15 August 2022

Which Asian Countries Support China in the Taiwan Strait Crisis – and Which Don’t?

Shannon Tiezzi

It seems every country in the Asia-Pacific region can agree on one thing: The current situation in the Taiwan Strait is concerning and poses a potential threat to peace and stability throughout the region. But beyond that baseline, countries diverge sharply, especially on who is to blame for the current tensions – the United States, for U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan; or China, for its provocative and precedent-breaking military drills around the island.

China claims that international consensus is on its side. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told reporters on August 8 that “more than 170 countries… have voiced staunch support for China on the Taiwan question through various means.” China’s supporters “form an overwhelming majority versus the US and its few followers,” Wang added.

However, what China claims as “support” encompasses a wide range of nuance. Some partners, notably Russia and North Korea, have joined China in explicitly condemning the United States for Pelosi’s visit and blamed Washington for stirring up the current tensions, but they are few. Far more have voiced positions closely aligned with China’s without explicitly criticizing the United States, and many have stayed neutral, merely expressing “concerns” without ascribing blame.

Will an Attack on Crimea Change the Course of the Ukraine War?

Emma Ashford and Matthew Kroenig

Emma Ashford: Good morning, Matt! Are you enjoying the dog days of summer?

Matthew Kroenig: Like many Washingtonians, I am doing my best to avoid the swamp this month. I am currently in La Jolla, California—technically for work, but I hope to make it to the beach at some point.

Although you and I generally take a different approach to foreign policy, I suspect you were also savvy enough to escape the city this month?

EA: I tried, but it’s heating up everywhere: including in Crimea, once a favorite summer vacation spot for Soviet elites and now a conquered territory and a springboard that helps Russia sustain its intervention in Ukraine.

In fact, it is so hot that things are going boom. Reports are saying that Ukrainian special forces are responsible for the massive explosion in Crimea that took out a Russian airfield. It marks a significant escalation in the war: Thus far, the Ukrainians haven’t really been able to stage attacks that far behind Russian lines.

The big Taiwan question: Is China’s invasion imminent?

Joshua Keating and Lili Pike

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan and China’s furious response have provoked what is without question the most serious security crisis in the Taiwan Strait since the 1990s. And it’s not over. But if this week’s military drills have been unprecedented in their scale and proximity to the island, China’s leaders appear to have refrained from steps that would signal the prelude to a real invasion — or any action that might provoke a Taiwanese response. (On Twitter, former CIA analyst John Culver suggested such measures might have included overflying the island with manned aircraft, mobilizing amphibious transport ships or sending ships into Taiwan’s territorial waters, though there’s some dispute as to whether that last one actually did take place.)

But is it only a matter of time? On Tuesday, Taiwan’s foreign minister told reporters that “China has used the drills in its military playbook to prepare for invasion of Taiwan.”

Not everyone is so sure. On Monday, when asked if it was the Pentagon’s assessment that China would invade in the next two years, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl responded succinctly, “No.”

The Taliban Are Wrecking Ashura Too

Lynne O’Donnell

The most important commemoration of the Shiite religious calendar has been marked in Afghanistan with more than 100 deaths in targeted attacks on worshippers and the cancellation of the official public holiday of Ashura by the Taliban, who now control the country. Residents of Kabul report that the internet has been shut down in parts of the city, and flags, banners, and traditional activities—such as community tea stalls—have been destroyed in what many believe is part of concerted attempts to eradicate them altogether.

Ashura, which falls on Aug. 8 this year, culminates a month of mourning to commemorate the death of Imam Hussain ibn Ali, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad who was killed in the late 7th century in what is now Iraq. His death cemented the schism within Islam between followers of his father, Ali, known as Shiites, and Sunnis, who make up the vast majority of Muslims worldwide and generally regard Shiites as apostate. In Afghanistan, Shiites—who are also mostly of the Hazara ethnicity—are regularly attacked by the Taliban and other Sunni extremist groups.

Since the Taliban took control of the country almost a year ago, there have also been deadly attacks on other religious groups, including Hindus and Sikhs, many of whom have left for India. The country’s one remaining Jew, Zebulon Simentov, left Afghanistan last year. The Taliban have struggled to provide security, have yet to feign interest in establishing rule of law, and have systematically cracked down on women and minorities since retaking power.

A bloody mess’ with ‘terrible loss of life’: How a China-US conflict over Taiwan could play out


WASHINGTON — A US Marine Littoral Regiment stationed in southern Taiwan is holding off hostile forces conducting an amphibious invasion near Tainan City. The MLR’s land-based, anti-ship missiles have slowed the Chinese fleet’s advances considerably, but the unit is running low on ammunition. It will need to be resupplied soon or face long odds in continuing to repel the invaders.

Despite the risks, the US sends in a C-17 Globemaster to restock the Marines’ precious supply of missiles — and the plane is summarily shot down by the Chinese. It’s a tragedy the kind the US has rarely faced for decades, but this far into the first major war between the US and China, with tens of thousands of lives committed to the conflict, the grim reality is this: There is no turning back for anyone.

It’s not a pleasant scene, but it is a realistic one, according to a series of wargames hosted in early August at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a DC-based think tank. The goal of the wargames — determining what would happen if China tried to take Taiwan through military force — is both an existential one for America’s security posture and an unintentionally timely one.

Starlink Successfully Hacked Using $25 Modchip

Elizabeth Montalbano

A Belgian security researcher has successfully hacked the SpaceX operated Starlink satellite-based internet system using a homemade circuit board that cost around $25 to develop, he revealed at Black Hat.

Lennert Wouters revealed a voltage fault injection attack on a Starlink User Terminal (UT)—or satellite dish people use to access the system – that allowed him to break into the dish and explore the Starlink network from there, he revealed in a presentation called “Glitched on Earth by Humans” at the annual ethical hacker conference this week.

Wouters physically stripped down a satellite dish he purchased and created the custom board, or modchip, that can be attached to the Starlink dish, according to a report on Wired about his presentation on Wednesday.

These are the top 10 countries that produce the most wheat

Kashish Rastogi

Wheat is the third most-produced cereal - after rice and maize - and the second most produced for human consumption.

China is the world’s largest wheat producer and has yielded more than 2.4 billion tonnes of wheat in the last 20 years, around 17% of total production.

Russia is the largest global wheat exporter, exporting volumes worth more than $7.3 billion in 2021.

But the Russia-Ukraine war has caused massive disruptions to the global wheat market and adjacent industries.

Preparing for the (non-existent?) future of work

Anton Korinek and Megan Juelfs


We analyze how to set up institutions that future-proof our society for a scenario of ever-more-intelligent autonomous machines that substitute for human labor and drive down wages. We lay out three concerns arising from such a scenario, culminating in the economic redundancy of labor, and evaluate recent predictions and objections to these concerns. Then we analyze how to allocate work and income if these concerns start to materialize. As the income produced by autonomous machines rises and the value of labor declines, we find that it is optimal to phase out work, beginning with workers who have low labor productivity and job satisfaction, since they have comparative advantage in enjoying leisure. This is in stark contrast to welfare systems that force individuals with low labor productivity to work. If there are significant wage declines, avoiding mass misery will require other ways of distributing income than labor markets, whether via sufficiently well-distributed capital ownership or via benefits. Recipients could still engage in work for its own sake if they enjoy work amenities such as structure, purpose, and meaning. If work gives rise to positive externalities such as social connections or political stability, or if individuals undervalue the benefits of work because of internalities, then there is a role for public policy to encourage work. However, we conjecture that in the long run, it would be more desirable for society to develop alternative ways of providing these benefits.

How Putin’s Ukraine War Has Only Made Russia More Reliant on China


Just before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Sino-Russian strategic cooperation has no end limits, no forbidden areas, and no upper bound.

In the months following, however, Russia learned that the rhetoric does not match reality. While the wave of global sanctions on Putin’s regime and allied oligarchs have seemingly strengthened political, economic, and military ties between the two countries, the real strategic effect for Russia has been increasing reliance on China. And Chinese Communist Party leaders have shown no qualms about using this growing dependence to their advantage. China has increasingly dictated the direction of the partnership and squeezed more concessions from the Russians, hiking up prices and walking a diplomatic tightrope with Western nations from which it can’t afford to commercially detach. Rather than making Russia great again, as hoped, President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine has instead deepened Russia’s position as the clear junior partner in the Sino-Russian relationship, militarily and economically.

The Taiwan Question and China's Reunification in the New Era


Resolving the Taiwan question and realizing China's complete reunification is a shared aspiration of all the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation. It is indispensable for the realization of China's rejuvenation. It is also a historic mission of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The CPC, the Chinese government, and the Chinese people have striven for decades to achieve this goal.

The 18th National Congress of the CPC in 2012 heralded a new era in building socialism with Chinese characteristics. Under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core, the CPC and the Chinese government have adopted new and innovative measures in relation to Taiwan. They have continued to chart the course of cross-Straits relations, safeguard peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits, and promote progress towards national reunification. However, in recent years the Taiwan authorities, led by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), have redoubled their efforts to divide the country, and some external forces have tried to exploit Taiwan to contain China, prevent the Chinese nation from achieving complete reunification, and halt the process of national rejuvenation.

The CPC has united the Chinese people and led them in fulfilling the First Centenary Goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects as scheduled, and in embarking on a new journey towards the Second Centenary Goal of building China into a modern socialist country.

The West Needs a Strategy to Avoid Exhaustion in Ukraine

Gerald F. Hyman

If the current trajectory continues, the billions of dollars in weapons, munitions, and infrastructure provided by the NATO allies to Ukraine and the even greater amount of armor, rockets, missiles, and personnel available to Russia is likely to produce a long, agonizing stalemate, a war of attrition, without Moscow creating a subservient Ukraine or Ukraine “regaining every inch of territory.” But that trajectory is unlikely to continue.

Russia is losing manpower at a rate beyond its replacement capacity. It is losing a surprisingly large number of its officer corps, including very senior officers up to and including generals. It seems to have little coherent strategy and lost its initial first-strike attempt to decapitate Ukraine and take the entire country in one swift advance. It is also losing armament faster than it can weather.

Ukraine had a far smaller force (minuscule in comparison), few tanks, almost no rockets or air assets, and far less equipment in general. In no way was it close to a match for Russia. The NATO allies quickly made up for some of the equipment disparity but none of the manpower. They have now provided tanks, anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, armored vehicles, helicopters, anti-artillery rocket systems, drones, ammunition, and recently long-range missiles like the U.S. HIMARS, but Ukraine remains unable to reach much beyond the Russian border, certainly not into Russia’s heartland or its armament factories. The NATO allies now seem about to reverse their previous policy and will provide NATO-conforming jet fighters. Ukraine has relied on the elan of its troops, and, without exaggeration, they have proven to be heroic as has the Ukrainian public. Ukraine has astonished its allies, has shocked Russia, and has surprised maybe even itself.

Will Russia Run Out of Precision-Guided Munitions?

Kris Osborn

The Russian military is increasingly unable to acquire the technology needed to replenish its stockpile of precision weaponry of crucial importance to their continued advances in eastern Ukraine.

For months, there have been reports that Russia’s arsenal of precision weaponry has been running low. At the same time, the Russian military has also been willing to fire unguided munitions indiscriminately into civilian areas, killing families, children, and non-combatants.

Nevertheless, any kind of sustained offensive will certainly need precision weaponry to attack defensive positions, command and control nodes, and troop locations. Previously, Russian forces were reported to be running low due to the sheer amount of munitions, rockets, and missiles they had been firing. Yet, Pentagon leaders now say that sanctions are increasingly impairing Russia’s ability to replenish its stockpile of precision weapons. Many of these rely upon advanced technology such as GPS signals, inertial measurement units, and other kinds of guidance systems.

Xi’s First Taiwan White Paper Ups the Ante for Taipei

Trevor Filseth

Following a sharp increase in tensions across the Taiwan Strait—prompted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan over strenuous objections from mainland China—the Chinese government released a white paper titled “The Taiwan Question and China's Reunification in the New Era,” which details its official narrative on Taiwan’s relationship with the mainland and insists that the island has always been regarded as a part of China throughout history.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency, which publicized the white paper, claimed that it had been 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,” the white paper claimed, adding that the “one-China principle” has a “sound basis in history and jurisprudence.” To support this contention, the paper cited United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, which formally expelled the Republic of China (Taiwan) from the UN and replaced it with the People’s Republic of China (mainland China). The white paper said that the “legal authority” of this decision “leaves no room for doubt and has been acknowledged worldwide,” including by the United States.

More Than Missiles: How Russia Took 80,000 Casualties in Ukraine

Kris Osborn

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog,” former CIA acting director John McGlaughlin told CNN when he was asked about Ukraine’s early successes in repelling Russian invaders. At the time, there were clear, if surprising, reports of Russian failures, tactical missteps, logistical complications, supply problems, and a clear inability to successfully close in on Kyiv. But while many reasons explain Ukraine’s unanticipated successes and ability to capture the world’s imagination, one thing is clear: the invading Russians lacked the “will” to fight.

This makes sense, to some extent; many Russian soldiers were reportedly told they were on a training mission. Yet the Russian morale problems were even larger than some expected. There were numerous anecdotal reports that Russian soldiers lacked food, supplies, and any kind of coherent command and control. Also, just what exactly were the Russian soldiers expected to want to fight for?

Project Rainmaker: The Future of AI-Enabled Warfare Is Here

Kris Osborn

The need to identify targets, communicate the details, and launch an attack could be described as a timeless reality of war. Yet, current technology is now bringing this process to new, breakthrough levels of speed and efficiency. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI), high-speed digital computer processing, and multiple “transport layers” or sources of interoperable transmission technologies have made it possible to find and eliminate targets across vast, previously impossible distances, domains, and areas of operation.

In recent years, there has been an evolving and critical “concept of operation” to this effort as information management, processing, and transmission have taken on new urgency. Improving this process and engineering the technological foundation for ongoing modernization is the focus of an Army effort called Project Rainmaker.

Key Taliban Cleric Killed by ISIS-K Suicide Attack

Trevor Filseth 

Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, an Afghan cleric affiliated with the Taliban, was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday by a suicide bomber linked to the Islamic State-Khorasan (ISIS-K) terror group.

A spokesman for the Taliban claimed that an ISIS-K militant had carried out the attack in a Kabul seminary where Haqqani had been speaking. The spokesman later told Reuters that the suicide bomber had concealed his explosives inside a plastic prosthetic leg and had not been searched prior to entering the seminary. ISIS-K claimed responsibility for the attack immediately after it took place, although the group claimed that it had happened inside Haqqani’s office instead of in public, contradicting eyewitnesses and existing video footage of the incident.

Prior to his death, Haqqani had been a supporter of the Taliban and had been widely considered one of the most important clerics linked to the group. Haqqani had been highly critical of ISIS-K, which has challenged the Taliban’s religious legitimacy on the basis that the group is uninterested in conducting attacks against non-Muslims outside of Afghanistan.

It’s an artillery war, but Ukraine still kills tanks with Javelins

Isabelle Khurshudyan

NEAR IZYUM, Ukraine — It turns out, some Ukrainian soldiers discovered, that Javelin cases make great beds. The U.S.-made antitank missiles are packed in large, black rectangular capsules — perfect for elevating a slim cot off the dirty, cold floors of front-line positions.

“Make sure you mention they’re empty,” said a soldier, showing off the makeshift beds. “The last thing we need is Americans thinking they’re sending us Javelins just so we can sleep on them.”

It’s the opposite, actually: The 93rd Mechanized Brigade had fired so many Javelins at Russian tanks that they needed something to do with the pile of empty cases.

Don’t Ever Underestimate Your Opponents — Especially When They’re Chinese


Americans couldn’t care less about foreign policy until the national ass gets caught in a crack, usually in places we can’t locate on a map. So it is today while Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi – third in line for the American presidency – cavorts around Taiwan. All while China threatens as never before to counter such an unpardonable insult to their sovereignty, pointedly telling President Biden not to play with fire. The bellicose Chinese rhetoric was met by a series of vacuous and self-serving excuses issued by the Biden White House: that Ms. Pelosi is a “legislative person” on an unofficial trip; that House delegations routinely visit the island nation; or even that she is just a shrewd business-woman checking her latest investments in Taiwanese electronic chip factories.

No matter: Ms Pelosi is swimming with sharks; indeed, she might count herself lucky if her junket ends with spectacular Chinese demos of their latest air and naval firepower, possibly even rehearsing an amphibious invasion stopping just short of Taiwan’s beaches. While the Biden White House was pre-occupied with self-congratulations over the recent killing of Al Qaida leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, cluelessness is their only consistency. They play checkers, savoring the occasional one-off triumph of eliminating a 70-year-old terrorist. Undaunted, our adversaries play a shrewdly orchestrated chess-match aimed at dominating nations and whole regions of the globe.

Innovation: People Are More Important than Technology

General Anthony Zinni

Today’s strategic environment features rapid technological change coupled with the increasing accessibility of cutting-edge technologies to more and more actors. These changes, and the threats they pose to U.S. national security, span presidential administrations and cross party lines. The 2018 National Defense Strategy, for example, notes that maintaining U.S. technological advantage requires significant changes across the “National Security Innovation Base” and calls on the Department of Defense (DoD) to “organize for innovation” and “out-innovate revisionist powers.”1 In his Interim National Security Guidance, President Joe Biden pledges to “sustain America’s innovation edge” and encourages “the culture of innovation required to address today’s complex challenges.”2 Over the past several years, DoD has attempted to adapt to this dynamic technological landscape by establishing organizations and concepts such as the Defense Innovation Unit, the Chief Digital and AI Office, Joint All-Domain Command and Control, Project Convergence, Project Overmatch, the Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve fund, and a network of “tech bridges” focused on leveraging artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other advancements to develop sensor networks and shorten kill chains.3

How SOCOM's secret 'knife bomb' became the prime weapon for killing hard-to-reach terrorists


The US killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of Al Qaeda and a deputy of the late Osama bin Laden, in a precision airstrike earlier this month.

One of the most wanted terrorists in the world, al-Zawahiri was killed as he stood on a balcony of a house in Kabul. The early morning strike was conducted by a drone that fired two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles.

Unlike past drone strikes in Afghanistan, including one in the final days of the US withdrawal last year, this strike is believed to have only killed its intended target and caused little collateral damage — suggesting that the CIA-led attack made use of one of the most secretive weapons in the US arsenal.

One year after Afghanistan, spy agencies pivot toward China


WASHINGTON (AP) — In a recent closed-door meeting with leaders of the agency’s counterterrorism center, the CIA’s No. 2 official made clear that fighting al-Qaida and other extremist groups would remain a priority — but that the agency’s money and resources would be increasingly shifted to focusing on China.

One year after ending the war in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden and top national security officials speak less about counterterrorism and more about the political, economic and military threats posed by China as well as Russia. There’s been a quiet pivot within intelligence agencies, which are moving hundreds of officers to China-focused positions, including some who were previously working on terrorism.

Intelligence officials stress that the counterterrorism fight is hardly being ignored. Just a week ago, it was revealed that a CIA drone attack killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri in Kabul. But days later, China staged large-scale military exercises and threatened to cut off contacts with the U.S. over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. It underscored the message CIA deputy director David Cohen had delivered at that meeting weeks ago: The agency’s top priority is trying to understand and counter Beijing.

China resumes military drills off Taiwan after shelving US talks

Helen Davidson in Taipei, Julian Borge

China carried out fresh military drills around Taiwan on Monday, including anti-submarine attack and sea raid operations, a day after its major live-fire exercises targeting the territory were supposed to end.

Beijing’s defence ministry also defended its shelving of military talks with the US in protest against Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last week, which have raised concerns about potential accidents escalating into conflict.

Last week, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) targeted Taiwan with days of major live-fire exercises, which were scheduled to end on Sunday. Their end was never announced by the PLA, but notices of avoidance were reportedly lifted and normal sea and air traffic had resumed.

On Monday, however, China’s Eastern Theatre Command announced it would conduct joint drills focusing on anti-submarine and sea assault operations – confirming the fears of some security analysts and diplomats that Beijing would maintain pressure on Taiwan’s defences. No further details were provided.

“The eastern theatre of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army continued to carry out practical joint exercises and training in the sea and airspace around Taiwan island,” the military said.

The exercises, the PLA’s Eastern Command added, were “focusing on organising joint anti-submarine and sea assault operations”.

“China‘s provocation and aggression have harmed the status quo of the Taiwan strait and raised tensions in the region,” the island’s foreign ministry said.

Of those, 21 aircraft crossed the median line, an unofficial demarcation between China and Taiwan that the former does not recognise.

The US president expressed concern Monday but said he did not expect the situation to escalate further.

“I’m not worried, but I’m concerned they’re moving as much as they are. But I don’t think they are going to do anything more than they are,” Joe Biden told reporters at Dover air force base.

The US defence department policy chief, Colin Kahl, said the Pentagon had not changed the assessment given last year by the former chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Mark Milley, that China was unlikely to invade Taiwan in the next two years. However, Kahl said Beijing was trying to “salami-slice their way into a new status quo”.

“A lot has been made of the missile strikes but really it’s the activities in the strait itself, the sheer number of maritime and air assets that are crossing over this de facto centre line, creeping closer to Taiwan shores, where it’s clear that Beijing is trying to create a kind of new normal,” he said.

Beijing’s goal was to try to coerce Taiwan and the international community by threatening to cut off the strait to shipping, Kahl said.

“All I say is: we’re not going to take the bait and it’s not going to work. It’s a manufactured crisis and that doesn’t mean we have to play into that. I think it would only play to Beijing’s advantage,” he added.

“What we’ll do instead is to continue to fly, to sail and to operate wherever international law allows us to do so, and that includes in the Taiwan strait, and we will continue to stand by our allies and partners in the region.”

The PLA had already announced that China would conduct live-fire exercises in the Yellow Sea from Sunday until 15 August, in five exclusion zones. Taiwan authorities said the areas would not affect its international flight routes.

Pelosi’s visit last week infuriated China, which regards Taiwan as its own territory and responded with test launches of ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time, as well as ditching some lines of dialogue with Washington.

The island’s defence ministry said that during last week’s drills Chinese military ships, aircraft and drones had simulated attacks on the island and its navy, and conducted multiple sea and air incursions over the median line.

About 10 warships each from China and Taiwan manoeuvred at close quarters around the line on Sunday, according to a person familiar with the situation who is involved with security planning. The defence ministry in Taiwan said it had sent aircraft and ships to react “appropriately”.

A Taiwan defence ministry spokesperson said no PLA craft had entered Taiwan’s territorial waters, stretching 12 nautical mile out from its coastline, during the drills. He did not say how close the PLA had been detected, or if it was inside the 24-nautical-mile contiguous zone.

He said the military had also identified multiple cyberwarfare attacks allegedly from China, and at least 272 attempts to spread disinformation.

Timothy Heath, a defence researcher at the Rand Corporation, said China’s drills over the past few days showed the PLA was strengthening its ability to carry out a blockade.

“A blockade could be executed alone or in conjunction with other military options such as missile barrages or an invasion of Taiwan,” he said.

Amid the furious responses, China also called off formal talks involving theatre-level commands, defence policy coordination and military maritime consultations on Friday as Pelosi left the region.

China’s defence ministry spokesperson, Wu Qian, defended the decision to suspend military channels, saying in an online post on Monday: “The current tense situation in the Taiwan strait is entirely provoked and created by the US side on its own initiative, and the US side must bear full responsibility and serious consequences for this.

Pentagon, state department and White House officials condemned the move, describing it as an irresponsible overreaction.

China’s cutting of some of its few communication links with the US military raises the risk of an accidental escalation over Taiwan at a critical moment, according to security analysts and diplomats.

One US official noted that Chinese officials had not responded to calls from senior Pentagon officials amid the tensions last week, but that they did not see this as a formal severing of ties with senior figures, such as the US defence secretary, Lloyd Austin.

Asked directly about those reports, Wu said: “China’s relevant countermeasures are a necessary warning to the provocations of the United States and Taiwan, and a legitimate defence of national sovereignty and security.”

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Could The U.S. Military Fight Russia And China At The Same Time?

Robert Farley

A War Against Both China and Russia? The United States now finds itself embroiled in crises in both Europe and the Pacific. The Russia-Ukraine War has settled into an uneasy stalemate that nevertheless risks escalation. The visit of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Taipei has triggered a ratcheting of tensions over the long-term status of Taiwan. It is not likely that either of the current crises will escalate, but Washington could find itself fighting (or proxy fighting) against two great powers in two different parts of the world.

How much pressure could this put upon the United States? Much depends on the nature of the conflict in each theater, but it is likely that the US could sustain the war in both theaters for quite a while.

The War in Ukraine

The Russia-Ukraine War has become a proxy conflict between Moscow and the West, with the US, in particular, dedicating huge amounts of sophisticated weaponry.

Did Nancy Pelosi Put The U.S. And China On A Path To War?

Doug Bandow

The first step towards a U.S.-China war? House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan exhibited the ostentatious arrogance and recklessness which has come to characterize US foreign policy. The attitude of Washington’s denizens is simple: we are masters of the universe, essential and powerful, and must be obeyed. Everyone on earth must submit to our majestic and supreme greatness.

In any other national capital, the catastrophic military disasters of the last two decades would have forced regime change. Multiple lost and botched wars. Tens of thousands of casualties, dead, maimed, and wounded, many scarred for life. Foreign nations destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of foreigners killed. Millions of people displaced, many never to return home.

Why does anyone look to Washington for leadership today?

In America, not one policymaker has been held accountable for this terrible mess of policy pottage. The world’s most important, powerful, militaristic nation is utterly unconstrained by consequences, exercising the reverse Midas touch and destroying most everything in its way.

Is the Marine Corps Becoming Irrelevant?

Gary Anderson

"First to fight," "Force in readiness," "Most ready when the nation is least ready": These are all mottos that the Marine Corps has used at one time or another in its nearly two and a half centuries of existence. Marines have tried hard to live up to those promises, and presidents have counted on Marine Corps to deliver in a pinch when fast-breaking crises have arisen.

That is how the Corps has survived since its birth as what amounted to a small group of shipboard military police during the American Revolution. Recent developments within the service have raised questions as to whether it will be the force of choice when an unexpected need for rapid military response anywhere in the world occurs in the future.

For the first time in its storied history, the Marine Corps has given up capabilities that might be needed worldwide to gain new equipment to specialize for a potential war with China. Those lost assets include tanks, a large portion of the Corps' artillery, heavy engineer equipment, reduced infantry battalions and many helicopters.

Germany’s Ukraine Problem Europe’s Largest Country Needs Time to Adjust to a Dangerous New World

Wolfgang Ischinger

In late July 2022, it emerged that Germany’s plan to help its eastern European allies arm Ukraine had made little progress. According to the scheme, countries such as Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic would supply Kyiv with Soviet-era weaponry from their armed forces; in turn, Germany would transfer its own Western-made equipment to replenish the stock of those countries. Yet despite months of talks, no such transfers of German weapons have been made.

This was not the first example of Berlin having difficulties carrying out its promises on Ukraine. In early spring, Germany pledged to provide heavy weapons directly to Kyiv, but as late as July, only a few such weapons had been delivered. For policymakers in Washington and Brussels, the pattern has become something of a running theme in discussions about the German government: promises followed by foot-dragging. The delayed action is especially concerning since Germany already suffers a deficit of trust among many European allies for its close energy relationship with Moscow, and in particular for refusing to suspend the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project until just days before the Russian invasion began. Instead of providing strong foundations for European action, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has often seemed to be struggling to catch up to his more resolute peers.

The Realist Underpinnings of China’s Taiwan Strategy

Corey Lee Bell

China’s aggressive response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei has prompted criticism, and no small measure of alarm, both within and beyond the region.

It included dispatching People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) jets across the median line separating Taiwan from China, and China’s military engaging in a concurrent series of drills in six separating locations on each side of the island – the closest less than 12 nautical miles from Taiwan’s shore. The high-risk exercises involved firing munitions around and over the island, some of which allegedly landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, and temporarily cutting off flights and maritime routes, representing a hostile demonstration of China’s capacity to rapidly effect an embargo on the island.

China has now concluded the drills, but its military warned that it would continue to conduct “regular patrols” in the Taiwan Strait.

The Afghanistan Deal that Never Happened


General Frank McKenzie was on his way to negotiate with the Taliban when he got the call that Kabul had already fallen.

It was Aug. 15, 2021, and the then-commander of U.S. Central Command had watched anxiously for weeks as the group seized provincial capitals across Afghanistan in one of the most stunning guerilla campaigns in modern history.

McKenzie was flying to Doha, Qatar that day to offer the Taliban a deal: Keep your forces outside the capital so the U.S. can evacuate tens of thousands of Americans and Afghans from the city, and we won’t fight you.

But by the time McKenzie landed, the offer was DOA. Taliban fighters were already inside the presidential palace, and Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, had fled the city. The Afghan government the United States had worked so hard to keep afloat for 20 years had collapsed in a matter of hours.

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 Case Against a New Arms Race

Rose Gottemoeller

As Russian President Vladimir Putin marched his army into Ukraine on February 24, he issued dire warnings to the West. Any state that sent its troops to fight Russia, he said, would face “ominous consequences”—the likes of which the world has “never seen in [its] entire history.” His country was ready to act and had made “the necessary decisions” to respond if attacked. “I hope that my words will be heard,” he declared.

Putin didn’t explicitly state what those consequences would be, or what attacks he had in mind. But to anyone listening, the message was clear enough. If the West directly intervened in Ukraine, Russia would use its nuclear arsenal.

Putin’s invocation of nuclear war has reignited debates about deterrence and the utility of nuclear weapons. It has led Admiral Charles Richard, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command responsible for nuclear deterrence, to argue that the United States may need more nuclear weapons to deter and defend against Russia and also China, which are both modernizing their nuclear forces. “We do not necessarily have to match weapon for weapon,” he said in March. “But it is clear what we have today is the absolute minimum.” Proponents of a nuclear buildup point out that in the coming years, China could rapidly acquire more nuclear weapons, or that Iran, a newcomer, could develop and deploy them for the first time. The United States, the argument runs, risks weakening its own security if it doesn’t amass a larger nuclear arsenal to maintain its advantage over rivals.