News and Commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and Published by Riley Murray.

1. It’s Only a Matter of Time Before China Detains U.S. Executives

2. Blunt 2020 lessons for media, America

3. How to Defeat Disinformation

4. Biden and Flournoy Have Clashed Over Policy in Past

5. Taiwan Voices Confidence In Trade Deal With New U.S. Government

6. The Final Pandemic Surge Is Crashing Over America

7. Lockdown U-turn in Sweden as COVID-19 cases soar and herd immunity hopes falter

8. Coronavirus: why are Western countries like the US and Britain still not learning from Asia’s success?

9. NATO Experiments With Deceptive Tactics to Lure Russian Hackers

10. Judge slaps down Trump appointee who has sought to reshape Voice of America and related agencies

11. New US Indo-Pacific fleet ‘would be akin to grabbing China by the throat’, analyst says

12. EXCLUSIVE: CIA Awards Secret Multibillion-Dollar Cloud Contract

13. Voice of America’s 5 Months Under Trump CEO: Lawsuits, Bias Claims, And A Sex Scandal

14. Check Out These Navy Special Operators Deploying An Underwater Scout Drone

15. America’s Elite Flying Unit That Made The Recent Long-Range Hostage Rescue In Africa Possible

1. It’s Only a Matter of Time Before China Detains U.S. Executives

lawfareblog.com · by Bill Priestap and Holden Triplett · November 20, 2020

Beware.

Excerpts:

It is time for U.S. businesses to fully acknowledge the myriad risks and prepare accordingly. Such preparation could begin with determining whether the business possesses assets or capabilities sought by the PRC. Answering this type of question helps a business understand the severity of risk it faces. It is also imperative that businesses inform their employees of the risks associated with traveling to the PRC. And businesses need to develop a plan for how they’ll respond if one of their employees is detained or arrested there.

While the brazen activities engaged in by PRC authorities may be shocking, they should not be surprising. This behavior is perfectly in line with the PRC government’s long-standing practice of using intelligence and law enforcement organizations as tools of political and economic power. As the competition between the United States and the PRC continues to intensify, individuals will almost certainly be used as chips to be traded. Business travelers should be especially vigilant because they represent attractive targets. Highly visible and lightly protected, they can be detained simply to make a point-or as levers to extract highly valuable information from their companies.

2. Blunt 2020 lessons for media, America

Axios · by Jim VandeHei

An excellent short summary.  Journalists and media organizations: “Heal thyself.”  

But we all also have a responsibility and we should heed the words in our National Security Strategy:

“A democracy is only as resilient as its people. An informed and engaged citizenry is the fundamental requirement for a free and resilient nation. For generations, our society has protected free press, free speech, and free thought. Today, actors such as Russia are using information tools in an attempt to undermine the legitimacy of democracies. Adversaries target media, political processes, financial networks, and personal data. The American public and private sectors must recognize this and work together to defend our way of life. No external threat can be allowed to shake our shared commitment to our values, undermine our system of government, or divide our Nation.”

https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NSS-Final-12-18-2017-0905.pdf

3. How to Defeat Disinformation

Foreign Affairs – by Nina Jankowicz – November 19, 2020

One of the best private companies I have come across that focuses on recognizing, understanding, and providing tools for countering disinformation is Zignal labs.  Please check it out. https://zignallabs.com/

Conclusion: “Foreign adversaries and domestic disinformers failed to disrupt the 2020 election, but the country barely squeaked through. The Biden administration cannot afford to be complacent or myopic. The U.S. government has already spent four years refusing to address this growing crisis. Without a serious injection of urgency at the highest levels and an understanding that fighting disinformation starts with good governance, the chaos of the Trump era will prove to be the norm, not the exception.”

4. Biden and Flournoy Have Clashed Over Policy in Past

Foreign Policy · by Michael Hirsh · November 20, 2020

Excerpts:

“You’re right to foresee a possible difference of opinion between them. Their instincts are different,” said David Kilcullen, a leading counterinsurgency expert who briefed Biden and other leading officials of the incoming Obama administration in 2009. “She was always more focused on engaging and trying to stabilize Afghanistan for broader geopolitical and humanitarian reasons, and he was focused on pulling out (with a CT figleaf).”

“That said, I don’t think it’s going to be a huge deal this time, largely because the horse has already bolted on Afghanistan. I am not privy to Michele’s thinking at all, but from a straight strategy perspective I don’t think she would see much alternative to a withdrawal, given the strategic realities of the campaign as it stands. And if she is picking her policy battles, this looks like a fairly forlorn hill to die on, this early in a new administration.”

And this conclusion:

“Even if differences existed then I doubt they continue today,” said retired Brig. Gen Jim Warner, a former senior Pentagon official. “Flournoy is the fastest and deepest learner I know. I wouldn’t assume she holds the same opinions at this point as in the earlier Obama days. There were a lot of very smart and thoughtful people … who preached variations of the COIN gospel.” And who now admit they were wrong.

Flournoy appears to have a good relationship with Biden – in June 2016, when it was expected Hillary Clinton would win the presidency, Biden jokingly addressed Flournoy as “madame secretary” at a speech and added, “I’m writing a recommendation for her, you know.” But the president-elect is also considering several other candidates as defense secretary, including Sen. Tammy Duckworth, a disabled Iraq vet, former homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson, who would become the first African American defense secretary; and retired Adm. William McRaven, who served as head of U.S. Special Operations Command and oversaw the missions that captured Saddam Hussein and killed Osama bin Laden.

5. Taiwan Voices Confidence In Trade Deal With New U.S. Government

news18.com · November 21, 2020

6. The Final Pandemic Surge Is Crashing Over America

defenseone.com · by Robinson Meyer

Yes, this is quite the paradox: Understanding the pandemic this week requires grasping two thoughts at once. First, the United States has never been closer to defeating the pandemic. Second, some of the country’s most agonizing days still lie ahead.

7. Lockdown U-turn in Sweden as COVID-19 cases soar and herd immunity hopes falter

nationalpost.com – 17 November 2020

Herd immunity as a course of action???

8. Coronavirus: why are Western countries like the US and Britain still not learning from Asia’s success?

https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/economics/article/3110754/coronavirus-why-are-western-countries-us-and-britain-still-not – by John Power – 21 November 2020

We should reflect on this.

9. NATO Experiments With Deceptive Tactics to Lure Russian Hackers

defenseone.com · by Patrick Tucker

10. Judge slaps down Trump appointee who has sought to reshape Voice of America and related agencies

The Washington Post · November 21, 2020

Some good news.  I hope they fix the Visa issue. One of the journalists I work with from the Korean service is about to have to return to Korea if his Visa is not renewed. 

11. New US Indo-Pacific fleet ‘would be akin to grabbing China by the throat’, analyst says

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/military/article/3110760/new-us-indo-pacific-fleet-would-be-akin-grabbing-china-throat

Well that is quite an analogy.  This is one form of competition.

12. EXCLUSIVE: CIA Awards Secret Multibillion-Dollar Cloud Contract

nextgov.com 

13. Voice of America’s 5 Months Under Trump CEO: Lawsuits, Bias Claims, And A Sex Scandal

NPR · by David Folkenflik · November 20, 2020

I think you can reasonably assess there are some leadership issues at USAGM.

14. Check Out These Navy Special Operators Deploying An Underwater Scout Drone

thedrive.com · by Joseph Trevithick · November 20, 2020

15. America’s Elite Flying Unit That Made The Recent Long-Range Hostage Rescue In Africa Possible

thedrive.com · by Jamie Hunter · November 20, 2020

An amazing capability that is key to special operations.

“Credibility is a condition of persuasion. Before you can make a man do what you say, you must make him believe what you say. A necessary condition for gaining his credence is that you do not permit him to catch you in lies. Hence, the constraint upon all propagandists to accurate reporting of matters which are subject to verification by the audience…Propaganda, to be effective, must be not only factually true, but credible.”

– Sykewar, Daniel Lerner, George W. Stewart, NY., 1949.

 

“PSYOP is the most powerful weapon in the SOF inventory.”

– General Carl Stiner, Former CINCSOC, 14 April 1993, speaking at the AUSA Symposium

 

“War does not belong in the realm of arts and sciences; rather it is part of   man’s social existence…Politics, moreover, is the womb in which war develops.”

– Carl von Clausewitz

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