17 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 

India in Space Domain - Pathbreaking Developments

Maj Gen PK Mallick, VSM (Retd)


India is now a major spacefaring nation. Initially, the Indian space programme was focused primarily on societal and developmental utilities. Today, like many other countries, India is compelled to use space for several military requirements like intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Hence, India is looking to space to gain operational and informational advantages.

India has had its fair share of achievements in the space domain. It includes the launch of the country’s heaviest satellite, the GSAT-11 which will boost India’s broadband services by enabling 16 Gbps data links across the country, GSAT-7A, the military communication satellite and the launch of the Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle GSLV Mk III-D2, the GSAT 29. The Anti-Satellite (ASAT) test is an intrinsic part of today’s geopolitics and the national security context.

Why Did Russian President Putin Visit India?

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Russian President Vladimir Putin visited India in the first week of December. The visit was significant in part because Putin has not traveled abroad to attend recent summits in person, like the G-20 in late October in Rome and COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in November. Putin did go, however, to India for the 21st Annual India-Russia Summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Russian president appears to have wanted to establish that Moscow can handle the India and China relationships independently of each other. Putin’s visit is seen as an effort to repair the damage done to the relationship over the last couple of years, as Russia and India drifted apart.

Going by the optics and the number of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and agreements signed by the two countries, Putin’s India visit has attempted to bring back some balance in the relationship. A statement from the Indian Prime Minister’s Office stated that the two leaders expressed “satisfaction at the sustained progress” in their bilateral relationship characterized as the “Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership.” The two countries also held the inaugural round of a 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue involving the defense and foreign ministers of India and Russia. The Inter-Governmental Commission on Military & Military-Technical Cooperation also held a meeting during the visit.

Civilian Deaths Mounted as Secret Unit Pounded ISIS

Dave Philipps, Eric Schmitt and Mark Mazzetti

A single top secret American strike cell launched tens of thousands of bombs and missiles against the Islamic State in Syria, but in the process of hammering a vicious enemy, the shadowy force sidestepped safeguards and repeatedly killed civilians, according to multiple current and former military and intelligence officials.

The unit was called Talon Anvil, and it worked in three shifts around the clock between 2014 and 2019, pinpointing targets for the United States’ formidable air power to hit: convoys, car bombs, command centers and squads of enemy fighters.

But people who worked with the strike cell say in the rush to destroy enemies, it circumvented rules imposed to protect noncombatants, and alarmed its partners in the military and the C.I.A. by killing people who had no role in the conflict: farmers trying to harvest, children in the street, families fleeing fighting, and villagers sheltering in buildings.

Pakistan And Russia To Strengthen Ties Through Defense And Cyber-Security Cooperation – OpEd

Sher Bano

As a significant step in strengthening bilateral relation both Russia and Pakistan’s public security counsels had series of addresses on 1st December, 2021. After 2018, this was the first time that delegation level talks were held between Pakistan and Russia. Dr. Moeed Yusuf (National Security Adviser, Pakistan) and his Russian counterpart Mr. Nikolai Patrushev had in depth discussion on transnational and indigenous issues and also reviewed the diapason of Pakistan-Russia relations. The main agenda of the meeting was cooperation in the field of defence, energy, counter-narcotics, counter-terrorism, economy, cyber-security and information. Collaboration among special services, defence ministries and law enforcement agencies was also discussed.

During the meeting both sides paid special attention to the issue of medicine trafficking and cyber security. Possibility of trade and profitable cooperation among both the states was also discussed. A preliminary agreement was also signed between both the parties to build Pakistan stream gas pipeline that would be 1,100 km long known as ‘flagship strategic venture’ that will further strengthen the bilateral relations. The project worth 2.5 billion dollars will annually deliver 16 billion cubic meters natural gas from LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) terminals in Gwadar and Karachi with those located in Lahore. By the year 2023 the project is expected to be completed. The current situation in Afghanistan was also an important point of discussion among Mr. Patrushev and Mr.Yusuf, both agreed to support all the efforts in order to achieve lasting peace in South Asia. They also expressed their concerns regarding impending humanitarian crisis in the Afghanistan and urged the need for international community to intervene and take practical measures to curb the looming crisis. Furthermore, Pakistan’s focus was also in developing economic relations with Russia and Central Asian countries to improve economic integration and regional connectivity.

Afghanistan, Then and Now

Luke Hunt

Thirty years ago, Abdullah Abdullah guided former BBC “History Guy” Chris Woolf and a colleague through a horrific war zone that they’d wandered into from Kabul. Abdullah would later become the chief executive officer in a unity government reached with President Ashraf Ghani, eventually heading the High Council for National Reconciliation in hopes of engaging the Taliban in peace talks.

When Woolf met Abdullah, the Soviet Union was withdrawing from the country, paralleling this year’s events and the exodus of the United States after a 20-year conflict that resulted in the Taliban’s return.

Woolf spoke with The Diplomat’s Luke Hunt about Afghanistan, then and now, and his new book “Bumbling Through the Hindu Kush: A Memoir of Fear and Kindness in Afghanistan.”

Woolf recounts the trauma of traversing minefields, the shifting loyalties of the Afghans, and an interview with the Mujahideen leader, Ahmad Shah Massoud, who led the fight against the Taliban in the 1990s. The Tajik warlord was assassinated by an al-Qaida hit squad two days before the 9/11 attacks were launched on New York and Washington DC.

Pakistan slips on a slippery slope of religious militancy

James M. Dorsey

Pakistani political and military leaders have vowed to eradicate ultra-conservative religious extremism that drove a mob to torture, brutally lynch a Sri Lankan national, and burn his body in the eastern city of Sialkot. Some 900 cases have been filed with police and 235 people arrested in connection with the killing.

"Let me make this clear: I have decided that from now we will not spare those who resort to violence in the name of religion, especially in the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)," Prime Minister Imran Khan said at a commemoration of Priyantha Kumara Diyawadana, a 48-year-old textile factory manager.

The mob accused Mr. Diyawadana of removing a sticker of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) or 'I am Present Pakistan '(TLP), a far-right militantly religious group, from machinery before a visit by foreigners.

Some reports claimed that a dispute between Mr. Diyawadana and workers sparked the lynching. It was not clear whether the argument may be connected to the stickers.

AIIB In Indonesia: How Far Has It Come? – OpEd

M Habib Pashya

Indonesian President, Joko Widodo has big plans for Indonesia to make infrastructure a top priority. For example, building ports, railroads, and roads to boost the country’s economic growth up to 7 percent. To achieve this, Indonesia attracted China as one of the main partners.

In the Jokowi era, the economic relations between Jakarta and Beijing were quite strong. As reported by the Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board, investment from China to Indonesia, including flows from Hong Kong, rose 11% to $8.4 billion from 2020. Construction of projects such as the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail to be the main mega project.

However, the Chinese government began making a big offer to Indonesia through the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). According to reports, the Bank has almost 30% of its funding backed by China. In 2014 in Beijing, Yudi Pramadi, Head of Communication and Information at the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Indonesia, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with 21 other countries. In the deal, AIIB would supported infrastructure development in Indonesia such as energy, transport, telecommunications, agriculture and rural infrastructure, sanitation, environment, logistics and other sectors,

Taiwan chipmakers hint at decoupling from the US


NEW YORK ­– Taiwan’s chip fabricators signed an agreement on December 3 to create their own semiconductor equipment industry, opening an “option to decouple from the West,” in the view of a prominent US research firm.

The Taiwanese initiative responds to Washington’s extraterritorial sanctions on buyers of US fabricating equipment, imposed by then-president Donald Trump in May 2020. The US asserts the right to block sales of chips produced with US machines or intellectual property.

The US sanctions shut off Chinese tech giant Huawei’s access to high-end chips of 7 nanometers and below, crippling what previously was the world’s top handset producer. Unable to make 5G phones, Huawei lost market share to Chinese handset producer Xiaomi and sold its Honor smartphone business.

In Asia, China’s Long Game Beats America’s Short Game

Kishore Mahbubani

Submarines are stealthy, but trade is stealthier. Both generate security—the former by deterrence, the latter by interdependence. But the kind of security created by trade lasts longer.

Submarine deals are easy to walk away from. Just ask France, which this year lost a long-standing contract to provide attack submarines to Australia. Economic interdependence created by trade deals is harder to unravel. Just ask Trump, who couldn’t break up the North American Free Trade Agreement and had to settle for a cosmetically renegotiated pact.

This contrast highlights the difference between the short-term game Washington is playing in the Indo-Pacific and the long-term one played by Beijing. The United States is betting on the AUKUS security pact it signed with Australia and the United Kingdom, the main feature of which is a promise to deliver submarines to Australia. China is betting on using trade to win over its neighbors, particularly the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the most successful Asian bloc.

Taiwan chipmakers hint at decoupling from the US

David P. Goldman

NEW YORK ­– Taiwan’s chip fabricators signed an agreement on December 3 to create their own semiconductor equipment industry, opening an “option to decouple from the West,” in the view of a prominent US research firm.

The Taiwanese initiative responds to Washington’s extraterritorial sanctions on buyers of US fabricating equipment, imposed by then-president Donald Trump in May 2020. The US asserts the right to block sales of chips produced with US machines or intellectual property.

The US sanctions shut off Chinese tech giant Huawei’s access to high-end chips of 7 nanometers and below, crippling what previously was the world’s top handset producer. Unable to make 5G phones, Huawei lost market share to Chinese handset producer Xiaomi and sold its Honor smartphone business.

The US sanctions, though, had little impact on Huawei’s telecommunications equipment business including equipment for 5G infrastructure, which uses older chips that are easier to source.

China’s state-sponsored industrial espionage is part of a larger system

Sabri Ben-Achour

Chinese intelligence officer Yanjun Xu is awaiting sentencing in federal court after he was convicted of attempted theft of trade secrets and economic espionage last month. The U.S. government charged him with trying to steal sensitive engine technology from a U.S. aviation company by extracting information from an employee.

Xu’s purpose, intelligence officials say, was to hand that technology over to a Chinese company that the Chinese government hopes could rival Airbus and Boeing.

Xu is the first Chinese intelligence officer extradited to the U.S. to stand trial for espionage, according to the Department of Justice. (He was arrested in Belgium.) But U.S. prosecutors have been accusing Chinese spies of stealing trade secrets for years.

The list of victims is long: solar and steel companies, makers of computer chips and airplanes, labs doing COVID-19 research, health care companies, universities — it goes on and on.

China’s Big Moment Of Choice On Trade Policy – Analysis

Tom Westland

It’s twenty years this week since China was admitted to membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO). That presaged a remarkable surge in Chinese trade, an industrial transformation on a scale not seen before in human history, China’s emergence as the world’s largest trading nation and its integration into the global economy in a way that was hardly possible to imagine just two decades earlier. It’s little wonder that the WTO is among the most widely respected international institutions in China today.

China’s rapid growth since its accession to the WTO — per capita incomes are now well over four times as high today as they were in 2001 — was the single most important poverty-reducing event of the past century. China’s decision to join the WTO, and the stringent conditions it had to meet to be accepted, have been major drivers of the vast structural change away from subsistence agriculture, making China the undisputed factory of the world economy. Its rise as a manufacturing powerhouse has profoundly shaped the way the world economy operates, leading to soaring demand for raw materials, challenging manufacturing industries in other industrial countries, and leading to a major shift in the balance of geopolitical power away from the United States and Europe and towards Asia.

China’s BRI Interests in the Maghreb

Mercy A. Kuo

The Diplomat author Mercy Kuo regularly engages subject-matter experts, policy practitioners, and strategic thinkers across the globe for their diverse insights into U.S. Asia policy. This conversation with Dr. Mordechai Chaziza – senior lecturer in political science at Ashkelon Academic College, specializing in Chinese foreign and strategic relations, and author of “China’s Middle East Diplomacy: The Belt and Road Strategic Partnership” (2020) – is the 300th in “The Trans-Pacific View Insight Series.”

Explain the geostrategic relevance of the Maghreb to China.

China has expanded its relationship with the Maghreb region primarily through growing economic and commercial ties under the new Silk Road grand strategy. The trade between the PRC and the five North African countries dropped sharply to $17.3 billion in 2020. Its investments and contracts between 2005 and 2021 stood at $30.6 billion, with Algeria receiving the lion’s share of $24.6 billion. All Maghreb states are maritime economies strategically located between Europe’s advanced economies across the Mediterranean Sea to the north, and the high-potential development of sub-Saharan Africa to the south. Geographically, their location adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean has become a focus of China.

Will China’s Regulatory ‘Great Wall’ Hamper AI Ambitions?

Ellen Lu and Ryan Fedasiuk

In September the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) announced a three-year plan to regulate predictive algorithms, and Chinese companies scrambled to comply with new regulations. News of the plan came on the heels of two other stringent policies – the Data Security Law (DSL) and Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) – which were passed earlier this year and came into full effect in November.

China’s push for data security and algorithmic governance should be viewed as a new chapter in the country’s storied attempts to regulate the technology sector. In all likelihood, these moves will minimally affect state security bureaus’ data collection capabilities, but will create steep compliance costs for internet companies that could hamper the state’s long-term development goals.

The DSL is designed to curtail invasive data collection by Chinese tech companies. Specifically, it restricts the collection of data by Chinese companies within and outside of China that may “harm the national security or public interests of the PRC.” Given the ambiguous nature of the law, many Chinese companies have erred on the side of over-compliance, rather than risk facing exorbitant penalties – which range from $1,000 to over $150,000, and may result in the suspension or revocation of a business’ license.

The PIPL imposes even more day-to-day compliance costs on Chinese tech companies that work with personal data. Under the law, Chinese companies are now obligated to create cybersecurity teams, conduct training sessions, and classify data according to the potential for national security threat. The sweeping regulatory framework consists of 74 articles, and it applies to any company that handles individual Chinese citizens’ personal information.

Taken collectively, the DSL and PIPL should be viewed as a new chapter in Beijing’s push to regulate the Chinese technology sector. At first glance, the steep limits they place on data collection stand at odds with Beijing’s long-standing ambition to become the world leader in AI by 2030. But the laws’ long-term effects will hinge on two hotly debated questions about how China’s national tech champions interact with the state.

The first question is whether the new regulations will actually apply to China’s “national AI champions,” or whether the special relationship between big tech and the state might exempt them from the most onerous requirements.

On the one hand, the Communist Party under Xi Jinping seems adamant about curtailing the massive power China’s tech companies have accumulated over the past decade, and is using these data governance regulations to reassert control. For their part, investors do expect China’s internet titans to take a hit. Immediately after the DSL was passed, the Hang Seng Tech index measured a 2.5 percent decrease in China’s largest internet and e-commerce stocks, to include those of Tencent and Alibaba, amounting to a loss equivalent to tens of billions of U.S. dollars. In the same month, when China’s most popular ride sharing app Didi Chuxing filed for an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange, Chinese regulators yanked it from app stores, citing violations of DSL’s data security regulations. The company has since lost 30 percent of users and seen its share value decline by more than 40 percent.

On the other hand, however, the Chinese government has historically relied on Chinese internet giants Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent to aid in intelligence and police work, by collecting and processing troves of information these companies collect about Chinese netizens. Through Article 7 of China’s National Intelligence Law, Article 77 of the National Security Law, and Article 28 of the Cybersecurity Law, the government is able to deputize internet companies to assist with intelligence gathering. The codependent relationship between Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, and Chinese security services could imply that China’s AI champions are too big to regulate.

But if they are subject to the full force of the DSL and PIPL, the second question is whether the limitations set out in these laws will materially limit Chinese tech giants’ ability to collect and process data at scale.

Neither the DSL nor PIPL constrains data collection by China’s state security apparatus – only internet and data companies. But it’s not clear to what extent state security offices rely on data collected data in-house or outsourced to these firms. If public security bureaus have immediate and unfiltered access to the collection platforms operated by private companies, as has been claimed about Huawei 5G platforms and Lenovo computers, then the government would have little incentive to spare Chinese AI companies from stringent restrictions on data collection.

But, because of their special relationship with the state, it’s possible that China’s internet companies will benefit from data collected and provided by Chinese security services to continue their AI development. Under the auspices of China’s national security and cybersecurity laws, Chinese businesses are compelled to work with the state’s security apparatus. Companies that handle data related to “national security” are further required to allow the Ministry of State Security access to their companies’ servers. Even if Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent face data collection limitations, they could theoretically continue to rely on data provided by Chinese security services to fine-tune their AI products.

Although it’s not clear how exactly China’s large internet companies may be affected by new regulations on data and algorithms, the composition of China’s private tech industry will be fundamentally altered. The DSL and PIPL will make it substantially harder for existing businesses to continue operating with the same degree of autonomy they had enjoyed in the past, and may create steep barriers for new players hoping to enter China’s tech market.

John F. Kennedy’s Yemen crisis

Bruce Riedel

In recent years three American presidents, Barack Obama, Donald Trump, and Joseph Biden, have confronted a crisis in Yemen which centers around a Saudi-led military intervention against a radical insurgent group that controls most of northern Yemen. John F. Kennedy was the first American president to confront a serious international crisis in Yemen, coming virtually at the same time as he faced the Cuban missile crisis with the Soviet Union and the Chinese invasion of India in the autumn of 1962. Kennedy did something very rare in America’s dealing with Yemen: He disregarded Saudi appeals to support their covert war in Yemen and instead sought to be a peacemaker. Kennedy’s policy offers a significant alternative to the failed approach of the last six years.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen was increasingly caught up in the political turmoil sweeping the Middle East. (Throughout the Cold War, the modern country of Yemen was divided into North Yemen, centered around Sana’a and the focus of this essay, and a south centered around the port of Aden, controlled by the British into the 1960s and by the communist People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen from 1967 on). At the center of the turmoil was Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser had led Egypt’s own revolution in 1952 that deposed its monarchy. He became president in 1954 and set up a progressive nationalist regime which threw out the British, nationalized the Suez Canal and fought Israel, Great Britain, and France in 1956. He was the spokesman for pan-Arabism, the notion that there should be a single united Arab state from Morocco to Oman. In 1958 Syria united with Egypt to form the United Arab Republic (UAR) and the dream of Arabism seemed to be within reach.

Supply Chain Container Ships Have a Size Problem

RIGHT NOW, AROUND 57 container ships are lingering outside the Port of Los Angeles—the largest port in the US—desperate to unload their cargo and move on. As the delays stretch on for weeks, the country’s midsized ports are racing to remind any impatient boats that LA isn’t the only game in town.

Last month, Texas governor Greg Abbott took to Twitter to debut an “Escape California” campaign aimed at large ocean freight companies. “Are your products stuck off Long Beach?” asks a cheery ad that Abbott posted. “Texas ports are wide open.” The Port of Oakland put out a press release in October insisting that “its marine terminals are congestion-free” and that it was “ready for more business,” and the Port of Jacksonville is offering cost savings and reminding companies that it is within a one-day drive “of nearly 100 million consumers.”

In theory, big freight companies should be eager to try out these contingency plans. The wait times outside Los Angeles are directly impacting what’s available on store shelves in the US. Shortages of tires and toys, announcements from brands like Hasbro that they have $100 million in unfilled orders, even the increasing costs of some consumer goods—all can be traced, in part, to the traffic jam at major ports.

The Backlash Against Globalized Trade Is Changing, Not Subsiding

Former U.S. President Donald Trump upended what was once a relatively staid global economic and trade system. Under the banner of “America First,” Trump launched a trade war with China and threatened America’s European allies with another, imposing steel and aluminum tariffs that have proven to be difficult to reverse. He also undermined the ability of the World Trade Organization to resolve global disputes by blocking key appointments. For all of this upheaval, Trump left office with only one clear-cut accomplishment: an updated NAFTA deal known officially as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Act, or USMCA.

Even as Trump sowed chaos in America’s trade relationships, most of the world reinforced its commitment to trade liberalization. One of Trump’s first moves in office was to pull America out of the huge Pacific Rim trade deal known then as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But the remaining 11 members moved forward with the deal largely intact, renaming it the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or CPTPP. While the TPP was originally designed to contain China, Beijing is now actually showing interest in joining the revamped bloc. Meanwhile, upon being sealed in late 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership comprising 15 Asia-Pacific nations became the world’s largest trading bloc.

The Geopolitics of a New Modern Space Race

Victoria Samson

The Russians launched an anti-satellite missile on November 15 destroying one of their own satellites and creating a cloud of space debris that is threatening astronauts at the International Space Station (ISS). This has sparked up new tensions on space security. Victoria Samson, space security expert and Washington Office Director for Secure World Foundation, answered our questions after this event, weighing in on the politics of space.

Space has always been a place for geopolitical competition. Even from the beginning of the Space Age, programs and goals were largely spurred by Cold War rivalry. This is not new, despite statements from US officials bemoaning that space is no longer a sanctuary. As it turns out, space has never been a true sanctuary and satellites have always been at risk. This is why many of the nuclear reductions treaties between the United States and the USSR included clauses warning against targeting national technical means, or intelligence-gathering satellites. What has changed now is the role space plays for the United States: it truly is a key national security enabler. For Russia however, while space is relevant for some of its national security efforts, it is more of a way for the country to remain significant geopolitically than anything else. Furthermore, there is the added complication of China’s strengthening space capabilities. This, combined with an increased proliferation of interest in counter space capabilities globally, gives space the potential for conflict on Earth to extend to orbit or, alternatively, for misperceptions of activities on orbit to result in terrestrial conflict.

The West Must Deter Russia or Accept Defeat

Natia Seskuria

Following the extraordinary crackdown on opposition politicians and the predictable victory of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, in the 2021 State Duma elections, the Kremlin is testing the patience of Western leaders once again.

From extraordinary mobilization of forces along Ukraine’s border, to weaponization of migrant flows through Belarus, to increasing Russian influence in the Caucasus, Russia has demonstrated that it is wedded to a hostile posture. This time, Putin’s regime is determined to exploit existing weaknesses by simultaneously fueling and creating crises on several fronts. While many observers tend to view Russia as a declining power, the Kremlin is proving that it can create prolonged problems not only in places such as Georgia and Ukraine but also on the European Union’s borders.

Despite the Kremlin’s increasing reliance on hybrid tools that aim to undermine the rules-based order, European countries are divided into two camps—those still advocating for the policy of appeasement, such as Germany, and others, such as the Baltic states, demanding a tougher response to Russian threats. In this case, time is Putin’s best ally.

From ‘Partygate’ to a Possible Leadership Challenge for Boris Johnson

Owen Matthews

For much of his political career, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been known as an electoral wizard. His uncanny talent for appealing to people who wouldn’t normally vote Conservative made him mayor of London, a left-wing heartland, in 2008, and later propelled him to a landslide victory and the prime minister’s job in the general election of 2019 with a Tory surge in traditional Labour constituencies.

Yet Johnson’s shambling, rumpled, Old Etonian schtick seems to be wearing thin. The latest polls show his approval rating running 13 percentage points behind Keir Starmer, leader of the opposition Labour Party. Despite commanding a majority in the House of Commons larger than any prime minister’s since Margaret Thatcher, Johnson this week may have to rely on Labour votes to pass new COVID-19 lockdown legislation. And an upcoming local election may see a commanding Tory advantage all but evaporate.

The cause of Johnson’s fall from grace has been a series of unforced errors that have highlighted three of his biggest apparent weaknesses: dishonesty, cronyism, and a dilettante attitude to the affairs of state.

The Ghost of Ukraine’s Future

Douglas Macgregor George Beebe

What happens if Washington attempts to force Russia into concessions over Ukraine through a Reaganesque display of strength, when in fact the United States has a comparatively weak hand to play? That is the unenviable situation that President Joe Biden finds himself in after his video meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin this week and his tough talk about not recognizing any Russian redlines.

The notion that the United States is at a disadvantage in contending with Russia strikes most Americans as far-fetched. After all, America’s gross national product is many times larger than that of Russia, and we dominate the international financial system. Our military is larger and much more capable, our offensive cyber capabilities are unparalleled, and we enjoy the support of a large array of treaty allies and military partners in Europe and around the world. By contrast, Russia has few friends and allies, a middling economy largely dependent on energy exports, and a declining population hit hard by Covid-19. On paper, the United States appears to hold many cards in this high-stakes game.

Japan’s Lesson for the World: Robots Won’t Save Us

Paul Christensen

Japan affords a preview of what the future of the United States, Australia, and Western Europe will become unless meaningful steps are taken to ensure that a nation’s relevance is measured by how it creates lives of dignity for its citizenry. But seeing this relevance has become difficult as much of the luster has gone from Japan studies. Wistful comments about heady days during the 1980s, when scholars of Japan were in demand, are still heard. But China now sits as the undeniable object of attention in exchanges that spill out of academic departments and into popular conversation. Japan, it would appear, has been usurped and its scholars are a skittish and shrinking bunch.

While this is an overly general characterization of how the conventional wisdom is organized, in the ways that it is true it betrays a startling failure of thought. It reveals the simplistic manner in which loosely defined concepts like “importance” and “relevance” are framed. Japan’s purported heyday, the economic bubble era of the 1980s and early 1990s, was an object of global obsession rooted in financial ascendency and challenges to American economic hegemony. In a simplistic cut and paste manner, China has replaced Japan as the preeminent target of Western popular and academic focus largely because of the attention its economic power generates, and the potential challenges it again creates for an ongoing but more aggressively questioned global dominance by the United States. All of this is indicative of a failure to think substantively about either nation. Instead, it demonstrates that far too often academics, pundits, and commentators struggle to conceive of worth and relevance as anything other than the output from large-scale economic indicators.

What are the best US military options for Ukraine?


Since last April, Russia has been slowly and methodically building up military forces near Ukraine’s border. Those who recall the 1990 U.S. military buildup in advance of the January “Desert Storm” attack to free Kuwait and invade Iraq, will recognize that such a buildup is a serious threat.

But, as retired Foreign Area Officer Col. Jeff Hartman notes, those trying to predict when an invasion of Ukraine will occur have missed the fact that it already happened. It began in 2014 with the annexation of Crimea and the creation of a separatist region in Ukraine’s east. Whatever comes next is only a continuation of that operation.

Russia has been consistent in its messaging about Ukraine — namely, that Ukraine must remain a buffer between Russia and the West, outside NATO. To accomplish this goal, Russian President Vladimir Putin, as commander in chief, can still choose not to use military force in Ukraine, but he has unquestionably given himself military options to choose from. A major military operation in Ukraine would take most of Russia’s active military ground and airborne forces to accomplish, but it could be done.

What would it take to defend Ukraine? Potentially, billions of dollars.


What had been a simmering concern about Russia’s intentions with Ukraine exploded in the last week, with reports that Moscow is planning a full-scale invasion mixing with statements of concern from top US officials. Ahead of a call between US President Joe Biden and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, this op-ed from Mark Cancian of the Center for Strategic and International Studies takes a hard look at the costs of protecting Kyev’s autonomy.

As Russia moves forces to the borders of Ukraine, voices in the United States and Europe are calling for their governments to help the Ukrainians defend themselves. Most of these commentators limit their recommendations to training and equipment support, but some would extend a security guarantee to Ukraine, even making it a member of NATO.

A recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies analyzed what it would take to defend Ukraine, recognizing the country is far from the European centers of military power, has open and difficult to defend territory, and faces Russia’s advantage of interior supply lines. The answer: tens of billions of dollars for supplies and additional forces.

What Russia might do in Ukraine: 5 scenarios


With Russian troops amassed on Ukraine’s eastern border, US and NATO officials are watching nervously what Russian President Vladimir Putin might do next. Will he heed US warnings not to further invade the former Soviet state? Or is a new, widespread bloody offensive for territory looming? In this op-ed, the Heritage Foundation’s Luke Coffey argues that question is an oversimplification, and Putin has many more options on the table.

Ukraine is at a tipping point, and its ongoing national struggle will determine whether its future geopolitical orientation tilts toward the West or Moscow. The outcome will have long-term implications for the transatlantic community and the notion of national sovereignty.

Since 2014, Russia has illegally occupied almost 5% of Ukraine’s landmass and more than half of its coastline. In eastern Ukraine, Russia and Russian-backed separatists continue to propagate a war that has resulted in more than 13,000 lives lost and 30,000 wounded, heavily damaging the Ukrainian economy and slowing Ukraine’s progress toward deepening ties with the West.

Pentagon creates new overseer for innovation: chief digital and artificial intelligence officer


WASHINGTON: The Pentagon announced Wednesday the creation of a new chief digital and artificial intelligence officer that will be responsible for coordinating the department’s data and artificial intelligence efforts, a move Breaking Defense first revealed in late November.

Under the reorganization, the Defense Digital Service, Joint Artificial Intelligence Center and Chief Data Officer will be under the umbrella of the CDAO, who will report directly to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. The move comes as the Pentagon increasingly focuses on how the department handles, manages and secures its data as it works to develop AI algorithms it views as critical to future warfighting.

According to a memo released by the Pentagon Wednesday and signed by Hicks, the CDAO will be the “senior official responsible for strengthening and integrating data, artificial intelligence, and digital solutions in the Department.”

“What that means in practice [is] the CDO, DDS and JAIC are each going to report up to the CDAO and create a tech stack that lets us integrate data, software and AI,” a senior defense official told reporters during a Wednesday background briefing ahead of the formal announcement. “The goal there is to optimize their value and try to consider them more holistically.”

Why we need a new agency to regulate advanced artificial intelligence: Lessons on AI control from the Facebook Files

Anton Korinek

With the development of ever more advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems, some of the world’s leading scientists, AI engineers and businesspeople have expressed concerns that humanity may lose control over its creations, giving rise to what has come to be called the AI Control Problem. The underlying premise is that our human intelligence may be outmatched by artificial intelligence at some point and that we may not be able to maintain meaningful control over them. If we fail to do so, they may act contrary to human interests, with consequences that become increasingly severe as the sophistication of AI systems rises. Indeed, recent revelations in the so-called “Facebook Files” provide a range of examples of one of the most advanced AI systems on our planet acting in opposition to our society’s interests.

In this article, I lay out what we can learn about the AI Control Problem using the lessons learned from the Facebook Files. I observe that the challenges we are facing can be distinguished into two categories: the technical problem of direct control of AI, i.e. of ensuring that an advanced AI system does what the company operating it wants it to do, and the governance problem of social control of AI, i.e. of ensuring that the objectives that companies program into advanced AI systems are consistent with society’s objectives. I analyze the scope for our existing regulatory system to address the problem of social control in the context of Facebook but observe that it suffers from two shortcomings. First, it leaves regulatory gaps; second, it focuses excessively on after-the-fact solutions. To pursue a broader and more pre-emptive approach, I argue the case for a new regulatory body—an AI Control Council—that has the power to both dedicate resources to conduct research on the direct AI control problem and to address the social AI control problem by proactively overseeing, auditing, and regulating advanced AI systems.

Main cybersecurity technology predictions for 2022

Google in August 2021 said it will invest $10 billion over the next five years to strengthen cybersecurity, including expanding zero-trust programs, helping secure the software supply chain, and enhancing open-source security.

Google is also planning to train 100,000 Americans in fields like IT Support and Data Analytics, learning in-demand skills including data privacy and security.

Microsoft will make an investment of $20 billion over five years to deliver more advanced security tools, says CEO Satya Nadella.

IDC, a leading research firm, said 60 percent of CIOs will multifactor authentication for its efficacy as an essential minimum to counter rising cybersecurity threats by 2022.

60 percent of CIOs will collaborate to use ecosystem capabilities as a critical source of innovation, data sharing, differentiation, and cybersecurity risk management by 2025, IDC said.

The Cyber Security Market size is predicted to reach $539.78 billion by 2030 from $183.34 billion in 2020, says a report in ResearchAndMarkets.com.

Integrating deterrence across the gray — making it more than words

Katie Crombe

Much over the course of the past year has been said (and re-said) about “integrated deterrence.” From our point of view, deterrence is fundamentally about shaping adversary decision calculus which requires, inter alia, communication. Communication is about messaging and perceptions. Yet, in today’s discussions on integrated deterrence, we are losing sight of this important relationship. Integrating deterrence is not so much about developing the perfect strategy that incorporates allies or the interagency, and even less so about working across every military domain. This is nothing new. Instead, right now it is more about articulating what is missing — the political, cognitive, and irregular spaces of the gray zone where China, Russia, and Iran (among others) are actually advancing their interests. While we are not trailblazing a new idea here, it is important to revisit certain fundamentals. The gray zone was a side show during the counterterrorism era, and we cannot afford to let it fade another shade lighter now. The military must remain proactive in competition, and ready for crisis and conflict, not just one of them.

Irregular warfare is not the panacea, but it is perhaps the best opportunity space to shape adversary decision calculus in ways that other military tools cannot. The exhaustive argumentation over defining integrated deterrence, “strategic competition,” or any other moniker is not where we should spend time. A “good enough” answer is visible, and we must act to prevent further erosion of our advantages. This good enough answer involves two practical aspects: expanding the aperture beyond a traditional understanding of deterrence to account for irregular warfare and acknowledging the unique role that special operations forces play in campaigning to deter states in the gray zone. Special operations forces do this now and look to expand their strategic effectiveness in the future.
Baselining deterrence theory — setting up for expansion