25 February 2021

The future of India-China relationship is now all about the flux in US-China ties


The disengagement process with China is the beginning of the end of a major regional crisis. It was only the even more devastating impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic that overshadowed the almost year-long India-China standoff in Ladakh, which resulted in military casualties at the Line of Actual Control for the first time since the 1970s. As the prospects for armed conflict recede, Indian strategists must now begin the process of making sense of the troubled India-China relationship.

In my latest book, Powershift: India-China Relations in a Multipolar World, I focus on three central themes that I believe will define the future of India-China relations – contested territory, the tumultuous but inevitable transition to a multipolar world order, and managing an uneasy rivalry in a common neighbourhood. Each theme has its own history and context, and reveals a part of the India-China puzzle. Finding a settlement or agreement on any one theme, however, requires an understanding between Delhi and Beijing on another issue. So fashioning a compromise on the seven-decade-old border dispute is impossible without a common understanding on Asia’s future. Or, the geopolitics of the subcontinent – where China’s footprint looms larger than at any point in the past – cannot be regulated without a stable and settled India-China frontier. This is what makes the relationship challenging for policymakers and befuddling to public audiences. There is no quick fix or straightforward solution.

It is disconcerting to see India’s contemporary discourse mystify China. After all, we have been living with the People’s Republic of China as a neighbour for more than 70 years and the fact that we are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel is something that needs to be set aside.

Baluch Nationalist-Separatist Militant Alliance Threatens Pakistani Security Forces

By: Farhan Zahid

Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan province has experienced a fresh wave of nationalist-separatist terrorist attacks since 2019, with new targets indicating shifting trends. Baluch nationalist–separatist militant groups have not only ramped up their attacks, but also have changed strategy and formed a new alliance. The implications of this are a steep incline in attacks against the Pakistani security forces.

Background of the Baluch Insurgency

Unlike Islamist insurgencies in Pakistan, which escalated after the Global War on Terrorism commenced in 2001, Baluch nationalist-separatist violence in Baluchistan is much older. The current insurgency, which can be considered the fifth iteration since Pakistan’s independence in 1947, started after the death of Nawab Akbar Bugti, who was the head of the Bugti tribe, during a 2006 military operation (Dawn, August 27, 2006). However, even before this incident, sporadic attacks against security forces were taking place in Kohlu and Dera Bugti districts since 2004. One major terrorist attack, for example, targeted then-President General Pervez Musharraf, who was making a speech in December 2005 in Kohlu (Dawn, December 15, 2005).

The killing of Nawab Akbar Bugti sparked a new wave of violence in Baluchistan, which is still ongoing and has caused security forces, including the Pakistani military, paramilitary forces (Frontier Corps and Baluchistan Levies Force), and police, to become involved in combating various militant groups across the province, including local, regional and global groups. The latter, globally operating organizations, include Islamic State Khorasan Province and al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent. The Baluch nationalist-separatist insurgency is also important because Baluchistan is Pakistan’s largest province. It is almost the size of Germany and comprises 42 percent of Pakistani territory and is the most sparsely populated province in Pakistan. The vast province also has a coastal belt of almost 650 kilometers and borders Iran and Afghanistan.

Boondoggle: How the Soviets Lost Their War in Afghanistan

by Warfare History Network

Key Point: Big powers have difficulties fighting insurgencies in rugged terrain. Here is how the Soviets were defeated, foreshadowing American difficulties a few decades later.

In late 1979, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan was torn apart by a civil war pitting the weak Communist government of Hafizullah Amin against several moderate and fundamentalist Muslim rebel armies. The war had been brought about by Amin’s incompetence and corruption, his vicious program of political repression, the massacre of entire village populations, and a ham-handed agrarian “reform” program that disenfranchised tribal leaders. Fearing that Amin would be defeated and replaced by a government of Muslim fundamentalists or—even worse—pro-American intellectuals, the Soviet Union launched an invasion on Christmas Eve aimed at removing Amin and replacing him with a more reliable strongman.

To pave the way for the invasion, Soviet advisers with the Afghan Army tricked their clients into incapacitating themselves. In one case, the Soviets told an Afghan armored unit that new tanks were about to be delivered but that, due to shortages, the gas in the old tanks would have to be siphoned out. The Afghans obligingly siphoned gas out of their tanks, rendering them useless. In another instance, Soviet advisers told an Afghan unit to turn over all their ammunition for inspection, something that likewise was done without question.

A Former Prime Minister Declares Himself President

The Sino-American War of 2025

Michael R. Auslin

The reasons why the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) avoided total war, let alone a nuclear exchange, during their armed conflict in the autumn of 2025 remain a source of dispute. What is clearer is why the Sino-American Littoral War broke out, and what course it took. The United States lost part of its position in Asia, while China found its gains an unexpected burden. The resulting cold war between the United States and China became the defining feature of geopolitics in the Asia-Pacific in the middle of the 21st century. To understand what happened and why, we must start with the political environment between Washington and Beijing in the years leading up to the war, look at their military assets and assess the balance of power in the western Pacific at the outset of hostilities. Only then will analysts be able to interpret the political and military decisions taken by both sides.
The political background

With the end of the Cold War between the West and the Communist East, American policymakers turned to constructing a new great-power relationship with China despite growing strains between the two countries. Under both Republican and Democratic administrations, Washington steadily attempted to integrate China into what liberal internationalists called the ‘rules-based international order’. While the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations midwifed the PRC’s entrance into the World Trade Organization, successive presidents ignored growing evidence of China’s industrial and cyber espionage against both the US government and private American businesses. It was, however, during the Barack Obama administration that the real seeds of the 2025 Littoral War were sown.

The Obama administration developed the Bush administration’s high-level bilateral talks into a ‘Strategic and Economic Dialogue’ and energetically engaged the Chinese government. Yet serious challenges to Asian regional stability emerged during Obama’s two terms. Most egregiously, Beijing decided to build and fortify islands in disputed maritime territory in the South China Sea. Ownership of various coral reefs and shoals in the Spratly and Paracel island chains had long been contested between China and a host of Southeast Asian countries, many of which had built modest defensive installations on some of their possessions. Yet Beijing claimed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comments at a regional security meeting in 2010 demonstrated US antagonism toward China’s rightful claims.

Focus U.S. Navy Aircraft Carriers On China, Not Persian Gulf

ByJames Holmes

ARABIAN GULF (July 31, 2016) – A pilot performs pre-flight checks on an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the Wildcats of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 131 on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike). Ike and its Carrier Strike Group are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class J. Alexander Delgado/Released)160731-N-OR652-256.

Not long ago I wrote in these pixels that there is a “beautiful stability” to U.S. foreign policy. In general, that’s a good thing. Consensus popular and elite sentiments toward policy discourage Washington from swerving too wildly when a new presidential administration assumes office, and especially when the White House or Congress changes hands between political parties. U.S. foreign policy tacks back and forth like a sailboat steering the same general course—a course that commands enduring support from society and state.

Sometimes, though, stability is an unlovely force. Bad ideas, as well as good, can command overwhelming support. In such cases, stability cements policies or strategies founded on an errant consensus. Well-advised course changes never take place.

Semiconductors and the U.S.-China Innovation Race

Semiconductors, otherwise known as “chips,” are an ­­essential component at the heart of economic growth, security, and technological innovation. Smaller than the size of a postage stamp, thinner than a human hair, and made of nearly 40 billion components, the impact that semiconductors are having on world development exceeds that of the Industrial Revolution. From smartphones, PCs, pacemakers to the internet, electronic vehicles, aircrafts, and hypersonic weaponry, semiconductors are ubiquitous in electrical devices and the digitization of goods and services such as global e-commerce. And demand is skyrocketing, with the industry facing numerous challenges and opportunities as emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum computing, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced wireless communications, notably 5G, all requiring cutting-edge semiconductor-enabled devices. But the COVID-19 pandemic and international trade disputes are straining the industry’s supply and value chains while the battle between the United States and China over tech supremacy risks splintering the supply chain further, contributing to technological fragmentation and significant disruption in international commerce.

For decades, the U.S. has been a leader in the semiconductor industry, controlling 48 percent (or $193 billion) of the market share in terms of revenue as of 2020. According to IC Insights, eight of the 15 largest semiconductor firms in the world are in the U.S., with Intel ranking first in terms of sales. China is a net importer of semiconductors, heavily relying on foreign manufacturers—notably those in the U.S.—to enable most of its technology. China imported $350 billion worth of chips in 2020, an increase of 14.6 percent from 2019. Through its Made in China 2025 initiative and Guidelines to Promote National Integrated Circuit Industry Development, over the past six years, China has been ramping up its efforts using financial incentives, intellectual property (IP) and antitrust standards to accelerate the development of its domestic semiconductor industry, diminish its reliance on the U.S., and establish itself as a global tech leader. As U.S.-China competition has intensified, notably under the former Trump administration, the U.S. has been tightening semiconductor export controls with stricter licensing policies, particularly toward Chinese entities. Concerns continue regarding China’s acquisition of American technology through civilian supply chains and integration with Chinese military and surveillance capabilities.

Chinese Demographic Signals Bode Ill for Future Development

By: Elizabeth Chen

A new study published February 8 by the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) (MPS, 中华人民共和国公安部, zhonghua renmin gongheguo gongan bu) reported that there were 10.035 million registered births in 2020, down from 11.79 million in 2019. This represents a 15 percent decrease following the coronavirus pandemic (Guancha.cn, February 8). Althou­gh the number of registered births—that is, newborns recorded in the household registration hukou (户口) system—is not the same as China’s official birth rate, the decline has concerned analysts that a long-forewarned demographic crisis may be approaching faster than expected.National birth and population figures for the previous year are usually released in January but have been delayed until April this year as China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) compiles its decennial census. In the meantime, data released by some provinces and cities in January has appeared to confirm the implications of the MPS study. Data released from the capital city of Guangdong province—which saw the highest number of births per province in 2019—showed that birth rates in Guangzhou were down by 17 percent year-on-year and mirrored broader trends across the rest of the province. In Zhejiang, China’s wealthiest province, the cities of Wenzhou and Taizhou reported that new births in 2020 fell by 19 percent and 33 percent respectively compared to 2019 (SCMP, February 2).

These statistics belayed earlier optimism that the pandemic could have fueled a ‘quarantine baby boom’ that would have helped offset years of birth rate decline (CGTN, October 29, 2020, Yicai, January 31). And although China was the only major economy to experience GDP growth last year, the demographic data has sharply exposed the fragility of its recovery from COVID-19 as well as underscoring long-term weaknesses in its labor market that bode poorly for future development.

Entering the “Low Fertility Trap”

China’s Use of U.S. Satellite Communications Technology in the South China Sea

By: Zachary Haver


In recent years, the maritime law enforcement (MLE) forces of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) have dominated the contested waters of the South China Sea (AMTI, December 4, 2020). While the exponential growth and increasing assertiveness of the China Coast Guard (CCG) have captured headlines, the evolving role of technology in China’s MLE operations has received less attention. New communications infrastructure and monitoring systems, for example, help Chinese MLE forces monitor and control contested maritime space in the South China Sea (CMSI, January 2021). These investments align with China’s broader pursuit of information superiority in the South China Sea, which involves building up electronic intelligence, counter-stealth radar, and other capabilities (JHU APL, July 2020).

Publicly available documents suggest that at least some of China’s MLE forces are using U.S. technology to bolster their communications capabilities in the South China Sea.[1] For example, in August 2017, Sansha Highlander Ocean Information Science and Technology Co., Ltd. (三沙海兰信海洋信息科技有限公司, sansha hailanxin haiyang xinxi keji youxian gongsi) signed a “law enforcement ship satellite communication systems maintenance” contract with the Sansha City Comprehensive Law Enforcement Zhidui (三沙市综合执法支队, sansha shi zonghe zhifa zhidui), a MLE force also known as “Sansha Comprehensive Law Enforcement” (SCLE).[2] This article takes a close look at the SCLE’s recent procurement history to reveal how Sansha City’s MLE forces are using U.S. technology to advance China’s interests in the South China Sea.

Sansha City, the SCLE, and Sansha Highlander

Are Confucius Institutes in the US Really Necessary?

By Gary Sands

China’s Confucius Institutes, which teach Chinese language and culture in many countries, are again in the spotlight, following a February 8 article in the U.S. conservative website The National Pulse entitled “Biden Quietly Revokes Trump’s Ban On Chinese Communist Propaganda In Schools.” The misleading headline fueled outrage among conservative news outlets and right-wing pundits, many of whom believe China’s Confucius Institutes censure information and promote propaganda — and who often accuse Biden of being soft on China.

The headline is notably inconsistent with the article, given there never was a “ban” by Trump on the operations of Confucius Institutes in the United States. The author instead refers to a proposal, just weeks before Biden’s inauguration, for colleges and K-12 schools to disclose any contracts, partnerships, or financial transactions with Confucius Institutes.

State Department Spokesperson Ned Price sought to clarify the controversy on February 11, stating the requirement had automatically been withdrawn, as all regulatory processes under review are prior to any change in administration. While Price advised the rule “would need to be resubmitted,” the whole seemingly trivial affair begs the larger question — does the United States need Confucius Institutes?

The Soft Power of Confucius

Named after the ancient Chinese philosopher, the institutes purport to put forth some of the same principles Confucius is famous for — those of honesty, righteousness, and morality.

Is China’s Shale Gas Boom About to End?

by Ethen Kim Lieser

Largely driven by surging natural gas demand and more intensive efforts to boost national energy security, China indeed has been betting big on developing its shale gas resources.

According to recent data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, China is blessed with many shale gas resources, which have been deemed to outnumber what’s present in the United States.

China’s shale gas boom may have only started, but there are already warning signs that such progress can come to a screeching halt in the middle of this decade.

According to a recent analysis by Reuters, “complex geology and failure to draw in more investors” will likely make it too expensive for China to extend the rapid growth of the burgeoning industry.

If that is the case, it would be a devastating setback to China’s efforts to further cut its reliance on gas imports, which currently make up 42 percent of the nation’s overall consumption. It would also likely mean that Beijing will have to ramp up development of other more costly gas resources, such as those located in the remote northwest portion of the country.

Growing Azerbaijani–Central Asian Ties Likely to Trigger Conflicts With Russia and Iran

By: Paul Goble

Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War (September 29–November 9) has had a transformative effect on the country. It not only changed the attitudes of its population, whose members now feel themselves to be heroes rather than victims (see EDM, January 21), but also bolstered the diplomatic weight and possibilities of the Azerbaijani government in its dealings with other regional states. In prosecuting a triumphant war against Yerevan, Baku demonstrated its own ability to act. But just as importantly, Azerbaijan has shown to peoples and governments in the Caucasus and Central Asia that it is a force to be reckoned with, in part thanks to its growing links with Turkey. Moreover, that alliance makes possible an appealing path to the outside world for all who join it. That reality is causing countries east of the Caspian to look westward to and through Azerbaijan in their economic planning and political calculations.

At the same time, however, these developments are generating concerns in Moscow and Tehran, which oppose east-west trade routes that bypass their countries’ territories and instead favor north-south corridors linking Russia and Iran together. As a result, Azerbaijan’s recent successes in expanding links with Central Asia set the stage for new conflicts between Azerbaijan and its Turkic partners, on the one hand, and Russia and Iran, which have far more significant naval assets in the Caspian, on the other (see EDM, November 27, 2018 and February 20, 2020; Casp-geo.ru, December 24, 2019; Chinalogist.ru, November 21, 2019).

Why Did Biden Finally Call Netanyahu?

by Dov S. Zakheim

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally got his phone call. It came on Wednesday, February 17, a full four weeks after America’s presidential inauguration. And it took long enough, as far as he and many Israelis were concerned. After four years of getting anything and everything he wanted from Donald Trump, and with U.S. Ambassador David Friedman acting as a cheerleader for settlement expansion, Joe Biden’s ascendancy to the presidency could only have been a downer for the Israeli prime minister. That he was the first Middle East leader to hear directly from Biden was small recompense for losing the man he considered to be his soulmate in the White House and whom he clearly had hoped would be returned for a second term in office.

The White House insists that Biden’s delay in phoning Netanyahu was not a deliberate snub. Perhaps not. Netanyahu certainly put the most positive spin possible on what appears to have been a polite, but not a particularly warm conversation. For his part, however, Biden stressed his long-standing and friendly relationship with Israel, rather than with the prime minister. He may not have snubbed Netanyahu, but it certainly has looked that way to anyone who pays attention to relations between Washington and Jerusalem. And if indeed the delayed phone call was meant to be a message to Netanyahu that he no longer curried favor with the White House, he most certainly deserved to receive it.

Netanyahu fawned upon Trump the way Trump kowtowed to Russian president Vladimir Putin. He mimicked Trump in every possible respect, going so far as to echo such Trumpian buzzwords as “fake news” when attacking his own media. But it was the way in which he went about seeking to influence American policy on Iran that alienated many Democrats, not only those in the so-called “progressive” wing of the party who in any event bore little love for the State of Israel while romanticizing the Palestinians.

The Return of Myanmar’s ‘Revolutionary Spirit’

Prachi Vidwans

When Myanmar’s military
overthrew the democratically elected government
led by Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1, one resident of Yangon, the country’s largest city, was initially indifferent. A 34-year-old professional translator, he had lost faith in Myanmar’s public and its political classes long ago, he told me in a recent phone conversation. Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, or NLD, seemed too willing to compromise with the military and make progress in half measures, as evidenced by the country’s flagging, decade-long transition to democracy.

But then, something unexpected happened: The people of Myanmar began to fight back against the new junta and its leader, the military’s commander-in-chief, Gen. Min Aung Hlaing. After an initial stunned and uncertain silence following the coup, a viral Facebook post encouraged residents of major cities to gather by their windows and on balconies and bang pots and pans, in a form of synchronized, peaceful protest that has since become a nightly ritual. Emboldened, doctors and medical staff across the country went on strike, and the first street demonstration took place in the northern city of Mandalay on Feb. 4. From there, resistance to the junta escalated dramatically; now, hundreds of thousands of peaceful protesters take to the streets every day, despite the sweltering heat, in big cities like Yangon and in the capital, Naypyidaw, as well as hundreds of smaller towns across the country. ..

A World Without War


Imagine you were the president of the United States and, annoyed by the incessant nagging of your national security advisors, you decided to put their dire warnings to the test. One effective (although insanely risky) way to do so would be as follows. First, you’d spend four years publicly mocking those advisors while gutting their staffs and stuffing their offices full of loyal but incompetent hacks. Then, during the last two weeks of your term—arguably the most fragile moment in any administration—you’d foment an insurrection that distracts the country’s attention from absolutely everything else, leaving it uniquely vulnerable to attack. And then you’d plop down in front of the TV, skip all your intelligence briefings, and just watch what happened.

Although his motives may have been different, this is pretty much what Donald Trump did during his disastrous four years as president. And the results were, to put it mildly, unexpected—especially given the kinds of warnings we’ve all heard from national security experts over the last 20 years. Between January 2017 and January 2021, the United States suffered only a handful of domestic attacks by Islamist extremists. And none of the country’s main adversaries—Russia, China, or Iran—took advantage of the chaos by making any major violent military moves against it. (Hacking was another story, but it never rose to the level of a kinetic attack or provoked a similar response.)

How Biden Can Embrace Environmental Stewardship

Stewart M. Patrick 

This is shaping up to be a make-or-break year for international cooperation on biodiversity, though you might not know it. American news outlets have focused most if not all of their recent environmental reporting on climate change. On one level, of course, this makes sense. Climate change is the most daunting collective challenge that humanity has ever faced, and nations have fallen far behind the emissions reduction targets they set in Paris in 2015.

Given these stakes, it’s certainly front-page news that President Joe Biden has called climate change a top-tier U.S. national security threat. What’s more, he has also already scheduled an Earth Day summit to press for greater emissions reductions, committed to decarbonize the U.S. economy by 2050, and appointed a climate czar, Gina McCarthy, to mainstream climate policy across the U.S. government, and a special climate envoy, John Kerry, to serve as his global emissary.

The world-changing 2015 cyberattack on Ukraine's power grid

By Roman Marshanski

In 2015, Ukrainian power plant operators fell victim to a sophisticated cyberattack that used spear phishing emails to gain initial entry into their system, BlackEnergy 3 malware for credential theft, and other techniques at the later stages.

The attackers remained undetected for more than six months before causing a power outage by the manual manipulation of the industrial control systems.

According to credible sources, a similar cyberattack on the US power grid can be accomplished by a few nations and the possibility to stop such an attack would be low.

User awareness training, Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA), manual takeover by physically present personnel, and other techniques can be used to stop similar attacks.


By making the world more connected, the Internet has exposed its most critical systems. So the Internet has opened the gates to a new kind of war: the war where humans wreak colossal physical damage from the computer screens. This report is about one of those sci-fi scenarios not long ago considered either impossible or extremely unlikely to ever happen.

Not long ago, cyberattacks on the electric grid were considered a sci-fi scenario. Many cybersecurity experts dismissed such attacks as impossible. But then everything changed. Suddenly, such an attack left more than two hundred thousands people without electric power.

As a matter of fact, one former high-ranking US intelligence official didn’t even believe that story at first. Like many in the industry, he knew the old industry joke: squirrels are a greater threat to the electric grid than hackers. This joke came into existence because, until that game-changing cyberattack, the external cause of an electric power station outage was usually a bird or a rodent. No hacker group was advanced enough to hack an electric grid.

Proportionate Deterrence: A Model Nuclear Posture Review


Ever since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, every U.S. presidential administration has published a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that explains the rationales behind its nuclear strategy, doctrine, and requested forces. These reviews have helped inform U.S. government personnel, citizens, allies, and adversaries of the country’s intentions and planned capabilities for conducting nuclear deterrence and, if necessary, war. The administration that takes office in January 2021 may or may not conduct a new NPR, but it will assess and update nuclear policies as part of its overall recalibration of national security strategy and policies.

Nongovernmental analysts can contribute to sound policymaking by being less constrained than officials often are in exploring the difficulties of achieving nuclear deterrence with prudently tolerable risks. Accordingly, the review envisioned and summarized here explicitly elucidates the dilemmas, uncertainties, and tradeoffs that come with current and possible alternative nuclear policies and forces. In the body of this review, we analyze extant declaratory policy, unclassified employment policy, and plans for offensive and defensive force postures, and then propose changes to several of them. We also will emphasize the need for innovative approaches to arms control.

The best nuclear doctrine and force posture would be one that—

is credible enough to deter adversaries and reassure allies and partners;
is least likely to provoke escalation if deterrence fails but could survive adversary escalation if it occurred; and
would not cause more destruction than necessary in the event of nuclear war, bearing in mind the law of armed conflict, and would engender deescalation.

International Strategy to Better Protect the Financial System Against Cyber Threats


In February 2016, a few months after Carnegie began its work on this project, a cyber attack shook the finance world.1 Hackers had targeted SWIFT, the global financial system’s main information network, trying to steal 1 billion U.S. dollars, nearly 0.50 percent of Bangladesh’s GDP,2 from the Bangladeshi central bank over the course of a weekend.3 It was a wake-up call revealing that cyber threats targeting the financial sector were no longer limited to low-level theft but could now pose systemic risk.

Only a few months earlier, in 2015, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace had launched an initiative to better protect the global financial system against cyber threats.4 Our first step was to develop a proposal for the G20 to launch a work stream dedicated to cybersecurity in the financial sector.5 In March 2017, the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors outlined an initial road map to increase the cyber resilience of the international financial system. In the wake of the Bangladesh incident, Carnegie expanded its work, complementing the G20 project with the development of an action-oriented, technically detailed cyber resilience capacity-building tool box for financial institutions. Launched in 2019 in partnership with the IMF, SWIFT, FS-ISAC, Standard Chartered, the Global Cyber Alliance, and the Cyber Readiness Institute, this tool box is now available in seven languages.6 And we are continuing to track the evolution of the cyber threat landscape and incidents involving financial institutions through a collaboration with BAE Systems.7

How Gen Z Will Shake Up Foreign Policy


Many Americans in Gen Z (who are colloquially known as Zoomers) saw the 2020 election as their first opportunity to help shape the future of the United States and its role in the world. Young Americans turned out to vote in record numbers—at nearly double the rate from 2018 and 8 percent more than in 2016. But despite Gen Z’s growing electoral power—the generation now comprises one-tenth of the U.S. electorate—Zoomers still don’t have a real seat at the policy table.

Facing an unforgiving international landscape and a devastating pandemic, older generations of Americans are charting a new course in U.S. foreign policy: redefining America’s interests, reinventing its strategic toolbox, and reimagining its global role. But it is Gen Z that will live with the consequences of today’s decisions and that has the most stake in their success. Zoomers have starkly different policy impulses than leadership in Washington, and at this inflection point for the United States’ role in the world, policymakers must consider the perspectives and priorities of America’s next generation—or risk widening the gap between the country’s present and future.


Meet the 5 Most Dangerous Drones on the Planet

by Charlie Gao

Drones serve in almost every role on the modern battlefield. From surveillance to direct combat, drones have reshaped how wars are fought. Here are some that could be considered the best, with concessions made to actual fielding.

Lethality: MQ-9 Reaper and GD Avenger

The MQ-9 Reaper is the frontline armed drone for the U.S. Air Force. Designed to be a follow-up aircraft to the earlier MQ-1 Predator, the Reaper can carry more ordnance which allows it to truly fulfill the “hunter” part of being a hunter-killer drone. While the Predator could only carry two Hellfire missiles or small bombs, Reapers can carry double the amount of Hellfires and bombs of up to the 500lb class.

The follow on to the Reaper, the jet-powered General Dynamics Avenger promised to have even more endurance and ordnance, being able to carry even 1000lb bombs. A limited number of Avengers were acquired by the Air Force for testing, but as they didn’t represent a significant upgrade in survivability in contested airspace, they were not adopted as a proper follow-on. As such, the Reaper remains the primary hunter-killer drone used by American forces.

Long-Range Surveillance: RQ-4/MQ-4 Global Hawk

Russia Calibrating Low-Intensity War in Ukraine’s East

By Vladimir Socor

From January 21 through February 14, Russian and proxy forces killed 13 Ukrainian soldiers and wounded at least another 19 along the frontline in Ukraine’s Donbas. Most of these casualties were inflicted by snipers, some of whom were apparently deployed from Russia’s interior for a stint of combat training in Donbas (Radio Free Europe, February 3; Ukrinform, February 12, 17).

Sniper fire killed two Ukrainian soldiers on February 11, the day when President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took the G-7 countries’ Kyiv ambassadors on a visit to the frontline (UKrinform, February 11). The enemy command had, apparently, been aware of the scheduled visit and decided to make this demonstrative gesture, albeit not in the visited sector.

The Ukrainian forces do not seem to have retaliated to these attacks. The high command and frontline troops are under orders from the Presidential Office to refrain from responding to provocations, lest the other side escalates and inflicts more casualties. This deliberate restraint is wrapped in official announcements that Ukrainian troops “responded adequately” after each attack when they took casualties.

Russia has chosen to conduct its protracted war in Ukraine’s east in the form of low-intensity positional warfare, punctuated by spikes of relatively higher intensity. Russia calibrates these spikes to keep them below the level of a dramatic escalation; that would not bring Russia any closer to relief from Western economic sanctions and would, moreover, provoke a Ukrainian patriotic backlash. Moscow, therefore, does not go beyond static positional warfare during these phases of intensified operations; it refrains from using heavy weaponry as part of positional warfare; it does not attempt to gain additional territory; and it limits these phases to a few days at a time, during which it inflicts casualties on Ukrainian troops.

Russian Modernization of its Nuclear and Military Forces in 2021

By Mark B. Schneider

Every year in October Russia conducts (and usually announces) a major strategic nuclear exercise. This is followed by November meetings in Sochi between President Vladimir Putin and his generals concerning Russia’s nuclear and military programs, often accompanied by the release of a substantial amount of information about Russia’s modernization programs. This effort's high point is a meeting just before the Western Christmas on Russian nuclear and military modernizations attended by President Putin and the senior Russian nuclear military leadership hosted by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. The major difference in 2020 was the delay of the annual strategic nuclear exercise until December, presumably because of the U.S. election. Russia’s emphasis on the importance of its strategic nuclear weapons in its late 2020 public statements was remarkable even by Russian standards. The information released on strategic nuclear forces was far greater than for "general purpose forces," which is Cold War terminology that reflects that nearly all Russian missiles, strike aircraft, warships, and artillery systems are nuclear-capable.[1]

The intent behind any Russian information release concerning its nuclear and military forces is to intimidate or scare the West in order to achieve Russian foreign policy objectives. Russia is much more secretive concerning its non-strategic nuclear forces (tactical nuclear weapons) than its strategic nuclear forces. Russian officials usually talk about them only when they are in extreme threat mode, as evidenced by President Putin's statements in 2015 and 2018. This is probably because of the massive Russian advantage in these weapons (they don’t want to motivate any U.S. effort to close the gap) and because they don’t want to stimulate U.S. pressure to limit non-strategic nuclear weapons in any future arms control negotiations. Pressure was particularly strong during the Trump administration. Indeed, Russia continues to increase its force of non-strategic nuclear weapons. According to distinguished Russian journalist Pavel Felgenhauer:

After 1991, as the Cold War ended, the U.S. unilaterally retired and eventually scrapped almost all of its non-strategic nuclear weapons—both the delivery systems and the warheads themselves. Only several hundred nuclear bombs, designated for use by NATO-allied jets, have been left at bases in Europe. Russia has retained its non-strategic nuclear arsenal. In the last two decades, it has been expanding it by deploying nuclear field artillery, different land, air and sea-based missiles, nuclear torpedoes and other weapons.

Why Facebook Is Right to Pull the Plug on Australia


Australia decided to put a price on news this week, and Facebook shocked the country by declining to buy a subscription. The Australian House of Representatives passed a new media law on Wednesday that would force Facebook and Google (and only Facebook and Google) to pay Australian media outlets for the privilege of linking to their news stories. Google is still talking terms. Facebook decided to pull the plug and will no longer allow Australian users to post news.

I’m with Facebook on this one. If Australians don’t want to pay for news about their own country, it’s hardly the responsibility of foreign companies to foot the bill for them. Government rhetoric around Australia’s new media bargaining code has consistently suggested that U.S. tech companies are reporting Australia’s news without paying for it. The reality is that platforms like Facebook and Google only show the free teasers that publishers use to draw traffic to their sites.

The Australian government has in effect put a price on publishers’ advertisements. Only instead of having publishers pay Facebook to link to their content, the law requires Facebook to pay the publishers. Facebook, understandably, doesn’t want to pay to host what are essentially advertisements for Australian newspapers and broadcasters. Facebook itself carries paid advertisements, but it doesn’t place ads directly on the news snippets people post on its site. It’s the news publishers who primarily benefit from getting people to share links on Facebook. That’s why publishers are so desperate to get you to share their news.

A strong offense can decrease cyberattacks on critical infrastructure


After years of malicious cyber activity targeting U.S. critical infrastructure, hackers linked to Russia recently infiltrated numerous American companies and federal government agencies, including the Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce, the Treasury and the Pentagon. This attack compromised national security and is costing business and the government untold millions or billions of dollars in damages.

This litany of increasingly sophisticated cyber intrusions by Russia, China and others makes it clear that we are in a cyber conflict and our cyber defenses alone are insufficient to protect our critical infrastructure.

It is time to reassess our national approach to cyber protection and ensure that our efforts include a strong defense and, importantly, a commitment to using offense capabilities, both cyber and non-cyber, to impose consequences on those who would do us harm.

We need to reduce the ever-increasing number of cyber intrusions into our critical infrastructure, especially the electric grid that powers our nation, and to see these pervasive cyber penetrations for what they are — an effective form of cyber-enabled asymmetric economic warfare that threatens our national security.

These attacks are equivalent to a physical attack on the homeland and create vulnerabilities that later could be used to disable significant portions of our critical infrastructure, including health care, communications, transportation and other elements essential to our economy and quality of life.

EXCLUSIVE: Army Airpower To Strike Deep In EDGE21 War-game


A UH-60 Black Hawk takes off after unloading soldiers during an exercise in Germany. An air assault like this one — with troops wearing IVAS targeting goggles — will be a key part of EDGE21, along with new long-range drones and jamming pods.

WASHINGTON: The Army will host an interservice aviation exercise in May to prove its Chief of Staff’s recent claim that the service can bring “speed and range” to future battlefields. Known as EDGE21 — Experimentation Demonstration Gateway Event 2021 – and held at Dugway Proving Ground, the experimental wargame will be the Army’s latest bid to prove it plays a vital role in far-ranging and fast-paced All Domain Operations.

EDGE21 both builds on the airpower aspects of last fall’s Project Convergence 2020 exercise and helps prepare for the upcoming Convergence 2021. In an exclusive interview, the head of aviation modernization at Army Futures Command, Brig. Gen. Walter Rugen, gave me some striking examples of how much farther he plans to push this time, in terms of both physical range and tactical complexity.

During last year’s Project Convergence, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters launched a swarm of ALTIUS mini-drones — known in Army jargon as Air-Launched Effects (ALE) – to “flood the zone” out to more than 60 kilometers (37 miles). In EDGE21, Rugen said, the Black Hawks will carry a bigger drone — roughly six feet long — developed by the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) and known as ALE-Large. Its exact capabilities are classified, he said, the new air-launched drone will reach out “hundreds of kilometers.”

A UH-60 Black Hawk launches an ALTIUS mini-drone at Yuma Proving Ground.