16 June 2024

Was There a Scam in India’s Exit Poll Predictions?

Snigdhendu Bhattacharya

Allegations of rigging opinion polls released before voting in elections have emerged from different parts of the world, as such polls may impact voter choices.

Manipulating exit polls is less heard of.

Exit poll results are released after voting in elections. They cannot influence voter opinion unless the election happens in phases and pollsters are allowed to publish early phase results before final phase polling. At the most, a rigged exit poll can demoralize opposition party workers before the counting process.

However, the Congress, India’s main opposition party, has alleged that rigging and/or insider trading involving exit polls in the recent Indian general elections led to the biggest stock market scam in its history.

Soon after the Indian parliamentary election results were out and even before the formation of the government, the Congress asked for a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into the unexplained rise and steep fall in India’s stock market between May 31 and June 4.

China’s Ambitious ‘5G-A’ Plans in Tibet: Strategic Implications for India

Tenzin Younten

On May 21, China achieved significant progress toward the establishment of a “low-altitude economy” in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), with the successful functional verification of its first ever 5G-Advanced (5.5G) synaesthesia integrated base station in Lhoka (Shannan) Prefecture bordering the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. The 5G-A synaesthesia integrated base stations have been described by Huawei as a new revolutionary technology, along with passive IoT and endogenous intelligence, spurred by the 5G-A era.

China has developed the new 5G-A base stations to overcome the longstanding challenges faced by its traditional radars and cameras in terms of detecting and identifying small-sized drones operating within low-altitude airspace. These 5G-A base stations are equipped with comprehensive sensing capabilities that enable identification, real-time positioning, speed detection, and tracking of low-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles, ground vehicles, and other illegally intrusive targets. Following the completion of the first station, the China Mobile Tibet Company announced that its 5G-A base station has detection capabilities surpassing traditional radars. According to the company, the goal of these base stations in Tibet’s border areas is to build low-altitude sensing networks, thereby fostering the development of drone inspection and early warning systems.

More Russians died in ten-month battle for Bakhmut than in ten-year Afghan war

Alec Luhn

Almost 20,000 fighters from Russia’s Wagner mercenary group were killed in the intense battle for the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut last year, more men than the Soviet Union lost in the decade-long invasion of Afghanistan.

Up to 213 mercenaries were killed each day, according to documents obtained by the BBC Russian Service and Mediazona, an independent Russian media outlet. Wagner lost more than 19,500 men in the ten-month campaign to take the city, most of whom were recruited from prisons. That makes the “Bakhmut meat grinder” Russia’s bloodiest battle since the Second World War.

Bakhmut had minor strategic value but took on totemic importance for both sides as troops fought from building to building, and near-constant shelling reduced the city to rubble.

Is China Souring on Pakistan?

Eram Ashraf

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif recently returned from an official visit to China. While there, he not only met President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Qiang, and other officials, but also members of China’s business community at the Pakistan-China Business Forum 2024 in Shenzhen.

According to Pakistani media, the prime minister gave a clear and strong message of commitment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Sharif’s views on CPEC had been appreciated by the Chinese even during his time as chief minister of Punjab province. As a result of his quick delivery of CPEC projects in Punjab, Chinese diplomats had given him the title “Shehbaz Speed.”

The importance of his trip, however, was not just to relay Pakistan’s commitment to CPEC but also to convince his hosts of Pakistan’s determination to address two important concerns that China had been consistently raising – namely, stability and security in Pakistan. Political instability in Pakistan had added to the country’s economic woes, and a deteriorating security situation inside Pakistan, with Chinese citizens increasingly targeted, was taking the shine off China’s “flagship” Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

UNDERSTANDING CHINA'S TAIWAN CYBER STRATEGY


How to succeed at annexation without really fighting

Will the People’s Republic of China (PRC)* invade Taiwan? Many Americans worry an invasion will take place. Business leaders worry, too. In fact, a war over Taiwan is neither inevitable nor looming. But an unconventional risk lurks in the shadows: The PRC has a Taiwan cyber strategy for annexing Taiwan without an invasion. This strategy is in use right now. And it puts global stability at risk. That’s why we wrote a new study on the strategy called How to Succeed at Annexation Without Really Fighting.

Now, the PRC doesn’t see one big Taiwan cyberattack as the way to win. Instead, the strategy calls for using cyber power in a comprehensive way—on political, military, and economic fronts. The aim is to isolate, weaken, and absorb Taiwan in the long run. This is done through spying, stealing data, spreading lies, and beyond. The PRC also targets U.S. critical infrastructure with cyber threats to deter U.S. involvement in the event of a Taiwan crisis.

The Burning of Buthidaung: Allegations, Denials, and Silence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State

Naw Theresa

On May 17, the Arakan Army (AA, now rebranded as the Arakha Army) captured the town of Buthidaung in the northern part of Rakhine State in Myanmar’s west. The next day, large parts of the town had reportedly burned down.

While the events of May 17-18 are still being pieced together, they immediately prompted allegations from Rohingya activists that AA fighters were responsible for arson and the forced displacement. Citing various eyewitness accounts, they claimed that thousands of Rohingya previously living in Buthidaung had been left homeless.

Blaming the fires on regime air strikes, the AA has categorically denied the allegations and doubled down with strong rebukes. Domestic media platforms’ coverage has been non-committal at best while resistance organizations and netizens have closed ranks to defend the group. Although the military State Administration Council (SAC) has intentionally used Buthidaung and the conscription of Rohingya as a way of weaponizing communal tensions against the AA, the way the events have played out, and the way in which anti-regime groups have reacted, are not encouraging for the country’s ongoing struggles.


A New Chinese Megaport in South America Is Rattling the U.S.

Ryan Dubé & James T. Areddy

In this serene town on South America’s Pacific coast, China is building a megaport that could challenge U.S. influence in a resource-rich region that Washington has long considered its backyard.

The Chancay deep-water port, rising here among pelicans and fishermen in small wooden boats, is important enough to Beijing that Chinese leader Xi Jinping is expected to inaugurate it at the end of the year in his first trip to the continent since the pandemic.

Majority-owned by the giant China Ocean Shipping group, known as Cosco, Chancay promises to speed trade between Asia and South America, eventually benefiting customers as far away as Brazil with shorter sailing times across the Pacific for everything from blueberries to copper.

As nations around the world shudder at a new flood of cheap Chinese manufactured goods, the port could open new markets for its electric vehicles and other exports. China is already the top trade partner for most of South America.

In China’s Backyard, America Has Become a Humbler Superpower

Damien Cave

Far from Ukraine and Gaza, as the Group of 7 wealthy democracies gathers in Italy to discuss a range of old, entrenched challenges, the nature of American power is being transformed across the region that Washington sees as crucial for the century to come: the Asia-Pacific.

Here, America no longer presents itself as the confident guarantor of security, a trust-us-we’ve-got-this superpower. The terrain is too vast, China’s rise too great a threat. So the United States has been offering to be something else — an eager teammate for military modernization and tech development.

“In the past, our experts would talk about a hub-and-spokes model for Indo-Pacific security,” Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said this month at a global defense conference in Singapore. “Today we’re seeing something quite different.”

China and Russia Are Beating the US in Africa

James Stavridis

Africa, with 60% of the arable land on the planet, 30% of the mineral reserves and a population approaching 1.5 billion, is an increasingly vital region for global security. Unfortunately, the US has not been adapting to a rapidly changing scene. In the latest blow, US troops have been forced to leave Niger, where the Pentagon had enjoyed a longstanding security partnership.

At the same time, Russia and China are consolidating political and military influence across the continent. Russian paramilitaries and mercenaries, using the model of the now-defunct Wagner Group, have been operating in Mali, Congo, the Central African Republic and other states. Autocratic leaders are hoping for economic benefits from Beijing’s Belt and Road initiative — and to purchase AI-enhanced versions of the equipment that has made China a surveillance state.

China’s Do-Nothing Strategy in the Middle East

Lauren Barney and Aaron Glasserman

Since late 2023, the Houthis in Yemen have posed an extraordinary challenge to global shipping. As a result of the Iranian-backed group’s relentless attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea, intended to pressure the United States and its allies over Israel’s war in Gaza, several of the largest international shipping companies have been forced to reroute their vessels around Africa to avoid the sea entirely. According to one estimate, the freight costs of shipping from Asia to Europe rose by nearly 300 percent from October to March. In an effort to contain the crisis and defend this vital trade corridor, the United States and the United Kingdom have conducted hundreds of airstrikes against Houthi sites in Yemen.

Yet China, whose vast global trade accounts for a sizable portion of Red Sea traffic, has largely stood by. Beijing sends $280 billion worth of goods per year through the Red Sea’s Bab el Mandeb Strait, accounting for nearly 20 percent of China’s total maritime trade. And as a result of the Houthi attacks, it faces rapidly mounting shipping costs and supply chain disruptions at a moment when the Chinese economy is already under pressure. Nonetheless, Beijing has done little in response. In public, Chinese officials have limited themselves to affirming the importance of safe and open seas; in private, they have tried to negotiate with the Houthis and their Iranian supporters to secure the safe passage of vessels linked to China—although multiple such ships have been attacked.

Integrated Megapolises, Next Stage Of Chinese Reforms – Analysis

Dan Steinbock

After record rapid urbanization, China is moving to the next stage with integrated and coordinated multi-city clusters. The Yangtze River Delta region is a case in point.

Last November, Chinese President Xi Jinping chaired a Shanghai symposium on advancing the integrated development of the Yangtze River Delta (YRD). Half a decade before, he had championed the initiative that made the integrated development of the delta region a national strategy.

In light of development, integrated megapolises represent the next stage of reforms and opening-up. It is vital to Chinese modernization.

Yangtze River Delta as regional engine

The Yangtze River Delta is China’s longest waterway. Running more than 6,300 km, it encompasses a set of economic powerhouses and megacities, including the provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Anhui and Shanghai.

World Order is in a Downward Spiral

Robert D. Blackwill

The international system is well into its most challenging period since the years that led up to the Cuban Missile Crisis, as the liberal world order gradually erodes. U.S.-China relations are on a path to an eventual confrontation while the balance of power in Asia shifts against the United States. A Russian dictator seeks to overthrow the European security system that brought peace and prosperity to the continent for many decades. The war in Gaza demonstrates the failure of successive American administrations to contend with the hegemonic ambitions of Iran effectively. Diplomacy has yet to mitigate the abiding danger in any of these cases.

Both Washington and Beijing seem intent on a quiet, uneventful 2024—President Joe Biden desires re-election, and Xi Jinping wants to concentrate on his formidable domestic economic challenges. However, 2025 and beyond is an entirely different matter. Neither side seems prepared to bend on the issue, which is most likely to trigger a war between the two states—Taiwan. China continues the overhaul of its military forces in preparation to subjugate Taiwan through blockade, missile attack, or invasion. Washington appears increasingly willing to go to war with China over Taiwan, and the Biden administration, spurred on by both parties in Congress, works intensively to bolster every element of U.S.-Taiwan bilateral relations—military, economic, diplomatic—despite Beijing’s fervent protests.

Beyond proxies: Iran’s deeper strategy in Syria and Lebanon

Hamidreza Azizi & Julien Barnes-Dacey

Out of the shadows

The war in Gaza is nudging the longstanding conflict between Iran and Israel out of the shadows. Much international political attention remains focused on Israel’s devastating actions in Gaza since Hamas’s horrific attacks on 7 October. But Iran, its allies and proxies in the “axis of resistance”, and Israel are also already engaged in a low-level war across the Middle East, which is edging closer than ever to a direct Iranian-Israeli clash. Iran wields its most powerful influence in Lebanon and Syria, and it is there that there is the greatest risk of the shadow conflict escalating into a full-blown regional war.

On the Lebanese front, Israel and the Iranian-backed Hizbullah movement have seen their most intense clashes since the 2006 Lebanon war. The Syrian theatre, meanwhile, risks sparking an even more deadly direct conflict between Israel and Iran. Since October 2023 Iranian-backed militias have launched more than 170 attacks against American bases in Syria and Iraq, with the United States responding in kind following the deaths of three of its soldiers in an attack on the Syria-Jordan border on 28 January. Then on 1 April, Israel bombed the Iranian diplomatic compound in Damascus. The attack – its most overt on Iranian sovereign territory to date – killed the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commander in charge of Iran’s Syrian and Lebanese operations. Iran retaliated on 13 April, launching more than 300 missiles and drones against Israel in an unprecedented, if cautiously calibrated, direct response.

NATO chief continues push to let Ukraine hit Russian-based targets

Noah Robertson

NATO’s top official said he “welcomed” the choice by many countries in the alliance to let Ukraine fire across the border into Russia, arguing that the former restrictions in place ignored Ukraine’s right to protect itself.

“The right of self-defense includes also striking legitimate military targets on the territory of the aggressor: Russia,” said Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO.

Stoltenberg spoke to a crowd of reporters near the entrance of the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels. Behind him, American and European officials entered ahead of a meeting of countries that gather each month to coordinate support for Kyiv.

In opening remarks shortly after, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin updated the list of numbers showing Russia’s costs incurred during the war: 350,000 casualties, 24 ships sunk or damaged, 2,600 armored vehicles destroyed.

Biden, Zelensky to sign 10-year U.S.-Ukraine security deal at G-7 summit

Ellen Nakashima and Michael Birnbaum

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky plan Thursday to sign a 10-year security agreement that will commit Washington to supply Kyiv with a wide range of military assistance, national security adviser Jake Sullivan said, in a bid to bolster Ukraine’s fight with Russia.

The deal aims to commit future U.S. administrations to support Ukraine, even if former president Donald Trump wins November’s election, officials said. It will be a framework for a long-term effort by the United States to help develop Ukraine’s armed forces, which have innovated on drone warfare and other cutting-edge techniques in the fight against Russia, but are also desperately outgunned and in need of modern weapons.


China-Russia-Iran-North Korea axis heightens the risk of WWIII

HIROYUKI AKITA

The war in Ukraine has reached a critical juncture, with the Russian military sharply intensifying attacks to expand its areas of control before U.S. military aid is fully disbursed in the country.

Ukraine's increasingly desperate battle against the invading forces is not the only bad news for the world. Equally disturbing is a sign that China, North Korea and Iran are deepening ties with Moscow to help Russia's war machine.

North Korea is furnishing Russia with short-range missiles and more than a million rounds of ammunition, while Iran has offered a vast arsenal of drones. But China's quasi-military support to Russia could have a much more profound impact in the medium term.

According to U.S. sources, while China, a major military power, has not transferred lethal weapons to Russia, it is providing Moscow with drones and satellite images, as well as machine tools and semiconductors that can be used to mass-produce weapons.

Army War College Parameters, Summer 2024, v. 54, no. 2

What American Policymakers Misunderstand about the Belt and Road Initiative

The Combat Path: Sustaining Mental Readiness in Ukrainian Soldiers

Understanding Russian Disinformation and How the Joint Force Can Address It

The Dynamics of US Retrenchment in the Middle East

Iraq’s Ministry of Interior: NATO, Capability Building, and Reform

Raven Sentry: Employing AI for Indications and Warnings in Afghanistan

Closing the Gap: Officer Advanced Education STEM+M (Management)

Operating Successfully within the Bureaucracy Domain of Warfare: Part One

Professional Discourse Is Shaping the Force

Introduction to the US Army War College Civil-Military Relations Center

Exploring the Nexus of Military and Society at a 50-Year Milestone

Steps Forward to Strengthen the Lithium-Ion Battery Supply Chain

William Alan Reinsch, Meredith Broadbent, Thibault Denamiel, and Evan Brown

Introduction

The supply chains for lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) illustrate the intertwining of national security concerns with climate and trade policies, as the United States aims to strengthen supply chains by relocating production of essential items, including those vital for meeting climate objectives, back to domestic or nearby shores. The LIB supply chain spans globally, but key inputs and processing capabilities are concentrated in a few countries. This combination of dispersion and concentration makes the global supply chain vulnerable to geopolitical disruptions and changes in trade relations. Compounding this challenge is China’s dominance in lithium-ion manufacturing, particularly in processing mineral inputs and producing key end products like electric vehicles (EVs), alongside its status as an economic rival and strategic adversary to U.S. interests.

Need for Policy Adjustments

The Biden administration appears to have three primary objectives: reducing reliance on China for crucial manufacturing, reshoring manufacturing to the United States to regain lost jobs and resilience, and accelerating the shift away from hydrocarbons to mitigate climate change in line with international agreements. However, these goals present contradictions. Reducing dependence on China and bringing manufacturing back to the United States would enhance supply chain resilience but might impede progress toward climate goals. Conversely, liberalizing trade with China could facilitate scaling up manufacturing and access to affordable inputs, supporting decarbonization efforts at the expense of supply chain security. Balancing these objectives requires a nuanced policy approach.

"Bending" the Architecture: Reimagining the G7

John J. Hamre, Victor Cha, Emily Benson, Max Bergmann, Erin L. Murphy, and Caitlin Welsh

A WORLD IN TURMOIL

At a time of global turmoil when traditional institutions of global governance are underperforming, the Group of Seven (G7), a bloc of industrialized democracies which includes the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, is needed now more than ever to foster a more stable and predictable world order.

This CSIS report offers recommendations to empower a future G7 as a critical institution of global governance. The work presented here is a non-partisan and collaborative effort of CSIS expertise on Asia, Europe, sustainable development, and economics. The authors sought advice and critical input from almost three dozen former G7 point persons—so-called sherpas, sous-sherpas, and yaks—and representatives of the G7, European, and Asian diplomatic commuities. This report does not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of these participants.]


Europe needs strategists, not accountants

Nigel Gould-Davies

An intense week of Ukraine diplomacy lies ahead. On 11–12 June the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Germany assessed Ukraine’s future reconstruction needs. On 15–16 June the Summit on Peace in Ukraine, hosted in Switzerland, will try to secure a consensus on the path to a just and lasting peace. Sandwiched between them on 13–15 June is the annual G7 leaders’ summit in Italy.

The G7 summit is the most important of these, as it has the potential to unlock the resources that both recovery and peace require. The summit will decide what to do with US$300 billion of Russian central-bank assets frozen in Western financial systems since February 2022. Transferring these assets to Ukraine as compensation for the injury caused by Russia’s full-scale invasion would give it the means to fight and end the war on favourable terms. This, in turn, would create the necessary conditions for a secure recovery. No issue on the G7 agenda is more strategically urgent.

Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States have signalled their support for coordinated confiscation of Russia’s assets. But the European Union, where much of the money is frozen, is resistant. The initial concern of member states was that seizure would break international law. But several teams of leading international scholars have concluded that there is a clear legal path to seizure under the established doctrine of state countermeasure – and precedents for doing so.

Covert Wars – Analysis

James M. Dorsey

Gaza is not one but multiple wars.

Beyond the horrors of the kinetic war in the Strip, Israel, the Palestinians, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and multiple political groups, including pro-Palestinian students, supporters of Israel, and right-wing forces, are waging often inter-connected Gaza-related information wars.

To bolster US Congressional and public support in the United States and Canada, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry, the government agency responsible for managing relations with Jews around the world, organized and funded a US$2 million influence campaign to foster US backing of its Gaza war conduct.

The campaign’s Islamophobic messaging mirrored long-standing efforts by the United Arab Emirates to counter perceived Islamists in the United States and Europe, in part by forging links to the far-right.

The Center Of Gravity Is Shifting…Asia – OpEd

F. Andrew Wolf, Jr.

Western Europe and parts of the East are slipping into obscurity and becoming an irrelevancy. The politics of the world is seismic, and its center of gravity is shifting – the Old World is losing its appeal.

Europe remains an important strategic focus for Russia, but it ceases to be the topic of interest it once was. Many view it today as experiencing “diminished capacity.” It seems that Western Europe has ceased acting in its own best interest and struggles to even conceptualize them. States are increasingly losing their autonomy to the demands of the “empire” in Brussels and falling further within the penumbra of the US.

The growing presence of NATO on Russia’s western borders has not occurred without concern by the Kremlin. There are signs of the US-led bloc’s transition from dormancy to major “saber-rattling.” In May of this year euronews reported “Germany lays out ‘exercise scenario’ for a potential conflict between NATO and Russia.” France, Germany and (always) the Baltics are preparing for a major military confrontation in Europe. And this in spite of Moscow (including Putin) repeatedly advocating against conflict in an interview this year with journalist Tucker Carlson and reported by this author in a Cairo Review article titled, “Hegemonic Reasoning Fueled the Russia-Ukraine War.” Putin acknowledges that Russia would not be a match for NATO’s combined military power using conventional means (too many would perish on both sides), and indicating that the use of nuclear weapons was plain insanity (potentially civilization would perish). So who exactly is the EU arming themselves to fight?

The End of Soft Power?

Joseph S. Nye Jr.

In a world marked by wars in Ukraine and Gaza, is the age of soft power over? Thirty years ago, with the end of the Soviet Union, increasing integration in Europe, and America’s “Unipolar Moment,” the prospects for inter-state war seemed low. Some observers argued that the age of hard power was diminishing, and the world was entering an era of soft power. That clearly turned out to be wrong, but that was never my view. I formulated the concept of soft power during the Cold War and argued that it was relevant to realism and conflict as well as peace.

Soft power is the ability to affect others through attraction rather than coercion or payment, and it is relevant in both war and peace. In the Seven Year’s War of the eighteenth century, Russia dropped out of the coalition massed against Prussia because Czar Peter III (newly anointed in the course of the conflict) was a fan of Frederick the Great. Usually, however, its effects are slow and indirect, and it is not the most important source of power for foreign policy in the short run.

However, ignoring or neglecting soft power is a strategic and analytic mistake. Soft power is not new. Roman power rested partly on the attraction of its culture. Geir Lundstadt, a Norwegian scholar, described Cold War Europe as divided into two empires, Soviet and American, but the American presence in Western Europe was “an empire by invitation.” Unlike the Soviet military interventions in Hungary and Czechoslovakia, the United States supported Western European integration and tolerated Charles De Gaulle’s independence. At the end of the Cold War, the Berlin Wall collapsed under an onslaught of hammers and bulldozers wielded by people in the Soviet empire whose minds had been affected by Western soft power.

BIG TECH RIVALRY COULD BE THE KEY TO COMPETITION IN AI


While policy-makers fret about its risks, competition authorities ought to be excited about artificial intelligence (AI). AI has the potential to boost competition by helping firms in many sectors create new content, innovate, research, advertise and optimise their operations. AI could therefore enable many new entrepreneurs to launch businesses, help existing firms expand into new areas, and shift labour and capital away from incumbents and towards more innovative firms. This could finally help address one of the key reasons for slow economic growth in developed countries: the struggle to raise productivity.

But to maximise the benefits of AI, developers of foundation models (FMs) – AI models which can be used for many different tasks – will need competitive pressure to make their models as widely available and as accessible as possible. And new AI firms will need the freedom and incentives to pursue disruptive innovation, not just innovation which boosts incumbents’ business models. Competition authorities in the UK, US, EU and the Union’s member-states are therefore all turning their attention to FMs. They are determined not to “repeat the mistakes of the past” – meaning they do not want AI to be intractably dominated by one or two firms. AI has already catapulted chip-maker NVIDIA into a new ‘big tech’ firm, and there is potential for many more of today’s AI start-ups to become powerful players. However, large tech firms might nevertheless continue to play an important role in the sector. Authorities should ensure these large tech firms compete aggressively to win customers - rather than fixating on their size.

Sanctions for Spyware

Mailyn Fidler

Spyware is software that enables digital surveillance. A robust commercial market for spyware exists, estimated at $12 billion, with government and law enforcement agencies as prime customers. Spyware is a key destination for zero-day exploits; Google attributes over half of known zero-day exploits targeting its products to commercial spyware.

Its use is linked to human rights abuses. Spyware has been identified in efforts to monitor murdered Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi’s network, Egyptian opposition politician Ahmed Eltantawy, Mexican human rights advocates, Russian journalist Galina Timchenko, and Salvadoran journalist Carlos Dada, among others. The human rights harms perpetrated and risked by this technology have led multiple UN Rapporteurs to call for a moratorium on this technology’s sale and transfer.

This practice has not gone unchallenged. The U.S., both through its own laws and with other states, has pursued efforts to curb this trade. Export controls have been the primary policy approach taken toward spyware and related technologies in the past 10 years. Export controls restrict the circumstances under which an entity can export items. The main multilateral mechanism is the Wassenaar Arrangement, a voluntary mechanism through which states adopt harmonized export controls on dual-use technologies. The arrangement adopted controls on “intrusion technologies,” essentially delivery mechanisms for, among other things, spyware. The U.S. implemented domestic export controls in line with the Wassenaar controls.

15 June 2024

Agnikul’s first test flight: Time for private sector to be wings of Indian space industry

Ashwin Prasad

Launch Vehicle Startups in India

Accessing space is now easier than ever, creating new growth and innovation opportunities. The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has developed the Small Satellite Launch Vehicle ( SSLV ) to enable quick and flexible on-demand launches, complementing its existing fleet of Polar Satellite Launch Vehicles (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles (GSLV) for heavier payloads.

The private space industry in India is also making significant strides in improving the country’s launch capabilities. Leading the charge are the two startups, Skyroot and Agnikul. In 2022, Skyroot tested a suborbital-sounding rocket from Sriharikota. Following suit, Agnikul has successfully carried out its maiden suborbital flight test. Despite being 18 months behind Skyroot, Agnikul has tested a more advanced rocket in its fifth attempt.

Semi-Cryogenic Advantage

Agnibaan is a rocket powered by a 3D-printed semi-cryogenic engine. Cryogenic and semi-cryogenic rocket engines offer much higher energy density and specific impulse than traditional solid- and liquid-fueled engines. Specific impulse measures the engine’s efficiency in converting propellant to thrust. It is essentially the rocket’s ‘mileage’. Semi-cryogenic engines are the most popular rocket engines used today. Compared to solid-fuelled variants, semi-cryogenic engines allow for higher variability of thrust—the ability to throttle.

The dangers of Taiwan’s ‘strategic ambiguity’

JOSEPH BOSCO

When Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin met with his Chinese counterpart, Dong Jun, in Singapore late last month, he was treated to the usual litany of preemptive Beijing complaints alleging hostile U.S. intentions — “containment,” “encirclement” etc. — and U.S. bad faith by failing to honor the “one China principle.” Such charges have been repeated so often and so relentlessly that many Americans and others have come to accept them as historical fact.

Whether China’s professions of injured sensitivities are feigned or authentic depends on whether the communist leaders believe their own propaganda.

The bad-faith charge stems from the seminal document co-authored by Henry Kissinger and Zhou En-lai, the Shanghai Communiqué, the original sin of U.S.-China-Taiwan relations. Attempting to bridge the longstanding chasm between the Chinese and U.S. positions on Taiwan, Kissinger utilized what he, President Nixon, and many others considered “brilliant” wordsmithing.

China’s overseas bases aren’t a big threat, yet: RAND

PATRICK TUCKER

China’s growing interest in opening more military bases abroad does not pose a big threat to U.S. forces in the next six years, RAND concludes in a new report out Monday. China is not well positioned to build foreign bases or run them in a way that will improve their ability to contest U.S. naval power, according to the report.

In 2017, China established a logistics support base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa. “Houthi militants’ current attacks on commercial shipping in the Red Sea and a renewed attack by pirates on shipping in the waters off Somalia have once again validated the strategic value of Djibouti and ensuring adjacent sea lines of communication such as the Bab al Mandab Strait remain navigable,” Henry Tugendhat of the United States Institute of Peace noted in January.

But according to a 2021 Defense Department assessment, the Djibouti pier China is building is large enough to support vessels like submarines and even aircraft carriers, which are not the sorts of vessels used for counter-piracy or humanitarian assistance.

China's New Era

Annie Luman Ren and Ben Hillman

The General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xi Jinping, has declared his rule to be a ‘New Era’ 新时代. The Party’s Third Historical Resolution of 2021, which cemented Xi’s place in history, declared his leadership ‘the key to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation’. The Party distinguishes the New Era from the two previous eras in the history of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). In the first—the Mao Zedong era (1940–78)—China stood up and threw off the yoke of Western and Japanese imperialism. The second era—the Deng Xiaoping era (1979–2012), which includes the administrations of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, Xi Jinping’s immediate predecessors—is recognised for its successful economic reforms and rapid industrial development. The third era (2013–), the era of Xi Jinping, promises to be the one in which China is restored to its place as one of the world’s great and powerful nations. This goal is encapsulated in the ‘China Dream’ and the two centennial goals that Xi Jinping set for his administration; namely, that China would become moderately prosperous by 2021, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, and an advanced, high-income economy and global power by 2049.


The real danger of Iran linking Hezbollah to Gaza - analysis

SETH J. FRANTZMAN

Eight months of war have provided Israel with a deeper understanding of the role of Iran in creating multi-front threats against Israel. Prior to October 7, it was widely believed that the real threat in the region was Iran and that Iran’s provision of weapons to Hezbollah was the main front that Israel should concentrate on. However, October 7 showed that Hamas could trigger a regional war by attacking Israel.

This means that it’s worth understanding now how Hamas continues to have its hand on the trigger. If there is a ceasefire in Gaza, for instance, there may be “quiet” in northern Israel. This means that Hamas’s actions may determine Hezbollah’s actions. Together, their actions are likely coordinated with Iran and also its other proxies such as the Houthis.

Any escalation in Gaza may therefore lead to escalation in the North. This is one of the main learning curves of this conflict. Israel did not plan for this eventuality. While Israel had planned for a multi-front war, it had not envisioned the Gaza front being the main one and Hezbollah being the stand-off front, where there is tit-for-tat rocket fire and airstrikes.

Houthis Attack Merchant Ship in Red Sea Off Yemen’s Coast

Anjana Sankar

Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a merchant ship in the Red Sea on Wednesday in the latest escalation of the Iran-backed militia’s campaign against shipping in support of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

A British government maritime agency said the vessel was “hit on the stern by a small craft” about 66 nautical miles southwest of the Houthi-held port of Hodeida in Yemen.

After the attack, the ship was “taking on water, and not under command of the crew,” the agency, The United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, said in a statement on its website. The statement said the ship’s master had reported it was also “hit for a second time by an unknown airborne projectile.”

A majority of Iranians now favor possessing nuclear weapons. Their leaders take note.

Peyman Asadzade

Iran is currently in a state of nuclear latency; it possesses the necessary materials to develop nuclear weapons should it decide to proceed. However, Iranian leaders have consistently stated that the country has no such intentions. Historically, public opinion polls since the mid-2000s have consistently demonstrated that while Iranians favored a peaceful nuclear program, a majority of them opposed developing nuclear weapons.

A recent survey, however, suggests that Iranian citizens are growing more receptive to nuclear weapons.

The survey, conducted between February 20 and May 26, was designed and carried out by the author in collaboration with the Toronto-based company, IranPoll. It used an online panel of 2,280 Iranian citizens that closely reflects the demographic structure of the national population, with targeted quotas across region, age, income, and gender.

How a U.S.-Saudi Deal Could Reshape the Middle East


It’s a tantalizing dream for diplomats and longtime observers of the Middle East: A grand bargain that would normalize relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, pause or end the war in Gaza, and deliver at least a roadmap to a Palestinian state. It’s also widely seen as a non-starter for the current Israeli government – and with that in mind, the U.S. is now pursuing a major strategic arrangement of its own with Saudi Arabia.

The two countries are reportedly close to finalizing a deal that would include U.S. security commitments to Saudi Arabia, a deepening U.S. military presence in the region and the cementing of a relationship that could serve as a bulwark against Iran as well as growing Chinese and Russian influence in the region. There are also economic benefits to be had for both nations – including civilian nuclear assistance for Saudi Arabia – as well as the prospect of pursuing that broader arrangement with Israel once this deal is done.

Joe Biden’s Ceasefire Proposal: Why It Won’t Work With Hamas

Lawrence Haas

“We await the answer from Hamas,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said of the group’s anticipated response to President Biden’s ceasefire proposal for Gaza, “and that will speak volumes about what they want, what they’re looking for, who they’re looking after.

“Are they looking after one guy who may be pronounced safe…” Blinken said of Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s leader in Gaza who planned the group’s barbaric slaughter of 1,200 Israelis on October 7, ”while the people that he purports to represent continue to suffer in a crossfire of his own making? Or will he do what’s necessary to… help end the suffering of people, to help bring real security to Israelis and Palestinians alike?”

Did we really need to await Hamas’ response? Do we really wonder whether Sinwar – who’s hiding in Hamas’ tunnels in Gaza, reportedly shielded by some of its hostages – would ever put an end to Palestinian “suffering” and the onset of “real security to Israelis and Palestinians” before himself and his ruthless agenda? Must we slavishly pull at the presumed heartstrings of someone with blood on his hands and genocidal intent on his mind?

Lift the Restrictions and Let Ukraine Defend Itself | Opinion

Mark Temnycky

Officials from the United States, France, and Germany recently stated that the Ukrainians could use some of their weapons to strike Russian military targets near the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv for "counter-fire purposes" only. The announcement was welcomed by many, but it was puzzling why it had taken Western officials so long to make the decision.

For nearly two and a half years, Ukrainians have been subjected to Russia's brutal and violent invasion. Thousands of Ukrainians have been killed. Numerous villages and towns have been destroyed. One-fourth of Ukraine's total population is displaced due to Russia's war.

When the war initially began, several Western news outlets believed that Ukraine would fall quickly to Russian forces. Many foreign leaders were hesitant to provide the Ukrainians with the weapons they needed to defend themselves from the onslaught of Russian troops, and several international observers watched the war anxiously.