5 July 2022

Did Putin inadvertently create a stronger NATO?

Adam Taylor

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has resulted in at least one major change to the global order: NATO expansion. In Madrid on Wednesday, leaders of the military bloc’s member states formally decided to invite Sweden and Finland to join NATO after Turkey agreed to drop its opposition.

This is bad news for one person in particular. As NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday, Vladimir Putin “wanted less NATO,” and now he’s “getting more NATO on his borders.”

The alliance’s creeping eastern border has been a sticking point for the Russian president for years. While Ukrainian membership was not in the cards anytime soon, Kyiv’s growing relationship with the United States and other NATO powers has been used as a justification for Russia’s decision to invade on Feb. 24.

Brainwashed: A New History of Thought Control by Daniel Pick review

Kathryn Hughes

At the end of the Korean war in 1953, 21 American former prisoners of war chose to settle in the People’s Republic of China rather than return to the Land of the Free. The US government reacted with astonished horror at the way that these unfortunate dupes had been “brainwashed” – a term adapted by western journalists just three years earlier from the original Chinese – by their jailers. It had entirely missed the point that each man had arrived at a considered, individual, decision about why his life might be nicer under Mao than Eisenhower.

Take Clarence Adams, an African-American soldier who had experienced vicious racism growing up in Tennessee and was in no hurry to return for an encore. Adams chose to settle in Bejing instead, worked as a publisher, married a university professor and enjoyed being called “comrade”. Only after 12 years did he start to feel that the time was right to return with his new family to the country of his birth. Far from being welcomed home as a man who had gone looking for opportunities in the approved American way, the FBI regarded him as somewhere between a psychiatric patient and a political traitor. Yet if anyone had shown evidence of being able to think for himself it was surely Adams.

NATO’s Hard Road Ahead

Charles A. Kupchan

Thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin, NATO’s Madrid Summit takes place this week against the backdrop of a resurgent Western alliance. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine compels NATO to return to its founding mission of providing collective defense against Russia. Members of the alliance are demonstrating remarkable unity and resolve as they funnel arms to Ukraine, increase defense spending, bolster the alliance’s eastern flank, and impose severe economic sanctions against Russia.

The invasion of Ukraine has shown that NATO is back, but the reality is that it never went away. The alliance was actually in good shape even before Putin launched his errant war, which is one of the reasons that it has been able to respond to developments in Ukraine with such alacrity and solidarity. Since the Cold War’s end, NATO has demonstrated a remarkable ability to adapt to the times, undertaking operations far afield, including in Afghanistan and in the Balkans, and opening its doors to Europe’s new democracies. As a consequence of the war in Ukraine, an already strong NATO just got stronger.

The Real Key to Victory in Ukraine

Kirstin J. H. Brathwaite and Margarita Konaev

The war in Ukraine has settled into a grinding fight for yards. Ukrainian and Russian forces are shelling each other with medium- and long-range artillery, leaving the already battered villages and towns of the Donbas caught in the crossfire. Like the brutal battles of World War I, the current conflict has seen only small swaths of territory change hands, often being captured and recaptured from one week to the next. Although talk of a rapid victory for either side has largely disappeared from the headlines, analysts and officials still debate what piece of heavy military equipment or new technology might turn the tide in Ukraine’s favor. With Russia running low on supplies and manpower, for instance, retired U.S. Army General Ben Hodges told The Washington Post last week that an influx of more sophisticated Western weaponry could allow the Ukrainians to turn back Russian advances and go on the counteroffensive.

This emerging war of attrition, however, is more likely to come down to “sustainment”—the ability of each side to ensure a relentless influx of troops, ammunition, and heavy equipment to the frontlines in the east, especially as the conflict drags on and international attention dissipates. Logistics, financial management, personnel services, and health services will all be central to this effort, determining which side is better able to replace its depleted units, resupply and maintain its equipment, and source food, fuel, and ammunition. The Russian military is clearly showing signs of strain, especially when it comes to reinforcing its troops after heavy losses. But so are the Ukrainians, who in recent weeks have warned that they are running out of ammunition and losing as many as 200 soldiers per day.

The Perils of Pessimism Why Anxious Nations Are Dangerous Nations

Daniel W. Drezner

The dirty secret about international relations is that although everyone agrees about the importance of power, no one can agree on how to define or measure it. There are occasional moments when a consensus exists about the distribution of power: think of U.S. hegemony a generation ago. There are more moments when the relative strength and influence of the great powers remains unclear: think of the last decade of international politics, which was shaped by multiple competing narratives about the rise of China and the decline of the United States. And there are moments when the entire question of international power is put to the test: think of times when major wars break out, such as the one currently being fought between Russia and Ukraine.

People commonly think of power as a country’s ability to force others to do what that country wants. Experts usually measure it by looking at military might or GDP. But these are at best partial—and at worst biased—views. And they reveal very little about how a state may or may not act. Left out in such accountings of power is a crucial factor: expectations about the future and whether state leaders believe in an optimistic or a pessimistic destiny for their country. If leaders believe the future looks unfavorable, they will be tempted to take risky actions in the present to forestall further decline, which can lead to arms races and brinkmanship during crises. In contrast, optimistic leaders foresee a brighter future ahead for their country and thus favor strategic patience, which tends to produce investments in global governance.

How the Russian Media Spread False Claims About Ukrainian Nazis

Charlie Smart
Source Link

In the months since President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia called the invasion of Ukraine a “denazification” mission, the lie that the government and culture of Ukraine are filled with dangerous “Nazis” has become a central theme of Kremlin propaganda about the war.

Russian articles about Ukraine that mention Nazism

A line chart of Russian articles about Ukraine showing the number referencing Nazism increased significantly after Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

A data set of nearly eight million articles about Ukraine collected from more than 8,000 Russian websites since 2014 shows that references to Nazism were relatively flat for eight years and then spiked to unprecedented levels on Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded Ukraine. They have remained high ever since.

The data, provided by Semantic Visions, a defense analytics company, includes major Russian state media outlets in addition to thousands of smaller Russian websites and blogs. It gives a view of Russia’s attempts to justify its attack on Ukraine and maintain domestic support for the ongoing war by falsely portraying Ukraine as being overrun by far-right extremists.

Ukraine Has Exposed Russia as a Not-So-Great Power

Phillips Payson O’Brien

In times of peace, much of what anyone says about national power is guesswork. Different claims can be based on hopes, prejudices, or even simple self-interest. Analysts and experts can speak confidently about how some states are undoubtedly great powers while others are weak, that some countries are led by strategic geniuses and others by corrupt incompetents. The statements can sound eminently plausible as facts, even be downright persuasive, because there is no way of knowing the truth.

Until, that is, a war breaks out. The Russia-Ukraine war is now cutting through much of the nonsense that dominated the discussion of international power politics, posing particular challenges to blasé assumptions about what makes a state powerful, and what makes a country’s leadership effective. This reassessment doesn’t just concern the question of debatable prewar military analysis of Russia and Ukraine, or theories of international relations. Instead, it is aimed at the whole way we think about how countries interact with one another, about national power, and about leadership.

Why Does China Own So Much of Ukraine?

Elisabeth Braw

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is causing global hunger and galloping food prices, and future supply-chain disruptions will bring more such misery. Many countries are realizing that they should grow more food, but they’ve sold much of their best land to China, which uses it to feed its own population. A few years ago, China bought nearly one-tenth of Ukraine’s arable farmland. Countries should start screening those seeking to buy their farmland, as they already do with prospective purchasers of sensitive technology.

“There can be no effective solution to the global food crisis without reintegrating Ukraine’s food production, as well as the food and fertilizer produced by Russia, into world markets,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on June 24, warning that the world faces multiple famines this year and worse in 2023. But Ukrainian grains and other foods won’t be able to enter the world market any time soon because the sea route remains blocked by Russia. Ukraine is sending some grain to world markets via rail to Poland and Romania, but doing so is laborious and expensive. Before the war, around 90% of Ukraine’s grain was exported via its sea ports.

TikTok says it's putting new limits on Chinese workers' access to U.S. user data Facebook


TikTok is working on a deal with the Biden administration that would "fully safeguard" the app in the U.S. and quell fears about the Chinese government's accessing Americans' data, according to a letter TikTok sent to nine Republican senators that was released on Friday.

Shou Zi Chew, TikTok's chief executive, wrote that the company is nearing a final agreement with the U.S. government to ensure its data-sharing practices do not raise national security concerns.

As part of that arrangement, TikTok says all U.S. user traffic is now being routed to servers controlled by California-based Oracle, rather than TikTok's own infrastructure. Soon, he said, TikTok hopes to delete all U.S. data from the company's servers and rely completely on Oracle's storage "with access limited only to authorized personnel, pursuant to protocols being developed with the U.S. Government," Chew wrote.

War has been raging in Ukraine for 4 months. What comes next, and when will it end?

Joshua Keating and Nikhil Kumar

Four months into the war in Ukraine, and three months after the Russians announced that they would focus their attacks on the eastern part of the country, the war has become a ferocious battle for the region known as the Donbas. And hopes for a swift victory — or even one that might come in the next several weeks — appear to have vanished for both sides. At various stages of the war, Grid has taken stock of where things stand on the battlefield, potential scenarios for the war’s end and the global impact of the conflict, beyond Ukraine and Russia themselves. In the latest assessment, Global Editor Tom Nagorski spoke with Global Security Reporter Joshua Keating and Deputy Global Editor Nikhil Kumar in a Twitter Spaces event Tuesday.

Tom Nagorski: Josh, to get started, a question or two about what we’ve seen just in the last couple of days: the Ukrainians abandoning a key city, Severodonetsk in the east, after what seemed to be a really nasty battle there. And then renewed Russian airstrikes — including this horrific attack yesterday on a mall, which was quite far from the front lines. Very different developments — what should we take away from these last few days?

3 ways Vladimir Putin has already lost in Ukraine

Joshua Keating

The fall of the key city of Severodonetsk last week has left the eastern province of Luhansk — one of two provinces that make up the contested region known as the Donbas — almost entirely under Russian control. After multiple missteps at the beginning of the war, Russia’s forces have settled on a strategy that more or less works: a slow grinding advance that leverages their advantage in artillery and ammunition. And while Ukraine’s strategy now appears to make the Russians pay dearly for every inch of territory, Ukrainian officials say they are losing as many as 100 troops per day.

This war has continually frustrated attempts to predict its trajectory, but at the very least, we can say that a recent debate over whether Ukraine should settle for pushing the Russians back to where they were in February, or fight to fully liberate areas that have been occupied since 2014, now looks like it was premature. There’s a real chance Russia will continue to occupy much of eastern Ukraine for the foreseeable future.

There’s a solution to high gas prices. Americans will hate it.

Matthew Zeitlin
Source Link

The solution to high gas prices, to some energy executives, is obvious. But only in Europe.

French energy executives, including the chief executive of Total, one of the world’s largest oil companies, recently sent an open letter for the French people to “collectively take action on energy demand by reducing our consumption.”

Europe depends on natural gas especially for much of its heat and electricity that — although this is likely changing — greatly comes from Russia. The chief executive officer of Shell, which is based in London, said earlier this week that a “turbulent period in the world energy market is coming as Europe tries to replace natural gas that will likely be cut off from Russia.”

Lessons From Russia’s Cyber War on Ukraine

Klon Kitchen

I’m afraid there’s no newsletter today because I have some personal responsibilities that require my attention. I’m sorry to disappoint; however, everything should be back to normal next week.

In an effort to hold you over until then, here’s a video from a panel I was on last week.

The conversation was hosted by the Ronald Reagan Institute and included Microsoft President Brad Smith and Sen. Angus King. We gathered to discuss a new Microsoft report, Defending Ukraine: Early Lessons from the Cyber War. This is an excellent (and accessible) paper and I highly recommend giving it a look.

Here’s the bottom line:

The Russian invasion relies in part on a cyber strategy that includes at least three distinct and sometimes coordinated efforts – destructive cyberattacks within Ukraine, network penetration and espionage outside Ukraine, and cyber influence operations targeting people around the world…

The cyber aspects of the current war extend far beyond Ukraine and reflect the unique nature of cyberspace. When countries send code into battle, their weapons move at the speed of light. The internet’s global pathways mean that cyber activities erase much of the longstanding protection provided by borders, walls, and oceans. And the internet itself, unlike land, sea, and the air, is a human creation that relies on a combination of public and private- sector ownership, operation, and protection.

This in turn requires a new form of collective defense. This war pits Russia, a major cyber-power, not just against an alliance of countries. The cyber defense of Ukraine relies critically on a coalition of countries, companies, and NGOs.

The unsung tech heroes and heroines winning the cyber war in Ukraine

Chris Kubecka

usWe’ve all seen the grim images of war coming out of Ukraine in the news and on social media, thanks to the work of fearless journalists, NGOs, and civilians. But there’s also another, hidden war taking place that’s raging at the speed of light. It pits malicious code against computer networks and cyber defenders. It involves psychological malware and the use of disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation to try to twist the narrative of the war, sowing doubt about what’s really happening and attempting to shift hearts and minds.

Many Western tech companies big and small have bolstered Ukrainian cyber defenses, blocking attacks continuously and helping to rebuild networks as quickly as possible. This has resulted in a new type of wartime aid with major corporations offering everything from high-tech security hardware and software to threat intelligence and even personnel.

Sri Lanka’s Crisis and the Power of Citizen Mobilization


Sri Lanka is facing an exceptional political and economic crisis that has sparked months-long protests across the country. Its citizens have demanded that the president resign using the tagline #GoHomeGota, that the powerful Rajapaksa family relinquish power (after having been active in politics for several decades), and that the government address systematic corruption and usher in political accountability. Despite the government’s attempts to disrupt these protests, tens of thousands have joined demonstrations across Sri Lanka in a reawakening of peaceful political activism. The massive mobilization and sustained pressure jolted the presidency of the previously all-powerful Gotabaya Rajapaksa, prompted mass resignations from the government at the time, and solidified existing spaces and created new spaces for dissent and discussions on much-needed reforms.

Despite troubling trends of authoritarianism, democratic backsliding, and ethnomajoritarianism sweeping across Sri Lanka, key moments in recent history have united diverse groups in a show of peaceful pushback. These events have enabled the most recent wave of citizen mobilization, which has the potential to significantly transform Sri Lanka.


This recent upswell of mobilization builds on Sri Lanka’s rich history of political activism attributed to multiple actors, including victims’ groups and civil society organizations from across Sri Lanka, trade unions, and political parties. Activism has focused on a range of issues, including civil and political rights as well as socioeconomic issues on which street protests, legal challenges to public statements, and political debates have been used to press for progressive reforms.

Securing your organization by recruiting, hiring, and retaining cybersecurity talent to reduce cyberrisk


Hiring cybersecurity talent normally uses a top-down approach that fills most senior roles first before filling roles further down the organizational chart. However, because of cybersecurity worker shortages and the need to focus on specific capabilities from a talent pool—sometimes with nontraditional backgrounds—the standard hiring approach is less effective in this competitive job market.

While one answer may be to throw money at the problem and hire as many workers as possible to grow your organization over time, this approach does not necessarily lead to reduced risk. No matter what approach to resourcing companies use, the changing nature of cyberrisk means companies need to manage talent flexibly to adapt to new threats.

By preplanning and understanding the organization’s cybersecurity needs holistically, it is possible to lay out a hiring road map that focuses specifically on the most critical cyber initiatives. Assessing risks, understanding priorities, and then filling those roles based on capabilities and associated skills can reduce risk and protect business value.
Apply talent to value protection


Nick Moran and Arnel P. David

A storm is brewing. Thousands of gamers are working to upend traditional models of training, education, and analysis in government and defense. This grassroots movement has developed across several countries, under a joint venture—Fight Club International—within which civilian and military gamers are experimenting with commercial technologies to demonstrate what they can do for national security challenges. But while technology is at the core of this initiative, its more fundamental purpose is to change culture—no easy feat in military organizations, with their characteristic deep sense of history and layers of entrenched bureaucracy.

A common obstacle to introducing transformational technology is the imagination of the user—or, put differently, the willingness of the user to be genuinely imaginative. Early testing with Fight Club, in a constructive simulation called Combat Mission, showed that civilian gamers with no military training outperformed military officers with years of experience. The military gamers were constrained in their thinking and clung dogmatically to doctrine. They discovered, to their frustration, that their speed of decision-making was lacking against gamers with greater intuition and skill.

The Truth About the Evolution of Russian Military Doctrine

Carlo J. V. Caro

To understand the nature and shortcomings of the Russian war in Ukraine, it is important to reflect on the nature and evolution of Russian military doctrine. Throughout the history of the Soviet Union, military doctrine provided a guide for defense matters, such as the allocation of resources, the question of command, and the deployment of forces. However, it never indicated a specific response to military conflict, thus always providing officials a large degree of flexibility. Soviet military doctrine was never codified in an official document either and instead came from a variety of sources. The definition of military doctrine did not change until Mikhail Gorbachev's leadership when operational concepts were subordinate to a socio-political dimension. Then in 1993, for the first time in the contemporary history of Russia, a military doctrine was formally approved.

Between the late 1970s and the 1980s, the Soviet Military Encyclopedia defined war as a sociopolitical phenomenon, borrowing terms from Vladimir Lenin's work, whose death had facilitated the elaboration of a military doctrine in the 1920s. After the 1980s, Russian military doctrine began to take a predominantly sociopolitical meaning and with this shift, it sought to address the role of Russia in the world, the role of the armed forces within its governmental system, and its nuclear posture. Post-Soviet Russian military doctrine departed from Gorbachev's proclamation by identifying the military as a purely defensive institution with a legitimate role in internal armed conflicts. The doctrine aimed to resolve the failure and inability of the Ministry of Internal Affairs to confront the uprisings in Tbilisi, Georgia, and Baku, Azerbaijan after which the military was used to violently crackdown on civilian populations. Russia, therefore, sought to legitimize the role of the military within the borders of the former Soviet Union. While the Soviet Union was mainly concerned with ideological questions, post-Soviet Russian military doctrine concerned itself more with the "threats" within the borders of the former Soviet Union and its allies, especially after NATO's intervention in Yugoslavia.

China, Not Russia, Still Poses the Greatest Challenge to U.S. Security

Elbridge Colby

AMERICAN FOREIGN policy after—indeed, during—the Russo-Ukrainian War should promptly head to the world’s most decisive region: Asia. This will require that American foreign and defense policy genuinely put Asia first—in our military investments, in our allocation of political capital and resources, and in our leaders’ attention.

Nothing that has happened since Russia’s abominable invasion of Ukraine has changed a set of facts: Asia is the world’s largest market area, and it is growing in global share. Located in the middle of Asia is China which, alongside the United States, is one of the world’s two superpowers. China’s behavior has become increasingly aggressive and domineering and appears oriented toward establishing Beijing’s hegemony over Asia. If Beijing achieves this goal, the resulting consequences for American life will be dire.

Preventing China from establishing this hegemony over Asia must therefore be the priority of U.S. foreign policy—even in the face of what is happening in Europe. The simple fact is that Asia is more important than Europe, and China is a much greater threat than Russia. By way of comparison, Asia’s economy is roughly twice as large as Europe’s today—but within twenty years it will likely be multiple times greater. China, in the meantime, has a GDP roughly an order of magnitude larger than Russia’s.

Ukraine Retakes Snake Island


Russia’s retreat from Snake Island, a tiny clump of rocks in the Black Sea, has been reported as a “major victory” for the Ukrainian military, causing “significant losses” for Moscow—but is it really? Better to cut the adjectives and call it a step forward for Ukraine,a step back for Russia. In other words, it’s not nothing, but nor does it mark a shift in this plodding, gruesome war.

A speck of land just 0.06 square miles in size, Snake Island nonetheless has some strategic value, in that it’s positioned in the Black Sea, where Russian ships have been blocking Ukraine’s ability to export grain. Russians also installed radar and other military electronics on the island to detect and ward off air and ground attacks.

The re-taking of Snake Island helps Ukraine resist the blockade across a narrow lane of traffic and deprives Russia of a site for their air-defense radar. But the Russians retain control over the rest of the Black Sea, including the ports of Crimea and Odessa. Their control is not absolute. In April, Ukrainian missiles sunk the Moskva, the flagship of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and just last week, they sunk a Russian tug boat that was delivering military supplies to Snake Island. Still, Russia has about 20 military vessels in the Black Sea, including seven submarines, most of which operate out of Crimea, which it annexed in 2014 and still holds without any active resistance.

The Surprising Success of the Truce in Yemen

Peter Salisbury and Alexander Weissenburger

Just a few months ago, the war in Yemen looked like one of the most intractable conflicts in the world. After seven years of brutal fighting, the country had disintegrated into a patchwork of increasingly well-armed rival groups backed by an array of outside powers, including Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). None of the actors involved in the conflict—the Houthi rebels who control Sanaa, Yemen’s capital; the numerous Yemeni groups battling the Houthis on the ground; Yemen’s internationally recognized government; or the Saudi-led coalition that backs the government—appeared willing to make the compromises needed to end the conflict. With Yemeni cities under siege, Sanaa’s airport shuttered to commercial flights, and the government and coalition limiting the flow of fuel into the Houthi-held Red Sea port of Hodeidah, a vital trade conduit, the population was facing one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. Severe fuel shortages rocked Houthi-controlled areas, and a collapse in the value of the national currency was rendering food unaffordable in the parts of the country under the government’s nominal control. The UN and other mediators seemed to have few options for breaking the stalemate.

Today, by contrast, fighting is at some of the lowest levels since the war began. Cross-border attacks—whether by the Saudi-led coalition hitting Houthi-held areas or by the Houthi rebels launching missile and drone strikes on Saudi Arabia and the UAE—have stopped altogether. For the first time in six years, commercial flights have resumed in Sanaa. And in Hodeidah, a steady flow of tankers is now bringing badly needed fuel to the country. All this has been made possible by a UN-brokered truce reached in April between the Houthis and the Yemeni government (and by extension the Saudi-led coalition). Remarkably, the truce not only has held but has been extended for an additional two months. Moreover, in mid-June, the Houthis and the Saudis reportedly resumed direct talks to discuss long-term border security and other unresolved issues, dialogues that have long operated in parallel to UN-led negotiations and will be an essential part of any efforts to end the war.

Rival militant group attacks Taliban’s Loya Jirga meet in Kabul

A rival militant group the National Front for Freedom has claimed an attack on Taliban’s Loya Jirga gathering on Thursday in Kabul. The Freedom Fighters Front said in a statement that its special forces had attacked the Taliban gathering. The front said that the attack was aimed at eliminating the Taliban. According to local media, gunfire was heard close to the venue where the Taliban had been holding a “Religious Clerics Gathering” to find a basic solution for the country's current economic crises and job shortages. At the time of attack there were about 3000 clerics present at the venue including some of the top leaders of the Taliban.

It was not immediately clear if there were any casualties in the incident, but videos posted on social media showed gunshots being heard in the area around the venue.

Taliban helicopters have started patrolling the venue of the ‘loya jirga’ after the attack. The Taliban has deployed security forces in strength across the capital, with the roads leading to the ‘jirga’ venue blocked and checkpoints being set up to avert any incident.

Zabihullah Mujahid, spokesman of the Taliban, , tweeted that "there are no problems around the gathering, and security forces fired several shots at a suspicious location." Local residents told the media that gunshots were fired amidst two explosions when two insurgents stormed a building in the area, where they were killed by the Taliban forces.

The Taliban rulers have called a first loya jirga, a grand assembly of scholars and leaders from around the country, since the group took over Afghanistan last year, as they have been under mounting pressure to form an inclusive government to win international recognition.

A Taliban source told AFP that criticism of the government would be allowed at the three-day jirga starting from June 29, and thorny issues such as education of girls — which has divided opinion in the movement — would be discussed.

But ironically, women would not be allowed to attend, with deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salam Hanafi telling state broadcaster RTA on Wednesday there was no need because they would be represented by male relatives.

“The women are our mothers and sisters... we respect them a lot. When their sons are in the gathering it means they are also involved,” he said.

According to Afghan journalists, this so-called “Loya Jirga” is a meeting of those clerics who have been supporting the Taliban. Not every Loya Jirga decision has stood its ground, nor has every loya jirga seen unanimous approval. In fact, there has been enough criticism of representation in these assemblies.

“Loya Jirga is a bankrupt mechanism, which's always been exploited to achieve a political end of a group or ruling elite of one ethnicity against the rest. Taliban know this and exploit it to their advantage against the rest of Afghanistan that reject them, their state-sponsor,” tweeted Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Sri Lanka who has been opposing the Taliban.

Global Migration Is Not Abating. Neither Is the Backlash Against It

The European refugee crisis of 2015 has long since abated, and some of Europe’s leading figures on the far right from that time, like Italy’s Matteo Salvini and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilder, have lost relevance as a result. Nevertheless, other far-right populists—like France’s Marine Le Pen and, more recently, Eric Zemmour—continue to hammer on anti-immigrant sentiment to fuel their electoral ambitions.

In the aftermath of a global pandemic that at least initially inhibited migrants’ mobility, it is not clear the issue will continue to have the same impact as it did in 2015, when more than 1 million refugees and asylum-seekers arrived in Europe from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East and Africa. Still, the populist narrative of immigration as a threat is enough to keep centrist governments toeing a tough line on the issue at home, even as they work with countries of origin and transit to restrict migration. And Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko recently demonstrated the continued salience of that “threat narrative” when he tried to “weaponize” migration by encouraging refugees from Iraq to travel to the Polish border, where many were left stranded in freezing conditions.


Michael McCormick and Kevin Petit

China has enjoyed immense growth in the last two decades, while the United States has been distracted by two wars in the Middle East. Despite the United States’ determined intent to pivot to Asia, it has not done so. The US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 brought renewed calls for a pivot, but it was not until the 2021 Afghanistan withdrawal that the United States could refocus on the competition between great powers. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, however, has once again put the grand pivot on hold. With the United States distracted, China enjoys the freedom and operating space to silently achieve its aims: becoming a preeminent power in East Asia and a major power on the world stage.

China is steadily increasing its competitiveness as a global leader by executing a silent growth strategy that is steadfast and consistent. It exploits the United States’ role as a global leader that responds to, and remains mired in, crises and conflicts. These take time, resources, and attention away from Chinese activities. Consequently, the United States is the overworked night watchman and, taking clever advantage of these diversions, China has grown formidably, challenging US economic, military, and technological primacy. To counter the threat posed by a rising China, the United States needs to focus on Chinese growth, aggression, and global influence as its top national security priority.

Ukraine lessons take center stage in Marines’ new information warfare plan

Hope Hodge Seck

The Marine Corps wants all troops to treat information as a core function of waging war. And the Russia-Ukraine conflict is providing a heavy underline to its efforts.

On Thursday, the service released its eighth Marine Corps doctrinal publication, this one focused on information.

And while the Marine Corps has been developing the document for years and realigning units and job specialties to support the information fight since 2017, MCDP-8, as it’s called, can at times seem ripped from the headlines.

Those who had a hand in the document believe the current information-dominant fight in Europe will serve to focus warfighters’ attention on the topic and provide concrete examples of how to use information effectively in battle.

Nikki Haley’s approach to foreign policy not based on wishful thinking

Michael McKenna, Cheryl K. Chumley and Jeffrey Scott Shapiro

Foreign policy and national security are arcane disciplines, but with experience comes expertise. Or not.

President Biden has been engaged in international affairs throughout his long political career, including eight years as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Bob Gates, who served as secretary of defense in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, wrote in 2014 that Mr. Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”

The late Charles Krauthammer had already observed that Mr. Biden “holds the American record for [being] wrong on the most issues in foreign affairs ever.” The late Sen. John McCain’s evaluation: “Biden has been consistently wrong on every national security issue that I’ve been involved in in the last 20 years or so.”

NATO is united on Ukraine. Good, but plenty could still go wrong.

David Ignatius

Brussels — NATO solidarity was on display at a summit meeting this week in Madrid. One after another, officials pledged to stay the course and combat Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

But as this war bleeds into summer and civilians continue to perish in horrific rocket attacks, NATO needs to ask how its strategy might fail. We can imagine some of the ways in which a hypothetical “Red Team” analysis might reveal how Ukraine’s allies could squander their current advantages and lose this conflict.

When you look at the scorecard so far, Putin appears to be failing in his war aims. Russian troops are bogged down in a bloody battle of attrition. Ukraine, rather than bowing to Moscow’s hegemony, is joining Europe with candidate status to the European Union. A revitalized NATO is bolstering its eastern and northern flanks, with Sweden and Finland joining the alliance. And Russia is on the way to losing its energy markets in Europe and its access to Western technology.

U.S. Blacklists Five Chinese Firms for Allegedly Helping Russia’s Military

Kate O’Keeffe

The U.S. Commerce Department added five Chinese companies to an export blacklist for allegedly helping Russia’s military despite U.S. and allied efforts to cut off Russia’s access to technology following its invasion of Ukraine.

Commerce officials said the companies had supplied items to Russian entities of concern before Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion and “continue to contract to supply” sanctioned Russian entities. They didn’t provide details on the technology involved.

The move, effective Tuesday, marks the first time U.S. officials have taken action against Chinese companies for allegedly supporting Russia in the war. It also comes as U.S. officials and others have continued to say that China has generally not sought to help Russia militarily.

You Have to Be There

James R. Holmes

Director and actor Woody Allen famously joked, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Admiral J. C. Wylie, the author of Military Strategy: A General Theory of Power Control, opined that to control something, an armed force must stage firepower on the scene sufficient to control that thing.1 Implicit in Wylie’s analysis is that if you want to control something forever, you may need to remain there forever. Combine the insights from this odd couple, and it seems that 80 percent of martial affairs is showing up and the remaining 20 percent is staying in force.

This oversimplifies matters, but it is sage counsel, nonetheless. Contenders must bestride the field of competition—and stay on the field as long as the contest lasts—to entertain any hope of success. Yet militaries have flouted this simple but profound axiom throughout history. Beguiled by offense, they take territory only to move on—and relinquish control back to the foe, who promptly reoccupies the ground and resumes his own agenda. Intermittent control is no control at all in strategic terms.

The Maritime Counterinsurgency Project Begins

Hunter Stires

For all the attention paid to its growing capabilities for a possible future war, China’s decisive line of effort to undo the foundation of the U.S.-led rules-based international order is well underway—and has made grave inroads without firing a shot. Rather than embarking on a costly and hazardous large-scale war of aggression, China is working below the threshold of armed conflict to subjugate the large civilian maritime population of Southeast Asia—more than 3.7 million people—who depend on access to the South China Sea for their daily livelihoods.1

Chinese Coast Guard and maritime militia forces steal fishermen’s catches, confiscate radios and navigational equipment essential to safe operations at sea, and pour gasoline into civilians’ drinking water supplies to compel them to return to shore.2 Chinese forces kidnap Vietnamese fishermen and hold them for ransom.3 China has threatened to openly attack Southeast Asian countries on multiple occasions for daring to pursue energy development in their own national exclusive economic zones (EEZs).4 And Chinese maritime militia and coast guard ships fire upon, ram, and sink civilian vessels, often leaving their crews in the water to drown, an outrageous desecration of the most foundational rule governing conduct among mariners.

Regardless of whether China’s systematic maritime barbarism constitutes a form of state piracy, its strategic objective is clear: to overturn the rule of international law that enshrines the longstanding principle of the freedom of the sea, a foundational U.S. national interest. In its place, Beijing seeks to impose its own draconian, self-serving, hierarchical vision of maritime sovereignty, under which it claims distant ocean areas as “blue national soil” to deprive weaker coastal states of their own EEZs and fundamental rights at sea. To realize this, China does not fight conventionally with the U.S. Navy and its regional partners, but rather circumvents them in the “gray zone” to impose its will directly on the civilians who dwell in places Beijing wishes to make its own.

China’s pattern of behavior has a name: insurgency. At their most fundamental level, insurgencies are campaigns that seek to overthrow an established regime or legal order by cumulatively and coercively enforcing a new set of laws on the civilian population that a belligerent seeks to govern, while declining a sequential, force-on-force decisive battle with the military defenders of the incumbent system of authority. This is precisely what China is doing in the South China Sea and elsewhere. While it may strike some as strange to refer to the world’s second largest economy in terms most often applied to non-state actors, the strategic logic of insurgency and counterinsurgency does not depend on the identity of the groups that employ them. China’s coercive strategies and actions against civilian mariners mirror those of insurgent groups throughout time, from the armies of Mao Zedong to the Vietcong to the Taliban. Just because a country is a first-class military power does not mean it will always choose to act like one. Chinese officials themselves refer to Beijing’s approach as “war without gun smoke” and “people’s war at sea”—the latter being a Maoist term most readily translated into U.S. doctrinal language as “maritime insurgency.”5

For most of the past decade, the United States has largely ignored China’s maritime insurgency and allowed it to proceed unchecked, seeing it as a mere shaping operation distracting from the “real” challenge of China’s worrying expansion of its capabilities for all-out kinetic war. Yet China is pursuing a dual-track strategy: simultaneously preparing for state-on-state war while working to “win without fighting” today.6 Since China can prevail by either method, the United States and its allies do not have the luxury of choosing their preferred threat; they must find effective ways to counter both Chinese lines of effort or face defeat. U.S. preparations for high-end conflict will be for naught if the gray zone threat is not stopped. By remaining below the threshold of war, China’s maritime insurgency conceptually outmaneuvers the investments the United States has made in its own warfighting forces.7 The conventional wisdom in Washington might have matters backward: Beijing’s development of high-end military forces may in fact be the shaping operation meant to distract and deter U.S. leaders from countering China’s actual main effort—the gains it is making through maritime insurgency.

Allowing China’s maritime insurgency to succeed would have grave consequences for the United States and free seagoing nations around the globe.8 With civilian mariners forced to submit to Beijing’s dictates, China’s outlandish pretenses to “indisputable sovereignty” over 90 percent of the South China Sea will in time become an accepted fact of customary international law and a precedent for other avaricious countries.9 Freedom of the sea would be replaced by the arbitrary will of continental states with the military power to restrict activity in waters they covet at the expense of neighbors unable to resist. To avoid this dire outcome, it is imperative that the U.S. Sea Services and their partners and allies mobilize their intellectual capital to develop and operationalize an actionable strategy of maritime counterinsurgency to turn the tide.

Enter the U.S. Naval Institute’s Maritime Counterinsurgency Project. Thanks to a visionary grant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Maritime Counterinsurgency Project brings together leading minds in maritime strategy to examine this emerging concept and explore how the United States and its allies can effectively implement it. Among the project’s contributors are experts in the field and major players well known in the public discourse, including James Holmes, Geoffrey Till, Bryan Clark, Peter Swartz, Brent Sadler, Steve Wills, and Collin Koh. And the project features thinkers who may be less immediately familiar to readers but whose work inside and outside the lifelines merits wider recognition: Lesley Wilhelm, Gary Lehmann, Greg Lewis, Josh Taylor, Dan Straub, Brian Kerg, and Hali Jilani, to name a few.

This project is several years in the making, beginning with the May 2019 article, “The South China Sea Needs a ‘COIN’ Toss.” Since then, this thinking has sparked intense discussion in the United States and among key partner nations. As the concept has continued to develop and advance through publications, key stakeholder engagements, briefings, workshops, and events, thought leaders inside and outside government have been exploring how maritime COIN can be integrated into strategic documents and doctrine, security cooperation, wargaming, technological innovation, and current operations. Under the combined leadership of Admiral John Aquilino, Vice Admiral William Merz, and Rear Admiral Fred Kacher, a prototype operational implementation of the concept by Seventh Fleet’s Task Force 76 achieved a signal victory in the West Capella standoff between April and July 2020.10 As Brent Sadler writes in his essay, U.S. forces’ visible, persistent presence to support Malaysia against Chinese coercion led three major regional powers to strengthen their stances against China’s aggression in a matter of months—an effect that years of U.S. freedom-of-navigation operations (FONOPs) and large-scale warfighting exercises under the legacy standard playbook failed to achieve.

This expanded issue marks the launch of the Maritime COIN Project. Additional articles will come in the months ahead, and the project will include a conference at the Naval Institute’s Jack C. Taylor Center. Your thoughts, ideas, and reactions will be a mark of the project’s success, and they will be essential to its ultimate impact on strategy, operations, tactics, and force structure.