4 December 2021


Maj Gen P K Mallick, VSM (Retd)

Microsoft released its second annual Digital Defense Report, covering July 2020 to June 2021. This year s 134 pages report is quite detailed, with sections on cybercrime, nationstate threats, supply-chain attacks and Internet of Things attacks. The report includes security suggestions for organizations with remote workforces. It has a section describing the use of social media to spread disinformation. The report is a compilation of integrated data and actionable insights from across 

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.

The Role of Social Media in Myanmar’s CDM: Strengths, Limitations and Perspectives from India

Anuradha Rao, Archana Atmakuri

On 1 February 2021, Myanmar’s military seized power in an unconstitutional coup, overthrowing the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy government. Following the coup, the country experienced mass protests against the military, which continued offline and online despite the detention of about 8,000 citizens by the military since February 2021. Social media has played an integral role in this citizen-led protest movement, also known as the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).

This paper examines the ways in which social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, has influenced the CDM, as well as its strengths and limitations. Additionally, it discusses India’s response to the coup and the CDM – both the official response as well as reactions from netizens.


Myanmar’s “Spring Revolution”, a culmination of citizen-led protests against the military takeover of power on 1 February 2021, has continued despite the authorities’ efforts to suppress it. The sudden takeover of power resulted in vociferous public anger against the military (also known as the Tatmadaw) and an outpouring of public support for Aung San Suu Kyi, the de-facto head of the overthrown government. Suu Kyi, also known as “The Lady”, has long been a symbol of hope for the people of Myanmar under decades of military rule, and her arrest produced a wave of social media-fuelled protests, known also as the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM).

Uganda and Congo Are at War With the Islamic State

Shannon Sedgwick Davis and Tara Candland

On Aug. 26, as the United States was rushing to evacuate Americans and their allies following the Taliban’s rapid advance across Afghanistan, a suicide bomber attacked the crowds surrounding Kabul’s airport, killing 13 U.S. service members and as many as 170 Afghans. It was the deadliest day for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since 2011. Within hours, the Islamic State-Khorasan claimed the attack, a sobering reminder that despite the Islamic State’s territorial defeat in Iraq and Syria two years ago, the group has not disappeared.

In fact, its reach is spreading to new parts of the globe. Last month, the Islamic State claimed its first attacks in Uganda. And on Nov. 16, the Islamic State claimed two nearly simultaneous suicide bombings that rocked downtown Kampala, Uganda, and forced the closure of Uganda’s parliament.

The Uganda bombings were perpetrated by the Islamic State’s affiliate group in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which calls itself the Islamic State Central Africa Province and is known locally as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF). It is one of the deadliest armed groups operating in Congo. Yet there is a heated debate among Congo scholars and contemporary jihadism experts over whether or not the ADF is really tied to the Islamic State.

The Honor of a Nation

Michael “Mick” Patrick Mulroy, Adam Piercey, and Donald J. Robertson

George Washington was influenced by Stoicism. He was so fond of the Stoic philosopher and Roman statesman, Cato the Younger, that he actually arranged for a play about him to be performed for his soldiers before the battle of Valley Forge. Perhaps the most famous line in that play was:

Better to die ten thousand thousand deaths,
Than wound my honor. — Jospeh Addison, Cato, a Tragedy

A founding father, the first General, and the first President of the United States, Washington understood the importance of honor.

The Stoics derived four virtues from the teachings of Socrates as the fundamental principles of their philosophy. These were wisdom, justice, courage, and moderation. They believed that people who exhibited all of these principles were honorable.

These four main aspects of virtue or excellence (arete in Greek) each held a specific value for the different activities that a Stoic would carry out in their day-to-day lives.

Quantum Computers Getting Connected

Eurasia Review

A promising route towards larger quantum computers is to orchestrate multiple task-optimised smaller systems. To dynamically connect and entangle any two systems, photonic interference emerges as a powerful method, due to its compatibility with on-chip devices and long-distance propagation in quantum networks.

One of the main obstacles towards the commercialization of quantum photonics remains the nanoscale fabrication and integration of scalable quantum systems due to their notorious sensitivity to the smallest disturbances in the close environment. This has made it an extraordinary challenge to develop systems that can be used for quantum computing while simultaneously offering an efficient optical interface.

A recent result published in Nature Materials shows how the integration obstacle can be overcome. The work is based on a multi-national collaboration with researchers from Universities of Stuttgart (Physics 3), California – Davis, Linköping and Kyoto, as well as the Fraunhofer Institute at Erlangen, the Helmholtz Centre at Dresden and the Leibniz-Institute at Leipzig.

The Connectivity War


BERLIN – Many observers have long assumed that the future of geopolitics will be decided in a sea battle over the Taiwan Strait or some rocky outcropping or atoll in the South China Sea. Yet we could probably learn more by examining the treatment of a few thousand desperate refugees in the twenty-first century’s geopolitical backwaters.

Start with the English Channel. Once the site of some of the most dramatic confrontations in history – from the Spanish Armada and the Napoleonic Wars to the Normandy Landings – it is no longer a theater for great-power politics. Instead, the recent deaths of 27 civilians whose inflatable boat capsized after leaving the French coast has turned the channel into a site of humanitarian tragedy.

Rather than working together in solidarity with France to root out the migrant smugglers responsible for the deaths, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson immediately sought to play to a domestic political audience by blaming the French in an open letter published on Twitter. Far from just another juvenile political stunt, Johnson’s dereliction of leadership will most likely have dreadful and far-reaching consequences.

A World of Challenges for Hypersonic Weapons

John Venable and Peter Brookes

In August 2021, a Chinese rocket reportedly orbited the Earth before releasing a hypersonic weapon, which then re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and was guided to a simulated target. Hypersonic speeds are those in excess of Mach 5, or 3,217 nautical miles an hour—roughly one mile per second. Rockets have flown at hypersonic speeds in space since the 1950s, but technology that allows hypersonic weapons to fly significant distances and maneuver around threats at high speed is relatively new. These weapons can close in on targets, compressing the battlespace in ways that may prove to be game changers in the next conflict.


The U.S. led the world in hypersonic-weapons (HSW) development through 2014, when sequestration forced funding cuts to hypersonic research and development.

Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran have HSW programs, as do Australia, France, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, and South Korea.

Recent U.S. funding increases for HSW development has increased significantly across the Services, and the outlook is now very positive.

The Issue

In August, a Chinese rocket reportedly orbited the Earth before releasing a hypersonic weapon (HSW), which then re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and was guided to a simulated target. Hypersonic speeds are those in excess of Mach 5, or 3,217 nautical miles (nm) an hour—roughly one mile per second. Rockets have flown at hypersonic speeds in space since the 1950s, but technology that allows HSWs to fly significant distances and maneuver around threats at high speed is relatively new. These weapons can close in on targets, compressing the battlespace in ways that may prove to be game changers in the next conflict.
Types of Hypersonic Weapons

There are two types of HSWs:

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Boost-glide weapons (BGWs) are carried into space on rockets that accelerate them to hypersonic speed before releasing them to glide along the edge of the atmosphere until within range of its target.

Hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs) are rocket powered to hypersonic speed until a scramjet engine can ignite using onboard fuel and atmospheric oxygen to achieve hypersonic cruise until target impact.

Hypersonic-Weapons Technology

HSW flight inside the atmosphere involves several challenges:
Accelerating to hypersonic speed requires significant thrust from rockets, and sustaining that speed over operationally relevant distances requires scramjet technology that is only now becoming operational.

Vehicle surface temperatures are very high at Mach 5, and grow exponentially as Mach increases, requiring special coatings, shielding, and insulation for airframe and internal components.

The vehicle and components undergo high G-forces during turns, which can significantly decelerate the HSW.

Capabilities and Limitations

BGWs fly at the edge of the Earth’s atmosphere, below reliable space-based sensor tracking and above Earth-based radar coverage, making tracking problematic after the BGW separates from the parent rocket.

Lacking an engine, BGWs decelerate rapidly on entry into the atmosphere and must rapidly descend or dive on targets to hold speed. Speed bleed-off worsens during high G-force maneuvering.

Unlike BGWs, HCMs can sustain hypersonic speeds even at low altitudes, allowing near-wavetop approach to ships, thereby complicating long-range acquisition and engagement by defending forces.

HSW maneuvering involves high G-forces and large turn radiuses. A 60 G turn at Mach 5 has a nearly 15 nm turn radius, while the turn radius at 60 Gs and Mach 17 is nearly 150 nm. Deceleration decreases the turn radius, but increases the vulnerability of the HSW.

HSW maneuvering is effective for flying around and avoiding air and missile defenses, but is less effective at defeating point defenses co-located with the weapon’s intended target due to the vehicle’s turn radius.

U.S. Hypersonic-Weapons Program

The U.S. led the world in HSW Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) through 2014, when sequestration forced funding cuts.

The Army and the Navy are now developing a common hypersonic glide body (C-HGB), a vehicle that has had two successful tests to date.

Fielding of the Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon (the Dark Eagle) is programmed to begin in 2023.

Fielding of the Navy’s Intermediate-Range Conventional Prompt Strike is programmed to begin in 2023 for surface platforms, and in 2024 for submarines.

The Air Force is developing an HCM, the Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon (AGM-183A) for B-52 carriage and employment. A fielding date has yet to be determined.

The Air Force and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are developing the scramjet-powered Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept (HAWC), which exceeded Mach 5 in September 2021.

Funding for HSW RDT&E is now robust across the Services, and the outlook is very positive.
Russian Hypersonic-Weapons Program

The Avangard is an intercontinental-ballistic-missile- (ICBM-) boosted hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), which may already be fielded to some SS-19 units. (SS-19s are ICBM-capable missiles.)

The Tsirkon is a sea-based HCM reportedly able to strike sea-based and land-based targets.
The Kinzhal is a fighter-/bomber-launched ballistic missile capable of striking sea-based and land-based targets.

All three weapons are assumed to be dual capable. (That is, they can carry conventional or nuclear warheads.)

Chinese Hypersonic-Weapons Program

The DF-17 intermediate-range ballistic missile is paired with the DF-ZF HGV and is believed to be operational.
A scramjet-powered HCM is under development, and its engine has reportedly run continually for 10 minutes (which means that the engine is working, and is not merely a concept) during ground testing.

A fractional orbital bombardment system is in development, using a civilian space-launch vehicle and an HGV.

The Chinese are likely planning to field missiles of various ranges, including ICBMs with HGVs.

North Korean Hypersonic-Weapons Program

North Korea launched a pre-fueled Hwasong-8 HGV in 2021, which it called a strategic weapon, indicating if not current, then eventual, nuclear capability.
North Korea could be receiving Chinese or Russian assistance for its HSW-development program.

What Else Haven’t We Been Told about China’s Hypersonic and Nuclear Capabilities?

Mark B. Schneider

In October 2021, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten stated that the U.S. has conducted nine hypersonic missile tests in the last five years, whereas the Chinese have conducted "hundreds.” This implies a Chinese programmatic level of effort vastly in excess of what is publicly available in open sources, including the Pentagon’s annual China military power report. Indeed, the 2021 version of the Pentagon report only states, “During 2020, the PRC fielded its first missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle [the DF-17] and advanced its scramjet engine development, which has applications in hypersonic cruise missiles.” In light of General Hyten’s revelation, the annual Pentagon report on Chinese military power is misleading because the scope of the Chinese testing programs suggests that China must be developing many advanced hypersonic systems. If nine U.S. tests support the development of several systems, how many systems are being supported by hundreds of Chinese tests? There is no reference to the Chinese orbital hypersonic missile in the report, but this is understandable in light of the late reported date of the tests (August 2021). Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley has said this system is almost a “Sputnik moment” and that it is nuclear. If a Financial Times report is true, one thing we have not been officially told is that "CHINA'S round-the-world hypersonic nuclear weapon fired a second missile while traveling five times faster than the speed of sound, reports claim.” This suggests a multiple-warhead capability.


The world is not in an era of change; it is in the midst of a change of era, affecting almost every aspect of individual and communal life. The amount and velocity of change will continue to increase and thus exacerbate the already significant stress on the leaders and institutions within nations as well as those associated with the global security environment. The probability of conflict—war in all its forms—is rising. Correspondingly, the importance of thinking and acting at the strategic level is rising as well.

No single organization in the US National Security apparatus is charged with attending to the strategic-level lessons the United States should be learning. The study of tactics and individual battles; the forces, weaponry, and equipment used to fight; and how battles are strung together into campaigns—are all necessary and important elements concerning the future of war. The US military services, the Joint Staff, Geographic Combatant Commanders, and the US defense industries are hard at work trying to figure out future warfighting requirements: new weapons and equipment, new fighting methods, new-leader development and training requirements, new capabilities, and new organizations. The results of this work at the tactical and operational levels of war will affect success at the war-fighting level. This paper does not aim to duplicate this effort. Rather, this paper begins from a different perspective, one that acknowledges that wars must also be waged in addition to being fought.

Waging war requires different skills and capacities. Three core strategic skills are particularly important:

Identifying coherent aims or purposes for any use of force, then aligning military and non-military strategies, policies, and campaigns that increase the probability of achieving those aims;

Creating the organizational capacity to translate initial decisions concerning strategies, policies, and campaigns into action, adapting as events unfold to achieve aims and bring the use of force to a successful conclusion;

Building and sustaining legitimacy—using force only for legitimate reasons, observing international law in execution, ensuring proper integration of military and civil leadership, and sustaining public support throughout.

Proficiency in these strategic skills increases or decreases the probability of success at the war-waging level. Waging and fighting wars both matter. Any study of the future of war that focuses merely on war-fighting will be necessarily myopic and insufficient. An adequate study must also address war-waging. This paper, therefore, takes up the following question: what should senior US civil and military leaders and US war-waging institutions learn in anticipation of a future already unfolding?

Answering this question begins with explaining that the concept of war has undergone a paradigm shift from a binary to a unitary understanding of war. The old, binary paradigm that separated “war” and “operations other than war” made little sense when US strategists adopted it during the Cold War, and it makes less sense now. US strategists must understand war in all its forms as the unitary phenomenon it is. This conceptual shift has taken place within a larger strategic context. The environment in which all uses of force and forms of war take place has been changing rapidly and growing more complex every day, and this pace of change and complexity promises only to accelerate in the future.

US senior military and political leaders are facing an ever-increasing volume and velocity of challenges—social-political, economic, diplomatic, financial, and informational—that are resulting from the emerging information age, the Fourth Industrial Revolution. One of the effects of these challenges is exacerbated inequality within nations and among them, an inequality that produces fear, anxiety, and divisiveness that, in turn, increases the probability of strife, conflict, and the use of force. The increased probability of using force in one form or another is also coming from US competitions with China, Russia, and Iran; the United States’ unresolved wars in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and globally against Salafi jihadis; the nuclear-armed, irritating North Korea; the effects of climate change; and the receding trust in US leadership.

The paper goes on to outline how the conceptual shift and environmental trends make executing the three, core war-waging skills in the future even harder than they had been. Then it ends with conclusions and recommendations.

America Should Bet on Bangladesh

Anu Anwar and Michael Kugelman

Natural disasters, poverty, and overpopulation are the reductive lenses through which many international observers view Bangladesh. While the country’s recent economic success has captured global attention, it is still rarely on the radars of strategic thinkers. Yet Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming recently delivered a useful reminder about Bangladesh’s strategic significance when he warned that China-Bangladesh relations will suffer if Dhaka joins the Quad, an informal grouping that aims to counterbalance Beijing.

During its early years, Bangladesh suffered through military coups and economic stagnation. These conditions kept Bangladesh, now a fragile democracy, isolated globally for decades. Even today, in South Asian geopolitical discourse, Bangladesh—when not ignored altogether—is often viewed through the prism of India, an influential player in the subcontinent’s geopolitics, and of its other neighbors. But Bangladesh has major geopolitical value on its own merits, separate from India or any other country.

First, consider geography: Bangladesh borders India along the latter’s seven northeastern states, including along the narrow yet highly strategic Siliguri Corridor that links these states to the rest of India. The northeast accounts for just 8 percent of India’s territory, but has long been a restive area home to multiple separatist movements. Northeast India also borders China, which maintains a claim to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. During a 2017 India-China border crisis in the Doklam plateau—located on the northeastern side of the Siliguri Corridor—India initiated a massive force mobilization via this narrow corridor.

The Lessons of Henry Kissinger’s Diplomacy

Isaac Chotiner

In 2013, Barack Obama appointed Martin Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel in the Clinton Administration, and a well-known foreign-policy voice in Washington, to be the U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Indyk’s efforts to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, a process that included secret negotiations between Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the Palestinian Authority, ended in disappointment. In his new book, “Master of the Game: Henry Kissinger and the Art of Middle East Diplomacy,” Indyk examines the history of U.S. engagement in the region—specifically through an in-depth analysis of the former Secretary of State’s attempts to forge peace between Israel and its neighbors after the 1973 Arab-Israeli War. Indyk portrays Kissinger as extremely clever and intelligent, a deft strategist whose maneuverings ultimately establish the United States as the preëminent peacemaker in the region.

Indyk, a friend of Kissinger’s, offers some criticism of what he terms his subject’s “manipulations,” as he alternated between threats and flattery in trying to cajole the Israelis, the Egyptians, and the Syrians into negotiating. But, in general, Indyk avoids the more controversial parts of Kissinger’s legacy, which include his support for prolonging the Vietnam War and the bombing of Cambodia during the war, his help in orchestrating a coup in Chile, his support for Pakistan’s genocide in what is now Bangladesh, and his encouragement of repressive regimes in Africa and Latin America.

How Disinformation Corrodes Democracy

Nina Jankowicz

President Joe Biden will convene the inaugural Summit for Democracy in early December. His administration intends the gathering to signal the end of the era of democratic backsliding and creeping authoritarianism ushered in by its predecessor and to insist to the world that the United States—with its steadfast moral convictions and values and its exemplary status as a “city upon a hill” after which other countries can model themselves—is back.

The summit was one of Biden’s earliest and most concrete foreign policy proposals. He spoke about it when campaigning for the presidency. It represents an opportunity to build and reinvigorate critical coalitions and alliances that the Trump administration allowed to deteriorate. The meeting need not be purely symbolic; it can lead to cooperation around fighting the corrupting influence of foreign flows of money and to the creation of economic groups meant to counterbalance authoritarian adversaries, such as China and Russia. To be successful, the summit should generate meaningful commitments from those in attendance. But the most urgent issue on the agenda—the one needing the most dedicated international action—should be the foreign and domestic use of disinformation, or false or misleading information spread with malign intent. Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, after Russia used a hack-and-leak operation paired with an online influence campaign to try to swing the vote for Donald Trump, the phenomenon of disinformation has grown only wider, encompassing not just foreign online influence campaigns but those trafficked and amplified by elected U.S. officials. Disinformation is not just a partisan issue; it strikes at the connective tissue of democracy and should headline a summit meant to bolster democracies in perilous times.

America Is Not Withdrawing from the Middle East

Dalia Dassa Kaye

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has made no secret of its desire to extricate the United States from the Middle East. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in an interview before taking office, said that he envisioned a Biden presidency would do “less not more” in the region. A senior U.S. official likewise told me that the Obama administration didn’t follow through on its so-called pivot to Asia, but “this time we are.”

The United States’ “strategic competition” with China currently dominates American foreign policy discussion, representing bipartisan consensus in an otherwise divided Washington. But for all the talk about withdrawing from the Middle East and genuine regional anxiety about U.S. abandonment in the aftermath of Afghanistan, the reality on the ground suggests otherwise: Washington still maintains a sprawling network of military bases and has proved willing to embrace even its most unsavory partners in the name of bolstering regional security. What’s more, regional dynamics are likely to lead to further instability and violence—fueling a demand for a continued American presence.

To be sure, the United States is no longer the only global player in the Middle East. Chinese economic and technology investments and Russia’s military influence have grown over the past decade. In that sense, the American moment is over. And yet, much as Americans may like to be done with the Middle East, the Middle East is not done with the United States. American withdrawal is not only a myth, it is preventing an important debate in Washington about how the United States can adjust its policies to improve the lives of the region’s citizens and contribute to a more just political order in the Middle East.

The Most Powerful Data Broker in the World Is Winning the War Against the U.S.

Matt Pottinger and David Feith

President Biden came away from his summit with China’s President Xi Jinping on Nov. 15 committed to prosecuting what he called “simple, straightforward competition” with China. Yet Beijing is already beating the United States and its allies in one crucial domain: data.

Data is the oil of the 21st century, the indispensable resource that will fuel artificial-intelligence algorithms, economic strength and national power. The wellspring of this data is all of us: our health records and genetic sequences, our online habits, the supply chain flows of our businesses, the terabytes of imagery guzzled by phones, drones and autonomous cars.

The competition for global influence in the 21st century will require protecting and harnessing this data to achieve commercial, technological and military advantages. So far, China is winning, and the West is barely even engaged.

Through a latticework of recent laws and regulations, Mr. Xi has been hard at work making the Chinese Communist Party the world’s most powerful data broker. How does Beijing do that? By walling Chinese data off from the world, exerting new extraterritorial power over global data flows and putting foreign companies operating in China in a legal bind — all while absorbing other countries’ data by means licit and illicit.

How Disinformation Corrodes Democracy

 Nina Jankowicz

President Joe Biden will convene the inaugural Summit for Democracy in early December. His administration intends the gathering to signal the end of the era of democratic backsliding and creeping authoritarianism ushered in by its predecessor and to insist to the world that the United States—with its steadfast moral convictions and values and its exemplary status as a “city upon a hill” after which other countries can model themselves—is back.

The summit was one of Biden’s earliest and most concrete foreign policy proposals. He spoke about it when campaigning for the presidency. It represents an opportunity to build and reinvigorate critical coalitions and alliances that the Trump administration allowed to deteriorate. The meeting need not be purely symbolic; it can lead to cooperation around fighting the corrupting influence of foreign flows of money and to the creation of economic groups meant to counterbalance authoritarian adversaries, such as China and Russia. To be successful, the summit should generate meaningful commitments from those in attendance. But the most urgent issue on the agenda—the one needing the most dedicated international action—should be the foreign and domestic use of disinformation, or false or misleading information spread with malign intent. Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, after Russia used a hack-and-leak operation paired with an online influence campaign to try to swing the vote for Donald Trump, the phenomenon of disinformation has grown only wider, encompassing not just foreign online influence campaigns but those trafficked and amplified by elected U.S. officials. Disinformation is not just a partisan issue; it strikes at the connective tissue of democracy and should headline a summit meant to bolster democracies in perilous times.

Russian Thinking on the Role of AI in Future Warfare

Anya Fink

Russian political and military leaders have increasingly pondered the challenges and implications of growing “informatization” across the armed forces for the future of warfare. A key topic of discussion has been the subject of artificial intelligence (AI). To be sure, AI has become a buzzword across the Russian government writ large, buttressed by President Putin’s personal interest in how it could contribute to Russia’s economic development.2

Highlighting the significance of AI for the Russian military, the head of the General Staff Academy Colonel General V.B. Zarudnitskiy recently wrote that an important direction for development of Russian armed forces will be “the introduction of [AI] capable of self-learning and analysis of big data for applications in various fields – from intelligence and weapons management to strategic forecasting and decision-making”. He further pointed out that “the rapid development of both military and non-military means of confrontation, primarily with the use of [AI] technologies, [is contributing to] the emergence of promising forms of employment of the Russian armed forces – from a strategic operation of general-purpose forces and an operation of strategic deterrent forces to a global military campaign”.3 In other words, the ability to harness AI-enabled technologies successfully will have an impact on the Russian armed forces and how they fight.


Developed by INSA’s Cyber Council, the paper, Designating the U.S. Space Sector as Critical Infrastructure, notes that space systems have become vital to U.S. national and economic security even though space-related assets were not considered as one of 16 critical infrastructure sectors designated by the 2013 Presidential Policy Directive on Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience (PPD-21). Space assets are now integrated into almost all essential sectors and functions, including defense, agriculture, transportation, energy, and telecommunications. Designating the space sector as critical infrastructure, the paper asserts, would enhance the resiliency of space-related assets and thereby make these other critical infrastructure sectors more secure.

“Space-related capabilities have become essential to both national security and economic security, yet countries like Russia and China – which have advanced offensive cyber capabilities and anti-satellite weapons – have the potential to take them offline,” said Larry Hanauer, INSA’s Vice President for Policy. “Designating the space sector as part of the nation’s critical infrastructure would make it easier for government organizations, the military, and commercial space companies to share information on threats and vulnerabilities and thereby enhance the space sector’s resilience.”

The space sector includes mission control, launch facilities, more than 3,300 satellites currently in orbit, and a wide range of companies and universities engaged in advanced research & development and technology deployment. Some experts predict the value of the space industry will reach almost $1.5 trillion by end of 2030.

The paper finds that designating the space sector as the United States’ 17th critical infrastructure sector would clarify government agencies’ roles and responsibilities in protecting space infrastructure, make clear to U.S. adversaries that the United States is committed to defending its space infrastructure, contribute to the establishment of global norms regarding the safety and security of space systems, and accelerate development of best practices and technologies for ensuring cybersecurity and resilience of space assets.

Poland’s Twin Crises Warsaw is challenging Brussels on the rule of law but using an immigration crisis to soften any pushback.

Amanda Coakley

WARSAW, Poland—Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has overseen the dismantlement of the Central European nation’s independent judiciary, targeted gay and lesbian rights, rolled back women’s reproductive rights, and gutted the media. Democratic backsliding set off alarm bells in Brussels as relations between the two came to a head in October, when Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal ruled that some European Union laws were incompatible with the country’s constitution.

Faced with such a frontal challenge to the EU’s fundamental order, Brussels has responded halfheartedly, only suspending around $41.2 billion in pandemic recovery funding. Poland came back fighting. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said financial penalties amounted to “blackmail,” and another Polish minister threatened to undermine key EU climate legislation.

To deal with one crisis in the west, Poland looked east. When Belarus’s strongman, Aleksandr Lukashenko, orchestrated a migration crisis on Poland’s eastern border this year in response to EU sanctions, the Law and Justice party took a hard line on migration. Between September and November, the Polish government imposed a state of emergency 2 miles from its border with Belarus. In this gray zone, the Polish border police worked without scrutiny from international aid organizations or journalists. Migrants caught attempting to cross into Poland from Belarus were often pushed back, contrary to international rules on asylum.

On Tuesday, amendments to Poland’s Border Protection Act were quickly pushed through parliament to extend those conditions to the border region, a move Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatovic said would have “negative effects on the freedom of movement, assembly, and expression” and impede “the important work in protecting the human rights of migrants and refugees” at the border.

The Polish state has justified its actions by taking a page from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s book: Poland isn’t just defending itself but rather holding the line on irregular migration for the whole European Union.

To an extent, it has worked. While Brussels is appalled at Poland’s erosion of the rule of law, it has expressed “solidarity” with Warsaw on the border crisis, regardless of the conditions Poland has imposed along its frontier with Belarus. European Council President Charles Michel has talked about opening “the debate on the EU financing of physical border infrastructure,” a controversial issue that plays into the hands of the EU’s illiberal states, including Poland and Hungary. Other EU countries are getting in on the act: Lithuania and Latvia have also imposed a state of emergency along their borders with Belarus and engaged in pushbacks.

Russia Blocks Brit From U.N. Libya Envoy Role

Colum Lynch and Robbie Gramer

Russia has blocked the appointment of a veteran British United Nations troubleshooter, Nicholas Kay, as the U.N. special envoy to Libya, contributing to diplomatic turmoil ahead of the North African country’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections, two diplomatic sources said.

The move comes less than a week after the U.N.’s outgoing envoy, Slovak diplomat Jan Kubis, abruptly resigned from his job following a clash with U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres over the U.N.’s handling of pre-election preparations. It also follows ongoing tensions between Britain and Russia, the latter of which previously blocked the renewal of appointments for several U.N. sanctions experts. Moscow protested what it sees as the proliferation of British nationals, many of them with dual citizenship, landing influential U.N. jobs.

Guterres had hoped to move quickly to fill the top U.N. spot before Libya’s elections, proposing Kay, a former British diplomat who served as the U.N. special representative for Somalia. Diplomats said Guterres is mulling the prospect of appointing Stephanie Williams, a U.S. diplomat who served as the acting U.N. special representative for Libya and deputy head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya, on an interim basis, thereby avoiding another contentious vote in the U.N. Security Council.

Hungary’s Strongman Is Running Scared

Paul Hockenos

BUDAPEST, Hungary—For the first time in his 11 years in office, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is fighting for his political life.

The government’s frantic tone and a desperate flurry of fresh measures aimed at voters suggest that Orban’s Fidesz party takes the results of independent polling very seriously. Ahead of the upcoming parliamentary elections, which are expected to be held in April 2022, the unified opposition of more than half a dozen parties maintains a solid lead of 4 percentage points over Fidesz, which has ruled Hungary with parliamentary supermajorities since 2010 and fashioned the state according to Orban’s vision of a Christian-oriented “illiberal democracy.”

Gabor Eröss of Hungary’s Green Party told Foreign Policy: “This is what we need: three and a half or four points more than Fidesz.” In 2018, the five main opposition parties, which ran separately, tallied a combined 47.6 percent of the vote, while Fidesz amassed 49.3 percent, enabling it, according to Fidesz-passed law, to occupy two thirds of parliamentary seats. “Orban is beatable. But the larger our victory, the better, as Fidesz will contest a narrow loss.” Rampant corruption and dwindling wages, Eross says, have incensed many Hungarians and even soured a slice of Fidesz voters, enough to tip the balance definitively in the opposition’s favor.

Since 2010, Orban has ruled Hungary like a fiefdom, bucking European norms as well as channeling European Union funds to his allies and family, observers say. The European Commission has accused Hungary of ineffective prosecution of corruption, deficiencies in public procurement, conflict of interests, and violations of judicial independence, as well as the transfer of public assets to newly created private foundations. On Nov. 19, the commission requested that Hungary respond to these allegations or face financial penalties. EU concerns over the corruption allegations and violations of the rule of law have already delayed the payment of 7.2 billion euros ($8.1 billion) in grants under the bloc’s coronavirus response fund, worth around 5 percent of the country’s GDP.

After years of infighting and turbulence, the United Opposition—comprising the Hungarian Socialist Party (MSZP), Democratic Coalition, Movement for a Better Hungary (known as Jobbik), LMP/Green Party, Dialogue for Hungary, Momentum, and others—will run a joint candidate in every one of the country’s 106 voting districts. Should they prevail, this diverse cast that spans the political spectrum intends to govern together, even though they will remain separate parties with rival positions on major issues. A sign of its unwieldly disposition and the difficulties it will certainly face: The United Opposition, founded late last year, currently has no program.

Nevertheless, predictions of its chances to better Fidesz appear auspicious, even with much of the media tightly in Fidesz’s hands. In the 2018 parliamentary election, though Fidesz trounced opposition parties in the countryside, it failed to win majorities in larger cities, including Budapest. In the 2019 local elections, opposition parties took 10 of 23 mayoral posts—the first major defeat for Fidesz in an election since 2006. The 2019 trouncing of Fidesz followed a 2018 by-election in the Fidesz stronghold of Hodmezovasarhely, where an electrical engineer-turned-historian, Peter Marki-Zay, snatched the small southeastern city on the Great Hungarian Plain away from Fidesz for the first time since 1990. In the hope of repeating this feat on the national level, the opposition chose the conservative Marki-Zay, a clean-cut, church-going father of seven, as their joint candidate for prime minister.

Intensifying EU pressure, spiraling inflation, and the unified opposition obviously have Orban on the ropes. “Orban is reaching deep into his bag of dirty tricks,” said Laszlo Andor, an economist, former EU commissioner, and MSZP member. “And he’s spending like there’s no tomorrow, as well as dealing out state assets.”

The latest Orban maneuver—perhaps a game-changer—is a law that, as of Jan. 1, 2022, will ease the way for Hungarians living abroad to register to vote as residents living in Hungary. All diaspora Hungarians with citizenship can cast ballots for a party on the national slate. This right they already have. But as of 2022, those who claim residency—without having to prove it—can also vote for a directly elected local candidate. This practice, which constituted fraud when the addresses were fake, happened in the 2018 parliamentary election in northeastern Hungary, as documented by independent NGOs. But now, what was once fraud is completely legal, enabling perhaps tens of thousands of ethnic Hungarians in bordering countries to register and then vote for direct local candidates in Hungary.

The Hungarian diaspora has long been a trough for nationalist politicos in Hungary to feed from—but for no one more than Orban. In Ukraine, Serbia, Slovakia, Austria, Croatia, and Romania live about 2.2 million ethnic Hungarians, about 20 percent of Hungary’s total population. (The minorities are the casualties of the post-World War I Treaty of Trianon, which doled out two-thirds of the Kingdom of Hungary’s lands to adjacent states.) And they vote Fidesz in droves—to the tune of 96 percent in 2018. Their votes are gratitude for Orban’s grandiose pronouncements that include them in the greater Hungarian nation—and for pumping some 351 million euros ($397 million) a year into the near abroad under the rubric “aid for national policy purposes.” In western Ukraine, the monies for the 150,000 ethnic Hungarians total 150 percent of the government budget there, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The electoral tampering is anything but subtle. In contrast to the settled diaspora Hungarians, Hungarian migrants working abroad on a temporary basis tend not to be Fidesz voters—and find voting regulations frustratingly complicated and unfair. They are required to submit ballots at Hungarian embassies and consulates. Thus, a Hungarian living in Dallas (with a residence in Hungary) has to journey to Los Angeles to vote, while a Hungarian in northern Serbia (without a residence in Hungary) can vote by mail.

How the Coronavirus Pandemic Upended Life as We Know It

The coronavirus pandemic has upended life as we know it with its devastating effects not only on health, but on domestic economies and multilateral trade, cooperation and aid. It has reframed domestic politics by crowding out other issues, with political performances measured against how successfully leaders have navigated their countries through the pandemic. Failure to do so has already toppled seemingly entrenched rulers, while upending politics in electoral democracies. Afraid of facing similar consequences, some governments have used the pandemic as a pretext for restricting free speech and stripping away the rule of law.

Meanwhile, the pandemic has stalled economies and wiped out millions of jobs, leaving governments everywhere struggling to map out possible paths to recovery. There have already been calls for debt relief across the Global South. Now the third wave of the pandemic, and in some regions the fourth, has caused further economic damage, requiring sustained government interventions to head off catastrophe.

Four Scenarios for the Iran Nuclear Deal

Riccardo Alcaro

After a hiatus of over five months, negotiations to restore the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA),[1] commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal, have finally resumed in Vienna. Struck in July 2015 by Iran and a group of six powers – France, Germany and the UK plus China, Russia and the US, as well as the EU (E3/EU+3)–, the JCPOA placed limits on Iranian nuclear activities, while also introducing a highly intrusive inspection regime by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The deal is in a comatose state due to former US President Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally pull out of the agreement and re-adopt all sanctions on Iran in May 2018. In response, since May 2019 Iran has progressively reduced its compliance with its non-proliferation obligations under the deal.[2]

More akin to an empty shell than anything else, the agreement still remains formally in place, especially thanks to the E3/EU’s resolve to keep it afloat after 2018[3] and Iran’s choice not to abandon it altogether – the Iranians maintain that their progressive breaches of the JCPOA’s limits are justified by the US’s unilateral withdrawal and the fact that Iran never received the economic benefits it was promised. Iran does have a point, as the extraterritorial reach of US “secondary” sanctions has indeed dried out most streams of legitimate trade between Iran and Europe, Russia and (less so) China.

On Putin’s Red Lines – OpEd

David C. Speedie

A classic definition of the difference between a politician and a statesman is that, in disagreements with other nations, the latter can understand the position of the other side. This being essential to diplomatic engagement, the speech given by President Putin in mid-November to foreign policy elites in Moscow deserves close attention; indeed, it may be described as an elegy for constructive U.S.-Russia relations.

The tone of President Putin’s presentation was as important as the content: overall, he spoke more in sorrow than in anger [though he did betray a degree of exasperation when speaking of NATO’s expulsion of Russian diplomats]. There was moreover a regret at “missed opportunities” throughout, along with a measured reflection on current stresses in the relationship that contrasts with the hectoring and lecturing approach to Russia from Washington.

That said, this reasonable demeanor should not be confused with any weakness or capitulation: Putin spoke forcefully of red lines, and of the folly of our “superficial” treatment of those [one noticed how he paused for a long moment to find the right word]. The obvious red line of paramount importance is Ukraine; the Minsk Agreements and the deliberations of the Normandy Quartet are mired in the refusal of the two “neutral” observers–France and Germany–to hold Ukraine’s feet to the fire. This is all the more dangerous because, as Putin said starkly: there is no alternative to Minsk. Also complicating matters in a perilous fashion is the fact the the United States seems to be avoiding any direct interventionist role [which the Ukrainians expect, rather like Saakashvili did with disastrous consequences in Georgia in 2008] by, providing high-grade weaponry to Kiev–a consolation prize that since the 2014 coup amounts to some $2.5 billion, including such sophisticated items as electronic warfare equipment.

AI Strategic Competition, Norms, and the Ethics of Global Empire

Joseph Bouchard

More impressive and ambitious than its Belt and Road Initiative, China has been building a global data technology empire, one that is on track to surpass the United States and all Western powers in AI technology and other cutting-edge technological advances. It announced it would do as such in a conference held with foreign diplomats in 2018, setting 2030 as the deadline for China’s AI dominance.

If data is the new oil, as the Taiwanese tech entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee once stated, then China is seeking to become the new Saudi Arabia. At a remarkable pace and efficiency, China has been at the front line of artificial intelligence and information technology, far outgrowing the stereotypes about Chinese life and society from only decades ago. Chinese tech companies have used AI and deep learning technologies to address the diabetes epidemic, detect cancer at a much faster pace, and reduce driving accidents. To cut down on road deaths, Chinese AI companies have pioneered self-driving trucks, allowing the convenience of high-speed commercial delivery without the 700 or so deaths involving truck drivers each year.

On the Trans-Atlantic Price Gap

Paul Krugman

This morning Eurostat, the European statistical agency, announced its “flash” estimate of November inflation for the euro area. It came in well above expectations — a 4.9 percent rise in prices over the past year. Still, this was lower than U.S. inflation: In October our consumer prices were up 6.2 percent over the year. And technical differences appear to downplay the U.S.-Europe difference. If we use a European-style index to calculate U.S. inflation over the past year, it was 7.3 percent.

Now, one-year inflation is a problematic measure right now, because many prices were temporarily depressed by the pandemic. Many commentators like to focus on price rises over two years to avoid this problem. When you do, however, the difference between the United States and Europe remains striking:

Does lower (although still high) inflation in Europe tell us something about inflation here? A number of commentators have argued that the difference shows that deficit spending, which has been bigger in the United States, is a major cause of inflation. For example, Jason Furman, the former head of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, has put the Europe-U.S. differential at the core of his argument that the American Rescue Plan bears a lot of responsibility for current inflation:

Opinion: A shadow war in space is heating up fast

Josh Rogin

When Russia blows up a satellite in space with a missile (as it did this month), or when China tests a new hypersonic missile (as it did last month), the ongoing arms race in space leaps into the news. But in between these “Sputnik”-like moments, outside the public’s view, the United States and its adversaries are battling in space every day.

While Washington officials and experts warn of the risks of an arms race in space, the United States’ adversaries are constantly conducting operations against U.S. satellites that skirt the line between intelligence operations and acts of war. The pace of conflict is intensifying, according to a top Space Force general, who told me that China could overtake the United States to become the number one power in space by the end of the decade.

“The threats are really growing and expanding every single day. And it’s really an evolution of activity that’s been happening for a long time,” Gen. David Thompson, the Space Force’s first vice chief of space operations, told me in an interview on the sidelines of the recent Halifax International Security Forum. “We’re really at a point now where there’s a whole host of ways that our space systems can be threatened.”

Inside the ‘Misinformation’ Wars

Ben Smith

On Friday afternoons this fall, top American news executives have dialed into a series of off-the-record Zoom meetings led by Harvard academics whose goal is to “help newsroom leaders fight misinformation and media manipulation.”

Those are hot topics in the news industry right now, and so the program at Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy drew an impressive roster of executives at CNN, NBC News, The Associated Press, Axios and other major U.S. outlets.

A couple of them, though, told me they were puzzled by the reading package for the first session.

It consisted of a Harvard case study, which a participant shared with me, examining the coverage of Hunter Biden’s lost laptop in the final days of the 2020 campaign. The story had been pushed by aides and allies of then-President Donald J. Trump who tried to persuade journalists that the hard drive’s contents would reveal the corruption of the father.

The Folly of Generals: How Eisenhower’s Broad Front Strategy Lengthened World War II

Jeffrey Crean

From the execution of the Schlieffen Plan in August 1914 to Douglas MacArthur’s drive to the Yalu River in November 1950, the quest to turn tactical opportunities first into operational breakthroughs and then into strategic triumphs preoccupied 20th century military leaders.[1] The events on the French front in World War II during September 1944, specifically Patton’s inability to progress beyond the Metz fortress complex and, most importantly, the failure of British General Bernard Montgomery’s attempted Rhine crossing in Operation Market Garden, would appear as evidence that such hopes of lightning victories were often illusory. Yet, in his provocative book-length study The Folly of Generals: How Eisenhower’s Broad Front Strategy Lengthened World War II, David Colley argues there were opportunities to end the war by Christmas. However, Eisenhower was too cautious a commander to take advantage of them, and kept too tight a leash on his subordinate commanders. Colley uses the western front in 1944 as a case study to argue for a flexible command structure to encourage aggressiveness and initiative among lower-level officers and greater battlefield success.

Colley’s argument that the war could have been won in 1944 goes back nearly to the events themselves, and usually assumes two forms. The first analyzes what it would have taken for Market Garden to have succeeded, with the assumption that its failure was a close-run matter. The second argues that the resources—particularly the gasoline—devoted to Montgomery’s offensive should have been given to U.S. General George S. Patton so he could have achieved an armored breakthrough. But Colley takes a different approach. Looking southward from Montgomery’s and Patton’s much-discussed forces, the author identifies four other points of potential breakthrough that were far more achievable at lower costs in men and materiel. In the author’s estimation, Eisenhower’s unwillingness to improvise and quickly exploit unexpected opportunities—such as the four Colley analyzes in-depth—unnecessarily prolonged the war by nearly six months.

Pentagon’s innovation steering group mapping existing efforts


WASHINGTON: The Pentagon’s new innovation steering group has taken its first steps toward transitioning innovative technology from prototyping to programs of record, starting with the basics of identifying the number of innovation organizations across the military.

Speaking Tuesday at the Association of Old Crows conference, Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Heidi Shyu outlined ongoing efforts by the steering group to improve the department’s ability to transition innovative technologies into programs of record. The steering group was created earlier this year by Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks.

“It’s the principal form for us to drive systemic strategy, policy, programmatic, cultural and budgetary changes,” Shyu said.

The group has created a “map” of innovation organizations across the department, she said. That has allowed her to get a better understanding of the goals of the “over 20” organizations on the list, in addition to their missions, budget and types of products procured.