21 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.

Foreseeing the China-India Boundary Dispute: 2022 and Beyond

Jagannath P. Panda

Over the last year, Chinese politics have been acutely driven by President Xi Jinping’s quest to further cement his leading role in the hierarchy of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Xi’s drive to stamp his “strongman” image and personality-driven political ideologies on the CCP system have dominated Chinese politics, with the recently concluded Sixth Plenum only continuing this trend. The Chinese President’s efforts to capitalize on his growing power, on both the domestic and international fronts, has greatly impacted geopolitical dynamics across the Indo-Pacific region. Between nationalist policy releases—such as the new coast guard law (海警法, hai jing fa) or dual circulation strategy (双循环策略, shuang xunhuan celue) (China Daily, August 6)—and continuing disputes with regional powers over land/territorial or maritime boundaries, Xi’s focus has been on reinforcing his own legacy as he aims for an unprecedented third term in office. Thus, Xi has been stroking nationalist fervor to justify the regime’s repressive measures (e.g., Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet) and expansionist maneuvers (Taiwan, East and South China Seas and India’s Ladakh).

Pakistani Taliban emir says his group “is a branch of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan”


The leader of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan (TTP) said that his group “is a branch of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” during a tour of several of the group’s bases across Pakistan’s tribal areas and northern districts.

The Afghan Taliban, however, has denied Mehsud’s statement.

TTP emir Noor Wali Mehsud made the statement in a nearly hour-long video that documented his entourage’s travels in a large military convoy across what the TTP claims is significant swaths of Pakistan’s northern areas. The large TTP convoy openly flew its flag in broad daylight while traveling through the countryside.

A Strategy to Counter Chinese Influence Operations

Connor Fiddler

Christine Fang was in her twenties when the Chinese government sent her to enroll in a San Francisco area college. Fang wasted no time and spent years ingratiating herself with local officials. According to the Axios article that broke the story, “through campaign fundraising, extensive networking, personal charisma, and romantic or sexual relationships with at least two Midwestern mayors, Fang was able to gain proximity to political power.” She was able to grow particularly close to the political networks of Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). After the FBI caught on to the operation, Fang suddenly disappeared, presumably back to China. U.S. officials claim that her mission was to gather political intelligence and influence rising politicians.

Christine Fang’s case is just one example of how China uses foreign influence operations (FIO) to compromise and subvert American democracy. Experts, government officials, and law enforcement officers constantly raise concerns about U.S. vulnerability to FIO, with little response to date. The U.S. government must have a comprehensive strategy to address this threat. To counter Chinese FIO, the U.S. government should release an annual unclassified report on FIO, create a division within the FBI dedicated to investigating FIO, and assist allies and partners in countering FIO within their own countries.

China sets sights on IP superiority

When Lego won its final appeal against counterfeiters Lepin in December 2020, the Chinese firm was fined 90 million CNY and its owner, Li Haipeng, handed a six-year prison sentence. The case was based on a bust of a factory in Shantou in April 2019. The Shanghai Municipal Public Security Bureau found injection moulds, packaging boxes and manuals. According to the Shanghai Higher People’s Court, Li and eight conspirators had made 300 million CNY with their knockoffs since 2015.

The Supreme People’s Court (SPC) has heralded the Lego ruling as one of the ten model IP cases for 2020. It comes alongside the successful IP infringement cases brought to Chinese courts by ABB and Siemens. But the successes of these European firms should not be seen as a sign that China is wholeheartedly embracing international norms. Rather, they should be understood as a by-product of Beijing’s long-term efforts to create Chinese firms that can compete globally in high-tech areas.

The increase in IP protection goes hand in hand with a shift in policy toward supporting Chinese firms to create valuable patents. This shift is evident in such policy documents as the Outline for Becoming an IP Powerhouse (2021-2035) and the Five-Year Plan (FYP) for IP Protection and Use (2021-2025). Both set out plans that are intended to drive the creation of high-value patents in China. As Beijing raises its sights, it is cutting loose counterfeiters like Lepin.

China is securing battery metals on the global stage

Jacob Mardell

China is either the largest market or largest producer for all seven of the main minerals needed to build a typical electric car. These minerals are graphite, copper, nickel, manganese, cobalt, lithium, and rare earth elements (REEs) - a grouping of 17 separate, but similar metals, that are needed in small quantities for a huge range of modern manufactured goods.

Despite requiring hundreds of times more material during operation than a system based on renewable energy, clean energy technologies are much more material intensive to produce. According to a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), production of an electric car requires six times more mineral inputs than its fossil-fueled counterpart, and an onshore wind plant nine times more minerals than a gas-fired power plant.

To Compete With China in 5G, America Must Solve Its Spectrum Problem

Arthur Herman

The next generation of wireless network, 5G, has arrived and is being rolled out around the world, including in communities across the United States. As demonstrated by the fierce competition from Huawei—the Chinese telecom-equipment giant that is leading China’s 5G effort and has been a pernicious security threat—the U.S. lead in this critical technology is not guaranteed.

Today only eight countries have been willing to join the American ban on Huawei’s 5G equipment, compared to the 90-plus countries that have signed up with Huawei, including NATO members Hungary, Iceland, the Netherlands and Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A principal reason why the United States has had trouble persuading countries not to use the Chinese telecom giant is that we have not offered a viable American alternative.

Washington must establish a 5G architecture that recognizes the need for stable usage of spectrum across industries, expands wireless coverage to the entirety of the United States (including rural areas), and encourages the domestic production of key components such as semiconductors, while also protecting the privacy and security of its users. Above all, that architecture must cover a wide range of spectrum options, from high-end, very short wavelength (24-100gHz), to mid-band and low band (less than 1 gHz), including the C Band and sub-3 gHz spectrum where China and Huawei have staked their claim to 5G dominance.

China’s real ‘debt trap’ threat

Jeremy Mark

Facing an economic downturn and unpayable debts earlier this year, the Republic of Suriname turned to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout. In exchange for a $690 million loan, the South American country agreed to economic reforms and debt restructuring. But since the loan was announced, according to officials I’ve spoken with, no money has been disbursed—because the Export-Import Bank of China (Exim Bank) has not restructured roughly one billion dollars of debt owed it by Suriname.

The nearly eight-month delay is part of a deepening debt crisis affecting countries that have borrowed hundreds of billions of dollars from China for infrastructure development. While other lenders—especially Western banks and bondholders—also are creditors to many of these countries, China’s vast portfolio of loans means that Beijing’s policy response will affect the largest swath of countries across the globe.

China: We’ll make US pay the price for sanctions


China has promised tough measures in retaliation after the US sanctioned more than 40 of its institutions and companies on Thursday over human rights issues in Xinjiang.

“China is strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposes the US sanctions,” Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Friday. “China will take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese institutions and companies. The US must immediately correct its mistakes.”

Wang said the US had extended the concept of national security without limit and used excuses to unreasonably suppress Chinese institutions and enterprises. He said the US had reached the point of hysteria and showed no moral principles.

On Monday, SenseTime Group, a Hong Kong-based artificial intelligence company, halted its initial public offering plan in Hong Kong after it was sanctioned by the US last Friday and accused of using its facial recognition technology in mass surveillance in Xinjiang. However, media reports said the company would restart its IPO plan next week as it had gained support from Chinese funds as cornerstone investors.

The civil war in Syria: an intractable conflict with geopolitical implications

The armed conflict in Syria has now lasted for more than ten years. What started as an uprising during the 2011 Arab Spring soon turned into one of the most deadly and destructive civil wars of the modern era. The conflict has reached a violent protracted stalemate in which several different armed confrontations are taking place at the same time, overlapping with regional-security concerns about Turkish, Iranian, Israeli, Kurdish and jihadi activity.

The Syrian regime, despite its limited power, has skilfully balanced the regional and international actors and their competing agendas to ensure its own survival. The political deadlock between opposing forces within Syria reflects the dominance of third-party states in shaping the current phase of the civil war. From a regional-security perspective, the conflict is unmistakably a proxy war and a key theatre for the foreign-policy ambitions of international and regional state actors, who are pursuing goals that extend beyond Syria.

Why bombing Iran is (still) a bad idea

Annelle Sheline and Bruce Riedel

Israeli officials in Washington on Thursday reportedly urged the United States to launch strikes against Iranian targets, in what would be an unprecedented escalation of hostilities. Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Mossad chief David Barnea pushed the Biden administration to engage in military action in order to get Iran to “soften its position at the negotiating table.”

While the talks in Vienna have yielded little progress, this appeal marks just the latest example of the failed paradigm with which both the United States and Israel have approached Iran: the belief that greater pressure and more aggression will force Tehran to capitulate, when the likelier outcome would be to provoke a similarly militant response.

Israel says it is under an increasingly dire threat, prompting President Herzog to assert, “If the international community does not take a vigorous stance on this issue, Israel will do so. Israel will protect itself.” Yet neither Israel nor the United States would be in this position if Trump had stayed in the deal, or if Biden had swiftly rejoined it upon taking office.

Nuclear deterrence and the US–China strategic relationship

Stephan Frühling and Andrew O’Neil

Ever since the United States dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan in 1945, countries have had to consider the impact of nuclear weapons on their security and stability more broadly. Nuclear weapons were central to the great power competition between the United States and the Soviet Union. The US–Soviet nuclear balance relied on ‘a very high degree of mutual vulnerability’, in which peace was maintained through both sides’ belief that the other could inflict widespread destruction. In the late 1960s, the nuclear stockpiles of both powers numbered in the tens of thousands, but mutual reductions were gradually achieved through a series of arms control agreements and initiatives.

But there are several reasons to suspect that the nuclear dynamics between the US and China are different from those that existed between the Soviet Union and the US during the Cold War. For one, China’s approach to nuclear weapons is fundamentally different from the US and Soviet approaches of assured destruction capability. Instead, China’s policy of

The U.N. Still Has a Role to Play on Crisis Management

Richard Gowan

2021 has been a dispiriting year for advocates of multilateral conflict management. The ignominious end of the international intervention in Afghanistan was an embarrassment not only for the U.S., but also for those institutions, including NATO and the United Nations, that had supported it. The U.N. Security Council has bickered fruitlessly over how to deal with crises ranging from the coup in Myanmar to the war in Ethiopia. Regional bodies such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, and the African Union have done little better at handling conflicts on their doorsteps.

As if that weren’t enough, as the year draws to a close, the U.S. is warning that Russia could launch a new assault on Ukraine within months. And American strategists are taking the possibility of a war with China over Taiwan increasingly seriously. Both conflicts may fail to materialize. But the rise of major power friction seems set to make international diplomacy over crises ever more difficult.

That looks like bad news for organizations, like the U.N., that took on a greater role in crisis management during the post-Cold War era of relatively limited major power tensions. These institutions have not reverted to Cold War levels of paralysis quite yet. But as I warned in June, bodies like the Security Council will often be “muted” by geopolitical tensions in future.

Biden’s Stand on Ukraine Is a Wider Test of U.S. Credibility Abroad

Michael Crowley

WASHINGTON — The American president had issued a stern warning to Russia’s leader, Vladimir V. Putin: Keep your troops out of Ukraine, or face harsh economic reprisals.

The warning went unheeded. Two weeks after that call, from President Barack Obama, Russian special forces moved into Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and, after a dubious local referendum, Mr. Putin claimed it as Russian territory.

That was March 2014. More than seven years later, President Biden is now the one threatening Mr. Putin with “severe consequences” should Russia send some of the tens of thousands of troops it has massed along Ukraine’s eastern border into the country.

Mr. Biden hopes to have more influence over Mr. Putin through an explicit threat to take more punishing economic action than Mr. Obama did after the annexation of Crimea, and Mr. Putin’s subsequent instigation of a separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine that has since left as many as 13,000 people dead.

Guam, America’s Forgotten Territory, Is New Front Line Against China

Alastair Gale

Alongside a road that cuts through dense jungle, the first new U.S. Marine base in almost 70 years is emerging. Construction cranes are helping build training areas for urban warfare and live-weapons firing behind a perimeter topped with razor wire.

Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, to be formally opened in a ceremony early next year, is the latest sign that Guam, a remote U.S. outpost in the Pacific Ocean, is becoming more crucial for military planners as they sharpen their focus on Asia, and tensions with China rise.

U.S. military officials say that the island, already home to Air Force and Navy bases, would be a major staging point for bombers, submarines and troops in any conflict involving the U.S. in the Pacific, including any clash over Taiwan if the U.S. were to become involved.

GDP's Days Are Numbered

CAMBRIDGE – How should we measure economic success? Criticisms of conventional indicators, particularly gross domestic product, have abounded for years, if not decades. Environmentalists have long pointed out that GDP omits the depletion of natural assets, as well as negative externalities such as global warming. And its failure to capture unpaid but undoubtedly valuable work in the home is another glaring omission. But better alternatives may soon be at hand.

In 2009, a commission led by Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean-Paul Fitoussi spurred efforts to find alternative ways to gauge economic progress by recommending a “dashboard” of indicators. Since then, economists and statisticians, working alongside natural scientists, have put considerable effort into developing rigorous wealth-based prosperity metrics, particularly concerning natural assets. The core idea is to create a comprehensive national balance sheet to demonstrate that economic progress today is illusory when it comes at the expense of future living standards.

In an important milestone in March of this year, the United Nations approved a statistical standard relating to the services that nature provides to the economy. That followed the UK Treasury’s publication of a review by the University of Cambridge’s Partha Dasgupta setting out how to integrate nature in general, and biodiversity in particular, into economic analysis. With the consequences of climate change starting to become all too apparent, any meaningful concept of economic success in the future will surely include sustainability.

Five Things to Watch in 2022

Covid-19 Economics: The trajectory of Covid-19 is likely to remain the largest determinant of the global economic recovery in 2022. The Omicron variant appears to spread more rapidly than previous variants. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that a prolonged pandemic could reduce global gross domestic product (GDP) by $5.3 trillion over the next five years, in addition to the $12.5 trillion in output already lost. For governments seeking to contain Covid-19 outbreaks—especially “zero Covid” policies such as in China—more transmissible variants will compound the tradeoffs between protecting public health and allowing unrestricted activities.

The IMF expects to downgrade its world GDP forecast for next year—from the 4.9 percent predicted in October—because of the Omicron variant. The U.S. economy is likely to sustain the remaining recovery among advanced economies. Other advanced economies more politically willing to enact new lockdowns could see larger negative economic impacts. China’s economy is unlikely to drive global growth. Beijing has promised more tax cuts but remains reluctant to support domestic consumers, as the Chinese government tries to rein in corporate debt and the property sector. Emerging market and developing economies will remain more vulnerable to new variants in part because of lower access to vaccines.

STRATEGIC COMPASS New bearings for EU security and defence?

Daniel Fiott, Gustav Lindstrom
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Over the past twenty years the European Union has enhanced its role as a security and defence actor. However, in a rapidly changing geopolitical environment, the Union faces new threats and security challenges and this calls for a unified, robust and far-reaching approach from the bloc and its Member States.

The Strategic Compass, to be adopted in March 2022, will look to the 2025-2030 time horizon and propose strengthened security and defence measures in the areas of crisis management, resilience, capability development and partnerships. A first draft of the Compass was unveiled to EU defence ministers in mid-November 2021, but there are still months of political negotiation ahead on the precise content and framing of the text.

This Chaillot Paper seeks to inform the remaining months of negotiation on the Strategic Compass up to its approval in March 2022. It does so by offering numerous recommendations and policy considerations, combining the insights of eleven expert contributors and the results of an EUISS questionnaire responded to by over 70 individuals representing government-affiliated research institutions, international

The emerging global natural gas market and the energy crisis of 2021-2022

Alex Gilbert, Morgan D. Bazilian, and Samantha Gross

The ongoing energy crisis of late 2021 looks sure to move into 2022. It has already had wide-ranging impacts on economics, the environment, and security. This essay considers a few of the tensions arising for government policy, investors, and consumers. The crisis has three distinct elements: COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions, greater interconnectedness of natural gas markets, and signs of energy price volatility during the energy transition away from fossil fuels.

As the global economy continues a halting recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, energy prices and availability threaten to derail it. The pandemic brought about a historic drop in energy demand and prices, but recovering demand is now straining fossil fuel markets for oil and gas, and even coal. Prices are skyrocketing as demand chases fuel supply that has not yet recovered from the pandemic drop.

Don’t give up on Myanmar

Nay Yan Oo

Myanmar is on the edge of a state collapse nearly 11 months after a military coup. Violence and insecurity have followed the coup, while the country is also suffering greatly from COVID-19 and a resulting economic crisis. Former State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, who lived under house arrest for nearly 15 years in the 1990s and the early 2000s, might be spending many more years in detention after the junta sentenced her to two years in prison, while still facing additional charges. But the Southeast Asian country of 54 million people is slipping away from headlines, as other important global issues are occupying the world’s attention. Meanwhile, Myanmar seems to have fully returned to autocracy, showing little hope for the freedom of its citizens.

What can the international community do to resolve the political crisis in Myanmar? Western countries have already imposed targeted sanctions on junta members, including freezing their assets in foreign bank accounts and restricting their access to visas. But they are struggling to change the junta’s course as its State Administration Council (SAC) was smart enough to court China and Russia, both of which have continued to undermine the West’s efforts to pressure the military regime. While China is unhappy with the political instability created by the coup, it has not openly sided with the rival National Unity Government (NUG). Meanwhile, the Myanmar army’s relationship with Moscow has reached an all-time high. The international community thus does not have much leverage to address the political crisis in Myanmar, but they can still do at least three things to help the country.

Afghans push through snowy Alps toward new lives in Europe


CLAVIERE, Italy (AP) — When suicide attackers and gunmen massacred crowds flocking to Kabul’s airport, they also severed the escape route that Ali Rezaie hoped would take him to a new life abroad, far from the Taliban and their suspicions of well-educated, middle-class people who worked with foreigners in Afghanistan.

In the chaos, Rezaie couldn’t reach the airport where flight after flight took off without him. The 27-year-old was left with no choice but to take his future into his own leathery hands. Like many other Afghans, he resolved to find another way out and embarked on a forbidding journey of thousands of kilometers to Europe, large parts of it on foot.

More than three months later, Rezaie’s odyssey through five countries has carried him high into the French-Italian Alps, where he is pushing through knee-deep snow to evade border guards, with a journalist from The Associated Press in tow.

US concerns grow over potential Russian cyber targeting of Ukraine amid troop buildup


The increase in tensions between the United States and Russia due to Moscow amassing troops on the border with Ukraine is raising concerns Russia may not only put boots on the ground but also turn to hacking operations to put pressure on the U.S. and Ukraine.

Those concerns are underlined by massive hacking efforts by Russia against Ukraine over the past few years and the ransomware attacks linked to Russian hackers against critical U.S. organizations.

“This is a Russian calling card,” Mark Montgomery, senior director of the Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told The Hill Wednesday. “I do worry that they will use their cyber and disinformation tools to try to undermine the stability of the Ukrainian economic security and national security.”

Ukraine is no stranger to Russian aggression in cyberspace and has often been viewed by experts as a testing ground for Russian cyber capabilities, with attacks ramping up after fighting broke out between the two nations in 2014.

Special Report: Amazon partnered with China propaganda arm

Steve Stecklow and Jeffrey Dastin

LONDON, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc was marketing a collection of President Xi Jinping's speeches and writings on its Chinese website about two years ago, when Beijing delivered an edict, according to two people familiar with the incident. The American e-commerce giant must stop allowing any customer ratings and reviews in China.

A negative review of Xi's book prompted the demand, one of the people said. "I think the issue was anything under five stars," the highest rating in Amazon's five-point system, said the other person.

Ratings and reviews are a crucial part of Amazon's e-commerce business, a major way of engaging shoppers. But Amazon complied, the two people said. Currently, on its Chinese site Amazon.cn, the government-published book has no customer reviews or any ratings. And the comments section is disabled.

The global digital skills gap Current trends and future directions

Carolina Feijao, Isabel Flanagan, Christian Van Stolk, Salil Gunashekar

Rapid and widespread digitalisation has changed the nature of work, and digital skills are now regarded as essential for the modern workforce. Employees need digital skills to work with new technologies and to keep up to date with rapid technological advancements. While the demand for digital skills is high, supply is low. Workforces do not always have the skills needed to manage digital transformation, and businesses often struggle to find talent for digital roles. This digital skills 'gap' has become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic. As digitalisation sped up to move many jobs online, the need for digital skills increased. The aim of the research was to carry out a scoping study to examine the evidence associated with various aspects of the current digital skills landscape, focusing on the digital skills gap. We sought to better understand whether and why the digital skills gap is widening, as well as its implications for digital and social inequalities, and what various stakeholders are doing in response. Our findings highlight the importance and urgency of addressing the digital skills gap, not least to ensure that industries and businesses keep pace with the rate and scale of technological innovation. Furthermore, we highlight that digital and social inequalities — exacerbated by the global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic — affect opportunities to develop digital skills, and closing the skills gap could prevent the growth of social inequalities between those who have digital skills versus those who do not.

Washington shouldn't pat itself on the back for its cybersecurity spending just yet


October was “cybersecurity awareness month,” but November and December are shaping up to be cybersecurity spending season on Capitol Hill. Last month, the House approved the Build Back Better (BBB) Act, and President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 into law. Together, these bills contain nearly $2.5 billion in cybersecurity-specific spending, buying some cybersecurity wins — but Congress missed a number of opportunities to improve U.S. critical infrastructure security.

As the BBB Act moves to the Senate, and assuming the Senate clears a path to pass the bill, lawmakers will have an opportunity to address some key cybersecurity gaps.

The White House specifically extolled the infrastructure bill for making “our infrastructure more resilient to the impacts of climate change and cyber-attacks.” For example, the $1 billion grant program to address cybersecurity risks to information systems owned and operated by state and local governments is long overdue. These governments will use the grants to develop and implement cybersecurity plans to address imminent threats. Meanwhile, for the energy sector, there are two $250 million cybersecurity-specific grant programs: one for support to rural and municipal utilities to address known cybersecurity issues, the other for support to developing cybersecurity technologies in the energy sector.

The Log4J Vulnerability Will Haunt the Internet for Years

A VULNERABILITY IN the open source Apache logging library Log4j sent system administrators and security professionals scrambling over the weekend. Known as Log4Shell, the flaw is exposing some of the world's most popular applications and services to attack, and the outlook hasn't improved since the vulnerability came to light on Thursday. If anything, it's now excruciatingly clear that Log4Shell will continue to wreak havoc across the internet for years to come.

Hackers have been exploiting the bug since the beginning of the month, according to researchers from Cisco and Cloudflare. But attacks ramped up dramatically following Apache's disclosure on Thursday. So far, attackers have exploited the flaw to install cryptominers on vulnerable systems, steal system credentials, burrow deeper within compromised networks, and steal data, according to a recent report from Microsoft.

The range of impacts is so broad because of the nature of the vulnerability itself. Developers use logging frameworks to keep track of what happens in a given application. To exploit Log4Shell, an attacker only needs to get the system to log a strategically crafted string of code. From there they can load arbitrary code on the targeted server and install malware or launch other attacks. Notably, hackers can introduce the snippet in seemingly benign ways, like by sending the string in an email or setting it as an account username.


Alex Hollings

Hypersonic, while sounding like a term invented for a kid’s TV show about super heroes, relates specifically to traveling at speeds in excess of Mach 5. At such high speeds, even the most modern air defense systems in the world pose little threat to these weapons as they close with their targets.

In fact, hypersonic weapons are currently considered all but indefensible at scale, thanks not only to their high velocities, but because of the maneuverability allowed by some modern hypersonic designs.

Hypersonic flight is not a new thing, despite its recent launch into the limelight. Even the Nazi V-2 rocket could break the Mach 5 barrier, and as we’ve discussed before, the United States had a hypersonic bomber program in the works before the Soviets launched Sputnik. What has changed, however, is the ability to control flight at this rate of speed to a high degree of accuracy through onboard hardware and advanced software.

Morality, Duty, and Military Ethics: The Case of Lieutenant Colonel Scheller

Captain Thomas R. Beall, U.S. Navy (Retired)

Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Scheller has been much in the news of late. While on active duty as commanding officer of the Advanced Infantry Training Battalion at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Scheller, in uniform, posted a video on social media in which he criticized senior military and civilian leaders for incompetence in their management of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan and demanded accountability for their failures. Previously, according to the Washington Post, Scheller had been ordered to cease posting critical and controversial items on social media before he made the post that resulted in his relief and court-martial.1

To his credit, Scheller has publicly embraced responsibility for his actions, accepting removal from command and the judgment of a court martial. He will leave the Marine Corps without complaint in the near future. Where Scheller gets it wrong, however, is his belief that he was right to disobey orders and “speak truth to power” while still in uniform and still in command. In fact, he or any officer has the option to act insubordinately only when given an unlawful order. Scheller may disagree strongly with his government’s policy, but he has no right to undermine that policy by publicly criticizing it while holding a commission on active duty. He also had other, legal options to act on his beliefs. He could have resigned his commission and run for public office, as many members of Congress have done. From this political platform, he could have expressed his views and even influenced the policy with which he disagrees. Instead, he chose to leverage his exemplary military career to lend credibility to his views. Such insubordination is not only illegal but is a violation of our core values. Ultimately, Lieutenant Colonel Scheller’s actions were dishonorable, reflected misplaced courage, and demonstrated a lack of commitment to his Marines, to the naval service, and to the nation and the Constitution.

A century ago Ludwig Wittgenstein changed philosophy for ever

Of all the innovations that sprang from the trenches of the first world war—the zip, the tea bag, the tank—the “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus” must be among the most elegant and humane. When the conflict began, this short treatise was a jumble of ideas in the head of a young Austrian soldier and erstwhile philosophy student called Ludwig Wittgenstein. By the time he was released from a prisoner-of-war camp during the Versailles peace conference, it had taken rough shape over a few dozen mud-splattered pages in his knapsack. In 1921 Wittgenstein found a publisher, and philosophy was changed for ever.

That the book ever made it into print was miraculous. Before the war, as a student at Cambridge, Wittgenstein’s talent was clear to his contemporaries, who begged him to put his many thoughts into writing. He refused, fearing that an imperfect work of philosophy was worthless. His mentor, Bertrand Russell, made a habit of taking notes when the two spoke, lest his protégé’s genius be lost to memory. Wittgenstein himself had other preoccupations, principally suicide.