31 July 2022


Josh Cheatham

During a recent hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Senator Angus King had a brief, but frank, exchange with Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines over the intelligence community’s difficulty in assessing a military’s will to fight compared to more material aspects of warfare. As King, himself, put it, “I realize will to fight is a lot harder to assess than number of tanks or volume of ammunition.” King then suggested that the intelligence community’s struggle to assess will to fight in Ukraine was responsible for the inaccurate assessment that Kyiv would fall in three days, followed by all of Ukraine in two weeks.

King indicated that he hoped the intelligence community was “doing some soul-searching,” and asked what was being done to improve assessments on will to fight. In response, DNI Haines informed Senator King that a process was already underway at the National Intelligence Council to address assessments of will, adding that it was a topic “quite challenging to provide effective analysis on and we’re looking at different methodologies for doing so.”

The West must focus on the threat to Taiwan

Speaking in Washington DC yesterday, Britain’s National Security Adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove warned that Russia's invasion of Ukraine is part of a wider struggle over what the post-Cold War international order will look like. The West must resolutely stand up against the growing threats posed by regional powers, including China, pursuing their own “might is right” agendas. Taiwan’s armed forces have spent this week simulating their response to an invasion from mainland China. The war games are an annual event intended to remind Beijing of the price it would pay if it were to attack the island. These are set against a backdrop of rising tension that Western governments need to take seriously.

The threat to Taiwan from China has persisted since Chiang Kai-shek fled to the former Formosa after defeat in the civil war in 1949 and established his Republic of China in exile, a state that only a few countries in the world – not the United States or the UK – recognise as an independent nation. The Chinese Communist Party has been determined ever since to integrate the island into the People’s Republic. President Xi Jinping sees it as his destiny to do so, just like Vladimir Putin saw it as his to make Ukraine part of Russia once more.

Three Ways to Improve Integrated Deterrence

Steve Ferenzi Robert C. Jones

In their quest to remake the global order, Vladimir Putin is ravaging Ukraine while Xi Jinping is threatening to do the same to Taiwan. Does this already signify the end of the “integrated deterrence” that is central to President Joe Biden’s military approach to China and the new 2022 National Defense Strategy? Despite valid concerns, viable solutions are still within reach to enhance deterrence effectiveness going forward.

Reactive thinking is inadequate to curb the most disruptive aspects of Chinese and Russian ambitions. To succeed, the Biden administration must focus on integrated campaigning to better align military and non-military activities to advance the U.S. vision for an open, inclusive international system; generate interagency buy-in for its re-envisioned concept of deterrence; and leverage irregular warfare capabilities to confront adversaries in the gray zone where they erode international norms and rules of U.S. leadership.

Stop Panicking About the U.S. Economy

Dennis Kneale

The page-one headline in the Journal on Tuesday sounded another recession alarm: “Walmart Cuts Its Outlook, Rattling Investors.” Amid higher prices for food and gas, consumers are pulling back, “an ominous sign for the U.S. economy.”

But Walmart’s response could be a sign that the next recession will be short-lived and less severe, if it comes at all. In which case, start buying stocks again; they’re cheap.

When customers resist a price hike and change their buying habits, Walmart knows instantly, based on minute-by-minute data from its 4,735 U.S. stores, and can cut prices accordingly. The world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer by revenue is cutting prices at a time when inflation is roaring. Even the biggest retailers lack the power to pass higher costs along to customers, who are addicted to 30 years of low prices. Such resistance to inflation is at work at my pricey butcher shop in Brooklyn, N.Y., where the owner says he charges customers only a portion of his higher costs to avoid losing their business. This helped him survive two years of lockdowns without laying off any of his 20 employees.

What to Expect From a Bolder Xi Jinping

Yun Sun

As China prepares for this fall’s 20th Party Congress, the odds grow stronger by the day that Chinese President Xi Jinping will emerge from the meeting having secured a third term in office. This will mark a break with Chinese precedent since Deng Xiaoping wrote a two-term limit into the country’s constitution in 1982—a limit that was removed in 2018. Xi, who took office in 2013 and is now 69, could foreseeably extend his tenure well into the 2030s.

The consolidation of Xi’s rule comes as his administration faces significant headwinds both at home and abroad. China’s zero-COVID policy has provoked an economic slowdown and popular discontent. Its rivalry with the United States is intensifying, and Xi’s alignment with Russian President Vladimir Putin has created more problems than Beijing bargained for. Under these circumstances, it might be reasonable to think the Chinese leader will recalibrate once his political future is assured. But those who expect Xi to moderate his policies after the 20th Party Congress are likely to be disappointed.

Bracing for Long Conflict, Kyiv Returns to Near Normality, With Theaters and Dance Parties

Yaroslav Trofimov

KYIV, Ukraine—Opera singer Oleksandr Melnychuk picked up a shotgun shortly after Russian tanks rolled to Kyiv’s outskirts in February, joining a territorial defense battalion to protect northern approaches to the Ukrainian capital.

The city of some 3.5 million emptied, with antitank barriers blocking the streets and artillery cannonades keeping remaining residents awake at night. Kyiv’s opera and ballet theater was shut down, as were all restaurants, bars, museums, shopping malls and pretty much everything other than pharmacies and supermarkets.

These days, the front line has been pushed hundreds of miles away from Kyiv, with fighting concentrated in the east of the country. At first sight, the Ukrainian capital looks deceptively normal. Two-thirds of those who had fled had returned by mid-May, according to Kyiv’s mayor. Streets are jammed with traffic. Restaurants overflow with customers sipping Aperol Spritz on terraces. There are concerts and art openings. Even the strip clubs that served as bomb shelters in February and March have put up billboards advertising their comeback.

Global food crisis: Beyond the Ukraine-Russia grain deal, what else can the world do?

Nikhil Kumar

The world couldn’t have been hungrier for it — in the most literal of ways. Which is why when the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres unveiled a deal last week to restart Ukrainian grain exports, he was almost unrelentingly effusive, calling the agreement a “beacon on the Black Sea.” It was, he said, “a beacon of hope … a beacon of possibility, a beacon of relief … in a world that needs it more than ever.” A first sign that the deal was holding came Wednesday, as Ukraine said work had begun at three key southern ports to open “corridors” for grain exports. Odessa military administration spokesman Serhiy Bratchuk said naval teams were working at ports in Odessa, Chornomorsk and Pivdennyi to open routes for grain to be carried in “caravans” of ships through the Black Sea.

Implemented successfully, the Russia-Ukraine grain pact could bring down prices for basic food staples and help plug food shortfalls in countries that are heavily dependent on Ukrainian supplies. Even as the war continues, a freeing up of these shipments — some 20 million tons have been stranded by the war and a Russian blockade — could help ease a global food crisis that has been fanned by Moscow’s invasion.

Sympathy for Germany


ATHENS – It is never easy to wake up to the news that your country’s business model is busted. It is difficult to acknowledge the obvious: that your political leaders had either been deluded or lying to you when they assured you for decades that your hard-earned living standards were safe. That your immediate future now relies on the kindness of foreigners determined to crush you. That the European Union, in which you had placed your trust, had been engaging in a permanent concealment exercise. That your EU partners, to whom you are now appealing for help, look at you as a villain whose comeuppance is long overdue. That economic elites in your country and beyond are seeking novel ways to ensure that your country remains stuck. That you must endure massive, painful changes to ensure that nothing changes.

Greeks know this feeling. We experienced it in our bones in early 2010. Today, it is the Germans who are facing a wall of condescension, antipathy, and even mockery. Ironic as it may seem, no Europeans are better placed than the Greeks to understand that the Germans deserve better; that their current predicament is the result of our collective, European failure; and that no one – least of all the long-suffering Greeks, southern Italians, Spaniards, and Portuguese (the PIGS as we were once called) – benefits from schadenfreude.

The True Meaning of Cybersecurity


BERLIN – When we talk about cybersecurity, we usually think of commercial antivirus software, ransomware attacks on large corporations, or leaks of politically scandalous emails. But little is said about public security in the digital realm, and that is a big problem when we increasingly depend on information and communication technologies (ICTs) and the Internet of Things to carry out our ordinary daily activities.

Moreover, these technologies’ rapid development has led to a hybridization of crime. Many illicit activities now straddle the physical and virtual worlds, which has introduced new trade-offs and calls for a reconsideration of longstanding law-enforcement strategies.

Consider illegal recreational substances. Many people now seek to acquire these over the internet, because buying online is generally seen as safer than meeting a stranger in a dark alley. But online channels tend to put people into direct contact with the organized crime groups that control most of the distribution of illicit substances. When people hand over money to these groups, they are unwittingly helping to fund the global networks that also finance terrorism and traffic in arms, people, and human organs and tissues.

The United States Learned From Iraq and Afghanistan. Russia Didn’t.

Raphael S. Cohen, Gian Gentile

Editor’s Note: As the United States orients its strategy around great power competition, questions have arisen as to whether the U.S. military is up to the task. In particular, as Raphael Cohen and Gian Gentile of the RAND Corporation point out, the Ukraine war has raised questions about just how well the U.S. military would fare in a conventional war after 20 years focused on counterinsurgency. The answer, they believe, is mixed: The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq taught the United States many valuable lessons, but a Ukraine-type war could still offer many unpleasant surprises.

Daniel Byman

There is little debate that the Russian military has underperformed in the war in Ukraine. Many analysts thought the conflict would be over in a matter of days, with minimal Russian military casualties, yet five months later it continues to grind on and has decimated significant portions of Russia’s ground combat power. There are a slew of explanations about why the Russian army has performed so poorly—from deliberate Russian force structure choices to an underestimation of the Ukrainian will to fight—but it is clear that the Russian military has not lived up to expectations.

Open-Source Security: How Digital Infrastructure Is Built on a House of Cards

Chinmayi Sharma

Open source is free software built collaboratively by a community of developers, often volunteers, for public use. Google, iPhones, the national power grid, surgical operating rooms, baby monitors, and military databases all run on this unique asset.

However, open source has an urgent security problem. Open source is more ubiquitous and susceptible to persistent threats than ever before. Proprietary software has responded to threats by implementing thorough institutional security measures. The same care is not being given to open-source software—primarily due to misaligned incentives.

First, open source’s primary beneficiaries—software vendors who profit from its use—are free-riders who lack incentives to contribute to the open-source projects they use. Second, these software vendors also lack incentives to secure the open-source code they use, introducing potentially vulnerable products into the software ecosystem.

Building Asymmetric Advantage In Indo-Pacific Part Of Pentagon’s Approach To Chinese Aggression

In the Indo-Pacific region, Chinese aggression demonstrates an effort by Beijing to deconstruct core elements of the international rules-based order and assert greater control over the waterways that connect it with its neighbors, the assistant secretary of defense for Indo-Pacific security affairs said.

Last month, for instance, a Chinese fighter aircraft cut across the nose of an Australian aircraft which was conducting legal operations over the South China Sea. The Chinese aircraft released chaff that was sucked into the engine of the Australian aircraft, said Ely Ratner, who spoke at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “Chaff” consists of fragments of aluminum, or another material, released from an aircraft as a radar countermeasure.

That incident, Ratner said, came shortly after another series of incidents where Chinese aircraft unsafely intercepted Canadian aircraft who were also conducting legal activities on behalf of the U.N. Security Council over the East China Sea.

Can the Antitrust Movement Take Down Big Tech?

Miao Wang

Since 2020, the U.S. government has significantly increased its antitrust crackdown on internet companies. The Trump administration launched several investigations and lawsuits against Big Tech companies for their mismanagement of user data. The Biden administration then further strengthened this effort by assigning several professionals critical of Big Tech to lead antitrust legislation and reviews. Now, the Big Tech companies, led by Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple, are facing a bipartisan attack from federal regulators and Congress.

The Biden administration is prohibiting unreasonable mergers in the digital market by updating antitrust laws and enhancing the work of antitrust agencies. Biden has appointed several antitrust scholars to senior government positions and signed a number of bills and executive orders to split the business lines of giant companies and control their expansion in different markets. U.S. antitrust law has gradually abandoned the Chicago School's assertion of predatory pricing and adjusted the goals of antitrust enforcement from protecting consumer welfare to promoting effective market competition and emphasizing the protection of innovation. By updating competition policy for the digital market and clarifying specific standards for data use, the government will effectively prevent Big Tech from using data and algorithmic rules to implement exclusionary and tying actions that damage market fairness. Rather than rewriting comprehensive antitrust laws, introducing multiple bills will not only make it easier to get through committee reviews but will also reduce the huge gap in traditional antitrust laws in the digital marketplace.

Ukrainian War and American Decisions

Dimitri K. Simes

In his opening remarks at the Fourth Ukraine Defense Contact Group on July 20, U.S. secretary of defense Lloyd Austin touted Kyiv’s military accomplishments and issued a warning to Moscow. “Russia thinks that it can outlast Ukraine—and outlast us,” he stated. “But that’s just the latest in Russia’s string of miscalculations.” Russia’s miscalculations in this conflict—underestimating both the strength of Ukrainian resistance and the unity of the West—are indeed serious and real, but such blunders are not unusual in the early stages of wars, including wars where, in the end, the erring side proved victorious. The Soviet invasion of Finland in 1939-40 is a prime example. Russia’s early miscalculations are therefore a poor guide in predicting the outcome of its burgeoning confrontation with the West, especially if we fail to take stock of America’s no less serious miscalculations in dealing with post-Soviet Russia.

Five key examples come to mind.

The first is the West’s staunch dismissal of Moscow’s numerous and increasingly dramatic warnings that NATO expansion toward its borders would be viewed as an existential threat to Russian security and encounter the strongest possible resistance. Under several different U.S. administrations starting with President Bill Clinton, America and its allies took the position that, since the West had no intention of attacking Russia, Moscow’s concerns could be safely ignored. As George F. Kennan and other American critics of NATO expansion anticipated at the time, however, Moscow adopted an increasingly determined stand against expansion, culminating in the deployment of force against Ukraine. Rather than acknowledge this development as evidence of Western mistakes, the West’s foreign policy elites instead now portray Moscow’s (in their view) unreasonable position as proof of Russia’s inherently aggressive nature. The problem with this view is that it contradicts what these policymakers told the Western public in the 1990s when decisions regarding NATO expansion were first made, that Russia was in essence a friendly but irrelevant geopolitical power. Since then, they have elevated their search for a new post-Cold War mission for NATO—and, tacitly, a new enemy—above the broader imperative of integrating the new Russia into the global order and, in the process, establishing a stable and secure Europe.

Tell Olaf Scholz: Military Strength Matters

Jonathan Meilaender

German chancellor Olaf Scholz recently published an essay in one of Germany’s leading newspapers calling on the European Union (EU) to unite and take on a new role as a “global actor” in the face of Russia’s advance. Such calls are not new but Scholz seems to misunderstand what being an actor requires and fails to see that the balance of power within Europe is shifting in a direction that threatens German strength.

Vladimir Putin, Scholz said, is a neo-imperialist and the “autocrats of the world are watching very carefully whether he is successful. In the 21st century, is it the law of the stronger or the strength of law that counts?”

Scholz, of course, wants to say that the strength of law is what counts, and thinks that the European Union can be a global actor that operates by following international law, issuing regulations, and setting a good example. But Russia’s invasion demonstrates a very different truth: sometimes, the law of the stronger matters. Russia failed to take Kyiv not because of international law or even European solidarity, but because Ukraine, with the support of the United States, United Kingdom, Poland, and much of Eastern Europe, blunted the Russian advance. In Ukraine, the stronger will win, and the rule of law does not matter very much.

Remote Warfare: New Cultures of Violence

Adrian R. Lewis

Since 9/11 and the Bush Administration’s declaration of the Global War on Terrorism, the employment of drone technologies, or unmanned aerial vehicles, in counterinsurgency, counter-terrorism, military, and surveillance operations has expanded enormously. Drones have become an ever-expanding weapon and surveillance system employed by the armed forces, intelligence agencies, police and security forces, private military firms, and terrorist organizations. These technologies have not been without controversy, primarily because of the indiscriminate way in which they kill and how they violate sovereignty and privacy. During the recent American evacuation of Afghanistan (25-27 April 2022), for example, an American drone strike wiped out an entire Afghan family, including women and seven children.[1] Since 9/11, American drone strikes have killed hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians, arguably violating the sovereignty of many countries in the process. Because of the expanded use and controversial nature of these weapon systems, the study of this relatively new form of warfare has increased enormously. Remote Warfare is another contribution to this growing body of literature.

Let me say up front what this book is not. Remote Warfare is not a study of the development and evolution of drone technology. It is not a study of the operational and tactical doctrine used to employ these systems or airpower in general. It is not a study of the controversial decision-making processes used to employ lethal, remote force, and it is not a study on the future uses and expanding roles of remote warfare. Those seeking a deeper understanding of the conduct of remote warfare should consider other works.

The hypersonic race: A case for guarded optimism

Douglas A. Birkey

America’s hypersonic enterprise appears to be crossing a key juncture this summer.

After years of struggle, including numerous test failures, programs like the Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon and Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept appear to be hitting their strides — including full-up test flights at hypersonic speed.

This concrete progress, paired with continued support from Congress and the Biden administration’s decision to sign Defense Production Act initiatives targeting the hypersonic industrial base, give reason for optimism.

However, it’s far too early to claim victory, and we must stay focused on the end objective.

Russian Nuclear Threats, Doctrine and Growing Capabilities

Mark B. Schneider


We live in interesting times. In support of the most blatant aggression since World War II, we have heard since November 2021 Russian high level nuclear war threats every week or two. Indeed, the probability of Russian use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine is under active debate. In July 2022, President Vladimir Putin threatened to continue the war until the last Ukrainian man was standing and his Deputy Dmitri Medvedev suggested that “punishing” Russia over war crimes “potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity.” Since 2007, nuclear threats have been commonplace among high level Russian officials but the current ones are clearly more extreme. Then-British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has noted that Putin has personally made nuclear threats 35 or more times.

Moreover, as Dr. Steven Blank has pointed out, “Pervasive anxiety about Russian nuclear use has inhibited Western relief efforts, e.g., the campaign for a no-fly zone or for sending Ukraine aircraft.” Lt. General (ret.) Henry Obering III and Ambassador Robert Joseph have stated that “…nuclear coercion worked against the Biden administration….[T]he Biden administration barred vital weapons and targeting assistance that it believed would risk escalation to “World War III.” The Biden administration’s emphasis on the risk of World War III while taking no measures to enhance our deterrent, has increased the impact of Russia’s nuclear war threats. Turning Russian territory into a sanctuary by either not providing Ukraine the weapons it needs or demanding assurances that limit their use plays into Putin’s hands.


Alex Hollings

Hypersonic is a term first popularized in the 1970s (though its earliest use seems to date back to 1946, at least). It describes any vehicle that travels at Mach 5 or faster. Or, at least, that’s the simple version of the definition.

To get technical, hypersonic really just means high-supersonic, as the hypersonic barrier is actually a notional one, unlike the supersonic barrier, which is physical.

Put simply, air behaves differently when passing from subsonic to supersonic speeds, creating new challenges for vehicles designed to surpass the sound barrier. The challenges of hypersonic flight aren’t different from those of lower supersonic flight, they’re just way worse.

The Chip Shortage Is Easing—but Only for Some

THIS MONTH, TAIWANESE chipmaker TSMC, which produces some of the world’s most advanced silicon, announced record profits for the past quarter—up by 76.4 percent from the year before to 237.03 billion New Taiwan dollars ($8.05 billion). It also warned that weakening consumer demand coupled with chip hoarding would put a dent in future financials.

“Our expectation is for the excessive inventory in the semiconductor supply chain to take a few quarters to rebalance to a healthier level,” C.C. Wei, TSMC’s CEO, said during the company’s earnings call.

It’s just the latest sign that the recent chipmaking boom is finally over—for some at least. But that doesn’t mean the shortage of chips that has bedeviled the global economy is about to disappear, or that the US need no longer worry about shoring up its advanced chipmaking capacity.

Destroying the Environment Is a War Crime, Too

Eugene Z. Stakhiv

Each month, the scope and scale of Russia’s atrocities in Ukraine expand almost exponentially. There are now millions of refugees, tens of thousands of deaths, and a devastated Ukrainian economy that the World Bank estimates will contract by 45 percent by the end of the year. Russia’s Dresden-level infrastructure destruction has created a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, with widespread poverty, misery—and grave long-term human health consequences.

Beneath the human and socioeconomic catastrophe is an evolving array of environmental disasters that will afflict Ukraine’s ecosystems for generations to come.

Environmental damage falls under two broad categories, both of which are relevant in Ukraine: the direct adverse impacts on ecosystems and ecological bioreserves, and the associated human health effects on populations dependent on the services of the environment for the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat.

China’s Village Bank Collapses Could Cause Dangerous Contagion

Zongyuan Zoe Liu

China just experienced its first wave of bank runs, triggered by frozen deposits in online accounts worth 40 billion yuan ($6 billion) and affecting 400,000 depositors. The scattered runs on small banks in central Chinese towns are not singular events but the precursor of a nationwide reshuffle of small and medium-sized banks (SMBs). Social media virality and dramatic stories of losses and protests are shaking savers’ trust in SMBs, presenting an urgent challenge to China’s banking regulators. China is fighting a war on multiple fronts against financial insecurity right now, from dubious online investment schemes to an ongoing property crisis. Preventing potential financial contagion and social unrest triggered by runs on small banks is a battle that Chinese regulators and policymakers have to win.

The recent bank runs started from three rural village and town banks (VTBs) in Henan province. Three more runs on VTBs happened within a month, including two in neighboring Anhui province. Five of the six troubled VTBs have the same major shareholder bank, Xuchang Rural Commercial Bank. Not being able to withdraw their life savings has led to protests by depositors, triggered panic over the solvency of small banks, and increased the nationwide risk of runs on small banks.

Iranian drones could make Russia’s military more lethal in Ukraine


The White House raised eyebrows earlier this month when a senior official claimed Russia may try to obtain “hundreds” of UAVs from its Middle Eastern ally Iran. In the op-ed below, The Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ John Hardie, Ryan Brobst and Behnam Ben Taleblu analyze what Iran has to offer, and how it could impact the war in Ukraine.

As Russia has prosecuted its invasion of Ukraine, the Russian military has found itself wanting in several areas, notably including unmanned aerial vehicles. But according to the White House, Russian President Vladimir Putin has a plan to mitigate that shortcoming by obtaining “up to several hundred UAVs” from Iran.

While it may seem an unusual proposal, the Iranian drone industry is robust, its products tested on battlefields across the Middle East. These Iranian drones could both help the Russian military identify targets for its vast arsenal of artillery, as well as offer Russia additional means of attacking Ukrainian forces – potentially including Western-donated artillery.

How heavily does Germany rely on Russian energy?

GERMANY HAD been dragging its heels on a proposed European energy embargo on Russia since the invasion of Ukraine. On May 2nd Christian Lindner, the finance minister, and Robert Habeck, the economy minister, signalled that the government was prepared to support an EU ban on Russian oil imports. German backing enabled the European Commission to announce, on May 4th, that it would propose such an embargo for the end of the year, though the 27 member governments must all agree. Yet for industry-heavy Germany, oil presents a far smaller problem than gas. German politicians say that a sudden ban on Russian gas imports would be unfeasible. How dependent on Russian energy is Germany?

Besides renewables, Germany’s only domestic source of power is lignite, a dirty type of coal that makes up about 9%, and declining, of primary energy consumption (ie, that which comes directly from natural resources, such as oil or firewood, rather than secondary processes, like electricity). But the vast majority of the fossil fuels that the country burns are imported, as is the uranium that powers its three remaining nuclear plants. Oil and gas combined account for around 60% of primary energy, and Russia has long been the biggest supplier of both. On the eve of the war in Ukraine it provided a third of Germany’s oil, around half its coal imports and more than half its gas.

Russia Still Has Willing Partners in the Middle East

Steven A. Cook and Beth Sanner

Prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February, the prevailing view in Washington was that Russian President Vladimir Putin had become a master of the geopolitical game. He had a well-armed and capable war machine and had managed to extend Moscow’s influence well beyond Russia’s near abroad into Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Yet although Putin has not lived up to this hype given his disastrous late-February blitz, the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

Moscow’s war on Ukraine has certainly revealed Russia to be weak, which will inevitably undermine Putin’s global influence. The hedge against U.S. decline and withdrawal that Washington’s partners, especially those in the Middle East, have undertaken with Moscow will likely come to an end. After all, who would want Russian military equipment and doctrine after such spectacular military failures as, for instance, the attempted crossing of the Siverskyi Donets River, during which Russia lost an entire battalion. Of course, the Russians seemed to have recovered and learned from these disasters, proving themselves more effective in more recent battles in Luhansk and Donetsk.

The Taliban’s Neighbors Fear Afghanistan’s ‘Boiling Pot’ of Terrorism

Lynne O’Donnell

The Taliban’s failure to make the leap from insurgency to governance is coming under scrutiny this week as they meet with representatives of countries that are growing increasingly concerned that after almost year in power, the extremists have again transformed Afghanistan into a global terrorist haven.

The July 25-27 conference in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, follows the latest report on Afghanistan by the United Nations Security Council, which contains alarming details on the activities of terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, now enjoying the Taliban’s protection in Afghanistan. The report indicated that Afghanistan has essentially reverted to the state it was in before Sept. 11, 2001, when it hosted Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, while the group planned the big terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.

Officially, the theme of the conference is “security and economic development,” though sources among participants say the real focus will be on counterterrorism. More than 20 countries and international organizations will attend, including Iran, Pakistan, China, and the Central Asian states. The United States, Russia, and India are also set to attend, as are U.N. delegates.

What Do Chinese People Really Think About Some of China’s Important Partners?

Kristina Kironska, Yiju Chen, and Richard Q. Turcsanyi

Most polls provide insights into people’s attitudes based on closed test questions. Such questions bring lots of valuable information but have some downsides – for one, people cannot express themselves freely outside of the topics they are asked about. As part of the Sinophone Borderlands online public opinion survey in China in March 2022, we asked 3,000 Chinese respondents (split into six groups) open-ended questions about what they thought about the United States, Russia, Japan, Europe, Singapore, and Africa. Here is what they had to say.

United States

The United States was commonly thought of as an advanced and powerful state, yet hostile to China, untrustworthy, and tending to interfere in other countries’ affairs. “Hegemon” was the most prevalent association (70 out of 500 respondents mentioned it), followed by “advanced technology,” “bossy,” “developed economy,” “powerful,” and “war.” Current U.S. President Joe Biden received about half the amount of mentions compared to his predecessor, Donald Trump, but neither was mentioned frequently.


Leo Blanken, Jason Lepore and Cecilia Panella

During the Cold War, when both the United States and the Soviet Union considered the strategic environment to be one of “permanent crisis,” the two great powers concluded that outcomes in modern warfare would be determined, in large part, by the capacity to equip their forces with technologically advanced weapons and platforms. As these sociotechnical systems became larger, more complex, and more expensive, innovative change became an integral part of national security. Militaries could no longer rely on random strokes of genius to prevail in future wars, but instead needed to systematize innovation. This is what Martin van Creveld labeled “the invention of invention”: “A process of technological competition arose, one that was sometimes relaxed but never halted. . . . There could be no question that each country’s effective military power depended on its armed forces continuously keeping abreast technologically.” This trend of purpose-driven military innovation had been evolving over the previous century, but was crystalized in the postwar period. As Michael J. Hogan argues, “American leaders emerged from the Second World War absolutely convinced that science had saved the day by achieving dramatic breakthroughs in military technology.”

China’s Pacific Push Is Backfiring

Derek Grossman

The Pacific Islands region hasn’t had so much international attention since World War II. Thank China for that.

A document leaked in March revealed Beijing’s plan to ink a secret security agreement with the Solomon Islands. The deal authorizes China to regularly make warship visits and provide training and assistance for Solomon Islands policing. Worried that Beijing might leverage the deal to acquire its first military base in Oceania, the United States and Australia quickly dispatched envoys to dissuade Solomon Islander Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare from signing the agreement. He inked it anyway.

Then, in late May, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi embarked on a whirlwind 10-day, eight-country tour of the South Pacific to win concurrence on “China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision,” a sweeping multilateral development and security agreement that would permanently enmesh Beijing in the region. In the end, Pacific Island foreign ministers rebuffed Chinese overtures, and Wang returned to Beijing empty-handed.

Indian Insurance Portal Policybazaar Suffers Breach

Danny Bradbury

Indian insurance company Policybazaar has warned that it suffered a data breach. The company’s owner PB Fintech, warned in a letter on Sunday that it had discovered “illegal and unauthorized access” exploiting vulnerabilities in its systems on July 19.

“The identified vulnerabilities have been fixed and a thorough audit of the systems has been initiated,” the company said, explaining that its security team is working with external advisors to review the situation.

“While we are in the process of undertaking a detailed review, as on date, our review has found that no significant customer data was exposed,” it added.