3 September 2022

How China’s Party Congress Actually Works

Ling Li

Contrary to a common belief held by many, communist parties have an obsession with institutions. There is a reason why “organization” is often used as a comprehensive and all-purposeful reference. It almost seems to be a term of endearment referring to the omnipresent and omnipotent collective entity of the Communist Party whenever its identity is too complicated or inconvenient to dissect and specify. In the television series “The Americans,” a popular Hollywood spy drama set in the Cold War era, the word “organization” pops up in casual conversations between the protagonists as if it was the nickname for a common acquaintance.

Half a century later in China, the word “organization” (组织 in Chinese) still commands loyalty, honesty, and reverence – so much so that any behavior contrary to those noble values would invite disciplinary reproaches. In the Directive of the Disciplines and Sanctions of the Chinese Communist Party (2018), the word “organization” appeared 120 times. Fifteen types of inappropriate behavior are identified as “violations of organizational discipline,” which can lead to “excommunication,” as it were, the most serious form of disciplinary sanctions that often triggers prosecution.

The Real Problem With Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal: It Came 10 Years Too Late

Daniel Davis

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of America’s messy and chaotic withdrawal from the 20-year war in Afghanistan. Many observers are evaluating today whether President Joe Biden’s decision to end the war was the right one. While there is no question that America’s exit could have been handled better, the bigger question is whether Biden was right to leave.

The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, he should have done so earlier.

That view is not universal, however. Some of the most famous advocates of the two-decade war in Afghanistan have been just as outspoken in claiming Biden’s order to end it was a mistake. In The Atlantic, former U.S. commander, retired Gen. David H. Petraeus, wrote that the real problems were America’s lack of commitment and strategic resolve.

John Nagl, who famously penned the military’s counterinsurgency strategy, claimed, “The failure to build a sufficient dedicated advisory force structure is among the most critical failures of the military” in Afghanistan and “contributed significantly to American defeat” in that war.

NATO’s Defence and Security Sector Reform Challenges in Ukraine

Eden Cole


At the end of 2021, NATO prepared the ground for an intensification of defence and security sector reform (SSR) assistance to Ukraine. With the then-NATO Liaison Officer outgoing, the NATO Comprehensive Assistance Package for Ukraine (CAP) Team Leader visited the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine (NSDC) to discuss strategic security policy, the status of defence and security sector reform (SSR), and the revitalisation of the NATO-Ukraine Joint Working Group on Defence Reform (JWGDR).[1] The Team Leader’s emphasis on the importance of resuming high-level NATO-Ukraine consultations within the JWGDR format reflected an urgent need for broader multi-stakeholder consultation on SSR programming and greater coordination of bilateral SSR assistance programmes.

Despite the onset of war only four months later, the security policy challenges the CAP Team’s Individual Tailored Partnership Programme for Ukraine (ITPP) set out to solve remain. The effectiveness of ITPP remains dependent on increased cooperation with international and bilateral actors active on security policy issues in Ukraine since 2014. NATO had already increased cooperation with the European Union Advisory Mission Ukraine (EUAM) and the Delegation of the European Union to Ukraine (EU Delegation) on SSR issues, but bilateral nations continued to work directly with Ukrainian stakeholders.

Is Space the Final Frontier for U.S. National Security?


OPINION — The delayed launch of the Artemis I, unmanned space craft to the moon provides a moment to review the enormous advances taking place in space activity.

We find evidence of that in last Wednesday’s Atlantic Council webinar that dealt with the release of the 110-page State of the Space Industrial Base 2022; Winning the New Space Race for Sustainability, Prosperity and the Planet, published by the Pentagon’s Defense Innovation Unit, U.S. Space Force (USSF), and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Written by four senior USSF officials and based on two workshops held earlier this year with more than 250 government, industry and academic participants, this is the fourth annual report that assesses U.S. progress in retaining leadership in an increasingly competitive, strategic space race.

Reading it, I was drawn to a section of the USSF report that claimed, “commercial space technology has profoundly changed the character of conflict.”


Stavros Atlamazoglou 

The war in Ukraine is in its seventh month, and after many weeks the focus of most of the fighting has shifted from eastern to southern Ukraine. Despite its renewed offensive in the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine, the Russian military has failed to achieve anything significant there.

Over the past two months, Russian troops have only advanced between six and 10 miles, only capturing Severodonetsk and Lysychansk, both of which the Ukrainians decided to abandon after they had inflicted heavy casualties on the Russian forces.

The Ukrainian military is using its new long-range fires, including Western High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), and howitzers, to great effect, destroying Russian ammunition depots and logistical hubs all over the Donbas, thus grinding the Russian machine to a halt.

This Is the Other Way That History Ends

Bret Stephens

The End of History was supposed to have happened back in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell and Francis Fukuyama announced the conclusive triumph of liberal democracy. We know how that thesis worked out. But what happens when the other kind of History — academic, not Hegelian — starts to collapse?

That’s a question that James H. Sweet, a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the president of the American Historical Association, tried to raise earlier this month in a column titled “Is History History?” for the organization’s newsmagazine. It didn’t go well.

Sweet’s core concern in the piece, which was subtitled “Identity Politics and Teleologies of the Present,” was about the “trend toward presentism” — the habit of weighing the past against the social concerns and moral categories of the present.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant Is Kindling for World War III

Henry Sokolski

As the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) readies itself to visit the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in Ukraine, Western officials are sighing a sigh of relief. However, there is a worry they have yet to consider—how civilian nuclear plants in war zones are becoming radiological bombs that could ignite World War III.

Seem shrill? Late last week, the chairman of the Select Committee on Defense in the British House of Commons warned that “any deliberate damage causing potential radiation leak to a Ukrainian nuclear reactor would be a breach of NATO’s Article 5.” Article V of the NATO treaty requires all signatories to come to the defense of any alliance members that suffer an armed attack.

How imminent might a radiological release be? Late Thursday, all external power to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant was cut off. The only source of electricity was the plant’s emergency diesel generators, which had no more than five days of fuel to power the plant’s essential safety and fuel-cooling electric water pumps. Had those generators run short of fuel (which could be exacerbated by Russian pilfering) and the one remaining power line not been reconnected, a loss of coolant accident (think Fukushima) could have ensued in eighty minutes.

Ukrainian authorities understand this. That’s why last week they distributed iodine tablets to Ukrainians to reduce thyroid cancers if the Zaporizhzhia plant should blow. Romania, a NATO nation, also grasps this: Earlier in the month, its health minister encouraged Romanians to pick up free iodine pills at their local pharmacies. Last week, Romania’s neighbor, Moldova, imported one million tablets for its own population.

What these states appreciate is not only that accidents are possible in war, but that Russian president Vladimir Putin might intentionally assault Ukraine’s nuclear plants turning them into “prepositioned nuclear weapons” whose dispersal of radioactivity could force evacuations and frighten Ukraine’s NATO supporters to relent. They also understand that the war’s not over: there are nine other Ukrainian power plants that Putin could attack in western and southern Ukraine.

And what is Washington’s response? It has two big ideas, both nearly seventy years out of date. The first is to get IAEA inspectors to visit. I have supported this if it helps establish that the Zaporizhzhia plant is still Ukraine’s, not Russia’s. But no one should be under any illusions. The IAEA was founded seventy years ago to promote nuclear power and to conduct occasional nuclear audits, not to physically protect plants against military attacks or to demilitarize zones around them. The IAEA can’t provide the Zaporizhzhia plant with any defenses, nor will it risk keeping IAEA staff on-site to serve as defensive tripwires.

The second idea also hails from the Atoms for Peace Program of the early 1950s—build nuclear power plants everywhere, including in Poland, Romania, and, unbelievably, Ukraine. President Joe Biden announced a U.S.-subsidized six-reactor project for Poland three weeks after Russian military forces fired upon and occupied Zaporizhzhia. The State Department then followed in May with details on the construction of an American small modular reactor and of a related U.S. taxpayer-funded nuclear simulator in Romania. Finally, in July, U.S.-headquartered Westinghouse announced a joint agreement with Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear utility to build at least two reactors in Ukraine.

The unspoken assumption here is that Putin will never strike another reactor in Ukraine, Romania, or Poland. Maybe. But after condemning the West for backing Ukraine’s views regarding Zaporizhzhia, former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev recently warned that there were reactors throughout Europe and that similar “incidents are possible there as well.” And it’s not just Europe. South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan also have reactors at risk. Since Russia’s occupation of Zaporizhzhia, each has increased planning and drills against Chinese and North Korean military threats to their nuclear plants.

Washington should pay attention. It should take several steps but two of the most important are dialing in “peaceful” reactors as prepositioned nuclear weapons into its strategic deterrence strategy and rethinking its enthusiasm for exporting reactors even into war zones. The first task requires clarifying when, and, if it ever, it would make sense for U.S. forces to fire on reactors overseas. It also entails determining how our forces might best deter and protect against attacks on friends’ reactors meant to harm or coerce them.

The second task demands examining what can be done physically to protect existing reactors overseas where U.S. troops are or might be deployed. It also requires assessing how prudent constructing new nuclear plants might be in or near likely war zones and where those zones might lie.

We cannot ask the IAEA to do this. It will not. But if we are serious about preventing the worst, including a nuclear-powered Sarajevo, we must.

The Gorbachev Vacuum How the Soviet Leader’s Legacy Helps Explain Russia’s Wars

Michael Kimmage

Russian folk culture cherishes the figure of the holy fool. Derived from Orthodox Christianity, the holy fool is out of sync with conventional society. The holy fool speaks the truth, though to others it may sound like nonsense. The holy fool stumbles through life, experiencing successes that are failures and failures that are successes. Holy fools can be prophets. Although everyone else is preoccupied with the world as it is, the holy fool can intuit the world as it might be, and perhaps the world as it will be. Wisdom can initially look like folly, and folly can appear at the outset to be wisdom.

It is possible to see Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader who died on August 30, at the age of 91, as a holy fool. He was out of sync with the conventional Soviet society into which he was born, in 1931, precisely because he was so sincerely Soviet—and because he never ceased being sincerely Soviet, even after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. He spoke an important truth about international politics: it should show some concern for humanity and not just national egotism, a truth that took on particular significance in the nuclear age. And his greatest success, the reform of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, turned out to be his greatest failure, when reform led to peaceful revolutions across the Soviet imperium. Gorbachev reformed the Soviet Union out of existence.

Was Mikhail Gorbachev a hero? That depends on who — and where — you ask.

Tom Nagorski

The tributes pour in. “Few leaders in the 20th century, indeed in any century, have had such a profound effect on their time” (the New York Times). Mikhail Gorbachev was “the man who ended the war … [and] changed the course of 20th-century history” (the Economist). “Hard to think of a single person who altered the course of history more in a positive direction than Mikhail Sergeevich Gorbachev”(a tweet from former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul).

While McFaul’s specific praise begs questions (what about Mahatma Gandhi? Nelson Mandela? Martin Luther King?), the plaudits are deserved. Mikhail Gorbachev altered the course of history.

But he was also a complicated figure — and his legacy equally so.

On the one hand, there is no question: The demise of the Soviet Union would never have happened in the peaceful way it did had a lesser statesman been at the helm. And that’s with more than the typical gratitude for a “peaceful transfer of power.” For decades, the notion that the USSR would collapse was considered naive; the idea that the endgame might play out as smoothly as a Christmas Day phone call from the Soviet leader to his counterpart in Washington would have been laughed at. But that’s what happened. Gorbachev picked up the phone on Christmas morning, 1991, two hours before his address to the world, and called President George H.W. Bush, notifying Bush of his decision and asking for his help in assuring that “the process of disintegration and destruction does not grow worse.”

Frenemies: Global approaches to rebalance the Big Tech v journalism relationship

Courtney C. Radsch

Big Tech has enabled unparalleled reach, engagement, and innovation in the news media even as the decoupling of advertising and journalism has threatened the very foundation of a commercial news model and ushered in the era of disinformation. Lawmakers in the U.S. now appear poised to join in efforts around the world aimed at rebalancing the codependent relationship between Big Tech and news publishers with the release of an updated Senate bill enabling small news organizations to negotiate compensation from tech giants like Meta and Google that appears to have bi-partisan and bi-cameral support.

More than a year after Australia adopted a pioneering new media bargaining code and the EU Copyright Directive went into effect, the idea of getting Big Tech to pay for the news they use is gaining greater support around the world, with lawmakers in Brazil, Canada, India, Indonesia, Sweden, the U.S., and the U.K. exploring interventions that they hope will support an industry facing an extinction event yet recognized as essential to democratic governance. Governments are also considering whether competition policy should be deployed to claw back revenue from tech behemoths and the AdTech infrastructure they control or to enable news media to collectively bargain with aggregators and other platforms that use their content.

US Military Satellites Need to Get Smarter, More Self-Reliant


Predictive analytics and refuel-and-repair capabilities for satellites are some of Space Command’s key technology needs, a top official said Wednesday.

The command is charged with monitoring activity and debris in space, for the operation of military satellites as well as manned space missions. To do that—and to detect electromagnetic waveforms that could be signs of electronic warfare from adversaries—they’ll need new types of satellites or new capabilities for satellites, Lt. Gen. John Shaw, deputy commander of U.S. Space Command, said at the DARPA Forward event.

“Historically, we have typically done that mission set from mostly using sensors here on the planet,” he said.

The command is also seeking new types of AI software, deployable on satellites, to closely monitor electromagnetic noise or physical debris and watch for changes in “behavior.”

What inspectors will look for at Ukraine's war-damaged Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant


Rafael Mariano Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, arrives in a hotel with a delegation in Zaporizhzia, Ukraine, on Aug. 31. The delegation will travel to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant amid the Russia-Ukraine war.Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have been to some of the world's most sensitive nuclear facilities — from North Korean reactors to Iranian uranium plants. But it all seems straightforward compared to what awaits them at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in southern Ukraine.

Since March, the plant has been occupied by Russian forces, and run by a skeleton crew of Ukrainian workers. When they arrive, inspectors will walk past the boarded-up hulk of the main administrative building, which was pummeled by rocket-propelled grenades during the initial invasion. A nearby courtyard holds the charred remains of military tents, razed by a retaliatory Ukrainian drone strike in late July. In recent weeks, shells have punched through the roofs of vital support buildings, and wildfires have threatened the plant's power lines.

Here’s What Biden’s New National Security Strategy Should Say

Gabriel Scheinmann

After a long wait, the Biden administration may finally release the new U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) this fall. Originally scheduled for publication late last year, the document was withheld as Russian war preparations on Ukraine’s borders intensified. The invasion and its fallout then presented Washington with a new strategic situation, requiring the document to be rewritten. Its absence has left many wondering about the administration’s strategic objectives, priorities, and plans to achieve them.

The Biden administration laid out its initial impulses on national security in its Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, published shortly after the new team moved into the White House in early 2021. That document prescribed a heavy dose of cooperation with other powers—including the United States’ adversaries. Beijing and Moscow were presented as partners on such issues as climate change, nonproliferation, arms control, public health, and economic stability.

Into the gray zone

Matt Armstrong

“Gray zone” is a popular label for various adversarial activities, specifically those activities “in the space between peace and war.” The term has been around for many years and is often considered to be—and is often used as—a replacement for the term political warfare. The problem with political warfare, of course, is the word warfare and the resulting reaction by some that “we don’t do ‘warfare’ and thus political warfare isn’t our job.” Political warfare was, however, more palatable than psychological warfare which, for example, was in the draft report from a special joint Senate and House Smith-Mundt Committee’s delegation that toured 22 European countries in 1947 but disappeared from the final copy made public: “The United States Information Service is truly the voice of America and the means of clarifying opinion of the world concerning us. Its objective is fivefold… (5) be a ready instrument of psychological warfare when required.”

Terms matter, and not just because they inherently have different meanings to different audiences at different times. Terms may also assign responsibilities just as they may be used to punt responsibilities to someone else. Public diplomacy, for example, has always been confusing because it was purposefully applied to the activities of an agency and not to specific methods or outcomes, which continues to cause confusion long after that agency went disappeared. Hybrid warfare may be discussed in a similar way as it seems to be military-focused and intended to lay claim on an enhanced role for the military.

The enemy gets a vote: The forever war and future war after Afghanistan


One year ago today, at one minute before midnight in Kabul, a U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane lifted off the tarmac of Hamid Karzai International Airport with the acting U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and our last remaining troops on board, marking the end of America’s nearly 20-year military presence in the war-torn country. In an address from the White House the following day, President Biden stated with finality, “My fellow Americans, the war in Afghanistan is now over.” He justified his decision to withdraw by stating, “I refuse to continue a war that was no longer in the service of the vital interests of our people.”

But America’s longest war is not over and cannot be terminated unilaterally. Our enemies get a vote. Terrorist groups such as al Qaeda will exploit the more favorable conditions in Afghanistan that a return of Taliban rule provides and continue to seek ways to harm us and others. It remains in our vital national interests to protect the homeland from international terrorist attacks, and in our important interests to help defend our allies and partners such as NATO and India from such attacks.

The war against Islamic extremists with global reach continues and we are obliged to wage this struggle from a much less advantageous position. Beyond undermining our ability to interdict terrorist threats, America is less prepared for contingencies and deterrence in future conflict with our strategic competitors and other rivals.

Turkey’s Latest Move to Undermine NATO

Bradley Bowman, Sinan Ciddi

Turkey is at it again, a NATO ally not acting like one. It’s admittedly not exactly new behavior for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, but the actions over the last two weeks have been particularly troubling.

As of publication, Turkey is among a small number of allies that still has not ratified the accession of Finland and Sweden to the alliance. The U.S. Senate voted 95-1 to add the two Nordic countries, but Erdoğan has slow-rolled the process to score domestic political points in advance of elections.

A week ago, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu reportedly suggested Ankara would drop its request for new American F-16 fighter aircraft if their provision is contingent on a commitment from Turkey not to employ those aircraft for “unauthorized territorial overflights of Greece,” a key congressional demand. It hardly seems unreasonable to ask one NATO ally to refrain from such acts of aggression targeting another NATO ally.

Nuclear inspectors are in Ukraine for a high-stakes visit to the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Andrew E. Kramer

KYIV, Ukraine — A team of international nuclear inspectors was in Ukraine on Tuesday as part of a risky trip to assess the safety of a nuclear power plant that has been repeatedly struck by artillery shells, hoping to provide the world a first impartial glimpse of the threat.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is the first in the history of civilian nuclear power where active reactors have been imperilled by military conflict, is controlled by Russian troops but operated by Ukrainian engineers.

Conditions at the site, which was shrouded in smoke on Monday from wildfires touched off by combat nearby, have been unraveling for weeks. An image released Monday by a commercial satellite company showed blackened holes punched by artillery in the roof of one building.

Ukraine Tries to Make Southern Offensive a Turning Point in War

James Marson, Matthew Luxmoore and Ian Lovett

MYKOLAIV, Ukraine—After a crescendo of long-range strikes on Russian military facilities and bridges in the dark of night early Monday, Ukrainian forces launched a southern offensive with attacks along the front lines.

Ukrainian armor crashed over the Inhulets River and established a bridgehead, the main gains that Kyiv has made in two days of fighting.

Whether Ukraine can capitalize on its initial thrust and retake territory in its south that Russia seized at the start of its invasion will go a long way to shape the next phase of the war.

After repelling the Russians from the outskirts of Kyiv in the spring, Ukraine had been slowly losing ground in the east in the face of intensive shelling and airstrikes. But after all but halting the Russians there, Ukraine sought to cut off enemy forces on the western bank of the Dnipro River in the south by using precise, long-range rockets provided by the U.S. to strike bridges and military facilities.

AirLand redux? Early lessons from Ukraine

Michael P. Kreuzer

The war in Ukraine signals a return, with a vengeance, of the hider-finder game of air warfare, both for airspace superiority and to exploit the air for battlespace effects. Against what appeared at the onset to be a resurgent great power seeking to overwhelm a significantly weaker neighbor, Ukraine has relied on airpower, modern system tactics and training, and passion to at least level the playing field against the Russian onslaught to enable them to readily evade (‘hide’) from conventional force attacks and Russian air defense sensors while more efficiently finding conventional military targets. Though the war is far from over, it has already yielded numerous lessons that airpower advocates and joint-minded leaders should apply to other conflicts. Counter-land drone tactics and greater reliance on coordinated fires from multiple domains suggest that significant challenges are ahead for military operations. Long-simmering US doctrinal feuds that the US military has largely sidelined during the war on terrorism need to be directly addressed now in order to anticipate the future battlespace.
Drone paths diverge

The US Air Force’s precision-targeting model posits that airpower is a game-changer in war because it can bypass fielded forces and directly attack an adversary’s “vital centers,” in some cases by “cutting off the head of the snake” through targeting an enemy’s leadership. US drone operations have been guided by this model of targeting, as medium-altitude, long-endurance drones with precision munitions and reachback intelligence have provided a capability almost uniquely suited to the US military and its strategy in the war on terrorism.

Do Not Trust Your Gut: How to Improve Strategists’ Decision Making

James M. Davitch


Military strategists often make decisions based on instinct and emotion rather than careful deliberation. However, as Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow explains, most humans do as well because of mental limitations called cognitive biases.[1] Kahneman argues the mind’s tendency to make snap decisions rather than to proceed with caution can inhibit effective judgment. Cognitive biases may cause strategists to overlook salient yet inconvenient information and waste time pursuing solutions to the wrong problems. Unfortunately, the list of known cognitive biases is extensive and growing.[2] Faced with an overwhelming number of challenges to decision making, a strategist might question whether some biases are harmful specifically in a military planning environment and if there are any techniques to address them. This essay argues that, yes, some specific biases may directly affect military planning. Further, it argues that while there are historical examples of their negative influence, they can be mitigated through certain techniques.[3]

Each section below focuses on one of four cognitive limitations. The essay will describe each bias, relate it to an example in military history, and conclude with steps to mitigate it. This essay illustrates through historical analogies why confirmation bias, fundamental attribution error, anchoring bias, and representative bias are detrimental to a military strategist’s decision-making process.[4] These biases can cause strategists to privilege facts that confirm previously held beliefs, automatically attribute nefarious motivations to others’ actions, fixate on initial information, and draw incorrect associations between dissimilar events. Examples from the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Korean War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and World War I provide historical context for these cognitive limitations. The mitigation steps include engaging in active open mindedness, empathy, consideration of the opposite, and the so-called “what if” technique. The common theme throughout the mitigation steps in this essay is that strategists would benefit from exercising patience and intellectual humility in their deliberations.

Fact and Analysis Check: Is Odesa ‘Putin’s Obsession?’

Graham Allison

The New York Times’ lead story on the front-page of its Sunday Aug. 21 edition declares: Odesa is “Putin’s Obsession.” Needless to say, this is a big idea. In the midst of a brutal war, after an attempted Kyiv coup failed, Russian aggressors have succeeded in capturing all of Luhansk, 75% of Donetsk, the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and most of the southern tier, establishing a land bridge from Russia to Crimea, this proposition—if it were true—could provide a clue about where this phase of the bloody war might plausibly reach stalemate. Recognizing its importance, the editors gave veteran reporter Roger Cohen a rare 6000 words in which to make his case. He uses that space argue that Odesa is “the Russian leader’s obsession”; “the big prize in the war”; “militarily … the highest-value target”; and the “grain port to the world.”

When I read the article, I reacted: say what!? As a long-time student of the Soviet Union and Russia who has been tracking and writing about Putin’s war against Ukraine, I asked: how could I and every other analyst I know in and out of the U.S. government have missed this? Having now reviewed the evidence the article presents to support its key claims, and compared it to what is known from what other experts including Bill Burns (now Director of CIA but formerly Ambassador to Moscow whose 2019 memoir offers the best brief profile of Putin), Fiona Hill (former assistant to Trump and before that the National Intelligence Officer for Russia), Angela Stent (another Russia scholar who earlier serviced as NIO for Russia) and others, our fact-analysis check concludes that each of these claims is false or misleading.

A Winner Is Emerging from The War in Ukraine, But It's Not Who You Think

Aaron Pilkington

The war in Ukraine is helping one country achieve its foreign policy and national security objectives, but it's neither Russia nor Ukraine.

It's Iran.

Iran is among Russia's most vocal supporters in the war. This has little to do with Ukraine and everything to do with Iran's long-term strategy vis-à-vis the United States.

As Russia's war on Ukraine passes six months and continues eroding Russia's manpower, military stores, economy and diplomatic connections, leader Vladimir Putin has opted for an unlikely but necessary Iranian lifeline to salvage victory in Ukraine and also in Syria where, since 2015, Russian soldiers have been fighting to keep Bashar al-Assad's government in power.

Japan’s Lessons for Taiwan


NEW YORK – Following US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, China fired missiles into six areas surrounding Taiwan and sent fighter jets across the midline of the Taiwan Strait. Some of those missiles landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), threatening fishing boats from the Japanese island of Yonaguni, which is just 68 miles (110 kilometers) from Taiwan.

Although China’s military exercises ended after several days, a new precedent has been set. China most likely will send more missiles and jets into the area surrounding Taiwan whenever it is displeased with the Taiwanese government or US actions toward the island.

This strategy of ratcheting up pressure on Taiwan is all too familiar to Japan. In 2010, a Chinese fishing boat entered Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands – an uninhabited archipelago that belongs to Japan, but that China claims – and intentionally rammed a Japanese coast guard vessel that had warned it to depart from the area.

When the Japanese coast guard seized the boat and detained its crew, China lashed out. Though Japan soon released the boat and most of the crew, it held the captain to face charges for the damage he had caused to the coast guard vessel.

How America Sealed Afghanistan’s Fate—Again

Lynne O’Donnell

The betrayal of Afghanistan by the United States was inked on Feb. 29, 2020, when an emissary of then-U.S. President Donald Trump signed a bilateral deal with the unreconstructed terrorist-led crime gang known as the Taliban, which U.S. forces had spent the last two decades fighting. The agreement sealed the withdrawal of all U.S. military forces who had been supporting Afghanistan’s democratic experiment for those same two decades, in exchange for empty Taliban promises about breaking ties with terrorists. The deal essentially handed the Taliban the victory they’d so long sought.

But the betrayal wasn’t completed until Aug. 30, 2021, when the last U.S. military transport plane left Kabul crammed with scores of desperate people who feared for their lives in a Taliban-ruled state. The final liftoff came after two weeks of pandemonium that followed the hurried flight of former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his circle.

There would be no “Saigon moment” in Afghanistan, U.S. President Joe Biden said of the departure from Kabul of American soldiers, diplomats, and Afghans who had worked with them, after he decided to abide by Trump’s Taliban deal. But the terror, chaos, and violence of those last days were as bad as anything that led up to the last choppers on the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon on April 30, 1975, as the United States cut and ran from South Vietnam. Young men clung to the undercarriages of planes as they taxied for takeoff from Kabul’s international airport; some died as they plummeted to the tarmac. The horrific scenes, the capstone to America’s Afghan misadventure, were painfully reminiscent of the nameless silhouettes seen leaping from New York’s blazing Twin Towers after al Qaeda’s terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001, the event that precipitated the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in the first place.

International Relations Theory Suggests Great-Power War Is Coming

Matthew Kroenig

This week, thousands of university students around the world will begin their introduction to international relations courses for the first time. If their professors are attuned to the ways the world has changed in recent years, they will be teaching them that the major theories of international relations warn that great-power conflict is coming.

For decades, international relations theory provided reasons for optimism—that the major powers could enjoy mostly cooperative relations and resolve their differences short of armed conflict.

Realist IR theories focus on power, and for decades, they maintained that the bipolar world of the Cold War and the unipolar post-Cold War world dominated by the United States were relatively simple systems not prone to wars of miscalculation. They also held that nuclear weapons raised the cost of conflict and made war among the major powers unthinkable.