1 September 2022

Threat Inflation and the Chinese Military

Michael D. Swaine


Most of Washington and a significant section of the American public have now come to view the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as a dire threat in virtually all relevant domains: political, economic, technological, military, and social. Indeed, the world is now viewed in Washington as being primarily defined by a new era of “great power competition” between the United States and China or a larger values-based and threat-laden struggle between “democracy and authoritarianism” represented by those two countries.

This Manichean framing of global politics and strategies is being driven further by the Russia-Ukraine war, which is used by some to link Russia to China even more deeply (given Beijing’s rhetorical support for Russia in the conflict), thereby supposedly resulting in an even more threatening autocratic challenge to peace and order.1 As a result, the perceived threats in each of the above domains are in almost every case being defined in zero-sum terms, usually based on dire estimates of current and projected Chinese capabilities and intentions to do harm. And such threat perceptions are often made worse by references to the supposedly predatory and hostile nature of the Chinese political system and the ideology of the PRC regime.

In various ways, Beijing is thus seen as a vaguely defined existential threat, a rapidly growing military and economic power bent on global domination through predatory trade and investment practices and/or armed coercion, a burgeoning high-tech superpower determined to control the key drivers of growth, a hostile opponent of the existing so-called rules-based international order, and a pernicious threat to democratic societies from within.2 Moreover, in many instances, the alarm over such supposed threats is magnified by the claim that Washington had been essentially asleep at the wheel until recently as China worked to undermine the U.S. and democratic societies, or, alternatively, that Beijing has become hugely more threatening under the recent, more aggressive, and repressive leadership of Xi Jinping.3

Why Colby Is Wrong on Taiwan

Michael D. Swaine

In his recent Foreign Affairs article “America Must Prepare for a War Over Taiwan,” Elbridge Colby argues that the solution to sustaining stability in the Taiwan Strait is for the United States to greatly ramp up its defense spending in Asia in order to deter an otherwise likely Chinese attack on Taiwan and preserve peace in Asia.

Yet instead of preserving the peace, Colby’s approach would guarantee conflict, produce an open-ended U.S-China arms race, significantly increase the chance of further conflicts over Taiwan or other issues, and destabilize the global economy.

Colby consistently fails to adopt any frame of analysis for the Taiwan issue other than a simplistic force-on-force approach. In doing so, he overestimates the capabilities of the Chinese military to take Taiwan and totally ignores the reality that even a militarily inferior Beijing will still employ force against the island if it believes that the United States were using its military might to back a clear bid by Taipei for independence.

Ukraine turning point? The offensive against Russia that may decide the war

Joshua Keating

The precision-guided rockets that slammed into the Antonivskyi Bridge across the Dnieper River in the southern region of Kherson last week may have marked the beginning of a new, high-stakes phase in the war in Ukraine. Kherson is the only provincial capital that Russian forces control — and the bridge is a vital conduit for resupplying those forces.

According to Ukrainian and Western assessments, the bridge is now unusable for military traffic, and the other bridges have been struck as well. According to an assessment from Britain’s Ministry of Defense, the strikes have left Russia’s 49th Army, stationed on the west side of the Dnieper River, “highly vulnerable” and the city of Kherson “virtually cut off from the occupied territories.”

Ukrainian forces have been launching limited counteroffensives around Kherson for months now, but the recent strikes, which were made possible by Ukraine’s new U.S.-supplied High-Mobility Advanced Rocket Systems (HIMARS), appear to be the opening phase of an all-out Ukrainian offensive to retake the city.

China sprinting ahead as a space power while US lacks ‘urgency,’ new report frets


WASHINGTON — China is now “on track” to outpace the United States as the leading space power by 2045, according to the latest version of the space industrial base workshop report spearheaded in part by the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit.

A reason for this pessimistic viewpoint is a collective “a lack of urgency” across the US government and industry, as well as a bureaucratic environment “that is constructively delaying U.S. commercial progress through regulatory burden,” states the report, “State of the Space Industrial Base: Winning the New Space Race for Sustainability, Prosperity and the Planet.”

“China could surpass the US in space superiority if we don’t increase our investment,” DIU Director Michael Brown said on Wednesday at an event sponsored by the Atlantic Council to release the 2022 report.

America’s Frontier Fund and the Quad Investor Network

Daniel Pereira

In July, Cyberscoop.com reported on the launch of America’s Frontier Fund (AFF), which is an extraordinary public/private partnership and non-profit organization dedicated to America’s Great Power competitive advantage through global technology leadership in what some call “deep tech” or “frontier tech.”

The initial Cyberscoop coverage suggested that the fund was dedicated to cybersecurity, but upon further research and analysis, the fund is designed for a much broader portfolio of technology investments. By all accounts, the AFF is serious business and a refreshing private sector commitment at scale – with the tech industry heavyweights putting financial resources on the table along with the unique expertise of equally as impressive a roster of government policy experts:

“An investment fund supported by the White House and partially bankrolled by tech heavyweights Peter Thiel, Eric Schmidt, and Craig Newmark is making a big bet that “deep technologies” will give the U.S. the edge over China — especially when it comes to cybersecurity. In addition to donations from former Schmidt, Palantir co-founder Thiel and Craigslists founder Newmark, AFF’s high-level connections are evident in the national security and industry credentials of its board of directors, which includes former Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy; Ashton B. Carter, former secretary of defense; former Deputy Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Joanne Isham; former IBM CEO Sam Palmisano; and H.R. McMaster, former national security adviser.

EU faces awful winters without gas cap - minister

Alys Davies

Tinne Van der Straeten said gas prices should be frozen and not used to dictate the price of electricity.

EU states have been struggling with huge energy price hikes since key gas supplier Russia invaded Ukraine in February, triggering sanctions.

Countries backing Ukraine are trying to cut imports of Russian gas and oil.

Russia, which supplied the EU with 40% of its gas last year, has in turn restricted supplies.

As well as gas, electricity prices have reached record highs.

Natural gas is still widely used to generate electricity. Because gas prices have risen, this costs more.

Ukraine’s Strikes Are Setting the Stage for a Rough Russian Winter


Many have speculated that recent strikes on Russian bases in Crimea are the start of a much-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive aimed at regaining territory lost since the February invasion. But experts say the attacks are more likely a bid to prevent Russian forces from resupplying or further advancing.

A series of Aug. 9 explosions at Saki Air Base and Aug. 20 strikes on the Russian Navy’s Sevastopol homeport seemed to mark a new phase of the conflict as Russian forces re-oriented to focus on the Donbas and southern Ukraine. “Ukraine’s long-awaited southern counteroffensive begins with a bang in Crimea,” Politico said.

But one military analyst specializing in Eastern Europe said Ukraine’s aims were likely more modest.

“They're not trying to take out the Black Sea Fleet,” said the analyst, who wished to remain anonymous citing continuing work with the U.S. government. “They're trying to take out the air support that's operating out of Crimea to support the Russian southern front. And they are trying to take out the main rail links from Crimea into Kherson,” a Ukranian city currently under Russian control.

Are China and the US edging toward ‘Henry Kissinger’s war’?


Henry Kissinger was present at the creation of contemporary U.S.- China relations and assiduously nurtured them through eight U.S. administrations and five Chinese rulers over half a century. But now he is concerned that the fruition of his long-entrenched engagement policies could lead to a Sino-U.S. war with “catastrophic” global consequences. Yet, during a Wilson Center interview in September 2018, Kissinger acknowledged no inherent flaw in the approach that strengthened China’s communist regime and weakened the West.

“[A]t the beginning, we made a number of deals, which, in purely economic terms, seemed to be balanced in favor of China … because we thought growth in Chinese strength compensated for that imbalance in the Soviet Union. We felt we had an obligation, for the preservation of peace and stability, not to make the transformation of China such a goal that it would stop everything else,” Kissinger said in that interview.

But he and President Nixon also made a consequential security “deal”: The U.S. would show good faith by withdrawing the 7th Fleet from the Taiwan Strait and begin removing forces from Taiwan, in exchange for China allowing Nixon’s historic visit.

Russia Confounds the West by Recapturing Its Oil Riches

Joe Wallace and Anna Hirtenstein

Russia pumps almost as much oil into the global market as it did before its invasion of Ukraine. With oil prices up, Moscow is also making more money.

Demand from some of the world’s largest economies has given Russian President Vladimir Putin the upper hand in the energy battle that shadows the war in Ukraine, and has confounded the West’s bid to cripple Russia’s economy with sanctions.

Sales are booming in Russia’s export market, the world’s largest in crude and refined fuels. And new trade arrangements have given Mr. Putin cover to use natural-gas exports as an economic weapon against Ukraine’s European allies. Before the war, Russia supplied Europe with 40% of its gas. It has since throttled flows through the Nord Stream pipeline to Germany and other conduits, driving prices higher and putting pressure on European households and businesses.

Oil revenue more than makes up the difference. “Russia is swimming in cash,” said Elina Ribakova, deputy chief economist at the Institute of International Finance. Moscow earned $97 billion from oil and gas sales through July this year, about $74 billion of that from oil, she said.

Beijing’s Debts Come Due How a Burst Real-Estate Bubble Threatens China’s Economy

Brad Setser

The Chinese real estate sector is teetering. The largest private Chinese developer has defaulted on its external bonds. Most developers are struggling to refinance their domestic bonds. Home prices have gone down for the last 11 months. New construction is down 45 percent. The most acute stress can be traced back to developers who raised large sums by preselling yet-to-be built apartments. Some, however, failed to set aside reserves to guarantee the completion of these units, and households that took out mortgages to buy these homes have threatened to stop paying.

China’s real estate crisis poses financial risks, but it is ultimately a crisis of economic growth. Since the development and construction of new property is estimated to drive over a quarter of the country’s current economic activity, it is not difficult to see how a temporary downturn in the property market could become a prolonged economic slump.

The country’s state-backed financial system can still take large losses and thus avoid a financial meltdown. One state-backed institution can put money into another state institution, limiting the chance that losses on lending to a failed property firm will lead to the collapse of its creditors and trigger a cascade of defaults. The Chinese government can ask state-backed developers to complete building projects abandoned by private developers, providing financial help through the state policy banks. Pervasive government intervention isn’t the best way to run an economy over time, but the presence of institutions with deep pockets can prevent the destabilizing withdrawal of all financing to the property market.

How Ukraine Is Remaking War

Lauren Kahn

Most experts expected Kyiv would fall quickly at the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian forces were fighting against a military that was bigger and better armed. Russia’s troops had more combat experience and funding. The question was not if Moscow’s forces would depose the Ukrainian government but when regime change would happen.

Of course, Kyiv didn’t fall. Instead, the Ukrainian military stopped Russia’s assault on the capital and forced a retreat. Russia downsized its initial mission from wholesale conquest, and the war now mostly consists of grinding offensives and counteroffensives in Ukraine’s east and south. The question is no longer how long Kyiv can hold out. It is whether the Ukrainian government can reclaim occupied land.

There are several reasons for Ukraine’s surprising success. The Russian military’s logistical incompetence, its puzzling inability to secure early air superiority, and low troop morale all played a part. So did Western support for Ukraine and the sheer tenacity of the country’s soldiers. But these explanations do not tell the full story. The Ukrainian military deserves recognition not just for its troops’ motivation but also for its technical savvy. It has used cutting-edge technologies and adapted existing capabilities in creative new ways, on and off the kinetic battlefield. It has deployed loitering munitions—missiles with the ability to stay on station until an operator locates a target—and modified commercial drones that can destroy Russian troops and equipment on the cheap. It has tapped commercial satellite data to track Russian troop movements in near real time. And Kyiv has wisely used artificial intelligence, in conjunction with this satellite imagery, to create software that helps artillery locate, aim, and destroy targets in the most efficient and lethal manner possible.

Pentagon’s Plan to Reduce Civilian Harm May Not Work in Future Conflicts, Experts Say

Greg Hadley

The Pentagon’s Civilian Harm Mitigation and Response Action Plan released Aug. 25 details nearly a dozen objectives creating institutions and processes to reduce the likelihood of civilian casualties.

But critics say the plan’s objectives may do more harm than good, creating extra layers of bureaucracy for planners and operators to navigate, and that it won’t work in a large-scale conflict.

In a memo accompanying the release of the action plan, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III called its objectives “ambitious but necessary,” and press secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder told reporters that the plan will “enable DOD to move forward on this important initiative.”

Austin first ordered drafting an action plan in January, not long after a series of reports from the New York Times in late 2021 detailed the impact of airstrikes that led to hundreds of civilian casualties in the Middle East. Those reports followed the high-profile deaths of 10 civilians in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August 2021, caused by an erroneous strike during the U.S. withdrawal.

Road to Nowhere: Debts Mount with China's Prestigious Silk Road Project

Georg FahrionChristoph Giesen

The tower of Colombo can be seen from quite a distance. Its dome is clad in pink glass shaped like petals, while the shaft is of green concrete. Chinese companies built the Lotus Tower in Sri Lanka's biggest city as a symbol of Beijing's friendship and Sri Lanka's golden future: The island nation's economy was to blossom like a lotus flower.

Today, the tower looms over the city like a 350-meter admonition. The premises are either empty or remain unfinished, 10 years after the start of construction. The lighting is switched off at night, and the Lotus Tower stands in darkness, as do many of the city's streets. Sri Lanka has to save money.

The South Asian country is bankrupt, with the government declaring insolvency in May. Sri Lanka owes creditors abroad more than $50 billion, and because the country can no longer pay for all the imports it needs, it is suffering through shortages of fuel, food and medicines. However, what Sri Lanka does have in abundance are the many "white elephants," as they call the outsized construction projects that are neither economically productive nor necessary. Many were designed by Chinese companies, built by Chinese workers flown in and financed with Chinese loans – money from the Silk Road project.

U.S. Strategy and the Future of Money: Advancing U.S. Interests During a Financial Transformation

Alyce Abdalla


The United States has enjoyed decades of influence over the international financial system thanks to the unique role of the U.S. dollar in the international economy. This dollar dominance could even be considered an element of U.S. power, underpinning a range of political and economic tools used by policymakers to advance U.S. strategic interests. The Chinese-led development of a payment process using Central Bank Digital Currencies threatens the current role of the U.S. dollar in the global financial system, potentially eliminating a significant source of U.S. power and prosperity. The U.S. dollar has been the dominant international currency since World War II, essential for international trade and economic stability—over 88 percent of international transactions involve U.S. dollars and over 55 percent of global reserves are held in dollars.[1] The U.S. dollar’s current role both reflects and contributes to the strength of the U.S. economy; any change to this role would have far-reaching effects on the United States, including complicating the financing of the U.S. government budget. China’s push for an international payment system using Central Bank Digital Currencies threatens to weaken U.S. security, hurt the U.S. economy, and decrease the effectiveness of U.S. policy tools.

Given this threat, the United States should aggressively strengthen the current international payment system, ensure U.S. sanctions policies do not accelerate the growth of an alternative payment process, and lead the development of central bank digital currency payments to shape international norms regulating a new blockchain-based system. New technology is almost certain to transform the current financial system; the challenge for the United States, as the dominant country in the current system, is to manage this inevitable transition in a way that best serves the U.S. national interest in the face of increasing competition from China.

Learned Helplessness China’s Military Instrument and Southeast Asian Security

Zachary Abuza and Cynthia Watson

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has developed a sophisticated toolbox to advance its national interest. The country’s growing and multifaceted military instrument is meant to signal, compel, deter, and engage in joint-kinetic operations. But most of all, it is meant to awe regional states into acquiescing to Chinese interests, values, and interpretations of international law. In short, it aims to reinforce a notion of learned helplessness.

Xi Jinping pledged at a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in November 2021 not to seek dominance in Southeast Asia, saying that “China resolutely opposes hegemonism and power politics, wishes to maintain friendly relations with its neighbors and jointly nurture lasting peace in the region and absolutely will not seek hegemony or even less, bully the small.”[1] Yet, China is operationalizing its doctrine of unrestricted warfare in the region, meaning that “any methods can be prepared for use, information is everywhere, the battlefield is everywhere, and that any technology might be combined with any other technology,” as well as that “the boundaries between war and non-war and between military and non-military affairs have systematically broken down.”[2]

Jakarta gets ‘grey-zoned’ by Beijing

Evan A Laksmana

The latest North Natuna Sea crisis between December 2019 and January 2020 saw the incursion of Chinese fishing vessels, backed by coastguard and maritime militia, into Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). Indonesian maritime law enforcement officials claim these incursions have not stopped; they have simply become less publicised. China upped the ante in August 2021 after a Chinese survey vessel spent seven weeks conducting seabed mapping inside Indonesia’s EEZ.

Jakarta has been relatively silent on the matter despite up to nine Indonesian navy and coastguard patrol craft observing the encroachment under apparent orders not to intervene. A December 2021 Reuters report suggests that China has effectively crossed Indonesia’s ‘red line’ by demanding that Indonesia stop drilling in the area.

China believes that it has ‘overlapping maritime rights’ with Indonesia, according to its interpretation of an ‘informal understanding’ reached with Jakarta about maritime territory in the 1990s. But Beijing’s behaviour is less about waging a legal dispute than it is a gradual strategic push to get Jakarta to inadvertently or implicitly acknowledge China’s maritime rights. Now that China controls key strategic areas in the South China Sea, it feels more confident in pushing the envelope.

Ukraine Kicks Off Long-Awaited Kherson Counteroffensive

Mark Episkopos

According to top officials, Ukraine has launched a long-awaited counteroffensive in the southern Kherson region.

“Today, we started offensive actions in different directions,” Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for southern military command, told Ukrainian news outlets.

The scale and scope of Ukraine’s southern assault remain unclear. Kyiv has shrouded its plans in secrecy so as not to telegraph battlefield movements to the Russian military. “Anyone want to know what our plans are? You won't hear specifics from any truly responsible person. Because this is war,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy said. “But the occupiers should know: we will oust them to the border.” Senior Ukrainian officials have cautioned against expectations of rapid Ukrainian progress in the south. “Of course, many would like a large-scale offensive with news about the capture by our military of a settlement in an hour,” wrote presidential advisor Oleksiy Atestovych. “But we don’t fight like that … Funds are limited.”

How Ukraine Is Remaking War

Lauren Kahn

Most experts expected Kyiv would fall quickly at the outset of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ukrainian forces were fighting against a military that was bigger and better armed. Russia’s troops had more combat experience and funding. The question was not if Moscow’s forces would depose the Ukrainian government but when regime change would happen.

Of course, Kyiv didn’t fall. Instead, the Ukrainian military stopped Russia’s assault on the capital and forced a retreat. Russia downsized its initial mission from wholesale conquest, and the war now mostly consists of grinding offensives and counteroffensives in Ukraine’s east and south. The question is no longer how long Kyiv can hold out. It is whether the Ukrainian government can reclaim occupied land.

There are several reasons for Ukraine’s surprising success. The Russian military’s logistical incompetence, its puzzling inability to secure early air superiority, and low troop morale all played a part. So did Western support for Ukraine and the sheer tenacity of the country’s soldiers. But these explanations do not tell the full story. The Ukrainian military deserves recognition not just for its troops’ motivation but also for its technical savvy. It has used cutting-edge technologies and adapted existing capabilities in creative new ways, on and off the kinetic battlefield. It has deployed loitering munitions—missiles with the ability to stay on station until an operator locates a target—and modified commercial drones that can destroy Russian troops and equipment on the cheap. It has tapped commercial satellite data to track Russian troop movements in near real time. And Kyiv has wisely used artificial intelligence, in conjunction with this satellite imagery, to create software that helps artillery locate, aim, and destroy targets in the most efficient and lethal manner possible.

US considers the next move while Taiwan plays “cat and mouse” with China

Andrew Salerno-Garthwaite

China and the US remain in a political crisis over Taiwan, even as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) reduces the number of overflying planes and ships in the Taiwan Strait, according to panelists speaking on 22 August at a moderated discussion from the Center for Strategic and International Studies on the military dimensions of the fourth Taiwan Strait crisis.

Twelve days after China’s military deterrence manoeuvres have completed, the remaining PLA ships are still in a “cat and mouse” game with the Taiwanese Navy over the median line in the waters separating the island of Taiwan from continental Asia, according to Kathrin Hille, Greater China correspondent for the Financial Times.

Taiwan seeks to curtail Chinese encroachment beyond the midpoint that had served as an unofficial boundary until the norm-shattering PLA exercises earlier this month.

Taiwan Says It Will Now Shoot Down Rogue Chinese Drones


As its next move in the fast-developing challenge of Chinese drone incursions, the Taiwanese military has reportedly confirmed that it will, in the future, shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles that don’t respond to its warnings. The move comes after authorities on the self-governing island said they would deploy undisclosed domestically developed drone defense systems across its territory, which followed a highly public encounter between a Chinese drone and two Taiwanese soldiers, as you can read about more here.

According to a report from Taiwan News, Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense yesterday announced that its forces would “shoot down intruding Chinese drones that fail to heed warnings.” Exactly what type of drone defense system is planned to be used in such scenarios is unclear, although The War Zone has already looked at some of the possible candidates.

Sri Lanka Has Become a China-India Great Power Battleground

Mark S. Cogan Vivek Mishra

Since last month, the Yuan Wang 5, a Chinese satellite-tracking vessel, has been slowly sailing from Chinese waters to the Hambantota Port on the southern tip of Sri Lanka. Just months ago, when Sri Lanka was still under the leadership of the Rajapaksas, a political family that had ruled the Sri Lankan ethnocracy for almost two decades, allowing the 730-foot-long Chinese naval ship into port would not have generated as much attention. However, with the small island state suffering its worst economic crisis on record, its indebtedness to Beijing an economic albatross around its neck, and geopolitical tensions between India and China increasing, the ship’s arrival generated plenty of alarm.

The Indian and U.S. governments strongly pressured Colombo to revoke Chinese access to the port, which infuriated the Chinese. At first, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry bowed to that pressure, stating that it “wished to reaffirm the enduring friendship and excellent relations between Sri Lanka and China.” India had worried that the vessel could spy on Indian military establishments in the area.

Stay Calm and Proceed With Caution: The Merari Report on Israeli Police’s Pegasus Scandal

Yuval Shany

On Aug. 1, the Israeli Ministry of Justice published a report written by an official inquiry team appointed to investigate serious allegations of misuse of online surveillance powers leveled against the Israeli National Police (INP) by a series of sensational exposé articles published in Calcalist, a leading Israeli economic newspaper. The ministry’s report repudiated most of the allegations but also identified significant deficiencies in the online surveillance laws and practices resorted to by the INP.

The original story, written in January by Calcalist journalist Tomer Ganon (and reported on in an earlier Lawfare analysis), claimed that the INP—which is a nationwide law enforcement agency dealing with all sorts of criminal activity—has for years carried out warrantless online surveillance operations using a version of NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware. Among the targets, whose cell phones were allegedly hacked, were criminal suspects and witnesses—but also public figures against whom no charges were ever made, including the directors general of the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Finance, as well as organizers of demonstrations against Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration.

Why Quantum Computing Is Even More Dangerous Than Artificial Intelligence

Vivek Wadhwa and Mauritz Kop

Today’s artificial intelligence is as self-aware as a paper clip. Despite the hype—such as a Google engineer’s bizarre claim that his company’s AI system had “come to life” and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s tweet predicting that computers will have human intelligence by 2029—the technology still fails at simple everyday tasks. That includes driving vehicles, especially when confronted by unexpected circumstances that require even the tiniest shred of human intuition or thinking.

The sensationalism surrounding AI is not surprising, considering that Musk himself had warned that the technology could become humanity’s “biggest existential threat” if governments don’t regulate it. But whether or not computers ever attain human-like intelligence, the world has already summoned a different, equally destructive AI demon: Precisely because today’s AI is little more than a brute, unintelligent system for automating decisions using algorithms and other technologies that crunch superhuman amounts of data, its widespread use by governments and companies to surveil public spaces, monitor social media, create deepfakes, and unleash autonomous lethal weapons has become dangerous to humanity.

What are the West’s strategic goals in the Ukraine war?

Kemal Derviş

The Ukraine war and the world’s reaction to it will be a decisive factor in shaping the global political and economic order in the decade ahead. In particular, the Western allies’ actions, narratives, and planning regarding both Russia and the role of the Global South in Ukraine’s postwar reconstruction will indicate what their long-term strategic goals are. Does the West simply want to see Russia defeated and NATO enlarged and strengthened, or can it envisage a “victory” in Ukraine that lays the foundations for a world in which democracy is more secure and global governance more inclusive and effective?

While the outcome of the fighting remains uncertain, the West’s strategic aims, particularly how it intends to treat Russia in the event that Ukraine prevails, will have huge consequences. The big question is whether the allies will seek to punish Russia as a whole by imposing severe reparations or instead target President Vladimir Putin’s autocratic regime in a way that limits the burdens imposed on the Russian people.

At the beginning of the war, the Western allies emphasized that defending the United Nations Charter and democracy were their primary objectives. In late spring, some U.S. strategists and officials advocated permanently weakening Russia as a strategic goal, although it is not clear whether this would still be an objective in the event of regime change in Russia.

The German Weapons Shortage

George Friedman

Germany’s foreign minister suggested this week that Germany cannot send more of its own weapons to Ukraine because it has deficient supplies. If this story is true, it means that Germany, with the largest economy in Europe, does not have the facilities to rapidly produce more weapons – despite pledging money for the production of weapons for Ukraine. The money matters, but only to an extent. The capacity of other NATO countries to provide weapons to Ukraine has production limits as well. Although the German problem was anticipated from almost the beginning of the war in Ukraine, and Germany has provided cash in place of weapons, there are several considerations.

First, as is widely known, Europe and Germany are facing a very cold winter as Russian energy exports decline. It’s possible that the German weapons “deficit” is a concession to Russia, but it’s highly unlikely: Berlin could not do this without it being widely known in NATO, where member states’ weapons capacities are known and production is tracked. This would get out to the Ukrainians, Poles and Americans. We would have heard about this by now.

Qatar World Cup: An unintended boon for the UAE

James M. Dorsey

Qatar’s 2022 World Cup promises to benefit not only itself but also to provide an unintended economic, political, and religious soft power boon for its foremost rival in the region, the United Arab Emirates.

The UAE, alongside Saudi Arabia, leads a pack of Gulf states eager to capitalize on the expectation that Qatar will not have the hotel capacity to accommodate an anticipated one million visitors in November and December during the tournament.

However, the UAE stands to benefit the most not just economically but also politically and in terms of its religious soft power, even if Saudi Arabia is doing what it can to play catch up.

Various Gulf states have eased visa regulations and immigration procedures in the expectation that they will be housing fans who will shuttle to Qatar aboard some 90 extra match day flights to attend games.

This Picture Is How China Plans To Beat America If World War III Breaks Out

Peter Suciu

Various experts for over a decade have warned that China’s missile forces have been built up dramatically to ensure that the U.S. Navy would be hit hard if war ever broke out. Indeed, you could even call China a missile superpower:

In the last couple of years, there has been a lot of attention on the build-up of China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). It has undergone a major modernization effort and is now the largest naval force in the world. Just last month, the PLAN launched its third aircraft carrier – the second to be entirely indigenously built. This will allow China to flex its muscles in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond.

Likewise, there has been great speculation regarding China’s efforts to develop a capable fifth-generation fighter aircraft and a medium- to long-range stealth bomber. In very short order, Beijing has finally made the great leap forward to become a major world power.

After the Next War

Seth Cropsey

The Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis is in full swing. The PLA has continued its military exercises after Speaker Pelosi’s departure from Taiwan, the PRC has imposed targeted sanctions upon Taiwan. Beijing’s diplomatic service and propaganda outlets compete to emphasize the overwhelming response that Taiwan and the West will suffer if Beijing’s demands are not met. Beijing’s demands, of course, cannot be met. Hence, we are headed for a cross-strait confrontation, sooner rather than later, likely before the early 2030s, and possibly sooner depending upon American political events.

As it stands, the cross-strait military balance is relatively even. However, we must reckon with the worst-case scenario: a decisive Chinese attack succeeds. China achieves its coup de main. Moreover, given China’s likely strategy, the U.S. cannot respond immediately – its only options are the cession of Taiwan and a new Pacific demarcation line or a multi-year Pacific war.

Should Uncle Sam Worry About ‘Foreign’ Open-Source Software? Geographic Known Unknowns and Open-Source Software Security

Dan Geer, John Speed Meyers, Jacqueline Kazil

Nationalism has come to software. While downloading TikTok or WeChat onto your cell phone isn’t quite tantamount to installing Huawei equipment in your local cell tower, all indications suggest that a software geopolitical divide has arrived and won’t be going anywhere. This divide already informs whether the U.S. federal government consumes open-source software, arguably reducing the digital productivity of the U.S government in the here-and-now in order to avoid potential compromise. What is the range of coherent policy choices?

In our professional careers working with U.S. government organizations, we have observed that government officials and staff sometimes choose not to use open-source software components developed by foreign (often Chinese and/or Russian) software developers. Is this a meaningful, silent drag on the digital productivity of U.S. government agencies? Do government staff have to rewrite code from scratch, use second-best components, or abandon their original aims? Existing statutory language exempts open-source software from the typical foreign ownership, control, or influence concerns associated with federal procurement. But is that exemption good enough, much less wise?

One year after U.S. withdrawal, resistance to Taliban rule grows


One year after the United States’ chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, resistance to the Taliban’s brutal regime has organized in northern Afghanistan and is beginning to challenge the Taliban’s primacy.

Starting immediately after the U.S. left on Aug. 30, 2021, the Taliban sought to crush all remaining resistance to dominance over the country. By Sept. 6, the Taliban drove the remnants of the Afghan military and Panjshiri tribal militias underground or out of the country.

But since the early spring in 2022, organized resistance to the Taliban has sprung up in five provinces in northern Afghanistan (Badakhshan, Baghlan, Kapisa, Panjshir, and Takhar) and one province in the east (Nangarhar), led primarily by the National Resistance Front (NRF).

FDD’s Long War Journal, which closely tracked the Taliban’s slow march to seize districts and ultimately the entire country from 2014 to 2021, is actively assessing the military opposition to Taliban’s control of Afghanistan. [See Mapping the Fall of Afghanistan for the new Resistance map and new maps of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.]