6 June 2022

Use of Predictive Analytic Tools to Assess Technological Emergences and Acquisition Targets

Richard Silberglitt, Anna Jean Wirth, Christopher A. Eusebi

The United States has been the international leader in science and technology of importance to national security for three-quarters of a century. However, the development by other nations of their own science and technology capabilities, in concert with and fueled by increasing globalization and connectivity of economic and technological development, has increased competition for technological leadership. The authors use patent filings to analyze the current relative positions of the United States and other countries in selected technology areas of interest to the Department of the Air Force: additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, ceramics, quantum, sensors, and space.

Areas of technological emergence were identified by detecting rapid growth in cumulative patent applications in specific technology areas and whether this occurred in the United States or China. The authors also describe and analyze the patent portfolios of U.S. companies that were early filers in these areas, focusing on small or medium-size companies that were not already owned or controlled by foreign entities; this, in turn, enabled identification of companies that had specific leading technological capabilities that could make them attractive for possible foreign acquisition. The authors propose a method to simultaneously identify connected areas of technological emergence and the companies with leading capabilities in these areas.

Encryption Security for a Post Quantum World

Georgia Wood

In early May, the White House released its National Security Memorandum (NSM) on Promoting United States Leadership in Quantum Computing While Mitigating Risks to Vulnerable Cryptographic Systems. Regardless of the challenge of understanding quantum computing, or visualizing its deployment, the NSM is sufficiently straightforward. The title itself offers a guide: the United States wishes to maintain leadership in the field—as of 2021, the United States has filed 1,096 quantum computing patents; China 384—but recognizes and seeks to prevent the risk it can pose to encryption security. As noted in the NSM, a sufficiently advanced quantum computer will present a risk to much of the public-key cryptography used in the United States and elsewhere.

To mitigate this risk, in 2016 the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) initiated a process to solicit and standardize one or more quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms, set to be finalized by 2024. The NIST standard would be followed by the transition to encryption based on this post-quantum cryptography. This process of transitioning from an outdated encryption standard, however, is not new. This post explores the previous transition from one encryption standard to another, and draws lessons for this next step, critical for ensuring encryption security in a post quantum world. First, it is important to understand the foundations of encryption and how quantum computers can potentially pose a risk to its security.

Strengthening a Transnational Semiconductor Industry

If data is the new oil, it could be said that chips are the new steel—a fundamental component of national power similar to the foundational role steel production played in the industrial age. As such, semiconductor chips are a natural focus for government intervention and support to accelerate growth and build secure supply chains. The specific goals for U.S. semiconductor policy are to increase reliability and trust in supply, reinforce all elements of chip-making capacity, and reduce China’s role in the supply chain.

Chip production is based on complex, globally distributed, specialized supply chains involving many stages in production, including specialized materials, production equipment, design and related software, fabrication, testing, and packaging. In some stages of production, labor costs are important; in others, it is capital costs because a cutting-edge fabrication plant, or fab, can cost more than $12 billion. Taiwan, South Korea, the United States, Japan, Singapore, and China are the leading chip-producing nations. There are also important facilities (often subsidiaries of a leading producer) in Europe, Southeast Asia, South America, and Israel. This global distribution has led some to push for greater production in the United States, but trying to “reshore” a global supply chain spread across many countries would be counterproductive if the goal is a reliable and more productive supply chain. The problem is China, not global production.

Keep War Confined to the ‘Seas’

Captain Sam Tangredi

A war in the western Pacific against a nuclear-armed, technological near-peer under the control of an authoritarian government has the potential to escalate to a kinetic attack against the territory of the United States.1 Yet, the current U.S. approach to deterring such a conflict with the People’s Republic of China is based on striking targets on the Chinese mainland—an approach that provides incentive for corresponding attacks.2 It is a risk the evolving concept of integrated deterrence does little to mitigate and, in fact, potentially increases.

Because the conflict triggers in the western Pacific are in the maritime domain, a less escalatory and more effective means of deterrence would be to reorient U.S. forces to confine combat to the “seas”—the maritime, space, and cyber global commons. With its current advantage in controlling these seas, the United States could create a firebreak that avoids the metaphoric choice of trading Honolulu for Taipei.3

Deep Takes Does a Better Future Lie in the Prehistoric Past?

Walter Scheidel

Just how new can a new history of humanity hope to be? Scholars have long agreed on the overall contours of human social evolution. For most of their existence, humans were few in number, lived in small groups, and spent much of their time foraging and hunting. Once the climate stabilized after the end of the last Ice Age, around 12,000 years ago, novel ways of feeding and organizing humanity finally became possible, from farming and herding to cities and states. People, domesticated crops, and livestock multiplied and were drawn into an ever-tighter symbiosis. Before long, social hierarchies and structures of control proliferated. Kings, priests, and scribes learned how to lord it over the masses. Such early civilizations laid the foundations for the world today.

The Dawn of Everything, a recent bid to rewrite human history from the late anthropologist David Graeber and the archaeologist David Wengrow, does not dispute the outlines of this story. Instead, the authors sift the grain of the past to offer a tantalizing tale of complexity and hope. Graeber and Wengrow argue that the emergence of hierarchical societies and freedom-quashing states was not inevitable. People have long cherished their freedoms and experimented with a wide variety of social and political arrangements. The book trawls the depths of human history, meandering from Neolithic Ukraine to the Sumerians of Mesopotamia to the Harappan civilization of the Indus River basin to the Olmec, Yurok, and Wyandot peoples of the Americas and on even to the European Enlightenment. The pathways of history, the authors insist, were actually rather tangled, full of twists and forks and detours. The world may now consist of deeply unequal societies and states that can exert once unimaginable degrees of control over their citizens, but it didn’t have to be this way—and maybe it doesn’t have to be this way in the future.

The authors imagine that once properly appreciated, the richness of the human experience and the contingency of historical outcomes will inspire people in the present to reconsider their own options. After the great financial crisis of 2008, the battered masses failed to shake up the late-capitalist order and forge a more righteous path. That came as a disappointment to Graeber, an anticapitalist scholar with anarchist sympathies, known for his spirited critiques of debt and “bullshit jobs.” A seasoned activist, he was involved in the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011, which eventually fizzled out after months of grabbing headlines.

But if Graeber couldn’t maintain an occupation of the present, perhaps the past would make a more obliging subject. He set out to show that grassroots democracy—the freedom for people to associate, deliberate, and decide how to lead their lives—had long been common around the world before uncompromising bureaucrats came on the scene to snuff it out. And better still, rediscovering those buried traditions could inspire people today to give it another try, armed with the knowledge that civilization and popular self-determination had once thrived side by side.

Graeber joined forces with Wengrow, a well-known archaeologist of the ancient Middle East, to get the ball rolling. They completed their project only days before Graeber’s untimely death in September 2020, just as it was becoming clear that the revolution had once again been postponed. Central banks, scientific breakthroughs, and Zoom were taming the effects of COVID-19, which hopeful pundits had initially talked up as a possible catalyst for progressive political transformation. What remained, just as it did after the 2008 financial crash, was a lingering craving for change, or at least for an uplifting vision of a better world. Graeber and Wengrow seek to address that desire with a seductive story in which human agency rules supreme. In the process, they sideline powerful material drivers of social change—such as ecology, demographics, and technology—to offer readers a welcome escape from modern anxieties about global warming, immigration, and job-stealing robots. Materialistic explanations of the past might interfere with their goals, since such interpretations might persuade people that they are pinned down by forces and circumstances beyond their control. Self-styled myth busters, Graeber and Wengrow eagerly lay the foundations for a new, more upbeat myth, one of ancient human self-determination ready to break free once again. The result is a dizzying mix of subtle feints, playful conjectures, and strategic silences, far less revolutionary than promised, yet strewn with snares for inexpert and unwary readers.


Conventional narratives of human social evolution tend to skip over the many thousands of years that separated Ice Age hunter-gatherers from the first literate civilizations, such as Egypt in the time of its glamorous pharaohs and mighty pyramids. The authors seek to train attention on this neglected period of human history—a worthy goal. They contend that prehistoric foragers were not simply ancestral versions of the tiny bands that hang on today in remote corners of the planet. Back when everyone hunted and gathered, the world’s prime real estate was theirs for the taking. Feasting on the abundant game, seafood, and wild plants of the early Holocene, they were free to come together in large collectives and also free to disperse. Hunter-gatherers didn’t just drift through the centuries; they left their mark. Seasonal gatherings enabled them to tackle grand projects. Eleven thousand years ago, for instance, foragers quarried and hauled huge stone pillars to erect ceremonial structures at Gobekli Tepe, in present-day Turkey.

This flexibility to shift between different lifestyles and group sizes survived long after people began to cultivate crops in different parts of the globe, anywhere from 12,000 to 5,000 years ago. For millennia, foragers experimented with food production without fully submitting to its harsh strictures, stepping in and out of agriculture in lives of “play farming,” as Graeber and Wengrow somewhat patronizingly put it. Modest human populations and easy access to wild resources allowed these societies to keep viable exit options open until ongoing population growth made abandoning agriculture impossible.

Graeber and Wengrow conclude that the simplistic models of social evolution that draw a straight line from forager bands to tribes and chiefdoms to ever-larger states are too crude to be of much value. With impressive élan, they delve into “what happens if we accord significance to the 5,000 years in which cereal domestication did not lead to the emergence of pampered aristocracies, standing armies, or debt peonage, rather than just the 5,000 years in which it did.” For instance, the rise of cities didn’t necessarily augur the emergence of rigid hierarchies and institutions of social control. In around 7,000 BC, thousands of people lived in densely packed housing in one of the earliest known large communities, Catalhuyuk (also in present-day Turkey). Curiously, scholars have not found any evidence of ruling elites at the site or of the practice of agriculture.

Later urban centers that relied on cultivated crops did not automatically come with the conventional package of kings, priests, and bureaucrats. Some did just fine without monarchs, most notably the enigmatic Indus Valley civilization, which stretched over much of modern-day Pakistan and northwestern India in the second millennium BC, and Teotihuacán, a grand metropolis of a whopping 100,000 residents in central Mexico that flourished during the first five centuries AD. In both cases, archaeologists have found little evidence of kingship or social stratification, and commoners seemed to enjoy high-quality housing. Autocracy may have spread far and wide, but it was never universal. Forms of representative governance persisted in many parts of the world.

In 1519, Hernán Cortés’s conquistadors chanced on Tlaxcala, in central Mexico, a republic run by a council that convened popular assemblies to deliberate about public affairs. Graeber and Wengrow rightly insist that the Americas before the arrival of Christopher Columbus deserve the attention of historians; the pre-Columbian New World should not be consigned to anthropologists and archaeologists alone.

More broadly, the authors are at their best when they question the scholarly and popular fixation with monumental splendor and powerful states. Even if the art produced by the Mayas in the “post-classic” era, after AD 900, was less sophisticated than that of the “classic” period, which stretched from the third to the ninth century, would anyone, they ask, prefer to live under a ruler of the classic era, “who, for all his patronage of fine arts, counted tearing the hearts out of living human bodies among his most significant accomplishments?” Everybody needs a periodic reminder that the societies whose works yielded the fanciest museum exhibits and the most spectacular tourist sites were not always the most appealing.


The range of the authors’ curiosity makes the book very much worth reading. But quicksand lurks underneath. Graeber and Wengrow are unhappy about the course of history: “There is no doubt that something has gone terribly wrong with the world,” they write. Fully aware of how historical outcomes converged over time toward growing state power and social inequality, they nevertheless prefer to dwell on cherry-picked cases that, it seems, bucked the trend. They don’t resolve the resulting tension between individual examples and the overall direction of human development, granting the exceptions far more significance than the rule.

That habit, in turn, makes it needlessly difficult to explain historical transitions. They warn against assuming that advanced forager societies were always poised to embrace agriculture. That may be—but if none of them had ever crossed that threshold, there would never have been any farmers at all. Making light of the connection between an early adoption of farming and the subsequent emergence of large-scale societies and states, they fail to note that the latter invariably appeared in areas blessed with the most useful food crops, including the Middle East, northern China, Mexico, and Peru. The spread of nutritious crops that grew on a predictable schedule and could be taxed and stored by landlords and rulers facilitated state formation and strengthened hierarchies. Even though this nexus could not be any clearer, Graeber and Wengrow dismiss it as “so broad as to have very little explanatory power.”

The few cases of early cities without documented autocracies that Graeber and Wengrow find are so poorly known that they can hardly be said to add up to a “surprisingly common pattern” of communities scaling up without elite control. But in the absence of systematic and reliable evidence, anything goes. Six thousand years ago, early grain farmers set up large oblong settlements in western Ukraine. Scholars have no idea what belief systems motivated these farmers. No matter: in some present-day Basque communities, people picture their social relations in circular terms, as a loop of connections among equals. Suddenly, Graeber and Wengrow draft those faraway Basque villagers in their effort to reconstruct the mentalities of the ancient site builders and even cite them as “proof” that “highly egalitarian organization” was possible back in the Neolithic age.

Pyramids in Teotihuacán, Mexico, February 2021Toya Sarno Jordan / Reuters

For reasons they never quite explain, Graeber and Wengrow spend a large chunk of their book inveighing against the concept of the state, which they are determined to banish from ancient history. For them, statehood implies sweeping ambitions and capabilities that are commonly associated with modern states, such as a claim to a monopoly on violence. Apparently, if early kingdoms did not measure up to modern nation-states, they should not count as states at all. Yet that is a nonissue entirely of the authors’ own making, caused by their insistence on an anachronistically maximalist definition of the state that is not normally applied to premodern societies. Several generations of scholarship on how to establish the key attributes of early states fall by the wayside.

With equal confidence, the authors declare that “seeking the origins of the state is little more than chasing a phantasm.” Never mind that they themselves are doing exactly that: they channel the ghost of the German sociologist Max Weber when they explore the interplay of three different sources of social power (control over violence, control over information, and charismatic politics) in the emergence of stronger political systems. Yet they leave readers in the dark about the factors behind the gradual but inexorable growth of hierarchy, which include easily taxable crops, the struggle over resources fueled by population growth, and, in some cases, mounted warfare. Except for a belated and somewhat grudging acknowledgment of the anthropologist James Scott’s 2017 book, Against the Grain, relevant scholarship is ignored rather than rejected, as if it did not exist.

Graeber and Wengrow claim that this snubbing of alternative viewpoints is necessary to avoid overburdening their readers. True, big global history is not for pedants and must be selective to remain accessible. But that does not mean that entire schools of thought can simply be swept under the rug. The authors always find the time to beat up straw men, whether it is unnamed “social scientists” who are never right or popularizers such as Jared Diamond, Steven Pinker, and Yuval Harari, who are miscast as representatives of mainstream historical thinking. They boast impishly of taking “the toys back from the children” when dispatching their rivals, a claim that speaks for itself.

Yet no amount of rhetorical posturing can conceal the fatal weakness of their approach. Even as Graeber and Wengrow keep asking how the human species became “stuck” in a hierarchical way of life, they don’t seem to realize that their aggressive antimaterialism makes it much harder for them to answer their own question. After all, if the innate human desire to live in free and more equal arrangements was such a strong historical force, why had “lords and kings and would-be world emperors . . . popped up almost everywhere” long before the age of European colonization?


Stymied by this inconvenient conundrum, Graeber and Wengrow beat a tactical retreat to a much narrower question: Did history necessarily have to turn out the way it did? For the most part, they don’t put up much of a fight, obliquely conceding that the Old World was probably doomed to hierarchies and thuggish autocrats with the advent of grain cultivation and the appearance of early states. In the Americas, too, the Aztecs and the Incas established grimly oppressive and violent empires.

In the authors’ telling, northern America (present-day Canada and the United States) held out the only real alternative. Cereal farming made just limited inroads and became even less popular after the demise of Cahokia, a massive settlement established in the eleventh century outside present-day St. Louis. The center of a precocious grain-based state run by a powerful elite that kept its people on a tight leash and orchestrated intimidating atrocities, Cahokia crashed spectacularly in the fourteenth century.

If people want to change the world, they have to build on what it has become, not on what it might once have been.

Graeber and Wengrow spin a good yarn from this. They imagine that in a deliberate “backlash” against the Cahokian model, some indigenous societies not only turned away from farming and state building but also developed powerful concepts of freedom and equality, which, transmitted by Iroquois interlocutors to European colonizers, inspired Enlightenment discourses on those themes.

Historians of ideas will have their say about this web of conjectures. In any event, it does not actually support the notion that northern America somehow broke the familiar mold of social evolution. The region’s low population densities had always made it relatively easy for societies to abandon farming and turn to foraging and hunting. Those populations shrank even further as Old World diseases and settlers wreaked havoc from the sixteenth century on. In other parts of the world, thousands of years had passed between the onset of crop domestication and the emergence of states. From that perspective, precolonial North America, where farming had begun rather late and maize had been an even later import, was not obviously lagging behind. That part of the world was unpromising terrain for conventional forms of state formation, and so the failure of such processes is not particularly remarkable. And before long, European conquest snuffed out whatever the next chapter of the story might have been. All in all, there simply isn’t any reason to assume that the collapse of Cahokia had somehow opened up an alternative path for human development—unless readers follow Graeber and Wengrow in elevating ideas and free choice as the principal drivers of historical change and discarding everything else as background noise.

If their approach fails to yield convincing explanations of history, does it at least serve their second goal, to inspire activism today? Can their reimagining of the dawn of today’s flawed societies help foster new, better ones? Graeber and Wengrow think so, but for no good reason.

The further foragers, gardeners, and herders have receded into the past, the less relevant their experiences have become. People today have little to learn from ancestors who, roaming a lost world of wide open spaces and abundant wildlife, were able to dodge bullies and walk away from drudgery whenever they chose. Those ancestors did not inhabit a planet of eight billion people bound together by unprecedented interdependencies, a world that needs to keep running just to stay in place. Today, people shouldn’t have to fall back on ancient “play farmers” and kingless cities to envision a better future: if they want to change the world, they have to build on what it has become, not on what it might once have been.

PRC Defense: Starlink Countermeasures

The article translated below from the PRC journal Modern Defense Technology “The Development Status of Starlink and Its Countermeasures” discusses countering a military threat — more precisely military threats enabled by much faster communications — and what capabilities China would need to counter the Starlink constellation. No secrets herein, just a guidepost to what China will need to work on to develop the capability to disable that robust low earth orbit communications system. Stephen Chen of the South China Morning Post in his May 25 article “China military must be able to destroy Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites if they threaten national security: scientists” mentioned this journal article.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army sponsored online publication China Military Online on May 5th article “Starlink’s expansion, military ambitions alert world” also warned of a potential threat from Starlink. This website also links to the English-language website of the PRC Ministry of National Defense.

The mystery of China’s sudden warnings about US hackers


Ben Read, director of cyberespionage analysis at the US cybersecurity firm Mandiant, says China’s state media push of alleged US hacking seems to be consistent, but it mostly contains older information. “Everything that I've seen they've written about, they tie back to the US through either the Snowden leaks or Shadow Brokers,” Read says.

Pangu Lab’s February report on Bvp47—the only publication on its website—says it initially discovered the details in 2013 but pieced them together after the Shadow Brokers leaks in 2017. “The report was based on a decade-old malware, and the decryption key is the same” as in WikiLeaks, Che says. The details of HIVE and NOPEN have also been available for years. Neither Pangu Labs or Qihoo 360, which has been on the US government sanctions list since 2020, responded to requests for comment on their research or methodology. A Pangu spokesperson previously said it recently published the old details, and it had taken a long time to analyze the data.

Kirsten Gillibrand Pushes 'Cyber Academy' to Fight China, Russia Cyber War


As America finds itself in conflict with Russia over Ukraine and at odds with China over its encroachment of Taiwan, the potential for a cyber conflict between the U.S. and its top rivals remains as great of a threat as ever.

"They feel less constrained," James Lewis, director of the Strategic Technologies Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told Newsweek. "The Chinese haven't changed their basic analysis, and Putin hasn't changed his basic analysis, which is 'the West is in decline, and we can do what we want.'"

For some time, both China and Russia have tested the U.S. in the cyber realm, Lewis notes, with the former engaging in intellectual property theft and the latter stealing and then leaking private data to fuel political divisions. He doesn't see either power letting up any time soon as each continue to bolster its capabilities.

After 100 Days, Is the War in Ukraine Finally Turning in Putin's Favor?


On February 24, tens of thousands of Russian troops invaded Ukraine with the military aim of securing the capital in a matter of days. That operation failed when Ukrainians, both those in uniform and those in civil society, banded together to defend their country.

However, as redeployed Russian forces make incremental territorial gains in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region, momentum appears to be shifting back in the Kremlin's favor. While Russia's initial hopes of an easy victory were quickly dashed, its capacity to fight a protracted campaign means that Vladimir Putin's ultimate goal of incapacitating the Ukrainian state remains achievable.

Latin America’s ‘Green Tide’ Has Lessons for U.S. Abortion Rights Activists

Cora Fernández Anderson

Across the Americas, abortion rights appear to be heading in very different directions. Looking solely at the U.S., the recent leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion suggests that the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling—which established a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restrictions—could soon be overturned. If so, it would be a symptom of a general assault on reproductive rights as well as civil rights more broadly. However, looking further south, a different story emerges. Throughout Latin America, feminist movements are winning major victories on abortion rights, and their lessons are instructive: Organizing matters, but so does strategy, how issues are framed to the public and the use of symbols to unite a movement.

A Fault Line in the Pacific: The Danger of China’s Growing Sway Over Island Nations

Charles Edel

The last time most Americans paid attention to the Solomon Islands was in the middle of World War II, when the United States and Japan waged a prolonged naval battle in the waters and skies surrounding Guadalcanal. That grinding fight had outsized strategic effects—halting the Japanese advance into the South Pacific, ensuring that allied nations such as Australia and New Zealand were neither surrounded nor cut off from supply by hostile forces, reversing the war’s momentum in the Pacific, and providing a base to launch a counteroffensive against a totalitarian enemy. Pointing to the hundreds of small islands spread across the Pacific, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt explained to the American public that while they might “appear only as small dots on most maps . . . they cover a large strategic area.”

That large strategic area, key to fighting and winning World War II, suffered from considerable neglect over the last several decades as U.S. strategy and policy focused elsewhere. That now must change. In April, the government of the Solomon Islands announced that it had signed a tentative security pact with China, and in late May, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi traveled to the region in an effort to secure more agreements from Pacific Island countries. The Solomon Islands security pact contained vague and expansive language that appears to open the door for China to play a role in quelling internal unrest in the Solomon Islands by allowing Beijing to deploy Chinese police and military forces at the Solomon Islands’ request to “maintain social order.” The pact, and potential future deals with other Pacific Island states, could undermine regional security by extending the reach of the Chinese military, giving it access to a critical maritime chokepoint, and thrusting the Pacific Islands into the middle of a globe-spanning geopolitical competition.

Tesla’s China Game

It has not been a great spring for Tesla. As the American electric vehicle manufacturer’s stock led the recent market nosedive and its provocative CEO Elon Musk obsessed over his bid to buy Twitter, his beefs with the Biden administration and an allegation of misconduct by a private jet flight attendant, Tesla’s factory in Shanghai struggled to maintain production amid the city’s strict COVID lockdowns and cooling demand from a wary Chinese public.

The tumble has been a sharp reversal, if likely only a temporary one, of the company’s fortunes in China. After taking the US electric vehicle market by storm, the company had set its sights on tackling the competitive Chinese EV market, with impressive results. Just last year, the official Global Times newspaper reported that China had become Tesla’s fastest-growing market. Sales in China were largely credited with helping the company turn its first overall profit in 2020.

Deadly secret: Electronic warfare shapes Russia-Ukraine war


KYIV, Ukraine — On Ukraine's battlefields, the simple act of powering up a cellphone can beckon a rain of deathly skyfall. Artillery radar and remote controls for unmanned aerial vehicles may also invite fiery shrapnel showers.

This is electronic warfare, a critical but largely invisible aspect of Russia's war against Ukraine. Military commanders largely shun discussing it, fearing they'll jeopardize operations by revealing secrets.

Electronic warfare technology targets communications, navigation and guidance systems to locate, blind and deceive the enemy and direct lethal blows. It is used against artillery, fighter jets, cruise missiles, drones and more. Militaries also use it to protect their forces.

Can the State Department’s Cyber Bureau Tackle Digital Repression?

Steven Feldstein

Digital technology is exerting a powerful influence on war, geopolitics, and global norms. In Ukraine, internet platforms like TikTok have unmasked the Kremlin’s fabricated narrative about conducting a “special military operation” and showcased—missile by missile and war crime by war crime—the reality of Russia’s invasion, galvanizing global opinion. In China, AI-enabled surveillance is a key weapon used by authorities to subjugate the country’s minority Uighur population, including the mass collection of biometric information from nearly nineteen million people. In the United States, cyberattacks linked to Russian hackers took down the largest fuel pipeline in the United States, leading to oil shortages across the East Coast, panic buying at gas pumps, and anxiety within the government about the spreading damage. The digital disruption sweeping the world is not relegated to a single domain; it involves security concerns, economic considerations, political questions, and human rights issues.

Is the U.S. Ready to Escalate Technological Competition with China?

Jake Harrington

In a major speech last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken elaborated on the Biden administration’s emerging China policy. During those remarks, Blinken explained how U.S. policy will focus on efforts to “shape the strategic environment around Beijing.” That is, to compete with—rather than directly confront—China across the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological landscape over the next decade.

Through the specific lens of technology competition, Blinken noted that “Beijing has perfected mass surveillance within China and exported that technology to more than eighty countries.” Signaling American disapproval of how China’s technological exports are bolstering Beijing’s efforts to dominate markets and normalize the use of surveillance, big data, and analytics to fuel oppression and stifle dissent, Blinken argued that the United States and its like-minded partners envision a future “where technology is used to lift people up, not suppress them.”

What Biden and Blinken Got Right on China

Paul Heer

In a long-awaited speech on May 26, Secretary of State Antony Blinken outlined the Biden administration’s strategy toward the People’s Republic of China, which he summarized as “invest, align, [and] compete.” Washington will invest in rebuilding America’s strength at home, align with allies and partners abroad “in common cause,” and—from that position of strength and with global support—“compete with China to defend our interests and build our vision for the future.” Although this is a new rhetorical formulation, it echoes in substance multiple statements by Biden administration officials over the past year on the key components of their approach to “strategic competition” with China. As a slogan, it is wholly appropriate and commendable. Blinken’s speech affirmed the administration’s recognition that the primary prerequisite for an effective strategy toward China is for the United States to get its internal act together and focus on reviving its global competitiveness. Moreover, Washington’s longstanding network of allies and other international relationships is the ideal force multiplier, especially when facing a common challenge.

The Ukraine War in data: 75 percent of the Donbas is in Russian hands

Alex Leeds Matthews, Matt Stiles Tom Nagorski,  and Justin Rood

Two months ago, the Kremlin narrowed its mission in Ukraine — implicitly acknowledging that its attempt to take the capital, Kyiv, had failed, and justifying decisions to move virtually all its troops and heavy weaponry to the eastern part of the country known as the Donbas. It would be a vastly smaller military mission.

As Grid’s Joshua Keating reported last month, the fight that has raged in the east since then has been bloody and difficult for both sides. But in this more regionally focused war, Russia has made gains. And Wednesday, the New York Times put a number to the Russian success, estimating that Russia now controls almost 75 percent of the Donbas region. Prior to the war, it held roughly 30 percent.

In the early days of the war, there were regular peace negotiations and an assumption in many European capitals — Kyiv included — that Ukraine would have to surrender land to compel the Russians to end their assault.

As Ukraine loses troops, how long can it keep up the fight?


ZHYTOMYR, Ukraine (AP) — As soon as they had finished burying a veteran colonel killed by Russian shelling, the cemetery workers readied the next hole. Inevitably, given how quickly death is felling Ukrainian troops on the front lines, the empty grave won’t stay that way for long.

Col. Oleksandr Makhachek left behind a widow, Elena, and their daughters Olena and Myroslava-Oleksandra. In the first 100 days of war, his grave was the 40th dug in the military cemetery in Zhytomyr, 90 miles (140 kilometers) west of the capital, Kyiv.

He was killed May 30 in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine where the fighting is raging. Nearby, the burial notice on the also freshly dug grave of Viacheslav Dvornitskyi says he died May 27. Other graves also showed soldiers killed within days of each other — on May 10, 9th, 7th and 5th. And this is just one cemetery, in just one of Ukraine’s cities, towns and villages laying soldiers to rest.

U.S. general calls on West to send fighter jets to Ukraine ‘as soon as possible'


The commanding general of the California National Guard is calling on U.S. and other Western officials to explore sending fighter jets to Ukraine “as soon as possible,” rekindling a longstanding request by Kyiv.

In a statement to POLITICO on Friday, Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, California National Guard adjutant general, also said sending Soviet-era MiG fighters in the near term is the best “immediate solution.”

“MiGs are the best immediate solution to support the Ukrainians, but U.S. or western fighters are options that should be explored as soon as possible,” Baldwin said.

The comments come a day after Baldwin told reporters that U.S. military officials are working with Ukrainian counterparts on Kyiv’s request to Western nations for fighter aircraft to help repel the Russian invasion.

What the West Has Given Is Not Enough to Win, Ukraine Says


BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – The amounts and types of weapons the United States and other NATO members are sending to Ukraine are not enough to eject Russian armed forces and win the war, Ukraine’s defense minister said.

“We need more,” Oleksii Reznikov said Friday, to mount a “sufficient counterattack and kick them outside of our country to liberate all occupied territory.”

Reznikov’s grim assessment comes just three days after President Joe Biden announced a new $700 million arms package for Ukraine that includes long-requested High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, although with only limited-range rockets and a promise from Kyiv to not strike targets inside of Russia.

His call for more advanced Western arms was echoed this week at a key international security conference by several Central and Eastern European leaders who rejected hopes for a near-term end to the war.

Russia-Ukraine War To Change Central Asia’s Trade And Transition

James Durso

The Russia-Ukraine war is upending global supply chains.

In the case of Central Asia (the five republics plus Afghanistan) this impact reinforces the need for redundant transport routes and options for the landlocked states of Central Asia. These states still rely on Soviet-era transport links that connect them to markets. This remains true even though during the three decades since independence in 1991 have seen new roads, railways, and pipeline put in place, many funded by China.

The need for more options was evident before the war, and leaders in the regions took action to diversify the region’s economic options.

In July 2021 Uzbekistan hosted a conference on connecting Central Asia and South Asia, and has prioritized transport through Pakistan to the ports of Gwadar and Karachi over routes through Iran to the port of Bandar Abbas. Later that month, Pakistan and Uzbekistan signed a transit trade agreement that “would give access of Pakistani seaports to Uzbekistan and offer access to all five Central Asian States for Pakistani exports.”

Why You Should Start a Faceless YouTube Channel in 2022

If you are a guy like me who is too shy to record his audio, let alone show his face in the camera, this one is for you.

Starting a YouTube channel has become one of the coolest side-hustles in recent years. Provided you manage to get 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours, you can monetize your channel and start earning money right there.

But few people like me don’t prefer to show our faces in front of the camera because we are too shy. But then what can be the solution for us? How can we start a YouTube channel without showing our faces?

It’s simple. Start a YouTube channel that doesn’t need your face.

Currently, on YouTube, there are thousands of channels with millions of subscribers who haven’t shown their faces once. They are making $10,000 a month without appearing in front of the camera.

Ten fastest-growing apps in 2022 (including some you don’t know)

The fastest-growing apps in 2022

If there is one thing there’s no shortage of, it’s apps. Apps stores are bursting at the seams, making it tricky to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Okta’s recent “Business at Work” report cuts through the noise. They used data from 14.000 customers to identify the ten fastest-growing apps in the world (by customers). Their results are below.

Regular readers of our blog will recognize some apps like Notion or monday.com. However, others may be less familiar to non-specialists, so in this post we’ll introduce you to each of them.

MQ-1C Gray Eagle Drones Likely Headed To Ukraine: A Game Changer?

Harrison Kass

The Biden administration, in ongoing efforts to aid Ukrainian forces, intends to sell Ukraine four MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones. The sale is not final. Congress can still intervene – or the Pentagon could reverse course – but as of now, the deal has forward momentum. The Biden administration is expected to notify Congress, and also make a public announcement of the deal, in the coming days.

MQ-1C – Breaking Down the Sale

A portion of the $40 billion Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), which Congress passed last month, has been earmarked to fund the drone sale and the training Ukrainian forces will require to operate the new drones. The USAI passed through the House of Representatives with a vote of 368-57. Notably, the only ‘nay’ votes came from the GOP; Each and every DNC Rep voted in favor of the bill. Similarly, the bill enjoyed unanimous DNC support in the Senate, where it passed on a vote of 86 to 11. The specifics of what would be included in the massive $40 billion aid package were, and are, murky. But now, the potential Gray Eagle sale sheds light on a small portion of how the USAI funds will be allocated.

The Fast Fashion War: Wargaming the Role of Machine Learning and Agile Technology in Near-future Conflicts

Scott D. Orr

In the modern era, rapid advances in science and engineering—most strikingly the leaps and bounds seen in World War II—have compressed the cycle of technological innovation in warfare to a pace much quicker than those of earlier periods, which saw decades or even centuries between major developments. Nonetheless, given the glacial rate of military procurement since the late 20th century,[1] deploying entirely new systems during a war that lasts less than several years is normally out of the question. Indeed, the hypothetical high-intensity great-power conflicts contemplated in recent decades could be described as “come-as-you-are”: enormous losses over a period of months or even weeks, combined with increasingly long production times, would make it difficult to replace equipment during the war or even to supply spare parts, let alone to deploy anything new. Before 2022, such a scenario was a matter of speculation, but we may now be witnessing such a war in Ukraine: by one estimate, Russia lost a third of its invasion force in the first 80 days of fighting, while the combined manufacturing capacity of the U.S. and its allies may take years to replace the munitions already expended by Ukraine’s forces. Three months into the war, far from deploying newly developed weapons, Russia was pulling half-century-old T-62 tanks out of storage.

‘Beam-Steering’ Technology Takes Mobile Communications Beyond 5G

Birmingham scientists have revealed a new beam-steering antenna that increases the efficiency of data transmission for ‘beyond 5G’ – and opens up a range of frequencies for mobile communications that are inaccessible to currently used technologies.

Experimental results, presented for the first time at the 3rd International Union of Radio Science Atlantic / Asia-Pacific Radio Science Meeting, show the device can provide continuous ‘wide-angle’ beam steering, allowing it to track a moving mobile phone user in the same way that a satellite dish turns to track a moving object, but with significantly enhanced speeds.

Devised by researchers from the University of Birmingham’s School of Engineering, the technology has demonstrated vast improvements in data transmissoin efficiency at frequencies ranging across the millimetre wave spectrum, specifically those identified for 5G (mmWave) and 6G, where high efficiency is currently only achievable using slow, mechanically steered antenna solutions.

Forget About 5G: The 6G Craze Is On Its Way

Stephen Silver

The 5G wireless rollout is still relatively new, but the groundwork is already being laid for its successor, 6G.

As reported by Business Insider, the CEO of Nokia said last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that 6G networks will arrive around 2030. CEO Pekka Lundmark added that this will coincide with the “industrial metaverse,” and that "There will be pretty much a digital twin of everything out there.”

"Right now, we're all building 5G networks, as we know, but by the time quantum computing is maturing for commercial applications, we're going to be talking about 6G," Lundmark said at the forum, as reported by Yahoo. "By then, [2030], definitely the smartphone as we know it today will not anymore be the most common interface.”


The nation that will insist upon drawing a broad line of demarcation between the fighting man and the thinking man is liable to find its fighting done by fools and its thinking by cowards.

General Sir William F. Butler

These are wise words to consider as we enter a new era in a complex national security environment. As we have departed from Iraq and will drawdown in Afghanistan within a few short years, it is time to consider the way ahead for Professional Military Education (PME). We need neither fools nor cowards and hopefully we will have the wisdom to fight for the education we need to be successful in the future national security environment.

It is fashionable to tout the blogs with their critiques of the war colleges, the admonitions that everyone should go to civilian graduate schools or that the military is anti-intellectual and that while PME is a necessary block to check for advancement, few really desire to attend (except for the break from operations it provides) and fewer still desire to teach (at least while in uniform). While there are many areas that could (and should) be considered for reform this paper will focus on two: A common core focus on the five fundamentals for professional military education and the development of an educational framework that separates education level from advancement in rank. Although the emphasis is on military education this proposal may also have application to a broader professional education for national security professionals as well.

The Army’s Project Convergence Will Change Multi-Domain Combat Forever

Kris Osborn

The U.S. Army’s Project Convergence, which seeks to ensure the Joint Force’s interconnectedness on the modern battlefield, is set to begin its latest annual iteration this fall. The project has been a priority in the Army’s efforts to better integrate and network across the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Space Force.

Beginning with paradigm-changing breakthroughs in 2020, the Army’s Project Convergence Campaign of Learning evolved in 2021 to increasingly demonstrate multi-domain connectivity, meaning land, air, and even some maritime nodes were incorporated.

“We really started to bring to light the idea of convergence across domains to include cyberspace, air, land and, to a lesser extent, maritime,” Maj. Gen. John Rafferty, director of the Long Range Precision Fires Cross-Functional Team at Army Futures Command, told the National Interest in an interview.

10 Things To Do Instead of Scrolling Through Your Smartphone

As Richard Branson said, “Don’t become a slave to technology — manage your phone, don’t let it manage you.”

Unfortunately, most people are glued to their smartphones. Here are some worrying statistics about smartphone usage:46% of smartphone users spend between 5–6 hours per day on their smartphone

The average adult spends 3 hours and 54 minutes on their mobile devices per day

On average, we pick up our smartphones between 150–344 times per day (that’s once every 4 minutes)