March 18, 2017
D’Trump meets Angela Merkel
March 18, 2017
March 14, 2017
by Joseph Nye@www.project-syndicate.org
CAMBRIDGE – A series of episodes in recent years – including Russia’s cyber interventions to skew the United States’ 2016 presidential election toward Donald Trump, the anonymous cyber-attacks that disrupted Ukraine’s electricity system in 2015, and the “Stuxnet” virus that destroyed a thousand Iranian centrifuges – has fueled growing concern about conflict in cyberspace. At last month’s Munich Security Conference, Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders announced the formation of a new non-governmental Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace to supplement the UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE).
The GGE’s reports in 2010, 2013, and 2015 helped to set the negotiating agenda for cybersecurity, and the most recent identified a set of norms that have been endorsed by the UN General Assembly. But, despite this initial success, the GGE has limitations. The participants are technically advisers to the UN Secretary-General rather than fully empowered national negotiators. Although the number of participants has increased from the original 15 to 25, most countries do not have a voice.But there is a larger question lurking behind the GGE: Can norms really limit state behavior?
Most experts agree that a global cyberspace treaty currently would be politically impossible (though Russia and China have made such proposals at the UN). But, beyond formal treaties, normative constraints on states also include codes of conduct, conventional state practices, and widely shared expectations of proper behavior among a group (which create a common law). In scope, these constraints can vary from global, to plurilateral, to bilateral. So what can history tell us about the effectiveness of normative policy instruments?
In the decade after Hiroshima, tactical nuclear weapons were widely regarded as “normal” weapons, and the US military incorporated nuclear artillery, atomic land mines, and nuclear anti-aircraft weapons into its deployed forces. In 1954 and 1955, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told President Dwight Eisenhower that the defense of Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam and of offshore islands near Taiwan would require the use of nuclear weapons (Eisenhower rejected the advice).
Nobel Laureate Economist Thomas Schelling
Over time, the development of an informal norm of non-use of nuclear weapons changed this. The Nobel laureate economist Thomas Schelling argued that the development of the norm of non-use of nuclear weapons was one of the most important aspects of arms control over the past 70 years, and it has had an inhibiting effect on decision-makers. But for new nuclear states like North Korea, one cannot be sure that the costs of violating the taboo would be perceived as outweighing the benefits.
Similarly, a taboo against using poisonous gases in warfare developed after World War I, and the 1925 Geneva Protocol prohibited the use of chemical and biological weapons. Two treaties in the 1970s prohibited the production and stockpiling of such weapons, creating a cost not only for their use, but also for their very possession.
Verification provisions for the Biological Weapons Convention are weak (merely reporting to the UN Security Council), and such taboos did not prevent the Soviet Union from continuing to possess and develop biological weapons in the 1970s. Similarly, the Chemical Weapons Convention did not stop either Saddam Hussein or Bashar al-Assad from using chemical weapons against their own citizens.
Nonetheless, both treaties have shaped how others perceive such actions. Such perceptions contributed to the justification of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 to the international dismantling of most Syrian weapons in 2014. With 173 countries having ratified the Biological Warfare Convention, states that wish to develop such weapons must do so secretly, and face widespread international condemnation if evidence of their activities becomes known.
Normative taboos may also become relevant in the cyber realm, though here the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon depends on intent, and it would be difficult to forbid – and impossible to prohibit reliably – the design, possession, or even implantation for espionage of particular computer programs. In that sense, efforts to prevent cyber conflict cannot be like the nuclear arms control that developed during the Cold War, which involved elaborate treaties and detailed verification protocols.
A more fruitful approach to normative controls on cyberwarfare may be to establish a taboo not against weapons but against targets. The US has promoted the view that the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), which prohibit deliberate attacks on civilians, applies in cyberspace. Accordingly, the US has proposed that, rather than pledging “no first use” of cyber weapons, countries should pledge not to use cyber weapons against civilian facilities in peacetime.
This approach to norms has been adopted by the GGE. The taboo would be reinforced by confidence-building measures such as promises of forensic assistance and non-interference with the workings of Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs).
The GGE report of July 2015 focused on restraining attacks on certain civilian targets, rather than proscribing particular code. At the September 2015 summit between US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the two leaders agreed to establish an expert commission to study the GGE proposal. Subsequently, the GGE report was endorsed by the leaders of the G20 and referred to the UN General Assembly.
The attack on the Ukrainian power system occurred in December 2015, shortly after the submission of the GGE report, and in 2016, Russia did not treat the US election process as protected civilian infrastructure. The development of normative controls on cyber weapons remains a slow – and, at this point, incomplete – process.
March 13, 2017
by Paul Krugman@www.nytimes.com
The U.S. economy added 10.3 million jobs during President Obama’s second term, or 214,000 a month. This brought the official unemployment rate below 5 percent, and a number of indicators suggested that by late last year we were fairly close to full employment. But Donald Trump insisted that the good news on jobs was “phony,” that America was actually suffering from mass unemployment.
Then came the first employment report of the Trump administration, which at 235,000 jobs added looked very much like a continuation of the previous trend. And the administration claimed credit: Job numbers, Mr. Trump’s press secretary declared, “may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.”
Reporters laughed — and should be ashamed of themselves for doing so. For it really wasn’t a joke. America is now governed by a president and party that fundamentally don’t accept the idea that there are objective facts. Instead, they want everyone to accept that reality is whatever they say it is.
So we’re just supposed to believe the president if he says, falsely, that his inauguration crowd was the biggest ever; if he claims, ludicrously, that millions of votes were cast illegally for his opponent; if he insists, with no evidence, that his predecessor tapped his phones.
And it’s not just about serving one man’s vanity. If you want to see how this attitude can hurt millions of people, consider the state of play on health care reform.
Obamacare has led to a sharp decline in the number of Americans without health insurance. You can argue that the decline should have been even sharper, that there may be troubles ahead, or that we should have done better. But the reality of the law’s achievement shouldn’t be in question, and you should worry about the consequences of Trumpcare, which would drastically weaken key provisions.
Republicans, however, are in denial about recent gains. The president of the Heritage Foundation dismisses the positive effects of the Affordable Care Act as “fake news.” In Louisville over the weekend, Vice President Mike Pence declared that “Obamacare has failed the people of Kentucky” — this in a state where the percentage of people without insurance fell from 16.6 to 7 percent when the law went into effect. And as for the likely impacts of Trumpcare — well, they literally don’t want to know.
When Congress is considering major legislation, it normally waits for the Congressional Budget Office to “score” the proposal — to estimate its effects on revenues, outlays and other key targets. The budget office isn’t always right, but it has a very good track record compared with other forecasters; even more important, it has always been scrupulous about avoiding partisanship, and therefore acts as an important check on politically motivated wishful thinking.
But Republicans rammed Trumpcare through key committees, literally in the dead of night, without waiting for the C.B.O. score — and they have been pre-emptively denouncing the budget office, which is likely to find that the bill would cause millions to lose health coverage.
The truth is that while the office got some things wrong about health reform, on the whole it did pretty well at projecting the effects of a major new bill — and far better than the people now attacking it, who predicted disasters that never happened. And whatever criticisms one may have of its forthcoming score, it will surely be better than the ludicrous claim of Tom Price, the secretary of health and human services, that “nobody will be worse off financially” as a result of a plan that drastically cuts subsidies and raises premiums for millions of Americans.
But this isn’t really about whose analyses of health policy are most likely to get it right. It’s about Trump and company attacking the legitimacy of anyone who might question their assertions.
The C.B.O., in other words, is in the same position as the news media, which Mr. Trump has declared “enemies of the people” — not, whatever he may say, because they get things wrong, but because they dare to challenge him on anything.
“Enemy of the people” is, of course, a phrase historically associated with Stalin and other tyrants. This is no accident. Mr. Trump isn’t a dictator — not yet, anyway — but he clearly has totalitarian instincts.
And much, perhaps most, of his party is happy to go along, accepting even the most bizarre conspiracy theories. For example, a huge majority of Republicans believe Mr. Trump’s basically insane charges about being wiretapped by President Obama.
So don’t make the mistake of dismissing the assault on the Congressional Budget Office as some kind of technical dispute. It’s part of a much bigger struggle, in which what’s really at stake is whether ignorance is strength, whether the man in the White House is the sole arbiter of truth.
March 13, 2017
by Idris Jala@www.thestar.com.my
Idris Jala: Strumming the Permandu Blues
WE started Pemandu in 2009 with two clear objectives: to drive Malaysia’s transformation into a high-income nation by 2020, and to work ourselves out of this job. I have always said that Pemandu will be successful when we become redundant, that is, when the civil service is prepared to take up the mantle to lead Malaysia’s transformation.
We were also clear that the handover of Pemandu’s work on the National Transformation Programme (NTP) can only be initiated when it is “sticky”, meaning there is strong potential for the civil service to independently implement the NTP’s initiatives.
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In 2016, as the NTP reached almost seven years of implementation and continued to yield tangible results, it became apparent that the time had come for Pemandu to transition our work on the NTP to the civil service. On Jan 23 2017, the Prime Minister’s Office announced the commencement of this transition over a two-year period.
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We have scheduled this transition into three categories. The first involves work which will be handed over immediately to the civil service without any need for transition. This was completed on 1 March 2017.
Under the second category, some of the NTP work will be transferred to the civil service on a gradual basis. This requires a two-year transition period during which Pemandu will continue to support the civil service in the NTP activities, until the civil service has built sufficient capacity to enable full handover in the third year.
Over this period, Pemandu will commit 45 of its employees to work with the civil service in 2017. This will reduce to 30 in 2018, until no further support is required from Pemandu in 2019.
The third category involves work which still requires NTP coordination even after work has been transferred to the civil service. Pemandu will hand over these coordination activities to the Economic Planning Unit’s Civil Service Delivery Unit.
Malaysia–Paradise Found or Lost?
The key to succeeding in this exercise is to ensure an orderly transition. As set forth by change management expert William Bridges, there are three stages of transition, namely Ending/Letting Go; the Neutral Zone; and the New Beginning.
In the past seven years, we have worked closely with the civil service to ensure adoption of the new processes introduced to ensure consistent delivery of the NTP initiatives. This has seen the civil service gradually applying these new processes across their operations.
We are confident of their continued ability and commitment to do so. In short, all our work thus far has been leading up to this point.However, in tandem with this gradual shift, there remains a segment of the civil service which has yet to adopt any of the new ways of working.Therefore, within the civil service now exists two methods of delivery – the old way of working and the new.
According to Bridges’ transition model, the civil service is in the Neutral Zone, which, if allowed to continue, results in the organisation becoming choked. Therefore, it is critical to our transition timeline that by February 2019, the civil service must make way for new beginnings to ensure we achieve our high-income aspirations by 2020.
Let me come to why we felt it was time to begin this transition. Since the start of the NTP, we have been committed to our True North: the high-income GNI per capita threshold as set by the World Bank, jobs and investment.
According to latest available data from the World Bank, Malaysia’s GNI per capita as at 2015 was US$10,570, just 15% short of the current high-income threshold of US$12,475.
This is compared to our GNI per capita of just US$8,280 in 2010, with a gap of 33% from the-then high-income threshold of US$12,276. Additionally, we have catalysed a 2.2 times growth in the CAGR of private investment, which previously recorded a CAGR of 5.5% in 2006-2010. Between 2011-2015, private investment recorded a CAGR of 12.1%.
This data shows that we are more than halfway to high-income status and on track to achieve our goals by 2020.
We have also assessed the ministries’ competencies in taking over the reins of the NTP, with the programme’s total KPIs recording an average score of more than 100% every year.More importantly, through the NTP, we have helped to raise the incomes of everyday Malaysians in an inclusive way, such as through the completion of 5,286 km of rural roads benefiting 3.5 million people.
We have also connected 144,025 rural houses to reliable electricity, lighting up the lives of 720,125 people, provided 1.68 million living in 334,593 rural houses with access to clean water and built and restored 79,137 houses benefiting 412,360 people.
With just three years left to our deadline, considering the pace of progress we have seen over the past seven years, I am confident of the civil service’s capability to deliver the national transformation.
In this transition, this will mark my final Transformation Unplugged entry. Pemandu as an organisation will also embark on a new journey as a global consultancy firm focusing on government transformation and business turnaround.
On behalf of the team, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone whom we have worked closely with in the past seven years. I would also like to thank the folks who have been following my column. I must commend the Prime Minister and civil servants for their commitment and cooperation in delivering the NTP to date. I look forward to work together with them to embrace this New Beginning in the coming two years.
In the meantime, I hope to see you at the Global Transformation Forum 2017 on March 22-23. The Government of Malaysia is playing host again, bringing the best minds in transformation from all over the world to inspire Malaysians. The transformation mindset you will experience will bring clarity and inspire real behavioural change in driving your own transformation.
March 5, 2017
Geo-Politics, Disruptive Social Developments and Technological Change: Has the Game Changed? Yes, that is easy part of the answer. How we wish that life is simple and outcomes are predictable. But it is not. I have been grappling a few questions. I asked myself questions like What has changed? How it has changed? What is driving the change?What this change means to us in Asia.
China, North Korea, Islamic and Christian evangelism, terrorism and so on are making the headlines.I also see increasing polarisation and the need for understanding and rebuilding trust. I expect our politicians to reconnect with people they are mandated to serve and want leaders to lead with integrity, honesty and hope. Listen to DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam for some insights.–Din Merican
March 1, 2017
If there was a unifying theme to President Trump’s campaign, it was his pledge to serve America’s “forgotten men and women,” working people forsaken by the economy and Washington.
In his speech Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress, Mr. Trump presented himself as having made an aggressive start at championing the cause of working people, and promised a new era of rising wages, bustling factories and coal mines, sparkling air and water, and cheaper and better health care, all behind a “great great wall.” He told a few whoppers, but largely kept his eyes riveted to his teleprompter and his delivery subdued. He even opened his speech with a long-overdue condemnation of hate “in all of its very ugly forms.”
We heard again the same sorts of gauzy promises and assertions of a future Edenic America, a sort of Trumptopia, that characterized his campaign. He didn’t explain how he would get it all done, much less pay for any of it; indeed, it sounded at times as though he were still running for the job, rather than confronted with actually doing it. Across his first few weeks in office, Mr. Trump has shown little sign of delivering anything for working Americans beyond whatever satisfaction they may derive from watching him bait the Washington establishment and attack the reality-based media.
Mr. Trump likes to describe his chaotic first month as “promises kept.” Really? Remember how he promised during the campaign to “immediately” fix Obamacare and deliver “great health care for a fraction of the price”? He hasn’t even put a plan on the table. On Monday, he complained to the nation’s governors that “nobody knew” replacing Obamacare “could be so complicated.”
As in the campaign, Mr. Trump also promised Tuesday night to accelerate economic growth with a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. “Crumbling infrastructure,” he said, “will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways, gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.” Sounds great. What’s the plan? How will we pay for it? He wasn’t saying. He also renewed his promise of “massive tax relief” for the middle class — but once again there are no details in sight.
It is very early yet in this presidency — though it sure doesn’t feel that way — and Mr. Trump may yet keep some of his proliferating commitments to Americans.
But the plans he has put forward so far, and the few actions he has taken, do not bode well. He proposes to cut the health, disability and job-training programs that working people, as well as the poor, rely upon. Mr. Trump’s first big initiative was a draconian immigration ban, now mired in court challenges, that’s caused problems for businesses from Silicon Valley to Wisconsin. Mr. Trump proudly noted Tuesday that one of the administration’s first orders froze federal hiring, but he seems unaware that those jobs aren’t only in Washington, they’re in communities across the nation.
Mr. Trump has successfully started a national assault on unauthorized immigrants — and it is already tearing families apart and disrupting businesses, and is likely to cost billions without improving the fortunes of the working poor. On Tuesday he dangled the possibility of supporting some form of “merit based” immigration reform that would make struggling families “very very happy indeed.”
Again, that last bit sounds really nice. But it’s hard to escape the conclusion that, so far, the only working people the president has really delivered for are members of his own family, who are using his presidency as a brand-building opportunity, and former campaign officials, who are cashing in as lobbyists in Washington.
Yet Mr. Trump has certainly not forgotten America’s “forgotten men and women.” The White House is assiduously stoking their fears, grievances and prejudices, and selling photo-ops as accomplishments in order to portray an undisciplined, unfocused president as “President Action, President Impact.”
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Meanwhile, he and his aides have counted on the protests of Americans outraged by his antics to create the appearance of an activist presidency. The cable shows are always on in the West Wing, where Stephen Bannon loves seeing split-screen television images with Mr. Trump meeting business executives on one side and opposition protest rallies on the other.
Mr. Trump closed his address to Congress by recalling the historic accomplishments of “the country’s builders and artists and inventors” and imagining what Americans can accomplish today. It’s time for the American President to do his job as well.
A version of this editorial appears in print on March 1, 2017, on Page A30 of the New York edition with the headline: Visions of Trumptopia.
Read Thomas Friedman’s article as well: