20 November 2022

The Beginning of the End for Zero COVID?

Taylor Loeb, Johanna M. Costigan, Barclay Bram

When we consider the current and future economic impacts of China’s COVID policy, it’s important to look at how different levels of restrictions impact different segments of the economy.

At their most basic, the restrictions limit mobility. The farther one needs to go, the harder it is. Traveling internationally is prohibitively difficult. Domestic tourism hasn’t fared much better. During September’s Mid-Autumn Festival, tourism revenue stood at RMB 28.68 billion, down 22.8% year over year—and 60.6% of 2019 levels. The same metric was RMB 287.2 billion during the weeklong October National Week holiday, down 26.2% from last year—and 44.2% of 2019 levels.

When outbreaks do occur, non-essential gathering is the first casualty. Bars and nightclubs shut. Restaurants go takeout-only. After years of linear growth, the catering industry began to contract in 2020. In the first nine months of 2022, industry revenue was down 4.6% year over year.

Will Germany Be the Next Nuclear Weapons State?

Stephen F. Szabo

One major consequence of Germany’s strategic reorientation, or Zeitenwende, will be a reinvigorated debate about the development of a nuclear deterrent. This is an issue that no one in Germany wants to discuss given its history and aversion to all things nuclear. However, this will become an unavoidable question facing German policymakers in the medium term. Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s reckless war in Ukraine and his threat to use nuclear weapons have made it clear that the issue of nuclear deterrence is now very much front and center in European security policy.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine marks the end of the post-Cold War security arrangement reached with German unification in 1990. All of the assumptions and policies shaped around that settlement are now dead, including Germany’s commitment to not produce or possess weapons of mass destruction. A recent speech by German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who was a proponent of close relations with Moscow for many years, makes it clear that Berlin now views Russia as a threat for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, this reopens Berlin’s commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its reliance on the U.S. nuclear deterrent as the bedrock of its security policy.

Taiwan invasion would be ‘dangerous game’ for China, top US general warns

Caitlin Doornbos

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon’s highest-ranking officer warned China off a potential invasion of Taiwan, emphasizing Wednesday that such a move would be a “dangerous game” for Beijing, especially given its military’s lack of fighting experience.

“For someone who has a military that hasn’t fought in combat since fighting the Vietnamese in 1979, they would be playing a very, very dangerous game to cross the [Taiwan] Strait and invade the island of Taiwan,” said Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “They don’t have the experience, the background to do it. They haven’t trained to it yet.”

Calling Chinese President Xi Jinping “a rational actor,” Milley said he did not believe Beijing would attempt to invade Taiwan soon, as President Biden has signaled the US would come to the island nation’s aid should its self-governance be threatened.

Geography, Geostrategy and Military Operations

General Sir Rupert Smith

Unlike the majority of my school fellows, I enjoyed geography. Apart from the generally held opinion that the subject was for ‘thick’ boys, nobody took A levels in geography unless that was all they could do; I could not understand their aversion, not that I took a Geography A Level. Perhaps, with hindsight, I had been fortunate at an earlier age and had seen rudimentary geography in use. Since those days I have found the geography I learnt as a school boy of great value in the practice of the profession of arms. The ability to navigate and analyse the terrain for tactical advantage is obviously important and taught in military training establishments. At more senior levels the use of the discipline as an element of Geo-Strategy and Geo-Politics is not taught although it was as a senior commander that I took the greatest value from the geography I learnt at school.

As a small boy I had travelled with my parents, my father was in the RAF, taking long car journeys in late 1940s early 50’s Europe, and we sailed whenever my father could borrow a boat. Although not fully competent to use them or understanding of all that they displayed I came to understand the significance of maps, charts and the compass. I attended a number of schools sometimes for only a term or two, no syllabus seemed to be the same except Geography, where we coloured maps, learnt the names of capitals, the major rivers, and mountain ranges. In some cases, I had travelled through or in the country concerned. In matching my memory of the place with the map I began to comprehend that the geography of the place explained the difference of that place to others.

Protecting the Cyber Commons: A Band of Brothers Approach

Kiron Skinner Dustin Carmack James Jay Carafano

China plans to weaponize information technology to become the digital superpower of the twenty-first century. But China isn’t the only threat in cyberspace. Numerous pirates are sailing the cyber domain looking to reap the bounty of others or pillage the innocent. To assure a peaceful and prosperous future, we must keep the global cyber commons free and open.

The mission is threefold: preserve space for the free exchange of ideas, debate, collaboration, and information sharing; provide a secure environment protected from malicious and illegal activity; and keep cyberspace humming as an engine of access and affluence. None of these are the tasks of government alone and nor should the commons only be governed by corporate interests. Civil society has an important role to play in linking vibrant, creative, credible, and technically knowledgeable voices committed to advancing freedom, security, and prosperity for all.

New initiatives are needed to make that happen. Here, we outline the framework we believe is required to match the challenges and opportunities the free world faces in cyberspace today.

Why Hasn’t Putin Gone Nuclear in Ukraine?

Gregory Mitrovich

Will Russian president Vladimir Putin use nuclear weapons in his war against Ukraine? Putin’s constant nuclear threats have made this one of the most critical questions hovering over the entire conflict. Are the threats a bluff designed to deter NATO efforts to support Ukraine, or are they serious warnings not to corner Putin that Ukraine and the West must heed? If Putin is truly willing to use nuclear weapons, then given the major political and military defeats he has endured, the real question may be why hasn’t Putin already ordered their use in Ukraine. The answer may lie in America’s own experiences in the Korean War.

Even before the invasion, Putin employed nuclear threats to deter an unlikely NATO intervention in what he believed would be a quick and easy victory. Russia’s defeats at Kyiv and Kharkiv and Ukraine’s recent offensives into territories annexed by Russia—resulting in massive Russian casualties and a badly tarnished global image—have intensified fears that Putin may authorize a tactical nuclear attack to stave off a battlefield defeat. As if on cue, Putin immediately began threatening to use “all weapon systems available to us” to achieve victory. In response, the Biden administration has conveyed both publicly and privately that a tactical nuclear strike would result in a catastrophic U.S. response and risk global “Armageddon.”

The “International Community” Is an Ineffectual Fantasy

Rajan Menon

Washington’s vaunted “rules-based international order” has undergone a stress test following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and here’s the news so far: It hasn’t held up well. In fact, the disparate reactions to Vladimir Putin’s war have only highlighted stark global divisions, which reflect the unequal distribution of wealth and power. Such divisions have made it even harder for a multitude of sovereign states to find the minimal common ground needed to tackle the biggest global problems, especially climate change.

In fact, it’s now reasonable to ask whether an international community connected by a consensus of norms and rules, and capable of acting in concert against the direst threats to humankind, exists. Sadly, if the responses to the war in Ukraine are the standard by which we’re judging, things don’t look good.


After Russia invaded, the United States and its allies rushed to punish it with a barrage of economic sanctions. They also sought to mobilize a global outcry by charging Putin with trashing what President Biden’s top foreign policy officials like to call the rules-based international order. Their effort has, at best, had minimal success.

Defense Primer: Electronic Warfare

Electronic warfare (EW), as defined by the Department of Defense (DOD), are military activities that use electromagnetic energy to control the electromagnetic spectrum (“the spectrum”) and attack an enemy. The spectrum is a range of frequencies for electromagnetic energy. EW supports command and control (C2) by allowing military commanders’ access to the spectrum to communicate with forces, while preventing potential adversaries from accessing the spectrum to develop an operational picture and communicate with their forces. Some have argued that EW is a component of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) campaigns.

Role of EW in Military Operations

Since the introduction of two-way radios, militaries have become dependent on the spectrum. This reliance has expanded over the past century to include nearly every weapon system. Applications includeradio frequencies to communicate with friendly forces;

microwaves for tactical data-links, radars, and satellite communications;

infrared for intelligence and to target enemies; and lasers across the entire spectrum to communicate, transmit data, and potentially destroy a target.

DoD must ‘think very differently’ about armed conflict, cyber in light of Ukraine war: Official


WASHINGTON — After watching Ukraine take on Russia in both the real world and in cyberspace, a top American cyber official said the Defense Department must “think very differently” about how it will fight in both realms in the future.

Mieke Eoyang, deputy assistant secretary of defense for cyber policy, told the Aspen Institute Cyber Summit today that the war “is a really important conflict” for DoD to understand, and one of the things she’s seeing “is the context of the armed conflict dwarfs the cyber impacts” of the war.

“When you think about the physical destruction relative to the cyber disruption of what happens here, things that Russians tried to disrupt via cyber… did not have the strategic impact that they wanted, and they sought to destroy those things physically,” she continued.

NRO opens call for commercial hyperspectral satellite imagery


WASHINGTON — The National Reconnaissance Office has released its formal request for proposals from commercial operators who can provide the spy satellite agency with hyperspectral imagery, which can pinpoint things like buried landmines and surface areas that have been camouflaged.

“We’re looking forward to seeing what is available,” NRO Director Chris Scolese told a gathering of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA) on Tuesday evening. “We see that in the next set of phenomenology, we really want to go after.”

He said on Tuesday that the agency released its long-awaited RFP to industry under its Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) Framework for Strategic Commercial Enhancements — an umbrella tool that covers acquisition of new and emerging phenomenologies. The BAA has been used over the past two years to gather commercially-provided electro-optical, synthetic aperture radar (SAR), and radio frequency remote sensing data.

Giving OSINT A Seat at The Defense Intelligence Table

Evan Smith

Throughout America’s involvement in modern warfare, intelligence analysts have been tasked with curating accurate information into actionable intelligence for use in various theaters of war. While analysts often leverage five key sources of military intelligence -- human intelligence (HUMINT), signals intelligence (SIGINT), imagery intelligence (IMINT), measurement and signatures intelligence (MASINT), the value of open-source intelligence (OSINT) is often overlooked amidst a culture that generally prefers classified sources.

When OSINT first formally emerged during WWII, it was derived from media such as magazines, newspapers, TV and radio broadcasts, and photographs. Recent unfettered access to technology across global populations has led to critical intelligence being generated in novel spaces and means. OSINT now includes publicly available information from a multitude of online social media sites and web platforms and its utility to the warfighter has expanded accordingly. Commanders can uniquely leverage open-source intelligence to further situational awareness, conduct battle damage assessment, tip and cue collection from other sources, gauge population sentiment, provide targeted insights on violent extremist organizations communications, and more.

Filling Intelligence Gaps

Every commander faces intelligence gaps. Whether it’s technical limitations or resource allocation, they routinely encounter challenges that keep them from understanding the operating environment to some degree. Historically, decision makers have relied on classified information to answer priority intelligence requirements, but the increasing complexity and multipolarity of the battlespace requires accessing and analyzing as much data as possible to better understand the operating picture. The fusion of all five intelligence disciplines ensures accurate and comprehensive data that furthers the commander’s situational awareness.

Taiwan Shows Off Its Radar-Killing Kamikaze Drones


Taiwan this Tuesday invited the media to an exhibition of various capabilities from its locally developed drone arsenal. Two specific systems that were pointedly highlighted in coverage of the event were the vehicle-launched Chien Hsiang loitering munition and the Teng Yun reconnaissance drone that is known for bearing a resemblance to the MQ-9 Reaper. The exhibition showcased diverse uncrewed developments in Taiwan, which could be a factor in a future conflict with the mainland as threats to the island's sovereignty grow.

The drone exhibition event was hosted by the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), a Taiwanese government-owned military technology manufacturer that develops a wealth of the Republic of China Armed Forces’ weapons like the Hsiung Feng anti-ship missile and the Yun Feng supersonic cruise missile.

NCSIST provided an especially rare look at one weapon in particular: the truck-launched Chien Hsiang. These indigenous anti-radiation loitering munitions are designed to take out enemy radars positioned at sea, on the coast, or inland, according to NCSIST. The company also claimed that Chien Hsiang can strike other unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), but it wasn't made clear exactly how this is achieved. It's possible it could home in on the emissions of slower-moving drones and attack them, but that would be a relatively limited and questionable use case.

Dealing With Vladmir Putin’s Nuclear Crisis – The Case for Maximum Deterrence

Mark B. Schneider

In 2008, distinguished Russian journalist Pavel Felgenhuaer observed, “…our superiors are potentially ready to burn all of us in nuclear fire because of disputes over ice, rocks or South Ossetia.”[1] I have quoted this many times because I feel is sums up quite well Putin’s desire for territorial expansion (in this case the Arctic and part of Georgia) and the role of nuclear threats in supporting it. This has most clearly been on display in Putin’s long war against Ukraine. It’s noteworthy that in July 2014 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made an implied nuclear threat against NATO relating to a hypothetical NATO response against the Russian invasion force in Crimea by referencing their military doctrine. In March 2015, President Putin said that during the Crimea crisis he would have put Russian nuclear forces on alert if it had been necessary. Felgenhauer was proved correct in September 2022 when Putin’s Deputy at the Russian National Security Council (and former President) Dimitri Medvedev declared, “The Donbas (Donetsk and Luhansk) republics and other territories will be accepted into Russia….Russia has announced that not only mobilisation capabilities, but also any Russian weapons, including strategic nuclear weapons and weapons based on new principles, could be used for such protection.” This statement was in support of President Putin’s nuclear threat associated with his mobilization decree. He said, “In the event of a threat to the territorial integrity of our country and to defend Russia and our people, we will certainly make use of all weapon systems available to us. This is not a bluff.” “Territorial integrity” includes areas seized by force and annexed after a sham referendum.

According to Russian exile and former world chess champion Garry Kaparov, “I have been fighting Mr. Putin for 20 years and have always said that his regime is bound to become a fascist threat – not only to Russia, not only to its neighbors, but to the whole world.” Putin does not embrace the vile Hitler version of Fascism (although some of his supporters do) but he does embrace territorial expansion by war. Moreover, the Putin regime is not averse to threatening a nuclear holocaust even involving the entire world. According to Medvedev, “The idea of punishing a country that has one of the largest nuclear potentials is absurd. And potentially poses a threat to the existence of humanity.”

Ukraine's over-the-top response to a fatal missile explosion in Poland could hurt its credibility at a crucial moment in the war

Jake Epstein

One day after a missile hit NATO ally Poland and killed two people, top Western officials on Wednesday said the incident was likely caused by Ukrainian air defense systems defending against Russian attacks, contradicting the Ukrainian claims.

"Our preliminary analysis suggests that the incident was likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile fired to defend Ukrainian territory against Russian cruise missile attacks," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Wednesday. "But let me clear," he continued, "this is not Ukraine's fault. Russia bears ultimate responsibility as it continues its illegal war against Ukraine."

The preliminary analysis runs contrary to claims made by some Ukrainian officials, including President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who immediately rushed to blame the fatal incident on a deliberate Russian attack — conclusions which could potentially damage the eastern European country's credibility at a crucial moment in Moscow's unprovoked war.

Reports of a deadly explosion in eastern Poland, just over the Ukrainian border, surfaced Tuesday as Russian forces launched a barrage of missiles targeting Ukraine's critical infrastructure. Some media outlets reported at the time that the missile was Russian, or Russian-made, but US officials at the State Department and Pentagon said they were unable to confirm anything, only stating that they were investigating the incident.

Carbon Neutrality Is a Pipe Dream

Torben Halbe

Utopian policies die slow. However unfeasible they are, their proponents push them along until they grind to an inevitable halt.

That is happening now with carbon neutrality, a goal adopted by both the U.S. and the EU for 2050. Unsurprisingly, they’re already behind schedule. This month, it was reported that 40 U.S. coal plants that were scheduled to be shut down will be kept online — some of them for as long as five years. And last month, some European nations ordered energy providers to resume energy production using fossil fuels. Leaders call their return to coal and oil “headwinds” — nothing more than a temporary setback to climate goals— and blame the sanctions that followed Putin’s attack on Ukraine. But Western energy policies are deeply flawed. It is time to abandon carbon neutrality regulations. We were never really going to reach carbon neutrality by 2050 — at least not through government regulation.

There’s nothing inherently bad about the goal of carbon neutrality. But the current means by which the U.S. and the EU are trying to achieve that goal — namely by enforcing lower emissions by regulating the energy market — are destructive and frankly untenable. It’s no wonder we see so much backpedaling and blame-shifting.

The Diplomatic Subterfuge Behind the Dangerous Standoff in Taiwan

Stephen J. Hartnett

Hoping to slow down the rush to war over Taiwan, U.S. President Joe Biden and China’s leader-for-life, Xi Jinping, met in Bali, Indonesia, on Nov. 14 on the sidelines of the annual G-20 Summit. On Nov. 10, the day the White House announced the meeting, Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin proclaimed in The Washington Post that the U.S. “is locked in a new Cold War with the Communist Party of China [CPC] … [that] could turn hot over Taiwan.” Although typically hyperbolic, in this case Rubio and Gallagher are not wrong, as the CPC’s latest white paper on Taiwan bristles with an almost giddy thirst for war. Aggrieved and aggressive, citing international law while planning to trample it, and invoking the notion of sovereignty while plotting to erase Taiwan’s, the document announces, “we will not renounce the use of force and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.”

As Biden and Xi jostle over geopolitics in Asia, and citizens on Taiwan’s frontlines ponder their fate, it is important to remember that threatening to wage war against Taiwan to achieve what the CPC calls “China’s reunification in the New Era” rests upon the party’s notion of the “One China” principle. Likewise, virtually every piece of U.S.-bashing propaganda churned out by China’s state-run media following Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan in August roared that her junket violated the principle. So what is this war-justifying and saber-rattling principle? How does it affect Taiwan? How does it drive the rush to conflict in the Indo-Pacific?

China’s Plans for Cyberspace Are All About Domestic Control

Thi Mai Anh Nguyen

On November 7, 2022, the Chinese State Council of Information Office released a white paper titled “Jointly Build a Community With a Shared Future in Cyberspace,” emphasizing a vision of internet governance in the new era. The white paper reflected China’s concern about “the threat of cyber-hegemonism”—that certain states can employ digital and information technology to interfere in other nations' internal affairs and undertake large-scale cyber surveillance, posing a threat to a regime’s survival. The white paper thus revealed the Chinese government’s effort to control cyberspace policy narratives.

The growth of the internet has presented an existential threat to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by creating a new space for online public discussions. According to Data Reportal, the number of internet users in China jumped by 35.9 million between 2021 and 2022, allowing 70.9 percent of the total population to achieve internet access at the beginning of 2022. Now, the growing use of the internet could interfere with the Chinese government’s control over society. The CCP thus incorporated cybersecurity issues into its national security doctrines. As President Xi Jinping asserted in his speech at the National Cybersecurity and Informatization Work Conference in 2018, “without cybersecurity, there is no national security, the economy and society will not operate in a stable manner.” He further stressed that “we can absolutely not let the internet become a platform for the dissemination of harmful information, or a place where rumors spread that create trouble.” Ahead of the 2018 Conference, in 2017, the Chinese government released its “International Strategy of Cooperation on Cyberspace,” which proposed international cooperation among countries in creating new treaties and measures to foster “cyber sovereignty,” a development that would allow the Chinese government to regulate online content. These concerns culminated in the Chinese government’s release of its 2019 white paper concerning cybersecurity, which declared that “cybersecurity remains a global challenge and poses a severe threat to China.”

America Needs Futurists and Traditionalists to Think Clearly About War

Michael P. Ferguson Nicholas A. Rife

Earlier this year, two authors writing for the Brookings Institution posed an intriguing question: “Is the U.S. military’s futurism obsession hurting national security?” Their argument followed a series of exchanges in other forums on the competing relevance of futurism and traditionalism in national security thought. Futurists might argue that they are merely counterbalancing a defense community that is traditionally past-obsessed, using outdated equipment and training for the last war. The rising popularity of futurism has placed that philosophy at odds with that of traditionalism, leading to a false premise that one or the other must be right.

True creative transformation in the U.S. defense and intelligence communities will only take place once the two camps accept the reality that they could both be wrong. Thus far, this debate has occurred at the policy level among well-meaning observers not responsible for the application of their theories. This shortcoming ignores the fact that the ideas of both camps must be implemented in the tactical fights where battles are won—a grueling and often unpredictable place.

Could an Emerging Power Achieve Peace in Ukraine?

Edward Salo

Over the past several days, there have been hints from both sides in the Russo-Ukrainian War that there may be grounds for a diplomatic solution. This avenue to peace is promising because of the massive military losses incurred by Russia, which have seriously weakened the nation and will require years if not decades to replenish. Also, both sides know that the coming winter months will make military operations more difficult, and result in more deaths on and off the battlefield. While the current climate for a diplomatic solution seems poor, I contend that this is an opportunity for an emerging power to step up in the international arena and broker peace between Russia and Ukraine to cement its place as a leading power, just as the United States did during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905).

Many themes regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine are reminiscent of the situation during the Russo-Japanese War. The war resulted from the competing colonial expansion of Russia and Japan, both of whom wanted to dominate the Far East. Furthermore, the czar of Russia saw the war as a way to promote the popularity of his regime in a period of national decline and cement Russia’s place in the great empires of Europe. Japan saw the war as an opportunity to become Asia’s great power. After a series of failed diplomatic missions to avert war, the Japanese Navy launched a surprise attack on the Russian Navy at Port Arthur. After this thrashing, the Russians continued to suffer other defeats before finally agreeing to a negotiated peace in 1905. While not apparent to the Japanese public, the Japanese military was closer to collapse than was readily apparent.

Why Hasn’t Putin Gone Nuclear in Ukraine?

Gregory Mitrovich

Will Russian president Vladimir Putin use nuclear weapons in his war against Ukraine? Putin’s constant nuclear threats have made this one of the most critical questions hovering over the entire conflict. Are the threats a bluff designed to deter NATO efforts to support Ukraine, or are they serious warnings not to corner Putin that Ukraine and the West must heed? If Putin is truly willing to use nuclear weapons, then given the major political and military defeats he has endured, the real question may be why hasn’t Putin already ordered their use in Ukraine. The answer may lie in America’s own experiences in the Korean War.

Even before the invasion, Putin employed nuclear threats to deter an unlikely NATO intervention in what he believed would be a quick and easy victory. Russia’s defeats at Kyiv and Kharkiv and Ukraine’s recent offensives into territories annexed by Russia—resulting in massive Russian casualties and a badly tarnished global image—have intensified fears that Putin may authorize a tactical nuclear attack to stave off a battlefield defeat. As if on cue, Putin immediately began threatening to use “all weapon systems available to us” to achieve victory. In response, the Biden administration has conveyed both publicly and privately that a tactical nuclear strike would result in a catastrophic U.S. response and risk global “Armageddon.”

G20 Can’t Avoid the Elephant in the Room: Ukraine War

Kamal Uddin Ahmed

The 17th annual summit of Heads of State and Heads of Government of the Group of Twenty (G-20) – the world’s most powerful economies – was held from November 15-16 in Bali, Indonesia. It was Indonesia’s first chance to host the grouping. Chaired by Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, the conference was overshadowed by Russia’s senseless war against Ukraine, with world powers overwhelmingly divided.

Seventeen world leaders had gathered for the Bali summit, including U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping. Russia’s President Vladimir Putin did not attend the summit but sent Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in his stead.

Formed on September 26, 1999, in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, the G-20 remains a leading international forum of the key developed and emerging nations to deal with global economic and financial issues as well as other pressing problems.

Peak Atlantic Unity?


WASHINGTON, DC – European leaders are breathing a huge sigh of relief following the Republicans’ failure to achieve a “red wave” in the US midterm elections. While the final composition of the House of Representatives remains unknown, the Democrats have held on to the Senate, and it is already clear that Congress will not be flooded with isolationist supporters of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. But rather than using this time to celebrate, Europeans need to prepare for the next potential storm.

Europe, after all, has benefited from an extraordinary moment of transatlantic unity over the last year. The US-European partnership has responded seamlessly to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with coordinated sanctions, and with the United States consulting European governments before pursuing any conversations about the future of European security with the Kremlin. NATO, the alliance that French President Emmanuel Macron called “brain dead” in 2019, is now thriving and poised to welcome Finland and Sweden as new members. And Europeans are finally spending more on defense, with even Germany hitting the long-promised target of 2% of GDP.

Americans and Europeans also generally agree about the strategic challenge that China poses, especially now that Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has ruled with economic threats and belligerent foreign policies, has extended and consolidated his power. There is a strong sense that “the West is back.” The US and Europe are channeling a newfound political unity in support of shared values and a common vision of the kind of world they want.

Putin’s Fear of Retreat How the Cuban Missile Crisis Haunts the Kremlin

Timothy Naftali

Sixty years ago, the White House and the Kremlin peacefully resolved the most dangerous nuclear crisis of the modern era. Neither superpower had wanted the dispute over the placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba to end in war, but both sides threatened the use of violence to defend their interests. It isn’t just the coincidence of the anniversary of the Cuban missile crisis that has led some observers to search for lessons from that long ago clash to help de-escalate the current war in Ukraine. From the moment he announced the invasion of Ukraine in February, Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted that this conflict could evolve into a nuclear one. “Whoever tries to interfere with us,” he said, “should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and will lead you to such consequences as you have never experienced in your history.” Putin repeated this threat after the Western world and its Asian allies rushed to help Ukraine, and as the war began to go badly for Russia. On September 21, he warned that the Kremlin was prepared to use “all weapons systems available” to protect Russia’s “territorial integrity” and its “independence and freedom.” Since no NATO countries had threatened Russian territorial integrity or its independence or freedom, this statement seemed like a deliberate nuclear threat or, at best, a dangerous bluff.

The End of the Beginning in Ukraine

Seth G. Jones

Following the Second Battle of El Alamein in 1942, in which British forces led by Bernard Montgomery defeated Erwin Rommel’s German forces in Egypt, Winston Churchill remarked, “Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Churchill’s comments are relevant to Ukraine’s recent retaking of Kherson and the U.S. need to prepare for a protracted conflict. On November 14, violence spilled into Poland when Ukraine accidentally fired at least one SA-10 surface-to-air missile from an S-300 missile system, killing two individuals, after Russia shot approximately 100 missiles at Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

Thus far, Ukrainian units have reconquered several thousand square miles of territory in Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, and Kherson Oblasts. Over the course of their offensive, Ukrainian forces conducted impressive combined arms operations, military innovation, and denial and deception tactics. Russian forces have been far less impressive. Despite President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to put a positive spin on the war and to conduct a partial military mobilization and annexation of Ukrainian territory, Russia has sustained mounting losses on the battlefield. Russian ground units have suffered from low morale, poor execution of combined arms, subpar training, deficient logistics, corruption, and even drunkenness. To make matters worse for Moscow, there is mounting domestic opposition to President Putin’s partial mobilization and a sputtering economy following U.S. and other Western sanctions.

Could Ukraine Retake Crimea? Not Easily


The striking success of the counter-offensive against Russian forces has led many to speculate that the Ukrainian military might keep rolling in a bid to retake Crimea. But experts caution that such a campaign would be far more difficult than Ukraine’s retaking of Kharkiv or the hard-won territory of Kherson.

Ever since it illegally annexed the Black Sea peninsula in 2014, Russia has worked to fortify Crimea militarily—installing bases, missile launchers, and more; building a bridge to Russian territory—and diplomatically, warning that any arrival of NATO troops might draw a nuclear response.

Is an attempt to retake Crimea in the cards? In June, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov called that a “strategic objective for Ukraine because it's Ukrainian territory.” But Reznikov in June also said his government would consult with allies and partners on how to do so.

The Case Against Negotiations with Russia

Frederick W. Kagan

Negotiations cannot end the Russian war against Ukraine; they can only pause it. The renewed Russian invasion in February 2022 after eight years of deadly “ceasefire” following the first Russian invasions of 2014 demonstrates that Russian President Vladimir Putin will not rest until he has conquered Kyiv. Ukraine’s resistance to the invasion this year shows that Ukrainians will not easily surrender. The conflict is unresolvable as long as Putinism rules the Kremlin. Negotiations won’t change that reality. They can only create the conditions from which Putin or a Putinist successor will contemplate renewing the attack on Ukraine’s independence. Before pressing Ukraine to ask Russia for talks we must examine the terms Ukraine might offer Russia, the dangers of offering those terms, and, more importantly, the likelihood that Putin would accept them.

When Putin re-invaded Ukraine in February he already had Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk, and no one was realistically going to take them away from him. That was not enough for him. Offering him a return to a situation so unsatisfactory to him that he launched a massive invasion to change is not a face-saving off-ramp. Imagine Putin sitting at one end of a long table and announcing proudly to the Russian people that at the cost of more than 100,000 dead and injured Russians and nine months or more of economic devastation he has secured…almost exactly what he had before. No. Putin saves no face by doing that. He would likely accept such an outcome if the military realities of the situation required it, but he will never regard it as an attractive off ramp. The Kremlin’s repeated refusals even to consider negotiations along these lines are proof enough of this conclusion.

Beyond Force Design 2030: Preparing for Fourth-Generation Combat

Lieutenant (junior grade) Jeong Soo Kim

You are a proud Russian air assault force (VDV) paratrooper. You are fit, motivated, and proficient in shooting, moving, and communicating with your personal and crew-served weapons. Your unit recently practiced combined-arms warfare in Belarus and now is deployed to a “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Your platoon is accompanying tanks to clear a town of resistance. You spot a drone trailing your platoon and suspect it is hostile. You report this situation to your company command post and request antiaircraft missiles to destroy the drone. The request is approved, but since the antiaircraft battery reports directly to the battalion tactical group, it will take a few hours for them to arrive. Frustrated, you attempt to shoot down the drone with organic weapons. You are not successful because you received no training on aerial gunnery. A few minutes later, a barrage of mortar shells and Javelin missiles decimate your platoon, and you are now dying on the outskirts of Kiev.1

The race for lithium


The current global energy crisis has shown how interdependent the world’s energy markets are, with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causing widespread fuel shortages and sky-rocketing prices. While this is not the first time geopolitical conflict has created such a scenario, today there is growing political momentum to shift to renewable energy and reduce reliance on fossil fuel imports, thereby reducing emissions and improving energy security.

While reliance on fossil fuel imports concentrated in a few places has resulted in global energy crises throughout history, dependence on the minerals underpinning renewable technologies concentrated in a few places may risk similar outcomes. To avoid international trade tensions, an important consideration in the global energy transition will be the careful management of the supply chains on which renewable energy technology relies.
Up to 20 countries have announced phase-out bans on internal combustion engine car sales over the next 10–30 years in an effort to accelerate the uptake of EVs.

Integrated deterrence: An excuse to spend less on defense?


Pentagon defense strategies come along about every four years, under various names and guises, and do not always make headline news. But the Biden administration’s new plan, known as the 2022 National Defense Strategy and released last month after the White House published its broader National Security Strategy, just might.

In one sense, the broad approach of the Biden administration’s strategy is not controversial. With its focus on China as the “pacing challenge” and Russia as the “acute threat,” it builds on the framework established by former Secretary of Defense James Mattis in 2018 in the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy. Dr. Colin Kahl, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (the No. 3 job in the Pentagon), said as much in an event at Brookings Institution on Nov. 4. He described the Biden document as an iteration or updating of that earlier document, and noted that for all the differences between the Trump and Biden administrations, defense strategy (at least in theoretical and doctrinal terms) is not really one of them.

Nonetheless, with the 2024 presidential election looming, partisan fault lines are already emerging with regard to American national security policy. As we soon settle into a new political reality in Washington, with Republicans empowered and emboldened — and perhaps another Donald Trump v. Joe Biden showdown looming — it is inevitable that strident debates will emerge.

GAO Report on Pentagon Cybersecurity Incidents

The Department of Defense (DOD) and our nation’s defense industrial base (DIB)—which includes entities outside the federal government that provide goods or services critical to meeting U.S. military requirements—are dependent on information systems to carry out their operations. These systems continue to be the target of cyber attacks, as DOD has experienced over 12,000 cyber incidents since 2015 (see figure).To combat these incidents, DOD has established two processes for managing cyber incidents—one for all incidents and one for critical incidents. However, DOD has not fully implemented either of these processes.

Despite the reduction in the number of incidents due to DOD efforts, weaknesses in reporting these incidents remain. For example, DOD’s system for reporting all incidents often contained incomplete information and DOD could not always demonstrate that they had notified appropriate leadership of relevant critical incidents. The weaknesses in the implementation of the two processes are due to DOD not assigning an organization responsible for ensuring proper incident reporting and compliance with guidance, among other reasons. Until DOD assigns such responsibility, DOD does not have assurance that its leadership has an accurate picture of the department’s cybersecurity posture.