14 April 2022

Reflecting on the First Draft of History, One Week at a Time

Howard W. French

Editor’s note: This will be Howard French’s final weekly column for World Politics Review. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank Howard for the keen insights—born of his rich experience, creative intelligence and interdisciplinary thinking—that he has shared with WPR’s readers for the past three years. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors.

When I began writing a weekly global affairs column for World Politics Review nearly three years ago, things settled into an almost organic rhythm surprisingly quickly

Chinese State Media’s Global Influencer Operation

Lili Turner and Nirit Hinkis

Log into Facebook or Instagram and you’ll undoubtedly find yourself scrolling through the curated profiles of social media influencers. The most successful ones almost feel like close friends, sharing their latest cookie recipe, posting vacation photos, or ranting about some hot-button political issue. They capture our attention, cultivate our trust, and convince us to buy, feel, do. Brands and businesses are the most evident beneficiaries of this recent marketing strategy, but they’re not the only ones: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which has long struggled to find messengers that appeal to foreign audiences, has recently tapped into influencers’ remarkable power of persuasion in order to sell us the CCP itself and its controversial policies.

How China’s TikTok, Facebook influencers push propaganda


WASHINGTON (AP) — To her 1.4 million followers across TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, Vica Li says she is a “life blogger” and “food lover” who wants to teach her fans about China so they can travel the country with ease.

“Through my lens, I will take you around China, take you into Vica’s life!” she says in a video posted in January to her YouTube and Facebook accounts, where she also teaches Chinese classes over Zoom.

China Tops Threats in New Defense Strategy


China is the No. 1 priority in the new National Defense Strategy, according to an unclassified fact sheet released Monday evening by the Defense Department.

The fact sheet lists the Pentagon’s top four defense priorities, but makes clear that China is “our most consequential strategic competitor and the pacing challenge for the department.”

Putin’s War Is Complicating India’s Middle Path Among Powers

Mujib Mashal

NEW DELHI — As international outrage over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine boiled over, foreign ministers and envoys filed in to New Delhi, hoping to pull India off the fence and into clearer condemnation of Russia, its longtime ally.

Russia Has Fired 'Multiple' Hypersonic Missiles Into Ukraine, US General Confirms


Russia has fired “multiple” hypersonic missiles at military targets in Ukraine, the top U.S. commander in Europe said on Tuesday, bringing some clarity to conflicting reports and claims.

On March 19, the Russian ministry of defense claimed that it had launched a Kinzhal, or Dagger, missile to strike a Ukrainian ammunition dump about 100 kilometers from the Romanian border.

Conflict in Ukraine

 Yesterday I attended a webinar on the ongoing Russia - Ukraine War.

As I could not speak during the Q and A session. I sent the following to the Think Tank.

You may like to have a look.


1.      Somehow my microphone could not be unmuted. May be due to poor internet connection. I could not air my views on the presentation. 

2.      I have the following points to make.

3.      Predicting the future is difficult. Robert Gates conceded that U.S failed every time. Our PM said future war will be short, swift and intense. Even after seven weeks the war is not over yet. We may review this prediction of future war. 

4.     Surprise and Deception. Every tank, vehicle, arty gun, eqpt, units and formations were identified, well before the operations started, were available in net. In East Ladakh there is no cover. How do we achieve Surprise and Deception?


5.     OSINT. Dr Seth Jone of CSIS identified Russia’s likely courses of action along each axis. War started as predicted.  Of course no plan survives the first bullet fired. What is our OSINT org? Does MI have OSI engines or OSI centre. One of my friends, was in contact with me on the subject, recently write an excellent Manekshaw paper. Also may see my article in Fin Express on this issue.

6.     We, in IA, should stop talking about Deterrence, dissuance, coercion, compellence and now Joe Biden’s integrated diterrence. What comes before what. Where were the deterrences in Eastern Ladakh when the Chinese came in? 

7.     Same is for soft, smart, sharp & now Discourse Power. Don’t go by all these fancy terms. Diplomats use these to waffle and confuse. They have lost Hazipir Pass, 93,000 POW and now Kailash Range won by blood and guts of Indian armed forces. Too much emphasis is being given on these terms.  

8.     We should remain firmly on ground. Make no mistake, it is conventional war. Character of war changes, tech will change, war between tech and anti-technology will go on. Psy ops and its new avtar IW was always there. In 1971 we dropped leaflets, today it may be done  through social media.

9.     Point is, for the last 30 years we have been talking about IW. Who will do it? What is the org? Who is the lead agency? Against China, or in TAR how do we carry out Psy ops or whatever name e.g influence, strategic communications et al, you call it? Less theory, I would like to know more on what can be done on ground. In my opinion  IW has to be done by NSCS or MHA, coordinating with other ministries. Armed forces can be only a part of the wheel. 

10. Complacency after winning a conflict is astounding. Armenia paid for its complacency in conflict with Azerbaijan. Same with Russians after their success in 2014 in Ukraine. How come basic drills like camouflaging tanks was not done by Armenians. Long convoy of Armoured vehicle giving lucrative targets to Ukrainian forces is incomprehensible.
11.Myth of short, swift, intense war has to be busted. You prepare for a short war and facing a protracted war your logistics, ammunition become critical. What is our ammunition scale of intense rate of fire, for how many days? Is there a need to have a re look at the present scale of ammunition?

12.On 24 Feb itself a satellite network owned by Americans and providing SATCOM cover to Ukraine was taken out by Russia. Not enough is being talked of about this incident. What is our defence against such attacks to our satl communication network? 

13.Neutrality of big IT companies like FB, Twitter, Google, Microsoft have been totally exposed. Look, what the social media companies did in Gaza conflict last year and what they are doing now. FB is officially giving statement about allowing Azov Battalion news. Microsoft is defending Ukraine’s cyber network.

14.FIBUA or MOUT has to be relooked. All our procedures of Isolation, investment & capture of a node is archaic. Against our western neighbours these are all built up areas, small townships.

15.Failure of Russian army units. Retired Russian Army Generals warned about the pitfalls of attack on Ukraine. Red herrings were raised. Not taken note of.


a)     In EW, Russia is the best. No effect.

b)     Why the most modern weapon systems are not being fielded by Russia. Where is the Armata tanks?

c)      Russia is very good at theory. Big Exercise like Zapad is held every four years, the latest was held in September 2021 The large-scale military drills, conducted in western Russia and Belarus, involved 200,000 troops from Russia. Indian Armed forces with 200 personnel from Naga Regiments were to participate. Lessons are learned from these exercises . Russian army, as a professional body would be knowing their strength and weaknesses. Then why this poor performance. 

17.Quality of Eqpt. After Galwan lot of major eqpts were purchased on emergency basis. Are Mig 29 or Sukhoi-30MKIs inferior eqpt? We need to be careful in our statements.

18. An impression was given that Ukraine Army will capitulate once the war starts. But the maths does not support this statement. Ukrainian Army is two lakh 9 thousand strong organised in 27 composite brigades. It has fifty thousand irregulars/ reserves/ paramilitary whatever you call,
who are well trained. The Ukrainian Army, after  2014, has been trained by NATO specially USA. Has some of the finest & latest hand held anti tk msl like Javelin & MANPADS. The Turkish drones were active. Russia had only1 lakh 90000 troops deployed. FIBUA and occupying land require large number of troops.   The figures do not support the argument that Ukraine was an easy meal for the Russian bear.

Collective Defense is Now at the Forefront of NATO

Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer

The American policeman in Europe is back. Under pressure from the US Congress and NATO’s eastern allies, the Biden administration is recalibrating its defense posture in Europe in a ways unseen since the end of the Cold War.

Ukraine prevents new Russian cyber attack targeting electricity grid, but warns more may be on the way

Alexander Martin

Ukrainian authorities have accused hackers working for Russian military intelligence of a new cyber attack targeting the country's electricity grid and power supply.

The attack was planned to take place last Friday, 8 April, when the malware targeting an unidentified company would have shut down several high-voltage electrical substations in Ukraine.

While the country's cyber security experts managed to prevent any disruption to power supply, there are concerns further attacks could be successful ahead of a renewed push from Russia in the east.

Ukraine Says It Thwarted a Sophisticated Russian Cyberattack on Its Power Grid

Kate Conger

WASHINGTON — Ukrainian officials said on Tuesday that they had thwarted a Russian cyberattack on Ukraine’s power grid that could have knocked out power to two million people, raising fears that Moscow will increase its use of digital weapons in a country already pummeled by war.

Why India Won’t Condemn Russia

Ravi Agrawal

As much of the Western world has united to punish Russia over its unilateral invasion of Ukraine, India has recently come under the spotlight for refusing to formally condemn Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions. Over the last several weeks, New Delhi has received high-level envoys from countries across the global political spectrum: Russia and China, for example, but also Austria, Germany, Mexico, Britain, the United States, and more. The spate of diplomatic activity is ostensibly aimed at trying to influence New Delhi’s stance.

We Assumed Small States Were Pushovers. Ukraine Proved Us Wrong

Alexander Clarkson

At a time when old certainties have been shaken and the pace of events is overwhelming, it can be difficult to assess what the long-term impact of a geopolitical shock might be for the global order. In the immediate aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the widespread shock that such a calamity could befall millions of people made it difficult to think through the unanticipated consequences of such a profound rupture of the international state system. Yet after five weeks of brutal war triggered by a criminalized Russian state under President Vladimir Putin, there are now a few indicators that can help give a sense of how the world around us is changing, and what the long-term impact of these changes might be.

Russian Scientists Say They Have A New System to Monitor Attacks on the Russian Internet


As Russia rains artillery fire down on Ukrainian cities, cyber attackers from around the world have been targeting Russian media, cryptocurrency services, and retail brands with denial of service attacks. A group of Russian scientists say that they’ve developed a new tool to block such attacks—but even that is an indication that severe economic sanctions are changing life in Russia.

How China’s united front system works overseas

Ryan Fedasiuk

Led by United Front Work Departments of Chinese Communist Party committees at each echelon of government, the united front system is a complex and opaque set of organisations designed to advance the CCP’s influence in industry and civil society. Within China, the united front system has several responsibilities, which range from repressing ethnic minorities in Tibet and Xinjiang to grooming members of China’s minor political parties to take up positions in government.

How The US Military Is Training Ukraine To Fight Russia

Stavros Atlamazoglou

The U.S. and its European partners and allies have been critical in helping the Ukrainian military halt the Russian invasion. Scores of countries have sent tens of thousands of weapons systems to Ukraine. The U.S. alone has sent over 10,000 anti-armor systems and close to $3 billion in military aid.

What the U.S. Military Needs to Learn from the Ukraine War


As the brutal fighting continues in the Ukraine War, it seems likely to fundamentally upend the way we wage war in the 21st-century. From new tactics to equipment, the Russian invasion of Ukraine may presage fundamental changes in how war is conducted. What can Western militaries learn from the war thus far?

Time For Putin’s Hail Mary Pass

George Friedman

Alexander Dvornikov isn’t exactly a household name, but it could be soon. He’s the Russian general President Vladimir Putin has put in charge of the war in Ukraine after what can generously be described as a disappointing start for Moscow. Dvornikov is credited with saving the Russian campaign in Syria, and the Kremlin hopes he can replicate his successes in Europe.

Don’t Underestimate Ukraine’s Volunteer Hackers

Jennifer Shore
Source Link

Cyberconflict between nation states is usually fought in the shadows, only trickling out into the public view in bits and pieces. So Moscow took an unusual step on March 29 when it issued a public statement that accused the United States of being behind a “cyberwar” against Russia, detailing what it claimed were cyberoperations by “anonymous hackers and provocateurs” backed by the U.S. government and threatening “grave consequences.” Amid warnings by the White House that Russia is exploring cyberattack options against the United States, the Russian statement may indicate a real threat to U.S. infrastructure.

Cyber lessons from the Russia-Ukraine conflict


The deadliest wars in history have always involved weaponry – from cannons to machine guns. But it seems that geopolitical conflict is taking on another form with the emergence of tech. The world sits on the edge of its seat as Russia and Ukraine engage in cyber warfare.

The ongoing crisis has given rise to a series of cyberattacks at an unprecedented scale and garnered significant attention from the cybersecurity community. The question left hanging is: how can governments around the world avoid the same fate?

From closely monitoring partners who are working in affected areas to fine-tuning their crisis response plans, CyberArk shares how countries can improve their cyber resilience with vigilance.

The Ukraine Temptation

Stephen Wertheim

For three decades, U.S. foreign policy has run on inertia and called it strategy. The Cold War had ended, but the United States nonetheless retained its Cold War alliances. The Soviet Union had disappeared, but the absence of a major threat produced much the same prescription as the presence of a major threat had: just as the U.S. military had defended “the free world,” now it would become the guardian of the whole world. When problems appeared, successive administrations generally took them as reasons to expand U.S. deployments. Even if its bid for primacy had created or exacerbated those problems, Washington had the solution: more and better primacy.

Signs of Responsible Statecraft Are Missing in Most Signatories of the Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty

David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Spencer Faragasso

The Institute found a general lack of responsible state actions among the 89 countries that have signed or acceded to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty, or TPNW) to date, compared to those countries that have abstained from signing it. This finding flows from data compiled in the Peddling Peril Index (PPI) for 2021/2022. The PPI is a measure of both the effectiveness of national strategic trade controls and adherence to widely accepted and long-standing international treaties and conventions, making it a useful indicator for responsible state actions overall in addition to its traditional role in ranking 200 countries’ and entities’ strategic trade controls. The correlation with the PPI identified a concerning lack of demonstrated commitment and implementation of international arms control, trade control, and financial practices among the current 89 signatory and accession countries of the Ban Treaty. The majority of countries (some 64 percent, or 57 out of 89) that have signed or acceded to the Ban Treaty rank in the bottom half of the PPI ranking, and 29 percent, or 26 countries, rank in the bottom quarter. These 89 countries scored an average of 477 points in the PPI, or just over one-third of the possible points. This is below the global average for all 200 countries and entities considered in the PPI, which lies at 546 points. The Ban Treaty appears to be signed mostly by countries with little commitment to existing international norms, treaties and conventions, or to implementing strategic trade and financial controls, all fundamental international tools to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and slow the growth of nuclear arsenals.

Ukraine & Iran Demonstrate the Need for True American Deterrence

Michael Doran & Marshall Kosloff

The Counterbalance Podcast returns with hosts Marshall Kosloff and Mike Doran assessing the state of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and rising tensions with Iran in the Middle East. Primarily, Doran dismantles the politically trendy idea that the U.S. doesn’t need explicitly military tools to deter global threats anymore. This modern philosophy of deterrence centered around economics and “moral suasion” dominates the Biden administrations foreign policy, but at what cost? Doran argues that we are doomed to think that we will deter Putin from war by embarrassing him. Instead, a more traditional approach of military deterrence paired with strategic ambiguity could have possibly spared us the current war in Europe.