18 June 2022

The Taliban’s Drug Ban Is Off to a Slow Start

Antonio Giustozzi

In April, the Taliban announced a blanket ban on drug production and use in Afghanistan. There are a number of potential reasons for the move, which would cause considerable financial pain to many of the group’s core constituencies, as well as to the Taliban itself. But the timing of the announcement suggests that the ban will not go into effect immediately, and even if the Taliban are serious about implementing it, they will face obstacles in doing so.

One reason for announcing the ban could be to portray the Taliban as being in a position to control the lucrative opium trade, estimated by the U.N. to be worth up to $2.7 billion annually. The reality is more complicated. It’s true that the Taliban no longer have to compete with officials from the ousted government of Afghanistan or the various militias aligned with them over drug production and smuggling. But sources among opium smugglers—and within the Taliban—confide that this has not allowed the Taliban to establish complete control over the trade. .

American Veterans in Ukraine Tell NATO How To End Russian 'Slugfest'


American veterans training Ukrainian front-line troops have told Newsweek that U.S. and other NATO weapons can turn the tide against invading Russian forces, warning that defenders face a "dire" situation as Russia focuses on battles raging on the eastern front.

Two members of the American Mozart Group—founded by former Marine Corps Colonel Andy Milburn and a play on the name of the infamous Russian mercenary Wagner Group—speaking from Ukraine that locals there are motivated but risk being overwhelmed without more Western weapons; particularly modern and long-range artillery systems.

"It's a bit of a slugfest," explained Martin Wetterauer, a former Marine Corps colonel who spent time in the Joint Special Operations Command and served tours in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, and Afghanistan in his more than 30-year military career.

Initial Analysis of Leaked Video of Chinese War Preparedness Exercise in Guangdong

Jayadeva Ranade

The timing of the 'leak' of the video of a ‘War Preparedness Mobilisation Exercise’ convened by the Guangdong Province Communist Party Committee on May 14, 2022 is interesting. It is yet unclear whether the video was deliberately ‘leaked’ by the Chinese as part of psywar, or it was an unauthorised recording of the meeting by a disgruntled People's Liberation Army (PLA) officer. It will nonetheless certainly be carefully analysed by China’s neighbours and competitors.

The ‘leak’ also coincided with a People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) exercise (May 19-23), US President Biden's visit to Japan and the Republic of Korea (RoK), and a joint China-Russia air exercise (May 24) when six strategic bombers of China’s PLA Air Force (PLAAF) flew over the Mikasa Straits and Sea of Japan for the first time since 2021. China has maintained this military pressure on Taiwan with the multi-force exercises in the ‘Eastern War Zone’ on June 1.

The hour-long video reveals details of China’s war planning, roles of the PLA Military Commander and Political Commissar, role of the Central and provincial CCP organisations and details of defence-related assets in Guangdong Province and the Region. It specified that the Provincial Party Committee Secretary is the General Commander of the provincial military-civilian joint command while the Governor, Provincial Military Region Commander and Political Commissar are commanders. The Governor is responsible for organizing implementation of mobilization and the provincial military district commander is responsible for organizing and ‘commanding’ the action before commencement of the war.

Ukraine finds itself outnumbered as Russia advances in the Donbas


Russia is advancing in eastern Ukraine by deploying its superior numbers. "The math problem is very difficult for the Ukrainians," Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition. An army gains an advantage when it concentrates more forces at a decisive point than its enemy does.

In the war's early weeks, Russia scattered its forces, attacking multiple objectives at once and failing to capture Ukraine's capital, Kyiv. Russia then refocused, withdrawing some forces and placing heavier emphasis on the eastern Donbas region. Milley, President Biden's top military adviser, told NPR that Russia has massed greater numbers of combat units, as well as more artillery, than the local defenders have.

At the time of the interview on Wednesday, Milley was visiting NATO headquarters in Brussels. He was meeting officials from allied nations to coordinate their efforts to make "the math problem" work out.

One of President Zelenskyy's top advisers told NPR what Ukraine wants


The leaders of Ukraine are gaming out where the war with Russia goes from here. Fighting in the east has slowed to a bloody slog. The capital is relatively safe from Russian attacks. So what does Ukraine want now? NPR's Greg Myre met with one of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's top advisers at Kyiv's presidential compound today and asked him that question. Hi, Greg.


SHAPIRO: Tell us about this adviser you met with. Who is he?

MYRE: Yeah, our NPR team sat down with a senior presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak. Now Kyiv, the city, feels more or less normal these days, but this ends the moment you enter the presidential compound. And it's not just the security outside. Inside the building, the sandbags are six feet high. They're stacked on windowsills, blocking out the sun from these tall windows. Most of the lights are off. The hallways are dark and mostly empty. When we finally got to Podolyak's office, he's like a lot of people in the Zelenskyy administration, young and casual. He's in a black T-shirt that reads fight like Ukrainians. He says he's working around the clock. There were several pairs of sneakers next to his desk cluttered with papers.

We need bold ideas in this new age of resilience

William Hague

When I became an MP in 1989, the Cold War was just coming to an end but local councils were still charged with preparing for the aftermath of nuclear holocaust. I remember being shown the bunker, with tins of baked beans and oxygen supplies, from which part of Yorkshire would somehow still be governed amid the devastation. Since it was only yards beneath the ground and close to our largest army base, it seemed highly unlikely that it would survive at all, but at least some hope of resilience was built into the system.

With the collapse of the USSR, resilience went out of our thinking and we entered three decades of happy fragility. We had reached the end of history and even abolished boom.

$1 Billion in Additional Security Assistance for Ukraine

This afternoon, the Department of Defense (DoD) announced $1 billion in additional security assistance for Ukraine. This includes an authorization of a Presidential Drawdown of security assistance valued at up to $350 million, as well as $650 million in Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) funds.

The PDA authorization is the twelfth drawdown of equipment from DoD inventories for Ukraine since August 2021. Capabilities in this package include:18 155mm Howitzers;

36,000 rounds of 155mm ammunition;

18 Tactical Vehicles to tow 155mm Howitzers;

Additional ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems;

Four Tactical Vehicles to recover equipment;

Spare parts and other equipment.

Under USAI, the DoD will provide Ukraine with near-term priority capabilities to defend against Russian aggression. Included in this package are:Two Harpoon coastal defense systems;

Thousands of secure radios;

Thousands of Night Vision devices, thermal sights, and other optics;

Funding for training, maintenance, sustainment, transportation, and administrative costs.

Unlike Presidential Drawdown, USAI is an authority under which the United States procures capabilities from industry rather than delivering equipment that is drawn down from DoD stocks. This announcement represents the beginning of a contracting process to provide additional capabilities to Ukraine's Armed Forces.

The United States has now committed approximately $6.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the Biden Administration, including approximately $5.6 billion since the beginning of Russia’s unprovoked invasion on February 24. Since 2014, the United States has committed more than $8.3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine.

The United States also continues to work with its Allies and partners to identify and provide Ukraine with capabilities to meet its evolving battlefield requirements. At today’s Ukraine Defense Contact Group hosted by Secretary Austin, 48 countries participated to discuss security assistance, generating new announcements of donations, including for high priority artillery and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.

The Hidden War in Ukraine

Emily Harding

As Russia massed troops on the Ukrainian border in February, analysts hypothesized that this war would be the first example of the war of the future. Russia would begin its assault with massive, disruptive cyberattacks—the modern equivalent of eliminating air defenses before a bombing campaign. But as the kinetic campaign began, Ukraine’s command and control capabilities were largely uninterrupted, and only minor disruptions to government functions occurred.

With only limited reporting of cyberattacks and outages, those same analysts were left speculating. Rather than cyber war changing the face of conflict, did Russia’s seeming ineffectiveness in the cyber domain prove that cyberattacks are a merely an inconsequential complement to kinetic power?

Not quite. More information has emerged in recent weeks, and it points to a thrilling, behind-the-scenes story that will shape war in the future. Before, during, and after the invasion, Russia conducted a sustained campaign of cyberattacks against critical Ukrainian sectors, but most of those attacks proved ineffective. The implications are significant: First, defense works, particularly allied defense. Second, conducting effective cyber operations is challenging, but, despite those challenges, cyberattacks will be a growing feature of modern warfare.

Ignore the Paradox: Russia, Ukraine, and Nuclear Deterrence

Francesco Bailo and Benjamin E. Goldsmith

U.S. President Joe Biden’s May 2022 essay in The New York Times refocuses attention on the debate over the risk of escalation to wider conflict, including nuclear war, in the current conflict in Ukraine. What useful tools do social scientists have to help understand these risks? Some experts writing in major policy magazines, newspapers, and online fora have made reference to the “stability-instability paradox.” Is this widely known element of nuclear deterrence theory relevant to the current war in Ukraine? Our answer is “no, it is potentially misleading.” The concept, introduced by Glenn Snyder in 1965, has for some become a standard assumption of nuclear deterrence theory. It proposes that rivals who each possess a nuclear deterrent may experience greater low-level conflict because the stability of nuclear deterrence will embolden one side to engage in lower-level conventional military action, confident the other side will refrain from responding decisively in order to avoid escalation to nuclear war.

In this article, we argue that the theory should not be given much weight by U.S. and NATO policy makers, because it lacks factual support. Rather, we suggest how discarding the paradox can lead to different insights and policy guidance based on well-supported concepts from conflict and deterrence studies.

History repeats itself with Big Tech’s misleading advertising

Tom Wheeler

As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on updating antitrust statutes to deal with new digital era abuses, the airwaves have been filled with emotional but fact-free advertising blasting any action. The Wall Street Journal headlined, “Big Tech Has Spent $36 Million on Ads to Torpedo Antitrust Bill,” and Politico reports the senate Majority Leader will not bring the legislation to the floor without 60 votes and that vulnerable Democrats may be backing off their support.

To amass great fortunes through market exploitation, and then use part of those riches to pay for propaganda opposing regulation, is a timeless political strategy. In The Bully Pulpit, Doris Kearns Goodwin described its 19th-century implementation: “Troubled by the passage of the regulatory bill in the House, the railroads launched a sweeping propaganda campaign to turn the country against regulation.”[1]

Commenting on the industry campaign, the Fairhope Courier of Des Moines, Iowa—whose readers were farmers abused by the railroads’ practices—editorialized, “It is a little startling to read how the railroad combines first to rob the country of millions, and then to use a portion of this fund stolen from the people to corrupt the sources of information and thus try to perpetuate their robbery through a blinded public opinion.”[2]

NATO should send troops to Ukraine: A lesson from 1938-39 - opinion


In summary, Western leaders are determined to avoid fighting Russia, but they are not avoiding a direct confrontation, only postponing. When NATO finally has to fight Russia, it will have to do so under far less favorable conditions. While thinking that they are preventing nuclear war, our leaders are actually making it more likely.

If history rhymes, as Mark Twain is often reputed to have said, then we are living an exact rhyme with September 1939. As exact as the often cited literary example from Macbeth, “Double, double toil and trouble/Fire burn and caldron bubble.” The global cauldron is once more bubbling, as it did when Hitler invaded Poland, and democracies once more are standing on the sidelines hoping that it will somehow be taken off the boil.

President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was preceded by several local conflicts that rhymes with Hitler limbering up for his invasion of Poland. Putin’s war against Georgia, intervention in Syria and annexation of Crimea rhymes with Hitler’s intervention in the Spanish civil war, Anschluss (joining or connection, ref. the annexation of the Federal State of Austria into the German Reich on 13 March 1938) with Austria and dismantling of Czechoslovakia.

Ukraine’s Long Journey into Europe

Alexander Brotman

As most of the world has stood with Ukraine in its valiant fight against Russian aggression since 24 February, one of the main outcomes thus far is that Ukraine’s formal status as a candidate for EU membership is set to be granted in Brussels later this month. After visits to Kyiv from multiple EU leaders, most notably European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the mechanisms are in place for Ukraine to formally begin its long march to Europe. This is the culmination of a protracted struggle forged in the early years of Ukraine’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, defiantly witnessed in the 2004 Orange Revolution, and accelerated after the Maidan Uprising of 2014. Now, Russia’s most recent invasion of Ukraine has sparked an anti-Russian and pro-European fervour that seems unstoppable, with 91% of Ukrainians expressing support for joining the EU in a poll conducted at the end of March.

In order to join the EU, Ukraine must fulfil the conditions of the Copenhagen Criteria, which demands stable, democratic institutions, the rule of law, and a ‘functioning market economy.’ Several current EU member states, including Poland, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria, met these criteria upon acceding to the bloc, but have subsequently suffered from democratic backsliding, corruption, and serious rule of law debates with Brussels. This is a current weakness within the EU that in the case of Hungary has resulted in a flawed democracy bordering on a hybrid regime in the heart of Europe.

Is the western boycott of Russian oil backfiring?

Ukraine’s ability to defend itself against the Russian invasion has surprised almost everyone outside the country, none more so, presumably, than Vladimir Putin. As for the West’s efforts to harm Russia through sanctions on its fossil fuel exports, that is a very different matter. Sanctions have not been entirely useless. According to a report by the think tank Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), they have led to Russia losing over €200 million (£173 million) a day relative to what it was earning at the start of the year: €880 million (£692 million) per day in May compared to €1.1 billion (£951 million) per day in January and February. But, thanks to much higher oil and gas prices caused in part by the invasion of Ukraine itself, Russia is still earning more revenue than it did last year.

Is the pain being inflicted on European industries and consumers through higher energy prices really worth it?

In the first 100 days following the invasion on 24 February, the CREA says Russia earned €93 billion (£80 billion) from its oil exports. Of that, €57 billion (£49 billion) was earned from exports to Europe. For all of Europe’s efforts to wean itself off Russian oil and gas, much of the gap left by the reduction in European fuel exports is being plugged by other countries. China has overtaken Germany as Russia’s biggest fossil fuel customer, taking €12.6 billion (£10.9 billion) worth since the invasion. According to the CREA’s report, others who have upped their imports of Russian oil include India – 18 per cent of whose crude oil imports now come from Russia, compared with one per cent before the invasion – and, somewhat surprisingly, UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. Is Losing Its Military Edge in Asia, and China Knows It

Ashley Townshend and James Crabtree

A Chinese fighter jet veered in front of an Australian military surveillance aircraft over international waters in the South China Sea last month and released metallic debris that was sucked into the Australian plane’s engines.

No one was reported hurt in the encounter, which Australia’s defense minister called “very dangerous,” but it added to a string of recent incidents that demonstrate China’s growing willingness to test the United States and its partners in Asia militarily.

China has systematically tracked U.S. warships in the region, its air force has staged intensifying incursions into Taiwanese and Japanese airspace, and its coast guard routinely harasses Philippine, Malaysian and Indonesian vessels. In recent weeks, Chinese fighter pilots have repeatedly buzzed Canadian military aircraft on a U.N.-sanctioned operation — sometimes raising their middle fingers at the Canadians.

Ukraine Wants a Lend-Lease Plan for Energy to Escape Russian Chokehold

Amy Mackinnon and Robbie Gramer

Ukrainian energy officials are in a race against time to secure funding for natural gas imports to heat homes and power businesses this winter as Russia continues its grinding military offensive in the Donbas. Top energy executives from Ukraine are pitching Washington and other Western capitals on a raft of potential solutions to secure supplies to last through the upcoming winter and boost domestic production.

This includes proposals to secure international financing to buy natural gas from major exporters in the Middle East and North Africa, developing alternative supply routes, and a possible “lend-lease” agreement with Washington to import U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG).

As Ukraine’s industry has shrunk due to the war and 7 million people have fled the country, demand for gas has actually decreased—but so too has the country’s ability to pay for imports amid rising prices and a government shortfall of $5 billion per month. Naftogaz CEO Yuriy Vitrenko, who was in Washington last week for meetings with the Biden administration, said Ukraine needs $8 billion in financing to fund the import of 6 billion cubic meters of gas before the winter. Before the war, Ukraine consumed 30 billion cubic meters of gas per year, a third of which was imported. Some 90 percent of Ukrainian homes are reliant on gas heating, and gas serves as a backup source of energy for many of the country’s power plants.

There’s a Method to Macron’s Madness

Michele Barbero

PARIS—Until recently, French President Emmanuel Macron had been able to navigate the Ukraine crisis with a certain savoir-faire. His diplomatic efforts to prevent the Russian invasion and then, after Russia attacked, to bring about a truce were unsuccessful. But they seemed to back up his narrative of France as a natural mediator and boosted his leadership credentials at home—helping him to win reelection as president in April. And the European Union, for the moment under a French presidency, appeared more united than it had been in a long time, swiftly agreeing to slap tough sanctions on Russia in response to the aggression.

But over the past couple of months, Macron has increasingly found himself the diplomatic punching bag for embittered allies, his international standing diminished by confused messaging on what exactly France’s plan is. The French leader’s repeated remarks that Russia “should not be humiliated,” in order to preserve the chances of a diplomatic solution, have drawn the wrath of the Ukrainian government, with Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeting that such calls “humiliate France.”

The future of global security will be decided in Ukraine

Oleksii Reznikov

NATO leaders will gather in the Spanish capital at the end of June for a potentially historic summit. They are expected to approve a landmark new Strategic Concept at a time when the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created the most dramatic international security challenges for a generation. The choices made in Madrid will likely shape the geopolitical agenda for decades to come.

Europe is currently witnessing its largest conflict since WWII. Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been killed. Dozens of Ukrainian cities have been razed to the ground. Millions of Ukrainians have been forced to flee their homeland and seek safety in neighboring EU countries.

The impact of the war is not restricted to the European continent alone. Russia also blackmails the world with the possibility of global hunger and energy shortages. Kremlin officials openly intimidate the international community with threats of nuclear escalation.

China’s Global Security Initiative Is a Bid to Dictate the Rules of Engagement


In April, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled a Global Security Initiative (GSI) that he claimed would resolve the global security dilemma by opposing a country’s pursuit of its own security at the cost of others’. In his speech, Xi emphasised the need for “common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable” security that rejected Cold War thinking and upheld the principle of “indivisible security.” This vision was reiterated by Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe at the Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s premier defense summit, in June. Most reactions to the announcement labeled it as an immediate rebuke to the West’s coordinated sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. However, this view overlooks how the initiative is China’s sustained attempt to place itself at the center of agenda-setting and dictating the rules of engagement in the Asia-Pacific.

Statements made following the announcement make clear that the GSI builds on a security vision that China has been evolving for the past decade. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi noted that several security challenges have created a peace deficit in the Asia-Pacific, and China has consistently opposed exclusive “small cliques,” such as AUKUS and the Quad, that could lead to confrontation and threaten China’s interests in the region. Security, Beijing has realized, will play a key role in forming and sustaining partnerships and expanding its influence. India, which sees itself as a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean region, should anticipate a fortified Chinese component in its neighborhood’s security apparatus.

The Return of 'Don’t Poke the Bear'

Raphael S. Cohen

Don't poke the bear. This idiom summed up an American strategy that argued, essentially, that the West should avoid antagonizing Russia, lest it enrage the beast. After the invasion of Ukraine, the approach fell out of favor. But as Ukraine has pushed Russian forces back from Kyiv, the school has witnessed an unexpected resurgence. A chorus of former officials, academics and journalists are suddenly arguing that it would be prudent for Ukraine to settle, when recently many in this same camp were calling for exactly the opposite.

Perhaps the best example of this about-face comes from the editorial board of the New York Times. In March, the board wrote that American policy must be willing to engage in the fight for Ukraine “no matter how long it takes… [until] Ukraine will be free.” Two months later, the same board is now arguing that the West must seek a negotiated peace even if that “may require Ukraine to make some hard decisions,” because the risks of clear victory are too great.

“Don't poke the bear” is suddenly back, and the strategic approach remains as unwise as ever.

Implications of the Pandemic for Terrorist Interest in Biological Weapons

John V. Parachini, Rohan Kumar Gunaratna

Some policymakers and analysts have expressed concern that weaknesses in responses to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will motivate terrorists to seek biological weapons. However, an examination of the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda narratives about the pandemic reveals no causal relationship between the pandemic and any heightened interest in biological weapons. A review of the historical pursuit of biological weapons by the IS and by al-Qaeda reveals that both groups evinced some interest, but ultimately each employed conventional forms of attack instead. Despite limited IS use of chemical agents that challenged the taboo against the use of poison as a weapon, there are formidable hurdles that nonstate actors must clear to develop, produce, and use biological agents as weapons.

Although the prospect of the IS and al-Qaeda pursuing biological weapons is not zero, it is unlikely, given both the difficulties and the much easier and readily available alternatives that meet their deadly objectives. In the wake of the pandemic, several measures can enhance capabilities to address both public health and military challenges. These measures reduce the possibility of and improve the response to a future naturally occurring pandemic while also helping to deter, prevent, and respond to any possible terrorist acquisition and use of biological weapons. Focusing unduly on the potential, but unlikely, terrorist use of biological materials as weapons skews resources to unique military and counterterrorism measures and away from measures that are useful in both events. In the post-pandemic period, governments need to rebalance their efforts.

Engage, Isolate, or Oppose

James Dobbins, Andrew Radin, Laurel E. Miller

With the American military withdrawal, the Taliban's seizure of control, and a developing humanitarian crisis, the United States faces a question of what policy it should pursue toward the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. To inform U.S. policymakers, the authors of this Perspective identify the remaining American interests in Afghanistan — principally counterterrorism and humanitarian relief — and propose a framework to evaluate three different U.S. overall policy approaches: to engage with the Taliban, to isolate the regime, or to oppose the Taliban by seeking to remove them from power. The authors identify the conditions under which these policies may be most appropriate and how they would best serve U.S. interests. They conclude that engagement offers the only prospect of advancing American interests in the country. They caution, however, that isolation is the more usual U.S. response to an unwelcome change in regime. With its embassy closed and a comprehensive sanctions regime in place, this will become the default U.S. policy toward Afghanistan in the absence of contrary decisions.

Implications of a Coercive Quarantine of Taiwan by the People's Republic of China

Bradley Martin, Kristen Gunness, Paul DeLuca, Melissa Shostak

China's coercive options for Taiwan range from routine violations of Taiwan's declared Air Defense Identification Zone to a full-scale invasion. Within the spectrum are efforts to isolate Taiwan to prevent it from sending exports or receiving imports. Typically, this would be called a blockade. However, because China does not view the government on Taiwan as sovereign and thus rejects the idea that a state of war could exist, blockade is not the correct term. Therefore, in this report, the authors examine how China might implement a quarantine of Taiwan. Unlike in a blockade scenario, China's goals for the quarantine would not be to completely cut off food and supplies to Taiwan, but rather to demonstrate de facto sovereignty by controlling the air and maritime space around the island, as well as which cargo deliveries, ships, aircraft, and people have access to Taiwan.

Reducing the risk of escalation and increasing the probability of a favorable outcome depends on creating more time and more options for both sides. Neither side can count on a prolonged military campaign ending favorably. Both sides might agree to outcomes below their preferred outcomes, although Taiwan and the United States are hoping for nothing much greater than maintenance of the status quo. But compressed timelines rapidly force decisions that leave neither side significant room for alternate paths; this is a dangerous and unstable set of conditions.

‘Global Leader’ – China Claims It Has Surpassed US In High-Speed Comm Tech With World’s Largest Network Infra

Tanmay Kadam

China has built the world’s most extensive network infrastructure with advanced technology in the past decade, Xin Guobin, vice-minister of industry and information technology, said at a press conference on June 14.

According to Xin, the access bandwidth of the optical fiber network has increased from 10Mbps to 1000Mbps in over a decade. Mobile networks have made breakthroughs in 3G, 4G, and 5G, and broadband access has been made available to all administrative villages across the country.

The number of 5G base stations in the country has reached 1.615 million, and the number of 5G mobile phone users has exceeded 400 million.

China aims to boost the digital economy’s share of its gross domestic product by 2025 to get ahead of the US in advanced technologies, such as 5G, semiconductors, and artificial intelligence (AI).

As part of its 14th Five Year Plan (2021-2025), China is promoting large-scale development and application of 5G internet that promises high-speed communications, which can not only improve the overall connectivity of the country but also enhance the battlefield awareness of the People’s Liberation Army very significantly.

Could the F-35 Stealth Fighter Knock Out an ICBM With Lasers?

Kris Osborn

The Pentagon is working with private industry to explore the possibility that F-35 Joint Strike Fighters armed with bombs, missiles, or lasers could destroy an attacking nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) targeting the United States, potentially bringing a new dimension to existing missile defenses.

“We are now looking at how we could close the kill chain on that process,” officials familiar with the conversations told The National Interest.

The concept, according to industry insiders and Pentagon developers, would be to use F-35 weapons and sensors to detect or destroy an ICBM launch during its initial “boost” phase of upward flight toward the boundary of the earth’s atmosphere. The F-35 could employ a “kinetic” response where it destroys an ICBM or a “sensor” solution where it “cues missile defense systems.”

While Pentagon officials emphasize the F-35 program is currently focused on near-term efforts such as delivering software upgrades to the aircraft, there is a growing consensus that exploring F-35 nuclear missile defense is something of great potential benefit. Early conversations and conceptual work are already underway.

Will Erdogan’s Turkey Gain From the War in Ukraine?

Gonul Tol

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan turns crises into opportunities—it’s his modus operandi. The crisis around Ukraine is only the latest example. After the initial shock of the Russian invasion, which put Turkey in an uncomfortable position, Erdogan now seems to be enjoying the new geopolitical reality. The West and Russia are where he wants them to be: the former beholden to him, the latter too weak to go against him. Or so he thinks.

In the aftermath of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Turkey’s key role in Black Sea security and Erdogan’s gymnastic balancing act between Moscow and Kyiv substantially boosted Ankara’s standing in the West. After years of frosty relations over a host of issues, including Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria and purchase of the Russian S-400 missile defense system, which prompted Western sanctions, relations between Turkey and its Western allies are cordial again. Turkey’s drone sales to Ukraine and its decision to close the Bosporus and Dardanelles to Russian warships, exercising Ankara’s right under Article 19 of the 1936 Montreux Convention, and its airspace to Syria-bound Russian aircraft have won Turkey praise in Western capitals. Boosting Turkey’s standing further is Ankara’s recent offer to help clear mines off the coast of the Ukrainian port of Odesa and escort ships carrying Ukrainian agricultural products to avoid a major global food crisis. Erdogan is confident that the West has finally understood Turkey’s indispensable role in Western security. Swelling his confidence is the veto card Turkey holds against Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO, a move that will transform Europe’s security landscape.

What would a Chinese strategy of restraint look like?


What if China is not a rising power on course to displace the United States as the world’s leading power, but a plateauing power. In other words, what if China has peaked — what if the economic, demographic and geopolitical headwinds it is now encountering are likely to preclude any future bid for global primacy. What if China’s rise has stalled and it is destined to become nothing more than another great power with a major, but not predominant, role in global affairs?

In these circumstances, what strategic path is Beijing likely to follow? Or, put slightly differently, what grand strategy would a rational actor such as China adopt as it sees its window of opportunity for pursuing primacy – for “moving to center stage of world politics,” as President Xi Jinping once put it – start to close?

It is impossible, of course, to know precisely how China’s leaders would answer these questions. But one option available to Beijing would be to adopt a grand strategy of restraint. As originally conceived, restraint was envisioned as a specifically American strategy — as an alternative to what its advocates considered to be the self-defeating postwar American grand strategy liberal hegemony.

US Pledges More Weapons to Ukraine, But Milley Warns ‘The Numbers Clearly Favor The Russians’


The U.S. is sending an additional $1 billion in arms to Ukraine, including more howitzers, Javelins, long-range munitions, and Harpoon anti-ship systems. But Russia’s slow advance in the east is raising the larger question of whether those new weapons will be enough—and arrive fast enough—to make a difference.

The Harpoons will be truck-launched, a variant the U.S. military does not have. The Pentagon worked with industry to create the new coastal-defense version, which will fire missiles provided by European partners from U.S. launchers, said a defense official who briefed reporters at the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The latest tranche brings total U.S. military aid offered to Ukraine to $5.6 billion since the Feb. 24 invasion and $6.3 billion since the start of the Biden administration. It includes no drones.

Russia Might Try Reckless Cyber Attacks as Ukraine War Drags On, US Warns


As the Ukraine war continues, U.S. officials worry that Russia might resort to new sorts of cyber attacks that could have big unintended consequences.

“I do think there there is a risk that the deeper you get into this conflict that the Russians will…be pressed to resort to more aggressive operations,” Neal Higgins, the deputy national cyber director for national cybersecurity at the White House’s Office of the National Cyber Director, said on Tuesday during the Defense One Tech Summit. If you're acting quickly and desiring a large impact, there is a risk that you lose control and that that did occur. It certainly is a risk that we continue to monitor across the government.”

Higgins was alluding to the 2017 NotPetya attacks, which spread beyond their intended targets—Ukrainian power companies—and went on to be the most destructive cyber event in history, infecting computers across the globe, including in Russia.

America and China present dueling narratives at Shangri-La Dialogue

Ryan Hass

The International Institute for Strategic Studies’ annual Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore provides the closest thing to an X-ray of the strategic situation in the Indo-Pacific. The convening brings together defense leaders, diplomats, strategic thinkers, journalists, and business leaders for examination of the most pressing challenges to regional security and prosperity. In the 2022 edition this past weekend, through two days of intensive discussions among nearly 600 delegates from 59 countries, including defense chiefs from the United States, China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, France, Fiji, and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members states, a picture emerged of the strategic situation in Asia.

A consistent through-line of the dialogue was the cascading challenges confronting the region. Participants spoke of the dangers facing their peoples from energy and food insecurity, climate-induced crises, and the scourges of COVID-19. In this context, virtually every defense leader stressed the need to find ways to pull China into global and regional efforts to address these systemic challenges.

Responding to American Criticism of India’s Stance on Russia-Ukraine Conflict

Amb Kanwal Sibal

If western governments are ready to accommodate India by balancing their longer term interest in keeping it within their “democratic” fold with their shorter term interest in drawing India into the circle of “democratic” states condemning Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, America’s “India experts” are being encouraged or have taken upon themselves to keep flagging the issue of India’s “neutral” position on the conflict to mould public opinion against it.

Causing India-Russia ties to breakdown would serve crucial western geopolitical ends. Russia’s effort for years to create alternative political groupings such as the Russia-India-China dialogue, BRICS, the SCO as part of promoting multipolarity would effectively collapse. The division between “democracies” and “autocracies” would become neater, as India’s membership of these groups as the world's largest democracy clouds it. Opposition to Russia and China, designated as US adversaries, could be organised ideologically more coherently. The US would make major military gains in India were India-Russia defence ties to wither. Hence the open calls to India to reduce its defence dependence on Russia, questioning its reliability as a future supplier because of its need to replenish stocks exhausted in Ukraine, besides the poor performance of Russian military equipment exposed during this conflict.