29 June 2022

General Valery Gerasimov’s Great Ukrainian Disaster

Peter Layton

How did we end up here? We all thought Putin's modernized Russian army was ten feet tall and led by a General who, in military thinking circles, is a veritable rock star. What gives?

Chief of the Russian General Staff, General Valery Gerasimov, in 2013 wrote a famous article that with Russia’s 2014 capture of Crimea was seen as a how-to-guide for overthrowing governments in nearby countries. Russia would use social media and covert interference to turn the population against its government, use economic measures to make it poor, and diplomatic measures to make sure it had no friends. Right at the end of this long, drawn out process, a small Russian invading force would attack, inspiring the populace to rise up and mount a coup that would install a pliant leader.

Good in theory, and many bought the idea across the world.

Gerasimov’s regime change ideas have failed dismally in Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Russian fifth columnists inside Ukraine were quickly disarmed, the special force airborne assault on Hostomel airfield near Kyiv failed, Russia’s army was halted, and Ukraine became more united and determined.


José de Arimatéia da Cruz

In March 2021, roughly a dozen US Army Green Berets arrived in Mozambique to help train the Mozambican armed forces. In October, the USS Hershel “Woody” Williams made a port call to the capital described by the US ambassador to Mozambique as indicative of the “strength of the strategic partnership” with the United States. This increased security cooperation, which has made the United States the largest bilateral donor to Mozambique, comes as the southeast African nation attempts to contain a surging Islamic State affiliate.

Over the past five years, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria–Mozambique (ISIS-M), locally referred to as al-Shabaab (no direct connection to the Somali-based group), has organized an insurgency by leveraging economic grievances in a resource-rich, poverty-stricken region of the country. The insurgency finances its operations through illicit resource trafficking and recruits fighters with the promise of small loans to young men without opportunity. Today, the insurgency terrorizes the region of Cabo Delgado, in northern Mozambique, with tactics similar to Boko Haram’s razing of villages to capture sex slaves and youth fighters.

What Does Arming an Insurgency in Ukraine Mean?

Vladimir Rauta, Alexandra Stark

Proxy wars proved a popular tool for U.S. and Soviet policymakers throughout the Cold War to compete for global influence while avoiding a direct confrontation between the two nuclear-armed powers—to the detriment of the millions of people who were killed in or otherwise harmed by these wars. Yet the strategic appeal of arming proxies did not fade with memories of the Cold War, and the problems they pose remain acute. From debates within the Clinton administration on whether or not to arm the Kosovo Liberation Army, to successive administrations working in tandem with proxies disguised as partners in Afghanistan and Iraq, to President Obama’s hesitation to support Syrian rebels against the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his later embrace of Kurdish militias fighting the Islamic State, arming proxies remains a popular policy tool in response to armed conflict.

As events have unfolded in Ukraine, several prominent voices have advanced the idea of arming an insurgency in Ukraine. Few of these proposals, though, examine the question of what it would mean to support a Ukrainian insurgency. The asymmetry of power between Russia and Ukraine, the fact that Ukrainians are already practicing irregular warfare, reporting that indicates the CIA has been overseeing a training program for elite Ukrainian special operations forces, and a history of successful anti-Soviet resistance shape the prospects of a potential insurgency.

Artificial Intelligence and Chemical and Biological Weapons

Paul Rosenzweig

Sometimes reality is a cold slap in the face. Consider, as a particularly salient example, a recently published article concerning the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the creation of chemical and biological weapons (the original publication, in Nature, is behind a paywall, but this link is a copy of the full paper). Anyone unfamiliar with recent innovations in the use of AI to model new drugs will be unpleasantly surprised.

Here’s the background: In the modern pharmaceutical industry, the discovery of new drugs is rapidly becoming easier through the use of artificial intelligence/machine learning systems. As the authors of the article describe their work, they have spent decades “building machine learning models for therapeutic and toxic targets to better assist in the design of new molecules for drug discovery.”

In other words, computer scientists can use AI systems to model what new beneficial drugs may look like for specifically targeted afflictions and then task the AI to work on discovering possible new drug molecules to use. Those results are then given to the chemists and biologists who synthesize and test the proposed new drugs.

Intelligence Sharing and Ukraine: The Jus in Bello

Dr Emma J Marchant


In recent days there has been increasing focus on intelligence sharing arrangements with Ukraine. The legal question that has primarily been addressed is at what point an intelligence sharer becomes a party to the ongoing conflict. As Milanović and Schmitt have made clear, there is a distinction to be drawn between types of intelligence, and thus there is a certain level of complexity in establishing the legal rules. This piece takes the debate on intelligence sharing somewhat further, and instead of discussing when a state becomes a party to an international armed conflict, it questions the accountability issues under IHL during armed conflict; who is accountable for intelligence validity and verification? I suggest that any intelligence being shared with Ukraine places on them an obligation to verify it to comply with principles of IHL. Furthermore, whilst those states sharing intelligence may not immediately be held accountable for civilian casualties resulting from this intelligence, it is overly simplistic to apportion the sole blame to the triggerman.

Limits of IHL

It is important to note the limit of IHL to the parties to a conflict, and as such the analysis of scholars Schmitt and Milanović is significant. Schmitt asserts that if the level of “intelligence intentionally makes a material and integral contribution to particular attacks or defense against them” then the supplying state could become a party to the conflict. I concur with his balanced analysis, and suggest that this means accountability for any errors or mistakes made because of this intelligence sharing would be covered by IHL.

Pentagon Is Seeking Air-Defense Options For Ukraine


The Pentagon is looking at what kind of air defenses it can give to help Ukraine ward off Russian cruise missiles, a senior defense official said Monday.

Those systems will be part of an upcoming security assistance package to Ukraine, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters Monday.

"I can confirm that we are in fact in the process of finalizing a package that includes advanced air defense capabilities," Sullivan said, according to a White House pool report. “As [Biden] told President Zelenskyy, we do intend to finalize a package that includes advanced medium- and long-range air defense capabilities for the Ukrainians,” Sullivan said.

For weeks, the Pentagon has said the top military request from Ukraine has been for longer-range ground artillery to fight back against Russia’s push into the Donbas. But the country has been bombarded by cruise missiles, and two Ukrainian pilots and a Ukrainian Air Force anti-aircraft officer told reporters last week that obtaining modern systems—whether ground-based air defense systems or advanced fighter jets with radar and targeting capabilities to track and intercept incoming fire—was their top need.

Watching Pangong Tso, Thinking Doklam

John Pollock

After a brief interval, the roof of the world is once again the venue for tensions between Asia’s continental rivals. Eighteen months on from the withdrawal of forces from Pangong Tso, China has returned to the area and done so with its telltale signature seen across the Himalayas: infrastructure. Where in January 2021 the light infantry and main battle tanks of the Peoples Liberation Army were deployed to foxholes and temporary encampments, today observers are seeing the signs of a more permanent Chinese presence. Bridges, roads, and upgraded military cantonments are appearing in proximity to the disputed lakes of Pangong and Spanggur, replicating a pattern seen across Ladakh and Aksai Chin.

Ladakh, which in August 2020 seemed on the cusp of a high-altitude conflict not seen since Kargil in 1999, has witnessed a sustained increase in ‘dual-use’ infrastructure by China upon the ground occupied by its egress across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) two years ago. On the Depsang Plains, near India’s strategic Daulat Beg Oldi airbase, all-weather encampments are being constructed by the PLA alongside new defensive revetments and roads. At Hot Springs and Gogra, similar cantonments are appearing equipped with solar panels. Across the Tibetan plateau, but tellingly near both Doklam and Ladakh, new helipads are being constructed which can facilitate the rapid deployment of the PLA to contested areas. The pattern emerging should come as no surprise. The proliferation of such infrastructure mirrors those at Doklam and along the Sino-Bhutanese border where a PLA presence remains active to this day despite claims of drawback in 2017. Indeed, the developments on the Doklam plateau feel increasingly like a precursor to China’s renewed buildup along the LAC.

The Coming Green Hydrogen Revolution


WASHINGTON, DC – Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread environmental disruption and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world faces unavoidable climate hazards over the next two decades. But, with average annual global greenhouse-gas emissions reaching their highest levels in human history between 2010 and 2019, we are simply not doing enough to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius.

The IPCC report released in April recommended that the world rapidly reduce fossil-fuel supply and demand between now and 2050: by 95% in the case of coal, 60% for oil, and 45% for natural gas. But how can we possibly achieve such ambitious targets?1

The answer is by switching to green hydrogen, which can be produced from all forms of renewable energy, including solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal. Green hydrogen is a zero-emissions fuel; when produced through electrolysis, the only “emission” is water. It is a practical and implementable solution that, by democratizing energy, decarbonizing heavy industry, and creating jobs globally, would help revolutionize the way we power our planet.

Social media sites can slow the spread of deadly misinformation with modest interventions

Anya van Wagtendonk

Social media platforms can slow the spread of misinformation if they want to — and Twitter could have better reduced the spread of bad information in the lead-up to the 2020 election, according to a new research paper released Thursday.

Combining interventions like fact-checking, pushing people to consider before reposting something and banning some misinformation super-spreaders can substantially reduce viral misinformation from spreading compared with isolated steps, researchers at the University of Washington Center for an Informed Public concluded.

Depending on how fast a fact-checked piece of misinformation is removed, its spread can be reduced by about 55 to 93 percent, the researchers found. Nudges toward more careful reposting behavior resulted in 5 percent less sharing and netted a 15 percent drop in engagement with a misinforming post. Banning verified accounts with large followings that were known to spread misinformation can reduce engagement with false posts by just under 13 percent, the researchers concluded.

NATO's Army to Get Seven Times Larger in Biggest Overhaul Since Cold War


NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday that the number of NATO troops on high readiness will multiply by over seven times as part of its largest overhaul since the Cold War and in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine.

The NATO Response Force (NRF), which grew significantly in 2014 after Russia invaded Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, is currently made up of around 40,000 troops.

The NRF can quickly be tailored and adjusted in size and capability to match the demands of the operation, according to the alliance's website.

"We will transform the NATO response force and increase the number of our high readiness forces to well over 300,000," Stoltenberg told reporters ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid that begins on Tuesday.

Stoltenberg said it marked the "biggest overhaul" of NATO's defense units since the Cold War.

Putin's Nuclear-Capable Missiles Only 50 Miles From Polish Border


In 2018, Russia reportedly sent nuclear-capable missiles to Kaliningrad, a region sandwiched between NATO members Poland and Lithuania that does not share borders with Russia but is still part of the country's territory.

Russian state news agency RIA Novosti quoted a senior lawmaker as saying that the Iskander missiles had been deployed to the exclave on the Baltic Sea, Reuters reported at the time. (Newsweek was not immediately able to locate the original RIA report on the deployment of the nuclear-capable weapons.) The exclave's capital city, also called Kaliningrad, is just 50 miles from Poland.

The quote in the RIA report came from Vladimir Shamanov, a retired colonel-general of the Russian armed forces who leads the State Duma Defense Committee. He did not specify how many of the missiles had been sent.

"Yes, they have been deployed," RIA quoted Shamanov as saying, according to Reuters. "The deployment of foreign military infrastructure automatically falls onto the priority list for targeting."

Lithuania Targeted by Massive Russian Cyberattack Over Transit Blockade


Russian hacker group appeared to hit Lithuania with a massive cyberattack as the Baltic nation continues to block the transit of European Union-sanctioned goods to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad.

The Lithuanian Ministry of Defense confirmed the attack in a statement posted to Twitter on Monday, writing that state institutions had been targeted by an "intense DDoS attack." A DDoS, or distributed denial of service attack, is when an attacker attempts to overwhelm the servers of a given platform, service or website by flooding it with traffic.

Tensions between Lithuania and the Kremlin have escalated in recent days as Lithuania imposed EU sanctions on certain Russian goods, including steel and iron ore that were headed for Kaliningrad, a Connecticut-sized Russian exclave sandwiched between Lithuania and Poland.

Russia has largely been reliant on overland connections through Lithuania to transport goods to Kaliningrad, so Vilnius' refusal to allow such transport could threaten to worsen Russia's economic situation, which has already been affected by Western sanctions amid its widely condemned invasion of Ukraine.

Delivering Change Won’t Be Easy for Latin America’s New Wave of Leaders

James Bosworth

In 2022, it’s easy to be an opposition politician, party or political movement in Latin American democracies, where the political environment is about as anti-incumbent as it can get. Including the victory by Gustavo Petro in Colombia earlier this month, the parties of incumbent presidents have lost the past 14 consecutive democratic presidential elections in the region going back to 2018. Latin America has gone from a region where incumbent advantage was a major factor in elections to one where incumbent parties almost never win.

Of course, there is an obvious catch to this phenomenon: Once the opposition wins, it is no longer the opposition. As these newly elected figures take office, they face the same geopolitical headwinds that battered their predecessors. In many cases, the same domestic political gridlock that once helped them stymie their predecessors now works against them as incumbents. Meanwhile, the high expectations for change they created among their supporters can’t be met, leading to further disillusionment and anger at the political system.

Politics at the Bench: The Pakistani Judiciary’s Ambitions and Interventions


One of the most consequential features of Pakistan’s contemporary political system has been the emergence of the superior judiciary—made up of its provincial high courts, the federal court of Islamic law, and the Supreme Court—as an assertive and active center of power. Historically, Pakistan’s military was the country’s dominant power center, but with elected institutions and political parties pursuing more governing space, inter-institutional conflict has been the norm. In this competitive space, Pakistan’s superior judiciary has played a central role in Pakistan’s political system, arbitrating contestation between political elites and state elites.

In the past fifteen years, however, the superior judiciary has moved beyond just arbitrating political disputes to playing a tutelary role of its own within the political system: constraining the authority and vetoing the policies and actions of elected institutions in order to shape politics and policies in line with its own preferences. This newfound initiative has meant the judiciary frequently opposed, constrained, and undermined elected and unelected institutions. Opposition parties and state officials hoping to challenge civilian and military governments have turned to the increasingly assertive courts.

The cyber security impact of Operation Russia by Anonymous

Peter Ray Allison

Following a huge build-up of Russian military forces on the Ukrainian border, Russian forces invaded Ukraine on 24 February. Russia’s invasion has been met by condemnation from around the world. Nations have come out in support, enacting rising economic sanctions against Russia and providing equipment and resources to Ukraine. The invasion has also strengthened ties within the European Union, as well as highlighting the importance of Nato.

One response surprised many, but with hindsight it was fairly obvious what would happen. Just hours after the news of Russia’s invasion, a message was posted on Twitter by YourAnonNews, stating: “The Anonymous collective is officially in cyber war against the Russian government.”

Operation Russia, or #OpRussia as it is otherwise known, has been one of the largest campaigns by Anonymous since the group’s inception nearly two decades ago. Anonymous is an online hacktivist collective that has been described as everything from a digital version of Robin Hood to cyber terrorists.

The Power and Pitfalls of AI for US Intelligence – WIRED

Machine Learning

Capitalizing on AI and open source will enable the IC to utilize other finite collection capabilities, like human spies and signals intelligence collection, more efficiently. Other collection disciplines can be used to obtain the secrets that are hidden from not just humans but AI, too. In this context, AI may supply better global coverage of unforeseen or non-priority collection targets that could quickly evolve into threats.

Meanwhile, at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, AI and machine learning extract data from images that are taken daily from nearly every corner of the world by commercial and government satellites. And the Defense Intelligence Agency trains algorithms to recognize nuclear, radar, environmental, material, chemical, and biological measurements and to evaluate these signatures, increasing the productivity of its analysts.

In one example of the ICs successful use of AI, after exhausting all other avenuesfrom human spies to signals intelligencethe US was able to find an unidentified WMD research and development facility in a large Asian country by locating a bus that traveled between it and other known facilities. To do that, analysts employed algorithms to search and evaluate images of nearly every square inch of the country, according to a senior US intelligence official who spoke on background with the understanding of not being named.

Billionaires Can Arm Ukraine

Elisabeth Braw

I know these are troubling times for you and the 2,667 other members of the world’s billionaire club. According to Forbes, there used to be 2,755 of you, but the world’s current turbulence has relegated 87 of you to the mere ranks of multimillionaires and shaved your collective worth by $400 billion, to $12.7 trillion. Then again, you and your fellow billionaires did spectacularly well during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. You and the other nine men who are the world’s richest people more than doubled your wealth, and the billionaire club gained another member every 26 hours.

And you in particular, Mr. Bezos, are having some highly annoying logistical problems—ironically so, considering that you made your $171 billion fortune in the logistics business. The $500 million yacht you’re building in the Netherlands is, the Financial Times reports, so tall that it won’t fit under Rotterdam’s Koningshaven Bridge, or “De Hef,” as locals call it, once it emerges from its Dutch shipyard. Perhaps the Dutch shipbuilder forgot that vessels with 230-foot masts don’t fit under most bridges, or perhaps everyone assumed that Rotterdam’s authorities would simply agree to the demand the shipbuilder is now making to temporarily dismantle the 95-year-old De Hef so your yacht can sail through.

How the Robot Sophia Raises Ethical Questions for AI-Enabled Warfare

Christina Huynh

In 2017, Saudi Arabia granted a robot, known as Sophia, citizenship. While Sophia is built with a basic machine-learning model with software designed for general reasoning and responses, Sophia still has more rights than Saudi Arabian women. For instance, Sophia may get married, obtain a passport, travel abroad, and wear any clothing desired without permission from a male guardian. If Sophia has the equivalent rights of a male citizen in Saudi Arabia, then she must also have the right to defend herself or join the military. The question is, should robots equipped with artificial intelligence determine who lives and dies in war?

The dilemma of focus is the development and use of lethal autonomous weapons systems in warfare. According to the Department of Defense Directive 3000.09, “lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS) are a special class of weapon systems that use sensor suites and computer algorithms to independently identify a target and employ an onboard weapon system to engage and destroy the target without manual human control of the system.” Keeping in mind that robot autonomy falls on a spectrum based on how “on-the-loop” or involved humans are in control, LAWS has full autonomy and is completely independent from the human (out-of-the-loop). Thus, the introduction of LAWS will change the ethics and operational structure of warfare.

Biden’s Endgame Shouldn’t Be Victory for Ukraine

Tulsi Gabbard and Daniel L. Davis

After returning from a visit to the front near Kherson, Ukraine, on June 19, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that his military would continue to fight Russia and “return everything that’s ours,” after having earlier made clear his intent to “liberate our Crimea as well.” While those goals are understandable, the harsh realities emerging on the bloody battlefields of eastern Ukraine make it increasingly likely that the longer Kyiv seeks to achieve military victory, the more likely it is ultimately to be defeated. U.S. policy, guided by U.S. interests, should change to reflect this reality.

Early in the war, many in Ukraine and the West were buoyed by the clear failure of the Kremlin’s army to conquer Kyiv and force the government to surrender, as evidenced by Russia’s shocking loss of thousands of tanks and other armored vehicles—and tens of thousands of its troops—especially on the Kyiv and Kharkiv fronts. The Ukrainian Armed Forces, in contrast, fought heroically and effectively, performing well above expectations. In response, the United States and dozens of other Western countries accelerated the delivery of weapons and ammunition to Kyiv.

Understanding Russia’s Great Games: From Zapad 2013 to Zapad 2021

Giangiuseppe Pili and Fabrizio Minniti

Russia’s Zapad military exercises have often been viewed as evidence of the country’s ability to fight at scale. Yet recent developments in Ukraine, where the Russian armed forces have faced significant logistical and operational problems, raise serious questions about Moscow’s preparations to fight a major conflict.

While a variety of factors such as poor political assumptions and corruption in the military have no doubt contributed to Russia’s lacklustre performance, Russia's focus on large-scale operations is only a recent feature of its Zapad exercises. In fact, prior to Zapad 2021, the Russian armed forces had not practiced or undertaken any operations on this scale in the Western Military District since 1981, when between 100,000 and 150,000 troops took part in Zapad 81, the largest military exercise of the Soviet era.

Moreover, even Zapad 2021 – the only recent exercises that match the current invasion in scale – focused on mobile active defence on friendly soil. In other words, the experience and institutional knowledge required to conduct operations at this scale may be more limited across the Russian armed forces than many analysts had previously assumed.

We Are Now in a Global Cold War

Michael Hirsh

When former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill laid out the contours and stakes of the first Cold War at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, in 1946, he didn’t just talk about Europe. What people remember, of course, is this famous line: “From Stettin in the Baltic, to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent.” But later on in the speech, Churchill also warned of the coming “shadow” of tyranny “alike in the West and in the East.”

The nascent Cold War, in other words, was already going global—even as it was being defined for the first time. That Cold War may have ended three decades ago, but another, very different sort of cold war is beginning. And this one is also about to go global. NATO’s leaders are convening this week with an eye on the Indo-Pacific, and they are preparing to confront China as well as Russia.

And as we will see at the NATO summit in Madrid—where the leaders of Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand will join the gathering for the first time—new battle lines are being drawn that could last for generations.

Kissinger’s Stance on Concessions over Ukraine Comes as No Surprise

Julian McBride

Henry Kissinger is one of the most well-known figures in U.S. foreign policy. Recently he delved into geopolitics once again, citing an appeasement strategy to satisfy the Kremlin in order to “save” Ukraine. These comments have drawn outrage in not just Kyiv, but much of the world. This is not the first time in history Kissinger has cited appeasement and a willingness to leave a smaller country out to dry against a neighboring country with imperialistic ambitions. These misguided foreign policy takes extend back to the 1960s.

Henry Kissinger is best known for serving as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State under then President Richard Nixon and continuing in the latter role under President Gerald Ford. The Nixon years would be some of the most controversial in American foreign policy up until the 2000s. Becoming one of the most influential federal service officers, Kissinger’s foreign policy views shaped US geopolitical policies for decades to come. Many of his foreign policy decisions often came with controversial decisions that resulted in millions of people suffering. One such move involves the ‘One China’ policy approach during the Cold War.

The Promise and Perils of Technology

Maryam Ghaddar

Human and machine. Where do we draw the line and what is the point of intersection? Senior leaders and rising specialists in the fields of financial services and technology, banking, cybersecurity and data analysis will gather at Schloss Leopoldskron for the annual Salzburg Global Finance Forum to discuss the radical technological implications of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” on the banking sector.

The multi-year series was founded in 2011 to convene international representatives to discuss outstanding issues in the future of financial markets, as well as global economic growth and stability.

This year’s intensive two-day program – titled The Promise and Perils of Technology: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Cybercrime and FinTech – will see participants exploring the risks and opportunities of technological transformation through panel discussions, plenary sessions, working groups, and an Oxford-style evening debate.

Seoul’s Changing Indo-Pacific Manifesto and India: Policy Prescriptions for India-ROK Ties

Jagannath Panda

China’s stupendous rise and the subsequent rivalry with the US for global hegemony have forced countries to choose sides; caught between a rock and a hard place, middle powers like India and South Korea have sought to maintain partnerships with both countries in the geo-economic space while precariously balancing the two in the geo-political domain.

In this policy paper HCSS Senior Fellow Jagannath Panda contends that South Korea’ s flagship New Southern Policy (NSP), under Moon Jae-in, is unwilling to embrace the Indo-Pacific construct. This has brought to the forefront challenges that Seoul must overcome to raise its global profile.

Beyond NATO’s Madrid Summit: the technological challenge

Raquel Jorge Ricart

NATO’s new Strategic Concept, the guiding document that sets out the Alliance’s main objectives, planning, resources and mechanisms, will be presented at the end of June 2022 at the Madrid Summit. The document has not been updated since 2010, which implies that new issues will appear on the agenda. It will be worthwhile identifying the issues that are already there but that might be left behind, thereby shedding light on the Alliance’s adaptive nature.

Technology is one of the issues that will undoubtedly gain in importance. It cannot do otherwise, since the 2010 Strategic Concept –‘Active Engagement, Modern Defence’– contains only one reference to cyber-attacks, mentions the word ‘technology’ four times and makes no reference at all to China, which has become the backbone of global competition today.

A decade of development: 2010 to 2022

While the 2010 document did not include many technology issues, since then NATO has been developing strategic actions internally to address both the impact of technologies on its principles and objectives as well as the use that can be made of these tools to enhance its own activities. Moreover, it has done so step-by-step and in an evolutionary manner.
Raluca Csernatoni
Source zlink

The Geopolitics of Submarine Cables, the Infrastructure of the Digital Age

20 June 2022

As the world watches Russia’s war on Ukraine unfold, the importance of protecting critical infrastructures against attacks becomes ever more significant. Tech dependencies, supply chain risks, and critical infrastructure vulnerabilities create opportunities for unwanted foreign interference. Current geopolitical struggles for power are also increasingly played out in the technological and digital domains, with various states and tech companies elbowing their way to achieve technological superiority and control the global digital order.

Today, the world is witnessing how the Internet ends up divided into techno-spheres between the United States and China, while Europe is also searching for its own technological and digital sovereignty. Given the fact that digitalization and technological innovation have been moved to the top of policy and political agendas, it comes as a surprise that an essential critical infrastructure dimension of global interconnected networks has received little research and strategic attention. This is worrying since the geopolitics of emerging disruptive (digital) technologies, supply chains, and critical infrastructures is more and more linked to evolving Great Power rivalries.

Undersea fibre-optic cables networks carry around 95 percent of international communications and data traffic. They are as crucial for the digital revolution as the expansion of computing power and advancements in Artificial Intelligence. Most of the world’s Internet traffic travels at the speed of light via submarine cables running across ocean floors for thousands of kilometres. Driven by a huge demand for data, cloud-based services, future generation networks, and to accommodate a growing ‘Internet of Things’, recent years have seen a sharp surge in submarine cable deployments around the globe.

These hundreds of cables, operated and owned by an eclectic mix of state and private entities, support everything from data and mobile network traffic to bandwidth-intensive applications such as video sharing, consumer shopping to official government communications. Therefore, as physical topology, submarine cables are the core critical infrastructure of the digital era. They also represent an overlooked element of techno-geopolitics that is literally jeopardizing the security and resilience of data transfers, Internet services, and communications worldwide.

By consequence, submarine cable resilience and security are an essential component of present and futural global security governance. They encompass key questions for geopolitics, ranging from connectivity, security, regulatory, to narrow technical issues. Most of these cables are not government-owned but run by separate consortia of private companies or entities, with virtually no international governance system or international agency governing them. Indeed, cables do not have national flags. Legal ownership is divided among the various co-owners under a baroque architecture of jurisdictions and nationalities, as well as international law of the sea conventions and negotiations. More importantly, two dimensions need to be considered when making submarine cables intelligible.

First, they suffer from governance ‘invisibility’ due to both their taken-for-granted nature, similarly to other infrastructures such as sewers that are out of sight, and because they literally have the diameter of a garden hose ‘hidden’ under the sea surface, a phenomenon also identified as a form of ‘sea blindness’. Second, they are embedded and interlinked with other social and technological infrastructural arrangements sustaining planetary connectivity, from the architecture of cloud computing and data centres, Internet protocols and standards, routing and light technologies, economic and labour models, to geopolitical considerations.

Connectivity cables have been in use for more than 150 years – the first undersea telegraph cable was laid in 1850 between England and France and the first permanently successful transatlantic cable dates back to 1866. Until recently, traditional telecommunication companies have dominated this sector. Their main goals are to keep their customers connected and in communication around the world. Yet, this sector is now undergoing a major shift, with technological giants and so-called hyperscalers like Google’s parent Alphabet, Meta (formerly Facebook), Amazon Web Services, and Microsoft set to reshape the submarine cable ecosystem.

The main difference between such companies is the business model. While telecom companies are focused on their end customers, hyperscalers and content providers aim to keep connectivity between their data server farms that form their cloud services, while allowing data transfers to function without disruptions. In this respect, ‘clouds’ are not only in the sky, but also and mostly undersea and dependent on the physicals infrastructure of cables. Instead of relying on a supply chain operated by consortia of big carriers, many dependent on regional and national jurisdictions, cloud suppliers want to deploy their own subsea links.

The proliferation of these data centres and bandwidth demands are also one of the biggest challenges for hyperscalers, driving their efforts to build private undersea cable networks. For instance, in the spring of 2021, a new submarine cable linking the United States and Europe called Dunant, deployed and used by Google, has set a new record for data transmission capacity on a subsea cable. Hence, cloud platforms have a big influence in determining where and by whom cables are laid.

While this proliferation and route diversity are welcomed for improved connectivity across the globe, they also shift the balance of power by concentrating a fundamental component of the core global infrastructure into the hands of Big Tech, which already are the most powerful Internet services, content, and marketplace providers. Until 2012, the share of the global submarine fibre-optic capacity used by such companies was less than 10%, but in 2022 it amounts to about 66%. This is an important development with implications for both the global security architecture and the broader geography of the Internet, mostly centralized in highly industrialized nations and monopolized by a handful of private tech companies.

What is more, international treaty negotiations governing submarine cables date back to the 1884 International Convention for the Protection of Submarine Telegraph Cables, this regime being now a part of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Yet, as submarine cables become increasingly critical to the global digital infrastructure, the existing regime is not featuring enough on the priority agenda of intergovernmental cooperation, especially regarding the laws governing the protection of cables both during peacetime and wartime. Besides natural phenomena affecting their operation, such as unintentional accidents made by ships, or even shark attacks, submarine cables can be under threat from hybrid warfare, terrorism, piracy, or belligerent actions from states during wartime. Foreign hostile actors might not only tap into cables for intelligence gathering, espionage and surveillance, but also cut them as part of their tactics to engender major disruptions to an enemy’s economy, communications, or society.

Developments surrounding this critical infrastructure have flown beneath the radar of much of geopolitical and global security governance discussions, even though they are a core strategic component of the maritime arena and now, more than ever before, they constitute the backbone of digital economies and societies worldwide. As governments increasingly focus on mitigating (cyber)security threats to the global community and national security, including from autocratic and belligerent states, they must also prioritize the security and resilience of critical physical infrastructures, especially the ones that underpin data flows, digital connectivity, and communications networks across the globe.

Given that data and connectivity are the defining characteristics of the twenty-first century, coupled by the increasing volume and sensitivity of data sent over undersea cables, the protection and security of this core infrastructural layer will only become even more salient. This critical sector needs to be treated as a paradigmatic case for international relations dynamics, as well as be afforded priority and seriousness in (geo)political debates and public-private arrangements. States and international organization will need to work more proactively with private industry to ensure that the global Internet and critical communications run responsibly and safely, even in the face of security disruptions.

For China, the 14th BRICS Summit Is a Chance to Sponsor Its World View

Filippo Fasulo

On June 23rd-24th, China will virtually host the 14th BRICS Summit. This event comes at a relevant time as the world order goes through a structural transition. To be sure, the great power competition between China and the US had already started with the Trump administration, in particular after the Trade War was launched in March 2018. However, between the pandemic and the war in Ukraine the US-China rivalry has been significantly accelerated. The outcome of the competition will culminate in a new world order with new power balances for the US, Europe, Russia, China, India, and the developing world. For this reason, the main players’ actions to spin this transition to their own advantage have been exceptionally remarkable.

What China wants to get from this year’s BRICS Summit is to significantly improve its international consensus and show the international community that Beijing is not isolated — together with Russia —among the world’s autocracies. The need to present China as an integrated member of the international community and to gain substantive consensus over its foreign policies is not new. However, it needs to be reinforced given the current times marred by war and mounting US pressure to contain Beijing through new and renewed regional initiatives, such as the QUAD, AUKUS, IPEF, and President Joe Biden’s emphasis of the clash between democracies and autocracies.

China’s Quest for the Global South

Filippo Fasulo

On June 23rd-24th, Chinese President Xi Jinping will (virtually) chair the 14th BRICS Summit, gathering leaders from Russia, Brazil, India, and South Africa. After losing steam over the last few years, the meeting has gained newfound significance, due to the rekindling between China and Russia as a consequence of the war, India’s renewed role on the international stage (neutral with Russia yet active in the Indo-Pacific), and the perception of developing economies vis-à-vis mounting great power competition. For China, this summit represents an opportunity to gain consensus over an “alternative" world order not based on values and rules designed by the West. The meeting aims to “Foster High-quality BRICS Partnership, Usher in a New Era for Global Development”, a title that reminds of key words from China’s most relevant policies, such as Xi’s New Era and the Global Development Initiative. Will China convince the other BRICS members to adhere to its worldview and support its policies for development and security based on South-South cooperation?

Why it mattersAt the BRICS Summit, China and Russia will confirm their desire to question and challenge the existing world order. The two countries indeed already announced their “no-limits-friendship” at the Beijing Winter Olympic Games. The Summit now represents an opportunity to prove that challenging the “Western” world order is not only a strategic goal for the world’s two biggest autocracies but holds a wide consensus among other developing countries. For this reason, finding a viable framework (e.g. BRICS+) to enlarge the BRICS membership to other members from the Global South is one of its main goals.

The Political Economy of the Metaverse

Key takeaways:

The metaverse is a persistent online world with a developed economy, that can be experienced in virtual reality (VR) by unlimited numbers of people.

Current talk of the metaverse is primarily a narrative about the growth potential of the video gaming and enterprise software sectors, in the context of advances in VR technology and changes to everyday life brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Major technological and governance breakthroughs will be required before the metaverse can be built.Efforts to realize the metaverse are more likely to be led by incumbent American and Chinese big tech companies than European challengers.

Trust in AI: Rethinking Future Command

Christina Balis and Paul O’Neill

AI is transforming warfare. How can Defence prepare for the changes that lie ahead?

The traditional response to the acceptance challenge posed by the military use of AI has been to insist on humans maintaining ‘meaningful human control’ as a way of engendering confidence and trust. This is no longer an adequate response when considering both the ubiquity and rapid advances of AI and related underpinning technologies. AI will play an essential, growing role in a broad range of command and control (C2) activities across the whole spectrum of operations. While less directly threatening in the public mind than ‘killer robots’, the use of AI in military decision-making presents key challenges as well as enormous advantages. Increasing human oversight over the technology itself will not prevent inadvertent (let alone intentional) misuse.

This paper builds on the premise that trust at all levels (operators, commanders, political leaders and the public) is essential to the effective adoption of AI for military decision-making and explores key related questions. What does trust in AI actually entail? How can it be built and sustained in support of military decision-making? What changes are needed for a symbiotic relationship between human operators and artificial agents for future command?

Canada’s naval presence in the Indo-Pacific: incremental growth

James Hackett

On 14 June, Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) frigates HMCS Winnipeg and HMCS Vancouver left their berths at Esquimalt naval base in British Columbia, bound for the US-led Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 exercise, due to take place from 29 June to 4 August. The ships will then set a westerly course for a five-month deployment in the Indo-Pacific, principally to support Canada’s Operation Projection. This is the first twin deployment of its kind since 2017 and heralds a bolstering of Canada’s defence contribution in the region, with new naval investments on the way to help sustain it, but will they be enough?
Rules of the roadThe deployment was highlighted by Canada’s defence minister, Anita Anand, speaking at the 19th IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore from 10–12 June 2022. Anand underlined Ottawa’s increasing political and military focus on the region. Canada would, she said, ‘continue to work with likeminded partners like the Five Eyes and other states in the region to strengthen international rules’. Canada was concerned by China’s ‘increasingly assertive behaviour’, she continued, and its actions which had ‘undermined the rules-based international order’.

Notably, Anand called on the armed forces of ‘all nations’ to operate in a safe and professional manner and ‘to recognise that unsafe and unprofessional conduct, particularly during multinational surveillance missions in international airspace, not only puts personnel in harm’s way but also undercuts international rules’. This may have been a reference to recent reports that a Chinese aircraft had in late May 2022 released chaff into the path of an Australian Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft, and that this was ingested by the aircraft’s engines.

The United States and China: Who Changed the ‘Status Quo’ over Taiwan?

Andrew Scobell, Ph.D.  Alex Stephenson

Taiwan has been the perennial problematic issue in U.S.-China relations for decades. President Biden’s comments during a recent trip to East Asia put that in stark relief. When asked if the United States would be willing to “militarily defend” Taiwan if China were to invade, Biden said, “Yes, that’s the commitment we made.” Administration officials later appeared to walk back the president’s comments. But Beijing reacted forcefully, conducting military drills close to the island and with numerous Chinese officials condemning the comments. Most recently, at the Shangri-La Dialogue earlier this June, Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe warned that the People’s Liberation Army will “fight to the very end” if Taiwan dares to “secede” from China. Beijing’s vociferous reaction to Biden’s comments underscores how contentious the Taiwan issue remains and how easily tensions can flare.

Washington and Beijing have never been in complete agreement on the status of the island. Beijing considers Taiwan a holdover from the Chinese civil war of the 1940s and the island as the final piece of territory to be unified with the mainland to achieve what General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party Xi Jinping has dubbed “the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Meanwhile, Washington has long viewed Taipei as a staunch U.S. partner and, in recent decades, as a small but thriving democracy living next door to a massive, muscular and threatening communist dictatorship.

Why Have the Wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine Played Out So Differently?

William Byrd, Ph.D.

The Taliban insurgency and U.S. troop withdrawal, and Russian incursions culminating in the February 24 invasion, constituted existential “stress tests” for Afghanistan and Ukraine, respectively. Ukraine and its international supporters have succeeded in preventing an outright Russian victory, imposing severe and continuing costs on Russia — ranging from high casualties to financial sanctions. Whatever happens next, the invasion has solidified Ukraine’s national will, status and orientation as an independent, Western-oriented sovereign country. In sharp contrast, Afghanistan’s government and security forces collapsed within a month after U.S. troops left the country, its president and many others fled, and the Taliban rapidly took over.

Ukraine’s success and Afghanistan’s collapse came about despite both countries facing messy politics in recent decades (including disputed elections, irregular changes of government and political violence), neighboring countries’ interference, widespread corruption (both countries have been more corrupt than most of their neighbors, according to Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index) and security sector weaknesses. The many differences between the two countries include some that favor Ukraine: far higher level of development and average per capita income; proximity to Europe; 100 percent literacy versus 37 percent in Afghanistan; far better human and social indicators more generally; and much less ethnic fractionalization. Other differences, however, should have favored Afghanistan: its centuries-long history as an independent country and the Taliban’s weakness as compared to Russia. Strikingly, the same external actors — the United States, NATO and its member states — failed in Afghanistan but have more effectively supported Ukraine. What key factors explain success and failure?

The Persistent Challenge of Extremism in Bangladesh

Mubashar Hasan; Geoffrey Macdonald


Although contemporary narratives of Bangladesh often emphasize its secular founding, Islamist politics and religious violence have a long history that predates its independence.
Since the Holey Artisan café terrorist attack in July 2016, measurable indicators of terrorist attacks and related fatalities have recorded a steady decline. However, extremism continues to manifest itself in attacks on and harassment of non-Muslim religious minorities, Muslim minority sects, gender and sexual minorities, atheists, and critics of Islamism. In addition, violent extremist organizations continue to recruit and to carry out attacks.
Contemporary extremism is rooted in historical dynamics of state and national identity formation that have inflamed tensions between secular elites and citizens, on one side, and Islamist social and political movements and religious conservatives, on the other. These issues are exacerbated by narrowing political space for dissent, radicalization of some migrant workers, contentious regional politics, and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Russia’s Nonstrategic Nuclear Weapons and Its Views of Limited Nuclear War

Dr Sidharth Kaushal and Sam Cranny-Evans

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia’s nonstrategic nuclear arsenal has come to play an increasingly important role in its defensive plans. The definition of nonstrategic nuclear weapons in Russian parlance covers weapons with a range of less than 5,500 km. Tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) are a sub-category of nonstrategic nuclear weapons that are limited in range, typically to 500 km.

Most such weapons are in the kiloton (kt) range. For example, the nuclear capable SSC-8 carries a 10kt warhead. Notably, some Russian missiles which fall into the category of strategic weapons, such as the Layner submarine-launched ballistic missile, are also capable of carrying low-yield warheads suggesting substrategic missions. Though it has been suggested that unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is willing to resort to nuclear first use and has lower nuclear thresholds, this is not quite right. The Soviets incorporated the early use of battlefield nuclear weapons into their planning for a war in Europe. Rather, Russian thinking differs from its Soviet predecessor in that it considers the possibility of limited nuclear use as part of efforts to inflict ‘unacceptable damage’ upon an opponent within the context of a coercive strategy. This is dissimilar to the Soviets who, though they held out the possibility of avoiding strategic exchanges between the Soviet Union and the US, assumed that even tactical nuclear use in Europe would assume catastrophic proportions. For Russia, nonstrategic nuclear weapons are a controllable part of a framework for achieving both battlefield results and war termination.