9 November 2022

After Victories, Ukraine Faces Impossible Choice

Benjamin Giltner

“Space we can recover, time, never.” Napoleon’s infamous statement on the importance of time in military strategy and operations rings true today. In its recent counteroffensive, the Ukrainian military has made use of blitzkrieg tactics, recapturing what Volodymyr Zelensky claims to be 200 square miles of Ukrainian territory, including the town of Lyman in the north of Donetsk. This might be worth celebrating were it not for the fact that Ukraine now faces an unfortunate choice: Stall the offensive and risk getting bogged down in the east—or press on with the operation and risk the use of Russian nuclear weapons.

In blitzkrieg operations, the enemy must be defeated quickly and decisively. Otherwise, the side employing blitzkrieg is at risk of logistics breaking down and the enemy counterattacking. This is precisely what happened to the Nazis when they attempted to defeat the Soviet Union. If an enemy’s economy can withstand the negative effects of war, blitzkrieg operations are difficult to sustain. As pointed out in the book Warfare in the Western World: Military Operations Since 1871, Britain’s modern economy allowed it to survive Nazi assaults during the Battle of Britain. It seems Russia can still fight for now. As The Economist reported in August, Russia is experiencing a recession, but not severe economic collapse.

Why Putin prefers ‘War-War’ to ‘Jaw-Jaw’

Lawrence Freedman

As is often the case with familiar quotes this is not quite what Churchill actually said. Official biographer Sir Martin Gilbert reports that the original was ‘Meeting jaw to jaw is better than war’ which is not quite as punchy. The sentiment remains the same, however - talking is to be preferred to fighting. But the context is also important because Churchill was explaining why summit diplomacy was vital to prevent another great power war. He was not arguing that diplomacy was always preferable to continuing with the fight once a war had begun. After all one of his first acts as Prime Minister in 1940 was to reject suggestions that it was time to explore a negotiated peace just because, at that time, Nazi Germany appeared to have the upper hand in the war.

Another biographer of Churchill, Boris Johnson, used the phrase last January in conversation with Vladimir Putin about the need for talks as an alternative to fighting. But while jawing might be preferable to warring, jawing and warring at the same time is much more problematic. A deal to stop a war will define who has won and lost. Neither side will want to agree so long as there is a possibility that its position may be improved through further fighting. When it comes to the current war there is a further problem. Since the spring observers have thought it would make sense for Putin to offer a cease-fire that would leave him with something to show for invading Ukraine, even though for the same reason Zelensky would be bound to reject such proposals. Yet without there being any proposals on the table from Putin, Zelensky is still regularly urged to take the prospect of negotiations seriously in order to gain relief from this bloody war, and to remove the risk of escalation. Far less attention is paid to the Russian side of this equation. Why is Putin not demanding talks? Is it because he still dreams of victory? Perhaps, but a more disturbing reason is that he dare not conclude the war in a way that requires him to acknowledge failure.

How the hijab became a symbol of so much tension around the world

Monique El-Faizy

On first glance, the hijab looks innocuous enough — a medium-sized square piece of cloth that Muslim women use to cover their hair and neck, much in the same way that Orthodox Jewish women wear wigs or Amish women wear bonnets.

In reality, though, it’s a powerful symbol and one that is easily weaponized.

The weaponization goes both ways. In some places, it’s aimed at women who wear them; in others, at women who refuse. In Iran, people have been protesting against the government ever since 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died on Sept. 16, following her arrest by the country’s so-called “morality police” for allegedly violating the requirement to wear a hijab that fully covers a woman’s hair. Thousands of women took to the streets in cities across Iran, removing their hijabs and cutting their hair in solidarity. The demonstrations, which now include men, have spread and been met by fresh and deadly crackdowns.

In other places, and in other times, the hijab rules have been the opposite.

Can Prime Minister Sunak Square the Circle of Brexit?

Alexander Brotman

The 44-day tenure of Liz Truss and the arrival of Rishi Sunak to 10 Downing Street comes at a perilous time for Britain’s economy and global position. Inflation is at an all-time high, wages and living standards have fallen significantly below the UK’s counterparts in Western Europe, and threats to the union with Scottish independence and the potential reunification of Ireland all loom large. In addition, the near-record support for the Labour Party suggests an uphill climb for the Conservatives ahead of the next general election to be held by January 2025. Thus, Prime Minister Sunak is unlikely to strengthen the UK’s position in Europe or in global affairs but to more carefully manage the terms of its continued retrenchment.

As a principled Leaver who has been consistent in his Brexit positions, Sunak may find a more receptive audience in Brussels as the UK continues to manage its withdrawal from the EU. The early readout from his call with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen suggests a less combative approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol than Truss, and a desire to renegotiate without succumbing to legal disputes over individual provisions. However, given that Sunak’s tenure is likely to be short and his political legitimacy already in question, he will likely have an uphill battle in unifying divisions within the UK and projecting confidence to his partners across the channel.

Defense Department needs to capitalize on historic opportunity


The Department of Defense (DOD) may be facing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix a critical gap in its national security arsenal. Congress has authorized the creation of an institution dedicated to the study and research of irregular warfare (IW), and the education of officers and civilian professionals charged with defending against non-standard threats and executing competent IW campaigns and strategies.

Unfortunately, initial indications are that this opportunity created by Congress — which comes at precisely the right moment to prepare the nation for competition in the 21st century, in which IW may play an oversized role — might not be realized.

Congress authorized the creation of the Irregular Warfare Functional Center (IWFC) with the Mac Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. According to the legislation, such a center could “enhance and sustain focus on, and advance knowledge and understanding of, matters of irregular warfare.” It could improve the U.S. military’s understanding of IW and professionalize the next generation of U.S. leaders and staff officers, leveraging expertise both within the DOD and from America’s world-class universities to do so.

The ‘Agile’ Wargames that Can Test Force Design, Part 1

Lieutenant Colonel Thomas

What will the next fight look like, and what changes must be made to compete and win? It is impossible to predict the future, but military planners must still anticipate the character of future conflict to position U.S. forces to best achieve the nation’s objectives. In a world of finite resources, hard choices must be made to design a force capable of outperforming a committed adversary.

All the services within the Department of Defense (DoD) are grappling with this challenge, but perhaps none so aggressively and publicly as the Marine Corps. Force Design 2030 is the service’s plan to modernize and develop a combat-credible force for the future security environment. Of note, Force Design 2030 continues to shape the Marine Corps in light of the 2018 National Defense Strategy’s direction to shift from counterterrorism to state competition. This requirement was reemphasized in the 2022 National Defense Strategy. DoD has identified China as the pacing threat, though Russia continues to cause concern.

The efforts to develop, wargame, test, and refine Force Design 2030 are substantial, and the Marine Corps continues to communicate progress frequently and publicly. Still, many aspects necessarily remain classified, preventing much of the national security community from understanding the methods used to come to conclusions—conclusions that are often controversial. This can cause analysts to feel as though they can only see Force Design 2030 through a glass, darkly.

There Is Only 1 Way The Ukraine War Can End

Daniel Davis

How the Ukraine War Will End: In the heady days of September and October, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) won remarkable military victories over the Russian invaders, recapturing thousands of square miles of territory. Many in the West interpreted those successes as “irreversible” proof Kyiv was on its way to victory, and thus there was no need to consider a negotiated settlement with Moscow. The stark, cold realities of modern warfare, however, reveal that to the contrary, there is no end to the war in sight, and the most likely case remains – however unpopular in the Western world – a negotiated settlement.

The only question that remains: how many more Ukrainians must die before this harsh reality is grasped by the leaders of both warring parties?

There are a great many in the United States and the Western world that genuinely does believe Kyiv can win its war with Moscow and eventually drive all of Putin’s forces back to Russia. Last week Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated his longstanding boast that his forces would “definitely liberate Crimea.” Former four-star U.S. general Ben Hodges predicted that by the end of this year, the UAF would “push Russian troops back to positions” they held prior to the start of the war and “by the middle of next year Ukrainians will be in Crimea.”

What China’s Past Can Tell Us About Xi’s Future

Howard W. French

Soon after taking power late in 2012, Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s first trip outside of Beijing was to visit troops in the Guangzhou military region, in the country’s south, where he told recruits that “it is the soul of the military to obey the command of the party without compromise, [and] it is the top priority for the military to be able to fight and win battles.” In another high-profile move eight months later, Xi toured China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, where he delivered much the same message.

A decade later, in retrospect, these seem not only like significant events in themselves, but also fairly reliable signposts about what to expect from China under its new leader: a blunt style and much more assertiveness than the world had been used to under recent Communist Party heads.

The power of inaction in Ukraine


Those in the West who worry that Vladimir Putin might use nuclear weapons should be conscious of one thing: Whatever one thinks is the risk of a nuclear nightmare in the coming weeks and months, it likely is less than it might have been. The United States and NATO practiced restraint, choosing to not put boots on the ground and instead to aid Ukraine in its war with Russia. The decision to pursue inaction eventually may prove to be one the most consequential, and fruitful, policy choices in recent decades. This decision also highlights the benefits of restraint in foreign policy.

It is easy to forget that things appear to be going well for the Ukrainians. Russia’s invasion is failing. Two phases of the unprovoked Russian campaign have proven unsuccessful. First there was the abortive “smash and grab” aimed at Kyiv and other cities that ran out of gas, literally. Next, the Russian military retreated, at the same time falling back on familiar archaic tactics of massive artillery bombardments and plodding frontal assaults. Ukrainian forces countered by deploying surprise-and-maneuver tactics that cost Russia more territory than it had gained since the retrenchment.

Biden’s ‘consequences’ for Saudi Arabia are reaping quiet results

Karen DeYoung

Despite its furious reaction to Saudi Arabia’s decision last month to cut oil production in the face of global shortages, and threats of retaliation, the Biden administration is looking for signs that the tight, decades-long security relationship between Washington and Riyadh can be salvaged.

Those ties, and a commitment to help protect its strategic partners — particularly against Iran — are an integral part of U.S. defenses in the Middle East. When recent intelligence reports warned of imminent Iranian ballistic missile and drone attacks on targets in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. Central Command launched warplanes based in the Persian Gulf region toward Iran as part of an overall elevated alert status of U.S. and Saudi forces.

David or Goliath? How Thinking Like a Small Nation Can Help Counter China

Garrett Martin

The posture of the U.S. as the global hegemon is creating strategic vulnerabilities.[1] The growing misalignment between American capabilities and geopolitical realities is allowing China to unseat the world order; small, iterative advances in ship design will not solve China’s growing influence in the South China Sea nor the expansion of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Yet, the U.S. seems determined to continue its arms build-up, putting the nation on a brash warpath with China. Many declining empires fought their rising adversaries only to lose, and in doing so, signaled a global transfer of power. This is popularly known as the Thucydides Trap.[2] Perhaps the U.S. can avoid this trap by adopting the perspective of a small nation. If the U.S. proactively assumes the posture of a smaller, militarily disadvantaged nation, it may be able to outmaneuver the rising power of China without direct armed conflict.
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Elena Pokalova

The 2022 National Security Strategy focuses on US leadership in strategic competition over the future of international order. The document lays out the threats and challenges the United States faces today from adversaries such as Russia and China. In order to prevail over such competitors and secure US leadership in the future, the United States needs to reconsider the way it approaches teaching irregular warfare (IW) in its professional military education (PME) institutions.

Russia and China have demonstrated the rising significance of IW in the era of strategic competition. The Kremlin has used “little green men” to annex Crimea and deployed the Wagner Group to foment separatism in eastern Ukraine. China has stolen Western technology to get ahead and used its Belt and Road Initiative to undermine Western economic institutions. In what looks like an increasingly multipolar world, more and more actors are willing to resort to IW to compete; the United States’ IW curriculum needs to reflect that fact.

In the era of strategic competition, IW has become about building influence, creating leverage, and undermining opponents through all instruments of national power. It is about the use of all available capabilities to pursue hostile intentions without having to resort to the use of military force. When wars do break out, US adversaries have shown that IW is about fighting dirty, with little regard to internationally accepted norms and rules of armed conflict. What has been unthinkable for Western democracies has become the norm for autocratic governments in Moscow or Beijing. As a result, US PME students need to graduate with a proficiency in IW if they wish to fight and compete effectively.

Why Japan Is Gearing Up for Possible War With China

Hal Brands

If China were to attack Taiwan, it wouldn’t just have to face a hostile superpower. It would also likely have to confront its longstanding regional rival, Japan. For centuries, Japan and China have vied for hegemony in East Asia; at times, they have threatened each other’s survival. Today, as I found from three days of meetings with Japanese officials and analysts in Tokyo, the threat of Chinese aggression is producing a quiet revolution in Japanese statecraft — and pushing the nation to get ready for a fight.

For the US, China is a dangerous but distant challenge. For Japan, China is the existential danger next door. Years before American leaders were proclaiming the return of great-power rivalry, Japanese officials were warning that Beijing was up to no good. As China’s capabilities become more formidable and its conduct in the Taiwan Strait more menacing, Tokyo’s concerns grew more acute.

The weather may have been beautiful when I visited the capital, but there is very much a sense that storms are on the horizon. “Ukraine today may be East Asia tomorrow,” warned Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in June. The same month, some 90% of the Japanese public believed the country should prepare for a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. That was before Chinese leader Xi Jinping ratcheted tensions by firing ballistic missiles into Japan’s exclusive economic zone following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.

Putin Fires Back: Why The Ukraine War Will Get Even Bloodier

Jack Buckby

Ukraine Repels Russian Attacks As Battle for Kherson Draws Closer: Ukrainian forces used captured Russian weapons against invading forces in the eastern city of Bakhmut on Friday following a bombardment of Russian attacks in Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk in recent days.

According to a statement from the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine on November 6, Ukrainian forces repelled attacks by the Russians in 14 settlements in recent days. The statement described how Russian forces attempt to maintain control of occupied territories, focusing specifically on deterring new Ukrainian offensives in strategic areas.

“They are conducting offensive operations in the Bakhmut, Avdiivka, and Novopavlovsk directions… Over the past day, the Russian occupiers launched 4 missile and 19 air strikes, carried out more than 75 attacks from multiple launch rocket systems,” the update reads.

UK PM Rishi Sunak to take big step against China, may shut Confucius Institutes

London: Rishi Sunak is set to take a drastic step almost immediately after becoming the prime minister of the United Kingdom (UK). The British government is planning to shut down Confucius Institutes in universities across the UK citing security concerns.

“China is the biggest-long term threat to Britain and the world’s economic and national security,” Rishi Sunak had told the media earlier this week.

UK has the highest number of Confucius Institutes in the world with a total of 30 in universities across the island nation. All of them are in the cross hairs of the British government led by Rishi Sunak.

Refurbished Soviet tanks, HAWK missiles and more Phoenix Ghost drones coming soon to Ukraine


WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will supply Ukraine with refurbished Soviet tanks along with drones, air defense missiles and armored vehicles as part of a new $400 million arms package announced today.

The centerpiece of the latest tranche of aid is the US-funded provision of 45 refurbished Soviet T-72B tanks, which will come from the Czech Republic and be upgraded with “advanced optics, communications and armor packages,” the Defense Department stated.

The tanks are part of a larger agreement with the Czech Republic and the Netherlands, in which the Dutch will pay to upgrade an additional Czech 45 T-72Bs also bound for Ukraine. Through this initiative, which is worth $90 million in total, the countries will begin delivering the 90 tanks to Ukraine as early as December 2022, the countries said in a trilateral statement.

Free Speech for Whom?


PRINCETON – How is it that a man who has banned 83 million people from Twitter can freely use the platform to post his messages denigrating women and supporting the brutal attack on the writer Salman Rushdie? I’m referring to the leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose government is killing young women who want to be able to show their hair in public.

For several years, the Iranian-American activist Masih Alinejad has been calling for Khamenei to be banned from Twitter. Last month, along with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, she received the 2022 Oxi Courage Award at the United States Institute of Peace. Opposition to Khamenei does indeed require courage, as is evident from the attack on Rushdie last August, which can be traced to the 1989 fatwa issued by Khamenei’s predecessor, Ayatollah Khomeini, condemning Rushdie to death for blasphemy.

As recently as 2019, Khamenei called this verdict “solid and irrevocable,” and Iran’s foreign ministry refused to reproach Rushdie’s attacker, instead blaming Rushdie. Alinejad herself has been under FBI protection since August, when police arrested and charged a man with plotting to kill her.

Force Design 2030: Transforming to Irrelevance

Michael P. Marletto

As the United States Marine Corps seeks to organize, train, and equip itself for contending with existing and emerging twenty-first-century security challenges, it has become clear that the developers, advocates, and critics of Force Design (FD) 2030 have very different visions of the future global security environment.

The latest FD 2030 proponent to weigh in on the debate is defense analyst Dakota Wood with his article “The U.S. Marine Corps Has a Choice: Transform or Die.” An advocate for the FD 2030 initiatives, Wood argues that the FD 2030’s proposed technological, doctrinal, and organizational changes are necessary for the Marine Corps to maintain its relevance by developing unique capabilities that will differentiate it from the Army and special operations community.

The developers and advocates of FD 2030 are confident that they alone can successfully interpret military theory, history, technological advancements, and the global security environment. Furthermore, in a historical first, they believe they also have the absolute clarity to apply them to a future organization designed to fight and win as part of a joint force against a peer competitor, China, in the geographical confines of their choosing, the South China Sea and First Island Chain. Rather than engage in an open debate on the strengths and weaknesses of the FD 2030, they neither seek nor desire other viewpoints.

Is Erdogan the Winner of the Russia-Ukraine War?

Mark Episkopos

Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan capped off a week of emergency diplomacy to save the beleaguered Ukraine grain deal by doubling down on his decision to stonewall NATO expansion, putting a renewed spotlight on Turkey’s nuanced multi-vector posturing as the Russia-Ukraine war enters its ninth month.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken thanked Erdogan earlier this week for pulling Russia back into a multilateral agreement for the continued export of Ukrainian grain shortly after the Kremlin said it was leaving the deal. The reversal followed a Tuesday phone call between Erdogan and Russian president Vladimir Putin. Erdogan secured Putin’s commitment to re-enter the deal, which was brokered by Turkey and the United Nations in July, in exchange for guarantees aimed at assuaging Moscow’s growing list of security, political, and logistical grievances with the agreement.

Defense Department needs to capitalize on historic opportunity


The Department of Defense (DOD) may be facing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fix a critical gap in its national security arsenal. Congress has authorized the creation of an institution dedicated to the study and research of irregular warfare (IW), and the education of officers and civilian professionals charged with defending against non-standard threats and executing competent IW campaigns and strategies.

Unfortunately, initial indications are that this opportunity created by Congress — which comes at precisely the right moment to prepare the nation for competition in the 21st century, in which IW may play an oversized role — might not be realized.

Congress authorized the creation of the Irregular Warfare Functional Center (IWFC) with the Mac Thornberry National Defense Authorization Act of 2021. According to the legislation, such a center could “enhance and sustain focus on, and advance knowledge and understanding of, matters of irregular warfare.” It could improve the U.S. military’s understanding of IW and professionalize the next generation of U.S. leaders and staff officers, leveraging expertise both within the DOD and from America’s world-class universities to do so.

Chinese Election Meddling Hits the Midterms

Craig Singleton

Having consolidated his hold on power at the Chinese Communist Party’s recently concluded 20th National Congress, Chinese leader Xi Jinping has now set his sights on influencing the U.S. midterm elections. China’s latest efforts to sow doubt about U.S. election integrity are consistent with Xi’s stated goal of championing China’s autocratic model as a “new choice for humanity.” The threat of Chinese interference in democratic elections demands immediate action by policymakers in Washington and other Western capitals.

As early voting across the United States kicked into high gear this fall, so, too, did the activities of Chinese government-affiliated cyberactors seeking to discourage Americans from voting, discredit the election process, and sow further divisions among voters.

What is hybrid war? Meaning of the term explained and how it applies to Putin, Russia and the UK

Alex Finnis

The UK is not at war with Russia in a traditional sense. While Britain backs Ukraine and has been providing it with support since Russia’s invasion back in February, British troops have not been sent to fight and are not engaging Russia directly.

However, experts have suggested the UK and Russia are involved in a “hybrid war” – a more modern type of warfare that does not necessarily involve gunfire.

Casey Fleming, CEO of business warfare and counterintelligence company BlackOps Partners, told Epoch TV: “You’re in World War III today. It’s called hybrid warfare. We’re not aware of it, we don’t understand it… But hybrid warfare, you’re in it, you’ve been in it, and it’s peaking, and it’s maturing at this point.”

But what exactly is hybrid warfare, and how does it apply to the UK and Russia? Here’s everything you need to know.

Russia Reactivates Its Trolls and Bots Ahead of Tuesday’s Midterms

Steven Lee Myers

The user on Gab who identifies as Nora Berka resurfaced in August after a yearlong silence on the social media platform, reposting a handful of messages with sharply conservative political themes before writing a stream of original vitriol.

The posts mostly denigrated President Biden and other prominent Democrats, sometimes obscenely. They also lamented the use of taxpayer dollars to support Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces, depicting Ukraine’s president as a caricature straight out of Russian propaganda.

The fusion of political concerns was no coincidence.

The account was previously linked to the same secretive Russian agency that interfered in the 2016 presidential election and again in 2020, the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, according to the cybersecurity group Recorded Future.

Misinformation is bad, but ‘solutions’ to stop it are even worse


Americans can agree that misinformation is bad. Stopping it, however, is not so easily accomplished. There are no simple fixes to the spread of misinformation in a free society in which expression is constitutionally protected.

Further, reckless or ill-advised efforts to bring a stop to misinformation could be more harmful to American democracy than the misinformation itself.

An Associated Press/NORC poll released this fall indicates that nine in ten respondents say misinformation is a serious problem in American society. Three-quarters of Americans say misinformation leads to more extreme political views and polarization. Interestingly, however, only 28 percent report they regularly fact-check the news they consume.

Thus, it appears Americans aren’t all that worried about the information they absorb for themselves. They are mostly worried about misinformation in the minds of fellow citizens.

West Sees Little Choice but to Keep Backing Ukraine

Laurence Norman

Washington and its allies see little prospect of a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine soon given the high stakes for Moscow and Kyiv, and the fact that both sides believe they can win, Western diplomats say.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its members say they are determined to keep supplying economic and military assistance to Ukraine as it fights to roll back gains made by Russian forces, and to punish Moscow with sanctions for its attack on its smaller neighbor.

Some U.S. lawmakers, worried about the costs of the war and the possibility of escalation, have pushed for peace talks. Republican legislators have questioned continued funding, and a recent Wall Street Journal poll found that support for Ukraine was waning among Republican voters.

But the U.S. and European governments say the Kremlin is escalating the war, rather than creating any opening for genuine negotiations.