12 October 2022

Putin might lose the war. What would that look like for Russia, Ukraine and the world?

John McLaughlin

In October 1989, I was in what was then West Germany. It was one month before the Berlin Wall was breached — a stunning moment that would lead in short order to the collapse of communist East Germany and the reunification of the German state less than a year later. In hindsight, the discussions I had in West Germany that fall were almost as remarkable as the globe-changing events that followed; every German leader I met with then — to a person — insisted that Germany would not and could not be reunited in their lifetimes.

I was there with then-CIA Director William Webster, meeting with senior intelligence and government officials to better understand the changes sweeping across the Soviet satellite countries of Eastern Europe. These people simply could not conceive of a reunified German state and an effective end to the Cold War, nor could they envision the path that might take them there. Never mind that CIA analysts were telling me that the “German Question” — a phrase implying reunification — was back on the table.

A New Delhi View on the World Order

Happymon Jacob

The contemporary international system is going through major systemic shifts. It is no longer defined and structured by Western preferences. Happymon Jacob, Associate Professor of Diplomacy and Disarmament at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), offers insights on India's conceptions of this new world order, for Ukraine Shifting the World Order. He also examines India's identity as a future ally.

India and its conceptions of the world order

India's view of the world is intimately linked to how it views itself. Broadly speaking, this is composed of its geopolitical location, its sense of its own history and culture, the bitter colonial experience, and the nationwide freedom movement to break free from colonial Britain. From 1947 onwards, all these variables shaped the newly independent India’s political and strategic culture.

Can Xi Jinping Reopen China? Ending the Havoc of Zero COVID—Without Causing a Crisis

Yanzhong Huang

With COVID-19 increasingly tamed, governments across Asia have been winding down some of the world’s strictest control measures. In September, Taiwan announced that it was reopening its borders and phasing out its quarantine policies; South Korea lifted its outdoor mask mandate and scrapped mandatory COVID-19 testing for inbound travelers. On October 11, Japan will end a pre-departure test requirement for travelers who have received at least one vaccine booster and fully reopen its borders for the first time since 2020. Even Hong Kong, which for more than two years had emulated mainland China in maintaining stringent border controls, has decided to end all hotel quarantine requirements for international arrivals. For all these countries and territories, the pivot to a lighter, more flexible approach has been driven by the growing recognition that COVID-19 is now a manageable endemic disease and that harsh population-level containment has come at a very high price.

Amid this rapid normalization, however, China has instead doubled down on its all-encompassing “zero COVID” strategy. In contrast to almost every other country in the world, China continues to pursue stringent border controls, aggressive isolation of close contacts, sudden closures of airports and public spaces, and snap lockdowns of neighborhoods and even entire municipalities. Having staked enormous political capital on zero COVID, China’s leadership is loath to change course—particularly on the eve of the all-important 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party this month, where President Xi Jinping is set to have his 10-year rule extended. In city after city, officials are pursuing excessively harsh measures in an effort to avoid any outbreaks that might embarrass the government.

A New NATO Heavyweight?

Charlotte Lawson

WARSAW—Before Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine this February, Vladimir Putin demanded that NATO troops withdraw from Poland and the Baltic states. This extortion attempt has gone as well as the broader invasion: NATO states responded by rushing troops and equipment eastward while making major military spending commitments.

“We understand our geostrategic location,” Gen. Rajmund Andrzejczak, chief of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces, said at the Warsaw Security Forum this week. “We have no time and no space. We are frontline.”

Poland, a country of 38 million, shares borders with Russia and the Russian vassal Belarus, along with Ukraine. The former Soviet satellite state, which joined NATO in 1999, serves as a staging area for Western support to Kyiv. Poland also houses some 2 million Ukrainian refugees.

New Atlantis, the Greater Middle Kingdom, and Cold War II

James Pinkerton

When the year 2022 began, few could have imagined that the West would witness the revival of an ancient vision: The lost territory of Atlantis, that mythical place of legend. Yet that’s what happened, beginning in the first year of the Russo-Ukrainian War: North America and Europe came together in a new, ocean-spanning geopolitical formation, popularly known as New Atlantis. And now that plenty of time has passed, it’s worth recalling how we get here.

As is so often the case with an alliance, New Atlantis emerged from the crucible of conflict: the Russian attack on Ukraine, which came to be seen as Russia’s attack on Europe, indeed, on all of Western civilization. That terrible violence cost tens of thousands of lives, displaced millions, and caused worldwide economic disruption. Yet amidst the tragedy, some notable impacts—which many recall as silver linings—could be seen:

Did Zelenskyy Call for International Strikes on Russia?

Mark Episkopos

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for a preemptive strike against Russia in a Thursday speech. “But what is important, I once again appeal to the international community, as I did before February 24 – we need pre-emptive strikes, so that they’ll know what will happen to them if they use nukes, and not the other way around,” he said. “Don’t wait for Russia’s nuclear strikes, and then say, ‘Oh, since you did this, take that from us!’ Reconsider the way you apply pressure. This is what NATO should do – reconsider the order in which it applies pressure [on Russia].”

Kyiv officials have since claimed Zelenskyy’s words were misquoted by the media. “The president spoke about the period before February 24. At that time, it was necessary to apply preventive measures to prevent Russia from starting a war. Let me remind you that the only measures that were discussed at that time were preemptive sanctions,” wrote presidential press secretary Serhii Nykyforov. Yet the explanation does not track with the Ukrainian president’s own words— by any reasonable interpretation, Zelenskyy was exhorting members of the “international community” to strike Russia now so that they do not repeat what he sees as the mistakes of prewar times.

The EU Must Hold Both Azerbaijan and Armenia Accountable

Mat Whatley

The EU’s condemnation this week of a video—released now but purportedly recorded a month ago—of Azerbaijani soldiers fighting Armenian civilians at a time when the two countries narrowly averted full-blown war was swift and clear: Azerbaijan must immediately investigate the incident. Yet with blame effectively apportioned before any such investigation, it is a reminder to those who have served and experienced war how the reality is so different from public perception.

The major wars of our lifetimes, including Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, in which the United States, Great Britain, and a handful of European allies have fought, have appeared at home on the evening news as though video games of laser-guided bombs dropped from planes at 30,000 feet. War is no video game. We see that in the more harrowing images from Ukraine. Similarly, the footage released by Armenia was close-up, hand-to-hand, and on the ground. It showed frightened young men on both sides.

When so few in the western world have experienced war, it is easy to understand why such imagery compels them to react and even take sides.

China drops the gauntlet on NSA’s serial cyberattacks


China’s top cybersecurity authority has accused the US National Security Agency (NSA) of stealing information from a top Chinese university through a trojan virus, an allegation that threatens to escalate already high and rising bilateral tensions.

China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) claimed in a recent report that NSA’s Office of Tailored Access Operation (TAO) had used a cyber weapon known as “Suctionchar” to take control of computer servers at Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in the city of Xi’an.

The CVERC claims to have analyzed over 1,000 NSA cyberattacks on the university and said in a statement that it hoped nations worldwide could use the analysis to prevent themselves from being attacked by the US.

China’s foreign ministry, meanwhile, urged the US to immediately stop infringing on the technology secrets of Chinese institutions and offer a responsible explanation for the alleged cyberattacks. The NSA, an intelligence arm of the US Department of Defense, has not responded to the accusations.

The Pentagon’s Office Culture Is Stuck in 1968

Zachery Tyson Brown and Kathleen J. McInnis

The Pentagon is a curious place. It is the heart of a colossal machinery of war and security, a $700 billion-plus behemoth. You might expect, then, that the headquarters of the U.S. Defense Department would be cutting-edge itself, staffed with world-class talent making split-second decisions while working on futuristic projects all to protect the nation. Kind of like Apple, but with lasers.

As anyone who has walked the Pentagon’s musty corridors—or struggled with its paperwork—knows, though, the reality is very different. It is as if former Defense Secretary Robert McNamara’s Pentagon had been preserved in aspic when he resigned way back in 1968, leaving behind a living museum to the workplace culture and administrative processes of the Mad Men era. And while much has changed in the intervening half-century, much has stayed exactly the same.

One Year of Taliban Rule in Afghanistan: A Predictable Disaster

Teun van Dongen, Joshua Farrell-Molloy

One year ago, the Taliban established themselves as the sole rulers of Afghanistan. Unsurprisingly, the weeks after the takeover saw a flurry of commentaries, op-eds and think pieces about what Afghanistan’s future would hold. One thing that clearly stood out in these analyses was the pervasive sense of pessimism. While not all criticised the decision to leave per se, few observers believed it would do Afghanistan much good. Some feared the Taliban’s brutal repression, while others questioned the group’s ability to govern the country adequately, or expected that Afghanistan might become a safe haven for terrorists and criminal networks.

Now, a year on, this Perspective will assess the accuracy of five such predictions and consider whether things turned out as badly as many journalists, scholars and analysts believed they would. The predictions we will cover, pertain to the Taliban’s repression, their openness to strike compromises about human rights with potential external donors, their ability to run the economy, the impact of the takeover on organised crime, and the impact on the terrorist threat. For each prediction, we will briefly outline the consensus and then, drawing on a year of extensive journalistic and government reporting on the situation, give an assessment of its accuracy. As each prediction covers a vital aspect of Taliban rule, the five assessments together give us an overview of how the situation in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan has developed. Sadly, this overall picture is quite bleak. The year since the takeover has brought what many have predicted, and little of it has been good.

How not to deal with a rising China: a US perspective

Joseph S. Nye


Will China displace the United States as the world's leading power by the centenary of Communist rule in 2049? The outcome will depend on many unknowns including what the two countries do over the next three decades. US leaders are likely to rely on their mental maps of how the world works. The primary sources of their mental maps tend to come from historical analogies and from international relations theories. Both are highly imperfect representations of reality. Historical metaphors and analogies are rife in the debate over how to understand the current rise of China, but three are particularly salient: a Thucydides trap; a new Cold War; and 1914 sleepwalkers. This article discusses the merits and demerits of relying on each of these analogies in turn, and assesses the strengths and weaknesses of prior mental maps that guided US policy-makers during the post-Cold War era. Chinese elites expect to replace the US as the leading global power by 2049. How should the US respond? Two prevalent historical analogies are misleading: a Thucydides trap about power transition, and a new Cold War that ignores the three-dimensional nature of US–China interdependence. More promising is the cautionary narrative of sleepwalking into the First World War. A successful strategy must lay out conditions for a cooperative rivalry starting with a careful net assessment of power resources and the formulation of feasible goals.

Will China displace the United States as the world's leading power by the centenary of communist rule in 2049? Former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew believed primacy to be a natural aspiration, but doubted China could do it.1 Others such as China's incumbent president Xi Jinping aspire to make it happen.2 Will China succeed in what Rush Doshi calls its ‘grand strategy of displacing American power’?3 The outcome will depend on many unknowns, including what the two countries do over the next three decades. Some see China declining after failing to escape the ‘middle-income trap’.4 One could also imagine a plateau based on its demographic decline and low factor productivity. Not even Xi Jinping knows the answer. His own ‘China dream’ and any other linear projection could be falsified by unexpected events such as a war over Taiwan or a financial crisis. Here again, estimates of probability vary.5 There is never a single future, only many possible scenarios; and which of those become more probable will depend in part on what strategy the United States chooses to respond to whatever China does.

Battle of Kherson could be Ukraine war turning point


Russian servicemen near Kherson, Ukraine, May 20, 2022. The positon of soldiers like this, once secure, is now looking precarious. Image: Screengrab / BBC
A potential military catastrophe is looming for Russian forces in southern Ukraine – one deadlier and potentially more humiliating than the offensive that has scattered Russian forces in the country’s northeast. The Ukrainian offensive in Kharkiv Oblast in the northeast recaptured vast swathes of territory, as well as the key communications hub of Lyman. But […]

Multidomain operations concept will become doctrine this summer

Jen Judson

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kansas — The U.S. Army has spent roughly five years refining its multidomain operations warfighting concept and it will become doctrine in June, according to Richard Creed, director of the service’s Combined Arms Center doctrine division.

The doctrine will address great power competition and potential conflict with near-peer adversaries across air, land, sea, space and cyberspace.

The service has released several versions of its MDO concept, refining it through evaluation, exercise, wargaming and its first Multidomain Task Force. The task force was established to test the MDO concept, but will now be used as operational units around the globe. There will be five tailored to operate in specific theaters, from Indo-Pacific Command to European Command.

The World According to Xi Jinping What China’s Ideologue in Chief Really Believes

Kevin Rudd

In the post–Cold War era, the Western world has suffered no shortage of grand theories of history and international relations. The settings and actors may change, but the global geopolitical drama goes on: variants of realism and liberalism compete to explain and predict state behavior, scholars debate whether the world is witnessing the end of history, a clash of civilizations, or something else entirely. And it is no surprise that the question that now attracts more analytical attention than any other is the rise of China under President Xi Jinping and the challenge it presents to American power. In the run-up to the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), as Xi has maneuvered to consolidate his power and secure an unprecedented third term, Western analysts have sought to decode the worldview that drives him and his ambitions for China.

One important body of thought has been largely absent from this search for understanding, however: Marxism-Leninism. This is odd because Marxism-Leninism has been China’s official ideology since 1949. But the omission is also understandable, since most Western thinkers long ago came to see communist ideology as effectively dead—even in China, where, in the late 1970s, the CCP leader Deng Xiaoping set aside the Marxist-Leninist orthodoxy of his predecessor, Mao Zedong, in favor of something more akin to state capitalism. Deng summed up his thoughts on the matter with characteristic bluntness: Bu zhenglun, “Let’s dispense with theory,” he told attendees at a major CCP conference in 1981. His successors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao followed his lead, rapidly expanding the role of the market in the Chinese domestic economy and embracing a foreign policy that maximized China’s participation in a global economic order led by the United States.

The Weakness of Xi Jinping How Hubris and Paranoia Threaten China’s Future

Cai Xia

Not long ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping was riding high. He had consolidated power within the Chinese Communist Party. He had elevated himself to the same official status as the CCP’s iconic leader, Mao Zedong, and done away with presidential term limits, freeing him to lead China for the rest of his life. At home, he boasted of having made huge strides in reducing poverty; abroad, he claimed to be raising his country’s international prestige to new heights. For many Chinese, Xi’s strongman tactics were the acceptable price of national revival.

Outwardly, Xi still projects confidence. In a speech in January 2021, he declared China “invincible.” But behind the scenes, his power is being questioned as never before. By discarding China’s long tradition of collective rule and creating a cult of personality reminiscent of the one that surrounded Mao, Xi has rankled party insiders. A series of policy missteps, meanwhile, have disappointed even supporters. Xi’s reversal of economic reforms and his inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic have shattered his image as a hero of everyday people. In the shadows, resentment among CCP elites is rising.

China drops the gauntlet on NSA’s serial cyberattacks


China’s top cybersecurity authority has accused the US National Security Agency (NSA) of stealing information from a top Chinese university through a trojan virus, an allegation that threatens to escalate already high and rising bilateral tensions.

China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (CVERC) claimed in a recent report that NSA’s Office of Tailored Access Operation (TAO) had used a cyber weapon known as “Suctionchar” to take control of computer servers at Northwestern Polytechnical University (NPU) in the city of Xi’an.

The CVERC claims to have analyzed over 1,000 NSA cyberattacks on the university and said in a statement that it hoped nations worldwide could use the analysis to prevent themselves from being attacked by the US.

Fighting Russia with a laptop: Meet the women on the front lines of Ukraine’s information war

Tom Nagorski

When it comes to the information war over Ukraine, Russia has President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin’s well-resourced propaganda machine, and a hammerlock on Russian television and radio. It also has laws Putin put in place in the early days of war, which made any counternarratives a crime.

For its part, Ukraine has a charismatic president and a ministry for digital information. And it has a few dozen women who run an organization called Dattalion.

The name is a blend of “data” and “battalion” — one word for information, the other a reference to war. Practically speaking, Dattalion is an online database of stories from the front lines in Ukraine — a collection of photos, videos and testimonials from eyewitnesses. It gathers and distributes content from Mariupol and Bucha, Kramatorsk and Izium, and lesser-known scenes of horror.

China Says U.S. Hacked University With 'Drinking Tea' Cyber-Sniffing Weapon


Chinese cybersecurity experts have accused the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) of launching cyberattacks on a university in northwest China with a malware program known as "drinking tea."

The alleged cyberattacks were said to have targeted the Northwestern Polytechnical University in China's Shaanxi Province—an institution known for aerospace and navigation research.

Specifically, the NSA group accused of carrying out the attacks is the Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO), which is the NSA's cyber-warfare and intelligence-gathering unit.

Breakthrough Army Technologies Inspire New Combined Arms Doctrine


Newer technologies such as long-range sensors, unmanned systems, precision-guided weapons, multi-domain networking and AI-enabled information processing are leading Army weapons developers, futurists and researchers to explore the large extent to which technological change generates a need to adjust maneuver formations in combat. Extending this further, the advent of paradigm-changing technologies is driving the Army to author new “doctrine” to address anticipated challenges expected to emerge in future war.

For instance, the famous Cold War Era Air-Land Battle doctrine is being replaced by modern concepts of Combined Arms Maneuver driven by the use of drones, manned-unmanned teaming, a dispersed battlefield and unprecedented multi domain connectivity.

“With multi domain operations, new doctrines are being rolled out and we are working on the next concepts. Beyond doctrine, we're finding all new, completely new ways to fight with machine or human machine teams, artificial intelligence, and all the things that go with integrating those great human machine teams on the battlefield,” Lt. Gen. Thomas Todd, Chief Innovation Officer, Army Futures Command, told Warrior in an interview.

The Future of Green Hydrogen Value Chains: Geopolitical and Market Implications in the Industrial Sector

Laima Eicke, Nicola De Blasio 

Executive Summary

The global transition to a low-carbon economy will significantly impact existing energy value chains and transform the production to consumption lifecycle, dramatically altering interactions among stakeholders. Thanks to its versatility, green hydrogen is gaining economic and political momentum and could play a critical role in a carbon-free future. Furthermore, its adoption will be critical for decarbonizing industrial processes at scale, especially hard-to-abate ones such as steel and cement production. Overall, hydrogen demand is expected to grow by 700% by 2050 (BP, 2019). Currently, the two central challenges to green hydrogen adoption and use at scale are limited infrastructure availability and cost. While recent spikes in fossil fuel prices due to the war in Ukraine have made green hydrogen cost-competitive with blue and grey hydrogen (Radowitz, 2022), from a long-term perspective, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) predicts a decline in green hydrogen costs by up to 85% by 2050 (IRENA, 2020), making it the dominant hydrogen form (IRENA, 2022).

A New Framework to Assess Countries’ Roles in Industrial Green Hydrogen Value Chains

This report studies the role countries could play in future green hydrogen industrial markets, focusing on three key applications: ammonia, methanol, and steel production. Today, these sectors are among the largest consumers of hydrogen, accounting for about 41% of global demand, and are expected to increase their shares due to global decarbonization efforts (IRENA, 2022). Analyzing a country’s potential positioning in these markets is key to helping policymakers define strategic industrial policies. To elucidate the impact of the transition to a low-carbon economy on energy value chains, we propose an analytical framework to cluster countries into five groups based on the variables of resource endowment, existing industrial production, and economic relatedness:

Meeting the Energy-Climate Challenge: Science, Technology, and Policy at a Crossroads

John P. Holdren

On October 3, 2022, John Holdren delivered the third annual Lecture on Engineering and Society at the Annual Meeting of the National Academy of Engineering in Washington, D.C. In his talk, he addressed "Meeting the Energy-Climate Challenge: Science, Technology, and Policy at a Crossroads." A recording of his talk can be watched below, and his slide deck is available for download at the bottom of the page.

Putin is not bluffing with his nuclear threats

Graham Allison 

How seriously should Americans take Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threat to conduct tactical nuclear weapons strikes on Ukraine? After a month in which Ukraine’s successful counteroffensive left Russia stunned, Putin recently upped the ante.

In his first major speech since the Feb. 24 invasion, he called up an additional 300,000 troops, announced plans for referenda in four Ukrainian provinces to provide cover for Russia annexing them, and issued a clear threat to use his nuclear arsenal to defend not only his homeland but also the territory he has captured. As he said: “Our country possesses various means of destruction … when the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we, of course, will use all the means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people.” Lest anyone miss his point, he concluded: “Those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them.”

President Biden believes that Putin is deadly serious. As Jake Sullivan, his National Security adviser, said, “We’ve been careful in how we talk about this publicly” because we do not want to “engage in a game of rhetorical tit for tat.” Sullivan nonetheless offered some clues about what the United States has already done in response to Putin’s threat: “We have communicated directly, privately, and at very high levels to the Kremlin that any use of nuclear weapons will be met by catastrophic consequences for Russia.”

The Chinese Communist Party

Lindsay Maizland and Eleanor Albert


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the founding and ruling political party of modern China, officially known as the People’s Republic of China. The CCP has maintained a political monopoly since Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic in 1949, and it has overseen the country’s rapid economic growth and rise as a global power.

Chinese leader Xi Jinping has consolidated control over the infamously opaque party since coming to power in 2012. Some experts have called him the most influential Chinese leader since Mao, and Xi is poised to win an unprecedented third term during China’s twentieth party congress in 2022. Championing a vision for China’s “rejuvenation,” Xi has pursued a more assertive foreign policy strategy, which has increased tensions with the United States and its allies. At home, some of his policies, such as those aimed at reining in corruption and reducing poverty, have been widely popular, while others have received some pushback. Challenges facing the party include slowed economic growth, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the climate crisis.

As general secretary of the CCP, Xi sits atop the party’s power structure. He is also China’s head of state as president and the head of the military. But most of his power stems from his role as general secretary because of how China’s political system works: Party institutions and state institutions are technically separate, but the ultimate power comes from the CCP. As CFR’s Ian Johnson writes, “Run the party and you run China.” Xi will likely be given a third five-year term as general secretary during the CCP’s twentieth party congress in October 2022, breaking a trend in recent decades in which leaders have stayed on for two terms.

Using Metrics to Understand the Performance of the Adaptive Acquisition Framework

Megan McKernan, Jeffrey A. Drezner, Mark V. Arena

The Adaptive Acquisition Framework (AAF) is intended to improve defense acquisition performance by designing pathways to accommodate the diversity of systems and services that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) acquires. As of 2022, the AAF consists of six pathways: Urgent Capability Acquisition, Middle Tier of Acquisition, Major Capability Acquisition, Software Acquisition, Defense Business Systems, and Acquisition of Services. For each pathway, the authors of this report identify an initial set of metrics that DoD can use to measure performance and assess whether the pathway is achieving its goals. The authors also identify challenges to identifying metrics, both within and across pathways.

Key Findings

AAF metrics should be regularly reviewed and are expected to change in response to changes in strategic goals, leadership priorities, and the results of analysis.

Regular and well-defined data governance and management procedures need to be in place for all pathways.

The Chips That Make Taiwan the Center of the World

Chris Miller

“Are your customers concerned,” one financial analyst asked Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) chairman Mark Liu last summer, when China from time to time threatens “a war against Taiwan?” CEOs are used to tough questions about capital expenditures and profit margins. Executives at the world’s largest producer of the semiconductors that power phones, computers, and data centers face more existential questions.

Making advanced chips requires using complex software, explosive chemicals, ultra-pure silicon, and machines costing hundreds of millions of dollars to pattern billions and billions of nanometer-sized transistors onto silicon wafers. For the past half-decade, TSMC has been the world’s leader, its engineers pioneering secret methods to pattern chips with unprecedented accuracy at unparalleled scale. TSMC has around 55% of the global market for contract chip fabrication, far above OPEC’s 40% market share for oil. And unlike the oil market, where each barrel is more or less the same, there are vast differences between types of chip. Taiwan produces almost all the most advanced processors, a market position that makes Saudi Arabia’s 12% share of global oil production look unimpressive.

Xi’s Strategy in the US-China Chip War

Chris Miller

In January 2017, Chinese leader Xi Jinping promised “win-win outcomes” via a “dynamic, innovation-driven growth model.” Yet only several months prior, Xi had struck a different tone in a speech to an audience that included Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, high-profile People’s Liberation Army researchers, and most of China’s political elite. China must focus on “gaining breakthroughs in core technology as quickly as possible,” Xi declared, referring above all to semiconductors, the tiny chips that provide the computing power in everything from smartphones to dishwashers to autonomous drones.

How did Xi envision China advancing its semiconductor capabilities?

“We must promote strong alliances and attack strategic passes in a coordinated manner. We must assault the fortifications of core technology research and development,” he declared. “We must not only call forth the assault — we must also sound the call for assembly, which means that we must concentrate the most powerful forces to act together, compose shock brigades and special forces to storm the passes.” Former President Donald Trump was known for his “trade war” with China. But the mixing of martial metaphors with economic policy started in Beijing. Today, amid an escalating chip war, America’s semiconductor industry faces an organized assault by the world’s second-largest economy and the one-party state that rules it.

Shock and Awe: Who Attacked the Nord Stream Pipelines?

Sergey Vakulenko

Western governments have not made a formal finding of responsibility for this week’s sabotage attacks on two Russian underwater pipelines carrying natural gas to Europe. While all of the evidence is being carefully reviewed, it seems reasonable to expect that some of it will soon be declassified. In the meantime, NATO, the European Union, and key figures like International Energy Agency director Fatih Birol are not holding back about the identity of the culprit. “It is very obvious… who was behind this issue,” the latter said on Sept. 29. At the same time, Russian officials are unsurprisingly placing the blame on the West and have convened a United Nations Security Council session to discuss the matter.

There are aspects of this mystery that resemble an Agatha Christie novel, in which nearly everyone involved appears to have a motive or would benefit from the outcome. It’s useful, therefore, even as a thought experiment, to look at what we know (and don’t know) about what happened and the all-important question of who stands to benefit.

Pressure drops were reported at both the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines running underneath the Baltic Sea on Sept. 26. Three separate leaks were recorded off the coasts of Denmark and Sweden, a few dozen kilometers apart. Both lines of the Nord Stream 1 pipeline were impacted, along with one line of Nord Stream 2. Reports from seismologists based in Denmark and Sweden suggest that sizeable explosions on the order of 100 kilograms of TNT occurred in both incidents.

China's cyber assault on Taiwan


In August, as China captured the world's attention with its large-scale military exercises off Taiwan, another offensive was taking place more subtly in the digital realm.

Across social media, fabricated stories claimed that China was evacuating its citizens from Taiwan and missiles were targeting a local airport, just days after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had arrived on the island.

At the same time, messages appeared on hacked digital signage in 7-Eleven convenience stores throughout Taiwan that had been changed to read: "Warmonger Pelosi, get out of Taiwan!" At a train station in the southern port city of Kaohsiung, altered digital signs called Pelosi "an old witch."

Hackers even brought down Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen's official government website for around 20 minutes.

The cyber front to China's offensive against Taiwan was in full swing.

Washington's Double Legal Standards

Pete Hoekstra

Our bureaucrats, it seems, have no boundaries when it comes to a former president of the United States. What a precedent to set. Let us compare that to how they treat themselves.

When Hillary Clinton's emails were found to contain classified information, some marked at the highest levels of classification, the FBI did not raid her home in Chappaqua, New York. They did not overturn her office or closets when classified emails turned up that she had not sent back to the government or when she wiped the data on her personal server with BleachBit, which meant the government would never know the full extent of the documents Clinton kept. Why was she treated differently by the FBI?

Consider the case of former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who lied to the Senate when he declared that the intelligence community had no mass surveillance program collecting data on Americans. Not only did he lie in his public testimony before the committee, he also refused to acknowledge his lie and instead tried to explain it away.

As Pakistan’s Afghanistan policy fails, the Afghan Taliban moves against Islamabad

Raza Khan Qazi

Islamabad’s long-standing objective—to have a dependent government in Kabul—has finally burned to the ground with the presently ruling Taliban who, instead of providing any strategic advantage or contributing to Pakistan’s security, has become a worrisome thorn in Islamabad’s side. Not only does this have grave implications for Pakistan’s security (such as through Kabul’s support for the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP), but it also necessitates a revised policy strategy to effectively deal with the situation in neighboring Afghanistan.

But first, how did we get here?

The Afghan Taliban have coddled the TTP since the Republic’s collapse

Since coming to power on August 15, 2022, the Afghan Taliban have taken four questionable steps in support of the TTP that are conspicuously against Pakistan’s interests and security. Operational support: The most significant of these steps is supporting the TTP and providing them a free field in Afghanistan. Soon after assuming power, the Afghan Taliban regime set free over two-thousand TTP members incarcerated in Afghan jails by previous Afghan presidents Ashraf Ghani and Hamid Karzai. After six years of relative stability in Pakistan when terrorist attacks actually decreased each year, attacks increased in 2021 by 56 percent. 294 attacks overall saw 395 people killed, and these attacks “coincided with the Afghan Taliban’s military offensive [which] started in May 2021 and reached the highest point in August 2021 when the Taliban took over Kabul” according to Islamabad-based think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies.