14 October 2022

Fossil fuel discoveries in poorer nations could unlock a windfall — but they are also fanning climate concerns

Nikhil Kumar and Alex Leeds Matthews

“Don’t make the mistakes that we’ve already made in the past.”

That was U.S. Climate Envoy John Kerry last month, warning resource-rich African nations to think twice before investing in long-term fossil fuel projects.

But what Kerry calls mistakes helped power the West’s growth. So why not ours? That’s the question being asked by many poorer countries with newly discovered energy resources in Africa and beyond. The West’s attempts to find alternatives to Russian oil have only made this debate more urgent, as the Ukraine War forces everyone — rich and poor — to rethink the costs and benefits of exploiting fossil resources as the planet warms.

Indeed, the reality of climate change is already setting in with horrific effect, triggering crushing droughts and devastating floods across Africa and beyond. It’s why Kerry, speaking on the sidelines of a summit with African environment ministers in Senegal, added that the priority now was to “be as green as possible.”

China’s economic slowdown is impacting the rest of the world. Which countries will be winners and losers?

Brian Klein

China and growth have been synonymous for so long it’s hard to imagine a world in which they part ways. Due to a rare confluence of events, China’s nearly two decades of rapid expansion appear to be coming to an end. The covid pandemic, effects of climate change and a range of internal economic difficulties — from high local government debt to a cratering real estate sector — have buffeted the country. The damage has been well documented. But there’s a huge and less well-understood ripple effect spreading around the globe. Countries large and small are not prepared for the fallout.

For the most export-dependent nations — primarily South and Southeast Asia, and Africa — the effects of an already-slowing global economy will be amplified by a shrinking China market. For others, new markets may open up as trading patterns shift to rapidly growing India and other countries, but such shifts will take years to fully materialize. World leaders will need to rethink their own economic plans in a world that can no longer count on China growth to fuel their own prosperity.

A China under economic strain is a relatively new phenomenon for the rest of the world. Developed and developing countries alike have grown used to Beijing’s seemingly insatiable appetite for their products. The poorest have also become dangerously dependent on China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative and the lending spree that came with it — which was meant to rival the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a source of capital and infrastructure.

What Would Brinkmanship Look Like in the Indo-Pacific?

Sumit Ganguly

In recent weeks, Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly raised the specter of nuclear weapons use as his military faces significant battlefield setbacks during its war in Ukraine. Russia’s resort to this sort of brinkmanship is certainly not lost on other nuclear powers, including those in Asia. There, China, India, and Pakistan have long been entangled in a three-way nuclear competition, which has evolved in critical ways amid shifts in geopolitics—the most important being China’s rise and increasing assertiveness.

China, India, and Pakistan may have started measuring their nuclear programs against one another as early as the 1970s, but New Delhi’s and Islamabad’s landmark nuclear tests in 1998 brought their nascent competition to the fore. A recent publication by Ashley J. Tellis, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, masterfully details the developments in nuclear policy among the three countries in the decades since. Tellis shows how the region’s nuclear competition has intensified in the past decade, as each nuclear power has modernized its arsenal to acquire new capabilities, including tactical nuclear weapons.


Bushra Seddique

Hajera gave birth to her daughter, Sarah, in Kabul two weeks after the Taliban took over Afghanistan last summer. Hajera is 35 and worked as a government economist. She and her husband already had two sons and were happy to be welcoming a daughter. But they soon lost their jobs, and the Taliban erased the rights women had gained over the previous two decades.

An Afghan women’s-rights activist had connected me with Hajera, who was too afraid to share her last name. “We had a job,” she told me. “We had money. We had a home. We had a country. We had a family.” Now, she said, “we have nothing.”

Afghanistan is, once again, the worst place in the world to be a woman.

I asked her: What did she hope would happen now? “Hich omid nist,” she said. There is no hope.

Retribution and Regime Change

Lawrence Freedman

Everything that now happens in this war, including the murderous missile attacks on Ukrainian cities, has to be understood in terms of the logic of Putin’s exposed position as a failed war leader. He is desperately trying to demonstrate to his hard-line critics that he is up to the task. The opening salvos of this week, ending yet more innocent lives for no discernible military gain, will not make Ukraine less determined or able to win this war. They will have the opposite effect.

The trigger was the damage inflicted on the Kerch bridge last Saturday. The bridge was built at considerable expense to connect Crimea to the mainland and opened by Putin with great fanfare in 2018. The attack combined a symbolic blow with painful practical consequences. Although some road and rail traffic will still pass through, the loss of so much capacity adds to the headaches for Russian logisticians. This link is vital to keeping Crimea, and, through Crimea, forces in southern Ukraine, supplied. News of the attack left the normal suspects on Russian state media unsure about whether to be angrier with the shoddy security that allowed the attack to happen or the audacity of the Ukrainians in mounting the attack. TV Host Vladimir Solovyov, who has been increasingly despondent of late, demanded to know ‘when will we start fighting?’, adding, channeling his inner Machiavelli, that ‘it’s better to be feared than laughed at’. When on the night of 9 October Putin declared this to be a terrorist act against vital civilian infrastructure (despite its evident military value) it was clear that he shared this sentiment.

The Prince: Searching for Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping is the most powerful person in the world. But the real story of China’s leader remains a mystery. The Economist’s Sue-Lin Wong finds out how he rose to the top in a new podcast series.

At China’s 20th Communist Party congress in October Mr Xi is expected to ignore convention to secure a third term as party chief. He may rule China for the rest of his life.

This eight-part series is the epic story of Mr Xi’s turbulent past, how he has changed China and how he is trying to change the world.

For more China coverage, subscribe to The Economist and find a special offer at economist.com/chinapod.

Russia and China Can’t Get Anyone to Like Them

Christopher Walker

China, Russia, and other countries ruled by repressive regimes have dramatically scaled up their investment in instruments commonly associated with soft power. Despite the vast resources these authoritarian trendsetters have poured into media, education, technology, and entertainment, public opinion surveys suggest that they are largely failing to generate soft power: the ability to get people to view a country positively and obtain preferred outcomes by attraction rather than coercion. Scholarly research and journalistic investigation is struggling to explain this disconnect.

Recently released survey data from the Pew Research Center illustrates the conundrum. As the leadership in Beijing rolls out the red carpet in advance of the 20th Party Congress, it shows in China’s case that negative views predominate, some at “historic highs,” across a diverse set of foreign publics assessed. Among citizens of Sweden and Canada, 83 percent and 74 percent, respectively, view China unfavorably, as do 86 percent of Australians and 80 percent of South Koreans. Analyst Joshua Kurlantzick has recently spotlighted the broader trend: “In the past four years, China’s global image … has deteriorated extensively … and has occurred not only among leading democracies such as the United States and Japan, with whom China already had prickly relations, but also among developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Eastern Europe.”

What comes next in Ukraine’s fight against Russia

Jonathan Guyer

Ukraine’s counteroffensive against Russia has defied the odds, and it has sent Russian President Vladimir Putin to a new point of desperation.

On October 10, Russia rained dozens of missile strikes on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and some nine other cities, many deep into the country and away from the battlefield. The strikes killed at least 11 people and injured more than 80 others, according to Ukrainian officials, and hit residential areas and energy infrastructure.

Putin ordered the barrage in response to a major explosion two days earlier on the bridge connecting Russia and Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Russia has occupied since 2014. That Saturday explosion, which Putin described a “terrorist attack,” was a symbolic and perhaps strategic blow to Russia.

Seven months in, the war remains unpredictable as Russia and Ukraine seek to advance their own interests before the harsh winter ahead. Late last month, Putin announced that Russia had, in an illegal move, annexed four occupied regions in Ukraine. Despite that proclamation, Ukraine has actually expanded the territory it controls, and Russian troops retreated from the city of Lyman. Ukrainian also gained ground in Kherson, one of the regions that Putin had annexed. Putin had already mobilized hundreds of thousands of Russians, as just as many Russians seem to be fleeing the country to avoid fighting in the conflict.

Palestinians' New Enemy: British Prime Minister Liz Truss

Khaled Abu Toameh

The defamation campaign against the British prime minister is yet another sign of the ongoing radicalization of Palestinians not only against Israel, but anyone who dares to say a good word about Israel. This radicalization is the result of the massive campaign by Palestinian officials and media outlets to delegitimize Israel and demonize Jews.

The campaign coincides with the Palestinian leaders' continued talk about their commitment to the so-called two-state solution.

If the Palestinian leaders are so committed to the "two-state solution," they should cease and desist from their lethal incitement against Israel.

It is this campaign of hate that is the real obstacle for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. For many years, the Western countries that fund the Palestinians have utterly ignored Palestinian incitement against Israel.

Iran Weaponizes Information to Control Narratives

Emilio Iasiello

The recent social protests in Iran have largely taken a back seat to the ongoing Ukraine crisis though they have fomented global support in the form of civil activism to show solidarity with women in Iran after the brutal detainment of Mahsa Amini by Iran’s “morality” police. Equally alarming for Tehran are the themes underlying the chants supporting Iranians’ freedom from tyrannical governmental policies. The current situation bears striking similarities to the 2017 “White Wednesdays” movement where Iranian women took to the streets waving white hijabs to protest the country’s hijab laws. For an authoritarian theocracy that relies on socio-economic control to sustain its male-dominated society, a women empowerment message has the potential to garner enough regional and global support to be a catalyst for change. Given the prior successes of the Color Revolutions, it is little surprise that Tehran wants to quash such sentiments before they have a chance of coming to a head.

It is therefore unsurprising that Tehran perceives an unmonitored, unrestricted flow of Internet data as a grave threat. That is not novel or new as any authoritarian regime is concerned about the power of uncensored information. But as any dual-edged weapon, Tehran recognizes the blade cuts both ways and the same technologies that threaten regime security can also be harnessed to support its own objectives. The weaponization of information comes with many nomenclatures. Propaganda, disinformation, misinformation, and influence operations are all tools that rely on crafted messaging to affect targeted audiences to achieve specific objectives. U.S. adversaries took advantage of the large traditional and unconventional press coverage around the 2016 U.S. presidential elections to execute multi-faceted cyber-enabled information campaigns whose purposes ranged from sowing discord, to influencing voter turnout, to raise public images of certain governments.

After months of waiting, Army finally unveils its updated cloud, data plans


AUSA 2022 — The Army this week rolled out a new plan for how it will leverage its cloud, and for the first time publicly released another plan to develop a data-centric service. Both strategies, which officials have discussed for the past several months, were unveiled Monday at the annual Association of the US Army conference.

Speaking at the conference, Army Chief Information Officer Raj Iyer said the cloud plan “builds on the capabilities that we built in the last 18 months and focus[es] on how we’re going to operationalize that capability for the warfighter.”

The cloud plan, for the first time, includes the implementation of zero trust architecture — a security framework in which it’s assumed a network is always at risk of being exposed to threats and requires all users to be authenticated and authorized.

Washington Raises Stakes in War on Chinese Technology

Edward Alden

The United States is not looking for a new Cold War with China, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a major speech on foreign policy in May. “We don’t seek to block China from its role as a major power, nor to stop China—or any country—from growing their economy or advancing the interests of their people.”

That was then. With last week’s announcement of sweeping new controls on sales of semiconductors to China, the Biden administration’s approach to Beijing now looks increasingly drawn from the Cold War playbook. The U.S. Commerce Department said it will vastly expand its campaign to deny advanced semiconductors and other critical technologies to China. The new restrictions, which will be fully implemented as soon as Oct. 21, go well beyond any previous measures by seeking to freeze China at a backward state of semiconductor development and cut Chinese companies off from U.S. industry expertise. “To put it mildly, [Chinese companies] are basically going back to the Stone Age,” Szeho Ng, managing director at China Renaissance, told the Financial Times.

The new measures will block sales of semiconductors vital for the development of artificial intelligence, supercomputers, and other critical technologies as well as expand prohibitions on the sale to China of equipment needed for making its own advanced chips. Such chips not only are vital to the latest weaponry but also have broad commercial applications, from health care to autonomous vehicles. And in a novel move, the actions also forbid U.S. companies and citizens from working with Chinese entities on advanced semiconductor design, research, or fabrication. “That is a bigger bombshell than stopping us from buying equipment,” said one official at a Chinese state-owned company, noting that Americans—mostly Chinese or Taiwanese dual citizens—work “in some of the most important positions.”

Small Radios On Armored Vehicles Will Be a Big Step Toward the Army's Networked Future


Handheld tactical radios are officially entering the chat for this year’s Project Convergence, the Army’s annual large-scale effort to try out new tech.

Putting small radios aboard armored vehicles promises to improve mobile communications and reduce the need for full-blown command posts. Testing them at PC ’22 may illuminate the challenges of realizing that promise—and even accelerate the arrival of the connect-it-all Integrated Tactical Network.

PC ‘22 will be “the first time we're touching an armored platform,” said Shermoan Daiyaan, the program manager for small tactical radios for the Army’s Program Executive Office—Command Control Communications-Tactical. “And that's a big deal.”

Social Media Content Regulation Requires G7 Consensus, Think Tank Says

Edward Graham,

The United States can improve global consensus around social media companies’ content moderation policies by working to establish an international forum for the Group of Seven—or G7—nations that is charged with crafting guidelines for moderating user-generated content, according to a report released on Tuesday by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

ITIF’s report, “How to Address Political Speech on Social Media in the United States,” outlines a three-part plan for overcoming the politicization and polarization that have stymied the debate over how social media platforms should moderate misleading and harmful content. The report said the most important part of this multi-pronged approach is establishing an international forum “to develop a set of voluntary, consensus-based guidelines for social media companies to follow when moderating online political speech.”

Rather than creating “one-size-fits-all recommendations about specific types of content that should be allowed or not allowed on all platforms,” the report said that this multistakeholder forum of G7 nations—which it referred to as the “International Forum on Content Moderation”—would focus on developing “content moderation processes social media platforms can use to address controversial content moderation questions and improve the legitimacy of their content moderation practices.”

The Supreme Court and social media platform liability

John Villasenor

Over a quarter of a century after its 1996 enactment, the liability shield known as Section 230 is heading to the Supreme Court. Section 230(c)(1) provides, with some exceptions, that “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”

This sentence is sometimes referred to as the “26 words that created the internet,” because it freed websites that host third-party content from the impossible task of accurately screening everything posted by their users. For example, if your neighbor posts a tweet falsely alleging that you are embezzling money from your employer, you can sue your neighbor for defamation. But a suit against Twitter will go nowhere. As the text of Section 230 makes clear, it is your neighbor and not Twitter that bears the liability for the defamatory tweet.


But what about targeted recommendation decisions made by social media companies? For instance, a social media company will often recommend sports content to users who have a history of seeking out sports content. Are decisions about what content to recommend protected by Section 230? That question will soon be argued before the Supreme Court.


James Risen, Ken Klippenstein

EVER SINCE UKRAINE launched a successful counteroffensive against Russian forces in late August, American officials have tried to claim credit, insisting that U.S. intelligence has been key to Ukraine’s battlefield victories.

Yet U.S. officials have simultaneously downplayed their intelligence failures in Ukraine — especially their glaring mistakes at the outset of the war. When Putin invaded in February, U.S. intelligence officials told the White House that Russia would win in a matter of days by quickly overwhelming the Ukrainian army, according to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, who asked not to be named to discuss sensitive information.

The Central Intelligence Agency was so pessimistic about Ukraine’s chances that officials told President Joe Biden and other policymakers that the best they could expect was that the remnants of Ukraine’s defeated forces would mount an insurgency, a guerrilla war against the Russian occupiers. By the time of the February invasion, the CIA was already planning how to provide covert support for a Ukrainian insurgency following a Russian military victory, the officials said.

The Global Echoes of a British Near-Collapse


LONDON – As the world’s policymakers gather in Washington for the International Monetary Fund’s Annual Meetings, there is a historical curiosity to consider. Roughly every 15 years since the 1930s, Britain has experienced an autumn financial crisis and policy regime change that has foreshadowed global upheavals a few years later.

Britain abandoned the gold standard in September 1931; the United States followed in 1933. The sterling devaluation of September 1949 ended postwar hopes of a genuinely multilateral currency system and confirmed the dollar’s hegemony. The second postwar sterling devaluation, in November 1967, triggered a chain reaction that culminated in US President Richard Nixon dismantling the Bretton Woods currency system in 1971. Britain’s IMF bailout in September 1976 discredited Keynesian economics and led to the election of Margaret Thatcher, inspiring the monetarist revolution of Paul Volcker and Ronald Reagan. The breakup of the European exchange-rate mechanism on “Black Wednesday” in September 1992 forced France, Italy, Spain, and Greece to accept Germany’s economic dominance of Europe. And the run against Britain’s most aggressive mortgage lender, Northern Rock, in September 2007, became a template for the global financial crisis a year later.

The US-India Partnership Is Too Important to Lose


NEW DELHI – The strategic partnership between the United States and India is pivotal to maintaining the balance of power in the vast Indo-Pacific region and counterbalancing China’s hegemonic ambitions. The US is India’s second-largest trading partner, and deepening the ties between the two countries is one of the rare bipartisan foreign policies that exists in Washington today.

The upcoming October 18-31 joint military exercise known as Yudh Abhyas (War Practice), in a high-altitude area less than 100 kilometers (62 miles) from India’s border with China, highlights the partnership’s growing strategic importance. India holds more annual military exercises with the US than any other country, as the two powers seek to improve their forces’ interoperability. As Admiral Michael M. Gilday, the US Navy’s Chief of Naval Operations, put it recently, India is a “crucial partner” in countering China’s rise.

Why Governments Go Off the Rails

Stephen M. Walt

Let’s be honest: There is something morbidly fascinating about trainwrecks. They are destructive and often deadly, yet it’s hard not to watch. For the same reason, watching a major public policy initiative crash and burn is perversely fascinating and all the more so when the people in charge ought to have known better.

The most obvious recent example, of course, is British Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng’s disastrous rollout of a new economic plan. Others with a greater understanding of economics have already dissected the numerous flaws in their initial proposal; suffice it to say, markets reacted instantly and delivered a crushing verdict. A potential collapse of the British bond market forced the Bank of England to intervene in ways that undercut the Truss-Kwarteng initiative, and a revolt within the ruling Conservative Party (fueled by polls showing a dramatic surge of support for Labour) forced Truss to back down and fed speculation that Kwarteng would be looking for a new job sooner rather than later. From Truss’s perspective, it is the worst of all possible worlds: Not only were her proposals dead on arrival, but her credibility as a tough-minded leader who could stand up to pressure was damaged as well. Not since New Coke has the world seen such an inept debut.

But Truss’s woes are hardly the only—or even the most significant—example of a major policy trainwreck. Consider the following episodes from recent history.

Hackers took down U.S. airport websites, Department of Homeland Security confirms

Josh Meyer

Unknown hackers attacked and temporarily shut down the public-facing websites of at least several major U.S. airports on Monday, a Department of Homeland Security official confirmed to USA TODAY.

The official from DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA, declined to comment on who might have been behind what appeared to be a coordinated series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) incidents, which did not affect the actual operations of the airports or planes flying into and out of them.

"CISA is aware of reports of DDoS attacks targeting multiple U.S. airport websites. We are coordinating with potentially impacted entities and offering assistance as needed," said the official, who declined to speak on the record or provide any more information about the cyberattacks and who might have been responsible.

Sending the Right Signal: Telecom Connectivity along the Line of Control


In August 2022, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), Government of India removed restrictions on telecom connectivity in border areas by amending licensing norms. This move is a big boost to connectivity in all border regions and increases civilian access to various resources. By looking at this latest DoT move and its impact, particularly along the Line of Control (LoC), this commentary argues that while some challenges and constraints remain, its benefits are immense for civilians in border areas along the LoC, which divides Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).


Four key changes have been made to the DoT regulations.

First, until recently, telecom providers in border regions had to install special technical infrastructure to fade out signals. Base stations, cell sites, and radio transmitters had to be installed as far away from the border as possible. According to the latest notification from the DoT, this is now not necessary.

Open source, a key element in the explosion of artificial intelligence that is happening before our eyes

Adam Straker

Shawn Swynx Wang is a programming expert (he is the author, for example, of ‘The Coding Career Handbook’), who yesterday addressed his theory of ‘How open source is eating artificial intelligence’ in his personal newsletter. To do this, he established a parallelism between the development of generative AIs both in the field of text and image: its analysis allows reviewing some key points of this technology that has not stopped generating headlines in recent months.

Do you remember GPT-2?

In February 2019, OpenAI announced the release of GPT-2, a ‘language model’ (a text-generating artificial intelligence, to understand us), which claimed that it was capable of producing texts so convincing that “could be used for disinformation or propaganda”, which is why they were only going to make a mutilated version available to the public of it (of 117 million parameters, compared to 1,500 million for the complete model).

Ukraine Wants to Be NATO’s Friend—With Benefits

Amy Mackinnon and Robbie Gramer

The Ukrainian government has teamed up with a former NATO chief to propose a new security pact between Western governments and Ukraine modeled in part after the U.S. government’s relationship with Israel. Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen traveled to Washington last week to lay the groundwork for pitching the plan to the United States and other prominent Western allies.

“They [the Ukrainians] are paying a high price in life and treasure. The least we can do is to assist them in all respects,” he said in a recent interview with Foreign Policy.

The plan, called the Kyiv Security Compact, seeks to secure legally binding security guarantees for Ukraine from a coalition of Western countries to bolster its ability to fend off Russian attacks through extensive joint training, the provision of advanced defense weapons systems, and support to develop the country’s own defense industrial base. Despite Ukraine’s recent success in pushing Russian troops out of large swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine, the country’s vulnerability was underscored on Monday as Russian missile strikes hit critical infrastructure and civilian sites in cities across the country, including the capital of Kyiv.

A New Command for the Same War

George Friedman

A few days ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to replace the military commander in charge of the Ukraine war with Gen. Sergei Surovikin, and thus change the military culture of the conflict itself. It was an important move but not necessarily for the reasons offered by most of the media. It came after Ukraine, armed primarily by the United States, had seized the initiative on the Ukrainian battlefield. Putin’s credibility was at stake even among ostensibly pro-war elements who were now starting to criticize his performance.

The origin of the criticism is important. One of the loudest critics of Russia’s strategy in Ukraine has been Ramzan Kadyrov, Putin’s longtime functionary who used extreme brutality at Putin’s behest to keep the uprising in Chechnya under control. Kadyrov and Putin were both committed to halting the fragmentation of Russia and recovering what could be recovered. Kadyrov supported the invasion of Ukraine but was appalled at the weakness shown by the Russian army, particularly its high command. From his point of view, a ruthless operation against the Ukrainian public and military was required – in other words, a Chechen-type war. So here we have a stalwart Putin ally publicly lambasting the incompetence and softness of the Russian army, only for a new commander to be named.

Life in a Far-Flung Corner of the Taliban Emirate

Franz J. Marty

DAREN VALLEY, GHAZIABAD, KUNAR — In various remote corners of Afghanistan, Taliban rule has been a fact for years. However, even in such areas the Taliban takeover of the whole country last August has had an impact. Some things became easier or even possible for the first time, while some problems — old and new — persist.

During the past 20 years, neither units of the U.S.-led military coalition nor forces or officials of the erstwhile Afghan Republic ventured much, if at all into the Daren Valley. Framed by steep escarpments that are overgrown with small trees and bushes in its lower parts and endless forests at its end, the side valley sneaking into the mighty Hindu Kush from the Kunar River in the eastern Afghan province with the same name is under the best of circumstances difficult to access. And with a population that has always been hostile to any influence from outside their valley and soon mostly sided with the Taliban, it became next to impossible to approach.