14 September 2022

The British Empire Was Much Worse Than You Realize

Just after the First World War, an island smaller than Kansas controlled roughly a quarter of the world’s population and landmass at the height of the British Empire. Each conquest was a moral achievement to the architects of this colossus, the largest empire in history. Imperial tutelage, often imparted through the barrel of an Enfield, was delivering benighted peoples from the errors of their ways—child marriage, widow immolation, headhunting. Among the edifiers was a Devonshire-born rector’s son named Henry Hugh Tudor. As he was known to Winston Churchill and his other chums, Hughie pops up so reliably in colonial outposts with outsized body counts that his story can seem a “Where’s Waldo?” of empire.

He’s Churchill’s garrison-mate in Bangalore in 1895—a time of “messes and barbarism,” the future Prime Minister complained in a note to his mum. As the century turns, Tudor is battling Boers on the veldt; then it’s back to India, and on to occupied Egypt. Following a decorated stint as a smoke-screen artist in the trenches of the First World War, he’s in command of a gendarmerie, nicknamed Tudor’s Toughs, that opens fire in a Dublin stadium in 1920—an assault during a search for I.R.A. assassins which leaves dozens of civilians dead or wounded. Prime Minister David Lloyd George delights in rumors that Tudor’s Toughs were killing two Sinn Féinners for every murdered loyalist. Later, even the military’s chief of staff marvelled at how nonchalantly the men spoke of those killings, tallying them up as though they were runs in a cricket match; Tudor and his “scallywags” were out of control. It didn’t matter: Churchill, soon to be Secretary of State for the Colonies, had Tudor’s back.

Why academic freedom challenges are dangerous for democracy

Darrell M. West

Legislation recently signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis fundamentally challenges academic freedom. His “Stop WOKE Act” restricts public higher education institutions, and others, from teaching about racial injustice, therefore impinging on traditional faculty prerogatives to teach courses based on their substantive expertise. In addition, provisions in the bill that allow administrators to fire professors who fail to comply with newly enacted pedagogic restrictions threaten the job security of those working in public universities.

Less understood, though, is how these threats to academic freedom also endanger democracy itself. Many analysts worrying about democracy today focus on procedural protections, such as voting rights, institutional rules, due process, and the rule of law, among other things. These features are basic requirements of functioning democracies and are the bedrock of our political system.

Yet one of the overlooked ingredients of democracy is a vibrant civil society with a knowledge sector that is free of political interference and the ability to train students in independent analysis and critical thinking. As argued in my new Brookings Institution Press book, “Power Politics: Trump and the Assault on American Democracy,” I cite a number of current threats to civil society in general and the knowledge sector in particular that are very dangerous for the United States. Democratic systems require the free flow of information, mechanisms to hold leaders accountable, and healthy civic discourse. Many of these features are under attack right now in the knowledge sector, with ominous consequences for universities, nonprofits, and think tanks.

Cyber Matters Draw Israel and Saudi Arabia Closer Together

Emilio Iasiello

Recent reporting indicates that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been investing substantially in Israeli cyber companies that produce offensive cyber tools and weapons. Per these findings, its presumed that the use of such technology with help Saudi Arabia identify, track, and surveil dissidents and opponents of the government. A website called Saudi Leaksdedicated to exposing Saudi-related scandals cited inside confidential sources that Saudi officials signed contracts with several Israeli firms in order to obtain highly advanced technologies to support cyber spying. These initiatives are believed to coincide with the Kingdom’s CyberIC plan, a strategy designed to protect the country’s cybersecurity sector. This plan is integral to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, a strategic implantation that has digital transformation as one of its pillars.

The CyberIC plan aims to develop the Kingdom’s national capabilities across the larger cyber sector, localizing cybersecurity technology, increasing training content for employees of national authorities, and to generally stimulate the domestic cybersecurity sector. The first phase of this plan is already underway, and is attempting to increase the number of cybersecurity startup companies by economically assisting more than 60 national companies. The idea is to indigenously produce services and solutions in an effort to reduce reliance of foreign technologies. CyberIC focuses on six primary areas: innovation and entrepreneurship; cybersecurity officers, cybersecurity trainers; graduates from IT schools; cybersecurity experts and specialists; and law enforcement agencies.

Shock Waves Hit the Global Economy, Posing Grave Risk to Europe

Patricia Cohen

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the continuing effects of the pandemic have hobbled countries around the globe, but the relentless series of crises has hit Europe the hardest, causing the steepest jump in energy prices, some of the highest inflation rates and the biggest risk of recession.

The fallout from the war is menacing the continent with what some fear could become its most challenging economic and financial crisis in decades.

While growth is slowing worldwide, “in Europe it’s altogether more serious because it’s driven by a more fundamental deterioration,” said Neil Shearing, group chief economist at Capital Economics. Real incomes and living standards are falling, he added. “Europe and Britain are just worse off.”

Just how steep a challenge was sharply underlined on Thursday. The European Central Bank, which oversees economic policy for the 19 nations that use the euro, took an aggressive step to combat inflation, matching its biggest ever rate increase of three-quarters of a percentage point. At the same time, it acknowledged the severe impact of the energy crisis and issued a dour forecast for growth. “It’s a really dark downside scenario,” Christine Lagarde, the president of the E.C.B., said at a news conference.

Three 10x technologies for the next 10 years

Akash Mukherjee

NFTs, Crypto, Metaverse, EVs, and web3 may all be the buzz today. But, these three slept-on technologies have the potential to create a 10x impact in 10 years. They’re going to change the way we work and live forever.

1. No-code software

2. Ethical deep-fake content

3. Transportation tech

1) No-code software

Image Credit: Mourizal Zativa

Less than 1% of people know how to code. The innovations by Bubble & Webflow (for web), Adalo (for apps), Zapier, make.com & UiPath (for automation), and Preql & Alteryx (for data) in the last 5 years are mind-boggling 🤯. The possibilities aren’t limited to creating a blog or landing page anymore. You can now create a fully functional *live* customer-facing app in hours just like you create slides.
Will Lockett

Many have compared Elon Musk with Steve Jobs. They are both flawed visionaries that pushed boundaries and created the tech landscape we know and love today. But Musk and Apple haven’t always had the best of relationships. Back in 2013, Apple attempted to buy Tesla with no success. Then, in 2017, Musk tried to sell Tesla to Apple in order to stave off bankruptcy during the Model 3 development. Then, in 2021, new revelations about this deal came to light, making it appear that Musk would only sell Tesla if Apple appointed him CEO of Apple. Needless to say, the two tech giants have not been on the best terms since. So when a renowned Apple analyst mentioned that Apple has recently secured a satellite internet partner for the upcoming iPhone 14, many questioned if this partnership would involveMusk’s Starlink and, if not, could it sink Musk’s internet ambitions?

The analyst in question is Ming-Chi Kuo. He specialises in digging through Apple’s finances to figure out their next move in order to inform the Asia-Pacific supply chains on how best to commercially adapt, allowing suppliers to be one step ahead of the game. So when he says Apple is making a big move, it is worth listening to him.

Repsol's CEO: Europe has to rethink its energy transition

MADRID, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Europe needs to rethink its energy transition as it is preventing investment in some sources for ideological rather than technological reasons, the chief executive of Spain's biggest oil and gas firm Repsol (REP.MC) said on Wednesday.

According to Josu Jon Imaz, the Russian invasion of Ukraine was not the only reason for a surge in gas prices.

"In Europe we have opted for an ideological energy transition in which we are selecting or rejecting, preventing investments in certain energy sources for ideological and not technological reasons," Imaz said at an energy event in Madrid.
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A revitalized semiconductor industry will power Europe's digital future

Frans Scheper

Europe is undoubtedly on the cusp of a transformation that will shape its future. Technology will power this transformation. Artificial intelligence, pervasive computing, ubiquitous computing and cloud-to-edge infrastructure will be critical in Europe reaching its digitization potential. At the core of these technologies is the semiconductor chip. This technology powers innovative ideas and technology and accelerates our understanding of the world around us.

Europe’s digital transformation is interwoven with the revitalization of the semiconductor industry, which was ravaged by global shutdowns, shipping disruptions and geopolitical tensions.

Four ways to build a next-gen semiconductor industry

Europe must revitalize its semiconductor industry to be fit for the future. Fixing this issue is not easy — but it is critical.

The EU has targeted an increase in its share of the global semiconductor industry from 9% now to 30% by 2030. Here are four key steps the bloc can take now to meet that ambitious goal:

NSA Releases Post-Quantum Algorithms, Aims for Full Implementation by 2035

Alexandra Kelley

The National Security Agency became the latest federal agency to begin its digital migration to quantum-resistant networks, as the emerging technology poses major cybersecurity threats to unprepared digital systems.

Released in an advisory document on Wednesday, NSA officials notified National Security Systems owners and vendors of the future post-quantum algorithmic requirements needed on classical networks that harbor sensitive data related to national security.

“This transition to quantum-resistant technology in our most critical systems will require collaboration between government, National Security System owners and operators, and industry,” said NSA Cybersecurity Director Rob Joyce. “Our hope is that sharing these requirements now will help efficiently operationalize these requirements when the time comes.”

The NSA’s new encryption standards are outlined in its Commercial National Security Algorithm Suite 2.0, denoted as CNSA 2.0. The upgraded algorithm includes new public and symmetric key encryption and software and firmware updates. CNSA 2.0 algorithms were analyzed and deemed secure against classical and quantum computers.

There should be no war over Taiwan


After a week of consultations and briefings in Taiwan with a team from Brookings Institution — our visit was sandwiched between those by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in time, and by Chinese missiles, airplanes and warships in space — I came back to the United States convinced more than ever that there really should be no war over Taiwan — not soon, not in a few years, not ever.

Of course, war is always bad and should be avoided when possible. But I am trying to say more than that. Specifically, none of the three governments that could begin a war over Taiwan — those in Washington, Beijing and Taipei — should see war as in its interest. To do so would be to make an even worse mistake than Russian President Vladimir Putin’s when he chose to attack Ukraine in February in the apparent belief that he could achieve a quick and relatively easy win. This is true today and will remain so for the foreseeable future — though the United States and Taiwan should take steps to improve the odds that Chinese President Xi Jinping will see war as highly undesirable, if he does not see it that way already.

As I attempted to show in a paper released by Brookings during our Taiwan trip, it is unrealistic, if not impossible, to predict which side would win any conflict over Taiwan. That would be true even if the war were to remain limited in geography and scale. For example, China could lose most of its submarine fleet, in some scenarios, and see any blockade defeated, according to certain plausible assumptions about how well our anti-submarine warfare platforms might function as they searched for those submarines. But there is no guarantee of that outcome, either. If the submarines were particularly hard for us to find — especially likely if China can successfully attack air bases on Okinawa and ships we might use to create convoys east of Taiwan, a possibility that cannot be dismissed — we could lose much of our surface Navy and fail to end the strangulation of Taiwan by China’s submarine force. Either of these outcomes is plausible, and in my view, impossible to dismiss in advance.

Millions of people under lockdown for 1,100 cases. When will China’s zero-covid policy end?

Lili Pike

Locked down and locked in. That’s how people felt when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit China’s southwestern Sichuan province last Monday. In Chengdu, China, the provincial capital, the government had ordered residents to stay home in the face of a growing covid outbreak, and some buildings were literally closed off to stop the spread. Even as the earth shook, the rules were the rules. One video posted on Chinese social media showed people begging pandemic workers to open the locked gate to their apartment building.

It was just the latest example of the extremes that officials and healthcare workers have gone to under China’s zero-covid policy, which aims to eradicate all infections through mass testing and lockdowns. Even in the face of the highly contagious omicron variants, China has stuck steadfastly to its approach while other countries have abandoned the idea of shutting down cities to stop transmission.

Chengdu, a city of 21 million people, was locked down after only 156 cases were reported. As of last week, officials extended the lockdown as cases rose further, and 48 other Chinese cities, home to some 292 million people, were under full or partial lockdown, according to the investment bank Nomura. Shenzhen, the country’s huge technology hub, was among them — all public transit was shut down for several days, for a city of 18 million people.

Ukraine rout in Kharkiv has Russians on the run: How did they pull it off, and what comes next?

Joshua Keating

In recent weeks, a couple of assumptions have prevailed in much of the outside analysis of the war in Ukraine. One was that the conflict was settling into a slow, grinding war of attrition, in which major maneuvers would be rare and success would be measured in the ability to replace troops and equipment rather than gains in territory. The other was that Ukraine’s best chance to break out of this near-stalemate was with a long-anticipated offensive in the south of the country, in the area around the Russian-held city of Kherson.

These assumptions have now been turned on their head. In a lightning offensive, the Ukrainian military has retaken an estimated 3,000 square kilometers of Russian-held territory in just six days as well as a large number of Russian prisoners. This territory includes the strategically vital city of Izyum in Ukraine, a rail hub that the Russian military had used to resupply its forces, and Kupiansk, another railway hub farther north. The rout, and the past week’s images of Russian units fleeing in disarray and civilians celebrating in recaptured towns, have stunned military experts, Kremlin supporters, and perhaps some Ukrainians themselves. The Washington, D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War called it “the most significant Ukrainian military achievement since winning the Battle of Kyiv in March.”

Perhaps more surprising than the speed of the Ukrainian gains is the fact that they came not in the south, but in the east, around the country’s second-largest city, Kharkiv. Russian troops have now been almost entirely routed from the province of Kharkiv, where they’ve been fighting since the war's earliest days.

It’s not that the previous assumptions were wrong. The Kherson offensive wasn’t smoke and mirrors. Fighting continues there and the Ukrainians, according to reporting on the ground, are meeting stiff resistance and taking heavy casualties. And the grinding stalemate of recent months likely helped produce the conditions under which Russian defensive lines collapsed. As the British defense analyst Lawrence Freedman writes, the Kharkiv offensive “serves as a reminder that just because the front lines appear static it does not mean that they will stay that way, and that morale and motivation drain away from armies facing defeat, especially when the troops are uncertain about the cause for which they are fighting and have lost confidence in their officers.”

As impressive as Ukraine’s sudden success has been, barring a full Russian collapse, the war is likely far from over. Russia still controls a significant amount of Ukrainian territory and still has ways to escalate its war effort. But the past week has undoubtedly changed the military and political trajectory of the war in ways that are only beginning to come into focus.
The Kherson diversion

It’s been an open question among analysts whether the Ukrainians had the fighters and resources to launch a major offensive at this point in the war. As it turned out, they launched two.

Even if the Kherson operation wasn’t exactly a decoy, the Ukrainians to appear to have taken advantage of the fact that the Russians had been moving troops to reinforce their positions in and around Kherson. This left Russian positions in the Kharkiv region weakly defended. According to local Russian officials, their forces in the area were outnumbered eight-to-one by the Ukrainians. These positions were manned in large part by personnel from the Rosgvardia — Russia’s national guard — and militias of the separatist Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics.” These forces tend not to be as well-equipped or trained as the regular Russian military.

These soldiers have also not exactly distinguished themselves in making an orderly retreat, with reports of troops dropping their rifles as they fled and abandoning a significant amount of equipment. The iconic image of the Kharkiv retreat may end up being a widely-shared drone video showing Russian troops bailing from a T-72 tank as it speeds down a road near Izyum before it crashes into a tree.

Such scenes are not necessarily unusual for armies in retreat. The phrase “bug out,” meaning a panicked reaction, entered the English lexicon following a particularly chaotic U.S. retreat in the Korean War in 1950. The more serious failure, said Chris Dougherty, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, was Russia’s failure to anticipate the offensive.

“What beggars belief is that they just don’t seem to link up intelligence with their operational planning and command and control effectively at all,” he told Grid. Dougherty said that for all the international media’s attention on Kherson, it would have been impossible for the Ukrainians to completely hide the troop buildup necessary for the Kharkiv offensive given Russia’s surveillance capabilities. In fact, Russian military bloggers had been sounding warnings on social media about a build-up near Kharkiv for weeks. “Either the Russians did see this force build up and they just didn’t think anything would happen. Or they just didn’t have the ability to respond,” Dougherty said.

The Russians also still do not appear to be effectively using air power, an issue that has bedeviled them since the earliest days of fighting around Kyiv. Initial media reports on the Kharkiv offensive suggest Russian air power has been partly neutralized by U.S.-supplied high-speed anti-radiation missiles which target Russian air-defense radar and German-supplied Gepard anti-aircraft guns. (The fact that a German system played a major role in the offensive may allow German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government to push back against at least some of the criticism that it’s not doing enough to back Ukraine.)

The recapture of thousands of square kilometers of territory and dozens of towns would be significant in and of itself, but the major strategic accomplishment is the taking of Izyum and Kupiansk, the two key railway hubs in Ukraine. So far in this war, the Russians have fought far more effectively near the railways it uses to transport troops, food and fuel. For its troops in the east, that just got a lot harder.
Winter is coming

The offensive’s political significance may end up being even greater than its military importance. Recent concern among Ukraine’s supporters has been that the West’s military and economic support is not limitless, and may start to wane this winter as governments feel both the war's costs and Russia’s strategic use of energy supplies as leverage against Europe. Support is more robust in Washington, D.C., but even there, a small but growing number of congressional Republicans are starting to push back against the White House’s continuing requests for billions of dollars in aid for Ukraine. Many have suspected that sooner or later, Ukraine’s backers would lose patience with the war and push Kyiv to make painful territorial concessions at the negotiating table.

The recent offensive is thus a geopolitical shot in the arm, something of a proof of concept for Ukraine’s internationally-backed resistance. Hanna Hopko, former chair of the Ukrainian parliament’s foreign affairs committee, is currently leading a civil society delegation in Washington, D.C., to lobby lawmakers for more aide. Hopko told reporters on Monday, “It’s really important to talk about how to help Ukraine win fast. After eight years of ongoing Russian aggression and almost seven months of full-scale escalation, the Ukrainian armed forces proved that we are capable [of winning].”

Referring to the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System the Ukrainian military has used to greatly disrupt Russian logistics, she added, “This has proved to be a game changer on the battlefield. Can you imagine if we had had them earlier?”

Dougherty went so far as to compare Ukraine’s lightning offensive to the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga during the Revolutionary War. “By itself, Saratoga was not that big a deal,” he said. “The big deal was that it convinced the French we could actually do stuff.”
Russian response

Russia’s immediate response to the rout was a series of missile strikes on Sunday targeting power stations and other infrastructure, leaving the city of Kharkiv in complete blackout and several other cities with only partial power. Noting the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on Sunday, Hopko told reporters that “Russia yesterday did another terrorist attack.” The attacks occurred shortly after the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which once supplied one-fifth of Ukraine’s electricity, was completely shut down by Russian shelling. Hopko referred to Russia’s strategy of deliberately destroying Ukraine’s energy infrastructure ahead of winter as “Coldomor” — a twist on the term “Holodomor,” which referred to the deliberate policy of forced starvation of Ukraine by the Soviet government under former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Beyond inflicting suffering on Ukrainian civilians, Russia’s military options are limited for the time being. Most of its troops have reportedly retreated to the east side of the Oskil River to defend its hold on the Donbas region, though many have also left Ukraine entirely, according to U.S. sources. Much of the Donbas has been under Russian control for the past eight years — and taking the entire area has been a core element in the Kremlin’s rationale for war. In the coming weeks, Russian commanders will have to reconstitute the units that fled and replace the lost equipment in the east while continuing to defend Kherson against the Ukrainian offensive.

In the face of the Russian retreat, President Vladimir Putin’s government is coming under increasing pressure, not from pro-Western liberals but from nationalist hawks who accuse him of sending underequipped and unprepared forces into Ukraine in order to preserve a sense of normalcy back in Russia. So far, the government has refrained from officially declaring its “special military operation” a war, which would allow the Kremlin to order a mass mobilization and send conscripted troops into Ukraine. Even if it took this likely very unpopular step, it’s not clear enough troops would make it to the battlefield in time to make up for Russia’s current personnel shortages.

The Ukrainians face dilemmas as well. By all indications, the Kharkiv offensive achieved its objectives much faster than even its planners were anticipating and, as one former officer told the New York Times, the tough part is now to “to decide where to stop.” It may be tempting to press on as far as possible while the Russians are retreating in disarray, but this risks stretching Ukrainian lines too thin and inviting counterattack. Russian resistance could also get stiffer as the Ukrainians get closer to the Russian Federation’s actual borders. Ukrainian military leaders, who continue to insist that the retaking of all pre-2014 Ukrainian territory including Crimea is the goal, are still talking in terms of support the country will need to continue the fight through 2023.

All the same, considering how the war looked just a few weeks ago, as Russian artillery was pounding its way through the Donbas, these are relatively good problems to have.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs has done the right thing by explaining its taciturn press release on Thursday (September 8) in a single sentence regarding the disengagement of troops in the area of Gogra-Hotsprings along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Western Sector of India-China border areas.

India’s Official Spokesman Arindam Bagchi shared on Friday more details. Broadly, a consensus reached at the 16th round of the India-China Corps Commander Level Meeting on July 17 has since been fleshed out by the two sides, and the actual disengagement commenced on Thursday which will be completed on coming Monday. The following key elements draw attention:Both sides will “cease forward deployments in this area in a phased, coordinated and verified manner, resulting in the return of the troops of both sides to their respective areas.”All temporary structures and other allied infrastructure created in the area by both sides “will be dismantled and mutually verified.”“The landforms in the area will be restored to pre-stand-off period by both sides.” “The agreement ensures that the LAC in this area will be strictly observed and respected by both sides, and that there will be no unilateral change in status quo.”Going forward, the sides will “take the talks forward and resolve the remaining issues along LAC and restore peace and tranquility in India-China border areas.”

US-China in a war for tech standard supremacy


The US–China technology rivalry became overt when a dispute erupted over 5G and Huawei after Washington designated Huawei as an embargoed company on its “Entity List” in May 2019.

At the center of the dispute are standards underpinning the fifth generation (5G) of mobile network technology. China is overtaking the United States — the traditional mastermind of international standards in information and communications technology — in setting the standards for 5G.

Chinese companies hold one-third of the world’s 5G-related “standard-essential” patents — patents that claim an invention must be used to comply with an industry standard.

Holding 5G patents is important because 5G extends beyond conventional mobile communication in emerging technological sectors. Autonomous cars, artificial intelligence (AI), smart factories and smart cities are all connected through 5G networks.

China's economy is in bad shape and could stay that way for a while

Laura He

China is beset by severe economic problems. Growth has stalled, youth unemployment is at a record high, the housing market is collapsing, and companies are struggling with recurring supply chain headaches.

The world's second biggest economy is grappling with the impact of severe drought and its vast real estate sector is suffering the consequences of running up too much debt. But the situation is being made much worse by Bejing's adherence to a rigid zero-Covid policy, and there's no sign that's going to change this year.
Within the past two weeks, eight megacities have gone into full or partial lockdowns. Together these vital centers of manufacturing and transport are home to 127 million people.

Nationwide, at least 74 cities had been closed off since late August, affecting more than 313 million residents, according to CNN calculations based on government statistics. Goldman Sachs last week estimated that cities impacted by lockdowns account for 35% of China's gross domestic product (GDP).

The Age of Global Protest

Popular protests are on the rise, and they are increasingly going global. Over the past three years, popular movements demonstrating against fiscal austerity and corruption have brought down governments—in democracies and authoritarian regimes alike—from Europe and Latin America to Africa and Asia. And with the advent of new communication technologies and media platforms, what happens anywhere can be seen everywhere. The messages and actions of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, for instance, inspired and guided demonstrators in other continents.

The Black Lives Matter protests in the United States during the summer of 2020 were particularly resonant. Building on centuries of international abolitionist and anti-colonialist protest, the demonstrations, sparked by the May 2020 killing of George Floyd by a white police officer who kneeled on his neck for nearly eight minutes, spread rapidly around the world. In addition to standing in solidarity with U.S. protesters, demonstrators in Europe, South America and Asia connected the movement to their own experiences of colonialism, racism and state violence that have been perpetrated by their governments.

U.S. Foreign Policy Under Biden

President Joe Biden took office with an ambitious U.S. foreign policy agenda summed up by his favorite campaign tagline: “America is back.” Above all, that meant repairing the damage done to America’s global standing by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump. During his four years in office, Trump strained ties with America’s allies in Europe and Asia, raised tensions with adversaries like Iran and Venezuela, and engaged in a trade war with China that left bilateral relations in their worst state in decades.

In principle, Biden’s agenda is rooted in a repudiation of Trump’s “America First” legacy and the restoration of the multilateral order. That was reflected in his early moves to rejoin the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization, and reestablish U.S. leadership on climate diplomacy. The COVID-19 pandemic also offered Biden an opportunity to reassert America’s global leadership role and begin repairing ties that began to fray under Trump.

How to Build a Better Order Limiting Great Power Rivalry in an Anarchic World

Dani Rodrik and Stephen M. Walt

The global order is deteriorating before our eyes. The relative decline of U.S. power and the concomitant rise of China have eroded the partially liberal, rules-based system once dominated by the United States and its allies. Repeated financial crises, rising inequality, renewed protectionism, the COVID-19 pandemic, and growing reliance on economic sanctions have brought the post-Cold War era of hyperglobalization to an end. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may have revitalized NATO, but it has also deepened the divide between East and West and North and South. Meanwhile, shifting domestic priorities in many countries and increasingly competitive geopolitics have halted the drive for greater economic integration and blocked collective efforts to address looming global dangers.

The international order that will emerge from these developments is impossible to predict. Looking ahead, it is easy to imagine a less prosperous and more dangerous world characterized by an increasingly hostile United States and China, a remilitarized Europe, inward-oriented regional economic blocs, a digital realm divided along geopolitical lines, and the growing weaponization of economic relations for strategic ends.

Old World Order The Real Origin of International Relations

Valerie Hansen

How old is the modern world? Scholars of international relations tend to date the beginning of their field of study to around 500 years ago, when a handful of states in western Europe began to establish colonies in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. In their view, the transformations unleashed by European colonialism made the world what it is today. So, too, did the 1648 Peace of Westphalia, two treaties signed by feuding European powers that ended a series of bloody wars. That was the moment international relations truly began, the argument runs. Thanks to this settlement, states for the first time formally agreed to respect their mutual sovereignty over demarcated territories, laying the groundwork for the abiding “Westphalian order” of a world divided into sovereign nation-states.

This rather Eurocentric view of the past still shapes how most international relations scholars see the world. When searching for the history relevant to today’s world events, they rarely look beyond the European world order constructed after 1500. Before then, they reason, politics did not happen on a global scale. And states outside Europe did not adhere to Westphalian principles. As a result, international relations scholars have deemed vast tracts of history largely irrelevant to understanding modern politics.

An exclusive focus on a world in which Europeans armed with guns and cannons dominated the various peoples they encountered misses much of what happened outside Europe and the places Europeans colonized. This focus reads history backward from the primacy of the West, as if all that happened before led inevitably to the hegemony of a handful of European and North American states. The rise of non-Western powers, such as China, India, and Japan in recent decades, has revealed how misguided such an approach is.

Ukraine Takes the Offensive The wild card is how Putin responds. Will he use a nuclear weapon?

Ukraine’s counter-offensive against invading Russian forces is an important turn in the war, though not without peril as Vladimir Putin calculates how to respond. Western leaders have to be prepared that he will use nuclear weapons, or attempt to involve NATO directly in the conflict.

In less than a week, Ukrainian forces have retaken some three thousand square kilometers from the Russian invaders. That’s more Ukrainian territory than Russia has seized since April. “The Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kharkiv Oblast is routing Russian forces and collapsing Russia’s northern Donbas axis,” says the Institute for the Study of War, which has ably tracked the conflict.

The counter-offensive’s early success is notable for its planning and deception. Ukraine advertised for months that it was planning to advance in the country’s south, around the city of Kherson, and Russia sent reinforcements there. Ukraine has made some gains in the south, but it seems to have surprised the Russians around Kharkiv. Ukraine’s military intelligence, no doubt with U.S. help, seems to be better than Russia’s.

Russia’s collapse in northeast Ukraine ignites fury from Putin loyalists

The last week has seen a stunning transformation of the battlefield in eastern Ukraine, as a swift armored offensive by Ukrainian forces rolled through lines of Russian defenses and recaptured more than 3,000 square kilometers (more than 1,100 square miles) of territory.

That is more territory than Russian forces have captured in all their operations in Ukraine since April.

As much as the offensive was brilliantly conceived and executed, it also succeeded because of Russian inadequacies. Throughout swathes of the Kharkiv region, Russian units were poorly organized and equipped – and many offered little resistance.

Their failures, and their disorderly retreat to the east, has made the goal of President Vladimir Putin’s special military operation to take all of Luhansk and Donetsk regions considerably harder to attain.

Putin’s strategy to weaponize winter


As the summer war in Ukraine transitions into autumn and sunflowers harvests, repeated Russian military setbacks in the Donbas region and Kherson Oblast are forcing Vladimir Putin to show his hand. Impatient to reverse course on the battlefield, the Russian president is signaling that Moscow fully intends to weaponize Europe’s winter energy needs — for not just Ukraine but the entire European Union.

Under the current circumstances, though, Russian ground forces may not make it to winter. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky possesses the Valyrian steel sword; he just requires the Biden administration’s full confidence and support to wield it decisively and bury Putin’s “special military operation” in the fields of Ukraine.

Despite long-range weather forecasts to the contrary, Putin is gambling on a brutally cold and snowy winter like that of 1941, which helped derail the German army’s attack on Moscow during Operation Barbarossa. Theoretically, the Kremlin’s strategic aim is to produce an energy crisis in the dead of a European winter to break the will of NATO from continuing to militarily and economically support Kyiv. The underlying assumption is that Europeans would choose warmth and comfort over Ukraine’s independence.

The Russian Army Is Losing A Battalion Every Day As Ukrainian Counterattacks Accelerate

David Axe

The Russian army is losing at least a battalion’s worth of vehicles and men a day as twin Ukrainian counteroffensives roll back Russian territorial gains in eastern and southern Ukraine. That’s hundreds of casualties and scores of vehicle write-offs every day.

These losses are catastrophic for Russia. The Russian army barely was sustaining a little over 100 under-strength battalions in Ukraine before Kyiv’s forces counterattacked in the south on Aug. 30 and in the east eight days later.

In just under two weeks of brutal fighting, the Ukrainians have destroyed, badly damaged or captured 1,200 Russian tanks, fighting vehicles, trucks, helicopters, warplanes and drones, according to the Ukrainian general staff. Independent analysts scouring social media for photos and videos have confirmed nearly 400 of the Russian losses.

It’s Time to Prepare for a Ukrainian Victory

Anne Applebaum

Over the past six days, Ukraine’s armed forces have broken through the Russian lines in the northeastern corner of the country, swept eastward, and liberated town after town in what had been occupied territory. First Balakliya, then Kupyansk, then Izium, a city that sits on major supply routes. These names won’t mean much to a foreign audience, but they are places that have been beyond reach, impossible for Ukrainians to contact for months. Now they have fallen in hours. As I write this, Ukrainian forces are said to be fighting on the outskirts of Donetsk, a city that Russia has occupied since 2014.

Many things about this advance are unexpected, especially the location: For many weeks, the Ukrainians loudly telegraphed their intention to launch a major offensive farther south. The biggest shock is not Ukraine’s tactics but Russia’s response. “What really surprises us,” Lieutenant General Yevhen Moisiuk, the deputy commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, told me in Kyiv yesterday morning, “is that the Russian troops are not fighting back.”

Russian troops are not fighting back. More than that: Offered the choice of fighting or fleeing, many of them appear to be escaping as fast as they can. For several days, soldiers and others have posted photographs of hastily abandoned military vehicles and equipment and videos showing lines of cars, presumably belonging to collaborators, fleeing the occupied territories. A Ukrainian General Staff report said that Russian soldiers were ditching their uniforms, donning civilian clothes, and trying to slip back into Russian territory. The Ukrainian security service has set up a hotline that Russian soldiers can call if they want to surrender, and it has also posted recordings of some of the calls. The fundamental difference between Ukrainian soldiers, who are fighting for their country’s existence, and Russian soldiers, who are fighting for their salary, has finally begun to matter.

Shield Critical Infrastructure from Electromagnetic Pulses, DHS Says


On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate released a report outlining a series of best practices that local, state and federal agencies—and private-sector partners—should implement to protect critical infrastructure services from electromagnetic pulses.

DHS’s Electromagnetic Pulse Shielding Mitigations report—which includes input from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and feedback from industry and government representatives—builds on the best practices used to protect the National Public Warning System, the network of radio stations that allows the U.S. president to communicate with the American public during a national emergency.

FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert and Warning System Program includes 77 private-sector broadcast stations that use “​​multiple, connected EMP-protected shelters” and are “equipped with backup communications equipment and a power generator” to ensure that information can be broadcast through the NPWS without any EMP-related interruptions or interference. According to DHS, FEMA has also conducted high-altitude EMP testing on NPWS equipment to verify that mitigation efforts are protecting these stations.