Friday News Roundup — January 31, 2020

Good afternoon and best Friday wishes to you on the last day of January. This roundup comes a little later today, as the impeachment of President Trump appears to be reaching its dramatic end, as last night’s statement by retiring Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN, laid a path for Republican Senators to decry the President’s behavior, yet also see no need to call further witnesses nor vote for removal. Barring any 11th hour surprises — or more revelations from John Bolton — President Trump will soon be acquitted in the impeachment trial.

While some may say that the acquittal vote could come quickly, there may be a procedural endgame that drags into next week. Nevertheless, the upcoming calendar is a political whirlwind. On Sunday, President Trump will sit down for one of the widest-viewed annual presidential interviews before the Super Bowl. On Monday, it’ll finally be voters of the Iowa Caucuses — rather than polls, donors, or the Twitterverse — telling us the state of play in the Democratic Primary. Finally, on Tuesday, the cameras will turn back to Washington for the State of the Union address, where President Trump will address the House that impeached him, the Senate that just has or is about to acquit him, the American people, and the world.

This all comes with the backdrop of growing global concern over the Wuhan Coronavirus and its spread. While the disease and its impact spreads, the concern grows over the economic impact. The World Health Organization has officially declared “a public health emergency of international concern.” With airlines cancelling flights for weeks ahead and governments implementing or pondering travel bans, the impact on business and supply chains has introduced new uncertainty to global commerce.

This week in the media, a group of our YPO partners published a piece in the Washington Business Journal in support of gerrymandering reform in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Elsewhere in the press, CSPC Mike Rogers Center Director Joshua Huminski argues that the future of the new Space Force hinges on getting the acquisitions system right.

In this week’s roundup, we cover the UK decision on Huawei from two angles, as Dan takes a strategic look while Ethan looks at what it might mean for the technical details of the “Special Relationship.” With the caucuses and primaries around the corner, Chris looks at the history of the nominating process and proposals for its reform. As always, we wrap with news you may have missed, and this week we welcome another intern to our ranks. Aida Olivas joins us from the University of Texas at Arlington, and she’ll be making her perspicacious contributions to the roundup in the coming weeks.

When We Part Way on Huawei

Dan Mahaffee

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab meet following the UK Huawei Decision (Department of State Photo)

In this year’s CSPC annual report, former House Intelligence Chairman and inaugural CSPC David M. Abshire Chair Mike Rogers laid out the challenge we face in an era returning to great power competition:

Yet while we focused intently on violent extremist groups, wishing that great power competition had ended with the Cold War, other major powers filled the vacuum. Nation-state conflict and the clash of spheres of interest never actually went away, even if we chose to look the other way. China with its “One Belt, One Road” initiative and hegemonic aspirations; Russia with its yearning for lost empire; and Iran with its arsonist instincts and revolutionary pursuit of power — all seized upon America’s inattention.

Chairman Rogers spoke largely of the national security establishment, our military and intelligence community, and their decade of training, doctrine, and culture that has grown in the soil of an uncontested global footprint, assumed technological dominance, and counterinsurgent- or counterterrorist-focused operations.

In those domains, considered the traditional national security domains — land, sea, and air — are ones where we have established excellence. That excellence is built upon technical acumen and the dedication of our highly-trained men and women in uniform. The playbook in those domains has been written, but still requires some updates for our era. The more novel domains of space and cyber require new approaches as they become increasingly competitive and vital to our security and prosperity.

In those domains, where revolutionary technologies come into play, new thinking is required. CSPC’s work on commercial spaceflight and international cybersecurity dialogue reflects these challenges. With reusable launch and other technological innovations transforming our access to space, the challenge becomes changing the bureaucratic culture and adopting more of a pioneer, risk-taking mindset as we build a space economy that will require our defense. In the cyber domain, the dialogue between private sector leaders and their government counterparts serves to improve understanding of the threat environment and the recognition that nation states, private companies, and individuals are all on the cyber “front lines.”

Those traditional domains are the “hardware” of international competition, but in this new era of competition, we must also pay equal attention to the “software.” Here is where the competition for economic and commercial influence comes into play, and the competition for leadership in advanced technologies is a key battleground. This is where the decisions of our allies as to whether or not to integrate Huawei into their telecommunications infrastructure comes into play.

The decision by the UK government of Boris Johnson to move ahead with Huawei equipment in the British 5G network — albeit with restrictions — comes despite the pressure from the U.S. government to ban the Chinese network provider. Doing so ignores the intelligence briefings from U.S. officials; the fundamental nature of Chinese laws that compel private sector cooperation with Beijing’s security and intelligence bureaux; back-bench opposition to the deal, which will ultimately require parliamentary approval; and public skepticism about letting Chinese providers into the vital 5G network. For telecoms, and sympathetic policymakers, the fact that Huawei is cheap and can be rapidly deployed outweighs these concerns.

That is one side of the challenge, where we have let our innovation and economic engines atrophy. In the private sector, decisions about business strategy, corporate consolidation, and investment in R&D have all combined to push 5G equipment manufacturing overseas. Perceptions of the marketplace drove our telecom providers to leverage themselves and become media companies, rather than focusing on their core mission of network growth. Specific to 5G, policymakers’ limits on available spectrum have put the U.S. at a commercial disadvantage when dormant spectrum could be applied to the 5G rollout.

In a broader sense, even as political economies around the world have turned towards what could be called industrial policy, U.S. policymakers have been loathe to approach such efforts. Even if one fully believes in the values of the free market and competition without government interference, that standard must be carried forward at a time when Europe and China have moved forward with their technology policies and regulations for data governance.

Beyond 5G, this presages another area of competition where we must make sure that our “software” is up-to-date. It will require investments in the entire innovation pipeline from our education system to our support for entrepreneurialism. If we are to build a counterweight to the Chinese approach, it is to come through stronger linkages between the U.S. economy and that of our like-minded allies and partners — not through beggar-thy-neighbor tariff policies. It will be less about leveraging access to a maturing and possibly decoupling Chinese market, and more so about competing for market share and influence in the rest of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Finally, as partners in Europe and Asia find themselves torn between their economic interests with China and their security and political partnerships with the United States, we must do our level best to ensure that our political system and the rule of law can still deliver the outcomes modern society needs, and deserves.

While the British decision is not final, it is one that demonstrates how the community of democratic nations must stand together on this challenge, and to understand that the competition has expanded. In the Cold War, we understood the battle of ideas was as important as the power of our militaries. Today, we must understand how geopolitics is now reshaping the competition in the global marketplace — both in commerce and ideas.

5G Threatens Five-Eyes Security Cooperations

Ethan Brown

In a move that made waves in both economic and security circles, the United Kingdom National Security Council voted to allow the Chinese Telecommunications giant, Huawei, to be part of the UK’s 5G network development. This despite consistent urging from the United States to adopt similar measures of banning Huawei and ZTE from all inclusion in developing the 5G enterprise, although the UK NSC released a statement assuring that Huawei’s involvement would be limited under the premise of protecting sensitive domains.

Based on recommendations from the National Cyber Security Centre, the High Risk Vendors (HRVs) in question are permitted hardware installation with access to “no more than 35%” of its traffic volume. The Chinese telecoms permissive entry into the network also excludes high-risk vendors from the “core network” or any military networks, nuclear sites, and critical infrastructure. This development comes just a few months after another “Five Eyes” intelligence sharing partner, New Zealand, capitulated to Huawei’s press to become an equipment provider to their future 5G network.

What is “Five Eyes”?

The Five Eyes partners (dubbed FVEY) is an organization of five English-speaking countries- the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who coordinate intelligence activities and provide a key cog in the national security intelligence operations architecture. These states are and have long been the closest allies against global threat networks, and this organization of intelligence and security operations is a bastion of one of the more powerful and intertwined military/intelligence alliances on the planet.

The enterprise traces its origins to the post-World War II era, following the successful intelligence cooperation between the United States and the UK during that conflict, resulting in the BRUSA (UKUSA) Agreement of 1946. In the ensuing decades as Canada, New Zealand and Australia became increasingly independent states, they began self-representation in the security pact.

In its modern configuration, the FVEY partners share very similar security standards methodologies, and the intelligence sharing is typified by open exchange and shared access at various classification levels, based on the history of cooperation and trust between the members. Compared to other intelligence and security partnerships, NATO, as an example, where intelligence and sensitive information may only be shared with partners in a limited or “scrubbed” capacity, or only as a quid pro quo trade of specific classified information. Essentially, any one of the five states could have a security memo or brief, classified at a particular level, which is readily reciprocated and accessible amongst the other four partners and is releasable on the appropriate networks to those with approved access.

How are Chinese Telecoms a threat to 5G security?

The risks posed by High Risk Vendors (HRVs) to global 5G network developments have been well documented over the last decade. In 2012, a bipartisan congressional report was co-written by Chairman Mike Rogers (CSPC, David C. Abshire Chair) and Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, investigating Huawei and ZTE’s lack of transparency, close ties/cooperation with the Chinese Communist Party, and failure to adhere to US trade policies and laws. In recent years, US federal prosecutors charged the Telecoms giants with “violations of the U.S. embargo on Iran, bank fraud, obstruction of justice and trade secret theft. ZTE pleaded guilty in 2017 to illegally sending approximately $32 million in U.S. goods to Iran”. China has a track record of deliberately manipulating markets and engaging in a myriad of aggressive and illicit behaviors, highlighted by intellectual property theft, expansionism in support of its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), and modernization of its military forces.

The 5G question as it relates to Chinese activities and the national security implications are largely a concern of data collection and access to the infrastructure itself. Per the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence report, the overarching issues are as follows:

Screen Capture: NATO CCDCOE

Based on the findings of the CCDCOE report, the comments by the UK NSC about protecting the ‘core’ of the network would appear to be rendered moot. Further, as military and critical infrastructure systems rely heavily on existing civil telecommunications enterprises (but generally insulated through extensive security protocols), the idea of separation between these secure, critical systems and the broader network faces the profound threat of Huawei/ZTE (and thus, Chinese Communist Party) intrusion into a state’s entire communications infrastructure.

What does this mean for FVEY?

As 5G networks are rapidly coming online and replacing the existing communications infrastructure, the mechanisms by which the FVEY partners integrate now faces the potential of Chinese incursion into the broader secured network. While there are always security measures to be implemented and further mechanisms to insulate against possible espionage, data collection and further intellectual theft, the threat is less about deliberate intrusion and more on deliberately accepting a vulnerability. The reality is that the transfer of data through future UK and New Zealand 5G networks via routers, bridges and network gateways/switches- all the key hardware components that Huawei is primarily responsible for producing- is now subject to some form of monitoring and collection by the Chinese Communist Party.

Simply put, the revolutionary nature of 5G is that the network processes bytes of information in a way that doesn’t distinguish between the ‘core’ and the ‘edge’, and regardless of the computational methodology, that information will still in some capacity pass through the aforementioned Huawei or ZTE produced hardware. As the FVEY partners evolve into 5G states, thanks to the Huawei inclusion by UK and New Zealand, the inner circle of intelligence sharing is presumably compromised.

The views are of the author, and do not reflect the views, position, or policy of the U.S. Air Force or Department of Defense.

Primary Process: When, Why, and What’s Next?

Chris Condon

1968 Democratic National Convention, Chicago

1968 was a watershed year in American politics. The assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy shocked the world, and escalated tensions over race relations and the Vietnam War. President Johnson, who often struggled to fill the shoes of his predecessor John F. Kennedy, had signed multiple bills in an effort to alleviate some racial issues that had boiled over throughout the 1960s, but much of the problem remained unaddressed. Furthermore, Johnson frequently found himself besieged by members of his own party and the Republicans alike over his continued support for the war in Vietnam. Multiple members of his cabinet felt that same heat, including Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara. This is the climate in which the modern primary system was born.

After nearly losing the New Hampshire Democratic primary to dark horse challenger Senator Eugene McCarthy and facing another strong challenge from popular Senator Robert Kennedy, President Johnson announced his surprise retirement from the presidency at the end of his term. 12 more primary elections were held, and various candidates won each contest leading up to the Democratic National Convention. As riots raged outside the convention hall and Chicago police violently suppressed them, delegates selected Vice President Hubert Humphrey as their nominee. The problem? Humphrey had not even participated in any primary contests, instead securing the support of party bosses who controlled the selection of convention delegates in 37 states. Humphrey, running on largely the same platform as Lyndon Johnson had, went on to lose the general election to Richard Nixon.

Following this fiasco, the Democratic Party passed a resolution amending the process for choosing delegates to select their presidential nominee. Essentially, the Party decided to pass the decision to voters, changing election laws in each state to provide for the creation of primary elections rather than small groups of party insiders choosing delegates that were not bound to vote for any candidate. Voters could now vote for delegates who were largely bound to vote for the voter’s candidate of choice. Since this rule change also called for the amendation of state laws, the Republican Party also changed their nominating process in the same manner.

1976 saw the first groundbreaking use of this system, when the Democratic Party was faced with the choice of a nominee to take on incumbent President Gerald Ford. Since the new primary system had only been implemented for one election cycle, the record number of candidates underestimated the importance of remaining competitive in early states, often focusing on larger states or their home states as anchors for their campaigns. Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter realized that a strong performance in Iowa, utilizing his folksy, homespun image to appeal to rural midwestern voters, could create enough momentum for his little-known candidacy to propel him forward. His gamble paid off, as a first place finish in Iowa prompted another first place finish in New Hampshire and domination of most future contests. In essence, the presence of Iowa first in the cycle gave rural voters the opportunity to have a major role in choosing the eventual nominee. Those that seek to preserve Iowa’s position likely realize this benefit, and seek to preserve a non-urban perspective in the Democratic Party especially.

For all of its benefits over the old system, the new system does have its issues and oddities. For example, small states like Iowa and New Hampshire do have outsized influence on the outcome of the election as compared to states like California and New York. Many have wondered in recent years why states that are so unrepresentative of the Democratic electorate as a whole conduct their contests first. This advantage gives them much control over the eventual nominee, and has to do largely with tradition. New Hampshire has had the first primary election in the nation since 1920 due simply to happenstance, and remained as such due to precedent until 1968. That year, the New Hampshire State Legislature passed a law mandating that theirs would be the first before any “similar contests.” This left room for Iowa to pass a similar law mandating that their caucuses (where voters gather in halls and debate and vote in person) would precede the New Hampshire primary by at least 8 days.

This system stuck, and has persevered ever since. Considering the largely rural, white demographics of both Iowa and New Hampshire, many voters and activists now seek to reform the system to make state representation more balanced. Some have proposed simply choosing a large state like California or New York to hold their primary first. The argument for this change is that larger states tend to be more diverse and contain more people, so they should have a larger effect on the eventual outcome. However, smaller states like Iowa provide candidates with less funding an opportunity to make their case to a smaller group of voters. If a massive state like California was first, these candidates may be drowned out by more well-funded candidates.

Another popular proposal is to create a single, national primary date rather than letting each state choose its own primary date. This system would both eliminate the advantage of the states that go first and would make primaries more accessible by reducing confusion regarding when each state’s contest takes place. However, like the first proposal, it would heavily disadvantage candidates with smaller war chests and lesser name recognition, who would find it a herculean task to campaign on a national scale so early. The final proposal I will discuss here actually comes in multiple variations: a rotating regional primary. Under this system, the nation would be split into four regions for primary purposes: the east, west, midwest, and south. The order that each region would vote in the primary would rotate each cycle, ensuring that no region would dominate every election. However, this would allow candidates from whichever region was first in each cycle to possibly dominate that election and hamper the campaigns that originate in other areas.

The method by which America chooses its political candidates is unique among nations. While political parties usually choose the candidates that stand for election, the United States allows voters not only to choose the official ultimately elected but also the candidates that campaign against each other. This system was born not out of the benevolence of the parties, but out of the desire of the people to exercise a greater level of control over those that represent them. While there is a case to be made that the system requires reform, it is a remarkable tradition steeped in history — a quirk that is emblematic of America’s republican tradition.

News You May Have Missed

House Approves War Powers Legislation Pulling Authority Back to Congress

Aida Olivas

On Thursday, the House approved two pieces of legislation aimed toward decreasing the president’s war powers, especially in light of the recent conflict between Iran and the United States. Anti-war lawmakers have been attempting to repeal the 2002 military force authorization due to worries of the potential consequences of the White House’s ability to unilaterally engage in military conflict. While the legislation had bipartisan support, there were Republican lawmakers who were upset over the method used by Democratic lawmakers to pass the amendments. They claimed they were essentially tricked by the move to include the amendments to a Senate passed, noncontroversial bill that prevented Republicans from using procedural tactics to prevent the amendment from passing (as they’ve done in the past with other Democratic introduced measures). The White House expressed their criticisms of the amendments while Trump urged the members to “vote their heart” before backtracking and taking the official White House stance against the measures.

Pompeo: UK — US Relations ‘Not At Risk’ Over Huawei Decision

Aida Olivas

London’s decision to give the Chinese based technology company, Huawei, a role in Britain’s 5G network drew forth a flurry of questions and worries aimed at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about the stability of the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. At the Policy Exchange think tank event in London, Pompeo assured that the U.K. remains a “partner and a friend” and that their decision to work with the tech company did not put the relationship at risk. The British government will not permit full access to the network and sensitive data, but they will allow Huawei to have a limited role supplying the outer limits of the system. While Huawei insists it does not have ties to the Chinese government, Pompeo was recorded on Wednesday saying the company was “an extension of the Chinese Communist Party” that could pose a strong risk to American national networks and servers before emphasizing that national security information will not pass through an untrusted network, whether it be American or foreign based.

Twitter Users Can Now Report Voter Suppression, Misinformation

Aida Olivas

Beginning on January 30, 2020, Twitter will allow its users to report false or misleading tweets concerning how to participate in the upcoming elections and other forms of civic engagement in the same manner as users would report harassment, spam, self-harm…etc. Twitter rules and guidelines have also been updated to include the prohibition of content that could suppress or mislead voters. This is the first time this tool has been used in the United States and it places the country with nations, such as India, the U.K., and others across the E.U. that are also attempting to protect the importance of elections and promote healthier online conversations concerning the topic. At the end of last year, Twitter also reported they would be banning all types of political advertising as the 2020 election got closer which was met with criticisms from both sides of the campaign aisle.

Health-Records Company Pushed Opioids to Doctors in Secret Deal With Drugmaker

A health software company, named Practice Fusion, apparently helped push doctors to prescribe addictive opioids to patients over 200 million times. When doctors would access patients’ medical records through the company’s software, a pop-up would appear inquiring about a patient’s pain level. It would then recommend various treatment plans, which often unnecessarily included a prescription for opioid painkillers. The company allegedly created the alert as part of a partnership with an undisclosed pharmaceutical company, suspected to be Purdue Pharma Inc., the makers of OxyContin. This week, Practice Fusion agreed to pay $145 million to settle a multitude of civil and criminal cases against them as the result of a government investigation and suit in Vermont federal court.

The views of authors are their own, and not that of CSPC.




CSPC is a 501(c)3, non-partisan organization that seeks to apply lessons of history and leadership to today's challenges

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CSPC is a 501(c)3, non-partisan organization that seeks to apply lessons of history and leadership to today's challenges

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