22 April 2021

Limited War and Nuclear Deterrence- Part I and II

 Major General PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

On 15 June 2020, in a brutal, savage skirmish, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) used fists, rocks, rods, baton, spikes, knuckle-dusters, nail-studded clubs and wooden clubs wrapped in barbed wire at a post at Galwan on the Indian side of Line of Actual Control(LAC) in Ladakh sector at an altitude of 4,250 meters. India lost a Commanding Officer of an infantry battalion and 19 other ranks. China did not divulge its casualty figures. There is a famous saying that no two nuclear-powered states have ever fought a war. William S. Lind, who developed Manoeuvre Warfare and Fourth Generation Warfare theories, is sceptical about two nuclear weapon capable countries ever to fight a conventional war. Continue Reading.....

COVID-19 Resurgence Threatens India’s Economic Recovery

By Prachi Priya and Aniruddha Ghosh

The last fiscal year, which ended on March 31, has been no less than a roller coaster ride for India’s economy. Economic activity was hit hard thanks to a complete national lockdown announced by end of March 2020, with the economy only gradually opening up in the second half of the financial year. As a result, GDP growth contracted 16 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the first half of the financial year, with only marginal recovery (0.4 percent yoy) in the third quarter of FY2020-21. The government for its part provided a massive stimulus and expansionary budget to stimulate growth (a mix of both supply and demand-side measures). However, just when there was growing optimism over India’s economic rebound, the second COVID-19 wave has come as a rude shock to businesses and consumers alike.

India’s daily new cases have been hitting higher peaks every day, with the country contributing almost 20 percent to the global tally of fresh daily cases. The situation of course is quite alarming and worse than last year’s peak situation. In 2020, it took three months for cases to rise from daily cases in the 10,000s in mid-June to a peak of over 90,000 cases daily in mid-September, whereas in the second wave it took only six weeks for a similar expansion. The total COVID-19 tally in India now stands at over 13.8 million with over 172,000 deaths. Daily counts have soared, with over 185,000 reported on April 13.

The IMF upgraded India’s GDP forecast for FY2021-22 to 12.5 percent, while highlighting the downside risks to growth. The Reserve Bank of India, in its April monetary policy meeting, retained its conservative GDP forecast of 10.5 percent for FY2021-22 and left policy rates unchanged. Citing the risk of a second COVID-19 wave, the RBI predicted a quarterly trajectory of 26.2 percent in the first quarter of the fiscal year (April to June of 2021), 8.3 percent in the second, 5.4 percent in the third, and and 6.2 percent in the fourth.

What Was America Doing in Afghanistan?

by Wesley Morgan

The soldiers living in the concrete maze of Combat Outpost (COP) Michigan treated the Taliban fire that poured in from the mountains as though it were weather: Bursts of machine-gun bullets were akin to drizzle, volleys of rocket-propelled grenades more like heavy rain.

“It might not be worth going out into that,” a tall, blond soldier remarked to a colleague, after the thump of an explosion on the compound kicked off a firefight as the outpost’s mortars shot back into the cloud-draped hills. By the time a jet dropped a bomb on one of the insurgent positions, the attack had already subsided and infantrymen were sitting outside again in Adirondack chairs, under a shroud of green plastic camouflage netting. “That was a good one,” another soldier said when the ground shook slightly, his voice tinged with regret—he was sorry he’d forgotten to get his video camera out to record it for posterity and Facebook.

These troops at COP Michigan during the summer of 2010 wore the black Screaming Eagle patch of the 101st Airborne Division. Members of the division’s 1-327 Infantry battalion, nicknamed the Bulldogs, were two months into a deployment to the valley formed by the fast-moving Pech River, 100 miles northeast of Kabul. Michigan sat where a smaller tributary joined the Pech: Across the flood-swollen river, two rocky teeth flanked the mouth of the Korengal, the infamous “valley of death” from which the previous unit in the area had pulled out shortly before the Bulldog battalion deployed.This post was excerpted from Morgan’s new book.

The Taliban Will Outlast America’s Longest War

Ruth Pollard

September 11 is the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. that prompted its invasion of Afghanistan, which was hosting al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. It is also the date this year that President Joe Biden plans to have withdrawn the final American soldiers from the country.

The hardline Islamic group is arguably more powerful in Afghanistan than at any time since it was ousted in 2001 given the territory it controls, and despite almost $1 trillion in spending by the U.S. on the country. And it is showing every sign it is ready to re-assert control.

While it struck an agreement during Donald Trump’s presidency to facilitate the withdrawal of U.S. troops, the Taliban has not severed ties with al-Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups and refuses to negotiate seriously with the Afghan government.

It pulled out of a U.S.-sponsored peace summit due to begin this month because Biden is allowing troops to remain beyond the May 1 deadline negotiated with his predecessor.

In Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani is looking increasingly isolated. The U.S. wants him to include the Taliban in a transitional government, a prospect that most ordinary Afghans oppose. They fear two decades of hard-fought progress for women — and the country at large — will be eroded.

Violence has climbed since peace talks started in September, including targeted killings of journalists, civil society members and politicians, with data out today showing a 29% rise in civilian casualties this year.

Biden Is Done with Afghanistan. Is Afghanistan Done With America?


U.S. President Joe Biden’s expected announcement Wednesday afternoon that all U.S. troops will be out of Afghanistan by September is a recognition, at long last, that there was no U.S. victory to be found in the country’s craggy landscape.

In his speech, Biden said four U.S. presidents have wrestled with Afghanistan—and he would not pass the problem onto a fifth.

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal [and] expecting a different result,” Biden said.

Biden’s new timeline for U.S. withdrawal is only a few months later than the deal that former U.S. President Donald Trump signed up for early last year, when he reached a so-called peace agreement with the Taliban. Charitable observers would call Biden’s unconditional withdrawal an early example of what the president and his national security team have promised would be a foreign policy with “humility.” Critics would—and have—called it a humiliating defeat that leaves the United States less secure and abandons the Afghan people to a terrifying future.

In any event, the announcement stops the notion that the long-term presence of U.S. troops would help defeat the Taliban, build up Afghan forces to stand on their own, and enable the central government in Kabul to finally extend control over the whole country. After 20 years of war and thousands of deaths, none of that has come to pass. U.S. officials acknowledge the Taliban are at their strongest level militarily and have ramped up attacks dramatically over the past year. Provincial capitals, briefly held by Afghan troops, are routinely retaken by insurgents. The few remaining U.S. forces have been propping up a deeply unpopular Afghan government that has lost—or never earned—the trust of its people.

Letter from an American

Heather Cox Richardson 

Today, President Joe Biden announced that by September the United States will withdraw the 2500 or so troops remaining in Afghanistan. We have been on a military mission in the country for almost 20 years, and have lost 2488 troops and personnel. Another 20,722 Americans have been wounded.

The U.S. invaded Afghanistan a month after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—which killed almost 3000 people in New York, Virginia, and Pennsylvania-- to go after Osama bin Laden, who had been behind the attack. The Islamic fundamentalist group that had controlled Afghanistan since 1996, the Taliban, was sheltering him, along with other al Qaeda militants. Joined by an international coalition, the U.S. drove the Taliban from power, but its members quickly regrouped as an insurgent military force that attacked the Afghan government the U.S. propped up in their place. By 2018, the Taliban had reestablished itself in more than two thirds of Afghanistan.

In the years since 2001, three U.S. presidents have tried to strengthen the Afghan government to keep the nation from again becoming a staging ground for terrorists that could attack the U.S. But even a troop surge, like President Barack Obama launched into the region in 2009, could not permanently defeat the Taliban, well funded as it is by foreign investors, mining, opium, and a sophisticated tax system it operates in the shadow of the official government.

Eager to end a military commitment that journalist Dexter Filkins dubbed the “forever war,” the previous president, Donald Trump, sent officials to negotiate with the Taliban, and in February 2020 the U.S. agreed to withdraw all U.S. troops, along with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, by May 1, so long as the Taliban stopped attacking U.S. troops and cut ties with terrorists.

Exit Strategy


In important aspects of foreign and national-security policy, the Biden administration is really the Trump administration but with civilized manners. In no respect is that more true than in the president’s announcement of a complete military withdrawal from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks that brought the United States to that country’s stark mountains, fruitful valleys, and dusty towns.

There is little point in debating whether the move is correct: There is no abstract ideal of a policy, only that which can be successfully executed by those charged with so doing at a given moment. The Afghan War has lacked high-level American commitment for years now. If there is any surprise, it is that for eight years of Barack Obama and four years of Donald Trump, the United States persisted in a conflict that most senior officials in those administrations regarded with pessimism and distaste.

This cannot be a moment for final judgment about America’s Afghan war—we are simply too close to make measured assessments. But we can make preliminary, if uncomfortable, judgments, and embark on morally and strategically prudent policies.

This is not the end of the war; it is merely the end of its direct American phase. The war began more than four decades ago, with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, and its first American phase, in the 1980s, featured indirect United States intervention on behalf of the anti-Soviet mujahideen. The war will assuredly last well beyond the American exit. There will be no power-sharing, no reconciliation, no peace of the brave.

It Was Never All or Nothing in Afghanistan


President Joe Biden’s decision to pull all troops from Afghanistan by September 11 unfortunately reveals that the commander in chief and his administration have accepted the false choice of two extremes — either complete withdrawal or an overgrown and debilitating military presence. While rhetorically simple, this kind of all-or-nothing thinking curtails a range of options available to the United States. It also diminishes our ability to pressure the Taliban at the negotiating table and assist the Afghan government with the ongoing security situation across the country. In short, it’s bad policy.

We served in Afghanistan starting over a decade ago, with the U.S. military, the NATO Senior Civilian Representative’s office, and the U.S. embassy in Kabul. We believe a stable Afghanistan is in the national security interests of the United States even if that commitment takes decades, but that this commitment is not one that requires, as in the past, an enormous military presence.

The “enduring commitment” NATO made during the transition from an international to an Afghan-led security mission was not designed only to underwrite the security of the Afghan nation through military assistance, but to support the development of institutions necessary to govern a nation fractured by decades of war. The strategies of that period, however, did not work as hoped. Initially, an insufficient number of Afghan security forces could operate independently. Judicial and local governance systems proved ineffective. Corruption ran rampant. And the economic system required a corrosive injection of tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid.

How will a withdrawal from Afghanistan impact the military?

Nathaniel Lowry

Children chased plastic bags floating in the pockmarked road but never approached the dusty compound we had been watching for the past two days. Men in black shawls entered and exited the gate, idling their motorbikes in the courtyard before approaching one of the two mud-roofed huts. One male always traveled flanked by bodyguards; the other men kissed his hands when he approached and hugged him as he departed. Sources indicated the compound we watched through our grainy drone feed was a Taliban operational center used to store improvised explosive devices. A plume of smoke and dust erupted from the compound as two Hellfires rocked the target. As the dust began to clear and bodies emerged in the rubble, it was time to move on. The drone camera slewed to the next target to prepare another strike. I switched screens on my computer and began scouring intelligence reports for the night’s raid. Tempo. Being faster. Doctrinal publications taught in stuffy classrooms harped on these tenets in training, but now I understood their implications in a combat zone. While the flat screen TVs, remote controlled drones, and treadmills on our base in Helmand, Afghanistan, might have been sharp departures from the woods of northern Virginia, competing with a thinking, breathing enemy was my first and only opportunity to experience the ethereal “nature of war” I had heard so much about in training.

In addition to promoting U.S. counterterrorism and humanitarian goals, maintaining forces in Afghanistan provides invaluable combat experience and morale support to U.S. conventional forces at a relatively low cost. As America hastily plans for future wars before concluding current conflicts, Afghanistan provides one of the last opportunities for conventional U.S. troops to fulfill vital command, control, and advise functions in a combat zone. As the U.S. begins a full-scale withdrawal from Afghanistan, this vital experience will already be lacking among the bulk of conventional forces when the next war — whether in the Pacific, Eastern Europe, or the Middle East — erupts. Removing our troops from Afghanistan eliminates the last vestige of combat experience at the company grade level and below, where most fighting (and dying) would occur in a future war.

Myanmar Coup Puts the Seal on Autocracy’s Rise in Southeast Asia

By Hannah Beech

Late last month, foreign officials in army regalia toasted their hosts in Naypyidaw, the bunkered capital built by Myanmar’s military. Ice clinked in frosted glasses. A lavish spread had been laid out for the foreign dignitaries in honor of Myanmar’s Armed Forces Day.

That very day, the military, which had seized power on Feb. 1, gunned down more than 100 of its own citizens. Far from publicly condemning the brutality, the military representatives from neighboring countries — India, China, Thailand and Vietnam among them — posed grinning with the generals, legitimizing their putsch.

The coup in Myanmar feels like a relic of a Southeast Asian past, when men in uniform roamed a vast dictators’ playground. But it also brings home how a region once celebrated for its transformative “people power” revolutions — against Suharto of Indonesia and Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines — has been sliding back into autocracy.

From Cambodia and the Philippines to Malaysia and Thailand, democracy is languishing. Electoral politics and civil liberties have eroded. Obedient judiciaries have hobbled opposition forces. Entire political classes are in exile or in prison. Independent media outlets are being silenced by leaders who want only one voice heard: their own.

At the same time, external bulwarks against dictatorship have eroded. The Americans — inconsistent crusaders for human rights, who backed Southeast Asian dictators during the Cold War — have turned inward in recent years, though President Biden recently urged an “alliance of democracies.” With China and Russia involved, the United Nations Security Council has done nothing to punish Myanmar’s generals.

China Learning From Russia’s “Emerging Great Power” Global Media Tactics

By: Elizabeth Chen

Following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers observed that China has employed newly assertive tactics—including spreading widespread Russian-style disinformation—which suggested that “Beijing is increasingly seeking to shape the global information environment beyond its borders” (Alliance for Security Democracy, March 30, 2020). Chinese propaganda researchers and academics have closely studied the example of Russian media organs such as Russia Today (RT), and explicitly view the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to improve external propaganda, including deepening cooperation with their Russian counterparts.

Overcoming a Persistent Discourse Deficit

China’s leadership has long perceived that the country has a “discourse deficit,” (话语赤字, huayu chizi) especially relative to its relative development and current standing in the world (Qiushi, May 25, 2020). At a 2013 National Propaganda and Ideological Work Conference, General Secretary Xi Jinping declared that China must strengthen its external propaganda (外宣, waixuan) for the new era and “tell China’s story well,” (讲好中国故事, jianghao zhongguo gushi), baptizing what has since come to be a catchphrase for China’s foreign propaganda in the Xi era (Xinhua, August 21, 2013). Following this, the Xinhua news agency propagated a decision to “Strengthen the Construction to International Communication Abilities and Foreign Discourse Systems ­And Promote Chinese Culture to the World.” But even though the authors noted that China’s external communication capabilities had rapidly improved since 2010, with Xinhua opening up a record-breaking 171 overseas branches and China Central Television (CCTV) becoming the only television organization in the world to broadcast in all six UN working languages, “the overall situation has remained in a position where the West is strong and we are weak” (Gov.cn, January 31, 2014).

Learning From RT’s Example

Exploring Chinese Military Thinking on Social Media Manipulation Against Taiwan

By: Nathan Beauchamp-Mustafaga, Jessica Drun


Much has been written about China’s social media manipulation in Taiwan following the 2018 nine-in-one local elections, but both Taiwanese and Western analyses have skewed heavily towards the impact of this disinformation, overlooking how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) developed its interest in social media manipulation, its planning and preparation against Taiwan specifically, and the evolution of its tactics over time.

This article seeks to address a gap in the current policy discussion and provide evidence of PRC planning for covert manipulation of Taiwanese social media. So far, too much of the academic and policy conversation in Taipei and elsewhere has focused on the outputs of PRC disinformation (purported examples of PRC disinformation and local reporting on the consequences), instead of exploring the inputs of PRC thinking, conceptual framing, and planning and technical preparation for executing social media manipulation campaigns. While this emphasis on outputs stems in part from well-documented difficulties in attribution of inputs, it is nonetheless dangerous to overlook these PRC primary sources, because a lack of understanding of the most likely perpetrator’s thinking is a disservice to broader efforts to combat disinformation.

Too Much Focus on Outputs, Not Enough Searching for the Inputs

Unfortunately, the Taiwanese government has so far been vague about Chinese planning and thinking for interference in either the 2018 or 2020 elections. Certainly, there has been no retrospective declassified report released to the public similar to the U.S. intelligence community assessment and later Senate reports on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.[1] President Tsai Ing-wen warned of the spread of fake news ahead of the 2018 election, but remained vague on its potential origins (Facebook, November 14, 2018). After the elections, her administration and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) were careful not to draw direct links between disinformation and the election outcomes, focusing instead on the party’s shortcomings during the campaign period—likely out of consideration for Taiwan’s hyper-partisan political environment (Taipei Times, November 27, 2018).

Xinhua Infiltrates Western Electronic Media, Part One: Online “Advertorial” Content

By: John Dotson


For many years, the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s state propaganda apparatus has sought to expand its influence among foreign audiences as part of a broader effort to achieve greater “discourse power” (话语权, huayuquan) for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) internationally (CACR, December 15, 2020). One component of this effort has been the practice of “borrowing foreign newspapers” (借用海外报刊, jieyong haiwai baokan) to promote Beijing’s preferred messages—a practice pursued both through the cultivation of foreign reporters and media figures, as well as through the direct purchase of “advertorial” inserts in influential international newspapers and magazines.[1] More recently, this practice has also moved into the realm of online media, with the PRC’s state-run Xinhua News Agency sponsoring propaganda content for publication in the websites of foreign newspapers and magazines. The long-standing practice of hardcopy “advertorial” publishing has moved into the electronic realm.

Xinhua “Advertorial” Inserts in Print Media

A long history exists of PRC state media outlets paying for “advertorial” inserts into major U.S. newspapers such as the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times—often under the banners of “China Watch” or “China Focus,” which are both headings used by Xinhua for its English-language content (see accompanying images) (Freedom House, 2020). The articles in these inserts are intended to look like news and editorial material presented by the host newspaper (albeit accompanied by disclaimers, often in small print), but represent propaganda content prepared by the CCP’s foreign media apparatus.

The Summit That Can’t Fail


The United States’ new president, Joe Biden, and Japan’s recently minted prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, badly need to get along at their first meeting Friday, which is also the first visit to the White House by any foreign leader during Biden’s three-month-old administration. And they need this for mostly the same reasons: to counter China’s rising threat and prove their political mettle at home.

“Both Suga and Biden need to spin their meeting as a great success,” said Gerald Curtis, a long-time scholar of Japanese politics at Columbia University. Suga, who is unusual for a prime minister representing the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in that he does not run his own political faction, “cannot go home and hope to be reelected LDP leader if he doesn’t demonstrate an ability to manage the U.S. relationship. No prime minister since the end of World War II has been able to survive mishandling the American alliance.”

But Biden also can’t afford for the meeting to fizzle, not “when he has invested so much on making the restoration of relations with allies the centerpiece of his foreign-policy strategy,” Curtis said. No ally is more important than stalwart Japan—not after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently deemed China the United States’ “biggest geopolitical test.” It is almost certainly Japan’s too. At a meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin last month, Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said that between China’s aggressive military actions in the Taiwan Strait and its plan to deploy the Chinese coast guard to patrol the Senkaku Islands—under Japan’s administration but claimed by China—Japan’s strategic situation is more perilous than it was just a few short years ago.

Biden faces day of reckoning on China and Taiwan


The Biden administration continues to impress advocates of a strong, clear-eyed U.S.policy on China and Taiwan — and to anger Chinese communist officials who had planned for a return to the accommodationist policies of the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

President Biden has put Beijing on its back foot by adhering rigorously to the Trump administration’s historic shift to a policy of defiance against China’s onslaught on Western interests and values. Since the inauguration, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan have embraced, and greatly expanded, their predecessors’ sporadic efforts at multilateral cooperation and emphasis on human rights in meeting the China threat.

In just the past week:

The U.S. ambassador to Palau visited Taiwan;

The State Department (DOS) called Taiwan “a critical security partner”;

The USS McCain (DDG-56) transited the Taiwan Strait on its way to yet another Freedom of Navigation Operation in the South China Sea;

The USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) made its third visit to the region under Biden;
DOS released new, relaxed guidelines for official U.S.-Taiwan interactions replacing the restrictive ones Blinken’s predecessor, Mike Pompeo, had canceled;

Azerbaijan Embarks on Construction of Nakhchivan Railway (Part Two)

By: Vasif Huseynov

The unblocking of the Zangezur corridor will have wide-ranging geopolitical reverberations for both the directly concerned states, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and surrounding countries. For Azerbaijan, the reopening of the corridor has geostrategic significance in multiple domains. This route was the most direct land passage between mainland Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan exclave soon after World War I, when the historical Zangezur (now Syunik) province was granted to Armenia and the autonomous Nakhchivan territory came under Azerbaijani protection under the Treaty of Kars (1921). The termination of the Zangezur land route connection with Nakhchivan following the breakout of the First Karabakh War of the early 1990s, however, seriously isolated the Azerbaijani exclave. Since then, Baku could physically reach Nakhchivan only by air or by circumventing Armenia to the south, via Iranian territory. The latter route came with myriads of security and geopolitical challenges to Azerbaijan, in addition to notable economic consequences.

Securing the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic (NAR) has been a particular concern for Azerbaijani leaders against the backdrop of irredentist claims from the Armenian side (see EDM, August 3, 2017; 1in.am, May 21, 2018). These mounting security threats compelled Baku to, in 2013, establish the Nakhchivan-based Combined Army on the basis of the 5th Army Corps, in order to reinforce the defensive capacity of the exclave. The lack of direct access to the region also pushed Azerbaijan to more energetically promote military ties between Turkey, Azerbaijan’s strategic ally, and the NAR through joint military exercises and consultations (see EDM, October 26, 2017 and June 4, 2018).

Nuclear Sabotage Could Be What Iran Needed


The sabotage operation against Iran’s largest uranium enrichment facility in Natanz on April 11 was the latest apparent Israeli effort to set back Tehran’s nuclear work. In July 2020, an advanced centrifuge production plant in the same complex sustained a powerful blast using an explosive bomb that caused significant damage to the aboveground facility and prompted Iranian authorities to build an underground replacement. The explosion was followed by the high-profile assassination in November of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the chief architect of Iran’s atomic energy program.

Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, the chair of the Iranian parliamentary energy committee who himself survived an assassination attempt in 2010, described the recent attack as a “very pretty scheme” and a “complex feat” involving a blast that knocked out the enrichment facility’s standard power grid as well as its battery-based emergency system used to generate electricity for centrifuges. Echoing the indignant political mood among hard-liners in Tehran, Alireza Zakani, the conservative head of the Iranian parliament’s research center, espoused that an “appropriate response” would be “enrichment to above 60 percent purity”—usually intended for powering nuclear submarines and above any level Iran has enriched at before.

Psychology in Modern Russian Warfare

By: Nicholas J. Myers

On March 22, 2021, in Nizhny Novgorod Oblast about 350 kilometers east of Moscow, the Russian 96th Reconnaissance Brigade of the Western Military District exercised a scenario in which its forces, without firing a single shot, compelled a group of “terrorists” to surrender a simulated town. They accomplished this with a combination of dropped leaflets and cellphone SMS messages (directed by unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs) that carried demoralizing communications to undermine the terrorists’ psychological state (Mil.ru, March 22). This may have been the first public instance of the Russian Armed Forces using text messages to force an enemy’s capitulation (even if just in an exercise), but it is only the most recent development in a resurgent trend of Russian military science.

In Moscow’s view, psychology, not battles, drove the great defeats of recent Russian history. Widespread despair that the tsarist government had no plausible plan for feeding city dwellers and soldiers (let alone achieving victory) caused Russia’s defeat in World War I; perceived futility of the campaign in Afghanistan led to the humiliating Soviet pullout in 1988–1989; and loss of belief that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) represented anyone’s interest precipitated the great historical strategic disintegration of the Soviet empire. Not a failure on the battlefield but the failure to motivate people to serve the state disabled the Russian government.

Orthodox Socialist thought in the Soviet Union purported to understand this trend, repeatedly castigating bourgeois and fascist motivations driving enemy soldiers as inferior (Voennaya Mysl [1] [2], February 1985). However, Soviet writers avoided considering the motivation of the Socialist people of the USSR to serve the state, officially anticipating that Marxism-Leninism had solved this problem (Voennaya Mysl, April 1988). This optimism failed to prevent the abrupt disintegration of the Soviet Union.

How the Quad Can Match the Hype

By Dhruva Jaishankar and Tanvi Madan

Last month, a once obscure diplomatic grouping suddenly took center stage in the defining geopolitical competition of this century. When the leaders of the Quad—a coalition among Australia, India, Japan, and the United States—met virtually on March 12, its members proclaimed a new chapter in Indo-Pacific competition. The four leaders called the gathering a “spark of hope to light the path ahead” and promised collaboration on everything from COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and maritime security to climate change and infrastructure investment.

The logic behind such an effort is clear. A more assertive China is extending its influence across the Indo-Pacific and around the world. Existing alliances and institutions aren’t up to the task of addressing the consequences, and domestic politics across the region mean that an “Asian NATO” is off the table. That’s where the Quad comes in: as its members increasingly find themselves at loggerheads with Beijing,

Why America Can't End Its 'Forever Wars'


Apeace agreement with the Taliban and a May 1 deadline for American withdrawal of troops. A new pledge by President Biden to end the war. A Congressional step toward revoking the 20-year-old consent to use military force in Iraq. Talk, even, of rescinding the post-9/11 authorization to pursue Al-Qaeda. You might think America's forever wars are finally coming to an end. They're not—because everything we've learned from the past two decades at war has made it more difficult to actually end the wars.

Though the new administration seems intent on ending America's oldest war and there is growing fatigue over endless wars in the Middle East, and though the Pentagon is scrambling to refocus resources and attention away from counterterrorism to big war pursuits against the likes of Russia and China, war isn't going to actually end. That's because there is something about the way the United States fights—about how it has learned to fight in Afghanistan and on other 21st-century battlefields—that facilitates endless war.

This transformation of the American military happened gradually as the armed forces shifted the preponderance of tasks away from boots on the ground, away even from dependence on regular soldiers. The new American way of war moved even the means of bombing and killing—mostly through aircraft and drones, but also virtually in cyberspace—out of the actual war zones.

Troops shrunk in importance. There were no more armies to fight, no countries to occupy, and no appetite even to engage in hand-to-hand combat that put American lives at risk. What emerged is a certain kind of fighting, sustained by a flexible and reliable global network. The traditional measures of troop presence have become irrelevant while the means of actual warfare became invisible.

A Dark Pandemic Year Could Still Portend a Brighter Future

By Charles Kenny

At last, the United States appears to be entering the recovery phase from the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic effects. A national vaccination drive is already significantly reducing mortality. The administration of President Joe Biden has announced a sweeping infrastructure bill to follow its $1.7 trillion stimulus package, together likely to lift many economic indicators, from gross domestic product to child poverty. And China is even further along: that country had largely controlled viral spread by March 2020, and its output bounced back by the fourth quarter of last year.

Green shoots in the world’s two largest economies are signs that the world as a whole might be poised for a strong recovery from the deepest peacetime recession since the Great Depression. There are many developments that could derail this trajectory—among them, new vaccine-resistant virus variants or a new Cold War. But many indicators suggest that a decade that opened

Asian Americans Belong, but Sometimes It’s Hard for Us to Believe It


Do I belong? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself since I was a kid growing up as a second-generation Korean American in a part of the country without a lot of people who looked like me. It’s a question that’s been forced upon the Asian American community across the United States over the past year. It’s a question whose answer, in part, lies in the story of a green vegetable and the movie that shares its name.

The first time I saw Minari, I saw a story that was reflective of my own. In the movie, which is nominated for best picture at this year’s Academy Awards, the seeds of the minari (water celery) plant grow and thrive at a spot chosen by an elder, guided by tradition. I see the seeds of my own story growing in parallel to those of Lee Isaac Chung, the film’s director and screenwriter, who is not much older than I am. I see the struggles and hopes of the film’s child protagonist, David, as the little brother to a big sister and part of a new generation with big expectations. And I see my own parents in the characters Jacob and Monica: immigrants who came here seeking a better life; strangers in a strange land. The roots they put down were their own, and five decades after first arriving here, the fruit they’ve borne—in their work and their children—is something truly American, even if the original seeds were not.

But as we’ve seen over the past year, Asian Americans are still considered an “other,” born from seeds collected elsewhere, even if they grew here at home. A 65-year-old Filipina woman in New York was recently beaten in broad daylight, her attacker screaming, “You don’t belong here.” This may be the first time that non-Asian readers are seeing such raw hatred or discrimination, but it’s not new—it’s just being noticed by others. Those of us in the Asian American community are all too aware of the physical, verbal, emotional, and psychological attacks endured by our elders for generations.

DoD space agency: Cyber attacks, not missiles, are the most worrisome threat to satellites

by Sandra Erwin

WASHINGTON — Intelligence agencies and analysts warn China and Russia are developing missiles that could strike U.S. satellites in low-Earth orbit. This will be a concern for the Pentagon’s Space Development Agency, which plans to deploy a network of satellites within range of those missiles.

Derek Tournear, director of the Space Development Agency, said April 14 that SDA has looked at potential threats to its satellites and is less worried about missile strikes than it is about cyber attacks and intrusions into the supply chain.

SDA plans to start launching satellites to space in 2022 with a goal of having hundreds in orbit by 2024 that will be used for communications and missile detection.

These satellites “will not be invulnerable” to ground-based weapons such as ballistic missiles, Tournear said at an online Washington Space Business Roundtable forum. But having a proliferated network of hundreds of satellites, however, makes the system resilient to these type of attacks, he explained.

An adversary would have to launch a barrage of missiles to disable such a large constellation and would face significant retaliation. Tournear also noted that the relatively low cost of SDA’s satellites would make them unattractive targets compared to the more exquisite billion-dollar satellites that DoD has in orbit.

Tournear estimates that it would cost more to shoot down a satellite than the satellite itself, “so we’ve completely changed the equation on that.”

Nato holds 'Locked Shields' cyber war games with hackers targeting fictional island nation

Nato is staging cyber war games this week with make-believe hackers launching more than 4,000 attacks on the power grids and air defence systems of a fictional island country.

The drills involving 30 countries are meant to test Nato’s defences during a global pandemic that is making the world more dependent on virtual systems.

Hackers targeted vaccine developers during the Covid-19 crisis and the US government was the target of a major cyber attack, which was discovered last year.

Known as “Locked Shields”, the four-day exercise is organised by the Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence, a Nato-accredited cyber hub in Estonia.

In the scenario, the fictional North Atlantic nation of Berylia is the subject of a co-ordinated cyber attack on its civilian and military systems.

Nato’s 22 “Blue Teams” are tasked with responding to “severe disruptions” to electric power, military air defence, satellite mission control and water purification in Berylia.

They are taking on a “Red Team” of imaginary villains, who launch a series of attacks which the Estonian centre said are based on real threats.

“Reflecting real world cyber threats, the exercise will address the protection of vital services and critical infrastructure that are fundamental for modern societies to operate,” said Carry Kangur, the centre's head of cyber exercises.