1 July 2021

The PLA’s Developing Cyber Warfare Capabilities and India's Options

Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Chinese President Xi Jinping has made it clear that his objective for China is to emerge as a ‘cyber superpower’. China wants to be the world’s largest nation in cyberspace and also one of the most powerful. The information technology revolution has produced both momentous opportunities and likely vulnerabilities for china. China is home of largest number of ‘netizens’ in the world. It also hosts some of the world’s most vibrant and successful technology companies. It also remains a major victim of cyber crime. 

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) believes that with the rise of the Information Age future wars will be contests in the ability to exploit information. Wars will be decided by the side who is more capable to generate, gather, transmit, analyse and exploit information.

China’s Nuclear and Missile Capabilities: An Overview

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Since China first conducted a nuclear weapon test in 1964, its nuclear doctrine has remained unchanged and is underpinned by two principles: a minimum deterrent doctrine and a No First Use (NFU) policy. China’s 2019 defence white paper states, “China is always committed to a nuclear policy of NFU of nuclear weapons at any time and under any circumstances, and not using or threatening to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states or nuclear-weapon-free zones unconditionally.”

However, a recent U.S. Department of Defence (DoD) report claims that the scope of China’s nuclear modernisation and its lack of transparency “raise concern that China is not only shifting its requirements for what constitutes a minimal deterrence but that it could shift away from its longstanding minimalist force posture.” The data available show that China is modernising and expanding virtually every element of its nuclear forces, including each aspect of its nuclear weapons and missile, sea, and air delivery systems. What is not clear are China’s current and planned holdings of nuclear weapons, China’s future plans for deploying additional delivery systems, its commitment to some form of NFU, first preemption, or launch on warning, and the extent to which it will accept what might be called a form of ‘minimum assured destruction.

India a third-tier country in cyber warfare capabilities, report says US more powerful than China

India is positioned among the third-tier countries on a spectrum of cyber warfare capabilities. Researchers from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) ranked countries on a spectrum of cyber capabilities, from the strength of their digital economies and the maturity of their intelligence and security functions to how well cyber facilities were integrated with military operations. The study, published by the ISS comes as a series of hacking campaigns that have highlighted the growing threat of online espionage by hostile states. Along with India, the third tier comprises Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, North Korea, Iran and Vietnam.

The study also found that only the US is ranked as a “top tier” cyber power whereas China, Russia, the UK, Australia, Canada, France and Israel are in the second tier. The study also highlighted that China’s cyber power is at least a decade behind the US.

The Financial Express quoted the ISS which noted that the US was the only country in the top tier in terms of cybersecurity because of its unparalleled digital-industrial base, its cryptographic expertise and the ability to execute “sophisticated, surgical” cyber strikes against adversaries. The report notes that the US also benefited from close alliances with other cyber powers, including its Five Eyes partners.

How to Keep India All-In on the Quad

Jeff M. Smith

This may well be the golden age of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (known as the Quad), the strategic grouping joining Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. Since its revival in 2017 amid rising shared concerns about China, the group has consistently defied its critics and originally modest expectations. This year, the Quad has not only survived the first major change of government among its members but has thrived—not least because India, originally the most reluctant member, is now all-in on the grouping.

The Biden administration moved quickly to dispel any concerns that it might abandon an initiative championed by its predecessor. One week after inauguration, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan praised the Quad as “a foundation upon which to build substantial American policy in the Indo-Pacific region.”

In March, the group took a major step forward with the first-ever Quad summit. Only recently seen as a distant ambition, the four leaders agreed to begin meeting regularly in person, with plans for a first in-person meeting in the fall.

Pakistan-US Relations and the Geopolitics of South Asia

Tridivesh Singh Maini

Key Points

Senior officials from Pakistan – Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and National Security Advisor Moeed Yousuf – have emphasised the need for a “broad-based” relationship with the United States.

Pakistan has focussed recently on resetting its foreign policy, one example being Imran Khan’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia. Attempts to improve ties with US need to be examined in that context.

The Biden Administration has not revised the Trump Administration’s decision to suspend military aid to Pakistan to date.

Pakistan and the US understand each other’s strategic relevance, but the China factor is likely to be a thorny issue in their relationship.

Civilian Militias Flourish as Myanmar’s Post-Coup Turmoil Deepens

Sebastian Strangio

Myanmar’s political crisis is entering a new and more complex phase as a raft of new armed militias arise to resist the country’s military junta, according to the latest report from the International Crisis Group (ICG). Since the military’s seizure of power on February 1, the junta’s crackdown on protesters and the broader civilian population has prompted violent resistance, including the formation of civilian militias in several corners of the country.

“The swift emergence of militias, and their capacity to evolve from loosely coordinated groups of local people into more structured, better armed, and sustainably funded forces, likely marks a new phase of Myanmar’s decades-old civil war,” states the ICG report, which was released yesterday.

Despite being armed mostly with hunting rifles and other makeshift weapons, these groups have inflicted significant casualties on the security forces, who have struck back with characteristic overkill, barraging populated areas with artillery, airstrikes, and helicopter gunships.

Digital Yuan, Part of China's Big Bet on Blockchain, Could 'Upend Rules of Global Commerce'


There is no stage bigger than the Olympics, for the athletes and the host country. Modern China announced its arrival 13 years ago when 2,008 synchronized drummers wowed the world at the Beijing Summer Olympics opening ceremonies. In February, China is expected to use the Beijing Winter Olympics to unveil a creation of intense international interest: the digital yuan, the first major central bank digital currency, or CBDC.

Consumers are unlikely to notice much difference shopping with e-CNY, as the currency is officially known. It will be worth the same as cash and will activate with a tap, swipe or QR code. But the questions this form of money raises are profound. As governments around the world move to phase out physical cash, what will become of financial privacy? How will state-sponsored digital money affect China's economy, its trading relationships and—most weighty of all—the future of the global financial system now dominated by the United States and the dollar?

China Suffers High Costs From Sanctions On Coal – Analysis

Michael Lelyveld

China is caught between power shortages and the political cost of lifting its ban on coal from Australia as Beijing struggles to contain rising prices after cutting off imports from its leading commodity supplier.

Reports differ widely on the origins of China’s unofficial ban against imports of both Australian thermal coal for power generation and metallurgical or coking coal for steelmaking.

In March, Argus Media traced the start of the policy as far back as the previous April, while more recent reports have cited last October as the effective date of the undeclared embargo.

News of the restriction spread quickly during an early winter power crisis when the Communist Party-affiliated Global Times reported on Dec. 13 that China’s top planning agency had met with 10 power companies, giving them “approval … to import coal without clearance restrictions, except for Australia.”

Xi Jinping’s Complicated Quest for the State-Corporate Technology Complex

Ngor Luong

The relationship between the Chinese government and its private tech sector can appear mystifying. Beijing seems to be asserting more control over Chinese tech giants, for example, by cracking down on Alibaba and Tencent for growing too powerful. At the same time, the Chinese leadership recognizes that it must also allow some degree of independence for firms to be efficient and profitable.

To China’s leaders, this position is not paradoxical. As Xi Jinping recently remarked, “We encourage the development of private businesses. When they encounter difficulties [and] confusion arises,” the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) provides “guidance” so that “they can develop boldly and with confidence.”

What constitutes “difficulties” is up to the CCP to decide, and so are the methods for course correction when private firms are “confused.”

Did Russia Test Hypersonic Missile From Syria? Israel May Know


TEL AVIV: Israel appears to have monitored Russia’s air force testing a Kinzhal hypersonic missile over the Mediterranean last week.

Israeli sensors monitor the area constantly and data from them is being checked. The test was probably performed after a Russian aircraft took off from Khmeimim air base located southeast of Latakia, a city in northwestern Syria, Israeli sources say.

The KH-47M2 Kinzhal is an air-launched Russian nuclear capable missile with a range of 2,000 km. It can reach a speed of Mach 10 and is capable of performing evasive maneuvers.

Russian media reported that the Kinzhal missile was fired from a MiG-31K aircraft at a virtual target in the Mediterranean. The planes took off from the Khmeimim air base in Syria.

U.S. Strikes Point to Growing Iranian Drone Threat

Jack Detsch, and Robbie Gramer

President Joe Biden ordered U.S. airstrikes to be carried out early Monday against three facilities on the Iraq-Syria border suspected of aiding Iran-backed militias that had been launching drone and rocket attacks on bases housing U.S. service members in Iraq.

A U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive operation, said F-15 and F-16 fighter jets conducted the strikes with a mix of precision-guided munitions. The U.S. Defense Department said each strike hit its intended target but that it was still assessing the damage, including the possibility of enemy casualties. Biden, who ordered the strikes under his Article 2 constitutional authority for the protection of U.S. troops who have faced attacks from Iran-backed forces, did not audibly respond to shouted questions about the strikes after returning to the White House from Camp David on Sunday night.

The latest strikes highlight the growing threat to U.S. forces and their allies from Iran-backed militias in the region and the increased clout that Tehran has built through its proxy forces in Iraq and Syria. They could also throw a wrench into tenuous talks between the Biden administration and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal.
Sajad Jiyad

There is serious doubt as to whether Iraq’s upcoming parliamentary elections in October will be free and fair, or have any meaningful level of voter turnout, yet the outcome is easy to foresee. Iraqi elections inevitably produce no clear winner: Major parties compete as parts of alliances, and once results are announced, several of these blocs engage in a protracted period of negotiations that yields a fragile ruling coalition. These weak governments, hobbled by political divisions and corruption, are designed to maintain the political elite’s grip on power and protect the system from internal and external pressures. The prime minister, who heads a government of rivals concerned with protecting their own gains at the cost of the state, becomes either a toothless bystander or a willing participant in the game.

At the same time, the prime minister is also the only one who might conceivably change the status quo and force the country onto a new path. Doing so will require striking a grand bargain with all of Iraq’s key external partners, addressing each side’s concerns in return for concessions that serve Iraqi interests. Such a grand bargain will require negotiating with tough partners who are already in a more advantageous position. The next Iraqi prime minister should be prepared for such an undertaking, as it will be one of the last opportunities to turn the country around from its current state of economic decline, insecurity and social unrest.

IRAQ 2021-2022: A FORECAST

The United States cannot stabilize—or safely deprioritize—the Middle East without first stabilizing Iraq. Regional powers treat Iraq as a battleground to carry out proxy conflicts that harm US interests and exacerbate instability through the region. Stability begets stability; strengthening the Iraqi state such that foreign proxy wars cannot easily take place within its borders would reduce tensions in the region. A more resilient Iraqi state will be better protected from future foreign interference like internationally sponsored militia activities, political influence, and jihadism. A stable and sovereign Iraq could provide a physical and political buffer between its heavyweight neighbors: Iran, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia, and between Iran and its projects in Syria and Lebanon. That buffer could help enable a desired pivot in US policy and security focus away from the Middle East and toward pressing concerns elsewhere in the world.

Unfortunately, Iraq is not moving toward increased stability in the medium-to-long term. The decisionmaking of external actors will likely overwhelm and derail the results of Iraqi leadership decisionmaking in the next 18 months. Continuing governance of Iraq’s corrupt political system by many of the same elites who have shared power since 2006 may produce some degree of domestic resiliency following Iraq’s 2021 elections, but will likely be unable to overcome the meddling of other regional powers.

Forging A Future With Rather Than Against Iran – Analysis

James M. Dorsey

The rise of hardline President-elect Ebrahim Raisi has prompted some analysts to counterintuitively suggest that it could pave the way for reduced regional tensions and potential talks on a rejiggered Middle Eastern security architecture but getting from A to B is likely to prove easier said than done.

Hopes that a hardline endorsement of a return to the 2015 international agreement that curbed Iran’s nuclear program will pave the way to wider security arrangements are grounded in a belief that Iranian domestic politics give Tehran a vested interest in a dialing down of tension. They also are rooted in a regional track record of hawks rather than doves taking the painful decisions that in the past have paved the way to an end of hostilities and the signing of agreements.

The analysts that see a silver lining in Iran’s hardline electoral power grab compare the rise of Mr Raisi to the late 1980s when Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini accepted a ceasefire in his county’s eight-year-long war with Iraq at a time that then-President Ali Khamenei was preparing to succeed the ayatollah as Iran’s supreme leader.

CISA Publishes Cyber ‘Bad Practices’


WASHINGTON: CISA, bucking the usual, has started a list of cybersecurity “bad practices” in hopes of decreasing the number of knowable and preventable cyber blunders.

Practically every profession has a set of what practitioners consider “best practices.” Cybersecurity is no different, with a dizzying array of standards, guidance, and lessons learned. But CISA, DHS’s lead agency for domestic cyber defense, has published a first set of bad practices. The agency says the initial list is incomplete and just a starting point, with more to follow.

The bad practices are aimed especially at — though not limited to — educating critical infrastructure owners and operators. This includes, of course, the defense industrial base and many who support its supply chain — from communications equipment and high-tech capabilities to electrical and mechanical components for military hardware, such as tanks, planes, and ships.

Russia's Little Cyber Green Men Versus the U.S. Digital Army


The United States is mired in a new kind of conflict with Russia, one in which non-state actors are launching cyber attacks under the cover of a digital smokescreen that complicates attribution and efforts to retaliate against the enemy.

In the eyes of the U.S. Intelligence Community, to a certain extent this enemy includes the Kremlin itself, but mostly it spans an array of shadowy groups whose direct association to the Russian President Vladimir Putin's government is suspected but not entirely clear, much less demonstrable.

But the intelligence officials Newsweek spoke to are certain about one thing: The situation works to Moscow's advantage.

Their reasoning is twofold.

"First, because of global perception as they are trying to increase influence and standing in the world," one U.S. military intelligence official, who asked not to be named, told Newsweek. "Secondly, Russian cyberattacks can typically be traced either directly or indirectly to the Kremlin and even Putin himself. They would not want the Russian government connected to an event like that, so they need a non-attributable method or means to achieve their desired effects."

US ‘Retains Clear Superiority’ In Cyber; China Rising: IISS Study


WASHINGTON: The US stands alone as the only tier-one cyber power in the world, but China will rise as a highly capable peer competitor over the next decade, a new International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) report concludes.

“Dominance in cyberspace has been a strategic goal of the United States since the mid-1990s,” the report notes. “It is the only country with a heavy global footprint in both civil and military uses of cyberspace, although it now perceives itself as seriously threatened by China and Russia in that domain. …The US retains a clear superiority over all other countries in terms of its [information and communications technology] empowerment, but this is not a monopoly position.”

“The US capability for offensive cyber operations is probably more developed than that of any other country, although its full potential remains largely undemonstrated,” the report adds.

Spain’s Sanchez Timed His Pardons for Catalan Separatists Well

Alana Moceri

MADRID—Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez made what could very well be the most consequential decision of his time in office last week: pardoning nine leaders from the northeastern region of Catalonia who were serving prison sentences for their roles in organizing an illegal independence referendum in 2017. Speaking a day before the official announcement at the iconic Liceu Opera House in the Catalan capital, Barcelona, Sanchez made an emotional plea for reconciliation to an audience of 300 civic leaders—some of whom erupted into shouts of “independence” as he spoke, while hundreds of pro-separatist demonstrators gathered outside.

“We can’t start from scratch, but we can start anew,” Sanchez said. “We can change the lives of nine people and start changing history.” ..

The biggest post-pandemic cyber security trends

Sanjay Radia

It is no secret that the significant changes required of organisations over the past year have come with heightened cyber security risks. Even now, as we begin to move into a ‘new normal’, the landscape is anything but certain. Organisations need to keep up with this evolving threat landscape, as there are several cyber security trends that are emerging from this new post-pandemic era.

Defence against ransomware

Ransomware has been a key adversary for quite some time and there is no sign of this changing. As a result, we expect to see new initiatives released and developed to counteract this threat. There are several initiatives in development because of collaboration between governments, industry associations, businesses and vendors.

The proposed extension to Know Your Customer (KYC) transparency rules in financial transactions is an excellent example of what can come about as an outcome of this collaboration. KYC currently does not include cryptocurrency transactions but attacks against cryptocurrency payments are a favourite of ransomware attackers because they are untraceable. Therefore, extending KYC rules to include cryptocurrency payments is a matter of importance as it will act as a strong deterrent. Collaboration in the development of these initiatives is vital – any organisation that is at risk of becoming the next victim of a ransomware attack will benefit from new initiatives, so it is important that they are supported where possible.

Cyberattacks And Supply Chain Disruptions

Matteo Crosignani, Marco Macchiavelli, and André F. Silva. 

Cybercrime is one of the most pressing concerns for firms. Hackers perpetrate frequent but isolated ransomware attacks mostly for financial gains, while state-actors use more sophisticated techniques to obtain strategic information such as intellectual property and, in more extreme cases, to disrupt the operations of critical organizations. Thus, they can damage firms’ productive capacity, thereby potentially affecting their customers and suppliers.

In this post, which is based on a related Staff Report, we study a particularly severe cyberattack that inadvertently spread beyond its original target and disrupted the operations of several firms around the world. More recent examples of disruptive cyberattacks include the ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline, the largest pipeline system for refined oil products in the United States, and JBS, a global beef processing company. In both cases, operations halted for several days, causing protracted supply chain bottlenecks.

Stopping Terrorist Violence, One Cellphone Shutdown at a Time

Fatima Mustafa

In 2008, terrorists were involved in carrying out deadly attacks in Mumbai which killed 172 people and were spread across several locations including a hospital, two hotels, a restaurant, a Jewish centre and the railway station. The men involved in this act of terrorism were constantly on their phones during the attack. They were receiving a string of orders from higher-ups as well as constant updates on the movement of Indian security forces during the attacks. Their use of cellphones was not out of the ordinary: increasingly, research shows that terrorist groups rely heavily on cellphone and Internet networks to organise and execute attacks, circulate propaganda, gain supporters, and disseminate information. In turn, governments across the world have relied on network shutdowns to combat various forms of violence and protest. In 2020, at least 155 incidents of network shutdowns were reported across the world by Access Now’s Shutdown Tracker Optimization Project (STOP) which included countries like India, Pakistan, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Belarus and Uganda among others. Countries have relied on network shutdowns for a variety of reasons – to prevent terrorist violence, tackle protests, maintain law and order, repress dissent and control public discourse. To prevent terrorist groups from being able to coordinate with each other, police departments in the US have considered shutting off cellphone coverage during a terrorist attack. And yet, despite the persistent use of network shutdowns by governments across the world, we know surprisingly little about the effect of these network shutdowns on various outcomes (such as protests, terrorist violence and levels of dissent).

The Backlash Against Globalized Trade Is Changing, Not Subsiding

Former U.S. President Donald Trump upended what was once a relatively staid global economic and trade system. Under the banner of “America First,” Trump launched a trade war with China and threatened America’s European allies with another, imposing steel and aluminum tariffs that have proven to be difficult to reverse. He also undermined the ability of the World Trade Organization to resolve global disputes by blocking key appointments. For all of this upheaval, Trump left office with only one clear-cut accomplishment: an updated NAFTA deal known officially as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Act, or USMCA.

Even as Trump sowed chaos in America’s trade relationships, most of the world reinforced its commitment to trade liberalization. One of Trump’s first moves in office was to pull America out of the huge Pacific Rim trade deal known then as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But the remaining 11 members moved forward with the deal largely intact, renaming it the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. While the TPP was originally designed to contain China, Beijing is now actually showing interest in joining the revamped bloc. Meanwhile, upon being sealed in late 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership comprising 15 Asia-Pacific nations became the world’s largest trading bloc.

‘Build Back Better World’ and the Belt and Road Are Not Necessarily at Odds

Keren Zhu

On June 12, the G-7 nations unveiled Build Back Better World (B3W), a values-driven and transparent partnership to provide infrastructure to low- and middle-income countries. In a time of heightened China-U.S. competition and confrontation, many interpret the B3W as a U.S.-led counterproposal to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global engagement plan also focused on infrastructure that China proposed in 2013, now involving partnerships with 140 countries and international organizations.

However, there is no reason to think that the two initiatives are necessarily at odds with one another. Granted, political and security tensions between U.S. and China suggest that the two initiatives may not work closely together anytime soon. But as the B3W evolves from a statement of intent to more concrete plans, there is still plenty of time for Sino-American dynamics to shift and for the two powers to identify realistic common ground. Indeed, the B3W and BRI are in many ways inherently complementary. Chinese leaders will likely welcome the B3W, and the BRI provides a number of instructive lessons for B3W planners. In fact, it is not hard to argue that in order to build back a better world following the COVID-19 pandemic, the B3W and BRI must work together.

The Economic Costs of Cyber Risk

Chris Nolan

Executive Summary
The SolarWinds cyber breach was likely the largest in U.S. history, though its full breadth and impact remain unknown. As early as October 2019, Russian hackers penetrated the Texas firm’s software development environment so that when the company pushed patches to its customers, it inadvertently delivered Moscow’s malware as well.1 The hackers exfiltrated data from U.S. government agencies for more than a year before FireEye exposed the operation last December.2

While it could take months or even years to remove the compromised software and implement other remediation measures, and although the costs to the U.S. government alone could be in the hundreds of millions of dollars,3 the breach was not as damaging as feared from an economic perspective, because its primary purpose appears to have been espionage. The breach did not cause large-scale business disruptions like those caused by Russia’s NotPetya attack on Ukraine in 2017. That malware spread around the world, affecting tens of thousands of companies, costing some as much as hundreds of millions of dollars.4

Debunking the AI Arms Race Theory

Paul Scharre

There is no AI arms race. However, military competition in AI does still pose certain risks. These include losing human control and the acceleration of warfare, as well as the risk that perceptions of an arms race will cause competitors to cut corners on testing, leading to the deployment of unsafe AI systems.

In 2015, a group of prominent AI and robotics researchers signed an open letter warning of the dangers of autonomous weapons. “The key question for humanity today,” they wrote, “is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable.”1 Today, many nations are working to apply AI for military advantage, and the term “AI arms race” has become a catchphrase used by both critics and proponents of AI militarization. In 2018, then-Under Secretary of Defense Michael Griffin, calling for the United States to invest more in AI, stated, “There might be an artificial intelligence arms race, but we’re not yet in it.”2 In a 2020 Wired article, Will Roper, then chief acquisition officer for the U.S. Air Force, warned of the risks of falling behind in a “digital arms race with China.”3

New FDD Report Warns of Devastating Costs of Cyberattacks on Private Sector

WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28, 2021 – The economic cost of a cyberattack on service providers or utility operators could rival that of major natural disasters, according to the findings of a new report issued today by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ (FDD’s) Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation (CCTI) and Intangic.

The report finds that as digital transformations increase productivity and efficiencies in companies across all economic sectors, the American public is blind to the scale of the risks that inadequate technology management has created.

Authors Chris Nolan of Intangic and Annie Fixler of FDD write in “The Economic Costs of Cyber Risk,” “A single company with deficient cybersecurity could inflict substantial harm on the U.S. government, company shareholders (including retirees dependent on pensions), the public, and critical national infrastructure.”

The United States witnessed a sample of the real-world effects of cyberattacks with the ransomware attacks on Colonial Pipeline and meat producer JBS, but if a ransomware or other type of attack disrupts electricity generation or transmission, the economic devastation could surpass that of Hurricane Katrina, the authors warn. This estimate is derived from Intangic’s actuarial model, which has accurately predicted the financial and economic impact of business disruptions from cyberattacks.

Asymmetric Killing

Paul Vicars

Neil C. Renic’s Asymmetric Killing is a thoughtful, if imperfect, assessment of the morality of riskless war. Within the skeptical academic discourse surrounding unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), authors either deflate the virtue of the men and women who employ such weapons, inflate the influence of technology on the operator or decision-maker, or conflate asymmetry and moral wrongness. Renic grapples, to some degree, with each of these aspects of the topic using a systematic, historical, and balanced method. Yet, he is unable to avoid the latter two errors. The following review provides an overview of Renic’s argument, and assesses its strengths and weaknesses.

Renic argues that the radical asymmetry of risk in UAV-only warfare challenges the coherence of moral justifications for fighting. In supporting this argument, he first characterizes the two tools of ethical and moral measurement he intends to use—the warrior ethos, and the just war tradition.[1] He then uses these insights to assess the introduction and acceptance of two previous asymmetric military advances—sniping and manned aerial bombing.[2] Next, he contrasts these advances with the newest form of asymmetry, UAVs, while also assessing this mode of warfare using the tools described earlier.[3] By the ethical measure of the warrior ethos, he concludes that UAVs are experiencing an ongoing, if gradual, acceptance, which has been the case for all asymmetric advances in history. However, when judged by the moral standard of just war, the exclusive use of such technology strains the coherence of the just war rules. This is because these rules are based on an assumption of “structural reciprocal risk.”[4] This latter conclusion is worthy of more detailed explanation.


Katariina Mustasilta

Looking ahead to the horizon of 2030, this Chaillot Paper analyses the need for a conflict prevention approach in the face of three megatrends that will have far-reaching global repercussions.

The three trends – climate change, digitalisation and the fragmentation of authority – will not only have manifold environmental, social and political implications, but may also have considerable impact on peace and conflict dynamics.

The volume explores how each megatrend is likely to influence conflict escalatory processes in the coming decade. It also examines how investments in conflict prevention mechanisms can strengthen societal resilience and help the international community to better manage a hotter, increasingly digitalised and decentralised world.

Transparency, Accountability and Legitimacy—Chatham House Report on Military Drones in Europe, Part II

Jessica Dorsey, Nilza Amaral

Transparency, Accountability and the Rule of Law

The controversies resulting from the use of military drones remain unresolved and pose a risk to European democracies by bringing into question some of the political values on which such democratic regimes have been built. For example, criticisms abound over lack of transparency and how this hinders democratic accountability. Such a lack of transparency raises questions about whether European countries do enough to safeguard the rule of law. The use of armed drones, in this sense, can be seen to weaken important democratic values. This in turn raises problems for governments with respect to ensuring democratic legitimacy and continues to cause deep mistrust over the use of armed drones. As more countries within Europe and around the world acquire and begin to use armed drones in military operations, these controversies and challenges will likely multiply. This underscores the need to address long-standing calls for increasing transparency and accountability for the use of armed drones.

Book Review Roundtable: The Revolution that Failed

Thomas G. Mahnken

1. Introduction: The Gap Between Theory and Practice
Brendan Rittenhouse Green’s The Revolution that Failed: Nuclear Competition, Arms Control, and the Cold War makes an important contribution to our understanding of the history of the nuclear competition that took place between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War.1 The book calls into question the extent to which Cold War-era theories, many of which argued that the existence of a mutually assured destruction (MAD) would stabilize the Soviet-American nuclear relationship, actually influenced American policymakers in practice. Indeed, Green documents in rich detail the disconnect between the theory of MAD and the way that U.S. policymakers actually behaved between 1969 and 1979.

As Green shows, American policymakers did not share theorists’ belief that the advent of nuclear weapons had transformed international relations. Nor were they convinced that the United States and Soviet Union had, by the 1970s, reached a condition of nuclear stalemate, a claim that lay at the heart of the notion of MAD. It turns out that it was far from obvious to policymakers confronted with the task of deterring the Soviet Union that nuclear deterrence was robust.2 To the contrary, most U.S. decision-makers, as well as influential scholars like Albert Wohlstetter, believed that the balance of terror was “delicate.”3 They worried a great deal about the survivability of U.S. nuclear forces, as well as the robustness and reliability of nuclear command, control, and communication systems, and they were less than sanguine about Soviet intentions and capabilities. With that in mind, they did not believe that nuclear stalemate was a given, and they took seriously Soviet views that a nuclear war could be fought and won.