27 December 2022

India’s Global Ambitions Begin at Home

Chietigj Bajpaee

India is in the global limelight as it takes on the presidency of the G-20 and completes a two-year stint on the United Nations Security Council. It also took over the presidency of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in September, the same month it hosted a meeting of senior Quad officials.

However, it is important to recognize that we have been here before. The world was touting India’s moment during the economic liberalization under Prime Minister Narasimha Rao (1991-96), the bolder foreign policy of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (1998-2004), and the country’s near double-digit growth during the early years of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (2004-14).

Much of the reason for India being unable to live up to its global potential is that economic reform has historically been the weakest link of New Delhi’s external engagement. While India escaped the shackles of the infamous “Hindu rate of growth” in the post-Cold War period, it continued to face an equally cumbersome “Indian rate of policymaking” rooted in problems of bureaucratic inertia and poor inter-ministerial coordination.

India to Finance Mongolia’s Greenfield Oil Refinery Plant

Bolor Lkhaajav

In November, Mongolia and India closed a $1.2 billion soft loan to finance Mongolia’s greenfield oil refinery plant in the South Gobi. To diversify Mongolia’s energy sector, Ulaanbaatar is putting its third-neighbor foreign policy into economic practice.

Since Mongolia and India boosted their bilateral relations from “spiritual partners” to strategic partners in 2015, the two countries’ economic ties have improved. The signing ceremony between Mongol Refinery and Megha Engineering & Infrastructures Limited (MEIL) included the participation of Mongolian Deputy Prime Minister Amarsaikhan Sainbuyan, India’s Ambassador to Mongolia M. P. Singh, Economic Advisor to the President of Mongolia Davaadalai Batsuuri, and officials from Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mongolia and India.

Mongolia’s natural resources, the main driver of the country’s economy, are indeed a foreign policy matter. In addition, Mongolia’s landlocked position between the two giants – Russia and China – means it takes extra effort for Ulaanbaatar to attract foreign investments from third-neighbor countries. Hence, the India-Mongolia joint oil refinery is something to recognize.

China’s Unemployment Problem Could Be More Serious Than Statistics Imply

China is now facing a severe unemployment issue, and its magnitude s likely to be significantly underestimated previously.

According to data from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), from January to November 2022, the average surveyed urban unemployment rate across the country was 5.6%. In the same month, the national surveyed urban unemployment rate was 5.7%, an increase of 0.2 percentage points from October. The unemployment rate of the local household registration labor force survey was 5.5%. For non-local household registration labor, it was 6.2%. For the labor force aged 16-24, the unemployment rate was 17.1%, a decrease of 0.8 percentage points from the previous month. For those aged 25-59, it was 5.0%, an increase of 0.3 percentage points from the previous month. The rate in 31 large cities and towns of the country was 6.7%.

China, the US, and a Tale of 2 Professors

Hemant Adlakha

The drastic deterioration of China-U.S. relations in recent years has led to unprecedented cynicism, fear, and disappointment among students, researchers, and scholars on both sides of the Pacific. In America, out of growing concern that the prevailing “outcompete-and-beat-China” mindset in the White House was making U.S. foreign policy “suffer” from an unhealthy focus on China, the scholar Jessica Chen Weiss spent her sabbatical year as a senior adviser on the policy-planning staff at the U.S. Department of State in the Biden administration, hoping to help shape the U.S. policy toward China.

In August, Weiss, a young professor of government policy at Cornell University, published her concerns in a Foreign Affairs article detailing her worries that “every [U.S.] interaction with China is now seen as a zero-sum game.” The article, “The China Trap,” catapulted her to the front ranks of the growing number of public intellectuals who have emerged “as a kind of loyal and measured opposition to a rare case of bipartisan consensus in Washington – that China must be countered at all costs.”

In sharp contrast, in China today, in an atmosphere increasingly filled with anti-American sentiment and hypernationalism, a widely respected IR professor with over three decades of expertise specializing in the China-U.S. bilateral relationship has been smeared as Qinmeipai, or a “pro-U.S. element.” Professor Shi Yinhong stands accused by the country’s hawkish intelligentsia of using his writings to appease the United States and undermine the worldview of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Report: China’s Imports of Chip Manufacturing Equipment Fell 40%

Jane Edwards

China’s imports of semiconductor-making machinery dropped 40 percent from November last year to $2.3 billion following the October release of U.S. restrictions on the export of advanced chips and semiconductor manufacturing equipment to the nation, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

In October, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security implemented new export controls on advanced computing chips and semiconductor production items as part of efforts to safeguard U.S. national security by restricting China’s access to such technologies that could advance its military modernization efforts and surveillance activities.

China’s purchase of American-made chip-making equipment plunged to $349 million in November, reflecting a nearly 50 percent drop from a year earlier and a decline of nearly 30 percent from September, according to data supplied by Beijing.

The PLA’s Strategic Support Force and AI Innovation

Amy J. Nelson and Gerald L. Epstein

In recent years, as progress in artificial intelligence (AI) has accelerated, nearly every major power has pledged to develop advanced AI capabilities and effectively integrate AI into their armed forces. Yet none have pursued those efforts as purposefully as China. Not only has Beijing issued an ambitious plan to make China the world’s leading AI power by 2030, but the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has unveiled an aggressive innovation-driven strategy for the Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Likewise, Xi Jinping, the General Secretary of the CCP, has consistently emphasized China’s commitment to AI development and “intelligent warfare”– most recently in his landmark report this fall to the 20th Party Congress.

If China’s strategic ambitions for AI are clear, how it intends to integrate AI into the PLA remains opaque. The CCP’s goals for militarized AI are still shrouded in mystery, even as the PLA clearly views AI as a technology that will be vital for driving next-generation warfare.

However, the recently established PLA Strategic Support Force (SSF) offers at least some clues into how Beijing aims to infuse AI capabilities throughout the military. Although the precise purpose of the SSF is not yet well understood, the organization has been charged with something like a mandate to innovate and tasked with integrating numerous “strategic functions.” Given the breadth of its organizational structure and mandate, the SSF appears to be at the forefront of the PLA’s efforts to modernize around new technologies like AI.

A Comparative Study of Non-State Violent Drone use in the Middle East

Yannick Veilleux-Lepage, Emil Archambault

Executive Summary:

This report examines the drone programs of five non-state groups operating in the Middle East: Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthi Movement, Islamic State (IS), and the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK). In contrast to other violent non-state actors, these five groups have shown that they are willing to engage in tactical and/or technical innovation in the use of drones, have sustained a long-term engagement with drone technology and demonstrated the capacity to develop drone infrastructure. The development of drone programs by these five different groups is different in terms of timescales, methods, strategies, and tactics. Therefore, the report rejects the notion that all non-state groups’ drone programs follow a similar course of development. Instead, it argues that a terrorist group’s use of drones needs to be situated within the context of that group’s overarching strategic goals. Because of this, we argue that states and militaries that are going up against these groups need to first understand what a specific group hopes to accomplish with drones in order to fully comprehend the specific threat, and secondly understand the specific challenges presented by innovation within drone programs (as opposed to episodic drone use). This report outlines offers a framework for the study of drone innovation which is not limited to these groups, but which could also apply to other groups in the future. It does this by describing five different routes that non-state actors have taken to develop drone technology.

This paper has made three important additions to the body of knowledge on this topic through systematic empirical data collection and analysis.

I’m a former Syrian civil society activist. Syrians can’t tell Iranians how to win, but we can share lessons we learned the hard way.

Ibrahim Al-Assil

In my previous life, I was a civil society activist and strategist. I invested a long time studying the literature of protest movements. For most of the last decade, I was part of the Syrian Nonviolence Movement, where I had the honor to work alongside inspiring activists and learn from and with them. I have some thoughts to share with my Iranian friends. Syrians can’t tell you how to win, but we can share lessons we learned the hard way.Keep in mind you are in a marathon, not a sprint. This means your path is much longer and more complex than you might expect. It also means your path has much more potential than you think. Your journey will change not only your relationship with your government and society but also your understanding of yourself, your values, and your purpose.

Long-term planning is vital. You are not the strongest player—your only chance to survive is by being the smartest and the fastest. Strategizing is way more important than protesting. You do not need to protest to survive, but you definitely need to strategize.

Build your own civil society think tanks. Create strategy groups to analyze the present, think of the future, and provide recommendations for various grassroots initiatives. Consider this question: what are the possible scenarios for how things could evolve in Iran? What are worst-case scenarios? For the exercise, be as pessimistic as possible and plan accordingly. Remember, you cannot avoid what you cannot see.

How the Battle for the Donbas Shaped Ukraine’s Success

Rob Lee, Michael Kofman

As the Russian-Ukrainian War enters the winter, Ukrainians have reason to be cautiously optimistic about the course of the war. Following a strategic offensive at the end of August in multiple regions, Ukrainian forces have retaken nearly all of Kharkiv Oblast, parts of the Donetsk Oblast, and the right bank of Kherson Oblast. Several factors enabled Ukrainian offensives in Kherson and Kharkiv, but much of that success stems from the earlier Battle for the Donbas. Russia’s advances in the Donbas, from April to July, proved to be a pyrrhic victory, tactical successes at the expense of strategic vision. Russia expended valuable manpower and artillery ammunition, while Ukraine pursued a defense-in-depth strategy. By September, NATO arms deliveries had reduced Russia’s critical advantage in artillery and Moscow didn’t have sufficient forces or ammunition to hold the territory occupied, which set the stage for Ukraine’s successful offensives.
The battle for the Donbas bled the Russian military of manpower, at a time when it lacked the forces to both hold captured territory and continue offensives. The Russian military offset this deficit by dramatically increasing its rate of artillery fire. This burned through Russia’s second most critical resource, artillery ammunition. The net effect of both decisions showed itself in the fall, when Russia lacked the manpower to defend Kharkiv and the artillery ammunition to hold defensive lines in Kherson. Since then, Moscow has been able to compensate for the manpower deficit with mobilization, but recent fighting in Bakhmut suggests Russian forces are conserving ammunition, no longer firing at the rate they did in earlier phases of the war.

The Role of Nuclear Weapons in Russia’s Strategic Deterrence

In the West, Russia’s nuclear deterrence strategy is often described as one of “escalate to deescalate”. The thinking goes that Moscow is prepared to use nuclear weapons at an early stage in a conflict in order to “deescalate” and terminate the confrontation quickly in its favour. However, Russia’s official military doctrine, nuclear exercises of the Russian military, and debates among political and military elites have so far pointed in a different direction. With the concept of “strategic deterrence”, Russia has developed a holistic deterrence strategy in which nuclear weapons remain an important element. Yet, to gain more flexibility below the nuclear threshold in order to manage escalation, the strategy also conceptualises a broad range of non-military and conventional means. Given Russia’s dwindling arsenal of conventional precision weapons due to its war against Ukraine as well as the strategic adaptation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Russia’s strategy is likely to change: In the coming years, Russia’s reliance on its non-strategic nuclear weapons will probably increase. These developments could both undermine crisis stability in Europe and further impede the prospects for nuclear arms control in the future.

Over the past decades, Russia has carried out a comprehensive modernisation of its nuclear forces. As part of this, it has not only replaced legacy delivery systems, but also developed entirely new capabilities. The size of the strategic arsenal of the Soviet Union and Russia has historically not been determined by specific targeting requirements. One of the main objectives has in­stead been to achieve numerical parity with the United States. Today, Russia has an active nuclear arsenal of about 4,500 nuclear warheads. About 1,600 of these warheads are deployed on land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and at heavy bomber bases. At present, the New START Treaty with the United States still limits Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal. However, the treaty expires in 2026. Since Russia currently has around 1,000 addition­al warheads in storage, it would then have the possibility to substantially increase the num­ber of its deployed strategic nuclear weapons.

Ten Myths About US Aid To Ukraine – Analysis

Luke Coffey

Ukraine is in a national struggle that will determine its geopolitical future: the country will either be a firm member of the Euro-Atlantic community or become a Russian colony. The outcome of this struggle will have long-term implications for America’s global interests, the future of the transatlantic community, and the notion of national sovereignty in the twenty-first century.

Russia is a top geopolitical adversary for the United States. For Americans who believe in strong and secure national borders, the primacy of national sovereignty, and the right to self- defense, support for Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression is natural. Considering America’s other geopolitical concerns, such as a rising China and a healthy economic relationship with Europe that benefits the American worker, US support forUkraine is an imperative.

Ukrainians are not asking for, nor do they want, US troops to help them fight Russia. All they ask for is the equipment, weapons, munitions, and financial resources required to give them a fighting chance. Providing Ukraine what it needs to fight Russia effectively will not be cheap.

Sanctions Won’t End Russia’s War in Ukraine

Mariya Grinberg

On December 7, the European Commission proposed a new sanctions package to coerce Russia to end its invasion of Ukraine. After the previous eight sanctions packages, the costs of the sanctions regime for Europe are mounting. With winter approaching and temperatures dropping, and as a direct consequence of severing trade with Russia, Europe is preparing for electricity outages, a lack of lighting and heat, and temporary cuts in internet and mobile service. Yet the war continues, with Russia escalating to a campaign of missile strikes against Ukrainian energy infrastructure.

Indeed, it is the collective nature of the sanctions—the process of their development and implementation—that allows Russia to circumvent the worst of the intended economic pain. Each member of the sanctioning coalition is incentivized to decrease the individual burden felt from severing economic relations with Russia. This not only reduces the effectiveness of the ultimate compromise, but also provides Russia with lead time to adjust to future sanctions and incentivizes Western firms to increase trade with Russia before sanctions are imposed.

To overcome this problem, some might suggest more, better-designed sanctions or more comprehensive sanctions, seeking the full economic isolation of Russia. But such solutions come at a much higher cost than the benefits they might bring.

South Koreans Have the World’s Most Negative Views of China. Why?

Richard Q. Turcsanyi and Esther E. Song

When asked about general views of China, 81 percent of South Korean respondents expressed negative or very negative sentiments. That is (substantially) more than in any of the 56 countries surveyed worldwide as part of the Sinophone Borderlands project. What makes South Koreans so negative about China? And what are the foreign policy implications?

Uniquely Negative on China

South Korea used to be known for its balancing act between its ally and security guarantor, the United States, and its leading economic partner and increasingly dominant neighbor, China. In the past, this was also visible at the public opinion level. According to Pew Research, in 2015, South Koreans were relatively positive about China, when only 37 percent of them held unfavorable views.

However, Korean attitudes toward China turned sharply negative over subsequent years. This is usually explained as a result of the tensions in bilateral relations surrounding the deployment of the U.S. anti-ballistic missile system THAAD, which was announced in 2016.

5 of Russia's biggest blunders throughout Putin's war in Ukraine


US and Western officials have widely denounced Putin's campaign as a "failure."

After 300 days of fighting in Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin's military has little to show for its efforts.

Putin expected his forces to capture Kyiv in a matter of days after launching a full-scale invasion on February 24. In recent months, Ukrainian forces have liberated thousands of square miles of territory — including the only regional capital that Russian forces managed to capture.

Russia's campaign has been widely denounced by US and Western officials as a "failure," and it now faces estimates of more than 100,000 casualties — a toll that continues to rise.

From Russia's botched invasion to Putin's miscalculation of the Western response, here are some of the biggest mistakes Moscow has made during its unprovoked war in Ukraine.

Freedom from fear: A BBC Reith Lecture

Fiona Hill

2022 is the centenary of the BBC. It is also the 100th anniversary of the creation of the USSR from the remnants of the Russian Empire. In 1922, Vladimir Lenin and the Bolsheviks cemented power in Russia after five years of revolution and civil war, all against the backdrop of World War I and the Great Influenza. 1922 was the end of one tumultuous period and the beginning of another, an era that saw the rise of the Soviet Union and other authoritarian states, and a second outbreak of world war.

Today, we are in a similar period of turmoil. Our world is disrupted by a multi-year global pandemic, mounting climate disasters, and wracked by the fear of a nuclear conflict sparked by Vladimir Putin’s efforts to reforge the Russian empire. Since February 24, 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine, we have found ourselves embroiled in what Russian President Putin has called a “Special Military Operation.” In reality, this is a full-blown war. It is the third major power conflict over territory in Europe in just over a century. And like the others before it, this war has global reverberations, threatening the energy, food, and climate security of populations far away from Europe, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

The hundred-year timespan we acknowledge today, is infused with an eerie parallelism. 1914 saw the beginning of World War I when the German army invaded the “Low Countries” of Belgium and Luxembourg and then France. 2014 was the beginning of the current war in Ukraine, initiated by Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in March that year and the manufacturing of a conflict in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

The future of banks: A $20 trillion breakup opportunity

Balázs Czímer, Miklós Dietz, Valéria László, and Joydeep Sengupta

The banking sector is at a turning point. Key measures for banks are at a historical low point. The sector’s price-to-book value has fallen to less than one-third the value of other industries. That gap is less the result of current profitability and more about uncertain profit growth in the future. While banks have pushed for great improvements recently, margins are shrinking—down more than 25 percent in the past 15 years and expected to fall to 30 percent, another 20 percent decrease, in the next decade.

Regulation and increasing intersectional competition are still worries, but the bigger threat is a global trend: new challenges—often from different industries and often benefiting from the kind of cross-industry platforms behind the recent success of companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, PayPal, and Spotify—with a vastly superior economic model. The market believes that banks are headed in the wrong direction, without a future-proof strategy.

We believe that the skeptics are right about today—and wrong about tomorrow. Banking is facing a future marked by fundamental restructuring. But we also believe that banks that successfully manage this transition will become bigger and more profitable and grow faster while leading to a value creation opportunity of up to $20 trillion.1

What’s the most important lesson of the war in Ukraine? 15 experts gave us their answers.

Tom Nagorski,  and Joshua Keating

As 2022 draws to a close and the war in Ukraine reaches the 10-month mark with no end in sight, Grid turned to a pool of experts to answer a simple but profound question:

What do you believe has been the most important lesson of the war in Ukraine?

We asked former commanders and intelligence officials, scholars of Europe and NATO, experts in nuclear security and military history, leading analysts in the fields of media and human rights. We asked a former CIA director, a former prime minister, and a former Russian TV presenter. Fifteen people in all, each of whom has contributed to Grid’s coverage of the war.

Some gave their answers in brief — in one case, a lesson in just three words. Others offered several paragraphs. Their answers ranged from issues of morale to military preparedness, from the power of strong leadership to the importance of history. One warned that if certain lessons went unheeded, a U.S. conflict with China might be more likely.

We’ve grouped the contributors in alphabetical order and edited their answers only slightly, for clarity.

Preparing For The Final Collapse Of The Soviet Union

Luke Coffey

The fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev as president of the Soviet Union in 1991 marked the start of the USSR’s collapse—but not the collapse itself. While the USSR ceased to exist as a legal entity after 1991, the collapse of the USSR is still happening today. The two Chechen Wars, Russia’s invasion of Georgia in 2008, Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the on-and-off border skirmishes between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and the 2020 Second Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan are just a few examples showing that the Soviet Union is still collapsing today.

However, future historians will likely describe Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine as the most consequential moment, if not the final moment, of the Soviet Union’s collapse. When the war in Ukraine will end is unknown, but it will likely mark the dissolution of the Russian Federation (the legal successor of the Soviet Union) as it is known today. Russia has undeniably suffered a major blow to its economy, devastation to its military capability, and degradation of its influence in regions where it once had clout. The borders of the Russian Federation will likely not look the same on a map in 10 or 20 years as they do now. As the final collapse of the Soviet Union plays out and as the Russian Federation faces the possibility of dissolving, policymakers need to start planning for the new geopolitical reality on the Eurasian landmass.

Great Power Use Of Lawfare: Is The Joint Force Prepared?

Stephen R. Schiffman

The joint force is in a period of introspection, realizing, after two decades of counterinsurgency operations, that it has lost its monopoly on power. When military professionals and scholars discuss the ways the character of war has changed, they focus most on the blurring of traditional elements of conflict—that is, the gray zone.1 U.S. adversaries have become increasingly adept over the past quarter-century at achieving their goals in a manner that is deliberately designed to remain below the threshold of conventional military conflict and open interstate war. One such method, the use of lawfare, involves using law as a weapon to achieve a particular objective. The application of law as a means and method of war is not new. However, in today’s era of Great Power competition, Russia and China expertly combine lawfare with information operations, while the U.S. Government, possessing substantial capacity, has no overarching lawfare strategy. This article serves as a primer on the topic of lawfare, discusses its use by Russia, China, and the United States, and finally, reviews ways in which senior leaders must respond with changes to the organization of legal capabilities.
History of Lawfare

Lawfare, although a relatively new term, has always been particularly well-suited to competition below the threshold of conventional military conflict. Indeed, the use of law as a weapon of war arguably goes back to the early 1600s, when Hugo Grotius, the so-called father of modern international law, promoted the idea of the freedom of the seas.2 He thereby secured seafaring trade routes for the Dutch East India Company, an objective that Dutch military power could never have obtained in open conflict with Portugal’s naval command.3 As other nations accepted his premises, not only was the concept of international law born but also a new method for achieving aims against an adversarial country without war.

2022 REVIEW: Why has Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine invasion gone so badly wrong?

Peter Dickinson

When Vladimir Putin launched the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, he was expecting a quick and decisive victory that would cement his place in Russian history and reverse the verdict of 1991 by extinguishing Ukrainian independence once and for all. Instead, the year draws to a close with his army demoralized by successive defeats and Russia’s reputation as a military superpower in tatters.

In the first days of the invasion, it soon became clear that things were not going according to plan. Far from greeting Russian troops as liberators, the Ukrainian nation rose up in defiance. Kremlin intelligence forecasts predicting the rapid collapse of the Ukrainian military also proved wildly inaccurate. On the contrary, Ukrainian forces fought back with unexpected skill and ferocity, leading to catastrophic Russian losses.

By the end of March, Russia had conceded defeat in the Battle of Kyiv and withdrawn entirely from northern Ukraine. Putin responded to this setback by regrouping his decimated forces in eastern Ukraine and concentrating on completing the occupation of the Donbas region. Despite initial success due to Russia’s overwhelming artillery advantage, this offensive had largely stalled by midsummer with the initiative passing to Ukraine.

It’s Complicated

Edward Lucas

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s pre-Christmas trip to Washington, DC, marks a new stage in Ukraine’s patient, exhausting, and still-unfinished education of the outside world. Again and again this year, Ukrainians have confounded expectations. A country divided between “Ukrainian speakers” and “Russian speakers”? Gone. A corrupt, oligarchic state ruling over an apathetic population? Gone. A bastion of Nazi nostalgia? Gone. Amateur soldiers unable to use modern weapons? Gone. A showbiz president hopelessly out of his depth? Gone.

Whereas Ukraine has exploded old stereotypes, on the other side of the frontlines, Russia has been working hard on reinforcing them. Soviet-style militaristic bombast? Again it fills the airwaves. Rumors and jokes as political currency? You bet. Vladimir Putin’s wobbly health fuels speculation and wisecracks, recalling the era of Yuri Andropov and Leonid Brezhnev. Russian behavior in occupied Ukrainian territories revives decades-old memories of the Soviet seizure of power in the captive nations. Again, children are kidnapped and brainwashed, history rewritten, and elites purged. And the occupiers’ primitive behavior in the face of comfort and modernity (looting washing machines) would be comical were it not so horrible in other respects (rape and torture).

How Much Cash And Bullets Should America Give Ukraine?

Daniel Davis

According to several U.S. media reports, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will meet in Washington on Wednesday with President Biden, and is tentatively scheduled to address a joint session of Congress. The purpose of the visit is clear: to obtain for Ukraine yet more financial and military support from the United States for his war against Russia.

Since the beginning of 2022, the United States has already provided, by far, more money and military support to Kyiv than any other single country. Before the president and Congress get too eager to give away yet more American taxpayer dollars, Congress should require of the White House a clearly articulated explanation of how any further contributions are in support of America’s vital national interests.

According to the Kiel Institute’s Ukraine Support Tracker, as of November 20, the United States has thus far contributed over $50 billion to Kyiv’s war effort. The total contribution from the 27 members of the European Union is $55 billion – but the single biggest contributing nation on the continent is Germany at approximately $15 billion.

Drones Have Become A Revolution In Military Affairs

Dr. Theodore Karasik

Today’s use of drones and munitions is a revolution in military affairs, or RMA. Too many analyses suffer from misunderstandings that have been feeding into drone use, specifically Iran’s ability to create its doctrine and its exports.

Research shows that advances in technology can bring about dramatic changes in military operations, often termed RMAs. Such technology-driven changes in military operations are not merely a recent phenomenon — they have been occurring since the dawn of history and will continue to occur in the future. And they will continue to bestow a military advantage on the first nation to develop and use them.

Studies reveal that militaries being willing to conduct operations in new ways and establish new promotion pathways for trainees who practice a new way of war, with mechanisms for experimentation so they can discover, learn, test and demonstrate new ideas, can be seen from Ukraine to Yemen. It is important to note that some scholars argue that RMAs have little to no influence beyond the tactical and operational levels of confrontation and war. This approach is mistaken, as there has been an evolution in thought.

The Metaverse Doesn’t Have a Leg to Stand On

IT ONLY TAKES four words to sum up the absurd trajectory of the tech world in 2022: “Legs are coming soon!”

This October, Meta announced an improvement to its metaverse, Horizon Worlds. To show off the new feature, the company released a clip of Mark Zuckerberg’s Horizon Worlds avatar happily lifting each leg, then jumping. Previously, people who strapped on a $400 headset to explore Meta’s virtual space saw avatars with floating cartoon torsos. Now they would have lower bodies, too. Even feet.

Did Meta expect this to impress? Well—it didn’t. Instead, the cheerful message about impending appendages was met with mockery. Legs couldn’t save Horizon Worlds’ crumbling reputation. Meta had spent $36 billion to morph into a metaverse company, to manifest an immersive, globally accessible virtual-reality world that runs permanently alongside this one. Yet Horizon Worlds was a glitchy ghost town. The people who did use it were creeps or children (even though they’re technically not allowed). Not even Meta’s own employees took to it. Here was one of the most powerful corporations on the planet pouring Bond-villain-level resources into the creation of its next transformative tech project … and the best it could do appeared to be a janky Second Life knockoff nobody likes.

The Pentagon is in its AI era: 5 stories from 2022


WASHINGTON — Writing about artificial intelligence, cyber and networks can be dry. But it’s a vital topic to stay on top of when the next conflict might be fought with ones and zeros as much as it is with missiles and bullets.

So, as the staid Pentagon raced to catch up to the digital age, there was plenty to write about. Below are my top five stories, that I think, as the Breaking Defense Gen-Z ambassador, slayed. [Editor’s Note: What’s that mean?]

As the title says, the Pentagon is in its AI era. Among the many investments the Defense Department is making in that area, it stood up a brand new AI office earlier this year and hired a Silicon Valley heavy hitter to lead it. In April I got the chance to exclusively interview the new Chief Digital and AI Officer Craig Martell, a former Lyft exec, on his priorities for the next year and the benefits and challenges of DoD hiring someone as technically minded as him.

The Top 23 Security Predictions for 2023 (Part 1)

Dan Lohrmann

President Ronald Reagan once said, “The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave.”

So what will come next in our world of cybersecurity as we head into 2023? What will be hot, and what will not?

That’s what this annual security prediction roundup will cover, from the perspective of the top cybersecurity industry companies, thought leaders, tech executives and journalists. Every year I catalog and rank the best reports in the cyber industry to see who has made a top New Year’s security prediction list and checked it twice.

This year there are so many good predictions that we’ve split the list into two parts. Look for part 2 to post next Friday, Dec. 30, but first, let’s start with the top 12.


Back in 2016, I wrote, “Americans love baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and predictions. In fact, if we really like something a lot, and especially if we have a growing interest in some new area of life, it’s not long before we start thinking about what the future holds within that area.”

Ukraine at D+299: Cyber operations 300 days into the war.

Little has changed on the ground. President Putin was in Minsk yesterday, the New York Times writes, to shore up the support of his junior partner, President Lukashenka, in "unified defense." The AP reports that Moldova is worried that it may be next on the Kremlin's invasion list, with Transnistria playing the role Donetsk played in Ukraine--a nominally breakaway province occupied by Russian forces.

According to the Telegraph, Russia claims to have shot down several US-supplied HARM missiles it says Ukrainian forces fired toward Russian territory around Belgorod this week. This seems unlikely, the HARM being a relatively small, fast, short-ranged, air-launched missile, but it's not entirely impossible. If the report is true, however, what's interesting is that Ukraine has been using HARMs. The HARM is a radar-killer, designed for suppression of enemy air defenses, the "SEAD" mission. If in fact Ukraine is firing HARMs at Russian fire control radars, that suggests that a Ukrainian air campaign is in the offing. If, again, the Kremlin reports are true.
Managing expectations.

The UK's Ministry of Defence this morning offered a take on Friday's meeting between President Putin and senior military officers. "On 16 December, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the Joint Headquarters of the Special Military Operation. Putin was filmed meeting with a number of senior military officers including Chief of General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu. He invited proposals for next steps of the Special Military Operation. Commander of the Russian Group of Forces in Ukraine, General Sergey Surovikin, was one of those who presented a report. In this choreographed meeting Putin likely intended to demonstrate collective responsibility for the special military operation. This display likely aimed to deflect Putin’s responsibility for military failure, high fatality rates and increasing public dissatisfaction from mobilisation. The televised footage was probably designed to also dispel social media rumours of General Gerasimov’s dismissal."

Russian fighter jets are struggling in Ukraine, but Ukraine can't beat their missiles and radars, researchers say


The Russian air force's lack of success over Ukraine — and the surprising resilience of Ukrainian airpower — has often obscured a grim fact: Ukraine's air force faces a foe with superior aircraft and missiles.

Given Russia's advantages in numbers and hardware, Ukraine could still lose the air war without Western help, no matter how successful Ukrainian pilots have been, according to a Royal United Services Institute report on the first five months of the war.

While the Russian air force has limited its operations over Ukrainian-controlled territory, in part because of its losses, some Russian fighters can destroy Ukrainian planes with long-range air-to-air missiles while remaining out of range of Ukrainian aircraft.

"Ukrainian pilots confirm that Russia's Su-30SM and Su-35S completely outclass Ukrainian Air Force fighter aircraft on a technical level," the report said, noting that the long-range "look-down, shoot-down" capabilities of their N011M Bars and N035 Irbis-E radars enable them to detect low-flying Ukrainian aircraft despite ground clutter.

Does Size Matter in Nuclear Affairs?

Peter Huessy

John Isaacs, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, writes in the National Interest on December 17, 2022, the number of nuclear weapons that the United States needs for deterrence is somewhere between two and three hundred warheads, some ninety percent less than the current force endorsed by the recently released 2022 Nuclear Posture Review. He further declares that the United States can unilaterally reduce its numbers irrespective of the warhead levels deployed by China and Russia, which combined now approach three thousand deployed strategic warheads.

He bases this number on what is needed to deter Russia and China, or Iran or North Korea, on the notion that three hundred nuclear warheads detonated on Russian soil have the same destructive capability similar to the metrics adopted by former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara as what was needed to deter the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War—which was to kill at least one-third of the Russian people and two-thirds of their industry.

However, McNamara was counting on a US force of many thousands of warheads. How one hundred deployed retaliatory weapons could achieve such destruction is not revealed by Issacs.

Combatant Commands Must Jettison the Forward Operating Base

Ramon Marks

In a world where multipolar challenges are rising, the strategic role played by U.S. Combatant Commands and forward operating bases in the national security framework must be reassessed. Even though the United States is no longer the global military hegemon, the Combatant Command structure remains centered on that assumption, striving for dominance in regions assigned to each Command, particularly the Indo-Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East. Those efforts battle the reality that in the modern world the United States increasingly lacks the resources and means necessary to continue to project military dominance everywhere. It cannot fight and win conventional wars in the South China Sea, Europe, and the Middle East simultaneously.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet, the Third Marine Expeditionary Force, the U.S. Army in Korea, and the Air Force Pacific are all exposed to any conventional conflict by their logistical dependence on forward operating bases (FOBs), mainly in Japan, South Korea, and Guam, which are thousands of miles from the U.S. mainland. U.S. bases in Europe face similar issues in the event of conflict with Russia. None of those bases can continue to be legitimately regarded as sanctuaries. They all fall within the bracketed range of Chinese, North Korean, and Russian missile and strike capabilities. Even were such bases able to survive first strikes by relying on improved air defenses and the dispersion of forces and caches, their logistical ability to continue to sustain and supply ongoing combat operations would be problematic, subject to constant harassment and disruption. China now has the world’s largest navy. Even if all U.S. warships were redeployed to Indo-Pacific Command to buttress the Pacific Fleet, it would still be outnumbered by the People’s Liberation Army Navy, a maritime force that would be further backed by land-based mobile missiles, drones, and aircraft all along China’s 9,000-mile coastline.