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Local Business and your Democracy

Foreign Policy Blogs - Thu, 30/04/2020 - 15:50

The loss of local businesses will likely have a greater long term effect on your community and country past losing your favourite pub or preferred place to eat. Besides making communities interesting, innovative and increasingly energetic, smaller and medium sized companies are a significant contributor to a healthy democracy. While the Corporatist model of policy development brings together large industry, government and labour to determine policy approaches in many Western European nations, the power and influence of small and medium sized businesses is lacking. Unfortunately, many who will experience job loss in Corporatist systems may not have other options for work as there are likely only a few larger companies that would avail themselves of the skills needed for employment. We have learned in the past that economic upheaval and abrupt policy changes many years ago at France Telecom and other large companies lead to a significant number of employees committing suicide. While the direct reason prompting this hopelessness was not determined, the inability to see a future for many of them may have been the cause. Increased economic opportunities at the time might have given employees some added hope for their future.

While the Industrial Revolution produced models for economic policy development that often only included large industry, labour and the government, those that were not fully integrated into those interest groups had limited their career prospects. During the industrial revolution, locals were the ones that moved from rural to urban centres and took up positions in newly formed industries. Newcomers to North America and South America did find employment in many of those industries, but they also expanded in the next generations to make their own start-up companies, creating employment for many of those who would have not been able to find work in the few large industrial firms at the time. For these reasons, the entrepreneurial class rose to such a great degree than they compete, and often provide more employment in the US and Canada than large industry. While the SBA and CFIB still have little influence over the policy decisions of governments in the US and Canada, the number of employees that depend on the entrepreneurial class is significant.

Hernando de Soto Polar produced some of the most interesting studies on how small and medium sized companies can promote a more equitable society in his research at the beginning of the 2000s. Latin America at that point had gone through twenty years of economic upheavals after the end of many years of closed borders and Import Substitution Industrialization policies that left most nations bankrupt. He saw that his fellow Peruvians were very capable of producing economic growth in their own communities, but did not have the power to influence policy decisions that made it easier to set up and run their own companies. In his analysis on Peru and Egypt, he showed that increased ability for smaller entrepreneurs to succeed also transformed economies into more equitable places to operate, and have added powers to those motivated and intelligent individuals who wanted a healthy community, thus producing a healthy country. It can be argued that much of the wealth and flexibility in the job market in the US and parts of Canada can be attributed to small and medium sized businesses contributing to low unemployment, and having some say in the policy decisions in society.

The loss of many small and medium businesses might have a negative effect on democracy as a whole. To lose much of the entrepreneurial class by further burdening small and medium sized businesses during a recession, or depression, not only limits their progress, but also reduces jobs and eliminates the best and most innovative in society from bettering that society. In the case of Canada for example, small and medium sized businesses actually make up the the majority of job producers in the country at over 65%, but during the current crisis the Federal Government of Canada added environmental taxes on all companies and citizens in the country, and even had the audacity to give all Federal politicians a raise on the same day. In comparison, the Prime Minister of New Zealand has recently declined a large portion of her own standard pay as a message of solidarity with the public. With the country possibly heading into depression era levels of job losses, the new tax deters rehiring those who lost their jobs, while adding to the cost of living for those who now live with no income. It is tantamount to cheering on the Sheriff of Nottingham when he takes from the newly poor and gives to the rich elites in society. In addition, it reduces the power of small and medium industry to have influence on policy decisions made by the government. With those most interested in vibrant communities being punished by bad policy, it may actually be detracting from a healthy democracy in that country.

While it will be impossible to save many small and medium sized companies during this crisis, the way in which many entrepreneurs operate will allow many to return when times are better. What must be done however is to not burden them or our communities further when recovery is possible. Without their voice on local matters, jobs will not return and our economy and government will not be as in-touch with us past elite opinions and elite options.

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Crise sanitaire : la démocratie en danger?

CRISE SANITAIRE : LA DÉMOCRATIE EN DANGER ?Publié sur le site du think tank Amadeus La crise sanitaire partie de Wuhan plonge le monde dans une période d’incertitude. Au-delà des considérations médicales et scientifiques, la problématique politique et même géopolitique demeure omniprésente. On en distingue au moins trois dimensions. La première d’entre elles est domestique : le contrôle d’une épidémie suppose un traçage de la population, ce qui génère immédiatement une problématique relative aux libertés fondamentales. La deuxième dimension du problème est internationale. La crise étant mondiale, elle touche différents types de régimes politiques. La comparaison entre les gestions respectives de cette crise s’impose donc : les régimes démocratiques sont-ils plus, ou moins, efficaces que les régimes autoritaires face à la menace actuelle ? Enfin, les conséquences internationales de cette crise, sinon sa fin définitive puisqu’elle semble se prolonger jusqu’à obtention d’un remède ou d’un vaccin, posent la question de la reconfiguration géopolitique mondiale. Y aura-t-il des vainqueurs et des vaincus de cette crise, et si oui, lesquels ?
La problématique interne : le prix de l’efficacitéLutter contre l’épidémie suppose, comme on l’a vu dans les démocraties asiatiques (Corée du sud, Taïwan), un traçage rapide et précis des populations. Cela pose naturellement la question des libertés publiques. Le recours à la technologie, aux smartphones personnels (donc aux données qu’ils contiennent), aux bases de données qui pourraient rassembler tous ces éléments, s’est avéré efficace. Mais l’utilisation qui peut en être faite à des fins commerciales ou surtout politiques, participe d’un débat amplement connu.Comme l’indique le débat parlementaire français actuel sur l’application « stopcovid », ou encore le débat politique allemand, ce type de mise en œuvre nécessite un contrôle démocratique et un encadrement normatif spécifiques. Encore s’agit-il là de deux démocraties solidement ancrées. On imagine donc les craintes que pourraient susciter l’utilisation de ces technologies dans un régime autoritaire. Plus largement, le risque de voir une dictature profiter de la crise sanitaire pour renforcer son contrôle sur la société, voire son poids dans la compétition internationale, est largement évoqué. Plusieurs exemples de changements constitutionnels ont suscité le doute. C’est le cas par exemple en Hongrie.
La problématique internationale : régime politique et gestion de criseUne compétition semble donc engagée entre différents types de régimes pour démontrer leur efficacité. La bataille fait rage notamment entre Pékin et Washington, qui s’accusent mutuellement d’hostilité ou de dissimulation, dans un contexte déjà a marqué par une guerre commerciale âpre. Les insinuations de la Chine selon lesquelles le virus aurait pu être importé par des militaires américains, et la rhétorique américaine sur le « virus chinois », alimentent une dynamique négative.Il existe une croyance tenace selon laquelle les régimes autoritaires détiendraient une supériorité naturelle de par la discipline qu’ils sont capables d’imposer à leurs populations. Or, face à une pandémie globale qui nécessite coordination, transparence scientifique, et mise à jour régulière du partage des données, les démocraties semblent mieux armées. On sait depuis l’accident de Tchernobyl que les dictatures gèrent mal les catastrophes, dissimulant tout ce qui peut remettre en cause leur image. Par nature, les régimes autoritaires n’acceptent pas les chiffres alarmants, ni les mauvaises nouvelles. Les démocraties, avec parfois une atteinte au moral mais dans l’exigence de vérité, « encaissent » les mauvaises nouvelles pour mieux gérer la réalité de la situation.Elles ont certes davantage de difficultés à imposer des restrictions et une discipline rigoureuse à leurs populations. Mais face à une pandémie, la liberté scientifique et le débat critique sont des atouts. Qu’on le veuille ou non, à la fin de l’épidémie, un bilan des différentes gestions sera dressé. La comparaison ne s’effectuera pas uniquement entre démocraties et autoritarismes. Au sein même des démocraties, la rapidité des mesures prises, les moyens que les Etats auront su mobiliser, la réactivité et la pédagogie à l’égard de la population, seront évalués. Déjà, des différences apparaissent, des polémiques s’installent. Le fait qu’en Asie, les régimes les plus démocratiques semblent maîtriser mieux l’épidémie tout en préservant leurs libertés, n’est pas neutre. Les gestions de Hong Kong, Taipei ou Séoul, sont remarquées et interprétées politiquement. La difficulté américaine à s’accorder sur une stratégie, notamment en comparaison avec l’Allemagne, autre système fédéral, l’a été également. La situation sanitaire, n’en doutons pas, a déjà eu et aura encore des conséquences politiques.
Prospective : interrogation sur « le monde d’après »Lire la suite sur Amadeus

Coronavirus proves what Ukrainians already knew – the UN doesn’t work

Foreign Policy Blogs - Wed, 29/04/2020 - 17:08

 

Co-Authored by Pavlo Klimkin

The coronavirus crisis is still in full swing, but attention is already turning towards the international environment we are likely to encounter in the post-pandemic world. With entire countries currently in lockdown and comparisons with major wars becoming commonplace, many expect the impact from the crisis to be genuinely historic.

One popular subject of speculation is the need to rethink the global architecture of international relations. In particular, many observers are highly critical of the United Nations response to the coronavirus outbreak and see it as a damning verdict of an organization that was first established in the aftermath of WWII to transform the way the nations of the world interacted. Such criticism is nothing new in Ukraine, where the idea that the UN is not fit for purpose has been widely discussed since 2014. Will the coronavirus crisis now lead to serious debate over the need for fundamental reform at the United Nations?

When Russian aggression against Ukraine first began six years ago, it quickly became obvious that the existing international institutions were completely ineffective and often failed to function at all. Ukrainians found themselves in the absurd position of facing an aggressor country with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council that used this exclusive position to veto any official acknowledgment that international aggression was taking place at all. This created a farcical situation wherein one part of the UN Charter could not be implemented because of another part. By its mere existence, the UN’s most prominent decision-making body, the Security Council, had come to implicitly legitimize the military expansion of one of its permanent members at the expense of another UN member state. This sorry state of affairs directly undermined the central rationale behind the creation of the United Nations following WWII, which was to prevent any more wars of aggression.

Despite the obvious injustice of the situation the country found itself in, there was little in practice that Ukraine could do except continue fighting Russian aggression while attempting to rally international solidarity and support. Admittedly, Ukraine’s plight did help to generate discussion over the need to reform the UN Security Council. Working groups were created with this in mind, and some new concepts emerged. However, the debate did not lead anywhere.

This failure to reform was due to the fact that the world’s leading nations did not see sufficient need to reboot the entire existing international system. Even more troubling has been Russia’s efforts to bypass its expulsion from the G8 group of leading nations and engage diplomatically with the permanent members of the UN Security Council. In effect, the Kremlin has sought to discuss the fate of Ukraine without any Ukrainians being present, and has exploited the outdated idiosyncrasies of the UN’s structure in order to do so.

The current pandemic is now disrupting international affairs in ways that make reform of the United Nations realistic for the first time in a generation. Indeed, the global mood is now beginning to share some similarities with the climate at the end of the twentieth century’s two world wars in 1918 and 1945, which gave birth to the League of Nations and United Nations respectively. In this environment, Ukraine has a far greater chance of finding like-minded allies who also seek to pursue the wholesale transformation of the United Nations.

Resistance to any such proposals would be stiff. However, failure to address the shortcomings exposed by such landmark events as the coronavirus crisis and Russian aggression against Ukraine would risk further undermining the legitimacy of the current UN system. This could lead to the United Nations becoming increasingly irrelevant and ineffective in addressing the major challenges facing humanity, much as its predecessor the League of Nations faded into redundancy and was eventually washed away by a rising tide of totalitarianism in the late 1930s.

Talk of change at the United Nations is not in itself controversial. Today’s reform-minded UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has initiated a wide-ranging discussion on the subject. However, he has not yet been able to implement any of the substantive changes he planned when he first took office in January 2017. As a result, we may have already passed the chance for a gradual reform of the UN system. Instead, with confidence in the world’s current institutional structures dwindling with every passing week of coronavirus shocks, the prospect of radical change becomes more and more realistic.

Before beginning any reboot, the entire UN system would have to be thoroughly reassessed. Ideally, this would be done by an external and independent auditor. The most obvious candidate for change is the World Health Organization, which is widely seen to have failed in its duty to provide adequate monitoring and early warning of the current pandemic. A more decisive response could have saved thousands of lives and prevented the economic collapse that now menaces the entire planet. Questions are also being asked over the WHO’s relationship with China and its apparent unwillingness to complicate ties with Beijing. International institutions that cannot act on the basis of impartial analysis are doomed to be ineffective. Ukrainians learned this painful lesson in 2014. It is now also increasingly obvious to wider international audiences. 

The question remains of who would be best-placed to initiate, formulate and implement a global solution to the questions currently being asked of the existing international system. During the two previous formative periods following WWI and WWII, the victorious allies inevitably took the lead. In today’s very different circumstances, there is no clear candidate camp or driving force to initiate and push through a comprehensive reboot. Instead, Ukrainians should look to join forces with other nations seeking a fundamental remake of the current UN system. Their goal should be to put the issue on the agenda for diplomats, politicians, and journalists. The coronavirus crisis is exposing the weakness of today’s international institutions, but it may also pave the way for long overdue and radical reform. 

 

Pavlo Klimkin was Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2014 until 2019 and is Head of the European, Regional and Russian Studies Program at the Ukrainian Institute for the Future in Kyiv.

Andreas Umland is General Editor of the book series “Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and Society” at ibidem Press in Stuttgart and a Senior Expert at the Ukrainian Institute for the Future in Kyiv.

This article was first published by the #UkraineAlert of the Atlantic Council and kindly edited by Peter Dickinson.

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Sarwar Kashmeri: The Deadly Coronavirus Crisis is Also an Opportunity

Foreign Policy Blogs - Tue, 28/04/2020 - 16:08

https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse/48162296741/sizes/l/

The Pew Research Center recently reported that 66 percent of Americans view China unfavorably. And the Chinese are returning the favor in spades. Meanwhile, politicians in each country continue to encourage these nationalistic feelings instead of cooling their citizens’ tempers. The die is cast to tear up 50 years of cooperation and mutually beneficial ties that have benefited Americans and Chinese alike. 

The fact is unless America and China stop this mutually destructive trajectory and assume joint leadership for global economic recovery, reconstruction of the post-coronavirus world could take years, with unimaginable consequences for the world’s 7.8 billion inhabitants, including unprecedented levels of global unemployment, famine, and even war.  

In the pre-coronavirus world, suggestions for a partnership between the world’s two superpowers would have been met with gales of laughter. But now, despite the two leaders’ daggers drawn posture, hundreds of doctors and scientists in the U.S. and China are already working together on clinical trials of potential coronavirus drugs; and one of China’s biggest property developers has funded a five-year $115 million project between Harvard University and the Guangzhou Institute for Respiratory Health.

But the window of opportunity for acting together is short. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to decimate the world’s economies. Unemployment in the U.S. now tops 22 million, a level not seen since the Great Depression of the nineteen-thirties; while China’s economy stopped growing for the first time in four decades as half a million small and mid-size businesses, the backbone of China’s economy closed; and Italy, the second largest manufacturing economy in the EU watches helplessly as the pandemic axe dismembers its economy. If India and Africa are unable to control the coronavirus the results would be catastrophic.

So, are there issues of such import and mutual benefit that they would convince Presidents’ Trump and Xi Jinping to work together? I believe there are. My two cents worth below.

The two superpowers could leverage China’s vast, trillion-dollar global infrastructure project—the Belt and Road Initiative or BRI, that aims to build infrastructure in over 120 countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa. The BRI is designed to act as a conveyer belt to transmit Chinese investment and technology into these countries to improve their economies, and to link them to China.  But now Covid-19 has crimped China’s ability to sustain BRI’s trillion-dollar underwriting tab and President Xi Jinping’s grandiose vision is at risk.

On the other hand, the United States, which has been searching for a counter to BRI, has settled on an initiative called the Blue Dot Network or BDN. The idea behind the BDN is the U.S. would rigorously vet infrastructure project applications in developing countries to ensure high levels of transparency, sustainability, and economic viability before seeding them with startup funds from the U.S. Government. The BDN hallmark would then inspire confidence in the projects to attract private U.S. funding.  

But the relatively paltry BDN budget of $60 billion (versus China’s 1000 billion or trillion-dollar BRI budget) and developing countries’ skepticism of Western (read American) dominated standards for infrastructure construction have hobbled the BDN.

If the U.S. and China could find a way to combine BRI and the BDN it would ensure a stream of dollars from private U.S. companies into BRI and ensure its projects remain on track to create jobs and raise living standards around the world. The compromises required by America and China to weld BRI and BDN together would ensure the U.S. gets a seat at the table to influence the adoption of standards for starting and executing BRI projects. 

Here’s another thought:  The U.S. military is especially qualified to help fight natural disasters. In 2004, for instance, 3,000 U.S. military personnel were deployed to West Africa to help combat a deadly Ebola epidemic. Their work included constructing 17 hospitals, field training, and deploying assistance by air to remote villages. Today the U.S. military is being used to rapidly set up hospitals in U.S. cities to handle the burgeoning coronavirus caseload. The People’s Liberation Army meanwhile seems determined to play a more active global role in peace-keeping projects around the world. How about combining the two militaries capabilities to provide medical assistance for coronavirus stricken countries with marginal medical facilities.

Coronavirus-aid projects delivered to less-off countries through joint U.S.-China military teams would double what the U.S. and China could do on their own. And help establish the military to military connections that the U.S. has tried to foster with China for some time. A working relationship between the two nations’ militaries might even lead to a more stable geopolitical balance of power.

The Chinese word for crisis contains two characters. One signals danger, the other opportunity. Presidents Trump and Xi Jinping should boldly find a way to join forces to convert the deadly Covid-19 crisis into an opportunity that would supercharge global economic recovery and could even lead to a more stable balance of power.  It is a once in a lifetime opportunity that ought not to be squandered.

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Sarwar Kashmeri is the author of “China’s Grand Strategy; Weaving a New Silk Road to Global Primacy, (Praeger 2019);” He is a Fellow, Foreign Policy Association, and an Applied Research Fellow, Norwich University’s Center for Peace and War.

 

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The Significance of the Have-Nots

Foreign Policy Blogs - Wed, 15/04/2020 - 16:21
Pigeons roam around Piazza Duomo square after the government decree to close cinemas and schools. Guglielmo Mangiapane / Reuters

It is no surprise to those that live on the Mediterranean that often policy that is made in Brussels, Berlin, and Paris foresee little impact on the borders of the EU. When many decision are made in the centre of Western Europe, often it is Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal that have to manage the outcome. What has made many of these issues contentious is that while the policy and funds may come from Brussels, actual physical help is more often than not denied. Since before 2007’s migrant crossings, it has always been the border patrols and national Navys that have to manage a problem that is sometimes exacerbated from another country’s actions. With reduced help, the response by national governments to EU policy places the enforcement officers as well as migrants themselves at greater risk.

The significance of Milan and the region of Lombardy is the economic centre of not only Italy and its northern region, but is a key hub between Vienna, the Swiss centres of Zurich and Geneva as well as Southern France, most notably Marseilles, Nice and Lyon. When the virus hit Milan and Lombardy, it amputated much of the economic, cultural and political strength of Europe itself. What many in Italy must be asking is what help could the EU and NATO have provided to address the outbreak sooner, and why was there not more physical help given to Milan and the region when it was apparent that it would be overwhelmed by the pandemic?

Italians are likely to question their place in the EU after the pandemic subsides, considering in great detail the actions by central governments on regions that become increasingly apparent in times of crisis. The region of Alberta in Canada, while ignored almost wholly by the Federal Government and the financial centre in Toronto, has been put under a government created recession over the last few years. With policy designed to halt and disrupt the production of oil and gas from Canada, competitors like Saudi Arabia, Russia, Venezuela, Nigeria and Iran have increasingly entered the world market and have placed local politics at the forefront of the global energy industry. With the ignored economic turmoil in Alberta came permanent job loss, a loss in local revenue and unfortunately suicides. With COVID-19 ravaging Alberta, Canada and the rest of the world, it is likely the case that we are all becoming Alberta , albeit with the support of our community and central governments, a luxury Albertans have not had for years.

With the pandemic still intensely punishing Northern Italy and having spread in equal fashion to Spain and the rest of Europe, it might be too late for resources from one region to be dedicated to another at this point. Whatever can be done, should be done however as this virus will be conquered by the communities we live in, not the governments at the top. Governments should not get in the way of communities trying to help themselves, and in Canada after giving away 16 tonnes of their emergency PPE stock in February, it seems that this might be the case. In an absurd and insulting move, the Prime Minister of Canada has decided to pick April 1st to give all Federal politicians a raise in pay. He also added a tax that discourages the largest national employers, small and medium sized businesses, from hiring in the middle of a guaranteed recession and likely depression in some regions, namely Alberta. With Canada still taking in flights from hot spot countries and having what is surely the most lax health screening measures globally at its international airports, even as late as April 2020, it might be the case that the lessons ignored from Milan will punish Canada as much as it has Italy, Spain and the Europe.

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Op-Ed: Will coronavirus transform Bangladesh into the next Iran?

Foreign Policy Blogs - Wed, 01/04/2020 - 21:09

Shipan Kumer Basu, President of the World Hindu Struggle Committee, proclaimed in an interview: “Coronavirus is the latest pandemic that is affecting the international community.  So far, there is no official record on how the coronavirus is affecting the people in Bangladesh.  We believe that 13 Bangladeshis have succumbed to the illness, but the government is not recording these deaths as related to the coronavirus pandemic but rather due to coughing and a cold or a respiratory disease.  The state administration is completely inept in handling the situation.”  These leaves one to ponder, with the time, will Bangladesh become the next Iran?  

According to Human Rights Watch, even after the first person died from coronavirus in Bangladesh, “tens of thousands of people gathered in Raipur in the south of the country in order to pray from the Quran in order to protect them against the pandemic.”  The BBC reported that eyewitnesses reported that up to 30,000 people attended that massive prayer session and a similar massive prayer session in Malaysia caused 500 coronavirus infections.   Interestingly, Basu argued that many religious Muslims in Bangladesh believe that their faith makes them immune from getting the coronavirus, but now many religious Muslims are suffering from the pandemic within the country.  

“While the authorities discouraged mass gatherings, they haven’t offered much else to build up confidence that they are adequately responding to the crisis,” Human Rights Watch added.  “The Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research is currently the only facility with the capacity to run a coronavirus test for a country of more than 164 million.  Testing is only available in the capital city Dhaka, so the thousands who gathered to pray in Raipur for instance cannot be checked for the virus.  There have been reports that the IEDCR’s hotline is not working but meanwhile, some hospitals are apparently refusing treatment to patients displaying symptoms.” 

The Bangladeshi health system is simply not equipped to handle the situation.  As the Andalulou Turkish News Agency noted,  “many have expressed concern that there is a serious lack of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds with facilities with ventilators, shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for health care workers, testing kits and other resources, including a national fund to fight the COVID-19 outbreak.” 

Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, a Bangladeshi public health activist and founder of Gonoshasthaya Kendra, a rural health care organization with a modern medical facility, proclaimed: “Bangladesh is facing these challenges because of a weak Health Ministry. There is a serious crisis of ICU beds prepared for patients and necessary training and supply of PPE to physicians and health care associates.  If something happens, even one-tenth of what the U.S., Italy, or Spain are facing now in the coronavirus pandemic, then we [Bangladesh] could not deal with such a situation because of insufficient ICU facilities and lacking preparedness in other areas.” 

It is true that Bangladesh recently announced a lockdown.  All Bangladeshis who have recently returned from working in the Persian Gulf are under a 14-day quarantine.  Similarly, all the Rohingya refugee camps have been closed off from the rest of the country.  At the same time, Bangladeshi leader Sheikh Hasina has told her citizens not to leave home unless it is an emergency.  All trains, buses and flights leaving Bangladesh have been suspended until April 4, and the whole country is presently on a national holiday with all the schools and colleges closed, while the government has offered financial relief to the garment industry, which is critical for the Bangladeshi economy yet presently is at risk of collapsing. 

Nevertheless, many critics are pondering whether the Bangladeshi government is a bit late in their response and whether this is enough given that it is one of the more densely populated countries on earth, with a population of 10 million who recently returned to the country after working abroad.   Furthermore, given the nature of Bangladeshi culture, not many Bangladeshis are absorbing the concept of social distancing well.  The Diplomat reported that a large party was held in order to celebrate the release of Bangladeshi Opposition figure Khalida Zia under the supposed Bangladeshi lockdown.  It should also be noted that the Bangladeshi government has hosted events with visitors from abroad during the supposed lockdown as well.  Furthermore, Al Jazeera reported that many Bangladeshis live in crowded urban slums, which makes the task of containing the coronavirus even more difficult.

Even before the Coronavirus pandemic broke out, the Bangladeshi government has been under fire for massive human rights violations.  The US State Department recently reported that the Bangladeshi government systematically murders, imprisons, tortures and rapes political dissidents and members of minority groups.  For example, the US State Department noted that three Bangladeshi soldiers raped a 12-year-old Rohingya girl and photojournalist Shahidul Alam was tortured in prison for “making provocative statements” regarding the student protests.   Similarly, the Bangladeshi Minority Council UK released a reporting demonstrating that Debashish Chakraborty, a failed Bangladeshi Hindu asylum seeker in the UK, was recently killed upon his return to Bangladesh.   Now, there is a fear that things can only get worse.  The discriminatory treatment of the Rohingya has only worsened since the pandemic broke out.  Furthermore, Bangladeshi dissident Aslam Chowdhury was recently re-arrested during the coronavirus pandemic. 

It should be noted that there are some parallels between how Bangladesh and Iran related to the pandemic.  In Iran also, the government tried to hide the outbreak in the beginning and was in denial about its existence.  Initially, the Iranian government refused to quarantine affected areas and Shia holy shrines, believing their faith would protect them from the pandemic, just as many religious Bangladeshis believed Allah would protect them from the virus if they just prayed enough.  

Instead, the Iranian government helped to spread the virus all over the world.  MEMRI reported that the Syrian Opposition blames Iran for the spread of the coronavirus into Syria.  Iraqi dissident Nakeeb Saadoon similarly blames Iran for the pandemic spreading into Iraq.  Foreign Policy reported that Mahan Air, an airline linked to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which has been designated as a terror organization by the US and other governments, continued flights to China until after the Iranian Parliamentary Elections, knowing full well the health risk that such flights entailed.  Similarly, it took some time for the Sheikh Hasina government to block off flights into the country.  

When the Iranian government could no longer hide the pandemic due to the existence of mass graves within the country, they started to blame their traditional enemies for the pandemic.  According to Foreign Policy, Hossam Salami, the Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, claims that the virus is a “Zionist biological terror attack” and an “American biological invasion.” The Times of Israel reported that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blames the virus on demons identified in the Quran as “jinn,” or genies and the American intelligence forces working in tandem with them.    If Bangladesh reaches to where Iran presently is, then one can only expect the creation of conspiracy theories blaming religious minorities for the virus, just as Iran blames its traditional adversaries for the pandemic and YNET reported that some Neo-Nazis extremists in America are blaming the coronavirus on the Jews.  If this should happen, then the plight of minorities in Bangladesh will go from horrific to worse.  

 

 

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Foreign Affairs Quiz

Foreign Policy Blogs - Mon, 30/03/2020 - 18:17

https://www.quiz-maker.com/QL3AWXV

 

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Emergency Powers Not Becoming a Permanent Destiny

Foreign Policy Blogs - Fri, 27/03/2020 - 16:33
Empty shelves and Masked Citizens: Photographer: Justin Chin/Bloomberg

With the necessity of applying emergence powers to governments in this and other times or economic, political or heath crises, there needs to still be a culture where the governments are consistently held to account for their use of powers and their actions in relation to the operation of a healthy democracy. No one in the world would be content with a government agent summarily taking their home or arresting them and their family without just cause in the application of justice, but many Emergency powers under Acts of legislature can be greatly abused by governments. These nations who are at risk of losing part of their constitutional rights permanently are those who before their actions on COVID-19, did not have governments that treated the freedom and justice in their society with the respect it deserved.

One of the first detrimental elements of governments that may use Emergency Powers to go beyond its normal reach are those economies that relied on deficit spending during times of healthy economic progress to ensure their control and power over society. Often these type of governments rely on several entrenched interest groups that operate to the detriment of average, everyday citizens. With the shifting of the public purse towards specific interests of those in power, the country suffers. When there is an immediate need to direct funds towards those who produce wealth and work in a society, the cupboards are often bare. This quick dash for cash is almost never taken from the takers who previously profited in a healthy economy, and in many cases the much needed help; via medical or other emergency equipment, is taken by those same people who punished the makers in society previously. The long term issue is that they never get into a healthy economic position again because it is already known that the permanent damage in the long term will not recover from short term stimulus. Without investment, the lost powers during in an emergency may never fully recover either as the takers need to ensure their actions against their own society are never discovered.

We have already seen what can occur when those societies that lack human rights have to deal with an outbreak. Since individuals in dictatorships have little value, saving them also has little priority. In healthy democracies individual rights are fought for and formed the basis of many of their systems of governments. When those rights to property, free speech and freedom of expression are targeted during emergency crises, they are often done not to help society and promote information to help the general public, but are done to hide the truth from the public the government claims to help by using those absolute powers. When a government in a productive time operates by means of altering facts, abusing the justice system and threatening truth tellers in society for holding them accountable, their past actions show that any amount of power will lead to immediate corruption. Corruption is always bad for the economy as we see above, but it also has the effect of permeating the entire systems and infrastructure of a society and spreads like a virus in itself. When the top is corrupt, the rest of the structure quickly learns that the only way to get ahead is to operate within a corrupt system. It is almost impossible to get rid of corruption once it takes place. This is why Emergence Powers and the Acts that enshrined them in many constitutions were placed in with caution. It takes generations to build a healthy society, but often only one generation to destroy it completely.

When we heard messages from leaders, the messages can only be effective and galvanize us all to act to protect the weaker members of our society if everyone contributes towards positive actions in our society. When a government asks much from its citizens, but only commits to the words and ignores the deeds, it creates complete chaos in a society. A lie in the case of the current pandemic should be considered as a criminal act when leaders have knowledge that their acts can hurt people and get them killed. The long term effect of such lies means that any positive actions are questioned and not relied upon. Often characteristics of those governments come from those that are self-interested, corrupt or come from a truly horrific dictatorship that pay little to no attention to their own people. This means, if your country is run by a dictatorship or one that has those dictatorial tendencies, you must rely on smaller, more democratic sub-governments that operate compassionately or push for a change in government and hope that the effect and losses in society are minimal. In all cases, neighbours needs to support neighbours, and communities need to be strong, healthy and open to freedom so the damage is not permanent. These communities must take account of their governments during crises and afterward so that the loss of democratic values does not become permanent.

The post Emergency Powers Not Becoming a Permanent Destiny appeared first on Foreign Policy Blogs.

Who Would Joe Biden Pick for Vice President?

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 14:07

Hunter DeRensis

Politics,

Assuming Biden is able to seal the deal, who is he likely to choose for his vice-presidential nominee to complete the ticket?

Following the results of Super Tuesday, Joe Biden has been able to reclaim his status as frontrunner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. He leads his nearest opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, by 900,000 votes and over 75 delegates. Able to appeal to both black voters and white suburbanites, it appears Biden will be able to ride this commanding coalition to victory at the national convention and possibly the White House.

Assuming Biden is able to seal the deal, who is he likely to choose for his vice-presidential nominee to complete the ticket?

“There’s at least nine women I can think of who are fully capable of being president,” Biden said in January, when asked about a possible shortlist of running mates. As a man who served as Barack Obama’s vice president for eight years, Biden certainly has an idea of what the job entails and who he’d prefer.

A vice president should be both a reflection of the top of the ticket, and a contrast, covering areas where the presidential nominee is the weakest. In Biden’s case, this is a woman, preferably under the age of sixty-five, who shares his moderate, center-left politics. At seventy-seven, and with rampant speculation about his diminishing cognitive abilities, any person chosen to be vice president must be considered experienced and responsible enough to handle the office under any unfortunate circumstances.

Using these metrics, and based on Biden’s own description, the National Interest has compiled a list of the most likely vice-presidential candidates.

Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota stands near the top of the list. The fifty-nine-year-old has raised her national profile during her presidential campaign, which she suspended this week to endorse Biden. On her third term in the senate, Klobuchar has created a brand as a bipartisan workhorse, with strong connections to Midwest voters. Her endorsement is largely responsible for Biden’s unexpected victory in Minnesota on Super Tuesday.

Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona’s election in 2018 was one of the highlights of the Democratic Party’s midterm gains. Only forty-three years old, Sinema had already served three terms in the House prior to her senate victory. A progressive activist in her youth, since her election to congress Sinema has built a record as one of the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus. Adding her to a national ticket would both add representation (Sinema is openly bisexual) and make the chance of picking up Arizona more likely.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan is fresh from giving the Democratic response to the State of the Union. Elected in 2018, Whitmer had spent the previous fourteen years in state government. Michigan is one of the swing states that Democrats must win in 2020, and her selection would push towards that goal. Whitmer endorsed Biden earlier this week, which may be the tipping point in next week’s contentious Michigan primary.

Senator Catherine Cortez Mastro of Nevada was elected in 2016, after serving eight years as the state attorney general. In her years in the senate, she’s pushed for the ban on bump stocks, and shares Biden’s opinion on Obamacare, favoring modest improvements rather than an overhaul. Fifty-five years old and Mexican American, Cortez Mastro could be an outreach to Hispanic voters (a demographic where Biden is weak), although she does not speak fluent Spanish.

Senator Kamala Harris of California has been listed as a possible vice-presidential nominee since she suspended her presidential campaign in December. A prosecutor and state attorney general before her election to the senate in 2016, Harris has been considered an up-and-comer in the party before her campaign failed to take off. Alternatively moderate and progressive, the fifty-five-year-old clashed with Biden in the early debates, although he has mentioned her by name as a possible pick. She has not yet endorsed Biden, before or after he lost the California primary.

Former Georgia statehouse member Stacey Abrams has been a darling of the Democratic Party and media since her failed gubernatorial election in 2018. Abrams, who still refuses to concede her defeat, served a decade in the Georgia House of Representatives, six of them as Minority Leader. At forty-six years old, she has announced her availability for a vice presidential selection and her eventual presidential ambitions. Biden has referenced her as a possibility.

Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, both of which Biden has said he’d consider for his vice president. Both women are former governors and come with decades of political experience. Hassan, at sixty-two, is younger than the seventy-three-year-old Shaheen. Both women share Biden’s center-left politics and represent a swing state the Democrats narrowly won in 2016.

Former Assistant Attorney General Sally Yates, the last of whom Biden has referenced by name as being on a hypothetical shortlist. Appointed by Barack Obama to her position in 2015, Yates was Acting Attorney General for the first ten days of the Trump administration before her abrupt dismal for refusing to implement the president’s controversial travel ban. Having lived her fifty-nine years as a lawyer, Yates has never served in elected office and up until recently was described as apolitical.

Hunter DeRensis is the senior reporter for the National Interest. Follow him on Twitter @HunterDeRensis.

How an F-14 Tomcat Fighter (Like in Top Gun) Shot Itself Down

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:54

Kyle Mizokami

Security,

How can that happen? Somehow, it did.

One of the most beloved fighter jets of all time was the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The F-14 had a lengthy career as a defender of the U.S. Navy’s carrier task forces and then multi-role fighter before retiring in 2006. Few people realize however that the F-14 earned the dubious distinction of being one of the few aircraft to ever shoot itself down, an accident that hasn’t been duplicated since.

The F-14 Tomcat was designed to provide a first-class air superiority fighter for the U.S. Navy. A large, twin-engine fighter with a powerful AWG-9 radar and not two but three types of air-to-air missiles, the Tomcat was equally at home intercepting Soviet bombers at long ranges and dogfighting with MiGs. In the final years of its career, the F-14 would evolve into a strike aircraft, capable of carrying the Paveway series of laser-guided bombs.

The F-14 Tomcat was developed in the early 1970s, in response to U.S. Navy air combat experiences in the skies of Vietnam. One of the three missiles carried by the F-14 was the AIM-7 Sparrow medium-range air to air missile. The Sparrow was a radar-guided missile that worked in conjunction with the F-14’s (at the time) world-beating radar system. Once launched, the Sparrow would be guided to the target by signals sent from the launch aircraft, as the AWG-9 tracked the enemy target. This allowed the Sparrow to engage targets beyond visual range. (The Sparrow was eventually replaced in U.S. Military service by the AIM-120 AMRAAM missile.)

On June 20, 1973, something unexpected happened during weapons testing in the skies over the Pacific Ocean. Grumman test pilots Pete Purvis and Bill “Tank” Sherman were flying an early production F-14 over the Pacific Missile Test Range off the coast of Southern California, preparing to launch an AIM-7 Sparrow missile when disaster struck. The plane, struck by its own missile, quickly caught fire and went out of control. The two pilots ejected the stricken aircraft and were rescued, unharmed, on the ground.

The AIM-7 Sparrow missile was not launched like other missiles. Missiles such as the AIM-9 Sidewinder were carried aloft on launcher rails, igniting their motors, sliding off the rail, and then streaking off to find their targets. The AIM-7 was carried flush with the lower fuselage of the aircraft, with half of the missile and guidance fins recessed inside the airplane. Once the pilot pulled the trigger, explosive bolts released the missile, which went into freefall downward. The missile’s rocket motor would kick in and the Sparrow went on its way.

At least that was how it was supposed to work. On that day in June 1973, Purvis and Sherman believed theirs would be a relatively uneventful test launch. Engineers had assured them the missile would drop as planned, and similar Sparrow launches from other stations on the aircraft went off without a hitch. After all, a similar launch system was used for the Sparrow missile on the F-4 Phantom II, the Navy’s current frontline fighter.

During the test flight, the aircraft was flying at 0.95 Mach at an altitude of 5,000 feet. At the moment of truth, Purvis pulled the trigger that was supposed to send the  AIM-7E-2 test missile on its way. The aircrew heard a much louder launch noise than they’d heard before and the missile passed the nose of the Tomcat. To their surprise, the two jet pilots saw the Sparrow tumbling end over end, spewing fire.

Things moved quickly at that point. The botched missile launch had created debris, which the F-14’s left side Pratt & Whitney TF-30 afterburning turbofan engine instantly ingested. The engine quickly caught fire, and Purvis lost control of the stricken aircraft. Purvis and Sherman ejected, parachuting in the waters of the Pacific Ocean below. Both men managed to scramble into life rafts and were picked up, safe and sound, by rescue helicopters vectored in by chase planes that had seen the entire incident.

The F-14 was one of the greatest fighters of the postwar period, but it wasn’t without its share of development problems. The 1973 incident is a clear example of why weapons systems, particularly aircraft, undergo exhaustive testing to ensure they are safe to use. The F-14 will forever be known as one of the few U.S. military aircraft to shoot itself down, helping to contribute to legendary warplane’s colorful reputation.

Sébastien Roblin holds a Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University and served as a university instructor for the Peace Corps in China. He has also worked in education, editing, and refugee resettlement in France and the United States. He currently writes on security and military history for War Is Boring.

Image: Reuters.

Think Coronavirus Is Bad? The Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918 Killed 50 Million People

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:47

Robert Farley

Health, Americas

Including 675,000 Americans.

Coronavirus isn’t the first pandemic to strike the United States. In 1918, just as the United States geared up for the Western Front, a new and virulent disease began to strike US Army training camps. The virus, which eventually took the name “Spanish Flu” in the erroneous belief that the disease came from Spain. Eventually, the Spanish Flu would wreak a terrible toll in the United States and elsewhere.

The Virus

In its first years, World War I had promised (or threatened) to overturn the ancient relationship between war and disease, the reality that sickness killed more soldiers than enemy action. This relationship (associated with similar events such as the plague that devastated Athens during the Peloponnesian Wars, and the Plague of Justinian that nearly overwhelmed the Byzantine Empire during its efforts to reconquer Western Europe), resulted from the collection of huge numbers of human beings in close quarters, often with bad food and poor sanitation.

On the one hand, advances in medical technology and sanitation worked to dramatically reduce the toll of disease, especially on the Western Front. On the other, the lethality of automatic weapons and heavy, long-range artillery meant that an increasing proportion of soldiers would die at the hands of the enemy, rather than as a result of viral infections and bacteria. 

For the first three years of the war, at least on the Western Front, the modern menace of artillery managed to put the ancient problem of disease in the backseat. This would change with the Spanish Flu, a respiratory disease misidentified as coming from Spain due to the Spanish government’s early identification of the problem. The disease, which most often killed by generating lethal cases of pneumonia, predominantly affected adults between twenty and forty-five, an unusual pattern. This would leave the armies of World War I, including the US Army, deeply vulnerable. 

The U.S. Army

As the work of Carol Byerly highlights, the U.S. Army had worked as hard as any to limit the depredations of disease in the early twentieth century. A typhoid epidemic during the Spanish-American War had killed thousands and embarrassed both the Army and the government. As a result, the Army devoted considerable attention to sanitation and to basic medical treatments that would reduce the toll of the disease. The deployment of the Army in tropical areas (such as Panama and the Philippines) had further emphasized the need to find an answer to the spread of disease.

None of this prepared the Army for the Spanish Flu. The first cases of influenza were detected in March 1918 at Army camps in Kansas and Georgia. The first wave of the flu was relatively mild, weakening many soldiers but killing few. As American soldiers began to travel to Europe to fight on the Western Front though, they took the flu with them, often contaminating entire troopships. 

The second wave would prove far more devastating. In September 1918, the Allies launched a major concerted offensive that aimed to roll back the successes of the German Ludendorff Offensive, and, indeed, drive the Germans from France. The Meuse-Argonne offensive would be the greatest test of American arms of the war, and American leadership hopes that success would ensure a central position for the United States in post-war peace negotiations. Tragically, the Spanish Flu intervened. During the offensive, the U.S. Army suffered 1,451 fatalities from influenza. By October, the number of sick patients exceeded the number of available beds by some 20,000. The need to transport and care for patients disrupted logistics and transport along the front, contributing even to Erich Ludendorff’s perception that something was sapping the strength out of U.S. offensives. 

The U.S. Navy

Sailors, both from the U.S. Navy and from commercial vessels, helped transmit the disease across the port cities of the United States. New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and New Orleans were particularly hard hit. The Navy estimated that over 5000 sailors died of influenza during the war, a toll that affected the ability of the service to man the ships that protected trans-Atlantic supply lines from German submarines. Efforts to maintain quarantines and prevent the transmission of the disease to and from civilian populations were undercut by the military imperative to get as many troops to France as rapidly as possible.

Civilians

The war also made things more difficult for the civilian population. One famous war parade in Philadelphia in October 1918 led to a massive increase in total cases, and consequently to widespread death across the city. 200,000 people attended the parade on September 28, just as the Spanish Flu was reaching its highest degree of lethality. 2,600 died in the first week after the parade, and another 1,900 in the next week. The war had drawn away many doctors and nurses, limiting the availability of quality medical care. Another parade in Boston had similar effects. Moreover, the devastation wrought by influenza did not end with the peace of November 1918. A final wave of the disease struck in 1919, less lethal than the second wave but worse than the first, and wrought an awful toll on returning soldiers and their families.

Conclusion

More than a quarter of the U.S. Army would eventually catch the Spanish Flu, with the Navy suffering a similar proportion of cases. 82 percent of the deaths by disease in the U.S. Army (a slight majority of total morbidity in the Army during the war) were inflicted by influenza. Overall, perhaps fifty million worldwide succumbed to the Spanish Flu, including 675,000 Americans. The war precipitated the pandemic by creating the conditions for its spread, affected the course of the war by weakening armies at critical moments, and reaped the dividends of the war by preying on a weak, hungry populace in the wake of the conflict. Fortunately, the world faces the threat of a modern coronavirus pandemic at a time of relative peace, although ongoing fighting in Syria, and the refugee flow that such fighting might generate, undoubtedly merits serious concerns about the control of the disease.

Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to TNI, is a Visiting Professor at the United States Army War College. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.

Image: Reuters

Coronavirus Is A Killer (But the Spanish Flu Killed Five Times More People Than World War I)

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:45

Robert Farley

Health, Europe

Did it impact the end of the so-called Great War?

As the spring of 1918 opened, the end of the largest war that humanity had yet undertaken appeared to be in sight. The collapse of the Russian Empire resulted in a brutal sort of “peace” in the East, allowing the transfer of German soldiers to the Western Front. The senior commanders of the Reichswehr knew that they needed to win the war rapidly, as famine was taking hold in the homeland and ever more Americans were arriving in France. Either the Germans would strike a decisive blow in the West, or the Allies would overwhelm them. Either way, an end to the carnage was foreseeable.

What no one appreciated was that another enemy, far more lethal than either the Allies or the Central Powers, was lurking. The Spanish Flu first struck in early spring, just as the Ludendorff Offensive was getting underway. It rested during the summer but in the fall attacked again with dreadful effect. By the end, the Flu would kill five times as many people as all of the guns, bombs, and torpedoes of all the combatants in World War I. 

The Impact in Europe

The impact of the Spanish Influenza in Europe is more difficult to isolate than its impact in the United States. Wartime censorship often prevented full statistics from reaching the news, thus making it more difficult for historians to assess the course of the disease. In some countries (Germany especially), the flu mingled with general hunger caused by the British blockade. Much of Eastern Europe suffered in the same situation. 

The influenza struck in three waves, which coincided with three phases of the war. The first, milder wave came in the spring of 1918 as Germany ramped up what it hoped would be a war-winning offensive against the Western Allies. The second, far more lethal wave struck in fall, as German forces fell back and the Allied armies advanced across France. The last hit in 1919, during the revolutionary chaos that swept the defeated powers. 

Germany

By spring 1918, Germany had won the war in the East and believed that it potentially had a decisive advantage in the West. Consequently, the Germans prepared a massive offensive named after its primary architect, Erich Ludendorff, designed to break Allied lines and bring about an end to the war. Launched on March 21, the offensive tore huge holes in Allied lines and threw the Allies back at a rate unseen since 1914. Eventually, however, the offensive flagged as the Germans ran low on troops, and as the Allies poured personnel, tanks, aircraft, and heavy artillery into the front. By mid-July, the initiative had passed to the Allies. The flu undoubtedly sapped the strength of the Ludendorff Offensive; Ludendorff himself reported that daily illness reports left him worried for the survival of the army. However, because of its relatively mild impact in the first wave, and also because the French, British, and U.S, armies were also seriously afflicted by the disease, it’s likely wrong to suggest that the Flu defeated the German offensive.

The second wave was different. As the Allies launched what became known as the Hundred Days Offensive, the virulent recurrence of the influenza struck the Germans hard, in large part because of a drop in morale in the wake of the failure of the Ludendorff Offensive, but also because of the increasingly dire supply situation that left German soldiers hungry and vulnerable. Fourteen thousand German soldiers reportedly died of the flu, although wartime censorship may mean that the figure is much higher. Worse for the Germans, the flu left much of the army incapable of fighting during the desperate days of autumn 1918. Soldiers from Austria-Hungary suffered at similar rates.

The Western Allies

The British Expeditionary Force identified the first influenza cases in April 1918. Canadian soldiers, along with the Americans, helped bring the virus to the British Army. The first wave of the epidemic was operationally devastating to the French, even if it caused relatively few fatalities. By May, the French were evacuating as many as two thousand soldiers per day from the front because of influenza. This left an obvious toll on the French logistical system, although the French undoubtedly benefited from fighting on their own territory.

At least 7,500 members of the BEF died of influenza in 1918. Overall, modern estimates suggest that the flu killed some 230,000 Britons altogether. Overall, some 30,000 French soldiers died as a result of the disease, along with perhaps 250,000 civilians. As was the case with the Americans, the weakness inflicted by the Flu undoubtedly reduced the lethality of the British and French Army offensives of late 1918 but it did not fatally undermine them. 

Russia and the East

In large part because of the chaos that afflicted Eastern Europe at the end of the war and during the Russian Revolution, we have little solid data regarding the impact of the Flu. Some estimates suggest a very low rate of infection, possibly because of relatively light population density. However, given that none of Poland, the Soviet Union, Ukraine, or any of the other successor states to the Russian Empire had the ability to collect widespread data at the Flu's height, the real impact of the flu on the military situation seems largely unknowable. The devastation inflicted by the Russian Revolution and the Civil War would certainly have undermined any existing public health systems across the region. 

We do know that Poland suffered between 200,000 and 300,000 dead, by the best estimates available. Deaths peaked in the winter of 1919/1920, which coincided with the Polish-Soviet War. The tide of the war turned against Poland in early 1920, although it’s difficult to conclude with any confidence that this resulted from the Flu, rather than from other operational and strategic factors. 

Concluding Thoughts

It is difficult to assert conclusively that the Spanish Flu had a direct effect on the end of the war; the flu struck all combatants simultaneously, weakening their armies while also attacking the homelands. But on balance weakness matched weakness, and the primary causes of the German defeat were military, rather than viral.

Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is the author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money, Information Dissemination and the Diplomat.

4 Reasons You Need a Smartwatch in 2020

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:34

Mark Episkopos

Technology,

You still don’t need a smartwatch the same way that you would need a smartphone or laptop, but there are now some good reasons to invest in one. Here are a few of the most compelling.

Should you buy a smartwatch?

Ten years ago, the answer would have been an unequivocal no. The smartwatches of yore simply did too little, were too bulky, and possessed too short a battery life to be worth your time. But in 2020, the smartwatch landscape looks radically different-- Apple is on their fifth Apple Watch series, Samsung is constantly adding new models to their Galaxy Watch lineup, and a growing number of traditional watch manufacturers like Fossil and Skagen have successfully branched out into the smartwatch market.

You still don’t need a smartwatch the same way that you would need a smartphone or laptop, but there are now some good reasons to invest in one. Here are a few of the most compelling.

1. Notifications

It was a rocky road to get here, but the current incarnations of Apple’s WatchOS, Android’s WearOS, and Samsung’s Tizen software offer seamless access to virtually any notification that would normally appear on your phone, whether it be text messages, emails, or social media alerts. For those of us who own large phones or spend the better part of their day on the move (I happen to fall into both categories), it’s difficult to overstate the convenience of not only being able to read notifications with the flick of a wrist, but having the ability to reply to texts and emails without constantly needing to pull your phone out of your pocket or bag.

2. Fitness Tracking

The gap between dedicated fitness trackers and flagship consumer smartwatches is now smaller than ever, with the latter boasting extensive and generally well-designed features to monitor distance and steps, as well as heart and pulse rates. The Apple Watch 5 takes these basic health features a step further with built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) capability. Apple's ECG app can detect cardiac problems by monitoring for irregular heart rhythms, and there have already been several testimonials from Apple Watch customers claiming that their wearable potentially saved their life by prompting them to seek medical help for heart conditions that they never knew they had.

3. Easy Controls

Listening to music on your phone isn’t nearly as seamless as it should be, requiring you to whip out and sometimes even unlock your mobile device just to pause/resume, adjust the volume, or skip to the next track. By giving you near-instant access to something that you’d normally have to reach for your phone to do, a smartwatch makes media controls that much faster. But the benefits don’t end here: Samsung’s SmartThings and Apple's Home apps make it easier than ever to control your lights, thermostats, cameras, and televisions all from your wrist, while dedicated navigation apps make for a more seamless walk or commute.

This is not quite as revolutionary for those of us who are already using modern audio solutions like Apple’s AirPods, but many flagship smartwatches can take calls with a built-in microphone; this feature becomes more interesting if you opt for the cellular-enabled variant, allowing you to receive and answer calls and texts even if your phone isn’t nearby.

4. Customizability

Smartwatches, like many traditional watches, come with a wide range of easily swappable bands. Unlike their traditional counterparts, however, smartwatches also offer extensive options in watch face customization. From custom background options to hundreds of choices in details and complications, there is little about a smartwatch face that can’t be tailored to your liking. Want a Mickey Mouse watch face? No problem. Or maybe you prefer chronograph-style face packed with fine measuring tools? That’s fine too.

Mark Episkopos is a frequent contributor to The National Interest and serves as a research assistant at the Center for the National Interest. Mark is also a PhD student in History at American University.

BOOM! U.S. Army Artillery Strikes from 40 Miles Away

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:30

David Axe

Security,

The U.S. Army just fired two 155-millimeter-diameter howitzer shells out to a distance of 40 miles.

The U.S. Army just fired two 155-millimeter-diameter howitzer shells out to a distance of 40 miles.

The test shots at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona on March 6, 2020 signal the beginning of a major overhaul of the Army’s artillery.

The ground-combat branch is spending billions of dollars extending the firing range of its howitzers and rocket launchers while also developing new, long-range rockets -- all in an effort to match, then exceed, the artillery capabilities of rivals such as Russia.

The Army’s current howitzers -- the towed M-777 and the self-propelled M-109 -- fire just 14 miles with normal shells and 19 miles with rocket-assisted shells. Russian howitzers already can shoot as far as 43 miles.

The Army during the 2000s lagged behind its major rivals in artillery development.

That changed as China began exerting more influence in the Asia-Pacific region. The change accelerated when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014. The Army deployed back to Europe two battalions of rocket launchers that it previously had withdrawn from the continent.

The howitzer that took the 40-mile shots in Arizona was one of the Army’s prototype Extended-Range Cannon Artillery systems. The ERCA combined the latest M-109A7 chassis with a new, 30-feet-long gun.

The Army expects to field the first 18 of the farther-firing guns in 2023.

The Yuma test involved two different shell types. An Excalibur GPS-guided shell and an M1113 rocket-assisted projectile. The M1113, which is slated to enter the regular force in the next couple of years, extends the firing range of older M-777s and M-109s to 24 miles.

A new ramjet-propelled shell that a Norwegian firm is developing further could boost the ERCA’s range out to 60 or even 80 miles.

The ERCA is the first in a series of new long-range weapons for the Army. The service also is developing new rockets for its wheeled High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System and tracked Multiple-Launch Rocket System.

The current, standard Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System rocket flies as far as 43 miles. A new extended-range version of the GMLRS, which the Army hopes to field starting in 2020, flies more than twice as far.

The current, large-diameter Army Tactical Missile System, which also is compatible with HIMARS and MLRS, has a maximum range of 186 miles. The new, lighter Precision Strike Missile -- due to enter service in 2023 -- boasts a 310-mile max range.

The Army also is studying a concept for a gigantic new, truck-towed cannon that could fire shells as far as 1,000 miles.

While larger in scale than any existing artillery piece, the Strategic Long-Range Cannon doesn’t actually require much in the way of new technology, Col. John Rafferty, who in 2018 led the Army’s long-range-fires modernization effort, told Breaking Defense.

Rafferty said the new gun would borrow elements of existing 155-millimeter cannons. “I don’t want to oversimplify, [but] it’s a bigger one of those,” Rafferty said. “We’re scaling up things that we’re already doing.”

The ground-combat branch also is working with the Navy to develop a common hypersonic glide vehicle, which would launch atop a rocket then travel 1,400 miles or farther at a top speed exceeding Mach five.

The ERCA is a tactical weapon that’s most suitable for directly supporting nearby forces. Farther-firing HIMARS and MLRS launchers give the Army some ability to hit enemy forces well behind the front line.

The conceptual thousand-mile cannon and the in-development hypersonic missile, by contrast, could allow the Army to strike targets such as staging bases, logistical networks and air bases -- targets that, before, were the sole responsibility of Air Force and Navy planes and missiles.

Targeting could pose a problem for these far-away targets. According to Breaking Defense, the Army is working on artificial intelligence and wireless networks so its howitzers and rocket-launchers can receive target coordinates from the service’s own drones as well as from drones, spy planes and satellites belonging to the other armed services.

David Axe serves as Defense Editor of the National Interest. He is the author of the graphic novels  War FixWar Is Boring and Machete Squad.

Six Chinese Cities End Daily Coronavirus Updates

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:23

Mitchell Blatt

Health,

They will only make further updates if any new cases develop, but they claim there have not been any new cases for days or weeks.

Six cities in China that consider the coronavirus situation to have been locally resolved have announced they will no longer publish new daily announcements.

The six cities are located in Henan province, which borders Hubei to the north, and Anhui province, which borders Hubei to the east. They are Kaifeng, Shangqiu, Xinxiang, and Hebi in Henan, and Fuyang and Chuzhou in Anhui, according to a report by The Beijing News. They will only make further updates if any new cases develop, but they claim there have not been any new cases for days or weeks.

Also, according to Da He Bao, a local Henan newspaper, Henan agriculture officials have announced the opening of live poultry markets.

Shangqiu, Kaifeng, Xinxiang, and Hebi are prefecture-level cities in the north of the province that all border one of the others. Shangqiu, the ancient capital of the Shang dynasty, one of China’s first, and Kaifeng, home to a small community of Chinese Jews whose ancestors came along the Silk Road, are both home to many historic sights.

According to official numbers, Shangqiu, has not had a new case in the past 19 days. Among the 91 cases that had been announced in the Shangqiu, which has an urban population of 1.5 million and 7.3 million in the prefecture, 88 have recovered, and 3 have died. Xinxiang, with a prefecture population of 5.7 million, has had 57 cases. Kaifeng and Xinxiang both reported less than 30.

According to officially-reported numbers, the entire province of Anhui had no new cases on March 5, and Fuyang and Chuzhou, neighboring prefectures with a combined population of 7.1 million, had 4 and 3 people released from the hospital respectively.

Across the country, many provinces had also announced days of no new cases in the past few weeks. The number of cases in the whole country increased by less than 1,000 from March 1 to March 6, according to the data cited on the Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard, with almost all of them being in Hubei province, while the number of cases in the rest of the world has increased by 13,000 during that same time frame.

Previously, when no new cases had been reported, People’s Daily or local propaganda outlets would create graphics to be shared on social media to celebrate. For example, on February 22, People’s Daily’s graphic claimed 21 of the 27 provinces had suffered no new cases for at least one day. Now, the policy of some cities to curtail daily updates might indicate a shift in messaging to try to move to the next stage.

Cities in Zhejiang that were previously on lockdown have been moved from red to yellow or green level. Full-service restaurants are starting to reopen in Hangzhou. Intraprovince bus service in Jiangsu, the province to the east of Anhui, has resumed.

Currently based in China, Mitchell Blatt is a former editorial assistant at the National Interest, Chinese-English translator, and lead author of Panda Guides Hong Kong. He has been published in USA Today, The Daily Beast, The Korea Times, Silkwinds magazine, and Areo Magazine, among other outlets. Follow him on Facebook at @MitchBlattWriter.

Why Is Everyone Running for President So Old?

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:22

Chelsea Follett

Politics, Americas

Better life expectancy.

Every remaining major candidate vying to become a nominee for the U.S. presidency is a septuagenarian. While the aged field of candidates comes with its own set of concerns, it is a sign of the country’s progress toward keeping people alive and healthy for longer than ever before.

In the race for the highest office in the land, the so‐​called Silent Generation is making itself heard. Senator Bernie Sanders (D‑VT), the oldest candidate, is 78 years old, as is former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who dropped out of the race this morning. Former vice president Joe Biden is 77 years old. President Donald Trump is 73 years old. At 70 years old, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D‑MA) is the youngest of the major candidates. She was born in mid‐​1949.

Several major candidates have birthdays coming up before the Election Day. By November 3rd, Senator Sanders will be 79, President Trump will be 74 and Senator Warren will be 71 years old. Biden will turn 78 shortly after the election, on November 20th.

When the current President was sworn into office at the age of 70, he was the oldest president ever inaugurated in the United States. It looks like he or whoever assumes the presidency in 2021 will beat that record.

Even among the minor candidates still in the race, septuagenarians are represented. Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld, who is challenging the president for the Republican nomination in a protest campaign, is 74 years old. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D‑HI), who is polling at less than 2 percent nationally, is the only remaining candidate born after 1950. She is 38.

When the septuagenarian candidates were born, the polio vaccine was yet to be created, there were no commercial computers, no human being had yet been to outer space and interracial marriage was still illegal in several U.S. states.

In 1950, U.S. life expectancy stood at 68.2 years, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The U.S. life expectancy has soared since then and a temporary dip over the last couple of years due to the opioid epidemic has since reversed. The CDC’s most recent figures estimate that the U.S. life expectancy reached 78.7 years in 2018—an increase of 0.1 year from 2017. That means that just within the lifetime of Senator Warren, the youngest major candidate, U.S. life expectancy has expanded by over a decade.

“Healthy life expectancy” or the number of years one can expect to enjoy good health, has also increased significantly. An American can expect to enjoy around 68 and a half years of good health, on average, according to the World Health Organization’s most recent estimate, for 2016.

The actuarial tables suggest that whichever septuagenarian wins in November, he or she will likely survive the next four years. Based on the average for their age, that’s a 76.8 percent chance for Sanders; 79.2 percent for Biden; 84.8 percent for Trump and, reflecting that women tend to outlive men, a 91.8 percent chance for the relatively youthful Warren. Still, there is no doubt that the vice presidential candidates will matter more than usual this election cycle.

The country’s Founding Fathers likely could not have imagined a future with such remarkable longevity. The septuagenarian field of major candidates has sparked concerns over the state of the various candidates’ health and mental acuity. While those worries should be taken seriously, the fact that so many septuagenarians are running reflects the broader demographic trend of Americans living longer, healthier lives and remaining active for many more years—a fact that should be celebrated.

This article by Chelsea Follett originally appeared in the CATO at Liberty blog in 2020.

Image: Reuters.

Is Turkey's Military a Drone Superpower?

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:07

Charlie Gao

Security, Middle East

We know at least one thing: the weapons they carry can cause some serious damage.

The success of Turkish armed drones and its push into Syria in February and March 2020 has shone a spotlight on Turkey’s indigenous drone and armament industry. Turkish drones reportedly destroyed multiple Russian-made but Syrian-operated air-defense vehicles, though Russian sources dispute this. However, their effectiveness at pummeling other targets is undisputed.

Just as the characteristic weapon of American MQ-1 Predator drones has been the AGM-114 Hellfire missile during the global war on terror, Turkey has also developed a drone-ideal weapon in the MAM-L missile. However, unlike the Hellfire which remains the similar in its drone and helicopter variants, the MAM-L was significantly redesigned from its parent missile to be a drone-specific weapon.

The MAM-L is derived from the Turkish L-UMTAS anti-tank missile. But as it is designed to be dropped from drones, the MAM-L omits the rocket engine of the L-UMTAS, allowing it to be around half the length and lighter than the L-UMTAS. However, seeker, control surface, and warhead technology are borrowed from the L-UMTAS. The MAM-L is also available with more types of warheads than the L-UMTAS, which only has a tandem HEAT warhead. The MAM-L is offered with high explosive fragmentation, thermobaric, and tandem HEAT warheads, probably with the anticipation that it might be used against a wider variety of targets. This is in line with other micro drone munitions, which make up for the small size of the warhead by offering specialized variants that are optimized for specific target types, as opposed to larger warheads which can be decent at both fragmentation and HEAT effect if the warhead is designed with a fragmentation rings.

However, the MAM-L does have some drawbacks. Broadly, the missile is comparable to the American AGM-176 Griffin, with both weighing less than 25 kilograms and being around 1 meter long. But the MAM-L’s fixed fins limit it to usage as a drone weapon. The Griffin features jack-knife fins that pop out, allowing it to be carried and launched from tubes. This allows for more Griffins to be carried in a specific unit, and allow for innovative mountings that allow for firing from the ramps of cargo aircraft.

It’s possible that these features will be added to the MAM-L with time, but Roketsan, the MAM-L’s manufacturer appears to be focusing more on the MAM-C, a thinner but longer munition that retains fixed fins. Regardless, the MAM-L proves that Turkey’s investment into building its arms industry has paid off. It’s proven to be able to produce analogs to other modern systems quickly and effectively, adapting existing technology and earlier designs.

Charlie Gao studied political and computer science at Grinnell College and is a frequent commentator on defense and national security issues.

Image: Reuters.

See This Old Picture: Meet Russia's Rocket Artillery That Beat Hitler

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:07

Victor Kamenir

History, Europe

A World War II legend that still exists. 

The fighting at Orsha saw the first battlefield use of the Red Army’s experimental battery of BM-13 multiple-launch rocket systems. Later in the war, these fearsome weapons were lovingly nicknamed Katyusha (Little Kate) after a popular wartime song.

The development of these weapons began well before the war, in 1938, with a small trial run of 40 systems built by the time of the German invasion. The prototypes of BM vehicles had mounted launchers at right angles to their long axes; however, this proved very unstable and the launch rails were remounted lengthwise.

First Combat for Stalin’s Organ

The command staff of the first field battery, headed by Captain Ivan A. Flerov, included two civilian advisers to train the crews, A.I. Popov, one of the creators of the launch platform BM-13, and D.A. Shytov, one of the developers of the M-13 round. The first battery consisted of nine launch systems in three firing platoons, a fire direction platoon with one 122mm howitzer for fire correction, an ammunition platoon, a transportation platoon, a POL (petroleum, oil, and lubricants) platoon, and a medical detachment. One volley of this battery delivered 112 132mm M-13 rockets with high explosive or fragmentation rounds. The highly mobile battery numbered 44 trucks, allowing the transport of 600 rounds of ammunition and enough fuel, POL, and food for at least three days of operations.

The first application of the Katyusha’s firepower was directed at Orsha’s railroad station. While not intended for pinpoint accuracy, the new weapon system delivered a devastating amount of fire over a wide-area target, destroying several trains and causing significant German casualties. The success of its first combat deployment kicked the production of BM-13 systems into high gear, and close to 10,000 systems of all types were produced by the end of the war. In addition to the original BM-13 models, there were multiple variations of 81mm BM-8 systems, some of them mounted on jeeps, and heavy BM-31 launchers for 310mm rockets. The special place of the Katyushas in the Soviet arsenal earned them the official title of Guards Mortars. The Germans called them Stalinorgel, meaning Stalin’s Organ.

In the early stages of the war, the Soviets took great pains to safeguard these weapons, with the immediate security of Katyusha batteries provided by detachments of NKVD (secret police) troops. In cases when a launch vehicle became disabled and retrieval was impossible, it was blown up in place to deny the Germans an intelligence coup. Battery commanders were responsible with their lives for the destruction of disabled launch vehicles. Just such a fate befell Captain Ivan Flerov’s battery. Caught in a cauldron at Vyazma in October 1941, with his vehicles immobilized by marshy terrain and out of ammunition, Flerov ordered them blown up. When fewer than a third of the battery’s soldiers made it out of the encirclement alive, Captain Flerov was not one of them.

Further Development of the Katyusha

Katyushas were inexpensive and uncomplicated to produce and easily mounted on many platforms, initially including only trucks but quickly progressing to tanks, tractors, armored trains, and even small naval vessels. Later in the war, many Lend-Lease tanks, which the Soviet specialists did not consider to be up to the task of armored warfare on the Eastern Front, were used as mounting platforms. However, American Studebaker two-and-one-half- ton trucks were highly regarded for their off-road performance, and thousands of them were used as mounting platforms for Katyushas.

The end of World War II did not end the Katyushas’ service. Thousand of them were exported to Soviet client states during the Cold War and were built in several countries under license. American forces faced them during the Korean War and decades later in Iraq.

This article by Victor Kamerin first appeared at the Warfare History Network.

Image: A battery of Katyusha rocket launchers firing at the enemy, German forces, during the Battle of Stalingrad in 6 October 1942, during the Eastern Front which lasted from 1941-1945, part of World War II. 6 October 1942. RIA Novosti.

How the Legendary F-35 Was Born a Winner

The National Interest - Sat, 07/03/2020 - 13:05

Kris Osborn

Technology, Americas

Unstoppable.

Key point: With better sensors and integration, the F-35 can see further than previous planes. In fact, it can engage from a distance before the enemy even knows it is there.

As 60 enemy fighters closed in on a US Air Force 4th Generation fighter aircraft, blinding the jet with electronic warfare attacks, an experienced pilot faced unseen life threatening attackers closing in -- during an air-combat Red Flag exercise closely replicating actual warfare scenarios.

Yet, in a life-saving flash, the endangered 4th pilot was told to “turn around” by an F-35 operating in the vicinity who radioed an instant warning. The 5th-Gen, multi-role stealth fighter then used its long-range sensors and weapons to “kill” the enemy aircraft, according to an Air Force news report.

This first appeared in 2019 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Air Force Col. Joshua Wood, 388th Operations Group Commander was part of the exercise.

“I’ve never seen anything like it before. My wingman was a brand new F-35A pilot, seven or eight flights out of training. He gets on the radio and tells an experienced, 3,000 hour pilot in a fourth-generation aircraft. ‘Hey bud, you need to turn around. You’re about to die, There’s a threat off your nose,’” Wood explained in the service report.

The Red Flag exercise, and annual live combat-like training event, drew from an unprecedented amount of advanced threat scenarios, representing "near peer" threats. Red Flag aggressors, according to the Air Force report, included “advanced integrated air-defense systems, an adversary Air Force, cyber-warfare and information operations.”

Red Flag pilots also flew in GPS-denied environments where communications were jammed or rendered inoperable by enemy EW attacks, according to the Air Force report. Taking place at Nellis AFB in Nevada, they exercise included 3,000 personnel from 39 units, including the US Navy, US Air Force, Royal Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force.

“The F-35 ‘redefines’ how you go to war with a platform. it fuses data at a very core level, providing pilots with information to be lethal in the battlespace,” Edward “Stevie” Smith, F-35 domestic business development director, Lockheed Martin, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

Developers explain that the F-35 is, by design, intended to draw upon its stealth configuration to “Suppress Enemy Air Defenses” while monitoring air-to-air and air-to-ground threats.

An engineer familiar with F-35 technology explained it this way - “There is a FLIR (Forward-Looking Infrared) built into the airplane. The DAS (Distributed Aperture System with 360-degree cameras) and the EOTS (Electro-Optical Targeting System to track and attack long range targets) can see things in midwave IR at pretty significant ranges, tracking them from a long way.”

Describing F-35 weapons engagements, Lockheed F-35 pilot Billie Flynn said F-35s could fire Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missiles without being seen by adversaries - operating at the margins of detectability.

"We could launch and leave," Flynn explained.

At last year’s exercise, the Air Force and Navy explored a range of similar threats, including efforts to refine F-22 dogfighting skills. The F-22 at last year’s exercise, from the 27th Fighter Squadron, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, performed air interdiction, combat search and rescue, close air support, dynamic targeting and defensive counter air operations in mock combat scenarios.

Confronting simulated “Red” force ground and air threats, F-22s attacked targets such as mock airfields, vehicle convoys, tanks, parked aircraft, bunkered defensive positions and missile sites.

Although modern weapons such as long-range air-to-air missiles, and the lack of near-peer warfare in recent years, means dogfighting itself is less likely these days. As the service prepares for future contingencies against technologically advanced adversaries, maintaining a need to dogfight is of great significance. For instance, the emerging Chinese J-10 and Russian 5th Gen PAK-50 clearly underscore the importance of this.

Advanced dogfighting ability can greatly expedite completion of the Air Force’s long-discussed OODA-loop phenomenon, wherein pilots seek to quickly complete a decision-making cycle - Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action – faster than an enemy fighter. The concept, dating back decades to former Air Force pilot and theorist John Boyd, has long informed fighter-pilot training and combat preparation.

If pilots can complete the OODA loop more quickly than an enemy during an air-to-air combat engagement, described as “getting inside an enemy’s decision-making process,” they can destroy an enemy and prevail. Faster processing of information, empowering better pilot decisions, it naturally stands to reason, makes a big difference when it comes to the OODA loop.

Connectivity with air and ground combat assets, drawing upon emerging data-link technology, has been a key part of the exercise as the Air Force strengthens efforts to work with other services on cross-domain fires operations.

The OODA Loop is of equal importance to the F-35 which, while engineered to dogfight as well, is built to draw upon its long-range sensors to complete the process - before ever seen by an enemy.

The Air Force plans to actualize key aspects of this with, for instance, LINK 16 upgrades to the F-22 that enable it to improve data-sharing with the F-35 and 4th-generation aircraft in real-time in combat.

First operational in 2005, the F-22 is a multi-role fighter designed with stealth technology to evade enemy radar detection and speeds able to reach Mach 2 with what is called "super-cruise" capability. Supercruise is the ability to cruise at supersonic airspeeds such as 1.5 Mach without needing afterburner, a capability attributed to the engine thrust and aerodynamic configuration of the F-22.

The F-22 is built with two Pratt & Whitney F119-PW-100 turbofan engines with afterburners, Air Force statements said. The aircraft has a 44-foot wingspan and a maximum take-off weight of more than 83,000 pounds.

Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army - Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has a Masters in Comparative Literature from Columbia University. This first appeared in 2019 and is being reposted due to reader interest.

Image: Reuters

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