16 September 2021

Deterrence Theory– Is it Applicable in Cyber Domain?

  Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


The Deterrence Theory was developed in the 1950s, mainly to address new strategic challenges posed by nuclear weapons from the Cold War nuclear scenario. During the Cold War, the U.S. and the Soviet Union adopted a survivable nuclear force to present a ‘credible’ deterrent that maintained the ‘uncertainty’ inherent in a strategic balance as understood through the accepted theories of major theorists like Bernard Brodie, Herman Kahn, and Thomas Schelling.1 Nuclear deterrence was the art of convincing the enemy not to take a specific action by threatening it with an extreme punishment or an unacceptable failure.

Chinese Cyber Exploitation in India’s Power Grid – Is There a linkage to Mumbai Power Outage?

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


On Feb. 28, 2021 The New York Times (NYT), based on analysis by a U.S. based private intelligence firm Recorded Future, reported that a Chinese entity penetrated India’s power grid at multiple load dispatch points. Chinese malware intruded into the control systems that manage electric supply across India, along with a high-voltage transmission substation and a coal-fired power plant.

The NYT story1 gives the impression that the alleged activity against critical Indian infrastructure installations was as much meant to act as a deterrent against any Indian military thrust along the Line of Actual Control as it was to support future operations to cripple India’s power generation and distribution systems in event of war.

Understanding the Encryption Debate in India


Encryption has become a contentious instrument for protecting the security and confidentiality of online communication. Rapid digitalization in the past decade has led to the proliferation of domestic and foreign online communication services that use encryption and, consequently, pose challenges to national security bodies and law enforcement agencies (LEAs). To address these challenges, the Indian government introduced new regulations in February 2021.

These regulations require large social media platforms to enable traceability, or the ability to provide information concerning the originator of online communications. Technology companies and privacy activists have opposed such a move on the grounds that traceability would require the breaking of the end-to-end encryption used by many online communication platforms like WhatsApp and therefore would compromise the security of online communications on such platforms.

This traceability requirement, however, is only the latest development in a drawn-out, contentious debate over the use of encryption. The contestation between maintaining higher degrees of online security and issuing new rules to grant technological exceptions for security agencies and LEAs is not specific to India. One of the first serious discussions on the issue took place in the United States in the 1990s, when public opposition warded off an early government attempt to sidestep encryption protections with a court order.

Taliban Takeover: Who Is Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the Taliban Prime Minister?

Trevor Filseth
Three weeks after their lightning-fast capture of Afghanistan—culminating in the group’s well-publicized takeover of Kabul on August 15—the Taliban has announced the country’s interim government. While the group’s deputy prime minister, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, promised to form an inclusive government, the new government is overwhelmingly composed of Taliban leaders and so far lacks any women.

However, the lineup announced by Taliban leaders included several unexpected changes, the largest of which concerned Baradar himself. Baradar, a senior commander within the group and a personal friend of its former leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, Baradar was widely assumed to become Afghanistan’s next head of government, given his key role in the talk between the Taliban and the United States. Instead, that position is being filled by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, who has taken the role of interim prime minister beneath its amir al-mu’minin, or “commander of the faithful,” Hibatullah Akhundzada.

What we still don’t know about Americans in Afghanistan

Hugh Hewitt

The phrase “credibility gap” was popularized during the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson. Democratic Sen. J. William Fulbright of Arkansas used it to describe his inability to get straight answers from LBJ and his minions on the escalating Vietnam War. To all subsequent presidents has come some charge of a credibility gap.

President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and press secretary Jen Psaki now all suffer from a credibility gap born of obfuscation over the Afghan catastrophe. Though the State Department can count the minimum number of “Americans” — defined by me as all U.S. passport holders, whether citizens or Legal Permanent Residents with “green cards” known to its teams by text, email and phone calls — no one at State or the White House can seem to agree on what that number is.

This past Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain told CNN there were “around 100” Americans left in Afghanistan. On Thursday, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said “hundreds” are still stranded. The Post’s Afghanistan and Pakistan bureau chief Susannah George told my radio audience Friday morning there is simply no way to know, as some passport holders are cut off and most of the country is out of contact with anyone.

Beware the Kabul Controller

Siddharth Singh

SPYMASTERS ARE RARELY seen in public and it is even rarer to see them in a triumphal mood. But on September 4th, Faiz Hameed, the director general of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), was seen sipping tea in the lobby of a Kabul hotel and telling a Western journalist “all will be well”. His manner was smug as was that of his country’s Ambassador Mansoor Ahmad Khan.

Four days later, the sinister intent behind those words was for the world to see. The Taliban announced the formation of an interim government to be led by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, a UN-designated terrorist and the man who was instrumental in the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in March 2001. The ‘good news’ of government formation does not end there: Afghanistan’s new interior minister will be Sirajuddin Haqqani, another terrorist, one with whom India is very familiar. His father—Jalaluddin Haqqani—and his network, of which Sirajuddin is a key member, was responsible for the 2008 bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul that led to the deaths of 58 people, including India’s Defence Attaché Ravi Datt Mehta, diplomat V Venkateswara Rao and two officers of the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) who were part of the embassy’s security detail.

Political uncertainty clouds China Inc.'s Afghanistan ambitions


SHANGHAI/NEW DELHI/ISTANBUL -- Foreign companies active in Afghanistan face prolonged uncertainty as the new Taliban caretaker government grapples with a financial crisis and international reluctance to offer help.

Since the Taliban seized power last month, at least 10 publicly listed companies in China have expressed hope that they will be able to participate in mining or infrastructure projects in Afghanistan, but they linked doing business to political and diplomatic developments.

Businesses that had traded with Afghanistan or worked in the country under the previous U.S.-backed government are racing to assess the changing financial and security situations, or to build ties with Taliban officials.

The Beijing-based Metallurgical Corporation of China, which has a license to the Aynak Copper Mine 40 km southeast of Kabul, said it remained committed to the long-stalled development.

How Pakistan Won the War in Afghanistan

Eli Lake

As Washington ponders how the U.S. lost its longest war in Afghanistan, it’s worth considering another question: Who won the war?

There is the Taliban, of course, the fanatics who have formed an interim government featuring several wanted terrorists. But an even bigger winner may be the Taliban’s primary patron: Pakistan.

Most U.S. allies expressed shock, sadness and anger at the Taliban’s victory last month in Kabul. But Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan celebrated the rout of Afghanistan’s elected government, saying the Taliban had “broken the shackles of slavery.”

For much of the war on terror that began after 9/11, Pakistan played a double game. It occasionally helped track and detain al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders. In 2010, Pakistani and U.S. special operations forces arrested Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Karachi. All the while, however, elements of the Pakistani military and intelligence services provided sanctuary, funding and training for the Taliban and its allies in the lethal terrorist group known as the Haqqani network.

What the U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan Means for Taiwan

Oriana Skylar Mastro

There are many reasons to fear an impending Chinese attack on Taiwan: Intensified Chinese aerial activity. High-profile Pentagon warnings. Rapid Chinese military modernization. President Xi Jinping’s escalating rhetoric. But despite what recent feverish discussion in foreign policy and military circles is suggesting, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan isn’t one of them.

Some critics of President Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan argue the move will embolden Beijing because it telegraphs weakness — an unwillingness to stick it out and win wars that China will factor in when deciding whether to attack Taiwan, which it considers to be part of its territory.

The reality is, though, that the U.S. departure from Afghanistan will more likely give pause to Chinese war planners — not push them to use force against Taiwan.

U.S. and China Reach Deal to Block Myanmar’s Junta From U.N.

Colum Lynch, Robbie Gramer, and Jack Detsch

The United States and China have brokered an agreement that will effectively block Myanmar’s military rulers from addressing the United Nations’ General Assembly next week, according to diplomats, dealing a blow to the junta’s quest for international legitimacy after it took power in a coup earlier this year.

But the pact—which was hammered out during weeks of behind-the-scenes diplomatic negotiations—will require Myanmar’s defiant, still-serving U.N. ambassador who represented the previous government to hold his tongue during the high-level event, refraining from the tough rhetoric he deployed last year in denouncing the military’s power grab. It will also delay any effort by Myanmar’s rulers to press for U.N. membership to recognize it as the legitimate government in Myanmar, at least until November.

The arrangement, which was described by multiple diplomatic sources and representatives of advocacy groups familiar with internal deliberations, has been informally endorsed by representatives of the European Union, members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Russia. It comes as the U.N. General Assembly plans to announce the appointment of a nine-member panel on U.N. credentials on Tuesday, which will be charged with determining the rightful U.N. representative of Myanmar. The committee will be chaired by weden and include representatives from Bhutan, the Bahamas, Chile, China, Russia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and the United States.

Assessing China’s “common prosperity” campaign

Ryan Hass

Evidence has been mounting in recent months that the Chinese leadership may be implementing a hard pivot toward asserting greater state control of society and the economy. In the months following Beijing’s surprise November 2020 decision to block Alibaba’s Ant Group from listing on the Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges, Chinese authorities have launched a widening series of crackdowns on technology giants, wealthy individuals, education services providers, celebrities, and even youth video gamers. Restraints on Beijing’s interventions in society and the economy have become harder to identify.

Beijing’s spate of actions has sparked questions among policymakers, investors, journalists, and interested observers about what is motivating China’s actions. Why would the normally tightly controlled Chinese media communicate such sweeping changes in a ham-fisted way that would lead to over $1 trillion in market value for China-listed firms being wiped out? Is China teetering on the cusp of social upheaval, or is the leadership using a moment when it feels strong at home to make major policy adjustments?

In Chinese eyes, ‘British are bastards’


The high-profile East Asian voyage of the United Kingdom’s carrier strike group has passed its apex: After flying the flag in Japan, the mailed fist of Britannia’s 21st century naval arm is poised for the homeward cruise.

From London’s perspective, points have been made.

The potent new super vessel, HMS Queen Elizabeth, has, since leaving Portsmouth on May 1, made the rounds of friendly ports, drilled with friendly fleets, promoted the concept of rules-based freedoms and made the case for stronger ties with Asian partners. And it has demonstrated that the Royal Navy, deploying naval air projection capabilities that it lacked for five years, is back in the big league.

From Beijing’s perspective, points have been taken.

The post-imperialist force opted not to challenge the People’s Liberation Army Navy, or PLAN, with provocative maneuvers in the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait or East China Sea. Even so, its joint drills with multiple nations on China’s maritime periphery, many of them at odds with China, suggest that Washington’s aim for a naval “coalition of the willing” is gaining traction – with the UK a particularly willing player.

The Taliban’s Comeback Is a Conundrum for Iran

Dina Esfandiary

No one in the Iranian government was sad to see U.S. and NATO troops leave Afghanistan. In fact, Tehran would prefer to have the Taliban next-door than often-hostile Western powers. But Shiite-majority Iran has also been a target of attacks in the past from the Sunni Islamist Taliban, and it worries that if Afghanistan descends into chaos, it could negatively affect Iran’s ability to exert influence and trade with its neighbor—or worse, that the volatility could spill over into Iran. Tehran will have to pull off a delicate balancing act if it’s to benefit from the U.S. and NATO withdrawal.

Iran has had a rocky relationship with the Taliban. The group killed Iranian diplomatic personnel and an Iranian journalist at Iran’s consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif in 1998, during the years when it last controlled most of Afghanistan. These murders earned the Taliban a reputation for viciousness among the Iranian public, and the government came close to ordering a military response. Tehran actively supported the U.S. in ousting the Taliban and setting up a new government in Kabul in 2001. But Iran has also pragmatically worked with the Taliban when it had to, particularly from the 2010s onward, even forging links with parts of the group as a way to hedge its bets and maintain some influence with a powerful force in Afghanistan that was rapidly regaining strength.

Armenia Shakes Up the Caucasus

Background: In the Caucasus, major regional powers Russia, Turkey and Iran compete for influence over the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia. Armenia’s recent warming toward Georgia and Turkey could trigger a response from Russia.

What Happened: On Wednesday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan arrived in Georgia on a two-day official visit. He praised relations between the two countries and noted Tbilisi’s balanced position in last year’s war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Pashinyan and Georgian officials also discussed the establishment of an international transport corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea in cooperation with Iran, Bulgaria and Greece. Earlier, Pashinyan declared his readiness to start a dialogue with Turkey.

Bottom Line: This is a significant visit by Caucasian standards. Long dependent on its relations with Russia, Armenia can limit its dependence by maintaining stable relations with anti-Russian Georgia. Moreover, Armenia’s willingness for dialogue and potential normalization with Turkey, a close ally of Azerbaijan, may irk the Kremlin. In response, Moscow may opt to give Baku what it really wants: help in modernizing its military as soon as possible.

The Fall of Mosul Foreshadowed the U.S. Outcome in Afghanistan

Ali Demirdas

Many have scratched their heads asking why the oft-praised Afghan National Army, which the U.S.-led coalition trained and spent billions of dollars on, swiftly capitulated to the Taliban, abandoning their American-supplied sophisticated weaponry that should have been enough for a military victory. While discussions have focused on technical aspects of the capitulation like the inaptitude of the Afghan Army, the real reason for defeat goes considerably deeper.

The biggest mistake the United States made in Afghanistan was implementing the nation-building/democratization process with the mindset that it would unfold as it did with their Western counterparts. Expecting a country that has virtually no history of concepts like competitive elections to adopt democracy overnight was and is a mission impossible. The tribal, religious, cultural, and linguistic differences between the Afghan peoples are so great, and their allegiances are first and foremost to tribal or ethnic heads, not to the artificial government in Kabul. Coercing Afghans into coexistence under such a government would never work.


Alec Ross

The pentagon is not the most inviting place for first-time visitors, and it was no different for Chris Lynch. When he rode the escalator out of the Pentagon metro station, Lynch was greeted by guard dogs and security personnel wearing body armor and toting machine guns. He lost cell service upon entering the building and was forced to run through more than a half mile of hallways to make his meeting in the office of the secretary of defense. He showed up late and out of breath, his hoodie and gym shoes soaked with sweat.

It was a surreal experience, Lynch told me, and it marked the beginning of “the most delightful detour of my entire life.”

Lynch had just completed a 45-day posting in the United States Digital Service, an organization formed in 2014 to fill what many officials viewed as a crucial gap in the government’s technology expertise. That year, the White House had launched HealthCare.gov to help enroll Americans in government health insurance, but it had been a technological debacle that almost derailed the Affordable Care Act. The website was so buggy that on its first day, only six people were able to sign up through the site. In response, and to prevent similar flops from occurring in the future, the White House created the USDS. The group is meant to act as a SWAT team of technologists who can come in whenever a government system needs fixing.

Attack of the Blob: Why America’s U.S. Foreign Policy Has Been Crippled

Alan Tonelson

It looks like the foreign-policy “blob” is starting to fight back. The bipartisan globalist national establishment is being blamed both for President Joe Biden’s hellaciously botched withdrawal from Afghanistan, for pushing the transformation of a necessary anti-terrorist operation into a naively grandiose nation-building project.

It’s time, the argument goes, to marginalize—or at least view more skeptically—this hodgepodge of hacks, which includes former diplomats and congressional aides, retired military officers, genuine academics, and think tank types. It has shaped U.S. diplomacy in two critical ways. First, members of the blob have been used as the main personnel pool for staffing presidential administrations and House and Senate offices on a rotating basis, serving as informal advisers to these politicians. Secondly, they have dominated the list of sources used by overwhelmingly sympathetic journalists to report and interpret the news. Thus, they are defining for the public which foreign policy ideas are and aren’t legitimate to discuss.

Biden Declassifies Secret FBI Report Detailing Saudi Nationals' Connections To 9/11


The Biden administration has declassified a 16-page FBI report tying 9/11 hijackers to Saudi nationals living in the United States. The document, written in 2016, summarized an FBI investigation into those ties called Operation ENCORE.

The partially redacted report shows a closer relationship than had been previously known between two Saudis in particular — including one with diplomatic status — and some of the hijackers. Families of the 9/11 victims have long sought after the report, which painted a starkly different portrait than the one described by the 9/11 Commission Report in 2004.

While the commission was largely unable to tie the Saudi men to the hijackers, the FBI document describes multiple connections and phone calls.

The CIA Spent 20 Years on the Front Lines of the War on Terror. It's Time For That to Change.


When Gen. David Petraeus became director of the Central Intelligence Agency in 2011, he filled his office with weapons, military challenge coins and other mementos of war — in other words, he made it look like the Pentagon.

The decor was telling. CIA directors often come from the world of intelligence, serving as agency careerists, congressional overseers or military intelligence leaders prior to assuming the top job. Petraeus was none of those. He was an infantry guy, not a career intelligence officer, a retired four-star warrior who had commanded allied forces in Iraq and was fresh off the battlefields of Afghanistan.

As Petraeus was moving into Langley, his predecessor at the CIA, Leon Panetta, was heading to the Pentagon to become secretary of defense. The symbolism of the musical chairs was hard to miss: Intelligence and military operations had never been more fused. The leadership seats were literally interchangeable.

America's unfortunate 9/11 legacy: Low strategic IQ


When was the last time the U.S. decisively won a major war? Answer: 1945. Yet we have the best military in the world, something even our adversaries acknowledge. We spend more money on our armed forces than the 10 next biggest militaries in the world combined. So what's the problem? Why do we struggle against low-level foes such as the Taliban?

The problem is we have a low strategic IQ. Our troops have been dutifully winning battles but losing wars since Vietnam. Tactically and operationally we are unmatched, but strategically we are incompetent. Over the decades, a disturbing trend has emerged: Washington has forgotten how to win wars. Our "strategic class" - National Security Councils, generals, admirals, ambassadors - do not know how to marshal all instruments of national power for victory. It's obvious, but no one talks about it because the implications are too terrifying.

After 9/11, No Americans Were Held to Account. Here's Why That's Dangerous


September 11 is the most studied day of our lifetimes. Almost everyone who was old enough remembers the details—where they were, how they felt, what it meant to them. It remains unforgettable.

The U.S. intelligence community had known some sort of terrorist attack was on the way but failed to focus or to act. After 9/11, there was finger-pointing at President George W. Bush and the White House, between the previous Bill Clinton and Bush administrations, at the CIA, NSA, FBI and even at the Pentagon. The government pledged to do better: to break down barriers to intelligence analysis and sharing, and to organize itself so that such a catastrophic event would never happen again.

But even in the immediate aftermath there were more powerful emotions that overshadowed the desire for reform. The desire for revenge propelled the administration of George W. Bush to declare a global war. Panic within the government drove the secret agencies to take their own liberties—through warrantless surveillance, torture and secret prisons, arbitrary watch listing, domestic spying and more. And though reforms did follow, including the largest reorganization of government in 50 years, government performance again faltered. September 11 was followed by other intelligence debacles, from the faulty reports regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to the botched withdrawal from Afghanistan last month: a long line of failures that yearn for accountability.

The Forever Trial at Guantánamo

Amy Davidson Sorkin

When President Joe Biden spoke, last month, about the need to end “forever wars,” he said, “I’m now the fourth American President to preside over war in Afghanistan—two Democrats and two Republicans. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth President.” But Biden is still presiding over a remnant of the war on terror, which might be called the forever trial. This is the prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—the alleged mastermind of the attacks of September 11, 2001—and four other defendants, which reconvened at Guantánamo Bay last week for the first time since the pandemic began, and which has, for years, been a spectacular exercise in futility. K.S.M., as he’s known, and his co-defendants were apprehended more than eighteen years ago; the current proceedings against them formally opened in 2012, and have been stuck in pretrial hearings ever since. Jury selection is not yet in sight, let alone a verdict. The judge, Colonel Matthew McCall, is, depending on how you count, the fourth, seventh, or ninth to preside.

The problems began with George W. Bush’s decision, in January, 2002, to send purported terrorism suspects to Guantánamo. Some were tortured at the base; some were tortured in other locations, such as the C.I.A.’s “black sites.” Close to eight hundred people passed through the prison. Their paths there were disparate. Some were associated with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups. Others were detained based on flimsy or false evidence, in some cases as a result of local feuds. Twenty-two were migrant Uyghurs; several were children under the age of sixteen. The inhumane carelessness with which all the prisoners were treated was visible to the world, and it damaged America’s reputation. Successive Administrations attempted to rationalize the legal disorder of those years by setting up quasi-judicial procedures that ultimately crippled attempts to apply due process and render justice.

The Unfinished Campaign: Social Media in Operation Guardian of the Walls

Inbal Orpaz, David Siman-Tov

In addition to the fighting between Israel and Hamas and the clashes in Israeli cities with mixed Arab and Jewish populations, Operation Guardian of the Walls unfolded on a complementary arena – that of social media. Events in this arena affect Israeli and Palestinian cognition, as well as that of the global public. It is difficult to analyze the impact created in this arena, since it involves Israeli, Palestinian, and many other elements, and it is often impossible to know who is behind which developments and to understand the interests of the respective actors. Nonetheless, it is evident that during the campaign, social media activity helped reinforce the fear of Hamas among the Israeli civilian population and aroused criticism of the operation, domestically and worldwide.

This article surveys various aspects of the social media digital arena during Operation Guardian of the Walls, and shows how messages are conveyed to different target audiences by means of both true and fake news. Warfare in the digital arena includes online developments, particularly on social media, and virtual events that influence cognition (unlike cyberattacks, for example). That social media activity continued even after the IDF and Hamas stopped firing is one of the features that distinguish this arena from warfare in the kinetic arena. There was also a largely covert cyber campaign, although this article does refer to a number of exposed cyberattacks that were intended to influence the online discourse.

Russia holds the largest military exercise in Europe for 40 years

The zapad (“west”) military exercise of 1981 was the largest and grandest exercise ever conducted by the Soviet Union, mustering as many as 150,000 troops from across the ussr and its alliance of satellite states, the Warsaw Pact. Cold-war nostalgics may be pleased to learn that this year’s iteration, which began on September 10th, might be larger still. Zapad-21 could involve up to 200,000 troops from Russia, Belarus and several other countries, if Russia’s defence ministry is to be believed, outnumbering even the very largest nato exercises of recent times. That reflects both the frostiness of Russia’s ties with the West, and the strengthening of those with Belarus.

Whether Zapad-21 will in fact match the spectacle of 1981 is not entirely clear. In part, that is because Russia is caught between playing down the scale of its exercises, for diplomatic reasons, and embellishing them, to awe its enemies. The Vienna Document, a confidence-building measure agreed between Russia and the West in 1990, says that exercises with more than 13,000 troops must be reported and open to foreign observers. In recent years, Russia has simply insisted that what appear to be huge drills are in fact a series of distinct, smaller ones, and thus exempt.

A perfect storm for container shipping

A GIANT SHIP wedged across the Suez canal, record-breaking shipping rates, armadas of vessels waiting outside ports, covid-induced shutdowns: the business of container shipping has rarely been as dramatic as it has in 2021. The average cost of shipping a standard large container (a 40-foot-equivalent unit, or FEU) has surpassed $10,000, some four times higher than a year ago (see chart). The spot price for sending such a box from Shanghai to New York, which in 2019 would have been around $2,500, is now close to $15,000. Securing a late booking on the busiest route, from China to the west coast of America, could cost $20,000.

In response, some companies are resorting to desperate measures. Peloton, a maker of pricey exercise bikes, is switching to air freight. But costs are also sky-high—double those in January 2020—as capacity, half usually provided in the holds of passenger jets, is constrained by curbs on international flights. Home Depot and Walmart, two American retailers, have chartered ships directly. Pressing inappropriate vessels into service has proved near-calamitous. An attempt in July to carry containers on a bulk carrier, which generally carts coal or iron ore, was hastily abandoned when the load shifted, forcing a return to port. More containers are travelling across Asia by train. Some are even reportedly being trucked from China to Europe then shipped across the Atlantic to avoid clogged Chinese ports.

Britain’s Special Relationship Fantasy Has Been Exposed

Ian Buruma

When U.S. President Joe Biden decided earlier this year to pull all American troops out of Afghanistan, he did so without consulting British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And as mass evacuations from Kabul began in August, Johnson’s frantic phone calls to the White House were ignored for 36 hours. All this happened even though Britain sent more troops to Afghanistan and Iraq than any other U.S. ally. In pure military terms the British contribution may not have amounted to very much, but since 9/11 Britain had consistently given the United States political cover in the “war on terror.”

The Afghanistan withdrawal thus made Britain’s abject position in the so-called “special relationship” with Washington humiliatingly apparent. The United States is being accused by some critics of no longer being a serious power after its latest debacle abroad. But Britain is in an even worse position, because its claim to high international status has rested heavily on the special relationship since World War Two.

Britain’s low importance in Washington ought to have been apparent already. In 2003, Tony Blair committed his country to standing “shoulder to shoulder with our American friends” in the Iraq War; but when George W. Bush began the invasion of Iraq, Blair first learned about it by watching the television news. Blair was ignored by the White House, too. Now he is reduced to lamenting that Islamism, of the sort now reigning in Afghanistan, remains “a first-order security threat” for the West, and that nation building is as important as ever.

How to apply Sun Tzu’s ‘The Art of War’ to cybersecurity

Andrew Maloney

Some of the world’s most successful cybersecurity experts and professionals have embraced Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” for its themes and guidance on how to prepare for and manage conflict. Much of it focuses on how to outsmart opponents without engaging in battle. It is more relevant now than ever, as the major cyberattacks of the past year demonstrate that adversaries arguably have the upper hand.

Most organizations are more susceptible to compromise because they fail to understand what they are actually protecting. Unless a chief information security officer's (CISO) tenure predates the inception of computing at a company, they are inheriting its established security programs and concepts. Many CISOs are hesitant to make significant changes early on to avoid disruption. This is problematic because a security program built on an unstable foundation ultimately leads to erosion and leaves a company ill-prepared for conflict.

Hypersonic Weapons Are Here and Will Change Warfare Forever

Dan Goure

Here's What You Need to Remember: Aircraft capable of hypersonic flight will be able to penetrate layered anti-aircraft defenses. During its career as one of the Air Force’s premier Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms, the venerable SR-71, which could fly at speeds up to Mach 3, was fired upon unsuccessfully hundreds of times.

A new technological competition has begun, one in which America’s rivals, particularly Russia and China, may be ahead. This is the race to build and put in the field super-fast or hypersonic weapons and vehicles. The military defines a hypersonic weapon as one that travels at least Mach 5 or five times the speed of sound. In comparison, commercial aircraft fly at around Mach 1 while some military jets can push themselves to around Mach 3, but only for a short time.

There are two basic types of hypersonic weapons: super-fast cruise missiles, and boost-glide vehicles that are mounted on ballistic missiles. Hypersonic cruise missiles, which would most commonly be launched from aircraft, maintain powered flight from launch to impact. Boost-glide vehicles are lofted by a ballistic missile launched from an aircraft, ship, submarine or ground unit to the edge of space from which point they use their speed and aerodynamic design to skip along the top of the atmosphere for up to 10,000 miles.

Getting a Game Plan for the Guardian of America’s Global Interests

James Jay Carafano

In a decade or so, we’ll have all the answers. Either this will be recognized as the latest age of the great American strategists following in the footsteps of Alfred Thayer Mahan and George Kennan—or we will all be speaking Chinese and bowing to the West.

America is in an era of great-power competition where there is a real possibility that we won’t come out on top or continue to be able to serve as the world’s safety patrol, the guarantor that conflict and confrontation won’t spin out of control. The United States will prevail only by making better hard choices than its enemies will, and sticking to them over time.

That combination of acumen and will is the essence of strategy—and good strategy has to start with strategists. If America doesn’t find that guiding lifeline of an idea, then it will remain hamstrung in the global competition.

Russia, China, Cyber War, and Letters of Marque and Reprisal


With the latest series of aggressive hacking on critical infrastructure and massive scale ransomware attacks on United States companies and institutions, it is clear that we are in a cyber war with adversarial countries, including Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. These nation state actors bring resources and dedicated programs with the intention of stealing intellectual property, robbing our businesses with illegally harbored ransomware gangs, and aggressively harvesting state secrets from our government.

China uses cyber war techniques with the intention of obtaining intellectual property that gives them a cost advantage to compete with the US and our allies. Defense designs, chemical facility blueprints, even recreational boat building plans have ended up in the hands of Chinese backed state owned corporations, giving them a competitive advantage – our stolen R&D. Russian ransomware gangs operate more like a bank robber that plants a bomb in the bank with the threat of blowing it up – just show them the money (bitcoin), and they will defuse the bomb. North Korea has been implicated in breaking into global banking networks and siphoning off large sums to support their mafia style regime. Iran took down Saudi Aramco’s technology infrastructure with what is believed to be a well-planned and executed insider hacking attack. Localized attacks on critical infrastructure are also increasing from these nation states as they probe our defenses.