26 November 2022

City Has Been Liberated, But a Few Are Not Happy

Christian Esch, Alexander Sarovic und Emre Caylak 

It's a gray Sunday afternoon when Colonel Roman Kostenko climbs out of the car on the main square of Kherson. A crying woman silently embraces him. A child is shoved into his arms. People take one selfie after the other. Liberators in uniform, liberated people in civilian clothes, it is both kitsch and authentic at the same time. Two days earlier, Russian troops had left the port city at the mouth of the Dnieper River, and the first Ukrainian troops marched in. It is the greatest victory since the defense of Kyiv shortly after the beginning of the war on February 24. "It's like a village wedding," member of parliament and military man Kostenko says of the general atmosphere. "It's worth putting your life on the line for something like this," he says.

The expulsion of the Russian troops put an end to a sinister experiment: the attempt to turn a major Ukrainian city into a Russian one in the shortest time possible, against the will of the vast majority of its inhabitants, with the use of both terror and enticements. But the past several months have left wounds that the city must now live with. Kherson is an empty, dark, cold and traumatized place that is lacking the most basic necessities and where, despite all the visible euphoria, deep rifts run between the residents.

The Global Ambitions of Chinese Law


NEW HAVEN – A recent report by the NGO Safeguard Defenders about the existence of “secret Chinese police stations” in cities around the world, including New York, has sparked investigations in several European countries and attracted the attention of the FBI. But while these investigations aim to protect the rule of law from subversion, they also highlight how unprepared Western democracies are to grapple with China’s growing international influence.

In their eagerness to appear “tough on China,” Western media and government officials alike have demonstrated their inability – or perhaps unwillingness – to evaluate the Safeguard Defenders report, which is plagued by mistranslations and misunderstandings of Chinese and international legal norms. China’s rising power requires careful technical debate and strategizing rather than crude populist appeals.

Since emerging as a global economic and political power, China has increasingly focused on shaping international norms and institutions. Chinese leaders have indeed made extraterritorial jurisdiction a national priority in recent years, adding clauses to domestic laws that aim to expand their reach beyond China’s borders. But China’s extraterritorial influence is a natural consequence of its growing economic and political interconnectedness with the rest of the world. As its clout grows, policymakers in China and elsewhere must figure out whether or how Chinese law can be reconciled with Western legal systems.

The Techno-Feudal Method to Musk’s Twitter Madness


ATHENS – Elon Musk had good reasons to feel unfulfilled enough to buy Twitter for $44 billion. He had pioneered online payments, upended the car industry, revolutionized space travel, and even experimented with ambitious brain-computer interfaces. His cutting-edge technological feats had made him the world’s richest entrepreneur. Alas, neither his achievements nor his wealth granted him entry into the
new ruling class of those harnessing the powers of cloud-based capital. Twitter offers Musk a chance to make amends.

Since capitalism’s dawn, power stemmed from owning capital goods; steam engines, Bessemer furnaces, industrial robots, and so on. Today, it is cloud-based capital, or cloud capital in short, that grants its owners hitherto unimaginable powers.

The World Cup and the World Economy


LONDON – The 22nd World Cup is under way, but who at the beginning of this century would have thought it might be hosted by tiny Qatar? Yet here we are, and the only surprise is that it doesn’t feel all that surprising.

For a large part of my professional career, I explored the links between the beautiful game and the global economy. At Goldman Sachs and, before that, at the Swiss Bank Corporation, I indulged my dual obsessions by presiding over special one-off publications for each World Cup from 1994 until 2010. After one, I received personal messages from senior central bankers around the world. Some told me it was the best publication we produced, which, given how frequently we published on economic events and markets, was both amusing and something to ponder. We persuaded national leaders and major football figures to guest write for us. On one occasion, Alex Ferguson, the legendary Manchester United manager, selected his all-time top world team.

I have, to date, managed to attend six World Cups, hosted by the United States, France, South Korea and Japan, Germany, South Africa, and Brazil. From these experiences, I can add my voice to those who describe the event as one of the most beautifully inclusive meetings of many different nationalities and cultures. The advent of the Fan Zones, which really took off following the 2006 World Cup in Germany, embodied this spirit, though I experienced it most intensely in Seoul in 2002.

Pakistan’s troubled ties with the Taliban

Ahmed Waqas Waheed

In the immediate aftermath of the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Pakistan appealed to the international community to provide humanitarian assistance and remove sanctions against Afghanistan to prevent a potential humanitarian crisis. But much has changed in a year. Pakistan is now focussed on thwarting cross-border terrorism and preventing India from establishing a presence in Afghanistan.

Even the Taliban government has been unable to diminish Pakistan’s foreign policy concerns. Since the Taliban came to power, the number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan has increased by a record 56 per cent. Key terrorist outfits with an active presence in Afghanistan, including al-Qaeda, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and the Islamic State in Khorasan, continue to increase their presence.

Pleas for international support for Afghanistan have now been replaced by considered caution. Jubilation over the Taliban victory is now giving way to a rude awakening that the evolving security situation under Taliban rule means that Pakistan’s bouts of terrorism are not over. In an address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that he shared the international community’s concerns about terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan.

Industry Perspective: JADC2 Could Introduce Cyber Risks At Unprecedented Scale

Jason Atwell

Technology has always played a major role in military competition, and military competition has always leaned heavily on industry. The two spheres, the military and industry, overlap so much that “military-industrial complex” is common parlance.

However, the dynamic has historically been mostly one way in the sense that once technology is turned over by industry to the military, industry moves on to developing more technology while the military operates whatever is already on the shelf.

Post 9/11, most people are familiar with the growing role of contractors in supplementing the military, but joint all-domain command and control, better known as JADC2, has the potential to close this loop once and for all by creating a dynamic wherein industry will be both the progenitor and operator of the technology, with the military mostly serving in the role of providing guidance and legal authorization for use cases.

The Unholy Trinity of Corruption, Low Morale, and Military Failure

Eugene Linden

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war provide even more evidence of an army steadily losing ground because of a toxic combination of abysmal morale and corruption throughout the ranks. The tight coupling of corruption, low morale, and military failure has played out several times since World War II—in Cuba, in Vietnam, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan, to name a few. Policymakers would do well to pay attention.

I learned about the importance of morale in Vietnam when I investigated fragging, an internecine conflict in which troops turn on their superiors (the word “fragging” refers to fragmentation grenades, the weapons of choice when enlisted men try to kill their superiors). I explore fragging and morale in more depth in an article about my investigation published by the Saturday Review on Jan. 8, 1972, entitled, “The Demoralization of an Army: Fragging and Other Withdrawal Symptoms.” In Vietnam, fraggings soared because American forces consisted largely of a draft army whose conscripts didn’t understand the mission, and who could see they were risking their lives for a corrupt regime whose own troops were reluctant to fight. By contrast, the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops fought with messianic fervor.

The fraggings in Vietnam provide a not-so-distant mirror (to borrow Barbara Tuchman’s phrase) on what is now going on in Ukraine. There are numerous parallels (as well as differences) between fraggings in Vietnam and those afflicting the Russian army in Ukraine 50 years later. One striking parallel in particular offers a lesson for both policymakers and military strategists.

DARPA calling for AI ‘reinforcements’ to bolster US air combat capability

Jon Harper

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is asking industry to develop new AI capabilities that could give U.S. drones an edge in air-to-air combat.

DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office released a Broad Agency Announcement on Monday for its new Artificial Intelligence Reinforcements (AIR) program, with the goal of developing tools for achieving “dominant tactical autonomy.”

The agency is looking for “advanced Modeling and Simulation (M&S) approaches and dominant Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents for live, multi-ship, beyond visual range (BVR) offensive and defensive counterair missions,” according to the solicitation.

The plan is for the technology to initially be demonstrated on F-16 fighter jet testbeds with a “human on the loop” before being transferred to drones.

Is trade China’s trump card?

It took US President Joe Biden’s administration quite a while to produce its national security strategy, which it finally released in October. Though the White House did issue an interim document in March 2021, the final product seems to have required more work than anticipated.

The reason isn’t difficult to understand. While the interim document focused primarily on China and treated Russia more as a regional nuisance, reality intervened with a vengeance in February when Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a war to ‘denazify’, ‘demilitarize’ and essentially eliminate Ukraine. Where the interim strategy had described Russia as ‘disruptive’, the final one acknowledges that it ‘now poses an immediate and persistent threat to international peace and stability’, owing to its embrace of ‘an imperialist foreign policy’.

Nonetheless, China still looms largest in the Biden administration’s strategic outlook, as well it should. The final document makes clear that China is America’s ‘only competitor with both the intent to reshape the international order and, increasingly, the economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to do so’. As Graham Allison of Harvard University has observed with his ‘Thucydides trap’ thesis, both China’s rising power and the fear that it instils in the dominant power are driving the strategic and foreign-policy narrative.

Our Military Insiders’ Views of the New National Defense Strategy

Last month, the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) released its 2022 National Defense Strategy (NDS). This document outlines clear priorities for the department, namely: defense of the homeland; deterring strategic attacks on the United States, allies, and partners; deterring Chinese and Russian aggression while simultaneously maintaining readiness for conflict; and building a resilient Joint Force.

While the document’s strategic prioritization is clear, what remains uncertain is how this strategy will ultimately be implemented across DoD. Defense leadership recognizes this, as the document states that “this strategy will not be successful if we fail to resource its major initiatives or fail to make the hard choices to align available resources with the strategy’s level of ambition.”

How can DoD meet the strategic priorities laid out in the 2022 NDS? The Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security’s military fellows—active-duty officers who are serving a one-year rotation at the Atlantic Council—weighed in, addressing potential gaps between budgets and strategy, force employment mechanisms, sustainment and logistics, and security partnerships. The opinions, conclusions, and recommendations expressed or implied here are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views of DoD or any other U.S. government agency.
Investing in security partnerships: The U.S. should take larger risks to bolster Taiwan’s defense

DoD releases zero-trust strategy to thwart hackers who ‘often’ breach network ‘perimeter’


WASHINGTON — After months of teasing its zero-trust strategy, the Defense Department today released its plan outlining what it’ll take to achieve “targeted zero trust” by fiscal 2027 to address current threats, including those posed by adversaries like China — starting with a zero-trust cloud pilot this fiscal year.

“With zero trust we are assuming that a network is already compromised and through recurring user authentication and authentic authorization, we will thwart and frustrate an adversary from moving through a network and also quickly identify them and mitigate damage and the vulnerability they may have exploited,” Randy Resnick, DoD zero trust portfolio management office chief, told reporters ahead of the strategy’s release.

The 29-page strategy paints a concerning picture for DoD’s information enterprise, which is “under wide-scale and persistent attack from known and unknown malicious actors,” from individuals to state-sponsored adversaries, specifically China, who “often” breach the Pentagon’s “defensive perimeter.”

There is no panacea, competition with China occurs in peace and war


In August, Breaking Defense observed a wargame in which China invaded Taiwan and the US intervened — with bloody results. Such simulations abound, as Benjamin Mainardi of the Center for Maritime Strategy notes below, but in this op-ed he argues the US should be preparing for a much more complicated stand-off with Beijing.

No geopolitical prospect looms as large in Washington as war with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Accordingly, the interservice race to take the lead in the Indo-Pacific continues to grow. Yet while wargames and articles abound on this or that aspect of what a conflict would entail, making eye-catching headlines and seemingly favoring one service over another, their provocative implications must be tempered with sober reflection upon the realities of the challenge at hand.

Perhaps most fundamentally, the outbreak of war as a conventional territorial conquest is taken for granted. But the framing of competition with China as hinging on a one-time engagement is at best a flawed approach and at worst a dangerous miscarriage of strategic foresight.

Industry Perspective: JADC2 Could Introduce Cyber Risks At Unprecedented Scale

Jason Atwell

Technology has always played a major role in military competition, and military competition has always leaned heavily on industry. The two spheres, the military and industry, overlap so much that “military-industrial complex” is common parlance.

However, the dynamic has historically been mostly one way in the sense that once technology is turned over by industry to the military, industry moves on to developing more technology while the military operates whatever is already on the shelf.

Post 9/11, most people are familiar with the growing role of contractors in supplementing the military, but joint all-domain command and control, better known as JADC2, has the potential to close this loop once and for all by creating a dynamic wherein industry will be both the progenitor and operator of the technology, with the military mostly serving in the role of providing guidance and legal authorization for use cases.

U.S. Needs to Demonstrate Ability to Assist Taiwan, Congressman Says

John Grady

The U.S. needs to show Beijing that it can stop China if Chinese President Xi Jinping were to risk a cross-strait invasion to bring Taiwan under Chinese control, a congressman involved with military innovation this week.

The United States must realize that it cannot rely on the Taiwanese people to be the only fighters, as is the case in Ukraine, if China invades Taiwan, Rep. Seth Moulton, (D-Mass.) and co-chair of the congressional Future Defense Task Force, said Tuesday at a Hudson Institute event. Washington would need to commit American forces to the fight.

There are “lots of parallels in legacy motivations” between the actions of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and Xi Jinping’s threats to forcibly unite the self-governing democracy with the mainland, he said.

Taiwan would need to have in place the weapons, systems and trained forces to hold off the invasion long enough for the United States to overcome a blockade of the island to come to its aid, Moulton said. Ukraine, on the other hand, is being supplied overland by rail and highway.

Air Force selects SandboxAQ, an Alphabet spinoff, to help quantum-proof its networks

Brandi Vincent

The Department of the Air Force has tapped Alphabet spinoff SandboxAQ to analyze its existing encryption capabilities and broadly investigate how the Air and Space Forces’ data networks can be better protected against potential quantum attacks of the future.

“Quantum computers threaten the foundation of data architectures that rely on today’s public-key cryptography, considered impossible for classical computers to break,” Jen Sovada, president of SandboxAQ’s public sector division, told DefenseScoop in an email on Monday.

This new Phase I Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract award, announced on Nov. 18, marks SandboxAQ’s first deal with the U.S. military since it split-away from Alphabet — Google’s parent company — in March.

Sovada, a former Air Force intelligence officer, said the award validates “SandboxAQ’s efforts with regard to post-quantum cryptography and data protection at the highest level of security.”

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?

The Mending Australia-China Relationship: Powered by Lithium?

Corey Lee Bell, Elena Collinson, and Xunpeng Shi

The meeting between Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and China’s President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Bali on November 15 indicates an easing of tensions between Canberra and Beijing.

The breakthrough talks – the first between leaders of the two countries in five years – was also attended by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the director of the General Office of the Chinese Communist Party, Ding Xuexiang, and He Lifeng, a Politburo member and minister in charge of the National Development and Reform Commission. The high-powered meeting comes after a prolonged trough in the relationship, propelled by a number of significant irritants, including geopolitical tensions and China’s trade punishment of Australia.

The meeting had been anticipated by observers, having come on the back of an unscheduled phone call on November 8 between Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong and her Chinese counterpart Wang, a meeting on the same day between Opposition Leader Peter Dutton and China’s ambassador to Australia, and warmer rhetoric out of Beijing on some fronts since Labor’s federal election victory in May. Yet, with the absence of notable progress on core issues of contention between Australia and China, the flurry of diplomatic activity over those eight days was also somewhat sudden.

The contradictions holding Germany back

Helmut K. Anheier

Just days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz declared that Germany’s approach to defence and foreign policy would undergo a Zeitenwende (epochal change). And in various commentaries and speeches since then, he has reiterated his commitment to deeper European security integration and economic coordination. Then, in September, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock announced that the country would adopt a more values-based feminist foreign policy to defend the liberal order against autocracy.

The intended message is that Germany will abandon a foreign policy that many others have criticised as being too passive, intransigent and ambiguous. For many decades, Germany was all too willing to do business with autocrats, despite its professed commitment to a foreign policy based on European liberal values. It was a free-rider in matters of hard power and it frequently failed to consult its allies or pay due attention to their legitimate concerns. It clung to this ambiguous position because there were massive economic benefits in doing so.

From Helmut Kohl in the 1990s to Scholz today, German chancellors have consistently believed that trade policy and dialogue would improve ties with actual and potential adversaries. Defying key allies such as the United States and France, Germany fostered economic dependencies that ultimately could be used against it. By the time Russia invaded Ukraine, Vladimir Putin had an iron grip on Germany’s natural-gas supply, and by the time Xi Jinping succeeded in turning China into a de facto dictatorship, Germany’s massive export sector had become critically dependent on China.

How China Spies

Anthony W. Holmes

Last year, I received an unsolicited request on LinkedIn from a man I will call Dr. Lee. I had just left government service as the special advisor for North Korea and senior advisor for Korea policy in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Defense. I was not then the established columnist and think tank contributor that I am now.

Dr. Lee offered me more than the standard commission to write for his “emerging academic journal of Asian studies” about U.S. views of potential conflict on the Korean Peninsula. I had never heard of the journal. As a longtime Asia hand, and a former intelligence officer with a decade of being professionally paranoid, this made me suspicious. I reached out to several friends in my field. None of them had heard of it, either. The purported website of this “emerging journal” did not look like it had been updated in ages.

He stressed that he needed the article very soon. I responded that I would write an article for his journal. Still, I could not agree to his timeline because of my obligations as a former national security official to get a prepublication review.

How Houthi Drone Attacks Boosted Russia’s War in Ukraine

Michael Horowitz

The first sign that Russia was using Iranian-made drones in Ukraine emerged this September. Ukrainian soldiers reported that a Shahed-136 “suicide drone” was employed for the first time to target military positions in an area recently recaptured from Russia near the northeastern city of Kupyansk. Weeks later, Russia used those drones to carry out several waves of attacks against Ukrainian cities, including Kyiv, materializing fears that Iran’s drones were on their way to Russia for use in the war.

The use of Iranian-made drones against a European capital came as a shock to the West, but it is the direct consequence of a lenient approach to Iran’s drone and ballistic missile programs, both of which have been honed through years of attacks, particularly in Yemen. By targeting countries throughout the Gulf, the Houthis, Iran’s local proxy in Yemen, have provided the Islamic Republic with a battlefield to test new weapons against relatively sophisticated air defenses. Now, those same weapons are being used to hammer the Ukrainian homefront, thousands of kilometers away from Iran and Yemen.

Ukraine and Moldova Blast Russia for ‘Gas Blackmail’

Mark Episkopos

Russian energy giant Gazprom threatened to further reduce natural gas exports to Europe via Ukraine, drawing accusations of “blackmail” from Kyiv.

Gazprom wrote in a Twitter post that the full amount of gas it is supplying for Moldova is not ending up in the former Soviet republic, adding that nearly 25 million cubic meters of gas have been supplied but not paid for. “If the imbalance observed during the transit of gas to the Moldovan consumers across Ukraine continues, then, on November 28 at 10am, Gazprom will start reducing its gas supplies to the Sudzha entry for transit through Ukraine,” the Russian energy corporation said.

Top Kyiv officials, who deny withholding gas meant for Moldova, denounced Gazprom on Wednesday. "Gas blackmail is an established Russian practice that the Kremlin continues to use for geopolitical purposes," said Ukrainian energy minister German Galushchenko in a statement to Reuters. "After the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Russia began to rapidly lose the European gas market. The Kremlin cannot accept this, which is why it is inventing new ways to regain its influence," he added.

Private Sector Solutions in India for Mental Health in the Workplace

Abby Christopher

One in seven Indians are living with mental health disorders, and India’s treatment gap of any mental disorder is 83 percent. The government and social sector alone do not have the resources to adequately address the problem. The private sector can play a key role in addressing the mental health crisis in India by providing mental health resources to employees.

Apart from the immense social costs associated with untreated mental health symptoms, there is a substantial economic impact to consider. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the economic loss in India due to mental health conditions to be $1.03 trillion between 2012 and 2030. At the firm level, a Deloitte report studying the state of mental wellbeing in corporate India estimates that poor mental health among employees costs employers about $14 billion a year due to absenteeism, presenteeism, and attrition. Covering the treatment gap is evidenced to yield an overwhelmingly positive return on investment not only for society, but also for the employers themselves. A WHO-led study analyzing the cost and benefit of scaling up treatment for depression and anxiety disorders finds that every $1 invested in expanded mental health care results in $4 in economic and health returns.

For Erdogan's political opponents, the path to power is laden with thorns


“Did you lose your ships in the Black Sea?” asks an old Turkish expression. It’s traditionally directed at a friend lost in thought or struggling with some mental conundrum, but it might be posed to Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu in a slightly more literal way.

Much like Istanbul, Turkey’s north-eastern Black Sea region has an outsized impact on the country’s discourse and political fortunes. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several of his fellow AKP founders, along with many of their top deputies and staunchest supporters, hail from the region, as does the Istanbul Mayor.

Back in May, Mr Imamoglu toured his home province of Trabzon, as well as neighbouring Rize, Mr Erdogan’s home province, over the Eid Al Fitr holiday. He drew adoring crowds, but came under sharp criticism when a photo of his press pool revealed that he had brought along a former pro-AKP journalist widely thought to have unfairly persecuted government critics.

The Mayor probably made matters worse with his response to the complaints. “There may be some people who want to sacrifice me over one photo,” he said. “I do not care at all.”

In Poland, Peace May Be a Bridge Too Far

George Friedman

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to speak to some Poles. I won’t pretend that they speak for the entire country, but my impression is that, broadly speaking, they believe a peace agreement with Russia would be a mistake. It is to be understood that many Polish people are both passionate about the subject of Russia and not directly militarily involved in the Ukraine war. Poland has provided some weapons and supplies, of course, and some Poles have chosen to enter the fight, but as a nation Poland is riveted by a war it is largely outside of.

Poland has two historic enemies: Germany and Russia. For more than a century, one (and sometimes both) threatened the country’s very existence. The German question was answered by World War II, but that conflict nonetheless resulted in Russian occupation, which lasted until the fall of the Soviet Union. Poland has thus been conditioned to distrust good fortune. The United States has guaranteed Poland’s security, placing increasing numbers of troops within its borders, yet the Poles are not at ease. Partly that’s because Washington has its own interests there, and history has taught Poland that those who do not attack you either betray you or let you down.

It’s unsurprising, then, that Poland was prepared to act in Ukraine at the outset of the conflict, and that it was disappointed when the Americans prevented them from doing so. (Washington didn’t want the war to spread anywhere else, and it didn’t want Moscow feeling more paranoid than it ordinarily does.) It’s also unsurprising that Poland doesn’t want a peace agreement. Warsaw sees this as a historic moment for Ukraine, and Kyiv’s supporters, including Poland, can use Russian weakness as an opportunity to break Russia militarily and secure Poland for generations to come. For them, the errant missile fire last week was a reminder of the threat Russia still poses.

The new geopolitics demands a new vocabulary


I was called out by a punk — a smart young Ph.D. student, actually — for referring to “the West” during a discussion of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She called it a dated concept that had little meaning in today’s geopolitics. She was right. “The West” has aged poorly. It lacks contours and credibility. We need a new construct to describe the ideas and the polities that can hold the international order together. I vote for ROPES, which stands for rules-oriented, process-embracing societies. I am claiming the trademark here and now.

“The West” has been with us for awhile. Derived from the Latin word “occidens,” meaning setting down or sunset, it was opposed to the “orient,” where the sun rose. Those distinctions assumed institutional significance with the split of the Catholic Church into the Western Roman and Eastern Orthodox churches. The two compass points took on an ideological tinge with the association of the West with ideas like democracy and market capitalism, while the East was tarred with the brush of despotism and similar concepts. (Writing history has its advantages.)