News Article | May 25, 2017
Despite a belated U.S. naval patrol, Beijing’s bid to extend its military power over the South China Sea is moving ahead unchecked. For the first time since President Donald Trump took office, a U.S. warship has sailed near a Chinese-controlled island in the disputed South China Sea, signaling an attempt to project a more assertive American stance against Beijing just before a major regional defense summit. The mission, a passage by the guided missile destroyer USS Dewey on Wednesday within twelve nautical miles of Mischief Reef, in the Spratly island chain, was long anticipated and delayed. The last such operation took place in October, and U.S. commanders who had already chafed under Barack Obama’s tight leash had hoped to get a freer hand and to carry out more patrols under Trump. Instead, the new administration has declined several requests from the military to carry out naval patrols in the disputed waterway. Eager to secure China’s help in pressuring North Korea over its nuclear weapons program, the White House has moved cautiously and chosen not to confront Beijing over the South China Sea, officials and congressional aides told Foreign Policy. But with defense ministers and senior military officers from across Asia due to meet in Singapore next month, including U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, the administration needed to show it was willing to back up its words with some action and demonstrate that it would uphold the principle of freedom of navigation, experts said. “This was a good, albeit overdue, move by the Trump Administration,” said Ely Ratner, formerly deputy national security adviser to Joe Biden and now at the Council on Foreign Relations. It was the first time a U.S. warship had sailed within the twelve-mile limit of any Chinese-held feature — a way to show that Washington doesn’t buy Beijing’s claims that rocks generate a territorial sea, and so push back against China’s expansionist claims. “This was the big one folks were waiting for,” he said. And while those so-called freedom of navigation operations, or FONOPS, by themselves don’t amount to a U.S. strategy to deal with the South China Sea, he said, the first step is to make sure that China can’t unilaterally fence off bits of international waters. “FONOPs are an essential part of that,” Ratner said. During the campaign and early days of the administration, Trump and his deputies staked out a tough line on China. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested in his confirmation hearings that U.S. forces would actually try to expel China from disputed waters and islets it now claims. But North Korea and its rapidly-expanding missile and nuclear weapons program have grabbed the attention of the Trump administration, pushing the disputes over the Chinese land grab in the South China Sea — and Beijing’s open militarization of many islets and atolls — to the back burner. Trump has toned down his rhetoric on trade disputes and other spats with China specifically to secure Beijing’s cooperation in defusing the North Korea crisis. “The president and his advisers have calculated that if we are to get China’s help on North Korea, better to take the foot off the gas on more contentious issues,” said Mira Rapp-Hooper, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Even though as a candidate Trump portrayed former president Barack Obama as a weak president in his dealings with China and other adversaries, his administration’s cautious diplomacy bears some resemblance to Obama’s policies, as the previous White House concluded that more could be gained from Beijing by avoiding a full-blown confrontation over the South China Sea or other disputes. Much to the consternation of U.S. allies in Asia, the Trump White House has yet to fill senior positions at the State Department and the Pentagon handling Asia policy, and has said little about the South China Sea issue publicly. The uncertainty over the administration’s policy on China has alarmed America’s partners and weakened the resolve of some governments in Southeast Asia, who fear Washington will no longer back them up if they try to take on Beijing in the South China Sea. At a meeting last month in Manila of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, government ministers from the region backed off of references to “land reclamation and militarization” after lobbying from China. The Pentagon sought to downplay the significance of the operation, which it described as routine. Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, described the passage at an event in Washington Thursday as “not confrontational,” and said that the so-called freedom of navigation operations by U.S. ships receive exaggerated scrutiny for the supposed diplomatic messages they convey. “They sure get a lot of attention when they happen,” he said, but the operations are routinely conducted all over the world without the fanfare associated with the South China Sea missions. The operations sure get a lot of attention in China. The Dewey’s patrol “undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests and is highly likely to cause untoward incidents in the waters and airspace,” a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Thursday. Citing China’s “indisputable sovereignty” over those islets and surrounding waters, he added: “We strongly urge the U.S. side to correct its wrongdoing and stop any provocative actions detrimental to China’s sovereignty and security interests so as to avoid any further damage to China-US cooperation and regional peace and stability.” And such operations are also closely watched in Washington, rightly or wrongly, as a barometer of the administration’s willingness to push back against China. Amid growing concern in Congress that the Trump administration is making strategic concessions to China in hopes of persuading Beijing to shift its stance on North Korea, several senators from both sides of the aisle wrote a letter earlier this month urging the administration to show resolve in the South China Sea and conduct more frequent naval patrols in the waterway. The first real test of the effect of Wednesday’s naval mission will come in early June at the Shangri-La dialogue, a large annual gathering in Singapore that serves as a venue for high-level talks on crucial matters of Asian security. Many maritime experts view the focus on freedom of navigation operations, and how they are publicly presented, as misplaced. “In my view, the publicity around the FONOPs is problematic. Many observers now view it as an indicator of U.S. resolve, which it is not,” said M. Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese maritime issues at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Such missions are merely meant to uphold traditional rights to navigation in international waters for all countries, he said. What’s more, they can give Beijing an excuse to ramp up its own provocative behavior, feeling as if its claims of sovereignty are being challenged. “They were never intended to do more, such as deterring China’s broader ambitions in places like the South China Sea.” Ultimately, and despite the belated U.S. mission near Mischief Reef, Washington has few tools at its disposal to convince China to retreat from its years-long acquisition and garrisoning of a spate of tiny reefs and atolls in the South China Sea, one of the world’s busiest waterways. Some experts and lawmakers have urged imposing economic sanctions on Chinese companies taking part in the vast island-building project, but the Trump administration has shown no sign it is ready to consider such a move. Since it began dredging sand from the seafloor to vastly expand the size of those pinpricks of coral in 2014, China has built airfields, deep harbors and air defense systems on many features and deployed advanced fighter jets, despite promises to stop militarizing the area. The bid to extend its reach in the waterway is part of China’s much broader effort — backed up with an arsenal of missiles — to push out its defensive perimeter from the Chinese coast and keep potential rivals at arm’s length in the event of a conflict. “The United States does not have great options in the South China Sea,” Fravel said. “China will not vacate the features it occupies and the United States will not forcibly remove them. “ China’s project has moved at a brisk pace, with reports of new military installations appearing every few weeks. Earlier this month, a state-run Chinese paper said that Beijing had installed 155 mm rocket launchers on Fiery Cross reef in the Spratlys, purportedly to deter combat divers from Vietnam, which has been at loggerheads with China over territorial claims in the South China Sea. “They basically succeeded in their construction projects, and are now well on their way to having floating bases out in the Spratly Islands, and there’s been really very little pushback and they’ve had to pay very little cost for doing so,” said Rapp-Hooper. She added: “It is, unfortunately, now game over.”
News Article | May 11, 2017
President Donald Trump is angry the U.S. Navy isn’t using more steam power. He sent the Navy scrambling Thursday after he suggested it scrap an already-built electromagnetic catapult system on its brand-new aircraft carrier and replace it with a “goddamn steam” one. In excerpts from an interview with Time magazine published Thursday, Trump slammed the catapult launch system on the USS Gerald Ford, the new, high-tech supercarrier slated to become the crown jewel of the U.S. Navy. The new system, the Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS), replaces the old steam-powered catapult launch system for hurling jets off a short runway, albeit with heftier up-front costs — which really peeved the commander in chief. I said, “You don’t use steam anymore for catapult?” “No sir.” I said, “Ah, how is it working?” “Sir, not good. Not good. Doesn’t have the power. You know the steam is just brutal. You see that sucker going and steam’s going all over the place, there’s planes thrown in the air.” It sounded bad to me. Digital. They have digital. What is digital? And it’s very complicated, you have to be Albert Einstein to figure it out. And I said — and now they want to buy more aircraft carriers. I said, “What system are you going to be—” “Sir, we’re staying with digital.” I said, “No you’re not. You going to goddamned steam, the digital costs hundreds of millions of dollars more money and it’s no good.” The Navy didn’t immediately respond to Foreign Policy’s request for comment or reaction, but is expected to address the commander in chief’s remarks in a statement. Many defense experts who aren’t Albert Einstein are rebuffing Trump’s claims, though. For starters, there’s one big problem: Trump’s criticism is a few years too late. The Ford is already built after almost a decade in the shipyard, EMALS system and all. Experts say it’s virtually impossible to sort out how to replace the existing EMALS system with the old steam-powered system, and that could cost billions of dollars. Plus the Ford has the EMALS system for a reason: It confers a whole bevy of advantages over its steam-powered predecessor, said Andrew Holland of the American Security Project, a think tank. It has fewer points of failure, it’s lighter, and it’s more energy efficient with up to 30 percent more energy behind each launch — perfect for heavy fighters. And unlike the steam-powered catapult, the Navy can calibrate each launch’s speed to whatever type of plane (or drone) is taking off of its deck. Catapults are part of what makes U.S. carriers a bigger, better breed of warship than those of other countries. China’s new flat top, and Russia’s old one, don’t even have steam catapults, but rather a sloped, ski-lift deck. That limits the kind of aircraft and payloads they can carry. Here’s the Navy’s video showing the EMALS system in full force: “The operational utility of [EMALS] is going to be so much higher that it really doesn’t make sense to change it,” Holland told FP. “Plus,” he added, “it’s built. It’s done. It’s on the carrier already.” But some experts say Trump’s comments, already being widely mocked among defense types, aren’t without merits, lauding in particular his push to name-and-shame vast defense cost overruns on systems like EMALS. “The president’s critique of the program is correct. He’s right to be frustrated and he’s right to step in and tell the Navy to pay greater attention to these overruns,” said Jerry Hendrix, a navy expert at the Center for a New American Security. The price tag for the three Ford-class aircraft carriers ballooned from $27 billion to $36 billion in the past decade, and the project is behind schedule in part because of the EMALS system, as the Atlantic reported. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, slammed the carrier project as “one of the most spectacular acquisition debacles in recent memory” in 2015. “The president is making the commander in chief’s intent that, at some future point, we may shift back to the easier, more affordable steam catapult system,” Hendrix said.
News Article | February 24, 2017
Much uncertainty remains around President Trump's emerging approach to foreign policy. With this in mind, Carnegie Council Senior Fellow and Asia Dialogues Director Devin Stewart has launched a series of interviews on how the Trump administration might approach Asia—a region that may become a site of conflict. Tensions may erupt over a U.S. trade war with China, the status of Taiwan, territorial disputes over the South China Sea, or North Korea's nuclear weapons development. Can the relative peace in the Pacific be maintained? In an effort to illuminate this important topic, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs presents the first 10 podcasts and transcripts with former U.S. government officials, experts, and scholars. All interviews are conducted by Devin Stewart. Access the full transcripts and audios here: https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/news/announcements/437. Or listen to them on iTunes. A "Chaotic" White House and the U.S. Role in Asia and the World Eliot A. Cohen, Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Trump and the "Trilateral Relationship" in Northeast Asia Michael J. Green, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and Georgetown University Geoeconomics and Statecraft: Is China Outdoing the United States? Jennifer M. Harris, Council on Foreign Relations The Secret War in Laos and the Role of the CIA Joshua Kurlantzick, Council on Foreign Relations Former U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Reflects on the Democratic Transition Derek Mitchell, Albright Stonebridge Group and United States Institute of Peace Trump in Asia: Back to the Future? Christopher Nelson, The Nelson Report, Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA Sensible Advice for Trump's Asia Policy Patrick M. Cronin, Center for a New American Security Instability on the Korean Peninsula and the Trump Administration Scott A. Snyder, Council on Foreign Relations Will Trump be a "Madman" in Asia? Daniel S. Markey, Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Risks to U.S.-China Relations under Trump Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, University of California, Irvine ABOUT ASIA DIALOGUES By conducting original, empirical research and facilitating educational exchange, the Asia Dialogues Program seeks to advance ethical inquiry around contentions within Asia and the United States. Go to https://www.carnegiecouncil.org/programs/asia/index.html. ABOUT CARNEGIE COUNCIL Founded by Andrew Carnegie in 1914, Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs is an educational, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that produces lectures, publications, and multimedia materials on the ethical challenges of living in a globalized world. Go to http://www.carnegiecouncil.org.
News Article | February 21, 2017
SparkCognition, one of the world’s fastest growing AI companies, is pleased to announce the addition of Dr. David Asher to its executive team. Asher joins as Executive Vice President of Strategy. He brings extensive experience in the financial world, both as a hedge fund strategist and as the architect of financial intelligence and operational programs for the US government. With a unique background in both security and securities, Asher helped pioneer the use of big data, machine learning, and network analysis in pursuit of some of the biggest counter-terrorism, counter-proliferation, and counter threat finance programs and initiatives in US history. Based on his experience in government, Asher believes artificial intelligence, specifically that developed by SparkCognition, has the power to counter critical threats, fight crime, and make the world safer. Asher is also helping expand SparkCognition AI into the commercial financial sector. Over the last twenty years, Asher has worked for and advised some of the biggest and most successful asset managers and global hedge funds. He has helped spearhead recent client engagements at SparkCognition, applying patented artificial intelligence to quantitative trading, strategy identification, and research, while also leading the development of proprietary AI capabilities to automate and bring down the costs of compliance, sanctions screening, and anti-money laundering processes, which have become huge costs incurrences for financial institutions. SparkCognition CEO, Amir Husain said, “I have known David for years, followed his work, and been in awe of the things he has made happen, or prevented from happening. He lives at the interaction of finance and intelligence and knows how to harness technology to support both. I am extremely pleased that David is now a part of the SparkCognition team.” Amir continued, “This makes us stronger in our efforts to apply our artificial intelligence solutions for cyber security, to help protect the financial industry, and to help industrial businesses decrease downtime, grow profits, and augment the talents of their most experienced employees.” Dr. Asher has earned a reputation as a global expert on counter threat finance priorities, such as the identification and pursuit of illicit financing and facilitation schemes, money laundering, and trafficking. For more than twenty years, Asher has been an advisor to US government Departments and agencies, including SOCOM, CENTCOM, DEA, CIA, and the Departments of Defense, Treasury, State, and Justice. He has advised such organizations, and others, on finance issues and international finance overall, especially in Asia, and the Middle East. Prior to joining SparkCognition, Asher was managing partner at Vital Financial, advising two of the world’s premier hedge funds on Asia, Middle East energy, and global macro strategy. He continues to serve as Chairman of Sayari Analytics, focused on the AML/CFT space for financial institutions. Asher is also an Adjunct Senior Fellow with the Center for a New American Security (CNAS, http://www.cnas.org) and a board member of the Center for Sanctions and Illicit Finance at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (http://defenddemocracy.org/about-fdd/team-overview/csif-advisor/). Asher graduated from Cornell University, studied at the London School of Economics, and received his doctorate in International Relations from the University of Oxford. He spent two years as a postgraduate researcher at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. “The AI revolution will transform finance and security markets in a profound way,” said Asher. “SparkCognition is figuring out how to use AI to fight crime and to make the world safer. I’m proud to be part of this incredible team. Artificial intelligence, decision-making, and information assessment at machine scale will change everything. From delivering cognitive anti-money laundering systems and intelligent financial surveillance systems, to hyper-innovative financial market trading capabilities, SparkCognition is building what no human strategist could discern, let alone process – true human intelligence at machine scale.” SparkCognition has established itself as an artificial intelligence technology leader with event prediction for business-critical solutions in place for customers in energy, oil and gas, manufacturing, and finance, including the London Stock Exchange Group. About SparkCognition SparkCognition is a global leader in cognitive computing analytics. A highly awarded company recognized for cutting-edge technology, SparkCognition develops AI-Powered cyber-physical software for the safety, security, and reliability of IT, OT, and the IIoT. The company’s technology is capable of harnessing real time sensor data and learning from it continuously, allowing for more accurate risk mitigation and prevention policies to intervene and avert disasters. In less than three years since launching its solution, the company has acquired dozens of major clients, including multiple Fortune 100 and Fortune 1,000 organizations. For more information on the company, its technology and team, please visit http://www.sparkcognition.com.
News Article | December 16, 2016
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Chinese warship has seized an underwater drone deployed by a U.S. oceanographic vessel in the South China Sea, triggering a formal diplomatic protest and a demand for its return, U.S. officials told Reuters on Friday. The drone was taken on Thursday, the first seizure of its kind in recent memory, about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), officials said. "The UUV was lawfully conducting a military survey in the waters of the South China Sea," one official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "It's a sovereign immune vessel, clearly marked in English not to be removed from the water - that it was U.S. property," the official said. The Pentagon confirmed the incident at a news briefing and said the drone used commercially available technology and sold for about $150,000. Still, the Pentagon viewed China's seizure seriously since it had effectively taken U.S. military property. "It is ours, and it is clearly marked as ours and we would like it back. And we would like this not to happen again," Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said. Senator Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the seizure "a remarkably brazen violation of international law." U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus cited a "growing China" as one of the reasons that the Navy needed to expand its fleet to 355 ships, including 12 carriers, 104 large surface combatants, 38 amphibious ships and 66 submarines. The seizure will add to concerns about China's increased military presence and aggressive posture in the disputed South China Sea, including its militarization of maritime outposts. It coincided with saber-rattling from Chinese state media and some in its military establishment after U.S. President-elect Donald Trump cast doubt on whether Washington would stick to its nearly four-decades-old policy of recognizing that Taiwan is part of "one China." President Barack Obama said on Friday it was appropriate for Trump to take a fresh look at U.S. policy toward Taiwan, but he cautioned the idea that Taiwan is part of one China is central to China's view of itself as a nation. "If you are going to upend this understanding, you have to have thought through whatever the consequences are," Obama told a news conference, noting Beijing's reaction could be "very significant." A U.S. research group this week said new satellite imagery indicated China has installed weapons, including anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems, on all seven artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea. Mira Rapp-Hooper, a senior fellow in the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, said China would have a hard time explaining its actions. "This move, if accurately reported, is highly escalatory, and it is hard to see how Beijing will justify it legally," Rapp-Hooper said. The drone was part of an unclassified program to collect oceanographic data including salinity, temperature and clarity of the water, the U.S. official added. The data can help inform U.S. military sonar data since such factors affect sound. The USNS Bowditch, a U.S. Navy ship crewed by civilians that carries out oceanographic work, had already retrieved one of two of its drones, known as ocean gliders, when a Chinese Navy Dalang 3 class vessel took the second one. Officials said the Bowditch was only 500 meters (yards) from the drone and, observing the Chinese intercede, used bridge-to-bridge communications to demand it be returned. The Chinese ship acknowledged the communication but did not respond to the Bowditch's demands, the Pentagon's Davis said. "The only thing they said after they were sailing off into the distance was: "we are returning to normal operations," Davis said. The United States issued the formal demarche, as such protests are known, through diplomatic channels and included a demand that China immediately return the drone. The Chinese acknowledged it but have not responded, officials said. The seizure happened a day after China's ambassador to the United States said Beijing would never bargain with Washington over issues involving its national sovereignty or territorial integrity.
News Article | March 2, 2017
During the campaign and through the early days of the Trump administration, policymakers and pundits have zeroed in on the U.S. economic relationship with China, in particular whether Beijing artificially manipulates its currency and whether the terms of America’s economic engagement are “fair.” While important, this focus misses Beijing’s foray into other, powerful forms of economic statecraft. China has begun increasingly relying on economic coercion — much in the same way the United States has in the last two decades — to pressure its neighbors and threaten U.S. interests in the Pacific. For example, in response to the prospective deployment of the United States’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile system in South Korea — designed to protect a U.S. ally from North Korea — China has limited commercial flights to and from South Korea as a way to increase economic pressure on Seoul and signal its displeasure with the planned deployment. This move parallels increased Chinese economic pressure on South Korean conglomerate Lotte Group, a holding company that agreed to allow the United States to use some of its property in South Korea to base the THAAD system. Subsequently, Chinese regulators launched coordinated investigations into the company’s operations in China, a move which analysts believe was designed to increase economic pressure on a major South Korean business and to cause it to rethink its decision to provide property for the missile defense system. If this story seems familiar, it should. In recent years, China has gone to school on the impressive record of U.S. economic statecraft and sanctions and has followed suit. Yet as Peter Feaver and I noted in a report for the Center for a New American Security in fall 2015, China’s sanctions strategy is often more subtle; instead of applying blanket sanctions against target states to coerce changes in their behavior, China creates coercive leverage with regulations, purchasing decisions, the refusal to allow the import of certain goods into Chinese markets, and limiting exports of strategic materials to the markets of its adversaries. Notable examples of Beijing’s willingness to use its economic clout for political ends include the Chinese restriction of exports to Japan of rare earth minerals in 2010 following the arrest of a Chinese ship captain after he rammed a Japanese Coast Guard vessel in the disputed maritime region; as well as a 2012 dispute with the Philippines over Chinese fishermen operating in the Scarborough Shoal, where authorities in Beijing imposed tighter measures on agricultural imports from the Philippines, and in particular on bananas. Given the importance of bananas and other agricultural exports for the Philippine economy, China’s economic pressure convinced Manila to settle the dispute quickly. But China’s use of economic coercion — and the threats it may pose to U.S. interests — is not limited to sanctions-like measures that prevent access to Chinese markets. In recent years, Chinese direct investment into the United States has increased significantly, and while the vast majority of this investment is innocuous and ultimately a boon to the U.S. economy, there are reasons to be concerned. For one, China has tried to engage in notable purchases of property on or near U.S. military installations, such as when the Chinese-owned Ralls Corporation attempted to acquire a facility located next to a U.S. naval weapons systems training facility in Oregon. Second, Chinese state-owned companies have attempted to purchase elements of our allies’ critical infrastructure, raising concerns about leverage that Beijing could exert on our partners during crises and conflict. In one recent example, Australia blocked a Chinese state-owned enterprise’s attempt to purchase a majority share in Ausgrid, the Australian state-owned power grid. The Australian government, when reviewing the sale, concluded that in the event of a conflict, Chinese ownership of critical infrastructure could seriously undermine Australia’s national security. In recent weeks, legislators on Capitol Hill and administration officials have begun seriously thinking through how to blunt threatening Chinese strategic investment into the United States. While the United States should broadly encourage foreign investment, it can also take additional measures to limit threatening efforts. As suggested my recent report for the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the United States could adjust the scope of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) — the interagency body tasked with reviewing the acquisition of U.S. companies for national security concerns — to impose a mandatory submission requirement for transactions involving Chinese state-owned enterprises and U.S. technology firms. (Under current U.S. law, filing information about proposed transactions to CFIUS is optional.) Likewise, Congress could create a CFIUS subcommittee focusing specifically on Chinese foreign investment into startups and high-tech that could pose national security risks in the medium to long-term. Such a subcommittee would help blunt China’s ability to invest in U.S. companies before they either obtain the developed technology or shutter U.S. companies that may be developing defense-related technologies important for the United States. The Trump administration should also work with like-minded countries — for example Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom — to share information about China’s strategic investments, strategies, and actions, as a way to ensure that our allies and partners are not subject to future coercion. This information sharing should not be limited to Beijing’s strategic investments, however. Congress and the administration should also pay close attention to China’s continued use of economic sanctions-like measures that are aimed at pressuring South Korea, Japan, and other countries in the region. In particular, the administration could establish a formal feedback mechanism through the State Department for countries to report formal and informal Chinese attempts to exert economic pressure. In such cases, the United States should be prepared to assist its allies if they are threatened with measures. For example, if Beijing attempts to use economic coercion against Japan or the Philippines in the East and South China Seas, then Washington should provide these countries with or facilitate access to key materials that China has cut off, such as rare earth minerals. The United States could also incentivize the diversification of export/import markets to decrease dependence on Chinese materials. Specific policies to accomplish this might include tax breaks to export key materials to Japan, or deregulation on some export materials. Likewise, if China bans imports of some agricultural products from neighboring countries, the United States can pledge to buy previously banned imports or provide tax incentives for U.S. companies to import from these countries. In addition, Washington should consider limited economic sanctions against China for its actions. After years of the United States developing its own tools of economic coercion, it’s time to pay more attention to defense.
News Article | February 15, 2017
MCLEAN, VA--(Marketwired - February 14, 2017) - The MITRE Corporation, a private systems engineering and technology company, today announced that its Board of Trustees has appointed Dr. Jason Providakes as President and Chief Executive Officer, effective March 6, 2017. Dr. Providakes previously held the position of Senior Vice President and General Manager of MITRE's Center for Connected Government. Dr. Providakes will succeed Mr. Alfred Grasso, who previously announced his intention to step down. Mr. Grasso will continue as a member of the Board of Trustees. "This is a superb company, dedicated to supporting the government with objective, technical expertise," said Dr. John Hamre, Chairman of MITRE's Board of Trustees and President and CEO of the Center for Strategic & International Studies. "We are entering a dynamic and challenging new phase for government, and we believe Jason will set the right tone, energy, and structure for MITRE's future." Since joining MITRE in 1991, Providakes has spearheaded major programs to modernize federal infrastructure and create mission capabilities for national security, population health, our Veterans, and civil agencies. He has served as the Director of the Homeland Security Systems Engineering and Development Institute, and of the Joint and Defense-Wide Systems Division within the National Security Engineering Center. An expert in optical and remote sensing technologies with extensive systems engineering experience, he has served as a member of the Army Science Board and contributed to several National Academy studies. "I am honored to lead MITRE in the next phase of its proud history of service to America," said Providakes, "and I am committed to advancing our international reputation for technical excellence and innovation. Public-sector challenges are dynamic and complex, and our cross-domain approach and enterprise-wide systems thinking to collaboration between government, industry, and academia have never been more critical than they are today." "I know that Jason is the right CEO for MITRE at this moment in our history," said Al Grasso, who announced on December 19, 2016 that he would step down once a successor was named. "He was selected with unanimous support of the board, informed by our highest ambitions. With Jason's leadership, we will continue to impact complex challenges of national and global significance." With the addition of Providakes, MITRE's Board of Trustees consists of Dr. John Hamre; Dr. George Campbell Jr., Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the Webb Institute of Naval Architecture; Mr. Nicholas Donofrio, former IBM executive vice president for innovation and technology; Mr. Robert Everett, former MITRE president; Ms. Michèle Flournoy, co-founder and chief executive officer of the Center for a New American Security; Mr. David Fubini , director emeritus at McKinsey & Company; Admiral Edmund P. Giambastiani, Jr., retired from the U.S. Navy; Mr. Alfred Grasso, former MITRE president and CEO; George Halvorson, former chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente; General C. Robert Kehler, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), former commander, U.S. Strategic Command; Mr. Cleve Killingsworth, former chairman and chief executive officer of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts; General Robert T. Marsh, USAF (Ret.), Air Force Systems Command; Ms. Cathy Minehan, managing director of Arlington Advisory Partners, LLC; General Montgomery C. Meigs, U.S. Army (Ret.), former president and chief executive officer of Business Executives for National Security; Dean Elizabeth Rindskopf Parker, Dean Emerita of the McGeorge School of Law at the University of the Pacific; Mike Rogers, former Congressman and founder, the Mike Rogers Center for Intelligence and Global Affairs; Mary Schapiro, formerly chairperson of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission; Rodney Slater, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation; Mr. John Stenbit, former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence. The MITRE Corporation is a not-for-profit organization that operates research and development centers sponsored by the federal government.
News Article | April 23, 2016
With 70 percent of our global real estate consisting of oceans and other bodies of water, one country with plenty of experience dealing with overcrowding is taking to the seas to build new power plants. According to new reports, China is working on floating nuclear power plants that will power its manmade chain of islands. China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation has been tasked with building a fleet of these structures in order to power the various radar systems, lighthouses, airfields, and other structures that currently reside upon the new islands in the South China Sea. And predictably, it’s no small undertaking. Liu Zhengguo, an executive at the Corporation, has been quoted as saying that “demand is pretty strong” for the nuclear stations, and Chinese media reported that the government has plans to build up to 20 of these mobile plants. While the concept of floating nuclear power stations isn’t particularly new (Russia recently began building them for use in the Arctic), China’s move marks the latest in its ambitious five-year plan. As the New York Times reports, the nation currently boasts building more nuclear power stations than any other country. “Nuclear reactors afloat would give the Chinese military sustainable energy sources to conduct their full panoply of operations, from air early warning and defenses and offensive fire control systems to anti-submarine operations and more,” Patrick Cronin, senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told the Chicago Tribune. And more concerning, perhaps, are the potential safety risks associated with such a large undertaking. “China has already done enough damage to the maritime environment by hastily building artificial islands and destroying irreplaceable coral reefs,” Cronin continued. “We do not need a nuclear accident in these importing fishing grounds and sea lanes.” Related: China’s National Space Administration just announced plans to land on Mars by 2020 The U.S. State Department has offered little by way of commentary on these latest developments, simply stating, “We continue to encourage all South China Sea claimants to avoid taking unilateral actions that change the status quo.”
News Article | October 28, 2016
A report from the Center for a New American Security argues that the Department of Defense (DoD) risks "being left behind" due to continued overreliance on proprietary software. The DoD has been on the vanguard of open source advocacy for many years, first clearing the way to broad internal adoption in 2009 with guidelines suggesting open source could be superior to proprietary software in some use cases. More, however, is needed. The more that is needed isn't a new policy. Rather, it's a fundamental rethinking of the importance of developers and how they access code, and not necessarily the code and its associated license. The report notes that "Software development is not currently a high-profile, high-priority topic in the discussion about diminishing U.S. military technical superiority," going on to aver, "It should be." This is spot-on, and points to the role developers must play to make the DoD (or any organization) responsive to ever-shifting demands. SEE: Governments and nation states are now officially training for cyberwarfare: An inside look (PDF download) The Center for a New American Security's report ultimately offers a call to action: "The DoD must overcome bureaucratic hurdles and embrace open source software as a critical element of its efforts to maintain military technical superiority in the 21st century." Along the way, the report mentions a litany of familiar reasons for embracing open source software: decreased costs, increased agility, etc. What it almost entirely fails to mention is the central role developers play in making that open source software sing. SEE: States show the US federal government how to go big in cloud Perhaps the authors assume everyone understands that developers are "the new kingmakers," to borrow a Redmonk phrase, and that their tool of choice is open source (running in a public cloud). Indeed, a few scattered statements seem to confirm this implication, including this one: "Open architectures enable software developers to create new features and users to easily install them." Yet the fundamental promise of unshackling developers through liberal license terms and cloud-based hardware goes mostly unremarked. Perhaps this derives from the realization that there are institutional barriers to both the idea of open source and its adoption: Even so, the authors recognize that open source encourages that developer creativity to route around calcified bureaucracies: "Considering the DoD's top-down apathy toward and difficulty with using open source methods, one glaring question remains: Why is there continued bottom-up support for open source software and methods within the DoD?" The authors, wittingly or unwittingly, understand that something is happening deep in the bowels of the DoD, and that something is developers. Developers, tasked with "getting stuff done," are doing it with open source. More, however, is needed. The authors acknowledge "widespread consumption of open source software in the DoD," yet also insist that "we can do so much more." What's the more? "We need to go from simply consumers of open source software to using open source principles as a way to do business in the DoD." They sketch out a series of platitudes about open source, but don't articulate tangible things that would boost developer productivity, beyond advocating "more open source." Arguments for public cloud, developer tooling, or other mechanisms for boosting developer productivity go missing. SEE: How Allstate boosted developer productivity by 350% with the cloud This is an error, because by the authors' own admission plenty of open source software is in use. Developers are bringing it in regardless of decrepit bureaucracy above them. To more fully unshackle those developers, the report authors should have pointed to where developers want to run open source software: public clouds. In other words, where those developers still need help is in bursting free of the operational (read: hardware) hurdles that strangle their ability to move fast. Some of these hurdles are toppling with the acceptance of AWS (GovCloud) and the introduction of the DoD's own milCloud, but more is required. Rather than agitating for more open source software, the report should have advocated that developer productivity be increased through more public cloud allowances. The underlying value derives from developers, but requires open source software and cloud hardware to really thrive.
News Article | February 15, 2017
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Rex Tillerson's job as chief U.S. diplomat became harder before it even began because of White House moves that have antagonized Muslim nations, European allies, Mexico and U.S. bureaucrats, current and former U.S. officials said. Hours after the Senate confirmed Tillerson as the 69th secretary of state by a 56-43 vote, the former Exxon Mobil Corp CEO was sworn in as the chief foreign affairs adviser to President Donald Trump. The Senate vote was largely along party lines, with all 52 Republicans voting in favor, along with three Democrats and one independent. Tillerson takes up his post at the State Department on Thursday morning when he will address staff. Under any circumstance, Tillerson would have inherited a messy globe with a civil war in Syria, nuclear-armed North Korea threatening to test an intercontinental ballistic missile and challenges from a rising China and an assertive Russia. In the 12 days since Trump's inauguration, however, the White House has taken steps that foreign policy professionals view as self-inflicted wounds. "We've done a series of own goals," said a senior U.S. official on condition of anonymity. "There are always mess-ups and friction with new administrations. That's not new. This is worse than usual." On Thursday, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto took the rare step of cancelling a Washington trip to meet Trump, who has repeatedly demanded Mexico pay for a wall on the U.S. border. On Friday, Trump signed an executive order imposing a four-month hold on refugees entering the United States and a temporary bar on most travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The order has not only caused consternation for the nations involved but among other Muslim-majority countries, allies such as Germany and Britain and career State Department officials. "GET WITH THE PROGRAM" About 900 department officials signed a memo dissenting from the policy, a source familiar with the document said, an unusual rebellion against a new president's policies. As reports of the internal dissent spread on Monday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said career officials who disagreed should "get with the program or they can go." The result has been that two constituencies Tillerson has to manage - foreign nations and the U.S. diplomatic corps - have already got their noses out of joint before his swearing-in. "He will start at a disadvantage and will have to play catch-up to build trust with his foreign counterparts and with State Department employees," said John Bellinger, a State Department legal adviser under Republican President George W. Bush. "Tillerson walks into a situation where he has got an unhappy and suspicious White House and he has an unhappy and suspicious workforce," said another former State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "It would have been difficult enough given the chaos." Several current and former U.S. officials said they were dismayed by the process that led to the executive order, with little evidence that there was broad consultation within the government, let alone with Congress or foreign allies. The secretary of homeland security, John Kelly, was reported to have been largely blindsided by the order. According to the New York Times, he was on a White House conference call getting his first full briefing on it when Trump signed the order. Loren DeJonge Schulman, a former national security council and Pentagon official, said the belief that Trump did not bring his top advisers into the discussion of the matter would itself handicap the new secretary of state. "The secretary of state’s power and his influence primarily derive from the idea that he speaks for the president," said Schulman, now at the Center for a New American Security think tank in Washington, saying it was an open secret the White House may not be consulting cabinet officials on such matters. "The fact that foreign audiences will realize that on day one is going to definitely weaken his hand," she said.