August 14, 2018

When China Rules the Web

Foreign Affairs

Technology in Service of the State

By Adam Segal

For almost five decades, the United States has guided the growth of the Internet. From its origins as a small Pentagon program to its status as a global platform that connects more than half of the world’s population and tens of billions of devices, the Internet has long been an American project. Yet today, the United States has ceded leadership in cyberspace to China. Chinese President Xi Jinping has outlined his plans to turn China into a “cyber-superpower.” Already, more people in China have access to the Internet than in any other country, but Xi has grander plans. Through domestic regulations, technological innovation, and foreign policy, China aims to build an “impregnable” cyberdefense system, give itself a greater voice in Internet governance, foster more world-class companies, and lead the globe in advanced technologies.

China’s continued rise as a cyber-superpower is not guaranteed. Top-down, state-led efforts at innovation in artificial intelligence, quantum computing, robotics, and other ambitious technologies may well fail. Chinese technology companies will face economic and political pressures as they globalize. Chinese citizens, although they appear to have little expectation of privacy from their government, may demand more from private firms. The United States may reenergize its own digital diplomacy, and the U.S. economy may rediscover the dynamism that allowed it create so much of the modern world’s technology. 

But given China’s size and technological sophistication, Beijing has a good chance of succeeding—thereby remaking cyberspace in its own image. If this happens, the Internet will be less global and less open. A major part of it will run Chinese applications over Chinese-made hardware. And Beijing will reap the economic, diplomatic, national security, and intelligence benefits that once flowed to Washington.


Almost from the moment he took power in 2012, Xi made it clear just how big a role the Internet played in his vision for China. After years of inertia, during which cyber-policy was fragmented among a wide array of government departments, Xi announced that he would chair a so-called central leading group on Internet security and informatization and drive policy from the top. He established a new agency, the Cyberspace Administration of China, and gave it responsibility for controlling online content, bolstering cybersecurity, and developing the digital economy. 

Cyberpower sits at the intersection of four Chinese national priorities. First, Chinese leaders want to ensure a harmonious Internet. That means one that guides public opinion, supports good governance, and fosters economic growth but also is tightly controlled so as to stymie political mobilization and prevent the flow of information that could undermine the regime. 

Second, China wants to reduce its dependence on foreign suppliers of digital and communications equipment. It hopes to eventually lead the world in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and robotics. As Xi warned in May, “Initiatives of innovation and development must be securely kept in our own hands.”

Almost from the moment he took power, Xi made it clear just how big a role the Internet played in his vision for China.

Third, Chinese policymakers, like their counterparts around the world, are increasingly wary of the risk of cyberattacks on governmental and private networks that could disrupt critical services, hurt economic growth, and even cause physical destruction. Accordingly, the People’s Liberation Army has announced plans to speed up the development of its cyber-forces and beef up China’s network defenses. This focus on cybersecurity overlaps with China’s techno-nationalism: Chinese policymakers believe they have to reduce China’s dependence on U.S. technology companies to ensure its national security, a belief that was strengthened in 2013, when Edward Snowden, a former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency, revealed that U.S. intelligence services had accessed the data of millions of people that was held and transmitted by U.S. companies. 

Edward Snowden speaks at a conference in Paris via video link from Moscow, December 2014.

Finally, China has promoted “cyber-sovereignty” as an organizing principle of Internet governance, in direct opposition to U.S. support for a global, open Internet. In Xi’s words, cyber-sovereignty represents “the right of individual countries to independently choose their own path of cyber development, model of cyber regulation and Internet public policies, and participate in international cyberspace governance on an equal footing.” China envisions a world of national Internets, with government control justified by the sovereign rights of states. It also wants to weaken the bottom-up, private-sector-led model of Internet governance championed by the United States and its allies, a model Beijing sees as dominated by Western technology companies and civil society organizations. Chinese policymakers believe they would have a larger say in regulating information technology and defining the global rules for cyberspace if the UN played a larger role in Internet governance. All four of Beijing’s priorities require China to act aggressively to shape cyberspace at home and on the global stage. 


The Xi era will be remembered for putting an end to the West’s naive optimism about the liberalizing potential of the Internet. Over the last five years, Beijing has significantly tightened controls on websites and social media. In March 2017, for example, the government told Tencent, the second largest of China’s digital giants, and other Chinese technology companies to shut down websites they hosted that included discussions on history, international affairs, and the military. A few months later, Tencent, the search company Baidu, and the microblogging site Weibo were fined for hosting banned content in the run-up to the 19th Party Congress. Officials ordered telecommunications companies to block virtual private networks (VPNs), which are widely used by Chinese businesses, entrepreneurs, and academics to circumvent government censors. Even Western companies complied: Apple removed VPNs from the Chinese version of its App Store. Beijing also announced new regulations further limiting online anonymity and making the organizers of online forums personally accountable for the contributions of their members.

Chinese censors are now skilled at controlling conversations on social media. In 2017, as the dissident and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo became increasingly ill, censors revealedthat they could delete his image from chats. In an even more Orwellian move, authorities have rolled out a sophisticated surveillance system based on a vast array of cameras and sensors, aided by facial and voice recognition software and artificial intelligence. The tool has been deployed most extensively in Xinjiang Province, in an effort to track the Muslim Uighur population there, but the government is working to scale it up nationwide.

In addition to employing censorship and surveillance, China has also created an interlocking framework of laws, regulations, and standards to increase cybersecurity and safeguard data in governmental and private systems. The government has enacted measures to protect important Internet infrastructure, it has mandated security reviews for network products and services, and it has required companies to store data within China, where the government will face few obstacles to accessing it. Beijing has also introduced new regulations concerning how government agencies respond to cybersecurity incidents, how and when the government discloses software vulnerabilities to the private sector, and how ministries and private companies share information about threats. 

Different agencies and local governments could interpret and implement these policies in different ways, but at the least, the regulations will raise the cost and complexity of doing business in China for both domestic and foreign technology companies. Draft regulations published in July 2017 were particularly broad, defining “critical information infrastructure” to cover not only traditional categories such as communications, financial, and energy networks but also the news media, health-care companies, and cloud-computing providers. Baidu, Tencent, and Weibo have already been fined for violating the new cybersecurity laws. Foreign companies worry that an expansive interpretation of the requirements for inspections of equipment and storing data within China will raise costs and could allow the Chinese government to steal their intellectual property.


Chinese policymakers believe that to be truly secure, China must achieve technological self-sufficiency. Small wonder, then, that support for science and technology is front and center in the country’s most recent five-year plan, which began in 2016. China’s investment in research and development has grown by an average of 20 percent a year since 1999. It now stands at approximately $233 billion, or 20 percent of total world R & D spending. More students graduate with science and engineering degrees in China than anywhere else in the world, and in 2018, China overtook the United States in terms of the total number of scientific publications. Western scientists have long ignored Chinese research, but they are now citing a growing number of Chinese publications.

Three technologies will matter most for China’s ability to shape the future of cyberspace: semiconductors, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence. For years, Beijing has tried and failed to build an indigenous industry producing semiconductors, that is, the integrated circuits (or microchips) found in nearly every technological device. In 2016, China imported $228 billion worth of integrated circuits—more than it spent on imported oil—accounting for over 90 percent of its consumption, according to the consultancy McKinsey. The risk of relying on U.S. suppliers was brought home this April, when the Trump administration sanctioned ZTE, the world’s fourth-largest maker of telecommunications gear. ZTE relies on U.S.-made components, including microchips to power its wireless stations. When the sanctions cut the company off from its supplies, it ceased major operations. In June, Trump reversed course on the sanctions, but the move did little to assuage Chinese concerns about dependence on foreign suppliers. Soon after the sanctions were announced, Xi called on a gathering of the country’s top scientists to make breakthroughs on core technologies.

China is striving to define international standards for the next wave of innovation

In 2015, China issued guidelines that aim to get Chinese firms to produce 70 percent of the microchips used by Chinese industry by 2025. Since then, the government has subsidized domestic and foreign companies that move their operations to China and encouraged domestic consumers to buy from only Chinese suppliers. The government has committed $150 billion over the next decade to improve China’s ability to design and manufacture advanced microprocessors. China has also acquired technologies abroad. According to the Rhodium Group, a research firm, from 2013 to 2016, Chinese companies made 27 attempted bids for U.S. semiconductor companies worth more than $37 billion in total, compared with six deals worth $214 million from 2000 to 2013. Yet these attempts have run into problems: many of the high-profile bids, including a $1.3 billion offer for Lattice Semiconductor and a $2.4 billion deal for Fairchild Semiconductor, were blocked by the U.S. government on national security grounds.

Then there is quantum computing, which uses the laws of quantum mechanics—essentially the ability of quantum bits, or “qubits,” to perform several calculations at the same time—to solve certain problems that ordinary computers cannot. Advances in this area could allow Chinese intelligence services to create highly secure encrypted communications channels and break most conventional encryption. High-speed quantum computers could also have major economic benefits, remaking manufacturing, data analytics, and the process of developing drugs. In 2016, China launched the world’s first satellite that can communicate using channels secured by quantum cryptography and constructed the world’s longest quantum communications cable, connecting Beijing and Shanghai. It’s not clear how much China spends on quantum computing, but the sums are certainly substantial. It is spending $1 billion alone on one quantum computing laboratory.

More than its investments in semiconductor research and quantum computing, it is China’s ambitious plans in artificial intelligence that have caused the most unease in the West. At an artificial intelligence summit last year, Eric Schmidt, the former chair of Google, said of the Chinese, “By 2020, they will have caught up. By 2025, they will be better than us. And by 2030, they will dominate the industries of AI.” China is racing to harness artificial intelligence for military uses, including autonomous drone swarms, software that can defend itself against cyberattacks, and programs that mine social media to predict political movements.

In 2017, the Chinese government outlined its road map for turning itself into the “world’s primary AI innovation center” by 2030. The plan is more a wish list than a concrete strategy, but it does provide direction to central ministries and local governments on how to invest to achieve breakthroughs by highlighting specific fields for research and development. The government has singled out Baidu, Tencent, the e-commerce giant Alibaba, and the voice recognition software company iFLYTEK as national champions in AI, identifying these companies as the first group to develop systems that can drive autonomous cars, diagnose diseases, act as intelligent voice assistants, and manage smart cities, that is, urban spaces that use a wide variety of sensors to collect data on how people live and then analyze that data to reduce cities’ environmental impact, spur economic development, and improve people’s quality of life.

China is also striving to define international standards for the next wave of innovation, especially in fifth-generation mobile network technology, or 5G, which will offer much faster Internet speeds to mobile users and enable new uses for Internet-connected devices. To many Chinese leaders, China’s current place in the global division of labor looks like a trap: foreign firms reap high profits from the intellectual property they own, and Chinese companies survive on the thin margins they make by manufacturing and assembling physical products. If China can control technology standards, it will ensure that its firms receive royalties and licensing profits as others develop products that plug into Chinese-owned platforms. 

Over the last decade, Beijing has increased the skill, sophistication, and size of the delegations it sends to standards organizations. China was essentially absent for the discussions about third- and fourth-generation mobile network technologies, but things have changed. In 2016, Huawei, China’s largest telecommunications company, sent twice as many representatives as any other company to the meeting in Vienna that defined the specifications for the coming fifth generation of mobile networks. 

Xi at the World Internet Conference, Wuzhen, December 2015.


Under Xi, China has also tried to shape the international institutions and norms that govern cyberspace. For much of the last decade, Chinese hackers de facto set those norms by engaging in massive cyber-espionage campaigns designed to steal military, political, and, worst of all in the eyes of the United States, industrial secrets. The Obama administration pressed Beijing on the subject, publicly attributing attacks on U.S. companies to state-backed hackers and threatening to sanction senior officials. In 2015, the two sides agreed that neither would support digital theft for commercial advantage. China went on to sign similar agreements with Australia, Canada, Germany, and the United Kingdom. There was a marked downturn in activity in the wake of these agreements, but the decline seems to have been as much a result of a reorganization within the Chinese military as of U.S. diplomatic efforts. Now that the People’s Liberation Army has consolidated control over its cyber-forces, industrial espionage has shifted to more sophisticated hackers in China’s intelligence agencies. 

China’s more visible efforts at writing the rules of the road for cyberspace have centered on the UN. Washington and its allies have promoted a distributed model of Internet governance that involves technical bodies, the private sector, civil society, and governments, whereas Beijing prefers a state-centric vision. In 2017, for example, China called for “a multilateral approach to governing cyberspace, with the United Nations taking a leading role in building international consensus on rules.” Beijing believes a multilateral approach located at the UN has two immediate benefits. It would prioritize the interests of governments over those of technology companies and civil society groups. And it would allow China to mobilize the votes of developing countries, many of which would also like to control the Internet and the free flow of information.

Beijing has resisted U.S. efforts to apply international law, especially the laws of armed conflict, to cyberspace. A forum at the UN known as the Group of Governmental Experts has identified some rules of behavior for states in a series of meetings and reports from 2004 to 2017. Although in the 2013 report, Chinese diplomats accepted that international law and the UN Charter apply to cyberspace, and in 2015, they agreed to four norms of state behavior, they dragged their feet on discussions of exactly how neutrality, proportionality, the right of self-defense, and other concepts from international law might be applied to conflict in cyberspace. They argued instead that discussing international law would lead to the militarization of cyberspace. Chinese diplomats, along with their Russian counterparts, stressed the need for the peaceful settlement of disputes.In 2017, the participating countries in the Group of Governmental Experts failed to issue a follow-on report in part because China and Russia opposed language endorsing the right of self-defense.

In addition to working through the UN, Chinese policymakers have created their own venue to showcase their vision for the Internet and strengthen their voice in its governance: the World Internet Conference, held annually in Wuzhen. In 2017, Tim Cook and Sundar Pichai, the chief executives of Apple and Google, respectively, attended for the first time. Cook, a vocal defender of privacy and free speech at home, stated that Apple shared China’s vision for “developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits.” By echoing Chinese officials’ language on openness despite the tight controls on the Internet in China, Cook was signaling Apple’s willingness to play by Beijing’s rules. 

Beijing is likely to have its biggest impact on global Internet governance through its trade and investment policies, especially as part of the Belt and Road Initiative, a massive effort to build infrastructure connecting China to the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and Europe. Along with the more than $50 billion that has flowed into railways, roads, pipelines, ports, mines, and utilities along the route, officials have stressed the need for Chinese companies to build a “digital Silk Road”: fiber-optic cables, mobile networks, satellite relay stations, data centers, and smart cities. 

Much of the activity along the nascent digital Silk Road has come from technology companies and industry alliances, not the Chinese government. Alibaba has framed its expansion into Southeast Asia as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. It has acquired the Pakistani e-commerce company Daraz and launched a digital free-trade zone with the support of the Malaysian and Thai governments, which will ease customs checks, provide logistical support for companies, and promote exports from small and medium-sized companies in Malaysia and Thailand to China. ZTE now operates in over 50 of the 64 countries on the route of the Belt and Road Initiative. As well as laying fiber-optic cables and setting up mobile networks, the company has been providing surveillance, mapping, cloud storage, and data analysis services to cities in Ethiopia, Nigeria, Laos, Sri Lanka, Sudan, and Turkey.

The Chinese government hopes that these enterprises will give it political influence throughout the region. But private firms are focused on profit, and Beijing has not always succeeded in converting business relationships into political heft, even when the projects have involved state-run enterprises, since these firms also often pursue commercial interests that conflict with diplomatic goals. In the short term, however, the presence of Chinese engineers, managers, and diplomats will reinforce a tendency among developing countries, especially those with authoritarian governments, to embrace China’s closed conception of the Internet. 


Beijing’s vision of the Internet is ascendant. According to the think tank Freedom House, Internet freedom—how easily people can access the Internet and use it to speak their minds—has declined for the last seven years. More countries are pushing companies to store data on their citizens within their borders (which companies resist because doing so raises costs and reduces their ability to protect the privacy of their users) and to allow the government to carry out security reviews of their network equipment. Each country pursues these policies in support of its own ends, but they all can turn to China for material, technical, and political support. 

The United States’ position at the center of the global Internet brought it major economic, military, and intelligence benefits. U.S. companies developed the routers and servers that carry the world’s data, the phones and personal computers that people use to communicate, and the software that serves as a gateway to the Internet. In a similar way, the Chinese Communist Party sees technology companies as a source of economic dynamism and soft power. And so it is increasing its political control over Chinese technology giants. As those companies come to supply more of the world’s digital infrastructure, China’s spy services will be tempted to collect data from them.

Chinese technology companies have several advantages: access to a lot of data with few restrictions on how they can use it, talented workers, and government support. But the country’s legacy of central planning may lead companies to overinvest, build redundant operations, and stifle their employees’ creativity. And Chinese technology firms have become the targets of political pressure in Australia, the United States, and Europe. The Australian government is considering banning Huawei from supplying equipment for Australia’s fifth-generation mobile networks. Washington is working to limit Chinese investment in U.S. technology companies and has made it more difficult for Chinese telecommunications firms to do business in the United States: it has blocked China Mobile’s application to provide telecommunications services in the United States, banned the sale of Huawei and ZTE smartphones on U.S. military bases, and sought to prohibit U.S. telecommunications companies from spending critical infrastructure funds on equipment and services from China.

Yet none of these challenges is likely to deal a fatal blow to China’s digital ambitions. The country is too large, too powerful, and too sophisticated. To prepare for greater Chinese control over the Internet, the United States should work with its allies and trading partners to pressure Beijing to open up the Chinese market to foreign companies, curb its preferential treatment of Chinese firms, and better protect foreign companies’ intellectual property. U.S. policymakers should shift from simply defending the bottom-up, private-sector-led model of Internet governance to offering a positive vision that provides developing countries with realistic alternatives to working solely through the UN. Washington should talk to Beijing directly about norms of state behavior in cyberspace. The two countries should work together on setting global standards for government purchases of technology, determining how companies should secure their supply chains against cyberattacks, and planning government inspections of critical communications equipment. Yet these efforts will only shape trends, not reverse them. Whatever Washington does, the future of cyberspace will be much less American and much more Chinese.


Public Diplomacy Magazine has just released its Summer/Fall 2018 issue on border diplomacy.

Border diplomacy is a critical and timely topic as immigration debates run hot both within the U.S. and throughout the world. From asylum-seekers encountering family separation at the U.S. border to refugees from many countries seeking new homes in Europe, border diplomacy is crucial for finding common ground among those on all sides of borders.

This issue of Public Diplomacy Magazine explores new solutions to border crises and raises awareness about the key role that public diplomacy can offer.

Public Diplomacy Magazine is a publication of the Association of Public Diplomacy Scholars (APDS) at the University of Southern California, with support from the USC Center on Public Diplomacy at the Annenberg School and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Read the latest issue of PD Magazine here.

To read all issues of the online magazine, click here.

India celebrated Modi’s ill-thought Independence Day speech but it hurt Balochistan badly

India celebrated Modi’s ill-thought Independence Day speech but it hurt Balochistan badly

HUSAIN HAQQANI 14 August, 2018

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving his speech during the 70th Independence Day celebration at Red Fort, 2016 | Arvind Yadav/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

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Narendra Modi’s statement hurt Baloch nationalists, many of whom found themselves painted as Indian agents.

Two years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought up Balochistan in his Independence Day speech, there has been no sign of India’s success in raising human rights violations in the restive Pakistani province to the level of a significant international issue.

If anything, public professing of support from New Delhi without any substantive follow up actions has only reinforced Pakistan’s contentions about an Indian role in fomenting terrorism in Balochistan.

Modi’s remarks two years ago were probably not thought through. They certainly had not been discussed with India’s friends abroad, before the speech, to coordinate policies.

Had such discussions taken place, Indian diplomats would have learned in advance that most of the world does not support the notion of an India-led attempt to foment secessionist rebellions in Pakistan.

Although several Baloch leaders in exile responded positively to Modi’s remarks, their expectations of being allowed to set up shop in India were not fulfilled.

There is no evidence that India stepped up support to exiled Baloch groups, many of whom have limited their activity over the past two years to avoid being accused of acting at India’s behest.

Also read: Pakistan’s future boils down to PM Imran Khan’s India policy

In his address to the nation on 15 August 2016, Modi had said, “Today, I want to especially honour and thank some people from the ramparts of the Red Fort. For the past few days, the people of Balochistan, people of Gilgit, people of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, the way their citizens have heartily thanked me, the way they have acknowledged me, the goodwill they have shown towards me, people settled far across, the land which I have not seen, people I have not met ever….”

The reference to Balochistan was deemed significant because, unlike Kashmir, Balochistan is not disputed between India and Pakistan.

A few days earlier, Modi had vowed to raise the issue of “atrocities by the Pakistani government” in these three areas at the international stage while speaking to an all-party delegation about the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

India had previously made at least two public statements in 2005 and 2006, denouncing Pakistani military operations against the Baloch and had expressed concern over the “spiralling violence” in Balochistan. But Modi’s statement was the first that sought to generate fear of an Indian tit-for-tat against Pakistan’s longstanding support for Jihadi groups in Jammu and Kashmir.

Soon after his statement, Indian hawks described Modi as a “game changer”. Former foreign secretary Kanwal Sibal had said, “By raising the Balochistan issue, he (Modi) has changed the rules of the game. From the PM’s point of view, this is a warning signal to Pakistan.”

G. Parthasarathy, former High Commissioner to Pakistan, was quoted saying that while some would call it “long overdue”, he would describe it as a “necessary measure” and that “there has to be some inducement for Pakistan to fall in line”.

Also read: Pakistan’s mysterious ‘agriculture department’ is plumbing to new depths of censorship

For several days after the initial remarks, there were reports that the Indian Prime Minister had received many messages on social media from Baloch groups and Kashmiris around the world and in Pakistan thanking him for his support. But beyond that, the spectre of Balochistan being turned into a new Bangladesh went nowhere.

It seems now that the statement on Balochistan was just a statement that was (luckily) not backed by actual plans. Any plans to step up violence in Balochistan would have delegitimised India’s case against Pakistan’s support for internationally designated terrorist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Muhammed.

As India does not have geographic contiguity with Balochistan, any meddling there would need support from Iran and Afghanistan, both of whom do not want to escalate tensions with Pakistan.

The United States’ military presence in Afghanistan also ensures that Afghan authorities must consider US concerns about further destabilisation of Pakistan. There is hardly anyone in the US who wants to increase Pakistan’s paranoia about conspiracies aimed at its disintegration.

The Prime Minister’s statement and its immediate aftermath actually hurt the Baloch nationalists, many of whom found themselves tarred with the brush of being Indian agents without any benefit of Indian support.

They have legitimate grievances against the Pakistani state and bear the brunt of human rights violations. But their cause needs more support within Pakistan and from the international community without the burden of being painted as Indian-backed terrorists.

Just as Pakistan-based terrorists have ill-served those in Jammu and Kashmir seeking a different relationship with the Centre, Indian-backed threats of violence would not have had a different outcome in Balochistan.

Baloch nationalists must have flexibility in negotiating for the rights of their people. Not all of them see secession and separatism as the only choice. The impression of external support limits Baloch leaders’ ability to seek a better deal from Rawalpindi and Islamabad.

Also read: Swiss have succumbed to Pak lobbying, Chinese pressure on Balochistan: Brahumdagh Bugti

It is best to let the Baloch speak for themselves and for Pakistani reformers to support them internationally rather than adding Balochistan to the already complex menu of India-Pakistan issues.

In any case, chaos and disintegration of Pakistan are not in India’s interest nor is the international public opinion too keen on the idea of encouraging anarchy in Pakistan.

It is true that the stubbornness of the country’s military-led establishment causes frustration to a lot of people around the world, most of all Pakistanis who want prosperity rather than conflict to be their nation’s principal objective. But Pakistan’s national pride and the discourse about India being Pakistan’s eternal enemy make it impossible for India to be the agent of change in Pakistan’s policies.

Prime Minister Modi was probably frustrated with the constancy of unrest and terrorism on the Indian side of the Line of Control when he decided to throw the gauntlet over Balochistan. It was not the best of political moves.

Since then, India seems to have realised that the road to building pressure on Pakistan runs through Washington, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and European donors. Balochistan is not the best point of inflexion. Threats of increasing trouble there only brings greater hardship on the already battered Baloch people.

Husain Haqqani, director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington D.C., was Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States from 2008-11. His latest book is ‘Reimagining Pakistan.

Clausewitz’s Library: Strategy, Politics, and Poetry

Vanya Eftimova Bellinger 

 August 6, 2018

Carl von Clausewitz is considered by many the west’s preeminent military theorist, and within professional military education his seminal treatise On War is extensively cited and studied. With so much attention, it might be supposed that we know all there is to know about his life and work. In reality, however, Clausewitz’s intellectual path, especially in his later years, remains somewhat of a mystery.

Marie von Clausewitz (Wikimedia)

On War is a constant fixture in the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Reading List, but, remarkably given this interest in him, our knowledge about the books Clausewitz read and considered relevant for his work is rather opaque. Scholars usually study the letters to his wife Marie as the main source for insight into his cerebral path.[1] In this regard, the discovery of the complete correspondence between the couple in 2012 enhanced enormously our knowledge about Clausewitz’s intellectual environment.[2]

Unfortunately, in the years 1816-1830, exactly the time when Clausewitz was wrestling with the ideas behind and the composition of On War, the couple spent most of their time together, exchanging very few letters. Clausewitz’s correspondence with his close friend Field Marshal August Neidhardt von Gneisenau from the same period is also rather sporadic. The military thinker occasionally wrote to his brothers, but these letters concerned mostly family matters, and we are left with far fewer primary sources than we might like.[3]

Equally regrettable is the fact that no personal library has endured; not even the majority of On War’s manuscripts survive. The book collections of great minds reveal influences, interests, and interactions. The replication of George Washington’s personal library at Mount Vernon in 2013 is perhaps the most famous and revered example. In the wake of this bibliotheca, numerous articles emphasized how much more there is to learn about America’s founding father (see herehere and here). The collection’s titles demonstrate Washington’s broad intellectual interests and enormous drive for self-improvement.

Books that belonged to George Washington. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)


Students of Clausewitz now have a new and exciting source of information. Scholars from his home town of Burg bei Magdeburg (Forschungsgemeinschaft Clausewitz-Burg e.V.) recently discovered Marie von Clausewitz’s last will and testament in the Brandenburg State Archive in Potsdam.

The document bears the stamp of 16 May 1814. This means she drafted it shortly before leaving Berlin to rejoin Clausewitz in the Rhine camp where he, as chief-of-staff for the Russo-German Legion, was staying after the defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte.[4] In 1831, when Clausewitz served as chief-of-staff for Prussia’s Army of Observation on the eastern border and fearing the approaching cholera epidemic, Marie desired to revise her testament, but she never did.[5] Neither did she change the document when Clausewitz suddenly died in November 1831. The couple had no children, so when Marie passed away unexpectedly in January 1836, the court was called to assess the estate. Meticulous Prussian bureaucrats wrote long lists of household items, books, and assets the couple owned and composed extensive procedural discussions regarding which relatives should receive which elements of the estate. The folders consist of over 400 well-preserved pages of text.

Scholars are yet to study Marie von Clausewitz’s extensive testament in detail. One of the most remarkable finds, however—and also one of the easiest to decipher—is eleven pages containing a catalogue of the 380 volumes in the library of Carl and Marie. An edited list more accessible to examination and analysis than the original text (containing the original title of each work, its English translation, and, where possible, links to the publication in the original and in English translation) is available here. Below, individual titles and volumes are numbered according to their position on this list for easy reference. The catalog created by the Prussian bureaucrats does not appear to be in any particular order, and we have retained the sequence from the original catalog in the edited list. As the testament is transcribed and analyzed, and as more information and more translations become available, we will continue to update this list.

This article offers a brief overview, first impressions, and some context concerning the Clausewitz’s library.


The first and most noticeable observation is how short the list is—only 380 volumes. Marie von Clausewitz’s grandfather, the illustrious Prime Minister of Saxony Heinrich von Brül, once owned a legendary collection of 62,000 books.[6] George Washington’s library contained some 1,200 titles. Both Brül and Washington were wealthy men, however, something Clausewitz most certainly was not. Yet even the reliance only on his government pay could hardly explain the the small size of the recorded library.

It is possible, of course, that Marie gifted some of Clausewitz’s books to friends and relatives after his death in 1831, a common way to remember a beloved person in this period. For example, Marie’s cousin Carl von Brühl, who cared for her in her last days, bestowed on close friends and family some of her belongings in 1836. Among the gifts were books from her library (although we don’t know the titles).[7]

Another explanation, hinted at by Peter Paret, is that between 1818-1830 Clausewitz, as director of the Kriegsakademie, literally lived down the hall from one of the greatest military libraries in Europe.[8] So, perhaps he had no need to purchase every book he wished to read or needed for his scholarly work.

The list found at the Brandenburg State Archive also does not include many titles mentioned explicitly in Marie and Carl’s correspondence and other papers. For instance, in 1815 he reported to Marie his impressions of the memoirs of Marchionesse de La Rochejaquelein on the rebellion in Vendee.[9] Clausewitz also wrote a commentary on the published secret correspondence of Madame de Maintenon and Princess des Ursins.[10] And he referenced Dmitry Boutourlin’s Histoire militaire de la campagne de Russie en 1812 in his own account of the 1812 Campaign in Russia.[11] None of these books is among the cataloged titles. Perhaps Clausewitz borrowed them from friends or libraries; perhaps he once owned them, but they were no longer a part of the estate on Marie’s death; maybe there is some other explanation. Then there are titles we know the couple almost certainly owned, such as Alessandro Manzoni’s novel Betrothed—Clausewitz asked Marie to send it to him while stationed in Posen in 1831—but this title is also missing from the newly discovered catalog.

Portrait of Antoine-Henri Jomini by George Dawe (Hermitage Museum/Wikimedia)

Also of interest, the personal library does not contain any title written by Clausewitz’s contemporary, Baron de Jomini. Considered the former’s great rival in the realm of strategic studies, Jomini was a prolific and bestselling author. His Traité de grande tactique (1803) was widely studied and underwent various editions. As Christopher Bassford reveals, Clausewitz extensively studied this work and later on the pages of On War, criticized Jomini.[12] The absence of these works in the private library is a fascinating fact yet to find its explanation.

It is important to emphasize that the book collection could be considered equally curated by Marie von Clausewitz, and may, in fact, tell us as much about her as it does about Carl. While the library contains a number of professional military works, titles corresponding to her interests make up a significant part of it as well (more on this later). A politically active woman and an intellectual in her own right, Marie often encouraged and sometimes openly pushed her husband to explore Romanticist literature, arts, and politics. She was a popular member of Berlin’s literary salons and a friend of many famed artists of the day. As a young officer from the provinces, Clausewitz embraced Marie’s tutelage and, throughout his life, valued the chance to broaden and challenged his perspective.[13]


General Gerhard Johann David von Scharnhorst, painted by Friedrich Bury (Wikimedia)

Not surprising for an officer of the Prussian Army, military publications constitute a significant number among the volumes. Some of the more interesting titles include Vauban’s classical treatises on fortifications and sieges (43 and 112); Johan von Ewald’s book on light infantry tactics (25); Henry Lloyd’s history of the Seven Years’ War (last volume written by G.F. Tempelhof, 280-285); Montecucili’s memoirs (44); a study of Maurice de Saxe (59-60); Lazare Carnot’s textbook for engineers (288); George de Chambray’s account of Napoleon’s Russian Campaign in 1812 (107-108); several of Georg Wilhelm von Valentini’s military works (4 and 9); Phillippe Henri de Grimoard’s treatise on general staff (247); and of course the field manual written by his mentor, Gerhard von Scharnhorst (79-80). Clausewitz was, as one would expect, a student of his profession.

Just as one would expect from a graduate of the Prussian Kriegsakademie—in which science and math made up a significant part of the school’s curriculum—the personal library contains many titles on math, geometry, physics, and astronomy.[14] As the cataloged titles reveal, science remained one of Clausewitz’s lasting interests. In later years, he read about geography (most noticeable are Alexander von Humboldt’s works, 316 and 362, but also see 22, 68, 82), mineralogy (37), calibration (75), chemistry (181-183), cartography (22), and several works on botany (21, 307-309). Paul Erman’s treatise on electromagnetism from 1821 (5) might even have been one of the inspirations for Clausewitz’s famous metaphor about how passion, chance, and reason act as three magnets constantly reshaping the character of a war.


This raises a fascinating point regarding Clausewitz and his view of the sciences. Later in life, just before assuming the position of director of his old school, Clausewitz criticized the overemphasis of math in military education. In a memorandum to the Minister of War, Hermann von Boyen, from 1819 he wrote that mathematics remains the cornerstone of officer education. However, Clausewitz argued, there should be balance with humanities and broader knowledge. Only in this way would the Kriegsakademiecreate logical and comprehensive thinkers able to cope with uncertainty on battlefield and the challenges of dealing with real people.[15] It was a stance, as the further analysis of the personal library suggests, Clausewitz had taken to heart.

In addition to the interesting but perhaps expected insights for students of Clausewitz described above, the list harbors some surprises. For example, his interest in non-Western ways of war, statecraft, and societies is well worth noting. The library gives evidence in Ciriacy’s exploration of the Ottoman Empire and its military (2), books on the history of the Cossacks (71), on the geography of Crimea (70) and Africa (115), on the European colonization of East and West Indies (251-254). Particularly interesting is the copy of the Persian national epic Shahnameh (“The Book of Kings”) by Firdusi (270-271), published by Clausewitz’s old acquaintance from Koblenz, the publicist Joseph Görres.

The book on the art of correspondence (69) most certainly belonged to Clausewitz. Marie did not need it—from an early age she was trained how to write elegant letters, a skill considered crucial for an aristocratic woman.[16] As a young officer, Clausewitz, on the other hand, was painfully aware of his lack of social pedigree.[17] The year the book on correspondence was published, 1805, also matches the period when he, as a recent graduate of the Kriegskademie and aide-de-camp of Prince August (a cousin of King Friedrich Wilhelm III) was stationed in Berlin. Clausewitz entered the capital’s cultural and political scene, and he fell in love with Marie, a woman beyond his station. Self-aware and ambitious, the brevet captain did his best to fit within the refined social circles, among other things by improving his letter writing skills.

After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815, Clausewitz increasingly read books on statecraft (19, 96-98, 255-259, 366, 131), political history (99-106, 131, 157-162, 172-175, 269, 275-276), international and domestic law (289 and 312), and diplomacy (73-74, 116-130). There are also titles on commerce (26), economy (255-259), and taxes (35). The 1820s were also a time when he worked intently on the development of his military theory in On War. The volume and breadth of these titles suggest Clausewitz’s groundbreaking idea about war’s political character and the interaction between politics and war was not a sudden hunch inspired by genius. It came, rather, as the product of a long process of research and reflection.

In the note from 1818 about the genesis of On War, Clausewitz revealed that he initially modeled his writing after Montesquieu’s “short, precise, compact statements.”[18] The library actually contains a copy of the French philosopher’s complete oeuvre, all twelve volumes (231-242). Clausewitz’s interest in Johann Gottlieb Fichte’s ideas is also well documented (185 and 250). And the catalog also contains a philosophical work on Erasmus (191).[19]

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe at age 79, painted by Joseph Karl Stieler (Neue Pinakothek/Wikimedia)

Just as numerous and extensive are the literary titles. Carl and Marie’s love for the classics of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller is well-known (15-16, 17, 208-214), yet the sheer volume makes clear how much poetry and literature meant to the couple. From 380 volumes altogether in this very personal library, fully 100 are literary works. From Homer (262-265) and Hesiod (248), through Shakespeare’s dramas (192), Lord Byron’s poetry (180 and 249), Thomas Moore (132), and Novallis (260-261) to the complete works of Johann Gottfried von Herder on literary theory and history (318-352). The presence of Madame de Staël’s writings (61-63) would not surprise Clausewitz’s biographers, as he spent time in her home in Coppete on Geneva Lake in 1807 and admired her vivacious mind.[20] There, Clausewitz also met the poet and critic August Wilhelm von Schlegel, hence the personal interest in his published lectures on literary theory from 1809-1811 (367-368).[21]

Some of the books, of course, are far from masterpieces but examples of the literature that caught the spirit of the time and the interest of the masses. Today, authors like Susanne von Bandemer (114), and  Frederic Reynolds (133), and the poetry of the medievalist and politician Ludwig Uhland (268) are known mostly to experts. Yet the presence of these works in the personal collection confirms the impression that the couple read widely and were deeply immersed in the cultural debates of the time.

An observant reader of the cataloged titles will notice many of them are in English. In all likelihood, most of these books were acquired by Marie. Her mother, Sophie von Brühl, was the daughter of a British diplomat, and Marie was fluent in English and close to many English-speaking expats and diplomats living in Berlin, most notably the future U.S. President, John Quincy Adams, and his wife Louisa.[22] Clausewitz once harbored ambitions to become Prussia’s ambassador in London, but whether he had learned to speak English well, remains unclear.[23] Most likely, Marie was the passionate fan of Lord Byron’s poetry. Just like the poet, she was also a supporter of Greek independence movement.[24]

Based on the publication dates, Marie almost certainly acquired some of the books after her husband’s death (27, 179, 202-207, 186-190, 268,369). These are mostly literary works—Schiller, Rahel von Varnhagen’s published letters, poetry. Marie also kept one copy of Clausewitz’s published Posthumous Works (371-377). Just few weeks after his death, she prepared the unfinished manuscript of On War for public release. Starting 1832, the seminal treatise appeared as the first three volumes of Posthumous Works, followed by a number of his campaign studies. The private library contains a copy of parts 1-4 (On War and The Campaign of 1796) and 6-8 (Part II of The Campaign of 1799The Campaign in Russia, The Campaign in 1813, The Campaign in 1814, The Campaign in 1815). Parts 9-10, containing various campaign studies and edited by the couple’s close friend Carl von der Gröben, came out after Marie’s death.

Remarkably, the Prussian bureaucrats cataloging the titles noted that this copy in the personal library bore markings. It is a fascinating detail to ponder: What did Marie think about or wish to change in her husband’s lifework after it was published? Just as with the rest of the library, unfortunately we do not know the fate of this copy of Posthumous Works. This is a question Marie’s testament has yet to answer.


The library also contains a significant number of religious titles. This is something of a surprise, as neither Marie, nor Carl appeared particularly pious in their writings. Clausewitz, of course, was the grandson of a well-respected Lutheran theologian, Benedikt Gottlieb Clauswitz. Therefore it should perhaps not be quite so surprising that spirituality and theology belonged to his intellectual interests. The 1820s were also a time of pietistic revival in Germany and many of the couple’s friends and acquaintances were prominent members of this circle (e.g, Carl und Selda von der Gröben, Leopold von Gerlach, Anton von Stolberg, Princess Marianne of Prussia).[25] The Clausewitz couple, intellectually curious and part of Berlin’s vibrant social scene, might have read the famed works of the time. Another possible explanation is that Marie, after Carl’s sudden and tragic death in 1831, sought comfort and hope in religious literature.[26] In any case, this remains another aspect to explore.

This surprising find could also encourage those wishing to study On War and Clausewitz’s ideas from an ethical perspective. Some of the religious titles—Schleiermacher (18) and Martin Luther’s essays on the Old Testament (311), for instance—explore momentous moral questions of good and evil, personal responsibility and state authority, values and society. These works, perhaps, hint at Clausewitz’s growing interest in the matters of just war and ethical conduct. Based on the research available to them, scholars have already commented on On War’s moral undertones (for instance James M. Dubik, and Paul Cornish).[27] The newly discovered library suggests there is much more to explore on the topic.

Perhaps the most curious find in the Clausewitz catalog is a cookbook, Carl Friedrich von Rumohr’s The Essence of Cookery (published under the pseudonym Joseph Koenig, 28). In their writings, neither Carl, nor Marie displayed a particular interest in gourmet cuisine. Born and raised at the court, Madam von Clausewitz certainly had never touched a griddle in her life.

Rumohr, however, did not write a typical cookbook with recipes for various dishes. There are, in fact, no recipes for making pudding or instructions for grilling a steak, no prescriptions for how much salt, pepper, and flour one should add. The Essence of Cookery is rather a meditation on the nature of food and the character of various cuisines. The book explores food preparation and consumption within their broader cultural and historic context. It provides its readers with basic knowledge, while encouraging them to explore the world around them. Does this view sound familiar?


It would be too simplistic, to attribute the inspiration for On War to one book, especially a cookbook. There is no evidence that Clausewitz, in fact, read Rumohr’s work; The Essence of Cookery might have been gifted to the couple, only to gather dust in their library or purchased after his death. The comparison rather points to the spirit of the time. To understand the world and get ahead, the Enlightenment propagated reason and education. The Reign of Terror and the Napoleonic Wars challenged this vision, and many who lived through them came to distrust prescriptions and dogmatic rhetoric. Only broad knowledge, debate, and a curious, bold mind could seize and navigate a complex world.

Perhaps this is the lesson—or at least a lesson—to take from the library of Carl and Marie von Clausewitz. Perhaps, too, their library might do something to shape our own views of reading lists, education, professional development, and personal growth.

Editor's Note: The full list of books discovered in the testament of Marie von Clausewitz is available for free viewing and download at this link. We will update this list with new information as it becomes available.

Carl von Clausewitz (Encyclopedia Britannica)

Vanya Eftimova Bellinger is the author of Marie von Clausewitz: The Woman Behind the Making of On War. She currently teaches at Air University’s Graduate School of Professional Military Education and Air Command and Staff College and is working on her second book, a study of Carl von Clausewitz’s Last Campaign (1830-1831). The views expressed are her own and do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

August 13, 2018

Approaching a 'New Normal': What the Drone Attack in Venezuela Portends


(Foreign Policy Research Institute)

August 13, 2018

A drone is used to survey high-voltage power lines of electric company Westnetz near Wilnsdorf, Germany, July 11, 2018

Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

by Colin P. Clarke

When two drones, each equipped with a kilogram of powerful plastic explosives, were used on August 4 to attempt to assassinate Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, it may have ushered in a foreboding new era—terrorism by unmanned aircraft.

The use of weaponized drones by lone individuals and small groups—some acting as proxies of nation-states—is no longer just a concern for the future, but very much for the present. The proliferation of certain emerging technologies has effectively diffused power and made it available at the lowest levels. The barriers to entry have never been lower for individuals to gain access to commercial off-the-shelf technology that can be used to lethally target individuals. Lone actors or small cells of terrorists, criminals, or insurgents can effectively harness the tactical flexibility of a small drone to wreak havoc, including potentially using a drone to take down an airliner.

State sponsorship of terrorist groups also increases the likelihood of drone attacks, since states can provide the necessary equipment and training, ensuring that terrorist attacks featuring weaponized drones is a near fait accompli in the not-so-distant future.

It is already happening with Hezbollah and allegedly with the Houthi rebels, who have used drones to ram Saudi air defenses in Yemen. Some groups are mastering drone technology without the help of state sponsors. In Syria, the Islamic State has successfully used drones to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance in addition to carrying out offensive actions like dropping a grenade on an adversary's military base.

Since so many countries are now using armed drones in combat—Nigeria, Pakistan, and Turkey have recently done so—the chances for sophisticated drone technology getting into the wrong hands increases exponentially. If a terrorist group can steal or purchase a drone from a rogue state or corrupt military or intelligence officials, then they could rely on the myriad online videos posted that essentially demonstrate how these unmanned systems could be used to conduct an attack.

Unmanned systems are proliferating and commercial off-the-shelf technology is easy to acquire.

That the drones were able to get so close to a world leader at a public outdoor event in Caracas, Venezuela, speaks to how easy drones are to use—and how difficult they are to defend against. Unmanned systems are proliferating and commercial off-the-shelf technology is easy to acquire. Hobby shop drones are small, lightweight, and relatively easy to maneuver after a modicum of practice. Military-style drones are heavier, but can also carry a greater payload with more explosives. With the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence, drones may soon become programmable and smart enough to be used without human guidance and for increasingly nefarious ends.

One nightmare scenario universally feared by law enforcement and security services is the use of a small drone to deliver chemical or biological agents in an attack. It is already well-established that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups have long sought to engineer a spectacular attack in the West using weapons of mass destruction. The possibility that drones could be used to disperse deadly agents or viruses over a sports stadium or public gathering place is a harrowing prospect. Even if a drone attack fails to result in large numbers of fatalities, the attempt could still achieve an attacker's goal of perpetuating the psychological dimension of terrorism.

In the future, the private-sector commercial and personal use of drones will likely be ubiquitous in society. Drones have already been used to deliver pizzas and packages. If by, say, 2020 companies are regularly using drones to make home deliveries, this could make for a highly congested airspace and potentially make it easier for terrorists to hide weaponized drones among the larger cluster of drone traffic. Drones snapping pictures or recording video will probably become so common that it will be nearly impossible to discern if a drone is being used to conduct surveillance of potential targets or sensitive sites that terrorists are plotting to attack. The attempt on Maduro came close, and the attention it has received in the media could embolden other similar attempts.

Terrorists are highly adaptive and innovative and will continue to find new ways to spread fear and chaos. It is imperative that counter-terrorism specialists begin planning a robust response to the threat, not only in terms of detection and counter-measure technology, but also the training necessary to defend against attacks by weaponized drones. Over the long run, laws and policies governing drone use need to be developed beforean attack takes place, not in its aftermath.

Without such laws and policies, the next assassination attempt could very well succeed.

Colin P. Clarke is a political scientist at the nonprofit, nonpartisan RAND Corporation and a non-resident Senior Fellow in the program on national security at the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI).

This commentary originally appeared on Foreign Policy Research Institute on August 13, 2018. Commentary gives RAND researchers a platform to convey insights based on their professional expertise and often on their peer-reviewed research and analysis.

U S : Space Force to Become Sixth Branch of Armed Forces


The Defense Department will establish a sixth branch of the armed forces, the U.S. Department of the Space Force, by 2020, Vice President Mike Pence announced today.

In a speech at the Pentagon, the vice president also announced plans to establish a new combatant command -- U.S. Space Command -- as well as a Space Operations Force and a new joint organization called the Space Development Agency.

The announcement follows a seven-week review by DoD, directed by President Donald J. Trump, of “the process necessary to establish a space force as the sixth branch of the armed forces.”

A report outlining the results of the study will be released later today.

“In his inaugural address to the nation, President Trump declared that the United States stands ‘at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space,’” Pence said.

Space Force

Just as advances in aviation technology drove the emergence of air as a new battlefield in the 20th century, advances in space technology have made it clear that space is the new battlefield for the 21st century, the vice president said. The U.S. will meet the emerging threats on this new battlefield, he said, and carry on the cause of liberty and peace into the next great frontier.

“The time has come to establish the United States Space Force,” Pence said.

The new branch will be separate from, but equal to, the five other branches, he said.

“To be clear: the Space Force will not be built from scratch, because the men and women who run and protect our nation’s space programs today are already the best in the world,” the vice president said.

“Across this department and our intelligence agencies, there are literally tens of thousands of military personnel, civilians and contractors operating and supporting our space systems -- and together, they are the eyes and ears of America’s warfighters around the globe,” Pence said.

Peace Through Strength

Actions by U.S. adversaries make it clear that space is already a warfighting domain, the vice president said.

“For many years, nations from Russia and China to North Korea and Iran have pursued weapons to jam, blind and disable our navigation and communications satellites via electronic attacks from the ground,” Pence said. “But recently, our adversaries have been working to bring new weapons of war into space itself.”

In 2007, China launched a missile that tracked and destroyed one of its own satellites, the vice president said. And Russia is working on an airborne laser to disrupt space-based systems, he added.

“Both nations are also investing heavily in what are known as hypersonic missiles designed to fly up to 5 miles per second at such low altitudes that they could potentially evade detection by our missile defense radars,” Pence said. “In fact, China claimed to have made its first successful test of a hypersonic vehicle just last week.”

In every domain, America will always seek peace, the vice president said. “But history proves that peace only comes through strength,” he added. “And in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength.”

Action Steps

The report to be released today represents a critical step toward establishing the Space Force, he said. It identifies several actions that DoD will take as the nation evolves its space capabilities, “and they are built on the lessons of the past,” Pence said.

First, the report calls for the creation of the U.S. Space Command, a new unified combatant command for space. “This new command … will establish unified command and control for our Space Force operations, ensure integration across the military, and develop the space warfighting doctrine, tactics, techniques, and procedures of the future,” he said.

Second, the report calls for the establishment of a Space Operations Force -- an elite group of joint warfighters, specializing in the domain of space, who will form the backbone of the nation’s newest armed service. This force will draw from across the military to provide space expertise in times of crisis and conflict, Pence said.

“Third, the report calls for a new joint organization -- the Space Development Agency -- that will ensure the men and women of the Space Force have the cutting-edge warfighting capabilities that they need and deserve,” he said.

Finally, the report calls for clear lines of responsibility and accountability to manage the process of establishing and growing the Space Force, including the appointment of an assistant secretary of defense for space, the vice president said.

“Creating a new branch of the military is not a simple process,” Pence noted. “It will require collaboration, diligence and, above all, leadership. As challenges arise and deadlines approach, there must be someone in charge who can execute, hold others accountable, and be responsible for the results.”

Ultimately, Congress must establish the new department, the vice president said. “Next February, in the president’s budget, we will call on the Congress to marshal the resources we need to stand up the Space Force, and before the end of next year, our administration will work with the congress to enact the statutory authority for the space force in the National Defense Authorization Act,” he said.

August 12, 2018

Xinjiang in spotlight at UN

Xinjiang in spotlight at UN

On Monday, August 13, from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Geneva time (4 a.m. – 7 a.m. EST), the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) will meet to “consider periodic reports” received from several countries, including China. This is the second and final day of China’s hearing.

On Friday, August 10, Gay McDougall, vice-chair of CERD, condemned China’s massive social engineering program in Xinjiang that has seen perhaps more than a million Uyghurs disappeared into “re-education camps” as part of an apparent plan to destroy Uyghur culture. Dozens of civil society organizations submitted reports to the committee about China. Some of these were from Chinese government-controlled organizations that echoed the Communist Party line, but most of the reports were critical.

The Beijing delegation (comprising 48 people, including Yu Jianhua 俞建华, the P.R.C.’s UN ambassador in Geneva) is expected to answer these charges during Monday’s session. This is how you can follow the proceedings:

Details of the schedule and participants are on the UN website. If you’re an Access member, you can find direct download links to the relevant documents in Friday’s newsletter.Follow the Twitter hashtags #ChinaCERDand #CERD, or Sarah Brooks of the International Service for Human Rights.Watch the UN live stream — I don’t have the exact URL for the CERD hearing, but you may be able to find it by searching the website.The latest reporting on Xinjiang by the Globe and Mail’s Nathan VanderKlippe, who has been one of the journalists recently focusing on Xinjiang, is here: Exporting persecution: Uyghur diaspora haunted by anxiety, guilt as family held in Chinese camps. The Washington Post’s Emily Rauhala is also covering the story closely; see New evidence emerges of China forcing Muslims into “reeducation” camps.

What will the Beijing delegation say in answer to the various charges of massive human rights abuses? I suspect the substance of their argument will be almost exactly the same as this article from the English website of the People’s Daily-owned nationalist rag Global Times: Protecting peace, stability is top of human rights agenda for Xinjiang.

If you don’t want to read the whole thing, this is how the Global Times tweeted out the article: