2 October 2022

Taiwan, And The World, Needs To Worry About the Western Disinterest In Protecting It

David Hutt

To repeat a cliche, U.S. President Joe Biden has turned America’s decades-old policy of “strategic ambiguity” over whether it would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion into one of “strategic unambiguity.” He has said on several occasions that the U.S. would, in fact, militarily come to Taiwan’s defense. He was asked the same question earlier this month. He replied: “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”

The German Marshall Fund’s latest Transatlantic Trends survey, released on Thursday, makes for depressing reading if you’re sitting in the Oval Office, and especially if you’re sitting in Taipei. Amongst the 14 Western countries surveyed, the clear preferred option in the event of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan was diplomacy and sanctions. An average of 35 percent of respondents support their countries only taking diplomatic measures; 32 percent want joint economic sanctions.

And here’s the kicker: Just 4 percent would support their government sending arms or troops to Taiwan. And 12 percent want their country to take no action. In fact, some 15 percent of U.S. respondents favored no action if China invaded Taiwan, as did 14 percent of French, a tenth of Germans and 8 percent of Britons. On average across the major European states, only 1-2 percent of respondents want to send troops to Taiwan in the event of an invasion. Some 3 percent of Britons and 7 percent of Americans favor this. Only a slightly higher percentage want their governments to send arms to Taiwan: 3 percent of Germans and French; 5 percent of Britons, and 8 percent of Americans.

A Conversation with Thomas West in the Context of Afghanistan One Year Later

Daniel F. Runde: So I’m Dan Runde. I’m a senior vice president here at CSIS. Thank you for joining us today, a little over one month after the one-year anniversary of the forcible Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August of 2021. I was not in favor of us leaving Afghanistan, but it’s easy for me to sit in an ivory tower and opine about these things that other folks have to take the difficult decisions.

We are very fortunate to have Mr. Thomas West, the State Department’s special representative and deputy assistant secretary for Afghanistan. Mr. West is a very able public servant, and he has an excellent team. And it’s very important that we have great people in government, like Mr. West. And so I’m really pleased that he agreed to go back into public service.

Mr. West has had a very interesting career in the foreign policy world. He’s followed the Afghanistan file for a very long time, and he’s been an important policymaker on Afghan issues. He served as a special advisor to the vice president for South Asia. And he was director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the National Security Council from 2012 to 2015. From 2011 to 2012, Mr. West was the State Department’s senior diplomat in Kunar Province, Afghanistan. Before rejoining the government in January of 2021, Mr. West was a vice president at the Cohen Group, a global strategic advisory firm. And he was also a nonresident scholar of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Army Credits "Persistent Modernization" Strategy For High-Speed Attack Breakthroughs


(Washington, D.C.) Lasers, hypersonics, robots and precision weaponry are all fast becoming key elements of the Army’s operational arsenal, and each of these paradigm-changing weapons systems first emerged from the Science and Technology element of the service.

The Army is making a decided push to better integrate the science and technology community with rapid acquisition and the operational sphere as a way to fast track promising new technologies to war.
Disruptive Technologies & War

While there has always been a certain synergy between research, scientific inquiry, innovation and active military operations in terms of “urgent” needs statements or requests for a given technology, now the Army is making new efforts to respond to the rapid pace of change by linking breakthrough or disruptive technologies more closely with current soldier needs in war.

Great Power Artificial Intelligence Competition

Marc Losito

Artificial intelligence (AI) as an open science—accessible at all levels of society—favors the West due to strong economic incentives for Western companies to invest in core AI technologies. Chinese companies lack these incentives because AI patents are largely held by universities and research institutes, most of which are state-owned.[i] Although Chinese AI research and patent numbers are surpassing U.S. efforts, U.S. private investment in AI allows the United States to lead in truly original and trailblazing AI technology. In today’s great AI power competition, public and private investment is the U.S. government’s comparative advantage. Historically, the United States has utilized international institutions, domestic law and policy, and foreign direct investment as tools of AI and technology competition. These conventional tools, while useful, are not enough to compete with China in 2022 and beyond. The United States must combine the power of Washington and Wall Street to compete with China at parity for AI supremacy; fortunately, models exist and are waiting for the might of American investment capital to be unleashed.

AI Competition State of Play

Since China began to open and reform its economy in 1978, U.S. policy was premised on the idea that Beijing would become a responsible stakeholder of the international order. Meanwhile, China has been posturing to launch a techonomic Pearl Harbor, by influencing supranational organizations, mobilizing its newfound wealth and state-owned enterprises, and chipping away at U.S. leadership in the Pacific through coercive economics and aggressive military action. In doing so, President Xi intends to transform international norms and institutions to accommodate a Chinese AI competition model in ways that are opposed to U.S. interests.[ii] If left unchecked, China will steer Asia toward a less democratic future, less open to U.S. trade, and more importantly, less open to U.S. AI investments.[iii]

Security Implications of Nord Stream Sabotage

Joseph Majkut, Leslie Palti-Guzman, Max Bergmann and Colin Wall

On September 27, large leaks were detected in both Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines, driving speculation about a new escalation in the energy brinksmanship between Europe and Russia. The underwater pipelines were built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe but were not delivering gas after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On September 29, NATO issued a statement saying the leaks were the result of deliberate sabotage and stating that attacks on allies’ critical infrastructure would be met with a “united and determined response.”

Q1: What will be the immediate impact on EU energy security?

A1: The damage to the Nord Stream 1 and 2 will have limited immediate impact on the supply of natural gas to Europe, as neither pipeline was operational. On September 2, Gazprom indefinitely shut down gas flows through Nord Stream 1, citing malfunctions on a key turbine along the pipeline. Even prior to the shutdown, flows through Nord Stream 1 were low, averaging around 30 million cubic meters per day (around 20 percent of total capacity) since late July.

The outlook for European energy supply and security remains dire. While gas prices have fallen significantly since the peak in late August, the damage to the pipelines sparked a surge in European prices amidst questions surrounding Russian gas supply through alternative pipelines remain. No volumes have been delivered through the Yamal pipeline since May, but some flows have continued through Ukrainian transit and the TurkStream pipeline. While these volumes remain low, every bit counts for Europe heading into the winter.

Why Arming Allies Is America’s Smartest, Safest Strategy

Jakub Grygiel

Ukraine’s defensive war—and its current counteroffensives to free its lands from Russian forces—demonstrate that directly affected countries are the best keepers of the balance of power. Because of the immediate and existential effects that war and occupation have on their daily life, such states have an acute interest in maintaining and, when needed, restoring the status quo. But motivation is not the same as capability: To keep the regional balance of power, these states need abundant and high-quality weapons. The United States should be the principal supplier of these capabilities, not least to control the proliferation of high-tech weapons, which Washington fears may be destabilizing. The outbreak of the most significant war of conquest since World War II makes plain that war is not a relic of a bygone age but a feature of the frontier. The United States should embrace geopolitical subsidiarity and arm allies with abundant and advanced capabilities.

Subsidiarity—the idea that nothing should be done by a larger entity that can be done by competent authorities closer to the problem—is rarely associated with international relations. Usually it describes a domestic structure of authority: Educating children is done most effectively at the level of the family and a local school rather than a centralized, national bureaucracy, just as safe streets are best provided by local police rather than a distant entity with expansive powers but limited knowledge and interest. The job of higher authorities, such as the state, is to support the locus of responsibility below. This is, of course, the basic idea behind federalism and other decentralized forms of governance.

Why the U.K. Economy Is Taking a Pounding

Amy Mackinnon and Anusha Rathi

The British pound plunged to a historic low against the U.S. dollar on Monday, as plans announced late last week for a 45 billion pound (about $48.4 billion) tax cut and massive new borrowing to pay for it sent shockwaves through markets and caused a crisis of faith in the ability of the new British government to pull the country’s stalling economy back from the brink of recession.

By Wednesday, the crisis had grown so acute that the Bank of England said it would reverse its previous plan to sell off bonds and would instead start buying bonds to backstop a collapsing market, warning that continued volatility posed a “material risk to U.K. financial stability.” Having stabilized somewhat on Tuesday, the pound again dipped following the news to $1.05.

Britain’s economic crisis this week comes after the largest tax cuts in over 50 years were announced by new Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng on Friday and are set to be funded by increased government borrowing. New Prime Minister Liz Truss has defended tax cuts for some of the country’s top earners, arguing that it will ultimately drive economic growth. But skeptical investors rushed to offload the British currency and government debt, briefly driving the pound to $1.03 on Monday, while the appeal of British bonds utterly tanked, rising to the highest borrowing cost in decades, putting pressure on pension funds and other big holders of debt, which threatened a systemic collapse.

EXCLUSIVE Afghan Taliban sign deal for Russian oil products, gas and wheat

Mohammad Yunus Yawar and Charlotte Greenfield

KABUL, Sept 27 (Reuters) - The Taliban have signed a provisional deal with Russia to supply gasoline, diesel, gas and wheat to Afghanistan, Acting Afghan Commerce and Industry Minister Haji Nooruddin Azizi told Reuters.

Azizi said his ministry was working to diversify its trading partners and that Russia had offered the Taliban administration a discount to average global commodity prices.

The move, the first known major international economic deal struck by the Taliban since they returned to power more than a year ago, could help to ease the Islamist movement's isolation that has effectively cut it off from the global banking system.

China’s Road Not Taken How the Chinese Communist Party Rewrites History

Julian Gewirtz

On January 18, 2005, tucked away just above a weather report on page four of People’s Daily, the main newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), was a three-line notice reporting on the death of an elderly man: “Comrade Zhao Ziyang suffered from long-term diseases of the respiratory system and the cardiovascular system and had been hospitalized multiple times, and following the recent deterioration of his condition, he was unable to be rescued and died on January 17 in Beijing at the age of 85.”

A casual reader of the newspaper would certainly be forgiven for not noticing the item. The brief obituary was notable mainly for what it left out. It did not mention that Zhao had held China’s top two leadership posts, first as premier of the State Council and then as general secretary of the CCP. Nor did it acknowledge that he had made any contributions to China’s “reform and opening,” the agenda of economic development and openness to the world China pursued soon after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976. The slogan “reform and opening” was still a centerpiece of official policy in 2005, mentioned nearly a dozen times in that day’s newspaper, but Zhao’s central role in shaping it had already been erased from official accounts of this period. Indeed, well before Zhao’s death, the CCP had rewritten the entire history of China’s 1980s—a tumultuous, transformational decade—and subjected it to far-reaching distortion, even though it was one of the most consequential periods in the country’s history.

What Can the U.S. Learn From Putin’s War in Ukraine?

Grant Bubb

Why has Russia’s military failed to achieve a different outcome in Ukraine than in Chechnya decades earlier, despite years of modernization and investment? The answer lies in Russian president Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian leadership style. Although Putin has presided over decades of military modernization, he has not ensured consistent improvement in the Kremlin’s decision-making process. As a result, Putin is repeating in Ukraine many of the same mistakes that Boris Yeltsin made in Chechnya almost thirty years ago—and destroying Russia’s military in the process.

Yeltsin’s Failed Invasion of Chechnya

In mid-1994, Russia’s first post-Soviet president, Boris Yeltsin, was in a bind. Russia’s transition to democracy was failing, the military was crumbling, and the Russian Federation was fragmenting. Chechnya was the first republic to secede in 1991 and Yeltsin worried others might follow. He did not want his legacy to be the president of a stillborn Russian Federation, nor did he want to lose the 1996 presidential election. Yeltsin needed a win and perhaps prosecuting a successful war could help.

Cuban Missile Crisis 2.0 Over Ukraine?

Anatoly Antonov

As Henry Kissinger wrote in 2014, “The demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.”

I have commenced my work on this article for two reasons. Firstly, this October will mark sixty years since the Cuban Missile Crisis when the USSR and the United States were on the verge of a nuclear conflict. This is an occasion to look closer at the foreign policy lessons that the two great powers have learned from that dramatic time. I believe that any American will see eye-to-eye with me that we must not allow the explosive situation of the 1960s to repeat. It is important that not only Russia and the United States, but also other nuclear states, confirmed in a common statement that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.

Secondly, we are witnessing a surge of concern from the international community and U.S. experts about the possibility of a nuclear conflict between Moscow and Washington. This issue has become even more acute in recent days when senior officials of the U.S. administration began sending us direct signals warning against the use of nuclear weapons in the Russian special military operation in Ukraine. Moreover, threats against us have started to be heard from the official establishment.

Hard Choices in a Ransomware Attack

Emily Harding, Harshana Ghoorhoo

Ransomware attacks started as a novelty but have now become a clear and present danger to entities of every size and function. The number of ransomware attacks and the price of demanded ransoms have escalated steeply since 2018. Legislation and policy have not kept up. Policymakers have sought to shape the incentive structure for victims to incentivize defense and disincentivize ransom payments. While they are sympathetic to businesses who fall victim to these attacks, which can sometimes be existentially threatening, few policymakers (or their staff) have ever experienced the shock of an attack firsthand and, as a result, are searching with incomplete information for the right combination of carrots and sticks that will help victims and hurt attackers.

This report aims to put the reader in the shoes of the victim—the shocking, powerless moment of realization of a ransomware attack. It walks through a set of decisions that victim must make on their worst day and in the weeks to follow. How well an entity succeeds in navigating that peril depends on decisions made well before an attack, so the report also makes recommendations for both government and industry on how to encourage preparation and simple defensive steps.

‘Big wars take a lot of bullets’


Top military weapons buyers from dozens of countries are huddling in Brussels on Wednesday to discuss next steps in arming Ukraine for the long haul, and to begin mapping out a strategy for replenishing their own stocks depleted by the war.

The meeting takes place as the Kremlin hardens its position on the war, calling up 300,000 conscripts and threatening to use nuclear weapons if Ukraine continues its offensive against Russian-occupied territory.

The day of meetings in Brussels comes under the umbrella of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, an ad hoc alliance of around 50 NATO, EU and other nations that have gathered every few weeks to discuss what military aid can be sent to Ukraine rapidly. Those meetings have spurred the transfer of American-made guided-missile launchers, along with multiple rocket launchers, armored vehicles and artillery systems from across Europe. WILLIAM LaPLANTE, the Pentagon’s top acquisitions official, is convening Wednesday’s meeting.

Don’t Defend America with Chinese Parts

Bob Haueter

According to cliché, the whole is only as good as the sum of its parts. If the parts break, the whole thing breaks as well. But it can be even worse -- what if the parts are set up to fail? Or to spy on the entire project?

That is why American weapons need to be made in America by Americans using American parts. Period. That’s the only way we can assure that the weapons will work and that they are serving us, not feeding information to our enemies.

This is important to remember right now, because just this month, the Pentagon stopped accepting deliveries of new F-35 jets after discovering that at least one part in the plane is made with metal sourced from China.

“An investigation that gathered steam in mid-August found that an alloy in the engine's lubricant pump did not comply with U.S. procurement laws that bar unauthorized Chinese content,” Reuters news agency reports. The law does not target China specifically, it also bans the import of alloys or metals extracted in Russia, North Korea, and Iran for use in procurement programs.

How Green Is Russia?

Tony Wood

One​ of the perverse side effects of Russia’s war on Ukraine has been to increase the Kremlin’s revenues from natural resources. While the US, EU and UK sought to halt their imports of Russian fossil fuels, other countries – principally India and China – stepped up their purchases. By August, Russia was making up to $800 million a day from oil and gas, muffling the impact of Western sanctions. Yet while in the short term the surge in oil prices has benefited Russia, in the long run its prospects as an energy exporter look less solid. Last year, the EU imported 40 per cent of its natural gas from Russia – the figure for Germany was 55 per cent – but even before the war the European Commission had announced measures that would deprive Russia of that income, including plans to decarbonise by 2050. This process has now been accelerated: in mid-May, the EU announced a $210 billion plan to switch away from Russian energy sources over the next five years. For European countries, weaning themselves off Russian fuel is proving to be painfully expensive and has contributed to the price hikes. Even so, there’s no going back.

Thane Gustafson’s Klimat was published twelve months ago, but although much has changed since the invasion of Ukraine, the effects of the war so far on Russia’s main exports – short-term gain, long-term disadvantage – align with his arguments about the consequences of climate change for Russia. The world’s fourth largest greenhouse gas emitter, Russia has greater combined oil and gas reserves than Saudi Arabia and will continue to profit from rising oil prices for several more years. But as the world shifts to alternative energy sources – Gustafson projects a peak in global demand for fossil fuels around 2030, followed by a swift decline – its hydrocarbon revenues will dwindle. What’s more, Russia is more vulnerable than most to the environmental impacts of climate change. ‘Temperatures are rising 2.5 times faster in Russia than in the rest of the world,’ Gustafson writes. A fifth of its vast territorial extent lies north of the Arctic Circle, comprising some of the biomes most liable to be damaged by rising temperatures. Permafrost has been thawing with alarming speed, and Russia’s forests and steppes have already proven susceptible to drought and fire.* As Gustafson puts it, ‘Russia is already one of the chief causes of climate change; but as time goes on, it will also be one of its chief victims.’

Core Dangers for the Fed and China


NEW HAVEN – It is tempting to give America’s Federal Reserve great credit for its recent about-face in tackling inflation. It is equally tempting to give Chinese President Xi Jinping great credit for his stewardship of a rising and strong China. But neither deserves it – and for a similar reason.

That is certainly true of today’s Fed. Yes, the US central bank has now hiked the federal funds rate (FFR) by 75 basis points three times in a row – the sharpest increase in the benchmark policy rate over a four-month period since early 1982. Predictably, many politicians and pundits are howling in protest, warning of the risks of overkill. I disagree. It was past time for the Fed to start digging itself out of the deepest hole it has ever been in.

My emphasis is on the word “start.” The nominal FFR, now effectively at 3.1%, remains five percentage points below the three-month average of the headline CPI inflation rate of 8%. Notwithstanding the Fed’s newfound determination to arrest a serious outbreak of inflation, it is all but impossible to accomplish that objective with a sharply negative real FFR of around -5%.

The will to fight

Scott Atran

Leonidas, King of Sparta, arrived at Thermopylae with a small advance guard to hold off a massive Persian assault in 480 BCE. The invading Persian army was thousands-strong, and the Greek states had yet to mobilise a response. Plutarch records that Xerxes, Persia’s ‘King of Kings’, made a written offer he thought Leonidas could hardly refuse: ‘It is possible for you … by ranging yourself on my side, to be the sole ruler of Greece.’ Leonidas allegedly answered: ‘If you had any knowledge of the noble things of life, you would refrain from coveting others’ possessions; but for me to die for Greece is better than to be the sole ruler.’

Then Xerxes wrote again: ‘Hand over your arms.’

Leonidas famously retorted ‘Come and take them’ (μολὼν λαϐέ/molṑn labé). Leonidas and his ‘300 immortals’ who refused offers to save themselves were eventually slaughtered, but an inspired Greece would win the war. Or so goes the legend that became part of Western civilisation’s creation myth.

How Putin’s Ukraine war mobilization order changed everything in Russia: Panic, anger and calls to secede

Stanislav Kucher

Perhaps the most disturbing news for the Kremlin in the last week has involved headlines far from Moscow — rare public expressions of anti-Russian sentiment in the far reaches of the Russian Federation. Since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his “partial mobilization” of troops, protests in these places have evolved quickly from confusion about the orders to fear and anger over potential deployment to Ukraine, and now — in some corners of the country — to calls for secession from Russia.

Such demands have been heard in Dagestan, a multiethnic republic in the southernmost tip of the country with a population of over 3 million, and in Bashkortostan, a republic of 4 million that straddles the southern edge of the Ural Mountains. Fury in other places has taken a variety of forms. In Yakutia, a vast, thinly populated region in the northeast, a local leader complained to the New York Times that those being drafted were the “reindeer herders, hunters and fishermen” upon whom the community depends. “We have so few of them anyway,” said Vyacheslav Shadrin, leader of an Indigenous group known as the Yukaghirs. “But they are the ones being drafted most of all.”

Why should anyone care about a flurry of anger and anti-Putin feeling in such faraway places?

US ‘smart power’ can win back the Pacific


Recent developments indicate a cozying-up of Solomon Islands’ leaders to Beijing. This has set off alarm bells in Canberra, Wellington and Washington, DC.

World powers have largely ignored the Solomons and other Pacific Island nations for many years, as they have focused their attention on Afghanistan, the Middle East, North Korea and (more recently) Ukraine. This is one reason the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) advances have been received favorably by some.

This development calls for a “smart power” approach combining hard and soft power. Building on the traditional contrast between hard (coercive military and economic) power and soft (the shaping of preferences via policy, culture, and values).

Harvard Professor Joseph Nye and former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage have described the importance of “smart power,” recognizing that hard power alone cannot solve complex challenges.

Russians are calling up the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense asking how to surrender, Ukraine says


Russian men drafted to war by President Vladimir Putin's recent mobilization announcement are using a Ukrainian hotline to ask how they can give themselves up, according to Ukraine's Ministry of Defense.

Andrii Yusov, a spokesperson for the department, said during a televised briefing on Monday that there had been a strong response to the "I Want to Live" hotline, according to the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainska Pravda.

The hotline was announced by Ukraine's Ministry of Defense on September 19, two days before Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization of reservists to the battlefield.

Yusov said the hotline has received "a lot of calls" from recently drafted Russians, and even some who haven't yet been mobilized, per the newspaper.

American Semiconductor Leadership Suffers from Bad Defense, No Offense


"America invented the semiconductor," declared President Joe Biden upon signing the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, a $280 billion bill intended to strengthen the U.S. semiconductor industry, and with it American competitiveness. "And this law brings it back home," the president continued. "It's no wonder the Chinese Communist Party actively lobbied U.S. business against this bill."

That rhetoric sounds great. Unfortunately, it is just rhetoric. The reality is that without appropriate protection of technological advance, these investments risk ceding competitiveness to Beijing. The U.S. foreign investment review process—overseen by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)—is allowing Beijing-linked entities access to potentially game-changing semiconductor innovation.

The latest example: at the end of August, just two weeks after the CHIPS Act became law, Chinese-funded AlphaWave IP Group announced that its planned acquisition of California-based OpenFive had been approved by all regulators, including CFIUS.

The Nord Stream pipeline leak was an act of ‘sabotage’: Who might have done it, why, and what happens next?

Dave Levitan, Nikhil Kumar, and Joshua Keating

It’s a mystery worthy of a Cold War-era spy novel: A pair of critical natural gas supply lines linking Russia to Europe are hit by unexplained underwater explosions in the Baltic Sea. The culprit is unknown, as is the precise cause. There are accusations of sabotage and fears for the environment, as the ruptures send giant bubbles of methane to the surface of waters off the Danish and Swedish coasts. Theories abound about who might have done it and why, as do fears about what the explosions could mean for Europe and for Russia.

Except this isn’t fiction. Late on Monday, seismic stations in Sweden, Norway and Finland detected the detonations in the Baltic; it soon became clear that two pipelines that bring Russian natural gas supplies to Europe had been damaged. Known as Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2, the pipelines run from Russia to Germany. Although supplies via the former had been halted by Russia in August, and the latter wasn’t yet operational, both pipelines contained pressurized gas. Three different ruptures were found — two on the Nord Stream 1 pipeline, one on Nord Stream 2.

An accident — a pipeline hit by a passing ship’s anchor, for example — has been ruled out, given the size of the leaks. “It is now the clear assessment by authorities that these are deliberate actions. It was not an accident,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told reporters in Copenhagen on Tuesday.

The disturbing strategy behind MAGA complaints about a ‘woke military’

Max Boot

This summer, I attended the promotion ceremony of a friend, an Army general who was pinning another star on his uniform. A Christian chaplain said a blessing and then the speakers extolled my friend’s lifetime of service to the country. Finally, the general took the oath of office on a Bible held by his wife. It was all very traditional and very moving.

If you think there is anything remotely surprising about this — if you imagine that the speakers would have been extolling the joys of transgenderism or denouncing white privilege — well, you’ve been watching too much Fox “News.” Donald Trump Jr., for example, claims a “militant female” can become an admiral or general in today’s military “for no other reason other than they’re probably female,” or “if you can say, ‘Hey I’m trans.’ ” Tucker Carlson asserts: “It has been one calculated humiliation after another for the U.S. armed forces: vax mandates, anti-white ideology, sex changes, drag shows. Whatever is necessary to telegraph to the United States military you are worthless.”

Needless to say, these fanciful descriptions from bomb-throwers who never served in uniform bear no relation to reality. The U.S. military remains one of the most conservative institutions in America with traditions dating back centuries. That the military now welcomes African Americans, women and LGBTQ people — all groups that were kept out in the past — only strengthens an institution that needs to draw on the talents of the whole country to defend it.

What Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson Don’t Understand About War

Phillips Payson O’Brien

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his generals aren’t the only people who think that the more ruthless, hypermasculine, and reflexively brutal an army is, the better it performs on the battlefield. That view also has fans in the United States.

Last year, Senator Ted Cruz recirculated a TikTok video that contrasted a Russian military-recruitment ad, which showed a male soldier getting ready to kill people, with an American recruitment video that told the story of a female soldier—the daughter of two mothers—who enlisted partly to challenge stereotypes. “Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea,” Cruz tweeted sarcastically. The Texas Republican is not alone in trumpeting a Putinesque ideal. Several months earlier, the Fox News host Tucker Carlson had similarly complained about a supposedly “woke” Pentagon, which he likened to the Wesleyan University anthropology department. By promoting diversity and inclusion, he insisted, military leaders were destroying American armed forces, supposedly the last great bastion of merit in the country. More recently, Carlson has complained that America’s armed forces are becoming “more feminine, whatever feminine means anymore,” just as China’s are “more masculine.”

Arguments like these were much easier to make before Putin unleashed his muscle-bound and decidedly unwoke fighting machine on the ostensibly weak Ukrainians, only to see it perform catastrophically. More than seven months into the war, the Ukrainian army continues to grow in strength, confidence, and operational competence, while the Russian army is flailing. Its recent failures raise many questions about the nature of military power. Before Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine, many analysts described his military as fast and powerful and predicted that it would “shock and awe” the overmatched defenders. The Ukrainian armed forces were widely assumed to be incapable of fighting the mighty Russians out in the open; their only option, the story went, would be to retreat into their cities and wage a form of guerrilla war against the invaders.


Jahara Matisek and William Reno

Lublin, a city in southeast Poland, is notable as the site where, in 1569, the rulers of Poland and Lithuania (which then included large parts of present-day Ukraine) signed a pact to unite the two countries into a single state to better withstand aggression from Russia. Four and a half centuries on, the city continues playing a role in connecting these three countries as home to the headquarters of the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade, or “Trilateral Brigade” in members’ own parlance. The brigade’s headquarters is staffed with a mix of soldiers from Lithuania (five), Poland (fifty-eight), and Ukraine (eighteen), and is capable of planning, organizing, commanding, and controlling three associated combat units—one mechanized infantry battalion from each of Lithuania and Poland and a Ukrainian air assault unit—and combat support units (approximately 4,500 total personnel) for international military operations. Despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Ukrainian personnel continue to be assigned to the unit, and the headquarters continues its four main missions of international cooperation: executing and participating in battle staff training, battalion staff officer courses, multinational exercises, and activities of the Joint Military Training Group–Ukraine.

In the shadow of Lublin’s suggestive history, the Trilateral Brigade provides a lens for thinking about flexible options in US and NATO responses to contemporary Russian aggression in Ukraine. This flexibility is especially important in the context of current US doctrine on deterrence in a new phase of great power competition. In August, we traveled to Poland on a DoD Minerva research mission, where we conducted interviews with dozens of military personnel assigned to the Trilateral Brigade. What we found underscores the significance of the organization’s historical roots and highlights the value of this joint military unit acting as a bridge between NATO and Ukraine. While few US and European military personnel are aware of the Trilateral Brigade’s existence, the unit can serve as a template for future security cooperation and facilitate Western efforts in the current Russo-Ukrainian War.



This commentary focuses on the first dimension of AUKUS: the plan for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines in cooperation with the United States and United Kingdom. The legal dimension of this policy has often been discussed separately from the policy wisdom of such a move. If Australia is to champion the rules-based international order, including in relation to the South China Sea, Australian interests will be best served by our integrating strategic considerations relating to defence and foreign policy with those relating to support for international “rules” and law.

International law and the U.S.-led international order

The term “rules-based international order” (RBIO) recognizes the centrality of rules—the most institutionalized of which are encoded in international law—to the U.S.-led international order. The international legal architecture remains, much of which has taken the form of multilateral treaties during the era of American dominance, but it is increasingly being supplemented by informal agreements and institutions not founded by treaties(Open Link in new window). The normative ideal of international law as an organizing principle around which the positions of political actors are mediated has been in decline(Open Link in new window).

The Army of 2022: We’re in a bad place if soldiers can choose what mandatory training they complete


Earlier this month Sgt. Maj. of the Army Michael Grinston publicly espoused willful disobedience as the solution to a problem: more mandatory Army training requirements than time to complete them.

The solution, according to Grinston: “Don’t do it.” He was referring to Army mandated online training requirements including: anti-terrorism training; ethics; equal-opportunity; sexual harassment, assault, response prevention (SHARP); and threat-awareness, along with half a dozen more subjects.

According to Grinston, soldiers should determine what’s important and if that means not completing mandatory online training requirements, so be it. Note that Grinston’s comments, which I find irresponsible, are coming from the most senior enlisted member of the Army.

I served in the Army for 20 years, initially as an infantry officer and later as a judge advocate, and never heard a noncommissioned officer tell subordinates they should pick and choose which regulations they followed.

Holding Ground, Losing War

Douglas Macgregor

At the end of 1942, when the Wehrmacht could advance no further east, Hitler switched German ground forces from an “enemy force-oriented” strategy to a “ground-holding” strategy. Hitler demanded that his armies defend vast, largely empty and irrelevant stretches of Soviet territory.

“Holding ground” not only robbed the German military of its ability to exercise operational discretion, and, above all, to outmaneuver the slow, methodical Soviet opponent; holding ground also pushed German logistics to the breaking point. When holding ground was combined with endless counterattacks to retake useless territory, the Wehrmacht was sentenced to slow, grinding destruction.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, (presumably with the advice of his U.S. and British military advisors), has also adopted a strategy of holding ground in Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainian forces immobilized themselves inside urban areas, and prepared defenses. As a result, Ukrainian forces turned urban centers into fortifications for what became “last stands.” Sensible withdrawals from cities like Mariupol that might have saved many of Ukraine’s best troops were forbidden. Russian forces responded by methodically isolating and crushing the defenders left with no possibility of either escape or rescue by other Ukrainian forces.

Biden Thinks Non-Nuclear Threats Will Stop Putin. His Military Doesn't


The United States would "respond forcefully" to any Russian nuclear strike, President Biden said—but there's a divide between his administration and some of his military advisers over the role of American nuclear weapons and the most effective way to deter Vladimir Putin, knowledgeable sources tell Newsweek.

"It's the closest we've been to the use of nuclear weapons in over 50 years," says one civilian working at the Omaha, Nebraska-based Strategic Command. "But I'm not so sure that we are communicating the right thing to deter Putin."

The nuclear planner and two other senior officers who spoke to Newsweek say that President Biden favors non-nuclear options over nuclear ones, should Russia cross the nuclear threshold. The officials don't disagree with that view, and none of them advocate any use of nuclear weapons in a preemptive strike. But to deter Putin from using nuclear weapons in the first place, the officers say, the United States needs to talk the nuclear talk—and not be held back by the fear of having to walk the walk.

China decoupling could shoot Pentagon in the foot


The US is moving to secure the supply chain behind its premier F-35 fighter jet after discovering Chinese-made magnets in certain units, prompting security concerns if Beijing were to block access to the parts in a conflict situation.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that the US Department of Defense has started to use artificial intelligence (AI) to improve its scrutiny of whether aircraft parts, electronics and raw materials used by US defense contractors originate from China or other adversaries.

The WSJ report said that US defense contractors have been encouraged by the Pentagon and lawmakers to reduce their dependence on microelectronics and rare earth metals sourced from China.

This move comes after multiple media outlets reported that Lockheed Martin found Made in China cobalt and samarium alloys in magnets for the F-35’s turbomachine pumps.