25 June 2019

The United States, India, and the Future of the Indo-Pacific Strategy

by Walter C. Ladwig III and Anit Mukherjee

The U.S. Department of Defense, on June 1, released its Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, which reiterates U.S. commitments to the region’s long-term peace and prosperity through partnerships. As guest editors for a recent issue of Asia Policy, Walter C. Ladwig III and Anit Mukherjee worked with several authors to examine the opportunities and limitations of Indo-U.S. cooperation in different subregions of Asia. In this commentary, they present some of their main findings in the context of the Indo-Pacific Strategy Report.

On the eve of the 2019 Shangri-La dialogue, the U.S. Department of Defense released its Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, which reiterates U.S. commitments to the region’s long-term peace and prosperity. The “bedrock” of U.S. strategy to achieve that aim is the deepening and expanding of U.S. partnerships with friends and allies across the region. Principal among these partners is India. The report’s release coincides with the conclusion of India’s general election that returned Prime Minister Narendra Modi to office with an increased majority. Modi has been personally committed to strengthening ties with the United States and his resounding victory provides an opportunity for the prime minister to replicate the “extraordinary international activism” of his first term with the support of veteran diplomat S. Jaishankar at the Ministry of External Affairs.

China hosts top Taliban leader in bid to expand role in Afghanistan

Atul Aneja

The dialogue took place ahead of the seventh round of talks between the Taliban and the United States in Doha.

China on Thursday confirmed that it had hosted Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar — the group’s deputy chief on political affairs — as part of its bid to expand its role in Afghanistan, which is set for another major transition.

In response to a question, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said that Chinese officials exchanged views with Mr. Baradar and his aides on “peace and reconciliation process as well as the fight against terrorism”.

The dialogue took place ahead of the seventh round of talks between the Taliban and the United States in Doha, Qatar.

Analysts point out that the “peace and reconciliation” process would conclude once the Afghan government and the Taliban agree on a power-sharing formula.

Pakistan Pashtun activists say leader arrests herald state crackdown

Saad Sayeed

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - After a deadly clash between troops and activists at a security post in northern Pakistan, organizers of a rights movement that has unnerved the powerful army say a campaign of intimidation against them has intensified, with many top leaders detained.

The military denies a crackdown against the Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM), which campaigns against alleged extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances of Pashtuns and other ethnic minorities, but says it is acting against lawbreakers.

Manzoor Pashteen, the PTM’s charismatic figurehead, said he has seen his closest aides detained. Two lawmakers who are part of the group’s leadership have also been arrested.

“In the past, they wanted to stop protests. Now they want to stop the movement,” Pashteen, who says he is the only member of the group’s core leadership not in custody, told Reuters. “They have directly arrested the leadership and begun a campaign to malign them (on social media).”

Hong Kong is in danger. China’s promise of democracy was a lie | Anonymous

The ninth of June 2019 was a Sunday. Any other Sunday in summer at Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, old men and women would do their usual walkabouts and maids would gather, spread out groundsheets, cover them with spicy delicacies and listen to Filipino pop songs. But it was not like any other Sunday, at least not for me. Filled with anxiety, hope and anger, I joined the protest against Hong Kong’s proposed extradition law, alongside three classmates from my evening Spanish class. We were hopeful because perhaps there was a slim chance that our government would listen to us, for once. We were angry because our government had repeatedly lied to us.

I had not taken part in any demonstrations since 2004, at which time I still had not yet completely lost faith in the sincerity of China’s promise of democracy for Hong Kong. But this time I just felt I had to.

We were anxious that if we did not stop the impending extradition bill, all foreign firms and multinationals would leave Hong Kong in droves, property prices and the stock market would plummet and lots of people would be without jobs or worse. It all started in 1997, when the sovereignty of Hong Kong was returned to Beijing. We were promised a high degree of autonomy with a democratically elected legislature and a chief executive. After 22 years, there is still no sign of a legislature elected by universal suffrage, promised to us under the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s constitution.

Huawei saga is no good for anyone – Nokia UK CEO

Jamie Davies

Some might assume the suspicion which is being placed on Huawei might work out well for its competitors, but that is certainly not the case.

In certain markets, there are clear benefits to having Huawei as the political punching bag of the technology world, the US is a prime example. Huawei is banned in the US, but it has never really made a profitable charge in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave and look at Ericsson’s wins with Verizon in the pre-standard 5G world. But it can also be a negative.

“It’s bad for us as well,” said Nokia UK CEO Cormac Whelan. “It throws a cloud over technology, networks rollout and security.”

Whelan’s example to demonstrate this point is an effective one. When Volkswagen got caught red-handed in the emissions scandal, it wasn’t too long before questions were asked about others in the automotive industry. The Huawei security issue is not directly comparable, but Nokia and Ericsson are certainly being caught in the wake of this scandal, especially in the UK.

What a High-Pressure College Entrance Exam Reveals About China

Matthew Chitwood

GEJIU, China—Luo Xing stood on the sidewalk outside Gejiu Third High School reviewing her Chinese language and literature test prep guide. She and hundreds of classmates were cramming last-minute for China’s high-stakes college entrance exam, known as the gaokao, as if 12 years of preparation were not enough. The bell finally rang and the school gates opened, allowing Luo Xing and the mass of students to push past throngs of anxious parents, SWAT police and a brigade of motorcycle cops. They disappeared into the school compound to face one of the hardest tests in the world. 

More than 10 million Chinese students took this year’s gaokao, five times the record-breaking 2.1 million students in the United States who took the SAT last year. In China, the test falls on the same two days every year, June 7 and 8, which many regard as the most important time in a Chinese person’s life—“more important than your wedding day,” one parent told me. The single score from this test is the sole criteria for university admissions in China. A good score, many believe, leads to a good school, and with it the right networks, career opportunities and, of course, the right spouse. “The higher your score, the more options you have,” Luo Xing’s mother told me matter-of-factly. But a bad test day is the start of a lifelong uphill battle. ...

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to North Korea serves as a reminder that Kim Jong-un still needs friends on the world stage

Ankit Panda

Well over a year since accepting Kim Jong-un’s invitation to Pyongyang in March 2018, Xi Jinping has arrived in the North Korean capital.

The Chinese president’s visit is the first of its kind since his predecessor’s trip to see the North Korean leader’s father, Kim Jong-il, in 2005.

The relationship between China and North Korea has been through a fair bit in the 14 intervening years. Kim, like his father in the mid-to-late 1990s, spent his first years in control of the monolithic North Korean system by consolidating his rule.
It was only once this project was completed, alongside the attainment of what Kim termed a “complete” nuclear deterrent by the end of 2017, that the turn towards diplomacy began.

Xi was Kim’s first overseas call, underscoring that despite being stuck in the doldrums between 2011 and 2017, the diplomatic relationship with China is the most important one for Kim’s North Korea.

Why aren’t oil markets reacting to the attacks on tankers in the Persian Gulf?

Samantha Gross

Tensions are rising in the Persian Gulf, following a string of attacks on oil tankers over the last month. The United States just announced that it is sending 1,000 additional troops to the region to address threats to U.S. personnel and interests. Nonetheless, oil markets seem unperturbed, reacting more to economic news than fears of disruption and shortage.

The first four tanker attacks occurred on May 12, in the Gulf of Oman near the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah. There were no injuries to the ships’ crews or spills of oil or other materials. An international investigation found that the attacks involved limpet mines attached to the ships’ hulls and that the attacks were designed to disable the ships, not destroy them. The investigation pointed to the involvement of a “state actor,” but did not mention Iran by name, although both Saudi and U.S. officials pointed to Iran as the culprit.

The second round of attacks on June 13 was an escalation. A Japanese tanker carrying methanol and a Norwegian tanker carrying naphtha were attacked in international waters in the Gulf of Oman. The Norwegian tanker caught fire and both ships’ crews sent distress signals and were rescued. U.S. officials have been much more strident in blaming Iran this time, sharing video allegedly showing an Iranian patrol boat retrieving an unexploded mine from one of the damaged ships. (Iran is denying its involvement, but evidence certainly points in that direction, and Iran has every reason for carrying out the attacks.)

U.N. report firmly blames Saudi Arabia for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi

Bruce Riedel

The United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard has delivered a scathing report on the premeditated murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. She recommends that all states impose sanctions on the Saudis involved in the killing, specifically including Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. It’s long past time for the Trump administration to come clean about what it knows about the murder and the crown prince. King Salman should also get more scrutiny.

The Saudis immediately labeled the rapporteur’s report as nothing new, the latest in their pathetic attempts to cover up the murder as a “rogue” operation. The report instead documents how the Saudi embassy in Washington specifically told Khashoggi that he must travel to Turkey to get documents for his impending wedding, that once he showed up at the consulate, Riyadh ordered the consul general to send two security officers to the kingdom for “top secret” instructions and then dispatched a Special Operations team to Istanbul to deal with Khashoggi.

Northrop Grumman used a fictitious war with Iran to sell its Global Hawk drone to the Pentagon

By Justin Rohrlich

More than a decade before Iran shot down a US military RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drone on June 20, its manufacturer pitched the Department of Defense on expanding the fleet by presenting a hypothetical conflict with the Islamic Republic.

In a 2008 briefing document, Northrop Grumman presented the Pentagon with an analysis of the “future security environment” and how the Global Hawk drone might play a central role. An at-the-time imaginary war with Iran features heavily in the sales pitch.

“Deterring and, if needed, fighting a traditional theater conflict will remain a high priority for [US military commanders],” the report reads. “A hypothetical conflict with Iran in the 2015 to 2020 timeframe will provide a framework for discussion.”

The document was produced by the Northrop Grumman Analysis Center, a self-described in-house “think tank.” Quartz found it hosted in an obscure corner of the company’s website, along with a dozen or so other studies on topics ranging from laser weapons to stealth technology.

In Syria, An Opportunity for US-Russian Cooperation

Xander Snyder

The U.S. and Russia may be at odds from Ukraine to North Korea, but they appear to be much more aligned in Syria, where neither wants to see Iran gain a substantial foothold. As the Syrian civil war winds down, Moscow wants to make sure that it – not Tehran – remains the primary benefactor of President Bashar Assad; that it retains its bases at Tartus and Hmeimim; and that Iran’s presence in the Middle East is curbed. These interests may account for the reports of increasing competition between Russia and Iran in Syria, including skirmishes between groups supported by each.

Russian Information Warfare in Central and Eastern Europe Needs a Sober Assessment

Michal Bokša

Information warfare has received a great deal of publicity in recent years. This is not surprising given the development of technologies that in an increasingly digital media landscape affect and modify how it can be pursued. Russia is the state most commonly associated with information warfare—and understandably so. It makes repeated efforts in the West to utilize disinformation and influence operations in order to exploit divisions within targeted societies, to disrupt the unity of Euro-Atlantic structures, to undermine liberal values, or to promote the notion that finding objective truth on any issue is virtually impossible.

Awareness of Russia’s information warfare has been further stimulated by media coverage and the research output of think-tanks. Publicizing the phenomenon has undeniable advantages. The greater the number of people being informed about the adverse effects of information warfare, the harder it is for influence operations to succeed. Heightened public interest also promotes much needed critical thinking and vigilance on the part of all those who access news or information via social media or the internet—the platforms most commonly polluted with disinformation.

Lessons from the Mueller report on Russian political warfare

Alina Polyakova

Dear Chairman Nadler, Ranking Member Collins, Distinguished Members of the Committee:

It is an honor and privilege to address you today on this important issue. Thank you for inviting me to speak.

The Russian government is engaged in political warfare against the West. Its intent is to undermine trust in democratic institutions, values, and principles, which the Kremlin sees as a threat to its own authoritarian model. The Kremlin’s tool-kit of influence is a twenty-first century adaptation of Soviet era “active measures,” and includes: disinformation and propaganda campaigns, cyber warfare, political infiltration, and the use of corruption to influence politics.

The Russian operation against the United States, as detailed in the Special Counsel report, fits into a broader pattern of Russian non-kinetic activities—tested, first in foremost, in former Soviet countries, most notably Ukraine. The operation targeting the 2016 U.S. presidential election may be the most prominent case of Russian political warfare against the West, but it has not been the last. Since 2016, Moscow has interfered, in various ways, in France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Montenegro, Spain, and elsewhere.

Conflict and Competition in Sudan

Protests erupted in Sudan in December after the cost of food rose dramatically. In April, after 30 years of dictatorial rule, Omar al-Bashir was removed from power by a military coup, whose leaders promised a quick transition to civilian rule. But when they formed a Transitional Military Council and announced that the transition would take two years, protesters again took to the streets to demand faster change.

Why Trump Decided Not to Attack Iran


The U.S. and Iranian governments moved to de-escalate tensions on Friday after the two nations reached the brink of war, with President Donald Trump confirming that U.S. forces were “cocked & loaded” to retaliate against Tehran’s downing of a U.S. military drone.

Trump called off the planned attacks on three separate sites in Iran just 10 minutes before go time, after learning that the strikes would kill 150 people, the president said in a tweet Friday morning.

“Not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump wrote. “I am in no hurry.”

The crisis underscores how Trump’s hard-line approach to Iran is butting up against his goal of extricating the United States from costly conflicts in the Middle East. On the one hand, the Trump administration resurrected America’s confrontation with Iran and raised the specter of war by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, alienating European allies that support it, and pushing Iran into a corner with crippling sanctions. On the other hand, Trump, a longtime critic of the Iraq War, has vowed to draw down the United States’ costly and decades-long involvement in conflicts in the Middle East.

Are the U.S. and China on a war footing in space?


Trump wants a Space Force, Beijing is developing weapons it could use in orbit, and ‘there is not a lot of dialogue’ between the two countries.

A top Chinese general has a warning for any U.S. leaders planning an arms race in space: Be prepared to lose.

Outspending a rival power into economic exhaustion might have helped the U.S. win the Cold War, said Qiao Liang, a major general in the Chinese air force who co-wrote a book called "Unrestricted Warfare: China’s Master Plan to Destroy America." But he said it won’t work against a wealthy manufacturing powerhouse like China.

“China is not the Soviet Union,” Qiao said in an interview with the South China Morning Post, a news partner of POLITICO. “If the United States thinks it can also drag China into an arms race and take down China as it did with the Soviets … in the end, probably it would not be China who is down on the ground.”

Where will it end? The US-China trade war and the threat to the global economy

Kevin Rudd

Making sense of the U.S.-China trade war is difficult in itself. Making sense of how it may provoke a wider economic "decoupling," and impact the long-term strategic relationship between Beijing and Washington, is more difficult again.

I wrote earlier this year in a report entitled "The Avoidable War" that in 2018, a major new inflection point was passed in the postwar relationship between the U.S. and China. Phase one covered the quarter century of strategic hostility from the founding of the People's Republic until rapprochement under Nixon and Kissinger.

Phase two covered the next 20 years of Sino-U.S. strategic collaboration against Moscow until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Phase three spanned 20 years of economic engagement, highlighted by China's accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001-2, China's emergence as the global factory, until the end of the global financial crisis.

Strikes on Iran Approved by Trump, Then Abruptly Pulled Back

By Michael D. ShearEric Schmitt

WASHINGTON — President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.

Yes, Iran shot down a U.S. drone. Here’s why you (still) don’t need to worry.

Thursday, Iran shot down an important U.S. aerial surveillance asset, an RQ-4 Global Hawk, widely known as a drone, reportedly in international waters. Many observers have been concerned that, given the background, this could push the two nations toward war.

Here’s what you need to know about drones and military escalation as the possibility of a confrontation looms.

It’s easy to shoot down most current-generation drones.

Current-generation drones generally fly slowly and cannot defend themselves, making them vulnerable to enemy air defenses. Countries have not shied away from exploiting this vulnerability, as drone shoot-downs have become somewhat commonplace. For example, Indian forces have repeatedly fired at Pakistani drones, and Turkey shot down a Russian dronein the midst of the Syria conflict. Iran’s latest action is not unprecedented.

Drone shoot-downs usually don’t lead to military escalation.

Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think

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"It’s not true that no one needs you anymore.”

These words came from an elderly woman sitting behind me on a late-night flight from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. The plane was dark and quiet. A man I assumed to be her husband murmured almost inaudibly in response, something to the effect of “I wish I was dead.”

Again, the woman: “Oh, stop saying that.”

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but couldn’t help it. I listened with morbid fascination, forming an image of the man in my head as they talked. I imagined someone who had worked hard all his life in relative obscurity, someone with unfulfilled dreams—perhaps of the degree he never attained, the career he never pursued, the company he never started.

At the end of the flight, as the lights switched on, I finally got a look at the desolate man. I was shocked. I recognized him—he was, and still is, world-famous. Then in his mid‑80s, he was beloved as a hero for his courage, patriotism, and accomplishments many decades ago.

Making America Great Again versus Made in China

The trade conflict between the United States and China is a severe threat to the world economy. While the debate over the effectiveness of tariffs is at a steady boil in the United States, the EU is opposed to tariffs as a means for dealing with China. Although serious issues with China must be addressed – such as dumping and subsidization – tariffs will make the United States neither more competitive nor secure.

The Primakov (Not Gerasimov) Doctrine in Action


Since 2014, Russian “hybrid warfare” has been at the center of attention of Western security analysts. The Kremlin’s reliance on proxies, disinformation, and measures short of war has created the impression that its hybrid capabilities are distinct and separate from its military and can serve as a substitute for hard power. That impression is incorrect. Russian military and hybrid activities and tools are inextricably linked.

Hybrid warfare has been associated with Russian Chief of the General Staff General Valery Gerasimov, the author of the so-called Gerasimov doctrine—a whole-of-government concept that fuses hard and soft power across many domains and transcends boundaries between peace- and wartime. Rather than a driver of Russian foreign policy, the Gerasimov doctrine is an effort to develop an operational concept for Russia’s confrontation with the West in support of the actual doctrine that has guided Russian policy for over two decades: the Primakov doctrine.

Named after former foreign and prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, the Primakov doctrine posits that a unipolar world dominated by the United States is unacceptable to Russia and offers the following principles for Russian foreign policy:

Who Can Stop Facebook? Limiting the Power of Social Media

Venture capitalist Roger McNamee was an early investor in Facebook and claims he mentored founder Mark Zuckerberg. He still sees value in the platform, but he’s concerned about the growing economic and political power behind Facebook and other social media sites. He shares his concerns in his new book, Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe. McNamee joined the Knowledge@Wharton radio show on SiriusXM to talk about why he’s speaking out against the company he once championed. (Listen to the podcast at the top of this page). “I became an activist because I was among the first to see a catastrophe unfolding, and my history with the company made me a credible voice,” he wrote in an opinion piece for Time. McNamee is co-founder of Elevation Partners private equity firm and co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology.

An edited transcript of the conversation follows.

Knowledge@Wharton: Obviously, Facebook has been a very much talked about company over the last couple of years — what do you think has gone wrong?

America May Outsmart China in 5G With AI and Blockchains

By Will Knight

What do you get when you combine three of tech’s biggest buzzwords: AI, blockchain, and 5G? Perhaps ridiculously fast, amazingly abundant wireless data.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a commissioner at the US Federal Communications Commission, believes that artificial intelligence and blockchain technology will give the US an edge in next-generation wireless networking over its big technological rival, China.

Speaking at the Business of Blockchain, an event organized by the MIT Media Lab’s Digital Currency Initiative and MIT Technology Review, Rosenworcel said AI and blockchains would allow wireless devices to use different frequencies within what is known as the wireless spectrum more dynamically and flexibly, enabling billions of devices to connect to 5G networks at once.

4 Things Facebook and Google Don’t Want You Know About Privacy, and What You Should Do

By Jason Aten

Facebook and Google make billions of dollars selling access to the most valuable commodity in the world: You.

Facebook regularly claims that advertising is necessary to keep Facebook free for everyone. You provide your most valuable asset to these companies in exchange for services that exist primarily to feed you advertising.

While Facebook and Google have started to talk about shifting their practices to better respect your privacy, here are four things they don’t want you to know, and what you can do about it:

They know way more than you think.

Google knows what you search for online, where you travel, what’s on your calendar, who you take photos of, who your contacts are, which ads you click on and what you buy. For a lot of you, that’s more than your spouse or partner knows.

Facebook is the same, only it doesn’t have to guess based on your activity. You told the company. You put it on your profile and posted the photos of your family on vacation. You tagged the location and everyone in it.


EARLY THURSDAY MORNING, Iran shot down a United States unmanned aerial vehicle over the Strait of Hormuz, which runs between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. Iran identified the drone as an RQ-4A Global Hawk, a $220 million UAV that acts as a massive surveillance platform in the sky. The attack marks an escalation with tensions already running high between the US and Iran—particularly because of the value and technical sensitivity of the downed drone.

Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Thursday that the Northrup Grumman-made Global Hawk—part of a multibillion-dollar program that dates back to 2001—had entered Iranian airspace and crashed in Iranian waters; US Central Command confirmed the time and general location of the attack, but insists that the drone was flying in international airspace.

Deepfakes and the New Disinformation War

By Robert Chesney And Danielle Citron

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there is nothing that persuades quite like an audio or video recording of an event. At a time when partisans can barely agree on facts, such persuasiveness might seem as if it could bring a welcome clarity. Audio and video recordings allow people to become firsthand witnesses of an event, sparing them the need to decide whether to trust someone else’s account of it. And thanks to smartphones, which make it easy to capture audio and video content, and social media platforms, which allow that content to be shared and consumed, people today can rely on their own eyes and ears to an unprecedented degree.

Therein lies a great danger. Imagine a video depicting the Israeli prime minister in private conversation with a colleague, seemingly revealing a plan to carry out a series of political assassinations in Tehran. Or an audio clip of Iranian officials planning a covert operation to kill Sunni leaders in a particular province of Iraq. Or a video showing an American general in Afghanistan burning a Koran. In a world already primed for violence, such recordings would have a powerful potential for incitement. Now imagine that these recordings could be faked using tools available to almost anyone with a laptop and access to the Internet—and that the resulting fakes are so convincing that they are impossible to distinguish from the real thing.

3 ways AI will change the nature of cyber attacks

Cyberattacks are becoming ubiquitous and have been recognized as one of the most strategically significant risks facing the world today. In recent years, we have witnessed digital assaults against governments and the owners of critical infrastructure, large private corporations and smaller ones, educational institutions and non-profit organizations. Not only is no sector immune from cyberattacks, the level of sophistication of the threats they face is continually increasing.

The future of cybersecurity will be driven by a new class of subtle and stealthy attackers that has recently emerged. Their aim is not to steal data, but rather to manipulate or change it. There is little doubt that artificial intelligence (AI) will be used by attackers to drive the next major upgrade in cyber weaponry and will ultimately pioneer the malicious use of AI. AI’s fundamental ability to learn and adapt will usher in a new era in which highly-customised and human-mimicking attacks are scalable. ’Offensive AI’ – highly sophisticated and malicious attack code – will be able to mutate itself as it learns about its environment, and to expertly compromise systems with minimal chance of detection.
Prototype-AI attacks: a glimpse into the future

Assessment of the Role of Small Wars within the Evolving Paradigm of Great Power Competition in a Multipolar World

James P. Micciche

The U.S. is scaling down the Global War on Terrorism and focusing on threats posed by a revisionist China and Russia and rogue nations such as Iran. In this context, limited military operations (small wars) will be useful in transforming counterterrorism methods, which previously dominated U.S. foreign policy, into being only one facet of a synchronized whole of government response in pursuit of U.S. policy objectives in contested spaces.

Over the past decade, the global balance of power has shifted to a multipolar construct in which revisionist actors such as China and Russia attempt to expand their spheres of influence at the expense of the U.S.-led liberal order. The ongoing rebalance has been gradual and often conducted through a myriad of activities beyond kinetic operations as Russia, China, and regional actors such as Iran have shown a capability to capitalize on and create domestic instability as a means to expand influence, gain access to key terrain and resources, and reduce western influence. The capacity to utilize limited military operations (small wars) as part of a focused, tailored, and comprehensive whole of government approach to deter threats and expansion from revisionist powers is paramount in promoting U.S. and Western interests within the modern paradigm. Despite the prominent role engaging in limited operations at or more importantly below the level of conflict fulfills within the context of great power competition, it is far from a proverbial silver bullet as the rebalancing of power brings new parameters and risks that U.S. policy makers must understand before engaging in any small war. 

Hypersonic Missiles Are Unstoppable. And They’re Starting a New Global Arms Race.

By R. Jeffrey Smith

The new weapons — which could travel at more than 15 times the speed of sound with terrifying accuracy — threaten to change the nature of warfare.

A Mach 14 Waverider glide vehicle, which takes its name from its ability to generate high lift and ride on its own shock waves. This shape is representative of the type of systems the United States is developing today.CreditCreditDan Winters for The New York Times

This article is a collaboration between The Times Magazine and the Center for Public Integrity, where R. Jeffrey Smith is the managing editor for national security.

On March 6, 2018, the grand ballroom at the Sphinx Club in Washington was packed with aerospace-industry executives waiting to hear from Michael D. Griffin. Weeks earlier, Secretary of Defense James Mattis named the 69-year-old Maryland native the Pentagon’s under secretary for research and engineering, a job that comes with an annual budget of more than $17 billion. The dark-suited attendees at the McAleese/Credit Suisse Defense Programs Conference were eager to learn what type of work he would favor.