A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1835, Friday, Ja nua r y15, 2020
Issue 1835- January- 15/01/2021
Nadhim Zahawi: The Kurdish Minister Tasked with Leading the UK Out of the Pandemic
What the Pandemic Revealed About the “Axis of Resistance” The Al-Qaeda-Iran Relationship
The Undoing of China’s Economic Miracle
Don’t Discount America’s Interest in Keeping Africa Safe
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Political Shiism – or what the Iranian regime refers to as “the axis of resistance,” have been establishing itself in the region, and spreading its roots. Its main rhetoric is resisting Israel and Western Influence, and secondly empowering the Shia to have equal political and economic opportunities. Despite the loss of many lives and assets, and the fact that political Shiism have isolated the Shia in these countries from the rest of the region, its ideological power was strong enough to blind many from the real goal of Iran’s resistance; that is, regional hegemony. In this week’s cover story, Hanin Ghaddar writes that things started to change when economic collapse hit these countries and people had to finally choose between resistance and putting food on the table, revealing a number of hard truths about political Islam, the Iranian regime, and its regional proxies. As the Trump administration winds down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed a New York Times report that Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command was killed last year in Tehran and accused Iran’s government of allowing the jihadist network to establish a “new home base” there. His speech was intended to ratchet up even more pressure on Iran and to make it harder for the incoming Biden administration to re-enter a nuclear deal with the country’s leaders. We take a look at Pompeo’s accusations and the evidence that has been uncovered evidence of cooperation between al-Qaeda, Iran and its proxy, Hezbollah since the 90s. China’s economic “miracle” wasn’t that miraculous. The country’s high-octane ascent over the past 40 years is, in reality, a triumph of basic economic principles: As the state gave way to the market, private enterprise and trade flourished, growth quickened, and incomes soared. This simple lesson appears, however, to be lost on Xi Jinping. Michael Schuman writes that China’s leader is turning away from its reforms that helped it grow and develop, which will have consequences beyond its borders.
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A Weekly Political News Magazine
Don’t Discount America’s Interest in Keeping Africa Safe
Issue 1835- January- 15/01/2021
20 The EU is the Military Ally the
United States Needs
Get FITT To Better Fight 42 Heart Disease 3
The Undoing of China’s Economic Miracle
The SolarWinds Hack Doesn’t Demand a Violent Response
Growing Old, Alone
Reviving the Great Barrier Reef
Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita (C) and David Schenker, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs - who is wearing a traditional dress for men called â€œDarraaâ€? - (center-R) pose with other officials for a picture after their meeting in Dakhla, in Morocco-administered Western Sahara, on January 10, 2021. /Photo AFP 5
Kimono-clad women pose for a selfie while visiting a Shinto Shrine as they celebrate Coming-of-Age, turning 20 years old, the traditional age of adulthood in Japan, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021, in Tokyo. Most of the city hosted ceremonies were cancelled due to a state of emergency. /AP Photo
Tuesday, without providing hard evidence, that al Qaeda had established a new home base in Iran. The New York Times reported in November that al Qaeda’s Abu Muhammad al-Masri, accused of helping to mastermind the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in Africa, was gunned down by Israeli operatives in Iran. Iran denied the report, saying there were no al Qaeda “terrorists” on its soil. Pompeo told a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington that he was announcing publicly for the first time that al-Masri died on Aug. 7 last year. Pompeo said his presence in Iran was no surprise, and added: “Al-Masri’s presence inside Iran points to the reason that we’re here today ... Al-Qaeda has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
ers to remain peaceful, without mentioning his Trump Impeached for ‘Inciting’ US Capitol Riot in Historic Second Charge impeachment. “Violence and vandalism have
no place in our country... No true supporter of mine would ever endorse political violence,” he said, striking a sombre and conciliatory tone. The FBI has warned of possible armed protests planned for Washington DC and all 50 US state capitals in the days before Joe Biden, a Democrat, is inaugurated as the new US president.
Donald Trump has become the first president in US history to be impeached twice, after being charged with “incitement of insurrection” over last week’s deadly storming of Congress. The House of Representatives accused Mr Trump of encouraging violence with his false claims of election fraud. He now faces trial in the upper chamber, the Senate, but not before he leaves Pompeo Says Al Qaeda Has New office next Wednesday. Senators can vote to Home Base in Iran bar him from ever holding public office again. In a video released after the vote in the House U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on on Wednesday, Mr Trump called on his follow-
Israel Launches Major Air Strikes on Iran-Linked Targets in Syria Israel launched an air attack against Iranianlinked targets in Syria near the main border crossing to Iraq in the early hours of Wednesday, one of the biggest strikes yet in a campaign that has escalated in the Trump administration’s final weeks. Israel has been stepping up strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, part of aggressive posture adopted before President-elect Joe Biden takes office next week in what could bring a reassessment of Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy on Iran. Syrian news agency SANA and Syrian state media said Israel had struck sites in Al Bukamal, the Syrian city that controls the border checkpoint on the main Baghdad-Damascus highway. The highway is part of the main overground supply route linking Iran to its proxy fighters in Syria and Leba-
channel for at least one week today “for violating our policies for inciting violence”. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, added: “The shocking events of the last 24 hours clearly demonstrate that President Donald Trump intends to use his remaining time in office to undermine the peaceful and lawful transition of power to his elected successor, Joe Biden.” non. The Syrian reports also said Israeli strikes had hit areas in Deir al Zor province, where Iranian-backed militias and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards fighters have a heavy presence.
Qatar from Jan. 18. In addition to daily flights from Cairo, four flights a week would be operated from Alexandria to Doha, he said.
Egypt Follows Gulf Allies in Reopening Airspace to Qatar
Donald Trump Lashes Out at ‘Assault on Free Speech’ After POTUS Banned from Social Media
Egypt reopened its airspace to Qatari flights on Tuesday and will allow the resumption of air traffic between the two countries as part of a thaw in relations with the Gulf state, officials said. The decision follows moves by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt to end a boycott in which they severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar in 2017. The lifting of Egypt’s aviation ban allowed Qatari flights to cross Egyptian airspace and national carriers from both countries to submit flight operating schedules for approval, state newspaper Al-Ahram reported. EgyptAir plans to run a daily flight to and from Doha, the aviation ministry said in a statement. An additional flight could be added if there was sufficient demand, it said. EgyptAir’s chairman told local TV that the carrier expected to resume flights to
DONALD TRUMP has lashed out at social media companies for what he called an “assault on free speech”, after he and his supporters have been banned from online platforms in the wake of the Washington riots last week. The President issued a video statement about last week’s insurrection at the US Capitol, carried out by his supporters. Posted on the White House Twitter account, Mr Trump called for an end to “mob violence”, but also skewered social media companies for trying to “censor” him and his followers. Twitter, among other social media companies like Facebook, permanently suspended the President’s Twitter account following last week’s violence at the US Capitol. In a statement, Twitter said they closed Mr Trump’s account “due to the risk of further incitement of violence”. YouTube suspended Mr Trump’s
UK Coronavirus Deaths Pass 100,000 as Pandemic Toll Reaches Grim Milestone
A grim milestone has been hit as over 100,000 deaths from coronavirus in the UK have taken place since the beginning of the pandemic, official data shows. The Government said a further 1,564 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday - the highest number of UK deaths reported on a single day since the outbreak began. The previous highest daily toll was on Friday, when 1,325 were reported to have died. The Government also said that, as of 9am on Wednesday, there had been a further 47,525 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK It brings the total number of cases in the UK to 3,211,576. While the Department of Health has officially recorded 84,767 deaths within 28 days of a positive test, analysis of official data shows more than 100,000 deaths involving coronavirus have now occurred in the UK. It comes after Scotland announced a toughening of measures in the country with new rules set to come into force to help tackle the spread of the virus from Saturday. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also said earlier that the UK is “taking steps” to keep out cases of a coronavirus variant discovered in Brazil.
What the Pandemic Revealed About the “Axis of Resistance” The Ideology of Resistance Stands in Sharp Opposition Against Science by Hanin Ghaddar Political Shiism – or what the Iranian regime refers to as “the axis of resistance,” have been
establishing itself in the region, and spreading its roots. Its main rhetoric is resisting Israel and Western Influence, and secondly empowering the Shia to have equal political and economic
opportunities. Its tools: mostly wars, conflicts, and empowering dictators and corrupt political class, from Lebanon to Syria and Iraq, among other places. Despite the loss of many lives and assets, and the fact that political Shiism have isolated the Shia in these countries from the rest of the region, its ideological power was strong enough to blind many from the real goal of Iran’s resistance; that is, regional hegemony. However, things have started to change when economic collapse hit these countries and people had to finally choose between resistance and putting food on the table. As this difficult choice was unfolding and forcing many to ask questions and cast doubts, the COVID19- pandemic took the world and revealed many truths about our capacities as a human race, it also revealed a number of hard truths about political Islam in general, its capacity to accommodate science, but most importantly the susceptibility and weakness of political Shiism, the Iranian regime, and its regional proxies.
THE VULNERABILITY OF THE AXIS OF RESISTANCE
Rasoul-e-Akram hospital personnel attend a funeral for their -25year-old colleague, Mohammad Rezaie Kormajani, who died from the COVID19-, in Tehran on December ,9 2020. (Getty)
When COVID19- hit the region, many suffered, and many countries struggled to find ways to contain and deal with its repercussions, and eventually to plan the vaccination rollouts. It is; however, not surprising that the regimes within the axis of resistance, mainly Iran, Lebanon and Syria, have witnessed more cases, deaths and failed plans. The structures that these states are built on are structures designed to implement conflicts, not prosperous economies or health plans.
Iran has sided with death against life and expects the people and governments along the land bridge it maintains to follow its lead. “thousands more infected people… and had quarantined areas in many towns in the south… where neighborhoods were guarded by party members.” This – of course – is not surprising as the Lebanese government continued to allow planes coming from Iran to land in Lebanon until mid-March. In March 2019, instead of stopping flights from Iran into Lebanon and close off the official and nonofficial borders with Syria, Hezbollah launched a health emergency plan. Hashem Safieddine, head of the group’s executive council, told reporters on March 25, “It is a real war that we must confront with the mindset of a warrior... Our role is to complement the government apparatus, not to stand in its place.” Under the plan, Hezbollah will deploy a total of 25,000 personnel to deal with the crisis, including 1,500 doctors and 3,000 nurses. In addition, it has dedicated one of the Beirut hospitals it owns to treating coronavirus patients, rented four unused hospitals, prepared thirty-two medical centers across Lebanon, and laid plans for three field hospitals if needed. It has even rented hotels to be used for quarantine, according to Safieddine.
The pandemic revealed two things about the vulnerability of this structure. First, that it is incapable of implementing health plans that require qualified governments and strong infrastructure, and second, it doesn’t know how to deal with socio-economic challenges.
But as it turned out, Hezbollah lacked the actual equipment, such as ventilators and these field hospitals stayed nonfunctional until today, with nothing to show for, except empty statements and empty promises. As usual, the group wanted to appear more prepared than the Lebanese state to handle emergencies, but it failed, and dragged state institutions along its failure.
When the Corona virus hit Lebanon, it first came from Iran, which was and still is one of the most infected countries worldwide. According to media reports back then, Hezbollah has been hiding
Similar failures to strategize and implement emergency plans were seen across the region, along Iran’s land bridge, and its axis of political Shiism. People fell victims to empty promises and
COVID19- eventually won the battle.
THE CRIMINALITY OF THE AXIS OF RESISTANCE To make things even more problematic, a few days after Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah declared that he will not take a Corona vaccine made in the US or the UK, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has banned Western coronavirus vaccines, claiming they’re untrustworthy, that’s despite a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 56,000 Iranians. Instead, Iran will import 2 million coronavirus vaccines before the Iranian New Year on March 21 from “India, China, or Russia.” The Iranian Red Crescent had said that US-based Iranian scientists had been planning to send 150,000 doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine to Iran, but that the delivery had been cancelled following Khamenei›s comments. As Khamenei puts millions of people’s lives at risk by banning the vaccine, his statement has another deeper and yet more dangerous implication on the region’s societies: Ideology versus science. This gap has never been this harsh and profound. The ideology of resistance with all its layers and meanings stand in sharp opposition against science. One causes death and one saves lives. One spells conflicts and predicts collapsed states and societies, and the other spells prosperity
The structures that these states are built on are structures designed to implement conflicts, not prosperous economies or health plans.
and progress. In the light of these two options, Iran has sided with death against life and expects the people and governments along the land bridge it maintains to follow its lead. However, Iran has thereby pushed its isolation further and widened the gap between its regimes and its people. An Iranian, a Lebanese, an Iraqi or a Syrian citizen, is watching the news today and realizing
An Iranian man, wearing a protective face mask, walks down a street in the capital Tehran on July ,22 2020, during the COVID19- epidemic. (Getty)
that as he/she is hiding from death and struggling to put food on the table, his/her neighbors in Israel are going to be vaccinated – all of them - by March 2020. Between Iran’s ideology and Western scientific achievements, this citizen will not only wonder, but also could wish he was far away from this axis as possible. No one wants to sacrifice lives and children for the resistance anymore. In fact, the victory achieved
by Western science against Covid10-, the world’s main enemy, sounds more like a divine victory than any of Hezbollah’s divine victories. And when the Iranian regime bans it, it is only a sign of weakness, vulnerability, and criminality. Hanin Ghaddar is the Friedmann Fellow at The Washington Institute’s Geduld Program on Arab Politics, where she focuses on Shia politics throughout the Levant.
This Impeachment Is Different As the Trump Era Comes to an End, it is One Last Parting Gift of Roiling Uncertainty that he Leaves the Nation by David A. Graham
has ever been convicted and removed.
On Wednesday afternoon, Donald Trump, the third president in American history to be impeached, became the first to be impeached twice. The House of Representatives voted –232 197 to impeach Trump for inciting the attempted coup on January 6 and for trying to overturn Joe Biden’s election as president. The matter now goes to the Senate, where a trial is unlikely before Biden’s January 20 inauguration. No president
Almost exactly a year ago, the nation found itself in a position that was very similar and yet completely different. The Democratic-led House had impeached Trump, but the final result was a foregone conclusion: The Senate, led by Republicans, would quickly bury it and acquit the president. The votes would come almost entirely along party lines. Trump would remain president.
No matter what happens now, Trump will leave the presidency by January 20. But the circumstances of his departure and his future in politics are up in the air, because we don’t yet know what will happen in the Senate. It is not clear where Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stands, nor how he might manage his caucus. It is not clear if GOP senators will break with Trump. It is not clear when a Senate trial will begin. It’s not clear who will defend Trump in a Senate trial or how the trial will run. The cause of this uncertainty is a tectonic shift in the Republican Party—not as large as one might hope or expect, given what occurred on January 6, but still enough to shake up impeachment. Last fall, only a few members of Congress in both chambers crossed party lines. Three House Democrats voted against impeachment, and one almost immediately became a Republican. One former Republican representative voted to impeach, but he’d already had to leave the party over his criticism of President Trump. In the Senate, only Republican Senator Mitt Romney broke ranks.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi puts down the gravel as she presides the US House of Representatives vote on the impeachment of US President Donald Trump at the US Capitol, January 2021 ,13, in Washington, DC. (Getty)
However, 10 House Republicans voted to impeach. Most prominently, Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the No. 3 Republican in the caucus, has been an outspoken advocate of the move. Meanwhile, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy—who took part in attempts to overturn the election on January 6—opposed impeachment, but did not whip his members’ votes, and warned Republicans not to attack colleagues who support impeachment, for fear it could put their lives in danger.
Trump already lost his reelection campaign, which neuters his threat to Republican officeholders. the president could doom their careers—and though this hardly represented courage, they were probably right, given how he’d torpedoed other Republican critics. To be sure, Trump has promised to campaign against GOP officials who did not back his attempt to overturn the election, but his invincibility was already punctured, and has been sapped further by last week’s disaster. Second, the fact that the attack targeted Congress has sowed fury and resentment among members. It’s one thing to look on as Trump attacks, or encourages attacks, on others. It’s another to see insurrectionists marching through your chambers and trying to harm you.
These Republican votes made the impeachment the most bipartisan in history, but they did not change the outcome. The real action will be in the Senate. Once again, the odds that Trump will be convicted seem long, but this time, Republicans are much more open to the question. Conviction requires a two-thirds vote.
Third, public opinion has shifted. As I wrote in December 2019, the first impeachment was far more popular than any of the political discourse might have suggested. Once again, there is strong support for impeachment, but there is also a material shift in feelings about Trump. For four years, the president’s approval rating was one of the stranger indicators in American politics. Trump was wildly unpopular—but he was also enduringly popular with a strong minority of the public, which meant that while his approval rating was always low, it had a floor. Many observers wondered what could ever break the floor. January 6 may finally have done that. Polls show bipartisan revulsion toward the president, with his approval falling to historic lows.
The reasons this impeachment is so different are plain enough. First, Trump already lost his reelection campaign, which neuters his threat to Republican officeholders. Back then, they were terrified that getting crosswise with
Whether this will be enough to attain a conviction for Trump won’t be clear for some time. As the Trump era comes to an end, it is one last parting gift of roiling uncertainty that he leaves the nation.
The Al-Qaeda-Iran Relationship
Pompeo Says the Islamic Republic is Jihadist Network,s «New Home Base«
Majalla - London As the Trump administration winds down, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed a New York Times report that Al-Qaeda›s secondin-command was killed last year in Tehran
and accused Iran›s government of allowing the jihadist network to establish a «new home base» there. His speech was intended to ratchet up even more pressure on Iran and to make it harder for the incoming Biden administration to re-enter a nuclear deal with the country’s leaders.
«Al-Qaeda has a new home base. It is the Islamic Republic of Iran,» Pompeo said in a speech at the National Press Club. «I would say Iran is indeed the new Afghanistan –- as the key geographic hub for Al-Qaeda -- but it›s actually worse” Unlike in Afghanistan, where the United States fought almost two decades of war in the name of destroying Al Qaeda following the 11/9 attacks, “when al-Qaeda was hiding in the mountains, al-Qaeda today is operating under the hard shell of the Iranian regime›s protection,» he told the National Press Club. Last November, Iran denied a report that alQaeda›s second-in-command Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, also known as Abu Muhammad al-Masri, had been shot dead in Tehran in the summer by Israeli agents, following a request from the US. At Tuesday›s news conference in Washington, Mr Pompeo said he could confirm for the first time that Masri had died on 7 August, although he gave no further details.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the National Press Club in Washington, DC on January ,12 2021. (Getty)
He asserted that people were wrong to believe that a Shia Muslim power and an extremist Sunni group that considers Shia heretics were bitter enemies. «Masri›s presence inside Iran points to the reason that we›re here today. Al-Qaeda has a new home base: it is the Islamic Republic of Iran. As a result, [Osama] Bin Laden›s wicked creation is poised to gain strength and capabilities.» Since 2015, Mr Pompeo alleged, Tehran had allowed al-Qaeda figures in the country to freely communicate with other members and to perform many functions that were previously directed from Afghanistan and Pakistan, including authorisation for attacks, propaganda, and fundraising. «The Iran-al-Qaeda axis poses a grave threat to the security of nations and to the American homeland itself, and we are taking action,» he added. Because of Iran›s links to Al Qaeda, Pompeo said the United States will impose sanctions on Al Qaeda leaders who he said are based in Iran, Muhammad Abbatay — also known as Abd alRahman al-Maghrebi, and Sultan Yusuf Hasan
Since 2015, Mr Pompeo alleged, Tehran had allowed al-Qaeda figures in the country to freely communicate with other members and to perform many functions that were previously directed from Afghanistan and Pakistan. al-Arif, as well as three leaders of an Al Qaedalinked group operating on the border between Iran and Iraq. The State Department is also offering a reward of 7$ million for information leading to «the location or identification of alMaghrebi,» he said. Iran has always denied any official links with al-Qaeda. Although Tehran has often fought the group -- most notably during Afghanistan’s civil war, the U.S.’s toppling of the Taliban and, more recently, in its conflict with ISIS -- it’s also widely believed to have engaged with the group pragmatically to shore up anti-U.S. resistance in the Middle East. A number of al-Qaeda militants and family members of Osama Bin Laden fled to Iran after the US-led invasion of neighbouring Afghanistan in 2001. Iranian officials said they crossed the border illegally and that they were arrested and extradited to their home countries. Many experts believe that Tehran has allowed Al-Qaeda operatives to stay on its soil -- comparatively safe from the US military -- as leverage to prevent attacks on Iran. An investigative article in The Atlantic published in 2018, noted that despite the most costly counter-terrorism campaign ever waged by the West, al-Qaeda had flourished—“its comeback assisted by a remarkable pact with Iran.” “President Trump had pointed to this relationship
to justify de-certifying the Iran nuclear deal. Facing overwhelming European opposition to that move, CIA director Mike Pompeo suggested the al-Qaeda-Iran pact had been an “open secret” during the Obama administration, which had failed to act.” The article referred to a trove of documents from the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden that has been CIA declassified. “This document dump, which will take years to sort through and analyze, appeared to confirm the relationship— detailing among other things how Hamza, Osama bin Laden’s son, sheltered in Iran and even got married there; and how, according to one -19 page document, negotiations between al-Qaeda and the Revolutionary Guards in Tehran touched on funding and arming the Sunni terror outfit so it could strike at American targets.” According to their research, The Atlantic revealed that al-Qaeda and covert agents acting for the Iranian deep state first attempted to broker an unlikely agreement more than two decades back, after Saddam Hussein flat-out rejected alQaeda’s request for military assistance. “The pact then flourished under the George W. Bush administration, when a back-channel from the White House to Tehran, running from 2001 to 2003, discussed it frequently.” A 2004 U.S. report on the 11/9 attacks said
Many experts believe that Tehran has allowed Al-Qaeda operatives to stay on its soil -- comparatively safe from the US military -- as leverage to prevent attacks on Iran.
investigators had uncovered evidence of cooperation between al-Qaeda and Iran-backed Hezbollah, and that some of the key operatives had travelled through the Islamic Republic. An article published in the Council of Foreign Affairs in 2006, cited several other sources claiming that al-Qaeda and Hezbollah had worked together, including Douglas Farah, a journalist and consultant with the NEFA Foundation, a New York-based counterterrorism organization, who said that Hezbollah helped al-Qaeda traffic its assets through Africa in the form of diamonds
US Marines stand guard outside the US Embassy in Nairobi in 1998 after it was destroyed by a bomb. (Reuters)
and gold shortly after the 11/9 attacks. European intelligence reports from that time suggest the two groups were collaborating in such activities as money laundering, gun running, and training. The Council of Foreign Affairs article also mentions a book called The Age of Sacred Terror by former National Security Council members Daniel Benjamin and Steven Simon which said that a small group of al-Qaeda members visited Hezbollah training camps in Lebanon in the mid1990s. “Shortly thereafter, according to testimony from
Ali Mohammed, an Egyptian-born U.S. Army sergeant who later served as one of bin Laden’s lieutenants and pled guilty to participating in the 1998 embassy bombings in eastern Africa, Osama bin Laden and Imad Mugniyeh met in Sudan. The two men, who have both topped the FBI’s list of most-wanted terrorists, agreed Hezbollah would provide the fledgling al-Qaeda organization with explosives and training in exchange for money and manpower. Though it is unclear whether all terms of that agreement were met or the degree to which the two groups have worked together since,” the report said.
The EU is the Military Ally the United States Needs Biden Must Reverse the Longstanding Regard of European Defence as a Competitor to NATO By Max Bergmann Tensions over anemic European defense spending have long suffused transatlantic relationsâ€”and since 2014, they have become all-consuming, crowding out other priorities, straining the alliance,
and leading to exasperation on both sides of the Atlantic. U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly berated NATO allies for failing to invest more in their militaries, and at big transatlantic gatherings, the issue is the elephant in the room. President-elect Joe Biden, a committed trans-
atlanticist, will undoubtedly take a less strident tone than his predecessor has done on this issue. But the elephant will still be there, because the European pillar of NATO really is in a sorry state that undermines the alliance’s credibility. The United States does need more from Europe on defense—but the United States also needs to recognize that simply pressing individual member states to increase their spending is just not working.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg gives a press conference with European Commission president in Brussels, on December 2020 ,15. (Getty)
The European Union has a role to play in the common defense that the United States has long ignored. In fact, the United States has thus far scorned the EU’s defense ambitions and viewed the union as a competitor to NATO. Such an approach serves only to weaken both NATO and the EU, and the incoming Biden administration should reverse it. Only the EU can integrate and transform Europe’s fragmented and inefficient militaries into a potent pillar of NATO. Supporting its efforts to do so would strengthen not only the U.S. military alliance with Europe but its political one as well. The EU is home to 450 million people, and its economy is the second largest in the world. When Europe is able to act as one through the EU—whether in the realms of global trade, Brexit negotiations, or global regulatory standards—it is a superpower and exactly the potent democratic ally the United States needs. But currently, in the realm of defense, European power amounts to less than the sum of its parts.
Many in Washington worry that an empowered EU will not only duplicate NATO but become a French-dominated foe that will undercut the alliance and act against the United States agreed to work toward spending a minimum of two percent of their GDP annually on defense within the decade to follow. Since that time, European states have increased their spending on defense, but overall they have fallen well short of the two percent goal. Despite some progress, U.S. leaders have treated reaching two percent as a requirement—Trump even insisted on four percent. But the deadline is now less than four years away, and just ten out of 30 countries have cleared the two percent threshold, up from three in 2014. European member states that did not dramatically increase defense spending during the tenure of a president who threatened to withdraw the United States from NATO are even less likely to do so now, with budgets under pressure from the coronavirus pandemic and an incoming U.S. president they can trust to cover their flank.
Insisting that European states hit two percent by 2024 is setting up the alliance to fail. Not only are these states unlikely to hit the target, but even if they did, the results would likely be underwhelming. The two percent metric is, after all, arbitrary, as it is not tied to specific defense requirements, and is moreover subject to broader economic fluctuations. Greece, for instance, hit two percent only because AN ARBITRARY METRIC its GDP contracted so dramatically, increasing its Defense spending in many NATO countries dipped military’s share of the shrinking budget. Indeed, sharply following the economic crisis in 2008. marginal increases in any single country’s defense But events in the year 2014 forced the alliance to spending won’t automatically help improve the reckon with its apparent unreadiness to defend its European pillar of NATO, which is plagued with members’ territory. Russia breached the Ukrainian inefficiencies. EU member states in total spend border, raising an alarm within the alliance about roughly 200$ billion annually on defense, on a par the possible resurgence of threats from its east. At a with China. But Europe struggles to deploy forces; summit in Wales, leaders of NATO member states it runs out of munitions when it fights; and its The United States needs that to change. And so Washington should drop its long-standing, almost dogmatic opposition to the EU’s involvement in defense and work with its European ally to support a collective European defense that will ultimately strengthen NATO.
forces are seldom prepared to fight. The problem, then, is not really low spending but that European defense spending is fragmented, wasteful, and redundant. For instance, although Germany is the strongest economic power in Europe, few of Germany’s attack helicopters are ready for combat. France, by contrast, has a very capable military engaged in active combat operations in the Sahel. But French forces depend on U.S. support for those operations. When European states spend on defense, most of them allocate too little of their budgets to research and development and face stark tradeoffs between acquiring expensive new technologies and simply maintaining the forces they have. As the European defense analyst Sven Biscop of the Egmont Institute assesses, “The status of Europe’s armed forces and their dependence on the US will basically remain unaltered, even if they all spend 2 percent of their GDP.”
A COLLECTIVE CONCERN U.S. leaders have long viewed the EU as just another complicated, multilateral bureaucracy. To the extent that it got involved in defense, Washington imagined, the EU would duplicate and undermine NATO’s function. But the EU has transformed since its founding in 1993, becoming something much more like a state than a multilateral organization. Europeans in the EU are EU citizens, subject to EU law, free to live and work where they please in the union. They have their own currency, a de facto national language (English), and a federal government in Brussels. As the union has drawn together, Europeans have come to perceive defense and foreign policy as
Insisting that European states hit two percent by 2024 is setting up the alliance to fail
more of a collective concern than a national one. Support across Europe for EU defense is extremely high, consistently polling above 70 percent. Within European states, however, there is considerably less support for diverting national resources away from domestic priorities, such as health and education, and toward the high-end weapons systems that are required to marginally improve NATO’s collective defense capacity. The lack of national interest in defense spending is therefore not a short-term problem for NATO; it is structural. The EU has sought to expand its role in defense even as its member states have grown more parochial. In 1999, the EU proposed establishing a -60,000troop rapid reaction force that could deploy around the world without the United States. More recently, the EU created the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO), an initiative designed to facilitate defense cooperation among member states, and a European Defence Fund through which to invest
Flags of NATO member countries hang at the Parliament Square at the last NATO Summit in London, on December ,2 2019. (Getty)
countries have simply accepted duplication and inefficiency as part and parcel of a -30member multinational alliance. But the EU offers NATO an effective vehicle for pooling resources and transforming the European defense sector. Rather than simply pushing NATO’s member states to spend more, the Biden administration should encourage Europeans to integrate their defense capabilities through the EU. At the first NATO summit of his administration, President Biden should make clear that the United States has reconsidered its orientation toward EU defense. Biden can support a European Union with “strategic autonomy,” as its leaders have described their objective, while making clear that doing so does not mean detaching Europe’s interests from those of the United States so much as reducing the union’s dependence on U.S. military protection. American officials should encourage the EU’s leaders to invest generously in the European Defence Fund and to upgrade infrastructure so that heavy tanks can better move across Europe.
more than 1$ billion per year in defense projects. U.S. leaders have greeted such proposals with disdain, sending their European counterparts nasty letters and casting Washington’s diplomatic weight against EU defense efforts. Many in Washington worry that an empowered EU will not only duplicate NATO but become a French-dominated foe that will undercut the alliance and act against the United States. But that notion is absurd: the EU and NATO share 21 of the same member states. If Paris sought to turn EU defense into a Gaullist tool to untether Europe from the United States, it would need the assent not only of the other EU member states but also of Brussels, whose interests lie in sustaining strong transatlantic relations for as long as the United States remains committed to them.
A STRENGTHENED PILLAR For decades, the United States and other NATO
Empowering the EU in this manner will undoubtedly require organizational adjustments within NATO. But such a necessity should not be viewed in bizarrely apocalyptic terms—as an existential threat to the alliance. Rather, the issue is a bureaucratic one that can be overcome with close coordination between the two organizations. The EU should ultimately work hand in glove with the alliance, much the same way a member state would do. U.S. support for EU defense will not be a panacea, but it will go a long way toward strengthening the European pillar of NATO. If the United States had fully backed EU defense efforts 25 years ago, European defense would likely be much more robust than it is today. Frustrating inefficiencies would doubtless remain, and deadbeat nations would still resist doing their part. But NATO would likely The Biden administration should encourage this integration process to begin. This article was originally published on ForeignAffairs.com.
The Undoing of China’s Economic Miracle
The Country’s Paramount Leader is Turning Away From its Reforms That Helped it Grow and Develop. That Will Have Consequences Beyond its Borders by Michael Schuman China’s economic “miracle” wasn’t that miraculous. The country’s high-octane ascent over the past 40
years is, in reality, a triumph of basic economic principles: As the state gave way to the market, private enterprise and trade flourished, growth quickened, and incomes soared.
This simple lesson appears, however, to be lost on Xi Jinping. China’s leader is rejecting decades of tried-and-true policy by reasserting the power of the Communist Partywithin the economy and redirecting Chinese business inward. Indeed, faced with escalating hostility in Washington, Xi’s pivot seems, if anything, to be accelerating—with potentially serious consequences for China’s economic progress, and its relations with the world. True, Xi isn’t completely drop-kicking free enterprise and free trade. In November, he told the G20 summit that China’s new economic agenda “is by no means a closed-door policy” and “will create more opportunities for the world to benefit from China’s high-quality development.” Beijing also recently joined the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a 15-nation pact that created a trading bloc with about a third of the world’s population. Hua Chunying, the spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, hailed it as “a reflection of the commitment to free trade & multilateral trading system.”
An investor walks past a screen showing stock market movements at a securities firm in Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province on January 11, 2016. (Getty)
But the picture looks much murkier if you’re Jack Ma, China’s tech-entrepreneur grand master. Regulators squelched what would have been a record-breaking initial public offering of Ma’s fintech giant, Ant Group, a mere two days before its November debut on the Shanghai and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges. The official reason they offered was an altered regulatory environment, but there is widespread concern that Chinese authorities were punishing Ma for criticizing their oversight of the finance industry. Xi reportedly made the call himself. (Beijing subsequently launched an antitrust investigation into Ma’s other creation, the e-commerce company Alibaba Group.) Days later, another prominent entrepreneur, Sun Dawu, was detained for “provoking quarrels and disrupting production,” and the government seized his agriculture company. Sun, who has sometimes been critical of the government, may have been targeted over a land dispute with a state-owned farm. Jerome Cohen, a longtime expert in Chinese law, has worried on his blog that these actions could signal “a new central campaign to curb the political and economic power of major private entrepreneurs who refuse to follow the central Party line in every respect.” That rings true based on Xi’s efforts to tighten his grip on private enterprise. In a documentissued in September, the Communist Party said it aimed to “guide” private companies to “explore the establishment of a modern enterprise system with Chinese characteristics.” The “opinion” of the party is that its cadres ought to have more influence over the management
If Xi succeeds in replacing more of what China purchases from the world, he will also undermine the economic rationale for continued engagement with a brutal authoritarian regime. decisions of private firms, to ensure that they adhere firmly to the correct, state-determined line. Things weren’t supposed to happen this way. Deng Xiaoping, one of Xi’s predecessors, who launched China’s now-famous pro-market reforms in the late 1970s, understood that the country was destitute because it was strangled by the Communist state and cut off from the world. Deng and his successors steadily lifted controls on private investment, trade, and foreign business. Unfettered by overbearing state planners, China’s entrepreneurial energies, mixed with imported capital and technology, unleashed an explosion of growth and wealth. When Xi took power in 2012, he initially appeared to be following the by then well-trod road of reform. In late 2013, a Communist Party plenum issued an economic blueprint that had many economists and businesspeople convinced that big change was afoot. And change did come, just not the kind they expected. Though Xi has occasionally implemented market reforms—the financial sector has been opened more widely to foreign investors and firms, for instance— overall, he has shown a preference for the very visible hand of the state. His administration has gushed financial aid to a wide range of high-tech industries, including microchips and electric cars. Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, notes that state-owned enterprises are gobbling up a larger proportion of vital resources, such as bank loans, while the share of national output generated by private companies is no longer expanding as it once had. “The surge of the private sector has come to end,” he told me. Perhaps Xi believes that the industries targeted for state support are too important to be left to the unpredictable free market. Perhaps he thinks that a heftier role for the state could help firm his hold over party
and government. “He wanted more control, and he thought having a big state sector was an element of achieving that,” Lardy explained. Xi could also be motivated by fear and distrust. Since the days of Deng, the mantra of Beijing’s top policy makers had been “reform and opening up,” which stressed integration with the global economy. Xi, however, wants to limit that integration, or at least engage with the wider world on different terms. China, of course, will still sell you all kinds of stuff and happily take your money. But Xi wishes to reduce China’s reliance on other countries, especially potential adversaries such as the United States. From Beijing’s perspective, the Trump administration’s restrictions on technology sales to the telecom giant Huawei Technologies and other Chinese outfits exposed the dangers of counting on untrustworthy foreigners, and Xi intends to ensure that China’s advance can’t be upset by politicians in Washington or elsewhere. Thus Xi’s priorities have turned inward. “He is feeling under siege,” James McGregor, the chairman of the China arm of the consulting firm APCO Worldwide, told me. Chinese officials “are eliminating all vulnerabilities to the outside world, or reducing them as much as they can.” Xi’s new strategy, something he calls “dual circulation,” splits Beijing’s economic worldview in two—a domestic focus on companies in China making stuff for Chinese consumers, and an international one on the country’s exchange with the outside. How this concept will work in reality is not entirely clear, but it signals a shift in China’s economic relations with the rest of the world. Beijing previously fused domestic reform and globalization into a powerful engine of development. Now it is hinting at intensified stress on
Xi thinks he is shielding China against isolation. He could instead be causing it.
strengthening the domestic economy to bolster China against an uncertain and potentially more hostile global environment. In certain respects, this may not be a bad thing: For years, economists have been barking at Beijing that its economy’s growth would be healthier if it relied more on Chinese consumption than investment or exports. But this change may also mean China will engage in foreign trade and investment in ways that support this agenda. In other words, China will stay open for business—if that business helps protect its own interests. This dovetails nicely with another of Xi’s goals, self-sufficiency. China, he believes, should produce homemade substitutes to key products now bought from overseas—especially microchips and other crit-
China’s President Xi Jinping speaks at the closing press conference of the Asian-Pacific Economy Cooperation (APEC) Summit outside of Beijing, China in 2014. (Getty)
Chamber of Commerce in China, told me. All of this adds up to a grand experiment in the kind of statedirected development unseen since the days of Mao Zedong. Classically trained economists frown upon Xi’s program. He’s ticking just about every box of what not to do to propel incomes and innovation. Yet we shouldn’t immediately dismiss his plans as doomed to fail. As a gargantuan market of 1.4 billion people, China can develop local companies of size and scope without bothering much with the outside world. (Ma’s Ant is a prime example.) If the program works, economists may have to rewrite their textbooks.] Yet the undertaking is fraught with risks. By favoring the state sector, Xi is funneling valuable money and talent to notoriously bloated and inefficient government enterprises instead of far more nimble and creative private firms. The negative effect shows up in miserably poor productivity—a disaster for an aging society still catching up with the richest nations—and mounting debt, now nearly three times the size of national output. In an October report, Julian Evans-Pritchard, an economist at the research firm Capital Economics, dubbed the self-sufficiency drive a “lose-lose” for China’s economy, because it diverts resources from more productive purposes and forces firms to choose suppliers for political, not economic, reasons. “Pursuing self-sufficiency may still be rational as a form of insurance against aggressive decoupling by the U.S. and its allies,” he wrote. “But China’s economy would be better off if such insurance weren’t needed in the first place.” ical technologies. To protect national security, China needs “independent, controllable, safe, and reliable” supply chains, Xi said in an April speech, with “at least one alternative source for key products and supply channels, to create a necessary industrial backup system.” Localizing technology has been a longstanding Chinese ambition, but China watchers think Xi has thrown that plan into hyperdrive.
Xi appears to be betting on the insurance, and that has huge implications for the incoming Biden administration. Clearly, Xi is preparing for protracted conflict between the world’s two largest economies by attempting to fireproof China from measures Presidentelect Joe Biden might use against him. Yet in doing so, he is also repositioning the Chinese economy in the world.
Xi’s refashioning of the economy has room to run. His government is preparing a “corporate social credit” system, paralleling one designed for Chinese citizens. In theory, it’s supposed to rein in polluters, tax cheats, and other corporate scoundrels. In practice, it’s seen as yet another state tool to intrude on private managers. Government bosses “have a strong sense that they are not controlling these guys enough,” Joerg Wuttke, the president of the European Union
The U.S. supported Beijing’s economic reforms based on the hope that as China grew richer, everyone would benefit from its greater prosperity and security. But if Xi succeeds in replacing more of what China purchases from the world, he will also undermine the economic rationale for continued engagement with a brutal authoritarian regime. Xi thinks he is shielding China against isolation. He could instead be causing it.
The SolarWinds Hack Doesnâ€™t Demand a Violent Response Escalation Is A Risk No Western Country Is Ready to Take 28
The United States and other Western countries, too, engage in espionage, both the traditional HUMINT kind and via the world’s data networks Sellars’s eponymous masterpiece, “is the art of producing in the mind of the enemy the fear to attack.” The hackers who, through an inadvertent opening provided by SolarWinds, infiltrated countless U.S. government departments and agencies — including the departments of State and Homeland Security — clearly didn’t have any fears of attacking. Clearly, that must change. So it is that over the past couple of weeks deterrence has become the concept du jour. Biden (Trump seems out of the equation) should hit Russia hard to show that America means business, we’re told. Here’s the thing: we already have deterrence. Virtually all countries have deterrence. Deterrence is simply the combination of the defensive and offensive measures known to a country’s would-beattackers. The deterrence capabilities can belong to a country or be extended to it by an ally, as is the case with the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Based on this combined picture, a prospective attacker decides whether an attack is worth the trouble. The point is this: deterrence isn’t just whatever retaliation a targeted country thinks up after an attack. Deterrence is a result of its reputation for deterrence by resilience and deterrence by punishment. Hackers managed to insert malicious code into a software product from an IT provider called SolarWinds Corp., whose client list includes 300,000 institutions (Getty)
By Elisabeth Braw The SolarWinds hack – now attributed to Russia by U.S. government representatives including Mike Pompeo – has caused enormous damage. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that a massive chorus of voices is calling on Joe Biden, once he takes office, to hit back hard. Deterrence is needed, we’re told. Yes, we need deterrence, but deterrence is more than retaliation, and massive retaliation against an espionage hack would be foolhardy. “Deterrence,” explains Dr. Strangelove in Peter
Yet retaliation is becoming the honeypot of the post-SolarWinds debate. I, too, have argued for it, and there’s no doubt that the United States needs to demonstrate to Russia that hacks like the SolarWinds can’t be tolerated. But calling on Biden to hit Russia hard is where the argument enters dangerous territory. The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee has declared that the SolarWinds hack was an espionage mission. The Russian hackers penetrated lots of government departments and agencies along with companies and foreign governments – but even though there’s only a thin line between espionage and disruption in cyberspace, to all available evidence they use the opportunity to disrupt. It’s possible they simply didn’t want to go that far – but it’s also possible that
US cyber deterrence is so successful that it produced in the minds of the Russians the fear of doing so. What’s more, the United States and other Western countries, too, engage in espionage, both the traditional HUMINT kind and via the world’s data networks. It’s possible that Russia will at one point uncover U.S. infiltration of SolarWinds magnitude. Now imagine if Biden “hits Russia hard” in response to SolarWinds. What will happen, then, when Russia discovers a major hack by the United States? That’s right: it will have no choice but to hit hard back. Would the United States simply take such a blow without responding? Deterrence, as the deterrence scholars reading this know, rests on credibility. If the announced punishment is disproportionate it lacks credibility and will not be taken seriously by the attacker. It won’t be taken seriously because it brings a significant risk of escalation. If Biden hit Russia hard, it wouldn’t just bring the risk of the U.S. receiving a similar hit following the discovery of a major espionage hack on Russia; it also carries the risk of Russia retaliating against what it perceived to be unjust punishment, and voilà, the cycle of violence spins out of control. Instead of creating deterrence against future attacks, retaliation risks escalating confrontation. This is why no Western countries vow to avenge cyber attacks with kinetic strikes: it too carries too large a risk of escalation. To date, Israel remains the only country to have avenged a cyber attack by bombing, as it did against Hamas last year. As for Biden himself, he’s said that he will respond “in kind” – that is, proportionately. Indeed, massive force is not the only thing that
Deterrence is a result of its reputation for deterrence by resilience and deterrence by punishment.
produces in the mind of the enemy the fear to attack. Deterrence by resilience can do so by reducing the attacker’s success so dramatically that it’s not worth the effort. Translated to the cyber domain, that means better security – and Biden has vowed to make that a priority. But most deterrence also requires a punishment side. Fortunately, we’re not the first to try to establish how to punish an attack without escalating the confrontation. Thomas Schelling, the economist-turned-key-deterrence-thinker, did so in a decades-spanning career. Indeed, he won the 2005 Nobel Prize in economics not for his contributions
Signage outside SolarWinds Corp. headquarters in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, Dec. 2020 ,22 (Getty)
to the field of economics but for his contributions to deterrence. In its prize motivation, the Nobel committee highlighted how Schelling had established â€œthat uncertain retaliation is more credible and more efficient than certain retaliation. These insights have proven to be of great relevance for conflict resolution and efforts to avoid war.â€? Uncertain retaliation increases the fear factor: how will the attacked country respond? When will it do so? Whom, which institutions will it target? I call this asymmetric punishment; in Foreign Policy earlier this
month I outlined how the Biden administration can use asymmetry to increase the power of proportionate retaliation and thus strengthen deterrence against future attacks. Cyber attacks may be a new form of national security threat, but fortunately the United States and its allies (and indeed their adversaries) have a formidable body of Cold War deterrence knowledge on which to build. That matters because deterrence is not primarily about weapons: itâ€™s about psychology. This article was originally published in DEFENCE ONE
Don’t Discount America’s Interest in Keeping Africa Safe Cooperation with the Continent is Key To Securing U.S. National Interests By Maj. Scott D. Adamson The Defense Department’s coming near-total withdrawal of troops from Somalia follows its 2019
re-assessment of its force posture in Africa, aimed at shifting finite resources to great power competition. While it is appropriate to conduct such reviews and execute needed adjustments, America
Africa is a vast continent comprising a land mass three times larger than that of America. It boasted eight of the 20 fastest growing economies in 2019 Over the last decade, the frequency and distribution of violent attacks, and the number of terror organizations perpetrating them, have increased substantially. The Africa Center for Strategic Studies noted 3,471 violent events last year that contributed to the deaths of 10,460 African men, women, and children. Many of these events were perpetrated by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Boko Haram, Al Shabaab, and various regional affiliates.
Workers assembling locomotives in Changzhou, China and exporting them to Nigeria (Getty)
needs to recognize how its military presence in Africa helps protect the homeland from terrorism and compete with great powers such as Russia and China. Africa is a vast continent comprising a land mass three times larger than that of America. It boasted eight of the 20 fastest growing economies in 2019. Under its surface, the continent holds 30 percent of the world’s unmined minerals, 8 percent of its oil, and 7 percent of its natural gas. Yet many African countries face great challenges: climate change, desertification, food and water scarcity, poverty, unemployment, trafficking, and piracy. Often coupled with poor governance and security, these phenomena prove favorable for the recruitment and spread of terrorism by violent extremist groups.
Notably, each of these organizations is a part of, or pledged to, the terror networks of Al Qaeda or Islamic State, both of which, through fear underwritten by ruthless violence, seek to establish the caliphate and attack Western civilization – especially the United States. A report released last week by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies suggests that withdrawing U.S. forces from regions where Al Qaeda or Islamic State operate will not prevent these groups from pursuing their stated ends. As Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of U.S. Africa Command, put it, “a secure and stable Africa is an enduring American interest.” Through security cooperation and other related programs – like the African Partnership Flight and State Partnership Program – Washington can support Africa to prevent further atrocities wrought by terrorism. Doing so not only empowers countries like Niger and Somalia to develop the capability to undertake the burden themselves, but also reduces the risk that terror organizations export attacks to the U.S. homeland. Further, these partnerships often afford America the access needed to kill top violent extremists.
A U.S. airstrike earlier this year that resulted in the death of Yusuf Jiis, whom the U.S. identified as a “foundational member” of Al Shabaab, is a prime example. Targeting key Islamist militant leaders has likely helped depress Al Shabaab’s activity last year. While U.S. security cooperation, and the force presence that comes with it, undoubtedly disrupts and degrades transnational terrorism, Washington must also acknowledge that the vital program helps to curb the growing influence of China and Russia. China views Africa as key to its global ambitions. Through diplomatic overtures, peacekeeping contributions, and economic initiatives, Beijing has sought to deepen relations across the continent. The persistent engagement is paying off. China is now Africa’s chief bilateral trading partner, biggest infrastructure financier, and third largest arms supplier. Further, the CCP operates a permanent military base in Djibouti and retains access to 41 other ports, many of which have the ability to serve dual-use functions. This not only allows China to secure its supply chain, but also affords Beijing the ability to contest others along critical sea lines of communication. Moscow, though not as active in Africa as Beijing, also sees the continent as a top priority. Over the last seven years, Russia has doubled its African access agreements, most recently obtaining approval by the Sudanese government to
Security cooperation must be part of a whole-of-government approach to confront the competition playing out in Africa
establish a naval base. This will help the Kremlin project power to the Indian Ocean and reinforce its position on NATO’s southern flank. Security cooperation must be part of a whole-ofgovernment approach to confront the competition playing out in Africa. It can help America secure the access needed to advance its national interests while also denying that same access to others. General Townsend highlighted this fact in testimony to the Senate Armed Forces Committee in January. He noted that China and Russia “do little to counter violent extremist groups” and that many African countries view the U.S.
Released students from the Government Science Secondary school, in Kankara, Nigeria after an attack by Boko Haram (Getty)
as a partner of choice. Yet the commander of U.S. Africa Command noted a message shared with him by an African leader: If America will not provide counterterrorism expertise and capability, “a drowning man will accept any hand.” Some may argue that the United States needs to cut its presence in Africa in order to shift finite resources to competitions playing out in the Indo-Pacific and Europe. However, the combatant command’s posture is already an economy of force. It pales in comparison, for example, to the approximately 60,000 troops and tens of bil-
lions of dollars allocated to U.S. Central Command. At a cost of roughly 6,000 personnel and 0.3 percent of the defense budget, America can afford this investment. The vital relationships and influence America garners through security cooperation comes at a discount to American taxpayers. Washington would be wise to bolster these efforts to confront the rise in terrorism and great power competition alongside our African partners. This article was originally published on Defence One.
Growing Old, Alone COVID19- Hits America’s Elderly Hardest
By Annie Lowrey As the country plunged into a deep and unusual economic recession last year, it also plunged into a deep and unusual social recession: atomizing families and friends, evaporating hours of laughter and care and touch. This phenomenon hit nobody as hard as America’s seniors, who are much more likely than their
younger counterparts to live in care facilities and many of whom have struggled to connect in a socially distanced or virtual fashion. The elderly bore the brunt of the pandemic’s fatalities: COVID-19 has killed nearly 250,000 people over the age of 65. They also bore the brunt of its isolation. Many older Americans spent months discriminated against, frightened, and alone. “When we look back on this in the years to come, I
People over the age of 85 are 630 times as likely to die of COVID19- as people in their 20s, and 95 percent of coronavirus deaths have occurred among Americans older than 50. America’s inability to—or, really, its decision not to—control the virus has meant a precipitous decline in quality of life for its oldest and most fragile, and a catastrophic number of deaths among them. People over the age of 85 are 630 times as likely to die of COVID-19 as people in their 20s, and 95 percent of coronavirus deaths have occurred among Americans older than 50. Data compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation show that COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people in long-term care facilities, meaning roughly 40 percent of coronavirus deaths have occurred in institutions housing fewer than 1 percent of Americans. The kind of work done and the kind of care needed—the very architecture of life lived—in nursing homes and similar facilities pose a challenge when it comes to preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus. Such facilities congregate people, and have a rotating cast of caregivers, housekeepers, food-service workers, medical experts, and others tend to them. The work is often close, intimate— bed baths, blood draws, spoon-fed meals. A healthcare worker gives the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to a patient, as part of COVID19- at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida, United States (Getty)
imagine there’s going to be a lot of Monday-morning quarterbacking around whether it was a good idea to blockade older adults in their nursing-home rooms for eight, nine, 10 months out of the year, without letting them have access to their families,” David Grabowski, a professor of health-care policy at Harvard Medical School, told me. “I think we’re going to look back and say, What were we doing?” What we were doing was failing to save seniors’ lives or maintain their livelihoods.
Yet the United States, by any measure, has not met this challenge. Nine months into the pandemic, long-term care facilities are still facing shortages of personal protective equipment. Many are floundering financially, even with help from the government. They are still having problems getting COVID-19 tests turned around quickly. PPE shortages worsened in the third quarter of the year, with 17 percent of nursing homes reporting being low on or out of N95 masks, 11 percent out or nearly out of gowns, 9 percent short of surgical masks, and 8
percent lacking eye protection. In this environment, care facilities have had little option but to close up. Following guidance from the CDC, many have barred in-person visits and kept residents in their rooms, among other measures. To compensate, facilities have set up Zoom and FaceTime calls, created outdoor areas for distanced visits, set up barriers that family members can talk through, helped residents play online social games, and arranged care-package drop-offs. Many of the care residents I spoke with for this article said that they had taken advantage of those options, and adapted. Judy Friederici is a retired lawyer who proactively moved into a retirement facility a few years ago, as she is not married and does not have children. Isolation has been tough, she said, particularly given that she moved to her community in part to ensure she would not be isolated as she got older. But she has made a project of calling people in her complex who are likely to feel lonely. Mary Anna Turner, who turns 100 next year, lives in a Virginia care facility. She indicated that her experience living through worse had given her some grit. “I remember flu epidemics!” she told me. “I remember I had a bad case, and I called a doctor and asked him to send me something for it. The nurse said no, and I asked, Why not? She said, Too many people are dying. We don’t have anything to send you.” Turner told me she misses her family, but is making do.
America’s inability to- or, really, its decision not to- control the virus has meant a precipitous decline in quality of life for its oldest and most fragile
Still, the social recession among older adults in care facilities is Great Depression–deep. A survey conducted by Altarum, a nonprofit health-care research and consulting group, found “drastic” reductions in social connections among nursing-home residents. Just 5 percent said they had visitors three times a week, compared with more than half before the virus hit. Nearly all said they did not leave their care facility for a meal or to go shopping, compared with 40 percent before COVID-19. Only one in four was going outside for fresh air. Half said they no longer had access to activities such as art classes or group exercise. Nearly 90 percent said they could no longer eat meals in the dining room. Two in three said they no longer left their rooms to socialize with their peers. For older Americans, virtual alternatives to in-person visits are often pale alternatives. Teresa Palmer, a geriatrician, called me with her 103-year-old mother, Berenice, who lives in a San Francisco skilled-nursing facility. Teresa has spent much of
A resident in a wheelchair at an assisted living facility in Boston (Getty
pabilities have declined and touch has become all the more important, she told me. “I would hug him and hold his hand and stroke his hair, and he’d just soak it in,” she said. “He’s really eager for affectionate physical contact, which of course, as humans, we all are.” But now, she said, “I don’t think anyone touches him unless it’s to do a medical procedure.” Isolation has taken a tremendous emotional toll on many older Americans. “Oh, it’s just awful,” Berenice told me. “You go from being a human being to being something that lies in bed most of the day. The nurses don’t communicate well with you.” It has also taken a health toll. “There’s been more rapid language loss, and you see the delay in her responding and her difficulty processing,” Teresa Palmer told me. “There’s an element of depression. Social isolation, it’s just not good for the brain.”
the year cajoling the local authorities to allow her more access to her mom: Berenice’s hearing troubles make masked-and-distanced visits hard. Turner indicated she had trouble with the same. “Sitting six feet apart, people will turn and say something directly to me, and I cannot understand what they are saying,” she said. “It’s still good to get together and socialize a little bit. They probably weren’t saying anything important anyway.”
Studies have shown that touch, talking, and social connection are crucial for both mental and physical health: Isolation and loneliness are associated with increased risk of depression, anxiety, and heart disease, among other conditions. “We expect the proximity of others, because throughout human history, we’ve needed to rely upon others,” Julianne Holt-Lunstad, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Brigham Young University, told me. “Our brain has adapted to expect proximity to others, particularly trusted others. When left without it, it triggers this threat response—the sense that everything in our environment is going to be more challenging.”
For those with more profound medical challenges, the pandemic is yet harder. New Jersey–based therapist Abby Grayson’s father, Robert Stillman, was a chemist who worked for Bristol Myers Squibb for decades. He has a degenerative neurological condition, and is now in hospice. “He has been in his room since March, 24 hours a day,” Grayson told me. “We do FaceTime, but it’s hard for him to track. He can’t manage the keys and the buttons, and it’s not a meaningful experience for him.”
Thankfully, for people living in care facilities, the end of the social recession and the pandemic is just a shot or two away. Nursing-home residents are among the first in line for the new COVID-19 vaccines. Still, the country’s mismanaged coronavirus response has failed seniors. “We never found the balance between safety and resident quality of life and dignity,” Grabowski, the Harvard professor, told me. Instead, we found some equilibrium that left hundreds of thousands of older Americans isolated and hundreds of thousands more dead.
As his condition has worsened, his language ca-
This article was originally published in The Atlantic
A Weekly Political News Magazine
Issue 1835- January- 15/01/2021
Nadhim Zahawi: The Kurdish Minister Tasked with Leading the UK Out of the Pandemic
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and medications to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. But perhaps the biggest boost you can give your heart is regular aerobic exercise. «If you have been diagnosed with heart disease or are at high risk for the condition, then you have to work with your physician to create a plan to get up and get moving,» says Dr. Sawalla Guseh, a cardiologist with Harvardaffiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
GIVE YOUR HEART A LIFT Recent guidelines emphasize the importance of strength training to complement -- but not substitute for -- aerobic exercise. They suggest two to three days a week of strength training. You should do 10 to 15 reps for each set of exercise at %40 to %60 of your one-repetition max (the maximum amount of weight you can safely lift one time). Your routine should consist of eight to 10 different upper- and lower-body exercises. It›s best to consult a personal trainer to set up the right routine and help you choose the proper weights. Even during the pandemic, many gyms offer one-on-one personal training or Zoom sessions. You can then perform the exercises at home.
CHECKING THE BOXES Aerobic exercise checks off multiple boxes on the heart attack and stroke prevention list. For instance, it helps burn calories and fat for weight loss. It can keep arteries from getting stiff from aging, which translates to better blood pressure readings and less stress on the heart. Aerobic exercise also keeps blood sugar levels in check and fights heart-damaging stress and inflammation. Most people recognize that exercise is good heart medicine. Still, those with heart disease or at high risk for it may feel uneasy about putting their heart through that kind of stress. «Some people may think that if they move too much, they›ll have a heart attack,» says Dr. Guseh. «But regular heart-pumping exercise is exactly what they should do.» Your doctor or cardiologist can work with you to create an exercise program tailored to your specific heart health needs, fitness level, and personal interests. It often follows a simple formula called FITT: Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. «The approach is no different than what people need for general health and wellness,» says Dr. Guseh. Here is a look at what your program may include. Frequency. Federal guidelines recommend a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise over five days per week. The more you can do beyond this -- like up to 300 minutes -- the better. Intensity. A moderate level of intensity is ideal. «This amount of effort makes the body and heart work enough to get the benefits of exercise, but not too much, where it places a person at risk,» says Dr. Guseh. But what does «moderate intensity» feel like? «Intensity is highly personal,» says Dr. Guseh. «What is low intensity for one person is high for another, and vice versa, and
About half of all Americans have at least one of the key risk factors for heart disease, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and excess weight. depends a great deal on a person›s current fitness level.» To find that sweet spot of moderate intensity when exercising, use the simple «talk test.» «If you can carry on a conversation without laboring while exercising -but you can›t sing -- that›s a good measure of moderate intensity,» says Dr. Guseh. Always remember that exercise should feel good, he adds. «Listen to your body. If you experience any discomfort, then back off, and if you feel any chest or shoulder pain, or even jaw pain, see your doctor.» Time. It doesn›t matter how you get in at least 150 weekly minutes. «Dividing that time into -30minute workouts most days of the week means you won›t do too much at one time,» says Dr. Guseh. «But you might prefer longer sessions, say one hour of exercise three days per week. Inevitably, how you get in that time is up to you.» You also don›t have to do your workout all at once. «You can break up your workouts throughout the day, like some time in the morning and then again in the early evening,» says Dr. Guseh. Also, don›t skip exercise if you can›t do your regular routine, or even if it›s less than moderate intensity. «A low-level activity for 10 minutes is always better than nothing,» he says. If lack of motivation keeps you from putting in the required time, enlist a workout partner (while adhering to COVID physical distancing guidelines). «When you are accountable to others, you are much more likely to be more committed,» says Dr. Guseh. Type. It›s a cliché, but the best aerobic exercise really is the one you enjoy. «If you like a particular type of activity, you are more likely to stick with it. It›s that simple,» says Dr. Guseh. «Anything that gets you winded and works up a light sweat is ideal.» Many activities meet the definition of low-to-moderate intensity, such as racquet sports, swimming, speed walking, cycling, mid- or long-distance running, treadmill workouts, and even gardening or dancing.
Reviving the Great Barrier Reef
A Race Against Time To Fight Climate Change By Donna Lu “I recommend getting inside the net. It’s very good for you,” jokes marine ecologist Peter Harrison. “It’s good for your skin, it’s good for your clothes.” The net in question is a giant, slimy thing, with
a fine mesh at its base that contains a precious cargo: coral larvae that have been incubating in the ocean for five days. Some white sun shirts have already fallen casualty to the net, getting coated in a greenish algal stain on contact. We are on Wistari Reef, which forms part of
The Great Barrier Reef has suffered three mass bleaching events due to warm ocean temperatures in the past five years. in New South Wales. He was one of a group of researchers who first discovered the mass spawning of corals on the Great Barrier Reef in the early 1980s, and has spent the intervening four decades researching coral reproduction and restoration. Coral spawning occurs once a year. On the outer reefs off the east coast of Australia, the action begins a few nights after a spring full moon in late November or early December. Various coral species release sperm and eggs en masse, in trillions of small balls that rise to the surface and open, resulting in fertilised larvae known as planulae. These larvae form slicks of vivid pink or orange on the ocean surface, and drift for days or weeks until eventually attaching themselves to hard surfaces underwater to form new colonies. As they mature and become ready to settle, they fade to a greyish hue.
An aerial view of the islands of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland, Australia. (Getty)
Harrison estimates that only one in a million coral larvae will become an adult coral: some die naturally, some are eaten by plankton or fish, and others are carried by currents into waters that are too cold for the coral to grow. This is why the researchers have come to Wistari. By increasing the number of larvae that settle on reef systems, they are hoping to speed up the reef regeneration process â€“ particularly crucial given that the Great Barrier Reef has suffered three mass bleaching the southern end of the Great Barrier Reef off events due to warm ocean temperatures in the the east coast of Australia. Iâ€™m with 17 others past five years. on three research boats, on a field trip to reseed The team has been based on Heron Island, a coral reefs with coral larvae in the hope that they will cay where there is a permanent research station, since the end of November. When spawning eventually grow into new coral. Harrison, who is leading the expedition, is occurred in the first week of December, the the founding director of the Marine Ecology researchers collected millions of larvae from Research Centre at Southern Cross University some of the slicks.
The task on the boats today is to collect larvae from three floating nursery pools in Wistari Reef, where they have been maturing, and seed them onto damaged sections of reef that no longer have live corals. The net of each pool hangs from a square pontoon that is roughly 3 by 3 metres in size. Coral species release sperm and eggs en masse, in trillions of small balls that rise to the surface and open Researchers gather around the perimeter of each pontoon and lift each net out of the water in sync, concentrating the larvae at the bottom, while Harrison hoses the sides to wash down any larvae caught on the fine mesh. The process is laborious: each net contains about 80 kilograms of water, which takes time to drain out. All the larvae are collected by 9.30 am, and decanted into tubs in preparation for seeding. Concentrated, the larvae float in a cloudy brown suspension. “It looks like miso soup,” someone remarks. The smell is less appetising: like the fishy saltiness of seafood, but more pungent. We have been on the boats since 7 am, and will spend at least another 5 hours out on the water. Wistari Reef has a central lagoon edged by a wall of coral. At low tide, the tips of the coral jut out of the water and it becomes impossible for boats to pass. The water level will only be high enough for us to return to Heron Island in the mid-afternoon. But low tide, at 10.40 am today, is perfect for coral seeding – there are fewer currents that will disperse the larvae away from the targets. We weave the boats around the corals for more than an hour, searching for suitable sites: the researchers are after flat reefs that aren’t too shallow, which might limit the future growth of corals. Four sites are chosen. At each, 30 small, square tiles made from crushed coral skeletons are laid down. These will be used to measure the rate at which coral larvae have settled. We take a quick break for lunch, but the food is all aboard one boat. This poses little problem: our
sandwiches are delivered by Floatyboat, a small, remote-controlled robotic boat developed by Matthew Dunbabin at the Queensland University of Technology and his colleagues. Floatyboat serves a greater purpose than just aquatic deliveries: at two of the chosen release sites, the team uses it to disperse larvae from two thin pipes that dangle beneath it. Snorkelling behind as it gets to work, I watch the jets of larvae shooting out. At two other sites, larvae are manually dispersed via a larger pipe.
Bleached coral on the Great Barrier Reef thought to have been caused by heat stress as a result of global climate change (Getty)
The team won’t be able to see the results of its handiwork for several years. The larvae have been captured from corals that have survived recent mass bleaching events, so the idea is that their offspring may also be more heat tolerant. The researchers hope to upscale the restoration across more sites in the future, using robots to disperse larvae more efficiently. But climate change is an existential threat. The ideal temperature for larvae along the Great Barrier Reef is between °26C and °28C. At
warmer temperatures – the same that result in adult coral bleaching – the larvae won’t settle. The coral restoration programme is one of a range of tools to help boost the resilience of the reef, says Anna Marsden, managing director of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a charity dedicated to protecting the reef. The research under way is a race against time. “We’ve got 30 years to solve this, otherwise we will not have coral reefs on this planet,” says Marsden.
Nadhim Zahawi: The Kurdish Minister Tasked with Leading the UK Out of the Pandemic Majalla - London Nadhim Zahawi was born on 2 June 1967 in Baghdad, to Kurdish parents. He fled aged 9 with his family to the UK from Iraq in 1976 during Saddam Hussein’s early years in power. For a decade, there was the comfort of a London independent school education as the son of an entrepreneur father and dentist mother. But then, at 18, his father decided to invest everything he owned, including the family home, in an American company’s new venture – something called the Air Knife. “In mad entrepreneur fashion my father rang my mum and said, ‘This is going to be a huge success.’ He remortgaged our home, put everything into this thing. Of course you know how this story ends, the company went bankrupt and the bank took our home and everything except one thing: we had a Vauxhall Opel Senator car that was in my mother’s name so they couldn’t take it,” Zahawi told The Independent in 2014. This experience shaped the young Zahawi’s politics and guided him towards Conservatism. Welfare felt like a “trap” rather than a cushion, he said. Zahawi eventually went to University
College London to study chemical engineering. He met Lord Archer in 1991 while campaigning for Kurdish victims of the Gulf War and later helped the peer in his failed 1998 campaign to become London Mayor. Zahawi was elected as a Conservative councillor in Putney in the London Borough of Wandsworth, serving three terms from 1994 to 2006, and stood as a parliamentary candidate at Erith and Thamesmead in 1997, coming second to Labour. In 2000, he co-founded the polling company YouGov with Stephan Shakespeare, a former spokesperson for Jeffrey Archer. The online market research agency YouGov has grown to become a leading player in the UK’s media polling and is one of the most quoted research agencies. Having started life in an office in Zahawi’s garden shed, YouGov now employs over 400 people on three continents. In 2008/9 Zahawi became the vice-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan Region in Iraq, which receives secretarial support from Gulf Keystone Petroleum International, an oil company of which Zahawi is Chief Strategy Officer.
In January 2010, he stood down from YouGov to run for election as Member of Parliament for Stratford-on-Avon. Upon winning the seat, Nadhim was elected to the Business, Innovation and Skills Select Committee, which scrutinises the impact of government policy on business. He was subsequently re-elected in 2015, 2017 and 2019. Following the 2018 Cabinet reshuffle, Zahawi was appointed Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education. Since 26 July 2019 he has been Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Industry. In November, Zahawi was appointed as the first Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment. He is tasked with immunising millions of people to save lives and stop the spread of a virus that has caused excess deaths to rise to their highest level in the UK since World War Two. On January 6, 2021, he told LBC he was certain that 13million would have received the vaccine by mid-February. Zahawi has three children with wife Lana and together they run a riding school.