Polycrisis: A cluster of interdependent global risks create a compounding effect, such that their overall impact exceeds the sum of their individual parts. (1)
In this era of global polycrisis, leaders are also reacting to the major macro economic trend of the last thirty years – the fundamental driver of the tetonic shifts in geopolitics and deep inside the economies of nation-states – which is that the BRICs global share of GDP May Overtake the G7 by 2028. The geopolitical players and regions of the global polycrisis (jagged transitions, strategies, binaries fractures, major developments, and crucial events) summarized here include: The Middle East, China and the Indo-Pacific, and Russia, Ukraine, and NATO.
The Global Polycrisis: The Middle East, China and the Indo-Pacific, and Russia, Ukraine, and NATO
The Middle East
The Future of War is 3D-Printed Tourniquets, Digital Twin Smart Cities, and “AI and Robotics in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response”: Personal displacement figured prominently in the OODA Almanac 2023 theme of “Jagged Transitions” – which was meant to invoke the challenges inherent in the adoption of disruptive technologies while still entrenched in low-entropy old systems and in the face of systemic global community threats and “the risks of personal displacement.” While tragic- and exacurbating the polycrisis and global uncertainty – the humanitarian crisis in the Middle East is also now a large scale “edge case” of war as a force function (or accelerant) in the exponential growth of technology platforms and solutions in additive manufacturing, digital twins, AI, and robotics as applied to humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
The Global Technology Sector, Startups, and Cybersecurity Ecosystem Respond to the War in Israel: Israel is a major player in the global technology sector – boasting the second largest cyber startup market in the world. Here is how the conditions on the ground in Israel and Gaza is rippling into the technology startup and venture capital ecosystem globally.
On AI Enabled Weapons and the Just Preparation for War: BABL AI – an Iowa city, Iowa-based company that audits and certifies AI systems – partnered with the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the U.S. Naval Academy to co-publish Report on “AI Enabled Weapons and Just Preparation for War.” an overview of the report including recommendations by the authors here.
Global Day of Jihad? Hamas Declares Friday, October 13th ‘Day Of General Mobilization’: In what is being called a “Global Day of Jihad”, a former Hamas leader has called for all Muslims worldwide “to take to the streets and the city squares in Arab and Islamic cities, as well as in cities everywhere where there are [Islamic] communities. There is a call [for demonstrations] this Friday (October 13, 2023) – the Al-Aqsa Deluge Friday.”
A Hacktivist Code of Conduct May Be Too Little Too Late: Recently, the International Committee of the Red Cross(ICRC) released ethical guidelines for civilian hackers and hacktivists to consider prior to engaging in armed conflicts. The eight recommendations are based on humanitarian law-based rules in order to protect civilians regardless of the reasons that initiated the conflict or making any judgment on those involved.
The Network Swarm Attack on Israel and the Escalating Global Networked War: Intelligence Failure? Black Swan? Gray Rhino? Systemic Failure? An entropic, sclerotic Israeli political system? The geopolitical and regional power context for the recent surprise, large scale and violent Hamas attack of Israel may prove to be “all of the above”. What is clear is the attack was designed as a large scale, kinetic and digital “network swarm” – which now opens up a new, “formal” kinetic front in the ongoing, global networked war in the Middle East. Swarm dynamics are a crucial mental model – which we apply here to the Hamas network swarm attack of Israel.
How Does Hamas Use Cryptocurrency for Fundraising and Financial Activities?: In our recent post on crypto fraud relative to fraud in the traditional fiat monetary systems, we encouraged our readers to think very critically about the perceptions of and narratives about the instrinsic value of cryptocurrency and the blockchain technologies on which they are based. In the shadow of the Hamas attack on Israel, TRM Labs has released a report on how Hamas uses crypto – which also moves the narrative away from the FTX collapse and the Sam Bankman-Fried trial as the central organizing principle in the perception of the future cryptocurrency. Details here.
Saudi Arabia and the Future of Money: Once again, like the ongoing Water Wars in France, recent geopolitical maneuvers read like a lost chapter from the OODA Loop Urtext: Kim Stanley Robinson’s near-future science fiction masterpiece, The Ministry of the Future (TMoF). Those who have read the book will recall that influential stakeholders and policymakers from the financial and monetary systems figure very prominently in the narrative. The book argues that legacy nation-state-based systems will have to survive and retain some level of societal trust for new systems of value capture, storage, and exchange to emerge to address later stages of the climate crisis.
Abraham Accords Cyber Agreement: Constraining Iran in Cyberspace: Recently, a bipartisan group of Congressmen put forth a bill that would formally authorize cyber cooperation between the United States, and those governments committed to the Abraham Accords. Dubbed the Abraham Accords Cybersecurity Cooperation Act of 2023, the parameters of the bill would facilitate information sharing, provide technical assistance to Abraham Accords stakeholders, and participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) annual cyber exercise program. If passed, the legislation would help strengthen the collective cybersecurity postures of Israel, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States, and foster the type of cooperation that would coordinate collective responses to evolving threats.
Maturing HAMAS Information Operations Gives Iran Another Asset in the Region: On October 13, 2022, HAMAS acknowledged that it had established a cyber unit dubbed the “al-Quds Electronic Army” as early as October 2014. Since its inception and over the course of several years, the group executed numerous cyber attacks against Israeli security force and army organizations. The targets disrupted included command-and-control systems of kibbutz communities in the Gaza Envelope, Israeli Defense Force (IDF) servers, and electricity providers, among others.
China and the Indo-Pacific
China’s “Discourse Power”: Within this article, we’ve curated context on China’s investment in propaganda and influence operations related to their global ambitions.
Should the U.S.-China Science and Technology Agreement (STA) be Allowed to Expire?: Up for renewal this month, members of Congress would like to see the U.S.-China Science and Technology Agreement (STA) expire this year. Since its inception in 1979 and renewal every five years through 2018, the STA has fueled “one of the most productive scientific collaborations of the 21st century” . Renewal of the STA in 2023 is now a subject of serious debate as a function of competitive advantage and due to military security concerns.
Growing Risk to International Corporations: PRC Laws Expand CCP Oversight and Surveillance Requirements: This update captures the latest on PRC laws with a special focus on factors relevant to business decision-makers. The content here is tailored to what we recommend every corporate director/board member of international corporations know about these new surveillance laws. These laws post a risk to any company doing business in China, not only including those that manufacture or purchase supplies from PRC based partners but also those that sell into the market there.
The Future of Japan: Strategic Perspectives on the 2023 G7 Summit Host Country: The 2023 G7 Summit took place in Japan in May 2023. With its position in the East China Sea, a post-WWII democratic alignment with the West, and geographic position relative to China and Taiwan, a strategic focus has become more clear: Japan will figure prominently in whatever the future holds for the region and the world. Some of the more interesting, off-the-beaten-path headlines in the run-up to the Summit are summarized below – followed by the series of posts we did in the run up to the Summit, in an attempt to capture the situational awareness and strategic implications of the future of Japan.
“The Taiwan Scenario” and Cyberattacks on Civilian Critical Infrastructures:James A. Lewis is the Dirctor of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. He recently penned a white paper which aligns with the concerns expressed by CISA Director Jen Easterly in her “Stark Warning” about the high probability of, lack of preparation for and severe impact of cyberattacks on U.S. Critical Infrastructure.
INDUS-X: The Recently Launched India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem: “The U.S. Department of Defense and the Indian Ministry of Defense launched the India-U.S. Defense Acceleration Ecosystem (INDUS-X)…against the backdrop of Prime Minister Modi’s [June 2023] State Visit to the White House, [with India poised to take over China and the world’s most populous nation], and at a time of historic momentum for the relationship between the United States and India, INDUS-X will vitalize…defense industrial cooperation and unlock new innovations in technology and manufacturing.
Japan Challenges China with Rare Earth Metal Extraction from Seabed by 2024: Two of the clear strategic playing fields for competitive advantage are the future of battery production and high-performance computational capabilities. In both cases, rare earth minerals – crucial to the production of everything from semiconductors to electric vehicle (EV) batteries – are the critical risk factor in the future of a green global economy and emerging technologies.
Ransomware Attacks in U.S. and Cyberattacks in Pacific Islands are Battlefields in Global Cyber War: More pattern recognition and sensemaking efforts here – following up our recent spotlight on The City of Dallas, Over a Month After A Ransomware Attack, Still not at Full Functionality and the U.S. Turning its Strategic Focus Towards Cyber Threat Vectors in Guam, Albania, and Costa Rica – further validating the broader cyber battles that the U.S. is fighting on a daily basis (in what is a broader, global cyber war in which we are already engaged against nation-state and non-state actors alike).
A Global Recession Will Ramp Up Chinese Economic Cyber Espionage: Per several financial-related sources, the global economy’s outlook for 2023 does not look favorable due to a variety of factors including but not limited to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine and post-COVID recovery, with some even predicting a global recession in the future. The same sentiment has been expressed by the International Monetary Fund that predicts global growth could fall to 2.7% in 2023.
TikTok and Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the CPC: TikTok was in the news over the holiday break. To insure our readership did not miss the critical learnings about the potential threat posed by the pervasive use of TikTok by the American public, we have compiled a few items which were listed in the OODA Loop News Brief.
Emerging Tech Talent, Human Targeting, Cyber Workforce Development, STEM Stay Rates and National Security: Amidst our research on exponential innovation and national cognitive infrastructure protection, it is easy to take a purely technology-based perspective and neglect the human factor: the role of trained talent and future innovators in building the technology and platforms to solve the most pressing problems and address future risks, opportunities, and threats. The OODA Loop Talent Superpower Strategy (The Human Factor) Series of posts over the course of this year is designed to track, research, and synthesize these vital strategic issues.
Chinese Cellular IoT technology: A three part series based on a paper examining Chinese use of cellular technologies (including the threat to US interests) by Charlie Parton. For the full paper see: Cellular IoT Modules- Supply Chain Security.
- An analysis of threats and mitigation measures
- An analysis examining two companies
- Understanding and mitigating the threat
Russia, Ukraine, and NATO
Russian Cyber Attacks in 2023: Shifting Patterns, Goals, and Capacities: The Computer Emergency Response Team of Ukraine (CERT-UA) and State Service of Special Communications and Information Protection of Ukraine (SSSCIP) have just released a report analyzing the evolution of cyber tactics, objectives, and capacities of the Russian government and government-controlled threat groups in the first half of 2023. The report and details here.
The Power of Resilience: Jen Easterly, Director Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and Victor Zhora, Deputy Chairman and Chief Digital Transformation Officer of the Ukrainian State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection, appeared together on the Black Hat USA 2023 stage and released the following statement (an excerpt of which can be found here).
Russian “Technological Sovereignty”: Just How Crippled is the Russian IT Supply Chain?: There are many researchers and membes of the IC community in the OODA Network and amongst the larger OODA Loop readership, so we know many of you will relate to this breakthrough item. There is nothing like that one data point, needle in the haystack, kernel of research that sits – and sits – and just does not track (in this case, for well over a calendar year). The post (below) from March 2021 is just such a piece of intelligence – and we have not reviewed or received one actionable update or research report on any of the issues reviewed in the post since early 2021. Until this post.
The “What” and “Why” of The Wagner Group Retreat: A “Murky Internal Power Struggle”: Our report on the events in Russia is lean and mean – and two-fold over two standalone posts: Cutting straight to the chase on the what and why of the Wagner Group Retreat; and putting President Vladimir Putin’s Address to the Russian People officially into our record here in the OODA Loop database. So far, It is one of the few historical facts of record that will remain unchanged.
Cyber Attacks by Non-State Actors Continue Astride in Europe: In an update to our recent analysis of the continued expansion of cyber incidents by non-state actors in the war in Europe, the following is a sampling of the most recent, attributed, known major cyber incidents and non-state actor cyber activity (mainly centered around the conflict in Ukraine) of the last two months.
The Weaponization of Wheat Escalates in the Black Sea: Soon after Russia pulled out of the Black Sea grain initiative, wheat prices soared and Russia followed up with kinetic threats along the Black Sea, updates of which can be found here.
Global Food Security, Grain Shipments from Ukraine and Tracking Russia’s Phantom Ships: Bellingcat, aided by satellite imagery service Planet, and CNN, with imagery from Maxar Technologies, both provide evidence that Russia continues to steal grain shipments from Ukraine – rerouting the food shipments through Crimean ports.
Every Business Leader Should Know About the Recent Deep Fake Experience of Bill Browder: After the murder by the Russian state of his company’s lead lawyer in Russia – Sergei Magnitsky – Bill Browder became a sworn enemy of Vladimir Putin. Browder was the driver behind the passage of the Magnitsky Act in 2012, which has pinched the Russian Oligarchs and their global yacht and mansion ownership and square footage footprint ever since – not to mention really effective economic sanctions and the frozen cash and assets of their businesses. Putin, of course, took notice – and has been surveilling and ideally trying to take out Browder for good if at all possible.
Context and Lessons on The Deindustrialization of Germany: A recent article in Politico, “Rust belt on the Rhine”, lays out many of the monumental challenges the German economy and society face in the future. The article does not mention the educational system, which in many ways appears to be stuck in the 1950s (minus corporal punishment). But the educational system might be an important root cause of some of the above challenges. For example, the burgeoning bureaucracy, more on this here.
NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA): In the months before the recent 2023 NATO Summit in Lithuania, the NATO’s Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA) opened its European regional office at the Imperial College London Innovation Hub in London in May and launched its first three pilot challenge programs. This operational “standup” was all in a timeline of less than a year since the NATO Foreign Ministers endorsed the charter for DIANA in April 2022 – which outlines its mission and strategy; legal authorities; financial mechanism; governance; and the regional offices, accelerator sites and test centres that will make up its initial footprint.
The Ukrainian National Cybersecurity Coordination Center on the “First World Cyber War”: The National Cybersecurity Coordination Center (NCCC) is an organization housed within the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine and, based on the USAID logo on the front page of some of its reports, sponsored by the U.S. Government. The NCCC has provided an English translation of its June 2023 Review of Cybersecurity in Ukraine, Tendencies, and World Events Related to the First World Cyber War – which resembled OODA CTO Bob Gourley’s post at the onset of the conflict in Ukraine: We Are In The First Open Source Intelligence War – so it caught our eye. A summary of the report and a link to the full document can be found here.
The Digital Forensic Research Lab on Narrative Warfare and the Invasion of Ukraine: In a new report, the Digital Forensic Research Lab (DFRLab) team analyzed upwards of 10,000 articles from Kremlin and pro-Kremlin media that used false and misleading narratives in the run-up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late 2021 and early 2022.