29 November 2022

How Do We Beat China In The Gray Zone?

James Holmes

Habits of Highly Effective Gray-Zone Competitors: How do we compete to good effect in the gray zone? We do so by developing strategic and operational habits fit for this murky seascape. As human beings, we are our habits. Or as the psychologist William James put it a century ago, we are “bundles of habits.” And we can shape our repertoires, and thus our professional and personal selves, by undertaking conscious and diligent effort. That’s because our character is “plastic,“ especially early in life.

By plastic James means “a structure weak enough to yield to an influence, but strong enough not to yield all at once.”

He likens the process to water eroding ruts in soil, a medium that’s pliant yet firm: “water, in flowing, hollows out for itself a channel, which grows broader and deeper; and, after having ceased to flow, it resumes, when it flows again, the path traced by itself before.” Thought and action follow their accustomed course. Youth are not—yet—set in their ways. They can choose where to dig their own ruts so that water traces the same pathways in the future.

How To Make Sure NATO Doesn’t Get Sucked Into The Ukraine War

Andrew A. Michta

Ukraine: The Next Phase of this War Will Unfold in the West – The recent incident in which a Ukrainian anti-missile rocket aimed at an incoming Russian rocket volley fell into the rural eastern Polish village of Przewodów, killing two farmers, brought home with renewed urgency the fact that the war in Ukraine can at any time escalate into a wider conflict, especially if Putin decides to target NATO territory along the flank.

The Ukraine War Touches Poland

The response from the alliance was swift, with Polish President Andrzej Duda reaching out to President Joe Biden and other critical leaders for consultation as the crisis unfolded. The very nature of the incident, which for a brief period of time until it was determined not to be a Russian attack on Poland, raised the prospect that NATO’s Article V could be invoked.

Ron Paul: Separate Tech And State

Ron Paul

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) recently got in touch with his inner mobster and threatened Elon Musk — the new owner of Twitter and the CEO of electric car company Tesla and space ventures company SpaceX. He told Musk, “Fix your companies” or “Congress will.” As part of this threat, Markey referred to an ongoing National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) investigation into Tesla’s autopilot driving system and Twitter’s 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Markey has done more than make threats: He is one of a group of Democratic senators who wrote to the FTC urging an investigation into whether Musk’s actions as the new owner of Twitter violated the consent decree or consumer protection laws. Since FTC Chair Lina Khan wants to investigate as many businesses as possible, it is likely she will respond favorably to the senators’ letter.

President Biden has also endorsed an investigation into the role foreign investors played in financing Musk’s Twitter purchase. Biden may be concerned that Musk is not likely to ban tweets regarding Hunter Biden’s business deals.

The Case For Defense: How Russia’s War On Ukraine Has Proved France Right

Pawel Zerka

The war in Ukraine has confirmed the validity of some European countries’ approach to Russia and their own defence. Poland can now feel vindicated in its longstanding distrust of Russia, as well as its insistence on the crucial role of the United States for European security. Meanwhile, Germany’s pre-2022 hope to convert Russia into a reliable partner through economic interdependence has turned out to be a pipe dream – pushing Chancellor Olaf Scholz to announce a German U-turn that includes a major rise in military spending and diversification of energy imports. For other member states, however, things are not as clear cut.

France is an especially striking and important example. The war just outside the European Union’s borders demonstrates the need to beef up the continent’s military capabilities – something which President Emmanuel Macron has advocated since 2017. Indeed, nuclear-capable France – with the most powerful military in the EU, a thriving defence industry, a security partnership with the United Kingdom, and a seat at the UN Security Council – has the best credentials to lead such a project. On other major questions of European security, one may note that France imported little gas from Russia, having taken the decision to expand generation of nuclear energy following the ‘oil shock’ of the 1970s. So, the war has likely helped Paris feel doubly justified: in its calls for Europe’s strategic autonomy over the years and in the value it has long placed on energy security .

Pakistan’s troubled ties with the Taliban

Ahmed Waqas Waheed

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.

Apple has relied on China’s efficient manufacturing for years. Then came zero-covid.

Matthew Zeitlin

China’s zero-covid policies threw a wrench in the entire supply chain just in time for the holidays.

Citing China’s covid-19 restrictions, Apple announced earlier this month that its facility in Zhengzhou, China, was “operating at significantly reduced capacity,” resulting in fewer and delayed shipments of the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max.

Meanwhile, Apple had already pulled back on manufacturing less expensive models of the iPhone 14 due to “softer demand,” according to Bloomberg. And, in another blow to the American business community’s relationship with China, the U.S. Department of Commerce had recently announced new restrictions on China’s semiconductor industry that may end Apple’s plans to use Chinese memory chips.

Deterrence and Ambiguity: Motivations behind Israel’s Nuclear Strategy

Pieter Zhao

Ever since Bernard Brodie’s influential work The Absolute Weapon (1946), theories around nuclear strategy have been centered around the concept of nuclear deterrence. This concept was reiterated in an article in NATO Review by Jessica Cox, Director of NATO’s Nuclear Policy Directorate, in which she emphasized that nuclear deterrence is still relevant and should be the main philosophy behind all nuclear weapon policies (Cox, 2020). Thus, deterrence—the threat to carry out a devastating attack—still dominates over defense as the main way to protect the state in nuclear strategy (Tannenwald, 2020). Major nuclear powers, like China, the United States, and Russia, are therefore happy to emphasize this deterrent effect by showing off their latest nuclear technologies. Yet, this dominant theory surrounding nuclear strategy often seems to be centered around the great nuclear powers and the balance between them. But are these principles actually applicable to all nuclear powers, including the regional ones? Following this question, this paper considers the case of Israel with its policy of ‘nuclear ambiguity’ based on a declassified memorandum retrieved from the Wilson Center Digital Archive. The article starts by introducing the source and evaluating its usefulness and reliability. Afterward, attention is shifted toward the necessary historical context before analyzing the source to address Israel’s nuclear policy and the dominant International Relations (IR) theories that underpin it.

How Iranian Women Are Charting the Course for Freedom

Ahou Koutchesfahani

More than two months have passed since Mahsa Jina Amini’s death in police custody on 16 September. She was charged for not wearing her headscarf ‘properly’. Amini’s tragic death sparked nationwide protests that demand freedom and an end to the tyranny of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Islamic Republic has responded with an iron fist, as it has many times before during civil unrest. Latest statistics reveal that the death toll has reached 344, of which 52 are children. 15,820 people have been arrested. The real numbers are likely higher. This time, however, the Islamic Republic’s brutal crackdown has failed in its attempt to quash the protests.

The current movement is an amalgamation of all the grievances protested against the Islamic Republic. These include decades of grave infringements on basic human and women’s rights, corruption, mismanagement and isolation from the world at the hands of the Islamic Republic. To be sure, uprisings have occurred before: in 1999 demanding justice and accountability for student murders, in 2009 for election rigging, and more recently and more frequently in 2017 and 2019 for the rising costs of fuel and food prices.

A Peaceful Resolution: Analysing Sustained Peace and Order in Mizoram

Priavi Joshi

With its extraordinary number of self-determination movements, Northeast India’s troubled post-colonial history does not fit easily into the standard narrative of democracy in India. On one count, there are over a hundred militias currently operating in the region — most have been formed with the agenda of liberating territories and can be classified as ethnic concerning their goals, compositions, and support bases (Baruah 19, 20). The state has adopted a series of military and political measures to quell such insurgencies. However, the sustained violence demonstrates that such measures have only managed to keep a lid on the politically volatile situation. Order and security, for both the State and its citizens, continue to remain elusive. Mizoram provides a stark exception to this. Since the signing of the Mizoram Peace Accord in 1986, organised violence has been largely absent from the state (Sharma 3). This is a definite achievement for a territory that was embroiled in conflict for nearly two decades. The central aim of this paper is to study this exception — given the context of ethnic turmoil and breakdown in other Northeastern states, why has Mizoram been able to sustain peace and order since the signing of the Mizo Accord?

The U.S. Should Follow the UK’s Lead on Countering Disinformation

William Coffin

When Elon Musk bought Twitter and set up the subscription service Twitter Blue, some enterprising Twitter users soon started to imitate politicians, businesses, and even Elon Musk. They used Twitter’s blue verification checkmark to spread disinformation, disrupting the stock market and public discourse. This episode alone demonstrates the continued power of disinformation, which has already impacted American elections and perceptions of the pandemic. Our adversaries, no doubt can find additional ways to influence Americans and do our country harm.

So, what should we do? The crisis in Ukraine showed us a way to counter and preempt these lies by utilizing the intelligence community’s ability to inform and provide intelligence to the public. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has been a leader in this technique, regularly tweeting out battlefield updates of the Ukrainian conflict. This information helps counter Russian false narratives and uses the Ministry of Defence’s credibility to offer a genuine alternative for the public.

Xi Jinping is taking advantage of Biden’s soft touch

The new export curbs U.S. President Joe Biden recently imposed on the Chinese chip industry to help slow Beijing’s technological and military advances have obscured his administration’s relatively conciliatory stance since taking office.

Even the export curbs have been undercut by exemptions granted to major Taiwanese and South Korean companies for their chipmaking facilities in China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, meanwhile, wants Biden to live up to “Five Nos” which Beijing claims the U.S. president has committed to: No to changing China’s authoritarian system; no to containing China; no to seeking U.S. economic decoupling from China; no to a policy of “one China, one Taiwan;” and no to conflict or a new Cold War with China.

According to the official Chinese readout of the two leaders’ recent meeting in Bali, “President Xi said he takes very seriously President Biden’s ‘Five Nos’ statement.”

What next for higher education? Here's an alternate learning model for the future

Sanjay E. Sarma

Higher education finds itself trapped in a distressing quandary. On the one hand, employers have voiced increasing concerns about the disconnect between education and employability. On the other, the cost of higher education is growing rapidly. In the US, for example, tuition fees have outpaced inflation significantly, and total debt has surpassed $1.75 trillion.

It should come as no surprise that public opinion of higher education in the US has plummeted in recent years and academic institutions find themselves embroiled in an increasingly polarized debate. And for all that, the health of many academic institutions in the US is precarious – indicating that the structural issues are deep-rooted.

The problems are global too: many nations subsidize higher education significantly, and government expenditures are high as 2.5% of GDP, while the employability gap is often even more pronounced than in the US.

A Leak Details Apple’s Secret Dirt on a Trusted Security Startup


CORELLIUM, A CYBERSECURITY startup that sells phone-virtualization software for catching security bugs, offered or sold its tools to controversial government spyware and hacking-tool makers in Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Russia, and to a cybersecurity firm with potential ties to the Chinese government, according to a leaked document reviewed by WIRED that contains internal company communications.

The 507-page document, apparently prepared by Apple with the goal of using it in the company’s 2019 copyright lawsuit against Corellium, shows that the security firm, whose software lets users perform security analysis using virtual versions of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, has dealt with companies that have a track record of selling their tools to repressive regimes and countries with poor human rights records.

According to the leaked document, Corellium in 2019 offered a trial of its product to NSO Group, whose customers have for years been caught using its Pegasus spyware against dissidents, journalists, and human rights defenders. Similarly, Corellium’s sales staff offered to provide a quote to purchase its software to DarkMatter, a now-shuttered cybersecurity company with ties with the UAE government that hired several former US intelligence members who reportedly helped it spy on human rights activists and journalists.

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.

Ukraine held off Russia for nine months. Here’s what it needs to keep going.


WARSAW — “The Ukrainians are fighting for their and for our freedom,” said Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak in the opening session of the annual Warsaw Security Forum (WSF) on Oct. 4. “We are committed to their [Ukraine’s] position being as strong as possible and to finish the conflict as soon as possible.”

Błaszczak’s position of steadfast and unqualified support for Ukraine was echoed throughout the event, the largest gathering of high-profile defense and foreign policy specialists to take place since the beginning of Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s so-called “Special Military Operation.” The consensus among European defense chiefs at the event was that Putin has no sincere interest in a brokered settlement; He will, they project, continue to try to prosecute hostilities until he understands that Russia has no prospects for prevailing in this conflict.

Which, attendees at Warsaw event seemed to agree, means the way forward is simple: continue to arm Ukraine until the local forces are able to throw the Russians out. In the weeks since the Forum ended, Russia has continued to suffer heavy losses, including the stunning public announcement by its defense leadership that it would be withdrawing from the Kherson region of Ukraine entirely.

Czech army leader calls for ‘biggest rearmament of the army in the country’s history’


DUBLIN — In a remarkable speech in Prague today, the Czech Republic’s most senior army leader demanded, as an “absolute necessity.” that the service embarks on its “biggest rearmament” ever.

Major General Karel Řehka, chief of the General Staff of the Czech Republic Army, told delegates at the Command Assembly convened to announce the army’s strategic and procurement plans for 2023 that “serious challenges await us,” as he reflected on the “crisis” in Ukraine.

“The biggest rearmament of the army in the country’s history is no longer just a wish, but an absolute necessity,” Řehka said.

General Dynamics, Amazon and more form 5G accelerator coalition

Megan Crouse

A new coalition of organizations with expertise in defense technology will push for more 5G adoption. General Dynamics Information Technology, a business unit of General Dynamics, has partnered with other industry giants to create an edge and 5G accelerator coalition.

Amazon Web Services, Cisco, Dell Technologies, Splunk and T-Mobile will make up the coalition, with which they intend to promote 5G, advanced wireless and edge technologies for government agencies.

The coalition is focused around GDIT’s Advanced Wireless Emerge Lab, which will be used for developing new 5G and edge use cases and developing prototypes and solutions. The goal will be to make these solutions customizable.

Sharper: Chips Analysis from CNAS experts on the most critical challenges for U.S. foreign policy.

Anna Pederson

The reliance on semiconductor chips, from accomplishing everyday tasks to fighting wars, has placed them at the center of geopolitical decisions by leaders around the world. Recent export controls by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security was the latest move to limit Chinese production. CNAS experts are sharpening the conversation around control of the chips market, and how they influence foreign policy decisions. Continue reading this edition of Sharper to explore their analysis, commentary, and recommendations.

The U.S. government has played a major role in the semiconductor industry since the invention of the first integrated circuit, via funding scientific research and via military procurement, which has driven the commercialization of new technology. However, though government—and specifically, the Defense Department—has had deep connections with the chip industry, it has played only a supportive role in building America’s semiconductor industry, with the key innovations and firms emerging from private-sector expertise. Chris Miller explores lessons the U.S. could learn as it considers industrial policy for the first time in decades.

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.”

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.