28 July 2022

Sanctions, Cyber, and Crypto: How Pyongyang Can Exploit the War in Ukraine

Jason Bartlett

According to North Korean state media, Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui recently acknowledged the People’s Republic of Donetsk (PRD) and the People’s Republic of Luhansk (PRL) in eastern Ukraine as independent states. As a result, Kyiv severed diplomatic ties with Pyongyang, citing North Korea’s efforts to undermine the sovereignty of Ukraine on behalf of Moscow.

Located in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the two rebel-controlled territories have significantly contributed to Russian efforts to assert its ideological, political, and military influence over Ukraine for years, with a particularly important role in the ongoing Russian invasion starting in February 2022. Choe expressed Pyongyang’s intent to develop “state-to-state relations with those countries,” following a series of official government statements and convenings seemingly codifying diplomatic relations between the two breakaway states and North Korea.

Foreign Fighters, Foreign Volunteers and Mercenaries in the Ukrainian Armed Conflict

Tanya Mehra LL.M, Abigail Thorley

Shortly after the expanded Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, President Zelensky created the International Legion for the Territorial Defence of Ukraine, and began calling for (foreign) volunteers to join. A special website has been dedicated to assist foreign volunteers to come and support Ukraine. Since the start of the conflict, Ukraine claims that approximately 20,000 individuals have joined the Ukrainian armed forces.

Foreign individuals also joined the Russian side of the conflict. Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced that 16,000 volunteers from the Middle East are ready to support Russia. Foreigners from Chechnya and mercenaries joining the Wagner Group from Syria and Libya are included.

Considering the death sentence imposed on two British and Moroccan fighters pronounced by a pro-Russian court in East Ukraine, and the recent capture of two American fighters in Donetsk, this perspective addresses the legal status of the foreign individuals joining the conflict in Ukraine, and some of the legal and political consequences of this situation. It provides an overview of some of the salient features of international humanitarian law, offers definitions of the terms ‘foreign volunteer’, ‘foreign terrorist fighter’ and ‘mercenary’, explains why these distinctions matter, and explores what lessons can be drawn from conflating or exchanging these different terms.

Sense and Nonsense behind Energy Price Caps

Daniel Gros, Nathalie Tocci

In official circles at the highest level, from the G7 to the European Council, a tense debate is taking place on what to do about spiralling gas and oil prices, which have either broken or have come dangerously close to breaking record territory. In Europe, a special meeting of the European Council on energy was originally scheduled for the fall, but is now being brought forward, while the European Commission is working on an emergency plan to prepare for a complete cut-off of Russian gas. Energy prices dominate the agenda of our leaders.

Yet it is a confused and often confusing debate that is worth unpacking.

The debate at the G7 largely revolves around oil, also because gas is not a problem for the US or Canada. The US and the UK have already blocked all imports of Russian oil. This was relatively easy for them to do as the US does not import significant amounts, and the UK received its oil from other sources anyway.

The De-Globalisation of Oil: Risks and Implications from the Politicisation of Energy Markets

Rafael Ramírez

The EU’s announced ban on Russian oil imports is a strong political measure that will heavily impact international energy markets, restricting the supply of 4.1 million barrels per day (mbd) of oil and derivates to a market which is a net importer of 10.72 mbd.[1]

The EU’s ban, which is due to fully come into effect between December 2022 and February 2023, combined with the US’s previous ban of 600 thousand barrels a day (tbd), means that 4.7 mbd of Russian oil and derivatives are being removed from these high oil consuming markets (35.9 mbd in total). If we add the 1.3 mbd of oil that Iran has stopped producing due to US sanctions reintroduced in 2018, we reach a volume of 6 mbd of oil that is restricted or out of the market due to political decisions.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the unprecedented sanctions and oil ban imposed on Moscow, combined with the previous oil sanctions against Iran, are fast advancing a new geopolitical reality: the de-globalisation of the international oil market.

Spectrum Sharing: Holy Grail or False Hope?

Joe Kane


As the world becomes more wireless, the radio frequencies that carry those wireless signals are becoming more crowded. And while, nowadays, all parties nod along with platitudes about how “there is no greenfield spectrum left,” they often harbor different ideas of what “spectrum sharing” really means. To some, it is the Holy Grail of intensive spectrum use that is now finally backed up by innovative technology that is ready for prime time. For others, it’s a false hope that instead engenders kludgy spectrum arrangements and systems that waste valuable bandwidth.

All agree, however, that the direction we take on spectrum sharing will determine the success or failure of a wireless economy that is only growing faster. This report provides a balanced view of optimistic and pessimistic assessments of spectrum sharing to help observers look realistically at the prospects for sharing and barriers to realizing its more aspirational promises.


Opposition to expansive sharing comes from many quarters, buttressed by the beliefs of hard-line “property rights” conservatives and auto companies eager to protect their special set-asides.1 But among the most active participants are wireless companies that have built their businesses on exclusive licenses. To them, spectrum sharing is troubling: Why mess with the exclusive licensing framework that has become the backbone of the wireless marketplace today? It would be good to get some access to bands currently tied up by federal users, but even that might not be worth it, especially if federal agencies start to demand access to bands currently allocated exclusively to commercial use. Another worry is that if sharing becomes the norm in spectrum allocation, it could become an excuse to stop clearing bands for exclusive use, even as exclusively licensed bands are producing unprecedented value for the global economy.

So far, spectrum sharing seems like a Rorschach test: Each camp sees its view as obvious and the other’s as a dangerous or greedy ploy.

These worries have merit, especially since the rationale for the necessity of sharing is we are out of clearable spectrum, which is not a foregone conclusion. Just because a range of frequencies is used in a particular way today doesn’t mean it will always stay that way. Policymakers have already worked to move incumbents out of certain bands and then auction exclusive licenses—much to the benefit of users of wireless services, not to mention the U.S. Treasury.2 In the 600 MHz band, for example, TV broadcasters, aided by the transition to more efficient digital transmissions, have moved out of their existing channels to make room for mobile services.3 More recently, satellite companies did the same in the C band, taking advantage of advances in compression technology to squeeze the same services into a smaller swath of frequencies.4 Mobile companies would prefer that these kinds of transactions be the goal: Move or compress (or eliminate) existing uses of spectrum to open space for more productive uses. Under this view, sharing frameworks should be viewed as a last resort for bands that are genuinely unable to be cleared.

Moreover, opponents of spectrum sharing may fear that “sharing” is really just a way for potentially interfering users to muscle in and then claim rights to the detriment of incumbents who shelled out billions for exclusivity.5 They are reasonably wary of putting that investment at the mercy of sharing technologies without long track records of successfully preserving the certainty the incumbents paid for.

Proponents of sharing tend to be companies that don’t already hold spectrum licenses or groups that are generally skeptical of spectrum property rights.6 These often include edge companies whose users rely on unlicensed spectrum (e.g., for Wi-Fi). From their point of view, incumbents have nothing to complain about, since the premise of most dynamic spectrum sharing regimes is for primary users, such as incumbent mobile carriers, to be permitted to keep their existing rights.7 All sharing does, from their viewpoint, is allow others to use a band when and where the incumbent isn’t using it. This would result in more intensive use of spectrum, which is not only desirable but necessary as the airwaves become crowded. Sharing proponents point to dynamic sharing regimes such as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the 3.5 GHz band as a success story. 8 Indeed, large telecommunications providers are relying on CBRS for commercial networks.9 Therefore, sharing proponents view something like the CBRS model as ripe for application in other bands as a way to get commercial wireless capacity without having to wrestle it out of the hands of incumbents, especially politically troublesome government agencies.


So far, then, spectrum sharing seems like a Rorschach test: Each camp sees its view as obvious and the other’s as a dangerous or greedy ploy. Some recent writings on spectrum sharing can help add light to this disagreement and point the way to productive dialogue.
Sharing Optimists

First, a recent paper by John Leibovitz and Ruth Milkman provides a helpful taxonomy of sharing regimes by examining different sharing technologies alongside both centralized and decentralized methods of implementing them.10

A helpful feature of their analysis is their reframing of normal terminology that opposes “sharing” and “exclusivity.”11 This dichotomy is often false, since many sharing regimes reserve some users’ right to exclude harmful interference by others. “Exclusivity” is a relative term; exclusive rights mean the right to exclude someone else’s interfering activities. For example, in the CBRS band, holders of Priority Access Licenses (PALs) have the right to exclude General Authorized Access (GAA) when PAL users wish to transmit.12 Meanwhile, the Navy has the right to exclude both PAL and GAA users when it wishes to use its radar systems.

From this perspective, it is logically and legally sensible to implement a sharing regime in which incumbent licensees’ exclusivity rights are preserved. Admittedly, this does mean that a licensee might not always have the right to exclude the whole world, but it is not obvious that exclusivity as to any other use by anyone else in the world is always the most productive arrangement of rights. Spectrum is not really a thing that exists to be fenced off like a piece of land.13 The most efficient way to allocate the right to transmit electromagnetic radiation at a particular frequency, place, and time may not be to build the highest and strongest possible fence.

While property rights have clear benefits, they are not a goal in themselves. They are a tool to solve problems, such as the tragedy of the commons.14 But if the resource we are allocating is more productive without absolute rights, then we should not insist on more “property rights” for their own sake. Property rights should be employed insofar as they have net benefits over an alternative arrangement.

This is not to say that incumbents have no interest in the right to exclude uses that do not interfere now but. But protecting possible future deployments is not the same as per se exclusion of all others from the band for its own sake. Prospective exclusion (i.e., that which bars any opportunistic use even when it does not interfere with the incumbent) is one way to protect future interests, but if technological methods were able to oust opportunistic users reliably when the holder of exclusive rights sought to make further deployments, that would also protect the incumbent’s interest and would allow for more intensive spectrum use in the meantime. That would be an instance in which a “property” style arrangement is less efficient than sharing. In short, exclusivity need not be defined in terms of a walled-off range of frequencies. Exclusivity is a relationship between users, and it can be created by technology, policy, or both.

The most efficient way to allocate the right to transmit electromagnetic radiation at a particular frequency, place, and time may not be to build the highest and strongest possible fence.

Another helpful framing device in Leibovitz and Milkman’s paper is their discussion of sharing in terms of frequency reuse, but they may overemphasize its implementation via regulation at the expense of its widespread application under exclusive licenses.15 They do not discuss how cellular networks, for example, already facilitate widespread and efficient frequency reuse (sharing) today, explaining that they want to talk about sharing “across these different kinds of spectrum authorization regimes.”16 But while that is understandable as a way of differentiating types of sharing policies within the taxonomy of a whitepaper, it would risk assuming the conclusions of sharing advocates if used as an exclusive guide to policy: We only need to share between different government-imposed authorization regimes if we assume multiple such regimes exist within one band, as opposed to unified applications under a common authorization regime such that sharing can be managed by an exclusive licensee.

For example, perhaps the Department of Defense (DOD) is using a bespoke communications application that would interfere with mobile 5G service if it were added to a particular band. But if that application could be made to run on a 5G network, the uses could be harmonized without the need for a regulatorily imposed sharing regime and the costs (both in money and spectral efficiency) that entails. Indeed, right now, people throughout the country use their mobile carriers’ frequencies for diverse functions—such as watching HD video or making phone calls—without any third-party database or environmental sensing needed to reconcile the different applications.17

Sharing Pessimists

On the other end of the scale are sharing pessimists. Wireless technology analyst Peter Rysavy, for one, has been skeptical of the viability of current sharing regimes as normally understood.18 He emphasizes that, in practice, sharing regimes often come with a host of restrictions that reduce the productivity of the shared band and increase the complexity of using it. In the CBRS band, for example, the sharing arrangement necessitates power limits 327 times lower than those in the exclusively licensed C band.19 Rysavy’s concern is that spectrum sharing ends up being a “series of compromises” that are kludgy even for the band that they are designed to operate in.20 Such frameworks are even less generalizable throughout many bands, as proponents of spectrum sharing sometimes imply.

Still, Rysavy’s practical criticism of sharing is not that it cannot work but that it does not work yet. His critique is compatible with a view that new technologies could create a more workable and generalizable solution that will make the existing Environmental Sensing Capability (ESC), the detection system which itself uses valuable bandwidth and needs interference protection, look primitive. Rysavy is again skeptical, since one promising development on this front—the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA’s) Incumbent Informing Capability—is a long-term project with inadequate funding.21 Here, however, a counsel of despair is unwarranted: If viable sharing technologies are on the horizon but underfunded, policymakers can do something about that. In sum, it may be that potentially viable future sharing technologies are possible but aren’t yet ready for wide deployment.


Sharing optimists also have compelling points to make about how clever technological sharing regimes could dramatically increase the overall capacity of radio frequency and lead to a future of spectrum abundance. That is a goal worth pursuing. But the technological allure of sharing regimes should not be taken for an imperative to implement them as soon as possible. There are good economic reasons to prefer a unified private controller of a band on which many types of services (government and commercial) can operate. No matter how good a regulatory sharing policy is, it is likely to be less efficient than not sharing because sharing regimes are not costless to operate. Fundamentally, spectrum sharing technologies are trying to solve a problem of externalities: Different potential users of a given frequency in the same time and place will lead to rampant harmful interference such that, like cows overgrazing a commonly held field, the value of the spectrum is diminished. Private control of the band internalizes that externality: A mobile carrier, for example, has the incentive to maximize the capacity of its network and, therefore, must use its rights as efficiently as possible and not allow too much interference.

Acknowledging these trade-offs and emphasizing the need for significant technological advances before sharing is universally preferable is a more practical approach than lionizing today’s sharing regimes as the prepared-to-go model for the future.

While the government can attempt to design and operate a sharing regime that is in the interest of the public at large, it cannot internalize the externalities of harmful interference. This means potential users cannot fully trust each other absent technological protocols and enforcement mechanisms—which themselves require monetary outlays and access to radio frequencies that will always impose additional costs above similar mechanisms in an exclusively licensed band in which the licensee has aligned incentives.

To be sure, converting all potential uses to be compatible with a private network operator, including necessary reliability and security requirements, will often be a technical challenge in and of itself. Private licensing of every band is not a panacea, but policymakers should not allow bureaucratic inertia to force their hands into relying on inefficient or unreliable sharing technologies as the only alternative.

Overall, therefore, sharing pessimists also have a valid point that sharing is not a free lunch. Given current technology, we cannot get all the benefits of exclusive licenses, either in terms of quality of service or long-term investment by the wireless industry, without the purportedly intractable challenge of clearing incumbents out of a band. Acknowledging these trade-offs and emphasizing the need for significant technological advances before sharing is universally preferable is a more practical approach than lionizing today’s sharing regimes as the prepared-to-go model for the future.


The current spectrum sharing landscape is one of promising ideas and technologies that require further investment to be generalizable solutions. It would be a mistake to take, for example, the CBRS sharing framework as it currently exists and impose it as a model for application in every band from now on. But while the technological barriers to maximally efficient spectrum use and sharing remain, overcoming those barriers is a worthwhile and necessary endeavor. Therefore, the federal government and private sector should focus their money and talents on technological progress in the following four areas.

First, we should reject the spectrum nihilism that says we’re out of spectrum that is or could be cleared. Advances in compression technologies have enabled the clearing of bands that have now become valuable tentpoles of the wireless marketplace. Both private and government spectrum users should therefore invest in compression technologies. This can be incentivized by making clear that licensees that manage to clear a currently encumbered band would be able to reap the profits of selling or using its capacity. Research of compression technologies should also be the subject of direct appropriations, such as those now allocated to research arms of NTIA. While recent efforts to fund additional research in this area have focused on sharing systems themselves, technologies that could forestall the need for sharing are just as important—and often preferable.

The current spectrum sharing landscape is one of promising ideas and technologies that require further investment to be generalizable solutions.

Second, industry and government should take inventory of current applications that are using bespoke systems, especially in federally controlled bands, in order to develop ways to make them run on commercial networks. Commercial mobile operators have both the ability and incentive to build services secure enough for critical federal missions, and the government could then benefit from private sector investments in infrastructure and technological development rather than having to build an ad hoc system for a particular agency. Government agencies routinely buy everything from pencils to buildings from the private sector. Adding wireless services to the list should be considered a primary solution, preferable to rigging up an ad hoc system that has difficulty coexisting with commercial neighbors.

For example, the current efforts to evaluate DOD uses of the lower 3 GHz band should not simply find ways to squeeze in 5G networks around current DOD services. The department should also try to migrate services onto those 5G networks that can provide the same reliability and security while internalizing interference externalities that would otherwise cause clashing protocols to diminish the overall capacity and efficiency of the band.

Third, research and development of more direct sharing technologies for bands where clearing is genuinely impossible should be expanded. These efforts must, however, continue to raise the bar for the reliability and real-time nature of their systems. The wireless industry has thrived due to immense private investments, which in turn depend on the certainty that the spectrum capacity a company buys will be available whenever it is needed, free from harmful interference. Ensuring that sharing technologies provide a similar level of certainty is a key requirement for the long-run viability of spectrum sharing. NTIA’s proposed Incumbent Informing Capability (ICC) is promising in this regard.22 The pending State Measurement for Accountable, Responsive, and Transparent Government (SMART) Act would provide a substantial boost to this process, and Congress should ensure the ICC gets the funding it needs to reach maturity.23 Also, the National Science Foundation’s Spectrum and Wireless Innovation enabled by Future Technologies (SWIFT) program is soliciting “new concepts and ideas” for “effective spectrum utilization and/or coexistence.”24 Funding for these types of efforts, as well as continued investment from the private sector, will help lay the technological groundwork for the sharing-first future that sharing optimists envision.

Finally, there should be greater transparency and usability in databases of current spectrum allocations, as more researchers and inventors would be able to contribute their talents to solving spectrum problems if the current state of the wireless ecosystem were more knowable. An updated Universal Licensing System, to replace the Federal Communications Commission’s current user-unfriendly version, would be useful here.25 In parallel, an actively updated inventory of federal spectrum would provide policymakers and the public greater transparency into where opportunities for sharing exist.

Spectrum policymakers would be choosing poorly if they invest too much hope in today’s spectrum-sharing technologies. But our wishes for more intensive and efficient spectrum use through technological advancement need not become kludgy or wasteful if the private and public sectors invest vigorously in its development.

Social Media Misinformation and the Prevention of Political Instability and Mass Atrocities

Kristina Hook · Ernesto Verdeja


Social media’s enormous impact is unmistakable. Facebook sees approximately 300 million new photos uploaded daily, while six thousand Tweets are sent every second.1 The most popular YouTube channels receive over 14 billion views weekly,2 while the messaging app Telegram boasts over 500 million users.3 Social media platforms connect people across societies, facilitating information sharing in ways unimaginable only two decades ago. The manipulation of social media platforms has also spread widely, and such platforms have been used to promote instability, spread political conflict, and call for violence. Researchers believe that organized social media misinformation campaigns have operated in at least 81 countries, a trend that continues to grow yearly, with a sizable number of manipulation efforts by states and private corporations.4

We argue that a wide range of actors connected to the instability and atrocity prevention community must incorporate emerging issues linked to social media misinformation (SMM), and we provide recommendations for doing so. A simple but disturbing truth confronts diverse professions whose work pertains to atrocity prevention: misinformation can rapidly shapeshift across topics, but only a few narratives need to take hold to erode trust in facts and evidentiary standards. Taking advantage of the dense, extensive social interconnections across social media platforms, actors can launch numerous falsehoods, accusations, and conspiracies and observe which narratives take hold. As a growing part of contemporary asymmetric conflict, malicious actors — whether foreign or domestic state actors, parastatal groups, or non-state actors — determine when, where, and how often to attack. Defenders, which include targeted governments, civil society organizations, tech corporations, media outlets, and others, must prioritize where to focus and how to respond. The nature of this asymmetry means that defenders find themselves in a reactive crouch. The quantity, speed, and increasing sophistication of misinformation pose profound challenges for instability and atrocity prevention stakeholders.

Drone Warfare in Ukraine: Understanding the Landscape

Elias Yousif


For more than a decade, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) were the lethal purview of the great powers, deployed by only a handful of countries, and typically used outside conventional battlefields to limit the exposure of troops, overcome challenging topographies, or create a low-risk option for involvement in a conflict. However, drone technology and use has proliferated and become a staple of armed conflicts across the globe. From Nagorno-Karabakh, to Libya, Iraq, Nigeria, and beyond UAVs are being employed in conventional and unconventional battlefields by state actors, non-state insurgent groups, terrorist groups and criminal gangs, and individuals.

The war in Ukraine has seen widespread drone usage and as the United States considers expanding the arsenal of UAVs it provides to Kyiv, the strategic and tactical implications of these systems are worth considering.

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.

Europe in 2030: Boosting public-private cooperation in hybrid crises

Effective policies result from fully-informed answers to the right ‘what-if’ questions. In a world characterized by complex challenges that cross and blur borders, it has never been more vital to make sure these ‘what-if’ questions are asked to the right people, thereby ensuring that all sectors of government and society are prepared to face the wide range of threats affecting our security.

The future challenge of emerging and disruptive technologies and their impact on our shared security requires us to look into the future and ask the right questions to ensure we are prepared for it. By bringing together key stakeholders to work through the implications of these future challenges and our responses to them in crisis situations, we can clarify roles and responsibilities and identify what laws, policies, cooperative mechanisms, and plans we’ll need to have in place to ensure the health and security of our societies. The 2022 edition of Friends of Europe’s tabletop simulation exercise will explore how governments, institutions and the private sector work together in a hybrid threat crisis set in the year 2030.

The German Industrial Power in Danger: The Double Shock of Energy Transition and Geopolitical Risk

The German manufacturing industry at the heart of the German economic activity has been confronted in the past years with conjunctural shocks, which question its existence on the German territory: the energy transition which hinders it in the short term to resort to fossile energy from Germany and nuclear energy; a questioning of fossile energy imports from Russia which keeps production sites of fossile energy and nuclear energy in Germany; the currently small capacity of renewable energy to satisfy the important energy needs of the manufacturing industry and the putting into place of alternatives to the importation of energy resources.

If the European political pressure and geopolitical crisis with Russia were to perdure and / or grow, energy-intense industries could lead to partial or total closures of emblematic production sites and to the definitive departure from the German soil. The current coalition in Germany which united on a program of energy transition acceleration is brutally confronted with the challenge of an unprecedented industrial and geopolitical reality.

US and Taliban make progress on Afghan reserves, but big gaps remain

Charlotte Greenfield and Jonathan Landay

KABUL/WASHINGTON, July 26 (Reuters) - U.S. and Taliban officials have exchanged proposals for the release of billions of dollars from Afghan central bank reserves held abroad into a trust fund, three sources familiar with the talks said, offering a hint of progress in efforts to ease Afghanistan's economic crisis.

Significant differences between the sides remain, however, according to two of the sources, including the Taliban's refusal to replace the bank's top political appointees, one of whom is under U.S. sanctions as are several of the movement's leaders.

Some experts said such a move would help restore confidence in the institution by insulating it from interference by the Islamist militant group that seized power a year ago but which foreign governments do not recognise.

U.S. Officials Grow More Concerned About Potential Action by China on Taiwan

Edward Wong, David E. Sanger and Amy Qin

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has grown increasingly anxious this summer about China’s statements and actions regarding Taiwan, with some officials fearing that Chinese leaders might try to move against the self-governing island over the next year and a half — perhaps by trying to cut off access to all or part of the Taiwan Strait, through which U.S. naval ships regularly pass.

The internal worries have sharpened in recent days, as the administration quietly works to try to dissuade House Speaker Nancy Pelosi from going through with a proposed visit to Taiwan next month, U.S. officials say. Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, would be the first speaker to visit Taiwan since 1997, and the Chinese government has repeatedly denounced her reported plans and threatened retaliation.

‘I Never Had To Look Up’ Before: Top U.S. Special Ops General On Drone Threat


The head of U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. Army Gen. Richard Clarke, recently highlighted the threat that various tiers of unmanned aircraft pose to U.S. forces deployed overseas, as well as to military and other targets abroad and within the United States. He further underscored that these dangers are only likely to grow and diversify as time goes on. Clarke added that finding ways to "defeat" hostile drones before they're ever launched, including finding ways to restrict access to key supply chains and build international consensus about the risks of proliferation and other issues, will be just as important as developing systems to actually knock them out of the sky.

Clarke offered his perspective on the ever-growing drone threat and how to respond to it last Friday at the annual Aspen Security Forum, hosted by the Aspen Institute think tank. The general spoke alongside Sen. Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican who is currently her party's ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee's Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, and Rep. Jason Crow, a Colorado Democrat who sits on the House Committee on Armed Services and the House Intelligence Committee.

NATO Is a Luxury Good the United States Doesn’t Need

Justin Logan

For decades, the most widely held belief in the Washington foreign-policy establishment has been that NATO is tremendously valuable to the United States. As former U.S. diplomat William Burns wrote in his memoir, even the expansion of the alliance “stayed on autopilot as a matter of U.S. policy, long after its fundamental assumptions should have been reassessed. Commitments originally meant to reflect interests morphed into interests themselves.” Being a NATO skeptic in Washington is like being a middle-aged white guy at a Bad Bunny concert. On both counts, take it from me: You feel out of place.

As Burns suggests, one thing that happens with unexamined consensus is that arguments in its favor fail to be sharpened by contact with their opponents. Kathleen J. McInnis has thankfully stepped into the breach, offering Foreign Policy readers an argument that Americans still need NATO.


Google – one of the largest and most influential organizations in the modern world – is filled with ex-CIA agents. Studying employment websites and databases, MintPress has ascertained that the Silicon Valley giant has recently hired dozens of professionals from the Central Intelligence Agency in recent years. Moreover, an inordinate number of these recruits work in highly politically sensitive fields, wielding considerable control over how its products work and what the world sees on its screens and in its search results.

Chief amongst these is the trust and safety department, whose staff, in the words of then Google trust and safety vice president Kristie Canegallo, “[d]ecide what content is allowed on our platform” – in other words, setting the rules of the internet, determining what billions see and what they do not see. Before Google, Canegallo had been President Obama’s Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Implementation and is currently Chief of Staff at the Department of Homeland Security.

Guterres Has a Lot Riding on the Ukraine Deal

Richard Gowan

Last week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in Istanbul for what he described as “probably the most important” event of his tenure at the U.N. to date. He visited Turkey for the signing of agreements by Russia and Ukraine that are meant to allow agricultural shipments to resume from Black Sea ports, helping to alleviate a growing global food crisis. While Turkish officials played a major part in these talks, Guterres has been personally involved in the negotiations “every day” since April. This initiative may come to be considered a turning point in his career as the U.N.’s top official.

There is still a good chance the deal, known as the Black Sea Initiative, will fall apart. Under the deal, Moscow agreed to ease its wartime blockade of Ukraine’s ports in return for Western steps to facilitate its own agricultural exports. But on Saturday—just one day after Russian and Ukrainian officials signed the treaties—Russia fired four missiles at Odessa, the Ukrainian port at the center of the deal. At best, this looked like a signal from Moscow that it will not allow the grain deal to hamper its military operations. The bargain could prove to be a dead letter.

Europe’s war economy gets real


At the last scheduled meeting of European commissioners before the summer recess on Wednesday, Brussels technocrats will attempt their most far-reaching power grab yet seen in 2022: the right to impose mandatory gas rationing on the bloc's 27 member countries.

As citizens from Portugal to Poland swelter and perish in record-breaking heat, their governments are being asked to sign over their right to energy sovereignty in six days. The measures are being rushed through using emergency protocols, which mean no country will be able to veto the plan and the European Parliament will have no say.

Such extraordinary steps show just how close European countries have come to the edge of what is viable as a consequence of their actions to support Ukraine against Russia's invading forces. With inflation already spiking across the region, in part driven by war-induced market disruption, the EU's fight with Russia over gas is set to test the bloc's resolve to the limit. The economic hit may only just be beginning.

The Hope and Fear of the Sri Lankan Protest Movement

Last week, protesters in Colombo stormed the residence of Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the President of Sri Lanka, who had fled the country and later resigned over e-mail. After months of rising prices and dwindling supplies of food and medicine, discontent in Sri Lanka has reached a fever pitch. (Rajapaksa’s brother, the Prime Minister, also resigned.) The country now faces a period of uncertainty, but also opportunity. It must navigate out of the current economic and political crises just a dozen years after the end of its brutal civil war, when, in 2009, the government, led by the Rajapaksa brothers, defeated a decades-long insurgency by the Tamil Tigers. (On Wednesday, Sri Lankan lawmakers voted to replace Rajapaksa with Ranil Wickremesinghe, an establishment figure whose house had already been set on fire by protesters. Two days later, security forces raided the main protest camp. Wickremesinghe said the uprising had been infiltrated by fascists.)

I recently spoke about the situation, by phone, with Ahilan Kadirgamar, a political economist at the University of Jaffna. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed the causes of the current crisis, the legacy of the Sri Lankan civil war, and where the protests might go from here.

Are the Fancy New Weapons We’re Sending Ukraine Really a “Game Changer”?


The big news coming out of the war in Ukraine this past month is President Biden’s shipment of a high-tech weapon called HiMARS. It’s been touted as a “very significant factor” on the battlefield, a “game-changer” that has greatly “slowed down the Russian advance.” Is this truth or hype? And what is HiMARS anyway?

On the most basic level, the weapon—first deployed by the U.S. Army in 2005—is what its acronym, fully spelled out, indicates: a High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System. What makes it unlike most artillery rockets—and much more lethal than what the Ukrainian army has had in its arsenal up until now—is that it can fire a wide variety of rockets as far as 50 miles, and, thanks to its GPS guidance system, the rockets can hit their targets with remarkable precision, landing and exploding no more than two to three meters away.

Secret Or Reality: Can Aramco Produce 15 Million Barrels A Day?

Wael Mahdi

I guess by now we all know that Saudi Arabia will not raise its production capacity beyond 13 million barrels a day by 2027 after the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman made it clear in his address during the regional summit this month that was attended by US President Joe Biden.

“The Kingdom will contribute to this field to increase its production capacity to 13 million barrels per day, and after that the Kingdom will not have any additional ability to increase production,” the Crown Prince said.

To many who are still under the influence of what Matt Simmons wrote 17 years ago in his book “Twilight in the Desert”, the Saudi statement was a testament to the argument laid in the book that Saudi Arabia can’t rescue the world anymore as its oil fields are aging and reaching a peak.

Are Violent Populist Agitations A Panacea For Socio-Political Problems?

P. K. Balachandran

Disruptive and violent populist movements have undoubtedly registered successes, ending oppressive regimes and giving the dumb millions a voice to express dissent forcefully. But in the long run, these movements have delivered only partially and that too, briefly, literature on the subject shows.

The question that is in the minds of observers of the Sri Lankan populist violent movement to get the President and Prime Minister (called Aragalaya in Sinhalese) is: Will it go the way of similar movements in other countries in the past or will it have a lasting salutary effect?

The Fate of Similar Movements

An examination of the “Arab Spring” movement and the French Revolution will show that the chaotic conditions created by such movements have eventually, if not immediately, led to the establishment of dictatorships either of individuals or groups. They have also aroused primordial sentiments of ethnicity and religion. Despite loud claims about their efficacy, violent populist movements have not been a panacea for the ills of society.

Will India Try Again for a Military Base in Seychelles?

Dennis Hardy

News that China is considering a military base in Madagascar puts in question India’s failure, so far, to secure its own presence on the remote Seychelles island of Assumption. If China goes ahead with its plan, what are the options for India?

Both China and India have a common desire to strengthen their military capacity in the southwestern Indian Ocean. As competing Asian powers, they are drawn by the strategic importance of the Mozambique Channel. Shipping that makes its way to and from the Atlantic, around the southern tip of Africa, follows a natural course between the large island of Madagascar and the southeast African coastline. This is not only a busy thoroughfare now, but it also offers an option if, for any reason, the shorter route to Europe and North America through the Suez Canal is blocked. For China, with its new port facilities in Pakistan and land routes to the Indian Ocean, there is the added incentive of this route as a way to sustain its traffic in the event of a disruption to the Strait of Malacca.

The Great Rewiring: How Global Supply Chains Are Reacting to Today’s Geopolitics

Sujai Shivakumar, Gregory Arcuri and Charles Wessner

Global supply chains, particularly in technologies of strategic value, are undergoing a remarkable reevaluation as geopolitical events and trends weigh on the minds of decisionmakers across government and industry. The rise of an aggressive and revisionist China, a devastating global pandemic, the disruptive churn of technological advancement, and—most recently—Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are prompting a dramatic rethinking of the value of lean, globally distributed supply chains. Efficiency is now being recast in terms of reliable and resilient supply chains that are better adapted to emerging geopolitical uncertainties rather than purely on the basis of lowest cost. Given its globalized operations, the semiconductor industry is at the forefront of these challenges. How it responds may well set the tone and pace for economic cooperation and globalization in the twenty-first century.
End of the “Washington Consensus”

To many, the end of the Cold War heralded the triumph of open societies and democratic institutions, allowing for efficiencies that could be realized from the globalization of production. The potential for this globalization was secured through a commitment to common international governance structures and a shared recognition among policymakers in the United States, Europe, East Asia, Latin America and elsewhere on the value of a general liberalization of global trade and the relaxation of state control over national economies. The so-called Washington Consensus emerged as the byword for a new age where economic efficiency and specialization were paramount and supply chains that spanned previously intractable geopolitical fault lines were now searching for lower costs in wage and other inputs across the globe.

CNO Seeks Not Just Interoperability But Interchangeability With Foreign Militaries


ABOARD THE USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN IN THE PACIFIC OCEAN—The U.S. Navy’s top officer is setting a new bar for coalition operations: not just interoperability, but interchangeability. One key to that is understanding exactly what each warship and navy is capable of—and how they themselves assess it.

So as Adm. Mike Gilday flew from ship to ship during last week’s Rim of the Pacific exercise off Hawaii, the chief of naval operations asked commanders “how they seek real-time feedback for the forces that they command, from all the nations.”

“In other words, what I'm interested in is ships being honest with themselves, no matter what country they're operating from, in terms of what their strengths are, and what their weaknesses are. What they need to sustain and what they need to work on,” Gilday told Defense One after visiting the carrier Abraham Lincoln and Japan’s Izumo helicopter carrier on Friday. And, he said, “I use the word interchangeability a lot with allies and partners, because that's what I want them to aspire to. And what I mean by that…is that an ally or partner, their ships can fill an operational role just as well as a U.S. ship can.”

The problem with ‘great power competition’

Ishaan Tharoor

Over the past half decade in Washington, an old concept has taken new and even bipartisan life. Republicans, Democrats, liberal interventionists and old-school neoconservatives all proclaim that we are now plunged into an era of “great power competition,” harking back to the tense decades of imperial rivalries on the European continent that ended up reshaping the world in the early years of the 20th century.

In the current context, the new competition seems to be clear: China looms first and foremost in American crosshairs, with Russia a lesser threat that is posing bigger problems following its invasion of Ukraine. The bulk of Washington’s foreign policy establishment view the United States’ interests and goals on the world stage through the lens of these rivalries.

But that’s not the wisest way to see things, argues Ali Wyne, senior analyst at the Eurasia Group. His new book — “America’s Great-Power Opportunity: Revitalizing U.S. Foreign Policy to Meet the Challenges of Strategic Competition” — makes the case that while “interstate competition is a characteristic of world affairs,” it does not need to become “a blueprint for foreign policy.” Indeed, when you let anti-Chinese or anti-Russian agendas drive your own, it gives these putative adversaries outsize influence over your own decision-making, he argues.

How Unmanned Warships Might Provide A New Paradigm For Naval Shipbuilding

Loren Thompson

The U.S. Navy is operating or developing nearly a dozen different unmanned sea vehicles for use in maritime security operations. Some of the vehicles operate on the ocean’s surface, and others beneath it. Some are no bigger than torpedoes and must be launched by larger vessels, while others are autonomous, robotic warships.

Pursuit of unmanned sea systems is not a new endeavor for the Navy. The Office of Naval Research recognized their potential decades ago, and smaller systems have been used in mine countermeasures for many years.

The defense department has been experimenting for seven years with a transoceanic, unmanned surface warship called Sea Hunter developed by LeidosLDOS +1.5%. BoeingBA -1% is preparing to deliver the first of five extra-large unmanned submarines dubbed Orca that can operate at unprecedented depths. Both vehicles are capable of performing multiple warfighting missions.

Scottish Independence and the Risk of ‘Unenlightened Secession’

Alexander Brotman

As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has set the date for a second Scottish independence referendum in October 2023, many battles with Westminster are just beginning. The vote will only proceed if it is considered legal by the UK Supreme Court, an outcome which is not guaranteed. Sturgeon is taking a great gamble in forging ahead with a vote that will likely not have London’s approval, basing it on her perception of the breakdown in democratic standards by the now-departing Johnson government and the unique circumstances that have changed Scotland’s perspective on independence and its place in Europe since the Brexit vote. For Sturgeon, the renewal of democracy in Scotland is paramount, and as her second paper outlining the case for independence explains, that can only be achieved through independence. The paradox is that for Westminster, Sturgeon’s push looks fundamentally anti-democratic and authoritarian, the whims of a nationalist-minded state that shows little regard for the laws of the union that it is still a member of.

Russia building a satellite-blinding laser weapon


Russia is building a new ground-based laser facility for interfering with satellites orbiting overhead, according to a recent report in The Space Review. The basic idea would be to dazzle the optical sensors of other nations’ spy satellites by flooding them with laser light.

Laser technology has evolved to the point where this type of anti-satellite defense is plausible, though there is limited evidence of any nation successfully testing such a laser.

If the Russian government is able to build the laser, it would be capable of shielding a large part of the country from the view of satellites with optical sensors. The technology also sets the stage for the more ominous possibility of laser weapons that can permanently disable satellites.

Germany’s Economy Is Carried on the Rhine’s Shrinking Back

Elisabeth Braw

“Deep river, my home is over Jordan,” the eponymous spiritual goes. The Jordan River, alas, is not very deep anymore: In recent decades, it has lost a massive 90 percent of its flow thanks to dams and other constructions and now climate change. And it’s not the only flowing torrent that’s now more of a trickle. In the Rhine, the artery of large chunks of European industry, water levels are now so low that global supply chains are under threat. That’s another wake-up call—because if the world is to tackle climate change, we need to move cargo from polluting road traffic to climate-friendly rivers.

This week, the Rhine’s water level near the picturesque town of Kaub—which all ships traveling to the industry-heavy southwest of Germany need to pass through—reached a mere 0.7 meters (2.3 feet). That’s far below the 1.2 meters (3.9 feet) most river ships require as their bare minimum and still under the 0.78-meter mark below which a river is classified as low-water.

Fact: Americans Are Fighting And Dying In Ukraine

Steve Balestrieri

Ukraine War Update: Two Americans KIA In Ukraine, Russia Trying To Win Support in Africa, Middle East – Two Americans who were fighting in Ukraine as part of a Special Operations unit that was part of the Territorial Defense of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were killed in action this week after getting ambushed during an operation.

Also killed was a Canadian and Swedish citizen, according to their Ukrainian commander, who gave an exclusive interview to Politico.

Americans Killed in Ukraine

The Americans killed were Luke “Skywalker” Lucyszyn and Bryan Young. Ruslan Miroshnichenko, the Ukrainian commander, said they were killed along with Emile-Antoine Roy-Sirois of Canada and Edvard Selander Patrignani of Sweden.

The Global Food Crisis Shouldn’t Have Come As a Surprise

Christopher B. Barrett

The world’s agricultural and food systems face a perfect storm. Overlapping crises, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, wars in Ukraine and elsewhere, supply chain bottlenecks for both inputs like fertilizer and outputs like wheat, and natural disasters induced by climate change have together caused what the United Nations has called “the greatest cost-of-living crisis in a generation.” World leaders cannot afford to ignore this unfolding catastrophe: rapidly increasing food prices not only cause widespread human suffering but also threaten to destabilize the political and social order. Already, along with skyrocketing energy costs, surging food prices have helped bring about the collapse of the Sri Lankan government.

But storms are increasingly predictable, and severe damage from them is therefore increasingly preventable. This is true of the current food crisis as well as extreme weather events. Political and business leaders have for too long ignored key fissures such as insufficient safety net coverage and lags in agricultural and policy innovations that leave agri-food systems—and the billions of people whose lives or livelihoods depend on them—vulnerable to the effects of other calamities. If the global response to the current food emergency likewise neglects these critical points, it may inadvertently exacerbate underlying problems, worsen and prolong unnecessary human suffering, and accelerate the arrival of the next perfect storm. Conversely, serious efforts to address not only the current crisis but also the long-standing issues that have helped cause it could move the world toward healthier, more equitable, resilient, and sustainable agri-food systems. World leaders and international organizations have a chance to make food emergencies and widespread acute hunger problems of the past; they must not let this crisis go to waste.