12 August 2022

Will Biden Stumble into a New World War?

Douglas Macgregor

In 1979, President Carter formally abandoned the 1954 Mutual Defense Treaty with Taiwan. Carter’s action abruptly ended Washington’s commitment to defend Taiwan against attack from the Chinese mainland. Yet, in an answer to a journalist’s question about whether he would use military force in response to a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, President Biden stated, “Yes, that's what we are committed to.”

When it comes to defense and foreign policy, there are very few stone-cold realists in Washington’s policy-making circles. Since 1945, with a few notable exceptions, most American presidents have tended to put short-term political celebrity or ephemeral liberal causes ahead of tangible, concrete national interests in America’s relations with other nation-states. Biden is no exception to the rule.

Guided more by impulse and emotion than reason or knowledge of the facts, President Biden, like most of Washington’s ruling political class, may be privately pleased with Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taipei. When Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is viewed in the context of Biden's self-evidently thoughtless remark, however, it is clear that the combination is having a negative impact across Asia.

Pentagon contractors in Afghanistan operated with minimal disclosure and oversight

Eli Clifton

The rapid collapse of the Afghan National Security Forces last summer and return to power by the Taliban laid bare the failed U.S.-led state-building efforts since 2001. The human and financial costs of the 20-year conflict were staggering — approximately 243,000 people died because of the war and the cost to U.S. taxpayers exceeded $2.3 trillion.

But the war wasn’t a failure for Pentagon contractors who enjoyed $108 billion in contracts for work in Afghanistan, with little oversight, according to a new paper by Brown University’s Cost of War Project.

The paper, authored by Heidi Peltier, finds that 13 companies received over $1 billion each in Pentagon contracts for work in Afghanistan. And those are just some of the contracts disclosed in federal databases. Over one-third of Pentagon contracts for work in Afghanistan — worth $37 billion — went to recipients who are not uniquely identifiable in publicly available contracting databases.

Bangladesh’s economic crisis: How did we get here?

Ali Riaz

The International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s willingness to support Bangladesh’s request for a $4.5 billion bailout package over the next three years confirms that the country’s economy is facing a serious crisis.

It is the third country in the region, after Sri Lanka and Pakistan, that knocked on the door of the IMF in recent months. While the economic crises in Pakistan and Sri Lanka were widely reported in international media, Bangladesh’s situation flew under the radar for quite some time thanks to the government’s repeated denial of any impending crisis. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government—for years—touted the economic success of the country and recently celebrated the opening of Bangladesh’s largest bridge as a symbol of its self-reliance.

The government claims that its request for “budget support,” an unrestricted loan with low interest which allows it to use the money as it wishes, is a preemptive measure and that the economy is not, in fact, in trouble.

China’s Military Was Built To Defeat America In A Taiwan War

Daniel Davis

Taipei on Saturday warned that significant Chinese military drills in the seas around Taiwan and in the air over the island represented a simulation of an attack. On Monday, China announced that it was extending the maneuvers, with the semi-official communist mouthpiece Global Times claiming the expanded drills “will not stop and are expected to become routine until reunification.”

It is time for a blunt, stone-cold sober reality check for Washington. Continuing to base U.S./China policies on the arrogant assumption that we can simply impose our will on Beijing while ignoring realities on the ground will unnecessarily and avoidably raise the risk of war in the Taiwan Straits area.

The first round of PLA military exercises in and around Taiwan concluded on Sunday, but the crisis sparked when U.S. Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi made an official trip to Taiwan last week is far from over. Without immediate and sustained remedial action, Pelosi’s visit may well prove to have been the spark that lit the fuse for the explosion of war between China and Taiwan. Without deft diplomacy from Washington, that war could all too easily suck the United States into that no-win war.

China’s New Vassal

Alexander Gabuev

The war in Ukraine has cut Russia off from much of the Western world. Barraged by sanctions, denounced in international media, and ostracized from global cultural events, Russians are feeling increasingly alone. But the Kremlin can rely on at least one major pillar of support: China. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has forced Russia to turn to its fellow Eurasian giant, hat in hand.

In the twentieth century, the Soviet Union viewed China—at least until the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s—as a poorer cousin, a country to be steered and helped along in its fitful progress toward respectability. Decades later, the tables have turned decisively. China has for some time boasted a more robust and dynamic economy, greater technological prowess, and more global political and economic clout than Russia. That asymmetry is destined to become only more pronounced in the coming years as Putin’s regime depends on Beijing for its survival. China will likely gobble up more of Russia’s overall trade. It will become an essential market for Russian exports (notably natural resources) while Russian consumers will increasingly rely on Chinese goods. And it will take advantage of Russia’s predicament to assert the renminbi as both a dominant regional and major international currency.

Then What? Assessing the Military Implications of Chinese Control of Taiwan

Brendan Rittenhouse Green, Caitlin Talmadge


Taiwan is the most intractable issue in U.S.-China relations and the one that could most plausibly embroil the two great powers in a high-stakes, high-intensity war.1 For decades, observers have debated the likelihood of U.S.-China conflict over Taiwan, assessing China's willingness to attempt reunification through force, the credibility of the U.S. commitment to Taiwan, and Taiwan's resolve in maintaining its autonomy.2 Numerous studies have examined the cross-strait military balance—whether it might deter or enable a potential Chinese military campaign to retake Taiwan, for example, as well as whether Taiwan could effectively defend itself with or without the help of the United States.3

Compared with this robust literature on the military balance, however, discussion over Taiwan's potential military value, and its implications for U.S. grand strategy, remains surprisingly underdeveloped and vague. Many advocates of maintaining or strengthening the U.S. commitment to Taiwan focus on the island's political importance, emphasizing that the U.S. commitment is vital to maintaining the credibility of other U.S. alliances and to democracy more broadly.4 Failing to defend Taiwan would be disastrous, in this view, but largely because of the broader diplomatic implications, not because of any direct effect on the regional military balance.5 Meanwhile, those who advocate the opposite position—ending or lessening the U.S. commitment to Taiwan—also frame the problem in largely political terms, arguing that the United States could sever its support of the island without significant military consequences as part of a bilateral grand bargain.6 In contrast, the idea that control of the island itself could affect the military balance has not yet received a systematic, rigorous assessment, though a growing number of analysts mention it.7

Gartner identifies 25 emerging technologies in its 2022 hype cycle

Esther Shein

Gartner has added 25 emerging technologies to watch on its Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2022, which the firm said are enabling the evolution and expansion of immersive experiences, accelerating artificial intelligence (AI) automation and optimizing technologist delivery.

The emerging technologies differ sharply from the three themes on Gartner’s 2021 hype cycle. Gartner explained that the topics are intended to be dynamic, and they are “featured for a year or two, after which it doesn’t track them to make room for other emerging technologies.”

These technologies and trends have the potential to deliver a high degree of competitive advantage over the next two to 10 years.

President Biden just signed a $50 billion law to boost semiconductors. What are they, exactly?

Christian Thorsberg

U.S.-China relations have become increasingly contentious, particularly around Taiwan — the island 80 miles off China’s coast that leads the world in semiconductor production.

But what are semiconductors? How do they impact our everyday lives? National security? The supply chain? Why did President Joe Biden just sign a bill to increase their domestic production?

Here is a grossly oversimplified, stepwise explanation of what they do and why they’re so important.

How does electricity work again?

Let’s journey for a moment back to high school physics. A material that can conduct electricity — meaning an electrical current can pass through it — is called a conductor. A material that cannot conduct electricity — no electricity can pass through it — is called an insulator.

Extreme heat waves show the ultimate climate impact may arrive sooner than we thought

Dave Levitan

The road to an unlivable climate isn’t exactly a scenic route.

In parts of Iraq right now, temperatures have soared to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, sending people who live on parched farmland in toward the baking cities — and many to hospitals. Elsewhere in this summer from hell, thousands of excess deaths have been recorded during the U.K.’s unprecedented heat wave, hundreds of millions of Americans have been in and out of heat advisories and warnings for days or weeks at a time, and an extended heat wave in India and Pakistan sent temperatures well into the triple digits in one of the more densely populated and impoverished parts of the world.

It is a preview of some of the most dire of climate impacts: that with unchecked warming, some parts of the globe will literally become uninhabitable, as heat overwhelms the body’s ability to cool itself. Climate modeling and studies of human physiology have suggested we could be decades away from such unthinkable outcomes in places like the Middle East, South Asia, and elsewhere — but recent research and this year of extremes is demonstrating that such a future may be arriving faster than anticipated. And it certainly won’t be fun along the way.

India Needs to Fix Its Indigenous Fighter Before Building Stealth Aircraft


India is set to launch its Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) program to build a fifth-generation stealth fighter jet in 2022. The fighter aims to serve as a force multiplier for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and to replace some of the older aircraft in its inventory. While the state-owned enterprises tasked with building the aircraft are confident that the new jet will be inducted into the IAF within the next decade, there are concerns over India’s limited capacity to design and manufacture indigenous fighters. Further, the IAF’s pressing need for more fourth-generation-plus conventional aircraft suggests that India should instead prioritize improving on its homegrown fighter, the Tejas.


The AMCA is the most ambitious indigenous aviation project India has undertaken, and its development is on a rather aggressive timeline. A prototype is slated for 2024-25, and its induction into the air force is to start from 2030. However, precedent suggests that it will not be delivered on schedule. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the state-owned enterprise responsible for designing India’s weapon systems, is infamous for 

It’s Time for Olaf Scholz to Walk His Talk

Lukas Paul Schmelter and Bastian Matteo Scianna

On Feb. 27, visibly shocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine three days earlier, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stepped before an emergency session of the German Bundestag in Berlin and gave his now-famous Zeitenwende speech—outlining a “change of era” in German defense policy. In response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war of aggression, Scholz promised a decisive break with Germany’s negligence of military defense and passive attitude toward foreign affairs. Scholz pledged to spend more than 2 percent of GDP on defense annually “from now on,” provide an emergency fund of 100 billion euros (around $110 billion) to facilitate this increase, and to supply heavy weapons to Ukraine in a reversal of long-standing German arms export policies.

The speech was immediately lauded as a historic milestone—not just in Berlin, but also in Washington and other NATO capitals, where the absence of any serious German defense policy has been lamented for years. In a curious way, Scholz’s thunderclap of a speech has established a narrative about a newly sober, serious Germany finally taking some responsibility for European security. The problem with this narrative is that there remains a rather large gap between Scholz’s Zeitenwende rhetoric and Germany’s policies since then.

Afghans Promised a Way Out Are Still Trapped by Red Tape

Robbie Gramer, Mary Yang, and Kelly Kimball

Tens of thousands of Afghans who worked alongside U.S. troops and are eligible for potential relocation to the United States remain stuck in limbo in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, nearly a year after Washington’s chaotic withdrawal from the country.

There are around 77,200 Afghans who have applied for a special immigrant visa (SIV) to the United States still in Afghanistan, of which 10,400 primary applicants have received so-called chief of mission approval—a critical step for securing their SIV, according to two U.S. officials and a congressional aide briefed on the latest available data. These applicants often have family members slated to accompany them, so the number of Afghans awaiting safe passage to the United States could be three times that number, officials and congressional aides said.

The staggering number of SIV applicants showcases how, a year after the United States withdrew from Afghanistan, it has failed to live up to its promise to bring Afghans who helped the U.S. war effort to safety, though the Biden administration says its efforts to do so are ongoing and have no time limit. Many SIV applicants still in Afghanistan fear being targeted or killed by the Taliban, which has already stepped up its campaign of torturing and killing former members of the Afghan military and civilians who supported the U.S. war effort and former Afghan government. Since 2001, as many as 300,000 Afghan civilians, including those who do not meet the threshold of SIV requirements set by the State Department, have been affiliated with U.S. operations in Afghanistan, according to the International Rescue Committee.

The Battle for the Soul of Golf

Stephen M. Walt

There are lots of things one might say about the new Saudi-sponsored LIV Golf tour, a blatant attempt to “sportswash” the kingdom’s shaky public image. The new initiative has roiled the ranks of professional golf, though its initial events haven’t drawn much of a crowd. Although the Saudi initiative may never manage to compete with the Masters Tournament, it illustrates the obstacles that new challengers face when they try to compete with an established order. Indeed, one sees similar forces impeding China’s efforts to supplant the present array of international institutions with ones that are better suited to Chinese preferences.

For those of you who don’t pay any attention to sports, the LIV Golf tour is a new set of golf tournaments backed by the Saudi sovereign wealth fund. It has enticed a number of famous professionals to enter its events by offering big upfront payments to established stars, promising big purses to the winners, and guaranteeing that all participants will take home a sizable paycheck even if they finish dead last. In response, the PGA Tour and other prominent golf organizations (including the R&A Association, which operates the British Open) have declared that those who join the LIV tour will be ineligible for existing tour events.

Why did the FBI search Mar-a-Lago? Was it a ‘bonehead move’ or ‘something extraordinarily sensitive’?

Maggie Severns, Steve Reilly and Jason Paladino

The FBI executed a search warrant of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home on Monday evening, sending shock waves across the country and sparking speculation that Trump could soon be indicted.

Much is still unknown about the search of Trump’s home, including why the Department of Justice believed there was cause to conduct a search in the first place. Court records relating to the warrants are sealed, so the contents of the warrant are not public.

But some things are becoming clear. The DOJ’s investigation into Trump has led a judge to take the unprecedented step of signing off on a search warrant on the former president’s home — which, in turn, suggests the department is making progress on its investigation.

Intelligence is dead: long live Artificial Intelligence

Yasmin Afina

The press has widely reported claims made by a Google engineer, recently placed on ‘administrative’ leave, that its AI chatbot called LaMDA ‘has become sentient’ with an ability to express and share thoughts and feelings the same way a human child would. This claim has been met with interest from the public, but also a lot of scepticism.

However, the promotion of over-hyped narratives on AI technologies is not only alarmist, it is also misleading. It carries the risk of shifting public attention away from major ethical and legal risks; framing the technology in a way that would lead to dangerous over-confidence in its reliability; and paving the way towards ethical- and legal-compliance-washing.
Inherent risks of AI

From helping to advance research in cancer screening to supporting efforts at tackling climate change, AI holds tremendous potential in enabling progress in all segments of society. This is assuming that the technology is reliable and that it works in the intended way.

Behind the Facade of China’s Cyber Super-Regulator

Jamie P. Horsley

On July 2, 2021, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) abruptly launched its first ever cybersecurity review, targeting ride-hailing juggernaut DiDi Global just two days after it raised US$4.4 billion in a New York initial public offering, citing unspecified potential data and national security risks. The CAC also suspended new user registrations during the review, to prevent any expansion of risks. It then quickly issued additional orders to remove DiDi’s apps from Chinese stores for illegally collecting personal information.

The CAC’s actions caught markets by surprise. Under existing law and practice, DiDi’s U.S. share sale did not require Chinese government approval, nor did it appear to involve the purchase or installation of goods and services that might endanger cybersecurity, which was the standard at the time to trigger a cybersecurity review per then-current legislation. Indeed, the CAC on July 10, 2021, published a proposed revision of applicable rules to require a cybersecurity review in advance of foreign listings by companies that qualify as critical information infrastructure operators and hold personal information of more than one million people.

Calling the bully’s bluff

Commodore Anil Jai Singh

After much speculation and uncertainty, Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the US House of Representatives landed in Taiwan as part of her Asia tour which also includes visits to Singapore, Malaysia and Japan. This was the most senior level visit in 25 years since one of her earlier predecessors, Newt Gingrich had visited in 1997. The visit was meant to convey a strong message to China reinforcing, firstly, USA’s support to Taiwan and secondly China cannot do as it pleases in the Pacific. China had strongly protested the visit and even warned of unspecified consequences including that its military ‘won’t sit idly by’. Once the visit was confirmed, it reiterated its threat and launched its fighter aircraft and began military live fire exercises to highlight its displeasure.

More than the US decision to go ahead with the visit, it was a very courageous decision on the part of Taiwan. Despite the constant Chinese threat of military action and deliberate acts of provocation every now and then, the latest being Chinese fighter aircraft flying in its airspace,Taiwan has decided to stand up to Chinaand not allow itself to get intimidated. China must be at the end of its tether, having tried everything to bring Taiwan to heel politically, diplomatically and to a certain extent, militarily as well without any success.


On the evening of 29 July, Russian rockets hit the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, killing five people and injuring another seven. The Ukrainian military states that the city came under attack from the Tornado-S multiple rocket launcher system.

Images of the aftermath show damage to a number of residential buildings. The control module from one of these 300mm rockets was discovered relatively intact in the middle of a children's playground.

Earlier this year, RUSI staff conducting fieldwork in Ukraine inspected a recovered control module from the same rocket system, which possesses a sophisticated onboard satellite-guidance system to ensure that the rocket is accurate up to a range of 120 km. A close examination of the satellite-guidance system revealed that several of its critical microelectronics were produced by US companies.

Future of China’s Belt and Road lies in Middle East


China’s “project of the century” is undergoing some profound changes.

Less than a decade ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping unveiled the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to connect China to Eurasia through extensive maritime and overland trade routes. Despite the grand rhetoric of the BRI physically linking the global economy to Beijing, the initiative’s aims are straightforward.

The BRI is a Chinese investment platform that employs Chinese capital across infrastructure projects in emerging markets for geopolitical gains. Remarkably, this investment strategy is now turning away from traditional countries like Russia and African nations to focus on Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.

Critics have argued that the BRI is a form of debt-trap diplomacy by another name. The economic saga unfolding in Sri Lanka gives weight to these arguments. Yet this narrow focus misses the larger geopolitical dimensions of the BRI’s true aims.

Tensions over Taiwan put China’s crisis management capability to the test

The current crisis over Taiwan looks set to be worse than the last one. In 1995, China fired missiles after the US allowed Lee Teng-hui, then the president of Taiwan, to speak at Cornell University, Lee’s alma mater. The US responded by sending two carrier strike groups into the strait, knowing that Beijing could not pose a threat to its navy. The standoff ended when then-US President Bill Clinton publicly affirmed the “three no’s” policy: no support for Taiwan’s independence, no support for “two Chinas,” and no support for Taiwan’s membership in international organisations that require statehood. China boasted about defending its territory. The US claimed it had upheld its military commitment to Taiwan. Both sides declared victory.

Much has changed since 1995/6. The US is no longer a global hegemon, China is no longer biding its time, and bilateral relations have sunk to historic lows. Risks of miscalculations and escalations abound as both sides are unwilling to step back: cancelling Nancy Pelosi’s visit would have made the Democrats look soft on China. But the stakes are even higher for the Chinese Communist Party: failing to punish moves by Taiwan towards independence or those that aid it undermines its claim of defending China’s sovereignty and hence legitimacy at home.

Will AI Make Cyber Swords or Shields?

Andrew Lohn and Krystal Jackson

Executive Summary

Cybersecurity is a constant battle between attackers and defenders who try to leverage advances in technology to gain an advantage. Progress in those technologies can tip the scales in favor of either offense or defense, and it is not always clear beforehand which side will benefit more. This report illustrates how mathematical modeling can provide insights into how advances in technology might affect a few areas of cybersecurity: 1) phishing, 2) vulnerability discovery, and 3) the race between patching and exploitation. We demonstrate the approach and show the types of insights that it can provide.

Phishing is already a popular and effective technique for attackers. With little effort, attackers can send a generic message to many recipients, tricking a small percentage of them into cracking the door to the victim’s organization. Attackers can work harder to tailor their message to individual targets and increase the probability of success. Today, automated systems that can collect private data and write convincingly threaten to combine the scale of those spray-and-pray phishing campaigns with the effectiveness of spear phishing.

The Wrong Way to Compete With China

Scott Moore

More than two years after it was first proposed, Congress has finally passed one of the most anticipated legislative efforts of the Biden presidency: a bipartisan bill to help the United States compete more effectively with China. The Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors for America (CHIPS) and Science Act, which is expected to soon be signed by President Biden, promises to invest tens of billions of dollars in public funds to develop advanced technologies—most notably to subsidize semiconductor manufacturing. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree the act is sorely needed. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) proclaimed that the CHIPS Act is “needed to outcompete China.” Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), meanwhile, explained her support for the bill by evoking the Cold War: “I believe this is a Sputnik moment, where it is clear to Americans that we are falling behind on innovation and we can’t risk falling further behind.”

Zelensky calls on West to ban all Russian travelers

sabelle Khurshudyan

KYIV, Ukraine — The way to stop Russia from annexing any more of Ukraine’s territory, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday, is for Western countries to announce that they would ban all Russian citizens in response.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post, Zelensky said that “the most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land.” He said Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.”

Russian leaders have signaled they could hold annexation votes in the occupied parts of Ukraine’s east and south — in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions — on Sept. 11, alongside regional elections already scheduled to take place. Russian officials say those votes would legitimize Russia’s claim to those areas, but critics say the votes would be a Russian-manipulated farce.

Russian disinformation spreading in new ways despite bans


WASHINGTON (AP) — After Russia invaded Ukraine last February, the European Union moved to block RT and Sputnik, two of the Kremlin’s top channels for spreading propaganda and misinformation about the war.

Nearly six months later, the number of sites pushing that same content has exploded as Russia found ways to evade the ban. They’ve rebranded their work to disguise it. They’ve shifted some propaganda duties to diplomats. And they’ve cut and pasted much of the content on new websites — ones that until now had no obvious ties to Russia.

NewsGuard, a New York-based firm that studies and tracks online misinformation, has now identified 250 websites actively spreading Russian disinformation about the war, with dozens of new ones added in recent months.

CIA-JSOC convergence impedes covert action oversight, researcher warns


A GROWING CONVERGENCE BETWEEN the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the United States military has been one of the most notable changes in American intelligence after 9/11. Some argue that the resulting overlap between the CIA and the military, in both capabilities and operations, has altered their character —perhaps permanently. The CIA has become more involved than ever before in lethal operations, while the military has embraced intelligence work with unprecedented intensity.

Today, more than two decades after 9/11, joint activities between the CIA and the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) have become customary. JSOC was founded in the aftermath of operation EAGLE CLAW —the failed attempt to free US diplomatic personnel held in Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis. Its mission is to bring together the Special Operations Forces (SOF) elements across the US military. In addition to ensuring inter-operability and standardization between these elements, JSOC oversees the operations of elite joint SOF units that perform highly classified activities around the world.


David Petraeus

Ayear after the chaotic scenes at Kabul airport, the outcome of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is heartbreaking and tragic for many Afghans and devastating for their country. The Afghan government that fell, leading to the return of the Taliban, was maddeningly imperfect, full of frustrating shortcomings, and, in various respects, corrupt. Yet it was also an ally in America’s effort to combat Islamist extremists in Afghanistan and the region, it celebrated many of the freedoms we cherish, and it wanted to ensure them for the long-suffering Afghan people. It was certainly preferable to what replaced it.

Recent decisions by the Taliban, particularly its treatment of women and girls, confirm the trajectory of a regime that seems intent on returning Afghanistan to an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam. It will be incapable of reviving the Afghan economy, which has collapsed since Western forces withdrew. Although the Kabul strike that killed the al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was a tremendous achievement by our intelligence and counterterrorism communities, Zawahiri’s very presence in Kabul demonstrated that the Taliban is still willing to provide sanctuary to Islamist extremists. In short, a country of nearly 40 million people—individuals whom we sought to help for two decades—has been condemned to a future of repression and privation and likely will be an incubator for Islamist extremism in the years ahead.

Foxconn stands by China chip deal as cross-strait tensions rise

TAIPEI -- Key iPhone assembler Foxconn on Wednesday defended its investment in Beijing-backed Tsinghua Unigroup, saying the public has "misunderstood" the nature of the Chinese tech conglomerate.

Foxconn, the world's biggest contract electronics manufacturer, invested nearly $800 million to take a 10% stake in Tsinghua Unigroup, but did not seek prior approval for the deal as required by Taiwanese regulators.

"It is a simple financial investment. We happened to have this opportunity to invest [in Tsinghua Unigroup] via a fund," Foxconn Chairman Young Liu told investors during an earnings call. "The public has a misunderstanding. The Tsinghua Unigroup we invested in is not the Tsinghua Unigroup that people used to know."

What the F.B.I.’s Raid of Mar-a-Lago Could Mean for Trump

On Monday, F.B.I. agents searched the Florida home of former President Donald Trump, possibly commencing a new phase in the legal scrutiny that he has faced since leaving office. According to the Times, the search concerned classified material that Trump removed from the White House and took to Mar-a-Lago. What remains unclear is whether they found any information related to attempts by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election.

To understand what the search might signal, I spoke by phone with Andrew Weissmann, a former federal prosecutor and F.B.I. general counsel who worked on the Mueller investigation. He is currently in private practice and a professor at N.Y.U. School of Law. During our conversation, which has been edited for length and clarity, we discussed why Merrick Garland was almost certainly involved in the decision to order the search, what criteria the government uses for asking a judge for a warrant, and the quickening pace of the Department of Justice’s January 6th investigation.

The Rise and Fall of Political Islam

Curt Mills

In the fall, the war was always there, but we did not go there anymore.

One supposes if Hemingway said it better—leave it at that. When news broke of the knockout of the Bin Laden successor Ayman al-Zawahiri last week what dominated (stateside anyway) was a surreal impression of interspace. War on Terror? Afghanistan? Al-Qaeda? More flashbacks from a bad dream.

Felt by Middle East wizards to be even more answerable for the September 11, 2001, attacks on the American Northeast than old Osama himself, Zawahiri remolded airline travel more dramatically than any man until Transportation Secretary Buttigieg, judging by queues and delays in cities across the U.S. this weekend. (I say savor the tang in Napa, Mr. Michigan; those wine moms aren’t going to cut checks by themselves.)


Sam Wilkins

In 2009, as American interest focused once again on Afghanistan, seasoned special operations forces (SOF) commanders conceived a plan they believed could transform the floundering war effort. Fueled by frustration with the status quo, the difficulty of holding terrain after clearing operations, and a belief that “there has to be more to solving this problem than killing people,” they called for a return to the Vietnam-era experience of the special operations community by arming progovernment militias to secure rural areas. This bottom-up local defense initiative that resulted took shape as the Village Stability Operations (VSO) and Afghan Local Police (ALP) programs. Both active from 2010 to 2020, the two programs were closely linked—VSO was the tool with which SOF worked to set the conditions for ALP to be established in Afghan districts, and the two programs were largely interdependent and operationalized in tandem.

This innovative approach achieved tangible security outcomes in key and contested districts. While systematic examination of the VSO and ALP programs remains limited, research from RAND and a working paper by Stanford PhD student Jon Bate find a reduction in insurgent attacks in districts where ALP units were set up. American commanders, including General David Petraeus, offered effusive praise for the program, noting its ability to flip key districts away from supporting the Taliban. Some Taliban commanders even viewed ALP units as, in the words of one analyst, “enemy number one” due to their ability to detect and stop attempts to infiltrate local communities.