15 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 

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.

Putin’s Visit Strengthens India’s Strategic Autonomy Stance

Dalbir Ahlawat

The first ever 2+2 dialogue between India and Russia’s foreign and defense ministers on December 6, indicated further strengthening of the security and strategic bilateral relationship. At the same time, a visit by President Vladimir Putin to New Delhi for the 21st India-Russia annual summit is telling, specifically at a time when the long-range S-400 surface-to-air missile defense system (priced $5.4 billion) is en route to India. Putin’s visit attracts a great deal of attention; since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic this was his second visit abroad, after a summit with U.S. President Joe Biden in Geneva in June.

While Prime Minister Narendra Modi underlined the bilateral relationship as a “special and privileged strategic partnership [that] continues to become stronger,” Putin couched India “as a great power, a friendly nation and a time-tested friend.” A key outcome of the summit was the signing of a 10-year defense technical cooperation agreement, as well as a $600 million deal to manufacture over 600,000 AK-203 Kalashnikov rifles in India as part of the Indo-Russian joint venture. Furthermore, both countries set an ambitious goal of enhancing the bilateral trade to $30 billion by 2025. Overall, the summit included the signing of 28 agreements.

Defense, climate and energy markets are inexorably linked. It’s time to acknowledge it.


While the era of thinking the Defense Department has no need to worry about the environment has thankfully ended, too many in Washington still think of climate change, energy markets, and national security as, at best, tangentially linked, and at worst opposites that cannot peacefully coexist.

It’s a view unfortunately shared on each side — climate activists often view defense spending as wasteful and polluting, while defense experts return fire that climate activists are downplaying national security. But with the Biden administration making climate change a priority across the board, the idea that either side can succeed without the other needs to be squashed immediately.

It takes only a quick survey of the state of the world to see why: Moscow’s weaponization of natural gas and Iran’s exploitation of gasoline-starved Beirut are two examples today of how energy and security go hand in hand. And there are less obvious cases to point to as well.

Is Afghanistan Really Exporting Terror to Central Asia?

UYAMA Tomohiko

One of the feared repercussions of the Taliban’s return to power after 20 years is the potential for international terrorism to destabilize the surrounding region, including Central Asia. Yet in the months that have followed the fall of Kabul in August, the situation in Central Asia has not been particularly unstable. Will that change? Considering the 30-year history of independence of Central Asian countries, it seems unlikely.

People tend to imagine Central Asia as a region of instability, but while it is certainly non-democratic, it does in fact have several stable, long-term governments, and terrorist incidents are not especially frequent. Certainly, the situation was more turbulent about 20 years ago when the guerrillas of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) tried to invade Uzbekistan from their bases in Tajikistan in 1999, fought battles in Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz Republic) on the way, and abducted some Japanese engineers. However, this was largely due to the synergy generated by the radicalization of certain elements of the “Islamic revival” movement in Uzbekistan and the suppression of religious activities by the Karimov administration in that country, with the Tajikistani Civil War (1992-1997) acting as an auxiliary factor. In fact, the impact from outside Central Asia was minor.

Inside the Fall of Kabul

Matthieu Aikins

After dark on a mild July evening, I made my way through a heavily fortified neighborhood in downtown Kabul. Over the years, the capital’s elite had retreated deeper behind concrete walls topped with concertina wire; sometimes they even added a layer of Hesco barriers on the sidewalk, forcing me into the street as I passed. I buzzed at the home of a former government official, went inside and climbed the marble stairs to a rooftop party. I’d been to a few of his gatherings over the years, some of them raucous with laughter and dancing, but this was a quiet affair, with a small group of Afghan men and women, mostly young and stylishly dressed, sitting in a circle under the lamplight.

The mood was grim. In recent weeks, large areas of the north, places that had not historically supported the Taliban, had suddenly fallen. A new assessment by the U.S. intelligence community predicted that the republic could collapse as soon as six months after the last American forces left. Yet President Biden was pressing ahead with the withdrawal. That very night, American troops were flying out of Bagram Air Field, the giant base north of the capital where the United States had built a prison to house detainees.

Pakistani group starting a cyber war against India and Afghanistan

Nidhi Khandelwal

SideCopy, a Pakistani threat actor, has been launching espionage strikes against the Indian and Afghan governments.

The gang has gained access to government websites as well as key Google, Twitter, and Facebook credentials. APT36 is thought to be a subset of SideCopy.

So, what happened?

According to Malwarebytes, the organization attempted to mislead attribution by imitating the infection chains of another group, SideWinder.

Why Is China Insisting It Is a Democracy?

Brian Wong

Just ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s Summit for Democracy, the Chinese State Council Information Office published a whitepaper outlining its distinctive conception of democracy. Much of China’s recent emphasis upon democracy – through an alternative discourse that deviates considerably from the West’s – should be read in light of the wider context of the country’s search for a plausible and emphatic legitimation narrative.

Legitimation narratives are the set of discourses and argumentation advanced by states as justification for the normative legitimacy of their rule over their territories and citizens. Such narratives have both domestic and foreign audiences – domestic, in the sense of persuading citizens at large to accept their rule; foreign, in deflecting and pushing back against challenges to the state’s territorial sovereignty and claim to political authority.

Such narratives manifest in many forms: The United States has historically centered its regime around the dual notions of freedom and democracy. The British bicameral system, coupled with a constitutional monarchical framework, emphasizes representation and checks and balances. Singapore, on the other hand, prizes meritocracy and quality governance as the fundamental lynchpin to its rule. Legitimation narratives bolster regime strength and continuity, heighten popular buy-in and support, and provide compelling reasons for individuals to refrain from secessionist activities.

Safety Concerns Mount Over Damaged Fuel Rods at China’s Taishan Nuclear Plant

Jesse Turland

On November 28 Radio France International Chinese published claims by a whistleblower contradicting official statements downplaying the extent of damage to fuel rods at the Taishan 1 Nuclear Reactor in Taishan, Guangdong province.

The whistleblower, who works at a French nuclear energy company, warned that more than 70 fuel rods were damaged, 14 times the figure acknowledged by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) in June, when it stated “about five” rods were damaged. Additionally, the whistleblower claimed the damage may be linked to a “design flaw.”

Under pressure from public activism, France’s nuclear energy regulator, Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN), yesterday announced it would halt the development of the EPR reactor at Flamanville in Normandy, which uses the same design as Taishan, pending inquiries into the malfunctions at Taishan.

“There is still a lot of work to be done on the [Flamanville] site before start-up operations, and feedback from the experience of the Taishan 1 EPR deviation must take place,” said ASN deputy general manager Julien Collet yesterday.

To Deter China, Think Big

Steven Metz

Under the Communist Party, China has always insisted that it will eventually absorb Taiwan, by force if necessary,[1] but today a direct invasion from the mainland seems more likely than at any time since the early days of the Cold War. Military provocations,[2] exercises,[3] and incendiary rhetoric[4] from Beijing are reaching levels not seen for decades, combining to form grey zone aggression.[5] China continues to expand and improve its armed forces.[6] This is a very dangerous time.

Although it is impossible to know precisely how Chinese leaders expect an invasion of Taiwan to unfold, the dominant narrative in the United States is that the conflict would be short and limited. Some experts believe that if the United States came to Taiwan’s assistance, it could stave off the invasion and China would desist.[7] Other studies and wargames suggest that a massive barrage of Chinese missiles might prevent effective American intervention.[8]

Whether the assessments believe that a Chinese invasion of Taiwan would or would not succeed, they have one thing in common: they assume a relatively quick and geographically limited conflict. This leads most supporters of Taiwan to advocate increasing U.S. support to help make that nation a harder target.[9] While this is a good idea it is not enough: deterrence by denial[x] limited to the proximate defense of Taiwan is necessary but not sufficient. An effective strategy to deter China must expand deterrence so that it is global and multidimensional.

How Developed Is China’s Arms Industry?

Possessing a highly developed defense industrial base is a prerequisite to becoming a leading military power. While China is already the world’s second largest arms producer, the ability of its arms industry to domestically develop certain advanced weapon systems is still growing. If China can successfully strengthen its defense industry, it can reduce its reliance on foreign technologies and establish itself as a global leader in cutting-edge military capabilities.

China’s Arms Industry Giants

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has named modernizing the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) among its top priorities. At the 19th Party Congress of the CCP in October 2017, Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined the goal to “complete national defense and military modernization by 2035” and to transform the PLA into a “world-class military by mid-century.”

Upgrading equipment and technologies is a central focus of China’s military modernization campaign. From 2010 to 2017, China’s annual spending on military equipment rose from $26.2 billion to $63.5 billion. While attributable to growth in China’s overall military spending, this is also the result of higher prioritization. In 2010, 33.3 percent of total military spending went toward equipment. By 2017, that figure stood at 41.1 percent.

Strategic Clarity Can Counter Chinese and Russian Aggression

Jack Devine Jonathan D. T. Ward

Successive U.S. presidential administrations have begun the monumental task of shifting American foreign policy back towards great power competition—namely with China and Russia. President Joe Biden has framed the competition as a larger contest between democracies and autocracies. This week’s Summit for Democracy, which over 100 countries will attend, may be the most significant framing of the contest yet to take place on the world stage. However, America still falls short when it comes to the strategic clarity that our two adversaries possess in the contest they began years ago to dismantle the U.S.-led order.

While differences exist between them, China and Russia both have a singular vision of their strategic interests and greater ambitions in the international system. Until relatively recently, the United States has been primarily focused on combating terrorism, giving Russia and China the opportunity to act with enthusiasm against U.S. national interests. The lack of strategic focus is to our detriment.

Xi faces the dilemma of China’s imperial rulers


 Back in 2014, US political scientist Francis Fukuyama described an ideal of “getting to Denmark”. Denmark denoted not so much a place, he said, but a symbol that all countries may aspire to. Liberal, democratic, peaceful, prosperous and uncorrupt. 

Since then the world has hurtled in the opposite direction.

 Americans have become profoundly sceptical about their democracy. Europe, rocked by Brexit, faces an assertive Russia. A “democratic decline”, as measured by US advocacy group Freedom House, was evident last year in countries where nearly 75 per cent of the world’s population lives. 

China, with its confluence of authoritarianism and effectiveness, embodies an alternative reality. While the west was losing its way on the road to Denmark, China was getting to Dongguan, a city in the Pearl River delta that stands as a symbol of world-leading high-tech manufacturing.

 In Beijing last month, the Chinese Communist party passed a resolution that paves the way for Xi Jinping, the leader, to stay in office until at least 2028, perhaps longer. Xi’s leadership was described as “the key to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”, a mission he has pledged will be realised by 2049.

 This move sets up a vision utterly at odds with the post-cold war triumphalism of the west. Viewed from 2021, George W Bush could not have been more misguided when in 2002 he declared, “the great struggles of the 20th century between liberty and totalitarianism ended with a decisive victory for the forces of freedom and a single model for national success”

. An opposite scenario is now unfolding. China under Xi is centralising authority, limiting freedoms in the mainland and Hong Kong, running concentration camps in Xinjiang, bolstering the country’s nuclear arsenal, threatening Taiwan and reducing free market ties with the US.

 And yet, according to the IMF, China will dominate the global economy by contributing more than one-fifth of the total increase in the world’s gross domestic product each year until the end of 2026. In addition, China has over the past four decades lifted some 770m people out of poverty. 

Responding to such success, some in the west predicted China’s collapse. Others saw fatal flaws in its anti-democratic design. Many have questioned the sustainability of its debt-fuelled and resource-heavy economic model. Criticism of Beijing’s human rights record has been unrelenting.

 But Beijing’s enduring effectiveness demands an understanding of the country on its own terms. Examining the patterns of the Chinese past helps to explain both the resilience of the regime and why there are questions about the direction in which Xi is taking the CCP.

 Wang Yuhua, associate professor of government at Harvard, has parsed the characteristics of 49 dynasties that ruled China over some 2,000 years. He shows that the greatest threat facing emperors down the ages was not internal strife or foreign wars but the elite families populating the imperial court.

 Some 76 emperors — more than a quarter of the total 282 since 211 BCE — were toppled, murdered or forced to commit suicide by these elites.

 So it was crucial for Chinese rulers down the ages to find a way to control and placate the elites. But therein lay a “sovereign’s dilemma”, Wang says. The capacity of the dynasty to get things done depended on enlisting the their support. But when such families grew strong, they could — and often did — turn against the emperor. 

“In order to maintain their grip on power, Chinese emperors broke the social ties among the elites, which rendered them an incoherent group,” he says. Such a course of action could extend an emperor’s rule and prolong a dynasty — but it also gradually weakened the capacity of the state to get things done. Wang sees parallels with Xi’s China today.

 Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, which has targeted hundreds of senior officials since its launch in 2012, has helped limit the influence of the powerful “red families” that surround the CCP court. 

As Xi waits to be anointed as latter-day emperor at the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist party next year, he must strike an age-old balance. It will not be Sino-US relations, climate change or even domestic economic growth that weighs heaviest on his mind.

 His main priority will be to keep Chinese political elites sweet enough to maintain their support but disunited enough to enfeeble their resistance. It is all a long way from Denmark.

Biden’s Democracy Summit, Russia’s Military Buildup and More

Judah Grunstein

Two major stories dominated the news this week, both putting U.S. President Joe Biden in the spotlight. The first is his Summit for Democracy, a two-day virtual gathering of leaders from 100 countries that began Thursday and will focus on promoting human rights, resisting authoritarianism and fighting corruption. The second is the heightened tensions in Eastern Europe due to a Russian military buildup on the border with Ukraine amid reports of a planned Russian invasion. Both highlight the challenges Biden will face as he tries to act on the foreign policy themes he campaigned on during the 2020 presidential election.

The Summit for Democracy represents the fulfillment of a campaign promise Biden made to hold such a gathering in the first year of his presidency. It underscores a narrative Biden has emphasized as a foundational principle of his foreign policy, what he sees as a global battle between democracy and authoritarianism. Biden has embedded this clash of governance systems and the values they represent into his approach to great power competition with China and Russia, as well as to U.S. partners—at least rhetorically.

US should expect cyberattacks in any struggle for Taiwan

Joe Gould

SIMI VALLEY, Calif. ― Several U.S. defense leaders said Saturday they are worried that a confrontation with China over Taiwan would lead to a wave of significant cyberattacks against U.S. critical infrastructure that could disrupt day-to-day life.

“I’m particularly concerned about them in terms of what they might do in terms of cyberattacks on our critical infrastructure here in the United States,” Army Secretary Christine Wormuth said at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum.

“There’s a real possibility that if we ever got into a conflict you could see attacks on our power grid, for example, or the transportation sector, which would have implications not only for how we would be able to project our military, but also have substantial consequences for the American public.”

The comments came amid rising tensions between the U.S. and China over Taiwan, the democratically-ruled island which China considers its own territory. Over the past year, China has increased the frequency of incursions of its aircraft breaching Taiwan’s air defense buffer zone. It also follows news of a recent suspected Chinese hacking campaign against U.S. defense and tech companies.

Why the Kremlin Blocking TOR Is a Big Deal

Andrei Soldatov

Like many significant political developments of late, the decision to block TOR came almost unannounced by the Russian authorities. TOR — an acronym for "The Onion Router" — is encryption software that allows users to stealthily surf the Internet and bypass locally imposed web restrictions.

Russian internet users spotted the blocking of TOR, and it was only after their numerous complaints that activists and journalists spotted the threat Roskomnadzor had published three days before about “the introduction of centralized management in relation to the means of circumventing the restriction of information prohibited by law,” an announcement not easy to decipher even to those well-versed in Russian bureaucratic speak.

And now it is clear — Russian censors have finally found a way to block the most famous online censorship circumvention tool.

Throughout 2021, Russia’s Internet censors mounted a systematic attack on technologies that could be used by the country’s users to bypass censorship.

Nuclear Command-and-Control Satellites Should Be Off Limits


When Russia blew up an old satellite with a new missile on November 15, it created an expanding cloud of debris that will menace the outer space environment for years to come.

Hypersonic fragments from the collision with Moscow’s ground-launched, anti-satellite weapon risk destroying other satellites used for communications, meteorology, and agriculture. They even pose a danger to China’s Tiangong Space Station and the International Space Station, where personnel—including Russia’s own cosmonauts—were forced to don spacesuits and flee into their escape capsules ahead of approaching debris.

But the greatest danger that this careless stunt highlighted is to a different potential target: high-altitude satellites used for nuclear command and control. Those critical satellites face the threat of being attacked by co-orbital anti-satellite weapons, that is, other spacecraft with offensive capabilities. Destroying a nuclear command-and-control satellite, even unintentionally, could lead a conventional conflict to escalate into a nuclear war. As such, the United States, China, and Russia have a shared interest in ensuring the security of each other’s high-altitude satellites.

Four Ways the U.S. Can Keep Putin From Invading Ukraine

James Stavridis

When I became the supreme military commander at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2009, the alliance was focused on the war in Afghanistan. But one of the first senior delegations to visit me came to discuss Russia: the military chiefs of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

I’ll never forget the tone in their voices as they described the malevolence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. They had the insiders’ view, as they had ascended through the ranks while their countries were part of the Soviet Union.

The three laid out a persuasive case that Russia’s 2008 invasion of Georgia was a dress rehearsal for further operations against democracies bordering Russia. So we rewrote the alliance’s war plans for dealing with that possibility, significantly increasing the level of U.S. support for Eastern Europe.

At the time, I felt Ukraine was a likely target — a close partner to NATO, but not an actual member. And in 2014, Putin’s military moved in and seized Crimea.

Collect today, decrypt tomorrow: How Russia and China are preparing for quantum computing

Source Link

“We live in a world transformed by digital connectivity and stand on the cusp of revolutionary advances in technology which will affect the way we live and work in ways we cannot fully foresee. Advances in quantum engineering and engineered biology will change entire industries. The huge volumes of data now available across the globe, combined with ever increasing computer power and advances in data science, will mean the integration of artificial intelligence, AI, into almost every aspect of our daily lives.”

Moore warned, “Our adversaries are pouring money and ambition into mastering artificial intelligence, quantum computing and synthetic biology, because they know that mastering these technologies will give them leverage. “

This is spot-on. Quantum computing may have a deleterious effect on continued security of data encrypted with today’s digital cryptographic system. Nation-state actors with the resources are likely taking actions now to prepare for the day when quantum computing can crack standard encryption methods. Two nations with such resources are, China and Russia. Their signals intelligence entities are no doubt engaging in the equivalent of a “hoover vacuum” exercise in acquiring encrypted communications going to and from targets of interest for future cryptoanalysis and exploitation.

Fleeing Global Warming? ‘Climate Havens’ Aren’t Ready Yet

The curb appeal of the Great Lakes region is that it appears to be a relatively safe place to ride out the wild weather of the future. It’s far from the storm-battered Eastern seaboard and buffered from the West’s wildfires and drought, with some of the largest sources of fresh water in the world. The Great Lakes help temper the bitter winds of winter and cool the muggy summer. And rising temperatures are beginning to take some of the bite off that winter weather: Michigan, in fact, is turning into wine country, with vineyards growing warm-weather grapes like pinot noir and cabernet sauvignon.

Long-simmering speculations about where to hide from climate change picked up in February 2019 when the mayor of Buffalo, New York, declared that the city on Lake Erie’s eastern edge would one day become a “climate refuge.” Two months later, a New York Times article made the case that Duluth, Minnesota, on the western corner of Lake Superior, could be an attractive new home for Texans and Floridians looking to escape blistering temperatures.

How Far Does Anime Challenge Joseph Nye’s “Soft Power” and Its Approach to Culture?

Solomon Pace-McCarrick

Japanese animation (‘anime’) often focusses on fantasy and outlandish realities yet, like many other cultural products and traditions, is very firmly woven into real-world International Relations (IR), existing at the centre of the Japanese student protests of the 60s and 70s and possessing a surprising yet well-substantiated fanbase in Black communities in Western countries.[1] Declared Japan’s “greatest cultural export” by Tamaki Saito, anime is an especially tempting subject for a ‘soft power’ understanding of cultural products in IR- defined by Joseph Nye as “intangible power resources such as culture, ideology and institutions”. However, the applicability of ‘soft power’ to anime has been contested, with Dana Fennell et al’s conclusion that consumption of the cultural product fosters a “multicultural”[2] world view and “does not necessarily equate to soft power in the traditional sense”[3] and Kosuke Shimizu’s leveraging of Tosaka Jun’s notion of ‘moral reflection’ to reveal that culture in IR “is often narrated in an essentialised and fixed way to reproduce hegemony”.[4] Thus, the challenge here is to first consider where the concept of ‘soft power’ can remain relevant to understandings of anime while also secondly exploring other means of mobilising the cultural product in studies of IR.

The Psychological Drama of the World Chess Championship

Louisa Thomas
Source Link

For nearly eight hours, they probed, maneuvered, thrust, and parried. Throughout the sixth game of the World Chess Championship, Magnus Carlsen, the four-time defending champion, and his challenger, Ian Nepomniachtchi, sprang small surprises, found refutations, took long thinks, scrambled. The tension rose, ebbed, and rose some more. Up until this game, the best-of-fourteen match between Carlsen and Nepomniachtchi had been a disappointment. With nine games to go, there had been five draws, all of them quite correct—computers can now precisely determine which move will give a player the greatest advantage, and these games were among the most accurately played in recorded history—and none of them particularly interesting.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way. The match had been billed as a contrast between styles. On one side, there was the preternatural perfectionism of Carlsen, perhaps the greatest player ever. On the other, Nepomniachtchi: aggressive, unpredictable. As a boy, Nepomniachtchi had been tapped as a tremendous talent; at thirty-one, he seemed to be rounding into form. The last two World Championships had gone to tiebreaks; in 2018, when Carlsen had played Fabiano Caruana, every game in the classical portion—that is, before the tiebreaks, which are played with faster time controls—had been a draw. This time, Carlsen was the clear favorite, but Nepomniachtchi is the only active top player with a positive classical score in his career against him. That’s mostly because of games the two played as children, but, still, it was a sign that something unusual might happen.

2022: A Year Of Crisis In Eastern Europe (Not Just Ukraine)?

Sarah White

Even as US President Joe Biden has prioritized repairing the United States’ relationships with European allies and rebuilding trust, 2021 has been an unsettling year for security on NATO’s eastern borders. The status quo, in which a Russian invasion seemed readily deterrable, has been repeatedly undermined, leaving the region in a more fragile place than at any point since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.


Every once in a while, Ukraine becomes the hot spot of Eastern Europe, one of the most likely points where a conflict could break out. It was true when Crimea was annexed, and it was true this year when it became apparent that Russia was building up to a potential new invasion of Ukraine just ahead of the December 7 video call between U.S. President Joe Biden and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Recent U.S. intelligence estimated that about 70,000 Russian troops had moved near the Ukrainian border and were constructing supply lines, including for medical units and fuel, that could provide them long-term support during a sustained military campaign.

Biden Must Choose Between Appeasement and Deterrence in Ukraine

Nigel Gould-Davies

U.S. President Joe Biden’s virtual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday did not resolve the military crisis threatening Ukraine, but it did clarify two matters. First, it confirmed Russia’s demands for legal guarantees to constrain future NATO enlargements and force deployments—without, apparently, a quid pro quo from Russia. Second, U.S. sources made public details of the sanctions Russia could expect if it carries out a fresh invasion of Ukraine.

These developments help resolve the intense, sometimes polemical, debate on how the West should respond to Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine’s border. All sides agree that Russia’s desire to alter the status quo has created the crisis, and that a direct military confrontation between Russia and the West would be catastrophic. They differ on how to respond. There are broadly three positions: that Moscow is bluffing, that it poses a real threat to Kyiv and Ukraine should make concessions, or that Washington and its allies must threaten a strong response to deter further Russian aggression.

The first view is that Russia is bluffing. Moscow knows that an invasion of Ukraine would cost it dearly in casualties and sanctions. The West should therefore remain calm and confident and call Russia’s bluff. The only real risk is of an accidental clash, which effective communication should avert.

Semiconductor shortage to continue until mid-2022, says Nissan COO

Japanese carmaker Nissan's Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta expects supply chain constraints and the global semiconductor shortage to continue until at least mid-2022, he said on Tuesday.

"The pandemic has really disrupted the supply chain around the world and (the) automotive industry has been impacted much more than expected ... it will take some more time to get back to normal operations," he said.

Daily Memo: West Prepares Sanctions on Russia, EU Economic Weapons

All options available. The European Union is ready to impose additional sanctions against Russia if it attacks Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told EU ambassadors. Latvia’s foreign minister said the West should be ready to cut Moscow off from the SWIFT network, which enables financial institutions to send and receive information about banking transactions, as well as to sanction the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline. Finally, France announced that President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss the Ukraine situation.

But not yet. Meanwhile, U.S. sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany were removed from the latest version of next year’s U.S. defense spending bill. The White House said the Baltic Sea pipeline offers Russia no leverage at the moment because it isn’t operational.

Strategic autonomy. The European Commission announced a new legal mechanism to counter the use of economic coercion by third parties against a member state or states. The tool will permit Brussels to enact countermeasures such as tariffs and import restrictions. The European Parliament and national leaders must still greenlight the instrument, which the commission also said would act as a deterrent.

Kicking Russia Off of SWIFT Might Not Be the Nuclear Option

Amy Mackinnon and Robbie Gramer

At a congressional hearing on Tuesday, the chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee fired a shot across the bow at Russia as it amassed forces near Ukraine’s borders: Invade Ukraine, and we’ll destroy your economy.

“I want to be crystal clear to those listening to this hearing in Moscow, Kyiv, and other capitals around the world: A Russian invasion will trigger devastating economic sanctions, the likes of which we have never seen before,” Sen. Bob Menendez said.

The warning reflected growing alarm in Washington that Russia was staging its forces for a second invasion of Ukraine—one that could be far bloodier and more drawn out than in 2014. But with U.S. President Joe Biden ruling out the possibility of a U.S. military deployment to Ukraine, it also underscored how sanctions have become the primary weapon of choice in Washington’s response to Russian aggression.

A New Video Explains, In Graphic Terms, Why the UN Must Ban ‘Slaughterbots’


A new video released on YouTube has a dire warning for humanity: unless the nations of the world act now, the technology behind AI-powered drone swarms, what it calls “slaughterbots,” could wreak havoc on human society. The video’s creators, the Future of Life Institute, call on the United Nations to ban such robots before the technology gets out into the wild, where any group motivated enough to do so could use them to do violence.

The video, which has more than 2 million views as of December 8, imagines a world where autonomous weapons, equipped with artificial intelligence, carry out shocking attacks against civilians worldwide.

It’s easy to point out where real-life versions of the scenarios shown in the video have actually happened. In November 2020, Israeli intelligence assassinated Mohzen Fakhrizadeh, a major figure in Iran’s nuclear program, using a remote-controlled machine gun. The machine gun incorporated artificial intelligence to aim the gun, overcoming a 1.6 second lag time between an operator’s command and the camera feed to strike Fakhrizadeh’s motorcade. In 2021, the Israeli Defense Forces used drone swarms in an attempt to locate rocket launchers sited in Gaza and directed against Israeli population centers.

How the Pentagon Plans to Deter Hypersonic Missile Attacks

Kris Osborn

If there is a way to stop hypersonic missile attacks, then it will likely rely heavily upon data sharing, high-speed data processing and artificial intelligence.

The challenge is to establish a continuous track of an attack weapon moving more than five times the speed of sound while implementing a countermeasure. That countermeasure could involve the deployment of an interceptor fast enough to achieve a kinetic “hit” of a hypersonic weapon or some method of “jamming” or disrupting the missile’s flight trajectory or airflow.

The Defense Department, Missile Defense Agency, and defense industry are working on multiple programs with which to establish a continuous track. A missile traveling at hypersonic speeds will pass from the coverage area of one radar to another, which means the Defense Department could lose track of it. That is why the Defense Department is focused on developing new Hypersonic Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor technology that would establish a continuous track of fast-moving hypersonic missiles from “beyond-line-of-sight” by networking small satellites to one another.

U.S. Army Needs New Technology For Projected Role In The Pacific

Vikram Mittal

Armies are always preparing to fight the last war. Indeed, the U.S. Army is well equipped to fight a counterinsurgency, as it did in the Global War on Terror. However, with the current state of the world, this next war will likely be different. New threats are emerging, with many seeing China as the next American adversary. Last week, Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth outlined the role of the U.S. Army in a war with China. The Army would build and defend forward bases in the Pacific, provide command and control for the total force, and maintain the logistical supply lines.

Chinese soldiers carry the flags of (L to R) the Communist Party, the state, and the People's ... [+] AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

These roles are defensive in nature, where the U.S. Army would be protecting bases, communication nodes, and supply lines. Not only are these roles different from those in the Global War on Terror, the U.S. Army’s adversary would be much more advanced as well. The Chinese military has several weapon systems that match or exceed American capabilities. As such, the U.S. Army needs new capabilities to counter these weapon systems to be successful in this war scenario.