22 May 2022

Out of Africa The Real Roots of the Modern World

Olúfẹ́mi Táíwò

Africa remains poorly understood by the rest of the world and frequently distorted in global conversations, whether in the work of African and Africanist scholars, the reporting of journalists, or the missives of aid workers. They tend to see Africa as exceptional, defined by its difference. An asymmetry shapes the way people—Africans and non-Africans alike—describe the continent. For instance, Belgium (with its perennial tensions between French speakers and Flemish speakers), Canada (home to a sometimes rancorous Québécois separatism), and Russia (where many ethnic minorities are uneasily parceled into republics) are seen as multinational federations, but the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Nigeria are sites of so-called nation building, where motley tribes need to be forged into nations. What counts as federalism elsewhere becomes tribalism in Africa.

Africa even as a geographic concept remains fraught. The continent is often divided between North Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, a distinction that traces back to the nineteenth century and is rooted in racist beliefs about the differences between the groups in the predominantly Arab northern areas and those in what was then called “Black Africa.” The German philosopher Georg Hegel, for instance, dubbed the northern part of the continent “European Africa” to yoke the cultural legacy of Egypt to Europe while denying that Africa was ever a part of the movement of history. The continued use of this distinction maintains the unjustified bifurcation of the continent in the global imagination.

China restricts travel abroad to keep money at home


China is discouraging its nationals from leaving the mainland – purportedly for anti-epidemic reasons, but many sense also aims to curb capital outflows. The move could have wide-reaching implications, including for neighboring countries hoping for a revival of outbound Chinese tourism.

The National Immigration Administration said on May 12 it would strictly limit Chinese who cannot show the necessity for leaving the country while also tightening the requirements to receive Chinese passports. It said the new policies were aimed at preventing people from bringing the Covid-19 virus back to China from overseas.

The official announcement came after some Chinese netizens complained that they had recently faced extra scrutiny by customs officers at international airports. Some reportedly saw officers cut the corners off of people’s passports and even the green cards of permanent residents of the United States.

In an equally hard turn, students can leave China only if they are destined for foreign universities, not primary or secondary schools. On Friday, customs authorities of Shanghai, Guangzhou and Beijing issued statements to dismiss what they referred to as “rumors.”

They said officers did not cut people’s US-issued green cards but at the same time stressed that they had the power to cancel travelers’ Chinese passports in accordance with the law.

After the global epidemic started in Wuhan in early 2020, the Chinese government was the first to tighten its travel policies, not only by limiting the number of incoming travelers with strict quarantine rules but also by reducing the issuance of Chinese passports or related travel documents.

Those moves are also in line with Beijing’s “dual circulation” drive, which encourages people to spend money locally to boost domestic consumption and fuel more indigenous economic growth.

Last July, the National Immigration Administration for the first time announced that “non-emergency and non-essential” cross-border movement of people would be limited.

A team of health inspectors in hazmat gear disinfect an Air China jet at Shanghai Pudong Airport in 2021. The city continues to bear the brunt of the Chinese government’s ‘zero Covid’ policy. Photo: Xinhua

China would strengthen border entry and exit control to prevent the import of Covid-19 cases, Chen Jie, spokesperson of the National Immigration Administration (NIA), first said in a news briefing on July 30, 2021.

The NIA would not issue passports or entry-exit documents for non-essential reasons, he said. Applications with real needs such as studying, working or doing business abroad would be accepted in a timely manner, he added.

Since then, all outbound tourism has been stopped. Until now, however, Chinese with foreign passports, residency permits or working visas, as well as students with overseas school offers, could leave the country freely.

But the situation has changed since China was hit by the highly infectious Omicron variant in March this year.

Due to the lockdowns of key cities including Shanghai and Guangzhou in April, more and more middle-class families decided to leave China to avoid being affected by the quarantine measures, local media reported.

On April 27, Chen said the NIA would maintain its strict entry and exit policies in order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. He said a total of 14.62 million people had left the country in the first quarter, down 5.9% from a year ago.

Chen’s comments were not widely reported by Chinese media until the NIA said on May 12 that it had held an internal forum on May 10 and ordered all customs authorities to strictly implement the country’s entry and exit policies. Meanwhile, more and more travelers said they faced extra scrutiny at airports.

One netizen said in a post on social media that a corner of his Chinese passport was cut by a customs officer after he said he would take an online language course, instead of a face-to-face one, in Canada.

Another Chinese man claimed customs officers at Shanghai Pudong International Airport had increased their efforts in scrutinizing outgoing travelers and had stopped some of those with foreign residency permits or large amounts of foreign currency from leaving.

Another claimed some people had their Chinese passports canceled by customs officers after their arrival at Guangzhou airport. These complaints, similar to many other alleged cases, could not be independently verified by Asia Times, but the reports caused some customs offices to respond.

A passenger pushes her luggage to the check-in area at Beijing’s Daxing International Airport on July 12, 2021, as hundreds of flights were cancelled in the capital. Photo: AFP / Wang Zhao

Guangzhou Customs said in a May 13 statement that it was untrue that one of its officers cut the corner off of a Chinese traveler’s US-issued green card. Shanghai Customs said it was impossible for a traveler to be barred from departing for France at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, which has already suspended all international flights since March 25.

Beijing Customs said it was aware of a rumor that a “Chinese citizen’s passport corner was cut off without a reason.” Citing Article 67 of China’s Exit and Entry Administration Law, it said exit or entry documents that are forged, altered, obtained by fraudulent means or declared void by issuing authorities shall be invalid.

Still, the NIA said in a statement on May 13 that it was necessary to limit people’s departures from the country if they did not have necessary or urgent reasons to travel as the global pandemic had not yet ended. It said people could still leave the country for studying, working or doing business or visiting close relatives who are ill or to attend family funerals.

Some commentators said the tightening exit rules were aimed at slowing capital outflow as the Chinese currency has been on a significant downward trend since last month. Since April 18, the renminbi has depreciated by 6.24% to 6.79 against the US dollar due to the interest rate hikes in the US.

Just this week, the currency weakened an additional 1.8%. The Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged to a tight band of between 7.75 and 7.85 versus the US dollar, also fell to its weakest end, forcing the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) to buy and support the unit on May 12.

How a 1964 letter from China has helped prevent nuclear war


Scientists say humanity’s ability to avoid military self-annihilation depends on a single principle: Countries that develop nuclear weapons must not use them offensively. This makes the pact informally known as “mutually assured destruction” work.

Perhaps even more important, the No First Use policy ensures that “defense” for a nuclear-armed power genuinely means defense – rather than being a word that provides a smokescreen for expansionist military development. Yet few people know the policy’s extraordinary history – and just which powers support it and which decline to.

The No First Use principle was first proposed by China in 1964, and has since been widely recognized as the linchpin on which humanity’s war-free future depends. China gained nuclear-weapons capability that year. Instead of demanding that all powers jointly agree on the principle, as some people recommended at the time, China’s leaders simply wrote an extraordinary letter to the global community.

What Led To Pakistan’s Present Economic Downfall? – OpEd

Humais Sheikh

The present economic condition in Pakistan is extremely fragile and it may collapse anytime soon if no immediate measures are taken. But what led to the current economic downfall was mainly the lack of any viable economic plan by the PTI government that could take off. PTI ruled Pakistan for more than three years and in that tenure the economy nosedived with indicators like double-digit inflation, trade deficit, & high-debt of the country, adding a surge in the economic miseries.

According to Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, there was a 50% devaluation of Pakistan Rupee in the three-year rule of PTI government. This devaluation caused a massive wave of inflation to create chaos in the lives of people in Pakistan. The import of edible oil, wheat sugar, pulses, and other food items triggered an unrest among the masses.

The country’s expenditures have increased to Rs7.5 trillion from Rs4.2 trillion with a rise in mark-up payment of Rs 3,000 billion due to the re-profiling of government debt by the PTI government. The external debts and liabilities increased from $95 billion to $127 billion adding massive troubles to the country and more debts than any of the previous governments.

Southern Africa Feels The Pinch Of Russia-Ukraine War

Jeffrey Moyo

Life is no longer the same for Zimbabwe’s shop owner, 34-year-old Richwell Mhasi in the capital Harare who has had to park his car at home, switching to his bicycle, cycling to and from work amid the rising prices of fuel since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war this year.

In South Africa’s Musina town closer to the border with Zimbabwe, widowed 43-year-old Laziwe Muleya living in a shack with her three children, has now turned to wood fire as she can no longer afford the price of gas for cooking.

South African parliamentarian, William Madisha has gone on record saying, “this conflict will lead to more unemployment and lower our 2021/2022 gross domestic product (GDP) than previously projected.”.

Already, R77 billion (about $4.8 billion) worth of South African businesses domiciled in Russia have been affected by the latter’s war on Ukraine.

Social Unrest Is Rising, Adding To Risks For Global Economy – Analysis

Philip Barrett

After a pause in popular protest during the first year of the pandemic, people are returning to the streets. This year, large and long-running anti-government demonstrations have occurred in some advanced economies where unrest is relatively rare, such as Canada and New Zealand. And in several emerging and developing economies, coups and constitutional crises have sparked widespread protests. A recent body of IMF work aims to understand the economic drivers and costs of such unrest.

Measuring social unrest consistently is difficult. The IMF’s Reported Social Unrest Index attempts to do so by counting media mentions of words associated with unrest across 130 countries. The fraction of countries experiencing large spikes in this index, which typically reflect major unrest events, rose to around 3 percent in February. As the Chart of the Week shows, this is close to its highest levels since the onset of the pandemic.

Pentagon Says Not Just State Actors Pose Cyber Threat To US

C. Todd Lopez

It’s not just hackers operating at the behest of adversarial nation states who pose a threat to U.S. cyber infrastructure — it’s cyber criminals who are just in it for the money, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy said.

Many in the Defense Department have long viewed the cyber threat in terms of nation-on-nation said Mieke Eoyang, who spoke Friday at TruCon2022, the Truman Center for National Policy’s annual conference.

“I think that’s because we thought that those are the most technical, the most sophisticated and the ones that would have the greatest impact,” she said. “But I think we’ve seen over time with the development of the non-state actor — the criminal cyber market — is that capabilities that were once reserved for state actors are available on the dark web for purchase.”

Department of Defense continues to downplay Taliban and Al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan


The U.S. military continues to underestimate Al Qaeda’s strength in Afghanistan and overestimate the threat posed by the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province.

The newly released Department of Defense Inspector General report on Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS, the now-defunct mission in Afghanistan) and Operation Enduring Sentinel (OES, the current mission to address threats emanating from Afghanistan) puts the number of Al Qaeda operatives in the low hundreds.

Additionally, the report somehow elevated the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province as the primary threat in Afghanistan, over the Taliban, which controls the country and shelters numerous regional and global terror groups, including Al Qaeda.

U.S.-China Technological “Decoupling”: A Strategy and Policy Framework


Technology is the engine that powers superpowers. As the chair of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), I led the effort that ultimately delivered a harsh message to the U.S. Congress and to the administration: America is not prepared to defend or compete in the AI era. The fact is that America has been technologically dominant for so long that some U.S. leaders came to take it for granted. They were wrong. A second technological superpower, China, has emerged. It happened with such astonishing speed that we’re all still straining to understand the implications.

Washington has awakened to find the United States deeply technologically enmeshed with its chief long-term rival. America built those technology ties over many years and for lots of good reasons. China’s tech sector continues to benefit American businesses, universities, and citizens in myriad ways—providing critical skilled labor and revenue to sustain U.S. R&D, for example. But that same Chinese tech sector also powers Beijing’s military build-up, unfair trade practices, and repressive social control.

Azerbaijan Strives to Be a Regional Renewable Energy Hub

Ayaz Museyibov

Azerbaijan intends to contribute to Europe’s energy security by developing into a regional “green” energy hub, the government officially announced on May 9, at The World Utilities Congress, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (Minenergy.gov.az, May 9). In line with such goals, several days earlier, Azerbaijani and Romanian officials discussed prospects for exporting electricity to Romania generated by offshore wind turbines in the Caspian Sea. The electricity will be transmitted from the Georgian coast via submarine cables stretching across the Black Sea (Minenergy.gov.az, May 5). Previous bilateral talks with the French government revealed that Baku sees the potential to produce up to 7.2 gigawatts of wind energy in the Caspian through 2036 (Minenergy.gov.az, April 4). Furthermore, Azerbaijan is courting European companies to cooperate on the export of renewable energy and “green” hydrogen (that is, produced using offshore wind power) to Europe. And according to Azerbaijani Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov, the expansion of the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) project (the westernmost link of the Southern Gas Corridor, which carries Azerbaijani natural gas to the Balkans and Italy) should additionally enable 10 percent of the pipeline’s capacity to be devoted to transporting hydrogen (Minenergy.gov.az, April 2; APA, March 29).

Currently, Azerbaijan is focusing on developing domestic renewable energy sources, in particular in the form of large-scale solar and wind power. The country aims to increase the share of renewable energy sources in its installed electricity production capacity from 16.5 to 30 percent by 2030 (Minenergy.gov.az, March 29). The considerations driving Azerbaijan’s green energy strategy are not only to boost the country’s energy export potential but also to save more natural gas for internal purposes (Azerbaijan-news.az, March 18).

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 20 Issue: 10

Jacob Zenn

On April 25, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Mali, Group for Supporters of Islam and Muslims (JNIM), claimed that it kidnapped Russian Wagner Group “soldiers” in Segou (Twitter/@Lesoirdebamako, April 26). This occurred despite the fact that the Malian government has denied even the existence of the Wagner Group in its territory. Rather, the Malian military rulers, who came to power through a coup in 2021, only acknowledge “Russian trainers” being in the country (lemonde.fr, April 25).

Although JNIM’s claim appears credible, the group’s lack of any publicized video showing Wagner Group soldiers in the group’s custody lowers the authenticity of the claim. Such a JNIM video would not only embarrass Mali government by showing their claims about the Wagner Group to be false, but would also exacerbate Mali’s relations with France, which, among other European countries, has withdrawn its counter-terrorism forces from Mali and oppose the deployment of Wagner Group in the country. The Malian government accuses France of “subversion” for criticizing the lack of democratic transition in Mali, which, in turn, has led Mali to court closer ties with Russia (Senenews.com, April 27).

Cyber Attacks on Ukraine: Not What You Think

Neil J. Rubenking

In the modern world, it makes sense that cyber warfare would coordinate with more traditional “kinetic” warfare. The cyber team knocks out the enemy’s communications just before the boots-on-the-ground team launches an attack, say. However, that’s not what’s happening in Ukraine, according to a research report from Kaspersky’s experts. The near-continuous stream of cyberattacks arrive, for the most part, completely uncoupled from physical attacks, and the quality of the war-fighting code varies wildly.

Wait, Kaspersky?

This report comes from Kaspersky’s Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) team. Yes, the same Kaspersky that was recently deemed an “unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States,” banned by Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security, and even dropped from the bug bounty program run by one-time partner HackerOne.

We at PCMag have found it necessary to pull Kaspersky products from our “Best of” roundups, though we still evaluate and report on their capabilities. So why shouldn’t we assume this research report is pure disinformation?

The thing is, the researchers on the GReAT team(Opens in a new window) do their work all over the world. Picking a few at random, I found Sweden, Germany, Australia, and Argentina. Many, perhaps most, of them have worked at other security companies, from Dr. Solomon to McAfee to Symantec. I’ve met some of them personally, and attended their illuminating briefings at Black Hat and other security conferences. Yes, some are clearly Russian nationals. Some are based in Russia. But overall, it’s an international effort, and this group’s research has been well-respected among security experts for many years.
Smart and Not-So-Smart Attacks

The full report on cyber activities in Ukraine(Opens in a new window) is dense with information, but not impossibly technical. For those tempted to skim, it pauses for a point-by-point recap every so often.

One important takeaway is the “vastly disparate degrees of sophistication” in the observed cyberattacks. Picture two guerilla teams aiming to take over a fortified enemy building. One team compromises the security cameras, infiltrates silently, and totally owns the building. The other team flings a few Molotov cocktails through the windows and runs away. Yes, it’s that different.

At the sophisticated end, perpetrators of the HermeticWiper attack craftily acquired a valid certificate to digitally sign their dangerous payload. Once in place, the malware surreptitiously copied itself through networks and then wiped data from its host computer, eliminating the evidence. After defenses went up against HermeticWiper, a much less sophisticated follow-up called IsaacWiper tried to take its place. The report characterizes IsaacWiper as rushed, “as if their operators had been tasked with destroying data at the eleventh hour.”

Amateur attacks go both directions, it’s true. You can find websites offering a chance to enlist your own computer in a DDoS attack on Russian military and resource targets. We don’t advise that you participate, though. In any case, the report didn’t cover attacks against Russia.

Next to No Coordination

In February, an attack on the Viasat network interfered with Ukrainian military communications just as Russia launched a physical attack on Ukraine. As with the HermeticWiper attack, there are no fingerprints, smoking gun, or other hard evidence linking the cyberattack to Russia’s invasion, but Britain, the EU, and the US all blame Russia.

The Geopolitical Consequences of China’s Solomon Islands Pact

Ankit Panda and Catherine Putz

Podcast hosts Ankit Panda (@nktpnd) and Katie Putz (@LadyPutz) discuss the drivers and consequences of China’s new security pact with Solomon Islands. The episode also covers the role of China is Australia’s upcoming federal elections.Click the play button to the right to listen. If you’re an iOS or Mac user, you can also subscribe to The Diplomat’s Asia Geopolitics podcast on iTunes here; if you use Windows or Android, you can subscribe on Google Play here, or on Spotify here. If you like the podcast and have suggestions for content, please leave a review and rating on iTunes and TuneIn. You can contact the host, Ankit Panda, here.

How Putin’s War Remade Washington

Susan B. Glasser

President Biden, squinting in the May sun, delivered what he called “historic” and “momentous” news on Thursday morning. Standing in the Rose Garden, he was flanked by two guests whose presence showed that this was not a case of standard-issue Presidential hyperbole: Finnish President Sauli Niinistö and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson. A day after formally submitting their countries’ applications to join nato, they had come to receive America’s blessing for the endeavor, the most concrete shift yet in the geopolitical order resulting from Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Biden gave it, offering them a folksy welcome to the Western alliance and promising them the full security protection that membership confers. “There is nothing going to be missed, as my mother would say, between the cup and lip,” the President said. “We’re in.”

Two hours after Biden’s Nordic photo op, the Senate approved—with an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 86–11—a forty-billion-dollar aid package for Ukraine. The twin developments on Thursday reinforced the point that, in the not-quite three months since Russia attacked Ukraine, the war has already changed Washington in striking ways. New realities, such as the decisions of Finland and Sweden to join nato—after decades of official neutrality, despite the predations of Hitler and Stalin—were recently seen as politically impossible. “After two hundred years of military nonalignment, Sweden has chosen a new path,” Andersson said, in remarks at the White House. Putin’s war, in other words, has now caused a once-every-two-hundred-years event. Other developments, such as suddenly present fears of a twenty-first-century nuclear war in Europe, were unthinkable before the invasion. Washington sending tens of billions of dollars to fund Ukraine’s resistance to Putin happened so quickly, meanwhile, that few have fully processed its meaning: an American decision to bankroll a proxy war against a hostile superpower.

How does this end? 5 possibilities for the war in Ukraine

Joshua Keating

One week into the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it’s clear that the war has not gone as quickly or as smoothly as the Kremlin had hoped. Ukraine’s military and political institutions have held up better than expected, the international backlash has been more severe than expected, and the invaders have been beset by a mix of logistical issues, poor planning and low morale. Any Russian hopes of a quick “shock and awe” campaign to overthrow and replace the Ukrainian government, avoid high casualties and present the international community with a fait accompli before it could respond have now been dashed.

Still, it’s early days, and few analysts outside Moscow seriously expected Russia would conquer the second-largest country in Europe without a fight. Russia still has capabilities — notably air power and highly deadly thermobaric weapons — that it has not yet brought fully to bear, and many of its forces still haven’t entered the fight. The next phase of the war is likely to be far bloodier as the Russian military bombs Ukraine’s urban areas, perhaps recreating grim scenes seen in Syria and Chechnya in years past. This war will get worse before it gets better.

Ukraine endgames 2.0: Can either side ‘win’ this war?

Joshua Keating

One week after the war in Ukraine began, Grid laid out five scenarios for how it might end. It was already apparent then that the war would not be the quick and decisive Russian rout that many had expected, but two months later, it’s clear that the article still gave the Russian military too much credit.

Two of those scenarios — a complete Russian takeover of Ukraine and a division of the country in two, with a new border along the Dnieper River — are now off the table. Before the war, many predicted the Ukrainian resistance to transform into an underground insurgency against a Russian occupation. Instead, Ukraine’s military is intact and still fighting a conventional war.

The true nightmare scenario of three months ago — a direct Russia-NATO war — is still possible but looks less likely today. Given the difficulties they’ve had overcoming Ukraine, it’s hard to see what the Russians could accomplish by striking Poland, the Baltic states or any other country under NATO’s security umbrella. This is not to say that an errant missile strike or misread intelligence couldn’t still lead to a deadly miscalculation.

Why Kim Jong Un is ‘freaking out’: North Korea’s covid nightmare

Lili Pike

On May 12, the Korean Central News Agency — the main media arm of the North Korean government — announced for the first time that covid had broken out inside the country. For more than two years, North Korea had closed its already-tight borders in an effort to ward off the virus. But North Korea also blocked vaccines and other covid-related aid from entering the country, and now it appears omicron has hit in explosive fashion — within two weeks the country has reported 1.7 million cases of what it describes as “fever.”

In the week since its announcement, North Korea has put in place a lockdown policy similar to China’s; but for a country in which food scarcity and poverty are long-standing problems, experts worry that the outbreak might bring devastating consequences.

Grid spoke with Sung-Yoon Lee, a professor of Korean Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, to understand how the covid situation in North Korea has escalated so quickly, how the famously reclusive nation is responding and the implications for its citizens and the regime.

Weaken, but don’t ruin, Russia


While in Poland after his trip to Kyiv, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated that the West seeks for Russia to emerge from its war against Ukraine severely weakened, if not debilitated. The purpose is to ensure that Russia will not have the capacity to attempt another attack in the same place or elsewhere in the future. This is the right intent and would be a desirable outcome in the near term — as long as we don’t overdo it.

Helping Ukraine withstand Russia’s aggression and survive as a nation must be our goal. As such, the current policy of arms shipments, intelligence and other indirect support, and powerful economic sanctions makes sense. But the permanent weakening of Russia should not be our long-term objective, and we should take care not to create conditions that produce that outcome. Leave aside the humanitarian implications for the Russian people. Such a policy would be dangerous.

What is happening in Pakistan’s continuing crisis?

Madiha Afzal

Even by the standards of Pakistan’s perpetually unstable politics, the last ten weeks in the country have been exceptionally turbulent. Pakistan has a new government as of April 11 after Imran Khan was forced out via a vote of no confidence. The weeks leading up to the vote, from the filing of the motion on March 8 to the vote on April 10, were dramatic and full of intrigue. Now, the country is in economic and political crisis. Shahbaz Sharif’s new government has been in a state of decision paralysis and is struggling to find its footing, while the ousted prime minister is leading rallies across the country attacking the government’s legitimacy and calling for fresh elections. At the same time, Pakistan is also in the grip of an acute climate emergency. It’s not only political temperatures that are spiking: an unprecedented heat wave has enveloped Pakistan for weeks.

Crucial to the current crisis is understanding how Khan’s government fell. While Khan was Pakistan’s first prime minister to be ousted via a no-confidence vote, he joined each of his predecessors as prime minister in not lasting five years — the length of parliament’s electoral term — in office. Pakistan’s major opposition parties had been clamoring for Khan’s exit since he came into office — calling him “selected” by the military as opposed to “elected” — and had formed an alliance, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), in the fall of 2020 for that purpose. This spring, the opposition gained traction. On the surface, the opposition blamed governance and economic failures under Khan. But the underlying reason their maneuvers were successful was that Khan had lost the support of Pakistan’s military, which helped him rise to power.

Russian State TV Says Ukraine War Is 'Rehearsal' for Conflict with NATO


Aguest on Russian state television has said that the war in Ukraine could simply be a stepping stone to bigger conflicts.

Alexei Fenenko, a research fellow at Moscow's Institute of International Security Studies, was weighing in on Russia-1 on how the invasion of Ukraine could provide a testing ground for Moscow to wage even bigger wars.

"For us the war in Ukraine is a rehearsal for a possible bigger conflict in the future," he said in the video clip shared on Thursday by Russia watcher and journalist Julia Davis.

"We'll test and compare NATO weapons with our own. We'll find out on the battlefield how much stronger our weapons are than theirs," he said.

A pundit on Russian TV has said that the invasion of Ukraine is a “rehearsal” for future conflicts. In this picture, destroyed Russian armored vehicles are piled up on wasteland on the outskirts of Bucha, Ukraine on May 19, 2022.CHRISTOPHER FURLONG/GETTY IMAGES

"This may be a learning experience for our future conflicts," he said before 60 Minutes anchor Olga Skabeyeva interrupted with the observation that it was a "scary experiment."

Fenenko's comments echo those previously made by guests on Russia-1, which has relentlessly pushed Kremlin propaganda about Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

It has also discussed how the war would spread beyond just Ukraine, raising the idea of an "inevitable" war against "Europe and the world."

Regular guest Aleksey Zhuravlyov, from the nationalist Rodina political party, said on the channel this month "one Sarmat missile and the British Isles will be no more," referring to Moscow's newest intercontinental ballistic missile.

Last week, Skabeyeva, who is dubbed the Kremlin's "propagandist-in-chief," took aim at Polish Prime Miniser Mateusz Morawiecki's criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. She said that Poland had "ceased to exist as an independent state" several times before.

This week, Skabeyeva joined in with guests in mocking White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre with comments about her sexuality, gender and skin color.

Jean-Pierre, the first Black woman and openly LGBTQ person to serve in the role was described by journalist Andrei Sidorchik as "a dark-skinned immigrant."

However, there was speculation about whether one guest on the show had gone off message with a negative take on Russia's campaign in Ukraine.

Putin Is Bringing His Disinformation War to Ukraine


The Kremlin began a campaign of propaganda in Russia about Ukraine well before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops to begin attacking the country in late February. But now recent reports are emerging that Russia has also been making efforts to spread disinformation within Ukraine.

Melitopol, a city in southern Ukraine, was one of the first sites of battle in the conflict and one of Russia's earliest successes. On Monday, The New Yorker reported that as Putin's forces stormed through the city in late February, soldiers posted flyers that declared the fighting was for "the defense of Russia itself from those who have taken Ukraine hostage" and called for "cooperation so that we can quickly turn this tragic page and move forward together." Melitopol residents also found that Russian broadcasts had replaced their local radio programming; one played a speech by Putin on a loop.

Meanwhile, an adviser to Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko said Monday that Russia was offering to provide financial compensation to residents of the city if they blamed President Volodymyr Zelensky's military for destroyed housing or family deaths.

Restoring Deterrence


BRUSSELS – As NATO military chiefs meet in Brussels to discuss the war in Ukraine, the other issue on their minds is the alliance’s forthcoming Strategic Concept, which will shape its priorities for years to come. And here, Russia’s behavior has demonstrated that re-establishing deterrence must play a central role.

When Russia began amassing troops on Ukraine’s border late last year, it embarked on a path of aggression against not just Ukraine but also what it calls the “collective West,” particularly the European Union and NATO. Russia was seeking to deter Ukraine and the West from increased collaboration, while the West was seeking to deter Russia from aggression. The subsequent invasion stems from a massive failure of deterrence.

The Ukrainians have marshalled an impressive defense, and the EU, NATO, and other Western partners and allies have continued to tighten economic and financial sanctions and provide aid. But we are in a dangerous cycle of escalation. The situation demands credible deterrence that goes far beyond the traditional “nuclear umbrella.”

The Lose-Lose Tech War


SINGAPORE/LOS ANGELES – The Sino-American geopolitical rivalry is growing increasingly bitter, with Russia’s war in Ukraine only the latest source of schism. The mutual antagonism is deepening, with little effort on either side to stem the deterioration in the bilateral relationship.

It doesn’t have to be this way. To maintain global peace, and to address humanity’s urgent collective challenges, the United States and China need to find discrete areas where they can pursue cooperation and reverse the rot in their relationship. Science and technology – particularly as they relate to climate change – offer the best prospects for renewed cooperation. To take advantage of such opportunities, however, both sides will first need to reassess fundamental assumptions and lower the temperature of their rhetoric.

How the War in Ukraine is Accelerating India’s Desire for Tech Autonomy

Tobias Scholz

The first major territorial war of the 21st century will ultimately produce geopolitical winners and losers. Nevertheless, the remaking of international order is not only being scripted on Ukrainian territory; neither is the war’s interpretation only being shaped in Kyiv, Washington, D.C., and Moscow.

When India abstained in the March 2 vote on the United Nations General Assembly’s call to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it invited an array of criticism and questions. At the center of the confusion of some observers was the conviction that an abstention always implies a position that is in between “in favor” and “against” a motion. And while the territorial war in Ukraine stimulates bipolar discourses that are narrated in terms of too little vs. too much support or minimum vs. maximum levels of deterrence, Indian foreign policy navigates the situation with a different rationale.

In India, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has stipulated a loss of trust in both Russian and Western sources of technology as well as a new alertness over any major technological dependence on one partner country. New Delhi’s reinforced belief in self-reliance, or Atmanirbhar Bharat, might in the short run compromise its economic growth, but India’s domestic consensus for technological strategic autonomy is here to stay.

President Biden’s Policy Changes for Offensive Cyber Operations

Herb Lin

On May 13, a Washington Post story indicated that changes to U.S. policy regarding offensive cyber operations are imminent. These changes would refine the Trump administration policy as promulgated under National Security Presidential Memorandum 13 (NSPM-13) in 2018. To understand the story underlying this change, it is helpful to review the history of presidential guidance and policy regarding offensive cyber operations.

The first known White House statement on this topic was articulated in Presidential Policy Directive 20 (PPD-20), established by the Obama administration in 2012. The text of PPD-20—still technically classified—was made public in 2013 by the Snowden disclosures and is widely available online. By contrast, the text of NSPM-13, also classified, is not public. One public source indicates that the major change between NSPM-13 and PPD-20 was an “offensive step forward” from a policy that required consensus in a U.S. government interagency process that included the departments of Defense and State, among others. Reportedly, NSPM-13 provides “for the delegation of well-defined authorities to the Secretary of Defense to conduct time-sensitive military operations in cyberspace.” According to statements made by a member of the Joint Staff, NSPM-13 enabled faster, more agile decision-making by allowing delegations of authority and enabling the delegatee (the party to whom authority was delegated) to make coordination and approval decisions that would otherwise be made by the National Security Council.

Putin’s strategic failure and the risk of escalation

Nigel Gould-Davies

After six days, it is clear that Vladimir Putin’s invasion was based on delusions about Ukraine, the West and Russia. Whatever the outcome on the battlefield, Putin has unleashed forces that weaken his country’s, and his own, position.

Firstly, Putin drastically underestimated Ukraine’s cohesion and will to resist. When he declared war, he called on Ukrainian forces to lay down their arms. Many have died rather than surrender, while many Russian soldiers have done the opposite. Doubling down on his delusion, Putin then called on the Ukrainian military to overthrow President Volodymyr Zelensky. Instead, Ukrainians who have never used a gun are now learning to do so, and to make Molotov cocktails, in defence of their country. Putin is inadvertently completing the work he began in 2014 of uniting Ukrainian society and reinforcing its national identity.

Finland, Sweden and NATO: the capability dimension

James Hackett

The starting gun appears to have been fired in a process that will see Finland and Sweden joining NATO, as the leaders of Finland declared on 12 May that they wish their country to become a member ‘without delay’. Russia’s 2022 assault on Ukraine has driven this forward. There may be hurdles ahead, but both Finland and Sweden had already started sharpening their focus on defence following Russia’s initial 2014 invasion of Ukraine. In recent years both have increased their international defence cooperation, including with NATO and its member states. However, taking this further major step towards NATO membership will see increased focus on the two countries’ defence capabilities, how they will develop, and how they could integrate into the Alliance structure.

Strengthening ties Finland and Sweden's already close bilateral defence ties have grown even stronger. A memorandum of understanding on defence cooperation was signed in 2018. The intent was to lay the foundation for military cooperation and combined operations. According to a defence ministerial joint statement in March 2022, both countries ‘are prepared to act together in peacetime and beyond it. We have bilateral operation plans and contingency measures, enabling us to coordinate our actions in times of crisis and war.’

Afghanistan Rising: It’s Time to Let the Taliban Fall

Michael Rubin

What’s the difference between Afghanistan and Ukraine? Not as much as you might expect.

Ukraine and its resistance have captured the Western imagination in a way Afghanistan never did. European leaders and Congressional delegations head to Kyiv to have their photographs taken with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy with an urgency few did with former Afghanistan president Ashraf Ghani: Western politicians know they gain more from being seen with Zelenskyy than vice versa.

It is likely that the Biden administration wishes to forget that it initially counseled Zelenskyy’s surrender. The Ukrainian leader rose to the moment and showed himself to be more Winston Churchill than Neville Chamberlain. He inspired his countrymen to fight for a cause in which they believed and against an enemy against whom they could unite. The ramifications for the liberal order would be disastrous had Zelenskyy chosen differently.

Department of Defense continues to downplay Taliban and Al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan


The U.S. military continues to underestimate Al Qaeda’s strength in Afghanistan and overestimate the threat posed by the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province.

The newly released Department of Defense Inspector General report on Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (OFS, the now-defunct mission in Afghanistan) and Operation Enduring Sentinel (OES, the current mission to address threats emanating from Afghanistan) puts the number of Al Qaeda operatives in the low hundreds.

Additionally, the report somehow elevated the Islamic State’s Khorasan Province as the primary threat in Afghanistan, over the Taliban, which controls the country and shelters numerous regional and global terror groups, including Al Qaeda.

Biden in Asia: New friends, old tensions, storms at home


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — President Joe Biden hopes to use his visit to Asia to confirm his belief that long-standing friendships can afford to become even friendlier — and pay dividends. He opened the trip in South Korea on Friday and will end in Japan next week at a time when world events are resetting the foundations of the global order.

The coronavirus pandemic disrupted supply chains and exposed the fragilities of a trade system focused primarily on low prices for consumers and high profits for corporations. Then Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ushered in a return to Cold War-era intrigues.

The U.S. and other wealthy democracies — including Japan and South Korea — banded together to help Ukraine and punish Russia, but not all countries were ready to side with the alliance. China, India and others have aimed to stay cordial with Russia without crossing the sanctions.