21 October 2022

Bombing to Lose Why Airpower Cannot Salvage Russia’s Doomed War in Ukraine

Robert A. Pape

Beginning in early October, facing huge territorial loses and other reversals in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin reached for a military strategy in which Russia should have a decisive advantage: airpower. In the most widespread such campaign to date, he ordered a blistering series of missile attacks against a dozen cities and electrical infrastructure across the country. Ukrainians were forced into basements and bomb shelters, and some 30 percent of the country’s power generation capacity was knocked out, causing rolling blackouts that affected homes, hospitals, and even the basic functioning of the economy. In the weeks since, Russia has been sending waves of drones to attack residential buildings and offices in Kyiv and other cities. In effect, Putin was reminding the Ukrainian government of his ability to attack its main population centers—a threat that Ukraine, having scrapped Soviet-era bombers long ago, having no long-range rockets able to hit Russian cities, and having only a tiny number of ground attack aircraft—is unable to match. The goal, it seems, is to punish civilians, wearing them down in the hope of convincing their leaders to sue for peace.

But it is a strategy doomed to failure. As in earlier phases of the war, Russia’s supposed air superiority has done little to shift the overall momentum on the ground. Despite the significant damage they have caused, Putin’s airstrikes have failed to hinder Ukrainian advances in the east. And when they have reached civilian targets they have only served to strengthen Ukrainian resolve.

Afghanistan under the Taliban: Regional recalibrations, challenges, and ways forward

Hameed Hakimi

Despite the spectacular and unprecedented events following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, the global spotlight steadily shifted away from the country.

Because of the war in Ukraine, among other global issues, Afghans have been competing for attention from the international community and for media coverage of the multiple crises unfolding in Afghanistan. Some of the crises facing Afghans predate the Taliban’s seizure of power in August 2021, such as unemployment, migration and displacement, natural disasters, weak governance, and infrastructural challenges. Yet the profound loss of major gains of the past twenty years because of the Taliban’s return to power cannot be underestimated.



The Russo-Ukrainian War, which began in the spring of 2014, and had cooled by the spring of 2015, is hot once again. Russia’s re-invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has officially brought inter-state conflict back to center stage and has placed state actors at the fore of contemporary armed conflict. Breaking with the obfuscated proxy approaches used during its 2014–2015 Crimean and Donbas campaigns, Russia’s most recent invasion has relied on conventional army forces operating in the open.

Russia launched a three-pronged attack on 23 February 2022 with the goal of taking possession of Ukraine, removing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy from power and placing a puppet government in control in Kyiv.1 Russia, which gradually began positioning forces along the Ukraine-Belarus border and the Ukraine-Russia border, launched its attack from the Mazyr-Gomel corridor in Belarus toward Kyiv; from Belgorod, Russia, to Kharkiv; and from Russia’s Rostov region to reinforce the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR).2

As the war has unfolded, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strategy has proved faulty and his plan unreasonable—and his assumptions about both his soldiers and the attitudes of the Ukrainian people have shown themselves to be wildly misguided. At its high-water mark in late March 2022, the Russian army captured the Antonov Airport, just outside Kyiv; it pierced into Kharkiv; and it linked Crimea with the Donbas via Mariupol.3 Nonetheless, those triumphs were short-lived. Within days of taking the Antonov Airport, Russia’s holding force was routed, resulting in possession of the airport passing back to Ukrainian hands.4 Russia’s attempt to encircle and capture Kyiv was thwarted by an active and mobile Ukrainian defense, which drove the attacker from the Kyiv pocket and back toward their laager sites in Belarus.5 At Kharkiv, Russian forces failed to encircle the city and were unsuccessful in wresting it from Ukrainian control. They did find a modicum of success in southern Ukraine with the occupation of cities such as Kherson, Melitopol and Mariupol.6 And, in conjunction with the Donetsk People’s Army (DPA) and Luhansk People’s Army (LPA), they still control the Donbas, but their ability to hold that territory looks more tentative with each passing day.

Russia's Nuclear Signaling in Ukraine and China's Nuclear Policy


In this Policy Forum essay, Tong Zhao argues that China fundamentally sees the Ukraine conflict as being caused by hegemonic behavior by the US-led West forcing Russia’s hand. China has been watching and learning from Russia’s implicit use of nuclear threat, and the lessons learned may add further ambiguity and uncertainty to the interpretation and application of China’s No First Nuclear Use policy in potential conflict situations, including those involving Taiwan.

This essay is a contribution to the “Reducing the Risk of Nuclear Weapons Use in Northeast Asia” (NU-NEA) project, a collaboration between the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University, Nautilus Institute, and the Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear non-proliferation and Disarmament, is to reduce and minimize the risk that nuclear weapons will be used in the region by developing better understandings of the processes that could lead to the first use of nuclear weapons and the potential outcomes of such nuclear weapons use. In the first year of this three-year project, the NU-NEA project team identified over 25 plausible nuclear weapons “use cases” that could start in Northeast Asia, sometimes leading to broader conflict beyond the region. These nuclear use cases are described in the report Possible Nuclear Use Cases in Northeast Asia: Implications for Reducing Nuclear Risk. The project has commissioned five contributions to update the cases in light of the Ukraine conflict, of which this essay is the second.

The 20th Party Congress is Underway: Will Xi’s Men Dominate the Next Politburo?

James Yifan Chen, David Hau Feng


The Communist Party of China (CCP) convened its 20th Party Congress on Sunday (Xinhua, October 16). When the proceedings conclude, a new Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) will be revealed (China Brief, September 20). General Secretary Xi Jinping is expected to continue his third term as party chief and paramount leader and will also retain the key role of Central Military Commission (CMC) Chairman. Although the continuation of Xi’s tenure undermines former supreme leader Deng Xiaoping’s efforts to institutionalize the CCP’s top-leadership succession, the unwritten rule of “seven up, eight down” (七上八下, qi shang, ba xia) still heavily affects the selection process of the other twenty-four politburo members (China Times, October 19). Within the Politburo, those who have reached the age of 68 are required to retire from their positions and duties. With several PBSC and Politburo members headed for retirement, many are wondering who will take their place.

Since the beginning of the 19th Party Congress in late 2017, China has faced numerous domestic and international challenges. Under the ruling CCP, the Party-state has grappled with reducing the wealth gap and eliminating extreme poverty; rooting out monopolies in the technology industry; cracking down on official corruption; managing the needs of an aging population and numerous other economic and social challenges. In 2021, the overleveraged property sector, which was epitomized by Evergrande Group’s debt struggles and the Henan bank default protest, forced the CCP to take extensive measures to stave off an economic implosion (China Brief, September 20).

The Zhejiang Model: Old-New Tools for Managing Contradictions and Creating Win-Win Outcomes in Center-Local Governance

Dominik Mierzejewski


In the midst of an economic downturn, with the World Bank rather pessimistically predicting 2.8 percent year-on-year economic growth, the challenge of managing the growing tensions and contradictions within Chinese society remains at the top of Beijing’s agenda (South China Morning Post, September 27). In this context, this article examines the recently promoted model for managing contradictions, namely the “Fengqiao Experience” and the institutionalization-digitalization of social tension governance. In his work report to open the 20th Party Congress on October 16, General Secretary Xi Jinping discussed the optimal ways for resolving contradictions in society and cited the “Fengqiao Experience” (枫桥经验, Fengqiao jingyan) as the model solution (CCTV, October 17). Hence, the importance of the Maoist style experiences of Fenqiao, a small village in Zhejiang, have reached the top level. However, throughout this year, People’s Daily has promoted the “Fengqiao Experience” as the most important model to follow for the lower level bureaucrats.

In his 19th Party Congress report, Xi announced a newly introduced understanding of the general contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing need for a better life (China Daily, November 4, 2017). This was supported by Mao Zedong’s views on social contradictions which he regarded as class struggle. It was then exemplified by the “common prosperity” (共同富裕, gongtong fuyu) campaign launched by Xi in mid-2021 (Qiushi, October 15, 2021). The induction of commonality should be read between the lines as an attempt to limit the increasing stratification in Chinese society. Also noteworthy is that Xi has continued to advance institutional changes across the country with local authorities not only participating in the “common prosperity” campaign but also opening mediation centers as well. This institutional shift should not be perceived in the traditional manner but through the prism of the Chinese government’s digitalization process. As stated in the national regulations issued by the State Council in June, digital governance should mitigate issues such as conflict resolution (contradiction resolution), social security prevention and control, public security and grassroots social governance (Gov.cn, June 23). Furthermore, the State Council promoted Zhejiang’s “Fengqiao Experience”—the Maoist style campaign resolving contradictions and the “Xueliang project”—a public security big data platform.

The Life and Death of United Front Promises From Revolution to (Re)-Unification Past, Present and Future

Gerry Groot


The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) dramatic show of military force in the Taiwan Straits between August 4-6, ostensibly in retaliation for the visit to Taipei by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking American visitor in decades, while impressive in many respects, was also a sign to the rest of the world of a key Chinese weakness (81.cn, August 6). Xi Jinping, as General Secretary of the CCP and state president, has few options left for gaining direct control over Taiwan other than by force. This is despite a decades-long offer under the banner of “One-Country, Two-Systems” (1C2S) and a “peaceful unification” deal proffered by Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s as part of United Front Work to bring Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan under direct CCP control (PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs [FMPRC]). Under this proposal, Taiwan would, in theory, be able to retain its systems of government and institutions and even military, if it recognized the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) as sovereign over it.

Lessons from Hong Kong

The promise of One-Country, Two-systems is probably the best known CCP assurance made in the context of its contemporary United Front Work because it was crucial to the ultimately successful negotiations with Britain and Portugal, which brought first Hong Kong and then Macau, under direct CCP sovereignty in 1997 and 1999, respectively (FMPRC, November 17, 2000). In both cases, the CCP promised that the status quo would be upheld for fifty years. While the integration of Macau has gone relatively smoothly, the eruption of dissent and open unrest in Hong Kong, including mass demonstrations, resulted in the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the PRC passing a set of National Security Laws to cover Hong Kong in mid-2020 (China Brief, July 29, 2020). This direct intervention by the PRC and the nature of the laws themselves, as well as the return to using British colonial-era sedition laws, meant the clear and effective end of Hong Kong’s judicial independence and thus a key plank of the One-Country, Two-Systems promise —twenty-seven years ahead of schedule!

The Ukraine Crisis and China-India Relations

Amrita Jash


On March 25, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a surprise visit to India after stopovers in Pakistan and Afghanistan (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China [FMPRC], March 25). The visit was the first by a high-level Chinese official to India since December 2019 and the ongoing border standoff that broke out in May 2020 along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh. The sudden stopover, which was not announced in advance, generated speculation over Beijing’s intentions, particularly as it occurred in the immediate aftermath of Russia initiating its “special military operation” against Ukraine on February 24. This resulted in international condemnation and boycotts, and the imposition of economic sanctions by the U.S., the European Union, Japan and others on Russia. However, countries such as China and India, made an exception by choosing neutrality in condemning Russia. But did this shared position make any difference in improving China-India ties? Hitherto, relations have not substantively improved, notwithstanding the modest progress in the recent border talks. Following the 16th round of Corps Commander level talks on July 17, China and India stressed the “four-point consensus” they had reached on the resolution of the border issues (Xinhuanet, July 29). This “consensus” was further cited as the reason for the disengagement of troops from Patrolling Point-15 in Gogra-Hot Springs (Global Times, September 9). Notably, the disengagement followed a year-long impasse in the talks process and coincided with both countries’ participation in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit.

Report to Congress on Hypersonic Weapons

The United States has actively pursued the development of hypersonic weapons—maneuvering weapons that fly at speeds of at least Mach 5—as a part of its conventional prompt global strike program since the early 2000s. In recent years, the United States has focused such efforts on developing hypersonic glide vehicles, which are launched from a rocket before gliding to a target, and hypersonic cruise missiles, which are powered by high-speed, air-breathing engines during flight. As former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command General John Hyten has stated, these weapons could enable “responsive, long-range, strike options against distant, defended, and/or time-critical threats [such as road-mobile missiles] when other forces are unavailable, denied access, or not preferred.” Critics, on the other hand, contend that hypersonic weapons lack defined mission requirements, contribute little to U.S. military capability, and are unnecessary for deterrence.

Funding for hypersonic weapons has been relatively restrained in the past; however, both the Pentagon and Congress have shown a growing interest in pursuing the development and near-term deployment of hypersonic systems. This is due, in part, to the advances in these technologies in Russia and China, both of which have a number of hypersonic weapons programs and have likely fielded operational hypersonic glide vehicles—potentially armed with nuclear warheads. Most U.S. hypersonic weapons, in contrast to those in Russia and China, are not being designed for use with a nuclear warhead. As a result, U.S. hypersonic weapons will likely require greater accuracy and will be more technically challenging to develop than nuclear-armed Chinese and Russian systems.

How Silicon Valley Lost the Chips Race Money Alone Won’t Revive the U.S. Semiconductor Industry

Chris Miller

Thanks to the CHIPS and Science Act, signed into law in August 2022, the U.S. government has $52 billion in new funding to try to reinvigorate the country’s semiconductor industry. Although semiconductors were invented in the United States and their design and manufacture still generally require U.S. software and tools, most chips are now manufactured elsewhere, largely in East Asia. But in the face of escalating U.S.-China competition—and with Washington rolling out sweeping new restrictions on China’s access to advanced computing technologies—improving the U.S. position in chip-making has become a national security priority. That the most advanced processors can be fabricated only outside the United States, mainly in Taiwan, adds to the sense of risk.

Rebuilding the U.S. role in manufacturing will be expensive, as the CHIPS and Science Act recognizes. TSMC, Samsung, and Intel—the three biggest companies producing processor chips—are all likely to receive funds for new semiconductor manufacturing facilities in the United States. But an influx of new money alone can’t solve the problem at the core. A cultural change is needed, too, in Silicon Valley and in Washington, to prioritize the challenges faced by firms in advanced manufacturing, including chip makers and their key suppliers.

Why Biden’s National Security Strategy Is Destined To Fail

Mackenzie Eaglen

The Biden administration’s newly released National Security Strategy (NSS) calls for a military that can essentially do it all – from “backstopping diplomacy, confronting aggression, deterring conflict,” to fighting and winning the nation’s wars. Focusing the military on its core functions is wholly appropriate. But to do so ably requires robust policies, capable leaders, and sufficient resources in place.

National Security Strategy: Aspirational Only?

Unfortunately, the National Security Strategy is based on a false premise. The document states that America’s military power “continue[s] to grow, often outpacing those of other large countries.”

In reality, America’s conventional and nuclear deterrents are at a nadir and in dramatic need of rebuilding. With repeated defense budgets that do not keep pace with inflation and a bureaucracy on autopilot, the state of the military is unlikely to be reversed soon.

Why So Much Talk About Nuclear Weapons?


During the last two weeks, there’s been a lot of talk about nuclear weapons in Ukraine: specifically, that the Russians might use them.

In an interview with NPR, the political scientist Matthew Bunn said “his best estimate” of the chance Russia uses a nuclear weapon is 10 to 20 percent. And in a widely discussed article, the physicist and ‘existential risk expert’ Max Tegmark gave the chance as 30%.

In a speech on October 6th, Biden referred to the “prospect of Armageddon” and claimed Putin is “not joking” when he talks about using nuclear weapons – comments the New York Times described as “highly unusual for any American president”.

And in an article published four days later, the former CIA director Leon Panetta claimed, “Some intelligence analysts now believe that the probability of the use of tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine has risen from 1-5 percent at the start of the war to 20-25 percent today”.

Biden and Panetta’s comments are especially notable given their provenance – the current president and former CIA director, respectively. Why the sudden focus on a possible nuclear strike?

Defense contractors eye long-term profits from Ukraine war

Connor Echols

As Russia’s attack on Ukraine drags on, the world is dealing with a lot of uncertainty. At every stage, predictions about the war have done poorly when met with the cold, hard reality of modern conflict. But one thing has been certain from the start: the U.S. defense industry is going to cash in.

A recent example of this came last week when Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) proposed a new amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act. The proposal would give the Department of Defense wartime powers that would free it to buy huge amounts of artillery and other munitions using multi-year contracts, according to Defense News.

Here’s the important part: the amendment would also authorize the Pentagon to skip competitive contracting for Ukraine-related deals (including billions of dollars worth of contracts to refill U.S. stockpiles), and it would waive other provisions aimed at stopping weapons makers from overcharging taxpayers.

War and Regrets in Ukraine Washington may regret its role in the war in Ukraine.

Douglas Macgregor

Of the Vietnam War, Henry Kissinger, former national security advisor and secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford, said, “We should never have been there.” Before long, Americans, even the politicians inside the Beltway, will reach the same conclusion about Washington’s Ukrainian proxy war against Russia.

No one in the White House, the Senate, or the House consciously set out to turn the proxy Ukrainian war with Moscow into a contest of “competitive societal collapse” between Russia and NATO. But here we are. No one imagined that the Biden administration and the bipartisan war party would drive Americans and Europeans into a political, military, and economic valley of death, from which there is no easy escape. Yet that is precisely what is happening.

For the moment, Washington remains blind to these developments. Whether in print, radio, television, or online, the narrative is clear: despite horrific losses—at least 400,000 Ukrainian battlefield casualties including 100,000 soldiers killed in action—Ukrainian forces are winning. Moreover, the narrative says, America’s financial and economic dominance will ultimately overwhelm the deceptively weak Russian economy.

How Germany Became Russia’s Chief Enabler

Todd Carney

United States President Ronald Reagan, United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II, and Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev are typically the four people who most praise for ending the Cold War. After them, many would say German Chancellor Helmut Kohl deserves credit. His navigation in reunifying Germany played a pivotal role in freeing millions of Europeans from communism. When Reagan delivered his “tear down this wall” line, Kohl was sitting on stage right behind him. Given Germany’s history in the Cold War, most would think that the nation would follow the lead of many Eastern European nations and counter Russia. Unfortunately, since the Cold War, Germany has repeatedly coddled and emboldened Russia.

Despite Kohl’s leadership in the Cold War, Germany’s empowerment of Russia started with him. This likely did not come from malfeasance on Kohl’s part. Kohl was the chancellor of Germany throughout the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev’s successor, Boris Yeltsin, tried a series of reforms to try to make a post-Soviet Russia thrive. A separate piece could go through whether Yeltsin was a good leader, but regardless, Yeltsin and Kohl developed a close relationship. Kohl likely felt a paternal need to help Russia thrive. It also made sense for the world at the time, if Russia completely fell apart, it could have created global problems. Kohl’s support kept Russia afloat.

A Winter War In Ukraine Favors Russia And Will Be Bloody

Daniel Davis

A Winter War in Ukraine Can Only Mean Trouble: As the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) say they hope their offensive reaches the city of Kherson by this winter, Russia continues preparation for a massive counterattack which could begin as early as next month. The results of that battle are likely to be bloody and destructive, but unlikely to settle the war one way or the other.

To understand what is likely to happen in the phase of the war in November and December, it is useful to consider the flow of events between the start of the conflict and today. When Russia launched the war on February 24, it initially shocked the Ukrainian defenders and captured massive swaths of territory, including the regional capital city of Kherson by the seventh day. But once the initial shock wore off, Ukrainian troops stiffened and began launching fierce counterattacks, especially north of Kyiv.

By early April, Russian casualties had risen so high in both personnel and equipment, they were forced to withdraw from Kyiv and Kharkiv, repositioning to the east in the Donbas. Russia then began a new offensive and captured Mariupol, Severodonetsk, and Lysychansk by the first of July. But then, owing to significant losses of troops and tanks, Russia’s offensive began to run out of steam.

Europe’s New Military Frontline

Kevin J. McNamara

The sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea on September 26-27, along with what looks to be a long war as Ukraine fights against Russian invaders, are together symbolic of vast changes taking place in European security, changes for which Western leaders need to be better prepared.

The gas pipelines were long seen by critics as a Trojan Horse, but only now do leaders like the European Union (EU) foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, lambast the Continent for allowing its security and prosperity to become decoupled, even as US critics warned of the risks. The umbilical cord from Russia to Germany, which by design circumvented Central and Eastern European states, locked Europe’s two largest powers in an unholy embrace; they enriched Russia by enabling it to export one of its few world-class commodities, while at the same time neutering Germany’s — and NATO’s — geopolitical options. This gave Vladimir Putin the confidence to move on Ukraine.

He was right to judge that Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and its invasion of Eastern Ukraine would not wake Western Europe. Only in 2022, when the truth and the extent of Russian aggression became undeniable, was there a response. And this has changed everything.

In Prague, Armenia and Azerbaijan Make a Critical Move Toward Peace

Vasif Huseynov

On October 6, on the sidelines of the first gathering of the European Political Community, historic meetings were held between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as those of France and Turkey in Prague. Mediated by European Council President Charles Michel and French President Emmanuel Macron, the meeting of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan delivered remarkable progress on the path toward normalization of relations and ending the conflict between the two South Caucasian republics. According to the identical statements of the European Council and France, Armenia and Azerbaijan formally committed to recognizing each other’s territorial integrity (Consilium.europa.eu, October 7; Elysee.fr, October 7). The statements declared, “Armenia and Azerbaijan confirmed their commitment to the Charter of the United Nations and the Alma Ata 1991 Declaration through which both recognize each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” The Alma-Ata Declaration is a document through which the former Soviet states (excluding the Baltic states and Georgia) established the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), formalizing the disintegration of the Soviet Union and recognizing each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty (Cis-legislation.com, December 21, 1991).

This peace summit came on the heels of recent escalation along the Armenian-Azerbaijani state border, which resulted in Azerbaijan taking control of some disputed areas that Armenia had claimed as part of its internationally recognized territory (See EDM, September 20, 28, October 4). The agreement on the mutual recognition of territorial integrity, thus, opens a window of opportunity to accelerate the delimitation and demarcation process and eliminate the territorial disputes that have fueled these armed confrontations. This issue is also reflected in the aforementioned statements, according to which Yerevan and Baku confirmed that their mutual recognition of territorial integrity and sovereignty “would be a basis for the work of the border delimitation commissions and that the next meeting of the border commissions would take place in Brussels by the end of October” (Consilium.europa.eu, October 7; Elysee.fr, October 7).

This Is How the World Ends


Some genius within the Russian leadership will then put forward the idea that they can reverse the momentum and demonstrate their greater willingness to accept Armageddon by a nuclear demonstration. As Michael Kofman and Anya Lukianov Fink have noted, Russian military analysts have long believed in “a demonstrative use of force, and could subsequently include nuclear use for demonstrate purposes.” The West, this Russian optimist will argue, doesn’t really care about Ukraine and will recoil at the real prospect of nuclear war. Lacking better options, or really any other options at all beyond surrender, Russian President Vladmir Putin (or his successor) will seize on this deus ex machina. Such thin hopes of turning defeat into victory are the most effective enemies of peace.

Russian forces will launch a small number of tactical nuclear attacks against Ukrainian troop concentrations or NATO supply lines within Ukraine. If they can’t find any of those, they will use them against Ukrainian civilian targets. The target is not essential because the point of this attack will be to destroy Western will to continue supporting Ukraine, not to directly reverse the military situation. They would additionally put their strategic nuclear forces on alert and begin “unusual movements” of nuclear assets in an effort to warn the United States against responding to the attack.

The Cyber Wild West


OPINION — Two events last week made me more aware than ever of the danger to individuals and to governments from the internet.

First, I was hacked by a scam that froze my computer and then, hackers claiming to be contractors for my service, wanted several hundred dollars to provide a firewall that I already had. It took assistance from my local Computer Geeks group to clean up the problem and explain how often such scams take place.

Second, was a revelation I had after a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) webinar featuring Jen Easterly, Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and General Paul M. Nakasone, who runs both U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency (NSA).

When asked what responses have been put in place if a major event such as the May 2021 Colonial Pipeline hacking took place again, Easterly referred to what was done when “Log4Shell” occurred – which was a serious vulnerability contained in open source software that was incredibly easy to exploit.

Xi Jinping’s Strategy Of Conflict

Dan Blumenthal and Cindy Chen

As the People’s Republic of China marks its 20th party congress this month, Chinese President Xi Jinping is poised to shepherd both the Chinese Communist Party and the nation into a new and dangerous era. The foundations of China’s “harmonious rise” – public quiescence predicated on sky-high growth – have crumbled. Xi has responded by centralizing power, relying increasingly on the coercive tools of his internal security services to govern. But the Chinese leader’s effort to build a 21st-century police state promises growing internal risk, and this will likely translate into conflict-seeking abroad.

The Beginning of the End of the Islamic Republic Iranians Have Had Enough of Theocracy

Masih Alinejad

The current protests in Iran sound the death knell of the Islamic Republic. The killing in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman who was arrested for wearing the hijab incorrectly, has unleashed a wave of angry and bloody demonstrations, boycotts, work stoppages, and wildcat strikes that have exhausted the country’s security forces and spread to more than 100 cities. The government has endured major protests before, notably in 2009, 2017, and 2019, but these demonstrations are different. They embody the anger that Iranian women and young Iranians feel toward a regime that seeks to stifle their dearest desires. And they promise to upend Iran’s establishment.

Since Iran’s 1978–79 revolution, the Islamic Republic has relegated women to second-class status under sharia and the strictures of the Iranian constitution. But women, especially young women, have had enough, and they are now volubly rejecting the requirement to wear hijabs along with the social order that the Islamic Republic has sought to impose on the country. Some women have burned their headscarves, an act that two months ago was punishable by lashing and a jail sentence but now is not that rare an act in Iranian cities.

It is said that revolutions devour their children, but in Iran the grandchildren are devouring the revolution. Iran’s clerics have responded to this existential challenge with brute force, but violence and repression will not snuff out the will of a nation so roused against its government.

Putin Says the Gloves Are Off — Believe Him

Chels Michta

It is always risky to project outcomes in war based on the current state and conditions on the battlefield (bad for Russia and getting worse.). Still, one thing is clear: Putin has recast the war as Russia’s twilight struggle against the West.

Since Putin’s annexation of occupied Ukrainian territory in September, the stakes have been raised considerably. What used to be a “special military operation” has become — in Putin’s rendering — a clash of civilizations.

In his September 29 speech announcing the establishment of four new Russian Federation republics annexed from Ukraine, Putin defined his gamble in unequivocal terms and opened the way to further steps, and made a threat to use nuclear weapons. In the Russian leader’s calculus, he is no longer fighting Ukraine; he is fighting a “colonial” West which seeks to bring his 1,000-year-old civilization to heel. The speech provided the best summary to date of how he sees Russia’s competition with the West.

Reforms Will Keep India’s Russian-Built Arsenal Relevant ... For A While

Craig Hooper

India is in real trouble with its weapons systems. Decades of over-reliance on cheap Russian equipment—equipment that is currently failing the battlefield test in Ukraine—risks exposing India’s military as little more than a paper tiger.

It’s a tough problem. Nearly 60 percent of India’s defense equipment is Russian made, but with Moscow struggling to replace weapons lost in Ukraine, India’s era of easy access to cheap military equipment is over. Worse for New Delhi, Ukraine is demonstrating that Russia focused on all the wrong things in weapons development. Designed to support an older way of warfare, Russian gear has struggled to independently integrate into the modern, agile, and unified command-and-control systems necessary to fight and win in the modern battlefield.

Russia’s debacle means New Delhi can no longer hide India’s fundamental military flaws. It is now common knowledge that India’s Russian-sourced battlefield platforms, while numerous, have crippling innate vulnerabilities. For years, New Delhi may have loved buying low-cost, formidable-looking Russian T-90 and T-72 main battle tanks, but there’s now no disguising that New Delhi got exactly what it paid for: modernized iterations of a defective design, as well as intellectual rights to build the bad gear for themselves.

What’s the Endgame for Afghanistan and Pakistan?

Sadiq Amini

In 1947, Pakistan emerged as an independent country in the wake of the Partition from India. That year, Afghanistan was the only country that voted against Pakistan’s admission to the United Nations. Since that time, the relationship between the two countries has remained strained as deep disputes remain. The undeclared war between them is far from over.

At present, Pakistan is doubling down on hopes for complete domination of Afghanistan by backing the most extreme elements of the Taliban, which could lead to mass armed uprisings by Afghans against Pakistani domination and renewed conflict in the region. Western engagement therefore should focus on empowering the nationalist elements of the Taliban to outmaneuver the extremists backed by Pakistan in order to seek a peaceful resolution of the conflict: internally with other Afghans, and externally with Pakistan.

Undeclared Wars

From 1947 to 1978, Afghanistan was heavily involved in the internal affairs of Pakistan, where separatist Pashtuns and Balochs received political, financial, and military support from Kabul as Afghanistan sought to realize its demand to renegotiate its border — the so-called Durand Line — with Pakistan.

India-led Alliance Bats for Diverse Solar Energy Market

Sibi Arasu

For countries to transition away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner energies like solar power, supply chains for components need to be more geographically diverse, officials said during a conference on solar energy in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Currently, 75 percent of components needed for solar power are manufactured in China, according to a recent report by the International Energy Agency. Representatives at the fifth assembly of the International Solar Alliance, made up of 110 member countries, want that to change.

“By 2030, we expect that solar will be the cheapest source of electricity in most geographies,” said Ajay Mathur, director general of the ISA.

Adding that freight prices have spiked, Mathur urged for “multiple regions from which solar photovoltaic products can go from the producer to the supplier” to ensure that more nations benefit from the cheap prices of solar energy.