2 November 2022

White House rejects promoting general involved in Capitol riot response

Dan Lamothe

The White House rejected a recommendation by senior Pentagon officials to promote an Army general who came under intense scrutiny after the Pentagon’s slow response to the riot at the Capitol, defense officials said, pushing the officer to a near-certain retirement.

Lt. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, the director of the Army staff, was backed to become the four-star general at Army Futures Command by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Army Secretary Christine Wormuth — both of whom were appointed by President Biden — and Gen. James McConville, the Army’s top officer, said two defense officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. The White House declined to send a nomination for Piatt to the Senate for months, the officials said, effectively killing the possibility.

Piatt has agreed to stay in his present position for several more months at the request of McConville and Wormuth, and “has the full trust and confidence of Army senior leaders to execute the immense responsibility this position requires,” Army spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said. “With almost 40 years of active service, Lt. Gen. Piatt is eligible to retire this year but will remain as Director of the Army Staff until next summer.”

If China declares war, these ham radio enthusiasts could be crucial


On Tuesday nights, BX2AN sits near the Xindian River, motionless but for his thumb and middle finger, rhythmically tapping against two small metal paddles. They emit a sound each time his hand makes contact — from the right, a dit, or dot; from the left, a dah, or dash, the building blocks of the Morse code alphabet.

“Is anyone there?” he taps.

The replies come back in fits and starts: from Japan, then Greece, then Bulgaria. Each time, BX2AN, as he is known on the radio waves, jots down a series of numbers and letters: call signs, names, dates, locations. Then he adjusts a black round knob on his transceiver box, its screens glowing yellow in the dark.

There can be no doubt that this is his setup. That unique call sign is stamped across the front of his black radio set, scrawled in faded Sharpie on his travel mug and engraved in a plaque on his car dashboard. On the edge of his notepad, he’s absent-mindedly doodled it again, BX2AN.

How Foreign Policy Amateurs Endanger the World


The Biden administration recently unveiled a new national security strategy with grand aims for U.S. foreign policy: to win the global contest against autocracy, particularly an increasingly dangerous Russia and China. To succeed, according to policymakers, the U.S. will have to “shape what comes next.”

Shaping what comes next isn’t as sweeping a vision as, say, “realigning” the Middle East, which was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s goal 15 years ago. Nor is it as fanciful as the guidance pitched in 1962 by Kennedy’s national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, when he said the U.S. could crush the Viet Cong in Indochina with U.S. casualties no greater than the annual traffic-related injuries in Washington, D.C. It is consistent, however, with the longstanding — and dangerous — notion that the U.S. has far-reaching abilities to mold the world to its desires.

America may have been temporarily chastened by failures in Afghanistan and Iraq, as it was after Vietnam. But there’s no reason that fresh, exuberant ill-judgements on the scale pushed by Rice and Bundy won’t again be made, and soon. After all, those deadly fiascos were just the worst blunders in decades of U.S. foreign policy miscalculation.

Blind spots in Washington’s Indo-Pacific Strategy30 October 2022

Paul Heer

These efforts include the Quad — a dialogue process that combines Japan, Australia, India and the United States — and AUKUS — a security agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the economic realm, Washington has partnered with multiple countries in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), as a substitute for US membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The Biden administration also includes the Indo-Pacific in the Build Back Better World (B3W) Partnership, an infrastructure investment program launched by the G7.

US-led initiatives also include the US–Pacific Partnership with multiple South Pacific Island countries and the complementary ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’ initiative (PBP) launched in June 2022 with Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the United Kingdom. These groups overlap with the pre-existing network of formal US allies in the region and Washington’s longstanding participation in ASEAN-centered institutions like the ASEAN Regional Forum and the East Asia Summit.

US Navy hunting for info warfare experts, Aeschbach tells Old Crows

Colin Demarest

WASHINGTON — Personnel steeped in information warfare are increasingly in demand across the U.S. Navy, and the woman who ensures they are properly trained, equipped and available is feeling the pressure.

“The competition is so keen now that my warfighting peers are approaching me and, in a good way, want me to do my job,” Vice Adm. Kelly Aeschbach, the commander of Naval Information Forces, said at the annual Association of Old Crows symposium in Washington. “They want to invest in actually having information warfare experts as part of their team, because the environment is so complex now.”

Information warfare, or IW, is a fusion of offensive and defensive electronic capabilities and cyber operations. It combines data awareness and manipulation to gain an advantage, before, during and after battles. The proliferation of communications and other advanced technologies and their prevalence in militaries the world over has given recent rise to the concept and its persuasive powers.

US curbs on microchips could throttle China’s ambitions and escalate the tech war

Laura He

Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s push to “win the battle” in core technologies and bolster China’s position as a tech superpower could be severely undermined by Washington’s unprecedented steps to limit the sale of advanced chips and chip-making equipment to the country, analysts say.

On October 7, the Biden administration unveiled a sweeping set of export controls that ban Chinese companies from buying advanced chips and chip-making equipment without a license. The rule also restricts the ability of “US persons” — including American citizens or green card holders — to provide support for the “development or production” of chips at certain manufacturing facilities in China.

“The US moves are a major threat to China’s technological ambitions,” said Mark Williams and Zichun Huang, analysts at Capital Economics, in a recent research report. The analysts pointed out that the global semiconductor industry is “almost entirely” dependent on the United States and countries aligned with it for chip design, the tools that make them, and fabrication.

Report: New Intelligence Offices Could Benefit US in ‘Techno-Economic Competition’

Amanda Miller

A new report suggests that the U.S. military’s “technological edge” could erode—the Defense Department no longer able to fulfill its commitments or to project power in the customary way—if the U.S. doesn’t become a better-informed player in the global “techno-economic competition.”

To that end, a one-year-old think tank with its origins in a federal commission proposes the creation of two new intelligence organizations to help “fuse more diverse sources of information across all domains” through artificial intelligence.

Founded by the former top executive at Google, Eric Schmidt, the Special Competitive Studies Project says it will help “strengthen America’s long-term competitiveness where artificial intelligence (AI) and other emerging technologies” are reshaping society, including in national security.

We live in the world Ash Carter saw coming


Former Secretary of Defense Ash Carter passed away at the age of 68 this week. In the following remembrance, senior correspondent Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. notes that Carter’s view of where the world was heading has borne out in the six years since he left the Pentagon.

A physicist turned policy wonk turned Pentagon bureaucrat, Ashton Carter could still take to experimental high technology with the instincts of a showman — and the enthusiasm of a kid.

In May 2016, just over a year into his term as Secretary of Defense, Carter visited a Navy research center and punched in waypoints for a remote-controlled boat on Narragansett Bay. “As a testbed, it had a human being aboard, not as an operator but as a safety officer — just in case,” I wrote for Breaking Defense at the time. “[Carter] emerged from the control room chortling, ‘All right, you’d better tell this guy to hold on for dear life.’

One War at a Time There’s no need for America to fight major wars on two fronts.


There are very serious people, like Thomas Mahnken of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, who are suggesting that the United States may soon be engaged in a world war in Europe over Ukraine and the Far East over Taiwan. Mahnken in an article in Foreign Affairs suggests that American policymakers should start studying the Allied victory in the Second World War, especially the mobilization of industry, science, and technology, as well as the “sequencing” strategy that prioritized the war in Europe over the war in the Pacific.

Sometimes in international relations it is worth taking a decades-long perspective on the changing global balance of power. And if the war in Ukraine and the rising tensions in the western Pacific are viewed in that context, the balance of power in Europe still favors the West, but it is shifting against the West in the Asia-Pacific. Yet, the Biden administration is pouring money and resources into the Ukraine War while promoting détente in the Asia-Pacific. That approach — that “sequencing” — has it exactly backwards.

A Chinese invasion of Taiwan is coming

This month, at the 20th National Party Congress of the Chinese Communist party, Xi Jinping was elected to a third term as chairman. ‘The New Mao’ – so has rung the common refrain.

It’s an entirely accurate assessment. The very existence of the two-term-limit precedent that Xi has now broken was set by Mao’s successor, Deng Xiaoping, in 1982. The reasoning behind the term limit was to prevent the cult-of-personality chaos that Mao and his sycophants had whipped up during his untrammelled, ruler-for-life tenure at the helm of the Chinese state. Deng wanted to make China rich enough so its citizens wouldn’t care that they were not free. To do that, he needed law and order, not proto-woke Red Guards beating up middle school teachers.

And to have law and order, Deng knew he needed to keep the political turnover in Beijing moving along at a healthy clip. No more maniac geezers like Mao hanging on until the country turned into a giant communist revival tent. Two terms and you’re done.

Politics Will Determine China’s Economic Future During Xi’s Third Term

Zongyuan Zoe Liu

During the twentieth congress of the Chinese Communist Party, Chinese President Xi Jinping secured a third five-year term as the party’s general secretary and stacked its seven-man Politburo Standing Committee with his loyalists. These leadership appointments, as well as Xi’s speech to the congress, indicate that major decisions in China will now place more emphasis on politics—particularly loyalty to Xi—rather than on economic outcomes.
What do the announcements made during the twentieth party congress signal about China’s economic future?

Li Qiang, the party secretary of Shanghai, was promoted to the number-two position in China’s political hierarchy. Li Qiang is known for overseeing Shanghai’s harsh COVID-19 lockdown, which had major economic consequences. His promotion shows that loyalty to Xi now seems to matter more than competence in economic governance. Party cadres and officials at all levels of government will likely prioritize loyalty to Xi rather than the commitment to reform and opening up initiated by China’s last transformational leader, Deng Xiaoping, in 1978.

After Neoliberalism All Economics Is Local

Rana Foroohar

For most of the last 40 years, U.S. policymakers acted as if the world were flat. Steeped in the dominant strain of neoliberal economic thinking, they assumed that capital, goods, and people would go wherever they would be the most productive for everyone. If companies created jobs overseas, where it was cheapest to do so, domestic employment losses would be outweighed by consumer benefits. And if governments lowered trade barriers and deregulated capital markets, money would flow where it was needed most. Policymakers didn’t have to take geography into account, since the invisible hand was at work everywhere. Place, in other words, didn’t matter.

U.S. administrations from both parties have until quite recently pursued policies based on these broad assumptions—deregulating global finance, striking trade deals such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, welcoming China into the World Trade Organization (WTO), and not only allowing but encouraging American manufacturers to move much of their production overseas. Free-market globalism was of course pushed in large part by the powerful multinational companies best positioned to exploit it (companies that, of course, donated equally to politicians from both major U.S. parties to ensure that they would see the virtues of neoliberalism). It became a kind of crusade to spread this new American creed around the globe, delivering the thrill of fast fashion and ever-cheaper electronic gadgets to consumers everywhere. American goods, in effect, would represent American goodness. They would advertise American philosophical values, the liberalism tucked inside neoliberalism. The idea was that other countries, delighted by the fruits of American-style capitalism, would be moved to become “free” like the United States.

Can Rishi Sunak Unite Britain?

Amy Mackinnon

After a turbulent few weeks in Britain, Rishi Sunak became the country’s prime minister on Tuesday, the third in less than two months. Sunak makes history as the United Kingdom’s first prime minister of color. He faces unprecedented challenges: a Conservative Party in chaos, a spiraling economic crisis, war in Europe with no end in sight, and calls for an immediate general election to replace him.

With rising inflation and energy prices and doubts about his political mandate, I wanted to find out what he will do to reverse the country’s trajectory. Can he stabilize the economy? Can his leadership revive the country’s relationship with the European Union? What will his policies on China and Russia’s war in Ukraine look like?

Can Central Asia Seize the Initiative?

S. Frederick Starr

SINCE THEIR independence from the USSR, the five Central Asian states that emerged from the wreckage of the Soviet Union in 1991 have been the object of great power dreams. Russia, with steady persistence, has tried to lure them back into its sphere of influence, if not of direct control, through economic and security alliances. The United States and Europe have worked to develop them as market economies, and to implant civil society and democratic institutions there. Meanwhile, China assigned them key roles in its Belt and Road Initiative and loaned them billions to develop economic strengths that complement Beijing’s own. Applying Julius Caesar’s classic divide et impera maxim, all these major powers have offered rewards for cooperation and withheld them from the recalcitrant. As a result, the Central Asians risked becoming mere objects of great power maneuvers and not subjects in their own right.

This summer, the Central Asians themselves took two steps to overcome this fate. First, on July 21 the presidents of Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, meeting at Issyk-Kul in the Kyrgyz Republic, signed a far-ranging agreement to coordinate their efforts by forging a web of institutional links. These cover areas as diverse as trade, economics, social policy, ecology, medical research, and security. Such a regional consultative structure is urgently needed. Until now, Central Asia has been the only major world region that does not have its own web of institutional ties, i.e., a structure for formulating common policies and organizations capable of implementing them. This left the region at the mercy of major powers and of neighboring states, all of which have proven adept at playing Central Asians off against each other.

2022 National Defense Strategy, Nuclear Posture Review

For more than seven decades, the vision and leadership of the United States have undergirded international peace and prosperity. A strong, principled, and adaptive U.S. military is a central pillar for U.S. leadership, particularly in the face of challenges arising from dramatic geopolitical, technological, economic, and environmental change. The Department of Defense stands ready to meet these challenges and seize opportunities with the confidence, creativity, and commitment that have long characterized our military and the democracy that it serves.

The Department will focus on safeguarding and advancing vital U.S. national interests. We will work alongside other agencies and departments to:Protect the security of the American people;

Expand economic prosperity and opportunity; and

Realize and defend the values at the heart of American way of life.

The 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS) sets forth how the U.S. military will meet growing threats to vital U.S. national security interests and to a stable and open international system. It directs the Department to act urgently to sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence, with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the Department’s pacing challenge.

Space Wars: How State Conflict Is Going Extra-terrestrial

Dr. Joanna Rozpedowski
Source Link

The war in Ukraine has hastened the prospects of coming space wars. In an October 26 statement at the Thematic Discussion on Outer Space of the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, Deputy Head of the Russian Delegation Konstantin Vorontsov warned that the use of outer space civil infrastructure facilities and commercial satellites in armed conflicts by the United States and its allies may make them legitimate targets for Russian retaliatory strikes. Taking advantage of the forum, the Russian Federation reiterated the need for international commitments regarding the weaponization and militarization of outer space to prevent a full-fledged arms race. Vorontsov expressed concerns over the US efforts to extend weapons systems in outer space “designed for the threat or use of force.”

The remarks are in line with an earlier Sino-Russian February 2022 joint statement opposing plans to turn outer space into an arena of armed confrontation. For this purpose, both sides expressed the need to advance the Russian-Chinese draft treaty on the prevention of placement of weapons in outer space as well as to strengthen the role of the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space as a platform for coordinating international cooperation and developing international space law. Likewise, the US State Department and NASA have spearheaded the Artemis Accords — or a non-binding declaration of principles and rules grounded in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty — to ensure safe and transparent civil space exploration, and promote “peaceful cooperation in space exploration and scientific endeavors.”

The Dangerous Flaws of Web3 Security, According To a Former Hacker

Sue Poremba

“New and improved” is the refrain of progress, but new technology doesn’t always turn out to be an improvement. In the case of the evolution from Web2 to Web3, a former hacker revealed how recent changes have created an all-new avenue of potential attack.

Recent updates were intended to tighten security. “Due to blockchain technology and its autonomous structure, it will also be safer than prior internet versions,” explained the Spiceworks blog. “Hackers will find it exceedingly tough to exploit the network, and even if they do, their activities will be logged.”

Except, in this case, those “improvements” have created further concerns. The issue, for both consumers and businesses, is that the “secure” aspect of Web3 — the blockchain authentication of things like crypto wallets — can also pose a massive security problem.
A Former Hacker Reveals New Avenues of Attack

How cyber secure is blockchain technology?

ICAEW Insights

Blockchain technology has significantly changed the way in which traditional networks operate. It is based on the concepts of cryptography, decentralisation and consensus, which have revolutionised record-keeping. Aside from improving the speed and efficiency of transactions, it provides many security benefits through cryptographic validation and improving the transparency of records. The misconception, however, is that it is fully secure by default.

Is it possible to hack the blockchain?

Judging from historical successful cyber attacks on existing blockchains, the answer is yes. This begs the question: given the inherent security principles in the design and operation of the blockchain, what vulnerabilities could exist and how have they been exploited?

Blockchains are classified into various types, distinguished by whether they are open to anyone or restricted to known participants, and whether they are permissioned or not. Permissioned and restricted – or ‘closed blockchains’ – are believed to offer higher levels of security. They provide greater control over who can participate and what activities they can perform. The decision on the type of blockchain to implement is usually a question of the relative importance of security compared with performance of the blockchain.

US economic tools: The frontline of protecting national security—maybe even from Twitter

Jonathan Panikoff

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, likely to be completed by tomorrow and at the original price, comes at a time of increased public scrutiny for the world’s richest man over his closeness with Moscow, his threat—and quick backtracking—to end SpaceX’s provision of the Starlink internet service in Ukraine, and the public disclosure of his plan to cut 75 percent of Twitter’s workforce. Unsurprisingly, the US government is purportedly seeking to review the sale of Twitter. (On Monday, the White House denied that Musk’s purchase was under national security review.)

The potential that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) could be used to review the transaction is slightly curious, given the company’s product isn’t in the same category as, say, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, or aircraft. CFIUS has a mandate to protect national security. But the laws under which CFIUS operates provide little specificity for what that means, and the presence of foreign investors as part of Musk’s consortium to purchase the company is probably enough for the government to seek a review.

Disinformation’s next frontier: your texts and private messages


This election season, disinformation on various platforms and in various languages is spreading yet again. Democratic Congress members are calling for social media companies like Twitter and Facebook to do more to combat election disinformation.

They are right to do so but are already missing the next trend: Disinformation is increasingly spreading via private messaging, such as on iMessage, Telegram and WhatsApp. The private nature of the exchanges poses a threat not present on more open platforms.

Corporations cannot manage this emerging threat without help. Instead of a reliance on tech companies to regulate election disinformation, our democracy needs public-private partnerships that put resources into community-led programs to counter disinformation. 

The Attack on America’s Future Cyber-Enabled Economic Warfare

Samantha F. Ravich and RADM (Ret.) Mark Montgomery


In 2018, the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) published a series of monographs analyzing cyber-enabled economic warfare (CEEW) as practiced by Russia, China, North Korea, and Iran. The four studies brought together for the first time an assessment of each adversary’s CEEW attacks on America’s economic infrastructure. At the time, the term CEEW was only beginning to seep into the consciousness of the U.S. national security community. The White House had used the term in its 2017 National Security Strategy, noting how adversaries are using technology to “weaken our businesses and our economy.”1 But the connection between such malicious activities and the overall strategies of America’s four principal adversaries remained unclear.

The risks associated with CEEW are now clearer, thanks less to the rigorous analysis of adversarial intentions than to the increased scale, scope, and frequency of attacks across the American economic landscape. Still, the federal government has a blind spot that leaves the United States vulnerable to a catastrophic strategic surprise — one that could simultaneously destabilize the U.S. electrical grid, water supply, banking system, transportation sector, or other critical infrastructure necessary for survival. That blind spot is intelligence that anticipates the adversary’s strategy. For too long, the United States has tried to patch its way to safety with the enemy inside its networks.

How the 2022 midterms could change US foreign policy — from Ukraine to China and beyond

Joshua Keating

If Republicans retake control of either or both houses of Congress in November, an outcome that polls currently suggest is likely, the biggest impact will be felt in terms of domestic policy. U.S. presidents have a lot more room to maneuver without Congress’ input in the international sphere, which is one reason why, historically, they’ve tended to focus more on foreign issues later in their terms, after their political capital in Washington has been expended.

But the president is hardly a free agent in the global arena. Whatever happens on Nov. 8, President Joe Biden will still need Congress to pass his budgets, approve his nominees for key positions, and in the most serious cases, approve the use of military force. And there are several current and potential global flashpoints for which a flip to Republican control would have consequences.

All of which means that these elections may be watched almost as closely in Brussels, Moscow and Beijing as they are in Washington.