24 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.

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.

Pakistan’s Pyrrhic Victory in Afghanistan

Husain Haqqani

Pakistan’s security establishment is cheering the Taliban’s recent military gains in Afghanistan. The country’s hard-liners have funneled support to the Taliban for decades, and they can now envision their allies firmly ensconced in Kabul. Pakistan got what it wished for—but will come to regret it. A Taliban takeover will leave Pakistan more vulnerable to extremism at home and potentially more isolated on the world stage.

The end of the United States’ 20-year war in Afghanistan also promises to mark a turning point in its relationship with Islamabad. Pakistan has long veiled its ambitions in Afghanistan to maintain relations with Washington, but that balancing act—seen in Washington as a double game—will prove impossible in the event that a reconstituted Islamic emirate is established in Kabul. This would not be the vindication that Pakistan’s military is expecting: the Taliban are less likely to defer to Pakistan in their moment of triumph, and the Americans are not likely to reconcile with the group over the long term. Pakistan’s nightmare scenario would be to find itself caught between an uncontrollable Taliban and international demands to rein them in.

Taliban’s special forces outfit providing ‘security’ at Kabul airport


Taliban-linked social media accounts claim that members of the group’s Badri 313 outfit are providing “security” at Kabul’s international airport. Badri 313 is a special forces wing of the Taliban’s army. It has been responsible for some of the group’s key battlefield successes and has also conducted complex “martyrdom” (suicide) operations.

Photos posted on Taliban-associated feeds purportedly show Badri 313 units in and around the airport in Kabul. It is not clear how many of the group’s men are there. FDD’s Long War Journal has not independently confirmed their presence.

The Haqqani Network, which plays an integral role in the Taliban’s political and military command structure, has long advertised the operations carried out by its special forces in the “Badri Army.” The Haqqanis are, at a minimum, closely allied with al Qaeda.

What Went Wrong in Afghanistan?

Danielle Pletka: Having Won, We Chose to Lose

We Americans like to deceive ourselves. We want to believe there is good war and bad war. World War II was a good war, varnished with the patina of history. Vietnam was a bad war, its reality overridden by popular cultural narratives. Once, in the decade after 9/11, Afghanistan was the good war and Iraq the bad, a war of “choice,” not necessity. Now they are both bad.

Similarly, we like our winners and our losers well defined. But those on the field of battle are seldom Captain America and his nemesis Hydra. The reality of ambiguous war and victory defined down is unappealing to us. “Maintain the better status quo” is not a clarion call.

There are many things that went wrong in Afghanistan. The strategy was weak, and the enemy persistent. The U.S. was often unfocused in its goals, under-resourcing even our limited efforts. Our allies on the ground—not just the Afghans, but the members of a coalition theoretically pursuing Enduring Freedom—were often far less capable than they might have been. But none of these problems were fatal to our effort to ensure that extremists would not control the country.

Joe Biden Just Gave The Taliban An Arsenal Of Military Weapons

Thomas Spoehr

As if it were not enough that the Taliban took complete control of Afghanistan—imposing its will and murderous tactics on innocent citizens; endangering Americans still present in the country; and complicating efforts to extract Afghans who provided important support, such as translators—it gets worse.

The Taliban has also seized tens of billions of dollars of military equipment and supplies, which were formerly under the control of Afghan security forces. More than $28 billion was spent equipping the Afghans between 2002 to 2017. Expenditures after that are harder to come by, but since deliveries were continuing until just last month, it is safe to assume that the total amount is much more.

Indeed, the Taliban captured essentially all the necessary ingredients to fully equip both an army and an air force, spanning the gamut from 600,000 rifles and machine guns; 76,000 vehicles, such as high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles, armored trucks, and pickups; radios, night vision googles, and drones; and 208 helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

What Will the Terrorism Landscape Look Like in a Taliban-Led Afghanistan?

Colin P. Clarke

The Taliban’s recent capture of Kabul has the group poised to take back control over Afghanistan. Without question, a Taliban-led Afghanistan is going to be a hospitable operating environment for terrorists, insurgents, and militias of various stripes. But not all terrorist groups are created equal, in terms of capabilities, intent, or relationship to the Taliban. Counter-terrorism officials are alarmed that, capitalizing on the momentum from the Taliban’s frenetic storming of Kabul, Afghanistan may once again become a magnet or hub for foreign terrorist fighters. This fear includes foreign fighters from the West, but more immediately, battle-hardened jihadists from Pakistan, Xinjiang, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and the Caucasus, to name just a few places.

Besides the Taliban themselves, the most significant beneficiary of recent events is al Qaeda. As we approach the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001, al Qaeda attacks on the United States, the jihadist group is in a position to regenerate its networks throughout South Asia. In particular, al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) will benefit from the Taliban’s ascendance. Over the past several years, al Qaeda has sought to recruit Indian and other South Asian Muslims who have grown disaffected from growing sectarianism in the region, including in India where Hindu nationalists have repeatedly targeted Indian Muslims.

Economics Explains the Taliban’s Rapid Advances

Anthony Gill

In mid-April 2021, President Biden declared an imminent and rapid withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan based upon a timeline handed down from the previous administration. Not surprisingly, this announcement prompted advances by the Taliban, a religious-based insurgent group that had previously ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001 when the US ousted them from power and installed a secular regime.

In early July, despite aggressive advances by the Taliban, Biden doubled down on his decision to hasten and complete the withdrawal of troops by the end of summer. National Public Radio quoted the president speaking optimistically that the current regime would hold. “Do I trust the Taliban? No,” Biden said. “But I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped, and more and more competent in terms of conducting war.”

Within six weeks, the capital city of Kabul had fallen under the control of the Taliban. President Ashraf Ghani fled the country with cars and cash, other individuals connected with the former government sought asylum, and US diplomats and other personnel were evacuated in a scene eerily reminiscent of the rapid fall of Saigon four decades earlier.

Afghanistan and the cycles of American interventionism

Joe Biden and Donald Trump are very different politicians. But it turns out the two presidents have one very important policy in common: a commitment to end “forever wars”. It was Trump who began negotiations with the Taliban and promised to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan in 2021. It was Biden who brought this process to its chaotic conclusion.

After the fall of Kabul, it is tempting to assume that the future points only in one direction — towards an ever more introverted America. In reality, for more than a century America’s attitude to military intervention abroad has been cyclical, with periods of active intervention followed by periods of withdrawal. The end of the Afghan war is more likely to mark a new cycle of restraint than a permanent US rejection of overseas military interventions.

American intervention in the first world war in 1917 was controversial at home. The slogan “America First” — adopted by Trump — was popularised by interwar isolationists, who opposed US entry into a second world war. Their influence was so strong that Franklin Roosevelt was only able to take the US into the war after America was attacked at Pearl Harbor.

Immediate Steps to Respond to the Emergency in Afghanistan

Daniel F. Runde
Source Link

The United States has a moral obligation to help its Afghan partners. How the country supports its partners will be noted and watched. In the case of Vietnam, the United States took on about 130,000 people after the fall of Saigon. When the Batista government fell in Cuba, the United States took on 248,100 people. This is not the last time the United States will have to ask local partners to risk their lives, and if it fails its Afghan partners, it will be immensely more difficult to ask for other partners to do so in the future.

Over the last 20 years, thousands of Afghans have worked directly with the U.S. government—including with the military and the intelligence, development, and diplomatic communities—and tens of thousands more worked for support contractors, U.S. government grantees, as well as subcontractors and subgrantees. There could easily be around 500,000 people who either worked with the United States or are direct dependents of those who did. The estimated 20,000 people currently in the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) pipeline are only the tip of the iceberg. Over time, the United States is going to have to help many more people to meet its moral obligation. To do so is in the nation’s enlightened self-interest in an age of great power competition. Here are some immediate steps that Congress—where there is currently bipartisan support for SIVs—and the Biden-Harris administration can take to address this issue.


Nick Turse

IN THE IMMEDIATE aftermath of 9/11, Americans were braying for war. A CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll found that 90 percent of Americans approved of the United States attacking Afghanistan, while 65 percent of the public was comfortable with the prospect of Afghan civilians being killed. Only 22 percent thought that the war would last more than two years.

Americans wanted blood, and they got it. The United States invaded Afghanistan and spent the next 20 years making war there and beyond: in Burkina Faso; Cameroon; Iraq; Libya; Niger; the Philippines; Somalia; Syria; Tunisia; and Yemen, among other places. More than 770,000 people have since died violent deaths in America’s wars and interventions, including more than 312,000 civilians, according to Brown University’s Costs of War project.

Of the 10 percent of Americans who thought that war was not the answer, a small number demonstrated against the impending conflict. They marched in Austin, Texas; New York City; San Francisco; Washington, D.C.; and elsewhere. It took courage to speak out against “indiscriminate retribution,” to assert that it was ludicrous to attack a country for a crime carried out by a small group of terrorists, and to suggest that the repercussions might echo for decades. They were mocked, screamed at, called scum and traitors, and worse.


Amanda Sperber

ON MONDAY, Wali tried twice to perform “recon” work to find a potential route to get into Kabul’s airport. He didn’t bring anything with him, just set out with two packs of cigarettes and an energy drink. “I was feeling miserable,” said Wali, a father of two whose name has been changed to protect his identity.

An Afghan green card holder who has spent time in Virginia working with the U.S. armed forces, Wali wanted to figure out how he could leave Afghanistan now that the Taliban have seized control of Kabul, the capital. His plan was to get to the airport, figure out a way in, and then call his brother, also a green card holder, who is sheltering with his children. Once he figured out a way in, he would tell his brother the path.

Like many Afghans with the proper documentation that would allow them to reach safety, however, Wali was unable to get into the airport because the Taliban control the perimeter, up to Massoud Circle, about 2.5 miles outside the international airport.


Ken Klippenstein, Sara Sirota

THE TALIBAN HAVE seized U.S. military biometrics devices that could aid in the identification of Afghans who assisted coalition forces, current and former military officials have told The Intercept.

The devices, known as HIIDE, for Handheld Interagency Identity Detection Equipment, were seized last week during the Taliban’s offensive, according to a Joint Special Operations Command official and three former U.S. military personnel, all of whom worried that sensitive data they contain could be used by the Taliban. HIIDE devices contain identifying biometric data such as iris scans and fingerprints, as well as biographical information, and are used to access large centralized databases. It’s unclear how much of the U.S. military’s biometric database on the Afghan population has been compromised.

While billed by the U.S. military as a means of tracking terrorists and other insurgents, biometric data on Afghans who assisted the U.S. was also widely collected and used in identification cards, sources said.

The Known Unknowns of Afghanistan’s Future

Frida Ghitis

The swift return of the Taliban to power has sparked panic in Afghanistan and sent shockwaves around the world. With U.S. military forces taking control of the Kabul airport and the evacuation of foreign nationals and thousands of Afghans proceeding, important questions loom about the future of Afghanistan and the impact of the convulsive events that unfolded over the past few days.

Here are some of the major unknowns going forward, the answers to which, as they emerge over the coming weeks, months and years, will determine how exactly the radical group’s return will reshape the country, the region and, very likely, the world.

The first, most immediate question is how Taliban 2.0 compares to the version that ruled from 1996 until 2001. Will today’s rulers dismantle every bit of progress made in Afghanistan over the past 20 years on women’s rights and individual freedoms? The group’s leaders insist they have changed, but experience suggests this may be more of a ploy to keep the peace until they consolidate power. Already there are reports of women being told to stay home, of female journalists being forced into hiding and of the Taliban beating and murdering women.


The U.S. government has now spent 20 years and $145 billion trying to rebuild Afghanistan, its security forces, civilian government institutions, economy, and civil society. The Department of Defense (DOD) has also spent $837 billion on warfighting, during which 2,443 American troops and 1,144 allied troops have been killed and 20,666 U.S. troops injured. Afghans, meanwhile, have faced an even greater toll. At least 66,000 Afghan troops have been killed. More than 48,000 Afghan civilians have been killed, and at least 75,000 have been injured since 2001—both likely significant underestimations.

The extraordinary costs were meant to serve a purpose—though the definition of that purpose evolved over time. At various points, the U.S. government hoped to eliminate al-Qaeda, decimate the Taliban movement that hosted it, deny all terrorist groups a safe haven in Afghanistan, build Afghan security forces so they could deny terrorists a safe haven in the future, and help the civilian government become legitimate and capable enough to win the trust of Afghans. Each goal, once accomplished, was thought to move the U.S. government one step closer to being able to depart.

Afghanistan Under the Taliban



Over the past several days, analysts have described the Taliban’s rapid takeover of Afghanistan as a massive “intelligence failure.” Yet for many Afghan women’s rights activists, the Taliban’s advances were anything but a surprise. For years they have been warning that the insurgents’ territorial expansion posed a threat to women’s security, and that an ill-prepared U.S. exit could erase women’s hard-won gains. As the United States rushed to evacuate its diplomatic personnel from Kabul on Sunday, many women voiced their sense of abandonment, anger, and despair.

Since 2001, the U.S. government has invested more than $787.4 million in promoting gender equality in Afghanistan, including in programs focused on maternal health, girls’ education, and women’s political participation. In some areas, international support helped local gender equality advocates achieve important gains. Other aid programs failed to have much of an impact, and violence and insecurity—including U.S. military actions—continued to undermine women’s mobility, health, and access to services. Overall, U.S. support for women’s rights in Afghanistan always remained subordinated to other strategic goals. As the White House’s focus shifted toward a peace agreement between the Afghan government and the Taliban, the concerns of women’s rights advocates and peacebuilders were increasingly sidelined.

Does the Belt and Road Have a Future in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan?

Sebastien Goulard

When the United States and its allies began evacuating from Kabul on August 15, as the Taliban entered the Afghan capital, China decided to keep its embassy open and claimed it was ready for friendly relations with the Taliban. State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had already met with Taliban representatives in late July in Tianjin to discuss the reconciliation and reconstruction process in Afghanistan. During that meeting, the Taliban also agreed not to support Uyghur separatists who might threaten stability in Xinjiang. China has a principle of not intervening in internal affairs abroad and expects other parties to have the same policy. On this basis, China and the Taliban’s Afghanistan may develop new ties.

China’s policy toward the Taliban is sometimes misunderstood in Western countries, but it reflects China’s Realpolitik and ambitions for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Central Asia and South Asia. The new relations between Beijing and Kabul may accelerate the development of China’s flagship connectivity program in the region with the construction of new infrastructure facilities, but without deep evolutions, the Taliban regime may not be able to implement the “soft” BRI, which involves programs ranging from education to health. However, the huge opportunities offered by China’s BRI may soften the Taliban’s fundamentalism.

What Will China Do In Afghanistan?

Christopher Woody

The Taliban’s rapid return to power in Afghanistan has drawn more criticism for the US withdrawal, including that the US is ceding strategically valuable ground to China.

That warning has come from current and former US officials and other observers, but experts told Insider that the US exit likely presents China with new concerns about its neighbor and costs the US little in terms of strategic positioning.

In a mid-June interview, Gen Frank McKenzie, who oversees US military operations in the Middle East, said he suspected China would pursue economic interests in Afghanistan after the US departure.

“I think they would like to get in for the mass mineral deposits that exist on the ground in Afghanistan and in other places,” McKenzie told Military Times.

Afghanistan Hasn’t Damaged U.S. Credibility

Stephen M. Walt

As predictable as the sunrise, a chorus of reflexive hard-liners, opportunistic foreign adversaries, and even some usually sensible commentators have concluded that U.S. credibility has been damaged or destroyed by the debacle in Afghanistan. Uber-hawk Bret Stephens of the New York Times is now convinced that “every ally — Taiwan, Ukraine, the Baltic states, Israel, Japan — will draw the lesson that it is on its own.” In an overt attempt to undermine Taiwanese morale, the Chinese government mouthpiece Global Times agrees with Stephens and warns Taiwan’s leaders that the U.S. military won’t fight if Beijing were to attack, implying the fall of Kabul is an “omen of Taiwan’s future fate.” Even the usually sober-minded Gideon Rachman of the Financial Times believes Biden’s credibility has been “shredded” and that the disaster in Afghanistan “fits perfectly” with the claim that “American security guarantees cannot be relied upon.”

Stephens is probably beyond redemption at this point, and the Global Times is a propaganda rag whose views should be discounted, but everyone else needs to take a deep breath and relax. In fact, there are ample reasons to believe that the tragic outcome in Afghanistan will not affect U.S. credibility very much and maybe not at all.

Russia and America’s overlapping legacies in Afghanistan

Pavel K. Baev

Afghanistan was the place where al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, produced an instant and drastic impact, amplified by successful internationalization of the subsequent U.S. intervention. The country’s evolving drama of state-building and state breakdown, which has reached yet another culmination in the wake of U.S. military withdrawal, is highly complex. One element that can be usefully singled out is U.S.-Russia interactions over a land in which both have intervened. Moscow expected the Afghanistan dossier to be placed on the summit table at the meeting between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin in June, but Biden cut the agenda short, so the issue was mentioned cursorily, if that. U.S. withdrawal and Taliban triumph generate an acute security challenge for Russia, and its edges are sharpened by the legacies of multiple misadventures.


The legacy of the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan (1979-89) might appear to some to belong to the same distant past as the annexation of Samarkand and Merv to the Russian empire in the late 19th century, but Afghan society has never recovered from the desolation of that projection of Communist power. As Russian analysts point out, it is the children of mujahideen that stubbornly resisted the Soviet occupation who have captured Kandahar and Kabul. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev tried to argue with President Ronald Reagan that a compromise solution was the only way to check violent chaos, but there was no realistic alternative to full withdrawal of the Soviet “limited contingent” amounting to 100,000 troops, and chaos indeed ensued.


Ryan Grim

AT THE HEART of the criticism of the way the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan has unfolded is a contradiction that nobody in the American media or in public policy wants to grapple with.

As President Joe Biden acknowledged Monday afternoon, the images coming out of Kabul are indeed gut-wrenching, and they are also what Donald Rumsfeld, President George W. Bush’s secretary of defense, once called, in a different context, “untidy.” But the only way for there to have been an orderly transfer of power in the wake of the U.S. departure was for the process to have been negotiated as a transfer of power. And to negotiate a transfer of power requires acknowledging — and here’s the hard part for the U.S. — that power is transferring.

Therein lies the contradiction: An orderly exit required admitting defeat and negotiating the unutterable: surrender to the Taliban.

How the United States Can Deter Ransomware Attacks

Jonathan Welburn and Quentin E. Hodgson

Just 10 years ago, ransomware was the domain of mostly small-fry hackers encrypting files to squeeze a few hundred dollars out of random individuals. Today it's an urgent issue of national security.

As President Biden said in late July: If the United States ends up in “a real shooting war” with “a major power,” a “cyber breach of great consequence” will be to blame.

Cybercriminals have been escalating their attacks for years—locking up the computer systems of police stations, city governments, and hospitals. But the ransomware attack in May on the operator of the largest petroleum pipeline in the United States—which disrupted gasoline supplies in much of the country—is one of many cyberassaults that are tiptoeing closer to an act of war.

Russia’s updated National Security Strategy

Julian Cooper

On 2nd July 2021, President Vladimir Putin signed into law an updated version of one of Russia's most important documents of strategic planning, the National Security Strategy (NSS 2021). This replaces the version adopted on 31 December 2015 (NSS2015) which itself had updated the one of December 2010.2 In the hierarchy of documents, the NSS is one of the most important, indeed, as Dmitri Trenin has observed, it is a kind of 'mother' strategy, the basis on which other important documents are framed and will be updated, including the military doctrine and the foreign policy concept.3 In this sense, the NSS sits alongside the Strategy of Socio-economic Development and the Strategy of Scientific and Technical Development. The basis for these documents and the process of strategic planning, including the schedule for their periodic renewal, was set out in the law “On Strategic Planning in the Russian Federation” (June 2014), and is related to the Strategic Forecast of the Russian Federation to 2035.

The process has not been smooth. The Strategic Forecast to 2035 was originally to have been drafted by the beginning of 2017 but problems were encountered and it was finally approved, not as expected by the President, but by a meeting of the Security Council (SC) in February 2019. It is not published, and all that is known of its content are some details revealed by the SC secretary Nikolai Patrushev. It apparently sets out scenarios for the developing global situation.4 The Forecast has an anti-US orientation, a policy stance that has become characteristic of Patrushev in recent years. The socio-economic strategy is also overdue: it has proved difficult to draft because there is no long-term economic forecast on which to base it. It now appears that Prime Minister Mishustin’s government is preparing a new forward looking economic strategy based on a set of priority national projects, but is not clear whether this will be treated as a formal document of strategic planning.

Dangerous Illusions

Dimitri K. Simes

AFTER MORE than six months in office, the Biden administration seems inclined to adopt the utopian vision of democracy promotion as a guiding principle of U.S. global strategy. This doctrine, or, if you prefer, persuasion, holds that America should, as far as possible, bend the world in accordance with the preferences of the United States and its largely European allies. Fortunately, President Joe Biden is a man of experience and pragmatic instinct. Whatever his impulses, he so far has been careful not to burn America’s bridges and, to the contrary, has taken steps to improve ties with key European allies, to restart dialogue with Russia, and to reduce somewhat the intensity of confrontation with China. Such tactical flexibility, however, does not change the fundamental direction of U.S. foreign policy, which at times is almost Orwellian in its tendency to emulate concepts of the former Soviet Union. It was a core belief of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky that the USSR, for its own security, could not tolerate the existence of the so-called “capitalist environment.” They assumed that capitalists would never accept coexistence with the new communist state and therefore rejected the status quo as an unrealistic option. Today, alongside the European Union, the United States has adopted the position that its mission is to promote democracy worldwide. Leaders in Washington regularly argue that if they fail to take up this mission, authoritarian governments will exploit American restraint and join forces—not just to undermine American power, but to destroy democracy itself, depriving the United States of its cherished freedoms.

Three lessons for Europe from the fall of Afghanistan

Jean-Marie Guéhenno

Europeans were never serious about Afghanistan.

This is probably because, deep down, they knew that the buck did not stop with them. It now seems likely that the Taliban’s takeover of the country will make Europeans even more inward-looking and fearful of a world they do not understand. And the rapidly emerging consensus that state-building is impossible may heighten their anxiety about foreign engagements.

That mindset is an acid that destroys the bonds that should tie Europeans together, leading to the kinds of xenophobic attitudes that were in evidence during the migration crisis created by the Syrian war. As refugees fled the violence in Syria, Europeans were confronted with an unpalatable choice between building ever higher walls, cutting unsavoury deals with so-called buffer countries, or losing control of migration flows. Yet there is only a small distance between accepting that some people cannot be helped and thinking that they are not worth helping. The self-confidence of Europe – which is essential if it is to actively shape its own future – has been damaged by not just its weak operational capacities but, even more so, the ethical crisis of a continent that claims to be universalist but reserves that universalism for its privileged tribes.


Jon Schwarz

IF YOU PURCHASED $10,000 of stock evenly divided among America’s top five defense contractors on September 18, 2001 — the day President George W. Bush signed the Authorization for Use of Military Force in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks — and faithfully reinvested all dividends, it would now be worth $97,295.

This is a far greater return than was available in the overall stock market over the same period. $10,000 invested in an S&P 500 index fund on September 18, 2001, would now be worth $61,613.

That is, defense stocks outperformed the stock market overall by 58 percent during the Afghanistan War.

Moreover, given that the top five biggest defense contractors — Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics — are of course part of the S&P 500, the remaining firms had lower returns than the overall S&P returns.

Cyberspace and outer space are new frontiers for national security, according to an expert report

Steven Freeland, Danielle Ireland-Piper, Dan Jerker B. Svantesson

What do cyberspace and outer space have in common? As we make clear in a new report to the Department of Defence, both are new frontiers for national security that blur traditional ideas about borders, sovereignty and defense strategy.

These "areas" are important elements of Australia's critical infrastructure and are vital to our ability to defend our nation and keep it secure. They also have a "dual use" character: both areas (and often even individual pieces of equipment) are used for both military and civilian purposes.

What is sovereignty and why is it important?

Sovereignty is a legal and political concept. It generally refers to the authority of a country (nation state) to exercise control over matters within its jurisdiction – including by passing laws and enforcing them.

Assessing the Effect of the United Kingdom’s Integrated Review on Operations Below the Threshold of War


‘Global Britain in a Competitive Age, the Integrated Review of Security, Defense, Development, and Foreign Policy’ describes the United Kingdom (U.K.) government’s approach to contemporary international relations[1]. For U.K. Defense, it marks a de facto move from an emphasis on warfighting to one which privileges operating below the threshold of war. International competition below the threshold of war is neither new nor wholly unwelcome, the U.K. military have operated in this manner for centuries and this new policy recognizes the need for adaptation to reflect the changing character of warfare. The Integrated Review’s weakness lies in its ignorance of both historical experience and contemporary realities, these lacunae risk both national and international security and Britain’s global position.

The Grey Zone, that nebulous and ill-defined no-man’s land between peace and armed conflict, is fundamental to the nature of war[2]. If war is a continuation of politics by violent means, then military operations in the Grey Zone are part of that political continuum, just short of war. The width of the Zone is variable; while at times a personal affront or assault may form sufficient pretext for war – the War of Jenkin’s Ear (1739-48)[3] – on other occasions it will not – the Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack of 2018[4]. This variability is determined by political appetite informed by strategic balance. Political will is not purely the domain of politicians and statesmen, public opinion can affect the resolve of leaders considering armed conflict as a political tool; conversely, the public can be, and often have been, manipulated to support a resort to armed conflict. Whilst the will to fight provides the motivation for war, this is generally tempered by an analysis of the likelihood of success; in 1739, an eight-year old incident was allowed to presage war because Great Britain was confident of military superiority over Spain, in the 2018 nerve agent attack the advantage lay with the culprit.

A Strategy for Avoiding Two-Front War

 A. Wess Mitchell

THE GREATEST risk facing the twenty-first-century United States, short of an outright nuclear attack, is a two-front war involving its strongest military rivals, China and Russia. Such a conflict would entail a scale of national effort and risk unseen in generations, effectively pitting America against the resources of nearly half of the Eurasian landmass. It would stretch and likely exceed the current capabilities of the U.S. military, requiring great sacrifices of the American people with far-reaching consequences for U.S. influence, alliances, and prosperity. Should it escalate into a nuclear confrontation, it could possibly even imperil the country’s very existence.

Given these high stakes, avoiding a two-front war with China and Russia must rank among the foremost objectives of contemporary U.S. grand strategy. Yet the United States has been slow to comprehend this danger, let alone the implications it holds for U.S. policy. So far, Washington’s efforts to grapple with the “simultaneity” problem (as it’s called in Pentagon circles) have been overwhelmingly focused on the military side of the problem. The 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) replaced the two-war standard with a laser focus on fighting one major war with America’s most capable adversary—China. In its wake, a debate has erupted among defense intellectuals about how to handle a second-front contingency.

Army Hammers Out Multi-Domain Ops Doctrine: Capstone FM 3-0 Due Next Summer


WASHINGTON: The Army, eager to build the doctrinal and conceptual basis for Multi Domain Operations, is hammering out a new version of one of its foundational documents, Field Manual 3-0, in what is being called the most significant shift in Army doctrine since the creation of AirLand Battle in the early 1980s.

For those who don’t delve deep into the Army’s soul on a regular basis, FM 3-0 is a so-called capstone document designed to provide guidance and a framework for Army operations. This week, Breaking Defense spoke with several members of Army Training and Doctrine Command who are working on Waypoint 2028, the Army’s self-described “coherent and holistic approach to fight and win within the Multi-Domain construct” — which the rewrite of FM 3-0 is part of.

One of the major changes in Army doctrine likely to be contained in FM 3-0 — and one soon likely to be reflected at the joint and other service levels — is that Phase Zero of the phases of conflict will no longer start at what is ostensibly “peace.” The new model basically recognizes what has been true for at least a decade — Russia and China regularly operate well beyond Phase Zero, often stopping just short of Phase 3, which is outright war.