Daily General Policy Cards

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An asteroid hit will end life on earth, developing a space program is necessary to solve

Whittington, 11-13, 22, Mark R. Whittington is the author of space exploration studies “Why is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?” as well as “The Moon, Mars and Beyond,” and “Why is America Going Back to the Moon?” He blogs at Curmudgeons Corner, The Hill, NASA war-games an asteroid impact disaster and it goes badly, https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/3732798-nasa-war-games-an-asteroid-impact-disaster-and-it-goes-badly/

NASA and a number of other federal, state and local organizations war-gamed an asteroid impact on Winston-Salem, North Carolina, according to Scientific American. The scenario depicted an asteroid measuring 70 meters in diameter being detected shortly before it entered the Earth’s atmosphere. The asteroid would explode eight miles above the city with a force of a 10-megaton nuclear bomb. The explosion would lay the city and surrounding areas waste, with casualties in the thousands. The exercise presented a number of sobering conclusions. First, a few days, a few weeks, or even, likely, a few months would be too late to detect a destructive space rock headed to Earth for a deep impact. No means exists for stopping a killer asteroid at that point. Even the science-fiction movie method of launching a nuclear weapon at it would only make the problem worse, creating many little radioactive rocks out of one big rock, to fall over a wider area. Second, people have become so distrustful of authority, whether it’s from the political class or the media, that an announcement of a killer asteroid on the way would not be believed by a significant number of people. The evacuation of a strike zone would be challenging enough if everyone were willing to leave, but it’s likely many people would flatly refuse to go. Of course, every problem presents several solutions. ADVERTISING NASA’s recent Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission that diverted the course of a far-off asteroid was a great success. However, DART took five years of planning and execution to happen. We need a system for diverting asteroids that can essentially launch on-demand. That technology needs to be tested constantly against Earth-approaching asteroids. The U.S. Space Force should be tasked with developing, testing and maintaining an asteroid diversion unit. A systematic survey of the solar system to locate and categorize Earth-approaching objects needs to start as soon as possible. The NEO Surveyor telescope should be launched and put into operation. To supplement that effort, the government should pay amateur astronomers a bounty for each hitherto unknow Earth-approaching object they discover. The exercise also revealed the prevalence of misinformation and disinformation likely to accompany the impending impact of an asteroid, which lacks a quick, technological fix. Social media and ideologically biased TV news are perfect vectors for spurring confusion and misinformation. An impending asteroid impact needs the united effort of humanity to ward off and, if the worst happens, to mitigate. Widespread public ignorance on space issues has already been documented. But it is alarming that a certain percentage of people would not believe an announcement of an imminent asteroid impact. Some people would refuse to evacuate from a strike zone no matter what authorities tell them — meaning they would die if an asteroid destroyed their communities. How could government authorities convince the public that the threat of an asteroid strike is real? The exercise noted that NASA has a lot of credibility concerning space issues. Perhaps part of a solution would be to assign the space agency the lead in disseminating information about the impending catastrophe. The best way to deal with an asteroid impact is to stop it from happening. While an asteroid impact and its aftermath may make for exciting cinema, in real life, such an event would be a catastrophe in terms of lives and treasure lost. The asteroid described in the exercise was a relatively small one. The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs 66 million years ago is thought to have been about 12 kilometers wide, the size of a mountain. Such an asteroid impact today would wipe out most life on this planet and would end the human species. No mitigation strategy exists for such a catastrophe. To guard the planet against asteroid impacts, an effective detection and diversion system must be brought into being as soon as possible. Asteroid defense may be expensive but allowing even a relatively small space rock to get through would be even more expensive. Some have observed that the dinosaurs died because they lacked a space program. Humans have a space program, several of them in fact. No excuse exists for not undertaking efforts to prevent doomsday from coming from the heavens.

Deglobalization inevitable

Cliff Kupchan, 10-29, 22, The Impact of the Ukraine War Will Last for a Generation, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/impact-ukraine-war-will-last-generation-205533?page=0%2C1, Cliff Kupchan is Chairman at Eurasia Group. He has worked on Russia for over thirty-five years in government, in the private sector, and served for two years as vice president of the Nixon Center.

THE WAR in Ukraine will have several underappreciated, long-term implications for the future of international relations. For one, it will spur deglobalization, especially in the energy and food sectors. The war has the potential to lead to armed conflicts between Russia and the West; the rupture of ties will have a profound impact on global stability. Notably, the war clarifies that the current bipolar period in international relations will be less stable than its unipolar predecessor, though the impact of the war will not change the bipolar structure of the international system. The war exacerbates many of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on international relations. One key impact of the twin crises is that they observably and significantly spur deglobalization by disrupting previously reliable supply chains. Both crises have prompted a sharp inward focus by elites as they perform the most basic function of the nation-state—to protect citizens. Leaders focused on domestic jobs. They erected barriers to the movement of goods and capital to protect their constituents. And they adopted more expansive definitions of national security. Like the pandemic, the war in Ukraine will last for many years, which will amplify its impact as a long-term driver of deglobalization. Both sides want the same land, believe time is on their side, and have no trust in the other. Ceasefires are possible, but lasting peace will be elusive. The war will propel ongoing deglobalization and decoupling in four ways. First, the commodity and supply shocks it caused will strengthen policymakers’ proclivity to encourage redundant and resilient supply chains, “friend-shoring,” onshoring, regionalization, and stockpiling. Second, the sheer magnitude and force of Western sanctions on Russia will cause other countries to fear that they or their main trading partner could be next, which will likewise catalyze movement toward safer supply chains. Third, China’s public sympathy for Russia during the conflict further darkens superpower competition and therefore decoupling between the West and China. Lastly, firms themselves have been burned by both import risks and price shocks, and they too are trending toward redundancy and stockpiling. Deglobalization’s impacts on energy markets: War-induced deglobalization will have a particularly lasting impact on energy markets and food security. For energy markets, one of the longer-lasting effects is the movement of fossil fuel flows toward regionalization—a deglobalization of the market. There are two primary war-related drivers here. First, countries now show an even stronger preference for hydrocarbon supplies that come from relatively nearby and “friendly” countries. The import and price shocks of the Ukraine crisis have greatly strengthened this motivation. Also, especially for the United States and the European Union (EU), there is now a preference for “good” over “bad” oil and gas, with the distinction relating to the political orientation of the supplier country. The first energy grouping is U.S.-Canada-Latin America-EU. The major new plank here is the dramatically strengthened liquified natural gas (LNG) link between the United States and Europe. At current levels, the United States sells about two-thirds of its LNG to Europe, roughly double the prewar level, which accounts for 15 percent of Europe’s gas needs. If targets in the recent U.S.-EU joint statement are met, that figure will rise to well over 20 percent. The U.S. role in supplying Europe’s gas needs has grown dramatically, even given the fact that European gas consumption is dropping. The United States has become a strategic partner for Europe in this area. And Europe is de facto replacing “bad” Russian pipeline gas with “good” U.S. LNG. The broader U.S.-Canada-Latin America nexus is well-established. Canada sends large amounts of crude to the United States. Latin American producers also primarily supply the United States, but the integration with Latin America is more fully established by U.S. exports of gasoline and diesel to their markets. These “good” energy flows will continue. A second increasingly strong grouping is Russia-China. While substantial flows are already moving between the two because of geographic proximity and close political relations, China has limited the extent of this energy relationship in the past, as it has sought to diversify supplies. Since the start of the war, however, China has ramped up purchases of discounted Russian oil by roughly 300,000 barrels per day (BPD), and this trade is likely to expand given that Russia is losing access to the European market. Similarly, Russia needs to replace its European markets for natural gas. China will become the only serviceable and large market for Russian pipeline gas. Investment will be needed, but flows will grow—as illustrated by recent moves to begin work on the Power of Siberia 2 pipeline from Russia to China through Mongolia. The key driver of bigger Russian energy flows to China is politics; seen from the West’s perspective, these are flows of “bad” oil and gas. The third key grouping is Middle East-Asia. Here, already strong flows are driven primarily by proximity and market potential. Asia is still building refineries, and Middle East countries seek to send crude to higher-growth, refined product markets. There will be upward pressure on the size of these flows because of the postwar politicization of energy. Before the war, the killing of Jamal Khashoggi had left Saudi oil “good enough” but under a bad shadow. Since the onset of the war in Ukraine, the Saudis and the Emiratis have decided to maintain good relations with Russia and OPEC+, while Riyadh has resisted boosting production to accommodate Washington. The recent decision by OPEC+ to cut production by 2 million BPD proves the point. The war will leave Saudi oil still “good enough,” yet under a slightly darker shadow. Over time, especially during periods when the market is not tight and the West can choose its producers, political considerations will mean that Saudi oil will probably find more willing buyers in Asia than in the West. Finally, several countries and regions will occupy a more ambiguous status. India will remain a floater state, drawing supplies from Russia while crude is cheap; imports of Russian crude have risen from 30,000 BPD prior to the war to over 800,000 BPD at present. New Delhi will likewise increase purchases from the Middle East. Africa will also float. West African suppliers will target European markets seeking to replace Russian supplies; East African suppliers will look more to Asia. Importing African states will draw from a variety of sources, including continental production. Food security: Increasing and lasting fragmentation of the global market. Food policy is another area where the twin shocks of the war and Covid-19 are likely to bring about lasting changes, as more states begin to view food as falling within the perimeter of national security. Over the medium to long term, this will mean a greater degree of protectionism and a less globalized international food system. Both the pandemic and the Ukraine war drove up food prices markedly. On the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index, average costs fell by more than 10 percent in real terms from January to May 2020. But as global economic activity recovered and supply constraints began to bite, food prices rose steadily to more than 33 percent above pre-crisis levels in February. Prices then spiked in March, as the war broke out, disrupting Black Sea shipments of wheat, corn, sunflower oil, fertilizers, and other products.

Inequality is the primary driver of populism and the loss of democracy in the US and then globally

Austen & Dezenski, 10-23, 22, John Austin is the director of the Michigan Economic Center and a nonresident senior fellow with the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and Brookings Institution, Dezenski is senior director and head of the Center on Economic and Financial Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Foreign Policy, October 23, 2022, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/10/23/democracy-backsliding-authoritarianism-us-uk-china/

In a recent address at Ditchley Park, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair described today’s moment as a global inflection point, a time akin to the early post-World War II years or after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, when Western nations had to rethink and remake our policies both foreign and domestic. In Blair’s words: “We need a new plan, a way of looking at the world, to make sense of it and how best to pursue the advancement of its people…Western democracies need a new project that gives direction, inspires hope, and is a credible explanation of the way the world is changing and how we succeed within it.” He is right. We do need a new plan. We need to define and enlist allies in a shared global agenda to strengthen our national economies and democracies. To equip ourselves with the economic strength and political will to maintain a democratic rules-based order while checking authoritarian interests. In this new moment of clarity and confrontation, we must demonstrate that our democratic systems deliver more in the form of both political freedoms and economic opportunity than strongman states—states that foster corruption at home, destroy basic rights, build dependency, and employ tools of coercion abroad. We must also be honest about our own domestic challenges. In the United States, United Kingdom, and across Europe, faltering heartland regions and their alienated, angry, and anxious residents are a prime driver of populist movements, particularly anti-democratic right-wing variants. These support a new nativism and advocate retreat from the international community. They are movements that support the rise of an authoritarian to “fix things.” Meeting these internal threats to our own democracies is a prerequisite for confronting the authoritarian challenge abroad. Today’s urgent challenge differs from earlier inflection points. This is because yawning economic inequalities within Western democracies are today a primary driver of polarizing populist movements, fueling distrust and seeding instability in our democratic governance systems. The wealthy few reap more, the middle class is hollowing out, and the poor bear the brunt of change, whether from globalization, climate change, or soaring inflation and cost of living. Particularly dangerous are the economic gaps between residents of thriving global city regions and the increasingly angry, alienated residents of communities left behind by economic change. Arguably the implications of the growing divide were not fully grasped by Tony Blair in the United Kingdom or a succession of U.S. leaders over the last three decades. But the evidence of this divide has been growing for years, from the ailing factory towns of the American Midwest to the hollowed industrial centers of England’s North. Many of those living in regions experiencing relative economic decline responded to these conditions with support for anti-democratic populists, those who threatened to dismantle democratic governments from within. During the last global inflection point Blair mentions in his Ditchley address—what philosopher and economist Francis Fukuyama billed the “end of history”—the Berlin Wall fell, the Cold War ended, and we saw the rise and opening to the West of both China and Russia (or so we thought). It seemed for an historical moment as if all nations could work together to nurture economic opportunity and freedom across the globe. Later with the United States and many other nations reeling from the fallout of the Great Recession and the global financial crisis, the election of President Barack Obama was embraced around the world, suggesting renewed hope that the United States under his leadership could join with allies to again constructively to address many emerging challenges. Given the high expectations among many, particularly in Europe, it seemed possible that the time was right to forge new agreements and protocols on how we would work together to solve shared and global challenges around big topics: international security, climate change, terrorism, the stability of the financial and trading systems, health and education, civil and women’s rights, and the free flow of information. But Obama got politically dragged down at home and found few kindred spirits among leaders abroad, including in Europe. The economic freefall of the working class, combined with the apparent exoneration of the global financial elite, contributed to public resentments and the rise of populist movements threatening democracy in countries of the West.

CCP collapse answer – No one can challenge Xi

Cag, 9-20, 22, Brian W. Cag is an intelligence professional for the U.S. Government focused on East Asian affairs, Xi Jinping Is Not Going Anywhere, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/xi-jinping-not-going-anywhere-204870

Xi Jinping, the leader of the Chinese Community Party (CCP) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), is facing a variety of challenges to his leadership. The Chinese economy is staring down its greatest crisis in decades, including a housing market overburdened by excess capacity, unprecedented debt levels causing a decline in overseas investment, and a banking sector shaken by the public’s uncertainty to protect its capital. Xi’s vertical consolidation of political power across all levels of the party and the state has drummed up discontent among the elite class, especially in the run-up to the 20th Party Congress. Senior party cadres have been strategically leaking their disapproval of Xi’s leadership in recent months and many are worried about Xi diminishing the already flailing concept of collective leadership. Security concerns also abound, as China is facing pushback from Western nations on its military’s encroachment in the South China Sea and Pacific nations. Export restrictions on China’s semiconductor sector and the gutting of collaborative relationships with Chinese defense industries have temporarily struck a blow to China’s desire to carry out its civil-military fusion policy. In spite of these challenges, however, there is no realistic elite power struggle nor any semblance of an organized political group within China that can seriously counter Xi’s consolidated rule. Xi is laser-focused on moving forward with his ambitious economic agenda. Despite public discontent with the rollout of the CCP’s “common prosperity” campaign, Xi and senior cadres have quietly signaled a shift to scale back some of the drastic redistribution aspects of the party’s initiative. Covid-19 lockdowns have also caused great disruptions to business operations and the housing sector. In turn, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) recently announced rate cuts to spur growth while the rest of the world grapples with increasing rate hikes to counter inflation. As sanctions pummel the Russian economy and complicate trade deals across Eurasia, China’s yuan is becoming an attractive alternative for nations seeking to minimize their use of the U.S. dollar. Since the yuan does not operate on a free-floating currency system, the PBOC sets a central parity rate which allows the Chinese government to manipulate its value at will. China’s confidence in its currency is strong and recent reports have highlighted Russia and China’s decision to use local currencies for their energy trade. Although the yuan is still far behind the U.S. dollar in its global use, its lack of adoption as the premier reserve currency affords Beijing great flexibility to devalue the yuan in accordance with global economic challenges and any negative geopolitical developments. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and related ventures such as the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and the Global Security Initiative (GSI) have received scrutiny due to Western nations’ public messaging of China’s debt-driven foreign investment model, lack of transparency mechanisms, and revisionist security goals. However, if we are to take what the CCP states publicly at face value, these woes are not a high concern for Xi. He continues to utilize the whole-of-society initiatives to extend PRC influence and investment abroad, particularly in developing nations ripe with political and economic insecurities. The case of Sri Lanka shows the extent to which the PRC can continue to leverage its hard power to secure its BRI investments abroad. Following the ouster of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, many foreign policy analysts predicted the new Sri Lankan government might reconsider elements of its relationship with China. Yet, after much diplomatic wrangling with India and others, Sri Lanka decided to allow the Chinese military surveillance vessel Yuan Wang 5 to dock at the Hambantota port, the same port that China lauded as a great success for its BRI. Additionally, the fact that Beijing announced the GDI and GSI following a public backlash against the BRI signals that Xi believes in his vision for the grand project. CCP political intrigue is always guaranteed to entice a few speculative headlines about behind-the-scenes elite leadership struggles. The upcoming 20th Party Congress is fueling rumors of elite discontent regarding Xi’s personalization of party and state institutions. Xi has centered himself as the core of the CCP and China’s constitution. However, there is a reality that scholars and China watchers must come to grips with: there is no structured, cohesive opposition base that can reasonably challenge the paramount leader. Xi has been wise to keep members of rival CCP factions in party institutions of significance, such as the Politburo Standing Committee and the Central Committee, while diluting their prospective political powers by promoting his preferred candidates to the same bodies. Xi wants to keep the veneer of unity and collective leadership within the party to the extent that they cannot pose an existential threat to him. Xi ultimately understands that he needs a competent bureaucracy to rule and the compromise of leadership at low and mid-level positions benefits his own capacity for effective governance. Even more so, Xi’s first overseas trip since the outbreak of Covid-19 to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit in Uzbekistan signals confidence in his political standing at home. Power struggles tend to happen just before the Party Congress convenes and this trip served as a reminder that Xi is not seriously concerned about an intra-party coup. Finally, China’s sprawling technological and security apparatus also provides Xi with the ultimate last resort option to safeguard any opposition to his standing. The pervasive “Sharp Eyes” surveillance system aims to completely control the Chinese population under the purview of its police and intelligence services. The party also surveils its own members domestically and overseas, providing Xi and his loyalists with a timely warning system about any recorded inkling of dissent. As soon as Xi came into office, he carried out the controversial anti-corruption campaigns of “Fox Hunt” and “Skynet,” which purged over 5 million party members for alleged state crimes. Xi was keenly aware of the Chinese bureaucracy’s long-time practice of dabbling in corruption to supplement low salaries and he achieved a true “win-win” outcome: rooting out graft and jailing prospective political opponents. The anti-corruption campaigns were also a valuable tool to enhance Xi’s ideological control over the party and the population, as Xi Jinping Thought permeates school curricula, the business sector, and even smartphone applications. As we enter an era of global instability and varying crises, vis-à-vis the potential Taiwan contingency and the risk of a broader war with Russia, the CCP might endure greater backlash at home if it does not attempt to alleviate the population’s economic and political concerns. With that said, one thing will remain clear in the short to mid-term: Xi is not going anywhere and he is not afraid to use the full power of the security state to ensure his place at the top of the CCP and all of Chinese society.

Biological weapons technology now readily available

John Donnelly, 9-19, 22, Biological weapons threat evolving, experts say, https://rollcall.com/2022/09/19/biological-weapons-threat-evolving-experts-say/

The panel’s consensus was that even low-likelihood risks are worth preparing for if the potential harm from them occurring is great enough. Moreover, if building usable biological weapons remains a challenge for terrorist groups, it is less of a challenge for nations and, most importantly, the barriers to entry in biological weaponry for all parties are going down. “There’s been a bio revolution in these last 10 years, with convergence of science and computing and AI and data sciences,” said Luciana Borio, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. “And the acquisition of those technologies and tools have proliferated, and the barriers to acquisition of those tools are lower now. And I think that we are in a very dangerous situation.” Daniel Gerstein, a senior policy researcher at Rand, referred to the “democratization” of the means to make biological weapons. Some of the work of making them can be done on a desktop, he said. The same technologies that have enabled an aerosol form of insulin can be used for nefarious purposes, he noted. The coronavirus pandemic showed in real time how devastating disease outbreaks can be. If one were deliberately begun, it could be worse. “The biological threats that are enabled by advances in synthetic biology make it possible to design pathogens that are even more severe, that are even more deadly, than what we find in nature,” said Rand’s president and CEO, Jason Matheny. “And the capabilities are accessible not just to state biological weapons programs that unfortunately persist today, but also to individuals.”

India-Pakistan nuclear war risks increasing

Bokhari, 9-17, 22, Kamran Bokhari, Ph.D. is the Director of Analytical Development at the New Lines Institute for Strategy & Policy in Washington. Dr. Bokhari is also a national security and foreign policy specialist at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute. Bokhari has served as the coordinator for Central Asia Studies at the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI). Follow him on Twitter at @KamranBokhari., Can the World Defuse the Threat of Nuclear War?, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/can-world-defuse-threat-nuclear-war-204791

Likewise, given the state of South Asian geopolitics, the risks of a nuclear exchange in the region are rising. Due to its long-standing conventional disparity with arch-rival India, Pakistan has retained a policy of nuclear first use. But now, with Islamabad’s economy historically at its weakest moment amid growing security challenges, especially from Islamist extremists and the rise of a far-right Hindu nationalist regime in neighboring India, the risks of nuclear conflict on the subcontinent are far greater than before.

Degrowth useless and kills us – we’ll eventually re-grow and we can’t survive without new technologies

Macaskill, September-October 2022, WILLIAM MACASKILL is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming book What We Owe the Future., Foreign Affairs, The Beginning of History” Surviving the Era of Catastrophic Risk, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/william-macaskill-beginning-history#:~:text=We%20stand%20at%20the%20beginning,We%20are%20the%20ancients.

INNOVATE TO SURVIVE One response to this daunting challenge is retreat. If it is so difficult to safely govern emerging technologies, some argue, then why don’t we simply refrain from inventing them in the first place? Members of the “degrowth” movement take precisely this stance, decrying economic growth and technological progress as the main culprits behind alienation, environmental destruction, and all kinds of other harms. In 2019, 11,000 scientists from more than 150 countries signed an open letter demanding that the population of the world “be stabilized—and, ideally, gradually reduced” and that countries turn their priorities away “from GDP growth.” Despite its intuitive appeal, this response is unrealistic and dangerous. It is unrealistic because it simply fails to engage with the interdependence of states in the international system. Even if the world’s countries came together temporarily to halt innovation, sooner or later someone would resume the pursuit of advanced technology. Humanity must avoid the fate of Icarus—but still fly. Be that as it may, technological stagnation is not desirable anyway. To see why, note that new technologies can both exacerbate and reduce risk. Once a new technological danger has been introduced—such as by nuclear weapons—governments might require additional technologies to manage that risk. For example, the threat nuclear weapons pose to the survival of the human species would be greatly reduced if, during a potential nuclear winter, people were able to produce food without sunlight or if early warning systems could more reliably distinguish between intercontinental ballistic missiles and small scientific rockets. But if societies stop technological progress altogether, new technological threats may emerge that cannot be contained because the commensurate strides in defense have not been made. For instance, a wide variety of actors may be able to create unprecedentedly dangerous pathogens at a time when people have not made much progress in the early detection and eradication of novel diseases. The status quo, in other words, is already heavily mined with potential catastrophes. And in the absence of defensive measures, threats from nature might eventually lead to human extinction as they have for many other species: to survive to their full potential, human beings will need to learn to perform such feats as deflecting asteroids and quickly fighting off new pandemics. They must avoid the fate of Icarus—but still fly. The challenge is to continue reaping the fruits of technological advancement while protecting humanity against its downsides. Some experts refer to this as “differential technological development,” the idea being that if people can’t prevent destructive technology or accidents from happening in the first place, they can, with foresight and careful planning, at least attempt to develop beneficial and protective technologies first. We’re already in a game of what Richard Danzig, the former U.S. secretary of the navy, has called “technology roulette.” No bullet has been fired yet, but that doesn’t change how risky the game is. There are many more turns to pull the trigger in the future: a bad accident and perhaps a fatal one is inevitable unless our species changes the game.

BWC is a joke, won’t solve biological threats

Macaskill, September-October 2022, WILLIAM MACASKILL is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming book What We Owe the Future., Foreign Affairs, The Beginning of History” Surviving the Era of Catastrophic Risk, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/william-macaskill-beginning-history#:~:text=We%20stand%20at%20the%20beginning,We%20are%20the%20ancients.

Game-changers have so far been in short supply. Given the stakes, societies have to date done scandalously little to protect their future. Consider, for instance, the Biological Weapons Convention, which prohibits the development, storage, and acquisition of biological weapons. The national security expert Daniel Gerstein described it as “the most important arms control treaty of the twenty-first century,” yet it lacks a verification mechanism, and its budget is dwarfed by that of the Met Gala. As if this weren’t enough of a travesty, the BWC struggles to raise even the meager contributions it is due—a 2018 report by the convention’s chair lamented the “precarious and worsening state of the financial situation of the BWC . . . due to long-standing non-payment of assessed contributions by some States Parties.”

Multiple ways humanity could be wiped out; high risk of the end of the world, it’s actually the most likely way an American could die

Macaskill, September-October 2022, WILLIAM MACASKILL is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming book What We Owe the Future., Foreign Affairs, The Beginning of History” Surviving the Era of Catastrophic Risk, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/william-macaskill-beginning-history#:~:text=We%20stand%20at%20the%20beginning,We%20are%20the%20ancients.

We stand at the beginning of history. For every person alive today, ten have lived and died in the past. But if human beings survive as long as the average mammal species, then for every person alive today, a thousand people will live in the future. We are the ancients. On the scale of a typical human life, humanity today is barely an infant struggling to walk. Although the future of our species may yet be long, it may instead be fleeting. Of the many developments that have occurred since this magazine’s first issue a century ago, the most profound is humanity’s ability to end itself. From climate change to nuclear war, engineered pandemics, uncontrolled artificial intelligence (AI), and other destructive technologies not yet foreseen, a worrying number of risks conspire to threaten the end of humanity. Just over 30 years ago, as the Cold War came to an end, some thinkers saw the future unfurling in a far more placid way. The threat of apocalypse, so vivid in the Cold War imagination, had begun to recede. The end of communism a few decades after the defeat of fascism during World War II seemed to have settled the major ideological debates. Capitalism and democracy would spread inexorably. The political theorist Francis Fukuyama divided the world into “post-historical” and “historical” societies. War might persist in certain parts of the world in the shape of ethnic and sectarian conflicts, for instance. But large-scale wars would become a thing of the past as more and more countries joined the likes of France, Japan, and the United States on the other side of history. The future offered a narrow range of political possibilities, as it promised relative peace, prosperity, and ever-widening individual freedoms. Stay informed. In-depth analysis delivered weekly. The prospect of a timeless future has given way to visions of no future at all. Ideology remains a fault line in geopolitics, market globalization is fragmenting, and great-power conflict has become increasingly likely. But the threats to the future are bigger still, with the possibility of the eradication of the human species. In the face of that potential oblivion, the range of political and policy debates is likely to be wider in the years ahead than it has been in decades. The great ideological disputes are far from settled. In truth, we are likely to encounter bigger questions and be forced to consider more radical proposals that reflect the challenges posed by the transformations and perils ahead. Our horizons must expand, not shrink. Chief among those challenges is how humanity manages the dangers of its own genius. Advances in weaponry, biology, and computing could spell the end of the species, either through deliberate misuse or a large-scale accident. Societies face risks whose sheer scale could paralyze any concerted action. But governments can and must take meaningful steps today to ensure the survival of the species without forgoing the benefits of technological progress. Indeed, the world will need innovation to overcome several cataclysmic dangers it already faces—humanity needs to be able to generate and store clean energy, detect novel diseases when they can still be contained, and maintain peace between the great powers without relying on a delicate balance of nuclear-enabled mutually assured destruction…..CONTINUES

Serious concerns about “existential catastrophe”—defined by Ord as the permanent destruction of humanity’s potential—emerged mainly in the second half of the twentieth century, hand in hand with an acceleration of technological progress. Lord Martin Rees, the former president of the Royal Society, wrote in 2003 that humanity’s odds of surviving this century are “no better than 50-50.” Ord estimated the likelihood of humanity wiping itself out or otherwise permanently derailing the course of civilization at one in six within the next hundred years. If either is right, the most likely way an American born today could die young is in a civilization-ending catastrophe.

Tech advances critical to save humanity from the risks it has already created for itself

Macaskill, September-October 2022, WILLIAM MACASKILL is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming book What We Owe the Future., Foreign Affairs, The Beginning of History” Surviving the Era of Catastrophic Risk, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/william-macaskill-beginning-history#:~:text=We%20stand%20at%20the%20beginning,We%20are%20the%20ancients.

We stand at the beginning of history. For every person alive today, ten have lived and died in the past. But if human beings survive as long as the average mammal species, then for every person alive today, a thousand people will live in the future. We are the ancients. On the scale of a typical human life, humanity today is barely an infant struggling to walk. Although the future of our species may yet be long, it may instead be fleeting. Of the many developments that have occurred since this magazine’s first issue a century ago, the most profound is humanity’s ability to end itself. From climate change to nuclear war, engineered pandemics, uncontrolled artificial intelligence (AI), and other destructive technologies not yet foreseen, a worrying number of risks conspire to threaten the end of humanity. Just over 30 years ago, as the Cold War came to an end, some thinkers saw the future unfurling in a far more placid way. The threat of apocalypse, so vivid in the Cold War imagination, had begun to recede. The end of communism a few decades after the defeat of fascism during World War II seemed to have settled the major ideological debates. Capitalism and democracy would spread inexorably. The political theorist Francis Fukuyama divided the world into “post-historical” and “historical” societies. War might persist in certain parts of the world in the shape of ethnic and sectarian conflicts, for instance. But large-scale wars would become a thing of the past as more and more countries joined the likes of France, Japan, and the United States on the other side of history. The future offered a narrow range of political possibilities, as it promised relative peace, prosperity, and ever-widening individual freedoms. Stay informed. In-depth analysis delivered weekly. The prospect of a timeless future has given way to visions of no future at all. Ideology remains a fault line in geopolitics, market globalization is fragmenting, and great-power conflict has become increasingly likely. But the threats to the future are bigger still, with the possibility of the eradication of the human species. In the face of that potential oblivion, the range of political and policy debates is likely to be wider in the years ahead than it has been in decades. The great ideological disputes are far from settled. In truth, we are likely to encounter bigger questions and be forced to consider more radical proposals that reflect the challenges posed by the transformations and perils ahead. Our horizons must expand, not shrink. Chief among those challenges is how humanity manages the dangers of its own genius. Advances in weaponry, biology, and computing could spell the end of the species, either through deliberate misuse or a large-scale accident. Societies face risks whose sheer scale could paralyze any concerted action. But governments can and must take meaningful steps today to ensure the survival of the species without forgoing the benefits of technological progress. Indeed, the world will need innovation to overcome several cataclysmic dangers it already faces—humanity needs to be able to generate and store clean energy, detect novel diseases when they can still be contained, and maintain peace between the great powers without relying on a delicate balance of nuclear-enabled mutually assured destruction. Far from a safe resting place, the technological and institutional status quo is a precarious predicament from which societies need to escape. To lay the groundwork for this escape, governments must become more aware of the risks they face and develop a robust institutional apparatus for managing them. This includes embedding a concern for worst-case scenarios into relevant areas of policymaking and embracing an idea known as “differential technological development”—reining in work that would produce potentially dangerous outcomes, such as biological research that can be weaponized, while funding and otherwise accelerating those technologies that would help reduce risk, such as wastewater monitoring for pathogen detection. The greatest shift needed is one of perspective. Fukuyama looked to the future a little mournfully, seeing a gray, undramatic expanse—a tableau for technocrats. “The end of history will be a very sad time,” he wrote in 1989, in which “daring, courage, imagination, and idealism, will be replaced by economic calculation, the endless solving of technical problems, environmental concerns, and the satisfaction of sophisticated consumer demands.” But at this beginning of history, this critical juncture in the human story, it will take daring and imagination to meet the various challenges ahead. Contrary to what Fukuyama foresaw, the political horizon has not narrowed to a sliver. Enormous economic, social, and political transformations remain possible—and necessary. If we act wisely, the coming century will be defined by the recognition of what we owe the future, and our grandchildren’s grandchildren will look back at us with gratitude and pride. If we mess up, they might never see the light of day.

Ten trillion people represent future generations

Macaskill, September-October 2022, WILLIAM MACASKILL is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming book What We Owe the Future., Foreign Affairs, The Beginning of History” Surviving the Era of Catastrophic Risk

The fossil record indicates that the average mammal species lasts a million years. By this measure, we have about 700,000 years ahead of us. During this time, even if humanity remained earthbound at just one-tenth of the current world population, a staggering ten trillion people would be born in the future.

The story of humanity might end before it has truly begun.

Thinking in the long term reveals how much societies can still achieve. As little as 500 years ago, it would have been inconceivable that one day incomes would double every few generations, that most people would live to see their grandchildren grow up, and that the world’s leading countries would be secular societies whose leaders are chosen in free elections. Countries that now seem so permanent to their citizens may not last more than a few centuries. None of the world’s various modes of social organization appeared in history fully formed. A short-term focus on days, months, or years obscures the potential for fundamental long-term change.

The fact that humanity is only in its infancy highlights what a tragedy its untimely death would be. There is so much life left to live, but in our youth, our attention flits quickly from one thing to the next, and we stumble around not realizing that some of our actions place us at serious risk. Our powers increase by the day, but our self-awareness and wisdom lag behind. Our story might end before it has truly begun.

Colonizing outer space adds tens of trillions of light years

Macaskill, September-October 2022, WILLIAM MACASKILL is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Oxford University and a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming book What We Owe the Future., Foreign Affairs, The Beginning of History” Surviving the Era of Catastrophic Risk, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/world/william-macaskill-beginning-history#:~:text=We%20stand%20at%20the%20beginning,We%20are%20the%20ancients.

The fossil record indicates that the average mammal species lasts a million years. By this measure, we have about 700,000 years ahead of us. During this time, even if humanity remained earthbound at just one-tenth of the current world population, a staggering ten trillion people would be born in the future.

Moreover, our species is not the average mammal, and humans may well be able to outlast their relatives. If we survived until the expanding sun scorched the earth, humanity would persist for hundreds of millions of years. More time would separate us from our last descendants than from the earliest dinosaurs. And if one day we settled space—entirely conceivable on the scale of thousands of years—earth-originating intelligent life could continue until the last stars burned out in tens of trillions of years.

Increased defense spending needed to deter global threats

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-states/dangerous-decade-foreign-policy-world-crisis-richard-haass,

Three last considerations fall most directly on the United States. As it works to untie the knots that bind old geopolitical dilemmas to newer problems, the United States will face a number of serious threats, not only from Russia and China but also from Iran and a number of failed states that could provide oxygen to terrorists in the greater Middle East, and from North Korea, whose conventional military and nuclear capabilities continue to grow. Security, therefore, will require Washington to increase defense spending by as much as one percent of GDP: still considerably below Cold War levels, but a significant step up. U.S. allies will need to take similar steps.

Interdependence won’t stop aggression

 

Haas, September-October 2022, RICHARD HAASS is President of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the forthcoming The Bill of Obligations: The Ten Habits of Good Citizens., The Dangerous Decade, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/united-states/dangerous-decade-foreign-policy-world-crisis-richard-haass

Russia’s aggression has upended many assumptions that influenced thinking about international relations in the post–Cold War era. It has ended the holiday from history in which wars between countries were rare. It has hollowed out the norm against countries’ acquiring territory by force. And it has demonstrated that economic interdependence is no bulwark against threats to world order. Many believed that Russia’s reliance on western European markets for its energy exports would encourage restraint. In reality, such ties did no better in moderating Russian behavior than they did in preventing the outbreak of World War I. Worse yet, interdependence proved to be more of a constraint on countries that had allowed themselves to grow reliant on Russia (above all, Germany) than on Russia itself.

All that said, Russia will emerge weakened from what promises to be a long war with Ukraine. Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is anything but a superpower. Even before Western countries imposed sanctions on Russia in response to its assault on Ukraine, the Russian economy was not among the ten largest in the world in terms of GDP; at least in part because of those sanctions, it is expected to contract by up to ten percent over the course of 2022. Russia’s economy remains heavily dependent on energy production; its armed forces have revealed themselves to be poorly led and organized and no match for NATO. Again, however, it is Russian weakness juxtaposed against Putin’s willingness and ability to act recklessly with the military and nuclear strength he does possess that makes Russia such a danger.

Russia presents an acute, near-term problem for the United States. China, in contrast, poses a far more serious medium- and long-term challenge. The wager that integrating China into the world economy would make it more open politically, more market oriented, and more moderate in its foreign policy failed to pay off and has even backfired. Today, China is more repressive at home and has vested more power in the hands of one individual than at any time since the reign of Mao Zedong. State-owned enterprises, rather than being rolled up, remain omnipresent, while the government seeks to constrain private industry. China has regularly stolen and incorporated the intellectual property of others. Its conventional and nuclear military might has increased markedly. It has militarized the South China Sea, economically coerced its neighbors, fought a border clash with India, and crushed democracy in Hong Kong, and it continues to increase pressure on Taiwan.

Interdependence won’t stop war —

(1) Trade’s economic empowerment means military resource development;
(2) Trade boosts technological development
(3) It encourages navy development to protect trade
(4) It enables the dominant side in the trade relationship to be aggressive
(5) It encourages aggression to protect dominance

Copeland, 8-23, 22, DALE C. COPELAND is Professor of International Relations in the Department of Politics at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Economic Interdependence and War, When Trade Leads to War China, Russia, and the Limits of Interdependence, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/china/when-trade-leads-war-china-russia

Almost as startling as the threats themselves are what they seem to suggest about the limits of economic interdependence as a force for peace. Both China and Russia rely to an extraordinary degree on trade for economic growth and to secure their positions on the world stage. China has managed to quintuple its GDP over the last two decades in large measure through the export of manufactured products; more than 50 percent of Russia’s government revenue comes from the export of oil and gas. According to an influential strand of thinking in international relations theory, these crucial economic ties should put a much higher price on military conflict for both countries. Yet at least from appearances, neither power seems restrained by the potential loss of such trade.

The picture is not as simple as it looks, however. For one thing, under certain circumstances, trade relationships may serve as an inducement rather than a deterrent to war. Moreover, the assertion of military power or even the threat of adversarial confrontation does not always correlate with a rupture in economic relations. As the contrasting cases of China and Russia have demonstrated over the past year, economic ties often play out in ways that defy expectations. For those who assume that commerce can help prevent great-power conflict, it is critical to examine the complex ways that economic forces have actually shaped strategic thinking in Beijing and Moscow.

To understand how trade might increase, not reduce, the chance of military conflict, it is necessary to draw on the insights of realist theory. In general, realism focuses on the struggle of great powers for relative military power and position in a world that lacks a central authority to protect them. But realists understand that economic power is the foundation for long-term military strength and that international commerce is vital for building an economic power base. For realists, trade can have two major effects. First, by providing access to both cheap raw materials and profitable markets, trade can bolster a state’s overall economic performance and technological sophistication, thus enhancing its ability to support long-term military power. This is the upside to having a relatively open trade policy, and it explains why Japan after the Meiji Restoration and China after the death of Mao Zedong left behind the failed autarchic policies of the past and sought to join the global economy.

But growing commerce also has a second effect. It increases a great power’s vulnerability to trade sanctions and embargoes after having become dependent on the import of resources and the export of goods for sale abroad. This vulnerability can drive leaders to build up navies to protect trade routes and even to go to war to ensure access to vital goods and markets.

Growing commerce makes states more dependent on outsiders.

As long as state leaders expect their trade relationships to remain strong into the future, they are likely to allow the state to become more dependent on outsiders for the resources and markets that drive state growth. This was the situation of Japan from 1880 to 1930 and of China from 1980 to the present day. Leaders in both states knew that without significant commercial ties with other great powers, including the United States, neither could become important members of the great power club.

Yet if expectations of future trade turn sour and leaders come to believe that the trade restrictions of other states will start to reduce their access to key resources and markets, then they will anticipate a decline in long-term economic power and therefore military power. They may come to believe that more assertive and aggressive policies are necessary to protect trade routes and ensure the supply of raw materials and access to markets. This was Japan’s predicament in the 1930s as it saw France, the United Kingdom, and the United States retreating into increasingly closed and discriminatory economic realms. As a result, Japanese leaders found themselves compelled to expand Japan’s control over its commercial ties with its neighbors. Yet they also came to see that such moves made them only look more aggressive, giving the United Kingdom and the United States new grounds for restricting Japanese imports of raw materials, including oil.

Today, China’s leaders understand that they face a similar dilemma—as have the leaders of almost every rising state in modern history. They know that their foreign policy needs to be moderate enough to sustain the basic trust that allows trade ties to continue. But they also need to project enough military strength to deter others from severing those ties. The realist view of how commerce affects foreign policy does much to explain why Chinese leaders have been so hostile over the past year to certain developments in East Asia—particularly regarding Taiwan. In a more limited way, this view can also help explain Russian President Vladimir Putin’s obsession with Ukraine.

NOW OR NEVER

By most accounts, Putin’s war in Ukraine was driven by his fears about Russian security—a concern that Ukraine was likely to join NATO in the near term—and his desire to go down in history as the man who helped rebuild the Russian empire. But the decision to launch the invasion was likely reinforced in two important ways by something else: Russian energy exports to Europe.

First, Putin certainly understood that Europe was much more dependent on Russia than Russia was on Europe. Before February, the European Union relied on Moscow for approximately 40 percent of the natural gas it needed for its industries and to heat its homes. The Russian economy was, of course, dependent on selling this gas. But given the nature of the commodity, Putin could expect that any significant reduction in the flow of natural gas would cause its price to rise, hurting the EU in two ways—through reduced supply and higher costs—while only marginally affecting the total revenue Russia would receive from its gas exports. As the economist Albert Hirschman pointed out in 1945, in reference to Germany’s lopsided relationship with eastern European countries during the 1930s, in a situation of asymmetrical interdependence, the less dependent state will likely feel confident it can browbeat its more dependent counterparts into accepting its hard-line policies simply because they need the trade and are too weak to resist.

The fact that the Europeans continued to buy Russian gas and oil at high levels after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 suggested strongly to Putin that they would not put up a fuss if he invaded Ukraine in 2022. He clearly underestimated the ferocity of the European response. But Putin’s awareness of Europe’s economic dependence on Russia, combined with the common belief that Russia could handily beat Ukraine in a few weeks, helped give him the confidence that his bold attack would succeed.

Second, Putin had reason to fear that Russia’s economic leverage over Ukraine and Europe would decline in the future. In 2010, huge natural gas deposits were discovered south of the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv and spreading into the Donetsk and Luhansk Provinces. The field was estimated to hold some two trillion cubic meters of gas, an amount equivalent to the total consumption of the 27-country EU over five years at current usage rates. The Ukrainian government quickly changed state regulations to encourage foreign investment, and in 2013, it signed an agreement with Shell Oil to develop the field, with ExxonMobil and Shell agreeing to work together on deep-water gas extraction off the southeast coast.

Russia feared its economic leverage would decline in the future.

Although Putin’s invasion of Crimea and the Donbas in 2014 was probably motivated by other concerns, it was certainly clear in Moscow at the time that if the natural gas deposits in eastern Ukraine were developed by Western firms, Ukraine would not only end its dependence on Russian gas but also start to export its own gas to the EU, thereby increasing its bargaining leverage over its contracts with Moscow to allow Russian gas to pass through Ukraine.

Of the three sets of pipelines Russia uses to get its Siberian gas to the EU—including one through Belarus and another through the Baltic Sea to Germany—the most important historically has been the one through Ukraine, mainly because landlocked European countries such as Hungary and Slovakia are especially dependent on Russian gas. By exporting its own gas to the EU and weaning itself from Russian supplies, Ukraine would reverse its asymmetric energy relationship with Moscow. And if Kyiv developed even informal ties to NATO and the EU, let alone joined one or both organizations, Ukraine would become not only a political threat to Moscow but also an economic threat in a position to significantly undermine Russia’s long-term economic power.

In short, although Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s moves in late 2021 to increase his country’s political and economic ties with the West certainly upset Putin’s sense of Russia’s destiny and perhaps heightened Putin’s fear that liberal democracy might spread into Russia, they also portended a significant loss in Russia’s ability to use the energy card in the future. Expectations in Moscow that Russia might be losing its economic leverage over Ukraine thus contributed to Putin’s sense that it was “now or never” to absorb most of Ukraine east of the Dnieper River, an area that holds over 90 percent of Ukraine’s natural gas reserves.

SMALLER CHIPS, LARGER STAKES

By contrast, China’s economic interdependence with the rest of the world is far more symmetrical than Russia’s is. China’s economy is driven by the export of manufactured goods, and like Japan’s economy was in the interwar period, China is exceedingly dependent on the import of raw materials to keep its economy going—including oil and gas from the Middle East and Russia. China’s position as the workshop of the world, supplying a significant percentage of the world’s laptops, smartphones, and 5G communications systems, does give the country some leverage with trading partners. It can threaten those partners with selective restrictions on exports and imports when it dislikes their foreign policies. But also like Japan’s dependence on imports in the interwar period, China’s dependence gives it short-term vulnerabilities that are unknown in Russia. Moscow can certainly be hurt by economic sanctions, but its ability to sell oil and gas—at high prices created by its own actions in Ukraine—cushions the blow quite a lot.

If China faced anything close to the sweeping sanctions now being imposed on Russia, its economy would be completely devastated. In fact, Beijing’s awareness of this vulnerability is already acting as a major deterrent to its expansionist desires, including its plans for an invasion of Taiwan. Consider the actual details of China’s reaction to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, despite the threats it made beforehand. Although Beijing demonstrated its anger with robust military exercises and missile launches that passed into Taiwan’s airspace, it restricted its economic response largely to sanctions on Taiwanese agricultural exports. Notably, Chinese officials carefully avoided placing any restrictions on Taiwanese semiconductor exports, since China depends on Taiwan for more than 90 percent of its high-tech chips and a large portion of its low-level chips. And, of course, China was careful not to sanction the United States directly for fear of causing a new trade war that would exacerbate an already slowing Chinese economy.

Russia-US relations will inevitably decline

Marks, 8-21., 22, Ramon Marks is a retired, New York international lawyer, No Matter Who Wins Ukraine, America Has Already Lost, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/no-matter-who-wins-ukraine-america-has-already-lost-204288

Regardless of who wins the Ukrainian war, the United States will be the strategic loser. Russia will build closer relations with China and other countries on the Eurasian continent, including India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states. It will turn irrevocably away from European democracies and Washington. Just as President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger played the “China card” to isolate the Soviet Union during the Cold War, presidents Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will play their cards in a bid to contain U.S. global leadership.

Taliban won’t support terrorism and actually blocks the rise of a more threatening ISIS-K

Lieven, 8-20, 22, Dr. Anatol Lieven is Director of the Eurasia Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft and author among other books of Pakistan: A Hard Country., The Taliban Don’t Want Another 9/11, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/taliban-don%E2%80%99t-want-another-911-204324

Taliban shelter to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, killed recently by a U.S. drone, has naturally put an end, for a considerable time to come, to any hope of an improvement in relations and any significant degree of U.S. aid. Zawahiri’s role in planning 9/11 and other past terrorist attacks makes that inevitable. However, we should not assume from the Taliban’s hospitality to Zawahiri and other Al Qaeda figures that they are supporting terrorist attacks based in Afghanistan. Analysts and commentators in Washington tend to see shelter and encouragement of terrorism as identical, but they are separate, and the Doha agreement between the United States and the Taliban leaves this issue ambiguous. For the cultural and ideological reasons that I have described, it was never likely that the Taliban would expel Al Qaeda while in power since handing them over to America is inconceivable. On the other hand, everyone close to the Taliban with whom I have spoken has said that the bitter memory of 9/11 and its consequences make actual support for terrorism against the West highly unlikely. Even more importantly, all of Afghanistan’s neighbors agree that whatever else happens, Afghanistan should not again become a base for international jihad and terrorism—something that threatens them all. Their fears in this regard are now focused on the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K), the Afghan franchise of the original ISIS. It has been many years since the old core Al Qaeda of the pre-9/11 era played an important role in planning and executing terrorist attacks. ISIS-K is by far the greater threat. In Afghanistan, ISIS-K is waging war against the Taliban, accompanied by terrorist attacks against them and Afghanistan’s Shia minority. ISIS-K’s threat to the Shia helps explain why despite Iran’s old hostility to the Taliban, Tehran today regards them as the lesser evil. So too do China and Russia. Pakistan, of course, is an old sponsor of the Taliban and also needs their help against the threat of ISIS-K, which is closely linked to Islamist rebels within Pakistan. America’s ability to influence the Taliban is extremely limited and the dire state of relations between the United States, on the one hand, and Russia, China, and Iran on the other also make it impossible to coordinate Afghan policies even though their interests and those of the United States are in fact largely congruent. In these circumstances, the United States’ approach to Afghanistan should be based on the principle of “first, do no harm.” U.S. aid to Afghanistan should obviously be limited only to basic food and other assistance to prevent famine and a humanitarian catastrophe. Washington should also do nothing to limit humanitarian aid from other countries. America has no interest in causing a collapse of the Taliban regime and a new civil war from which ISIS-K might emerge as the chief beneficiary. Barring some new and unforeseen development, the best U.S. policy would seem to be one of keeping a watchful distance.

Terror threat from Afghanistan increasing

Jones, 8-20, 22, Seth G. Jones is senior vice president, Harold Brown Chair, and director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He was a plans officer and adviser to the commanding general, U.S. Special Operations Forces, in Afghanistan, as well as the author of In the Graveyard of Empires: America’s War in Afghanistan (W.W. Norton), Afghanistan’s Terrorist Threats to America Are Growing, https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/afghanistan%E2%80%99s-terrorist-threats-america-are-growing-204335

One year after the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Biden administration faces a complex counterterrorism challenge. The successful U.S. strike in July 2022 that killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul was a blow to Al Qaeda. But with the Taliban’s continuing close relationship with Al Qaeda and the deterioration of Afghanistan into a terrorist sanctuary, the United States needs to rethink its counterterrorism strategy. Afghanistan is the only country in the world today with a close, working relationship with Al Qaeda. According to one recent United Nations Security Council assessment, Al Qaeda’s leadership “plays an advisory role with the Taliban, and the groups remain close.” In addition, the location where Zawahiri was killed—a safe house apparently owned by an aide to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Taliban’s acting minister of interior—highlights the intimacy between the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda does not yet have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in the U.S. homeland, according to the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency. But there are several concerning developments that should alarm U.S. and other Western officials. First, core Al Qaeda and its local affiliate, Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), remain active in Afghanistan. AQIS has as many as 400 fighters, including a presence in southern and eastern Afghanistan. Following the U.S. strike against Zawahiri, Taliban leaders—who were furious at the United States for the attack—may allow Al Qaeda more room to maneuver. Even before the attack, U.S. Central Command assessed that the Taliban would likely loosen its restrictions on Al Qaeda and allow the group greater freedom of movement and the ability to train, travel, and rebuild its external operations capability. Second, Afghanistan is home to numerous other terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State-Khorasan Province (ISIS-K). A U.S. Department of Defense report concluded that “ISIS-K remained the top terrorist threat in Afghanistan with approximately 2,000 members operating in the country.” The group is led by Sanaullah Ghafari (alias Shahab al-Muhajir) and has conducted hundreds of attacks in Afghanistan since the departure of U.S. from Afghanistan. The goal of ISIS-K leaders remains to use Afghanistan as a base for expanding its footprint in the region and creating a broader, pan-Islamic caliphate. There are also numerous other groups—including terrorist groups—in Afghanistan, such as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Jamaat Ansarullah. The TTP, which is led by Mufti Noor Wali Mehsud, has between 3,000 and 4,000 fighters in Afghanistan, making it one of the largest terrorist groups in Afghanistan. There are also over a dozen anti-Taliban groups throughout the country. Third, the Taliban is unable to deliver basic goods and services in Afghanistan, a significant worry since failed states are often a necessary, though not a sufficient, condition for terrorism. Afghanistan’s economy is in shambles, thanks to Taliban incompetence and continuing international economic sanctions. The country’s gross domestic product is projected to decline by 34 percent by the end of 2022, compared to 2020, the last full year of the Ashraf Ghani government. The humanitarian situation is also dire, with approximately 24.4 million people, or 59 percent of the population, in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. In sum, the terrorism landscape in Afghanistan is alarming because of the Taliban’s close relationship with Al Qaeda, the proliferation of terrorist and other non-state groups, and the collapse of governance in Afghanistan. In this environment, the United States has left itself with few options. In contrast to virtually every other U.S. counterterrorism campaign since 9/11, the United States has no partner force on the ground in Afghanistan. The United States worked with the Counter Terrorism Service and other Iraqi forces in Iraq; local militias in Libya; the Somali government, African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces, and clans in Somalia; and the Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria. In Afghanistan today, however, the Taliban is a U.S. enemy, not an ally. The United States also has few intelligence capabilities in Afghanistan. The United States shut down its embassy and CIA station when it withdrew military forces in August 2021. U.S. military intelligence organizations—such as the Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency—also withdrew most of their intelligence collection capabilities. As the head of U.S. Central Command acknowledged several months ago, “we’re probably at about 1 or 2 percent of the capabilities we once had to look into Afghanistan,” making it “very hard” to understand what is happening there. Finally, the United States has no military bases in the region to fly aircraft for intelligence collection or strike missions. The United States withdrew from all bases in Afghanistan, such as Bagram Air Base and Kandahar International Airport, and does not have bases in Central Asia or South Asia. Instead, the United States has been forced to utilize locations such as Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which is approximately 2,500 miles from Kabul. The lack of partner forces, scant intelligence, and no nearby bases leave the United States severely hamstrung in conducting counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan. Consequently, the United States should develop a more robust counterterrorism campaign that has at least two major components. The first is to work with local forces inside and outside Afghanistan to rebuild the U.S.’s intelligence architecture against terrorist groups. The U.S. military and CIA have a long history of working with local Afghan forces—including Hazara, Tajik, Uzbek, and some Pashtun militias—to collect intelligence and conduct counterterrorism operations. Some U.S. activities were orchestrated as covert action programs under Title 50 of U.S. Code, which allows the United States to conduct political, economic, and military activities abroad that are not acknowledged publicly. The main goal should not be to overthrow the Taliban, but to collect intelligence on terrorist networks operating in Afghanistan. Those U.S. partners—which could range from supporters of the National Resistance Front to the Afghanistan Freedom Front—can provide valuable information on terrorist leaders, training camps, and other activities, which the United States should supplement with intelligence collected from other sources. In addition, there is deep opposition to the Taliban among some Pashtun tribes and subtribes, such as Barakzais and Popalzais, that U.S. intelligence and military units could leverage. The second component should be to negotiate basing access in the region, especially for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. The United States should jumpstart negotiations with countries in the region—such as Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and possibly even India—to house manned and unmanned aircraft to conduct intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance over Afghan territory. The Biden administration has started those discussions, but they will be difficult. Allowing the U.S. military or intelligence community to fly strike aircraft could be too politically risky for many of these governments. In addition, Russia has already voiced strong opposition to U.S. bases in Central Asia. But surveillance aircraft could be more politically acceptable for some countries. A failure to improve the U.S.’s counterterrorism capabilities and posture—particularly by establishing relations with local partners in Afghanistan and negotiating additional bases—will put the United States and its partners at growing risk of a terrorist attack. U.S. intelligence agencies now assess that Al Qaeda and ISIS-K could develop external operations capabilities later in 2022 or 2023. This reality makes it important for the United States to move expeditiously—before the next attack.

Bees key to global agriculture

Science Nature, 8-6, 22, http://blog.sci-nature.com/2022/08/he-bee-is-declared-most-important.html, he Bee Is Declared The Most Important Living Being On The Planet

Earthwatch Institute concluded in the last debate of the Royal Geographical Society of London, that bees are the most important living being on the planet, however, scientists have also made an announcement: Bees have already entered into extinction risk. Bees around the world have disappeared up to 90% according to recent studies, the reasons are different depending on the region, but among the main reasons are massive deforestation, lack of safe places for nests, lack of flowers, use uncontrolled pesticides, changes in soil, among others. WHY HAS BEES BEEN DECLARED AS THE MOST VALUABLE LIVING BEING ON OUR PLANET? The Apiculture Entrepreneurship Center of the Universidad Mayor (Cheap Mayor) and the Apiculture Corporation of Chile (Cach) with the support of the Foundation for Agrarian Innovation (FIA), conducted a study where it was determined that bees are the only living being that it is not a carrier of any type of pathogen, regardless of whether it is a fungus, a virus or a bacterium. The agriculture of the world depends on 70% of these insects, to put it more clearly and directly, we could say that 70 of 100 foods are intervened in favor by bees. Also the pollination that the bees make allows the plants to reproduce, of which millions of animals feed, without them, the fauna would soon begin to disappear. The honey produced by bees, not only serve as food, but also provide many benefits to our health and our skin. According to a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, If the bees disappear, humans would have 4 years to live. WHAT ARE THE REASONS AND HYPOTHESES ATTRIBUTED TO THE EARLY DISAPPEARANCE OF BEES? The Federal Institute of Technology of Switzerland, proposes a theory that blames the waves produced thanks to mobile telephony. They explain that these waves emitted during calls are capable of disorienting bees, causing them to lose their sense of direction and therefore their life is put in danger. The researcher and biologist Daniel Favre, along with other researchers, made 83 experiments that show that bees in the presence of these waves, produce a noise ten times higher than usual, behavior that has been observed to make it known to other bees They are in danger and it is important to leave the hive.

Democratic erosion and discrimination undermine US soft power and the credibility of the democratic model

Repnikova, July/August 2022, Foreign Affairs, The Balance of Soft Power: The American and Chinese Quests to Win Hearts and Minds, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2022-06-21/soft-power-balance-america-china

Looking ahead, the United States and China will face distinctive challenges in soft-power promotion. Washington’s approach draws scrutiny because of the disconnect between the country’s emphasis on democratic values and its inconsistent adherence to them. Democratic erosion, pervasive racial discrimination, and attacks on reproductive rights at home detract from the United States’ image as an inspirational democracy. In workshops with U.S. State Department officials, I have sensed a growing awareness of the need to address these issues but also a sense of fear that doing so publicly would put the United States at a disadvantage vis-à-vis China. “Wouldn’t it make us look weak?” asked one official when I suggested that U.S. public diplomacy could convey more candor and humility about the challenges facing American democracy.

Inequality undermines military readiness

JASON LYALL is James Wright Chair of Transnational Studies at Dartmouth College and the author of Divided Armies: Inequality and Battlefield Performance in Modern War, July 22, 2022, Foreign Affairs, How Inequality Hobbles Military Power: Armies Struggle to Win, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/ukraine/how-inequality-hobbles-military-power, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/ukraine/how-inequality-hobbles-military-power

Russia’s botched invasion of Ukraine, along with unexpectedly dogged Ukrainian resistance, has sparked a debate about whether the current ways of measuring military capabilities are flawed. Indeed, U.S. intelligence analysts have been shocked by the rapid disintegration of the Afghan military in 2021, the collapse of Iraqi units in the face of the so-called Islamic State (or ISIS) in 2014, and Ethiopia’s shambolic performance against Tigrayan rebels in the last two years. U.S. analysts correctly predicted that Russia would invade in February, but their assumption that Ukraine would fall in a matter of days has only fueled the perception that something is amiss in how the intelligence community thinks about and measures military power. Prodded by angry lawmakers, the U.S. intelligence community has launched a sweeping internal review of how it assesses foreign military power amid its missteps in Afghanistan, Ukraine, and elsewhere. These intelligence failures have a common taproot: they neglect the nonmaterial drivers of military power. Most important, they overlook how social inequalities within armies shape battlefield performance. Current models of net assessment, the framework used to measure the relative strength of a military, privilege quantifiable indicators, such as numbers of tanks and soldiers. These metrics have proved to be poor predictors of how armies fight and whether they win wars. Afghan forces outnumbered Taliban fighters but could not translate their material advantages into victory. Even the largest and best-equipped fighting forces can fail on the battlefield if they lack the cohesion and determination of their foes. Armies, after all, are not just the sum of their personnel and their equipment; they can be riven with ethnic, racial, class, and other social divisions that invariably shape their capacity to fight. The intelligence community ignores these dynamics at its peril. FAULTY ASSUMPTIONS States spend fortunes sizing one another up. Better insights can tip the scales, but net assessment is a fraught business. States practice elaborate deception, seeking to hide their true military strength from prying eyes. Some capabilities can be properly appraised only when combat begins. Context, too, can shape battlefield dynamics in unpredictable ways. Analysts and organizations alike are fallible, forced to make judgments with incomplete information. Cognitive biases and internal politics can distort assessments. In the face of these overlapping problems, many analysts choose to be cautious and err on the side of exaggerating enemy capabilities to avoid battlefield surprises. This conservative bias leads analysts to privilege quantitative measures of military capabilities. They dwell on so-called objective factors, including the number of soldiers under arms, annual defense spending, per capita income, and the acquisition of new technologies, to create estimates of relative military power. Much effort is also devoted to divining the capabilities of adversaries from published doctrines. Analysts estimate quantitative indicators of military strength using a sprawling infrastructure of satellites, open-source data collection, spies, and electronic eavesdropping. Such efforts have scored successes—Russia’s plan to invade Ukraine was published even before its tanks crossed the border. But analysts using objective measures rely on three assumptions that create dangerous blind spots. Armies reflect their societies and are subject to the same social divisions. First, analysts should not assume that material strength translates into battlefield victories. In his 2004 book, Military Power, the international relations scholar Stephen Biddle found that material factors such as GDP, population, and military spending have had, at best, a weak connection to victory in wars since 1900. In my own work examining 252 wars since 1800, I found virtually no statistical correlation between the size of opposing armies and battlefield outcomes, including relative casualties, the likelihood of desertion and defection, or who eventually won. Given these results, it is perhaps unsurprising that much of the current debate among scholars over the sources of military effectiveness focuses on nonmaterial factors such as regime type, ideology, and culture, not relative material strength. Yet public debates outside the academy, including ones on the outcome of the war in Ukraine, still privilege traditional indicators of relative material strength. Second, today’s net assessment assumes that armies are efficient killing machines. This, too, is mistaken. Nearly all armies reflect the societal divisions—whether ethnic, racial, ideological, or class based—of the broader country. Left unmanaged, these divisions create friction that saps military strength. In some cases, armies draw heavily from marginalized groups to spare the regime’s supporters from the costs of war. Some armies maintain cohesion through intimidation, forcing their own soldiers to fight. These armies might appear formidable on paper but typically lurch into battle hobbled by discord. The alienation of the Sunnis in Iraq inflamed sectarian tensions within the Iraqi army. That led many Sunni soldiers to desert in 2014, allowing ISIS to take Mosul with ease despite being outnumbered and outgunned. Third, analysts assume that material indicators are more objective, leading them to downplay intangible factors, such as soldier morale or unit cohesion. And when analysts do consider these intangibles, they tend to treat them as uniform across an entire army. Doing so, however, omits the human side of war. Soldiers are not homogenous. Some might rally to the colors. But others may be driven by more mercenary motives. Still others may be forced to fight on behalf of a government they despise. Stitching together a coherent narrative that inspires all soldiers to fight equally hard is beyond the power of many governments. Russia is trying to form volunteer battalions to fight in Ukraine from prisoners, non-Russian Muslim populations, pro-Russian Ukrainian soldiers, and draft dodgers. Motivating soldiers in this patchwork quilt, especially given their limited training time, will be difficult. Analysts must recognize that for many armies, maintaining order and discipline is as challenging as fighting enemy forces. THE PERILS OF MILITARY INEQUALITY Improving net assessment requires opening the black box of armies to explore the nature and severity of the inequality that lies within. The intuition here is simple: armies reflect their societies and are subject to the same social divisions. Analysts need to gather two pieces of information to estimate a military’s level of inequality. They first need to map the size and composition of the social groups that make up the army. Historically, ethnicity has been a powerful source of potential division. Since 1800, the average army has gone into battle with five different ethnic groups in its ranks. In 1812, Napoleon’s Grande Armée marched on Moscow with enlisted soldiers from at least nine different nationalities, with French soldiers in the minority. During World War II, the Soviet Union’s Red Army, often imagined as ethnically Russian, cobbled together rifle divisions with soldiers from 28 different ethnic groups. Analysts next need to know how the state treats each group within its military. Some groups may be granted full rights and opportunities. Others, however, could be considered second-class citizens or, worse, could be subject to violent political oppression. France and the United Kingdom routinely levied colonial armies from marginalized populations to fight wars at home and abroad. The more an army is drawn from marginalized groups, and the more harshly those groups are treated by the state, the more unequal the force becomes—and the worse it performs on the battlefield. Diversity is not destiny. Battlefield performance is driven by how the state treats each social group, not by the total number of groups within an army. Inclusive armies, ones that recruit among groups that enjoy full citizenship, can rise above crippling social divisions. For these armies, patriotism can be a powerful motivator. So, too, can be the promise of greater inclusion. During both World War I and World War II, Black Americans fought a double war: one against external foes and one for equality when the war ended. Even authoritarian powers, including Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union, dangled greater inclusion to repressed minorities in Central Asia to bolster recruitment. But history carries a weight. Wartime adjustments to increase inclusion can improve battlefield performance on the margins but cannot overcome the legacy of the state’s oppression before the war. States cannot easily hide the structures of their societies or the fact of repression. Unlike standard indicators of national power, military inequality offers a clear connection to how and whether armies will fight. The greater the share of soldiers from marginalized groups in a given army, the worse that army will perform on the battlefield. Prewar inequalities wend themselves through the military like a poison, corroding combat power before a shot is even fired. Soldiers who have faced discrimination at home can be less willing to fight on the field. Inequality also sows distrust between privileged and marginalized groups, eroding bonds between soldiers and, in many cases, between officers and the rank and file. Past injustices create common cause among targeted groups to resist military authorities. The army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire unraveled during World War I as repressed Magyar and Slavic soldiers chose desertion over duty, fleeing the battlefield. Unequal armies tend to be coercive toward their troops. Fearing mass indiscipline, such armies will adopt rigid command structures. They threaten or use violence to manufacture cohesion. Left without convincing ideological appeals, highly unequal armies may encourage soldiers to pillage and rape as rewards for continued service. Inequality also forces commanders to simplify their tactics. Sophisticated combined arms operations are too complicated for halfhearted soldiers to execute. Commanders are left facing a war within the war as they scramble to impose discipline and muster sufficient combat power to fight. In many cases, they fail. Over the past 200 years, highly unequal armies have suffered higher casualty rates and more frequent outbreaks of mass desertion than their more inclusive counterparts. The Mahdist Army, fighting in Sudan, was bitterly divided along ethnic and tribal lines and suffered one of the most lopsided defeats in recorded history. At Omdurman in 1898, it lost over 12,000 soldiers while killing only 48 of the opposing Anglo-Egyptian forces. DISCORD IN THE ARMY Military inequality offers several advantages as a guide to battlefield performance. For one, it is more visible. States cannot easily hide the structures of their societies or the fact of repression. Analysts can use open-source data as well as historical research to determine just how unequal and fractious a given military might be. Social divisions are slow to change, creating stable baselines for comparison. Given the gradual and hard-to-conceal nature of social structures, estimates of inequality are more likely to be accurate than those assessing new military technologies or doctrines. Measures of inequality can also be tailored for context. In some settings, ethnic or racial identities might divide a military. Class, ideology, or gender might prove more salient in other armies. Perhaps most important, military inequality is a scalable indicator. It can predict the battlefield performance of entire armies, small formations, or even individual units. Useful data on morale and cohesion abound. Soldiers air their grievances on social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, TikTok, and Twitter. Such griping can be used to assess overall morale, distrust within the ranks, and support for the government. Soldiers’ posts can be geotagged to specific bases. Surveys can also be effective tools for assessing client armies. Polling within the Afghan military provided early clues of ethnic tensions, dwindling support for the regime, and an unwillingness among many soldiers to die in defense of the government. The intelligence community ignores these dynamics of inequality within military forces at its peril. Inequality can warp how armies recruit and deploy their soldiers. Highly unequal armies will often recruit, forcibly or otherwise, from marginalized communities as a way of insulating the regime from domestic antiwar sentiment. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine stumbled in part because it relied on soldiers from ambivalent non-Russian minority groups, opportunistic Kyrgyz contract soldiers, and duped Russian conscripts plucked from poor, distant regions. Frontal, often uncoordinated, assaults by these “cannon fodder” forces were a direct result of an army staffed largely by soldiers drawn from populations considered to be expendable. Russia tucked these poorly trained conscripts into the army’s logistical corps, leading to snarled supply lines and columns of abandoned tanks. Identifying where armies deploy their marginalized soldiers or where they miss recruitment quotas offers clues about potential vulnerabilities. Military inequality can cause rancor between soldiers and their superiors. Unequal armies typically draw their officers from politically reliable groups, relegating less trustworthy ones to the enlisted ranks. Divided armies are plagued by hazing and abuse. Officers rule through intimidation and violence. And unfair military legal systems and extrajudicial punishment flourish. Corruption, too, is often a symptom of inequality, as officers abuse their power to steal from their own soldiers. It is easy, after all, to scrimp on maintenance and equipment or to steal wages if officers view their soldiers as beneath them. Such impropriety cripples military effectiveness and can be spotted before a war begins. THE HUMAN FACE OF WAR Tracking inequality within armies is not a silver bullet. Analysts still need to account for military capabilities. Friction, uncertainty, and the fortunes of war will continue to confound even the best prewar assessments. But adding military inequality to net assessment will improve accuracy at a fraction of the cost of big-ticket technology, such as new satellite capabilities or clandestine signals intelligence. The ways in which social divisions and identities shape battlefield performance cannot be ignored. Military models must include the human elements of war or risk unwelcome surprises on the battlefield.

Strong China-US relations needed to resolve all global issues and end the war in the Ukraine

Hussain, 7-11, 22, Senator Mushahid Hussain is Chairman of the Senate of Pakistan’s Defence Committee, a longtime visitor to China, he studied at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service; U.S. China Policy Is Heading Towards Disaster, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/us-china-policy-heading-towards-disaster-203510

In any case, U.S. policies have pushed China and Russia closer together, unlike the Cold War when China was an American ally. One important factor for the U.S. victory over the USSR in the twentieth-century Cold War was the solid support of China. After President Nixon’s historic opening to China fifty years ago, China became a de facto U.S. ally on most global issues where the United States was confronting the Soviet Union, be it Afghanistan or the Soviet-supported Vietnamese invasion and occupation of Cambodia or combating Soviet expansionism in Africa. Given this context, U.S. policymakers need to rethink before they sleepwalk into a new Cold War against an adversary they do not fully understand, in a complex global setting where the United States no longer can lay claim to be “the sole superpower.” Second, in the current global setting, America’s appeal and, indeed, its strength remain in the domain of “soft power,” where it excels and is unmatched. The allure of the United States, the razzle and dazzle of the American “way of life” and its innate dynamism and creativity, serve as a magnet which entices the best and brightest of the world to study, stay, and settle in the United States—seen as a land of opportunity where merit matters. This is still America’s strongest selling point globally, not in cobbling military alliances based on the “shock and awe” of military might, where it has been a constant loser on the battlefields of Asia. Embarking on a quest to contain China, when China still doesn’t threaten core American interests directly, would be a tried, tested, and failed formula, wasting resources as happened in the post-9/11 “War on Terror” when $6.5 trillion were squandered in two decades of futile conflict. Third, in 2022, both Xi and Biden, the leaders of China and the United States, are going through a critical transition in their respective countries. Xi is getting ready to preside over the most important CCP conclave this fall since 1978 when Deng Xiaoping did the massive “course correction” from Maoism to a market economy, politically labeled “Socialism with Chinese characteristics.” For Biden, the midterm elections in November are “make or break,” which will determine whether he will have a political future beyond 2024. Biden needs Xi for an economic bailout that will give the U.S. economy badly needed relief, while Xi is aware that the “great disorder under heaven” can be destabilizing for China, serving to detract China from its post-Covid transition to normalcy after nearly three years of lockdowns and quarantine. Therefore, both leaders need a semblance of cooperative partnership for political stability at home, economic growth, and a lowering of tensions in an otherwise volatile world. Confrontation, containment, or a new cold war would detract from these common objectives. Fourth, as a landmark Harvard study, authored by Prof. Graham Allison, “The Great Hi-Tech Rivalry: China and the United States” indicates: China is already overtaking the United States in high-tech manufacturing. For example, in 2020, China produced 1.5 billion cell phones, 250 million computers, and 25 million automobiles. Putting the Chinese genie of economic growth and technological excellence back into the bottle would be an uphill, if not impossible, task, for the United States. In key areas of innovation, science, and technology, which are going to be determinants of twenty-first-century advancement, China is almost at par or ahead of the United States, including in artificial intelligence, 5G, cloud computing, robotics, and studies in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Finally, and this is the key, on balance, there is greater convergence of Chinese and U.S. interests on key global issues, than divergence. North Korea and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is a case in point. Stability and peace in Afghanistan are other areas of congruent interests. A stable Middle East, including close ties with Israel, are fundamental elements of this China-American confluence of interests. In fact, the only issue of discord in U.S.-Israel relations is China’s close economic and technological ties with Israel, including building of the Haifa Port, which the United States labels as a potential “security threat.” Other areas of convergence between the two countries include climate change, counterterrorism cooperation (especially combating religious extremism of groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda), a quest for regional connectivity, and the building up of free trade groupings. Even on that, China has an edge given the incentives offered by the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are not comparable to the U.S. initiative of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which neither provides for market access nor lowering of tariff barriers. RCEP countries provide 30 percent of global industrial output and 30 percent of global trade. China’s pragmatism is evident in delinking trade from politics, as the recent opening of direct shipping lines between the Chinese port of Qingdao and Japan’s Osaka port indicates. Or flexibility on Hong Kong, where Xi personally reassured the international community, during his speech on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Hong Kong handover, that the basic character of Hong Kong as an “open and free economy based on one country, two systems” and the “Common Law” of the island would remain unchanged. In the current context, a key area of potential convergence of Chinese and American interests could be Ukraine. China has not endorsed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine because it goes against the grundnorm of Chinese foreign policy, namely, the inviolability of established borders and respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. While China has not formally condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, China does not condone it either. It is, therefore, no accident that two days after the June 15 Xi-Putin telephone conversation, President Vladimir Putin hinted at China-Russia differences during his revealing statement at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (Russia’s Davos) where he stated that “China has her own interests and these are not the same as Russian interests, but these interests are not against Russia.” In any peaceful settlement of the Ukraine conflict, China can be a key facilitator of the United States because of the relationship that Beijing enjoys with Moscow. More than any other country, it is China that has strategic leverage over Russia. China is naturally perturbed at the destabilization of the European status quo caused by the invasion of Ukraine, which, in turn, has militarized European foreign policy to the extent that a rejuvenated NATO is now taking on a China-focused direction, extending its tentacles to the Asia-Pacific, where China has core interests. In the last ten years, Xi has met Putin thirty-eight times, the maximum number of meetings of Xi with any foreign leader; both have a very close personal rapport and both are members of a “mutual admiration society.” If Putin takes any leader seriously, it is Xi, and Xi too has admired Putin as a “strong and decisive” leader, spearheading Russia’s resurgence after the collapse of the Soviet Union. This relationship can be leveraged by the United States to seek an end to the Ukraine war, providing for a face-saving exit for Putin. A long-drawn-out conflict in Ukraine is neither in American or Chinese interests. While the United States has been helped by Putin’s misadventure in Ukraine, the Ukraine war, for the most part, is seen in much of the Global South as primarily a “European War,” driven by a desire to isolate and contain Russia, which itself feels encircled by NATO enlargement. For the first time in twenty-five years, China, India, and Pakistan took a similar position on a global issue, choosing to abstain from voting on Ukraine, like so many others, including Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. Even solid American allies like the UAE and Saudi Arabia have been found “sitting on the fence” on Ukraine. Given this context, instead of rushing headlong into confronting and containing China, wisdom gleaned from past experience and contemporary geopolitical realities demand a review and reset in the U.S. approach to China. Some broad understanding on the “rules of the game” must be found so these two global giants can contest and compete without rocking the boat or resorting to a needless confrontation, that neither they nor the world needs or can afford, economically, politically, or militarily.

Russia and China not cooperating on climate and disease

Daalder & Lindsay, July/August 2022, IVO H. DAALDER is President of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and served as U.S. Ambassador to NATO from 2009 to 2013; JAMES M. LINDSAY is Senior Vice President and Director of Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs, Last Best Hope: The West’s Final Chance to Build a Better World Order, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/world/2022-06-21/last-best-hope-better-world-order-west

The formation of a G-12 would not prevent the West from ever working with China or Russia. Efforts to curb climate change and prevent pandemics would certainly benefit from more cooperation among all the major powers. But Chinese and Russian cooperation on these issues hasn’t been forthcoming, even as the West downplayed China’s economic intimidation and ignored Russian aggression. Beijing and Moscow have shown that they will make concessions only out of self-interest, not out of goodwill. By mobilizing the resources of the world’s strongest democracies, a G-12 would enable the West to conduct its diplomacy with both countries from a position of strength.

China-US relations structurally low

Heer, 6-17, 22, Paul Heer is a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for the National Interest and a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He served as National Intelligence Officer for East Asia from 2007 to 2015. He is the author of Mr. X and the Pacific: George F. Kennan and American Policy in East Asia (Cornell University Press, 2018), Why Cooperation Between the United States and China Remains Elusive, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/why-cooperation-between-united-states-and-china-remains-elusive-203092

Following Chinese president Xi Jinping’s April summit with European Union leaders, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell described the event as the “dialogue of the deaf” because Xi largely sidestepped the issue his European counterparts most wanted to discuss: Ukraine. Another dialogue of the deaf occurred earlier this month when U.S. secretary of defense Lloyd Austin and Chinese defense minister Wei Fenghe were featured participants at the “Shangri-La Dialogue,” an annual high-profile East Asian regional security conference held in Singapore. Although Austin and Wei both affirmed the importance of U.S.-China dialogue and stable relations, they mostly talked past each other. According to the terse readouts published by each side, Austin and Wei’s first-ever bilateral meeting consisted of little more than exchanging predictable talking points. Wei’s bottom line was that Washington needs to stop “attacking … smearing … containing … [and] suppressing” China, interfering in its internal affairs, and harming its interests. Deflecting that litany of complaints, Austin said the two sides needed to “responsibly manage competition and maintain open lines of communication”—a rather minimalist approach to diplomatic relations, and something U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan reiterated to his Chinese counterpart a few days later. The Wei-Austin meeting does not appear to have been a major breakthrough in mutual understanding and closer cooperation. More revealing is the contrast between Austin and Wei’s subsequent public speeches at the conference, and the different mindsets they reflected. Austin’s presentation, predictably and to a large extent appropriately, focused on “the power of partnership.” He highlighted the importance of the network of U.S. allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region—which he described as the United States’ “priority theater of operations” and the “heart of American grand strategy.” He outlined a shared commitment to a “free and open rules-based order” built upon principles of transparency, accountability, freedom of the seas, and peaceful resolution of disputes; an order in which all countries are free to pursue their interests without fear of aggression or intimidation. Austin said that “most countries across the Indo-Pacific share [this] common vision,” and he expressed satisfaction that the network of U.S. partnerships had deepened and strengthened in pursuit of that vision. One of Austin’s central themes was the “inclusiveness” of the U.S. approach. The future of the region, he said, “will be written not by any one country but by all the peoples of the Indo-Pacific.” Accordingly, Washington seeks “inclusion, not division” or a “region split into hostile blocs” because the challenges facing the Indo-Pacific “demand shared responsibility and common action.” Largely absent from this inclusive framework, however, was China itself. Indeed, at no point did Austin acknowledge the possibility that Beijing might share any element of the vision he outlined or might be engaged as part of the multilateral process of pursuing it. On the contrary, it was self-evident that his characterization of the “free and open rules-based order”—echoing earlier portrayals by other U.S. officials—was to be understood as the antithesis of what China represents in the region. And when he observed that the U.S. approach has “become even more inclusive” in recent years, this took the form of “expanded … cooperation with our allies and partners” and “new and existing regional institutions,” the latter of which mostly exclude China. Although Austin said Washington was “working closely with both our competitors and our friends,” with regard to Beijing this included only “open lines of communication with China’s defense leaders to ensure that we can avoid any miscalculations.” China thus appears to be largely incidental and external to U.S. multilateralism in the region. U.S. policymakers have often asserted that “getting China policy right” requires first “getting Asia policy right.” But it is difficult to see how they can really be pursued separately or sequentially. Indeed, is hard to reconcile the idea that “all peoples of the Indo-Pacific” will determine the future of the region with a strategy that essentially defines the most consequential country in Asia as the core problem, largely excludes it from Washington’s regional engagement strategy, and effectively makes it the target of that strategy. Although Austin said the United States does not seek “confrontation or conflict” or a “new Cold War” with China, Washington’s zero-sum and not-really-inclusive approach to East Asia was reflected in his reiteration of the Biden administration’s assurance that it will not require other countries to choose between the United States and China. He declared that “our fellow Indo-Pacific nations should be free to choose … and free to chart their own course.” But he immediately averred that “this region has already cast its vote on what kind of future it seeks … one rooted in the rule of law, and a profound commitment to freedom and openness.” That obviously means a vote not in China’s favor. Similarly, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command commander John Aquilino also said at the Shangri-La conference that Washington “will never ask any nation to choose … But as we look toward the future, there is a free and open Indo-Pacific, or there is an opaque and closed Indo-Pacific where might equals right.” Again, offering a “Hobson’s choice” is not really a choice. And although Austin implicitly criticized Beijing for its “obsolete belief in a world carved up into spheres of influence,” Washington’s own Indo-Pacific strategy appears aimed at sustaining an American sphere of influence. Given that scene-setter, is it not surprising that Wei’s speech the following day occasionally took the form of a rebuttal of Austin’s. Indeed, Wei openly declared that he disagreed with Austin on several points, and he repeated the charge of “smearing accusations” and “even threats against China” from the United States. But beyond that rhetoric, there were striking aspects of symmetry between the two speeches. Whereas Austin had framed China (mostly without naming it) as the main threat to the region because of the looming dangers to freedom, openness, international law, peace, and stability, Wei defined the threat (mostly without naming the United States) in terms of “hegemony and power politics … confrontation, containment, decoupling … unilateral sanctions, and long-arm jurisdiction.” He did, however, explicitly denounce Washington’s “Indo-Pacific Strategy” as an attempt “to hijack countries in our region and target one specific country.” This reflects in part Beijing’s response to its exclusion from Washington’s regional multilateral diplomacy. But clearly both sides are using caricatures of each other to define the primary challenge they see confronting the region. What is more surprising, and went largely unnoticed, were the elements of Wei’s speech that overlapped in substance with Austin’s, and thus represent potential areas for mutual understanding and even cooperation—if the two sides could overcome their dismissal of each other’s rhetoric. It is rarely acknowledged or even considered that Beijing actually shares much of Washington’s vision for the Indo-Pacific. For example, Wei cited chapter and verse about “peace and stability,” multilateralism, avoiding rival blocs, peaceful coexistence, sovereign equality between nations, and peaceful settlement of disputes—all themes in Austin’s speech. He also echoed Austin when he said, “confrontation and division will get us nowhere” and emphasized the need for inclusiveness. On freedom of navigation, Wei denied that it was “under threat” from Beijing in the South China Sea because China’s own economy vitally depends upon it. Of course, this applies only to freedom of commercial navigation—not military—and diverging interpretations of international law will continue to hinder U.S.-China agreement on multiple issues. But this need not and should not prevent Washington and Beijing from exploring opportunities for regional multilateralism that includes both of them. Indeed, that objective was emphasized by other, high-level, third-country participants in the Shangri-La conference—for those who were paying attention. Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida’s keynote address was in lockstep with Austin’s on the “rules-based order” and the “free and open Indo-Pacific,” reflecting Tokyo’s ongoing efforts to reaffirm the U.S.-Japan alliance and shared concerns about China. But Australian defense minister Richard Marles’ speech, although it also affirmed those ideas, added that “it is reasonable to expect a more powerful China will have a bigger say in regional and international affairs” and that “Australia does not question the right of any country to modernize their military capabilities consistent with their interests and resources.” Neither of these notions was reflected in Austin’s speech. Although Marles emphasized the need for Beijing to act with restraint in the region, he was essentially advocating an approach by the United States and its partners that includes and engages China, rather than a strategy arrayed against it. To that end, he repeatedly invoked the need for “reassuring statecraft.” Similarly, Indonesian defense minister Prabowo Subianto, after affirming the need for a “rules-based order,” stressed that “we must always consider [and] respect the … rightful interests of the People’s Republic of China.” Because the Chinese “have been leaders of Asia for many thousands of years,” Prabowo said “we urge everybody to respect the rightful rise of China back to its position as a great civilization.” Finally, in the closing speech of the conference, Singaporean defense minister Ng Eng Hen commented on the war in Ukraine—which was a subtext for many of the conference deliberations—and observed that, for Asians, the war “is not an ideological struggle between autocracies and democracies.” He said, “Asian countries are too diverse and pluralistic, and there would be few takers for a battle royale to ensue on that basis.” Instead, Ng explained, “the core issue [in Asia] is about an inter-dependency that [includes China and] is far more developed, productive, and mutually beneficial than [that between] Russia and Europe.” This was essentially Singapore—a staunch U.S. partner—telling Washington that Indo-Pacific countries are not wholly comfortable with the Biden administration’s frequent portrayal of a global contest between democracy and autocracy, and cautioning against making that the framework for a U.S. approach to the region that excludes and targets China. Austin had highlighted the “power of partnership,” but mobilizing that power requires recognizing and reflecting the various partners’ perspectives. Returning to Wei’s presentation: he occasionally undermined its effectiveness by reverting to anti-U.S. polemics, Chinese Communist Party jargon, and a few eyebrow-raising claims such as the assertion that China has “never proactively started a war against others or occupied one inch of [another country’s] land.” But Wei concluded his speech by correctly observing that “the US-China relationship is at a critical juncture,” and that cooperation between Washington and Beijing will ultimately be essential for global peace and prosperity. On the other hand, he appeared to assign the burden of choice and policy adjustment to the U.S. side: “If you want to talk, we should talk with mutual respect. If you want to engage, we should seek peaceful coexistence. If you want to cooperate, we should promote mutual benefits and win-win cooperation. However, if you want confrontation, we will fight to the end.” On the latter point, Wei made a forceful statement on the subject of Taiwan, which has preoccupied both sides in recent months. He claimed that Beijing is “still making every effort, with the greatest sincerity, to deliver peaceful unification,” but complained that “some country [obviously the United States] has violated its promise” regarding the “one China” framework. This was standard Chinese rhetoric, but Wei went on in what an official Chinese newspaper called “the strongest ever” and “most clear warning the Chinese side has ever delivered” to Washington on the Taiwan issue: “If anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight. We will fight at all costs and we will fight to the very end. This is the only choice for China.” Beijing clearly is trying to underscore that it has red lines on the Taiwan issue and to warn Washington and Taipei that they are getting closer to those red lines. But just as Wei and Austin had characterized each other’s country as the primary threat to overall peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific, they also held each other accountable for the escalating tensions on the Taiwan Strait. In his speech, Austin reaffirmed Washington’s “one China policy,” but also noted “growing coercion from Beijing,” including “a steady increase in provocative and destabilizing military activity near Taiwan.” Thus, on Taiwan as on most other issues, Wei and Austin reflected the persistence of both sides’ inclination to blame and talk past each other, and to wait for each other to fix the relationship.

Interdependence doesn’t stop war

Joseph Nye, 6-16, 22, Joseph S. Nye Jr is a professor at Harvard University and the author, most recently, of Do morals matter? Presidents and foreign policy from FDR to Trump. This article is presented in partnership with Project Syndicate, What the invasion of Ukraine has revealed about the nature of modern warfare, https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/what-the-invasion-of-ukraine-has-revealed-about-the-nature-of-modern-warfare/

Second, economic interdependence doesn’t prevent war. While this lesson used to be widely recognised—particularly after World War I broke out among the world’s leading trade partnersit was ignored by German policymakers such as former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. His government increased Germany’s imports of, and dependence on, Russian oil and gas, perhaps hoping that breaking trade ties would be too costly for either side. But while economic interdependence can raise the costs of war, it clearly doesn’t prevent it. Third, uneven economic interdependence can be weaponised by the less dependent party, but when the stakes are symmetrical, there’s little power in interdependence. Russia depends on revenue from its energy exports to finance its war, but Europe is too dependent on Russian energy to cut it off completely. The energy interdependence is roughly symmetrical. (On the other hand, in the world of finance, Russia is more vulnerable to Western sanctions, which may hurt more over time.)

Reversing economic growth needed to avert an ecological catastrophe

Michael Lowy, 4-1, 22, For an Ecosocialist DeGrowth, https://monthlyreview.org/2022/04/01/for-an-ecosocialist-degrowth/

Degrowth and ecosocialism are two of the most important movements—and proposals—on the radical side of the ecological spectrum. Sure, not everyone in the degrowth community identifies as a socialist, and not everyone who is an ecosocialist is convinced by the desirability of degrowth. But one can see an increasing tendency of mutual respect and convergence. Let us try to map the large areas of agreement between us, and list some of the main arguments for an ecosocialist degrowth:

Capitalism cannot exist without growth. It needs a permanent expansion of production and consumption, accumulation of capital, maximization of profit. This process of unlimited growth, based on the exploitation of fossil fuels since the eighteenth century, is leading to ecological catastrophe, climate change, and threatens the extinction of life on the planet. The twenty-six UN Climate Change Conferences of the last thirty years manifest the total unwillingness of the ruling elites to stop the course toward the abyss.

Any true alternative to this perverse and destructive dynamic needs to be radical—that is, must deal with the roots of the problem: the capitalist system, its exploitative and extractivist dynamic, and its blind and obsessive pursuit of growth. Ecosocialist degrowth is one such alternative, in direct confrontation with capitalism and growth. Ecosocialist degrowth requires the social appropriation of the main means of (re)production and a democratic, participatory, ecological planning. The main decisions on the priorities of production and consumption will be decided by people themselves, in order to satisfy real social needs while respecting the ecological limits of the planet. This means that people, at various scales, exercise direct power in democratically determining what is to be produced, how, and how much; how to remunerate different kinds of productive and reproductive activities that sustain us and the planet. Ensuring equitable well-being for all does not require economic growth but rather radically changing how we organize the economy and distribute social wealth.

A significant degrowth in production and consumption is ecologically indispensable. The first and urgent measure is phasing out fossil fuels, as well as the ostentatious and wasteful consumption of the 1 percent rich elite. From an ecosocialist perspective, degrowth has to be understood in dialectical terms: many forms of production (such as coal-fired facilities) and services (such as advertisement) should not only be reduced but suppressed; some, such as private cars or cattle raising, should be substantially reduced; but others would need development, such as agro-ecological farming, renewable energy, health and educational services, and so on. For sectors like health and education, this development should be, first and foremost, qualitative. Even the most useful activities have to respect the limits of the planet; there can be no such thing as an “unlimited” production of any good.

Productivist “socialism,” as practiced by the USSR, is a dead end. The same applies to “green” capitalism as advocated by corporations or mainstream “Green parties.” Ecosocialist degrowth is an attempt to overcome the limitations of past socialist and “green” experiments.

It is well known that the Global North is historically responsible for most of the carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere. The rich countries must therefore take the larger part in the process of degrowth. At the same time, we do not believe that the Global South should try to copy the productivist and destructive model of “development” of the North, but look instead for a different approach, emphasizing the real needs of the populations in terms of food, housing, and basic services, instead of extracting more and more raw materials (and fossil fuels) for the capitalist world market, or producing more and more cars for the privileged minorities.

Ecosocialist degrowth also involves transformation, through a process of democratic deliberation, of existing consumption models—for instance, an end to planned obsolescence and nonrepairable goods; of transport patterns, for instance, by greatly reducing the hauling of goods by ships and trucks (thanks to the relocalization of production), as well as airplane traffic. In short, it is much more than a change of property forms, it is a civilizational transformation, a new “way of life” based on values of solidarity, democracy, equaliberty, and respect for Earth. Ecosocialist degrowth signals a new civilization that breaks with productivism and consumerism, in favor of shorter working time, thus more free time devoted to social, political, recreational, artistic, ludic, and erotic activities.

Ecosocialist degrowth can only win through a confrontation with the fossil oligarchy and the ruling classes who control political and economic power. Who is the subject of this struggle? We cannot overcome the system without the active participation of the urban and rural working class, who make up the majority of the population and are already bearing the brunt of capitalism’s social and ecological ills. But we also have to expand the definition of the working class to include those who undertake social and ecological reproduction, the forces who are now at the forefront of social-ecological mobilizations: youth, women, Indigenous peoples, and peasants. A new social and ecological consciousness will emerge through the process of self-organization and active resistance of the exploited and oppressed.

Ecosocialist degrowth forms part of the broader family of other radical, antisystemic ecological movements: ecofeminism, social ecology, Sumak Kawsay (the Indigenous “Good Life”), environmentalism of the poor, Blockadia, Green New Deal (in its more critical versions), among many others. We do not seek any primacy—we just think that ecosocialism and degrowth have a shared and potent diagnostic and prognostic frame to offer alongside these movements. Dialogue and common action are urgent tasks in the present dramatic conjuncture.