As was also clearly stated by Vladimir Putin on September 4, 2017: “whichever country leads the way in Artificial Intelligence research will be the ruler of the world”.
According to Thomas Kuhn’s old, but still useful, epistemological model, every change of the scientific paradigm – rather than the emergence of new material discoveries – radically changes the visions of the world and hence strategic equilibria.
Hence, first of all, what is Artificial Intelligence? It consists of a series of mathematical tools, but also of psychology, electronic technology, information technology and computer science tools, through which a machine is taught to think as if it were a human being, but with the speed and security of a computer.
The automatic machine must representman’s knowledge, namely show it, thus enabling an external operator to change the process and understand its results within the natural language.
In practice, AI machines imitate the perceptual vision, the recognition and the reprocessing of language -and even of decision-making – but only when all the data necessary to perform it are available. They do so creatively, i.e. they self-correct themselves in a non-repetitive way.
As can be easily imagined, this happens rarelyin a complex system with a high rate of variation over time and space, as is exactly the case in war clashes.
Just think about the intelligence reserved for the Chiefs of Staff, which obviously no one ever feeds into any machine to “run” it.
Hence, first and foremost, AI is about making the machine imitate the human reasoning process, which is achieved by applying the Turing test.
As you may remember, Alan Turing was the mathematician who devised for the British intelligencea number of techniques for speeding the breaking of German ciphers and cracking intercepted coded messages that could find settings for the Enigma machine used by the German Nazi Intelligence Services.
Due to the large amount of data to be checked and translated, his mathematics required an electromechanical machine, a sort of computer which was in fact created at Bletchley Park, Britain’s codebreaking centre, with the technologies of the time: vacuum valves, copper wires and electric engines.
To be precise, the Nazis had developed a primitive computer, namely Z1, that was hard to program, while the British Colossuspermitted the introduction of cards and tapes that allowed its adaptation to the various needs of the British SIGINT of the time.
Furthermore, in Turing’s mind, the Imitation Game involving three people (a sort of deception game) could be replaced by a machine – and here the mathematical theory permitting AI comes into play.
The machine takes the place of either human beings who try to prevent the correct identification of the third human being (C) – an identification that remains hidden to both A and B.
Hence Alan Turing claims that man A can be replaced by a machine and that this can be correctly defined as “thinking”.
Hence, according to Alan Turing,the human thought can be creatively imitated and recreated through a Finite State Machine (FSM) that can simulate other Discrete State Machines.
In principle a Finite State Machine is a machine allowing to fully describe – in mathematical terms – the simultaneous or non-simultaneous behaviour of many systems.
With a view to better understanding this concept, we can think of an image: the warp of a fabric with respect to its weft, which can have various colours or designs.
Conversely, a Discrete-State Machine is a calculator, i.e.a machine evolving by sudden jumps from one state to another.
The same evolutionary jumps that the epistemologist, Thomas Kuhn, thought as steps of a scientific paradigm.
Finally, in Turing’s mind, the Discrete State Machine was the most suitable for simulating the human thought-behaviour.
Currently, in AI, almost exclusively “hybrid spots” are used, i.e. systems unifying various types of finite or discrete state machineswhich develop and process also probabilistic scenarios.
There is no need for going further into this network of technical reasoning, which only partially regards the topic of this article.
It is worth recalling that the issue has its true conceptual and strategic origin in March 2017, when a computer program developed by Google, namely AlphaGo, beatthe world champion in the ancient Chinese board game Go, an extraordinary strategy game.
According to some US analysts, it was the game that inspired the Head of the North Vietnamese Armed Forces and of the Viet Mihn Communists, Vo Nguyen Giap, in his confrontation with the United States and its allies.
A game in which – unlike what happens in chess-there is no immediate evidence of the victory of either contenders.
Years before, in 1997, a much less advancedalgorithm than AlphaGo had beaten the chess champion Gary Kasparov.
With a view to better understanding what an AI system is, it is worth recalling that AlphaGo is made up of two deep “neural networks” having millions of neural connections very similar to those of the human brain.
A neural network is a mathematical model inspired by the structure of the neural networks typical of the human brain.
It consists of information interconnections and it is a mathematical-information system made up of artificial neurons and processes using computational connections common to all “neurons”.
Furthermore the AlphaGo system self-corrects and learns by itself, because it stores and quickly processes the many matches and games in which it participated.
As can be easily imagined, this also makes it largely unpredictable.
In the future, however, the new military robots with high autonomy of movement and selection of targets – and, sometimes, even of the AI procedure to be used – will incorporate a great deal of Artificial Intelligence.
This will make the difference between a losing robot and a winning one on the ground.
Hence, at some point of technological evolution, they may also take autonomous actions.
Therefore the problem arises of how much autonomy can be given to robots, whether they are mobile on the ground or centralized in a command brigade.
Tactical autonomy, while the neural connections between the various military robots are managed simultaneously by a “classic” human system and by a 2.0 AI mechanism?
But here factors such as each country’s doctrine and the assessment of the probability of a war clash and with whom, must be considered.
Therefore many human lives can be saved even in a conflict and on the war theatre, except in a counter-resource robot action, which hits the civilian population.
It will also be easier to resortto armed confrontation, but a higher cost of automated defense or attack operations will be expected.
Obviously considering that the AI systems are derived from “natural thought”, if – in the activities – very few changes are to be made to an already-defined program, the machines always work better than human beings.
They are faster, much more precise and they never rest. Moreover, they have no parallel reasoning patterns deriving from personal tastes, ideologies, feelings, sensations, affections.
They are not distracted by value, cultural, symbolic, ethical and politicalissues and probably not even by the typical themes of the Grand Strategy.
In principle, however, if what is at stake are substantially equivalent technical choices or similar evaluations of the final future scenarios, on which the machine has no pre-set programming, man will always prevail in the match between man and robot.
Hence Metaphysics – or the “science of aims”, to put it in Aristotle’s words – is the unique attribute of our species.
But the process to achieve extra-technical goals can always be formalized and hence there is always at least one finite state machine in the world that can imitate it – on its own, however, without further support of the homo sapiens sapiens.
It must also be considered that the techniques for the AI “autonomous weapons” cannot be completely classifiedbecause, in these technologies, the commercial sector can often overcome the efficacy of “covered” technology weapons.
If we open up to commercial technologies, that would be the end of confidentiality.
In fact all AI, ranging from finance to machine tools up to biological and environmental programming, is a market-driven technology controlled by open markets- or rather still oligopolistic ones.
However, what are the limits and the merits of a war or global strategy technology entirely rebuilt according to AI standards?
The simple answer is that firstly no finite state or hybrid machine can evaluate the reliability of the data and systems it receives.
Hence we can imagine a new kind of intelligence action, that is the possibility of “poisoning” the command systems of the enemy’s AI machines.
The deep Internet, the area of websites – often having criminal relevance – not resulting in the official search engines, could also host viruses or even entire opposing systems, which directly reach our AI machines, thus making them fulfill the enemy’s will and not ours.
It is worth recalling that Von Clausewitz defined victory as “the prevailing of the opponent’s will or of our will”.
Nevertheless the Artificial Intelligence systems can be extremely useful in the military and intelligence sector, when it comes to using them in the “computer vision”, where millions of data must be analyzed creatively in the shortest possible time.
In fact, the Turing machine and the derived AI machines can imitate abduction, a logical process that is very different from that of deduction and induction.
Deduction, which is typical of traditional machines, such as the calculator, is the logical process that, starting from a non-analyzed premise, rationally derives particular propositions describing the perceivable reality.
Conversely, induction is a logical process that, with a number of finite steps fully adhering to the natural logic, allows to shift from empirical data to the general rule, if any.
Hence abduction is an Aristotelian syllogism in which the major premise is certain while the minor one is only probable.
The Aristotelian syllogisms are made up of a general statement (the major premise), a specific statement (the minor premise) and a conclusion that is inferred.
They are adaptable to both induction and deduction.
Furthermore, in the various types of syllogism the Stagirite developed, the major premise is the general definition of an item belonging or not to a whole.
For example, “All men are bipeds”.
The minor premise is that “George is a man (or is a biped)” and hence the conclusion is that “George is a biped (or a man)”.
Finally, in abduction, there is an opposite reasoning compared to the other two: it is used when we know the rules and the conclusion and we want to reconstruct the premise.
The definition of abduction given by Charles S. Peirce, who long evaluated it in his pragmatist philosophy, is the following: “the surprising fact, C, is observed; but if A were true, C would be a matter of course.
Hence there is reason to suspect that A is true”.
If I have white beans in my hand and there is a bag of white beans in front of me, there is reason to believe that the beans in my hand were taken out of that bag.
In fact, this is exactly the way in which an AI machine corrects or enhances its knowledge starting from the program we put in it.
Another military use of AI is the “deep” face recognition, far more analytical and fast than it can be done today.
There is also voice recognition, the immediate indication of the sources of an enemy communication and its almost simultaneous comparison with the countless similar or anyway opposing communications.
Artificial Intelligence can also be used for military logistics issues or for the multi-variable resolution of war games, and even for combat automation in mixed environments with men and machines in action.
Therefore recourse to a limited war will be ever more likely if there are no human victims and if the confrontation is directed by advanced automatic systems.
There will also be an impact on political responsibility, which could be shifted to AI systems and not to commanders or decision-makers in the flesh.
What political and strategic effects would an automatic clash have and what immediate psychological mechanisms would it trigger in the population?
However, who wins in the recently-started war for dominance in AI military and intelligence technologies?
For the time being, certainly China.
In fact, in November 2017 the Chinese startup company Yitu Tech won the contest for the best face recognition system.
The challenge was to recognize the greatest number of passengers accidentally encountered in a civilian airport.
The Chinese government has already approved a project called “Artificial Intelligence 2.0” having specific applications both in the economy and in military and intelligence structures.
The Chinese Armed Forces are now working on a unified project in AI 2.0, an initiative regarding precisely the relationship between AI civilian and military applications.
As already noted, this is the strategic weak point of the AI military programming, because it verifies strong competition between the market and state organizations, at least in the West.
In fact, for the US Intelligence Services, the line to be currently followed in the smart war automation is to implement the new technologies to enrich the information already present on the President’s table.
In China the “merger” between market and State in the AI sector is directly regulated by the Commission for Integrated Military and CivilianDevelopment, chaired personally by Xi Jinping – and this says it all.
In the framework of the new AI strategic evolution, the Chinese Armed Forces follow the criterion of “shared construction, shared application and shared use” with private individuals and entities – at least for all innovations in the programming and automatic management of information (and actions) on the battlefield and in the intelligence area.
Therefore the Chinese AI 2.0 puts together robotic research, military systems without pilot or other staff and the new military brain science.
A new theoretical-practical branch that affects even the mental and remote control of machines through human applications such as headsets detecting and interpreting the brain activity of the wearer, thus allowing them to control the machines.
This already happened at the Zhengzhou Military Academy in August 2015, with students guiding and controlling robots through sensors placed on their skullcaps.
Hence the new AI activities in the intelligence sector can be easily imagined: infinitely broader and faster data collection – and even structured and semi-processed – creation of automatic intelligence contrast systems; entry into electronic media systems and networks available to “anonymous” data decision-makers that change the perception of the battlefield and of the whole enemy society.
Finally, the synergic coverage of the civilian and military data of the country that has achieved dominance in AI technologies.
Each new technology in the AI military sector is protected and, hence, implies a civilian, military or hybrid battlefield , in which all the operations of those who possess the advanced tool always hit the target with the minimum use of soldiers and with the utmost confidentiality.
It would be good for the EU to think about these new scenarios, but currently imagining that the European Union is able to think is mere theory.
Furthermore China has created a new Research Institute on AI and related technologies linked to the Central Military Commission and the Armed Forces.
Liu Ghuozhi, the Director of this Research Institute, likes to repeat that “whoever does not disrupt the adversary will be disrupted”.
The current rationale of the People’s Liberation Army is that the new and more advanced AI environment 2.0 – i.e. that of war, of the strategic clash and of the apparently peaceful political one – is already a new stage in military thinking.
This is a qualitatively different level, far beyond the old conflict information technologies – a stage requiring a “new thinking” and a completely different approach to military confrontation, which immediately turns into a social, economic, technological and cultural one.
Hence a Chinese way – through technology – to the Russian “hybrid warfare”, but a strategic thinking remaining along the lines of the Unrestricted Warfare theorized by Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui in 1999, at the dawn of globalization.
In fact, the origin of globalizationshould not be found in the fall of the Berlin Wall, but in the beginning of Deng Xiaoping’s Four Modernizations in 1978.
It is also worth noting that, from the beginning, the implicit planning in the “Unrestricted Warfare” theorized by the two Chinese Colonels had been thought against “a more powerful opponent than us”, namely the United States.
Hence merging of technical and intelligence services in the area of operations;union of intelligence and AI networks; integration of command functions with other activities on the ground, obviously also with intelligence, and finally use of the large mass of information in real time.
This is made possible thanks to the adaptation of the Chinese Intelligence Services to the speed and wide range of data provided by all technological platforms and by any “human” source.
The ultimate goal is unrestricted warfare, in which you do not dominate the “enemy’s will”, but all its resources.
Therefore China currently thinks that “technology determines tactics” and the People’s Liberation Army intends to develop also support systems using Artificial Intelligence to back strategic decision-making.
Still today this should work also on the basis of the old US program known as Deep Green created in 2005 by the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA).
It is an AI system intended to help military leaders in the strategic evaluation of scenarios, of their own options and of the enemy’s options, as well as their own potential – at such a speed enabling to counteract any enemy move before it could be fully deployed.
Finally what is the Russian Federation doing in the field of modernization of its Armed Forces by means of Artificial Intelligence?
It is doing many things.
First and foremost, Russia is carefully studying unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), such as Uran-9, Nerekhta and Vir.
They are all armoured tanks that can host anti-tank missiles and mid-sized guns.
Secondly, since 2010 Russia has favoured the development of its Armed Forces in relation to what its military doctrine defines as “intelligence exchange and supremacy”.
In other words, the Russian military world believes that the intelligence superiority is central both in times of peace and in times of war.
Superiority vis-à-vis its own population to be protected from others’ dezinformatsjia and superiority with respect to the enemies’ propaganda in their own countries – an information action that must be mastered and dominated, so that the enemy’s public can develop an ideological universe favourable to Russian interest.
This psycho-intelligence “exchange” – always based on AI supports – implies diplomatic, economic and obviously military, political, cultural and religious tools.
It is mainly developed through two intervention areas: the technical-intelligence and media area and the other one more traditionally related to psychological warfare.
Russia is also developing a program to adapt its supercomputers to deep learning, with an AI system significantly callediPavlov.
The deep learning of computers having hundreds of petaflops (a petaflop is equivalent to 1,000,000,000,000,000 floating point operations per second)is an AI system allowing to fully imitate not only the “normal” human thought- which is defined as “logical” – but also the possible statistical variations, which are in fact involved in abduction, of which we have already spoken.
It is worth repeating that the EU closely follows America with regard to drones, computer science and information technologies and it is also starting to fund some projects, including military ones, in the 2.0 AI sector.
However, they are technological goals far away in time and, in any case, despite the dream, or the myth, of a European Armed Force, intelligence, advanced battlefield doctrines and intelligence neural networks – if any – are strictly limited to the national level.
With the results we can easily imagine, above all considering the intellectual and technological lack of an EU doctrine on “future wars”.
Engaging with Local Stakeholders to Improve Maritime Security and Governance
Illicit activity in the maritime domain takes place within a complex cultural, physical, and political environment. When dialogue is initiated with a diverse range of stakeholders, policy recommendations can take into account region-specific limitations and opportunities. As noted in the Stable Seas: Sulu and Celebes Seas maritime security report, sectors like fisheries, coastal welfare, and maritime security are intrinsically linked, making engagement with a diverse range of local stakeholders a necessity. This collaborative approach is essential to devising efficient and sustainable solutions to maritime challenges. Engagement with local stakeholders helps policymakers discover where in these self-reinforcing cycles additional legislation or enforcement would have the greatest positive impact. Political restrictions against pursuing foreign fishing trawlers in Bangladesh, for example, have allowed the trawlers to target recovering populations of hilsa while local artisanal fishers suffer. In the context of the Philippines, the Stable Seas program and the Asia Pacific Pathways to Progress Foundation recently conducted a workshop that highlighted the importance of consistent stakeholder engagement, resulting in a policy brief entitled A Pathway to Policy Change: Improving Philippine Fisheries, Blue Economy, and Maritime Law Enforcement in the Sulu and Celebes Seas.
Consistent communication with local stakeholders on regional anomalies allows policymakers to modify initiatives to adjust for the physical, cultural, and political context of a maritime issue. The physical environment affects how, where, and why illicit actors operate in the maritime domain. Knowledge held by local stakeholders about uninhabited coastlines, local currents, and the locations of important coastal communities helps policymakers find recognizable patterns in the locations and frequency of maritime incidents. The 36,289 km of coastline in the Philippine archipelago means that almost 60 percent of the country’s municipalities and cities border the sea. The extensive coastline and high levels of maritime traffic make monitoring coastal waters and achieving maritime domain awareness difficult for maritime law enforcement agencies. A Pathway to Policy Change outlines several recommendations by regional experts on ways to improve maritime domain awareness despite limitations imposed by a complex physical environment. The experts deemed collaboration with local government and land-based authorities an important part of addressing the problem. By engaging with stakeholders working in close proximity to maritime areas, policymakers can take into account their detailed knowledge of local environmental factors when determining the method and motive behind illicit activity.
Culture shapes how governments respond to non-traditional maritime threats. Competition and rivalry between maritime law enforcement agencies can occur within government structures. A clearer understanding of cultural pressures exerted on community members can help policymakers develop the correct response. Strong ties have been identified between ethnic groups and insurgency recruiting grounds in Mindanao. The Tausug, for instance, tend to fight for the MNLF while the MILF mostly recruits from the Maguindanaons and the Maranao. Without guidance from local stakeholders familiar with cultural norms, correlations could be left unnoticed or the motivations for joining insurgency movements could be misconstrued as being based solely on extremist or separatist ideology. Local stakeholders can offer alternative explanations for behavioral patterns that policymakers need to make accommodations for.
Local stakeholder engagement allows policymakers to work on initiatives that can accommodate limitations imposed by the political environment. Collaboration with local stakeholders can provide information on what government resources, in terms of manpower, capital, and equipment, are available for use. Stakeholders also provide important insights into complex political frameworks that can make straightforward policy implementation difficult. Understanding where resource competition and overlapping jurisdiction exist enables policymakers to formulate more effective initiatives. Despite strong legislation regulating IUU fishing in the Philippines, local stakeholders have pointed out that overlapping jurisdictions have created exploitable gaps in law enforcement. In A Pathway to Policy Change, local experts suggested that the government should lay down an executive order to unify mandates in the fisheries sector to address the issue. Similarly, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) is highlighted as a region that heavily influences maritime security in the Sulu and Celebes seas. Working with government officials to understand how policy initiatives need to adjust for the region’s semi-autonomous status ensures maritime issues are properly addressed. BARMM, for instance, issues fishing permits for its own waters in addition to government permits, which can cause inconsistencies. Working alongside local stakeholders allows policymakers to create initiatives that take into account special circumstances within the political system.
Private Sector Engagement
Extending engagement with local stakeholders to the private sector is particularly important during both the policy research and implementation processes. Encouraging private stakeholders to actively help counter illicit activity can help policymakers create a more sustainable and efficient solution to security threats. As A Pathway to Policy Change highlights, private companies already have a strong incentive from a business perspective to involve themselves in environmental and social issues. Governments can encourage further involvement of private stakeholders like blue economy businesses and fishers by offering tax breaks and financial compensation for using sustainable business practices and for helping law enforcement agencies gather information on illicit activity. Offering financial rewards to members of the Bantay Dagat program in the Philippines, for example, would encourage more fishers to participate. Governments can also double down on educational programs to raise awareness of important issues threatening local economic stability. By communicating consistently with local stakeholders, policymakers can both more accurately identify maritime security needs and more comprehensively address them.
The unique physical, cultural, and political context in which maritime issues take place makes the knowledge of local stakeholders an invaluable asset. While many important types of information can be collected without working closely with stakeholders, there are also innumerable important aspects of any given context which cannot be quantified and analyzed from afar. Engagement with stakeholders provides a nuanced understanding of more localized and ephemerial factors that affect regional maritime security. Engaging with local stakeholders allows policymakers to capitalize on opportunities and circumvent limitations created by the political, cultural, and physical environment surrounding maritime issues in order to create sustainable, long-term solutions.
Turkey Faced With Revolt Among Its Syrian Proxies Over Libyan Incursion
Relations between Turkey and Syrian armed groups that used to be considered cordial due to massive support provided by the Turkish authorities to the Syrian opposition are rapidly deteriorating over Turkey’s incursion into the Libyan conflict, according to sources among the Syrian militants fighting in Libya.
Last month, over 2,000 fighters defected from Sultan Murad Division, one of the key armed factions serving the Turkish interests in Syria. The group’s members chose to quit after they were ordered to go to Libya to fight on the side of the Turkey-backed Government of National Accord (GNA). This marks a drastic shift in the attitude of the Syrian fighters towards participation in the Libyan conflict: just a few months ago there was no shortage of mercenaries willing to fly to Libya via Turkey for a lucrative compensation of $2,000 – 5,000 and a promise of Turkish citizenship offered by Ankara.
Both promises turned out to be an exaggeration, if not a complete lie. The militants who traveled to Libya got neither the money nor the citizenship and other perks that were promised to them, revealed a fighter of Ahrar al-Sharqiya faction Zein Ahmad. Moreover, he pointed out that after the fighters arrived in Libya they were immediately dispatched to Tripoli, an arena of regular clashes between GNA forces and units of the Libyan National Army despite Turkish promises of tasking them with maintaining security at oil facilities.
Data gathered by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights shows that around 9,000 members of Turkey-backed Syrian armed factions are currently fighting in Libya, while another 3,500 men are undergoing training in Syria and Turkey preparing for departure. Among them are former members of terror groups such as Al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, as confirmed by reports of capture of a 23-years-old HTS fighter Ibrahim Muhammad Darwish by the LNA forces. Another example is an ISIS terrorist also captured by the LNA who confessed that he was flown in from Syria via Turkey.
By sending the Syrian fighters to Libya Ankara intended to recycle and repurpose these groups for establishing its influence without the risks and consequences of a large-scale military operation involving major expenses and casualties among Turkish military personnel. However, the recent developments on the ground show that this goal was not fully achieved.
The Syrian fighters sustain heavy casualties due to the lack of training and weaponry. Total count of losses among the Turkey-backed groups reached hundreds and continue to grow as GNA and LNA clash with intermittent success. Until Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan curbs his ambition, destructive nature of involvement of the Syrian armed groups in Libya may result in the downfall of Turkey’s influence over the Syrian opposition.
Covid-19: A New Non-traditional Security Threat
Authors: Dhritiman Banerjee & Ayush Banerjee
Traditional Security vs Non-traditional Security
There exist various types of threats that a nation faces in today’s world. These primordial threats, in turn, affect a nation’s security dilemma in ways more than one. These can be of two primary type- traditional security threats and non-traditional security threats. Traditional security threats are threats to national security that arise out of conventional international issues such as water sharing, land sharing, etc. These disputes often result in a full-scale war or conventional conflicts among the nations involved.
Similarly, non-traditional security threats are the concerns that a nation faces due to the increased complexity in the conduct of foreign relations after the wake of the new world order, post-1945. As more nations gained their independence and as more international organisations were formed, these threats spread throughout the world resulting in diplomatic tensions and, intra-state and inter-state armed conflicts. At times these conflicts also involve non-state belligerents as well. Large scale migration, environmental degradation and climate change action, intensification of ethnocentrism towards ethnonationalism leading to ethnic conflicts, cyberspace security risks, terrorism and violent extremism, etc. are examples of such non-traditional security threats.
Traditional security threats were directly aimed at the system of governance of the involved international actors, often involving various proportions of military conduct and an aggressive foreign policy coupled with intelligence operations. Meanwhile, non-traditional security threats are complex systems of organised opposition to a dominant entity or actor. These may not involve armed warfare or an aggressive foreign policy as such. For instance, the 9/11 attack on the twin towers in the United States by Al-Qaeda affiliates amount to a non-traditional security threat, in general, and terrorism, in particular. This attack was not directly aimed at toppling over the regime in power, rather spread the message of radical extremism globally by a non-state actor of violent nature. Such threats are becoming more and more predominant in the 21st century.
Another instance of a non-traditional security threat stemmed out of the growing resentment for the authoritarian regime in power in Syria, which triggered the Syrian refugee crisis in 2011-12. The rapid displacement of people in rural locals within the nation created large scale dissatisfaction in terms of the economy with a rise in unemployment rates and poverty among with the loss of their means of livelihood. This displaced populace travelled beyond the already fragile Syrian border into several European states that triggered a spillover of the Syrian refugee crisis resulting in a security risk for most south European states such as Greece and Italy. Invariably, most of the European states shut down their borders due to an imminent security risk from extremism and rising ethnocentrism that may have resulted from integrating the refugees into their formal economies. More recently, India shut down its borders on the displaced Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, stating the probable cause of extremism being imminent within such a marginalised, persecuted populace.
The Case of Covid-19
This year shook the global political order. By March 2020, the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan turned into a full-scale health crisis across the world. The virus had spread throughout the globe and new epicentres were discovered almost every week. Nations such as the United States, Spain, Italy, India, United Kingdom, among others have been severely affected ever since. However, alongside the health risks associated with the virus, as most governments focus on the research and development of a safe vaccine, the security risks are becoming more important as a part of this discourse with each passing day. There are restrictions on fundamental freedoms such the freedom of movement and assembly. While most major channels of information have shifted to the domains of cyberspace, governments have become heavily reliant on data infrastructures and domestic resource capacities. The transportation industry alongside others has been severely affected, affecting the national economy. The food supply chain has frayed. There have been no practical international trade operations except for highly politicised transfers of essentials and medicare. Millions have lost their employment and means of livelihood. Fear and panic have spread among the public at large. In a few nations, internal displacement has risen hundred folds.
However, as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads chaos, non-traditional security issues may not result in a nuclear catastrophe, but it may directly or indirectly threaten the survival of States. This time period is extremely important for all governments to reshape their policy processes to curtail the social, economic, political, diplomatic and human security risks associated with the outbreak. While many governments have opted to follow a phased lockdown model to tackle the health-related issues associated with the outbreak, they have failed to implement public policy to curtail the other risks associated with it. This nonchalance has resulted in a new age security dilemma that coerces the States into taking policy actions they never planned to adopt.
There are several security threats that pose a risk to major governments due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In the economic context, Covid-19 has increased market volatility such that the price of risk assets has fallen sharply with economies both large and small recording a significant drop of at least 30% at the trough. Tobias Adrian and Fabio Natalucci estimate that “Credit spreads have jumped, especially for lower-rated firms. Signs of stress have also emerged in major short-term funding markets, including the global market for U.S. dollars. Volatility has spiked, in some cases to levels last seen during the global financial crisis, amid the uncertainty about the economic impact of the pandemic. With the spike in volatility, market liquidity has deteriorated significantly, including in markets traditionally seen as deep, like the U.S. Treasury market, contributing to abrupt asset price moves.” It is said that all jobs created since the financial crisis in the US, have been completely wiped away during this Covid-19 outbreak. This creates an atmosphere of public agitation against the government that continues to trigger mass protests and activism. The financial security, housing security, employment security concerns are paramount in this distraught for the public and government alike. International trade is at a standstill affecting all the export-oriented economies around the globe. These nations are now bound by self-reliance on domestic industries creating a need to romp up securitisation efforts at the domestic level itself.
Moreover, Covid-19 is set to increase political instability in countries such as Japan, South Korea, India, Italy, China and the US due to the economic repercussions of the lockdown and also due to the public reaction to governmental policy in efforts towards eradicating the virus. In fact, if the virus causes a global economic meltdown or a global recession, it will perhaps be due to the economic perils the US economy shall face in the coming years. This will also considerably influence Trump’s reelection campaign, as he may be forced to prioritise digital media campaigns over public campaigns due to the risks emanating from Covid-19. There will be rising security concerns with regard to the same considering the fact that there has already been illegitimate involvement of foreign actors in the previous election campaigns wherein Cambridge Analytica was allegedly charged for deliberating manipulating audience content with the help of the Russian Federation.
The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the dependence on cyberspace as software applications such as Google Meet, Skype and Zoom gain in popularity. This gain has been noticeably triggered by the idea of working from home and due to the conversion of physical classroom education to online learning modules. This brings into focus the need for an enhanced cybersecurity mechanism that can allow easy access while also protect the private and personal data of the users. There have already been reports which suggest that the security at Zoom has already been breached. This called for close inspection and proper securitisation of the features to ensure its clients’ next-generation data protection, as a remarkable landmark in the domains of cyberspace security. It is also said that the spread of Covid-19 will increase strategic disinformation campaigns leading to the spreading of propaganda, fake news and manipulated content. Much of this content may also undertake dubious angles on the virus outbreak itself inciting public dissatisfaction leading to panic and mass hysteria. While governments may also attempt at withholding valuable information and data on the actual consequences of the virus especially by downlisting the rate of mortality and infection behind the veil of public security.
The Council of Europe Cybercrimes division has reported that there is valuable evidence that malicious actors are exploiting the cyberspace vulnerabilities to cater to their own advantage. For example, it stated that phishing campaigns and malware distribution through seemingly genuine websites or documents providing information or advice on Covid-19 are used to infect computers and extract user credentials. Attacks against critical infrastructures or international organizations, such as the World Health Organization are becoming seemingly probable. Such agents also use ransomware targeting the mobile phones of individuals using applications that claim to provide genuine information on Covid-19 in order to extract financial information of the user. They can also obtain access to the systems of organisations by targeting employees who are teleworking or video conferencing. Fraudulent schemes where people are tricked into purchasing goods such as masks, hand sanitizers and fake cheap medicines claiming to prevent or cure Covid-19 are also being used for the same purpose by the cybercriminals. These are a few instances that add to the security dilemma the nations face due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 across the world.
Alongside these, the defence industry is set to experience a major slowdown due to the pandemic. Production, manufacturing facilities and supply chains could be affected as the requirements shift towards civilian and police equipment from heavy military equipment. More importance will be given to recovery and aid systems than weapons and ordnances. However, defensive readjustments continue to remain important for ensuring adequate security especially with respect to border control, protection of personnel and institutions, protection of natural resources from exploitation, ensuring law and order as law enforcement and paramilitary operations remain the primary preventive measures at the monopoly of the governments. This crisis will also have profound geopolitical consequences, particularly for the US-China relationship.
Tarık Oğuzlu believes, “the years ahead will likely see the geopolitical rivalry between the U.S. and China intensify. This power competition will likely transpire within a post-liberal international order in which neither the U.S. will continue to act as the chief provider of global public goods nor China will acquiesce in the role of norm-taker.” We already know that the USA under President Trump’s presidency has already begun questioning the liberal international order from within. Notwithstanding Trump’s reelection in November, the isolationist and nationalist tendencies within the current American society will continue to grow more radical and dominant. There may be smear campaigns that could affect the well-settled Chinese populace in order to expunge them from the integrated American society. Instances of racism and ethnocentrism will grow and lead to civic hostilities threatening public order and human security norms. Similarly, China under President Xi Jinpinghas adopted a more assertive and claimant role in international politics, and China has changed its course from the ‘bide your time and hide your capabilities’ dictum in history. Trade between the two major powers has already come to a standstill.
In the words of Ahyousha Khan, “…it is essential for states to counter non-traditional security threats because they can potentially reduce national resilience of states to prosper. The consequences of these threats would be more damaging for developing world, where there is population density, lack of medical facilities and most importantly economic vulnerability of the state to handle such threats for a prolonged period of time.” It is evident from the aforementioned instances that Covid-19 is, in fact, a non-traditional security threat in ways more than one. It leads to multitudes of security concerns hat encompasses most major domains of politics including the economy and cyberspace. Securitisation and protection services are of paramount importance in the same regard. It can be stated that the need to protect the civilians from such non-traditional security threats will lead States to assume a more authoritarian role whereby the State will increase surveillance on its citizens and will curtail the freedoms of movement and expression. Political leaders often exploit these non-traditional security threats to fulfill their own political interests and to secure their own position as the leader of the party. Such is the security risk arising out of the pandemic at large.
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