14 August 2022

Exclusive: U.S. readies new $1 billion Ukraine weapons package

Idrees Ali and Mike Stone

WASHINGTON, Aug 5 (Reuters) - (This Aug 5 story adds dropped word in paragraph 9.)

The Biden administration's next security assistance package for Ukraine is expected to be $1 billion, one of the largest so far, and include munitions for long-range weapons and armored medical transport vehicles, three sources briefed on the matter told Reuters on Friday.

The package is expected to be announced as early as Monday and would add to about $8.8 billion in aid the United States has given Ukraine since Russia's invasion on Feb. 24.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said that President Joe Biden had not yet signed the next weapons package. They cautioned that weapons packages can change in value and content before they are signed.

Make America Invest Again


FORT LAUDERDALE – From last November’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, which promises upgraded American roads, bridges, and broadband, to the recently enacted CHIPS and Science Act, which will allocate more than $52 billion to boosting the American semiconductor industry, major economic legislation is the order of the day in America. And we may soon be able to add the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) – now headed to the House, after passage by the Senate – to that list.

In the current polarized political environment, shaped by zero-sum mindsets, such breakthroughs could almost be considered miraculous. The reversal of an extended period of past underinvestment is striking. (Though not directly related to the economy, the first gun-control legislation to make it through Congress in nearly 30 years also deserves mention here.) Commentators have certainly been quick to tout them as victories for US President Joe Biden and the Democrats, with many observers wondering whether they will help turn the tide in November’s midterm elections.

CHIPS Act Advances DOD’s Emphasis On Microelectronics

C. Todd Lopez

In February, Heidi Shyu, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, spelled out 14 technology areas of critical importance to the Defense Department. Among those are biotechnology, renewable energy generation and storage, and directed energy. But the $54.2 billion CHIPS Act, signed yesterday, advances another of those top priorities for the department: microelectronics.

“Let me take a moment and share with you what a banner day yesterday was [with] the signing of the CHIPS Act — revitalizing the domestic capabilities for microelectronics,” Barbara McQuiston, deputy chief technology officer of science and technology, said during a virtual discussion today at Federal Computer Week’s Emerging Technology Workshop.

The CHIPS Act, she said, provides both investment and incentive funding to build semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and to advance research and development activities at both the national and regional levels.

Over 70 Economists Call For Biden Administration To Return Afghanistan’s Central Bank Reserves

More than 70 economists sent a letter to President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen today urging them to allow the central bank of Afghanistan access to $7 billion in foreign reserves that the Biden administration blocked access to last year following the Taliban takeover of the Afghan government and the US military withdrawal from the country. The economists write that the reserves are crucial for Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), as the central bank is called, to function. And, without an operational central bank, the Afghan economy is not able to work properly, with many unable to receive salaries and the government unable to perform basic monetary duties and limited in paying for imports.

“As economists — and, among us, former central bankers — we are deeply concerned by the compounding economic and humanitarian catastrophes unfolding in Afghanistan, and, in particular, by the role of US policy in driving them,” the letter states. “We write today to urge you to take immediate action to confront this crisis, above all by allowing the central bank of Afghanistan, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB) to reclaim its international reserves.”

Duty To Cooperate And Practical Cooperation In The South China Sea

Lucio Blanco Pitlo

Last July 25, I felt privileged to join an international workshop to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea. The event was organized by the Department of Boundary and Ocean Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Wuhan University China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies, and the National Institute for South China Sea Studies. It gathered officials, scholars, and experts from ASEAN countries and China, including those who played key roles in negotiating the document.

The South China Sea (SCS) dispute is one of the world’s longest-running multi-party flashpoints. Persistent incidents thus marked the DOC for criticism. Set against high– and sometimes unrealistic– expectations, it is easy to dismiss its contribution to pacifying the stormy sea. But no one can deny that no major conflict erupted in the hotspot, even in the most tense and heated moments in the past. While loose and non-binding, the specter of regional backlash from committing grave infringements of the Declaration kept assertive impulses at bay. However, the filing of an arbitration case in 2013 and the building of massive artificial islands between 2013 and 2016 unraveled the agreement.

The Strategic Importance Of Snake Island In Past And Present

Matija Šerić

On February 24, 2022, the first day of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Russian troops occupied Snake Island, a small but strategically important position in the Black Sea about 140 km south of Odessa. The 13 Ukrainian soldiers stationed there bravely repelled the Russian attacks twice, but they could not continue the fight because they ran out of ammunition. Photos and audio recordings of Ukrainian defenders defying Russian attackers have gone viral. Ukraine celebrated the story with patriotic fervor, issuing a commemorative postage stamp. All the defenders were believed to have died and were posthumously honored by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, however it was later reported that they had survived and were in captivity. When Ukraine regained control of Snake Island on June 30, it marked a huge and much-needed morale boost for Ukrainian soldiers.

Snake Island is a key strategic point of Ukraine in the Black Sea. The reason is the proximity of Romania (a member of NATO) and the fact that it is located on the edge of Ukrainian territorial waters in the Black Sea. The island has an X shape, an area of ​​0.205 square km. The highest point on the island is 41 meters above sea level. The island does not have a prominent mountain, but rather a hilly area with low slopes. Despite its small size, the American think tank Atlantic Council concluded that Snake Island is “the key to Ukraine’s maritime territorial claims”. The rocky islet is located 35 km southwest of the mainland of Ukraine, east of the Danube delta. It has strategic value for controlling the northwestern Black Sea, Ukrainian coastal cities and shipping routes that form an important part of the global grain supply chain.

Danger Of China’s Strategic Missteps

Collins Chong Yew Keat
Source Link

Pelosi’s trip is used as the needed pretext for Beijing to initiate the greater strategic and bellicose actions in forcing Taiwan’s hands with starker threats and deterrence. The fierce responses are intended to intimidate and to provide direct threat and coercive tactics to force Taipei to face the harsh reality that Beijing will remain fully in control of its fate, and that Washington can only do so much in periodical terms. The largest military drills with firing of missiles and incursions of more than 100 planes are all geared as preparatory drills and tests for potential blockade and invasion, using this platform as the most useful avenue in testing the capacities to execute the full invasion option. Aggressive methods will be deemed as the new status quo, pivoting away from the sustained but controlled pressuring and grey zone tactics used, as can be seen in the decision for the drills to remain in place.

It remains provocative for Beijing to take this countermeasure disproportionately, in responding to the visit. It will only heighten the risks of missteps and miscalculation, which will then be galvanized by Beijing in pinning the blame on Washington as the first provocateur and justifying its moral and sovereign card in future potential fall-out. The six zones assigned are also meant to be a strong message to Taipei that Beijing’s military might and invasion capacity is not confined to the Taiwan Strait alone.

Why Bangladesh Had To Adjust Fuel Prices Suddenly

Shafiqul Elahi

On 5th August 2022, Bangladesh government re-adjusted price of all fuel including petrol, diesel, and octane. The readjustment hiked the price of diesel and kerosene by 34 taka to 114 taka, petrol by 44 taka to 130 taka, and octane by 46 taka to 135 Taka. The sudden hike created frenzy among the regular fuel users and turned the enjoyable Friday night into a temporary chaos. But after a day, it seems people are trying to adjust themselves with the new price. The government stated that it had no other way but to adjust the price with the world market. Considering the on-going global commodity shock and energy crisis, it seems the adjustment was inevitable for Bangladesh. Against this backdrop, it has become a national question why Bangladesh is forced to increase fuel price? And what is the current scenario of global energy crisis? To search for answer, we need to focus on the global energy crisis and its implications for Bangladesh.

Fuel Price Hike Worldwide

Since the pandemic and Ukraine crisis, the oil price in international market is skyrocketing. A few days ago, the price hit $140 per barrel. The latest trend suggests that the price is falling but it is still around $94-$95. The impact of this unusual hike is impacting the whole world including the West. At present, fuel price in the USA is $5 per barrel while the price is more than €2 in Spain. Price has soared in other European countries including France and Ireland. The fuel price is also affecting Asian countries such as South Korea and many other South Asian countries also. Analysts predict in the last week on June that the price of oil could reach $200 per barrel unless Russian crude oil is utilized.

Why Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley should step down

Tom Rogan

Gen. Mark Milley has become a politicized figure. An apolitical military being intrinsic to American democracy, Milley should step down as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The immediate cause for Milley to relinquish his post comes from Susan Glasser and Peter Baker's new book, The Divider.

An excerpt from the book published by the New Yorker on Monday strongly suggests that Milley provided extraordinary access to the authors. They recall, for example, a private one-on-one meeting between Milley and then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in which the two officials shared concerns over President Donald Trump's response to being defeated by Joe Biden. We hear of Milley's fear that Trump had approached his "Reichstag" moment, in which he was ready to stage a Nazi-esque coup against democracy. Glasser and Baker also provide a full copy of a resignation letter Milley considered sending to Trump.

It is hard to see how Milley was not the source for at least some of these reports, or that his motive in leaking the information wasn't in some sense political. This is incompatible with his critical role as the nation's senior military officer and the president's most senior military adviser.

How does use of ‘ninja missile’ change counterterrorism?

Jacob Ware

Beyond the immediate tactical and strategic victory of assassinating a longstanding terrorist foe, the U.S. strike against al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri late last month also marked an important milestone in the history of U.S. counterterrorism technology.

Reports suggest the strike against Zawahiri was the latest, and by far the most high-profile, in a growing number of drone strikes employing the Hellfire AGM-114 R9X “ninja missile,” which, rather than delivering an explosive payload, releases six knives moments before impact to slash and crush the target. A result of the U.S. government’s desire to limit civilian casualties in counterterrorism strikes, the R9X has previously been used to assassinate terrorist leaders in Syria and Yemen.

A Look at the Science-Related Portions of CHIPS+

Sujai Shivakumar, Gregory Arcuri

The CHIPS and Science Act was passed by Congress on July 28 and was signed into law by President Biden on August 9. While the funding for semiconductor-related incentives and research initiatives appropriated by Division A of the act have received significant media coverage, Division B authorizes around $200 billion in funding to support the United States’ science and innovation infrastructure. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Department of Energy (DOE) are set to receive significant increases in funding for a wide range of initiatives, from rural STEM education to manufacturing technology upgrades. Additionally, the Department of Commerce (DOC) is charged with designating 20 regional technology and innovation hubs across the country that will be tasked with spurring regional economic development and expanding access to the innovation economy among rural and micropolitan communities, as well as communities historically underrepresented in STEM. The bill also includes reauthorizations for NASA’s space program.

It is important to note that authorization is different from appropriation: Congress must still pass a budget every year that includes the funding authorized by this law. Assuming Congress does appropriate the money, the law provides a major boost to U.S. science- and innovation-based competitiveness going forward.

Xi Jinping’s Guns of August


NEW YORK – Much of the foreign-policy conversation in the United States over the past two weeks has centered on whether US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi ought to have visited Taiwan. Her backers point out that there was precedent for such a visit – a previous speaker and cabinet members had visited Taiwan – and that it is important for officials to underscore the US commitment to Taiwan in the face of increasing Chinese pressure. But critics argued that the trip was ill-timed, because Chinese President Xi Jinping would likely feel a need to respond, lest he appear weak heading into a critical Party Congress this fall. There were also worries that the visit might lead Xi to do more to support Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

But the focus on Pelosi’s visit is misplaced. The important question is why China responded not just by denouncing the trip, but with import and export bans, cyberattacks, and military exercises that represented a major escalation over anything it had previously done to punish and intimidate Taiwan.

Why Taiwan Matters


CAMBRIDGE/CHICAGO – US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s headline-generating visit to Taipei has reminded the world how much Taiwan matters to China. But Taiwan also should matter to the democratic world.

It is no secret that the Communist Party of China (CPC) is committed to unifying Taiwan (which it views as a breakaway province) with the mainland. The United States formally recognized the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China in 1979, and Western powers have since mostly refrained from recognizing Taiwan as a separate country. This “One China” policy, together with rising nationalist sentiment in China, makes a Chinese takeover of the island in the coming decades seem likely, if not inevitable.

Some Western commentators believe that Pelosi acted recklessly by visiting the island. But they ignore how and why Taiwan also matters for the future of both democracy and China itself.

Gas wars: How Putin sent EU energy prices rocketing


Russia's invasion of Ukraine prompted most of the EU to wake up to the danger of depending on the Kremlin for its natural gas.

But moving away from Russian gas, which last year accounted for 40 percent of EU demand, is a painful process — and Russian President Vladimir Putin isn't pulling any punches.

Even before the invasion of Ukraine, his state-backed export monopoly Gazprom slowly began selling less natural gas to European buyers, draining storage and slowing pipeline flows to a trickle.

Those supply changes — coupled with Putin's bombastic statements, false promises and periodic jokes at Brussels' expense — caused energy prices to spike, plunge, recover and dip again, as anxious traders tried to predict how much gas they could count on come winter.

Europe’s Energy Crisis May Get a Lot Worse

David Wallace-Wells

I don’t think many Americans appreciate just how tense and tenuous, how very touch and go the energy situation in Europe is right now.

For months, as news of the Ukraine war receded a bit, it was possible to follow the energy story unfolding across the Atlantic and still assume an uncomfortable but familiar-enough winter in Europe, characterized primarily by high prices.

In recent weeks, the prospects have begun to look darker. In early August the European Union approved a request that member states reduce gas consumption by 15 percent — quite a large request and one that several initially balked at. In Spain, facing record-breaking heat wave after record-breaking heat wave at the height of the country’s tourist season, the government announced restrictions on commercial air-conditioning, which may not be set below 27 degrees Celsius, or about 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In France, an Associated Press article said, “urban guerrillas” are taking to the streets, shutting off storefront lights to reduce energy consumption. In the Netherlands a campaign called Flip the Switch is asking residents to limit showers to five minutes and to drop air-conditioning and clothes dryers entirely. Belgium has reversed plans to retire nuclear power plants, and Germany, having ruled out the possibility of such a turnabout in June, is now considering it as well.

America Must Prepare for a War Over Taiwan

Elbridge Colby

Why isn’t the United States doing more to prepare for war with China over Taiwan—precisely to deter and thus avoid it? The visit to Taiwan this month by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Beijing’s dramatic response to it have crystallized the gravity of this issue. A war with China over Taiwan has gone from what many regarded as a remote scenario to a fearfully plausible one.

Yet the disquieting reality is that the United States does not appear to be adequately preparing for such a conflict despite a strengthening commitment, especially by the Biden administration, to the island and its autonomy. Given its public statements and strategies, it would make sense for Washington to be behaving as though the United States might well be on the verge of major war with a nuclear-armed superpower rival. But although the administration may be making moves in the right direction, the changes it has made so far appear to be unequal to the urgency and scale of the threat China poses. As a result, the unnerving truth is that the United States does not seem to be backing up its strong and, in many ways, commendable rhetoric with the degree of effort and focus needed to be ready to defeat a Chinese assault on Taiwan.

Army cyber, space and special operations commands integrating under new ‘triad’ concept


SMD 2022 — For several months, the US Army has quietly been experimenting with how to link its Special Operations Command, its Space and Missile Defense Command and its Cyber Command more closely on the battlefield, under a new “triad” concept.

The aim: to better integrate each command’s capabilities to stitch together more complex and effective battlefield options in a world where adversaries can operate in multiple domains at once.

The commanding generals of the three organizations revealed the concept for the first time today at the Space and Missile Defense Symposium, saying the origin of the idea was born in part out of success in the counter-terrorism fight, particularly against the Islamic State.

The US Army Is Hunting For More Soldier-Connected Tech


The Army wants a small business to supply tech that can support and integrate everything from sensors to 5G and augmented reality headsets, in an effort to “optimize the ground soldier’s ability to shoot, move, and communicate”

The Ground Soldier Technology Workflow, Integration, and eXperience—or GS-TWIX—is an effort to link several technologies through both hardware and software, according to a solicitation notice.

The Army first revealed its intentions earlier this year with a request for information that highlighted six elements, including tech that can optimize sensor data; communications, like with the Nett Warrior program; and other ground-based systems needed for displaying information collected by sensors or other means. Other task elements focus on improving the survivability of these systems if exposed to chemical, biological or nuclear attacks, and the tactical implications of using 5G.

India’s Challenge to Belt and Road in Asia

Dr. Imran Khalid

Over the past few years, and most notably during recent border clashes in Ladakh’s Galwan valley, China-India relations have been visibly more acrimonious, confusing, and inimical in diplomatic and military domains, despite their huge mutual business interests.

In 2021, trade between the two neighbors grew by 44 percent. India’s imports from China grew from $66.7 billion in 2020 to $97.5 billion, and during the same period, the volume of Indian exports to China jumped to $28.1 billion, displaying hefty growth of 34.9 percent. But ironically, this gigantic volume of bilateral trade has not been able to muffle the ever-growing mutual suspicion and distrust between Beijing and New Delhi. Particularly, after the launch of China’s third and most advanced indigenously-built carrier Fujian on June 17, India’s deliberate attempts to increase its sphere of activities in the South China Sea and Asia Pacific are now becoming more rancorous. India hastily completed the fourth phase of sea trials of its indigenously built INS Vikrant on July 10, with a target of its commissioning on August 15 to commemorate Independence Day celebrations, dubbed “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav.”

David Petraeus Is Wrong: The Afghanistan War Was Never Winnable

Daniel Davis

Was Afghanistan Winnable? As we approach the one-year anniversary of the collapse of the Afghan government and army to a relatively weak Taliban army, there are still few willing to examine the mainly self-inflicted causes for America’s 20-years-in-the-making military defeat. Some, however, cling to the myth that the war could have been one “if only …” There may not be a better example of those who led in Afghanistan and now seek to blame others for the disaster than former general and CIA Director, David H. Petraeus.

Afghanistan is Tough to Conquer

He’s not alone, of course, as the Washington Post exposed in 2019’s The Afghanistan Papers that there was a veritable parade of generals, admirals, and senior civilian leaders that systematically lied to the American public about the war’s progress, virtually throughout the conflict. But owing to Petraeus’ central position in what was alleged to have been the positive turning point in the war – the so-called “Afghan Surge” of 2010 – what he said at the time he was in command and what he’s saying now is especially noteworthy.

Singapore Thrived by Seeing the World Henry Kissinger’s Way

Christopher Vassallo

SINGAPORE – At the tip of a peninsula, hemmed in by populous neighbors, Singapore has always lived in insecurity. On a map, the nation is a tiny, vulnerable outpost.

The city-state fell to Japanese conquerors in World War II. Twenty years later, a tearful Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first and long-serving prime minister, feared conquest once again, after an attempt to unite with the city-state’s northern neighbor Malaysia failed.

The fact that Singapore survived and thrived is less a miracle of free market economics than a triumph of selfish geopolitics as Henry Kissinger’s latest book, Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy, makes eloquently clear. The island nation experienced explosive economic growth in the face of geopolitical insecurity—a feat that is increasingly relevant today as great power competition intrudes on the functioning of the global economy.

America’s Long Road to Global Power

Charles A. Kupchan

In The Four Ages of American Foreign Policy: Weak Power, Great Power, Superpower, Hyperpower, Michael Mandelbaum traces the long arc of U.S. statecraft from the country’s founding through the presidency of Barack Obama. Drawing on his keen understanding of both the sources of U.S. foreign policy and the inescapable dynamics of international power competition, Mandelbaum weaves a compelling, paced, and colorful narrative. The book has remarkable reach and scope—covering more than two centuries of U.S. foreign policy in an insightful, synthetic, and jargon-free way.

Building on a distinguished career as one of the foremost scholars of U.S. statecraft, Mandelbaum chronicles the main geopolitical events in the nation’s history, describes the role played by the relevant political leaders and diplomats, and unpacks the domestic and international environments in which decision-makers were operating at the time.

The author—a professor emeritus of U.S. foreign policy at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies—digresses as needed to explain pivotal developments and elucidate why and how U.S. leaders made the choices they did. Throughout, Mandelbaum’s elegant prose manages to keep the historical narrative accessible and to the point. For example, his discussion of the competing political impulses of the country’s founding era is concise yet enlightening: The Jeffersonians, who envisioned the United States as an agrarian society that would steer clear of “entangling alliances,” took on the Hamiltonians, who urged economic modernization and the accretion of national power.

Liz Truss Is Ready to Flex London’s Muscles Abroad

Ben Judah

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is on the verge of becoming Britain’s next prime minister. Truss’s political journey has been a tangled one. A former student Liberal Democrat, anti-monarchist, and campaigner for legalized cannabis, she became a David Cameron loyalist and firm Remainer in the Brexit campaign. A disastrous speech on pork in 2014 got her widely mocked. But now the much-photographed face of the post-Brexit foreign policy that the government dubs “Global Britain” is not only endorsed by the hard-right Daily Mail but seen by the most radical Leavers as a champion of their cause.

It would be easy to make one of two mistakes about Truss: either she doesn’t believe in anything or she believes everything she’s saying at any one time. But, according to Westminster sources I spoke to, she’s a more complicated mix of chameleon politics over a solid framework of belief—especially on geopolitics.

As foreign secretary, her worldview has been deeply shaped by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Truss would be the continuity-plus candidate for the foreign policy promoted by outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson—and extremely active in promoting it. She was fully behind Johnson as he embraced a form of muscular Atlanticism toward Russia and China: sending heavy weapons to Ukraine early on, positioning London as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s closest partner, heartily increasing U.K. defense spending, standing up for Hong Kong with a generous visa offer, and seeking to bolster Britain’s role in the Indo-Pacific with the AUKUS pact, in partnership with the United States and Australia, while beginning to disentangle the U.K. from Beijing on sensitive matters such as Huawei’s 5G technology.

A Little Great-Power Competition Is Healthy for Africa

Howard W. French

During the Obama administration, when the United States belatedly began to stir itself over the issue of China’s by then already long-standing economic engagement with Africa, one of the most common warnings from Washington was that Beijing might seek to export its political model to the continent.

As then-U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Clinton admonished African leaders to beware of what they were getting themselves into, saying they had more to learn from the West and criticizing China for supposedly encouraging its new partners to eschew what is often fancied as Western-style democracy and adopt Beijing’s authoritarian methods of rule instead, especially through control of information and the internet.

Back then, China was highly sensitive to this kind of criticism and went to great lengths to deny that it was doing anything of the sort. Its official stance in engaging with the developing world, endlessly proclaimed as its unique virtue, was that contrary to the West, Beijing regarded the domestic politics of other countries as purely internal matters. In an interview I had during a visit to Zambia a decade ago, the Chinese ambassador to that country expressed pity for his U.S. counterpart for supposedly having little more than support for the training of election workers to boast of, whereas seemingly everywhere one looked, China was building tangible things.

How Fast Could China Take Over Taiwan? If Occupied by China, Could Taiwan Be Liberated?


With tensions potentially higher than they have been in years, and Chinese weapons, planes and warships conducting war drills encircling Taiwan, the possibility of a massive Chinese-US confrontation may now look more realistic, if not imminent.

Several Pentagon reports and think tank studies have in recent months raised the question of whether Taiwan could quickly be taken over by China, creating a “fait-accompli” circumstance wherein any effort to remove occupying Chinese forces by force could introduce potentially unprecedented and catastrophic consequences.

Much of this simply seems to pertain to a simple, self-evident question … could U.S., Japanese, South Korean and Australian forces get there fast enough? Could there be an effective, coordinated multi-domain response within the crucial, and likely quite small time window afforded during a Chinese attack? How quickly would a Chinese attack be detected? How far away are response forces?

Spotlight on Russia’s Attack on a Ukrainian Marine Gas Turbine Supplier

Cynthia Cook, LinkedIn Joseph S. Bermudez Jr and Jennifer Jun

On March 13, 2022, the Russian military attacked the Zorya-Mashproekt gas turbine complex in southern Ukraine, a complex that once supplied engines to the Russian navy. This strike represented the coup de grace and final indicator of the end of Russia’s longstanding dependence on the key industrial capacity of Ukraine. The strike also offers evidence of continuing Russian efforts to reduce dependence on Western suppliers and develop domestic capabilities. This decoupling may be a bellwether for how Russia and other states act in future conflicts—namely, reducing dependencies where countries want to mitigate risks in case of armed conflict. If Russia or other states have moved to onshoring acquiring capabilities from other countries, this could signal their plans for strategic realignment through force or other coercive methods.

Will the Taliban’s Coming Split Lead to Civil War?

Akram Umarov

The ease with which the Taliban was able to remove the government of Ashraf Ghani from power created an illusion about the group’s power, consolidation, and readiness to take full control of the country. The international community expected the Taliban to stabilize Afghanistan and put the entire country under reliable control in order to establish sole power and eliminate security challenges such as terrorism and drug trafficking. However, the U.S. strike on Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri raises questions about the credibility and honesty of the movement. In the eleven months since the Taliban came to power, the group has faced a number of serious internal problems, including increased factional clashes over engagement with foreign partners, the rise of Pashtun nationalism and the exit of ethnic minorities from the movement, and its inability to stabilize the state administration system.

First, almost since the moment the Taliban seized power, there have been systematic clashes within the group over its leadership, pitting the future of the movement's agenda and cooperation with the international community between various factions. In the process of distributing leading state positions, the Taliban is facing serious confrontation between various factions. Despite Mullah Baradar's past success leading the Taliban, he has been demoted to holding a subordinate post as deputy prime minister for economic affairs. At the same time, Deputy Prime Minister for Political Affairs Abdul Kabeer has wide authority and the confidence of the country's supreme leadership.

The Beginning of History Surviving the Era of Catastrophic Risk

William MacAskill

We stand at the beginning of history. For every person alive today, ten have lived and died in the past. But if human beings survive as long as the average mammal species, then for every person alive today, a thousand people will live in the future. We are the ancients. On the scale of a typical human life, humanity today is barely an infant struggling to walk.

Although the future of our species may yet be long, it may instead be fleeting. Of the many developments that have occurred since this magazine’s first issue a century ago, the most profound is humanity’s ability to end itself. From climate change to nuclear war, engineered pandemics, uncontrolled artificial intelligence (AI), and other destructive technologies not yet foreseen, a worrying number of risks conspire to threaten the end of humanity.

Just over 30 years ago, as the Cold War came to an end, some thinkers saw the future unfurling in a far more placid way. The threat of apocalypse, so vivid in the Cold War imagination, had begun to recede. The end of communism a few decades after the defeat of fascism during World War II seemed to have settled the major ideological debates. Capitalism and democracy would spread inexorably. The political theorist Francis Fukuyama divided the world into “post-historical” and “historical” societies. War might persist in certain parts of the world in the shape of ethnic and sectarian conflicts, for instance. But large-scale wars would become a thing of the past as more and more countries joined the likes of France, Japan, and the United States on the other side of history. The future offered a narrow range of political possibilities, as it promised relative peace, prosperity, and ever-widening individual freedoms.

The US Military Should Red-Team Open Source Code


The U.S. military routinely engages in red-teaming—searching for weaknesses in its war plans—by having its own members role-play as adversaries. Software security researchers also red-team, using the same adversary mindset to conduct penetration testing and to find and fix flaws in software.

Unfortunately, there’s an aspect of modern U.S. military operations that has so far escaped this devil’s-advocate approach: the open-source software that underpins military missions.

The secret of all modern software is that it is mostly open-source—that is, code created by enthusiasts (and companies) around the world and released for anyone to study and use. Whether it’s your iPhone app, military mission-planning software, spy-plane computer, or big-data analytic tool, it’s open-source software all the way down.

Building apps with open-source components reduces time and cost. And by exposing its source code, open-source software invites the world to find and even fix the inevitable bugs. But open source software, like all software, has security flaws. Nearly a decade ago, the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug exposed information such as credit card details for nearly all web users. More recently, the log4j flaw let attackers easily take over control of affected computers, ranging from Minecraft servers to software from Apple and Amazon.

Did Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Trip Close the Thucydides Trap?

Jagannath Panda

Chinese state media has declared the U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan a “salvo of war.” This, they say will precipitate a change in China’s United States policy—“strategic and comprehensive countermeasures” is the buzzword. Even before her arrival, China was categorical about the serious ramifications of this trip as it constituted “gross interference in its internal affairs.” Even U.S. president Joe Biden publicly acknowledged it as “not a good idea.” That Pelosi’s stopover would invite trouble was written on the wall. How can a politically symbolic action be without grave consequences? But perhaps the more important question is, how much worse will things get?

The Chinese standpoint is clear: The status quo that gave cross-Strait relations a semblance of stability has been ruptured. The downward slope that the Thucydides Trap dynamic entails is certainly getting steeper. Will this then force the United States to finally review its Taiwan policy or initiate conciliatory actions? Has Taiwan become a victim of token symbolism or was the Nancy Pelosi-Tsai Ing-wen image an evocative democratic totem? And what consequences will Pelosi’s visit engender in the long term for Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific security architecture?