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1. At no moment since World War II has the (U.S. Navy) faced a more urgent demand to embrace new technologies and weapons systems, given the rising threat from a now formidable Chinese military. The Navy’s top brass talks frequently about the need to innovate to address the threat presented by China. The Defense Department’s own war games show that the Navy’s big-ship platforms are increasingly vulnerable to attack. But the Navy, analysts and current and former officials say, remains lashed to political and economic forces that have produced jobs-driven procurement policies that yield powerful but cumbersome warships that may not be ideally suited for the mission it is facing. An aversion to risk-taking — and the breaking of traditions — mixed with a bravado and confidence in the power of the traditional fleet has severely hampered the Navy’s progress, several recently departed high-ranking Navy and Pentagon officials told The New York Times. Read the rest. (Source: nytimes.com)
2. Ian Johnson:
For anyone who has observed (China) closely over the past few decades, it is difficult to miss the signs of a new national stasis, or what Chinese people call neijuan. Often translated as “involution,” it refers to life twisting inward without real progress. The government has created its own universe of mobile phone apps and software, an impressive feat but one that is aimed at insulating Chinese people from the outside world rather than connecting them to it. Religious groups that once enjoyed relative autonomy—even those favored by the state—must now contend with onerous restrictions. Universities and research centers, including many with global ambitions, are increasingly cut off from their international counterparts. And China’s small but once flourishing communities of independent writers, thinkers, artists, and critics have been driven completely underground, much like their twentieth-century Soviet counterparts. (Source: foreignaffairs.com)
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