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Bill Gates memories of his father

Bill Gates

We will miss him more than we can express right now. We are feeling grief but also gratitude. My dad’s passing was not unexpected—he was 94 years old and his health had been declining—so we have all had a long time to reflect on just how lucky we are to have had this amazing man in our lives for so many years. And we are not alone in these feelings. My dad’s wisdom, generosity, empathy, and humility had a huge influence on people around the world.

My sisters, Kristi and Libby, and I are very lucky to have been raised by our mom and dad. They gave us constant encouragement and were always patient with us. I knew their love and support were unconditional, even when we clashed in my teenage years. I am sure that’s one of the reasons why I felt comfortable taking some big risks when I was young, like leaving college to start Microsoft with Paul Allen. I knew they would be in my corner even if I failed.

As I got older, I came to appreciate my dad’s quiet influence on almost everything I have done in life. In Microsoft’s early years, I turned to him at key moments to seek his legal counsel. (Incidentally, my dad played a similar role for Howard Schultz of Starbucks, helping him out at a key juncture in his business life. I suspect there are many others who have similar stories.)

My dad also had a profound influence on my drive. When I was a kid, he wasn’t prescriptive or domineering, and yet he never let me coast along at things I was good at, and he always pushed me to try things I hated or didn’t think I could do (swimming and soccer, for example). And he modeled an amazing work ethic. He was one of the hardest-working and most respected lawyers in Seattle, as well as a major civic leader in our region.

My dad’s influence on our philanthropy was just as big. Throughout my childhood, he and my mom taught me by example what generosity looked like in how they used their time and resources. One night in the 1990s, before we started our foundation, Melinda, Dad, and I were standing in line at the movies. Melinda and I were talking about how we had been getting more requests for donations in the mail. Dad simply said, “Maybe I can help.”

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation would not be what it is today without my dad. More than anyone else, he shaped the values of the foundation. He was collaborative, judicious, and serious about learning. He was dignified but hated anything that seemed pretentious. (Dad’s given name was William H. Gates II, but he never used the “II”—he thought it sounded stuffy.) He was great at stepping back and seeing the big picture. He was quick to tear up when he saw people suffering in the world. And he would not let any of us forget the people behind the strategies we were discussing.

People who came through the doors of the Gates Foundation felt honored to work with my dad. He saw the best in everyone and made everyone feel special.

We worked together at the foundation not so much as father and son but as friends and colleagues. He and I had always wanted to do something concrete together. When we started doing so in a big way at the foundation, we had no idea how much fun we would have. We only grew closer during more than two decades of working together.

Finally, my dad had a profoundly positive influence on my most important roles—husband and father. When I am at my best, I know it is because of what I learned from my dad about respecting women, honoring individuality, and guiding children’s choices with love and respect.

Dad wrote me a letter on my 50th birthday. It is one of my most prized possessions. In it, he encouraged me to stay curious. He said some very touching things about how much he loved being a father to my sisters and me. “Over time,” he wrote, “I have cautioned you and others about the overuse of the adjective ‘incredible’ to apply to facts that were short of meeting its high standard. This is a word with huge meaning to be used only in extraordinary settings. What I want to say, here, is simply that the experience of being your father has been… incredible.”

I know he would not want me to overuse the word, but there is no danger of doing that now. The experience of being the son of Bill Gates was incredible. People used to ask my dad if he was the real Bill Gates. The truth is, he was everything I try to be. I will miss him every day.

Courtesy: (gatesnotes.com)

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Saudi allies embrace Israeli expansion project

Shakir Hussain

The process of Palestinian displacement began under British colonialism and continues more than a century on, attracting new quislings willing to betray a cause dear to the Muslim world.

At stake is the Palestinian dream of statehood, despite losing a vast part of their historical land to the father of modern political Zionism Theodor Herzl’s Jewish state project. Also at stake is the right of Islamic communities to reclaim their third holiest city, Jerusalem, while recognizing the city’s status as Palestine’s future capital.

It has been an old Zionist plan to occupy as much Arab land as possible to render the Palestinians stateless under illegal Israeli occupation or to subject them to other forms of terror. A genuine regional campaign, in which Egypt and Jordan must play a significant role, can help the Palestinians in achieving their ambitions.

It is clear that Israel and its Zionist allies would not yield an inch to them willingly. Israel’s Zionist allies are those who support its racist occupation and policies, including successor states of European colonialism, the United States, and the Arab dictators whose survival depends on Western tutelage. Even today, Britain is unapologetic for its crimes in Palestine. After British colonialism, the U.S. became the Jewish state’s protector and collaborator and continues to subsidize its aggression.

US policy: U.S. leaders follow the tradition of their predecessors in manipulating Arabs, chiefly the Saudi kingdom, to serve Israeli interests. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1945 may have failed in getting Saudi Arabia’s founder King Abdulaziz, also known as Ibn Saud, to endorse the Israeli project, but he did win a relationship that serves American and Western interests to this day.

Now, U.S. President Donald Trump is confident he will get King Abdulaziz’s descendants to enthusiastically embrace Israel.

There are unmistakable signs that Saudi Arabia and Israel maintain furtive relations and the next stage will be a formal Israeli presence in Riyadh. After all, Saudi Arabia has been helping Israel in developing links in the region and beyond.

When the United Arab Emirates (UAE), controlled by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and de facto ruler Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ), announced that it would recognize Israel, Saudi Arabia quickly opened its airspace to Israeli-Emirati flights. A strong signal of Saudi Arabia’s willingness to accommodate Israeli interests came in 2018 when it allowed the Indian national carrier to use its airspace for Tel Aviv flights.

The move might have helped Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman’s (MBS) administration to gauge political risks and public opinion in case he took further steps toward Israel’s recognition. The original Ibn Saud thinking as Saudi policy became diluted over the decades as Riyadh’s dependence on the U.S. grew. Arab disunity, lack of capacity and political insincerity have bedeviled the Palestinian struggle for statehood.

The late King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz unveiled what became known as the Arab Peace Initiative, which was endorsed by the Arab League in 2002 at its Beirut meeting, and offered Israel recognition in exchange for withdrawal from occupied Arab lands.

No one takes that proposal seriously, thanks mainly to Saudi Arabia abandoning the Palestinians for political expediency and MBS’s out-of-control ambitions. The island nation of Bahrain, linked to Saudi Arabia via a 25-kilometer (15.53-mile) causeway, has become another Saudi ally to recognize the Jewish state.

Trump on Sept. 15 hosted a ceremony at the White House where the UAE and Bahrain agreed to normalize relations with Israel. It means Israel opening embassies on the Arabian Peninsula and Gulf seaports and airports getting linked with Israel. There will be no need for the Israelis to use their dual nationality papers to live or travel in the Gulf for business, leisure or committing an occasional murder.

Those who remember the 2010 assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, a top commander in the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, by Israeli agents in Dubai, must be curious as to what an Israeli presence in the Gulf would mean for the wider region’s delicate security situation.

Arab states’ support: Israeli citizens will now be dining and dancing with Gulf Arabs, and indeed with many Muslim residents in the region, even though their own governments still do not recognize Israel.

The UAE and Bahrain are helping Israel expand in a way that has dangerous security implications for many countries. As for the Palestinians, they can forget about securing an end to Israeli occupation with Arab support. They will have to admit that the Oslo peace process was a mistake and utter deception and come up with new ways to revive their struggle for an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

The King Abdullah plan was based on U.N. resolutions 242 and 338, calling for Israel’s withdrawal from Arab lands occupied since 1967. The contempt MBZ and MBS hold for the Palestinian people and what the Islamic world considers as sacred is clear in their promotion of the so-called “Deal of the Century” offered in January by the U.S. administration and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

The UAE-Saudi political yokels, who present themselves as trendy dealmakers, didn’t care that the Trump proposal promised the Palestinians not a state but a series of Bantustans in the vein of apartheid-era South Africa. With no contiguous Palestinian territory, no Jerusalem and Israel being gifted huge tracts of land it didn’t possess before 1967, the deal was rightly condemned as the “Fraud of the Century.”

Palestinians mocked the Trump plan by saying it created two states – but that “both states are Israel.”

Those involved in that fraud continue to come up with new tricks to cheat and defeat the Palestinians. What the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the UAE may end up achieving through their deals is Arab enslavement by Israel. The weakness of their faith is only matched by their meekness to serve Israel, which sees a formal recognition from Riyadh as the bigger prize than Roosevelt securing control of Arabian oil in the 20th century.

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How Pakistan can combat the financial waste of high oil import bill?

Abdus Saboor

Pakistan’s public is probably the most accustomed with power outages among all the nations of the world. It has taken decades for the power sector to confront this problem. Over the years, Pakistanis have increased at a rapid rate, from slightly over 100 million in 1990 to about 220 million in 2020, and accordingly an increase in urbanization and energy demands. However, in the past three decades, policy makers were outpaced by the increasing power demand as the primary energy production lagged behind the primary energy as well as economic growth. For this lag, no one but the governments are to be blamed for not devising a firm and stable policy to tackle it for once and all. The policies designed were either restricted to slogans, to achieve short term benefits, or thrown out with political intent.

Despite its potential and location in the Himalayan region, Pakistan has been unable to produce enough hydel energy- the cheapest source- and clearly not taking advantage from its geographic locality. Consequently, this disadvantage has forced Pakistan to go for other expensive options such as production from furnace oil, natural gas and coal. There is no doubt that energy is one of the most important contribution for the economic growth and sustain of industrial and commercial activities.

Due to the power outages and its expensive nature, the industrial and commercial sectors have resulted in limited growths. In addition, about thirty to forty million people lack access to electricity, which not only forcing them to live under-privileged livelihoods and affect social cohesion but also resulting in negligible and insignificant contribution in the national GDP.

Pakistan primarily depends on the expensive fraction- fossil fuels- for energy production and produces more than half of its energy need from them. Unlike the middle east and gulf countries, Pakistan is not self-sufficient in hydrocarbons and produces about ~95,000 barrels/day of oil against the consumption of 450,000 barrels/day. The tall consumption vs production ratio makes Pakistan unable to provide sufficient oil and gas to its consumers in residential, industrial and transportation sectors. As a result, Pakistan has no way but to import oil from international market thus putting a huge pressure on budgets and reserves. The rupee depreciation by 200% and high consumption of oil (due to low prices and overall reduction in CNG driven vehicles) in the past 8 years has further aggravated the oil import expenditures.

An increase in gas consumption, due to the combined effects of urbanization, transportation and power generation, has also outpaced the domestic gas production as well. The reduction in indigenous natural gas production urged Pakistan to import gas from its neighboring countries like Iran and Turkmenistan. The high oil import bill (US$ 16 billion in 2019-20) coupled with use of oil and gas in power generation has a profound effect on the national exchequer. Miracles aside, but it will take a long time for Pakistan to be autonomous in exploration and production of hydrocarbons.

However, the last few years of the previous as well as present government has been optimistic for Pakistan in terms of catering power needs and there is no doubt that CPEC is one of the main driving forces behind it. The completion of the power projects in near future will relieve Pakistan from a significant financial burden and till the country is self-sufficient in indigenous production of electricity, it can adopt the policy of China to swiftly combat the oil import bill.

Peoples Republic of China is the largest importer of oil in the world as its indigenous resources are unable to provide fuel to ~1.4 billion people. However, unlike Pakistan, China is producing enormous amount of electricity from its indigenous resources of coal, water, wind and sun. In such a circumstance, it does not have a need to import oil for power generation purpose and ‘waste’ money on it. Due to a rise in international pressure, regarding vast emissions of greenhouse gases, China has reduced the proportion of coal generated electricity, but it is still the leading producer of electricity in the world. The world environmental protection agency is concerned about the vast emissions of greenhouse gases from China into the atmosphere owing to its high rates of urbanization and industrialization.

Despite its giant nature in international politics and robust economy, China reduced its dependency on oil and, in a positive, it has further restricted its oil import bill.  China has successfully managed to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels by introducing the electric run vehicles long ago and is currently in a mature stage. These include the electric run trains, public transport buses, cars and many variants of two-wheeled and three-wheeled vehicles. Though Chinese people prefer bicycles for short distances, in modern day urbanized China there are tens of millions of electric vehicles which not only are environmentally protective but also has a high share in the national GDP and save a handsome amount of money.

Pakistan is the fifth populous country of the world but unfortunately its electric vehicles industry is not even in infant stages and it will still take quite some time to start, grow and reach to a mature stage. If it has a ‘significant’ start now, by the time Pakistan is self-reliant in power sector, its electric vehicle industry will be in a ‘decent’ progress stage, thereby further reducing the financial burden of gasoline import. However, in the same time, it is dreadful to think that when the world environmental protection agency would restrict the production of power generation from fossil fuels and a large chunk of gasoline run vehicles. In order to prepare for such a scenario, Pakistan should devise a strategy, re-think over the distribution and use of fossil fuels- the quicker, the better.

abdus.saboor@uop.edu.pk

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Why the US and Africa should lead a collaborative rules-based approach to food security

Katrin Kuhlmann

The 2020 global pandemic has given us a glimpse into the tenuous relationship between economic systems, global supply chains, climate change, and food security. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations predicts a “global food emergency” absent immediate action, highlighting that we are at a critical turning point, both as nations and as a global community. While this challenge bears some similarity to the 2007-08 food crisis, it is also profoundly different due to the unprecedented scale of the current market disruption and a multitude of factors colliding at once, including climate change, uncertainty in access to agricultural inputs and fertilizer, labor market factors, pest outbreaks, and social disruptions. Food systems are also currently stressed at a time when major fault lines have appeared in the international institutional framework for trade, including the rules-based global trade architecture at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Barriers to food trade in the form of export constraints have already appeared in response to the pandemic; from January to August 2020, a total of 32 jurisdictions had put in place 52 export restrictions. Experts have warned against these measures, which will impact vulnerable economies in particular, calling instead for global collaboration in trade to minimize supply chain disruptions, yet the risk remains that too many countries will choose zero-sum gains in the short term rather than working together to develop a balanced, rules-based approach that can serve the interests of many nations over the long term.

With global food security now intertwined with a global health crisis and massive supply chain shifts, leadership on global food security and trade is needed more than ever before. Signs of hope are emerging in regions like the African continent, which has long been focused on food security, where many countries are now looking to trade as a way out of the pandemic and economic crisis. The United States, which has historically been a global leader in addressing food security and is a significant exporter of food to deficit markets, should continue to play a central role. Below are three avenues for the United States and Africa to lead on trade and food security regionally, bilaterally, and globally.

With global food security now intertwined with a global health crisis and massive supply chain shifts, leadership on global food security and trade is needed more than ever before.

Within Africa, agricultural development and food security are pressing priorities, particularly in light of Covid-19, and recent innovations in African trade policy have created a viable path for progress. African leadership is moving forward with plans to implement the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), a monumental new trade arrangement that garnered political support from 54 of 55 African Union (AU) states in record time. The AfCFTA holds the potential to expand trade both within the continent and with the rest of the world, including in agriculture where Africa’s exports have been trending upward, and provides a framework for building upon the foundation of market rules established by the African regional economic communities (RECs), including the eight sub-regional bodies that form the building blocks of the AU. It also represents the world’s largest regional trade agreement in terms of country membership, creating a rules-based trade body second in size only to the WTO. With respect to food security, the AfCFTA will include important concessions on market access and will address critical non-tariff issues, including trade facilitation issues and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures, with a laudable mechanism for tracking non-tariff measures. However, although the agreement recognizes agricultural development and food security among its objectives, it does not yet incorporate a comprehensive approach to food security. Yet, the AfCFTA, which will move forward in stages, is both flexible and rules-based, and this innovative structure will be instrumental in addressing critical challenges presented by the pandemic. For example, a recent AU decision formally authorized future negotiation of a protocol on e-commerce, given the growing importance of digital trade in light of Covid-19, setting a precedent for food security.

To date, the United States is one of the few large economies that has yet to meaningfully engage on trade with the African continent.

Food security should also be central to the U.S. trade relationship with Africa, and the United States could set itself apart among Africa’s trading partners at this historic time as the AfCFTA gains momentum. To date, the United States is one of the few large economies that has yet to meaningfully engage on trade with the African continent. While it is true that the U.S.-African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which has been in place since 2000, has generated gains in some sectors, the program is unilateral and limited in its potential impact, particularly in the agricultural sector. Although the recently launched U.S.-Kenya Trade Agreement and the new U.S. International Development Finance Corporation signal a shift in the U.S. trade and investment relationship with the continent, the United States’ Africa strategy is relatively underdeveloped. The European Union, for example, has an intricate relationship with Africa through the Economic Par-tnership Agreements (EPA-s); however, the EPAs have been criticized for keeping Africa’s trade potential largely at bay, focusing instead on asymmetrical historical trade arrangements. China, which is now Africa’s largest trading partner, is taking a markedly different approach to trade with Africa, eschewing trade deals for large-scale infrastructure projects through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI stands to strengthen physical market systems, which will be important for making the AfCFTA operational, but it seems to place little emphasis on issues like food security and Africa’s own leadership in determining the rules of trade and investment with and within the continent.

As the pandemic highlights, there is room for a more collaborative approach, and the United States could set a new standard for bilateral engagement. If the U.S.-Kenya Trade Agreement is to be the model for future U.S.-African trade arrangements, however, it should look different than trade agreements of the past. Food security and agriculture would be a natural focal point and would be in the interests of both Kenya (which has prioritized food security due to extreme weather and a severe locust outbreak, among other factors) and the United States (due to both the larger im-portance of food security and because agricultural pr-oducts are among top U.S. exports to Kenya). Howe-ver, focusing mainly on m-arket access and SPS, as m-any trade agreements do, although important, will likely not be enough to fully address food security challenges. A deal between the United States and Kenya would also have broader implications and could either establish a new model or represent a significant setback in global food security efforts. National interests and the bilateral relationship should be approached in light of Kenya’s role in African regional integration and the direction in which the continent is heading. In addition, how the agreement is designed and implemented will really matter. If balanced and aligned with Africa’s trade framework, the agreement and the rules it encompasses could not only be a foundation for deeper U.S.-African trade ties, but could also pave the way for a global approach on trade and food security. Ultimately, bilateral, regional, and global approaches will need to reflect a broader range of needs, in particular those of vulnerable economies, and address issues of global priority like export measures, safeguards, public stockholding, and additional commitments on domestic support, while also incorporating other areas like preservation of biodiversity, recognition of Africa’s efforts to improve trade in agricultural inputs, and strengthened transport networks and trade corridors that can deliver on food security.

As countries navigate the Covid-19 pandemic and more frequent climate ev-ents, achieving global food security will require innovative approaches, strengt-hened leadership, and enhanced collaboration. Given the central role that trade will continue to play in food security, a cooperative, rules-based approach presents a promising path to feed a changing world as well as a stronger model for engagement between the United States and African countries.

Katrin Kuhlmann is the president and founder of New Markets Lab (NML), a nonprofit law and development center; a visiting professor at Georgetown Law; and a senior associate with the Global Food Security Program at the Center for Strategic and Interna-tional Studies in Washin-gton, D.C. Commentary is produced by the Center for Strategic and Intern-ational Studies (CSIS), a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues.

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It is time for the United States to again show leadership at the WTO

Joseph Glauber

Global agricultural trade has seen tremendous growth since the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 1995. Since 1995, global agricultural exports have more than tripled in value and more than doubled in volume, exceeding $1.8 trillion in 2018. As one of its founding architects, and long recognized as one of its stalwart proponents, the United States has been a major beneficiary of the rules-based system. Recent shifts in U.S. trade policy could have profound adverse impacts on the global trading system.

Today, almost 25 years after the creation of the WTO, many may have forgotten the state of the trading environment facing agriculture in the 1980s. D. Gale Johnson, a prominent University of Chicago economist, referred to it as a “world in disarray.” Many markets were highly protected through high tariffs, limited quotas, or outright bans on imports. Domestic support to agriculture, particularly among the rich, developed members such as the United States, Japan, and the European Union, was large and growing. Governments propped up domestic prices by storing production in large public stockpiles, by maintaining high tariff barriers, or both. Surplus production was dumped on export markets, often through export subsidies or under the guise of humanitarian aid. Those market distortions harmed other exporters, often developing countries that had little or no means with which to protect their own producers and limited recourse within the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to redress trade disputes.

Through the leadership of the United States and others, countries forged a multilateral agreement that created the WTO and brought discipline to agricultural trade by increasing market access through lower tariffs, lowering trade-distorting support, and capping and reducing export subsidies. Members agreed that sanitary and phytosanitary trade rules must be science-based and not imposed arbitrarily to restrict trade. A binding dispute settlement mechanism was established for members to resolve their trade disputes without resorting to unilateral trade actions.

As a result of more open markets, imports have grown as a percent of total food consumption. Trade enhances food security and nutrition by enabling countries to diversify their food supplies to ensure adequate food when droughts or other production shortfalls occur. Trade will be even more important in the future as population and income growth increase food demand; at the same time, global food production will be challenged by climate change, water scarcity, and other environmental pressures. Meeting those challenges will require a more open trading system.

Trade will be even more important in the future as population and income gr-owth increase food dema-nd; at the same time, global food production will be ch-allenged by climate cha-nge, water scarcity, and ot-her environmental press-ures. But current trade policy actions threaten that course and could plunge the world again into disarray. Unilateral trade actions and resulting trade wars have disrupted agricultural markets, hurting U.S. producers who have lost export markets and have faced declining prices and crop receipts as a result. The Trump administration responded by providing $28 billion to farmers and ranchers adversely affected by the trade actions. Those payments, combined with payments under the price and income support program and federal crop insurance program, have significantly increased trade-distorting support reported to the WTO. As a result, U.S. trade-distorting support will likely exceed its cap under WTO rules for 2019 and 2020 and could trigger trade disputes with other exporting members.

The current impasse over appointments of new members for the WTO Appellate Body points to what many members would agree are legitimate concerns with the operation of the Appellate Body. The danger is that, without resolution, the impasse will paralyze the dispute settlement process, which, in turn, threatens the stability of the multilateral trading system. The food system is one critical place where consequences could land: disputes over food products that escalate or cause damage to the multilateral system could potentially have human costs for countries that rely on food trade, exacerbating hunger and hurting food producers’ income opportunities. To avoid such economic and human costs, it is critical that WTO members find a resolution to the current Appellate Body crisis.

The next four years will present an opportunity for the United States to again take up a leadership role in global trade policy. But this will mean abandoning its aggressive unilateralism and instead working with its trading partners to find solutions to those problems. The challenges of meeting future food needs will require a concerted effort from governments to improve the functioning of food and agricultural markets. The WTO can play an enormous role by reducing trade-distorting support, improving market access, ending distortions caused by export restrictions and subsidies and—perhaps most importantly—continuing to provide a forum to which members can bring and hopefully resolve trade disputes rather than engaging in unilateral trade actions that can quickly escalate trade tensions. The United States has the responsibility to take up that mantle and lead the world to a more open and fair trading system.

The writer is a senior research fellow with the International Food Policy Research Institute  and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise In-stitute . Commentary is p-roduced by the Center for Strategic and Inte-rnational Studies, a private, tax-exempt institution focusing on international public policy issues.

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Study: up to 95 percent of 2020 U.S. riots are linked to Black Lives Matter

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: Contrary to corporate media narratives, up to 95 percent of this summer’s riots are linked to Black Lives Matter activism, according to data collected by the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). The data also show that nearly 6 percent — or more than 1 in 20 — of U.S. protests between May 26 and Sept. 5 involved rioting, looting, and similar violence, including 47 fatalities.

ACLED is a nonprofit organization that tracks conflict across the globe. Its U.S. project that collected the summer protest data is supported by Princeton University. The project’s spreadsheet collating tens of thousands of data points documents 12,045 incidents of U.S. civil unrest from May 26, 2020 to Sept. 5, 2020. May 26 is the day after George Floyd’s death in police custody with enough fentanyl in his system to have died of an overdose if police had never touched him.

Of the 633 incidents coded as riots, 88 percent are recorded as involving Black Lives Matter activists. Data for 51 incidents lack information about the perpetrators’ identities. BLM activists were involved in 95 percent of the riots for which there is information about the perpetrators’ affiliation.

Early estimates from insurance agencies say the cost of this summer’s rioting will set a record surpassing that of the 1992 Rodney King riots, which cost an inflation-adjusted $1.2 billion. Much of that will be paid by taxpayers in the form of overtime and hazard pay for police and EMTs, emergency room visits, destruction of public property, and more. Of course, rioters are inflicting these costs during a time governments, and the people who fund them, have fewer resources due to coronavirus shutdowns and pent-up entitlement obligations.

A look at an interactive map illustrating the data shows just how widespread the summer BLM-linked rioting has been. It has not been limited merely to anarchist strongholds such as Portland, Oregon, or locales that saw media-spotlighted violent interactions between police and suspects, but has stretched across both major and minor U.S. cities and included dozens of locales with no violent police incidents this summer.

Here are some screenshots of the map. The circle size indicates the number of riots.

West Coast Riot Locations

Midwest Riot Locations

Central U.S. Riot Locations

Midwest/Mid East Coast Riot Locations

According to this record, rioting occurred in the United States this summer not just in Portland, New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, and other large U.S. cities, but in small and midsize cities such as Fort Collins, Co. (population 170,000), Cottonwood Heights, Utah (population 33,800), Gilbert, Ariz. (population 258,900), Wichita, Kan. (population 388,800), and Davenport, Iowa (population 382,600). Forty-seven states have seen riots this summer.

A report accompanying the data project, however, reads like an upscale attempt to blame the police for criminals’ decision to steal, kill, and destroy. Several times the report explicitly does so, such as here: “Although federal authorities were purportedly deployed to keep the peace, the move appears to have re-escalated tensions. Prior to the deployment, over 83% of demonstrations in Oregon were non-violent. Post-deployment, the percentage of violent demonstrations has risen from under 17% to over 42% (see graph below), suggesting that the federal response has only aggravated unrest.”

This is a logical fallacy called post hoc, ergo propter hoc: Because one thing happened after another, the first thing caused the second. It’s just plain false. In science, this error is described as the difference between correlation and causation. Social scientists ought to be aware of and refrain from employing it, yet these did not.

The cause of violence is not the police. It is not poverty. It is not one’s race. To say so is in fact a smear against poor people and people of the racial group identified. The cause of violence is the people who have chosen to be violent.

Rather than assigning responsibility for violence to those who engage in it, the report constantly pushes the criminal victimization narrative that the rioters are not to blame for their rioting. This is abuser psychology 101: The abuser is never responsible for his or her abuse. The people who might object to it are. This is also false and manipulative.

The report also attempts to downplay the wave of BLM-linked violence sweeping the nation this summer, even while documenting it.

“The vast majority of demonstration events associated with the BLM movement are non-violent (see map below). In more than 93% of all demonstrations connected to the movement, demonstrators have not engaged in violence or destructive activity,” it states. “Peaceful protests are reported in over 2,400 distinct locations around the country. Violent demonstrations, meanwhile, have been limited to fewer than 220 locations — under 10% of the areas that experienced peaceful protests.”

I’m sure it is comforting to those whose businesses have been burned down and insurance won’t cover it to hear that the movement that ruined their livelihoods protests peacefully in most other cities.

When unarmed black people comprise 1.2 percent (or less) of annual police shootings, it is alleged to be a gross injustice that may legitimize, or at least excuse, murder, and theft. Yet when an activist movement is linked with riots approximately 6 percent of the time it engages in public protest, we are to see that movement as “non-violent.”

ACLED labels a 5 percent rate of police use of “force” — such as rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray, and other crowd dispersal techniques — as “heavy handed.” Thus ACLED both claims a 6 percent rate of rioting is “peaceful” and “non-violent” and that a 5 percent rate of police response to such riots is “heavy handed.”

“Over 5% of all events linked to the BLM movement have been met with force by authorities, compared to under 1% of all other demonstrations,” its report says. Elsewhere, it says: “ACLED conducted a pilot data collection program for the US last summer, allowing for comparison of the current moment with the same time period last year. In July of this year alone, ACLED records nearly 2,000 demonstrations — an increase of 42% from the 1,400 demonstrations recorded in July 2019.”

The violence is not limited to the extreme of rioting. It is pervasive in the summer 2020 protests. Of the 12,045 incidents recorded by ACLED, 1,143 — or nearly 1 in 10 — involved violence of some sort: rioting, looting, clashes with police, cars rammed into crowds, bystanders pepper-sprayed, armed attacks. Of these violent incidents, 84 percent involved BLM.

These statistics could be interpreted as indicating BLM is unusually violent among U.S. political movements, but ACLED interprets it in a way that enables resentment against police. Widespread U.S. political demonstrations such as the Tea Party, however, almost never featured violence despite holding thousands of events. Tea Partiers were even known for cleaning up the public areas where they demonstrated.

The report goes on amazingly to suggest that police standing behind barricades using tear gas and rubber bullets is a disproportionate use of force against rioting in Portland that has included the use of blinding lasers, rushes at barricades with clubs, destruction of public buildings, bomb-throwing, arson, and murder: “In some contexts, like Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon (see below), the heavy-handed police response appears to have inflamed tensions and increased the risk of violent escalation,” the ACLED report says.

Judge for yourself whether police use of force and riot-dispersal techniques often seems justified by reading the project’s summaries of some of these riots based on largely local news reports. I picked incidents from smaller cities to avoid the most sensational and nationally publicized instances, in an effort to fairly illustrate what police were responding to. The italicized material below is all quoted directly from the project. The bold is added.

On 28 May 2020, about 200-400 people demonstrated in Columbus, Ohio in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and against police brutality and the death of George Floyd. The demonstration turned violent when businesses and the Ohio Statehouse were damaged. Some people threw water bottles, smoke bombs, and other items at police. Police used tear gas on the demonstrators.

On 28 May 2020, around 400 people held a demonstration in Albuquerque, New Mexico over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. At night, the demonstration turned violent when a group of rioters were approaching vehicles and trying to damage them. Also, several shots were fired from a car and 4 people were arrested. Another man took a baseball bat and started smashing police car’s windows. Police used gas to disperse the crowd and control the area.

On 29 May 2020, hundreds of people attended a demonstration in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and against the death of George Floyd. The demonstration was initially peaceful until conflicts broke out between the demonstrators and the police. A demonstrator was pepper-sprayed twice in the face. Another demonstrator was shoved to the ground. Vandalism was reported. 29 people were arrested. Clashes continued until the next morning.

On 29 May 2020, over 1000 demonstrations [sic] were held in Des Moines, Iowa over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Police vehicles and buildings were damaged. Police used pepper spray and tear gas and made 12 arrests.

On 30 May 2020, people demonstrated in Grand Rapids (Michigan) in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and against police brutality and the death of George Floyd. Rioters smashed windows and lit fires. A non-violent demonstrator was pepper-sprayed and shot in the face with a ‘Spede-Heat’ round by a police officer.

See the descriptions and locations of every riot recorded in the “Details of Events” box here.

According to many innocent victims of this wave of injustice, the police response is not robust enough. They want to know why the police are not protecting them and their property. They pay taxes. They contribute to the common good rather than attempt to destroy it. What’s the point of mayors and governors if they don’t ensure their police protect innocent people and their property when rioters come to town?

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Why Bob Woodward’s ‘Rage’ is a lie built on a lie, and what Trump vs ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’ really is about

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: Bob Woodward’s new insider account of the Trump administration, ‘Rage’, details the multi-faceted controversies surrounding President Trump’s approach to governance – none more so than his relationship with the military.

Bob Woodward is a legendary reporter whose talent for getting insiders to speak about the most sensitive matters in government dates back to Watergate and the Nixon presidency. His most recent presidential expose, ‘Rage’, touches on a wide range of controversies, from the coronavirus pandemic to issues relating to war, and the promise of war.

It is Trump’s tortured relationship with the military that stands out the most, especially as told through the eyes of former Secretary of Defense Jim ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis, a retired marine general. It is clear that Bob Woodward spent hours speaking with Mattis – the insights, emotions and internal voice captured in the book show a level of intimacy that could only be reached through in-depth interviews, and Woodward has a well-earned reputation for getting people to speak to him.

The book makes it clear that Mattis viewed Trump as a threat to the US’ standing as the defender of a rules-based order – built on the back of decades-old alliances – that had been in place since the end of the Second World War.

It also makes it clear that Mattis and the military officers he oversaw placed defending this order above implementing the will of the American people, as expressed through the free and fair election that elevated Donald Trump to the position of commander-in-chief. In short, Mattis and his coterie of generals knew best, and when the president dared issue an order or instruction that conflicted with their vision of how the world should work, they would do their best to undermine this order, all the while confirming to the president that it was being followed.

The military is trapped in an inherited reality divorced from the present

This trend was on display in Woodward’s telling of Trump’s efforts to forge better relations with North Korea. At every turn, Mattis and his military commanders sought to isolate the president from the reality on the ground, briefing him only on what they thought he needed to know, and keeping him in the dark about what was really going on.

In a telling passage, Woodward takes us into the mind of Jim Mattis as he contemplates the horrors of a nuclear war with North Korea, and the responsibility he believed he shouldered when it came to making the hard decision as to whether nuclear weapons should be used or not. Constitutionally, the decision was the president’s alone to make, something Mattis begrudgingly acknowledges. But in Mattis’ world, he, as secretary of defense, would be the one who influenced that decision.

Mattis, along with the other general officers described by Woodward, is clearly gripped with what can only be described as the ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’.

What defines this ‘syndrome’ is perhaps best captured in the words of Emma Sky, the female peace activist-turned adviser to General Ray Odierno, the one-time commander of US forces in Iraq. In a frank give-and-take captured by Ms. Sky in her book ‘The Unravelling’, Odierno spoke of the value he placed on the military’s willingness to defend “freedom” anywhere in the world. “There is,” he said, “no one who understands more the importance of liberty and freedom in all its forms than those who travel the world to defend it.”

Ms. Sky responded in typically direct fashion: “One day, I will have you admit that the [Iraq] war was a bad idea, that the administration was led by a radical neocon program, that the US’s standing in the world has gone down greatly, and that we are far less safe than we were before 9/11.”

Odierno would have nothing of it. “It will never happen while I’m the commander of soldiers in Iraq.”

“To lead soldiers in battle,” Ms. Sky noted, “a commander had to believe in the cause.” Left unsaid was the obvious: even if the cause was morally and intellectually unsound.

This, more than anything, is the most dangerous thing about the ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’ as captured by Bob Woodward – the fact that the military is trapped in an inherited reality divorced from the present, driven by precepts which have nothing to with what is, but rather by what the military commanders believe should be. The unyielding notion that the US military is a force for good becomes little more than meaningless drivel when juxtaposed with the reality that the mission being executed is inherently wrong.

The ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’ lends itself to dishonesty and, worse, to self-delusion. It is one thing to lie; it is another altogether to believe the lie as truth.
No single general had the courage to tell Trump allegations against Syria were a hoax

The cruise missile attack on Syria in early April 2017 stands out as a case in point. The attack was ordered in response to allegations that Syria had dropped a bomb containing the sarin nerve agent on a town – Khan Shaykhun – that was controlled by Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic militants.

Trump was led to believe that the 59 cruise missiles launched against Shayrat Airbase – where the Su-22 aircraft alleged to have dropped the bombs were based – destroyed Syria’s capability to carry out a similar attack in the future. When shown post-strike imagery in which the runways were clearly untouched, Trump was outraged, lashing out at Secretary of Defense Mattis in a conference call. “I can’t believe you didn’t destroy the runway!”, Woodward reports the president shouting.

“Mr. President,” Mattis responds in the text, “they would rebuild the runway in 24 hours, and it would have little effect on their ability to deploy weapons. We destroyed the capability to deploy weapons” for months, Mattis said.

“That was the mission the president had approved,” Woodward writes, clearly channeling Mattis, “and they had succeeded.”

The problem with this passage is that it is a lie. There is no doubt that Bob Woodward has the audio tape of Jim Mattis saying these things. But none of it is true. Mattis knew it when he spoke to Woodward, and Woodward knew it when he wrote the book.

There was no confirmed use of chemical weapons by Syria at Khan Shaykhun. Indeed, the forensic evidence available about the attack points to the incident being a false flag effort – a successful one, it turns out – on the part of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamists to provoke a US military strike against Syria. No targets related to either the production, storage or handling of chemical weapons were hit by the US cruise missiles, if for no other reason than no such targets could exist if Syria did not possess and/or use a chemical weapon against Khan Shaykhun.

Moreover, the US failed to produce a narrative of causality which provided some underlying logic to the targets that were struck at Khan Shaykhun – “Here is where the chemical weapons were stored, here is where the chemical weapons were filled, here is where the chemical weapons were loaded onto the aircraft.” Instead, 59 cruise missiles struck empty aircraft hangars, destroying derelict aircraft, and killing at least four Syrian soldiers and up to nine civilians.

The next morning, the same Su-22 aircraft that were alleged to have bombed Khan Shaykhun were once again taking off from Shayrat Air Base – less than 24 hours after the US cruise missiles struck that facility. President Trump had every reason to be outraged by the results.

But the President should have been outraged by the processes behind the attack, where military commanders, fully afflicted by ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’, offered up solutions that solved nothing for problems that did not exist. Not a single general (or admiral) had the courage to tell the president that the allegations against Syria were a hoax, and that a military response was not only not needed, but would be singularly counterproductive.

But that’s not how generals and admirals – or colonels and lieutenant colonels – are wired. That kind of introspective honesty cannot happen while they are in command.

Misleading the American public

Bob Woodward knows this truth, but he chose not to give it a voice in his book, because to do so would disrupt the pre-scripted narrative that he had constructed, around which he bent and twisted the words of those he interviewed – including the president and Jim Mattis. As such, ‘Rage’ is, in effect, a lie built on a lie. It is one thing for politicians and those in power to manipulate the truth to their advantage. It’s something altogether different for journalists to report something as true that they know to be a lie.

On the back cover of ‘Rage’, the Pulitzer prize-winning historian Robert Caro is quoted from a speech he gave about Bob Woodward. “Bob Woodward,” Caro notes, “a great reporter. What is a great reporter? Someone who never stops trying to get as close to the truth as possible.”

After reading ‘Rage’, one cannot help but conclude the opposite – that Bob Woodward has written a volume which pointedly ignores the truth. Instead, he gives voice to a lie of his own construct, predicated on the flawed accounts of sources inflicted with ‘Military Messiah Syndrome’, whose words embrace a fantasy world populated by military members fulfilling missions far removed from the common good of their fellow citizens – and often at conflict with the stated intent and instruction of the civilian leadership they ostensibly serve. In doing so, Woodward is as complicit as the generals and former generals he quotes in misleading the American public about issues of fundamental importance.

Courtesy: (RT)

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2nd round in Erdogan-Macron squabble

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: The squabble between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and French President Emmanuel Macron continues.

Upon Ankara’s determination to protect its interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, Macron convened the southern European countries in Corsica and said, “We must be tough with the Turkish government and not with the Turkish people, who deserve more than the Erdogan government.”

Erdogan did not leave this aggressive comment unanswered.

Delivering an opening speech at the National Will Symposium on Democracy and Freedom Island, also known as Yassiada, on Sept. 12, he said, “Mr. Macron, you’re going to have more problems with me.”

Then, “Macron, you have little time left; you are a goner,” he said.

There is always a polemic between the two leaders either on the phone or in front of the press. It is known that Erdogan lectures Macron on world politics and French history during telephone conversations.

Having held diplomatic meetings with former French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande, Erdogan finds Macron “inexperienced” and “naive.” As his body language in bilateral meetings reveals, Macron is overwhelmed by Erdogan’s experience. However, Macron is continuing his anti-Erdogan rhetoric in hopes of gaining traction in Europe. Interestingly enough, despite not having a coast in the Eastern Mediterranean, France attempts to play the role of “the gendarmerie of the EU” against Turkey, which has the longest coasts on this sea. He is abusing Greece for his own “incompetent ambitious” moves in order to sell weapons. Such moves are doomed to fail against Erdogan. However, this is not the first time Macron has attempted to criticize Erdogan.

Let us remember that when Macron said, “What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO” during Turkey’s operations in Syria and criticized Erdogan, the Turkish president, in return, advised the French president to “deal with his own brain death.” Macron’s criticism of Erdogan, this time aimed at encouraging Greece, garnered support from Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Rally Party, not from southern European countries. Well, who is Le Pen?

She is the leader of the French far-right, which will gain strength if Macron fails. I do not think German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who mediates between Turkey and Greece, is happy with Macron’s polemics. Merkel does not oppose Macron’s adventurous policies and polemics for two reasons.

First, the United States is putting pressure on Berlin over Nord Stream 2 and military spending in NATO. Second, she is afraid that Macron’s failure might create a similar mood in Europe to that in 2017. She is aware that a wave of the far-right that could start with Le Pen could bring about the end of the European Union. Merkel does not want Macron to fail, but she also sees the risk of a new wave of refugees heading for Europe. She wants to work with Erdogan, but she also has a hard time reining in those in Europe who say, “Let us teach Turkey a lesson.”

And Erdogan, of course, is not bothered by Macron’s polemics. He sees that his “red lines” are futile, and he values the mediation that Merkel is conducting.

He knows that southern European and Eastern European countries within the EU do not want to have problems with Turkey. Meanwhile, Macron’s tactic of supposedly separating “Turkish people and Erdogan” is quite funny.

Despite his inexperience, Macron should not be believing it either.

It is obvious he is doing all this for the sake of his own domestic politics.

Some journalists realize that targeting the Turkish president about the East Mediterranean issue furthers the mobilization of Turkish public opinion and therefore, they rush to deduce that such polemics only serve Erdogan’s agenda.

The way things are indicates that the polemics between Erdogan and Macron will see the third and fourth rounds as well.

Courtesy: (Daily Sabah)

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Is the electric car company named after Nikola Tesla a fraud? Not that one, the other one

Monitoring Desk

NEW YORK: Nikola Tesla. When you hear the name, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? A decade ago, nearly everyone who heard the name would associate it with the 20th-century inventor of alternating current. Today, however, both “Nikola” and “Tesla” are brand names behind a constantly developing range of electrically powered vehicles.

Tesla, the more famous of the two, is the world’s most valuable car company, worth more than all others combined. Nikola, the much smaller of the two, has yet to sell anything yet and presides over a market cap of over $12 billion – down from over $30 billion in the last three months. It has gone down over $7 billion in the last week alone, following recent fraud allegations that imply the entire company is a ruse.

So is it really a fake? What is really going on at Nikola?

Nikola was listed on June 4 of this year on the NASDAQ exchange – through a reverse merger that was taking advantage of the run-up in Tesla stock.

That it, too, is named after the Serbian American inventor is no coincidence, with the founder Trevor Milton trademarking the name after presumably being inspired by the use of it by Tesla.

As for the fraud allegations, Nikola said it would produce zero-emission semitrucks using hydrogen fuel cells. Right now, the company has only produced concept cars, however, and has yet to manufacture any model.

That’s all. It is essentially a research and development (R&D) firm with a vision for producing semitrucks, as stated in a recent partnership signed with General Motors (GM). GM would like to produce the designs and provide other parts for Nikola in exchange for an 11% share of the company.

The fraud allegations themselves stem from a Hindenburg Research report that accused the company of not having any of the technology it claims to possess, staging promotional films of their trucks coasting down a hill, among other damning allegations.

Hindenburg Research does, however, have a vested interest in driving the share price of Nikola down, as it has a large short position in the stock. In other words, the lower the price of Nikola, the cheaper it will be for Hindenburg Research to buy back shares it already sold in anticipation of a drop.

That the report was launched after the GM announcement that catapulted stock may also be no coincidence. Two opposing sides of an equity position, jostling for a foothold is hardly anything new. The degree to which these two firms have gone to war, however, may be unprecedented in recent memory.

For its part, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) have announced they would be looking into these allegations.

Not known for their speed, the SEC and DOJ will take at least a few weeks before they announce anything, if not months.

In the interim, investors are left wondering whether a short-seller is making up allegations to profit from a crash or if a company has executed an “intricate fraud” to fool investors. Time will tell.

Courtesy: (Daily Sabah)

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Cycle Times and Cycles of Acquisition Reform

Morgan Dwyer, Brenen Tidwell, and Alec Blivas

THE ISSUE

Acquisition reform occurs in cycles. For example, to increase acquisition speed, the most recent cycle restructured the Pentagon to

reduce and decentralize the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s (OSD) oversight of major defense acquisition programs (MDAPs).

Using a qualitative and quantitative analysis of past reform cycles and MDAP cycle times (i.e., the time to field new capabilities),

this analysis observes that:

• Even though OSD oversight activities take time, they do not appreciably slow down MDAP acquisition speed;

• Instead, strong, centralized OSD oversight may reduce MDAP cycle times and cycle time growth; and

• The Pentagon has historically fielded new MDAP capabilities at average speeds that are comparable to external benchmarks.

Based on these findings, recent reforms—which reduced and decentralized OSD oversight—may not increase MDAP acquisition

speed. And although the Pentagon does field some MDAPs quite slowly, reformers should not use the experience of worst-case

programs to motivate future reforms of the entire acquisition system.

INTRODUCTION

In defense acquisition, reform is constant. Over the past six decades, reforms have been initiated, implemented, and evaluated, only to be initiated all over again. This pattern—and its repetition throughout history—has led some to describe acquisition reform as a “never-ending cycle” whereby discrete periods of time are characterized by different initiatives.1  Although these initiatives consistently seek to reduce cost, shorten schedules, and increase performance, reformers’ priorities have varied throughout history. Today’s reformers, for example, are focused primarily on acquisition speed (e.g., see the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2016 Secs. 804, 810, 821, 823, 825 and NDAA 2017 Secs. 805, 806, 807, 901).2 Reformers’ focus on speed is due, in part, to perceptions that U.S. technological advantage vis-à-vis its adversaries is eroding and that the timelines to field new capabilities are dramatically different between the Department of Defense (DOD) and the U.S. private sector.

3 To evaluate those perceptions, this brief compares MDAP cycle times to external benchmarks. It also evaluates recent reforms’ potential to increase acquisition speed by comparing cycle time statistics across the various cycles of acquisition reform.

ACQUISITION SPEED

Today’s reforms aim to speed up the acquisition process as defined by DOD Directive 5000.1. The traditional process, depicted in Figure 1, consists of several milestones. At each milestone, senior DOD officials review progress and determine whether programs should continue to the next phase. Traditionally, officials from the OSD have reviewed and approved DOD’s largest programs (i.e., MDAPs).

DOD typically initiates MDAPs at milestone B, after which full-scale system engineering begins. Next, DOD reviews system designs at milestone C. Pending milestone approval, programs begin low-rate production and system testing.

Once test results are satisfactory, DOD certifies that programs have reached initial operating capability (IOC) and that systems are ready for use.

Today’s reforms aim to shorten the time spent between program initiation and IOC. To achieve this objective, reformers created alternative acquisition pathways (e.g., NDAA 2016 Sec. 804’s “middle tier acquisition”) that largely eschew traditional, OSD-led oversight activities.

4  Reformers also delegated much of OSD’s authority to conduct MDAP milestone reviews back to the military services.5 oversight is unsurprising. Oversight—which often takes the form of reporting requirements and reviews—can lengthen program schedules by adding activities that take time to complete. For example, the Government Accountability Office found that, in a sample of 24 programs, staff spent an average of two years completing the steps necessary to pass an OSD-led milestone review and 5,600 total staff days documenting that work.6  Relatedly, RAND found that 5 percent of a program office staff ’s time was dedicated to regulatory and statutory compliance,7  and researchers at the George Washington University found that between 5 and 40 percent of a contractor’s time was spent complying to oversight requirements.8  By decentralizing and delegating acquisition oversight, today’s reformers hope to reduce the time that programs dedicate to OSD-led oversight activities, thereby shortening the duration between program initiation and IOC. DOD, through its National Defense Strategy, has embraced reformers’ focus on speed and affirmed that it must “deliver performance at the speed of relevance.”9

REFORM CYCLES

Importantly, today’s focus on speed is not unique. Rather, recent moves to decentralize OSD oversight follow nearly six decades and multiple cycles of prior acquisition reform. Although the specifics of each reform initiative are distinct and complex, from a macroscopic perspective it is possible to characterize past cycles according to the mechanisms that reformers employed. This brief focuses on one mechanism—

OSD oversight’s centralization or decentralization—which has been both the focus of prior research and which uniquely affects MDAPs.10 The brief acknowledges, however, that reformers sometimes employ multiple mechanisms simultaneously and that these mechanisms may interact in non-simple, non-obvious ways. This analysis, therefore, provides just one perspective on acquisition reform cycles and MDAP cycle times.

Acknowledging these limitations, Table 1 identifies eight reform cycles—including today’s—and classifies those cycles  according to their preference for centralized or decentralized oversight.11 These cycles are also summarized briefly below:

1. McNamara Reforms: Secretary Robert McNamara leveraged authorities granted by the DOD Reorganization Act of 1958 to centralize OSD control over military service budgets and major program decisions.12

2. Defense Systems Acquisition Reform Council: Deputy Secretary David Packard created the Defense Systems Acquisition Reform Council (DSARC) to limit OSD involvement in the acquisition process. Through the DSARC, OSD assessed programs at discrete milestones

but otherwise delegated management responsibility to the military services.13 3. Brown Strengthens Control: In response to Packard’s “management by objective” approach, Secretary Harold Brown sought to regain and centralize OSD authority over the acquisition process.14

4. Acquisition Improvement Program: In response to Brown’s tighter OSD control, Secretary Caspar Weinberger

and Deputy Secretary Frank Carlucci initiated the Acquisition Improvement Program to enable the “controlled decentralization” of OSD’s authority.15 5. Defense Acquisition Board: Congress initiated a series of reforms—including the creation of an undersecretary of defense for acquisition—aimed at centralizing and strengthening OSD control over the acquisition process.16 Toward this end, OSD established the Defense Acquisition Board to oversee MDAPs throughout their lifecycle.17

6. Mandate for Change and Transformation: During this extended period—which spanned nearly two administrations—OSD emphasized deregulation and management streamlining but not scrupulous oversight of early program decisions.18 DOD also heavily relied on Total System Performance Responsibility (TSPR) contracts during this period. These contracts delegated a significant amount of authority and responsibility to DOD contractors and in doing so eroded the department’s ability to conduct rigorous oversight.19

7. Weapon Systems Acquisition Reform Act: Responding to cost growth during the prior cycle, Congress implemented a series of reforms aimed at centralizing OSD authority—especially over early program milestones.20 OSD’s Better Buying Power initiative attempted to further strengthen program management throughout the system lifecycle.21 8. Restructuring AT&L: Today’s reformers intend to increase acquisition speed and strengthen DOD’s technological edge by splitting up the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics into two separate offices. To reduce cycle times, the procurement-focused office has delegated much of its oversight authority to the military services.22

These cycles provide a framework for assessing DOD’s historic acquisition speed. Specifically, by classifying programs according to reform cycle or cycle type (i.e., centralized or decentralized oversight), it is possible to observe past reforms’ macroscopic impact on acquisition speed. This analysis can then be used to inform expectations for today’s reforms and to help benchmark DOD’s future “speed of relevance.”

CYCLE TIMES

Acquisition speed can be assessed using two variables: cycle time and cycle time growth. Cycle time is the time elapsed between program initiation (typically milestone B, but sometimes milestone C) and IOC.23 Cycle time growth is the percent change in a program’s estimated and actual cycle time.24 Cycle time, therefore, represents the speed with which DOD fields new capabilities. Cycle time growth represents the accuracy with which DOD is able to predict that speed.

Using data from the Defense Acquisition Management Information Retrieval (DAMIR) System and RAND’s Defense Systems Cost Performance Database,25 cycle time and cycle time growth were calculated for all MDAP programs and subprograms for which data was available.26 MDAPs represent DOD’s most costly and complex programs; therefore, in many ways, they are not representative of much of the technology that DOD acquires.

However, MDAP data is readily available. Furthermore, changes to OSD oversight affect MDAPs more significantly than any other programs.

For these reasons, this analysis and its conclusions are limited to MDAPs only.

Additionally, several assumptions were made when collecting and labeling data. Most importantly, it is assumed that MDAPs are most significantly affected by the policies in place at program initiation.27 Therefore, even if MDAPs spanned more than one reform cycle, they are classified according to the cycle in which they were initiated. It is also important to note that MDAP schedule data is not always reliable or of high quality; therefore, many other assumptions were also required to collect data and these assumptions may affect the analysis results. For more detail on the data collection and analysis assumptions used in this brief, please refer a forthcoming report on this topic, as well as to the detailed endnotes provided at the conclusion of this brief. 28Ultimately, schedule data was collected for over 200 active and complete MDAP programs and subprograms that DOD initiated from fiscal year (FY) 1963 to the present.29 Using this data, it can be observed that despite numerous reform cycles, acquisition speed has remained.

ASSESSING THE “SPEED OF RELEVANCE”

To assess whether DOD fields systems at the “speed of relevance,” DOD cycle times were compared to external benchmarks from the U.S. private sector and China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The comparisons are limited, however, by the availability and quality of opensource data. The best option, therefore, is to compare the data set of over 200 MDAP cycle times to a handful of benchmark systems with rough schedule estimates.

To estimate non-DOD cycle times, the analysis leverages a DARPA report that contains data on the U.S. private sector and uses open-source reporting on PLA systems. In both instances, it is assumed that the dates reported are consistent with the definitions of program initiation and IOC the definitions of program initiation and IOC that were used for MDAPs. For PLA systems in particular, program initiation dates were identified using media reports which stated when the PLA began system development or issued contracts. Such assumptions, of course, limit the ability to draw definitive conclusions. As such, U.S. private-sector and PLA cycle times were used only as rough benchmarks for the “speed of relevance.”

Acknowledging these limitations and using DARPA’s U.S. private-sector data, commercial aircraft cycle times increased from approximately four to seven years since 1965.40 Commercial vehicle cycle times decreased during this time, from approximately seven to two years.41 As shown in Table 5, DOD’s mean aircraft and vehicle cycle times are consistent with the U.S. private sector, but DOD’s worst-case MDAPs significantly exceeded private-sector cycle times. As above, Table 5 contains all complete MDAPs and active MDAPs initiated between FY 1963 and FY 2014 for which data was available.

Based on limited, open-source data on example PLA systems, DOD average cycle times, for the most part, appear to outpace comparable PLA systems—even though the PLA frequently accelerates technology development using espionage, intellectual property theft, and foreign military procurement.42 For example, although DOD’s mean cycle time for aircraft is 6.6 years, the PLA appears to have fielded the J-20 and the Y-20 in approximately 15 and 10 years, respectively.43 Compared to the DOD aircraft shown in Table 5, these example PLA cycle times are closer to DOD’s worstcase cycle time for aircraft.

DOD’s mean cycle time for subs and ships—7.5 years—also appears to outpace some open-source PLA examples. For instance, the PLA appears to have fielded both the Type 093 Shang-class submarine and the Type 052A destroyer in approximately 10 years.44 Notably, the PLA appears to have fielded its new aircraft carrier, the Type 001A Shandong (CV17), rather quickly, in approximately five years.45 Compared to DOD capabilities, however, many of these benchmark systems appear inferior by at least some performance metrics.46 In each example, however, the PLA’s cycle times do appear to outpace DOD’s worst-case cycle times.

THE FUTURE FOR REFORM

This brief demonstrates the utility of using acquisition history to improve the defense community’s understanding of current and future reforms. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative analysis, this brief observes that reforms which decentralize OSD oversight do not appreciably decrease MDAP cycle time. Instead, that centralized OSD oversight may help reduce cycle times and cycle time growth.

Based on these findings, recent reforms—which instead decentralized OSD oversight—may be ill-suited to achieve their objective of increasing speed, at least for MDAPs.

However, MDAPs are DOD’s most costly and complex programs and do not represent all of the technology that DOD acquires. Acquisition reform itself is complex, and countless factors besides OSD oversight—including workforce, industrial base health, budget, and regulations— all affect acquisition speed in non-simple and non-obvious ways.

This analysis contributes but one perspective on reform cycles and cycle times within an extensive history of acquisition reform.

Morgan Dwyer is a fellow in the International Security Program and deputy director for policy analysis in the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Brenen Tidwell was a research intern with the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at CSIS. Alec Blivas was a program coordinator with the International Security Program at CSIS.

This material is based upon work supported by the Acquisition Research Program under Grant No. HQ00341910011. The views expressed in written materials or publications, and/or made by speakers, moderators, and presenters, do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Defense nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. government.

Courtesy: (csis-org)