10 July 2022

Ukraine Is Bringing a Big Gun to a Knife Fight

Jack Detsch

From dozens of miles away, Ukrainian troops watched the aftermath of a rocket blast, fired from tubes rigged up to the back of an U.S.-provided truck. They first spoke in shouts, then in hushed murmurs, as the blast cloud behind Russian lines from the American High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, known as HIMARS, grew and grew.

“Holy fuck, look how the Russians are dying,” one soldier said in footage that made the rounds on social media.

With eight American HIMARS now in Ukrainian hands and four more expected to get into the country by the end of July, the defenders are racking up a major cost in Russian ammunition, supplies, and likely lives. Ukrainian troops knocked out 14 ammunition dumps in June, according to a tally by the BBC’s Russian service, many of them behind Russian lines in the Donbas, using the new weapons and another four tank-mounted rocket launchers from Britain. (More are on the way from Germany and Norway too.) The explosions have spawned a cottage industry of pro-Ukrainian memes featuring Japanese Shiba dogs in military fatigues watching the blasts, and the Ukrainian military believes that at least one Russian general has been killed in the blasts.

A Post-War Stand-Off Between Russia and the West Is Inevitable

Michael Kimmage

THE WAR in Ukraine is likely to last for years and to end in a Russian defeat of one kind or another. The essence of this war, apart from the enormous suffering it has caused, is that Vladimir Putin has made an epic strategic blunder by launching it and that the Russian political system does not have the flexibility or the resilience to change course. This does not portend Putin’s fall from power or the emergence of democracy in Russia. Nevertheless, the waging of a catastrophic war by a country that is only partially a great power and that is not by any means a great economic power will impose long-term costs on Russia. The country will have enormous difficulty dealing with these costs.

In the world that will come to be after the war, Russia’s near-inevitable defeat will have one positive and one negative consequence for the United States.

The positive consequence will be global. Prior to the war that Russia began in February 2022, the United States was struggling to find a role for itself. It was no longer the undisputed hegemon. It was still recovering from the fraught transition from the Trump to the Biden administrations. It had stumbled in the practical management of the withdrawal from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021. The Biden administration’s division of the world into autocracies and democracies was a clear enough distinction. But it could seem to be an abstraction—the stuff of speeches, not something crucial to U.S. foreign policy in action.

BRICS: China Remains the Primary Challenge for India

Mark S. Cogan & Vivek Mishra

With the world’s attention focused squarely on Ukraine, the leaders of the five BRICS nations – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa – met virtually at the 14th Summit, hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping. While some of the focus of the meeting was centered on the possibility of expanding the group into Iran, Argentina, and/or Pakistan, India was able to steer clear of the rancor raised by their Chinese and Russian counterparts at Western countries, instead focusing mainly on the humanitarian situation unfolding in Ukraine.

Modi, who met with G7 leaders in southern Germany, managed to avoid the diplomatic pitfalls that would have been injurious to India’s relationship with the United States. Likewise, refraining from joining the Western chorus on Russia while knowing Moscow would be the principal target of criticism at the G7 allowed India to balance two delicate bilateral relationships.

France-Australia: Moving beyond AUKUS


The announcement of the trilateral security partnership between the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia (commonly referred as AUKUS) in September last year put an end to the $90 billion Attack class submarine program negotiated by France and Australia in 2016 and, in the process, began one of the most heated diplomatic crises between the two countries. Nine months after this announcement, the Lowy Institute’s annual poll on foreign policy issues provides an opportunity to take stock of the impact of this diplomatic crisis on the Franco-Australian relationship.

Who is to blame for the strained relationship? The jury is in

In the months following the announcement of AUKUS, a battle between French and Australian sides took place in the media about who was to blame for the collapse of the deal and the breakdown in relations between the two countries. Up until now, it was however unclear who had won this war of public opinion.

Russia’s Brutal War In The Donbas Proves Ukraine Can’t Win

Daniel Davis

Methodical and Relentless: Russia’s war Donbas likely to continue through the summer – The General Staff of the Ukraine Armed Forces (UAF) on Monday confirmed that President Volodymyr Zelensky’s troops have withdrawn from Lysychansk. In the face of Russia’s superiority “in artillery, aviation, MLRS, ammunition, and personnel,” the General Staff reported, “the continuation of the defense of the city would lead to fatal consequences.” The UAF, the General Staff spokesperson continued, would nevertheless “be back and we will definitely win!”

They are almost certainly wrong, however, and it is time to face an increasingly unavoidable reality: In all likelihood, the Ukrainian Armed Forces will continue to suffer loss after loss, surrendering more territory to the Russians. If Kyiv and the West continue ignoring combat reality long enough, Ukraine may suffer an outright military defeat. Based on the public statements by senior Kyiv and Washington leaders, however, one might be forgiven for thinking Ukraine was actually winning.

How to Equip Ukraine to Break the Black Sea Blockade

Bryan Clark and Peter Rough

Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the Biden administration and other Western governments have been excruciatingly careful to confine the war to Ukraine’s borders and the neighboring Black Sea—and not do anything that might be interpreted as a military confrontation with Russia. That includes the choice of weapons provided to Kyiv by Western countries. Instead of equipping Ukraine to fight Russia as NATO would—with long-range artillery, air power, and area air defense—the United States and NATO sent short-range missiles, artillery, and small drones, roughly the same weapons used by Russian troops. Although the Ukrainian Armed Forces stopped Russia’s early advance, this symmetrical approach, dictated by Western aid, has led to the grinding conflict we see today in Ukraine’s east and south. Western choices have consigned Ukraine’s soldiers and citizens to a protracted, casualty-heavy war of attrition.

If it ever had any merit, this strategy has now run its course. One obvious shortcoming of keeping Kyiv’s military on life support is that it condemns Ukraine to perpetual warfare, including Russia’s relentless, World War II-style artillery barrages now pulverizing one town and village after another. The recent trickle of more potent weapons—such as U.S.-made High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS)—hasn’t fundamentally changed the West’s containment strategy or Ukraine’s capabilities on the front.

What Ukraine Can Tell Us About China

Zachary Shore

All of us sometimes fantasize about how we would spend the money if we won the lottery, but we might not realize how much those fantasies reveal. As it turns out, there’s surprising information contained within those daydreams. Pattern-break analysis, a method I explore in my book A Sense of the Enemy, is the study of how dramatic, unexpected events expose underlying drivers. If you won the $100 million jackpot, would you quit your job immediately, or would you simply carry on as usual but with a few more vacations? It’s our behavior around these pattern-breaking moments that can expose what truly drives us. If we know how that works, we can learn something about ourselves. And if we apply those tools to strategic opponents, we can learn how they act, too.

In my study of how historical figures tried to understand their enemies, I found that the ones who succeeded most, such as Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi or German Chancellor Gustav Stresemann, had a method. They focused on an enemy’s behavior around pattern-breaking moments for clues to that enemy’s key drivers. The current Ukraine crisis is such a moment. It offers us an important lesson not in how Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks—but in how the Chinese leadership does.

Nearly one billion people in China had their personal data leaked, and it's been online for more than a year

Yong Xiong, Hannah Ritchie and Nectar Gan

The leak could be one of the biggest ever recorded in history, cybersecurity experts say, highlighting the risks of collecting and storing vast amounts of sensitive personal data online -- especially in a country where authorities have broad and unchecked access to such data.

The vast trove of Chinese personal data had been publicly accessible via what appeared to be an unsecured backdoor link -- a shortcut web address that offers unrestricted access to anyone with knowledge of it -- since at least April 2021, according to LeakIX, a site that detects and indexes exposed databases online.

Access to the database, which did not require a password, was shut down after an anonymous user advertised the more than 23 terabytes (TB) of data for sale for 10 bitcoin -- roughly $200,000 -- in a post on a hacker forum last Thursday.

Looking Past China’s Rise for the Trends Shaping Asia

Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has begun to more aggressively challenge America’s role as the key economic and political power in Asia. Increasingly repressive at home, Xi has not shied away from asserting China’s regional influence, positioning Beijing as the powerbroker on everything from trade routes to the ongoing efforts to denuclearize North Korea. And with its Belt and Road Initiative, China’s influence is spreading well beyond Asia, into much of Africa and even Europe. China’s ascendance is also evident in how much attention other global powers are paying to Beijing and its policies.

But while China’s rise often makes headlines, it is not the only trend shaping events in Asia. Illiberalism has become a force in democracies like India, where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has ridden the wave of Hindu nationalism to successive electoral victories. And in the Philippines, former President Rodrigo Duterte’s six years in office have undermined the country’s democratic institutions and rule of law, with the prospects dim that his newly inaugurated successor, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., will be an improvement. Meanwhile, Myanmar’s already faltering process of democratization came to an abrupt end in February 2021, when the military seized power from the democratically elected government. The subsequent protests and the military’s violent crackdown in response have left the country teetering on the edge of civil war and failed state status.

How to win Ukraine’s long war After doing well early in the war, Ukraine is losing ground. What next?

Ukraine won the short war. Mobile and resourceful, its troops inflicted terrible losses and confounded Russian plans to take Kyiv. Now comes the long war. It will drain weapons, lives and money until one side loses the will to fight on. So far, this is a war that Russia is winning.

In recent days its forces have taken the eastern city of Severodonetsk. They are advancing on Lysychansk and may soon control all of Luhansk province. They also threaten Slovyansk, in the north of next-door Donetsk. Ukrainian leaders say they are outgunned and lack ammunition. Their government reckons as many as 200 of its troops are dying each day.

Fortunately for Ukraine, that is not the end. The Russian advance is slow and costly. With nato-calibre weapons, fresh tactics and enough financial aid, Ukraine has every chance of forcing back Russia’s armies. Even if lost territory will be hard to retake, Ukraine can demonstrate the futility of Vladimir Putin’s campaign and emerge as a democratic, Westward-looking state. But to do so it needs enduring support. And that is still in doubt.

The Return of Industrial Warfare

Alex Vershinin

The war in Ukraine has proven that the age of industrial warfare is still here. The massive consumption of equipment, vehicles and ammunition requires a large-scale industrial base for resupply – quantity still has a quality of its own. The mass scale combat has pitted 250,000 Ukrainian soldiers, together with 450,000 recently mobilised citizen soldiers against about 200,000 Russian and separatist troops. The effort to arm, feed and supply these armies is a monumental task. Ammunition resupply is particularly onerous. For Ukraine, compounding this task are Russian deep fires capabilities, which target Ukrainian military industry and transportation networks throughout the depth of the country. The Russian army has also suffered from Ukrainian cross-border attacks and acts of sabotage, but at a smaller scale. The rate of ammunition and equipment consumption in Ukraine can only be sustained by a large-scale industrial base.

This reality should be a concrete warning to Western countries, who have scaled down military industrial capacity and sacrificed scale and effectiveness for efficiency. This strategy relies on flawed assumptions about the future of war, and has been influenced by both the bureaucratic culture in Western governments and the legacy of low-intensity conflicts. Currently, the West may not have the industrial capacity to fight a large-scale war. If the US government is planning to once again become the arsenal of democracy, then the existing capabilities of the US military-industrial base and the core assumptions that have driven its development need to be re-examined.

Can Ukraine win the war?

Lawrence Freedman

In my first piece after the start of the Russian’s war in Ukraine, I argued that Vladimir Putin had made a huge blunder and that Russia could not win. I reached this judgement partly because Moscow had apparently failed its immediate objectives, despite enjoying the advantage of surprise on 24 February. I was cautious about how the clash of arms would play out because I assumed the Russians would soon learn to adjust to Ukrainian tactics and capabilities. (By my second piece, which I wrote on 27 February, I was more impressed by Russian military incompetence and sought to explain why this would continue to affect its operational performance.)

I believed that Putin would fail because this enterprise was launched on the basis of a deluded view that Ukraine was a country lacking both a legitimate government and a national identity, and so would therefore crumble quickly. On that first day, he expected to take down the Ukrainian government and replace it with a puppet. Even if this plan had succeeded, the Ukrainians would probably have continued to fight against a Russian occupation. But we can imagine how, if the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky had been killed or abducted, the Russians would have instructed a compliant government to invite their forces in to remove “Nazi” usurpers in Kyiv – though the invitation would have been retrospective. This is what happened in December 1979 in Afghanistan: the Soviet Union removed one leader in Kabul and inserted another, who then requested the Russian military intervention that was already under way.

Another High-Stakes Presidential Election Has Kenya on Edge

Meron Elias
Source Link

Kenyans will head to the polls on Aug. 9 in a presidential election that, no matter how it turns out, will usher in a transition after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s two terms in office. Two figures have emerged as the main contenders to succeed him. Raila Odinga, a long-time opposition leader turned insider, has secured Kenyatta’s support as he stages his fifth bid for the presidency. Odinga will face Deputy President William Ruto, Kenyatta’s erstwhile ally who, despite a falling-out between the two in recent years, has fashioned a political base founded on a promise to more fairly redistribute the benefits of economic growth.

Kenyan elections are generally high-stakes affairs. Leading politicians often view the outcome as existential, whether to preserve their careers, protect their business interests or both. In December 2007, claims of electoral fraud in a context of fraught ethnic relations led to serious violence, which lasted until February 2008 and left over 1,000 people dead. Kenyatta and Ruto were both indicted at the International Criminal Court, or ICC, for the role they allegedly played in inciting the violence. They subsequently joined forces for Kenyatta’s two successful presidential bids in 2013 and 2017, but their seemingly irreparable relationship this time around could constitute the most significant threat to peaceful polls in August.

India’s economy after Covid


One cost of the past two years of limited air travel is that it became too easy to lose touch with what was really happening in other countries. Having not returned in a number of years, a trip last month was a reminder that it’s always impressive to absorb, even fleetingly, how fast emerging economies such as India are changing, and notwithstanding the pandemic, largely improving. Better infrastructure, cleaner streets, more and better cars, fewer but better motorbikes, fancier shops and restaurants, way more mobile phones. The pace of change is well beyond what most people in rich countries like Australia are used to.

Nowhere is India’s progress more evident than in the tech sector. In the past India’s tech story was all about its dynamic entrepreneurs and skilled IT workers. Today however, the most impressive elements are what is happening at the bottom of the pyramid, via digitally enabled inclusion.

Chinese Navy, Air Force Active Near Senkaku Islands, Says Japanese MoD

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Chinese operations near the Senkaku Islands are becoming more frequent as overall Chinese and Russian forces have been more active in the Western Pacific, Japanese officials said on Tuesday.

Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Japanese forces will deal with any attempts by China to change the status quo of the Senkaku islands resolutely and calmly.

The Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyu by China and Diaoyutai by Taiwan, are a chain of small, uninhabited islands located approximately 186 kilometer northeast of Taiwan and around 410 kilometers west of Okinawa Japan administers the islands though both China and Taiwan claim them.

Kishi said that at around 7:44 a.m. on Monday, a People’s Liberation Army Navy Jiangwei II frigate passed southwest of Uotsuri Island in the Senkaku Islands. This marked the fourth time Chinese ships have entered the contiguous zone of the Senkaku Islands with previous instances in 2016, 2018 and last month. International law allows ships of any nation, including warships, to sail through the contiguous waters of a coastal nation unless they threaten the nation’s safety. The U.S. claims the same right when its ships pass through the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands.

Have sanctions against Russia boomeranged?


With the Russian invasion of Ukraine now in its fifth month, Western leaders are beginning to recognize, if not openly acknowledge, that their unprecedented sanctions against Moscow are hurting their own countries’ economies without significantly crimping the Kremlin’s war machine. As the recent back-to-back Group of Seven and NATO summits underscored, Western leaders are straining to find new ways to deter Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In fact, the fallout from the U.S.-led sanctions on Russia has ended the era of cheap oil and gas and contributed to surging inflation, supply-chain disruptions and a looming recession in the West. In poorer countries, by sending fuel and food prices higher, the sanctions are threatening livelihoods and political stability.

Sanctions historically have produced unintended and undesirable consequences, yet they have become the policy tool of choice for the United States.

Ukraine’s moral waters get muddier and bloodier


As Ukraine and Russia grapple for the moral high ground in the global court of public opinion, Israel has aimed unusually undiplomatic language at Ukraine’s ambassador to Germany.

Last week, in an interview, Kiev’s top envoy in Berlin Andriy Melnyk compared World War II-era Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera to Robin Hood and stated that he “was not a mass murderer of Jews and Poles.”

In Ukraine, Bandera is a hugely divisive figure but the ambassador’s opinion clashes with the mainstream historical narrative – that Bandera’s organization, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which sided with the Nazis – did exactly that.

“The statements of the Ukrainian ambassador are a distortion of historical facts, a belittling of the Holocaust and an insult to those who were murdered by Bandera and his people,” the Israeli Embassy fumed in comments reported by German media Die Welt.

Thinking About the Unthinkable in Ukraine What Happens If Putin Goes Nuclear?

Richard K. Betts

As the war in Ukraine rages on, Russian President Vladimir Putin has engaged in nuclear saber rattling. “Whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history,” Putin declared in February in the first of many statements warning of a potential nuclear strike. For the most part, Western observers have dismissed this talk as idle chest-thumping. After all, whichever side fired nuclear weapons first would be taking a very risky gamble: betting that its opponent would not retaliate in an equal or more damaging way. That is why the odds are very low that sane leaders would actually start a process of trading blows that could end in the destruction of their own countries. When it comes to nuclear weapons, however, very low odds are not good enough.

Planning for the potential that Russia would use nuclear weapons is imperative; the danger would be greatest if the war were to turn decisively in Ukraine’s favor. That is the only situation in which the Russians’ incentive to take that awesome risk would be plausible, in an attempt to prevent defeat by shocking Ukraine and its NATO supporters into standing down. The Russians might do this by setting off one or a few tactical nuclear weapons against Ukrainian forces or by triggering a symbolic explosion over an empty area.

What is the Utility of the Principles of War?

In the preface of ‘Mes Rêveries’, Marshal Maurice de Saxe states the following: [i]

“War is a science so obscure and imperfect that custom and prejudice confirmed by ignorance are its sole foundation and support; all other sciences are established upon fixed principles… while this alone remains destitute.”

However, this belief is a stand-alone in the Age of Enlightenment, a time in which it was commonly believed that war, just like any other domain, must surely obey some laws and scientific principles. Besides, this quest for the principles of war did not spare other eras. From Sun Tzu and Xenophon to Fuller and Foch, an abundant literature in strategic thought offers various perspectives on what these principles might be and how many can we account for.

One can wonder, however, what utility these principles have for the strategist when there are so many. Indeed, no two wars are alike, and in the absence of fixed principles of war, the precepts provided by some famous strategic thinkers in an older era within a completely different context would hardly seem to have any relevance in a present-day conflict.

The Strategy of the Mind: Maoism and Culture War in the West

David Martin-Jones, M.L.R. Smith

The political condition within Western societies has, in recent years, increasingly been cast in terms of a ‘culture war’ between radically opposed value systems: between those that want to preserve a pluralistic society where the right to freedom of expression is upheld against those who believe that society should be protected from offensive behaviours and ‘hate-speech’, which are embedded within systems of structural discrimination and oppression.

What has this condition got to do with the ghost of the Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-tung? More than one might think. The legacy of Mao’s struggle for power in China, and his strategic formulations for winning power, casts a long – and little understood – shadow over contemporary political conduct in the nations that constitute the liberal-democratic West. Of all the strands of modern political theorising that may be said to influence current Western political conduct, it was Mao, above all, who articulated and put into practice ideas of so-called cultural warfare. Key to the idea of culture war is the understanding that the space to be conquered to gain and retain power is not necessarily the physical battlefield but the intangible sphere of the mind. The Maoist conception of the strategic utility of the mind, and its capacity to be moulded towards the waging of cultural warfare, presents some interesting challenges to traditional Western notions of strategic formulation, as this essay will endeavour to show.

British Army hit by cyberattack as Twitter and YouTube accounts hacked

Danielle Sheridan

The British Army has confirmed a "breach" of its Twitter and YouTube accounts.

The Ministry of Defence said an investigation is under way after both official sites appeared to have been hacked.

The Army's YouTube channel features videos on cyptocurrency and images of billionaire businessman Elon Musk, while its official Twitter account retweeted a number of posts appearing to relate to crypto assets known as NFTs.

The profile picture on its twitter page was changed numerous times during the hack, and at one point showed a monkey wearing face paint. The bio was replaced with the message: “We all have a dark side. What will yours look like?”

Defence sources would not comment on whether Russians were behind the hack.

Why America’s Far Right and Far Left Have Aligned Against Helping Ukraine

Jan Dutkiewicz and Dominik Stecuła

Since Russia attacked Ukraine, unprovoked, on Feb. 24, the discourse surrounding the war that has emerged in the United States has created strange bedfellows. Although the majority of the American public, led by U.S. President Joe Biden, have thrown their support behind Ukraine, many on the left and right alike have rushed to defend Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime or, at the very least, have urged the United States not to intervene in Ukraine’s defense.

Tucker Carlson, the face of Fox News and host of the most popular show on cable news in the United States, has been spouting pro-Kremlin talking points for months (and is frequently rebroadcasted on Russian state television). Other right-wing figures regularly spew out anti-Ukrainian disinformation and rail against sending heavy weapons to the country.

Meanwhile, the luminary of the American intellectual left, Noam Chomsky, has invoked former U.S. President Donald Trump as a model of level-headed geopolitical statesmanship for his opposition to arming Ukraine. Left-wing sources—such as Jacobin, New Left Review, and Democracy Now!—have hewed to a party line that blames NATO expansion for Russia’s invasion and opposes military aid to Ukraine.

The Art of the Arms Race To avoid disaster, the United States must relearn crucial Cold War lessons.

Hal Brands

Arms control is dying, and arms races are roaring back to life. Over the past two decades, key pillars of the superpower arms control regime erected during the Cold War have collapsed, one by one: the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, and the Open Skies Treaty. The most important U.S.-Russian agreement that remains, New START, may become a casualty of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine. China, meanwhile, is rapidly building up its conventional and nuclear forces as part of a push for dominance in the Pacific and beyond. Around the globe, emerging technologies are promising dramatic advances in military power.

Welcome to a world primed for arms races—a world in which tensions are sharp, the military balance is hotly contested, and there are ever fewer constraints on which kinds and what quantity of weapons great powers can wield. This new world will, in fact, be replete with challenges reminiscent of an earlier era of rivalry. To avoid disaster, the United States must relearn what it knew during the Cold War: how to arms-race well.

Does Putin’s War Mark a New Period in History?

David A. Bell

Earlier this year, a student asked me how I thought historians would characterize the period of world history he believed had just begun with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. I couldn’t resist replying: “I have no idea. I just hope they won’t be calling it the ‘prewar period.’”

But are we, in fact, at the beginning of a new period in history? Many have been quick to affirm the idea. Even before the invasion began, the Wall Street Journal columnist Gerard Baker was opining that “the crisis over Ukraine … marks the definitive end of the post-Cold War era.” And no sooner had Russian forces crossed the Ukrainian border than the Brookings Institution’s Daniel S. Hamilton agreed: “The post-Cold War period has ended. A more fluid and disruptive era has begun.” A few days later, the political scientist Sean Illing called the invasion a “world-historical event,” adding that “the effects of it will likely ripple out for years to come.” All three were confident that one day, historians would begin new chapters in their textbooks with the year 2022.

Historians themselves, though, have never had a single, obvious, agreed-on way of slicing up history into distinct segments, and they quarrel endlessly about how to do so. Some speak of a “long 18th century” that stretches from 1688 to 1815 and others of a “short 18th century” that runs only from 1715 to 1789. Did the Middle Ages end with the Italian Renaissance in the 14th century or with European voyages of exploration in the 15th? Or perhaps the Reformation in the 16th century? Was there such a thing as a “Global Middle Ages,” or does that term impose a European concept on areas of the world unsuited for it? As long as historians disagree about the relative importance of different factors of historical change—i.e., forever—they will disagree about periodization.

Lithuania Targeted by Massive Russian Cyberattack Over Transit Blockade


A 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.

What Vladimir Putin Is Really Thinking

Konstantin Remchukov

What does Russian president Vladimir Putin want? What is he trying to achieve? And what could go wrong? My thoughts and ideas are based not only on an analysis of Putin’s texts and policies, but also on personal observations of his logic and motives for decisions. He has spoken about them at regular meetings of the President with the editors-in-chief of Russian media outlets. The format of these meetings, as a rule, is closed, but also free in the sense of a frank exchange of opinions. At the very least, I could always ask Putin any questions, ranging from Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Alexei Navalny, to civil liberties and democratic practices. And I always got detailed answers. The most recent meeting took place in St. Petersburg at midnight on June 17. It provided a real window into Putin’s mindset and objectives.

Here is what I have gleaned from these meetings: Two events of the recent past apparently preordained contemporary events in Ukraine. The harsh anti-Russian course of Maidan from 2013 to 2014, with a pronounced Russophobia towards the Russian-speaking population, including in Crimea, left no doubt that Russia would lose its naval base in Sevastopol and access to the waters around Crimea in general. Victoria Nuland not only openly represented, but also symbolized the United States as the main force behind the anti-government protests. Since Maidan was obviously anti-Russian in nature, Washington’s position was perceived as hostile to Moscow. And the fact that the guarantors of the settlement of the situation, represented by the foreign ministers of Germany, France, and Poland, could not guarantee anything was interpreted in Moscow as an attempted direct deception of Putin himself.

Is the United States Becoming the WTO?

William Alan Reinsch

Today’s title may be a strange proposition, but hear me out. The World Trade Organization (WTO) was a long time coming. Initially proposed as the International Trade Organization (ITO) at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944, the ITO was to be the third leg of stool on which a rules-based international economic system would sit, along with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The latter two got off the ground, but the ITO never made it, largely because the U.S. Senate failed to ratify the Treaty of Havana that would have launched it. Nearly 50 years later, the WTO was founded by consensus as part of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations.

The words “by consensus” reveal where this column is going, and, fair warning, the beginning of a rant. The most important procedural feature of the WTO is the determination to act by consensus. That does not mean unanimity. Not everyone is required to explicitly vote “yes” on a matter, but members must approve or stay silent if consensus is to be reached. The WTO has procedures that permit voting, but they have not been employed. Achieving consensus has always been the operational goal.

Turkey as an Aspiring Great Power

Jose Miguel Alonso-Trabanco

The world order is likely going to be rewritten as a result of the ongoing multidimensional conflict between Russia and the West over Ukraine, the reactivation of direct military tensions involving great powers, increasing strategic competition between the US and China, the reconfiguration of alliances, and a sharp global economic downturn reflected in phenomena like inflation, the disruption of transnational supply chains, financial volatility, and a scarcity of critical goods. These challenging conditions of uncertainty are fueling strategic anxieties in the top nerve centers of many countries. However, despite this dark atmosphere, said landscape can also offer valuable opportunities worth harnessing for those willing and capable to take advantage of such circumstances in order to advance their own agenda. In other words, a seismic reshuffling of the global correlation of forces is favorable for the implementation of revisionist plans. In this regard, Turkey is well-positioned to reassert itself as an emerging great power in the decades to come. This analysis examines the trajectory followed by this Eurasian state in its quest for an elevated hierarchical position in the international system, and how the current environment of instability can paradoxically facilitate such a pursuit.

Demise of ‘the sick man of Europe’

According to classical geopolitical thinking, national states behave a lot like living organisms that seek to thrive in a harsh Darwinian arena. They are born, grow, mature, expand, evolve, compete with their counterparts, decline, whither, perish, reproduce and ‒ in some cases ‒ even experience a full revitalization that restores their strength. When the Ottoman Turks (a people of Central Asian origin) fatefully overran what was left of the decaying Eastern Roman Empire, they undertook the task of developing their own state. Thus, the fall of Constantinople in 1453 marks the end of a historical chapter, but also the beginning of a new story. Gradually, the Ottomans built a powerful, wealthy, prestigious and cosmopolitan empire. In fact, it can be argued that they inherited the geopolitical position once held by the Byzantines as a great power in the Eastern corner of the Mediterranean, at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and whose sphere of influence reached Eastern Europe, the Balkans, the Maghreb, the Levant, and the Greater Middle East. Unsurprisingly, it often clashed with heavyweight rivals such as the Republic of Venice, the Spanish Empire, Russia, and Persia. It is also worth highlighting that, if the Ottomans had not been defeated in Lepanto and at the gates of Vienna, perhaps the history of Europe would have been substantially different.

Ethical foreign policy has tied us in knots


Half a century ago the philosopher Bernard Williams observed correctly that when the British talked about morality everyone assumed they were talking about sex. This tendency was problematic. It subordinated other possibly more important values while ensuring no overall improvement to sexual mores themselves, only a high degree of hypocrisy.

I was reminded of this observation while watching an appearance by Liz Truss before a parliamentary select committee last week. The foreign secretary was asked whether her professed determination to end Britain’s dependence on authoritarian regimes for trade applied to Saudi Arabia’s royals, whom we in the West are all currently begging to lower the cost of oil to help with our energy crisis.

Iron net: Digital repression in the Middle East and North Africa

James Lynch


In April 2021, Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan security guard living in Doha, opened his Twitter account to find that someone had sent him a link to a Human Rights Watch report about migrant workers. Bidali was using an anonymous account, @noaharticulates, to blog about his life and document the daily exploitation and abuse that he and his fellow workers experienced. His account, which only had a few hundred followers, had just begun to attract interest both from foreign readers and young Qataris who appreciated his frank, unflinching account of the reality he and his colleagues confronted every day.

The link did not work. But it was never meant to: it was a phishing link designed to reveal the true identity of @noaharticulates. A week later, Bidali was arrested at his labour camp by State Security officers. After a month in solitary confinement and a campaign for his release by students in Qatar, he was deported to Kenya with a hefty fine for publishing “false news with the intent of endangering the public system of the state”. And there ended the career of Qatar’s first – and, so far, only – migrant worker blogger. A year before the 2022 Men’s Football World Cup, the build-up to which had been characterised by international concern about the abuse of migrant workers, the Qatari state had used a relatively simple technical measure to snuff out a perceived threat.

Cobalt, copper, China: India should pay more attention to the savage violence in Congo


The image didn’t shock the world. “He hadn’t made his rubber quota for the day,” photographer Alice Seeley recorded in 1904, “so the Belgian-appointed overseers had cut off his daughter’s hand and foot. Her name was Boali. She was five years old. Then they killed her. But they weren’t finished. Then they killed his wife too. And because that didn’t seem quite cruel enough, quite strong enough to make their case, they cannibalised both. And they presented N’sala with the tokens, the leftovers from the once-living body of his darling child.”

In the past month, tens of thousands of refugees have been fleeing attacks by the M23 insurgent group in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s North Kivu province. The insurgents are reported to have unleashed large-scale terror, including extrajudicial executions, rape and forcing victims to cook and consume human flesh. East African peacekeepers have now been deployed to end the violence—but it’s far from clear if they’ll succeed, and for how long.

Ukraine War: A Reshuffling of the Global Monetary Order?

Jose Miguel Alonso-Trabanco

As a regular conflict, the ongoing Ukraine war is being fought with kinetic weapons and traditional power projection platforms in conventional operational battlefields. However, its span transcends the domain of military statecraft. It goes much further. In fact, this unfolding confrontation must also be understood as a major clash in the rising strategic competition to determine the future architecture of the global financial and monetary system – a dangerous game played for the highest stakes. On this chessboard, currencies, monetary assets and financial vehicles are being weaponized as instruments of coercion, manipulation, disruption, subordination and conquest. Therefore, said arena is one the key dimensions of the Second Cold War, in which the Western bloc of maritime powers ‒ under US leadership ‒ and the Eurasian axis of continental powers ‒ headed by Russia and China ‒ are struggling with each other to advance their corresponding views of what the world order should be like. The realm of money is now at the forefront of the current rivalry between Leviathan and Behemoth.


Far from being autonomous or conditioned purely by economic variables, the field of international monetary matters has always been strongly influenced by the impersonal forces of ‘high politics.’ As multidisciplinary thinkers like Robert Gilpin, Charles Kindleberger, Benjamin Cohen, Robert Sabatino Lopez, Paul Kennedy, Carla Norrlöf, Benn Steil, Gal Luft, Anne Korin, Susan Strange, Juan Zarate and others have noted, this understanding is crucial to explaining trends related to the configuration of global monetary systems, currency internationalization, the rise and fall of dominant reserve currencies, monetary competition, the fluctuation of exchange rates, the denomination of prices for the commercial exchange of strategic commodities, along with the nature of international financial systems, platforms, and nerve centers. The unorthodox ideas formulated by these authors contradict the principles championed by mainstream liberal economics, which hold that economic behaviors are mostly apolitical, and traditional geopolitical views that tend to disregard the overall significance of money and finance in contexts of rivalries over the global balance of power.