13 August 2022

Brief #122: 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.

The CHIPS Act has passed. Now comes the hard work.


The CHIPS Act has been hailed by supporters as a game-changing piece of legislation in the microelectronics tug-of-war between the US and China. But is it a revolution, or is it just a starting point? In this new op-ed, Alan Shaffer, Mike Fritz and Bob Hummel of the Potomac Institute lay out how much more work there is to do.

On July 28, Congress finally passed the “Creating Helpful Incentives for Producing Semiconductors,” or “CHIPS” Act, also called the “CHIPS & Science Act.” The bill authorizes $280 billion for technology and R&D over five years; of that, $52 billion is allocated to semiconductor production and another $25 billion in corporate tax credits. The $52 billion for semiconductors was appropriated, with $39 billion allocated for increasing domestic manufacturing, and $13 billion for research and development over the next five years. Already, American semiconductor manufacturers are lining up to “get their share of the pie.”

Sloppy Use of Machine Learning Is Causing a ‘Reproducibility Crisis’ in Science


HISTORY SHOWS CIVIL wars to be among the messiest, most horrifying of human affairs. So Princeton professor Arvind Narayanan and his PhD student Sayash Kapoor got suspicious last year when they discovered a strand of political science research claiming to predict when a civil war will break out with more than 90 percent accuracy, thanks to artificial intelligence.

A series of papers described astonishing results from using machine learning, the technique beloved by tech giants that underpins modern AI. Applying it to data such as a country’s gross domestic product and unemployment rate was said to beat more conventional statistical methods at predicting the outbreak of civil war by almost 20 percentage points.

Yet when the Princeton researchers looked more closely, many of the results turned out to be a mirage. Machine learning involves feeding an algorithm data from the past that tunes it to operate on future, unseen data. But in several papers, researchers failed to properly separate the pools of data used to train and test their code’s performance, a mistake termed “data leakage” that results in a system being tested with data it has seen before, like a student taking a test after being provided the answers.

The Hacking of Starlink Terminals Has Begun


SINCE 2018, ELON Musk’s Starlink has launched more than 3,000 small satellites into orbit. This satellite network beams internet connections to hard-to-reach locations on Earth and has been a vital source of connectivity during Russia’s war in Ukraine. Thousands more satellites are planned for launch as the industry booms. Now, like any emerging technology, those satellite components are being hacked.

Today, Lennert Wouters, a security researcher at the Belgian university KU Leuven, will reveal one of the first security breakdowns of Starlink’s user terminals, the satellite dishes (dubbed Dishy McFlatface) that are positioned on people’s homes and buildings. At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, Wouters will detail how a series of hardware vulnerabilities allow attackers to access the Starlink system and run custom code on the devices.

One of 5G’s Biggest Features Is a Security Minefield


TRUE 5G WIRELESS data, with its ultrafast speeds and enhanced security protections, has been slow to roll out around the world. As the mobile technology proliferates—combining expanded speed and bandwidth with low-latency connections—one of its most touted features is starting to come in to focus. But the upgrade comes with its own raft of potential security exposures.

A massive new population of 5G-capable devices, from smart-city sensors to agriculture robots and beyond, are gaining the ability to connect to the internet in places where Wi-Fi isn't practical or available. Individuals may even elect to trade their fiber-optic internet connection for a home 5G receiver. But the interfaces that carriers have set up to manage internet-of-things data are riddled with security vulnerabilities, according to research that will be presented on Wednesday at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas. And those vulnerabilities could dog the industry long-term.

Can China take Taiwan? Why no one really knows

Michael E. O’Hanlon


Military analysts often use modeling to predict specific outcomes in war, including winners and losers, casualties, territorial gains or losses, and combat duration. But a potential U.S.-China war over Taiwan, likely also involving some American allies, poses analytical and policy challenges that make predicting outcomes especially difficult. In particular, the outcome of a Chinese maritime blockade of Taiwan scenario, in which a U.S.-led coalition aids Taiwan’s military to break the blockade and keep the island polity economically viable, may be too close to call.

In this paper, a combination of simple military modeling and path-dependent scenario or campaign analysis is used to determine whether the outcome of a maritime blockade of Taiwan can be feasibly predicted. The methodology draws from the well-structured and clearly described framework recently offered by Rachel Tecott and Andrew Halterman. Although I provide a limited analysis here, the results strongly suggest that any predictions by either adversary would be unreliable.

How Europe aims to achieve strategic autonomy for semiconductors

Paul Timmers

Amid heightened geopolitical tensions and growing challenges posed by disruptive innovation, European policymakers are seeking ways to strengthen the continent’s strategic autonomy—particularly with respect to technology. A key part of this effort is the EU Chips Act, which provides billions in financial support to set up factories for advanced chip production (so-called “fabs”) and step up semiconductor research in the EU. Just as U.S. policymakers are attempting to strengthen the American semiconductor industry via the CHIPS and Science Act signed into law on Tuesday, lawmakers in Europe are attempting to build a more independent technology industry. First put forward in April by the European Commission, the EU Chips Act aims to address semiconductor supply shortages and years of decline in semiconductor investment in the EU, boosting Europe’s share of global chip production capacity to 20% from its current level of about 10%. The act is expected to be adopted in the first half of 2023 and has already had an impact on major semiconductor companies’ investment decisions.

Who is watching the watchdogs?

Glenn Fine

An inspector general is once again making front-page news. Unfortunately, he is not exposing misconduct, making recommendations for improving government, or keeping high government officials honest, which is the role of an inspector general. Rather, this inspector general allegedly covered up government misconduct.

Joseph Cuffari, the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security, allegedly knew that the Secret Service had deleted text messages related to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, but for many months failed to notify Congress. Such inaction may make it much more difficult to retrieve these texts. Even worse, according to media reports, Cuffari allegedly prevented his own investigators from seeking to recover the text messages.

This is not the first time Cuffari has been accused of acting improperly. According to a recent Washington Post article, Cuffari was investigated for ethical lapses when he was an agent working for the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General.

How Russia Took Over Ukraine’s Internet in Occupied Territories

Adam Satariano andScott Reinhard

Several weeks after taking over Ukraine’s southern port city of Kherson, Russian soldiers arrived at the offices of local internet service providers and ordered them to give up control of their networks.

“They came to them and put guns to their head and just said, ‘Do this,’” said Maxim Smelyanets, who owns an internet provider that operates in the area and is based in Kyiv. “They did that step by step for each company.”

Russian authorities then rerouted mobile and internet data from Kherson through Russian networks, government and industry officials said. They blocked access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, as well as to Ukrainian news websites and other sources of independent information. Then they shut off Ukrainian cellular networks, forcing Kherson’s residents to use Russian mobile service providers instead.

China releases white paper on Taiwan question, reunification in new era


BEIJING, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China published a white paper titled "The Taiwan Question and China's Reunification in the New Era" on Wednesday.

The white paper was released to reiterate the fact that Taiwan is part of China, to demonstrate the resolve of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese people and their commitment to national reunification, and to emphasize the position and policies of the CPC and the Chinese government in the new era.

Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times. This statement has a sound basis in history and jurisprudence, according to the white paper.

The UN General Assembly Resolution 2758 is a political document encapsulating the one-China principle whose legal authority leaves no room for doubt and has been acknowledged worldwide, says the white paper.

Ukraine Live Briefing: Russia ‘cannot feel safe in Crimea’ after air base blasts

Adela Suliman, Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kendra Nichols

A deadly strike on a Russian air base in occupied Crimea was carried out by Ukrainian special forces, a Ukrainian government official told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

In central Ukraine, at least 13 people were killed when Russian strikes hit Dnipropetrovsk overnight, local officials said.

Key developments

Tuesday’s airfield explosion in Crimea was the work of Ukrainian special forces, a Ukrainian official told The Post. The official, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and confirmed Ukraine’s role on the condition of anonymity, did not disclose details of how the attack was carried out. The Ukrainian air force said in a separate statement that nine Russian aircraft were destroyed in the blast, without any claim of responsibility. The attack reportedly killed one person and injured at least 13, including two children.

A Ukrainian attack in Crimea would mark a dramatic escalation in the war. It would demonstrate a remarkable ability by Ukrainian forces, or their allies, to strike at Russia far from the front lines. Russia said the blast at the air base was caused by an ammunition explosion. A U.S. official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told The Post that Ukrainian forces apparently had carried out the strike but did not use a weapon provided by the United States.

A day after the attack Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the end of the war “directly depends on the question of the losses that Russia will suffer. The more losses the occupiers suffer, the sooner we will be able to liberate our land and guarantee Ukraine’s security.”

The Russian TV journalist who staged an on-air protest in March faces criminal charges for allegedly spreading fake information about Russia’s armed forces, her lawyer said. Marina Ovsyannikova was detained and her home was raided, the lawyer wrote, adding that the charges relate to a photograph she posted holding up an antiwar poster on July 15. “More than 350 children died in Ukraine, are these fake?” she wrote in a Wednesday post detailing the house search.

Battlefield updates

Pro-Russian separatists accused Ukrainian forces of shelling an industrial site in Donetsk, which led to an ammonia leak and fire. One person died and two people were injured, the Russian group said. Residents within two kilometers were warned to stay inside, away from the irritant.

The Donetsk Regional Prosecutor’s Office has opened up an investigation into Wednesday blasts in Bakhmut, Donetsk. According to the office, seven were killed and six injured by Russian shelling and land mines Wednesday. The Donetsk emergency services ministry reiterated a mandatory evacuation call for civilians. By what it called the autumn-winter period, no more than 235,000 people — working in defense and critical infrastructure — should remain in the region. In late February, 1.67 million people lived in Donetsk, according to the Kyiv Post.

Tuesday’s Crimea strike demonstrated to the Russians that “they are not invincible anywhere,” said Andriy Zagorodnyuk, a former Ukrainian defense minister who is now chairman of Ukraine’s Center for Defense Strategies, an independent think tank. “Most importantly, they cannot feel safe in Crimea. They thought they were safe in Crimea, and they thought they were safe at long-range distance.”

Russia has “almost certainly established a major new ground forces formation,” dubbed the 3rd Army Corps, to fight in Ukraine, made up of volunteer male troops up to 50 years old and incentivized with cash bonuses, Britain’s Defense Ministry said Wednesday in a daily intelligence update. However, it said the new formation is “unlikely to be decisive to the campaign,” given “very limited levels of popular enthusiasm for volunteering for combat in Ukraine.”

Overnight Russian strikes in Dnipropetrovsk killed at least 13 people and destroyed more than 20 buildings in the Nikopol district in central Ukraine, regional governor Valentyn Reznichenko said. According to Reuters, Ukraine accused Russia of exploiting its position and control over the Zaporizhzhia power plant to target neighboring Dnipropetrovsk.

Global impactReturn to menu
Mali’s interim leader, Assimi Goïta, thanked Putin in a phone call for Russia’s “multifaceted support,” according to a Kremlin readout. The two agreed to further step up coordination and discussed possible Russian deliveries to Mali of fuel, food and fertilizer. Putin also expressed hope that a 2023 Russia-Africa Summit held in St. Petersburg would “help promote traditional friendship with all African states.” U.S. officials have raised concerns about Russia’s profile in volatile parts of the continent, including mercenary outfit Wagner Group’s activities in Mali.

Hundreds in the Bulgarian capital protested against Russian energy giant Gazprom. The demonstrators vocalized fears that the caretaker government — in place after a pro-Western government collapsed in June — may revert to a Russia-friendly energy stance. “We refuse to be dependent on Gazprom and finance Putin’s outrageous war!” one banner read, reported the AP.

The United States “would not want to implement a total ban on all Russians,” a U.S. official told The Post’s Daily 202. A total travel ban would mean denying entry to Russian dissidents and those who have criticized the war, as well as those who are persecuted for politics or sexual orientation, the official said. In an interview with The Post this week, Zelensky called on Western countries to ban all Russian travelers, comments quickly condemned by Russia.

In an interview with Russian-state media, China’s ambassador to Russia Zhang Hanhui calls the United States “the architect and main instigator of the Ukrainian crisis,” comparing Washington’s approach in Ukraine to its support for the self-governing island of Taiwan.

The Group of Seven countries demanded Wednesday that Russia return control of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia to Ukraine. In a joint statement, the G-7, which includes the United States, also expressed support for a visit to the plant by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, after recent nearby shelling raised fears of a crisis at the facility.

From our correspondents

In the Ukraine war, a battle for the nation’s mineral and energy wealth: After nearly six months of fighting, Moscow’s sloppy war has yielded at least one big reward: expanded control over some of the most mineral-rich lands in Europe. Ukraine harbors some of the world’s largest reserves of titanium and iron ore, fields of untapped lithium, and massive deposits of coal. Collectively, they are worth tens of trillions of dollars.

The lion’s share of those coal deposits, which for decades have powered Ukraine’s critical steel industry, are concentrated in the east, where Moscow has made the most inroads. That’s put them in Russian hands, along with significant amounts of other valuable energy and mineral deposits used for everything from aircraft parts to smartphones, according to an analysis for The Post.

Senior Pakistani Taliban leader reportedly killed in Afghanistan

Bill Roggio

Omar Khalid Khurasani, a virulent senior leader of a dangerous faction of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, was reportedly killed in a roadside bombing in eastern Pakistan on Aug. 6. A spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan confirmed his death, though he has previously also been reportedly killed twice before.

Khurasani, who is believed to have given sanctuary to Ayman al Zawahiri in the past, has called for global jihad, attacks on the U.S. and openly celebrated the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S.

Khurasani and two of his deputies, known as Hafiz Dawlat and Mufti Hassan, were killed in a roadside bombing in the Bermal district in the eastern Afghan province of Paktika. To this point, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack that killed Khurasani.

Khurasani’s presence in Bermal should come as no surprise as it is a stronghold of the Haqqani Network, the powerful Afghan Taliban subgroup whose leader Sirajuddin Haqqani is one of two deputy Taliban emirs as well as the country’s interior minister. Sirajuddin was sheltering Al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri when he was killed in Kabul on July 30, 2022.

The U.S. lost track of why it was in Afghanistan, former commander says


Last August, as city after city in Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, General Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie was watching from his post in Tampa, Fl.

McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command at the time, was in regular contact with U.S. forces on the ground in Afghanistan as they evacuated. His position had him overseeing military operations in East Africa, the Middle East and beyond.

Recently retired, McKenzie joined All Things Considered to reflect on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, who bears responsibility for the way it unfolded, and how the U.S. "lost track" of why it was in the country to begin with.

China drills show ambitions beyond island, Taiwan warns

Johnson Lai

PINGTUNG, Taiwan — Taiwan warned Tuesday that Chinese military drills aren’t just a rehearsal for an invasion of the self-governing island but also reflect ambitions to control large swaths of the western Pacific, as Taipei conducted its own exercises to underscore it’s ready to defend itself.

Angered by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan, China has sent military ships and planes across the midline that separates the two sides in the Taiwan Strait and launched missiles into waters surrounding the island. The drills, which began Thursday, have disrupted flights and shipping in one of the busiest zones for global trade.

Ignoring calls to calm tensions, Beijing instead extended the exercises without announcing when they will end.

What ever happened to the ‘rules-based international order?’

Connor Echols

Early last week, President Joe Biden announced that the United States had killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul, Afghanistan. The news initially sparked widespread media attention, but in the end it came and went with relatively little fanfare, especially for the death of a long-time American enemy with a $25 million bounty on his head.

Perhaps the most telling aspect of the announcement (and the discourse that followed) was what was left unsaid. Despite the fact that Biden ran for president in part on restoring the “rules-based international order,” he made no effort to justify the attack under international law, and most news coverage has failed to even touch on the issue.

On the surface, the strike left relatively little to complain about. It was remarkably precise, killing only Zawahiri, and, for many analysts, it proved that America’s withdrawal from Afghanistan would not hinder its ability to conduct precise counter terror missions.

New ‘Influence Triad’ Will Fuse SOF, Cyber, and Space Command Satellite Intelligence


U.S. Space Command and Army Space and Missile Defense Command are combining the military’s cyber, special operations, and space capabilities to create a new deterrent “triad” akin to the approach the U.S. uses. to deter nuclear attacks.

The Army is “developing an innovative way to generate asymmetrical advantages by fusing the effects of space-based cyber and SOF [special operations forces] capabilities across the compromised spectrum of conflict. This influence triad represents a key evolution in these highly specialized fields,” Gen. James Dickinson, head of U.S. Space Command said at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville Tuesday.

In the new triad concept, U.S. Special Operations Command and U.S. Cyber Command personnel are embedded with staff from the U.S. Space Command to link the three triad elements—intelligence from space-based assets, intelligence from cyber detection, and intelligence from special operations forces—to amplify all three capabilities when monitoring, influencing, or deterring an adversary.

Japan’s Evolving Approach to the Taiwan Strait

Rena Sasaki

The clarity of Japan’s rhetoric calling for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait has entered a new phase after the Fourth Strait Crisis. Recent diplomatic exchanges may also imply that peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait are more vital security interests to Japan than the issue of its territorial dispute with China, involving the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a senior member of the ruling Democratic Party, visited Taiwan on August 2 and 3. China criticized Pelosi in very strong tones even before her visit. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian stated at a regular press conference on August 1, “Those who play with fire will perish by it,” repeating a message President Xi Jinping had conveyed directly to his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden.

After Pelosi’s visit, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) unilaterally announced that it would begin large-scale military exercises, including firing with live ammunition, surrounding Taiwan starting on August 4. The PLA launched nine ballistic missiles between around 15:00 and 16:00 on the 4th, and it is estimated that five of the missiles fell within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This was the first time that China had fired missiles into Japan’s EEZ.

Sri Lanka Introduces Reform Bill to Clip Presidential Powers

Krishan Francis

Sri Lanka’s justice minister submitted a proposed constitutional amendment to Parliament on Wednesday that would clip the powers of the president, a key demand of protesters calling for political reforms and solutions to the country’s worst economic crisis.

The action came as former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who fled violent anti-government protests last month, was reportedly seeking to enter Thailand from his temporary exile in Singapore. He fled Sri Lanka last month after thousands of angry protesters stormed his official residence, holding him responsible for the country’s economic woes.

A Thai Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Rajapaksa would be allowed entry but had not asked for political asylum. However, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said Rajapaksa was seeking asylum in a third country, which he did not identify.

The Myanmar Military’s Roadmap to Survival

 Amara Thiha

As expected, Myanmar’s State Administration Council (SAC), also known as the military junta, last week extended the country’s state of emergency for another six months. Along with the extension, SAC Chairman Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing delivered a public address outlining the SAC’s challenges and the long list of tasks that it hopes to complete over the next six months. The speech outlined three main areas of priority for the military junta going forward.

First, holding an election remains a top priority for the junta. The SAC is currently in the process of issuing National Registration Cards and verifying voter lists. If all activities are completed, the election will take place in August 2023. However, given the security situation, completing the necessary preparations and holding elections in all constituencies will be difficult. Most constituencies, including Sagaing and Magwe regions, and Chin and Kayah states, will be hard-pressed to hold elections. Elections in urban areas also face the challenges of IED threats and urban warfare. As a result, candidate security and voter turnout could be major issues.

What Makes The Green Berets Special? A Former Army Special Forces Officer Explains

Steve Balestrieri

The U.S. Army’s Special Forces are known to most as the Green Berets. These legendary soldiers have been honored in books, films, and songs.

In September, troops past and present will gather in Colorado Springs to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Special Forces.

At any given time, Army Special Forces can be found in 80 to 90 countries around the world, conducting missions essential to U.S. and allied nations’ security. They are the shadow warriors, the “quiet professionals.” The training pipeline is long. Candidates must pass through several phases before they can earn the right to wear the Green Beret and bear the title.

What makes these troops so unique? While the paragraphs below will spell out several key reasons, the short answer is: everything.

Pentagon Contractors in Afghanistan Pocketed $108 Billion Over 20 Years


Pentagon contractors operating in Afghanistan over the past two decades raked in nearly $108 billion—funds that "were distributed and spent with a significant lack of transparency," according to a report published Tuesday.

"These contracts show the shadowy 'camo economy' at work in Afghanistan," said report author Heidi Peltier, director of programs for the Costs of War Project at Brown Univesity's Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

"Military contracting obscures where and how taxpayer money flows, who profits, and how much is lost to waste, fraud, and abuse," she added. "It also makes it difficult to know how many people are employed, injured, and killed through military contracting."

The ‘forever war’ against the West

Clifford D. May

Just under a year ago, President Biden asked, “What interest do we have in Afghanistan at this point with al Qaeda gone?”

Just over a week ago, he provided an answer. On his order, two missiles from a Hellfire drone targeted Ayman al-Zawahiri, the 71-year-old emir of al Qaeda, who was taking his morning tea on the balcony of a well-appointed home in an exclusive Kabul neighborhood.

Al-Zawahiri had come in from the cold, as it were. He’d been hiding out in remote locations since 2011 when SEAL Team Six killed Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda’s founder and first leader. Despite the isolation, he achieved goals: Al-Qaeda today controls more territory than ever, with branches in the Indo-Pacific, Middle East and Africa.

After last August’s shambolic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and the Taliban’s subsequent takeover, he had evidently come to believe he could return to the capital to work in comfort and safety. It was a fatal mistake.

What is a semiconductor? An electrical engineer explains how these critical electronic components work and how they are made

Trevor Thornton

1. What is a semiconductor?

Generally speaking, the term semiconductor refers to a material – like silicon – that can conduct electricity much better than an insulator such as glass, but not as well as metals like copper or aluminum. But when people are talking about semiconductors today, they are usually referring to semiconductor chips.

These chips are typically made from thin slices of silicon with complex components laid out on them in specific patterns. These patterns control the flow of current using electrical switches – called transistors – in much the same way you control the electrical current in your home by flipping a switch to turn on a light.

The difference between your house and a semiconductor chip is that semiconductor switches are entirely electrical – no mechanical components to flip – and the chips contain tens of billions of switches in an area not much larger than the size of a fingernail.

A Look at the CHIPS-Related Portions of CHIPS+

Alexander Kersten, Gregory Arcuri and Gabrielle Athanasia

The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, known colloquially as CHIPS+—signed into law by President Biden on August 9—combines the science provisions of the House’s America COMPETES Act of 2022 with the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA), which have been under negotiation in a bicameral conference committee since May 2022.

Enjoying broad bipartisan support, the CHIPS provisions of the legislation stipulate $52 billion toward renewing the heavily outsourced U.S. semiconductor manufacturing sector and bolstering U.S. chip research and development activities. The provisions seek to lessen U.S. reliance on foreign manufacturing sources, while investing in a local workforce and spurring innovation at home.

Advocates for this legislation point out that these features of the bill will help secure U.S. leadership in the global semiconductor industry, encourage industry leaders such as Intel and TSMC to establish manufacturing centers in the United States, and help ensure U.S. competitiveness in innovation and advanced manufacturing. Renewing domestic production is also important for creating more resilient and reliable supply chains that support a wide variety of civilian, military, and dual-use technologies.

This Critical Questions piece will focus on the CHIPS-related portions in Division A of the CHIPS+ legislation.

DF-26B: How China Could Sink A Navy Aircraft Carrier From 2,000 Miles Away

Brent M. Eastwood

China Has Not One, But Two Carrier-Killing Missiles – You may know that China has one carrier-killing missile, but what if I told you it has two?

The DF-21D is an anti-ship ballistic missile that 1945 has analyzed before. There is another – one with an even greater range than the 1,000-mile DF-21D.

The DF-26B, an anti-ship model that is a DF-26 variant, has a range up to 2,500 miles that could reach ships as far away as Guam.

Two years ago, China tested both missiles successfully in a launch at what may have been moving targets at a location between Hainan province and the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. China warned its adversaries “not to meddle in China’s core interests,” after the tests.

Russia-Ukraine Conflict Holds Cyberwar Lessons

Robert Lemos

The online attacks against infrastructure and information operations used by both sides in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine fulfill the definition of cyberwar and hold lessons for governments and companies, two researchers plan to say this week at the Black Hat USA conference in Las Vegas.

Cyberattacks preceding Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022 — and ongoing operations since the initial push into eastern Ukraine — qualify as cyberwar because they involve state-sponsored actors, use tactics designed to support Russia's objectives, and focus on specific targets and motivations, says Tom Hegel, a senior threat researcher at threat intelligence firm SentinelOne, who will present the research at the conference. The threat actors aimed to support the overall war effort, in the case of Russia-linked actors, or the support for Ukraine's defense, in the case of Ukraine-linked actors, he says.

In their Wednesday, Aug. 10, presentation, "Real 'Cyber War': Espionage, DDoS, Leaks, and Wipers in the Russian Invasion of Ukraine," Hegel and colleague Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade plan to outline how attackers have used seven different families of malware and denial-of-service (DoS) attacks to attack everything from telecommunications infrastructure to oil and gas firms.

Military Recruitment Woes Endanger National Security

Michael R. Bloomberg

From the Suwalki Gap to the Taiwan Strait, the US military faces no shortage of potential crises. But perhaps its biggest challenge lies close to home: A dwindling number of Americans are able and willing to serve in uniform. To maintain the military’s edge, the Pentagon needs to rethink how it recruits and retains troops — while also preparing to fight future wars with a leaner active-duty force.

On current trends, the outlook is troubling. To meet its overall goal of an active-duty force of 1.3 million, the military needs to bring in roughly 150,000 new recruits across its six service branches. With two months left in the fiscal year, the Pentagon is still 15% short of that goal, with the largest service, the Army, facing the biggest shortfall. Through the end of June, the Army had signed up 22,000 troops, 60% below its annual target. It could end the year with as few as 445,000 troops, nearly 40,000 smaller than the force size authorized by Congress.

What’s up with Amnesty International and its moral myopia on Ukraine?

Max Boot

In February, Amnesty International, one of the world’s premier human rights organizations, removed the status of “prisoner of conscience” from Alexei Navalny, arguably the world’s most famous political prisoner. Amnesty apparently acted in response to a coordinated pressure campaign by pro-Russian trolls pointing out that Navalny, a fearless critic of Vladimir Putin, had once echoed some Russian nationalist views. In May, the organization backtracked, redesignating Navalny a “prisoner of conscience” and apologizing for taking the label away.

Yet Amnesty International seems to have learned nothing from what should have been a chastening experience. It is still exhibiting a bewildering and unconscionable bias against Putin’s enemies. On Thursday, the organization issued a morally myopic statement accusing Ukrainian forces of “violating the laws of war” by “establishing bases and operating weapons systems in populated residential areas, including in schools and hospitals.”

The Russians, who have launched an unprovoked war of aggression, were predictably delighted — and the Ukrainians, who are fighting to save their country from a merciless and bloodthirsty foe, just as predictably dismayed.

What was the International Legal Basis for the Strike on al-Zawahiri?

Craig Martin

The killing of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a CIA drone strike has been touted as a political win for President Joe Biden, a vindication for an over-the-horizon counter-terrorism strategy, and even as “justice served.” Yet there appears to be little interest in whether it was lawful. The media has not seriously raised the question, the punditry has not addressed it, and the government has not yet provided any official legal basis for the killing (to be fair, some law and policy blogs, such as Lawfare, Just Security, and Articles of War, have begun to address it). This disregard is problematic, as there are indeed serious questions as to the lawfulness of this strike – and people should be demanding answers.

Let us acknowledge up front that Ayman al-Zawahiri was the second-in-command of al-Qaeda at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States – which were heinous crimes, terrorist acts, and amounted to an “armed attack” against the United States under international law.

Nevertheless, his killing some 21 years later requires a legal justification under international law. What is more, the drone strike also constituted a use of force against Afghanistan, with which the United States is no longer engaged in an armed conflict – and so that too requires legal justification. This essay briefly reviews the international law regimes that are implicated (leaving aside entirely the domestic law considerations, such as the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force), and some of the questions regarding the lawfulness of the strike that arise under each regime – and argues that these questions are important.

US Army launching new campaign to more quickly field capabilities

Jen Judson

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The U.S. Army plans to launch a testing campaign aimed at creating a direct avenue to field new capabilities more rapidly.

The service has a wide variety of offensive and defensive missile capabilities, but also a need to tie into space sensors and non-Army organic sensors that can see at much farther ranges to cue these missile systems, Maj. Gen. Robert Rasch, the Army’s program executive officer for missiles and space, said Aug. 9 at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium. His office will conduct what it to become an annual integrated fires test campaign.

Sensors found across the services that can detect targets at long ranges are able to, for example, provide valuable targeting information for weapons like the Army Tactical Missile System, the forthcoming Precision Guided Munition and the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, Rasch said.