14 July 2022

Silicon Twist Managing the Chinese Military’s Access to AI Chips

Ryan Fedasiuk, Karson Elmgren

Executive Summary

Over the last five years, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has made significant progress adopting artificial intelligence for combat and support functions. Chinese leaders broadly expect AI to usher in the “intelligentization” (智能化) of military affairs, characterized by ubiquitous sensor networks, more frequent machineon- machine engagements, and a faster tempo of operations.

But the PLA’s progress in AI and related technologies largely depends on continued access to a special class of semiconductors—AI chips—which are used to train advanced machine learning systems. By analyzing 24 public contracts awarded by PLA units and state-owned defense enterprises in 2020, this policy brief offers a limited but detailed look at how the Chinese military comes to access these devices.

Drones Will not Liberate Ukraine – but Tanks Will

Jan Kallberg

There are serious dangers in over-interpreting the lessons of the war in Ukraine.

Drones have changed the battlefield, providing additional situation awareness and the ability to strike targets, but their high success rates in the Ukraine war is a result of unique conditions unlikely to be replicated elsewhere.

Unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) such as the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 have been successful in the Russian-Ukrainian war and helped prevent the Ukrainian defenses from crumbling under the initial Russian onslaught. The absence of short-range air defenses (SHORAD) in the initial months of the war gave drones free range.

But four months later, man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS) like the US-manufactured Stinger, its Russian counterpart the SA-25, and other air defense systems, are bringing down drones. Air defenses can as easily target larger, slow-moving drones such as TB2 Bayraktar just like other slow moving aerial targets such as helicopters and transport aircraft.

Takshashila Discussion Document - How States Negotiated in the UN’s OEWG on Space Threats

Executive Summary

The UN’s Open-ended Working Group on reducing space threats met in Geneva in May. The discussions highlighted how different states view the challenges of space weaponisation. There are four main areas of contention:

Defining space weapons and space threats: Potential space weapons can have both civilian and military utility, and different states perceive threats from such capabilities differently.

Defining responsible behaviours: Such behaviours must be defined clearly, while breaches must be attributed and assessed based on objective criteria.

Interpreting international law: States differ on whether international humanitarian law (IHL), Law of Armed Conflict (LoAC) apply in outer space.

Bolstering Europe’s Economic Strategy vis-à-vis China

Mikko Huotari and Sébastien Jean

The European Commission’s 2019 Strategic Outlook described China as a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival. This description holds still today, but managing these different dimensions is proving increasingly difficult. China poses mounting challenges to core European values and interests.

A joint paper published today by the French Council of Economic Analysis (CAE), MERICS Director Mikko Huotari and Sébastian Jean, professor of economics at Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers in Paris, calls for a re-assessment of the EU’s strategy vis-à-vis China. You can access and download their paper titled Bolstering Europe’s Economic Strategy vis-à-vis China here.

Autonomous Weapons Systems: UN Expert Talks Facing Failure

The first of two GGE meetings on AWS planned for 2022 was held in March in Geneva. Russia used the forum to justify its illegal invasion of Ukraine, which nu­merous states including Germany sharply condemn. When the Russian delegation made its closing remarks many of the delegates demonstratively left the room.

The same geopolitical tensions that cul­minated in Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine have already caused the de facto failure of the Geneva talks, even if the group will meet again for five days in July. Without Russian buy-in there can be no regulation of AWS through the GGE, which makes its decisions by consensus. All 125 high con­tract­ing parties to the Convention on Cer­tain Conventional Weapons are entitled to participate in the GGE, while signatory states such as Egypt also have the right to speak. In reality, only about eighty states actually attend.

Fault lines within the GGE

Even before the Russian invasion it was clear that differences of substance within the Group of Governmental Experts pre­cluded rapid agreement.

Elective Affinities: Iran, India and China’s Responses to the Ukraine War

Burzine Waghmar

Iran, India and China have found themselves dragged into the crisis in Ukraine, as their wagons remain hitched to the invading power for complicated reasons.

'Sooner or later Russia will be back, and we do not know what kind of Russia that will be. It may fall subject to some form of totalitarian tyranny, fascist or communist; it may resume its earlier role as the leader of pan-Slavism or Orthodox Christianity; it may succeed, after so many failed efforts…it may resume or reject its former imperial ambitions. But this much can be said with certainty: that, whatever kind of regime rules in a resurgent Russia, it will be vitally concerned with the Middle East – a region not far from its southern frontier wherever that may ultimately lie...'

– Bernard Lewis, The Future of the Middle East, 1997

It was inconceivable, when Vladimir Putin lambasted Lenin for encouraging Ukrainians to think of themselves as a distinct people on 21 February, that the war clouds over Kyiv would sweep Beijing, Tehran and New Delhi to the rim if not eye of the storm. India, Iran and China cannot wish this conflict away, as their wagons remain hitched to the invading power for complicated reasons.

Turkey: economic problems and international ambitions

Turkey is suffering from a significant economic downturn that began in late 2021, when the Central Bank cut interest rates and inflation accelerated. There is not a clear path out of the crisis for the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is preparing to run for re-election in 2023 in the Republic of Turkey’s centenary year. Internationally, Erdoğan is making conciliatory moves towards several countries with which Turkey has had disputes in recent years while also pursuing a middle path with regard to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, meaning that Ankara has been able to preserve important trade and economic exchanges with Moscow while serving as a mediator between Kyiv and Moscow during the crisis.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has taken a conciliatory approach to many foreign-policy issues since 2021, which is a notable change given the many assertive and uncompromising positions he had adopted previously. From 2015 to 2020, Erdoğan deployed the Turkish Armed Forces to fight in conflicts in Libya, Iraq and Syria, established a permanent military base in Somalia and threatened Greece and Cyprus over disputed territorial claims. But by late 2020, these policies had produced few clear successes and serious economic problems began drawing Erdoğan’s attention to domestic matters.

Deficit Trap?: Trade Balances and China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Felix K. Chang

“Senseless and baseless.” That was how a top Chinese official described claims that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which officially launched in 2013, had caused economic hardship in developing countries. Indeed, much has been written about the potential for such countries, which had borrowed under the auspices of the BRI to construct trade and transportation infrastructure, to fall into so-called “debt traps.” Two commonly cited examples of that peril have been Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Both were caught in a spiral of ever-higher loan interest and principal payments when their newly built infrastructure failed to generate enough revenues to service their debts.

Less appreciated, however, has been the BRI’s potential to create the conditions for another sort of peril: a “trade deficit trap.” In contrast to a debt trap, a trade deficit trap is a situation where a country experiences an ever-widening trade deficit after its newly built infrastructure projects are completed. While many factors may affect the direction of trade balances, including a strong currency or weak productivity, this study focuses on the impact that BRI infrastructure projects might have had on national trade balances, particularly with China. Based on the study, there appears to be some correlation between a country’s participation in the BRI and a deterioration in its trade balance with China. Though economists still debate the exact consequences of a persistent trade deficit, if left unchecked, one could weaken a country’s economy.

How to Get the Grain Out of Ukraine?

Daniel Hegedüs

Ukraine, the world’s fourth-largest grain exporter in 2021, accounted for 10 percent of the global grain supply. However, the country is able to ship as little as a fourth of its usual export volume because of the Russian occupation of key ports such as Mariupol, the naval blockade of Ukraine’s remaining main harbor, Odessa, and the systematic air and missile strikes against the country’s strategic food storage and traffic infrastructure.

This has forced exporters to use railways and roads to transport the grain, creating significant bottlenecks. Based on available calculations, even under ideal conditions only 1.5 million to 2 million tons of grain could be transported monthly to Baltic and Romanian Black Sea ports. Sea transportation allowed monthly export volumes of up to 6 million tons in previous years. Ground transportation suffers from further logistical challenges. Goods delivered via wide-gauge Ukrainian railways must be either onloaded to European trains in one of the few two-gauge marshaling yards at the border between Ukraine and the European Union, or the bogies of the railroad cars must be changed, with both progress taking valuable time. Truck transport is hindered by complicated border-crossing regulations and because European insurance companies refuse to provide coverage on the war-torn soil of Ukraine, with the result that Ukrainian trucks make up almost all of the available fleet.

Defending Guam

Rebeccah L. Heinrichs, Bryan Clark, Matthew Costlow


Guam, “where America’s day begins,” constitutes an indispensable strategic hub for the United States. The largest of the Mariana Islands in the western Pacific, it allows the United States to successfully project power within the Indo-Pacific region and so makes credible US security commitments to key US allies located there. Guam is home to Andersen Air Force Base (AFB), from which F-22 Raptors and strategic bomber rotations project US power from the skies, and to the deep-water port Apra Harbor, which plays a critical role in US Navy missions aimed at keeping trade routes open. Thus, this US territory is essential to the security of the American citizenry.

Guam’s great strategic value to the United States and its proximity to North Korea and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) make it a prime target of missile attack by these US adversaries. Of particular concern, however, is the threat posed by possible Chinese long-range missile strikes, and so, to enable the successful projection of US power within the region and provide credible assurance to key allies, Guam’s defenses must be strengthened. Due to its significance to US security and its status as a US territory, military officials have increased their emphases on the need to speed up the construction of an adequate defense. Then-Commander of US Pacific Command Admiral Davidson regularly connected Guam to the US homeland, stating to Congress, “Hawaii, Guam, and our Pacific territories are part of our homeland and must be defended.”1

Build a Fleet that Contests Every Inch

Bryan Clark

China’s coast guard and maritime militia have mounted what essentially is an insurgency in the East and South China Seas for nearly 15 years, building artificial maritime features, blocking access to fishing areas, intruding into neighbors’ waters, and occupying disputed islands. This gray zone campaign at sea and ashore has brought China into tension with Indonesia, Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines and helped Beijing set the terms of each confrontation.1

Since the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military has planned its forces against “worst-case” scenarios with regional powers such as Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Russia.2 The Department of Defense (DoD) has continued using that approach regarding China, focused on a full-scale invasion of Taiwan. But with a significant advantage in the military balance, proximity to contested areas, and a comprehensive national military on par with the United States, China has a range of options for taking control of Taiwan.

Myanmar’s Military Losing Ground to Rebels and Ethnic Armies: Part 1

Joshua Kurlantzick
This will be a short blog post, and I’ll expand further on the deteriorating situation for the Myanmar military in a second post at greater length.

The Myanmar military, which has been in control of the country since last year’s coup and has wreaked havoc on the economy, the population, and public health – creating essentially a failed state – started the post-coup period with a massive advantage over the forces arrayed against it. Ethnic armed organizations, excluding the United Wa State Army in the northeast which stayed out of the battle, did not possess the manpower and arms to take the military head-on. Meanwhile, though many Myanmar activists fled into the jungles and began to train as resistance forces after months of nonviolent protest led to nothing but brutal and bloody crackdowns and arrests, they were still green, lacking a lot of modern weaponry and relatively untrained in military tactics.

But in recent months, the tide has begun to turn significantly. There is now a real possibility that the Myanmar armed forces could lose militarily to the loose combination of ethnic armed organizations and the rebel groups, the People’s Defense Force militias scattered across the country and picking up growing numbers of recruits who are sensing the military’s weaknesses.

Space Competition and the Dynamics of Conflict

Bonnie L. Triezenberg, Krista Langeland, Bryce Downing

Competition between great national powers has often played out in space. As it becomes increasingly militarized, understanding the long-term effect of nation-state investments in space security and subsequent use of products from those investments becomes strategically important. In 2014, the RAND Corporation began to develop a game-theoretic model to assess strategic implications of U.S. and a competitor nation's investments in space capabilities. In projects since, RAND researchers have built on traditional game theory to provide a context-rich assessment of how nation-state investments may play out over a range of possible futures. Although previous research using this model explored the effect of investments on deterring horizontal escalation of a terrestrial war into outer space, the authors focus here on the dynamics of space competition. They describe strategic interaction patterns, where possible; the conditions that give rise to them; and how investments shape those conditions. In many cases, they have yet to discover correlations between conditions in the game and resulting dynamics and strategic interaction patterns.

To create a context-rich assessment of space competition, they developed a complex model using sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) methods. Although they found that this complexity adds context to their assessments of how investments may play out, it also hampered their ability to isolate the conditions that gave rise to different strategic interaction patterns. This report should be of interest to not only space policy decisionmakers but to anyone contemplating using AI models to perform exploratory research.

Forecasting Demand for U.S. Ground Forces

Matthew Lane, Bryan Frederick, Jennifer Kavanagh, Stephen Watts

To defend against potential threats, the U.S. Army devotes significant resources to strategic and operational planning. This planning is an exercise in risk management across the wide array of potential threats facing the United States. Military planners need tools that leverage emergent trends in the global geostrategic environment to forecast future contingencies to preemptively build, shape, and prepare U.S. forces for the kinds of missions they are most likely to encounter in the future and for the contingencies that pose the greatest strategic risk to the United States.

This report provides empirically grounded assessments of potential future demands for U.S. ground forces. It does so by presenting a dynamic forecasting model that projects future U.S. ground interventions in a range of scenarios through the year 2040. The model the authors have developed incorporates annual projections of opportunities for U.S. intervention—including armed conflicts and their aftermath—and U.S. ground interventions themselves for each year in the 2017–2040 time frame. The authors present three main types of projections: trends in the future operating environment, including the incidence of interstate wars and intrastate conflicts; future U.S. ground interventions, including those involving deterrence, combat, and stabilization activities; and the anticipated average force requirements for those interventions. This analysis identifies key factors that can serve as early warning indicators of future conflicts and provides an improved empirical basis for estimating the frequency, magnitude, duration, and overlap of future contingencies.

French Army Approaches to Networked Warfare

Michael Shurkin, Raphael S. Cohen, Arthur Chan

The French Army has been developing and fielding networked warfare technology since the 1990s and now boasts both considerable experience using the technology in the field and a successful modernization program. As part of an effort to glean lessons learned from the French network-centric warfare (NCW) program for the U.S. Army, RAND researchers combed through a variety of primary and secondary French sources and interviewed several dozen French Army officers, think tank analysts, and government experts.

The concept of NCW argues that, because of networks that share information, the power and lethality of a deployed force can be greater than the sum of its parts; information, moreover, would enable modern forces to forgo armor and mass. Interviews with French Army officers suggest that NCW is a French solution to a French problem stemming from French budgetary constraints — specifically, the need to build one middle-weight force that is deployable to Africa but that is still robust enough for higher-end threats. By contrast, the U.S. Army's modernization challenge starts with a different strategic premise — deterring China and Russia, as well as different assumptions about available logistical capabilities. The two militaries' requirements therefore do not necessarily overlap sufficiently for a solution appropriate for one to be appropriate for the other.

Artificial Intelligence, Deepfakes, and Disinformation

Todd C. Helmus

The purpose of this Perspective is to provide policymakers an overview of the deepfake threat. It first reviews the technology undergirding deepfakes and associated artificial intelligence (AI)–driven technologies that provide the foundation for deepfake videos, voice cloning, deepfake images, and generative text. It highlights the threats deepfakes pose, as well as factors that could mitigate such threats. The paper then reviews the ongoing efforts to detect and counter deepfakes and concludes with an overview of recommendations for policymakers. This Perspective is based on a review of published literature on deepfake- and AI-disinformation technologies. Moreover, leading experts in the disinformation field contributed valuable insights that helped shape the work.

Japan Struggles to Understand the Abe Assassination

Cristian Martini Grimaldi

A mourner offers a flower for former Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo, at the entrance of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) headquarters building in Tokyo, Japan, Sunday, July 10, 2022.Credit: Toru Hana/Pool via AP

As I approached the Yamato-Saidaiji station in Nara, Japan, dozens of people were crowding next to the big plexiglass windows that line the side of the first floor. These windows overlook the place where the shots that killed former Prime Minister Abe Shinzo were fired.

“I walk through that same path every day,” said Yuki, a 30-year-old who lives in this Nara residential neighborhood.

“It is shocking to lose someone who we thought would always be there,” he added.

NATO’s Real Message to the Kremlin

Maarten Wensink

The Madrid summit saw NATO designate Russia its most significant threat – a strong signal in the context of the remilitarization of Europe. Yet NATO is also signalling something else. Rhetoric from Kyiv and the West increasingly departs from the facts on the ground, but future weapon supplies to Ukraine could change this; the question is by how much. If Western rhetoric heats up too much, the Kremlin might consider itself to be facing, again, one final possibility of dealing with a growing threat. The last time Russia thought itself in this position, it acted.

During the lead-up to Russia’s invasion, Western leaders understandably assured their citizens that they would not be drawn into war with Russia – if Putin found the West more resolved than he anticipated, he just might have been listening to its leaders. But the NATO option remained on the table. NATO, then, effectively told Russia that Ukraine would join NATO the moment an opportunity emerged, but that if Russia attacked now, Ukraine would stand alone. This is under-appreciated in the West.

The Importance of Racial Inclusion in Security Studies

T.V. Paul and Amitav Acharya

As two past presidents of ISA who originally came from the Global South, and who maintain substantial teaching and research links there,[1] we have witnessed the association’s progress in inclusivity. The intellectual perspective on ‘Global IR’ that Acharya has promoted, is increasingly accepted as an approach of significance as evident in scholarship and course inclusions. It was during Paul’s presidency that the Global South Task Force was established. It came out with a number of recommendations which were adopted by the Governing Council at its meeting in San Francisco in March 2018 and its report contains many ideas for racial inclusivity.[2] The recommendations on conference attendance, travel grants, participation in ISA governing bodies, journal submissions/acceptance rates, and training programs by ISA/affiliated sections/caucuses for scholars from the global south were aimed at making ISA more globally-oriented.

ISA implemented some of these proposals. Among them, the Committee on the Status of Engagement with the Global South and the holding of regular regional conferences in global south venues were two concrete achievements. There is also greater discussion within ISA on the need for inclusivity as evident in the efforts by the International Security Studies (ISS) Section. The next step should be a similar effort to improve the status of Blacks and indigenous scholars who are not yet playing a significant role in the discipline. A presidential task force is urgently needed in this area.

User Consent for Data Processing: GDPR as a Paradigmatic Neoliberal Device

Ivan Manokha

Since its entry into force in May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) of the European Union (EU) has acquired the status of a ‘gold standard’ for the protection of personal data, a view that is shared by a myriad of commentators (academics, journalists, IT specialists, civil society activists and think tanks, as well as numerous supervisory authorities). Some observers suggest that the GDPR constitutes the realisation of the idea of a ‘new Magna Carta’ for the web, while yet others argue that it launched a ‘New Digital World Order’ and thereby represents ‘one of the greatest achievements’ of the EU. Such dithyrambic assessments are regularly reinforced by announcements of large fines for non-compliance – at least 963 since 2018 – levied on various corporations, including the biggest tech companies, that are usually highly mediatized, which further bolsters the status of the GDPR as a model mechanism for data protection. In the light of such a widespread acclaim of the GDPR, it is not surprising that it has served as a model for similar legislation in Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Mauritius, Chile, South Africa, Argentina, Kenya and others. Regulations that are seen as coming closest to the benchmark set by the GDPR are characteristically referred to as ‘GDPR-light’ (e.g. the California Consumer Privacy Act or the Swiss Federal Data Protection Act), thereby strengthening the status of the GDPR as an uncontested world standard.

The Impact of the Rise of Islamic Extremism on Civil-Military Relations in Indonesia

Yeo Qin-Liang

Since the beginning of Jokowi’s presidency in 2014, the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) has become more involved in civilian affairs. This is marked by the appointment of retired TNI officers into Jokowi’s cabinet, increased reliance on the TNI’s territorial command system, and the opening of more positions for TNI officers in ministries and state institutions.[1]

Scholars point to the motivation and ability of the TNI in explaining this trend. The TNI wants to strengthen its political influence over state legislation and policies to safeguard its material interests.[2] TNI officers also tenaciously hold onto the mindset that they are the “guardians of the nation”.[3]

Existing literature also highlights the opportunities for the TNI to gain more influence in civilian affairs during Jokowi’s tenure. Jokowi’s lack of familiarity with security and defence affairs, as well as his lack of background from the political and military elite, has made it necessary for him to ally with (present and retired) officers to control the TNI.[4]

Europe's Big Tech Law Is Approved. Now Comes the Hard Part

THE POTENTIAL GOLD standard for online content governance in the EU—the Digital Services Act—is now a reality after the European Parliament voted overwhelmingly for the legislation earlier this week. The final hurdle, a mere formality, is for the European Council of Ministers to sign off on the text in September.

The good news is that the landmark legislation includes some of the most extensive transparency and platform accountability obligations to date. It will give users real control over and insight into the content they engage with, and offer protections from some of the most pervasive and harmful aspects of our online spaces.

The focus now turns to implementation, as the European Commission begins in earnest to develop the enforcement mechanisms. The proposed regime is a complex structure in which responsibilities are shared between the European Commission and national regulators, in this case known as Digital Services Coordinators (DSCs). It will rely heavily on the creation of new roles, expansion of existing responsibilities, and seamless cooperation across borders. What’s clear is that as of now, there simply isn’t the institutional capacity to enact this legislation effectively.

Author Talks: Parag Khanna on the forces creating a new geography of opportunity

In this edition of Author Talks, McKinsey Global Publishing’s Raju Narisetti chats with Parag Khanna, founder and managing partner of FutureMap, about his book Move: The Forces Uprooting Us (Simon & Schuster, October 2021). The globalization scholar looks at the powerful global forces that will cause billions of people to relocate over the next decades. An edited version of the conversation follows.

Why is this topic relevant amid a pandemic with very little movement?

These are not parallel phenomena. In fact, they’re converging, and they’re even colliding. And we don’t have adequate global responses to any of these issues individually, let alone taken together. Even at the national level, very few governments are actually prepared.

The Impact and Implications of China’s Growing Influence in the Middle East

Nadeem Ahmed Moonakal

Amid evolving regional geopolitical tensions and changing security dynamics in the Middle East, Beijing is accentuating its efforts to expand economic relations with regional powers and forge comprehensive strategic partnerships with the Arab world. To date, China has cautiously walked a tightrope in the region to balance between regional rivals. However, its growing presence in the region likely will pull Beijing into wider engagement eventually, especially as the emerging regional security arrangement paves way for newer challenges that would increase the role of regional powers amid U.S. withdrawal.

Beijing’s foreign policy of balancing between rivals and increasing multilateralism has enabled China to deepen its ties with the Middle East. While engaging with the region, China has focused on shared interests, which are largely economic, and has emphasized South-South cooperation. Beijing has maintained a position far from the immediate vulnerabilities of protracted conflicts, but now new challenges are expected as the security arrangement and balance of power in the region will likely change depending on several factors, especially the future of nuclear talks with Iran.

Why South Africa Is in the Dark, Again

Anusha Rathi

South Africa’s national energy utility, Eskom, announced last week that it would extend its rolling blackouts, plunging most South Africans into darkness for more than six or even nine hours a day and leaving the economy, already struggling with a broader unemployment and inflation crisis, on life support.

Eskom, the state-owned monopoly that is responsible for overseeing all stages of electricity provision in the country from generation to distribution, was established in 1923 during the apartheid era and followed a grid system that was designed to serve the country’s white minority. The grid largely bypassed Black areas and, as a result, struggled to meet the country’s rising energy demands over time.

But that’s not the biggest problem. There simply isn’t enough juice. A 1998 government white paper warned about the country’s poor energy planning and predicted that if South Africa did not start building new power plants, it would witness drastic shortages by 2007. The report could not have been more accurate. Often when demand for electricity exceeds supply, energy providers use load-shedding (turning off the lights) to ease the pressure and prevent the collapse of the entire power grid. Eskom started implementing load-shedding in late 2007.

Libya Could Be Putin’s Trump Card

Robert Uniacke

When Wagner Group operative Vladimir Andonov, callsign “Vakha,” was killed fighting in eastern Ukraine in early June, a Ukrainian soldier unknowingly put an end to a string of war crimes stretching to Libya. The Wagner Group is a network of mercenaries operating under the rubric of a Russian private military contractor; as a participant in the Kremlin’s indirect military adventurism from Ukraine, to Syria, to the southern outskirts of Tripoli, Libya’s capital, Andonov had been implicated in extrajudicial killings.

Since entering combat operations in Tripoli in September 2019, Wagner’s presence there has swelled to roughly 2,000 mercenaries, including both Russian fighters and auxiliaries recruited from Syria. Andonov’s trajectory and fate in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine appear to support recent media reports that Wagner has drawn down its presence in Libya, pulling out hundreds of Wagner fighters to fight on Ukrainian battlefields since Russia’s February invasion. These reports have been read as Russia downgrading its global quasi-state, mercenary-led deployments in order to commit fighters like Andonov to its struggling campaign against Ukraine.

Russia’s Choices in Ukraine

David R. Marples

The Russian attack on Ukraine continues remorselessly as cities in the Donbas gradually succumb to the invasion forces. Today Severedonetk and Lysychansk, tomorrow Sloviansk. But what follows? Is there any logical conclusion to this lengthy war? The pattern of the war is notable. It began with fundamental Russian miscalculations about capturing the city of Kyiv and a change of government. The result was significant Russian losses, Russian atrocities in Bucha and other settlements, and a humiliating retreat over the border into Belarus to regroup.

In the south, Russian forces occupied Kherson region, including its main city, and advanced into Zaporizhzhia, and capturing Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Though the local population was cowed, it showed signs of resistance and protests. Just as in the northern Kyiv region, it was plain that there was no support in Ukraine for the Russian invaders. The second phase of the war began in the only area that merited consideration, namely the Donbas, where two separatist regimes have remained in control of its eastern regions since the spring of 2014. Though some pro-Russian sentiment existed prior to the start of the current war, it was never overwhelming and the quasi regimes have remained in power through a combination of force, intimidation, and Russian backing.

What Happened to the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan?

Grant Farr

On Tuesday evening May 17, 2022, a meeting took place in Ankara, Turkey at the home of Abdul Rashid Dostum – the infamous Afghan Uzbek warlord. Attending the meeting were representatives of the Hazara, Uzbek, Turkman, and Tajik ethnic groups. This meeting was to solidify support for the war against the Taliban and to bring international attention to their cause. Most of these leaders represent ethnic minorities in Afghanistan who have suffered under the Pashtun dominated Taliban (Eqbal, 2022). The attendees were mostly former leaders of the resistance against the Taliban in the 1990s. At the Ankara meeting they agreed to form a Supreme Council of National Resistance for the Salvation of Afghanistan (Eqbal, 2022). However, there has been little sustained active resistance to the Taliban to date, except for demonstrations in the major cities, mostly Kabul and Herat, led mostly by women (George, 2022). Could it be that an active resistance to the Taliban rule is currently being organized? And, if so, what role will the Northern Alliance play?

The Old Northern Alliance

When the Taliban captured Kabul the first time in 1996 many non-Pashtun ethnic leaders, mostly from groups in Northern Afghanistan, rebelled against the Taliban rule, forming a resistance movement that became known colloquially as the Northern Alliance. The official name of the alliance was United Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan, in Dari Jabha-yi Muttahid-i Islami-yi Milli barayi Nijat-i Afghanistan. The movement was referred to as the Northern Alliance, because it represented ethnic groups in northern or central Afghanistan, while the Taliban were largely made up of Pashtun tribes from southern Afghanistan.

The Metaphysical “On War”: Is Clausewitz Still Relevant in the 21st Century?

Stefan Noël Hageman

Clausewitz’s On War seemingly finds its continued relevance in the classrooms of military academies around the world (Mierendorff, 2021; Lantis, 2006). With especially US military scholars having turned to Clausewitz after the failures of the Vietnam War, his teachings, though metaphysical in nature, seem to have a concrete impact on actual military tactics (Schwandt, 2019). Describing war as a ‘chameleon’, Karl von Clausewitz’s On War paints a comprehensive philosophical picture of war as more than just a collection of strategies or an extension of politics (Strachan, 2007; Clausewitz, 2008 p. 89).

Answering the question of whether Clausewitz is still relevant in the 21st century, this essay seeks to distinguish between the philosophical use of Clausewitz as a metaphysical theorist of warfare, and the practical Clausewitz being studied almost biblically in military academies around the world. This distinction stems from what Benoît Durieux describes as the dilemma between what Clausewitz saw as the necessity for a philosophical approach to war, and his personal experiences on the Napoleonic battlefields (Durieux, 2007, p. 253). This dilemma is reflected in Clausewitz’s eventual work through what can be perceived as a demarcation between the philosophical and metaphysical side of Clausewitzianism, and the supposed practical relevance of On War in teaching real, concrete military strategy (Schwandt, 2019; Olsen, 2013. p. 13). Through this distinction between the metaphysical Clausewitz and the practical Clausewitz, this essay argues that On War both is and isn’t relevant in 21st-century armed conflict.

Shinzo Abe’s Murder and Japan’s History of Political Assassination

Martin Duffy

The murder on 8 July 2022 of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while campaigning for upcoming elections in the historic city of Nara, shocks both Japan and the world at large. Doctors fought to save Mr Abe’s life, but despite a few moments of consciousness after the shooting, the former PM was described as being continuously comatose during desperate efforts of medical resuscitation. Responding to this apparent act of political violence, PM Fumio Kishida condemned the attack, saying: “It is barbaric…and it cannot be tolerated.” The Fire and Disaster Management Agency had earlier confirmed that Mr Abe had a bullet wound on the right of his neck, and also suffered subcutaneous bleeding under the left part of his chest. Mr Abe was said to be responsive in the minutes after the attack, but the 67-year-old’s situation later deteriorated. Eyewitnesses saw a man firing twice at Mr Abe from behind. Security officers detained the attacker, who made no attempt to run, and seized his weapon – reportedly a handmade gun. The suspect has been identified as Nara resident Tetsuya Yamagami. Local media reports say he is believed to be a former member of Japan’s Maritime Self-Défense Force, and that it was an improvised firearm. Explosives have subsequently been found at the suspect’s home. On Japanese social media, the hashtag, “We want democracy, not violence” was trending, with many social media users expressing their disgust towards the incident.