6 August 2021

Social Media in Violent Conflicts – Recent Examples

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Alan Rusbridger, the then editor-in-chief of the Guardian in his 2010 Andrew Olle Media Lecture, stated, “News organisations still break lots of news. But, increasingly, news happens first on Twitter. If you’re a regular Twitter user, even if you’re in the news business and have access to wires, the chances are that you’ll check out many rumours of breaking news on Twitter first. There are millions of human monitors out there who will pick up on the smallest things and who have the same instincts as the agencies—to be the first with the news. As more people join, the better it will get. ”

The most important and unique feature of social media and its role in future conflicts is the speed at which it can disseminate information to audiences and the audiences to provide feedback.

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.


John McLaughlin

The last time I wrote about Afghanistan, I tried to offer a balanced look at the arguments for both pessimism and modest optimism regarding Afghanistan’s future after the U.S withdrawal. Since then, the omens for the mountainous South Asian country have grown darker, with Afghan forces suffering major losses, significant desertions, and the Taliban expanding its influence and control. There are still a few unknowns, but the ones supporting hope are declining in number and credibility.

Taliban commanders are almost certainly exaggerating when they claim to control 85 percent of Afghanistan. It’s probably closer to 50 percent, but that is still worrying, and there’s little question they have made sizable gains. They appear to have the “strategic momentum,” as Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said in a Pentagon news conference last week.

Key Afghan City in Danger of Falling to the Taliban

Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Taimoor Shah

KABUL, Afghanistan — An important city in Afghanistan’s south was in danger of falling to the Taliban on Saturday as their fighters pushed toward its center despite concerted American and Afghan airstrikes in recent days.

Reports from Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand, a province where the Taliban already controlled much of the territory before their recent offensive, were dire: People were fleeing their homes, a hospital in the city had been bombed, and government reinforcements were only now arriving after days of delays.

“We are just waiting for the Taliban to arrive — there is no expectation that the government will be able to protect the city any more,” said Mohammadullah Barak, a resident.

What comes next in Lashkar Gah is anything but certain — the city has been on the brink of a Taliban takeover off and on for more than a decade. But if the insurgent group seizes the city this time it will be the first provincial capital to fall to the Taliban since 2016.

Afghanistan’s War Splinters as Southern Tribes Fight for Spoils

Lynne O’Donnell

KABUL—Two of Afghanistan’s major cities are in danger of imminent collapse as the government struggles to contain a war that is splintering out of control. A Taliban advance on Herat in the west has cut the city off from the rest of the country. In southern Kandahar, where the Taliban have deep roots, rival tribes are taking sides, fighting for a share of the spoils when the dust finally settles.

In Herat, the capital of the province of the same name, Taliban fighters reached the outskirts on Thursday, forcing the closure of the airport. Rocket attacks on Friday hit the United Nations compound, where five members of the Afghan Public Protection Force were killed, police and security sources said. Militias led by local warlord Ismail Khan are fighting alongside the police and army, they said.

In the southern city of Kandahar, the Taliban capital from 1996 until the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, the picture is complex, hinting at a war within a war as age-old rivalries between local tribes spill into fighting over the vast sums to be made from licit and illicit trade through the Spin Boldak crossing into Pakistan.

Sri Lanka’s Bid To Bridge ‘Trust Deficit’ With India – Analysis

P. K. Balachandran

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner-designate to India, Milinda Moragoda, has communicated to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, that frequent, multifarious and systematized interactions with India from the top-most level to the bottom, are necessary to rid the India-Sri Lanka relationship of “distrust”, which has plagued it for decades.

Moragoda, who is take up his assignment in New Delhi later this month, said in his concept paper entitled: “Integrated Country Strategy: For Sri Lanka Diplomatic Missions in India,” that lack of trust has made the relationship “transactional” (meaning a relationship based on bargaining, and therefore, lacking in warmth and a natural flow). Disturbingly, the transactional character has grown in recent times due to certain geo-political changes (presumably the growing China-factor in Sri Lanka).

However, this need not be so, says Moragoda. Given the millennia of multifarious and unbroken interactions between Sri Lanka and India, the relationship ought to be a “special one” marked by “inter-dependence, mutual respect and affection.” But such a makeover can only come with increased, all round, frequent and structured interactions from the top-most level to the bottom, he submits.

Fighting Myanmar's regime with compassion and military skills


CHIANG MAI, Thailand -- David Eubank, a former U.S. Special Forces officer, believes that some causes are worth dying for. His Free Burma Rangers aid organization, founded to help victims of an earlier Myanmar crisis, has since brought frontline help to many thousands in war-scarred Syria, Iraq and Sudan. Now, it is back in Myanmar helping ethnic minorities to flee escalating attacks by the regime's security forces.

It was a Myanmar military offensive in 1997 that gave birth to the rangers, who rushed in from neighboring Thailand to help some of the 500,000-plus refugees fleeing as Burmese troops shelled their villages, torched their homes and executed entire families.

"Who will go with me?'' Eubank asked a motley crew from the Karen ethnic minority gathered near the Thai-Myanmar border. "I had no plan," he recalled. "I just thought, 'I'll help one person and then they'll help the next.' Everyone counts." His first ranger team included a heavy-drinking boxer, an animist, an atheist and "a weapons trafficker with a murder charge hanging over his head.'' All were volunteers.

China facing challenges on Tibet

Sumit Kumar

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s unscheduled visit to Tibet on July 20 attracted extensive international attention.

Although Chinese media said that Xi’s visit was meant to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the accession of Tibet to China, Tibet has remained a politically charged issue for China as well as the international community.

The genesis of the turbulent ties between Tibet and China dates back to 1951, when the Chinese regime annexed Tibet through a seven-point agreement. China has used this agreement as proof of its sovereignty over Tibet.

Tibetans argue that they were forced to sign the agreement, leading them to revolt against the Chinese government in 1959.

However, China succeeded in quelling the Tibetan uprising, forcing the flight of the 14th Dalai Lama to India, along with hundreds of thousands of Tibetans. Since then, while the Dalai Lama heads the Tibetan government in exile in India, China has strengthened its control over the Tibetan region.



There is no shortage today of analysts and pundits attempting to explain China’s behavior, its interests, or its rise. China poses the most impactful challenge to the United States today, and that challenge is radically reshaping the international order. Yet, so much of that analysis and commentary is really a reflection of American fears and interests. As a result, that analysis misses what is actually happening in Beijing and within the Chinese Communist Party.

Rush Doshi, the founding director of the Brookings China Strategy Initiative, corrects that analytical shortcoming in his fascinating and alarming new book, “The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order.” The title is far from hyperbolic. Doshi presents a strong case that Beijing’s grand strategy is and has been directly driven by an assessment of America’s relative power and position as the global hegemon. China’s government has been extremely successful in translating this assessment into military, political, and economic actions, Doshi claims. This assertion is not simply speculation from a Pentagon spokesperson or staffer on the National Security Council—this is coming directly from the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership and apparatchiks themselves.

China without an army of friends


As China celebrated its Army Day on August 1, the children of Sunzi, the strategist of victory without a fight, know there is something better than guns for national defense. Or they ought to know.

China needs friends, people and countries who will stand for China’s universal values, as they stood in the past century for the values of the Soviet Union or the United States.

The USSR narrative was of liberation from capitalist oppression. The American narrative is about freedom and liberty. These values lead to a lot of mistakes but they are part of the quest for freedom. These narratives are not “the truth” but they have a drive, a global appeal that goes beyond the single country.

What is China’s narrative? China wants to make life better for the Chinese, fine, and then what about other countries? Will China be the dominant power in a constellation of lesser countries in the world?

Virus Flares in Wuhan as Delta Challenges China’s Defenses

China is confronting its broadest Covid-19 outbreak since coronavirus first emerged there in late 2019, with the delta variant spreading to places that had been virus-free for months, including the original epicenter of Wuhan.

Delta has broken through the country’s virus defenses, which are some of the strictest in the world, and reached nearly half of China’s 32 provinces in just two weeks. While the overall number of infections -- more than 300 so far -- is still lower than Covid resurgences elsewhere, the wide spread indicates that the variant is moving quickly.

It’s the biggest challenge to China’s strategy since the virus was first detected in Wuhan, the central Chinese city that saw the world’s first lethal outbreak. The country’s strict anti-virus measures, which include mass testing as soon as a case appears, aggressive contact tracing, widespread use of quarantines and targeted lockdowns, have crushed more than 30 previous flareups over the past year.

Turkey’s vision for Afghanistan comes into view


Since Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced last month that his nation’s troops would continue to secure Kabul international airport in Afghanistan, the leader has been both pressured and praised.

The Taliban, which has recently accelerated its military campaign across the war-torn country, on July 13 described any further Turkish military presence as “reprehensible” and warned of dire “consequences.”

Yet Ankara’s agreement to secure the vital air link was also key to US President Joe Biden’s “positive and productive” description of his meeting with Erdogan at June’s NATO summit.

Indeed, Turkey’s continued presence at the airport helps the US and its allies both cover their military withdrawal and maintain links to their embassies and missions in the Afghan capital.

Rocket attack on Green Zone shows Shia militia commitment to strike US targets in Iraq

Olivia Harper

Iraqi security sources stated that on 29 July at least two rockets targeted the Green Zone, in Iraq's capital Baghdad, in which the United States embassy is located, with one rocket landing in a car park inside the Green Zone and the second hitting an empty area. Although there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, an unnamed Iraqi security official stated that the rockets were launched from a predominantly Shia neighbourhood in eastern Baghdad and initial investigations had indicated that the rockets were targeting the US embassy but fell short of its target.

The attack came several days after US President Joe Biden hosted Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at the White House in Washington, D.C. on 26 July. During the meeting, Biden and Kadhimi agreed to formally end the US mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, instead shifting the US role entirely to training and advising the Iraqi military.
Vow to attack US forces

Iran has advantage in its shadow war with Israel at sea - analysis


Iran is right that it has an advantage in pursuing its shadow war with Israel at sea. But how is this true if the Israel Navy keeps improving?

The same day that Iran used a combination of drones to attack an Israel-linked ship last Thursday, the INS Magen, the Israel Navy’s most advanced Sa’ar 6 corvette missile ship, was getting ready to become fully operational in early 2022 after being delivered to Israel in December 2020, The Jerusalem Post reported.

In fact, acquisition of the Magen is only one of a series of moves the IDF has made to give it greater range in defending Israel’s territorial waters, especially its sea-based natural-gas installations, and will be utilized in any war with Hamas or Hezbollah.

How Americans Think About Trade

Diana C. Mutz

The way ordinary Americans think about trade is very different from the way economists and policy wonks think about it. Most people do not have accurate knowledge of how trade affects them personally: they do not support trade if they stand to gain from it or oppose it because it will hurt them economically. Instead, Americans’ views are shaped by trade’s perceived effects on the United States as a whole, their feelings about the trading partner country and U.S. political party in power, and their general outlook on the world beyond their country’s borders.

Put simply, most Americans’ opinions about trade are rooted in the psychology of human interaction. Their attitudes toward people and countries they see as dissimilar to themselves significantly influence their opinions. The basic distinction boils down to whether they believe it is possible to cooperate for mutual benefit or whether they view with suspicion those who seem very different from themselves. For this reason, it is not surprising that racial prejudice turns out to be one of the strongest predictors of opposition to trade.

Have our enemies found a way to defeat the United States?


Iraq is kicking American combat troops out of Iraq, at Iran’s behest, just as the U.S. leaves Afghanistan. We are now 1-3-1 in major conflicts since 1945. Our enemies’ successful strategy appears to be to attack us from third-country sanctuaries and bleed our troops until domestic support for the war collapses.

In Korea, Harry Truman would not attack communist sanctuaries in China. Truman’s decision was reasonable; he did not want to risk World War III and believed a Soviet invasion of western Europe was the bigger threat. His decision had serious consequences, however. China nearly threw U.S. forces off the Korean Peninsula. A stalemate developed, as China sent a practically inexhaustible supply of “volunteers” south. Domestic support for the war — and for Truman — collapsed. He did not seek reelection in 1952.

Dwight Eisenhower achieved an armistice only by threatening to use nuclear weapons. North Korea was left intact as a horrific police state. Today, 28,000 American troops still defend South Korea, and Pyongyang’s erratic dictator threatens the U.S. with "confrontation".

Information Operations are Critical to Defending Western Civilization

Joel Zamel

What are tyrants most afraid of? To answer that question, one must look at where they allocate their resources. Dictators like Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un spend billions to keep their citizens in the dark. They spare no expense to ban social media and suppress the Internet. They jail journalists and bloggers. They fund massive security agencies to silence their people.

What dictators fear most isn’t foreign militaries. What they fear most are their own citizens. Why? Because an informed citizenry is capable of vanquishing every myth tyrants desperately seek to preserve.

Yet many Western nations fail to understand this elementary truth. That is why we spend billions on military hardware yet a fraction of that on the tactics that can actually defeat extremist ideologies and tyrannical regimes: political warfare and information operations.

South Korea: A Middle Power in the Making?

Andrei Lankov

Is South Korea a middle power? This question might be difficult to answer—not least because the term ‘middle power’ is rather nebulous and poorly defined. However, there is little doubt that South Koreans now clearly see themselves as a middle power—and try to act accordingly.

Indeed, in recent few years a sense of triumphalism is in the Seoul’s air—especially among the numerous supporters of the left-leaning Moon Jae-in’s administration. The media writes about Korea’s new global reach, and the book titled The Era of Overtaking has become a major bestseller. Among other things, the book insists that Korea is not catching up with the developed world any more, but is overtaking some major international players.

Thus, let’s follow the triumphalist zeitgeist and agree that Republic of Korea (ROK) is now a middle power indeed. After all, both the size of its GDP (roughly equal to that of Russia) and the power of its military clearly position it high at the international pecking order. If this is the case, what is special about it? How can we compare it with such indisputable middle powers as Sweden, Australia or Poland?

Not much entente, barely cordiale: Franco-British ties in the doldrums

Rym Momtaz

PARIS — Good news for the Franco-British relationship: The two sides agree on something! The bad news: They agree their relationship is in a terrible state.

One sign of how bad things are, and how hard they may be to repair: Conversations with French and British officials suggest they don’t even agree on what type of relationship they’re in, even as they try to play up the chances of an improvement.

Brits like to speak of a love-hate relationship between siblings who are rivals but also great friends. The French sorrowfully say the two countries are spouses in the midst of an acrimonious divorce (Brexit) but hold out hope for a return to civility.

Of course, relations between France and Britain have often been fraught over the centuries — and there has been plenty of tension in recent decades, both when the U.K. was a member of the EU and when it wasn’t.

Incentivizing Solar: Catalyzing Solar Energy Technology Adoption to Address the Challenge of Climate Change

Liam Regan, Brian Wong, Benjamin Lee Preston, Aimee E. Curtright

The U.S. energy landscape has changed markedly, and solar power is rapidly growing as a sector: In 2021, solar power is expected to make up 39 percent of new installed generation capacity. In this Perspective, the authors provide an overview of the U.S. solar energy market, the rapid changes that it has undergone over the past decade, and the challenges that lie ahead as the broader energy system evolves. In addition, they examine different incentives for increasing solar power and the roles that different stakeholders, particularly the federal government, play in incentivizing solar markets. The authors explore the potential implications of these incentives for different solar technologies and private-sector business models and identify characteristics of federal incentives that are consistent with the objective of achieving deep decarbonization of the U.S. economy. They also explore the reliability and resiliency of solar power, its co-benefits for the jobs market, and its availability to disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.

Cuba’s New Leaders Promise Continuity to a Population Seeking Change

In late April, Cuba experienced a watershed moment when Miguel Diaz-Canel became the leader of the Cuban Communist Party, completing a political transition that began three years earlier when Diaz-Canel was inaugurated as president. Now, for the first time since the 1959 revolution, a Castro leads neither the country nor the party, making way for a new generation of leaders to chart the island nation’s path forward.

After taking office in 2018, Diaz-Canel slowly moved to put his stamp on the nation, beginning with the adoption of a new constitution in April 2019 that included some institutional reforms, including the creation of a prime ministerial position, and some attempts to embed market economics within Cuba’s socialist state. But the watchword for the new leadership continues to be “continuity,” disappointing those in Cuba who had hoped for greater systemic reforms to unleash a younger generation of entrepreneurs. And the deterioration of U.S.-Cuba relations under former President Donald Trump jeopardized even Havana’s limited efforts at opening up parts of the economy to the private sector.

Russian and Uzbek militaries begin joint Afghan border drills Reuters

MOSCOW, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Troops from Russia and Uzbekistan began joint military drills on Monday near the Afghan border, amid fears in both countries that a worsening security situation in Afghanistan could spill over into Central Asia.

Russia said 1,500 Russian and Uzbek troops would take part in the five-day exercises that began at the Termez military site in Uzbekistan, the TASS news agency reported.

In a sign of how seriously Moscow views the potential threat from Afghanistan, it said it would send a much bigger military contingent to Tajikistan for separate trilateral exercises.

Those separate drills are expected to take place on Aug. 5-10 and involve Russian, Tajik and Uzbek forces. Uzbekistan said on Monday its unit had arrived in Tajikistan.

Security has rapidly deteriorated in Afghanistan as the United States withdraws troops. Moscow fears that could destabilise its southern defensive flank and push refugees into its Central Asian backyard.

Taliban victory in Afghanistan could inspire terrorists, armed groups throughout Middle East

Shelly Kittleson
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Just after Maghreb prayers, tired Afghan police lugging weapons and backpacks clamber up a rocky outpost to serve as lookouts as night falls. Much of the fighting around here is done at night.

The city is the Taliban’s former stronghold and capital where al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden met in 1999 under the former Taliban regime (1996-2001) with Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, whose group would later become al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

At least 95% of US troops have already left Afghanistan and the rest will be out by Aug. 31.

This is in sharp contrast with the more gradual pullout from Iraq where, as one Afghan put it to this journalist, the United States didn’t abruptly yank “the patient (i.e., the country) out of the intensive care unit” before they were ready to stand on their own feet.

How to End the Pandemic


BOSTON – The United States has now entered its fifth wave of COVID-19 infections. In each one, the country has paid a high price for doing far less than it could. In the first wave, lockdowns and other restrictions were spotty. Then came untested and unproven treatments. With the vaccine rollout, new infections were pushed down substantially, but now the Delta variant has started pushing them back up in unvaccinated populations.

At each stage, the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 was underestimated. From what we know of its ability to adapt and thrive through random mutations, there is only one viable option for long-term disease control: a strategy that combines a rapidly growing arsenal of vaccines and antiviral drugs with strong public-health measures and deeper global cooperation.

Exploring the Feasibility and Utility of Machine Learning-Assisted Command and Control

Matthew Walsh, Lance Menthe, Edward Geist

This volume serves as the technical analysis to a report concerning the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) systems to assist in Air Force command and control (C2) from a technical perspective. The authors detail the taxonomy of ten C2 problem characteristics. They present the results of a structured interview protocol that enabled scoring of problem characteristics for C2 processes with subject-matter experts (SMEs). Using the problem taxonomy and the structured interview protocol, they analyzed ten games and ten C2 processes. To demonstrate the problem taxonomy and the structured interview protocol for a C2 problem, they then applied them to sensor management as performed by an air battle manager.

The authors then turn to eight AI system solution capabilities. As for the C2 problem characteristics, they created a structured protocol to enable valid and reliable scoring of solution capabilities for a given AI system. Using the solution taxonomy and the structured interview protocol, they analyzed ten AI systems.

The authors present additional details about the design, implementation, and results of the expert panel that was used to determine which of the eight solution capabilities are needed to address each of the ten problem characteristics. Finally, they present three technical case studies that demonstrate a wide range of computational, AI, and human solutions to various C2 problems.

Fixing the Fractured Federal Approach to Cybersecurity

David Brumley

Everyone knows the U.S. has a cybersecurity problem and the Biden administration’s emergency request for $10 billion starts out by acknowledging we are in crisis. The question is what to do about it.

Today the government has a fractured approach to cybersecurity. Just look at the emergency allocation and you’ll see those dollars flowing to at least five different departments and agencies: the General Services Administration, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the federal chief information security officer and U.S. Digital Services. As the old saying goes, when everyone is in charge, no one is in charge.

Biden and Congress should fundamentally reorganize its disparate efforts into a centralized Department of Cybersecurity. This new department should have the mandate to organize the big-three triad—people, tech and processes—into a cohesive structure. The work that has started under both parties administrations, such as the creation of the federal information security officer within the Office of Management and Budget by President Barack Obama and the creation of CISA, an operational component of the Department of Homeland Security, under President Donald Trump are steps in the right direction, but it’s time to build on these efforts and together under a single, effective agency stop the “spread it like peanut butter” approach to cyber.

Energizing Data-Driven Operations at the Tactical Edge

Significant efforts are ongoing within the U.S. Air Force (USAF) to improve national security and competitiveness by harnessing the growing power of information technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics. Product and process technologies are being researched, experimented with, and integrated into future warfighting concepts and plans. A significant part of this effort is focused on integrating operations, from the strategic to the tactical and across all lines of effort. A question that must be asked in considering these future warfighting concepts is: how will the devices that enable the knowledge-based future be powered? The abundant energy supplies that characterize peacetime operating environments may not be readily available at the far reaches of the force projections - the tactical edge - during conflict. Understanding the energy challenges associated with continued data collection, processing, storage, analysis, and communications at the tactical edge is an important part of developing the plans for meeting the future competition on the battlefield.

This report identifies challenges and issues associated with energy needs at the tactical edge as well as any potential for solutions to be considered in the future to help address these challenges. The recommendations of Energizing Data-Driven Operations at the Tactical Edge address understanding these requirement needs and the cascading effects of not meeting those needs, integrating energy needs for data processing into mission and unit readiness assessments, and research into product and process technologies to address energy-efficient computation, resilience, interoperability, and alternative solutions to energy management at the tactical edge.

Strategic Command Conference 2021

Paul O’Neill

A report from RUSI's Strategic Command Conference, which this year focused on integration within the military, across government, and with allies and partners.

RUSI’s Strategic Command Conference took place on 26 May 2021 at the IET, London. It followed publication of the Ministry of Defence’s Integrated Operating Concept and Defence Command Paper, and the UK government’s Integrated Review. Participants highlighted integration as an important organising principle for the UK’s armed forces and Strategic Command’s central role in its delivery.

The conference examined three dimensions of ‘integration’: multi-domain integration within the military instrument; integration across government; and integration with allies and partners. Integration with industry was addressed in a separate industry day.
View the 2021 Conference

Emerging Technology Horizons: Lessons Learned from an Earlier Age

Dr. Mark J. Lewis

The National Defense Industrial Association has established the Emerging Technologies Institute to help our nation’s leaders understand the importance of investing in key technologies that will enable us to prevail on any future battlefield.

As previous columns have described, history offers notable examples of leaps in military technology that changed the nature of war. One of my favorites is the development of ironclad warships during the Civil War, a story that provides lessons that are directly applicable to our modern era.

In April 1861, after Virginia seceded from the Union, the U.S. Navy evacuated the Norfolk Navy Yard before the ships there could fall into Confederate hands. The steam frigate USS Merrimack was in the yard undergoing repairs following service as flagship of the Pacific Squadron and could not be sailed. Rather than allow the ship to fall into Confederate hands, the Navy decided to set her afire. The Merrimack was also scuttled, so the masts ignited but the hull sank before it could burn. When the Confederates took Norfolk, they assigned Lt. John Mercer Brooke the task of rebuilding the remains of the Merrimack not as a sailing ship, but as an ironclad ram. The 35-year-old Brooke was an excellent choice; the Naval Academy graduate was an accomplished scientist and engineer who had made important discoveries about the ocean floor that ultimately enabled the laying of early undersea telegraph cables.

Warfare of the Mind

Fantastic two-part series from the Indigenous Approach podcast on the concept of resistance and unconventional warfare.


The concept of resistance is foundational to Army Special Operations Forces, as our mission is generally to partner with forces to either support or defeat resistance movements. In this two-part series, we pair experts on resistance with our forward-stationed battalion commanders in Germany and Japan to discuss what resistance is and how it’s applied in today’s operational environment.‎The Indigenous Approach: Concept of Resistance: Part 1 – Resistance in Europe on Apple Podcasts

Book Review Roundtable: Why Nations Rise: Narratives and the Path to Great Power

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With Why Nations Rise: Narratives and the Path to Great Power, Manjari Chatterjee Miller has undertaken a very ambitious project and largely succeeded in broadening how we think about rising powers. Her focus on national narratives and idea advocacy—or how national leaders conceive of and telegraph their own definitions of power—provides an important corrective to structural explanations such as power cycle theory that fail to explain variation. At the same time, the book stays focused on considerations of power and therefore anchors the study of national narratives in something more concrete and measurable than simply “identity.”

For policymakers, the most important takeaway will be that India’s trajectory and role in Asia must be considered on India’s terms. Too often, U.S. officials define success in India policy in terms of agreements, summits, and joint military exercises—in a word, through alignment. Certainly, India’s closer cooperation with the United States and Japan through the Quad and other arrangements is an important tool of dissuasion in the face of China’s growing hegemonic ambitions in the region. But ultimately what is more important than alignment is India’s own capacity to contribute to a more favorable strategic equilibrium.