A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1826- November- 13/11/2020
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A Weekly Political News Magazine
www.majalla.com/eng On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump fired his secretary of defense, Mark Esper, via tweet. The move came just two days after Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election, a development Trump so far refuses to accept. In the wake of Esper’s departure, the Trump administration imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran, blacklisting six companies and four people accused of facilitating the procurement of sensitive goods for an Iranian military firm. These developments have drawn immediate attention and raised questions over the Presidents manoeuvres in his final 72 days in office. In this week’s cover story, we examine Trump’s lastditch efforts to increase pressure on Iran and eliminate any hope of an Iran deal revival While the results of America’s presidential election have yet to be officially certified, all but a relative handful of observers have concluded that former Vice-President Joe Biden has prevailed and will replace Donald Trump come January. In this weekly column, Joseph Braude covers the behind the scenes jockeying for senior posts in a Biden administration has accelerated. For the critical positon of Secretary of State, Biden is rumored to be considering Obama alumnus Susan Rice for the role, though a probable Republican Senate majority may force him to reconsider, he writes. Since election day, Donald Trump and other Republicans have filed a smattering of lawsuits in battleground states as his campaign push on to fight the election results tooth-and-nail. “Our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,” Trump said in a statement Saturday. “The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots.” Trump has filed a dozen lawsuits in five swing states. We take a look at where the key ones stand: Less than a year ago, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, his country is on the brink of civil war. Tensions between Abiy’s government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), once the dominant force in Ethiopia’s ruling party but now a disgruntled and well-armed regional government, have been gradually escalating for months. Last week, the situation took a sudden turn for the worse when the prime minister ordered a military offensive against Tigrayan forces he accused of insurrectionary and traitorous activity. Ethiopia suffered a prolonged and bloody civil war from 1974 to 1991. Now it looks poised to repeat that history. Nic Cheeseman writes that conflict in Africa’s second most populous nation bodes ill for the continent
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A Weekly Political News Magazine
Jockeying for Senior Posts in a
14 Biden Administration Accelerates
Issue 1826- November- 13/11/2020
28 Ethiopia’s Dangerous Slide
Toward Civil War
Things to Know About Your Morning Cup of Joe 3
Hack 2020 A Big 20 Election Never Came. Here’s Why
Big Tech Can Help Bring War Criminals to Justice
China Is Winning the Vaccine Race
Great British Baking Show 46 The and the Meaning of Life
The Queenâ€™s Equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, places a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior on behalf of Queen Elizabeth (centre), during a ceremony in Londonâ€™s Westminster Abbey to mark the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior, in Britain November 4, 2020. /REUTERS
A woman examines Soviet submachine gun RPD (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Degtyaryova) at the exhibition dedicated to the 79th anniversary of the 1941 Red Square Parade and the battle for Moscow during WWII, in Moscow, Russia, 08 November 2020. The exhibition features WWII military hardware and installations of the scene of daily life of Moscow during the war. /EPA
Saudi King Urges World to Take ‘Decisive Stance’ Against Saudi’s Regional Foe Iran Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz urged the world on Thursday to take “a decisive stance” to address efforts by Iran to develop nuclear and ballistic missile programs, in an annual address to the top government advisory body. “The kingdom stresses the dangers of Iran’s regional project, its interference in other countries, its fostering of terrorism, its fanning the flames of sectarianism and calls for a decisive stance from the international community against Iran that guarantees a drastic handling of its efforts to obtain weapons of mass destruction and develop its ballistic missiles programme,”
the king said. They were the 84-year-old ruler’s first public remarks since he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in September via videolink, where he also took aim at Iran. Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia and Shi’ite Iran are locked in a decades-long struggle for influence across the region, supporting opposing sides in conflicts from Syria to Yemen.
on laying the foundation of his administration. Biden will name longtime aide Ron Klain as his White House chief of staff, possibly as soon as Thursday, according to the New York Times. Trump’s team went to federal court to try to block Michigan, a Midwestern battleground state that he won in 2016 but lost to Biden, from certifying the Nov. 3 election results. Trump trailed in the state by roughly 148,000 votes, or 2.6 percentage points, according to Edison Research, with nearly 100% of the vote counted. The lawsuit made allegations of voting misconduct, with the focus on the Democratic stronghold of Wayne County, which includes Detroit. Jake Rollow, a spokesman for the Michigan Department of State, said the Trump campaign was promoting false claims to erode public confidence in the election.
Trump Presses on With Uphill Legal Struggle to Overturn Biden Victory President Donald Trump’s campaign on Wednesday took another step in its long-shot legal strategy to upend his election defeat with a Michigan lawsuit, while Georgia announced a recount and President-elect Joe Biden worked
Libya Talks Reach Election Breakthrough, U.N. Says Political talks on Libya’s future have reached agreement on holding elections within 18 months, the United Nations acting Libya envoy said on Wednesday, hailing a “breakthrough” in a peacemaking process that still faces great obstacles. “There’s real momentum and that’s what we need to focus on and encourage,” envoy Stephanie Williams said at a news conference in Tunis, where 75 Libyan participants chosen by the United Nations have been meeting since Monday. The meeting has reached preliminary agreement on a roadmap to “free, fair, inclusive and credible parliamentary and presidential elections” that also includes steps to unite institutions, she said. Libya has been in chaos since 2011 and divided since 2014 between rival factions in east and west, with major institutions
also split or controlled by armed groups. The internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA) holds power in the capital Tripoli, while Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) holds sway in the east.
Bahrain’s Security Hawk Prime Minister Khalifa Dies, Succeeded by Crown Prince Bahrain’s Sheikh Khalifa bin Salman al Khalifa, the world’s longest serving prime minister who repeatedly put down opposition unrest during a half century in power, has died, with the country’s crown prince appointed in his place. The new premier, Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, 51, has been viewed as the ruling family’s leading proponent of social and economic reforms. Sheikh Khalifa, a dominant figure in the Gulf Arab kingdom’s politics, passed away on Wednesday morning at the Mayo Clinic in the United States, Bahrain’s state news agency said. Khalifa, 84, the uncle of King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, had served as prime minister since independence from Britain in 1971. The al-Khalifa family has reigned since 1783.
over a Middle East plan that envisaged leaving Israel in control of Jewish settlements and large parts of the occupied West Bank. But after peace talks collapsed in 2014 he remained a firm backer of the negotiated creation of a future Palestinian state co-existing alongside Israel even if, in his own words, it took 50 years. Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said on Oct. 8 he had contracted the coronavirus. Three years earlier he had undergone a lung transplant in the United States that left his immune system compromised. He died following multiple organ failure after being hospitalised for three weeks in Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center, a spokeswoman for the Israeli hospital said.
sive device blew up at a cemetery for non-Muslims on Wednesday morning. A joint statement strongly condemned the “cowardly attack”. Saudi authorities confirmed that a Greek consulate employee and a Saudi security officer had been hurt. The government of Mecca province described the attack on the ceremony as “cowardly” and said security forces had launched an investigation. The French consulate in Jeddah urged French nationals in Saudi Arabia to exercise “maximum vigilance” following the attack, according to Reuters.
Several Wounded in Remembrance Day Bomb Attack at Saudi Cemetery
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia Sign Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Deal
Several people have been wounded in a bomb attack at a Remembrance Day ceremony attended by foreign diplomats in the Saudi city of Jeddah. The embassies of France, Greece, Italy, the UK and the US said an improvised explo-
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia have signed an agreement to end military conflict over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the deal “incredibly painful both for me and both for our people”. It follows six weeks of fighting between Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenians. The region is internationally recognised as Azerbaijani but has been run by ethnic Armenians since 1994. A Russian-brokered truce was signed at the end of the war in the early 1990s but there was no peace deal. Although both sides took steps to reduce tensions last year, fighting erupted at the end of September and several attempts to end the conflict failed. The new ceasefire agreement prompted anger in Armenia, as protesters stormed the parliament, beating up the speaker and reportedly looting the prime minister’s office.
Palestinian Negotiator Erekat Dies After Contracting COVID-19 Saeb Erekat, one of the most experienced and high-profile advocates for the Palestinian cause over decades of dispute with Israel, died on Tuesday after contracting COVID-19. He was 65. Having sat down with Israeli and U.S. leaders in the 1990s and 2000s, in recent years Erekat was the principal face of a war of words with President Donald Trump’s administration
Trump Makes Last-Ditch Efforts to Increase Pressure on Iran With Defence Secretaryâ€™s Firing and New Iran Sanctions, the President is Moving to Eliminate Any Hope of Iran Deal Revival 10
Majalla – London On Monday afternoon, President Donald Trump fired his secretary of defense, Mark Esper, via tweet. The move came just two days after Joe Biden won the 2020 Presidential election, a development Trump so far refuses to accept. In the wake of Esper’s departure, the Trump administration imposed a new round of sanctions on Iran, blacklisting six companies and four people accused of facilitating the procurement of sensitive goods for an Iranian military firm. These developments have drawn immediate attention and raised questions over the Presidents manoeuvres in his final 72 days in office. Esper is thought to have been at the top of a list of officials Trump was looking to fire, after he contradicted the President several times in public. “The United States is not seeking a war with Iran… We are seeking a diplomatic solution,” Esper told the media in early January 2020. He even openly contradicted Trump’s claim that US-assassinated Iranian General Ghasem Soleimani was plotting attacks on four US embassies around the world. Esper also stood up to Trump, who threatened to wipe out Iran’s cultural centers, by flatly stating that the Pentagon had no such bombing plans.
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and Secretary of Defense Dr. Mark Esper (L) inspect the troops during a full honors welcome ceremony on the parade grounds at the Pentagon, on July 2019 ,25 in Arlington, Virginia. (Getty)
Trump announced that Christopher Miller, respected director of the National Counterterrorism Center, will be Esper›s replacement. Officials say Miller was a driving force in some of Trump›s anti-Iran and anti-Hezbollah policies, as well as counterterrorism efforts in Syria and Iraq. Analysts say that with Esper gone and the State Department’s plans of a “flood” of new Iran sanctions in the coming days, the stage could be set for a sharp escalation in the US-Iran tensions. According to the New York Times: «Defense Department officials have privately expressed worries that the president might initiate operations, whether overt or secret, against Iran or other adversaries during his last days in office.» Elissa Slotkin, a former Defense official and now a Democrat representative for Michigan, added: «There would only be a few reasons to fire a secretary of defense with 72 days left in an
Analysts say that with Esper gone and the State Department’s plans of a “flood” of new Iran sanctions in the coming days, the stage could be set for a sharp escalation in the US-Iran tensions. administration. «One would be incompetence or wrongdoing, which do not seem to be the issue with Secretary Esper. «A second would be vindictiveness, which would be an irresponsible way to treat our national security. «A third would be because the president wants to take actions that he believes his secretary of defense would refuse to take, which would be alarming.» The administration has already proved willing to risk a direct clash by hitting Iran-linked targets in Iraq, notably Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. Iran is also thought to still want to avenge Soleimani’s killing and some analysts believe it could use the unstable transition period to do so.
TRUMP RUSHES TO KILL OF IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL Two years ago, Trump abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal struck by his predecessor, Barack Obama, and has since restored harsh U.S. economic sanctions designed to force Tehran into a wider negotiation on curbing its nuclear program, development of ballistic missiles and support for regional proxy forces. The Trump administration is planning a flood of new sanctions before President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20. Biden, who was Obama’s vice president. Biden has said he would return to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, under which Tehran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for relief from U.S. and other sanctions,
if the Iranian government resumes compliance. Trump’s aim is to make it as difficult as possible for Biden to return to the 2015 agreement. Iran has reacted positively to Biden’s victory. President Hassan Rouhani said an opportunity had come up “for the next US administration to compensate for past mistakes and return to the path of complying with international agreements through respect for international norms”. He said the Trump policy “was doomed to fail” and argued that Iran “considers constructive engagement with the world as a strategy”. Tuesday’s sanctions were imposed on six companies and four people, accusing the network of supplying sensitive goods to an Iranian military firm in the Trump administration’s latest move to increase pressure on Tehran. “The Iranian regime utilizes a global network of companies to advance its destabilizing military capabilities,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “The United States will continue to take action against those who help to support the regime’s militarization and proliferation efforts.” Iran Communication Industries, which was already sanctioned by both the United States and European Union, produces military communication systems, avionics, information technology, electronic warfare and missile launchers, according to the Treasury. The department accused a number of companies based in Iran, Hong Kong, China and Brunei of facilitating the transaction of US-origin electronic components and other goods on behalf of Iran Communication Industries.
Trump’s aim is to make it as difficult as possible for Biden to return to the 2015 agreement.
According to a report from Reuters, the Trump administration is readying another round of sanctions against Iranians who played a role in the violent suppression of anti-government protests in November 2019. The unrest in Iran left hundreds dead, marking the country’s deadliest uprising since the Islamic Revolution in 1979. The new sanctions come as Trump’s special envoy for Iran, Elliott Abrams, told reporters during a visit to Israel this week that the
Donald Trump speaks at a the Stop The Iran Nuclear Deal protest in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC on September 2015 ,9. (Getty)
administration would keep up its maximum pressure campaign against Iran through the transition. Abrams has said in a closed briefing several days prior that the Trump administration wants to announce a new set of sanctions on Iran every week until January 20, a source who was privy to the briefing Axios. The special envoy has moved on to Saudi Arabia and the Emirates for discussions ahead of a visit by secretary of state Mike Pompeo. His trip is also going to focus on the Trump administration’s last-ditch
effort to increase pressure on Iran. MK Uzi Dayan, a retired IDF general, said Netanyahu’s first priority should be to find a way to make the US’s exit from the Iran deal permanent. “We need to anchor, as much as possible, America’s non-return to the previous Iran agreement,” he told The Times of Israel. He didn’t say how to do that, but suggested some kind of presidential declaration that would make it harder for the Biden administration to revive the flailing deal.
Jockeying for Senior Posts in a Biden Administration Accelerates
Susan Rice is a Possible Choice Secretary of State, Though Senate Majority Battle May Force the President-elect to Reconsider
by Joseph Braude While the results of Americaâ€™s presidential election have yet to be officially certified, all but a relative
handful of observers have concluded that former Vice-President Joe Biden has prevailed and will replace Donald Trump come January. Behind the scenes, the jockeying for senior posts in a Biden
administration has accelerated. For the critical positon of Secretary of State, Biden is rumored to be considering Obama alumnus Susan Rice for the role, though a probable Republican Senate majority may force him to reconsider.
SUSAN RICE: A LEADING CANDIDATE, WITH AN ACHILLES HEEL Several senior U.S. officials have indicated in the press that Biden is leaning towards veteran insiders for the positions of Secretaries of State and Defense, as the exigencies of the pandemic and the resultant economic turmoil will leave his administration with little time for “on-the-job-training” at those critical posts. For that reason, among others, Biden is reportedly considering Susan Rice for the top post at State.
Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice arrives to speak at the J Street 2018 National Conference April 2018 ,16 in Washington, DC.
Rice carries the benefit of considerable foreign policy experience, ranging from junior NSC staffer to NSA, as well as adding further demographic diversity to his cabinet, something highly valued by today’s Democratic coalition. — an experienced foreign policy hand who’s held jobs all the way from junior NSC staffer to top Africa diplomat to U.N. ambassador to national security adviser — an appealing option for secretary of State. She and Biden are said to have a warm relationship, though they disagreed over how to deal with tumult in places like Egypt and Libya when Biden was vice president. Rice would likely face harsh scrutiny from Republican Senators, many of whom harbor ill will towards her over her role in the aftermath of the Benghazi episode of 2012. At that time, Rice told multiple media outlets that the attack on the U.S. consulate which killed four Americans was prompted by an anti-Islamic video, rather than a premeditated terrorist operation by the AQ-affiliated Ansar al-Sharia. As congressional Republicans at the time phrased it, Rice had “either willfully or incompetently misled the American public in the Benghazi matter.” Attitudes have not softened appreciably in the intervening years.
THE WAGES OF DIVIDED GOVERNMENT A possible Rice nomination illustrates what is
Since cabinet posts must be confirmed by the Senate, this lends Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell an outsized influence on the early direction of the Biden administration. likely to be a defining feature of the incoming Biden administration. Unlike nearly every President in modern history, Biden will enter office having to contend with a Senate held by the opposing party. And since cabinet posts must be confirmed by the Senate, this lends Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell an outsized influence on the early direction of the Biden administration. Republicans expect “an ongoing discussion” about Biden’s cabinet nominations, in the words of Pennsylvania Senator Pat Toomey. «The president should get significant deference... Having said that, especially when you have divided government ... we›ve got to recognize we›ve got a responsibility: advice and consent,» Toomey said, adding crucially that «people who are well outside of the political mainstream don›t belong in really important, senior-level, Cabinettype posts. And that›s why that will be an ongoing discussion, I think, between a Republican Senate and Joe Biden,» Toomey added. Democrats, particularly on the party’s left flank, are none too keen on the prospect of Senate Republicans exercising a de facto veto on Biden’s first steps towards staffing his administration. “Mitch McConnell will force Joe Biden to negotiate every single cabinet secretary, every single district court judge, every single U.S. attorney with him,” said Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut. “My guess is we’ll have a constitutional crisis pretty immediately.”
Trump›s Election Lawsuits The President is Challenging the Election Result in Five Swing States Majalla – London Since election day, Donald Trump and other Republicans have filed a smattering of lawsuits in battleground states as his campaign push on to fight the election results tooth-and-nail. «Our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,» Trump said in a statement Saturday. «The American People are entitled to an honest election: that means
counting all legal ballots, and not counting any illegal ballots.» Trump has filed a dozen lawsuits in five states. Here is where the key ones stand:
PENNSYLVANIA Pennsylvania was instrumental in securing Joe Biden›s win, with the state›s 20 electoral votes taking Mr Biden to a majority of 279, more than sufficient to secure the presidency. As
A lawsuit was filed in Georgia›s Chatham County alleging problems with ballot processing. Georgia Republican chairman David Shafer tweeted that party observers saw a woman «mix over 50 ballots into the stack of uncounted absentee ballots». Democrats have a majority, pointed to mail delays and the pandemic to justify the extension. Several other states in the US allow ballots to be counted if they arrive after election day but are postmarked before. Republicans have been trying to get these ballots rejected since early September, when the Pennsylvania supreme court extended the receipt deadline by three days. Pennsylvania state officials have said that about 10,000 ballots were received in the three days after election day. They say these ballots are being kept on one side, in the light of on-going legal challenges. Counting of other votes is continuing, with the election tally on 10 November showing Joe Biden more than 45,000 votes ahead of President Trump. expected, Republican voters voted more heavily on Election Day in Pennsylvania, a critical swing state, and Democrats voted in significantly larger numbers by mail. Multiple legal challenges have been filed by Donald Trump in Pennsylvania. Notably, they have become involved in a Supreme Court case which challenges a state law that allows mail-in ballots to be counted until Friday November 6. Pennsylvania law requires ballots to arrive by the close of polls on election night, but the Pennsylvania supreme court, where
Another ongoing case disputes how long voters should be given to provide proof of identification if it was missing or unclear on their postal ballots. Voters are currently allowed to do this up to 12 November, but the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit on 5 November seeking to reduce this deadline by three days. At a press conference Monday afternoon at the Republican National Committee headquarters, a number of top Republicans announced a fresh lawsuit in Pennsylvania over what it claimed was unfair and unequal treatment of Republicans in the state›s election. That litigation is ongoing.
ARIZONA A rumour, which has been debunked by the Department of Homeland Security, still led to a lawsuit by the Trump campaign in Arizona. The campaign alleged that some voters had their ballots incorrectly rejected because they used Sharpies to fill them out. The suit says that poll workers failed to avail voters of the opportunity to cast a new ballot when scanners notified them of the issue. It›s a claim that went viral on social media, despite officials insisting it was not true. Rebuke of the online claims comes after a video -- viewed more than a million times on Twitter and shared widely on Facebook and Instagram -featured an unidentified woman claiming without proof that poll workers tried to force her to use a Sharpie and that she insisted on using an ink pen, to make sure her vote would count. Republicans in the state dropped the Sharpie lawsuit Saturday but then filed a separate suit alleging other votes in the state were incorrectly rejected.
MICHIGAN On 4 November, the Trump campaign filed a lawsuit in Michigan which Joe Biden won by around 145,000 vote to stop the count over
« The president›s legal team produced a list of people who it claimed had moved out of state but voted. But - as pointed out by Politifact - the list alone does not prove a violation of law.
claims of a lack of access to observe the process. A judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying there was insufficient evidence that oversight procedures weren›t being followed. In another case, a judge rejected an effort last week to halt vote counting after Republicans claimed they were being excluded from a process in which election officials were fixing ballots that could not be read by scanners. The judge ruled against halting counting, saying that while the plaintiffs argued hundreds or thousands of
President Donald Trump walks on the south lawn of the White House on October ,20 2020 in Washington, DC. (Getty)
has been declared a win for Joe Biden, who currently holds a 2.6 per cent lead A lawsuit filed on 5 November, alleging «lax procedures for authenticating mail-in ballots and over 3,000 instances of ineligible individuals casting ballots.» The president›s legal team produced a list of people who it claimed had moved out of state but voted. But - as pointed out by Politifact - the list alone does not prove a violation of law. In a separate case filed on 5 November, Republicans tried to stop the use of a signature verification machine at the count. Republicans put forward Jill Stokke, a -79year-old legally blind woman, who claimed her ballot was stolen from her and submitted. But election officials said they had met with Stokke, reviewed her ballot, and determined the signature on it was hers, according to the Nevada Independent. Their attempt was blocked by a federal judge.
GEORGIA Joe Biden has taken a slim lead in the key state of Georgia. At present, Mr Biden is just 0.28 per cent, or 14,089 votes ahead of Mr Trump, but with more than 99 per cent of the ballots counted, the Democrats look likely to win the state.
ballots were potentially affected, they did not offer “affidavits or specific eyewitness evidence to substantiate their assertions”. Another lawsuit was filed on 9 November, seeking to block the certification of results in Wayne County, citing similar complaints from poll watchers.
NEVADA With 95 per cent of the votes counted, Nevada
A lawsuit was filed in Georgia›s Chatham County to pause the count on 4 November, alleging problems with ballot processing. Georgia Republican chairman David Shafer tweeted that party observers saw a woman «mix over 50 ballots into the stack of uncounted absentee ballots». Mr Raffensperger has dismissed claims of election fraud, and cast doubts on the likelihood of the recount swinging the result in Mr Trump›s favour. He acknowledged there may have been some illegal voting, but said «My office is investigating all of it. Does it rise to the numbers or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia’s electoral votes? That is unlikely.” A formal recount will take place in late November.
A Big 2020 Election Hack Never Came. Hereâ€™s Why Americaâ€™s Cyber Defenders are Getting More Proactive - and More Chatty by Patrick Tucker As the final high-tension hours of voting ticked away on Tuesday, nervous reporters waiting for news of foreign information warfare efforts were
left like Vladimir and Estragon by the roadside, waiting for a phantom that never appeared. Instead came news of U.S.cyber operations meant to retaliate for earlier Iranian meddling and to deter more of the same.
“The move against Iranian hackers working for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corpscame shortly after they launched an operation two weeks ago posing as a far-right group to send threatening emails to American voters and also posted a video aimed at driving down confidence in the voting process, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the operation’s sensitivity,” according to the Washington Post, which broke the story. U.S. Cyber Command officials declined to formally acknowledge the operation, citing policy, but did send a statement from Gen. Paul Nakasone, the director of U.S Cyber Command and the NSA. “When it comes to those who threaten our democratic processes, we are equal opportunity disruptors. We›re going to take action against any nation state or actor who attempts to interfere in our elections,” the statement reads. Cyber Command officials said that Nakasone had talked to reporters and, without mentioning the operation specifically, indicated that he was “very confident in actions” taken against adversaries “over the past several weeks and the past several months to make sure that they’re not going to interfere in our elections.” Lieutenant General Paul Nakasone testifies during his confirmation hearing to be General and Director of the National Security Agency (NSA), Chief of the Central Security Service and Commander of the US Cyber Command, during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, March 2018 ,1.(Getty)
The move follows a Cyber Command operation in 2018 targeting Russian influence operators in the runup to that year’s midterm elections in the United States, which, of course, followed welldocumented Russian attacks aimed at influencing U.S. voters through misleading social media posts and a hack-and-leak campaign that targeted at the Democratic Party in 2016. The news shows the willingness of U.S. Cyber Command to conduct information operations in other countries, even countries with which the United States is not officially at war. What’s perhaps more interesting is that stories about these efforts are reaching the press. But that, too, may be part of the strategy said Lindsay Gorman. “Overall, NSA/CYBERCOM have shown a sophisticated understanding of the foreign actor and
While hundreds of thousands of people across multiple states received suspicious robocalls with false information about the polls, authorities were quick to push correct information, but there’s no indication it came from a foreign adversary. foreign influence threat that makes significant strides from where our defenses against these operations were back in 2016. In particular, anticipating adversary activity and heading it off at the pass; increasing coordination with social media platforms, researchers, and foreign partners; raising the costs for adversaries to interfere in our democracy; and prioritizing clear communication with the public about these threats all make our elections and our democracy more secure,” Gorman, an emerging-tech fellow at the bipartisan Alliance for Securing Democracy, told Defense One in an email. Over the course of the day, officials at CISA provided multiple updates to reporters on what they were seeing, or not seeing, in terms of attacks on election infrastructure. Aside from a few technical glitches, there was relatively little to report. “Over the last four years, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) has been a part of a whole-of-nation effort to ensure American voters decide American elections. Importantly, after millions of Americans voted, we have no evidence any foreign adversary was capable of preventing Americans from voting or changing vote tallies,” CISA director Chris Krebs said in a statement. All of those efforts play a strategic role not just helping the public understand and have faith in the electoral outcome — especially those who preferred a different outcome — but it holds a secondary value as well: telegraphing a deterrence
message to U.S. adversaries. That marks something of a shift in the way the United States has handled such sensitive matters. It’s a change that Gorman and other national security watchers have advocated for. “An integrated information component of policy is not just pro forma talking points developed after policy decisions that no one uses. Rather, it involves advancing transparent and truthful information to prevent others from filling information vacuums and ensuring that the information dimension of every government action is prioritized, not viewed as an afterthought,” Gorman and co-author Laura Rosenberger wrote in the Summer 2020 issue of the Washington Quarterly. “Integration of an affirmative information component into all government actions will be critical for contesting the information space and for ensuring the success of policies across all domains. This holistic integration also includes understanding that government is not necessarily always the right messenger and that marshalling trusted outside voices is often the best approach.” In the days and weeks ahead, officials at both CISA and Cyber Command are worried that disinformation efforts could grow as campaigns squabble in court over counting procedures and candidates make unfounded claims of cheating.
The news shows the willingness of U.S. Cyber Command to conduct information operations in other countries, even countries with which the United States is not officially at war.
While hundreds of thousands of people across multiple states received suspicious robocalls with false information about the polls, authorities were quick to push correct information, but there’s no indication it came from a foreign adversary. Take that to be a positive indicator that the strategy is working. An a senior official at CISA described the days and possibly weeks ahead as a “prime landscape for disinfo.” “Our operations, our focus, our work does not end on Nov. 3rd. Today is the start of a period of time when we will maintain constant vigilance. We have our teams ready to assist the Department of Homeland Security in cyber incidents and the FBI›s Foreign Intelligence Task Force to provide information to social media platforms to counter-
act influence operations,” Nakasone said in his statement. In his own statement, Krebs said, “We will remain vigilant for any attempts by foreign actors to target or disrupt the ongoing vote counting and final certification of results. Keep calm, continue to look to your state and local election officials for trusted information on election results and visit CISA.gov/rumorcontrol for facts on election security.” Of course, there’s little that U.S. Cyber Command or CISA can do to thwart disinformation that comes from Americans, or American campaigns. So how will we know if their strategy is working?
“We’ll know it’s working if we do not see widespread panic and doubt in the integrity of our electoral processes. A strong adversary goal in these operations is the ‘perception hack’ – that the mere perception of successful interference degrades confidence in our system, even if no system has been breached,” said Gorman. “Clear communication on the robustness of our defenses can remove the possibility of an easy win for our adversaries.” Yet there is no defense from our own inclination, as a nation, to hack our own perception and give in to resentful delusion to repair our own wounded egos. As Beckett would say, “We are all born mad. Some remain so.”
Biden Can Make an Ally of India But Partnership With New Delhi Is Not Guaranteed by Brahma Chellaney President-elect Joe Biden will inherit a U.S.-Indian relationship that is nearer than ever to a formal alliance. In the past decade, Washington and New Delhi have deepened their diplomatic and defense ties, but the In-
dian government has not yet officially allied with the United States. During the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, India and the United States signed a series of foundational defense, logistics, and intelligence-sharing agreements that pave the way for close security cooperation. Last month, former U.S.Secretary
Last month, former U.S.Secretary of Defense Mark Esper declared that India will be “the most consequential partner for us, I think, in the IndoPacific for sure in this century.” coalition among Australia, India, Japan, and the United States that is central to the United States’ strategy for maintaining a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” As a result of these efforts, India is currently hosting the first-ever Quad military exercise: the Malabar naval war games in the Indian Ocean. Biden is likely to continue to push for closer cooperation between New Delhi and Washington. But he is also widely expected to reset ties with China in order to ease Sino-U.S. tensions and rebuild cooperation with Beijing. Such a reset will affect relations with India and raise doubts in New Delhi about Washington’s reliability. India’s future partnership with the United States is not yet guaranteed, and Biden will have to be careful not to push India away as he devises a new U.S. strategy in Asia. THREADING THE NEEDLE
Former vice-president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden (L) and Senator from California and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris greet supporters outside the Chase Center in Wilmington, Delaware, at the conclusion of the Democratic National Convention, held virtually amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, on August 20, )2020. (Getty
of Defense Mark Esper declared that India will be “the most consequential partner for us, I think, in the Indo-Pacific for sure in this century.”
Separated from China by a vast ocean, the United States does not share India’s immediate and potent concerns over Beijing’s growing assertiveness. Earlier this year, while India sought to snuff out the novel coronavirus with the world’s strictest lockdown, Chinastealthily encroached on several border areas in India’s high-altitude Ladakh region. Beijingseized key stretches of territory and has refused to pull back, alarming both Indian policymakers and the public at large.
India’s newfound interest in defense collaboration with the United States is mainly a reaction to Chinese imperial expansionism. Beijing’s territorial aggression in the Himalayas this year and the resulting clashes with Indian troops laid bare the risks to India of dealing with its giant neighbor without the clear support of the United States. As the specter of additional Himalayan battles—or even a reprise of the 1962 border war with China—looms large, India has grown more willing to work with the United States to meet common challenges. To that end, India has intensified its involvement with the Quad—a loose
Given these tensions, Biden will have to thread a diplomatic needle to improve relations with China without alienating India. Successive U.S. presidents from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama aided China’s rise. Beijing militarized the South China Sea under Obama’s watch. Yet, just months before he left office, Obama contended that “we have more to fear from a weakened, threatened China than a successful, rising China.” China’s neighbors do not share that assessment. It was the paradigm policy shift under Trump, who set Beijing in his crosshairs from the beginning of his presidency and designated China as a
“revisionist power” and a “strategic competitor,” that persuaded India to move closer to the United States. A softer U.S. approach toward China and its regional ally, Pakistan, could slow India’s entry into the U.S.led security architecture and even push New Delhi to revert to its traditional posture of nonalignment, or strategic autonomy from great powers. The strengthening Chinese-Pakistani alliance generates high security costs for India, including raising the ominous prospect of a war on two fronts. New Delhi would be disappointed if Biden, in seeking to mend U.S. ties with the Chinese dictatorship, abandons Trump’s more confrontational posture toward Beijing. And if Biden relieves terrorism-related pressure on Pakistan by restoring security aid, the Indian government may have second thoughts about hopping on the U.S. security bandwagon. Another issue that has the potential to sour relations with India during Biden’s presidency relates to India’s domestic division and polarization. While in office, Trump has refrained from commenting on India’s internal matters, understanding that U.S. criticism could strengthen Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s opponents at home. But Biden, through his official campaign page, has already slammed Modi’s government on issues such as Indian actions in Kashmir and a controversial law on citizenship for refugees, calling these matters inconsistent with India’s “long tradition of secularism and with sustaining a multiethnic and multireligious democracy.” India has traditionally resented such interference in and commentary on its internal affairs. Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar
Even as he tries to lower tensions with China, Biden must be careful not to allow the historic opportunity to forge a U.S.-Indian security alliance slip away.
canceled a meeting with members of the U.S. Congress last December after it emerged that Representative Pramila Jayapal, an outspoken critic of the Modi government, would attend. If U.S. leaders, including Biden, are outspoken in their criticism of Modi’s domestic policies or actions, New Delhi will be less likely and less able to formalize an alliance with Washington. REASONS FOR OPTIMISM Such differences have the potential to set back U.S. relations with India. But the general trajectory toward increased strategic collaboration probably won’t be altered. There remains strong bipartisan support in Washington for a closer partnership with India, a relationship that could serve as the fulcrum of the United States’ Indo-Pacific strategy. Biden’s administration will probably prioritize deep-
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) and US President Donald Trump shakes hands as they speak during a bilateral meeting in Biarritz, south-west France on August 26, 2019, on the third day of the annual G7 Summit. / Getty
ening the United States’ engagement with India. The incoming president, more broadly, is likely to pursue a pragmatic policy aimed at containing the threats posed by both the Chinese Communist Party and violent Islamist extremists. He will try to strengthen alliances and partnerships, some of which Trump undermined, and could echo Obama, who declared the U.S.-Indian relationship “one of the defining partnerships of the twenty-first century.” Biden could accomplish what Trump failed to achieve—clinching a trade deal with India. The booming trade between the two countries totaled almost $150 billion last year. That commercial exchange may help the United States break China’s stranglehold on key global supply chains, especially in the medical sector. The Biden administration will need India, the world’s leading exporter of generic drugs, to source pharmaceuticals and medical tech-
nology needed to fight the pandemic. And given Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s Indian heritage, it would be ironic if relations with India did not flourish under Biden. Current U.S. policies have counterproductively fostered an expanding partnership between Russia and China. In that context, the strengthening bond with India assumes greater meaning for U.S. policymakers. Even as he tries to lower tensions with China, Biden must be careful not to allow the historic opportunity to forge a U.S.-Indian security alliance slip away. The world’s most powerful and most populous democracies could establish a strong partnership that helps underpin a stable power balance in the IndoPacific. This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.
Ethiopia’s Dangerous Slide Toward Civil War Conflict in Africa’s Second Most Populous Nation Bodes Ill for the Continent by Nic Cheeseman Less than a year ago, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed accepted the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, his country is on the brink of civil war. Ten-
sions between Abiy’s government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), once the dominant force in Ethiopia’s ruling party but now a disgruntled and well-armed regional government, have been gradually escalating for months. Last week, the
situation took a sudden turn for the worse when the prime minister ordered a military offensive against Tigrayan forces he accused of insurrectionary and traitorous activity. Ethiopia suffered a prolonged and bloody civil war from 1974 to 1991. Now it looks poised to repeat that history. A rapid descent into instability seemed unlikely when Abiy rose to power in 2018. The new prime minister quickly won plaudits—and the Nobel Peace Prize—for promising reforms that included releasing political prisoners and holding free and fair elections. He appeared to end Ethiopia’s long-running dispute with neighboring Eritrea, and as the country’s first leader from the Oromo ethnic group, he was also well positioned to end an ongoing rebellion in the Oromia region.
An Ethiopia’s Amhara Region militia man, that combat alongside federal and regional forces against northern region of Tigray, poses in the town of Musebamb, 44 kms northwest from Gondar, on November 2020 ,7. (Getty)
But behind the optimistic headlines, conflict was brewing. Abiy had come to power as part of a coalition, known as the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front(EPRDF), in which the TPLF had played a central role. But Abiy quickly moved to consolidate his authority by creating a new political vehicle—the Prosperity Party—that he could more easily control. Abiy’s government marginalized the TPLF, which refused to join the new ruling party, setting itself instead on a collision course with the prime minister. A series of disagreements and skirmishes followed, culminating in a TPLF raid on an Ethiopian army base. Abiy responded with airstrikes and by taking the dangerous and provocative step of dissolving the government of the Tigray region. To understand why the spat between Abiy and the TPLF has escalated so quickly and raised such alarm, one need only to look to Ethiopian history. Over the last 60 years, successive governments have struggled to maintain control over the vast and diverse country. In one way or another, all of them resorted to repression in order to curb dissent—and all of them were eventually violently overthrown.
REPRESSION AND REBELLION Ethiopia’s cycle of repression and rebellion dates back to the imperial government of Haile Selassie, which presided over endemic instability,
Unified international pressure is a rarity in today’s multipolar world, but the specter of widespread conflict in the Horn of Africa should help regional and world powers get on the same page. poverty, inequality, and food shortages from the 1930s until 1974. Selassie was overthrown by a military junta that evolved into a Marxist-Leninist regime—known as the Derg—that promised to build a more stable and equal society. But under the leadership of Mengistu Haile Mariam, the new regime became increasingly radical and violent, unleashing a “Red Terror” in which 750,000 people are believed to have been killed. Repression was not enough to keep the Derg in power, just as it had not been enough to preserve Selassie’s imperial regime. In the 1980s, a coalition of Marxist and ethnic independence movements that would become the EPRDF took up arms against the government, eventually forcing Mengistu to flee the country in 1991. Initially, the EPRDF appeared to break the cycle of repression and rebellion. Under President and later Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the coalition pursued a successful development strategy that boosted economic growth. At the same time, the EPRDF promoted a new solution to the problem of managing Ethiopia’s diverse ethnoregional communities. Rather than enforce one particular ethnic identity over all others, the EPRDF offered the country’s many distinct communities freedom and self-respect through a federal political system and constitution that granted “all peoples” the “right of self-determination.” But the arrangement didn’t work out that way in practice. The ruling coalition co-opted opposition leaders, undermining the ability of regional governments to pursue alternative political visions or to represent disgruntled communities. Effectively,
each region enjoyed self-government only to the extent that it was willing to be governed by the EPRDF—something that has not been true in regions such as Oromia for a decade at least. Moreover, for all the rhetoric of ethnic balance, the TPLF, which represents a small minority of Ethiopians, dominated the government for nearly three decades—until Abiy came to power. As frustration with EPRDF rule grew, outright rejection of the government’s legitimacy—epitomized by the escalation of the Oromia uprising from 2016 onward—went hand in hand with growing ethnic tensions in many parts of the country.
COLLISION COURSE For the first time, Ethiopia’s federal government now faces a direct challenge from a group that controls a regional government and has considerable military capacity. The TPLF has not only left the ruling coalition but directly challenged its authority. And having played a pivotal role in the guerrilla war against the Derg, TPLF leaders know how to overthrow a government. In a bid to embarrass Abiy and advance its demands for greater autonomy for the Tigray region, the TPLF has made a number of deliberately provocative moves in recent months. After the prime minister postponed general elections because of the coronavirus pandemic, for instance, the TPLF defied his orders and held an election of its own, effectively setting up Tigray
By effectively excluding TPLF leaders from the political system, Abiy has all but ensured that they will fight to overthrow it.
as a state within a state. For his part, the prime minister has done little to calm tensions. Despite his carefully cultivated reformist image, Abiy remains a military leader who rose to the top of the country’s intelligence agency before assuming the premiership. His instinct is to respond to provocations with force, not compromise. He could have simply responded to the TPLF’s growing assertiveness with targeted airstrikes and then sued for peace on favorable terms. Instead, he punished the TPLF politically as well as militarily—disbanding the Tigray regional government and escalating the conflict. By effectively excluding TPLF leaders from the political system, Abiy has all but ensured that they will fight to overthrow it. Despite his confident predictions of a swift vic-
Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Abiy Ahmed watches the parade of Ethiopian Federal Police organized under the theme of “We exist to serve and protect our country and people” at Meskel Square in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on September 2020 ,30. (Getty)
or displaced populations. Ethiopia itself has 1.8 million displaced people within its borders. The addition of millions more, coupled with disruptions to agricultural production and infrastructure, could lead to food shortages and undermine the fight against COVID-19. More worrying still, a drawn-out conflict could pull in neighboring countries, such as Egypt and Eritrea, which may be tempted to support either the federal government or rebel armies in order to advance their interests. There are already fears that Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki will provide military support and assistance to Abiy. The close relationship between the two leaders and the fact that both hold historical grudges against the TPLF has already led Tigrayan leaders to accuse the two men of conspiring against them. The fighting is already escalating, reportedly with heavy casualties. The international community has missed the opportunity to prevent conflict from breaking out, but by taking timely and concerted action, major Western donors, influential foreign partners such as China, and the African Union could still encourage moderation. Together, they could push Abiy and the TPLF to the negotiating table and emphasize the need for the government to return to its reform agenda—and hold credible elections—to rebuild public confidence. tory, Abiy may struggle to score a decisive win against the TPLF. The Ethiopian state is stronger than it was in the past, but the government faces multiple challenges to its authority across its vast territory. And the longer the conflict drags on, the more likely other liberation and secessionist groups—including from Abiy’s own Oromo community—are to join the fray, multiplying the cycle of repression and rebellion.
A CONTINENTAL PROBLEM
Unified international pressure is a rarity in today’s multipolar world, but the specter of widespread conflict in the Horn of Africa should help regional and world powers get on the same page. Although they have very different interests in and visions for Ethiopia, China, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the African Union have all made significant investments in the country in recent years—from the construction of the African Unionheadquarters to military assistance and major development projects—none of which will survive a civil war. If there is not a concerted response in the coming days, and Ethiopiaslides into a full-scale civil war, it will not only be the Ethiopians who ask why the international community did little to prevent a regional catastrophe.
If Ethiopia returns to civil war, the entire African continent will suffer. Prolonged military confrontation will not only lead to serious loss of life in Ethiopia but also set in motion a series of related emergencies. A new refugee crisis will engulf neighboring countries, such as Kenya and Su- This article was originally published on ForeignAfdan, both of which already host sizable refugee fairs.com.
China Is Winning the Vaccine Race How Beijing Positioned Itself as the Savior of the Developing World by Eyck Freymann, Justin Stebbing In 2020, China bungled its initial response to COVID-19. As a result, the disease spread around the world, crippling economies, killing more than 1.2 million people, and badly damaging Beijingâ€™s
image. In 2021, China plans to redeem itself by vaccinating a large chunk of the global population. Although it faces stiff competition from the United States and other Western nations in the race to develop the first vaccine, Beijing is poised to dominate the distribution of vaccines to the de-
veloping world—and to reap the strategic benefits of doing so. Worldwide, 11 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are currently in phase three trials, the final stage before regulatory approval. Four are Chinese. The most promising of these, developed by Wuhan-based Sinopharm, is already being given to frontline workers in the United Arab Emirates. According to Wu Guizhen, chief biosafety expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Sinopharm’s candidate is on track for full approval this month or next.
A Sinovac Biotech LTD vaccine candidate for COVID19- coronavirus is seen on display at the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) in Beijing on September 2020 ,6. (Getty)
Leading American vaccine candidates from Moderna and Pfizer could be approved on a similar timeline. But the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has no plan to compete with China to distribute vaccines to the more than half of humanity that lives in the developing world. The United States has declined to participate in a World Health Organization (WHO) initiative to deliver two billion vaccine doses to at-risk populations in developing countries, and it has not extended financing to or signed preferential vaccine distribution deals with such countries, as China has done. The U.S. approach to vaccine development and distribution, as to so much else during this administration, has been “America first.” By ceding the public health field to China, the United States will allow Beijingto recast itself not just as a global leader in vaccine development and distribution but as the savior of the developing world.
OFF TO THE RACES Even if China wins the race to develop a vaccine, its producers are unlikely to compete in U.S., European, or Japanese markets. Chinese vaccine makers have struggled to clear the regulatory hurdles required to sell to developed Western markets. And in part because of the coronavirus pandemic, many developed Western countries are trying to “re-shore” production of medical supplies from China. Most have already signed enormous procurement deals with the major Western vaccine makers Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca. For a high-income country, the price of vaccinating every citizen is tiny compared with the cost of another lockdown. (Moderna estimates that its
In the vast emerging markets of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, where more than half the global population lives and many governments can barely afford vaccines, Chinese producers are poised to dominate. vaccine will cost between $64 and $74 per person, including the required booster shot.) Butcin the vast emerging markets of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America, where more than half the global population lives and many governments can barely afford vaccines, Chinese producers are poised to dominate. Chinese vaccines are in phase three clinical trials in 18 countries, including Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Indonesia, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates. That is an enormous potential market, even if Beijing ultimately subsidizes most of the vaccine sticker price. Indeed, Beijing’s vaccine distribution strategy is likely to rely heavily on subsidies. Chinese President Xi Jinping first alluded to this strategy in May, when he promised that any Chinese vaccine for COVID-19 would be a “global public good.” True to his word, Xi has promised $1 billion in loans to Latin American and Caribbean countries to pay for access to Chinese vaccines. Last month, Mexico signed a deal with CanSino, another Chinese vaccine maker with a candidate in phase three trials, to buy 70 million doses with a promised Chinese loan. China plans to begin exporting these doses even before it has vaccinated all of its own people, a gesture that is sure to generate additional goodwill. China will use such preferential vaccine deals to consolidate partnerships with governments in re-
gions that it regards as strategically important— such as Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Since 2013, Beijing has used preferential financing for major infrastructure projects to similar effect through its Belt and Road Initiative. Many of these megaprojects have run aground this year, as the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis have strained the finances of recipient countries. In 2021, by refocusing the world’s attention on the “Health Silk Road,” China will seek to rebrand itself as a technological leader and patron of global public health, skirting American accusations that it is a “bully” and a “predatory” lender.
AT WHAT COST Even subsidized Chinese vaccines will come at a price. Although Beijing is unlikely to demand specific political concessions, it will at minimum expect recipient countries to grovel and show their gratitude. Early in the COVID-19 crisis, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucickissed the Chinese flag after a planeload of supplies arrived from China. Soon after, an enormous billboard went up in front of the National Assembly building in Belgrade. “Thank you, Big Brother Xi!” it read. On March 24, the week that deaths from COVID-19 peaked in Italy, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio credited Chinese ventilators and masks with preventing a bad situation from getting worse. “Those who scoffed at our participa-
Although Beijing is unlikely to demand specific political concessions, it will at minimum expect recipient countries to grovel and show their gratitude.
tion in the Belt and Road Initiative now have to admit that investing in that friendship allowed us to save lives,” he said. When China distributes vaccines worldwide next year, some scenes from this movie may rerun. It isn’t just national governments that will embrace China’s newfound dedication to global public health. International institutions will keep praising China for making grandiose commitments, hoping—reasonably—that by flattering Xi, they can encourage him to deliver.
Migrant workers escaping the mega city on foot and then boarding some buses in droves in 2020 ,29 on March )Ghazibad, India. (Getty
“President Xi’s proposal for a Health Silk Road, which strengthens and renews ancient links between cultures and people, with health at its core, is indeed visionary,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a 2017 speech in Beijing. The WHO is unlikely to change tack if Trump cuts funding and withdraws next July, as he has promised to do if reelected.
is poised to repair its damaged reputation by reinventing itself as the public health provider for the developing world. If Washington keeps refusing to compete, it won’t just risk losing the vaccine race. It will allow China to win the prestige of a first-rate technological power, the goodwill of a slew of new potential allies, and a legitimate claim to global leadership.
Although China initially paid a diplomatic price for its failure to control the novel coronavirus, it
This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.
Big Tech Can Help Bring War Criminals to Justice
Social Media Companies Need to Preserve Evidence of Abuse by Alexa Koenig The video starts innocuously. A soldier in camouflage pants and a black shirt speaks to men who
are mostly out of frame, punctuating his words with waves of his right hand. A pistol dangles from his left hand, and another man kneels behind him, hands behind his head. But a minute into the video,
the soldier in the black shirt suddenly pivots and shoots. The kneeling figure slumps forward as the soldier strides toward him, shooting the prisoner twice more in the head. More than three years later, this footage is a central piece of evidence in a novel case pending before the International Criminal Court (ICC). Prosecutors in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for the man in the black shirt, Libyan militia commander Mahmoud al-Werfalli, after videos documenting his role in the killing of 33 people surfaced online. The evidence against Werfalli, unlike that presented in any other case in the court’s history, is based primarily on social media documentation. Without the videos, prosecutors would have no case. Although the Werfalli videos have grabbed headlines, they are hardly unique. Evidence of the world’s most egregious crimes, including genocide, torture, and the destruction of cultural heritage property, circulates in real time on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Understandably, these companies often remove the most graphic content from public view. But human rights advocates and reporters have long argued that destroying such evidence undermines future prosecutions and denies victims the justice they deserve. As a result, social media companies face a dilemma: they need to prevent their platforms from becoming superspreaders of harmful content, while simultaneously preserving access to evidence of mass atrocities. A viable solution would be socalled evidence lockers—freestanding repositories for potential evidence found on social media, operated by external nonprofits or by social media companies themselves. Such archives already exist in other legal fields, but tech firms, in conjunction with human rights organizations, need to build on this tested model to create specific vaults for war crimes documentation.
EVIDENCE VAULTS Evidence lockers aren’t a new idea. Archives exist to preserve evidence of a range of criminal activities, including terrorism, child pornography, and antiquities trafficking—cataloging material that has evidentiary, historic, or research value but that so-
By giving human rights and humanitarian institutions a way to request that evidence of war crimes be preserved until legal action can be taken, social media companies can ensure that crucial material is protected from destruction. cial media companies or the uploader might remove from public view. Established vaults vary according to who holds the content and who submits material (social media companies or external parties), whether firms are legally compelled to preserve the content, and who can access the archive. When designing vaults for war crimes evidence, the first priority should be allowing content to be stored for long periods of time, given the often significant lag between the commission of atrocities and the start of legal investigations. Since evidence is often highly sensitive, vaults also need to include clear and consistent safeguards around who can access and view the stored information. Those designing systems for archiving content should also consider how to prevent repositories from reflecting old colonial paradigms, where institutions echo the interests and preferences of Western backers to the detriment of other countries. Critics of the ICC, for instance, often cite its almost exclusive focus on crimes committed in Africa. To avoid that kind of bias, potential evidence lockers need to preserve content regardless of politics or geography. Ideally, laws would protect the underlying data by standardizing what content is safeguarded and also resolve tensions between access and privacy, intellectual property concerns, and national security considerations. In a departure from previous practices, war crimes evidence lockers should give human rights groups and international organizations a say in what gets preserved. Typically, governments and companies determine these matters. For instance, neither the ICC nor the existing UN mechanisms document-
ing atrocities in Syria and Myanmar currently have clear authority to require that companies preserve evidence. This needs to change. War crimes are unique in that governments are often implicated in the violence and are therefore unable or unwilling to hold themselves accountable. By giving human rights and humanitarian institutions a way to request that evidence be preserved until courts or other legal actors have an opportunity to intervene, social media companies can ensure that crucial material is protected from destruction.
WHY COMPANIES CARE Absent an act of Congress requiring social media firms to establish evidence repositories, why would companies such as Facebook and Twitter do so? It is likely easier for them to simply delete content and avoid the complex bureaucracy of law enforcement, human rights organizations, and international tribunals. International norms provide one answer. According to the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, social media companies are expected to respect and protect human rights, avoid activities that cause or contribute to abuses, and prevent or mitigate violations of these norms linked to their operations. Preserving social media content and sharing that data with relevant
Social media companies face a dilemma: they need to prevent their platforms from becoming superspreaders of harmful content, while preserving access to evidence of mass atrocities.
authorities arguably falls within these guidelines. Indeed, several major tech companiesâ€”including Microsoft and Facebookâ€”have expressed support for these principles and announced steps to better align their practices with them. But firms also have material incentives to participate. Legislators, advertisers, company employees, and users have lobbied companies to do a better job of supporting human and civil rights. For example, civil rights groups recently launched a campaign under the hashtag #StopHateForProfit to pressure Facebook to address hate speech and misinformation on its platform. Google employees also protested the companyâ€™s involvement in Project Maven, a Pentagon-based initiative that would refine the use of artificial intelligence for a range of military purposes, including drone strikes. Google ultimately withdrew from the project. The threat of regulation, loss of ad revenue, damage to employee morale, and negative publicity are strong incentives for companies to improve their records on holding
The International Criminal Court in the Hague. Former (Getty)
at past efforts to combat illegal activities. Firms could, for example, rely on definitions used by official bodies such as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights or focus primarily on clear cases of abuse, such as mass killings or the use of chemical weapons, that lend themselves well to detection by both human moderators and machines. Another challenge is figuring out how to make content available to war crimes investigators while protecting the privacy of users who posted the data as well as those depicted in their posts—a simultaneous legal and ethical concern. One way to address these privacy issues is to err on the side of caution, preserving the data but then limiting who can access it and under what terms.
A DIGITAL LEGACY On December 1, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in partnership with UC Berkeley School of Law’s Human Rights Center, will launch the Berkeley Protocol on Digital Open Source Investigations.
war criminals to account. To their credit, several companies have already begun engaging with human rights organizations to explore the possibility of establishing war crimes evidence lockers. Social media firms, encouraged by human rights researchers, have floated the idea of contributing data to an independent repository or simply retaining the information themselves. At a minimum, many of these companies recognize that they have a moral, and in some cases a legal, obligation to protect the public from harmful content while ensuring that important information remains available for international justice efforts.
The protocol, part of a global effort to set standards for the use of online content in international criminal cases, reflects a growing recognition that online information has the power to strengthen accountability for human rights violations worldwide. The Werfalli case is just one example. On October 5, human rights groups filed a historic case in Germanyaccusing the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad of war crimes. Their argument relied on both traditional evidence and information sourced from social media. Several other cases currently before European courts rely on a similar combination of evidence.
As evidence gathered from social media becomes more widely used in war crimes cases, companies and human rights organizations must devise a Still, challenges remain. One is identifying what thoughtful system for preserving irreplaceable concontent should qualify for preservation. Like “ter- tent. Without such a system, even mass atrocities rorism” and “hate speech,” “war crime” can be an that are documented in real time on social media uncomfortably slippery term. This makes it hard to will risk going unpunished. automatically detect relevant content; algorithms don’t play well with ambiguity. Still, advocates This article was originally published on ForeignAfand companies can solve that problem by looking fairs.com.
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1826- November- 13/11/2020
Douglas Emhoff: America’s First “Second Gentleman”
5 Things to Know About
Your Morning Cup of Joe
Coffee May Bring Health Benefits, but Not All Cups Are Created Equal 42
If you don›t like the taste of coffee, there are other options to promote heart health, including eating more nuts, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, and being more physically active. coffee can affect health, and it outlined some interesting findings. 1. Coffee won›t harm your heart, and it may even help it. Research has found that not only is coffee not bad for your heart, it might actually be beneficial. «If women are consuming a moderate amount of coffee -up to five -8ounce cups a day -- they do not have to be concerned that it will increase their risk of heart disease or stroke,» says Rob van Dam, the review›s first author and an adjunct professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. «There may even be some benefits, particularly for reducing risk of type 2 diabetes, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.»
Harvard Health You probably don›t think much about your cup of coffee, aside from the fact that it helps you get moving in the morning. But there›s a lot to know about this common brew. A recent review article published July 2020 ,23, in The New England Journal of Medicine looked at how
2. It contains lots of healthy plant chemicals as well as vitamins and minerals. Coffee doesn›t look or taste anything like a salad, but it contains some of the same benefits. It›s chock-full of biologically active phytochemicals (components of plants that affect their taste, smell, and color). These phytochemicals include chlorogenic acid, lignans, trigonelline, and melanoidins. While these names may not mean a lot to you, researchers say they bring a bevy of benefits, including helping to feed healthy organisms in your gut and improving the way your body processes sugar and fat. Coffee is also thought to help to reduce oxidative stress by neutralizing harmful substances called free radicals, which can damage your body›s cells. It also contains some important nutrients, including magnesium, potassium, and vitamin B3 (niacin).
3. Filtered coffee is better for you than unfiltered coffee. Bad news if you love your French press, or if you›re a fan of Turkish or Scandinavian boiled coffee: unfiltered brews contain a compound called cafestol that can raise your «bad» LDL cholesterol levels, says van Dam. Cafestol is also found in smaller but still noteworthy amounts in espresso, as well as in coffee made in a moka pot. In contrast, drip-filtered coffee, instant coffee, and percolator coffee have negligible amounts of the compound. Single serve coffee pods, such as K-cups have not been tested separately, but they contain filters and most likely have levels similar to other drip-filtered coffee. «The evidence for a cholesterol-raising effect of unfiltered coffee is strong and consistent from randomized clinical trials of these types of coffee,» says van Dam. Researchers reported that LDL cholesterol levels of people who drank a lot of unfiltered coffee (3 to 6 cups a day) were about 18 milligrams per deciliter higher than those of people who drank filtered coffee. This in turn raised the risk of major cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke. «For people consuming unfiltered coffee on a daily basis, I would recommend switching to other types of coffee. If you are consuming multiple cups a day of espresso-based coffees -- like Americano or cappuccino -- I would recommend reducing consumption or partly switching over to drip-filtered or instant coffee,» says van Dam. People who already have high
Research has found that not only is coffee not bad for your heart, it might actually be beneficial.
cholesterol or a higher-than-average risk of heart disease should be particularly careful, he says. 4. What you add to your coffee affects your health. While coffee can be a good-for-you option, that changes if you add the wrong things. There›s a big difference between a cup of coffee served black and a fancy concoction that contains a liberal pour of sugary syrup or heavy cream, or copious amounts of sugar. «This can turn it into a high-calorie beverage that may contribute to
excess weight gain and a higher risk of diabetes, unhealthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure,» says van Dam. 5. Coffee isn›t associated with a higher risk of cancer. Research shows that coffee doesn›t appear to raise your risk of developing or dying from cancer, and some studies suggest that coffee drinkers even have a slightly lower risk of certain types of cancer, such as cancer of the liver or the endometrium (the lining of the uterus).
UNDERSTANDING THE FINDINGS So, what do these findings mean if you aren›t a coffee drinker? If you like coffee, it›s fine to keep drinking it, says van Dam. But if you don›t like the taste of coffee, there are other options to promote heart health, including eating more nuts, whole grains, and fruits and vegetables, and being more physically active.
The Great British Baking Show and the Meaning of Life In these fraught times, I like to seek refuge in the idyllic England of my dreams - one that still exists in The Great British Baking Show by Eliot A. Cohen National politics is unutterably depressing. International politics fills me with foreboding. Being a dean brings one challenge after another, reminding me that life was a lot simpler as a professor. For my physical health, there is a
rowing machine, but for my peace of mind, I have learned this past year, nothing beats old episodes of The Great British Baking Show, which one can binge-watch to satiety on Netflix. This trick of seeking temporary refuge from the realities of a grim world by indulging in fantasies
of the simple pleasures situated in some lovely part of rural England is nothing new. During the Blitz, Londoners rediscovered the joys of the 19th-century novelist Anthony Trollope. They might have been huddling in fetid, overcrowded subway stations under a shower of Nazi bombs, but they could lose themselves in the contest between Archdeacon Grantly and Mrs. Proudie for domination of the inoffensive Anglican clerics of Barset. Trollope is still very much worth the reading. But in our fraught times—so much easier, to be sure, than the dark days of 1940—many people like me have sought refuge in a different idyllic England of our dreams. Hence the entirely deserved popularity of The Great British Baking Show—devotees were ecstatic when, the coronavirus notwithstanding, a new season began a few weeks ago.
Paul Hollywood, Sandi Toksvig Noel Fielding and Prue Leith in The Great British Baking Show. (Channel 4/ )Netflix
Every summer for the past decade, a dozen amateur bakers have trooped into a cheerful, white party tent supplied with counters, ovens, refrigerators, and all the basic paraphernalia they need. Each week is themed—breads, pastry, biscuits—and each week there are three challenges: the signature bake (a more or less straightforward assignment), the technical (a cruelly abbreviated recipe for some obscure item), and the showstopper, an opportunity to build elaborate structures on whimsical motifs. The setting is the lawn of a magnificent bucolic estate in Somerset or Berkshire. Most often the sun shines, but when it does not, we know somehow that the rain is more a gentle and fructifying moisture than a miserable downpour. The contestants are supervised by Paul Hollywood, an experienced baker (and racecar driver), and, in later seasons, Prue Leith, the chancellor of Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and a restaurateur, an author, and a journalist. Previously, her place was filled by Mary Berry, a prolific author who in an earlier age got credit for moving British cuisine beyond boiled brussels sprouts. They have two sidekicks, in the current version of the show: Matt Lucas, an actor and a comedian, and Noel Fielding, a comic who is weird but amiable, if you like Goth. The givens of the show remind one of Rudyard
To watch The Great British Baking Show is to believe that the average guy and gal can do remarkable things, that good nature is compatible with excellence, that high achievement will be recognized, that honest feedback can lead to improvement, that there are things to life beyond work. Kipling: “Now these are the Laws of the Jungle, and many and mighty are they; But the head and the hoof of the Law and the haunch and the hump is—Obey!” The Laws of the Tent are no less stern and unforgiving. When time is up, it’s up, and you must present your bake. Each week, one participant is booted out. There is barely enough time to accomplish the tasks. The omissions in the technical recipes approach sadism. A decenttasting cake is not enough: the piping must be exquisite, the design original, the structure (who knew that bread has structure, come to think of it?) perfect, the color attractive, the appearance consistent, and the layout symmetrical. Prue is intimidating enough in her Professor McGonagall way: “This is rather a mess, isn’t it?” and “Hmmm. Claggy. What a pity.” But the hard man of the show is Paul Hollywood. Hollywood, with his silver hair and piercing blue eyes, is demanding to the point of inhumanity. In the days of the empire, he would have been a regimental sergeant major, looking an unhappy private in the eye three inches from his face, pointing at a fleck of lint on an otherwise impeccable uniform, and saying, “Your uniform is filthy, you horrible little man.” In a crisis, though, Hollywood, like Nigel Green playing Colour Sergeant Bourne in Zulu, would be the one walking around coolly saying, “Keep your voices down” and “Button your tunic,” calming the shaky Welch Fusiliers with his imperturbable insistence on idiotic standards of decorum. These days, however, he is one heck of a baker.
In The Great British Baking Show, there are standards. If it looks a mess, the judges will say so, and the bakers swallow hard and acknowledge their failures. If the flavors are bland, Paul and Prue will remark that the rose water simply doesn’t come through. If the flavors are too much, they will acidly observe that the rose water overwhelms everything else. If the bakers have overproofed or underbaked, kneaded too much or refrigerated too little, they will learn about it in no uncertain terms. The vaguely obscene puns— which never seem to grow tired—about flabby buns and the dreaded “soggy bottom” allow no sympathy for the vagaries of fate. Results, not good intentions or effort, are what matter. And yet, the show is animated by the warmth of humanity. The bakers are (carefully curated, no doubt) representatives of the British nation. There are college students and grandmothers; carpenters and lawyers; soldiers, sailors, and personal trainers; immigrants (or their descendants) of varying hue from Hong Kong and Jamaica and Mumbai. They are remarkably nice to one another. When one of the bakers is having a crisis—a cake separating in the middle, a collapsing glutenenhanced edifice, cracked biscuits—the others rush to help out. Yes, there is an occasional gleam of competitive delight when one of the
To watch it is to know that, Brexit or no Brexit, and despite royal scandals, political cock-ups, and the occasional omnishambles, there will always be an England.
stars seems to stumble, and unambiguous relief when a downcast baker at the tail end of the distributional curve sees someone else receive the implacable sentence of exile from the tent, but on the whole, they cheer one another on and sympathize with one another’s troubles. They even hold hands, some of them, in that agonizing wait as the sidekicks menacingly intone, “The bakers now await the judgment of Prue and Paul.” In the face of a really serious meltdown, even Hollywood can be heard to murmur, “It’s just a bake, mate.” To watch The Great British Baking Show is to believe that the average guy and gal can do
The Great British Baking Show 2020 .contestants
remarkable things, that good nature is compatible with excellence, that high achievement will be recognized, that honest feedback can lead to improvement, that there are things to life beyond work. It is to believe that spectacular creativity can actually be scrumptious. In some ways, the world of the Tent is far from the Britain of Trollope or Winston Churchill—Hollywood’s shirt tails are always hanging out, for example, which would have given Tunes of Glory’s Colonel Barrow fits—but it is recognizably the imaginary, comfortable Britain for which many Americans have a particular fondness. To watch it is to know that, Brexit or no Brexit, and despite
royal scandals, political cock-ups, and the occasional omnishambles, there will always be an England. And that is a comforting if possibly delusional thought. In short, as the Brits would say, The Great British Baking Show is brilliant, thoroughly joined up, and fit for purpose. To watch it is to feel refreshed, inspired, and confident, ready to return to work with a strong heart and a clean conscience, knowing that somewhere in rural Wiltshire or Somerset, Noel and Matt will say every week in voices of varying and unmodulated creepiness, “Bakers! On your marks, get set, bake!”
Douglas Emhoff: America’s First “Second Gentleman” Majalla - London Both in their 40s, Emhoff, divorced, and Harris, single, met on a date arranged in 2013 by Harris’s best friend, Chrisette Hudlin, a public relations consultant. The date was set up by text, and then the two met for dinner the next night. In her memoir, The Truths We Hold, Harris has written how difficult it was as a public figure to have a normal dating life. (When she met Emhoff, she was the attorney general of California.) “I knew that if I brought a man with me to an event, people would immediately start to speculate about our relationship,” Harris wrote. “I also knew that single women in politics are viewed differently than single men. We don’t get the same latitude when it comes to our social lives.” Harris was attorney general of California at the time, and Emhoff was practicing law as a managing director for the West Coast branch of Venable LLP, handling clients in the entertainment industry with a focus on trademark disputes and intellectual property. Harris and Emhoff married a year later. It was Harris’ first marriage and Emhoff’s second. He was divorced with two young kids, sharing custody with his first wife, Ker-
stin. Harris has spoken frequently of being embraced by both her new stepchildren and Emhoff’s former wife, and the easy relationship of their blended family. His children are in their 20s and call Harris “Momala,” a play on her name and a Yiddish word for “little mother. When Harris began her term in the U.S. Senate in 2017, Emhoff moved to DLA Piper, which had a presence in Washington and Los Angeles, where Harris and Emhoff split their time. More recently, he’s represented clients including a production company and a prominent wine maker. Emhoff has said he will leave his private law practice by Inauguration Day to focus on his role at the White House. “I want more women in office, and I want more partners, whoever their partner is, to support them and to provide an opportunity and an environment for success,” Emhoff said in an October interview with the digital site NowThis News.
Comcast, Raytheon and the government of Puerto Rico. He took a leave of absence from the firm in August when Biden chose Harris, a U.S. senator from California, as his running mate. Before Harris’s first presidential debate, Emhoff posted a picture of the two of them, with the caption:” Dear @Harris: I love you, I believe in you, and I’m so proud of you. The whole country is going to see what I get to see everyday. You are amazing.” Emhoff embraced his role as a political surrogate during the campaign. He will be the first Jewish spouse of a president or a vice president, and he was a prominent liaison to Jewish groups and donors. “Jewish husbands of more impressive women – this is our moment,” tweeted the journalist Ben Hartman, “Big day for America’s hot Jewish male community,” wrote the New York contributor Eric Levitz.
He also developed a close friendship with Emhoff’s decision to support his wife of- Jill Biden, a former second lady, and the fered an early test of how a Biden adminis- two campaigned together frequently in tration would avoid potential ethical issues. states including Iowa and New Hampshire. While Emhoff is not a lobbyist, the firm Jill Biden has said she wants to keep teachhas a large presence lobbying the federal ing at a community college, as she did government on behalf of clients including when Joe Biden was the vice president.