31 October 2022

‘Integrated Deterrence’ Is Not So Bad

Kathleen McInnis

Since the 1990s, every four years (give or take) the Department of Defense (DOD) issues its major strategic planning document, the National Defense Strategy (NDS). And every four years, the strategic studies community tackles the NDS and its core concepts with the enthusiasm and vigor of kids taking down a piñata at a birthday party. Past debates have focused on questions such as whether the department was actually preparing itself to better wage irregular warfare (2006), whether the document overprioritized addressing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan at the expense of longer-term emerging challenges, whether the document sufficiently accounted for then-emerging threats like Russia (2014), and whether the budget existed for the capabilities needed to prepare the U.S. military for great power competition (2018). The 2022 NDS is no exception. In this instance a major discussion swirls around the meaning of “integrated deterrence,” a construct at the heart of the NDS that is pilloried by many as another defense buzzword without meaning or substance.

The critics of integrated deterrence make good points. Deterring an adversary from taking a particular course of action is not just a matter of stationing forces on a front line or maintaining nuclear weapons. Rather, deterrence is a form of high-stakes political communication. Deterrence is therefore psychological as much as anything else. It requires clearly signaling political will and intent to act decisively if an adversary crosses a red line. During the Cold War, discerning the robustness of each other’s political will—and whether such will was eroding—was a constant preoccupation of Kremlinologists in Washington and U.S. specialists in Moscow. In this, all governmental actions—from conducting military exercises to involvement in proxy wars, to stationing troops and political statements and messaging—were weighed and assessed holistically in order to judge whether, for example, Washington would really risk New York to save Paris. Allies reliant on the U.S. nuclear umbrella also constantly assessed the United States’ political willingness to deter Russian aggression. Fast forward to 2022 and many observers are left wondering what integrated deterrence could possibly mean when deterrence by its very nature must be integrated with all other instruments of national power in order to be effective.

The 2022 Missile Defense Review: Still Seeking Alignment

Tom Karako

The Biden administration released its unclassified Missile Defense Review today, as part of the National Defense Strategy. As policy guidance to an increasingly broad enterprise, the 2022 MDR represents an opportunity to achieve greater alignment between U.S. air and missile defense (AMD) efforts and the strategic competition with China and Russia.

The new MDR is a step forward from past reviews in several respects. Gone is the primary focus on rogue state ballistic missiles that defined the 2010 review. It also corrects the 2019 MDR’s insufficient attention to integration, air defense layering for cruise missile and UAS threats, and survivability. Although the public version of the review leaves much to be desired, it nevertheless advances several critical mission areas: a comprehensive approach to missile defeat, homeland cruise missile defense, the defense of Guam, and distributed operations.

This MDR has three parts: the first addresses the evolving air and missile threat environment, the second, the U.S. strategy and policy framework, and the third, ways to strengthen international cooperation. Following the overarching theme of the 2022 NDS, the MDR describes missile defenses as a critical component of “integrated deterrence,” defined as a framework bringing together all instruments of national power.

The Case for Structural Financial Deglobalization


PROVIDENCE – The US Federal Reserve’s aggressive monetary-tightening campaign has squeezed economies worldwide, particularly in the developing world. With the dollar appreciating sharply against their currencies, many emerging and developing economies have experienced rapid increases in borrowing costs and consumer prices, leaving local policymakers with little choice but to raise interest rates and imperil their fragile economic recovery.

In the face of surging inflation, some lower-income countries have pushed back against the dollar’s hegemony. But instead of complaining, policymakers should consider insulating their economies from the greenback by erecting barriers to cross-border capital flows. To mitigate the effects of adverse monetary-policy spillovers, the world needs a bout of structural financial deglobalization.

The West Needs an Energy and Resource Alliance


COPENHAGEN – The old line that “history does not repeat itself, but often rhymes,” is an apt description of the evolving relationship between the West and its rivals. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union was a global superpower, owing to its military prowess. Today, Russia’s armed forces appear to be in a dismal state, but the country has become an energy superpower that can use its vast natural-gas reserves as a weapon. Similarly, today’s standoff between the West and Russia over Ukraine echoes the Cold War confrontation between authoritarianism and democracy.

As expected, Chinese President Xi Jinping has been given an unprecedented third five-year term. More surprising was the absence of any sign that Xi intends to revise the policies that have done so much economic damage in recent years.

With winter looming, the Kremlin’s shutdown of gas flows to the European Union could have severe consequences, triggering the biggest energy crisis in 50 years. Though increasing deliveries of gas from the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway will help mitigate the EU’s dependence on Russian supplies in the short run, it is not a long-term solution.

From Cuban Missiles to Putin’s Crisis


NEW YORK – Sixty years after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the world is again facing the specter of a nuclear confrontation. With Russian President Vladimir Putin appearing to be losing his war in Ukraine, he continues to escalate his threats, claiming that he may have to use nuclear weapons to protect Russia, including its newly “annexed” Ukrainian territories. As Putin brings the world to the brink, the question now is whether he will step back from it, as the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, did in 1962.

That summer, in response to the United States’ decision to place nuclear weapons in NATO countries, including Turkey, and aim them at Soviet cities, Khrushchev had sought to level the playing field by ordering the surreptitious placement of mid-range nuclear missiles in Cuba. The weapons would also protect the Cuban regime from a US invasion.

Europe has a problem: France and Germany have forgotten how to argue

The relationship between France and Germany is of such import to both that each side has home-grown analogies to describe it. For the romantics in France, the country of Charles Baudelaire and Victor Hugo, the alliance is often imagined as a couple, who bicker and occasionally dally with others. In no-nonsense Germany, home of Audi and Volkswagen, the duo forms an engine, a series of controlled explosions used to drive Europe forward. Whichever image one prefers, the current state of the relationship is dire. The ardour has cooled/the cylinders are misfiring. Previous bouts of Franco-German discord strained the eu but led to resolutions that forged European integration. Today’s squabble is nothing spectacular but it is worrying: nobody can see how it ends in productive compromise.

What should the US strategic objectives in Ukraine actually be?

Tom Rogan

Often left out of the discussion over Ukraine is the consideration of specific U.S. strategic objectives. So what should the U.S. aim to achieve with its massive provision of financial and armament aid to Ukraine?

First off, we need to identify why Ukraine's fate matters to the United States. It's actually quite simple. Vladimir Putin's escalated invasion is designed to subjugate a sovereign democracy in service of a reconstructed Russian imperium. Aside from the moral interest of standing with a free people who love America, the U.S. cannot allow Putin or his friend Xi Jinping to perceive Western tolerance for the attempted annihilation of a democracy. This cuts to the heart of the post-World War II democratic international order. It is an order which has made Americans freer, safer, and more prosperous.

What should the specific U.S. objectives be?

In my mind, three outcomes: the dislocation of Russian forces from Ukraine's mainland territory, the assurance of Ukraine's long-term democratic right to freely pursue its international relations, and the consolidation of the rule-of-law-based government of Kyiv that rejects autocracy and corruption. The Kremlin's propaganda aside, none of these outcomes would pose an existential threat to Russia. The pursuit of these objectives thus provides space against escalation which leads to a direct U.S. conflict with Russia.

"World War III Has Already Effectively Begun"

Tim Bartz und David Böcking

DER SPIEGEL: Professor Roubini, you don't like your nickname "Dr. Doom." Instead you would like to be called "Dr. Realist." But in your new book, you describe "ten megathreats" that endanger our future. It doesn’t get much gloomier than that.

Roubini: The threats I write about are real – no one would deny that. I grew up in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s. Back then, I never worried about a war between great powers or a nuclear winter, as we had détente between the Soviet Union and the West. I never heard the words climate change or global pandemic. And no one worried about robots taking over most jobs. We had freer trade and globalization, we lived in stable democracies, even if they were not perfect. Debt was very low, the population wasn’t over-aged, there were no unfunded liabilities from the pension and health care systems. That's the world I grew up in. And now I have to worry about all these things – and so does everyone else.

DER SPIEGEL: But do they? Or do you feel like a voice crying in the wilderness?

Roubini: I was in Washington at the IMF meeting. The economic historian Niall Ferguson said in a speech there that we would be lucky if we got an economic crisis like in the 1970s – and not a war like in the 1940s. National security advisers were worried about NATO getting involved in the war between Russia and Ukraine and Iran and Israel being on a collision course. And just this morning, I read that the Biden administration expects China to attack Taiwan sooner rather than later. Honestly, World War III has already effectively begun, certainly in Ukraine and cyberspace.

Elon Musk’s Twitter Will Be Chaos

Musk has reportedly wasted no time making big changes. Yesterday, The Washington Post reported that the company’s chief executive, Parag Agarwal; chief financial officer Ned Segal; general counsel Sean Edgett; and Vijaya Gadde, the head of legal policy, trust, and safety, have all been fired. Segal has since updated his bio to “former CFO and current fan” of Twitter.

Such sweeping changes are unlikely to be a one-off. In April, when Twitter announced it had agreed to the sale, Musk said he wanted to “make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans.”

The entrepreneur’s tweets and public statements since then—along with private text messages released through Twitter’s lawsuit seeking to enforce the deal—detail sweeping but sometimes conflicting ambitions for the company. Many have triggered concerns from people who use, study, or work at Twitter that the world may lose an imperfect but uniquely open online space. If Musk carries through on his ideas even partly, Twitter users could see big and confusing shifts in the platform’s features and social dynamics.

Israel’s president shares new intel on Iranian drones in Ukraine: ‘This is only the tip of the iceberg’

Nick Fouriezos

Following a series of Russian attacks on Ukraine using kamikaze drones in recent weeks, the international community quickly pointed the finger at Iran for supplying the technology. Iran has repeatedly denied arming Russia, with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian saying on Monday that should evidence emerge that Russia is using Iran-made drones, Tehran “will not remain indifferent.”

At the Atlantic Council on Tuesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog brought the evidence—multiple photographs of drones in Ukraine that matched Iranian models.

“This is only the tip of the iceberg of a lot of intelligence information,” Herzog said of the evidence, which he also planned to present to US officials in Washington this week. “One has to assume Iran is participating in the war in Ukraine, taking action against the people of Ukraine, and creating enormous suffering and pain.”

The Sunak Factor Showcases Britain At Its Best Or Decline?

Saeed Naqvi

Can Rishi Sunak be placed with Macaulay’s children? Thomas Babington Macaulay described these as “a class of persons, Indian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion in morals and intellect.” Traces of Rishi, there?

Had Macaulay manifested himself by some miracle in the Calcutta of the 50s and 60s, he would have patted himself on the back. All English companies were in the safe hands of brown-Englishmen – boxwallahs they were called. But Macaulay would have gulped at the sight of his cultural progeny of colour elevated to the job his contemporary Benjamin Disraeli once occupied – that of Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Macaulay’s Minute for Education policy was circulated in 1835. As if on cue, Doon School, modeled on Eton, opened its dormitories for the first batch in 1935. This facilitated princes, civil servants, army top brass and sundry elites to recycle their progeny through Doon School, St. Stephen’s College (or its equivalents), and Cambridge or Oxford.

US economic tools: The frontline of protecting national security—maybe even from Twitter

Jonathan Panikoff

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, likely to be completed by tomorrow and at the original price, comes at a time of increased public scrutiny for the world’s richest man over his closeness with Moscow, his threat—and quick backtracking—to end SpaceX’s provision of the Starlink internet service in Ukraine, and the public disclosure of his plan to cut 75 percent of Twitter’s workforce. Unsurprisingly, the US government is purportedly seeking to review the sale of Twitter. (On Monday, the White House denied that Musk’s purchase was under national security review.)

The potential that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) could be used to review the transaction is slightly curious, given the company’s product isn’t in the same category as, say, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, or aircraft. CFIUS has a mandate to protect national security. But the laws under which CFIUS operates provide little specificity for what that means, and the presence of foreign investors as part of Musk’s consortium to purchase the company is probably enough for the government to seek a review.

Around the Halls: The outcomes of China’s 20th Party Congress

Richard C. Bush, Diana Fu, Ryan Hass, Patricia M. Kim

The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held from October 16 to October 22, 2022. Brookings experts reflect on the elite political gathering and what its outcomes mean for China and the rest of the world.


The appointments to the Politburo and its Standing Committee confirm even more clearly than ever that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top priority is to maximize his control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) system. He wants his men on his leadership team to lead the agencies responsible for maintaining control. It is no surprise, therefore, that that the Minister of State Security has become a Politburo member for the first time.

Xi was able to dominate personnel selection because he had gained control already of the military, the security agencies, the organization/personnel system, and the propaganda system. He had ignored established norms when they were obstacles to his building his power. Moreover, from the very moment that he became general secretary, he stressed the importance of national security (mainly domestic security) and built new institutions to carry out that priority. His negative definition of China’s threat environment provides a perfect justification to intensify control, and the United States and Taiwan are among the convenient “dangers” to which he can point.

As a result, he has disregarded the conclusions that Deng Xiaoping reached about the reasons for the dysfunction of the CCP system under Mao: concentration of power under one man. Ironically, I doubt that Xi’s father would have agreed with the system he has built.

So, under the Xi system, power is highly concentrated, the flow of information to the top is tightly constricted, and the risks of anyone challenging Xi’s view of reality based on objective information are high. The likely consequence is that Xi & Co. will become even more prone to “group think” than they already are; they will misperceive the reasons that the regime is facing difficulties and never blame its own policies; and miscalculate how China should respond.


Several widely reported incidents of public defiance occurred during the Congress: the one-man protest on Beijing’s Sitong Bridge, “not my president” posters on several university campuses, and Hong Kong protesters outside of the Chinese consulate in Manchester, UK. These incidents were small-scale, rapidly disseminated then swiftly censored; and contained blatant mockery of paramount leader Xi.

The first two features — small-scale and rapidly disseminated online — are common to the Chinese tradition of popular dissent. However, the last feature — blatant attacks on the reign of China’s paramount leader — is unusual. Popular protesters in China have long learned to couch their resistance in the language of economic grievances and the law. They understand that to make their claims heard, they should focus on bread-and-butter issues while proclaiming unflagging support for the Party. But this time, three sets of dissidents broke from the usual script of defiance to directly criticize the supreme leader and the Party.

These three incidents, although representing only the polar extreme of dissent, tap into a broader undercurrent of societal discontent both within and outside of China that is pressing for the Party to address. In response, the Party has opted out of concessions, with state media opining that “lying flat is no way out” of the pandemic. Tencent has punished commentators of the bridge incident with loss of Wechat account access. And China’s wolf warrior diplomats proclaimed it their duty to use fists to protect their leader’s dignity. This signals that Xi Jinping 3.0 will likely continue favoring repression over concession when it comes to quelling dissent.

Why Is Wanting Peace In Ukraine A Scary Political Idea?

Harrison Kass

I wrote yesterday to commend the Congressional Progressive Caucus for its letter calling for the pursuit of a diplomatic solution to the Russo-Ukraine War. Mainstream Democrats eviscerated the move, labeling it a letter Vladimir Putin would be happy to sign. Still, it was encouraging to see at least some Democrats urging an alternative to war.

The hope was misplaced, it seems. The CPC actually withdrew their letter yesterday, about 24 hours after its release. There is a lot to unpack here, but we will start with the CPC’s lack of political courage.

If you are going to issue a letter proposing to solve the most contentious issue in geopolitics, you should expect some resistance – and you should be ready to withstand that resistance. And if you are not willing to propose reasonable solutions outside of the mainstream consensus, and you are not ready to face resistance, you probably shouldn’t be serving in an office of consequence. You certainly should not be influencing U.S. foreign policy.

A more market positive reading of the new Chinese leadership

The Hong Kong China 50 Index, which includes the top 50 Chinese companies listed in Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Shenzhen, dropped nearly 6% on Monday on heavy volume. Stocks with significant foreign holdings were hit particularly hard, with Alibaba, Tencent and Meituan each tumbling more than 10%. Bloomberg data suggests that overseas investors sold a record net $2.5 billion of mainland shares via Hong Kong Connect, putting the year-to-date cumulative foreign flows into negative territory. The RMB declined to its weakest level since 2007.

Foreign dumping of Chinese assets on Monday reflected the poor reception by the international community of the unveiling of the new Chinese leadership lineup on Sunday. Much of the news coverage in the western media focused on the fact that the members of the new standing committee of the Politburo have strong ties with Xi. One western commentator wrote: "This is a leadership that will be focused on achieving Xi’s political goals, rather than pursuing their own agendas for what they think is best for the country,”

Unlike the market, we prefer to view the new leadership as a glass half-full as opposed to half-empty. In the past, a new Chinese president often had to spend more of his first term consolidating his power base than on getting things done. The fact that Xi in his third term will not have to engage in factional political infighting should allow him to focus his energy on implementing his policy agenda. This is not inconsistent with our view that now that the Party Congress is over, China will start to gradually relax the zero-tolerance policy. If we are right, this should be bullish for oil and commodity currencies like the AUD.

Party Congress Signals a New Beginning

Xu Hongcai

The report to the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China fully embodies the coherence and consistency of China’s policies. It charts a course by which China can build a modern socialist country for decades to come and boosts the confidence of the international community and global markets.

Since the outbreak of war between Russia and Ukraine, both the external environment and internal conditions affecting the Chinese economy have changed. The UN-centered global governance system has faltered, while international relations based on economic and trade cooperation have been sabotaged. All this has adversely affected China’s industrial and supply chains, as well as its economic security — food and energy security included.

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have once again downgraded their forecasts for the Chinese economy and the global economy as a whole. The current world economy is characterized as “low growth, high inflation, high unemployment, high leverage and high risk.”

Navigating the Great-Power Competition Pakistan and Its Relationship with the United States and China

Yaqoob Ul Hassan



Until recently, Pakistan had deftly taken advantage of its position in the U.S.-China-Pakistan strategic triangle to improve its security vis-à-vis India. Intensification of U.S.-China great-power competition, with the U.S. embracing India as a bulwark against China and the closer alignment of Pakistan-China strategic interests, puts Pakistan in a security dilemma. Islamabad faces challenges in navigating this great-power competition as the role of middle powers increases. Hedging theory shows how Islamabad could gain from a working relationship with Washington on strategic interests, despite Pakistan’s aligned interests with China. Pakistan’s new national policy, with an emphasis on geoeconomics over geopolitics, will be important for work with both powers.


Pakistan can count on China’s consistent friendship, given Chinese economic and security investments, irrespective of Beijing’s own strategic interests in fostering this relationship.

Caught in the Middle? Middle Powers amid U.S.-China Competition

Hoo Tiang Boon and Sarah Teo


Competition is now the primary format of U.S.-China relations, spanning key dimensions of international politics. The pressures radiating from this structural shift have led Indo-Pacific states to calibrate their policies to this new geostrategic circumstance. This special issue focuses on the responses of a category of regional states understood as middle powers. How have regional middle powers adapted to the intensifying U.S.-China rivalry? What are the considerations and drivers that inform their coping strategies? To address these salient, policy-relevant questions, this special issue spotlights six Indo-Pacific middle powers—namely, Australia, South Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and Pakistan—and unpacks their logic and ways of navigating the complexities of the Sino-U.S. rivalry. The insights derived in this issue contribute to broader policy thinking on the evolving choices of middle powers and are instructive for the strategic policies of other regional states in an era of great-power competition.

Biden’s Unprecedented Semiconductor Bet


In early October, the U.S. government rolled out extensive new restrictions on China’s access to advanced semiconductors and the equipment used to make them. The restrictions require a hard-to-get license for the sale of advanced semiconductors to entities within China, largely depriving the country of the computing power it needs to train artificial intelligence (AI) at scale. The rules also extend restrictions on chipmaking tools even further to industries that support the semiconductor supply chain, cutting off both the U.S. talent and the components that make up the tools that make the chips. Together, these restrictions amount to the single most substantial move by the U.S. government to date in its quest to undermine Chinese technology capabilities.

The new restrictions also attempt to settle a long-running debate within U.S. technology policy. That debate centered on a perceived trade-off between two competing goals: damaging Chinese capabilities today versus maintaining American leverage in the future. With the latest rules, the U.S. government is betting that it can so deeply undermine China’s semiconductor fabrication capabilities that it won’t matter how motivated or well-resourced China’s efforts are to create its own semiconductor industry—they simply won’t be able to catch up.

The Larger Geopolitical Shift Behind Iran’s Drone Sales to Russia


The images that have emerged from Ukraine’s urban centers over the past week are stark. Lethal Iranian Shahed-136 drones, nicknamed “lawn mowers” or “mopeds” due to their incessant buzzing sound, have rained destruction on the country’s power grids and electricity substations, water pipelines, rail lines, dams, and other critical infrastructure. Air raid sirens have returned to its cities—a glaring reminder of the early days of the war. Experts estimate that Russia has ordered 1,700 Iranian unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of different types to conduct attacks against Ukrainian special forces, military units, air defense, and fuel storage depots.

An important objective for Moscow is psychological—to spread fear and intimidation that will undercut Ukrainian morale and compel the government into submission—and the mental effect of the drones has been unnerving. Information operations are a key component of modern warfare, and Moscow knows that when it comes to shaping narratives about the war, it has been on the losing end. Russia intends for the kamikaze drones to shift the narrative, yet the psychological impact of the drone campaign is likely to be low. While the strikes will bring significant suffering, harm, and corresponding violations of international humanitarian law, they may perversely strengthen Ukrainian resolve. Historically, punishment strategies tend to fail: for example, rather than bring about surrender, the 1940–1941 Blitz in London galvanized the British public to make sacrifices for victory.

China’s Four-Engine ‘Scorpion D’ Cargo Drone Has Flown


Acargo drone dubbed TB0D Scorpion D and built by China’s Tengden Technology company completed its maiden flight in Sichuan on October 25. The company says Scorpion D will be able to carry payloads weighing up to 1.5 tons.

Scorpion D is equipped with four propellers driven by gas engines, two under each of its wings, which are fitted high atop the drone’s fuselage. The company has also shared the Scorpion D’s supposed technical specifications, which detail that the cargo drone clocks in at 34 feet (10.5 m) in length, stands at 10 feet (3.1 m) tall, and has a 65-foot (20 m) wingspan.
A screencap from the Tengden video of the Scorpion D's maiden flight. Credit: Tengden via Twitter

Along with its substantial payload capacity, reportedly up to 1.5 tons, Scorpion D’s maximum takeoff weight is 4.35 tons. Scorpion D’s cargo hold is said to measure out to about 31 square feet and about 5 cubic meters, which would leave ample room for a variety of equipment and supplies be it civilian or military depending on the use case.

Ukraine Situation Report: Just 13% Of Russia’s Iskander Ballistic Missiles Left, Kyiv’s Intel Chief Claims

Source Link

Russia is running perilously low on missiles with which to strike the interior of Ukraine, according to Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence directorate.

In an interview with Ukrainian Pravda that has been translated into English, Budanov said that Russia has a ready supply of Iranian “Shahed” drones, but is buying them in large numbers because its missile stocks are “almost exhausted."

“About 13 percent remains for Iskanders, about 43 percent for Kalibr-PL, Kalibr-NK missiles, and about 45 percent for Kh-101 and Kh-555 missiles,” Budanov told the Ukrainian newspaper. “It is generally very dangerous to fall below 30 percent because it already goes [in]to 'NZ' [reserve stocks]. … Due to the lack of missiles and their low efficiency and accuracy, they were forced to use Iranian drones. They use 'Shahed' en masse here.”

China to continue implementing the policy package and follow-up policies to boost economic recovery and growth

BEIJING, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- China will continue to effectively implement the policy package for stabilizing the economy and the follow-up policies, to further promote economic recovery and growth, according to the decision made at the State Council's Executive Meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday.

The meeting urged efforts to fully study and implement the guidelines laid out at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. After arrangements are made, the key lies in delivering them on the ground. All departments should perform their duties diligently and ensure effective policy implementation, to strive for sound economic and social development.

Since April this year, to cope with shocks from greater-than-expected factors, a policy package for stabilizing the economy and follow-up policies have been introduced in a timely and decisive manner, with front-loaded implementation of the policies outlined at the Central Economic Work Conference and in the government work report.

‘Frustrated and powerless’: In fight with China for global influence, diplomacy is America’s biggest weakness


PANAMA CITY — On the Pacific side of the Panama Canal, a massive gray convention center built largely by Chinese contractors gleams in the sun, eagerly hosting visitors from a world emerging from the Covid-19 pandemic. A few miles north, colorful shipping containers lay stacked under the stern gaze of quay cranes at the Port of Balboa, a facility run by a Chinese-linked firm.

A new bridge is supposed to rise in the same area. Various plans have called for it to have six lanes, two soaring towers and even a high-end restaurant. To the delight of Panamanians, the span would ease the traffic clogging other bridges connecting this Central American country’s east and west, the kind that leads to two- or even three-hour commutes. To the annoyance of U.S. diplomats, the contract to build the bridge has been given to a consortium controlled by the Chinese government.

It didn’t have to be this way.

In late 2017, the then-U.S. ambassador to Panama, John Feeley, urged American firms to compete to build what’s called the “fourth bridge.” It was a sensitive time. Earlier that year, Panama had switched its diplomatic relations from Taiwan to Beijing, blindsiding Washington. A bid for the $1.5 billion project could have signaled America’s enduring interest in this country in its own hemisphere, home to a canal whose U.S.-led construction transformed global trade over a century ago. But U.S. firms, for various reasons, declined to bid. And unlike his counterparts from China, with their communist rule and state-owned enterprises, Feeley, a mere U.S. diplomat, held little sway over American companies.

Elon Musk faces down Twitter purchase deadline: Our guide to Silicon Valley’s messiest deal

Benjamin Powers

One of Silicon Valley’s messiest deals — Elon Musk’s on-again, off-again, maybe-on-again deal to purchase Twitter — faces a crucial deadline this Friday.

That’s the day by which Musk must close his $44 billion purchase of Twitter or face a trial in Delaware Chancery Court that was delayed after the billionaire asked for time to finish the purchase, after first attempting to wriggle out of the deal. But so far, the purchase hasn’t happened, despite reports last week that Musk still planned to finalize it by the Friday deadline.

The stakes are high for Twitter. Musk’s offer works out to $54.20 per share, well above the $32.42 the stock was trading at in March, its low point for the year.

Musk, who has scoffed at various regulations (and has run afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission, among other authorities) has quickly discovered that Kathaleen McCormick, the judge overseeing the Delaware case, is not inclined to offer the billionaire special treatment. She’s made clear that if the parties don’t close by the Friday deadline, her priority is settling the legal fight — quickly — with a November trial.

Germany is spending $200 billion to fight Putin’s energy squeeze. Will it end up dividing Europe?

Nikhil Kumar

Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz calls it a “defensive shield”: 200 billion euros (nearly $200 billion) worth of measures to protect German households and businesses from an energy crunch this winter.

The scale of the package, as well as Scholz’s language, reflects both the magnitude and the origins of the threat Germany faces. As Russian President Vladimir Putin has pounded Ukraine with heavy weaponry, he has also been squeezing Europe by turning off critical energy supplies. No single country has been more exposed than Germany. Over more than a decade, Berlin, lured by the promise of a cheap and reliable supply of Russian natural gas, grew increasingly dependent on the Kremlin to heat and light German homes, and to keep the country’s factories going. By the time Putin invaded Ukraine, more than half of Germany’s natural gas supplies originated in Russia. Last year alone, Germany paid Russia around $25 billion for energy imports. This year, even as it tries to cut its dependence, Berlin has had no choice but to continue buying Russian fossil fuels, which, because of the war, have become costlier: In the war’s first six months, Germany is estimated to have spent around $19 billion on Russian energy imports.

In other words, Germany has learned a lesson the hard way: Russian gas wasn’t that cheap, and it would prove anything but reliable.

30 October 2022

How China’s military plugs into the global space sector

Samuel Strickland

In August, a photograph of China’s Dalian shipyard surfaced on Chinese social media site Weibo showing five hulls of Luyang III–type vessels under construction. Once completed, these destroyers will sail out into blue waters, projecting the might of the Chinese navy and carrying with them a lethal high-tech projectile—the YJ-18A missile. Able to severely damage a warship with tens of thousands of tons of displacement in a single strike, the YJ-18A can sprint up to Mach 3.0 before impact and carry a 300-kilogram warhead. The result is a serious threat to US carrier strike groups in the South China Sea and beyond.

While the YJ-18A is designed to skim just five to 10 meters above sea level, it is also an example of China’s growing sophistication in outer space. The missile, designed to be almost impossible to intercept, relies on a constellation of Chinese satellites known as BeiDou.

While the civilian benefits are numerous, BeiDou is primarily a military technology. Similar to the United States’ GPS, China’s BeiDou is used to provide position, navigation and timing services to users. The catalyst for the development of this satellite system was likely the 1996 Taiwan Strait crisis. During a campaign of electoral intimidation aimed at Taiwan, the People’s Liberation Army fired missiles into the strait. However, the campaign backfired when a disruption to its GPS access caused China to lose track of its own missiles. BeiDou was announced shortly afterwards.

Could America Win a New World War?

Thomas G. Mahnken

When it comes to international relations, 2022 has been an exceptionally dangerous year. During the first two months, Russia massed thousands of troops along Ukraine’s borders. At the end of the second one, Moscow sent them marching into Ukraine. China, meanwhile, has grown increasingly belligerent toward Washington, particularly over Taiwan. After U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei in August, Beijing carried out a furious set of military exercises designed to show how it would blockade and attack the island. Washington, in turn, has explored how it can more quickly arm and support the Taiwanese government.

The United States is aware that China and Russia pose a significant threat to the global order. In its recent National Security Strategy, the White House wrote that “the [People’s Republic of China] and Russia are increasingly aligned with each other,” and the Biden administration dedicated multiple pages to explaining how the United States can constrain both countries going forward. Washington knows that the conflict in Ukraine is likely to be protracted, thanks to the ability of Kyiv and Moscow to keep fighting and the irreconcilability of their aims, and could escalate in ways that bring the United States more directly into the war (a fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s nuclear saber rattling makes readily apparent). Washington also knows that Chinese leader Xi Jinping, emboldened by his appointment at the 20th National Party Congress in October to an unprecedented third term, could try to seize Taiwan as the war in Ukraine rages on. The United States, then, could conceivably be drawn into simultaneous conflicts with China and Russia.


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‘Pacing challenge’: US defence strategy focuses on China

Al Jazeera Staff

Washington, DC – In a periodic assessment of US defence needs and priorities, the Pentagon has declared China a “pacing challenge” and called for an urgent strengthening of deterrence against Beijing while also naming Russia, Iran and North Korea as threats.

The National Defense Strategy (NDS), released on Thursday, said the People’s Republic of China (PRC) remains the United States’s most “consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades”. The document is produced every four years to identify threats to the US and offer long-term guidance for the Department of Defense.

“The most comprehensive and serious challenge to US national security is the PRC’s coercive and increasingly aggressive endeavor to refashion the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to suit its interests and authoritarian preferences,” the report said.

Xi’s ‘action men’ now lead China’s military. Here’s what that means for Taiwan

Brad Lendon

Star roles for “action men” in China’s new military leadership may hint at an increased threat of war with Taiwan, though analysts suggest Xi Jinping’s stated preference for a peaceful takeover of the island should be taken at face value – at least for now.

China announced the lineup of its Central Military Commission (CMC) last weekend, just days after Xi opened the Chinese Communist Party’s National Congress with a speech vowing to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s control. To thunderous applause, the Chinese leader said this could be done peacefully but – reiterating Beijing’s longstanding stance – he refused to rule out the use of force.

The new leadership of the military commission – the top authority in charge of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) – includes a number of officers seen as “action men” for their expertise in areas that would be key to any invasion. And that’s fueled concerns that such a move could be imminent.

Would Putin Roll the Nuclear Dice?


Since Russia launched its most recent invasion of Ukraine in February, Moscow has threatened—sometimes subtly, other times explicitly—nuclear escalation should the war not go its way. Ukraine and the West have to take such threats seriously. But the Kremlin also needs to take their probable responses seriously and would have to weigh the substantial risks and costs of using a nuclear weapon.

Shortly after Russian forces assaulted Ukraine on Feb. 24, Vladimir Putin ordered a “special combat readiness” status for Russian nuclear forces. But it’s unclear what that means since the Pentagon has consistently said it sees no change in Russia’s nuclear posture. The alert may have amounted to little more than additional command post staffing.

Since then, Russian officials have made implicit nuclear threats, such as Putin’s reference to using “all the forces and resources” Russia has to defend the Ukrainian territory he claims to have annexed on Sept. 30. Other Russians have voiced more overt threats. Former president Dmitry Medvedev on Sept. 27 “imagined” Russia using a nuclear weapon against Ukraine. The rhetoric has increased as the Russian army has suffered setbacks on the battlefield.

Around the Halls: The outcomes of China’s 20th Party Congress

Richard C. Bush, Diana Fu, Ryan Hass, Patricia M. Kim

The 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party was held from October 16 to October 22, 2022. Brookings experts reflect on the elite political gathering and what its outcomes mean for China and the rest of the world.


The appointments to the Politburo and its Standing Committee confirm even more clearly than ever that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top priority is to maximize his control of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) system. He wants his men on his leadership team to lead the agencies responsible for maintaining control. It is no surprise, therefore, that that the Minister of State Security has become a Politburo member for the first time.

Xi was able to dominate personnel selection because he had gained control already of the military, the security agencies, the organization/personnel system, and the propaganda system. He had ignored established norms when they were obstacles to his building his power. Moreover, from the very moment that he became general secretary, he stressed the importance of national security (mainly domestic security) and built new institutions to carry out that priority. His negative definition of China’s threat environment provides a perfect justification to intensify control, and the United States and Taiwan are among the convenient “dangers” to which he can point.

Drones, Cruise Missiles Are Rising Threats to US Troops and Territory, Pentagon Says


Drones and cruise missiles increasingly threaten the United States and its allies, the Biden administration said in its new assessment of global missile threats.

Released on Thursday, the Missile Defense Review arrives as kamikaze drones are being increasingly used in the conflict in Ukraine.

Drone “usage will likely expand and continue to pose a threat to U.S. personnel overseas, Allies and partners, and potentially to the U.S. homeland,” the report states.

Missile defense assessments conducted by the Trump administration in 2019 and the Obama administration in 2010 did not single out drones, also called uncrewed aircraft systems.

China’s Race for Technological Dominance Could Raise Its Global Stature

Emilio Iasiello

Recently, China convened its 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, an event that features the CCPs to leadership with an intent to adjust its constitution as it lays forth a blueprint for the country’s policies for the next five years. Xi opened the Congress affirming the nation’s need to win the race for the development of “core technologies” with the objective of becoming self-reliant in strategic technologies. Perhaps most notable was his emphasis on innovation being focused on national strategic requirements – and therefore making it clear that China’s national security was directly tied to the development of advanced information technology. He also addressed China’s “improved cyber ecology,” a nod to China’s Internet industry’s evolution during the past five years and recognition of its efforts to preserve content consistent with the Party’s principles.

This is not the first time Xi has addressed IT and cyber-enabled technologies during important speeches, an acknowledgement of the importance that they play in China’s continued ascension as an influential power in the world. In 2014, Xi intimated his vision for China when he laid forth China’s steps to become a great cyber power citing the need to be proficient at domestically developing technology, as well as an internal infrastructure and culture replete with the requisite expertise. Four years later, Xi reinforced this vision of China as a cyber power when he linked cybersecurity with national security, indicating how economic and social security are invariably intertwined and ingrained with the Internet. While these are not the only times Xi has discussed the Internet and cyber-related topics, it shows an evolution in thinking that led China to where it is today. Adding other initiatives such as increased regulation of foreign presence in China, the passage of domestic cyber laws, Beijing’s advocacy for cyber sovereignty and setting standards, Xi’s push for China to become on par with the United States extends well beyond the ability to wage information-enabled warfare in the digital space.

Daily Memo: China Concludes Its National Congress

Congress closes. The Chinese Communist Party concluded its 20th National Congress on Sunday. On the closing day, Xi Jinping was given an unprecedented third term as general secretary. The member lists of the newly elected Central Committee and Politburo Standing Committee were also announced. As the congress came to a close, China’s National Bureau of Statistics released third-quarter economic data, which was supposed to be announced last Tuesday. According to the release, China’s gross domestic product grew 3.9 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous year.

Moscow’s message. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke by phone on Sunday with the defense ministers of Britain, France, Turkey and the United States about the situation in Ukraine. In their conversations, Shoigu accused Ukraine of planning a provocation using a “dirty bomb.” The British Defense Ministry said the defense secretary “refuted these claims and cautioned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for greater escalation.”

Security pact. Australia and Japan signed on Saturday a new security agreement that covers military, energy, intelligence and cybersecurity cooperation. Under the agreement, which updates a security pact signed 15 years ago, Japan said its Self-Defense Forces will train in northern Australia for the first time. Australia is a key energy and resources supplier for Japan and is seeking to fortify its position in regional export markets. Beijing, meanwhile, said the agreement threatens regional peace.

U.S. Officials Had a Secret Oil Deal With the Saudis. Or So They Thought.

Mark Mazzetti, Edward Wong and Adam Entous

WASHINGTON — As President Biden was planning a politically risky trip to Saudi Arabia this summer, his top aides thought they had struck a secret deal to boost oil production through the end of the year — an arrangement that could have helped justify breaking a campaign pledge to shun the kingdom and its crown prince.

It didn’t work out that way.

Mr. Biden went through with the trip. But earlier this month, Saudi Arabia and Russia steered a group of oil-producing countries in voting to slash oil production by two million barrels per day, the opposite of the outcome the administration thought it had secured as the Democratic Party struggles to deal with inflation and high gas prices heading into the November elections.

The move led angry Biden administration officials to reassess America’s relationship with the kingdom and produced a flurry of accusatory statements between the two governments — including a charge by the White House that Saudi Arabia was helping Russia in its war in Ukraine.