19 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.

Social Media in Violent Conflicts – Recent Examples

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


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

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

The Quad, AUKUS, and India’s Dilemmas

Manjari Chatterjee Miller

When the defense arrangement between the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom (UK), known as AUKUS, was announced last month, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the deal was “neither relevant to the Quad, nor will it have any impact on its functioning.” The statement, made just before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to visit the United States for the first in-person Quad summit, was an attempt to downplay the significance of AUKUS for India and forestall any distractions from the summit.

Yet, for India, the new defense agreement is inextricably tied to its own participation in and strategic calculations vis-à-vis the Quad. In particular, AUKUS highlights some of the dilemmas that India faces with regard to the Quad: whether to share or pass the burden to contain China in the Indo-Pacific and whether to commit to even greater reliance on the United States as its defense partner.

PACTS AND IMPACTS: India’s selective approach to treaties maximizes its global autonomy. But does New Delhi miss out on opportunities?


On June 15, 2020, a nasty brawl broke out between Indian and Chinese forces along their disputed border in the region of Ladakh. It was the deadliest India-China clash in 45 years.

Twenty Indian soldiers died in the fracas – which featured fisticuffs and pushing and shoving that resulted in soldiers falling to their deaths into an icy river. India-China relations plunged to their lowest point since a 1962 war.

The tragedy also amplified the threat that China, New Delhi’s biggest strategic rival, poses to India along its northern border. It even sparked speculation among analysts that India would take steps to formally align itself with the United States, in order to jointly tackle a shared China threat that has fueled the expansion of U.S.-India security cooperation over the last decade.

New Delhi quickly put the kibosh on such notions. Several weeks after the border clash, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar proclaimed that “we were never part of an alliance system and we will never be.” He argued that the current world order actually creates more space for “middle powers” like India to assert their independence and flexibility in world affairs.

AfPak Takes On New Meaning with the Rise of the Taliban

Dr. James M. Dorsey

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The attacks on Kabul’s international airport by ISIS’s Afghan affiliate raise questions suggesting a possible paradigm shift in the drivers and expanding geography of political violence.

The attacks by ISIS’s Afghan affiliate on Kabul’s international airport called into question the Taliban’s ability to maintain security and keep a lid on the activities of the multiple militant groups in Afghanistan. Long at war with ISIS, the Taliban have promised to ensure that neither it nor other groups with which it maintains better relations will be allowed to use the Central Asian state for cross-border attacks in the region.

That may be easier said than done. Al-Qaeda, which launched the most spectacular and successful of all jihadist attacks two decades ago in the US, may turn out to be the least of the Taliban’s jihadist worries.

G20 Will Aid Afghanistan—But Won’t Recognize the Taliban

Trevor Filseth

Following an emergency summit, the Group of 20 (G20) nations have committed to aiding Afghanistan in order to stave off the nation’s impending humanitarian crisis—acknowledging reluctantly that doing so would require cooperation with, though not necessarily recognition of, the Taliban.

The EU, which opened the discussions, promised $1.2 billion in aid for the country, as well as for its neighboring states to address the cost of harboring Afghan refugees. Hundreds of thousands of Afghans have fled the country since the Taliban takeover on August 15; while many refugees were evacuated in the U.S. military’s airlift, a substantial number also crossed into Pakistan, Iran, and Tajikistan, straining the neighboring countries’ social service programs.

The virtual summit was attended by President Joe Biden, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and Italian prime minister Mario Draghi, as well as a handful of other European leaders. President Vladimir Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China opted not to attend, sending high-level officials in their place.

Explaining the PLA’s Record-Setting Air Incursions Into Taiwan’s ADIZ

Adrian Ang U-Jin and Olli Pekka Suorsa

From October 1 to 4, Chinese military incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) were unprecedented in scale and intensity since the Taiwanese Ministry of National Defense (MND) made such data publicly available last September. On October 1, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launched a 25-plane incursion during the day, followed by another 13-plane incursion that night, setting a record for the largest number of sorties flown by the PLA into Taiwan’s ADIZ in a single day. However, that record was broken the very next day (October 2) when the PLA flew a total of 39 sorties in two waves – one during the day and the other at night. The incursion on October 3 involved “only” 16 planes but on October 4 the PLA set a new record for the single largest sortie conducted to date (52), as well as the largest one-day sortie record (56) when the second, night-time incursion is included.

Over the course of first four days in October, the PLA carried out a total of 149 sorties into Taiwan’s southwestern ADIZ – a staggering 28 percent increase already over September’s previous record for total sorties (116).

China Pathfinder: Annual Scorecard

GeoEconomics Center and Rhodium Group

China is a global economic powerhouse, but its system remains opaque. Policymakers and financial experts disagree on basic facts about what is happening inside the country. Leaders need a shared language to describe China’s economic system that can be trusted by all sides for its accuracy and objectivity. This is the goal of the China Pathfinder Project.

Over the past eight months, teams from the Atlantic Council and Rhodium Group have taken a dive into China’s economy to address a fundamental question: Is China becoming more or less like other open-market economies?

To find the answer, our study explores China’s economy in six key areas that define open-market systems: trade, innovation, direct investment, portfolio flows, market competition, and the financial system. We then used this data to create a new scoring system that compares both China’s record of liberalization and its economic performance with those of the United States and nine other leading open-market economies. We then tracked how China has progressed on these metrics over the last decade.

The report recognizes the complexity of this subject and tells a multi-layered story. Inside, you will find new information that will challenge commonly accepted narratives about China’s economy. This innovative research draws upon the world-class expertise of Rhodium Group, which has worked on these issues for nearly two decades. Both this report and the data-visualization home for this project are part of the Atlantic Council GeoEconomics Center’s mission to break down barriers between finance and foreign policy.

China’s Taiwan Plan Is Clear (And Looking Pretty Dangerous)

Peter Suciu

China’s Taiwan plan seems pretty clear: intimidation. Beijing has said that its recent military exercises near Taiwan were intended to be a warning to both the island nation and to the United States. The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC’s) People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) sent 56 combat aircraft near the southwest coast of Taiwan on a single day earlier this month, a single-day record.

That sortie also capped off five days of a sustained pressure campaign that totaled nearly 150 flights. While all the PLAAF aircraft remained in international airspace, the flights were meant to send a strong measure of the island’s independence supporters as well as “external forces” – the latter directed squarely at the United States.

“The PLA training activities target ‘Taiwan independence’ splittism and interference by external forces,” Ma Xiaoguang, a spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) in Beijing, said on Wednesday, and added that the maneuvers were also conducted to main peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.

China and the Importance of Civil Nuclear Energy

Robert McFarlane, David Gattie

HISTORY TELLS us that for a country to govern sensibly and protect its interests at home and abroad requires experienced, competent professionals with the acuity to analyze and navigate the complex space of national security and foreign affairs, one that is replete with military, economic, technological, geopolitical, and diplomatic tensions. In the aftermath of World War II, individuals such as Secretary of State Dean Acheson, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and Senator Arthur Vandenberg, among others, challenged Americans to accept that the United States must conduct its affairs and act in the world as it is, and not in the world as we wish it were. They emphasized both the necessity and strategic advantage of a U.S.-led allied system and the need to nurture what Winston Churchill originally characterized as a special relationship, and others have characterized as an essential relationship, between the United States and the United Kingdom.

‘The Battle at Lake Changjin’ and China’s New View of War

Carice Witte

On China’s October 1 National Day holiday, while real-life People’s Liberation Army (PLA) fighter jets and other military planes sortied into the Taiwan Straits in record numbers, many Chinese celebrated by flocking to screenings of “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” breaking all box-office records. The 3-hour war epic commissioned by China’s propaganda department depicts a battle from the Korean War, where Chinese soldiers fought against the United States in what China calls the “War to Resist American Aggression and Aid Korea” (generally known abroad as the Korean War)

The film’s massive popularity arguably stems from China’s new view of war. Entering into military combat was formerly seen as a threat to the Communist Party’s hold on power. China’s military was not in a position to win. Going to battle and losing Chinese lives, even if it resulted in a territorial gain, was seen as potentially provoking a level of domestic unrest that could undermine China’s leadership. With the potential to topple the ruling party, war was off the table. Now it is perceived as a way to strengthen CCP’s position.

Ahead of Latest Mission, China Renews Space Cooperation Vow

Shortly ahead of sending a new three-person crew to its space station, China on Friday renewed its commitment to international cooperation in the peaceful use of space.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said sending humans into space was a “common cause of mankind,” and China would “continue to extend the depth and breadth of international cooperation and exchanges” in crewed spaceflight and “make positive contributions to the exploration of the mysteries of the universe.”

China is to send two men and one woman to spend six months aboard the Tianhe core module of its space station, with liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on the edge of the Gobi Desert in northwestern China scheduled for shortly after midnight Saturday.

It will be China’s longest crewed space mission, a new milestone for a program that has advanced rapidly in recent years.

China, Asia, and the Changing Strategic Importance of the Gulf and MENA Region

Anthony H. Cordesman

The shift in America’s strategic focus from fighting terrorism in the Middle East –and its “long wars” in Afghanistan as well as Iraq and Syria – to competition with China has led to a growing level of confrontation and possible wars in Taiwan and the South China Sea. At the same time, the increases in U.S. domestic natural gas and oil production have led many to believe the U.S. has far less need to ensure the smooth flow of energy exports from the Gulf and the MENA region.

There are good reasons to challenge both sets of assumptions. The U.S. has every incentive to avoid a war over Taiwan and the South China Sea as well as to avoid having to confront China largely in an area where China can make most effective use of its military power. The U.S. needs to look beyond the Eastern Pacific and deal with China on a global level – pressuring it to focus on cooperation and peaceful competition rather than confrontation and conflict.

Second, China’s growing dependence on petroleum imports is making it steadily more vulnerable to any interruption or limits to the flow of petroleum exports out of the Gulf and through the Indian Ocean and Strait of Malacca. America’s strategic partnerships in the MENA area – particularly in the Gulf – and the vulnerability of maritime traffic through the Indian Ocean and Strait of Malacca, give the U.S. a key source of strategic leverage that can compensate in part for the geographic advantages China has near Taiwan and the South China Sea as well as provide a key source of stability and security for its partners and in ensuring the stable flow of petroleum to Japan, South Korea, and the global economy.

Why Kurds Fight

Fréderike Geerdink

To enter the mouth of the cave, one must crawl on all fours or slide forward as if imitating an upside-down spider. The orifice opens onto a walkway as if made for an adolescent, forcing anyone taller than 5 feet 2 inches to bow their head until the pathway widens into a cavern that measures about 500 to 650 square feet. It is here that two dozen female fighters for the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) live, learn and sleep. In the fall of 2016, I joined them as part of my yearlong research into the group’s workings and philosophy as well as to interview the young women who have left everything behind to join.

The cavern serves as a fully functioning barracks, clean and relatively warm, with colorful plastic carpets covering much of the floor and neatly packed sandbags with pink and yellow sheet cloth draped over them to divide the grotto into makeshift rooms, including a common area, a library and communal bedrooms. The PKK flags and a portrait of PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan — who since 1999 has been serving a life sentence in solitary confinement on an island off the Turkish coast — cover the sandbag walls, as do pictures of the fallen. Food could be found stuffed in corners and nooks and crannies, organized alongside weapons and ammunition.

Will Biden Abandon Taiwan?

Brandon Weichert

“Goodbye, great power competition and hello, strategic competition,” this is what the Biden Administration’s Pentagon spokesperson recently told Daniel Lipmann of Politico. According to analysts, these comments signal a shift toward a more cooperative, even conciliatory, American posture toward the Chinese Communist Party. Further, President Joe Biden told the media on October 6 that he had “spoken with [Chinese President Xi Jinping] about Taiwan. We agree that we will abide by the Taiwan Agreement.”

The agreement that Mr. Biden was referring to was the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, an ambiguous agreement forged between China and the United States in which Taiwan would be treated by the United States as a foreign country without being formally recognized as such. While the 1979 agreement does allow for the provision of American military aid to Taiwan such that Taiwan can “maintain a sufficient self-defense capability,” the terms of this agreement allow for the Americans to shirk away from Taiwan whenever it is convenient for Washington do so.

The Biden-Xi call came on the heels of China’s brazen violation of Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) during the week of October 1. At that time, China deployed more than 50 warplanes to violate Taiwan’s ADIZ, testing Taiwan’s overworked air defense network and pushing the island’s military to the point of exasperation. At some point, a grave miscalculation will occur between China and Taiwan—a mistake that could spark another world war that Washington is not prepared or willing to fight.

Can Biden Stop China's Intellectual Property Theft?

Derek M. Scissors

Here's What You Need to Remember: The recent decisions by Chinese courts display open contempt for American policy.

The Wall Street Journal published a story yesterday on Chinese courts declaring their firms can’t be sued anywhere in the world for theft of intellectual property and in two cases threatening fines of $1 million per week if suits go forward. The US government is aware but has done nothing. This is just one, recent event in decades of intellectual property (IP) theft and coercion by China and utter American failure to respond.

The US started protracted negotiations with China over IP in 1986. In March 2021, the IP Commission confirmed that theft costs America hundreds of billions of dollars annually and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is the biggest culprit. It seems those original talks didn’t work. In 1995, the Clinton administration brokered an IP truce to avoid a $1 billion exchange of sanctions. Threaten $1 billion, then get to steal tens of billions annually — who says Beijing doesn’t know a good investment when it sees it?

Toward CPTPP 2.0

Kati Suominen

This series has sought to provide early insight into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) members’ trade and investment flows after the agreement was signed. It has also sought to explore through business surveys and econometric work how the CPTPP may have impacted those flows. This series has been particularly interested in the impacts of the CPTPP’s perhaps most groundbreaking aspect—its e-commerce chapter—and sought to shed light on an unexplored question: “Do e-commerce provisions add value in international trade?” The main findings are as follows:

Trade in the CPTPP region has largely paralleled the members’ trade flows with the rest of the world. The main beneficiary appears to be Vietnam—at least in the sense that after it ratified the CPTPP, Vietnam has notably expanded its trade in goods, and its inbound investment has been solid, despite the Covid-19 pandemic. This can be a positive signal to other Southeast Asian countries that are considering CPTPP membership, such as the Philippines, Indonesia, and Thailand. Japan and Singapore have led the region’s trade in digitally deliverable services, also a key sector for potential CPTPP members and services export superstars such as the Philippines, Korea, and the United Kingdom.

Who Is Losing Belarus?

Grigory Ioffe

On October 7, the European Parliament (EP) passed a resolution demanding that the European Union (EU) impose the fifth package of economic sanctions on Belarus, including additional sectors, such as metallurgy, woodworking, and chemical. According to the EP, the sanctions should affect “all remaining uncovered state banks and key companies such as Belaruskali [Potassium Company] and Beltelecom [Telecommunications Company]” (Zerkalo, October 7).

On October 5, one of the major Russian dailies, Komsomolskaya Pravda, rumored to be the favorite newspaper of Vladimir Putin, closed its Belarusian branch. It happened after a journalist of that branch, Gennady Mozheiko, a Belarusian citizen, published an article in which a former classmate of Andrei Zetser shared favorable memories of him. Zeltser was an IT company associate who shot KGB officer Dmitry Fedosyuk and was subsequently killed by return fire (EDM, October 5). The article was only available on the newspaper’s website for several minutes, after which the site was blocked and the journalist arrested (DW, October 5).

Predicting global conflicts

Christopher Joye

There’s a wealth of data on the history of military conflicts, which have caused many millions of deaths in the past century, but there’s comparatively little quantitative research forecasting the frequency and severity of wars.

As an investor in global financial markets, our firm is constantly grappling with the prediction business. Last year we created worldwide Covid-19 forecasting models that enabled us to anticipate a much earlier than expected peak in the first wave of infections in April 2020.

We have now developed research that can be used to assess the empirical likelihood of different types of conflicts occurring.

For the past decade, the biggest risk we have sought to understand is the spectre of war between the United States and China. The probability of such a conflict appears to have accelerated under the hardline presidency of Xi Jinping. Many experts, including John Lee, Oriana Skylar Mastro, Rory Medcalf and Ross Babbage, who consult to us, have put the risk of a lower-intensity conflict at around 50%.

Judy Asks: Has the EU Lost the Western Balkans?


The EU has not lost the Western Balkans.

It remains the principal economic player in the region and wields considerable diplomatic clout. The hype about China and Russia aside, it is the EU which provided the bulk of coronavirus assistance and is now funding the post-pandemic recovery.

The union has largely itself to blame for coming across as lacking influence. Its greatest asset—the promise of membership—is also its Achilles’ heel.

If accession is no longer a credible prospect, Balkan power players are likely to shun Brussels’ demands, look elsewhere for political support and economic rewards, and take the European Union for granted.

Worse still, local leaders casually bash the EU to score domestic political points while benefitting from the perks European integration offers to populations—including trade access, investment, and visa-free travel.

China isn't the AI juggernaut the West fears


The opening scene of a brief online documentary by Chinese state-run media channel CGTN shows jaywalkers in Shenzhen getting captured on video, identified and then shamed publicly in real time.

The report is supposed to highlight the country’s prowess in artificial intelligence, yet it reveals a lesser-known truth: China’s AI isn’t so much a tool of world domination as a narrowly deployed means of domestic control.

On paper, the U.S. and China appear neck and neck in artificial intelligence. China leads in the share of journal citations — helped by the fact that it also publishes more — while the U.S. is far ahead in the more qualitative metric of cited conference papers, according to a recent report compiled by Stanford University. So while the world’s most populous country is an AI superpower, investors and China watchers shouldn’t put too much stock in the notion that its position is unassailable or that the U.S. is weaker. By miscalculating the others’ abilities, both superpowers risk overestimating their adversary’s strengths and overcompensating in a way that could lead to a Cold War-style AI arms race.


Travis Pike

The Marine Corps does a lot of things well. One of those things is to do more with less, and as you’d expect as a result, another is to innovate. However, the plans for the new Marine Corps rifle squad seem to suggest the Corps might be moving away from that ‘more with less’ reputation. The modern Marine squad will be doing a lot more with… a lot more. The Marine Corps has been on a roll as of late, becoming a leaner, more capable fighting force for new kinds of conflict and adjusting its makeup to suit. A big part of that comes down to the individual squad, and that squad is changing drastically.

The squad might well be changing, but the mission of the Marine rifle squad will not. They will continue to locate, close with and destroy the enemy by means of fire, maneuver, and close combat. Here’s what that’ll look like moving forward.

The Future Marine Rifle Squad Structure

What Should A $100 Billion Japanese Military Look Like?

James Holmes

Over at Reuters, Tim Kelly and Ju-min Park tender the feel-good story for the week: Japan’s governing Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) intends to double defense spending from 1 to 2 percent of GDP, which would equate to roughly $100 billion. Since World War II the island state has maintained an informal cap on defense budgets to soothe worries among neighbors fearful that Tokyo might again march Asia over the precipice into regional or world war.

The cap made sense during the immediate postwar decades. Memories run long, and so do fears. By now, though, Japan has recouped its good name many times over. It menaces no one. Plus, the rise of an increasingly domineering China that covets neighbors’ territory and natural resources, seeks to subvert if not overthrow the regional order, and routinely threatens to use force to take what it wants makes misgivings about Japanese militarism feel quaint.

Now, it’s one thing for party chieftains to make a bold pledge, quite another to coax a people with a strong pacifist streak into supporting it. We will learn something about the character of the Japanese government and society—and thus Japan’s fitness for great sea power—as the LDP tries to put promises into action. One wishes the party well as it strives to rally popular backing for a more muscular Japan Self-Defense Force (JSDF).

The Army Just Tested Its New Ballistic Missiles That Takes Aim At Previously Prohibited Ranges (Updated)


Lockheed Martin has announced the latest test of its Precision Strike Missile, or PrSM, for the U.S. Army, though the company has not said exactly how far the weapon flew. The distance appears to be close to, if not over, a previous range limitation for ground-based ballistic and cruise missiles that the United States had adhered to until 2019 under the now-defunct Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, or INF, with Russia.

The PrSM test was conducted on Oct. 13, 2021, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California using an M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) truck-mounted launcher. The missile flew out into the Pacific Ocean. This test had originally been expected to take place in August but was pushed back because of scheduling conflicts.

“The Precision Strike Missile continues to validate range and performance requirements,” Paula Hartley, Vice President of Tactical Missiles at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said in a statement. “Achieving this long-range milestone for the baseline missile demonstrates PrSM’s capability to meet our customer’s modernization priorities on a rapid timeline.”

The Bright Future of Laser Weapons

Kris Osborn

Imagine that an advancing mechanized Army unit is closing with an enemy force on the outside border of an urban area when suddenly a small fleet of enemy drones emerge from behind tall buildings to attack with air-to-ground missiles. Approaching tanks and tactical vehicles in an armored column might suddenly be placed at risk if the drones were not previously detected by any air asset.

This is the type of scenario the Air Force and Army are preparing to confront. The two military services are arming small tactical vehicles and some of their larger tactical trucks with precision-laser weapons to help find and incinerate enemy targets without needing to create explosive fragments. Lasers would provide a more cost-effective long-term solution than current assets.

Much of the innovation has been oriented toward engineering mobile sources of transportable electrical power sufficient to generate and sustain operational effectiveness. Gen. John Murray, the commander of Army Futures Command, says the Army is addressing these challenges and making rapid progress integrating mobile electrical power on combat vehicles.