17 August 2022

4 Weapons the War in Ukraine Is Proving Obsolete


Russia’s war in Ukraine, now entering its 169th day, has seen its share of upsets and surprises. The largest European war since World War II, the struggle between Russia and Ukraine is making Ukraine increasingly reliant on NATO-supplied high-tech weaponry. As both sides try to innovate their way to victory, a number of weapons, some in use for centuries, are likely fighting in their last war.

War, especially between nation states, is a competition for which there is no second place. The prospect of annihilation is strong incentive for a country to bring its best in science and technology, through innovating new weapons and tactics to ensure victory. As other countries race to field new weapons themselves, they’re discarding old tech rapidly, creating a new, worldwide status quo.

The war in Ukraine is no different. Here are four weapons that are obsolete—or close to obsolete—as this unique conflict nears the six month mark.

A Journey through Contested Eastern UkraineMany in the Donbas Feel Betrayed – By Kyiv

Thore Schröder

The missile struck behind Kramatorsk's main post office. Debris from the Russian R-37, lies next to a playground among the poplar leaves. Other parts of it damaged 10 buildings, injuring six people – and killed Maksym. Valentyna Sdobina, 70, wipes tears from her eyes with her index finger. She cries for her son-in-law.

When it hit, she rushed down the stairs from her apartment and saw a group of men administering first aid to Maksym next to his small Kia. "There was so much blood," she says. "Half his head was missing." She makes the sign of the cross with her right hand and holds the leash of her bulldog Leo with the right one. "They only fired on us because of the Ukrainian soldiers living here in the neighborhood," she says. Then her mood shifts from sadness to anger: She has to live on 2,850 hryvnia, the equivalent of 73 euros, and waits in line once a month at the food bank for handouts. "I only eat half a sausage a day." She doesn't have the money to flee, either.

The International Monetary Fund: Holy Grail or Poisoned Chalice?

Anusha Rathi

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week released its updated World Economic Outlook and warned of a gloomy and more uncertain economic future. According to the report, inflation in developing economies is anticipated to reach 9.5 percent and is projected to remain higher for longer. The developing world’s debt burden, already crushing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is getting worse due to the rich world’s efforts to tame inflation by raising interest rates. Meanwhile, there’s an energy crisis and a food crisis and a climate crisis.

“The world may soon be teetering on the edge of a global recession,” IMF economist Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas wrote in a blog post. “Multilateral cooperation will be key in many areas, from climate transition and pandemic preparedness to food security and debt distress.”

From Sri Lanka to El Salvador to Ghana, countries in the developing world were only beginning to heal from the COVID-19 pandemic when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent global food and energy prices skyrocketing—and helped intensify the global south’s debt problem. What’s making things worse are back-to-back hefty interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve, a move meant to tame U.S. inflation but which essentially acts like a particularly nasty variable-rate mortgage on countries that have to pay back debts in dollars they can no longer afford.

The Conditionality of American Support for Sanctions on Russia

Timothy S Rich, Ian Milden and Annie Whaley

In wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, a number of states and trading blocs within the international system have placed sanctions on Russia. These sanctions have affected Russia’s ability to interact with the international financial system, forcing Russia to default on its debt for the first time since 1998. Several countries have also banned Russian exports, including oil and gas. Here, we ask to what extent the American public supports sanctions, especially if it may economically affect themselves, and what polling data tells us about this.

In general, sanctions rarely are effective unless they are well coordinated with broad global support. For example, sanctions on Russian gas have not been effective in reducing demand in many developing countries, who rely on Russian gas supply networks for their energy infrastructure. Sanctions have also harmed U.S. business interests in Russia by blocking payments from Russian banks and forcing businesses to sell assets in Russia at unfavorable prices.

Mongolian Independence and the British: At the End of the Great Game

Matteo Miele

At the end of 1903, the British Expedition to Tibet began, headed for Lhasa and under the command of Francis Edward Younghusband. Younghusband, who had already distinguished himself at a young age for his explorations in High Asia,[1] was not the first Englishman to admire the Po-ta-la. This primacy had instead belonged to Thomas Manning, who had arrived in the Tibetan capital almost a century before Younghusband. Manning was born on November 8, 1772 in Broome, Norfolk.[2] After his studies in Cambridge, at Caius College, the young physician studied Chinese in France and, recommended by Sir Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society, managed to embark on a ship of the East India Company in 1806; he reached Canton the following year and remained there until 1810, when he went to Calcutta to then head towards Tibet.[3] In Lhasa, Thomas Manning met the ninth dalai lama on December 17, 1811.[4] At the time, the latter was just a child; Lung-rtogs-rgya-mtsho, born in 1806, died at the age of nine in 1815.[5] The Tibetan words of the little monk were translated into Chinese to Manning’s secretary, who finally translated them to the doctor in Latin.[6] The Englishman asked for books on the religion and ancient history of Tibet, as well as a lama to instruct him, but the request and the answer were lost in the intricate path of translations.[7] From the point of view of political analysis, interest in Manning’s journey is, however, limited. He was acting neither on behalf of the government nor for the East India Company, but his personal success is certainly – and a fortiori – indisputable.

Indeed, presenting Manning’s biography, the British geographer and future president of the Royal Geographical Society, Clements Robert Markham, wrote in 1876:

Ideology and Economic Policy in European Social Democracy c.1890-2010

Daniel Esson

The research question for this dissertation is; ‘what is the relationship between the ideology and economic policy of European social democracy from circa 1890 until around the 2000s?’ This research is primarily analytical, as such, the broad analytical framework of this research will be informed by various strands of socialist and social democratic thought, such as Fabianism, ethical socialism and various forms of Marxism, but primarily the definition of socialism used (as per the theory chapter) derives from the non-Marxian economistic socialism of Nove (Nove, 1989, p.11). This dissertation analyses the relationship between ideology (the notion of socialism as defined here), and the economic policy of social democratic parties. Owing to a large number of such parties in Europe, this research focuses on three: the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD), the Social Democratic Workers Party of Sweden (SAP), and the British Labour Party. These parties have been chosen because they are broadly representative of European social democracy: the SPD being Marxist in origin, the Labour Party being distinctly non-Marxist, and the SAP being an eclectic midpoint between the two in ideological composition.

The End of the Manchu Dynasty and Tibetan Independence

Matteo Miele

On January 1, 1912, the Republic of China was proclaimed.[1] The Hsin-hai Revolution, which had commenced on October 10, 1911, quickly put an end to the Empire, but at the same time the institutional changes broke those ancient ties that had held together diverse territories. From the point of view of the newly formed Republic of China, however, the end of the Ch’ing dynasty did not mean the end of the unity of the Empire’s regions. New independent countries were firmly denied by the Provisional Constitution of the Republic of China of March 1912[2] which assigned five members of the Senate (Ts’an i yüan 參議院) to each province, Inner and Outer Mongolia and Tibet, while Ch’ing-hai – which largely corresponds to the Tibetan A-mdo – was entitled to a senator (Article 18). The indissolubility of the territory of the former Ch’ing Empire was therefore recognized, ignoring Mongolian independence that had been declared a few months earlier. The flag of the Republic itself had to symbolize this unity: each colored strip was associated with the country’s main ethnic groups, namely the Hans (red), the Manchus (yellow), the Mongols (blue), the Muslims (white) and the Tibetans (black).[3] The anti-Manchu republicans thus preserved the concept of the unity of the «five races» (wu tsu 五族), but as understood in the last year of the dynasty, ignoring that in its original meaning, at the time of Ch’ien-lung, this view represented a rigid separation, albeit under the authority of the emperor.[4] This change of perspective questioned the very idea of China; it was a further step along the path started with the Opium Wars and directed towards the transformation of China into a modern state. New China, in addition to relating to other countries on a formally equal level, was now building a different administrative, institutional, and even social order. However, it had been a de facto one-sided transformation, also because the Manchus themselves had been decidedly reluctant to take part in this metamorphosis during the Empire.[5] Above all, however, at the fall of the dynasty, there was no acceptance of the Republic by the Tibetans and the Mongols, regardless of the new roles that each minority now had to play.

IP22043 | Climate Complacency Is No Option for Defence and National Security

Alistair D. B. Cook

Climate change has taken a more prominent position as defence and national security establishments across the Indo-Pacific recognise its impact upon their respective countries. What has become clear during the global pandemic is the convergence of different generators of insecurity such as pandemics and climate change; the need to build trust and cooperation between countries across the Indo-Pacific to avert the exacerbation of disaster impact in the world’s most disaster-prone region; and the need to rethink the sustainability and readiness of the defence and national security sectors.

Profiling Climate Security

At the recent 2022 International Institute for Strategic Studies Shangri-La Dialogue, Delfin Lorenzana, then-Secretary of the Department of National Defense of the Philippines, acknowledged that Manila’s major capital acquisitions such as ships, air assets, and engineering equipment are also extensively used for humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) in the typhoon-prone country. These assets allow faster reaction, which could save lives and property. For his part, General Phan Van Giang, Vietnam’s Minister of National Defense, identified the role that the Vietnam People’s Army plays as the “vanguard” in disaster prevention and response to Covid-19.

Adding to China's Concerns — the India-US Yudh Abhyas Exercise

Lindsay Hughes

US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has accelerated the deterioration of Sino-US relations. China, playing to a domestic audience at least as much as to perceived foreign antagonists, placed itself in an unenviable situation of its own making – Beijing threatened dire consequences if Pelosi visited the island, thereby creating the absolutist setting that initially played well to Chinese citizens. After the Speaker ignored those warnings, visited Taiwan and addressed its Parliament, Beijing had few options but tried to salvage the situation (and its bruised national ego) by initiating a series of naval and air exercises around Taiwan. By 5 PM local time on 5 August, China had flown 68 sorties and 13 warships had conducted live-fire exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

China seeks to normalise its military activity in the Taiwan Strait, another example of its salami-slicing tactic, and to deflect domestic attention from General Secretary Xi Jinping’s economic missteps. As US Secretary of State Antony Blinken remarked, “China has chosen to overreact and use Speaker Pelosi’s visit as a pretext to increase provocative military activity in the Taiwan strait.”

China in Afghanistan: The Year of Moving Gradually

Raffaello Pantucci

Washington’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021 created a problem for China on the border of one of its most volatile regions in Xinjiang. While Beijing was not always entirely enthusiastic about a US military presence on its border, it could see the benefits of having someone else take on the security burden. It even went so far as to cooperate with the United States in Afghanistan – something which stood in stark contrast to the rest of its relationship with the US. The Taliban takeover forced some re-calculations, and while Beijing has visibly leaned into its relationship with the new rulers in Kabul, the thrust of the engagement has remained not dissimilar to how Beijing was engaging with the Republic.

China’s primary preoccupation with Afghanistan has always been security. Beijing’s enduring fear is that the country becomes a base from which its enemies can plot against them. This has tended to focus on fears of Uyghur militants using the country to create instability in Xinjiang, a concern that persists, but has now been joined by a growing fear that other adversaries might seek to use Afghanistan as a base to target China or its interests in the wider region.

Germany’s Fear of Russian Gas Squeeze is Misplaced

Dr. Guntram Wolff

Russia is the largest gas and second largest oil exporter in the world. The West discussed from the start of the war until June that it is necessary to sanction this stream of fossil fuels that is so important for the world economy. As a result of this uncertainty, energy prices increased substantially – all while oil and gas continued to flow in similar or even higher quantities. Putin’s profits soared. It was only after the EU announced its precise oil embargo in June and G7 leaders met in Elmau that oil prices declined from their peak. Beyond new commitments of Saudi-Arabia to increase production and a looming recession, markets understood that sanctions would be more limited than foreseen and could be evaded.

To reduce Putin’s revenues, a rigorous price cap or a tariff on imports of Russian oil and gas would effectively reduce Putin’s revenues while avoiding unnecessary burden on consumers in the West. Germany is particularly worried about a retaliatory Russian embargo. But this fear is ill-placed. First, Putin would hate losing hard currency revenues on which his regime has become so dependent. Second, even if he was going down that road, researchers have now documented that the German economy can substitute gas with other energy sources. It is time to enact strong energy sanctions.

Lessons for the West: Russia’s military failures in Ukraine

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has been going on for almost six months. Enough time has passed that policymakers in the United States and the European Union should now be able to pinpoint the weaknesses of the Russian military. And they will need to do so if they are to determine how best to help the Ukrainian armed forces. The recent explosions at Saki air base in Crimea – a facility that is 225km away from the front line, in an area the Russians have declared to be shielded by their air defence system – show that Ukraine has found new ways to exploit flaws in Russia’s military machine. So, what should the West have learned about Russia’s motives, tactics, and strategy?

President Vladimir Putin’s use of inaccurate data often undermines his decisions. Putin’s wishful thinking about the power of the Russian military is reflected in his apparent expectation that it could conquer Ukraine with only 150,000 military personnel. This is significantly less than the 250,000 soldiers in the Ukrainian armed forces and far off the ratio of offensive to defence forces traditionally needed for a successful campaign – 3:1. Putin seems to have decided to launch the invasion based on the expectation that Ukrainian citizens would surrender without a fight and their political leaders would run away. Clearly, the data he drew on was deeply flawed. Several publicly available studies conducted shortly before the full-scale invasion showed that Ukrainians would resolutely take up arms to defend their homeland. But the Kremlin – like many Western experts – must have simply ignored them.

The Iskander-M and Iskander-K: A Technical Profile

Sam Cranny-Evans and Dr Sidharth Kaushal

Development and Purpose

The 9K720 Iskander, a system at the heart of Russia’s modern precision strike capability, has a long history. Though it has been suggested that the Iskander was fielded as a response to Western missile defences, the history of the project shows that this is only partially true. Nor, as is often assumed, was the system built primarily as a more sophisticated successor to the OTR-21 Tochka. The direct technological predecessor of the 9M723 was the Soviet SS-23 Oka SRBM, a platform that was envisioned as part of a family of systems that would constitute what Marshal Ogarkov described as the reconnaissance strike complex – a networked system of sensors and prompt strike missiles capable of attacking targets across the theatre at very short notice. The Oka, which could be set up and fired in five minutes, was viewed as a serious threat to both concentrations of NATO forces and airbases, given its potential to be used in surprise attacks.

Indeed, then-US Under Secretary of Defence Fred Ikle suggested that accurate conventionally armed short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) could allow the Soviets to achieve goals that they could previously have accomplished only with tactical nuclear weapons – language which mirrored Ogarkov’s own. In truth, this may well have been an exaggeration at the time, reflecting both Soviet bombast and US fears. The Oka, which was estimated to have a circular error probable (CEP) of around 50–100 m, was poorly suited to many conventional missions. The system relied on a combination of inertial guidance and an early digitised scene-mapping area correlator (DSMAC) providing radar terrain contour matching for guidance in its terminal phase. This was a viable means of striking targets that were large, fixed and on well-mapped terrain, but was less useful against camouflaged, time-sensitive or mobile targets. Moreover, the missile was not sufficiently accurate to hit hardened or buried targets or to dispense submunitions reliably.

RUSI Missile Defence Conference Report 2022

Dr Sidharth Kaushal

On 23 and 24 February 2022, RUSI held its 23rd Missile Defence Conference. Participants considered how integrated deterrence against long-range precision strike might be delivered at a NATO level. Discussions were framed around the Russian long-range precision strike threat, which has supplanted other threat vectors as NATO’s pacing challenge. Over the course of the conference, several key themes emerged:The air and missile threat environment is becoming more complex as the discrete categories that guided defenders are becoming increasingly blurred by new capabilities.

To meet this, NATO integrated air and missile defence (IAMD) will need to be nested within a multidomain concept of operations which similarly blurs previously well-defined barriers within NATO systems.

This approach will need to embrace strike, active defence and resilience in a synergistic way.

This in turn will require both technical adaptations – in particular, leveraging domains such as space – but also vital organisational adaptations to create structures capable of supporting multidomain approaches to IAMD.

Ransomware Now Threatens the Global South

Joseph Jarnecki and Jamie MacColl

A spate of ransomware targeting countries in the Global South has demonstrated an evolution in attackers’ tactics. Historically, ransomware has targeted a number of high-value sectors – finance, professional services, the public sector – in wealthy countries, concentrating on the US and other G7 members. Recent attacks on countries such as Costa Rica, South Africa, Malaysia, Peru, Brazil and India illustrate the increased threat to governments, critical national infrastructure providers and businesses in middle-income and developing countries. Ransomware presents a risk to these countries’ development, economic growth and political stability by disrupting commerce and the delivery of essential services. High-income countries have an economic and moral interest in ensuring ransomware does not create significant disruptions in middle-income and developing countries.
The Growing Global Reach of Ransomware

Ransomware, in which computer systems are compromised by attackers who subsequently demand a ransom for the restoration or non-exposure of encrypted and/or stolen data, has significant negative effects. Inability to access proprietary data, the risk of data exposure, and the total or partial shutdown of digital systems can cripple the normal delivery of goods and services.

Strategic Settings for 6G: Pathways for China and the US

Source Link

6G wireless telecommunications is a key emerging technology that has already become a field for international strategic competition, most notably between the United States and China. By dramatically increasing capacity and lowering latency for wireless-data transmission, 6G promises to enable applications on new orders of magnitude or which are qualitatively new. These effects will translate into comparative national economic performance and into military capabilities available to states.

6G’s performance parameters are still being defined, and its enabling technologies are still in relatively early stages of research and development (R&D). However, both the US and China, motivated by their intensifying strategic rivalry, are already prioritising the technology’s development and exploring its potential for military uses.

Whereas national-security concerns around 5G are focused on its potential for espionage or sabotage through the presence in networks of equipment from politically untrusted actors, 6G will directly impact the international balance of military capabilities. For example, one of 6G’s expected military uses is rapid, reliable and secure transmission of much higher volumes of data between fast-moving military platforms, including in outer space for ballistic-missile early warning.

One year after the Taliban takeover, Afghans reflect on their struggles: ‘The world is tired of Afghanistan’

Nikhil Kumar and Fatima Faizi

“It was like a nightmare.”

That is how Tareq Qassemi, a 32-year-old bookseller from Kabul, describes the aftermath of the Taliban’s return to the Afghan capital on Aug. 15, 2021, as U.S. troops departed his country. The United States’ longest war was over, as the last of its soldiers left the country at the end of the month — so was the rule of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan. Qassemi and millions of other Afghans found their lives — as he put it — “flipped upside down.”

Soon after, Qassemi started an underground book club for girls in Kabul; the Taliban came after him, and he was forced to flee the country. One year later, Qassemi lives a hand-to-mouth existence in Pakistan. “The nightmare isn’t over,” he told Grid.

Recruitment is now a real threat to a frail force facing formidable foes


Citing challenges across American society, military leaders say they’re confronting a historic recruiting crisis and running out of time and available and interested talent. Reasons range from regular citizens’ “knowledge gap” due to a lack of interaction with those in uniform, to an “identity gap” that prevents outsiders from seeing themselves as fitting in, to an all-important “trust gap” where young people are “disillusioned” with the armed forces.

Combining internal Pentagon survey data and the Military Officers Association of America’s approaches forecasts a dreary future for the armed forces. Of the 32 million Americans age-eligible for uniformed service, only 23 percent are initially qualified to serve. Once academic eligibility is accounted for, that drops to just over 10 percent (3.53 million). But wait, it gets worse!

How Putin’s Ukraine War Has 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.

A Red Army of Private Ryans: What Wargaming Says about Chinese Willingness to Strike First and Stay Long

Major Jesse R. Humpal Ph.D.

A recent strategic wargame that pitted the People’s Republic of China against a U.S. backed Taiwan, resulted in the trading of intercontinental ballistic missiles, a 25-percent drop in the global economy, 10s of thousands of Chinese, Taiwanese, and Americans dead…and a protracted guerilla conflict on the small island. During the adjudication, leaders from both sides–who were played by some of U.S.’s most prominent academics, military leaders, politicians, and statesmen (they were all men)–concluded that their side behaved with restraint while the other acted as provocateur. Absent from their rationale, was an acknowledgment that in global conflict seeking manifest destiny, if just one of the sides actually acted with restraint, they would be steamrolled.

The resulting stalemate should act as a prophetic reminder that wars are not meant to be just, wars are meant to be won divisively. Countries owe it to their populations not to enter into fair fights. When countries enter into global combat with anything other than total victory as their intent, the conflict is already lost. Scholars have argued for a more humane way of fighting wars. Often with the caveat that if the survival of one’s own nation state is at risk, then the rules of just war can be abandoned. Comparable in nature retaliatory strikes or messaging before firing missiles does not make wars less deadly, they make wars protracted and unwinnable.

The Army is making its first uniform bra. Vets say it’s long overdue.

Janay Kingsberry

When Sarah Hoyt arrived at Fort Jackson, S.C., for basic training in 2002, the Army confiscated all of her personal belongings. That included sports bras she had packed for the 10 weeks of strenuous physical activity that stretched ahead of her, she said.

If she wanted new ones, she had to visit a reception station, which sold just one brand and one style, said Hoyt, now 41 and an Army veteran living at Camp Humphreys in South Korea.

“If racerbacks were uncomfortable for you, too bad. If you needed more support, too bad. If the store was out of your size, too bad,” she said.

So for the first few days of the training program, Hoyt pushed through the discomfort of too-small bras as she cycled through sit-ups, push-ups and two-mile runs. “I was very uncomfortable, to put it mildly,” she said. “They did a good job of putting the girls down, but it was so tight.”

China’s growing reach is transforming a Pacific island chain

Michael E. Miller

HONIARA, Solomon Islands — The half-built stadium is hard to miss in a country of crumbling infrastructure. Cranes swing massive pieces of steel. Welding sparks rain down from the rafters. Trucks hauling concrete rumble late into the night. Above it all soar two flags, one belonging to this underdeveloped island nation and the other to the country building and paying for the $50 million project: China.

“For Shared Future,” read signs in English and Chinese.

That future has its critics, however.

As China rapidly extends its reach in the Pacific, its growing influence is unmistakable in the Solomon Islands, a country with which it established diplomatic ties only in 2019. The relationship between the world’s most populous country and this Pacific archipelago of 700,000 people was thrust into the spotlight this year when word leaked that they had struck a secret security agreement. The United States and its allies fear the pact could pave the way for the establishment of a Chinese military base in the strategically valuable island chain where several thousand American soldiers died during World War II’s Guadalcanal campaign.

Rhythm of War: A Thunderous Blast, and Then a Coffee Break

Andrew E. Kramer

BAKHMUT, Ukraine — Ukrainian soldiers scurried around the howitzer in a field one recent morning. In a flurry of activity, one man lugged a 106-pound explosive shell from a truck to the gun. Another, using a wooden pole, shoved it into the breach.

“Loaded!” the soldier shouted, then knelt on the ground and covered his ears with his hands.

The gun fired with a thunderous boom. A cloud of smoke wafted up. Leaves fluttered down from nearby trees. The shell sailed off toward the Russians with a metallic shriek.

It is a scene repeated thousands of times daily along the frontline in Ukraine: artillery duels and long-range strikes from both sides on targets ranging from infantry to fuel depots to tanks.

Xi Jinping’s Reach Exceeds His Grasp

Kevin Rudd

The Chinese Communist Party will convene in November for its most consequential Party Congress in 40 years. For the party, politics is about securing and sustaining its hold on power. For Xi Jinping, the Party Congress is also about personal power. His goals are to secure reappointment as general secretary and a record third term as president and to make China the pre-eminent regional and global power during his lifetime.

At the 12th Party Congress in 1982, Deng Xiaoping set China’s political and ideological course for the next 35 years. Economic development through market reform and a foreign policy built around engagement with the world (including deeper relations with Washington) were the core ideological principles that defined China during the following decades. They also defined an unofficial social contract between the party and the Chinese people to rebuild its political legitimacy after the wanton destruction of the Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution and, later, the Tiananmen Square massacre.

The Deng era has passed. We are in the new era of Mr. Xi, the first decade of whose rule saw profound ideological moves to the Leninist left in politics, the Marxist left in economics, and the nationalist right in foreign policy. Each of these ideological shifts has manifested itself in real policy change.

U.S. Secretly Bolstered Security at Federal Buildings Against Possible Iranian Attacks After Soleimani Killing

Ian Talley

WASHINGTON—Longstanding U.S. worries about the threat that Iran and its agents pose on U.S. soil intensified in the hours after the 2020 assassination of a prominent Iranian military commander, when the Department of Homeland Security bolstered security at thousands of federal buildings against the possibility of retaliation, according to current and former senior U.S. officials.

That effort, code-named Operation Resilience according to one of the officials, was premised in large part on the concern that Iran would use its proxy Hezbollah to attack the U.S. homeland in response to the killing in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad. The slain commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, headed Iran’s Quds Force, an elite unit responsible for Iran’s shadow wars and military expansion.

China And Russia Can’t Be Ignored By The West Anymore

James Holmes

Over at the Wall Street Journal this week current 19FortyFive Contributing Editor, my former U.S. Naval War College colleague and current dean at the George C. Marshall Center, Andrew Michta, blames a “crisis of disbelief” for keeping the West from mounting a concerted effort to face down aggression in Ukraine and deter it in the Pacific. The West, he says, boasts substantial material advantages over malefactors like China and Russia. But it has squandered its advantages by failing to take the challenge from its antagonists seriously.

You can have all the latent military might in the world yet come up short because you don’t resolve to translate it into working forces bestriding the field. Materially outmatched yet impassioned competitors can come out on top because they make full use of meager resources. That may be the West’s predicament today.

Andrew’s ruminations on disbelief conjure a number of thoughts from the masters of diplomacy and strategy. An odd couple, the French soldier David Galula and the American statesman-scholar Henry Kissinger, spotlight the nature of the challenge. Galula, a veteran of the French-Algerian War of 1954-1962 and an authority on counterinsurgent warfare, observes that an incumbent political regime finds it hard to meet the challenge of a “cold revolutionary war.” By that he means that political leaders, by and large, are reluctant to crush movements that might turn out to be legitimate, loyal opposition. Constitutional restraints and public sentiment fetter what they can do. And so forth.

How Things Could Have Gone Wrong – and Still Can – in the Taiwan Strait

Todd Hall

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced on August 10 that its joint military operations around Taiwan are now completed. This appears to mark a close to a significant display of force in the waters around the island that eclipsed — in terms of both proximity to Taiwan and the number of ballistic missiles fired — the measures Beijing took during the last Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995-96. Beijing has made no secret of the fact that the exercises were a direct response to a visit by the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, to the island on August 2-3, despite China’s explicit warnings not to go.

These exercises were only one part of a larger, coordinated display of outrage (what I have elsewhere called Beijing’s “diplomacy of anger”) that has included not just saber rattling, but also rhetorical barrages, a downgrading of contacts, sanctions on various individuals, punitive economic measures, and calls for the U.S. side to correct its mistakes. There are various possible reasons for why Beijing has responded so vehemently to Pelosi’s visit, including perceptions that Washington is seeking to hollow out previous commitments, concerns about external reputation and domestic politics, or even Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s own views.

The most important election you never heard of

Tom Wheeler

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has been described as “The most important UN agency you have never heard of.” The ITU’s upcoming quadrennial Plenipotentiary Conference, to be held in Bucharest, Romania this September 26th through October 14th, will host the most important election you have never heard of.

The ITU was founded in 1865 as the International Telegraph Union for the purpose of facilitating cross-border operations of the new technology. Since then, it has become a key standard-setter for telecommunications networks. The ITU proudly proclaims, “Every time you make a phonecall via the mobile, access the Internet or send an email, you are benefitting from the work of ITU.”

Technically, the statement is correct since the standards for fiber optic cable and mobile networks are a part of the ITU process. It is a bit hyperbolic, however, when it comes to the internet where the ITU has played a less determinative role.

Pakistan Is Drowning in Debt

Lynne O’Donnell

Pakistan is in a political and economic death spiral that could push it over the same cliff as Sri Lanka, as internal conflict, regional instability, and global uncertainty all threaten the survival of the state.

Pakistan has struggled to recover from the pandemic and is now grappling with another spike in COVID-19 cases. But the country faces life-threatening challenges similar to what Sri Lanka faced before the island government collapsed amid 50 percent inflation; food, fuel, and medicine shortages; power cuts; and, in May, its first failure to make an interest payment on a foreign loan. For Pakistan, life support is a drip feed of loans from foreign friends and emergency injections from multilateral lenders.

Some of Pakistan’s economic woes are internal and even self-inflicted, with subsidies thrown around like confetti, for instance, as successive governments have failed to boost exports that would benefit the working class to balance high-end imports for the military and political elite.

Silicon Lifeline: Western Electronics at the Heart of Russia's War Machine

James Byrne, Gary Somerville, Joe Byrne, Dr Jack Watling

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022 has not gone to plan. Launched in the expectation of a surgical occupation of Ukrainian cities, it has become a grinding attritional struggle that is rapidly degrading the Russian military. This report, which contains an examination of the components and functioning of 27 of Russia’s most modern military systems – including cruise missiles, communications systems and electronic warfare complexes – concludes that the degradation in Russian military capability could be made permanent if appropriate policies are implemented.