1299L (see below)

I would argue these three recommendations provide a very useful start point for something broader than a DOD construct:

Recommendation to Congress: Mandate an Independent Review of U.S. Strategic Failure in Population-Centric Conflicts 

Recommendation to the President: Reorganize the Executive Branch Around the Security Challenges of the 21st Century

Recommendation to Concerned Citizens: Establish an Institution Outside Government Dedicated to Understanding American Irregular Warfare 
pages 215-223,  https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/perspectives/PEA300/PEA301-1/RAND_PEA301-1.pdf



SEC. 1299L. FUNCTIONAL CENTER FOR SECURITY STUDIES IN IRREGULAR
WARFARE.
   (a) Report Required.--
       (1) In general.--Not later than 90 days after the date of the
   enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, in consultation
   with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the congressional
   defense committees a report that assesses the merits and
   feasibility of establishing and administering a Department of
   Defense Functional Center for Security Studies in Irregular
   Warfare.
       (2) Elements.--The report required by paragraph (1) shall
   include the following:
           (A) A description of the benefits to the United States, and
       the allies and partners of the United States, of establishing
       such a functional center, including the manner in which the
       establishment of such a functional center would enhance and
       sustain focus on, and advance knowledge and understanding of,
       matters of irregular warfare, including cybersecurity, nonstate
       actors, information operations, counterterrorism, stability
       operations, and the hybridization of such matters.
           (B) A detailed description of the mission and purpose of
       such a functional center, including applicable policy guidance
       from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
           (C) An analysis of appropriate reporting and liaison
       relationships between such a functional center and--
               (i) the geographic and functional combatant commands;
               (ii) other Department of Defense stakeholders; and
               (iii) other government and nongovernment entities and
           organizations.
           (D) An enumeration and valuation of criteria applicable to
       the determination of a suitable location for such a functional
       center.
           (E) A description of the establishment and operational
       costs of such a functional center, including for--
               (i) military construction for required facilities;
               (ii) facility renovation;
               (iii) personnel costs for faculty and staff; and
               (iv) other costs the Secretary of Defense considers
           appropriate.
           (F) An evaluation of the existing infrastructure,
       resources, and personnel available at military installations,
       existing regional centers, interagency facilities, and
       universities and other academic and research institutions that
       could reduce the costs described in subparagraph (E).
           (G) An examination of partnership opportunities with United
       States allies and partners for potential collaboration and
       burden sharing.
           (H) A description of potential courses and programs that
       such a functional center could carry out, including--
               (i) core, specialized, and advanced courses;
               (ii) planning workshops and structured after-action
           reviews or debriefs;
               (iii) seminars;
               (iv) initiatives on executive development, relationship
           building, partnership outreach, and any other matter the
           Secretary of Defense considers appropriate; and
               (v) focused academic research and studies in support of
           Department priorities.
           (I) A description of any modification to title 10, United
       States Code, or any other provision of law, necessary for the
       effective establishment and administration of such a functional
       center.
       (3) Form.--The report required by paragraph (1) shall be
   submitted in unclassified form, but may include a classified annex.
   (b) Establishment.--
       (1) In general.--Not earlier than 30 days after the submittal
   of the report required by subsection (a), and subject to the
   availability of appropriated funds, the Secretary of Defense may
   establish and administer a Department of Defense Functional Center
   for Security Studies in Irregular Warfare.
       (2) Treatment as a regional center for security studies.--A
   Department of Defense Functional Center for Security Studies in
   Irregular Warfare established under paragraph (1) shall be operated
   and administered in the same manner as the Department of Defense
   Regional Centers for Security Studies under section 342 of title
   10, United States Code, and in accordance with such regulations as
   the Secretary of Defense may prescribe.
       (3) Limitation.--No other institution or element of the
   Department may be designated as a Department of Defense functional
   center, except by an Act of Congress.
       (4) Location.--The location of a Department of Defense
   Functional Center for Security Studies in Irregular Warfare
   established under paragraph (1) shall be selected based on an
   objective, criteria-driven administrative or competitive award
   process.




Not Your Grandfather’s Counterinsurgency: The United States Must Prepare for Radically New Forms of Nonstate Violence - Modern War Institute
mwi.usma.edu · by Steven Metz · July 28, 2021
Twenty years of costly counterinsurgency (COIN) efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have left many national security experts—and the American public—ready to move on. However, while the United States may be over COIN, COIN is not done with the United States. Over the past seventy-five years, the US military has been involved in COIN efforts around the world, often engaged in multiple fights at once. Given the prominent role insurgency played in the past and the fact that civil wars and nonstate violence remain consistent features of the international system, we should expect COIN will continue to play an important role in US national security.
The challenge for the United States is not just maintaining COIN expertise as national security attention shifts to great power competition, but also understanding how the character of insurgencies will evolve in the future. The persistent requirement to engage in COIN over many decades has led to an extensive body of both research and military doctrine on how to defeat insurgencies. However, the character of insurgency has evolved due to societal shifts in the areas of technology, economics, social networks, and other changes that shape human interaction. New forms of insurgency will likely emerge in the coming decades, and the United States may once again become involved. As the character of insurgency evolves, the strategies and tools necessary to counter it also need to adapt.
The changing character of insurgency may be no less dramatic than changes in other aspects of modern warfare that are being driven by technological advances in areas such as artificial intelligence, long-range precision fires, swarming autonomous devices, and social media. Ominously, though, America’s security experts and professionals are not focused on what these new forms of insurgency will be. Instead, they assume future variants will resemble those of the past. If this backward-looking approach continues, future US involvement in COIN campaigns could be catastrophic.
Three Waves of Insurgency
Despite extensive literature on insurgency and practical experience in countering it, much of the US understanding of how to conceptualize COIN is wrong, treating insurgency as either a type of organization or a variant of warfare. It is more accurate (and analytically useful) to think of insurgency as a strategy—specifically, one used by the weak to attain strategic objectives when they cannot do so through conventional military action or normal politics. Insurgency, then, is a strategy of desperation.
Like war, insurgency has an enduring nature and a changing character. Its enduring nature includes strategic-level asymmetry as insurgents seek to make domains like the political and psychological decisive. Insurgents use violence to produce political and psychological effects rather than in pursuit of conventional military victory. Insurgents exploit existing grievances, conflicts, and schisms and assume an asymmetry of will and patience, believing that over time the power balance will shift. Insurgency’s changing character is exhibited by shifts in factors such as the strategic objectives of insurgents; the organizational formality and size of insurgent movements; the role, sophistication, and centrality of violence; the extent to which an insurgency is linked to a specific region or territory; the use of local or foreign funding sources and fighters; the extent, type, and importance of insurgent alliances and support networks; and the methods of funding.
Insurgency has evolved in a series of waves that, for periods of time, overlapped and intermixed. The first wave ran from the 1930s—when Mao Zedong combined traditional guerrilla warfare and peasant rebellion with anticolonial nationalism, a Marxist ideology, and Leninist political organization—to the end of the Cold War. In this wave, insurgency was politically focused; its paradigmatic examples were Mao’s Chinese movement and the Vietnamese insurgency led by Ho Chi Minh. Most insurgents wanted to replace the state and hence took on state-like organization and methods, hoping to eventually seize national power through conventional military means. First-wave insurgencies originated in remote hinterlands where the government was weak or absent altogether and, if successful, eventually engulfed a nation’s cities.
The second wave ran from the early 1990s to the 2010s and was more economically focused than the first. Its paradigmatic examples were the Iraq insurgency, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. With limited or no assistance from external sponsors, insurgents had to fund themselves and buy arms on the global market. War economies developed with many rank-and-file insurgents motivated by the need for employment rather than ideology or politics, and both insurgents and the state had a vested interest in sustaining the conflict. Second-wave insurgents might have aspired to the proto-state status of the Maoist model, but few could attain it, forcing them to rely on dispersed networks, swarming, and terrorism. Rather than accumulating power aimed at conventional military victory, second-wave insurgents focused on imposing costs on the state or existing power structure. And because they had to be self-funded, many second-wave insurgencies engaged in crime, often becoming organized criminal gangs with a political veneer.
The third wave, which began around ten years ago as an offshoot of the second, is underway today and has not yet peaked. It is more psychologically based than its predecessors as insurgents seek individual empowerment and psychic fulfillment more than political or ideological objectives. Continuing and expanding upon trends that emerged during the second wave, such as al-Qaeda’s attempts to produce franchises, third-wave insurgencies tend to be strategically and operationally dispersed. An example of a third-wave insurgency is ISIS and its various franchises and emulators. Third-wave insurgents rely on the internet and social media, using them to amplify the psychological effects of operations, recruit, raise funds, build alliances, and even plan. They continue to innovate operationally and tactically, making use of the weaponization of everything and increasingly sophisticated cyber operations. In contrast to first-wave insurgencies, which tended to be linked to a particular geographic area, third-wave insurgencies like ISIS can abandon a location where they are under pressure and relocate or swarm to a different area. As ISIS was defeated in Iraq and eastern Syria, for instance, its franchises were on the ascent in Africa’s Lake Chad region.
Envisioning a Fourth Wave
While insurgency’s third wave has not yet peaked, it will soon begin to give way to a fourth wave driven by meta-level changes in the global security system. These changes include escalating global connectivity, the formation of virtual tribes and societies, increased access to and the effective employment of tools such as social media and cyberattacks, and the broad-based decay of authority structures and systems for public order. Taking these into account, what might the fourth wave look like? Though it is impossible to say with certainty, we can sketch a plausible future that reflects both insurgency’s enduring nature and changing character.
Imagine, for instance, that a decade from now in a hypothetical country—call it Nation A—a dispersed, virtual tribe of unemployed, bored, disgruntled young gamers becomes convinced that the existing political and commercial power structure is irredeemably repressive, corrupt, unjust, and sclerotic. They conclude that a violent revolution is needed to replace existing elites and institutions with youth councils. Since they lack the capability to simply take over the state, they adopt a strategy based on cost imposition, attempting to apply enough pain to get what they want: inclusion in—or perhaps even dominance of—the power structure.
These amateur insurgents initially know little about physical violence but find plenty of ideas online. They gradually get better at bombings, assassinations, and sabotage, often disrupting the artificial intelligence–driven technology that Nation A depends on. Killing is a psychological Rubicon, solidifying the group since its members no longer have the option of abandoning each other. Security forces respond, thwart some attacks, and even capture a few of the insurgents but find it difficult to protect all targets all the time. Since the insurgents seek any form of disruption and cost imposition, their potential target set is expansive. Anything that helps Nation A function is vulnerable to attack.
While the insurgents have modest skill at kinetic violence, they are highly effective social media communicators. Using this, they create an increasingly powerful global narrative stressing the justness and heroism of their cause, portraying themselves as fighting for repressed and disempowered youth everywhere. As a result, other dispersed, virtual youth tribes, inspired by the desire to seem heroic and to advance what they perceive as greater justice, swarm to the cause. One such tribe knows how to launch cyberattacks on infrastructure and government systems, targeting key communications links and vital artificial intelligence control systems. It launches a protracted, pulsing, multivector assault on Nation A while remaining clandestine and not openly affiliated with the insurgency. Security forces—already stressed trying to defend against local attacks—find it difficult to deal with new, fuzzy threats coming from far away.
Another dispersed virtual tribe specializes in cybercrime. It attacks businesses and government agencies in Nation A, splitting the cryptocurrency it obtains with the insurgents. This gives them a war chest that they use to improve their kinetic attacks by buying more sophisticated technology, intelligence, and expertise. Another dispersed virtual tribe is skilled at belief manipulation using social media, deepfakes, and next-generation fabricated news. It undertakes a campaign to delegitimize the government and security forces of Nation A, portraying them as senile and incompetent, or sexually deviant and malevolent.
None of these assault vectors alone is enough to bring down the government of Nation A or compel it to accommodate the demands of the insurgents, but in combination they weaken it. The insurgency is like a disease, degrading the ability of its host to perform necessary functions. Security spending in Nation A increases dramatically, shifting money away from things like education, research, health, infrastructure, and national resiliency. New security measures are unpopular and spark massive protests. Nation A’s international credit and business ratings collapse. Sympathetic activists around the world mobilize to support the insurgents—young celebrities and influencers in many countries trumpet the cause. Nation A’s political and business elites face disdain and demonstrations whenever they travel or interact outside their own borders.
After several years, Nation A feels compelled to negotiate with the insurgents, thus legitimizing the movement and its objectives. Even as the negotiations conclude, attacks from swarming global virtual tribes that the insurgents do not control continue, all motivated by the thrill, the sense of heroism, and the feeling of empowerment that the attacks produce. Bolstered by the success of the insurgents in Nation A, emulators form in dozens of other nations. Now, the fourth wave of insurgency has begun.
Preparing for the Next Wave
Will future insurgencies look precisely like this? Probably not. But some characteristics from the description above are highly plausible given general international security trends. Yet, the nations and security forces of the world are unprepared. Current US and multinational COIN doctrines remain mired in first-wave thinking, treating insurgency as something that occurs in remote hinterlands to be defeated by increasing local security force capability and undertaking economic and political reform. There are no security organizations or concepts specifically designed to defend against hyperdispersed, strategically swarming insurgencies using multivector and multidomain attacks to weaken power and authority structures by broadband and protracted cost imposition.
The United States needs an organizational catalyst to begin futures-based analysis, research, wargaming, experimentation, and concept development. This should include monitoring the real-world evolution and adaptation of insurgency-based organizations. While the US military needs to play an important role, it cannot dominate the effort given that future insurgency will increasingly unfold outside of the military realm. Therefore, the catalytic organization must be housed somewhere other than the Department of Defense—perhaps as a component of the National Security Council that emulates the Department of Defense’s Office of Net Assessment, focusing on strategic futures and integrative, long-range strategic concepts. The knowledge, forecasts, and concepts created by this organization could then be operationalized and used for capability development by other organizations, including the Department of Defense.
But time is short. If the architects and thought leaders of US security do not move beyond the legacy approach to insurgency—assuming its future will look much like its past and thus can be addressed through the same methods—then as the third wave matures and the fourth wave emerges, the United States could be dangerously unprepared. Hard thinking, analysis, and research done now can lower the risks of having to develop concepts, organizations, and strategies while under fire.
Dr. Steven Metz is professor of national security and strategy and the longest-serving member of the faculty at the US Army War College. He is currently writing a book on the future of insurgency.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the United States Army War College, United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.
Image credit: Master Sgt. William Buchanan, US Air National Guard
mwi.usma.edu · by Steven Metz · July 28, 2021

17. Biden zigzags on China policy
Conclusion:

Beijing’s message, reiterated to Sherman, is clear: China’s authoritarian policies will remain unchanged, while America must abandon its interests and ideals — that is, stop being America. The existential challenge could not be more stark, and it is now the Biden administration’s duty to take it on, more consistently than it has so far.
Biden zigzags on China policy
The Hill · by Joseph Bosco, opinion contributor · July 27, 2021

The Biden administration continues its back-and-forth effort to balance the Trump national security team’s strong China policy with its own desire for a more “constructive” reset on bilateral relations. This past week it took a half-step forward in advancing the more assertive Trump administration approach, but a step-and-a-half back toward the Clinton-Bush-Obama quarter-century of accommodating China.
On the positive side, the Justice Department announced the indictment of four state-sponsored Chinese nationals for hacking American and allied government entities, universities and corporations. The administration withheld sanctions that it imposed when it accused Russian entities of similar espionage activities, but President Biden warned “the investigation is not finished” and the State Department said the U.S. is “not ruling out further action.”
The administration also announced sanctions against seven Chinese officials for their roles in crushing Hong Kong’s democracy, and cautioned U.S. companies against continuing to do business there.
China reacted by blocking a much-sought Beijing visit by Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. This constituted a half-step backward in the U.S.-China psychological jousting by reversing the earlier roles of supplicant and dispenser of favors when the Biden team declined several Chinese requests to meet, finally agreeing to the acrimonious March encounter in Anchorage.
After that confrontation, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said any potential follow-on meetings “really have to be based on the proposition that we’re seeing tangible progress and tangible outcomes on the issues of concern to us with China.” No such progress has been indicated. Yet, Beijing sensed administration desperation as the tentative Sherman meeting date approached. China demanded a more substantive U.S. concession than the face-saving gesture of letting Sherman cool her heels — and they got it just before the weekend meeting was to take place.
Justice suddenly dropped charges against five visiting Chinese researchers the Trump administration had accused of visa fraud for hiding their connections to the People’s Liberation Army. This is at least the second time the Biden team has lifted Trump-imposed pressure on Chinese technology companies that support the Communist Party’s military objectives. In May, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin took technology giant Xiaomi off the banned list for U.S. investment.
Then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed the visa fraud indictment by ordering the closure of China’s Houston consulate, which he called “a hub of spying and intellectual property theft.” Beijing retaliated by closing the U.S. consulate in Chengdu. U.S.-China relations under Trump were clearly taking on the trappings of a new cold war, which the Biden administration seeks to tamp down while still mostly holding firm against multiple Chinese violations of international norms.
The diplomatic zigzagging is complicated by a fundamental misalignment of administration thinking on how the relationship should proceed. Most of the Biden appointees served in the Clinton and/or Obama administrations, which were deceptively more tranquil than the rocky but realistic tenure of Trump’s national security apparatus.
During his confirmation hearing, Blinken said that “President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” though he disagreed with some of his style and tactics. Going forward, Blinken repeatedly has said that “Our relationship with China will be competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be.”
His targets for cooperation echoed administrations from Richard Nixon to Donald Trump: proliferation, North Korea’s nuclear program, the environment and climate change, and most recently, pandemics and public health.
But there are two serious problems with the intended Biden approach toward China. First, on none of the potentially “collaborative” issues has the communist regime historically demonstrated anything more than lip service. Far from seeing shared global interests as the West does, for Beijing they are non-core issues that can be exploited to extract concessions and gain a strategic advantage for China.
On proliferation, for example, the Congressional Research Service reported in 2015 that China was “a key supplier of … nuclear and missile-related technology to Pakistan and missile-related technology to Iran.” China’s direct and indirect transfers to those and other Middle East states, and to North Korea via the A.Q. Khan network in Pakistan, made it not only a key proliferator of weapons of mass destruction, but a proliferator of proliferators — all of whom oppose American and Western interests.
While U.S., Japanese and South Korean officials agonized about the existential threats emanating from Pyongyang’s erratic Kim dynasty, Beijing was pocketing the rewards from posturing as a “responsible stakeholder” and good-faith negotiating partner. In every bilateral and multilateral forum, including the United Nations Security Council, Beijing provided diplomatic cover for its lone ally.
On the environment, China has earned its reputation as one of the world’s worst polluters of air, land, and water. Even the current focus on climate change, which Biden has called the “number one issue facing humanity,” has not significantly advanced its compliance with international commitments. A recent Foreign Affairs article suggests that its future performance will be no better.
John Kerry, Biden’s climate change “czar,” said, “[W]e have serious differences with China. Those issues will never be traded for anything that has to do with climate. That’s not going to happen. … [C]limate is a critical, standalone issue.”
On global health security and the pandemic, the headline to a Washington Post editorial this past weekend read: “China is stepping up its deception and denial in investigations of COVID-19.” Even more indicative of China’s COVID cover-up was the about-face by World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who previously excused China’s non-cooperation. Last week he called on Beijing to be more transparent: “I think we owe it to the millions who suffered and to the millions who died really to understand what happened.”
The second fatal impediment to the Biden approach is the unbridgeable gap between U.S. expectations and Chinese intentions. Days after Blinken described America’s strategic plan, Beijing rejected compartmentalization. Lü Xiang of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said, “U.S. officials would be too naïve if they believe China will accept dialogue and cooperation with no basis for equality and mutual respect.” And Beijing has made emphatically clear that means accepting China’s depredations on human rights and Hong Kong and its aggression in the South and East China Seas and against Taiwan: “[I]f Washington keeps believing that it can have Beijing's cooperation in addressing daunting challenges while at the same time suppressing China, it is hugely wrong.”
Beijing’s message, reiterated to Sherman, is clear: China’s authoritarian policies will remain unchanged, while America must abandon its interests and ideals — that is, stop being America. The existential challenge could not be more stark, and it is now the Biden administration’s duty to take it on, more consistently than it has so far.
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 27, 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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