8 October 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.

Cyber Weapons – A Weapon of War?

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)

The character of warfare has changed fundamentally over the last decade. In the past, it was essential for an adversary nation or insurgent to physically bring weapons to bear during combat. That requirement is no longer a necessity. In cyber operations, the only weapons that need to be used are bits and bytes. In this new era of warfare, logistics issues that often restrict and limit conventional warfare and weaponry are not impediments. This new weaponry moves at the speed of light, is available to every human on the planet and can be as surgical as a scalpel or as devastating as a nuclear bomb.

Cyber attacks in various forms have become a global problem. Cyber weapons are low-cost, low-risk, highly effective and easily deployable globally. This new class of weapons is within reach of many countries, extremist or terrorist groups, non-state actors, and even individuals. Cyber crime organisations are developing cyber weapons effectively. The use of offensive Cyber operations by nation-states directly against another or by co-opting cyber criminals has blurred the line between spies and non-state malicious hackers. New entrants, both nation-states and non-state actors have unmatched espionage and surveillance capabilities with significant capabilities. They are often the forerunners for criminal financial gain, destruction and disruption operations. Progressively, we see non-state actors including commercial entities, developing capabilities that were solely held by a handful of state actors.

Taiwan and the Fight for Democracy

Tsai Ing-wen

The story of Taiwan is one of resilience—of a country upholding democratic, progressive values while facing a constant challenge to its existence. Our success is a testament to what a determined practitioner of democracy, characterized by good governance and transparency, can achieve.

Yet the story of Taiwan is not only about the maintenance of our own democratic way of life. It is also about the strength and sense of responsibility Taiwan brings to efforts to safeguard the stability of the region and the world. Through hard work and courage, the 23.5 million people of Taiwan have succeeded in making a place for themselves in the international community.

Emerging from the COVID-19 pandemic, authoritarian regimes are more convinced than ever that their model of governance is better adapted than democracy to the requirements of the twenty-first century. This has fueled a contest of ideologies, and Taiwan lies at the intersection of contending systems. Vibrantly democratic and Western, yet influenced by a Chinese civilization and shaped by Asian traditions, Taiwan, by virtue of both its very existence and its continued prosperity, represents at once an affront to the narrative and an impediment to the regional ambitions of the Chinese Communist Party.

Our Foreign Policy Elite Has Learned Nothing From Afghanistan

David Bromwich
Bush and Cheney sold the war, Obama normalized it, Trump disowned it, and Biden had the courage to end it.

Cecil Rhodes once said he would annex the planets if he could, and the United States, over the past four decades, has nursed an ambition quite as otherworldly. Everyone (we believed) would choose our way of life if only they had the chance. It followed that we should try to get them there through arts and manners and commerce and, if necessary, through wars. The wars would, of course, be fought against the enemies of freedom, even if the enemies were their neighbors and compatriots.

Tony Blair put the case memorably, just three weeks after September 11, 2001: “The kaleidoscope has been shaken, the pieces are in flux, soon they will settle again. Before they do, let us reorder this world around us.” What poetry! To look on the world as a toy! That, for me, was the initial impression of Blair’s words. More peculiar, as one looks back, was the emphasis on dispatch. The reordering would be done soon and speedily, with a brave unconcern for prudential caution.

WhatsApp outage ‘a nightmare’ for group working to rescue Afghans, American citizens

Howard Altman

While Twitter is full of jokes about the outage that plagued Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp Monday, it’s no laughing matter to Safi Rauf.

“It’s a nightmare,” Rauf —who deployed as a linguist and cultural advisor embedded with Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan and now runs a major rescue effort for those left behind — told Military Times. “I have people all over Afghanistan I can not communicate with.”

Rauf founded the Human First Coalition. It is one of several ad hoc organizations that sprung up during the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan when it became clear tens of thousands of people who helped the U.S. and its allies over the course of 20 years of conflict would be left behind, possibly facing retribution from the Taliban. The messaging service WhatsApp has played a significant part of the communications effort, Rauf said. All told, he is in contact with about 2,500 people in Afghanistan.

Don’t Arm the Afghan Resistance

Bilal Y. Saab

U.S. President Joe Biden is convinced that exiting Afghanistan was the right thing to do. But even he knows that putting the country in Washington’s rearview mirror is something the United States cannot afford to do.

Under Taliban rule, Afghanistan is likely to turn into a magnet for terrorism, as it was pre-9/11. Top U.S. intelligence officials estimate that in a year or two, al Qaeda could regroup.

Protecting the U.S. homeland from terrorists including the Islamic State, who could use Afghanistan as a launchpad for attacks against the West, remains a top U.S. concern.

But how can the United States most effectively meet this priority moving forward? Now that U.S. forces have departed and the Afghan military, which Americans trained and equipped for 20 years, has disintegrated, the options range from bad to worse.

Taliban Reportedly Rearming Tajik Militants, Moving Uyghur Fighters From Chinese Border


(RFE/RL) — The Taliban has provided Tajik militants based along the border with Tajikistan with new military vehicles, weaponry, and other equipment over the past two weeks, security sources in Tajikistan and northeastern Afghanistan say, amid an ongoing military buildup on both sides of the frontier.

The sources also told RFE/RL on October 4 that the Taliban has also “removed” ethnic Uyghur fighters from an area close to Afghanistan’s small border with China.

Tajik militants based in Afghanistan’s northern province of Badakhshan have been seen with U.S.-made weaponry and vehicles, including Humvees, with some of them wearing American combat gear, according to an official with Tajikistan’s state border services.

Afghanistan Laid Bare the Value of Military Judgments

Paul R. Pillar

Recent hearings on Afghanistan before the Senate and House armed services committees were long on efforts to score political points and short on edification of the public about what happened in Afghanistan and how policy on such problems gets formulated. Lost among the efforts to land partisan haymakers was the distinction between the ugly denouement in August and issues raised by the entire twenty-year military expedition. The events in August dominated headlines, but the larger issues of the war as a whole—the costs of which have included thousands of U.S. military and contractor deaths and $2.3 trillion in direct expenditures, with future indirect costs such as medical care for veterans sure to raise that bill substantially—are ultimately more important and worthy of congressional scrutiny.

What should have been a headline item but wasn’t was the question of whether—especially given the ultimate futility of the expedition as demonstrated by the collapse of Afghan security forces—keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan any longer could have made any difference. Also not adequately addressed was the question of whether, given that underlying fragility, it was inevitable that a U.S. withdrawal, whenever it was completed, would be followed by an ugly collapse.

U.S. Weapons Left in Afghanistan Fall into Taliban and Islamic State Hands

Nolan Fahrenkopf

The weapons and military equipment left behind by the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, including through the collapse of the Afghan army, are now largely in the hands of the Taliban – and likely other militant groups as well. Though many politicians’ and observers’ reactions have been sensationalized, it does highlight significant problems arising from U.S. arms transfers during the two-decade-long War on Terror.

As a result of both abandonment and poor tracking, the Islamic State group, the Taliban and other militant groups managed to acquire American-supplied anti-armor weapons, tanks, drones and massive numbers of small arms, like rifles, and light weapons, such as machine guns and basic rockets.

The Taliban Won’t Pay Afghanistan’s Electricity Bills. Are Blackouts Ahead?

Trevor Filseth

Afghanistan’s economy has remained virtually shut down since the Taliban took control of Kabul on August 15. Foreign aid, which formerly accounted for eighty percent of the state budget, has slowed to a trickle. This has saddled the Taliban with few additional sources of income—and significant liabilities. One of these liabilities is electricity, a basic need in any civilized society.

So far, the Taliban have largely succeeded in delivering power. While the group had attacked power stations under the authority of the previous Afghan government, its attacks ceased after its capture of Kabul. Partially because of that, and partially because of the absence of demand from the now-nonexistent government bureaucracy, Kabul’s electricity supply, once sporadic, has largely become reliable under the group’s rule, a positive early sign of legitimacy.

However, the Taliban’s ability to reliably deliver power to the country could prove to be short-lived. Afghanistan is only reliably able to produce around thirty percent of the power it needs. To make up the shortfall, it imports it from other countries, the electrical grids of which are linked to its own. Roughly seventy percent of the country’s power supply is bought from Afghanistan’s neighbors, to the tune of $250 to $300 million per year. As of September 2021, Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS), the country’s state-run power company, had liabilities of roughly $90 million, and roughly $40 million in its accounts—accounts that the Taliban took possession of, alongside the company and its debts, after they conquered the country.

A Preliminary Verdict on Afghanistan Strategy

Michael O'Hanlon

After last week’s rancorous Congressional hearings, many Americans are probably wondering, how could things have gone so wrong, and how could our strategy in Afghanistan have failed so badly? Joint Chiefs Chairman General Mark Milley himself called the mission a “strategic failure.” Some are also calling for a commission to study the problem. That would be reasonable, indeed, but it is also worth trying to sketch out a rough draft of a historical verdict right now, while our attention is still on the issue. A quick review of the history suggests some key mistakes, yes—but also the inherent difficulty of trying to build a functioning Afghan government and army out of what twenty-two years of previous conflict had done to break that society. Perhaps we should not be quite so hard on ourselves. Yet there are key lessons to learn.

Consider the war’s main phases. At the time of the 9/11 attacks, the Department of Defense had no war plan for fighting in Afghanistan. Improvisation became the guiding principle, as aerial attacks against Taliban positions began in early October. Soon, special forces and CIA teams were on the ground—only several hundred American personnel—working with the Tajik-dominated Northern Alliance of Afghanistan. Several hundred Marines flew into southern Afghanistan as well. Together, in a remarkable military operation, these Americans helped the Northern Alliance overthrow the Taliban in the fall of 2001. This was a flawed masterpiece, in that Osama bin Laden and cohorts got away, into Pakistan. But in terms of military innovation and bravery, it was still a masterpiece.

Tensions Rise Between Tajikistan and the Taliban

Catherine Putz

Russia and Pakistan have urged Tajikistan and the Taliban to back away from the conflict brewing on the Afghan-Tajik border.

Last week, as Tajik and Taliban officials traded barbs, in a regular briefing Russia’s Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Alexei Zaytsev said Russia was “watching with concern the growing tension in Tajik-Afghan relations amid mutually harsh statements by the two countries’ leaders.” Zaytsev noted reports of Taliban forces gathering in the border region.

A few days later, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan called Tajik President Emomali Rahmon. Pakistan has tried to rally the international community to engage with the Taliban’s government and although the official readouts were anodyne, the Pakistani daily, Dawn, cited diplomatic sources as saying that Khan was specifically trying to defuse tensions between Tajikistan and the Taliban.

Since the Taliban’s August 15 takeover of Afghanistan and the collapse of the previous Western-backed government, Rahmon has maintained a distinctly standoffish attitude. Unlike neighboring Uzbekistan, Tajikistan had never come around to directly engaging with the Taliban movement and its ascension to power didn’t change Dushanbe’s stance much.

How Do Central Asians View the Taliban?

Catherine Putz

In August and September, nearly 40 percent of the 800 Uzbeks queried in a telephone survey said they didn’t know about the Taliban takeover of neighboring Afghanistan.

Data from survey work conducted by Central Asia Barometer (CAB) in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan scratch at the surface of Central Asian views of Afghanistan and the Taliban.

A majority in each country’s surveyed group were aware of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan on August 15 — 66 percent in Kazakhstan and 60 percent in Uzbekistan — but those surveyed were split regarding refugees and whether the Taliban’s rise will destabilize the region.

The survey’s results are particularly interesting in that “refused” pops up as a top answer to several questions. As CAB explained to The Diplomat, “refused” was either a question-specific or topic-specific response. In other words, respondents were able to either refuse to answer specific questions after hearing them, or, when asked if they were comfortable answering questions on Afghanistan, answered “no” before hearing the questions.

Is This Taliban Deja Vu?

Catherine Putz

A Western aid worker speaking to a New York Times reporter suggested that the Taliban, after coming to power, would need to change.

“I think it’s obvious now that the Taliban are going to have to metamorphose or die… what’s happened in the past three months has made it more obvious than ever that the Taliban’s brand of Islam can never unite this country, and that a continuing attempt to enforce it will engender increasing resistance to them wherever they go.”

In his report, the journalist suggested that there was broad agreement that the Taliban, “if they are to retain power, may have to moderate or abandon the decrees that have forbidden women to work, denied girls schooling and in other ways forced women back into a world of house-bound subjugation.”

Twenty-four years later, the Taliban have returned to power and once again ink (well, more pixels these days than actual ink) is being spilled on how the West can urge the group to moderate. Many have wondered, as the Taliban promised a new face upon taking power in mid-August, whether they’ve actually changed in the 20 years they were out of power.

Should India Accept the Taliban’s Invitation?

Sudha Ramachandran

The Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been reaching out to the Indian government in recent weeks. In addition to asking for the reopening of commercial flights between the two countries, it wants New Delhi to facilitate the travel of scholarship students to India.

The first official communication from the Taliban came a day after the interim government was announced. In a letter dated September 7 to the chief of India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation Arun Kumar, Afghanistan’s new interim Minister for Civil Aviation and Transport Alhaj Hameedullah Akhunzada said that Kabul airport, which was “left damaged and dysfunctional by American troops before their withdrawal” was operational now. He sought the resumption of flights operated by Afghan carriers Kam Air and Ariana Afghan Airline to and from Delhi and asked India to “facilitate their commercial flights.” Only a small number of aid and passenger flights are currently operating from Kabul airport.

New Delhi does not officially recognize the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. However, its officials have engaged with the Taliban in recent months. In early June, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said that India was “in touch with various stakeholders” in Afghanistan, obliquely suggesting that New Delhi may have reached out to the Taliban.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization Will Not Fill Any Vacuum in Afghanistan

In recent weeks, observers worldwide have debated whether or not China will fill the multiple ‘vacuums’ that the withdrawal of U.S. troops has left in Afghanistan. Some expect Beijing to fill a “financial vacuum” by investing heavily in the country. Others focus on its role in filling the “political vacuum” by helping to legitimize the Taliban government on the international stage. And others debate whether or not China will step in to fill the “military vacuum” left by the NATO withdrawal, providing security assistance to the new regime. In these discussions, analysts frequently mention the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a major platform through which China will try to engage with the country.

But in each of these discussions, few say more than one or two sentences about the organization, failing to clearly outline what the organization does (and could do) to help stabilize the country. The SCO’s track record on Afghanistan indicates an answer to these questions: it probably won’t do much.

The SCO: An Ideal Platform to Solve the Afghanistan Crisis?

The SCO could be an ideal forum for the settlement of the Afghanistan issue in theory. All its direct neighbours except Turkmenistan are affiliated with the SCO either as full members (China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Pakistan) or as observer states (Iran). Considering the often porous borders with Afghanistan, the situation in the war-torn country directly affects the domestic stability of many SCO members.

Should America Fight A War With China Over Taiwan?

Daniel Davis

Between Friday and Monday, China launched an unprecedented 155 warplanes into the skies near the Taiwanese coast. “Time to warn Taiwan” that the threat of war “is real,” blasted the headline on Monday from the Chinese Global Times.

Now, while there is still time for thoughtful debate, is the time to contemplate the pros and cons of fighting a war with China over Taiwan. If we wait until a crisis has been thrust upon us, we will be more likely to be propelled by an emotional response into a catastrophic mistake.

Since 1979, the United States has had an unbroken policy of “strategic ambiguity” regarding our willingness to intervene in a the event China invades Taiwan. China, in contrast, has been unambiguously clear that it would use force to take Taiwan if Beijing believed Taipei sought to declare independence.

How Syria Changed Turkey’s Foreign Policy



Between August 2016 and the present, Turkey has launched four military operations in northern Syria. Each operation has served specific objectives and was designed to respond to rapidly changing scenarios on the ground. It is possible to identify the key priorities that have informed Turkey’s Syria policy over the years. Boiled down to its core, the Turkish government’s activism in Syria has been driven by domestic politics and has helped Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his Justice and Development Party (AKP) preserve power.

Domestically, Ankara has used the Syrian conflict as a pretext to suppress the rights of the Kurds living in Turkey and limit their parliamentary representation to secure a landmark constitutional reform in 2017. In the following years, successive military operations in Syria have helped Erdoğan connect with increasingly nationalistic constituencies and drum up support around key electoral dates. Finally, after the failed coup in July 2016, the Turkish government’s Syria policy played a major role in rebuilding the credibility of the Turkish Armed Forces while redrawing the balance between civilian and military power.

In foreign policy terms, Turkey’s military operations in Syria have resulted in increasingly tense relations with the United States. Washington’s support for the Syrian Kurds has alienated Ankara to an extent that U.S. policymakers failed to anticipate. The thorniest topic of the day in the U.S.-Turkey bilateral relation—Ankara’s decision to deploy the Russian S-400 missile system—is also deeply related to the Syrian crisis. This decision was made in the context of a strategic realignment between Turkey and Russia that has helped both countries pursue their respective objectives in Syria: the survival of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s regime for Moscow and the weakening of the Syrian Kurds for Ankara.

How to Make Sure Peace Endures Once the Fighting Ends

The need for peacebuilding in post-conflict societies grew out of the realization that signing agreements to bring fighting to an end is a necessary but insufficient step toward true and enduring peace. Peacebuilding is now conceived of as a multistage process to strengthen the peace accord and begin unifying communities through approaches ranging from governmental capacity-building and economic development to reforms of the legal and security sectors. Each initiative is intended to be a step toward improving human security, and the process often includes a transitional justice mechanism to foster societal healing and reconciliation.

Peacebuilding is often a laborious and expensive process—and one that can easily be undone. Witness Brexit’s triggering of the long-dormant fault lines between unionists and nationalists in Northern Ireland. Moreover, as peacebuilding has evolved, there is still no consensus on who should lead these efforts. In the wake of Sept. 11, the United Nations introduced a Peacebuilding Commission, intended to push for the adoption of post-conflict interventions and then aid and track their implementation. But it lacks enforcement capacity, and key member states can block its activities. Regional bodies, including the European Union and especially the African Union, have shown an interest in prioritizing post-conflict peacebuilding, but their track records are mixed.

How Are Refugees Resettled In The U.S.?

Trevor Filseth

In a show of force directed at Azerbaijan amid rising tensions, Iran’s military has initiated a series of exercises near the neighboring country’s border. Footage broadcast on Iran’s state-run television portrayed tanks and artillery taking part in the exercises in northwestern Iran, and broadcasters claimed that Iran had tested a domestically-manufactured long-range drone.

Tensions between Iran and Azerbaijan have escalated throughout 2021. In September, troops from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) deployed to the border in response to joint military exercises between Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Pakistan.

Iran’s anger also stems partly from Azerbaijan’s quiet security partnership with Israel, which it views as a potential threat to its territory. However, the small Caspian nation’s ties to Tel Aviv have proven highly advantageous. Israeli and Turkish drone technology, as well as other assistance, were crucial to Baku’s victory over Armenia in the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War from September to November 2020. In that war, Iran proclaimed neutrality and refused to aid either side, despite its traditionally closer ties to Armenia.

Malaysia and the Indo-Pacific: Navigating the Ocean of Strategic Uncertainties

Rahul Mishra and Peter Brian M. Wang

Within a fortnight, the Indo-Pacific region has witnessed a profusion of diplomatic footwork, much of which has implications for Malaysia. In mid-September, the European Commission and the High Representative presented the European Union’s formal Indo-Pacific strategy, a day after the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia launched a new trilateral security pact unimaginatively named AUKUS.

AUKUS inadvertently launched a diplomatic fireball of sorts, prompting criticism not just from France, Germany, and the EU, but Malaysia and Indonesia also. During the recently-held 11th round of China-EU High-Level Dialogue, China did not pull its punches, describing AUKUS an example of a “Cold War mentality.” In apparent solidarity with France, the EU subsequently postponed the 12th round of trade negotiations with Australia.

As a non-aligned country, Malaysia has naturally been concerned about these developments. Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein is to visit China soon amidst growing tensions in the region. The EU strategy and AUKUS are just two of the latest approaches highlighting members’ differing priorities to consolidate their respective positions while addressing the uncertainties posed by the rapidly changing regional economic and security dynamics. While the EU approach is multi-faceted, normative, and inclusive, AUKUS is a members-only club specifically designed to deal with security issues.

Party Capital A Blueprint for National Security Due Diligence on China



China’s commercial system exposes the United States to systemic national security risks that require new approaches for threat identification and response. In the absence of formal market protections, Chinese commercial actors operate with the threat of “exposure, incrimination[,] and, by extension, the coercive power of the party-state.” When Chinese companies pursue globalization, they expose the international community to “national security externalities” of the party-state’s involvement in China’s domestic economy, which lacks the neutrality, due process, and clear legal delineation of state-business relations in market-oriented liberal democracies.

Policymakers internationally have achieved broad consensus about the urgency of mitigating the national security risks of exposure to China’s commercial system, and observers have paid significant attention to changes in China’s political economy under General Secretary Xi Jinping. However, comparatively less work has connected the most recent scholarship on Chinese state-business relations to those national security policy concerns. Additionally, while groups like the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence have highlighted the need for nontraditional intelligence consumers like state governments and university administrators to gain access to information about threats from China, there remains relatively limited discussion about how to achieve broader stakeholder engagement.

With Dozens of Planes, China Tests Taiwan’s Air Defenses

Trevor Filseth 

Taiwan’s Defense Ministry announced on Friday evening that China had sent thirty-eight fighter jets into Taiwan’s “Air Defense Identification Zone” (ADIZ) earlier in the day, the highest recorded number of such flights since the reporting system came online in 2020.

The Defense Ministry report revealed that the Chinese planes had entered the ADIZ in two waves. First, during the daytime, twenty-five planes had flown into the ADIZ from the southwest. Later that evening, another thirteen followed, from the same direction. While the first wave remained in the southwest, the second flew northeast before returning to China.

Although the flights came within the ADIZ area, they did not violate Taiwanese airspace at any time during the incursion, according to the Defense Ministry. An ADIZ is legally identified as an area around a country’s airspace that, while not explicitly sovereign to the nation, requires immediate identification and connection with air traffic control. Taiwan’s actual airspace only extends twelve nautical miles off its coast, a distance that fighter planes can traverse in seconds.

Concern About Iran Prompts Israel To Weigh Acknowledgement Of Its Own Nuclear Weapons – Analysis

James M. Dorsey

On their way from Tel Aviv airport to Jerusalem in 1977 then Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Yigael Yadin asked President Anwar Sadat, the first Arab leader to ever officially visit Israel, why the Egyptian military had not moved deeper into the Sinai during the 1973 Middle East war. “You have nuclear arms. Haven’t you heard?” Mr. Sadat replied.

Mr. Sadat’s strategic calculations in the war, the last all-out military confrontation between Israel and Arab states, takes on renewed significance coupled with a recent report that asserts that Iranian nuclear advances are irreversible and have reached a stage at which Iran needs only one month to produce enough weapons-grade uranium for a single bomb.

The report has sparked public debate in Israel about whether the Jewish state, which is long believed to have multiple nuclear weapons but consistently stopped short of confirming or denying the assertion, should finally do so to lay down a marker for Iran.


Stavros Atlamazoglou

Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne operation in military history, was full of heroics, ineptitude, and bad luck. Envisioned and planned by the Allies to accelerate the defeat of Nazi Germany, Operation Market Garden fell short of its goal at the cost of thousands of casualties.

The eight-day (September 17 to September 25) mission offers a great example of how an ambitious and well-intended plan can go wrong and the importance of intelligence in military operations.

Let’s End the War by Christmas

On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces landed on Normandy, in Northern France. Catching the Germans unawares, the Allies secured a beachhead after a bloody struggle. But despite overwhelming superiority in every category, the American, British, Canadian, and French forces couldn’t break out from Normandy and recapture France. Despite lacking in everything, the Germans put up fierce resistance that only broke in August, after almost two months of serious fighting in the treacherous cottages and plains of Northern France.

A Limited Partnership

Jim Townsend, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, David Shullman and Gibbs McKinley

Executive Summary

The last several years have seen a worrisome increase in tensions in the Mediterranean involving age-old rivals such as Turkey, Greece, and Cyprus, as well as increased involvement from newer players like Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and China, or returning players in the case of Russia. Many analysts have noted an increase in power struggles between some of these actors in the region. It is against this backdrop of competition that observers have questioned whether the Mediterranean will become a new arena for increased collaboration between China and Russia. In the last several years, the two countries have increased their presence and influence in the Mediterranean, creating opportunities for growing cooperation at odds with U.S. interests and objectives in the region.

As the authors have argued in previous CNAS research, the increasing depth of Russia and China’s partnership creates challenges for U.S. interests and increases the risk that both countries pose to the United States. For this reason, the United States should not write off Russia-China relations as just an uncomfortable or unnatural partnership. But nor should Washington seek to counter their cooperation in every dimension of their partnership or compete intensely in every region.1 The alignment between Russia and China presents a comprehensive challenge; addressing it will require policymakers to prioritize and address their cooperation in the areas likely to pose the greatest threats to U.S. interests, and conversely, avoid focusing on areas of lesser concern. The Mediterranean is a region where U.S. policymakers should not overstate the potential for Russia-China cooperation, nor the significance of the implications of their partnership.

Is Europe’s Energy Crisis a Preview of America’s?

Brenda Shaffer

An energy crisis is affecting almost every part of the globe, marked by record-high energy prices, tight supplies, and power blackouts. Some of the world’s richest countries and U.S. states such as California have been struggling to keep their electricity systems stable.

The first energy crisis in decades has come as a shock to many, who seem to have forgotten how energy insecurity reverberates onto every major sphere of public life: the economy, national security, the environment, and public health. As the world’s most traded good, energy is involved in everything we buy and consume, so energy prices and shortages significantly impact economic growth. Because energy is the most important input in manufacturing, stable prices and supplies are key to economic competitiveness. Electricity and fuels for heating, cooking, and transport are major items in every household budget, and price increases disproportionally affect the poor. Similarly, government institutions and infrastructure need stable and affordable energy supplies to function, putting public safety and health at risk when electricity supplies aren’t steady. Energy security has to be treated like national security, and governments need to ensure it.

The current energy crisis is particularly acute in Europe. Prices for natural gas, coal, and electricity have exploded, leading to protests over household power bills in Spain, 1970s-style gasoline shortages in Britain, and worryingly low supplies of natural gas across much of the continent as a possibly very cold winter is fast approaching.

In Search of an Indo-Pacific Role

The European Union has been very active in recent years in its engagement with Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. In line with where the bloc’s competencies lie, the form this engagement takes is mostly that of building or extending economic relations. Over the past decade the EU has concluded bilateral trade agreements with several countries, including Japan and Vietnam, and it is currently negotiating further ones with, among others, Indonesia and Australia. Beyond these there is a web of economic partnership agreements with Asian countries and other forms of formal cooperation.

Although mainly driven by economic considerations, these efforts to deepen relations with the region also need to be understood in the context of the EU’s ambitions to be a geopolitical player. Very early on in her term as European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen made it clear that she wanted to lead a “geopolitical Commission.” The rise of China moving the focus of geopolitical competition to Asia has also pulled the EU’s attention to the Far East.

Part of this effort is the bloc’s pursuit of what it calls “strategic autonomy.” It defines this as the capacity of the bloc to act independently on the world stage when and where necessary and with partners wherever possible. In other words, to reduce dependencies on others, mainly the United States, in the area of security and on both the US and Asia in the economic sphere. Reaching this long-held and lofty ambition is still far off for the EU, though, and deep interdependencies remain, often constraining choices.

Facebook Is Weaker Than We Knew

Kevin Roose

One possible way to read “The Facebook Files,” The Wall Street Journal’s excellent series of reports based on leaked internal Facebook research, is as a story about an unstoppable juggernaut bulldozing society on its way to the bank.

The series has exposed damning evidence that Facebook has a two-tier justice system, that it knew Instagram was worsening body-image issues among girls and that it had a bigger vaccine misinformation problem than it let on, among other issues. And it would be easy enough to come away thinking that Facebook is terrifyingly powerful, and can be brought to heel only with aggressive government intervention.

But there’s another way to read the series, and it’s the interpretation that has reverberated louder inside my brain as each new installment has landed.

History hasn’t ended

David Starkey

‘‘The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.”

J. M. Keynes’s celebrated words have been ringing through my head as, like everybody else, I’ve followed the astonishing events in Afghanistan. For our defeat is much more than a military failure. It also represents a complete failure of policy and, above all, the failure — likewise complete and absolute — of the body of ideas which have driven Western policy for the last 30 years.

The epitome of all of this is Tony Blair: he of the staring eyes and messianic self-belief. Which is why, post the fall of Kabul, he’s popping up everywhere to insist, like a political Edith Piaf, that he regrets nothing: not Iraq, not Afghanistan, not immigration, not anything, for he knew that he was “on the right side of History” and to think anything else is “imbecilic”.