24 April 2022

Chaos in Chinese markets shows the yuan is no threat to the dollar, veteran economist says

Harry Robertson

Some see the yuan as the next global reserve currency. Oleg Elkov/Gety Images

The yuan poses little threat to the dollar as investors cool on China's financial hubs, a veteran economist has said.

China seems unwilling to bear the economic responsibility of having the world's dominant currency, Steven Blitz said.

The US-led move to freeze Russia's foreign currency reserves has raised speculation about countries moving away from the dollar.

The Chinese yuan poses little threat to the dollar, in part because investors have been put off the country's financial hubs and markets by Beijing's policies, according to a veteran economist.

China's Security Contractors Have Avoided the Fate of Russia's Military Contractors, So Far

Cortney Weinbaum

China's approach to private security contractors (PSCs) is much more limited in scope and effects than Russia's use of private military contractors (PMCs). The differences are stark. However, indicators suggest that Chinese planners see benefits in expanding and maturing the country's use of private contractors, which creates the potential for dangerous results for China and the rest of the world.

The distinction between a PMC versus a PSC is the difference between a for-hire military contractor versus a security team that merely protects a single static location, like a military base, embassy, or port. Thus far, evidence indicates that China has engaged solely in PSC activities and has intentionally avoided PMC activities, likely due to a deliberate strategy by Xi to avoid regional entanglements and the type of rogue violence committed by Russian PMCs.

Usage of Reservists and Irregulars in Ukraine

I had already written on why Ukraine was so successful in its resistance to Russian invasion. Reasons are many, but here I will be addressing one reason in particular: usage of reservists and irregular units.

Ever since the end of the Cold War, NATO had been turning to a professional army model, under assumption that it is more effective and easier to deploy. But the professional army is essentially an offensive army: good for NATO’s imperial interventions, but not good for national defense or a protracted defensive war. Home Guard / territorial defense can be extremely effective for the purposes of home defense, and war in Ukraine is an excellent example.

Preparing Sailors for the Age of AI

Lieutenant Andrew Pfau

The U.S. Navy has moved ahead in developing and fielding unmanned systems on, above, and under the ocean. Navy leaders envision a future in which manned and unmanned ships will sail side by side, and unmanned systems will operate over the horizon supported by shore-control facilities. The Navy is funding research and development for 215 projects related to artificial intelligence (AI), including greater autonomy for unmanned systems and aiding warfighter decision-making. Despite fielding physical systems, the Navy has not defined the training and education for operators and maintainers of AI systems. This despite a 2020 plan to educate and train Department of Defense (DoD) employees. The Department of the Navy (DoN) has released several strategy documents about AI and autonomous systems including the Strategy for Intelligent Autonomous Systems and the Unmanned Campaign Framework. Unfortunately, these documents both avoid discussion of how the Navy will train sailors or operate future unmanned systems.

The Chinese Way of Innovation What Washington Can Learn From Beijing About Investing in Tech

Matt Sheehan

For decades, many Americans derided China as a nation of copycats incapable of creativity, let alone breakthrough innovation. Authoritarianism and central planning were thought to be naturally inimical to fresh ideas. Rapid technological advancement, many in the United States believed, required the kind of fearless, “disruptive” thinking that was most at home in a freewheeling, democratic society.

Over the past several years, however, the narrative has shifted, and any complacency over U.S. technological superiority has evaporated. Business columns explaining China’s seeming inability to innovate have given way to op-eds warning that it is poised to surpass the United States in strategic technologies such as artificial intelligence and 5G. Policymakers in Washington who had long been content to leave technology up to Silicon Valley are now racing to find ways to bolster U.S. technological capabilities and counter Chinese progress. But making effective technology policy requires a clear understanding of how both countries got here, and what that means going forward.

The U.S. Moratorium on Anti-Satellite Missile Tests Is a Welcome Shift in Space Policy


On Monday, the United States became the first country to adopt a voluntary moratorium on the destructive testing of direct-ascent anti-satellite (DA-ASAT) missile systems. These weapons generally involve missiles that launch from the Earth’s surface to destroy a satellite passing overhead. The testing of these weapons—conducted in recent years by China, India, Russia, and the United States—creates debris that can remain in low Earth orbit (LEO) for years if not decades, threatening other satellites. Though there’s no international legal framework prohibiting these types of tests, other countries should follow the United States in voluntarily refraining from destructive, DA-ASAT testing.

The Return of Statecraft Back to Basics in the Post-American World

Eliot A. Cohen

For more than 70 years, starting in the middle of World War II, the United States bestrode the world like a colossus. Its economy and military emerged from the war not just unscathed but also supreme. Its institutions of governance—a unified Department of Defense, a system of far-flung military commands, the National Security Council, specialized agencies for international development, and so on—were those of an effective global hegemon. Even when it was locked in a mortal struggle with the alien and hostile ideology of communism, it held most of the winning cards. And as colossi do, it elicited resentment from those not content to live in its shadow.

Europe’s Fading Unity Over Ukraine


Russia and Ukraine are in a race against time.

President Vladimir Putin wants some kind of victory by May 9. He wants to use the seventy-seventh anniversary of Russia’s defeat of Nazi Germany to celebrate the end of his devastating war in Ukraine that has led to thousands of civilian deaths and wanton destruction in a country unwilling to give up its independence and sovereignty.

Autopsied bodies and false flags: How pro-Russian disinformation spreads chaos in Ukraine

Anya van Wagtendonk and Jason Paladino

In recent days, images began circulating in pro-Russian media of a burnt-out car on the side of the road along Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.

A social media channel for the Donetsk People’s Republic, a Russian-backed region of Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists, accused Ukrainian “saboteurs” of killing three civilians in an improvised explosive device (IED) attack early Tuesday morning outside Donetsk. Several videographers were then allowed on the scene. One captured high-resolution images of what appeared to be burned human remains inside the vehicle and posted them online.

Allied cyber authorities warn ‘evolving intelligence’ points to incoming Russian cyber attacks


WASHINGTON: US federal agencies, allied cyber authorities and industry today released their most stark warning yet that Russian cyber attacks are likely to increase against both private industry and public infrastructure targets, as the war in Ukraine enters its 56th day.

Citing “evolving intelligence,” the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), along with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency and cybersecurity authorities from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom released the joint advisory in wake of increased threats by Russian cyber groups targeting critical infrastructure both within and outside the Ukraine region.

Russia and the First Economic World War

Antonia Colibasanu

As momentous as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is, the most strategically important event in recent weeks was the global economic war between Russia and the U.S. and its allies. Russia, however, has been preparing to confront the West and challenge the Western socio-economic model for a long time.

The Putin Era to the Pandemic

Russia’s strategic interests in Ukraine are well-known. The geography and history of Russia compel its leaders to create and preserve a buffer between Moscow and the major powers in Western Europe, and to ensure access to the Black Sea. Ukraine is crucial to both goals. But beyond Ukraine, the Kremlin perceives the eastward expansion of Western influence, including into Russia, to be a modern invasion by stealth that threatens the Russian regime.

SpaceX shut down a Russian electromagnetic warfare attack in Ukraine last month — and the Pentagon is taking notes

Stephen Losey

WASHINGTON — Russia’s halting efforts to conduct electromagnetic warfare in Ukraine show how important it is to quickly respond, and immediately shut down, such attacks, Pentagon experts said Wednesday.

But the U.S. needs to get much better at its own EW rapid response, they said during the C4ISRNET Conference Wednesday — and can learn a lot from how the private sector has handled these situations.

Ukraine Endgame: Putin’s Bad Options


Ukraine’s brilliant and tenacious resistance on land, as well as the sinking of the Moskva in the Black Sea, have checked Russia’s offensive in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin would be wise to follow the advice of his countryman, chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, and know when to stop. Instead, Putin appears intent on further escalation. In response to these events, Russia warned the United States to stop arming Ukraine, or face “unpredictable consequences.” Putin even went so far as to prescribe the weapons that the United States should not provide to the Ukrainian Army.

Ukraine uses website to train fighters remotely


The Training Department (G7) of the Territorial Defense Forces (TDF) Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine launched an instructional website "to provide Ukrainian citizens with basic military knowledge necessary to protect the country."

The site provides varied articles and instructional videos on various topics, from basic first aid to handling chemical attacks to operating an FGM-148 javelin rocket.

Beyond COIN: Militias and Multi-Domain Operations

Adam Wendoloski

U.S. thinking recognizes the role of proxy forces in Multi-Domain Operations (MDO). The MDO concept discusses the need to both employ, and counter proxy forces without specifically addressing the use of militias or how to employ them. In Syria and Ukraine, Russia heavily leverages pro-government militias to achieve its policy goals. The United States also leverages militias. The Sons of Iraq and Syrian Democratic Forces were used with great effect at the tactical and operational levels. However, the discussion on the role of militias in a near-peer competition conflict is lacking. The bulk of U.S. doctrine focuses on militias in a COIN role, however militia's have the capability for broader application in Multi-Domain Operations.

Emerging Technology Horizons: Yet Another Hypersonics Wake-Up Call

Dr. Mark J. Lewis

Russian claims of using hypersonic missiles to strike targets in Ukraine should be a wake-up call.

Though purists might argue that hypersonic weapons have been used before — any missile exceeding Mach 5 in the atmosphere is technically hypersonic — this appears to be the first combat use of a hypersonic maneuvering missile, a weapon combining the attributes of speed, unpredictability and altitude for increased survivability.

U.S. social media giants vowed to remove Russian war propaganda. It’s still there.

Steve Reilly

The Kremlin and its allies continue to use major U.S. social media platforms to spread war propaganda and disinformation to millions, a Grid review has found, despite the platforms’ vows to ban such content.

On YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, Grid found pro-invasion rhetoric, false war crimes claims against Ukrainians, and even fundraising campaigns for military equipment to aid the Russian invasion.

Made in the Alliance How to Shore up the Foundations of Transatlantic Solidarity

William H. McRaven, Peter Orszag, and Theodore Bunzel

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has reinvigorated the Western alliance and bolstered transatlantic solidarity. After being declared “brain dead” by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2019, NATO has sprung to life, deploying forces to its eastern flank and coordinating the provision of sophisticated weapons that have helped Ukraine impede Russia’s invasion. For the first time in its history, the European Union has financed the purchase and delivery of lethal aid. Western countries have vastly exceeded expectations in implementing coordinated financial sanctions that have crippled Russia’s economy. Even neutral Switzerland joined the fray.

U.S. 'strategic ambiguity' over Taiwan must end


Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has reminded many people of the fraught relationship between China and Taiwan. But while there are three similarities between the situation in Ukraine and Taiwan, there are also significant differences.

The first similarity is that there is a very large military power gap between Taiwan and China, just as there was between Ukraine and Russia. Moreover, that gap is growing larger every year.

What If the War in Ukraine Doesn’t End?

Liana Fix and Michael Kimmage

All wars end, and their closing moments are often vivid and memorable. Take, for instance, Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union General Ulysses S. Grant in April 1865, which brought an end to the U.S. Civil War. Or the armistice that terminated World War I, signed by Germany and the Allies in a train car near Paris in November 1918. Or the end of the Cold War, symbolized by the toppling of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and, later, the lowering of the Soviet flag from the Kremlin on Christmas Day of 1991. These scenes loom large in the cultural imagination as decisive moments that provided the sense of a definitive ending.



Let me preface this article by stating that I have absolutely zero current knowledge of any U.S. intelligence activities in Ukraine, nor would I write or speak about them if I did. I am writing this piece as a hypothetical wishlist of potential covert activities that I would like to see the U.S. government undertake in support of the Ukrainian government’s fight against an unprovoked and illegal invasion by Russia. Think of it as a position paper reflecting solely this author’s suggested courses of (covert) action that the U.S could undertake to help Ukraine win this war.