21 August 2022

Crimea attacks point to Ukraine’s newest strategy, official says

Liz SlyJohn Hudson and David L. Stern

KYIV, Ukraine — Ukrainian forces are pursuing a new strategy of attacking key military targets deep inside Russian-occupied territory in hopes of undermining Moscow’s ability to hold the front lines ahead of an eventual Ukrainian counteroffensive to reclaim territory, Ukraine’s defense minister said Wednesday.

Ukraine’s conventional forces lack the weapons and ammunition needed to launch a full-scale ground offensive to retake territory from the Russians, Oleksii Reznikov said in an interview. He said he expects that sufficient quantities will eventually be delivered in line with commitments already made by Ukraine’s Western partners.

In the meantime, Ukraine is seeking to erode Russia’s capabilities by attacking its most sensitive military installations from within.

Can think tanks be foreign agents?

Ben Freeman

Late Friday the Department of Justice’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Unit issued guidance indicating that think tanks and non-profits doing work at the behest of a foreign government likely have an obligation to register under FARA.

In a new Advisory Opinion — the FARA Unit’s public, though heavily redacted, responses when organizations ask if they should register or not — the Chief of the FARA Unit argues that the unnamed organization in question should register under FARA as its work for foreign principals included outreach to policymakers in the defense community, facilitating “meetings and new partnerships in the United States, particularly with U.S. government officials,” and has agreed to prepare a study that would “foster bilateral exchange and cooperation between” a foreign government and the United States.

As the Chief argues, each of these actions constitutes “political activity” under the FARA statute, defined as attempts to “influence any agency or official of the United States or any section of the public within the United States with reference to . . . the domestic or foreign policy of the United States.”

The Future of China's Cognitive Warfare: Lessons from the War in Ukraine

Koichiro Takagi

With the development of AI, neuroscience, and digital applications like social media, senior officers and strategists in the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) claim that, in the future, it will be possible to influence the enemy’s brain to affect human cognition directly. Doing so creates the possibility of subduing the enemy without a fight, either by technical or informational means. Will the lessons of the war in Ukraine change their thinking on this subject — and thus alter their plans for possible future invasions of Taiwan?

Russia’s war on Ukraine is not merely kinetic: It involves a fierce struggle over the leaders’ will and public opinion among the people of Ukraine, Russia, and the international community. In this cognitive battle, the dissemination of information through digital means has become a significant factor shaping the war’s likely outcome. However, the war in Ukraine shows the limits of cognitive warfare in providing an independent strategic advantage. If Chinese strategists believe the human brain to be the next battlefield — and there is some evidence they do — Russia’s experience in Ukraine suggests caution in investing too heavily in that theory. Cognitive warfare alone cannot win wars. Western analysts should similarly be careful not to assume China will rely on cognitive or other non-physical measures to subdue Taiwan. Though influencing enemy cognition has long been a prominent subject of discussion among Chinese military theorists, they may not be drawing the same lessons from Ukraine’s resistance that Western commentators think they are.

Sri Lanka’s Crisis Likely Won’t Be Resolved Soon

Akhil Bery

For over one hundred days, Sri Lankans have been protesting in the streets while the country faces its worst economic crisis since independence in 1948. The crisis has long been in the making; successive governments have failed to enact policies that insert Sri Lanka into the global supply chain, instead opting for protectionist measures. This has exacerbated the “twin deficit” problem in which Sri Lanka faces both a budget deficit and a current account deficit. At the same time, Sri Lanka’s debt obligations have expanded as politicians invest in infrastructure projects, including a number of commercially unviable vanity projects. Sri Lanka has raised this funding from both international investors, who account for about 37 percent of the country’s overall debt profile, and bilateral creditors such as China and Japan. China is Sri Lanka’s largest bilateral creditor, accounting for about 10.8 percent of Sri Lanka’s overall debt. These debt obligations are a major reason why Sri Lanka is facing this current crisis.

Playing With Fire in Ukraine

John J. Mearsheimer

Western policymakers appear to have reached a consensus about the war in Ukraine: the conflict will settle into a prolonged stalemate, and eventually a weakened Russia will accept a peace agreement that favors the United States and its NATO allies, as well as Ukraine. Although officials recognize that both Washington and Moscow may escalate to gain an advantage or to prevent defeat, they assume that catastrophic escalation can be avoided. Few imagine that U.S. forces will become directly involved in the fighting or that Russia will dare use nuclear weapons.

Washington and its allies are being much too cavalier. Although disastrous escalation may be avoided, the warring parties’ ability to manage that danger is far from certain. The risk of it is substantially greater than the conventional wisdom holds. And given that the consequences of escalation could include a major war in Europe and possibly even nuclear annihilation, there is good reason for extra concern.

Russia says Ukraine planning 'provocation' at nuclear plant; Kyiv dismisses accusation

LONDON, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Russia said on Thursday there was a risk of a man-made disaster at Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and accused Kyiv and the West of planning "provocation" there on Friday during a visit to Ukraine by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

A Ukrainian official dismissed what he depicted as a cynical assertion by Moscow and said Russian forces should leave the plant they captured soon after invading Ukraine nearly six months ago, demine it and remove any munitions stored there.

The Zaporizhzhia nuclear reactor complex (ZNPP), the largest in Europe, has come under repeated shelling, with both Moscow and Kyiv trading blame.

Russia says Ukrainian forces are recklessly firing at the plant, but Ukraine says Russia is deliberately using the reactor complex as a base to launch attacks against its population.

Reporters in Gaza have never been free

Charles Hurt, David N. Bossie and Tim Murtaugh

Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood branch that rules Gaza, sat out this month’s conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a smaller Gaza-based terrorist group tied to Iran’s rulers. However, perhaps to show it still rules the roost, Hamas issued sweeping restrictions on foreign journalists working in Gaza.

Among them: a prohibition against reporting on Gazans killed by misfired Palestinian rockets and a requirement that Israel be blamed for the battle.

In addition, Hamas ordered all foreign correspondents to employ Palestinian “sponsors” who must submit full reports on where those correspondents go, what they do and any “illogical questions” they ask.

Leaders of Ukraine, U.N. seek to secure Russian-held nuclear plant

Natalia Zinets and Andrea Shalal

KYIV/LVIV, Ukraine, Aug 19 (Reuters) - The U.N. chief and the presidents of Turkey and Ukraine have discussed ways to end the war started by Russia and secure Europe's largest nuclear power station, as Russia and Ukraine traded accusations of new shelling near the plant.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters after talks in Lviv, Ukraine, on Thursday he was gravely concerned about circumstances at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and called for military equipment and personnel to be withdrawn.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he, Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy discussed building on a recent positive atmosphere to revive peace negotiations with Russia that took place in Istanbul in March.

In a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey, Russia and Ukraine reached an agreement in July for Russia to lift a blockade of Ukrainian grain shipments, and exports resumed at the beginning of August.

Americans are paying for slogans on bombs aimed at Russians

John Hudson and

KYIV, Ukraine — At a military position near the front line, members of a Ukrainian military unit snickered as a soldier with tattooed arms scrawled a phallic symbol on an artillery shell designed for an M777 howitzer cannon.

At a separate position, a Ukrainian soldier loaded a shell that read “Hello from Texas” into a medium-range cannon. Seconds before it fired with a loud boom, the operator announced, “from Texas” in a gleeful Slavic accent.

The emergence of slogans and symbols emblazoned on U.S.-made artillery — originally a creative outlet for Ukrainian soldiers serving in the country’s east — has become a growing and lucrative fundraising tactic for Ukrainians in the nearly six-month war.

Local crowdfunding websites have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the war effort since Russia invaded on Feb. 24. They offer people anywhere in the world the chance to commission a message on a growing menu of bombs and missiles before they are fired at advancing Russian forces.

Russia's War in Ukraine Is How the Soviet Union Finally Ends

Hal Brands

Wars that are caused by people can also be caused by deep historical processes. For proof, look at the fighting in Ukraine. That conflict is the doing of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a ruler determined to reassert Russia’s greatness by destroying an independent Ukraine. Yet it is also part of a bigger story about what happens when empires break up.

The fighting in Ukraine is the latest and worst of the wars fought over the remnants of the Soviet Union, an empire whose death throes continue some thirty years after the union itself ceased to exist. It will not, unfortunately, be the last.

The 20th century saw the breaking of the great Eurasian empires that once dominated global affairs. World War I destroyed the Russian, Austro-Hungarian, Ottoman and German empires. World War II brought down empires ruled by Tokyo, Rome and (once again) Berlin. Decolonization subsequently finished off the British, French and Portuguese empires. And the end of the Cold War killed the Soviet Union, which first lost its satrapies in Eastern Europe and then disintegrated into 15 independent states.

The AI-Surveillance Symbiosis in China: A Big Data China Event

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Scott Kennedy: Welcome to this CSIS event on AI – “The AI-Surveillance Symbiosis in China.”

Artificial intelligence makes people think about a lot of things. In some ways, it’s a huge opportunity. It’s unbelievably impressive and, for mortals like me, oftentimes very difficult to understand. It’s also connected to some of the most entrepreneurial parts of China. But there’s also lots of concerns about artificial intelligence as it intersects with China’s political system. We are worried about economic competitiveness in the West, national security, human rights. Everyone has their favorite sci-fi scenario that they’re worried about in the – in the autonomous vehicle that they’re driving and who’s going to take it over while they’re going across a bridge. Anyway, we need to make sense of this.

There’s a lot of writing and thinking about this, but not enough good writing and thinking. But today we’re going to share with you some fantastic research and also some commentators who have done some phenomenal work, and today we’re going to try and really educate everybody on both where China and AI intersect and what it should mean for the Washington policy community.

Transforming European Defense

Max Bergmann, Director, Colin Wall and Sean Monaghan


Russia’s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine has mobilized European nations to think more seriously about security and defense. In addition to sending an impressive surge of military equipment to Ukraine and making commitments at the Madrid summit to reinforce the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) eastern flank with troops and materiel, the European Union also took new steps in its evolution as a credible defense actor. Perhaps most critically, European nations have also announced substantial increases to their defense budgets. A burst of political will—ignited by the invasion and fanned by its brutality—has fueled this response.1

These developments are significant, but it would be premature to assume they mark the beginning of a new era. A true paradigm shift will require a sustained and focused effort to lock in the commitments that have already been made, ensure efficient implementation of those commitments, and build the institutional structure necessary to keep European defense moving in the desired direction.

New Century, Old Taliban

Marti Flacks and Lauren Burke

By the time the Taliban were toppled from power by a U.S.-led coalition of military forces in late 2001, they sat alongside North Korea, Burma, and a handful of others as among the most repressive regimes in the world in terms of political rights and civil liberties, causing some to draw parallels with Pol Pot’s brutal regime in Cambodia. The 2002 State Department Human Rights Report, covering the last year of Taliban rule, found “there was no countrywide recognized constitution, rule of law, or independent judiciary.” The situation for women was particularly egregious: “Women and girls were subjected to rape, kidnaping, and forced marriage. Taliban restrictions against women and girls remained widespread, institutionally sanctioned, and systematic.”

Although the 20 years between Taliban governments was hardly a panacea for Afghan citizens, the overall human rights situation—especially for women—improved. Between 2001 and 2021, women leaders had been elected to represent their communities at the local and national level, and despite threats of violence, women made up more than a third of the 2018 electorate. Maternal mortality was cut in half between 2000 and 2017, and life expectancy for women increased by eight years. And an entire generation of girls was born in a country where they had the legal right to go to school and hold a job. By 2019, 85 percent of girls were enrolled in primary school, and women’s participation in the labor force had reached 22 percent. Equally importantly, attitudes were changing; that same year, more than three quarters of Afghans polled agreed that women should be allowed to work outside the home.

Taiwan tensions

China is framing the Taiwan visit of Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives, as part of a big shift in US policy towards open support for Taiwanese independence and away from its traditional “strategic ambiguity” of deterring China from invading Taiwan and Taipei from declaring nationhood. Deemed a security threat, this perceived repositioning is allowing Beijing to show greater resolve in and further justification for its “historic mission” of re-unifying with Taiwan. China has also suspended cooperation with the US in eight areas, including climate, military and transnational crime.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Eastern Theater Command said on its Weibo account that regular exercises will be conducted in the Taiwan Strait to step up combat readiness, after completing the recent mission. This is further indication of Beijing’s ongoing intention to build up its military presence in the region. In a white paper released Wednesday, Beijing said it will not renounce the use of force and will take all necessary measures to guard against all "separatist activities".

Didi fine marks new phase in Beijing’s rectification of tech sector

Vincent Brussee

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on July 21 announced an 8 billion CNY (1.2 billion EUR) fine on tech giant Didi, the outcome of a year-long cybersecurity review initiated two days after Didi’s initial public offering (IPO) in the United States. The fine – worth over four per cent of Didi’s annual revenue – is the first time the CAC has shown its teeth as a guardian of citizens’ personal data. Yet its real motivation appears to be protecting national (cyber-)security, which is perhaps why the CAC remains secretive about the details of the case.

The CAC has publicly emphasized Didi’s “despicable” violations of personal information regulations as the reason for the mega-fine. These include the collection of nearly twelve million screen captures from users’ mobile phones and the storage of millions of personal ID numbers in unencrypted plain text. The regulators emphasis on violations of China’s newly-enacted Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL) is convenient, as it allows the CAC to impose higher fines than it could have imposed under older cyber-related laws.

The 20th Party Congress: Xi Set to Score Big in Composition of Next Leadership Corps

Willy Wo-Lap Lam


Despite the resentment among many top cadres against the personality cult that has been relentlessly built up around President and commander-in-chief Xi Jinping, the Machiavellian infighter is expected to remain on top when seats for the Politburo and other top-level leadership bodies are unveiled at the upcoming 20th Party Congress this fall. As the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) and the country’s “chairman of everything,” the CCP General Secretary bears ultimate responsibility for the nation’s dire economic conditions, which include mounting indebtedness incurred by enterprises and regional administrations (China Brief, July 18). In terms of foreign policy, Beijing’s “no limits” quasi-alliance with Russia – and its prolonged military drills around Taiwan in the wake of U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit–has exacerbated the “new Cold War” between the pro-democracy Western alliance and the “autocratic axis” formed by China, Russia, North Korea and other authoritarian states.

Xi is not known as a brilliant or skilled policy-maker in either the economic or diplomatic arenas, but the supreme leader is a master of personal empire-building, particularly in enlarging the influence of the so-called Xi Jinping Faction in CCP politics. This clique, which was miniscule when Xi became party chief in late 2012, has become the CCP’s dominant faction. Members include Xi’s former aides and cronies from Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, where he served from 1985 to 2007. Many of Xi’s protégés hail from his home province of Shaanxi as well as the putative New Helmsman’s alma mater, Tsinghua University. In the past ten years, the lingxiu (领袖- “leader”), as some accolades now refer to Xi, has also promoted a dozen odd cadres and scientists from the 军工航天系 (jungong-hangtianxi) or defense-aerospace industry sector leaders to top civilian slots (Chinafocus.com, July 15; China Brief, May 27).

Electronic Warfare: Global Trends & Turkish Capabilities Report | SETA Emerging Military Technologies Series .1.

Feridun Taşdan

Militaries around the world place particular importance on developing and fielding electronic warfare (EW) systems. This is based on the fact that states believe controlling the electromagnetic spectrum (EMS) is key to gaining superiority on the battlefield to defeat an adversary. Electronic warfare is defined as any action or capability of using EMS to detect, deceive and disrupt the opponent’s weapon systems such as radars, communication systems, command control systems, data networks, or other digital infrastructures using EMS. Due to their invaluable role on the battlefield, EW technologies can be placed at the top of the list of military technologies that are highly protected and controlled by the countries that developed the technology. Thus, developing national EW systems indigenously comes with great security benefits. Against this backdrop, this report sheds light on the key aspects of EW by focusing on global trends and analyzing Turkish capabilities.

Japan’s Security Policy Evolution

Tsuneo Watanabe


Japan’s defense and security policy is steadily moving in a pragmatic and proactive direction toward becoming a “normal country” through “passive realism,” although the direction and speed of change is not dramatic or linear. Interactions between think tanks’ policy recommendations and the government’s realization of them since 1995 illustrate in part this development process. For example, following a committee’s suggestions to revitalize the Japan-U.S. alliance to deal with contingencies on the Korean Peninsula, the Japanese government adopted a related law after it agreed upon the 1997 Guidelines for Japan-U.S. Defense Cooperation with its U.S. counterpart. The Abe cabinets implemented many ambitious policies suggested in think tank proposals, including permitting the exercise of the right of collective defense, creating the National Security Council, and establishing the National Security Strategy. Currently, the Japanese government is conducting a series of conversations with security experts to revise the National Security Strategy and the ruling LDP has announced a general policy proposal. The proposal recommends that the Kishida cabinet initiate the development of an indigenous counterstrike capability and increase the defense budget toward 2% of GDP. Past interactions between policy think tanks and the Japanese government suggest that the government will continue to take steps toward becoming a so-called normal country, although such steps could be gradual and incremental.

An interview with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

Isabelle Khurshudyan

KYIV, Ukraine — Over the past six months, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has become an inspiring wartime leader and champion of his country. During an hour-long, wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post at the presidential office, where hallways are kept dark and are lined with sandbags to protect against Russian attack, Zelensky discussed U.S. warnings about Russia preparing to launch a full-scale invasion — and if he believed them.

The following is a translated and lightly edited transcript of excerpts from the interview. The full transcript will be published at a later date.

Q: When CIA Director William J. Burns met with you here in Kyiv in January, one of the things he told you was that the Russians would attempt a landing at the airport in Hostomel. What was your reaction when that actually happened on Feb. 24? Should there have been more Ukrainian forces already there?

175 Days Of Battle: Putin Has No Way To Win The War In Ukraine

Stavros Atlamazoglou

Another day in the war in Ukraine has passed (the 175th since the start of the invasion), and the Russian military continues to flounder.

The Russian Casualties

Despite Moscow’s claims about a war that is going according to plan, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is suffering from many ailments, and heavy casualties is probably the most important. Simply put, the Russian military is losing more men than it can put on the frontlines, growing more ineffective with every passing day.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Wednesday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 44,100 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 233 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 196 attack and transport helicopters, 1,886 tanks, 993 artillery pieces, 4,162 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 263 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 15 boats and cutters, 3,054 vehicles and fuel tanks, 136 anti-aircraft batteries, 792 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 93 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 190 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

One Year After Seizing Power, Is The Taliban Here To Stay?

Abubakar Siddique

One year after toppling the internationally recognized Afghan government and seizing power, the Taliban has consolidated its tight grip over the war-torn country.

The extremist group has monopolized power, sidelining many ethnic and political groups. It has also jailed and beaten journalists and rights defenders who have protested the Taliban’s severe restrictions on women’s rights and press freedom.

The small, albeit sustained, resistance to Taliban rule has failed to make significant inroads. Meanwhile, the militants have waged a bloody war against the rival Islamic State- Khorasan (IS-K) extremist group. The Taliban’s campaign has blunted, but not defeated IS-K, which has continued to stage deadly bombings in major cities.

Experts said the biggest threat to the Taliban is growing disunity. Rifts have widened as rival factions tussle for political power and economic resources.

Liberals must overcome their aversion to conflict


At the breakfast table, George Orwell once cut in half a live wasp and watched a “stream of jam” leak out the back of it. To “drive a bayonet into a Buddhist priest’s guts” was another urge from time to time. A flatmate of his recalled the “sadistic exaltation” with which he turned violent one night.

 I am supposed to say something here about the crooked timber of humanity. “Look, even this scourge of fascists and communists was a flawed man.” But what if the private vice enabled the public greatness, instead of standing in contrast to it? What if Orwell’s trace of malice allowed him to recognise the real thing in Hitler and Stalin, while mild liberals of the HG Wells sort couldn’t? This might be the key to Churchill, too. He could see Nazism for what it was precisely because the appeal of hierarchy and conquest was not wholly lost on him. The woke left is a threat to liberalism. 

So is the post-truth right. But each is now well understood. The extent to which liberals themselves are a problem isn’t. Because their creed puts such stress on reason, it attracts those who are hopeless at conflict: at the recognition of its frequent necessity, and at the actual waging of it. 

How the U.S. lost Moral Justification for the War in Afghanistan

Dan Pace

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to destroy the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks, dismantle the Taliban government that provided the perpetrators with safe haven, and deny Afghanistan as a base of operations for future terrorist attacks. At the time, the war received widespread international support and was generally regarded as “a legally appropriate use of force,” but by the war’s end in 2021, regard for the justice of the U.S. cause had diminished somewhat. (Lietzau 2004, 415-416) What changed, and how did the U.S. lose the moral high ground it enjoyed in 2001?

As it turns out, a great deal changed. Over twenty years, the U.S. war objectives changed, the participants in the conflict changed, and even the cause the U.S. was fighting for was itself different in many ways. By evaluating these changes against Just War Theory’s criteria for Jus ad bellum, this paper demonstrates that these changes undermined the justice of the U.S. cause because objectives that were just to begin with became disproportionate or otherwise inappropriate as conditions on the ground and military objectives changed. The paper then offers thoughts on how the U.S. – or other future belligerents – can avoid finding themselves stuck in an unjust war, and what choices they have if they do.

Who Will Establish Metaverse Ethics?


LONDON – The “metaverse” isn’t here yet, and when it arrives it will not be a single domain controlled by any one company. Facebook wanted to create that impression when it changed its name to Meta, but its rebranding coincided with major investments by Microsoft and Roblox. All are angling to shape how virtual reality and digital identities will be used to organize more of our daily lives – from work and health care to shopping, gaming, and other forms of entertainment.

The metaverse is not a new concept. The term was coined by sci-fi novelist Neal Stephenson in his 1992 book Snow Crash, which depicts a hyper-capitalist dystopia in which humanity has collectively opted into life in virtual environments. So far, the experience has been no less dystopian here in the real world. Most experiments with immersive digital environments have been marred immediately by bullying, harassment, digital sexual assault, and all the other abuses that we have come to associate with platforms that “move fast and break things.”

Why AI Is the New Frontier in China-US Competition

James Borton

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan and its consequences marked the latest flashpoint in the simmering geopolitical tensions between China and the United States, and is only rapidly exacerbating bilateral competition. While the Chinese military’s recent show of force in the Taiwan Strait served to put on display the vast strides in capabilities it has made since the previous Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1995-96, military and economic competition are only the most obvious facets in a broader struggle for supremacy in a changing global order.

The recent unveiling of massive infrastructure investment plans from both Beijing and Washington are, arguably, where the most serious struggle takes place, because of the far-reaching implications attached to these programs. They are evidence of both countries seeking to spend their way out of challenging fiscal climates, but their success will also serve to signal the superiority of their respective systems of political and economic governance and will lay the ground for global dominance for decades to come.

Chinese Navy Ship Docks in Sri Lanka, Stokes Worry in India

Eranga Jayawardena

A Chinese navy vessel arrived at a Beijing-built port in southern Sri Lanka on Tuesday, after its port call was earlier delayed due to apparent security concerns raised by India.

The Yuan Wang 5 sailed into the Hambantota port and was welcomed by Sri Lankan and Chinese officials. The development could spark worry in India, which views China’s rising influence in the Indian Ocean with suspicion.

Sri Lanka has referred to the Yuan Wang 5 as a “scientific research ship,” but there are fears in India that the vessel could be used to surveil the region, with multiple media reports calling it a “dual-use spy ship.”

“The Yuan Wang 5 is a powerful tracking vessel whose significant aerial reach — reportedly around 750 km — means that several ports in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh could be on China’s radar,” the Indian Express newspaper wrote.

Western Disengagement Will Turn Afghanistan Into a Pariah State

Hameed Hakimi and Mark Bowden

Despite the U.S. drone attack in July that killed al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in the heart of Kabul, Afghanistan’s woes and the plight of the Afghan people remain inherently unchanged.

Afghanistan dominated global headlines for a few weeks in August last year as tens of thousands of Afghans camped at Kabul International Airport with the desperate hope to secure a seat on one of the Western military evacuation flights. The speed of the previous Afghan government’s collapse, which was precipitated by an unconditional U.S.-led NATO military withdrawal, caught world leaders, diplomats, and aid officials in Kabul by surprise. Even the Afghan people and the Taliban were astonished by the speed of events.

Potential Logistical and Operational Costs of a China-Taiwan Conflict

Sara Hsu

Whatever your position is on the U.S.-China Taiwan question, one cannot disagree that an increased conflict between China and Taiwan would result in a massive disruption to global supply chains. We have seen a recent preview into the potential disruption – China’s military drills in response to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit disrupted key sea and airspace in the Taiwan Strait. Shipping vessels and planes were forced to find alternate routes in the region.

During Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese Ministry of Defense warned ships and aircraft to remain out of six different areas as China ran drills. Three areas in or near the Taiwan Strait were blocked off, causing ships and planes to cancel or reroute transportation.

While one might think such a narrow strait should be relatively unimportant, there is only one other waterway that ships can travel going to or from the important South China Sea: the Luzon Strait. This would add a few more days to ocean travel time. The Luzon Strait, however, is frequently churned up during typhoon season and therefore risky to travel.

What’s Next for Multilateralism and the Liberal International Order?

The United Nations’ ability to carry out its mission has been severely constrained in recent years by its member states. And many of its agencies are now facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work. In fact, multilateralism of all stripes is under strain, from the International Criminal Court to the World Trade Organization—to the World Health Organization.

The United Nations is perhaps the most prominent manifestation of an international order built on balancing sovereign equality with great-power politics in a bid to maintain international peace. But its capacity to do that—and to meet its other objectives, which include protecting human rights and delivering aid—have been severely constrained in recent years by its member states.

The real power in the U.N. lies with the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council—the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain and France. And they have used their positions to limit the institution’s involvement in major recent conflicts, including civil wars in Syria and Yemen. But perhaps no global crisis has underscored the Security Council’s limitations more than Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Because of its veto, Moscow has been able to block all efforts at the council to condemn or intervene in a war of aggression that clearly violates the United Nations Charter.

Afghanistan Is Not Just Washington’s Problem Anymore

Matthew C. Mai 

“If we had been attacked on September 11, 2001, from Yemen instead of Afghanistan, would we have ever gone to war in Afghanistan—even though the Taliban controlled Afghanistan in 2001?”

These words, spoken by President Joe Biden last year during his final speech defending his decision to end America’s longest war, point to an indisputable geopolitical reality for the United States. Afghanistan, and Central Asia more broadly, do not implicate core U.S. security or economic interests. The successful CIA drone strike that killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in Kabul last month showed that the United States retains the capability to conduct narrowly-tailored over-the-horizon counterterrorism missions against high-value targets without a permanent forward military presence.

Instead, for twenty years, the United States sacrificed trillions of dollars and thousands of lives pursuing broad counterterrorism and state-building missions that neighboring powers with a greater stake in Afghanistan’s security regime should have been doing themselves. Today, the United States should keep passing the buck.