News & commentary by Dave Maxwell. Edited and published by Daniel Riggs.

1. Japan official, calling Taiwan ‘red line,’ urges Biden to ‘be strong’

2. Opinion | China’s atrocities in Tibet are growing too big to ignore

3. China’s Economy Set to Overtake U.S. Earlier Due to Covid Fallout

4. George Blake: Soviet Cold War spy and former MI6 officer dies in Russia

5. Commentary: Facing 21st century security challenges in Philippines

6. US military school West Point rocked by major cheating scandal

7. Opinion | Leave the Foreign Service to the Pros

8. Russian hackers compromised Microsoft cloud customers through third party, putting emails and other data at risk

9. Is Amazon the next anti-trust target after Alibaba?

10. Could a US-led Quad add up to an Asian NATO against China?

11. U.S.-Trained Afghan Fighter Pilot Is in Hiding After Being Denied Safe Passage

12. Ethics in Special Operations and the Joint Special Operations Forces Senior Enlisted Academy

13. Typhon’s Song: Examining Russia’s Employment of COVID-19 Disinformation to Generate Disruptive Effects

14. Vaccine Rollout Presenting States With Questions Over Race and Access

15. Misinformation about the vaccine could be worse than disinformation about the elections

16. Social Media and the Problem of the Iceberg Bias

17. The CDC’s failed race against covid-19: A threat underestimated and a test overcomplicated

18. Why We Can’t Stop Longing for the Good Old Days

 

1. Japan official, calling Taiwan ‘red line,’ urges Biden to ‘be strong’

taiwannews.com.tw · by Ju-min Park

Excerpts:

“There’s a red line in Asia – China and Taiwan,” Nakayama said, citing a red line that former president Barack Obama declared over Syria’s use of chemical weapons – a line Damascus then crossed. Biden was Obama’s vice president.

“How will Joe Biden in the White House react in any case if China crosses this red line?” said Nakayama, who attended a memorial for the late former Taiwanese president Lee Teng-hui in August, before taking his defence position. “The United States is the leader of the democratic countries. I have a strong feeling to say: America, be strong!”

 

2. Opinion | China’s atrocities in Tibet are growing too big to ignore

The Washington Post · by Josh Rogin · December 24, 2020

It is not just Xinjiang.  Excerpt: “When it comes to human rights violations in China, Tibet was Patient Zero,” Lobsang Sangay, the president of the Tibetan government in exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration, told me during a visit to Washington last week. “Xi Jinping is now reintroducing labor camps back into Tibet . . . what’s new is the speed and the scale of it and the military style that they are bringing to it.”

 

3. China’s Economy Set to Overtake U.S. Earlier Due to Covid Fallout

Bloomberg · by Lizzy Burden · December 26, 2020

Graphics at the link.  

 

4. George Blake: Soviet Cold War spy and former MI6 officer dies in Russia

BBC · by News

I wonder if he left behind any writings on his thoughts of the USSR collapsing and losing the Cold War.

 

5. Commentary: Facing 21st century security challenges in Philippines

philstar.com · by Renato Cruz De Castro

An interesting Philippine perspective.  I recall in 2001. just after 9-11, when I participated in the TCAV assessment of the Philippines led by LTG (RET) Fridovich, that when the Philippine government provided their national security strategy and policy for assessment there was no mention of China as a national security threat.  

 

6. US military school West Point rocked by major cheating scandal

chinadaily.com.cn

Interestingly they do not list MacArthur among the notable alumni but I guess it is because they are only republishing an AFP report and this is not a “China perspective.”  I wonder if we will see anything from China in their “opinion pages.”

 

7. Opinion | Leave the Foreign Service to the Pros

The New York Times · by Carol Shurman · December 25, 2020

Three interesting letters to the editor from the NY Times.

 

8. Russian hackers compromised Microsoft cloud customers through third party, putting emails and other data at risk

The Washington Post· by Ellen Nakashima · December 25, 2020

Excerpts:

“Our investigation of recent attacks has found incidents involving abuse of credentials to gain access, which can come in several forms,” Jeff Jones, Microsoft’s senior director for communications, said. “We have still not identified any vulnerabilities or compromise of Microsoft product or cloud services.”

The troubling revelation comes several days after Microsoft’s president, Brad Smith, said the Fortune 500 company had not seen any customers breached through its services, including the vaunted Azure cloud platform used by governments, major corporations and universities worldwide.

“I think we can give you a blanket answer that affirmatively states, no, we are not aware of any customers being attacked through Microsoft’s cloud services or any of our other services, for that matter, by this hacker,” Smith told The Washington Post on Dec. 17.

“I want a throat to choke on this thing — I’m angry that they got us, but the reality is the Russians pulled off a highly targeted, complex and probably expensive cyber intrusion that was a sophisticated espionage operation,” said Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee who co-chairs the Congressional Cybersecurity Caucus.

The breaches are akin to the Russians placing moles in multiple places in high levels of the government, Langevin said, adding that the U.S. government should respond as it would to a physical espionage campaign. “We could expel diplomats or suspected spies, or perhaps impose sanctions,” he said. “But we also want to be careful that we don’t destabilize the Internet or our own espionage operations.”

 

9. Is Amazon the next anti-trust target after Alibaba?

asiatimes.com · by David P. Goldman · December 24, 2020

An interesting comparison.

Excerpts:

“But whatever the personality or political issues may have been, the underlying economic problem in China is the same as the one that US and European regulators are trying to address.

“Amazon’s pattern of exploiting sellers, enabled by its market dominance, raises serious competition concerns,” the House Committee claimed in an October 2020 report. The House allegations closely resemble the concerns of Chinese regulators, who have focused on Alibaba’s policy of forcing merchants to use its platform exclusively, among other alleged abuses, including selling below cost to crush rivals.”

 

10. Could a US-led Quad add up to an Asian NATO against China?

scmp.com · by Rachel Zhang· December 26, 2020

I think it is a false comparison. Rather than trying to make the Quad like NATO we need to develop the Quad based on the unique collective security and collective economic protection requirements that exist in Asia.  Economic protection against a mutual predatory economic threat was never a concern for NATO. That alone makes the Quad very different than NATO.  In addition, it is unlikely that there will ever be a collective security military organization built along the lines of NATO in Asia.  But NATO falls into the same category as the Marshall Plan and Goldwater-Nichols – we need a Marshall Plan for this problem and a Goldwater Nichols for that problem and we a NATO in Asia.

 

11. U.S.-Trained Afghan Fighter Pilot Is in Hiding After Being Denied Safe Passage

WSJ · by Sune Engel Rasmussen

 

12. Ethics in Special Operations and the Joint Special Operations Forces Senior Enlisted Academy

Small Wars Journal· by Christopher Hughes, John Labuz, Joseph Long, and Kari A. Thyne

 

13. Typhon’s Song: Examining Russia’s Employment of COVID-19 Disinformation to Generate Disruptive Effects

Small Wars Journal · by Matthew A. Lauder,

 

14. Vaccine Rollout Presenting States With Questions Over Race and Access

WSJ · by Ian Lovett and Jimmy Vielkind· December 26, 2020

Excerpts:

“But as the first doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are being administered across the country, states are still wrestling with how and when the vaccine will be made available to those hard-hit communities.

Some states say they are focused on outreach, in the hopes of making sure that people of color aren’t left behind as the vaccine is distributed more widely.”

 

15. Misinformation about the vaccine could be worse than disinformation about the elections

Politico· December 21, 2020

An ominous warning.  Election disinformation has been unbelievably rampant and effective.

 

16. Social Media and the Problem of the Iceberg Bias

fromthegreennotebook.com · by Joe Byerly · December 26, 2020

Some useful food for thought.

Conclusion:

“Take this article for example, every word I typed in the preceding paragraph was carefully chosen.

As we head into a new year, I’m writing this to remind all of us that before we form positive or negative opinions of others, we should get to know them first. We should also avoid using social media as a mirror for our lives. We do an injustice to ourselves when we compare our own icebergs to the sheer veneer of gleaming, snow-covered ice other people choose to show. Finally, I charge you to think about your brand and the reality you’re willing to lay bare. Do you include any of the sharp, treacherous edges that lie just below the surface?”

 

17. The CDC’s failed race against covid-19: A threat underestimated and a test overcomplicated

The Washington Post· by David Wilman · December 26, 2020

Yes, mistakes have been made. The key question is whether we learn from them?

 

18. Why We Can’t Stop Longing for the Good Old Days

WSJ · by Johan Norberg

We can only move forward. We cannot go backwards.

Excerpts:

“…dangerous to those who lived through them? One possibility is that we know we survived past dangers—otherwise we wouldn’t be here—so in retrospect they seem smaller. But we can never be certain we will solve the problems we are facing today. Radio didn’t end up ruining the younger generation, but maybe the smartphone will. We didn’t destroy the planet with nuclear weapons during the Cold War, but who can say for sure that we won’t do it this time around?

Another reason is that historical nostalgia is often colored by personal nostalgia. When were the good old days? Was it, by chance, the incredibly short period in human history when you happened to be young? A U.S. poll found that people born in the 1930s and 1940s thought the 1950s was America’s best decade, while those born in the 1960s and 1970s preferred the 1980s. In the 1980s, the popular TV show “Happy Days” was set in a nostalgic version of the 1950s; today, the popular series “Stranger Things” fondly conjures the fashion and music of the 1980s.

 

——–

 

“It is no weakness for the wisest man to learn when he is wrong.” 

– Sophocles

 

 “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” 

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 “When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.”

 – Franklin D. Roosevelt

Hits: 7

12/26/2020 News & Commentary – Korea 12/27/2020 News & Commentary – Korea