15 September 2022

Is Afghanistan’s Long Civil War Really Over?

Carter Malkasian

One year ago, the democratic government of Afghanistan collapsed. The humiliating evacuation of U.S. military forces and civilians as well as roughly 100,000 Afghans remains a sore spot for Washington and its allies. The Taliban regime has ruled the country ever since. Levels of violence throughout the country have been dramatically reduced—but so, too, have the rights of women, the freedom of the media, and the safety of those who supported the overthrown democratic government. Questions about the new state of affairs abound. Should the international community recognize the Taliban? Will the Taliban moderate themselves? Can diplomacy or sanctions compel them to do so? Is a new international terrorist threat forming under the Taliban’s watch?

And an even more pressing question looms over the country: Is the Afghan civil war that started in 1978 finally over? For four decades, Afghanistan tore itself apart. Mujahideen fought communists. Warlords fought warlords. The Taliban fought the Northern Alliance. The democratic republic’s army fought the Taliban. In the process, more than two million Afghans were killed or wounded and more than five million became refugees. Last year’s withdrawal of foreign forces from the country put an end to that cycle and allowed the Taliban to consolidate its control—at least for the time being. Pockets of resistance to Taliban rule, the Taliban’s continued embrace of the tactics of terrorism, and foreign intervention could all potentially rekindle the civil war in ways that are not apparent right now. What today appears to be a new peace period may be just a pause in Afghanistan’s long trauma. Washington’s ability to do much about this is limited. The most important thing is to be cognizant of how previous interventions prevented the civil war from ending. Getting involved in Afghanistan again in order to mitigate risks to U.S. national security would pose an even greater risk: worsening the tragedy for the Afghan people.

US leaders avoid victory dance in Ukraine combat advances


WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. leaders from President Joe Biden on down are being careful not to declare a premature victory after a Ukrainian offensive forced Russian troops into a messy retreat in the north. Instead, military officials are looking toward the fights yet to come and laying out plans to provide Ukraine more weapons and expand training, while warily awaiting Russia’s response to the sudden, stunning battlefield losses.

Although there was widespread celebration of Ukraine’s gains over the weekend, U.S. officials know Russian President Vladimir Putin still has troops and resources to tap, and his forces still control large swaths of the east and south.

“I agree there should be no spiking of the ball because Russia still has cards it can play,” said Philip Breedlove, a retired U.S. Air Force general who was NATO’s top commander from 2013 to 2016. “Ukraine is now clearly making durable changes in its east and north and I believe that if the West properly equips Ukraine, they’ll be able to hold on to their gains.”

Ukraine’s Big Offensive Against Russia: Designed By U.S. Special Forces?

Steve Balestrieri

Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the eastern part of the country has been very successful so far. They have retaken about 3,000 square kilometers of territory from Russian forces.

The operation, so far excellent and aided by U.S. intelligence, bears all the hallmarks of a U.S. Special Operations Command deception operation, according to a former U.S. official.

Evelyn Farkas, the top Pentagon official for Ukraine and Russia during the Obama years, said, “These guys have been trained for eight years by Special Ops. They’ve been taught about irregular warfare. Our intelligence operators taught them about deception and psychological operations.”

Russian Bloggers Turn on the Government

In their headlong retreat out of the Izium region, Russian forces, in danger of being encircled and chopped up piecemeal, retreated in chaos. In doing so, they left behind a lot of armor, armored vehicles, weapons, equipment, and ammunition.

Why Non-Alignment Is Dead and Won’t Return

C. Raja Mohan

As much of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America has refused to line up behind the West amid its growing confrontation with Russia and China, the idea that these regions are returning to a policy of nonalignment has generated concern in Western capitals and a bit of excitement elsewhere. Both of these sentiments may, however, be misplaced. In the West, the debate over nonalignment is still haunted by the Cold War’s shadow, when “nonalignment” was often synonymous with an anti-Western stance. And for developing countries, the objective of building a non-Western or post-Western order—part of the ideology of nonalignment from its beginnings in the decolonization era—has been an enduring but elusive mirage.

Take a closer look, and you will find the ideology of nonalignment was dead long ago. And while it may not be entirely buried, it poses little threat to the West and does not offer much salvation to the East.

The responses of countries outside the West to the renewed great-power conflict today are too varied to fit neatly into a category. They have little to do with the notions of nonalignment that prevailed during the movement’s heyday following World War II, when newly decolonized nations found themselves right in the middle of a global conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union—and formed a loose third bloc as a result.

Putin Has a New Opposition—and It’s Furious at Defeat in Ukraine

Alexey Kovalev

A new Russian protest movement is coalescing, but it’s neither pro-democracy nor anti-war. Instead, it’s the most extreme of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s supporters, who have grown increasingly furious at the unfolding military disaster for Russia in the six-month-long war in Ukraine. They want Putin to escalate the war, use more devastating weapons, and hit Ukrainian civilians even more mercilessly. And they’ve openly attacked the Russian military and political leadership for supposedly holding back Russia’s full might—even as they rarely mention Putin by name.

Their push to escalate the war, including widespread demands to use nuclear weapons, is dangerous in itself. But by creating a fantasy world in which a supposedly all-powerful Russian army is being defeated by domestic enemies—instead of by superior Ukrainian soldiers fighting for their own land with modern tactics and Western weapons—the movement has potentially disturbing implications for a postwar and possibly post-Putin Russia. In fact, the narrative sounds a lot like the Dolchstosslegende, the German “stab-in-the-back” conspiracy theory that blamed the country’s defeat in World War I on nefarious enemies at home, including Jews. This narrative of military defeat became integral to the propaganda that brought the Nazis to power.

Ukraine Stands, Fights, and Wins

Tom Nichols

The war in Ukraine is far from over, but the Ukrainians have inflicted an immense loss on the Russians. There is a lesson here for all of us about how to deal with extremism in any form.

Last weekend was full of grief and glory. Queen Elizabeth II died, and like many Americans, I felt the pang of loss. The Queen, a seemingly eternal part of our world, was a stalwart ally of the United States, and a model of dignity and duty. But while focusing on the mourning and pageantry, we might have lost track of another potentially world-changing story in Ukraine.

Using a combination of clever strategy, military fortitude, and Western weapons, the Ukrainians have routed the Russians from a series of positions around Kharkiv. These were not merely defeats; the Russians were abandoning their posts and leaving behind their equipment even before the Ukrainians could reach them. Russian soldiers do not want to die for President Vladimir Putin’s pathetic dream of reestablishing a state that had already perished before some of them were even born.

Amid Ukraine’s startling gains, liberated villages describe Russian troops dropping rifles and fleeing

Steve Hendrix, Serhii Korolchuk and Robyn Dixon

ZALIZNYCHNE, Ukraine — In the end, the Russians fled any way they could on Friday, on stolen bicycles, disguised as locals. Hours after Ukrainian soldiers poured into the area, hundreds of Russian soldiers encamped in this village were gone, many after their units abandoned them, leaving behind stunned residents to face the ruins of 28 weeks of occupation.

“They just dropped rifles on the ground,” Olena Matvienko said Sunday as she stood, still disoriented, in a village littered with ammo crates and torched vehicles, including a Russian tank loaded on a flatbed. The first investigators from Kharkiv had just pulled in to collect the bodies of civilians shot by Russians, some that have been lying exposed for months.

The hasty flight of Russians from the village was part of a stunning new reality that took the world by surprise over the weekend: The invaders of February are on the run in some parts of Ukraine they seized early in the conflict.

Putin Is Trying to Turn Ukraine Into a Culture War

Lionel Beehne and Thomas Sherlock

For most of us, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a brutal act of aggression. But a small yet growing and influential group of European and U.S. pundits and politicians is justifying it as a check against the spread of a decadent West. Members of Europe’s far-right are quick to qualify that Russia’s war is a “clear violation of international law and absolutely indefensible,” as France’s Marine Le Pen noted at the war’s onset. Yet almost in the same breath, they applaud Russian President Vladimir Putin as a defender of Western Christian civilization under attack from an unchecked mob of so-called woke liberals.

As Gunnar Beck of the populist Alternative for Germany party told CNN after the invasion, “Many of us are opposed to the fashionable social trends of our time, some of which are promoted through with public money. We look at Russia and see a European country where these issues have not gone too far.” By invading Ukraine and bringing it back under Russia’s fold, Putin will prevent this internal rot and decay from spreading farther eastward or in the West.

Sri Lanka’s Left Turn

Devana Senanayake

The mass protests in Sri Lanka that led to the removal of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the appointment of a new president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, in July have now stalled. As Wickremesinghe cracks down on dissent, and demonstrators figure out where to go from here, many critics and experts have overlooked the role the country’s left has played in the protest movement.

Leftist parties are not the main players in the country’s aragalaya, or struggle, but they have shaped the movement considerably. Members of student and youth unions linked to leftist parties set up camp at Gota Go Gama, the now-disbanded site in Colombo that became the center of the movement after it was established in April. In the following months, leftist professional organizations, trade unions, and individuals joined in, bringing their ideas and resources to the site’s complex political ecosystem.

Though they have yelled out chants with socialist agendas—defending universal health care and free education, and advocating for wealth redistribution, environmental conservation, and anti-corruption measures—many of these people haven’t outright identified as members of the left. When they identified that way in the past, few Sri Lankans listened or paid attention to them, said Kaushalya Ariyarathne, an academic and a member of the leftist National People’s Power party alliance. But when they introduced these positions in a nonpartisan context, other people joined in their chants.

Through The Quantum Looking Glass

An ultrathin invention could make future computing, sensing and encryption technologies remarkably smaller and more powerful by helping scientists control a strange but useful phenomenon of quantum mechanics, according to new research recently published in the journal Science.

Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories and the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light have reported on a device that could replace a roomful of equipment to link photons in a bizarre quantum effect called entanglement. This device — a kind of nano-engineered material called a metasurface — paves the way for entangling photons in complex ways that have not been possible with compact technologies.

When scientists say photons are entangled, they mean they are linked in such a way that actions on one affect the other, no matter where or how far apart the photons are in the universe. It is an effect of quantum mechanics, the laws of physics that govern particles and other very tiny things.

Forget About Lake Baikal As Source Of Water For Export

Paul Goble

Russia has more than ten percent of the world’s fresh water reserves and so it is hardly surprising that Moscow is thinking about selling some of them for profit giving looming worldwide water shortages. It is also not surprising that the center is focusing on Lake Baikal and the possibility of selling its waters to China, Viktor Danilov-Danilyan says.

But the senior scholar at the Moscow Institute of Water Problems says Russian officials should stop thinking about Baikal which is not in a position to provide that much water and which, if Russia tried to use it as an export resource, would have the most severe environmental and economic consequences (profile.ru/economy/voda-razdora-smozhet-li-rossiya-prodavat-vodu-kak-segodnya-prodaet-neft-i-gaz-1135449/).

Indeed, in advancing this argument, the hydrologist uses many of the same arguments that led to the cancellation of Soviet plans to reverse the flow of Siberian river waters to save the Aral Sea and supply the burgeoning populations of the Central Asian republics in the 1980s, a debate that fed into the rise of glasnost under Gorbachev’s perestroika.

The Big Myth About Inequality: It Just Happened

Dean Baker

The standard line in policy circles about the soaring inequality of the last four decades is that it is just an unfortunate outcome of technological change. As a result of technological developments, education is much more highly valued and physical labor has much less value. The drop in relative income for workers without college degrees is unfortunate and provides grounds for lots of hand wringing and bloviating in elite media outlets, but hey, what can you do?

Manufacturing plays a central role in this story since it has historically been the major source of high-paying jobs for workers without college degrees. Manufacturing jobs offered a pay premium of almost 17.0 percent in the 1980s. This had fallen sharply by the start of the last decade and had largely disappeared in more recent years.

This decline in the wage premium has coincided with a plunge in unionization rates in manufacturing. Approximately 20 percent of manufacturing workers were unionized at the start of the 1980s. In 2021 just 7.7 percent of manufacturing workers were in unions, only slightly higher than the average of 6.1 percent in the private sector.

Apple Just Can’t Quit China As New iPhone Rolls Out

Joe Schaeffer

The corporate spin has Apple pivoting toward India and other foreign nations in an attempt to reduce China’s towering influence over the creation of its core iPhone product. But the reality is quite different. A new report states the Big Tech behemoth is more beholden than ever to the tyrannical communist superpower in manufacturing its new iPhone 14 as sales within the country boom amid claims of increased Chinese corporate espionage.

The iPhone 14 was officially unveiled on Sept. 7. As The New York Times noted in an article one day earlier, Chinese production processes were critical. “[T]he iPhone has gone from being a product that is designed in California and made in China to one that is a creation of both countries,” The Times wrote.

The paper highlighted how Apple, like so many American companies, fell into a “cheaper to make” trap:

Let’s Stop Being Cavalier About Civilian Control of the Military

Peter Feaver, Michèle Flournoy

The United States needs to review the basic principles of civilian control of the military and recommit to best practices in civil-military relations. That is the underlying message of a remarkable open letter by former secretaries of defense and former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, published last week on War on the Rocks.

This is the first time such a distinguished group—every confirmed secretary of defense serving in the Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations and the former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff covering the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations—has collectively weighed in on this bedrock foundation of the United States’ constitutional republic: what civilian control of the military does and does not mean, and how to preserve it. (Full disclosure: One of us, Feaver, helped the group work through the process of drafting the statement.)

That this extraordinary group felt the need to make this statement at this time is as newsworthy as what they said. For most of U.S. history, ordinary Americans have taken civilian control of the military for granted and barely given a thought to how civilians and the military interact within the political system. To be sure, academics and expert practitioners have paid closer attention and in recent times have been sounding the alarm about the erosion of norms and the flouting of taboos that have kept the U.S. military apolitical and served the country well for decades. Now that message has been amplified in a dramatic way with the collective voice of the nation’s most experienced defense leaders. Notably, the group began their work in May/June, and the timing of the release was not pegged to any single event.

Renewing the American Regime: U.S.–China Competition beyond Ukraine

Ashley J. Tellis

Edited by Jude Blanchette of CSIS and Hal Brands of SAIS, the Marshall Papers is a series of essays that probes and challenges the assessments underpinning the U.S. approach to great power rivalry. Inspired by the work and legacy of Andrew Marshall, the founding director of the Office of Net Assessment, the Papers will be rigorous yet provocative, continually pushing the boundaries of intellectual and policy debates. In this Marshall Paper, Ashley Tellis looks at the broad sweep of America’s grand strategy in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and argues that policymakers must remain committed to preserving U.S. hegemony in order to “shape evolving trends to its advantage.”

Demographic Change in the Greater Levant: A Case Study by Country

Anthony H. Cordesman, Paul Cormarie

These reports provide graphs and tables that show the population trends from 1960 to 2021, and projections through 2050, drawing on estimates developed by the UN and World Bank. They show that all MENA countries have experienced massive increases in population through 2021 – sometimes increasing the total population by more than five times.

They are introduced with summaries of the problems they face in national development, security, and stability and show that the resulting pressures on their economies, governance, and social stability must have been a key factor affecting their stability. They also show that if today’s demographic forces dominate future population growth, there is a near certainty that this population pressure will present steadily growing problems through at least 2050. The same is true of the other demographic data and estimates the authors could find.

The country-by-country data on total population growth, the rise in young citizens needing jobs, the number of people over 65 years of age depending on support from the working population, the hyper urbanization of many countries, and the shifts away from a traditional life in agriculture to some extent speak for themselves.

Takshashila Issue Brief - Public Access to Knowledge Resources

The open access movement received a huge boost last week when the United States announced that all tax-payer funded research carried out through federal research agencies must be made publicly available.

The memorandum issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, attached to the White House, recommends that federal agencies with R&D expenditure must implement public access policies which enable all peer-reviewed scholarly publications to be made freely and publicly accessible by default, without any embargo or delay after their publication. This also applies to any scientific data generated pursuant to research. Agencies must update their public access policies to this effect no later than December 31, 2025.

In December 2014, India also took steps towards making publicly funded research openly accessible. The Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST) ordered each institution receiving funding from the respective departments to set up an institutional open access repository for its research papers and articles published in peer-reviewed journals. It encouraged authors to inform the publishers about the obligation to deposit their work in such institutional repositories. The policy allows for an embargo period of 6 and 12 months for STEM and humanities disciplines respectively.

Ukraine is fighting both a physical and cyber war against Russia


Today, Ukrainian forces entered a key transportation and supply hub for the Russian military, a move even Russia's defense ministry confirmed. It follows a rapid advance by Ukrainian forces to retake ground in the northeastern part of the country. It could signal an important turning point in this six-month-old conflict, where Ukraine has been forced to defend itself against both conventional warfare and a more recent phenomenon, cyberattack. That's where we turn now.

Since shortly after the war began, Ukrainian leaders in Kyiv made an unusual ask. They called on IT professionals in Ukraine and around the world to help defend the nation against cyberattacks. IT professionals went to their keyboards to help. And in the six months since the invasion, Ukraine and its international allies have become more organized, more focused and more determined than ever to keep Russian hackers on the back foot. Dina Temple-Raston is the host and executive producer of the "Click Here" podcast. She's been talking to members of the IT Army of Ukraine, and she's with us now to tell us more about how things have developed. Welcome back. Thanks so much for joining us, Dina.

Requiem for an Empire


LONDON – Amid the many, and deserved, tributes to Queen Elizabeth II, one aspect of her 70-year reign remained in the background: her role as monarch of 15 realms, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. She was also the head of the Commonwealth, a grouping of 56 countries, mainly republics.

This community of independent states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire, has been crucial in conserving a “British connection” around the world in the post-imperial age. Whether this link is simply a historical reminiscence, whether it stands for something substantial in world affairs, and whether and for how long it can survive the Queen’s passing, have become matters of great interest, especially in light of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

In the nineteenth-century era of Pax Britannica, Britain exercised global power on its own. The sun never set on the British Empire: the British navy ruled the waves, British finance dominated world markets, and Britain maintained the European balance of power. This era of “splendid isolation” – never as splendid or isolated as history textbooks used to suggest – ended with World War I, which gravely wounded Britain’s status as a world power and correspondingly strengthened other claimants to that role.

These Maps And Videos Show How Ukraine’s ‘Blitzkrieg’ Offensive Shocked Russia

Sebastien Roblin

In September, Ukrainian forces liberated 1,100 square miles in Northeastern Ukraine in one week. This is more than Russia’s military managed to seize in months of costly attritional warfare in the Donbas region. Further withdrawals announced by Russia’s Defense Ministry may result in over 3,200 square miles falling back under Ukrainian control.

Lurking in the shadow of Ukraine’s heavily advertised counteroffensive in Kherson, the Kharkiv campaign took Russian forces by surprise. It became a textbook example of a fast-paced breakthrough and exploitation operation – the very sort of campaign Russian armored units mostly failed to achieve at the beginning of the war.

In this article, we’ll look at how Ukraine’s outgunned forces achieved this stunning, little-anticipated victory.

What does the United States want in Syria?

Christopher Solomon

Syria, once a Baathist fortress state under the late President Hafez al-Assad, has now become an arena for an array of militias and several foreign militaries, including that of the United States.

Since 2015, US military forces have been present in Syria in support of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces’ (SDF) fight against the Islamic State (IS) group.

The US also holds a strategic garrison at the Al-Tanf base in southern Syria, near the Iraqi border. On 15 August, this base was attacked by unidentified drones. In late August, in retaliation, US airstrikes hit targets belonging to Iranian-supported militias near the Syrian city of Deir az-Zour.

The militias were said to be directly supported by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), which have been involved in the Syrian conflict to support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. The BBC reported that a senior US official said that no Iranian personnel were killed in the US air strikes.

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 the understanding of 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 is turning the tide against Russia — no thanks to Germany


BERLIN — Love Germany or loathe it, few would dispute it is a country of pessimists, a land where glasses are half empty and every silver lining comes with a dark cloud. There is, of course, a German word for this phenomenon: Schwarzmalerei, painting black.

In normal times, Germans’ morose nature offers a wellspring of mirth for its neighbors and allies. With the tide seemingly turning in the war in Ukraine, nobody’s amused.

On Monday, Christine Lambrecht, the latest in a long line of German defense ministers with little or no military experience, made clear that Ukraine’s battlefield gains would not alter Berlin’s refusal to provide the country with much-needed battle tanks.

Lambrecht, delivering what was billed as a “landmark” address in Berlin, castigated Russia for its “horrible war of invasion” and said it was time for Germany to assume a “leadership role” in European security. Helping Ukraine to win would not appear to be part of that strategy.

Introduction: The brave new world of the high-tech surveillance state

Dan Drollette Jr

This magazine issue was inspired by recent events in Russia and China—two countries where the surveillance state has expanded dramatically in size and capability in a relatively short time. In Russia, this development has been highlighted by Vladimir Putin’s recent efforts to take his country back to the bad old days of Stalin’s Soviet Union: expelling foreign journalists; shutting down independent domestic magazines, newspapers, and websites; making it a crime to use the word “war” instead of the Kremlin-approved “special military operation;” clamping down on dissent in the streets; and making it so that the Russian public can only see the Kremlin version of events on state-sponsored television (which is often the only easily accessible form of media).

Meanwhile, the authorities in communist China have been steadily operating under the radar, for at least the past 20 years, to put into place what some call a high-tech system of “techno-authoritarianism.” Under this system—really a collection of surveillance systems—China’s minority population is constantly subject to tracking via cameras, facial recognition algorithms, biometrics, abundant checkpoints, and constant screening of digital devices, effectively making them live inside what the New York Times described as a “virtual cage.” These forms of surveillance were originally confined largely to the province of Xinjiang, but subtle, more sophisticated, and less-obvious versions of monitoring and control are now appearing in the rest of the country as well.

Chile: Referendum Loss Renders Boric a Lame Duck

Dr. Antonio C. Hsiang

On September 4, voters in Chile rejected the constitutional draft referendum by a 62-38 percent margin. The referendum’s defeat has made Chilean President Gabriel Boric a de facto lame duck president just six months into his term. As Patricio Fernández, one of the delegates to the constitutional convention, pointed out: “Gabriel Boric knows perfectly well that the destiny of his presidency is inextricably linked to that of this constitutional process.” Boric has invested heavily in the success of the referendum for several years now. In November 2019, Boric was the most notable signatory of the “Agreement for Social Peace and a new Constitution.” Then, on July 15 of this year, Boric declared that a brand new draft would have to be written if the proposed constitution is rejected by voters in the referendum.

The constitutional draft is the result of deep divisions in Chilean society. At the heart of Chile’s 2019 protests, known as the estallido social or social upheaval, was anger over narrowing opportunities and inadequate and unequal access to health care, pensions, and education. The constitutional process is the result of a broad national agreement among political parties to end a wave of popular protests against inequality and poor public services that erupted in October 2019.

CYBERCOM: ‘We can do a lot more’ with industry partnerships


WASHINGTON — Although US Cyber Command is encouraged by how information sharing between the public and private sector is evolving, more work needs to be done, specifically when it comes to preparing for offensive and defensive operations, CYBERCOM’s highest ranking civilian said today.

“What we need from…the private sector is early warning, essentially, if they see anomalies that we need to know about so that we can prepare to conduct an offensive operation or conduct defense of DoD’s networks,” David Frederick, CYBERCOM”s executive director, said today at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit. “Valuable information can be gained by the private sector. And on the flip side, we have a lot of information to offer.”

Frederick added that he’s “very encouraged” in the direction both the federal government and private sector are heading in, but challenges remain. If a cyber attack were to hit the US, the cyber defenders that are “in the trenches is largely the private sector,” so building a partnership in cyber defense and resiliency remains a focus of CYBERCOM.

As Ukraine counterattacks, Russia’s military facing steep artillery, resupply challenges


WARSAW — The rapid success of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in recent days has left Russian forces retreating and yet more videos on social media of abandoned tanks and artillery units. And for Russia, every piece of hardware destroyed or abandoned on the battlefield underlines a growing consensus among Russia watchers that Moscow’s losses of both personnel and equipment in Ukraine are reaching a potential breaking point.

Analysts particularly point to industrial challenges facing Russia’s military in discussions with Breaking Defence and in public writings. Six months into what was expected to be a quick strike campaign, facing a Ukraine push that has reportedly liberated the key Russian logistics hub of Izium, Russia’s ability to resupply for its own counter is deeply in question.

Pavel Luzin, a Russian defense sector analyst from the Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI), has compared Moscow’s declining production in the defense industrial sector and sinking manpower levels with the rate of consumption of munitions and personnel losses in the war in Ukraine. He came to the inescapable conclusion that the Russian war machine will soon be unable to function due to a lack of both.

The J-20 Stealth Fighter Could Be The ‘Star’ In China’s Version Of Top Gun

Harrison Kass

Reports are beginning to surface that China is developing a Top Gun-like movie to promote the PLA and their new J-20 fighter.

While unconfirmed, the move would be consistent with Chinese aims to increase both their hard and soft power.

The Idea

Top Gun:Maverick is the highest grossing film of the year – and perhaps the closest thing the film industry has produced to a cultural moment since maybe Avatar. People spent the summer lining up to see Top Gun once, twice, and thrice.

In August, Top Gun surpassed the $1.4 billion gross threshold for the 12th highest grossing film ever. The film, which follows Naval aviator Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (played by Tom Cruise), is a sequel released 36 years after the original Top Gun dropped in 1986. The original Top Gun was the highest-grossing film of 1986 and has transcended to become emblematic of the decade within which it was released. The original film resulted in a significant bump in US military recruitment.

The Energy War in Europe: Gas and the Russian Oil Price Cap

Philip Worman & Dr. Chris Tooke


In tandem with the military conflict in Ukraine, an equally aggressive campaign is being waged over the supply of gas and oil from Russia.

On 5 September 2022, Russia gave up the pretence that solely technical problems were to blame for the shutdown of the Nord Stream pipeline supplying Europe with gas. Presidential spokesman Dmitri Peskov explicitly linked resuming the gas supply to lifting sanctions on Russia.

Russia is in a cul de sac: realistically, in the near term, a softening of sanctions is feasible only if Russia either: a) ends the war in Ukraine and returns the territories it has occupied; or b) inflicts so much socio-economic pain on the EU through depriving it of hydrocarbons that the EU is forced to relax at least some of its sanctions.

Myanmar: Military’s Real Weak Spot Is Economic Ineptitude

Zachary Abuza

Sept. 7 marked the first anniversary of the shadow National Unity Government (NUG) of Myanmar’s declaration of a defensive war against the military. Few at the time gave them much hope against a well-armed and brutal military that had ruled the country for all but seven of the past 60 years. But 19 months after the coup, Myanmar’s military is mired in a multi-front war and losing ground. Yet, the junta’s greatest vulnerability is the imploding economy.

The junta’s battlefield losses are real. The military is fighting with diminishing resources against a surprisingly durable alliance of the NUG, some 275 People’s Defense Force paramilitary groups under its chain of command, and several ethnic resistance organizations. There were more than 6,600 individual clashes in the past year.

A new report by the Special Advisory Council, a panel of former U.N. experts, contends that the junta only has effective control over 17% of the country, while the NUG and its allies control 52%. The remainder is contested space, and often the target of indiscriminate shelling against civilian communities and arson which has so far destroyed about 28,000 homes.